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Tatiana Schatten

The Tale of the Two Corn Stalks

Not based on true events

Once upon a time, there were two stalks of proud Flint Corn growing in a remote field in the Corn Belt of America. For many years, they had been content, standing alongside each other in sisterly sorority, braving winds and storms together, neither giving into the violent elements. No one but the birds and beasts partook of their fruits, and none but the birds and beasts kept them company. They were content, yes, content. Until one day, a certain bird, a Mockingbird at that, paid them a visit. “ Why,” said she, landing on to one of the cobs, “ You are both twins in a box!” and she picked a stray caterpillar off of one of the nearby leaves, and swallowed it whole. “ Are you never tired of being equals?” she then queried. And the two stalks would have looked at each other questioningly if they could. But they could not, and ignorant of the storm she had begun to brew, the Mockingbird flew off with a chipper: “ Well, I need to go! No more caterpillars!” and vanished into the horizon. The corn stalks remained silent, not even rustling their leaves, and in that silence, resentment began to grow, and ambition prospered. Indeed, by the end of the day, both were standing as straight as could be, each trying to outdo the other. Then, in the night, they began to quarrel, and in the next day, they began to grow and jostle each other for space. “ I must be the tallest,” said the one proudly, “ For I sprouted first!” “ Don’t be silly,” snapped the other sourly, “ I have always been the healthiest, so I should be tallest!” And they began to fight and argue, and block the sunlight from each other with their papery leaves. But even though she was the healthiest, the second Flint Corn plant found herself entwined and enshadowed by the older plant, who shot up like pigweed in the night. The next day, though, the eldest was shocked to find the healthiest towering over her, but the day after that, the healthiest was shocked to find the eldest inches taller. And so it continued,  and people noticed the plants vying for power, and shook their heads, for the field did not seem to be big enough for the both of them. And the folk wondered how it would end. That now I shall indeed tell you. It ended when both attained their maximum height of twelve feet, and there stopped their growing but not their quarrel. Day and night they argued, and the grasses about complained loudly of it in the morning, until something most  unusual happened. The cow came and the Flint Corn stalks trembled. The cow came near, and the Flint Corn stalks trembled once more. The cow opened its mouth, and the Flint Corn stalks fainted. And when they awoke, they were eaten to the very ground, lower in stature than ever before and both of the same height. At first they began to argue once more but then stopped, and shrugged their leaves, and thought: “ Silly cow. Does it have to teach us a lesson?” 

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The Tale of Sammy the Snail, Part 2 of 2

Not based on true events

Side to side Sammy’s lollypop-like eyes gazed, searching for a plot of violets, as alike to his old home. But none could be found. Was his abode the only one bearing such flowers? Halfway down the hose, he halted, discouraged, when suddenly a refreshing waft of delicate scent came to his notice. Was it violets? Could it be those elusive pixies of flowers? He raised his now sagging ocular horns, and looked about, but not a sprig of purple could he see. Again, his heart dropped, but a voice arose: “ Now, what’s the matter there, my snail?” It came from above, and Sammy lifted his eyes to behold a beautiful ruddy Fritillary, whose exquisite wings replicated the glorious effect of stained glass. “ What’s the problem, good snail?” repeated the butterfly. Sammy, yet dazed by this splendid vision, found barely enough voice to whisper back: “ Have you been in a violet patch?” The Fritillary laughed. “ You have quite the sniffer,” said he, “ Have you, by any chance, been looking for one?” Sammy’s horns pricked up at this. “ Yes, indeed,” was his eager cry, “ Tell me where it is, please do!” “ Tell you? Why I’ll show you where it is!” returned the butterfly as if relating the location was the most extraordinary thing to do. “ Yes, I’ll show you,” he repeated, and then, raising his voice, declared: “ With the help of my friends!” In that very instant, the rich hues of fall enshrined Sammy, and golden-brown scales fell about like snowflakes as a phalanx of butterflies seemed to appear out of thin air to surround him. Sammy felt his heavy self slowly lifted off the ground, large shell and long tail included, as the butterflies lifted him into the air. Up, up he was born, with the cluster of butterflies greeting him in turn and tune, and then chattering gaily amongst themselves. The snail, surprisingly enough, enjoyed the elevated ride, and looked forward to a calm peaceful landing. But, the longer the flight lasted, the more concerned he became, for he did not feel a bit of reduction in altitude. This concern sprouted into blooming alarm when a familiar voice called out “Here we are!” and he was dropped- like stone, a very heavy stone. Thankfully, he was nought  but a millimetre in the air and fell squarely on his foot. He mumbled a thanks with his eyes still shut from the plummet, but then opened them to behold himself in an immense field of swaying violets, and he looked upwards to see the stained jewel-toned light streaming  through their verdant leaves. There was nothing quite so beautiful in the world. He was home.

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The Tale of Sammy the Snail, Part 1 of 2

Not based on true events

Sammy the snail was a White-lipped Land Snail with an unusually long tail. He had grey-brown  striped shell with a lip to its opening as white as snow and his head was topped with a striking black. Sammy was quite content in his little garden of violets, the flowers upon which he contentedly fed all the live-long day, and under whose leaves he hid when the glorious sun grew too bright. Then, he would look up through the leaves at the stained light they filtered, and wondered whether there was anything so beautiful as they in the world. It was after one of these musings, while Sammy was inching his way back onto a plant, that a certain strange event took place. It was strange because it brought a stranger with it, and one Sammy did not exactly like. It was a Gartersnake with green scales, and red stripes running along its body, as well as eyes which pleaded pitifully with the viewer. But not when the viewer was a snail. Oh no! Sammy, immediately upon sight of its sinewy approach, rushed as only a snail can rush, down his violet stem, and off in another direction from that of the snake. Just in time! He heard, through the curtain of plant stalks and verdant grass he had left behind him, the scrape of the emerald scales and the mild flick of the tongue. Never again did he wish to remain in that plot of land, for it soon was quite obvious that the snake was there to stay. Therefore, it became apparent that Sammy had to find a new dwelling place very soon. And so, without a tenth, ninth, eighth, seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth, third, or second thought, he departed with his house on his back, and his destination not yet on his mind. But Sammy’s means of arriving to that destination was quite fixed: he knew that he would take advantage of the Insect Express. In all truth, this was a lengthy garden hose which coiled  and swung all over the sward of grass in which Sammy lived. Upon this Sammy slid, and went along his way, meeting both an ant and a caterpillar along the way. They were heading closer towards the peril, and Sammy informed them of the fact, and afterwards, felt very good about himself. That is, until he realized that they continued along their way none-the-less. Well, thought Sammy, I did all I could. And he continued along his way. 

To be continued...

Mr. Wicked’s Friend, Part 5

Not based on true events

This knock on the door, evidently, was his morning alarm that day, and bleary-eyed Mr. Wicked turned over in the covers before clambering out from beneath them, putting on his slippers, and clumping sleepily down the stairs to the door. This, he opened, and to his surprise received a cheerful “I’m so-o-o so-o-orry!” along with the entering light. There, to Mr. Wicked’s utmost astonishment, was Zack, glowing like a daisy, and in his hand - a flat platter of moss. “ What’s this?” weakly exclaimed the dazed Mr. Wicked. “ I had an encounter with moss too, and now I understand everything!” was the glowing reply. Mr. Wicked not only looked bewildered; he felt bewildered too. “ E-e-everything?” he stammered, but Zack had already pushed himself through the door, and with his dirty boots upon the clean floor, scoured the dining room for the moss. At length, coming to no discovery, he stopped beside a front window, his one hand on his hip, perplexed. But then, his eye caught sight of something green outside of the said window, and without a word, dashed by Mr. Wicked who was still dumb of tongue in wonderment, and out the door and off the porch. In a moment, his voice cried out excitement: “Mr. Wicked! Come here!” Mr. Wicked did come and found the boy squatting before the flower garden, gazing at the moss within it. “ Where did you usually pet this moss?” inquired he as Mr. Wicked came up beside him. “ Right in the middle, where it was softest.” was the reply.  Zack’s face at that moment shot into unusual brilliance as he  pointed at the plant and cried “That is exactly where it has grown higher!” At this revelation, Mr. Wicked gave start of immense surprise, and bowed down to peer closer at his abandoned moss. Then he straightened and laughed. “Well, I’ll be!” was his exclamation. “ It is cool, isn’t it?” said Zack delightedly before he  scooped up the moss, “I only hope mine likes me just as much.” “ I hope so too,”said Mr. Wicked, “ but I hope all the more that you join me for breakfast, and you can tell me all about your encounter with your own moss. I am very curiose as to hw it all occurred.” Zack quite readily agreed to the invitation, and with both holding their separate plants, Mr. Wicked and Zack Mack re-entered the home, and closed the door behind them with a click. They spoke long into the day about their newly discovered plants, which, in turn, had indeed become their friends.

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Mr. Wicked’s Friend, Part 4

Not based on true events

Zack Mack was furious as he stomped home beneath the swaying trees of the street. The clouds, as he proceeded, began to huddle together and darken. The birds, in response grew silent, and a shadow passed peacefully over the world. Zack would have been hard of heart if this sublime quietude did not touch it. But it did, and when he had gained the steps of his own home, he simply stood there, all fire and flame having evaporated from his rusty soul. For a time, he was still, not caring to even unbar the door which was directly before him. His head hung and he felt a heaviness inside which pertained to guilt.  The rain, which had long been withheld in those bundled clouds, was now released in a soft burst of energy, and the air grew chilled of a sudden. Yet Zack moved not, though the drops tumbled onto his head from the overhanging roof and pummelled his back which was exposed to the elements. He knew not what to do, for he could not  bring himself to return and apologize to Mr. Wicked, though he longed to do so. Then his mind  fell upon the reason of all this trouble, and with sudden vehemence, he burst forth: “ Darn that-.” He had meant to name the plant culprit, but something that very moment flopped right on his head with a splat and began to slip steadily down his neck. Soon, it would be have been beyond retraction, but Zack grasped it just in time, and brought the slimy lump before his eyes. “ Of all things,” thought he, “ must it be moss?”For that is what it was.  And he turned into the rain and raised this unwelcome visitor to throw it forth. But he stopped. After all, it was rather soft... Mr. Wicked, meanwhile, sat by one of his windows and pondered over the recent unfortunate occurrence. He watched as the watery drops made their uncertain way down the outer window plane, leaving a trail behind them and combining with  other liquid paths and drops. Thus, the afternoon passed and when evening arrived, there was a sudden break in the clouds, and the rain and the earth were momentarily bathed in the magical ruddy glow of a sunset. But Mr. Wicked only arose from his rickety seat and travelled the stairs nearby to his bedroom, where he lay himself in unsettled asleep. And of course, since it was unsettled it did not last long, for as soon as the sun arose, someone also arose upon his porch and rapped eagerly at the door.

To be continued...

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Wednesday March 13, 2024