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Tatiana Schatten

Mr. Wicked’s Friend, Part 3

Not based on true events

“ Well, come in, lad,” was Mr. Wicked’s greeting to Zack. It showed not an ounce of the hurry and fluster he had recently experienced, and only demonstrated a kind geniality. Zack, on the other hand, said nothing, but with a small leap, entered, and without even brushing his feet on the doormat, proceeded to the living room. There, he made himself quite at home by flopping on an ancient, threadbare, sofa which graced the chamber. Looking about at his surroundings, the youth commented: “ Not much has changed over here. It’s still old and stale and grey for a hut,” and Mr. Wicked would have been quite offended had it been a first-time encounter. But, being the friends they were, he did not react to the statement and determined to instill more politeness into Zack later in the day. Zack, though, was not finished. In fact, he ended with a further snuggle into the couch, declaring: “ But that’s just how I like it.” But Mr. Wicked ‘s eyes and mind were not fully upon him but darted between the green moss and the impudent boy. “What will he think when he sees the moss upon the table?” the man feverishly contemplated, “Will he not like it because it isn’t old and grey?” He might not, that  is true. Eventually, the fateful moment came when Zack’s eyes rolled towards the the dining room where the said table stood and upon which was the water-filled platter with the moss. “ Now what in the world is that?!”he cried. A spear of apprehension shot through Mr. Wicked. “ It-it is moss,” he stuttered timidly. Zack stood as if he had never seen “moss” before. He went to it and circled it like a curious cat, and poked it with his finger as if he expected the congregated plants to bite. But, to Mr. Wicked’s relief, they did not. No, it was very good moss. “ So, this is moss,” mused Zack at length, standing back to admire it further, “ but what is it doing here?” Mr. Wicked would have never given the answer he did if he had thought more than a second upon it. Still, he said that it had become his friend. Zack immediately shot a darkened glance at him. “ But I thought I was your friend,”said he. “ You’re my friend, too,” insisted Mr. Wicked, colouring to the top of his grey hair. “ How in the world can a piece of moss be your friend?” Zack shot forth, his ire rising. “ Weeeell, I pet it, and I-I like to have it around.” “ And you don’t like me around?” “ No! No! No! It’s just that-” Mr. Wicked made a valiant attempt to return answer, but Zack did not even permit him to finish. “ So you mean that you hate me because I’m loud, rude and selfish and this thing is not?” Mr. Wicked was rendered speechless by this new verbal ammunition, for Zack was all those things, and he could not deny it. But the boy gave him no chance to do so, for he suddenly declared: “ I’m out of here!” and stamped from the house in a mighty fine temper. Mr. Wicked watched dolefully as the young man passed through his yard and gained the sidewalk, muttering and grumbling all the while. Then, shutting the door, the man turned to the rooms of his home. How solitary all felt, without a word or whisper to be heard in them. Indeed, those chambers most  likely would never again see Zack Mack. For a moment, Mr. Wicked’s small wrinkles grew deeper so that his face appeared withered and distressed. He, at length, rested his eyes upon the culprit of his day’s trouble: the moss, the verdant moss. There it still lay on the table, and at the very sight of it, Mr. Wicked’s temper flared up like a volcano. Like a giant he rushed to it, picked it up, platter and all, and returned in a determined state to the front door, which he opened without hesitation and marched to the porch. Afterwards, he march down the porch stairs, and with an angry shake, freed the moss from its platform over his garden of pansies, and permitted it to slip into the dirt below. Then, with a decided: “ humph,” he re-entered his home and began to grumble again.

To be continued...

Mr. Wicked’s Friend, Part 2

Not based on true events

Strangely enough, Mr. Wicked found the appearance of the moss rather enticing as it grew greener with hydration. After all, its surface looked tantalizingly soft, and before Mr. Wicked knew the fact, he had reached out his hand and touched it. A thrill of pleasure immediately sprouted from his finger tips as if his hand had encountered a fluffy lamb. I am afraid that he was instantly smitten with that piece of moss. He brought it inside after that first magical interaction, and set it upon his kitchen table where he could pet it as he had his tea, and where it could not remain. And why, may you ask? Because wherever Mr. Wicked went, the moss too had to go. He could not even read in bed without his hand upon its downy softness. Then, when his reading was done, and the white moon was far upon her travels amongst the stars, he set his rough head on the pillow and mused over how dull life was before that moss had come to him. Now, his mood had changed, and he was happy. But the next day, Mr. Wicked was to be given more excitement than he bargained for, and all on account of that moss. Yes, indeed, it was so. For, though the next day shone bright and early, and Mr. Wicked arose brighter and earlier than he had ever arisen before, he had forgotten that he was to have a visitor to his home that afternoon. That visitor was Zack Mack, a teen-aged boy, who, despite being a rebellious, unlikable little imp, had taken quite a liking for the bearded grumbling man. Perhaps it was because of this very grumbling that Zack favoured Mr. Wicked as a friend, for he himself did much of the same grumbling. Well, Mr. Wicked thought no more of Zack that morning than he thought of the temperature of the past night. In fact, he was thinking about that moss. But such ponderings escaped in a moment when, glancing out his dining room window, he beheld Zack himself outside of it, standing upon the porch, and in the midst of his first knock on the front door. Immediately, twenty most unusual ideas whizzed through the now panic-stricken mind of Mr. Wicked, for he remembered having invited the boy. He did not go to the door at once, though. No, Mr. Wicked had first to snatch the platter of moss which was then on the table and conceal it underneath instead only to replace it the second after. Then, he rushed about setting all in order, folding stray blankets, removing fallen vases, and in short, making a greater mess than had been present before. After all, a vase in the toaster oven is no better than one on the floor. All the while, Zack’s knocks rang in the man’s ear until at length, after giving an assuring stroke of the hand to his moss, Mr. Wicked gathered himself and his senses and opened the front door.

To be continued...

Mr. Wicked’s Friend, Part 1

Not based on true events

I have sometimes wondered if you can make friends with a plant and somehow be aware of the plant’s reaction to you. I believe I heard somewhere that plants like being touched, and I muse over the healing effect other living beings have on distressed humans. Could a plant heal from being around us? And forthcoming from these wanderings is a tale, one of such a friendship between a man and a plant. The man of which I speak was a middle-aged and nautical in appearance and had been a sea captain in his youth. He lived in this very city some years ago and suffered and laughed in it, and wed, and raised his children in it. But now he was alone, and in the cheerful summer he was upon the porch of his house, seated in a wicker chair, grumbling to himself. He grumbled about the breeze, he grumbled about the sky, and he grumbled about his name, which was Mr. Wicked. All the children on that block openly called him the Wicked Man, and all the adults clandestinely did the same. But he was not really wicked, only lonely and unhappy. So, there Mr. Wicked sat enwrapped in those two sentiments, when “plop!” a mass of what looked like dirt slid from the roof and fell astride his porch railing like a grimy mat. This too, he grumbled about, and arose and went to it. In intent, he had only meant to brush it off the railing, but there was something rather curious about that thick scale of sagging brown. He looked at it from the left with narrowed eyes, and he looked at it from the right with narrowed eyes before he stuck out his hands, and flipped it over. To his utmost astonishment, a flash of green immediately appeared, and he saw that it was not a mere pack of dirt which had fallen, but layer of beautiful moss. For a moment, he held it in his hands, and a swift thought arose, telling him to throw it away. But something held Mr. Wicked back. After all, it was a living being, far more precious and complex than a rock, or any human invention, and he would rather keep it alive than otherwise. Therefore, with that conclusion, he darted into his home with the moss yet in his hands, scattering dirt wherever he went, and came forth again with a platter of water. This he set upon the table beside his wicker chair, and then set the moss upon it.

To be continued...

The Woman by the Sea, Part 3

Not based on true events

“ He is calling me,” the woman said, despite the water. Indeed, she was like a fish. The boy looked curiously at her, and with a stream of bubbles, asked: “ Who?” “ The whale,” she replied, not returning his gaze, “ A Mink Whale. We have long been friends.” And with that, she swam forward towards the wail, with her young friend following her, but far more slowly. Thankfully, though, she went not far, and halted right alongside a deep and giant shadow, with marks like the top of a foaming wave on its sides, its jaw as white as salt. This jaw she fondled in her hand which was dwarfed by the majestic creature which did not lumber like the titans of the land, but rather floated like the moon in the sky. Suddenly, as if she just realized that the lad was following her, the woman thrust out her hand towards him, and commanded him to come no nearer. “ You must return  to the surface,” she declared with gentle sternness, “ You have already tarried too long without air.” But he boy had quite other ideas, and would have voiced them had not he caught sight of her eye which glinted like a pearl, and without a word, he began to rise to the surface, hearing her soft voice saying from behind him, “ I found my peace, and my time is ended.” The words struck him like a sword, and he turned about in a white circle of foam, and beheld beneath him a figure already sinking into the depths, with its arms crossed on its breast, and a whale solemnly circling it as it sank ever lower. The last of the journey was unbearable for the lad. As he with the last of his strength, thrust himself upward, his salt tears mingled with the salt sea and his heart was choked within him. Even when he was rescued by a passing ship and could again breath the clear air, he made no use of it in speech. I believe that it is is only now that he realizes that the woman by the sea had known that her end was drawing near, and that she wished that she should spend her last minutes in the tranquility of the sea. But he yet can not comprehend, even as a grown man seated in that ancient rocking chair in that small hut by the sea, why she had permitted him to accompany her below. The reason is a mystery, as many things are, and will remain unfathomable to the end of time, much like the quiet sea. 

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The Woman by the Sea, Part 2

Not based on true events

For a moment, the boy was thrust into the darkness, in which he could but feel the hand he clutched, and see nothing. But, little by little, the night cleared into a deep blue haze of water, and he saw his friend smiling upon him by his side. Then, without a sign, she let go of his hand, and swam forward in the water like a seal, as lithe as any being of the ocean. It was only  a moment that her young friend hesitated, and after followed, and not a sound could be heard. In time, she pointed downward, and the boy saw the wonder of Sea Pens waving over the sandy floor like banners, witnessed the Basking Sharks as they soared by, and he fell in love with the dancing Grey Seals which whirled about them. But even as he gazed in wonder upon every being which came in view, a deeper shadow passed over, and every creature fled at its arrival. The boy and the woman, though, remained where they were, and directed their eyes upward to spot the bottom of a vessel, the cause of the new gloom, churning away as if there was not a second to be lost. The woman, once it had passed, arose to the surface with a set face, and watched it charge away, disapproval written all over her countenance. The boy bobbed up beside her, and was immediately pummelled by the blaring speakers which could still be heard from the craft, though it could now barely be seen. The lad, in agony, pressed  his small hands over his ears and cringed, his eyes closed, and his mouth crying out: “ What is that noise?” “ It is what they call music,” was the firm reply of the woman before she dipped again beneath the waves with her with her companion gladly following her. What a marvel! As soon as the saline water lapped over his ears, the atrocious sound dissolved like an uncomfortable dream, and again he was swimming with his friend, disturbing none, and feeling all the peace which his heart could contain. Then another sound shook the sea, one which was sombre and delightful, sorrowful, and calm. It was, indeed, true music to the ears. The woman turned its way the as soon as its tones could be heard. 

To be continued...

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Wednesday March 13, 2024