Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Curious Adventures of Lilly and Basil Ashford: The Tale of Enip and the Pearl of the Sea

This is a story that I just had published in Furrow an undergrad lit and art review at UWM . I decided to post this story because of my post Growing Up and because I have been on a fairytale kick lately.

The Curious Adventures of Lilly and Basil Ashford:
The Tale of Enip and the Pearl of the Sea 

What am I doing? What does it look like I am doing? I’m writing a story that’s what I’m doing. Now you two run along and play and let me get to it. What, you want to help? Well all right then, let’s start.

Once upon a time…

Why do you want to change that? We’ve barely just began and you want to change something. What’s wrong with “once upon a time”? It’s a good start. All good stories start out that way, you know. Well all the ones I write anyway. Maybe you should go help your grandmother in the kitchen. You never bother her when she’s working. Yes, I guess writing stories is more exciting than cookies. But you know, with cookies you can lick the spoon. You can’t do that with stories. So then, you’re sure you don’t want to go downstairs? Oh, fine! Where were we then? Oh Yes, I remember now, and we are keeping that line by the way.

Once upon a time there lived a …

No “but grandpa’s” I refuse to change it. We are writing a fairy tale after all. Now, what do you suppose lived once upon a time? Maybe a caterpillar? No, you’re right that does not sound right. Maybe a Weasel? No, a Cat? No? Well I don’t hear you coming up with anything good either. Well that’s an idea, but now Basil wants it to be a boy and Lilly wants it to be a girl. Well, to be fair then we will say both.

… boy and a girl, Basil and Lilly. They were twins but you could not really tell at all because they were exact opposites, like the sun and the moon…

Night and day is too boring, too expected. Sun and moon is way better. You don’t mind me borrowing you for the story do you? You won’t disappear into it I promise. Although, that would make a good story indeed.

She was tall and pale with black hair and grey eyes, He was short and tan with golden hair and eyes. They didn’t look like they could possibly be from the same mother let alone be twins. But they were…

What do you think they did then? Keep in mind they lived in a magical world with fairies and monsters and mermaids. Oh, I didn’t say that they lived in a magical world? I thought I did. Well I guess we will get to that later then, unless of course by the time we got there the world was different. You know this is taking an awfully long time. Of course I know we forgot a title. How can you make a title if you don’t know what the story is about? Let’s just continue, shall we?

Even their personalities were opposite. She was always gigglely and sunny and he was always grouchy.

Don’t whine! You are grouchy. See, you’re proving it right now!

They were visiting their grandparents on their summer holiday…

Oh all right.

They were forced to visit their grandparents on their summer holiday while their dad was sailing the vast oceans…

Better? Good.

Their grandparents lived in a little cottage on the edge of a mysterious and enchanted wood…

Well, good I’m glad you like that. I do too.

Every night the children would hear strange voices calling to them from the woods. Night after night they became more and more curious. Until one night as they were huddled up in their beds frightened…

Oh, right. Of course they were not frightened. They are brave little children.

Until one night as they were huddled up in their beds they decided to go see who was calling to them…

Who do you think was calling to them? Someone sinister or good? Ok, good, definitely good. Think of all of the adventures we could give them! This is becoming very exciting! Yes, yes I hear her, tell her we are busy. Can’t be bothered. Hmm, fresh cookies do sound good though. Maybe Lilly, run down and grab a plate for us, my dear. Mmm, those smell delicious.

They crept down the attic stairs quietly trying not to disturb their sleeping grandparents. They crept out the door and saw a most beautiful glowing light coming from deep in the wood…

Quite right, we need a new word. “Crept” is too repetitive.

They tiptoed out the door and saw the most beautiful glowing light coming from deep in the wood. If they were afraid they did not show it.  So, entranced by the light they danced hand in hand in the moonlight surrounded by the aroma of wild jasmine and the melody of the wind through the trees. It was dark but not too dark, because all of the little woodland creatures were holding up firefly lanterns for them to see by. They danced and danced, past the wild brook that seemed to change directions magically, passed the cherry tree that was always blossoming, deeper and deeper they ventured. Up ahead they saw a clearing. They stopped on the edge peering in…

Who or what should be in the clearing? No, it can’t be a monster; we already decided that it had to be good. Maybe it will be their guide through their adventures.  Yes, I like that she sounds majestic and beautiful, like an angel or an elf. Wonderful, you two are getting the hang of this!

They stopped on the edge peering in. At first the light was so bright they were blinded but as their eyes adjusted to it they saw a beautiful woman with pale skin,  dark hair, and shining emerald eyes. She was the keeper of the forest, older than time itself but more beautiful than any flower, sunset, or sunrise. They stood in awe of her beauty. She was laughing at them and her laughter sounded like tiny tinkling chimes and the whispers of fairies. She beckoned them in calling them by name. “My darlings” She called “What has taken you so long? I have been calling and calling you. Your holiday is almost over. We haven’t much time! Quick, follow me. We have so much to do…”

Yes, she does look rather much like your mother did. She was a magical lady too, perfect for the story. You know, when she was your age she would sit and write with me much like you’re doing now. She had a wonderful imagination too.

She took them in her arms and led them out of the clearing with her bounding golden pine marten following along chattering the whole way. They went deeper and deeper into the woods until they came to the base of an enormous mountain...

What’s wrong with a mountain? I think it adds an element of mystery. Well if not a mountain then what did they come upon? A cave? A monster? A flying horse?
Yes, that does sound good.

They went deeper and deeper into the woods walking night and day for what seemed like an eternity but they never got tired. They came upon a turquoise sea with rolling lavender waves. The sea foam smelled like sugar and the wind was like a warm breath on the children’s skin. They looked at the lady and she motioned for them to look back out at the sea. Their eyes widened in amazement and delight because out of the waves rose a majestic golden ship carried on the back of a giant turtle. The lady bent down and thanked the turtle for waiting so long for the children to arrive. She introduced them to him. He was the father of the sea and he was going to take the children on a journey to the depths of the ocean…

This world is magical don’t you remember? They won’t drown. Besides the lady of the wood won’t lead them to their death. No, she can’t go. Why? Because she is the lady of the woods not the sea. Goodness, what do they teach you children in school?

 At first the children were anxious to leave the lady and were afraid that they would drown or that they would never see her again, but the lady told them that it was safe and she promised them that she would be waiting right on the shore when they returned.

Happy? See it says right there that they won’t drown.

The children climbed up the rope ladder with the pine marten following them jumping from rope to rope. They waved goodbye to the lady. Once the ship started out across the sea they explored the ship. There were cabins the size of palaces and in the kitchen there was a door that led to a magnificent green garden where all of the food could be picked fresh for each meal. There was cattle for milking and dogs to herd the cattle. The turtle called to them while they were exploring telling them to quick come out onto the main deck because soon they were going to go under and they would not want to miss that. They got a little lost finding their way out to the deck so they followed the pine marten out. Everyone knows that pine martens have even better memories than elephants. As they were following the adorable little pine marten they decided that they would have to name it…

What should they name the pine marten? They could name it Marten, you know like pine Marten. Oh well I guess that that is kind of obvious. What would you name it then?

They decided to name it Enip, pine spelled backwards. They are such clever children. On the deck they watched, anxiously awaiting the ships descent. There was an alarm sounded by one of the ship’s crew and all the doors were sealed so that the water wouldn’t get in. The children braced themselves on the railing of the ship; Enip seemed to be enjoying himself, he was jumping from one child’s shoulder to the other’s. The water rose higher and higher on the ship until it was pooling around the children’s ankles but their clothes didn’t get wet. They could feel its warmth as it rose up around their knees, hips, chests and then above their heads. They could breathe and talk to each other even though they were under water…

Well I don’t think I have to explain it because it is a magical world. It does not matter how they can breathe. The only thing that is important is that they can breathe. Fine.

The children asked the turtle why they could breathe underwater. He told them with a twinkle in his eyes that they were magical children and that only magical people could breathe underwater. The water around the children was becoming deeper and deeper turquoise. There were fish of all different colors shapes and sizes. A pod of whales swam by singing their haunting songs. As they got closer and closer to the bottom of the ocean the color of the water turned from turquoise to blue to violet and they could see a majestic city with elaborate gardens and all types of exotic animals. Once the turtle came to rest by the dock in the sea port, the boat floated up and moved off of the turtle. The turtle waved and left the children sitting on the boat. They felt lonely until they remembered that Enip was with them. They wondered if they should get off the boat or wait for someone to come get them. As they were debating amongst themselves, to their amazement Enip said “well hop on the dock then. Like the lady said we haven’t got all day”
“You can talk?” Lilly asked.
“Of course, why shouldn’t I talk? This should be the least surprising thing about today.”
The children agreed that that was a lot less surprising than a turtle with a ship on its back and being able to breathe underwater.

Yes, your right Enip is very snooty. Should we change that? No you’re right that does seem to fit him. Oh good point, now that he can talk, he can tell them his name. Yes, that is perfect.

Basil asked “Is it ok that we named you? What is your name?”
Enip replied “I have never had a name before. I like the name Enip. I think the Lady will like it as well.”
They did as Enip suggested and climbed down the rope ladder onto the dock. As soon as their feet hit the wood planks, a small blue child like creature appeared out of no where. Her hair was green and leafy like seaweed and it floated about in the water around her head. She cleared her throat because they were clearly staring at her. She introduced herself as Shae, the guide of the mer- capitol city. She took them through the gardens that surrounded the city. There were flowers that were bigger than their heads and elephants and creatures too strange to identify with fur the color of pistachio ice cream, tusks that grew out of their shoulders, and stood at least 9 feet tall. The children walked around in awe of the beauty of the underwater city. When their tour was over they were welcomed into the city with a large feast with many courses. They were seated at the longest table they had ever seen. It looked like all of the citiy’s residences were seated there. They all looked like the guide except their skin were all different colors. The children had never seen that many colors before and could only name a handful of the ones they saw. The merpeople were all talking in an unusual language around them but they all seemed very friendly.

I like the way the merpeople look. Sure it is not the way that they look in other stories but this is much better. Now they actually seem like real underwater creatures. Like water would be their natural habitat. That seems more realistic. Doesn’t it? Well, I think so anyway.

Then all of the merpeople rose up from their chairs and motioned the children to do the same. The king of the merpeople entered the room. He was taller then the average merperson which was still short for a human and he looked a lot like the boy, golden in every way. He walked over to the children and said “I am so glad you could come to our city. We have been waiting for a surface dweller to come and help us. You see only special kinds of surface dwellers can come down to our city in the sea and we can’t go on the land. Not too long ago an evil sorcerer came down from the surface and stole our most prized possession, a giant pearl from the queen of the clams. That pearl provides the energy to run our city and without it the city will die and float to the surface.”
“Well how has the city been running with out the pearl?” asked Basil.
“We have been using smaller pearls but we are running out and I’m afraid they won’t last long. Will you be able to help us?”
“We could try, but we have never been the hero sort before.” Responded Lilly.
“And we are still quite young” added Basil.
“The young always make the best heroes.” The king replied.
Then the matter was settled, the children would go and find the pearl to return to the merpeople. The king offered them a room for the night…

You don’t think the children should stay the night? Why not? Yes their mission is of dire importance. Your right, of course, they should go right away. You two would make good heroes.

The king offered them a room for the night but the children refused, they wanted to get started right away because they knew that the merpeople would die if their city broke the surface of the sea. The king led them to a chariot pulled by horses with wings that could fly through the water and the air and told them that the sorcerer could be found in a cave at the base of the largest mountain in the world. The children fell asleep in the back of the chariot and when they awoke they were again on land in a cold, desolate place. Above them loomed an enormous  mountain with dragons circling overhead…

You are absolutely right; the mountain does make a better landscape for the evil sorcerer. It is perfect!

The children were cold and Enip crawled into the chariot and pulled out coats that had been provided by the king of the merpeople. They were more than a little scared now but they knew that they had to go into the cave.

I know they are brave but even I would be scared going into the lair of an evil sorcerer and I am 70 years old.

Enip took the lead and snuck into the opening. The children followed anxious to get out of the dragons’ line of sight. Once in the cave the children realized that it was not really a cave at all but a massive palace in the hollowed out mountain. They wandered from room to room searching for the pearl. They decided to stick together even though it might take longer to find the pearl because it would be safer. Finally at the very top of the mountain in the very last room they heard voices. It seems that the evil sorcerer was singing to the pearl. He was telling it how lovely it was and how he only wanted to make it happy. All it had to do was tell him what it wanted.

The sorcerer is just misguided not really evil. Your right, not very scary at all, but remember this is just the children’s first adventure. We don’t want them to overdo it right at the beginning.

The sorcerer was getting more and more agitated because the pearl was not responding. He was so close to tears when the children heard Enip calling out in a sing song voice “Silly man, my only desire is to be thrown back into the sea where I belong.”
The sorcerer threw his arms around the pearl and replied “I can’t do that! I have spent my life wishing for a pearl and now I have you. I won’t give you up!”
“Then I’ll never be happy! The sea is my home.” Replied Enip pretending to be the pearl “And I will never stop crying until you put me back” Then Enip emitted a horrible wail and started sobbing.

You children are so clever. I was wondering why we had to include the pine martin.

The sorcerer was taken back and tried doing everything in his power to console the pearl. But still Enip wailed on. He wailed until night and the children could see that he was getting tired so the little girl started wailing to let Enip rest. The sorcerer was running around the room conjuring things trying to get the pearl to stop but the girl wailed on. When morning came the boy started wailing letting his sister rest. For three days they kept going like this until finally the sorcerer snapped. “I can not bear to hear you suffer anymore! I will return you to the sea.”
The children were exhausted and delighted. They ran down the stairs so they could hide when the sorcerer came out to the sea. Once the sorcerer got down to the water’s edge with the pearl, Enip said pretending to be the pearl, “Thank you for this kindness that you have shown me. I will never forget it.”
The sorcerer cried as he put the pearl in the water and the children hopped back into the chariot.

It is getting late. You two should get into bed, your grandma will kill me if you guys are falling asleep tomorrow at the picnic. Oh ok, you can stay up just until this adventure is over but then you have to go right to sleep.

The horses dove into the water after the pearl and caught it when it was sinking to the bottom. Enip and the children congratulated each other and promptly fell asleep. It had been a long three days and their throats were sore. Enip shook the children awake and pointed to some great dark mass floating in the water. It was the city! It was rising to the surface. They urged the horses on. Faster and faster they flew until they skidded to a halt in the garden outside the gate to the palace. The children struggling to hold the pearl rushed in to the great room where the king waited for them. They placed the pearl in its place and the city lit up again and started sinking back to the ocean floor. The merpeople cheered and another feast was set. There was dancing and singing and the feast lasted four days and four nights. But the children were getting tired and they were missing their land above the sea so they thanked the merpeople for a wonderful time and went out to the dock to wait for the turtle. They did not need to wait long because the turtle arrived shortly after they did…

The turtle just knew. He is magical remember. No one had to call him.

This time instead of exploring the ship the children sat on the deck watching as the water changed from violet to blue to turquoise. They waved at all of the fish and creatures that swam by. When the ship broke the surface the children were relieved. That was enough water for them for a while. They returned to the shore and just as she had promised the lady of the woods was there waiting for them. They ran to her telling her all of the details of their grand adventure. She listened intently as they described the city of the merpeople and the cave of the evil sorcerer and laughed as they described how Enip tricked the sorcerer to give up the pearl and gasped when they detailed how they had just made it in time to keep the city from the surface. They asked her excitedly what adventure she had planned next for them but she pointed back through the wood at the little cabin on the edge. She said it was time for the children to sleep but tomorrow night would hold another great adventure.

Now you children promised me that you would go to bed right when the adventure ended.  Run up to the attic and crawl under the covers. Grandma and I will be right up to tuck you in.

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