Welcome to the first monthly art collaboration between artists of all types! Writing, music, comics, graphic design, and drawing and painting, all together for one exhibit! Thank you everyone for your participation, and also to everyone else that spends the time to look through and read all of the July entries.
In spring flowers bloom
In summer kids happily play till dusk
In autumn colory leaves fall from the trees
In winter the land is white as snow
But not matter how much nature change my love for you will always be the same.
The Many Worlds of EzloSpirit
A short story of friendship
There is much to be said about how a shared experience or place can bring people together. A lot of power exists in the sharing of a meal or a friend or a favorite television program or the shade of a certain tree. Or a duck pond.
Spring was in full swing. Martin was, too. He felt a new rush of excitement each time he departed from the zenith of his flight. Each time, he threw his legs out straight in front of him—or drew them back—with a radiant smile on his face, hanging on for dear life, ready for the thrill of the next arc of his swing.
Soon, however, he grew tired of this. He needed to relax on the grass, which did not move him around at adrenaline-producing speeds. So he departed from the swingset and walked to the park’s small duck pond, beside which he plopped himself down on the full, green grass.
It was not long before a young girl came and did the same. Wearing a bright, blue blouse with a blue-and-white checkered skirt, the girl looked to be about Martin’s age of nine years. She had flowing, brown hair that hung down to midway down her back. A blue headband that matched her blouse adorned her head.
The two children just sat looking at the duck pond for a while. A mother duck and her ducklings swam around in circles, the ducklings training their tiny, webbed feet to help propel them forward.
“Hi,” the girl said suddenly. Martin looked up to see her smiling at him.
Smiling back, he replied, “Hi.”
“What’s your name,” asked the girl.
“Martin. What’s yours?”
“Nice to meet you, Angie.”
“Nice to meet you, too, Martin.”
And the two of them turned back to the duck pond, resuming their silent, serene observation of the duck and her ducklings as they swam around the small body of water. The heavenly aromas of the blooming flowers that surrounded the pond only added to the tranquility of the scene. Leaves were already visible on the branches of nearby trees, as well.
And Martin and Angie sat there together, unmoving, silent, and happy.
Months went by, and over the course of those months, Martin forgot about Angie and the ducks. Instead, his mind was filled with anticipation and excitement for the end of his third-grade year of school. The weather had become warm and clear, and the young boy longed to play in the sprinkler and eat freshly barbecued hot dogs on his patio.
Instead of doing these things, however, the first thing that Martin did once school was out for the summer was tag along with his parents to the park, where his family planned on having a picnic. When the three of them arrived at the park, Martin’s mother told him to go off and play on the swings or on the jungle gym until the food—including hot dogs, much to Martin’s delight—was all cooked on the public grill.
But Martin did not go directly to the swings. Nor did Martin go directly to the jungle gym. He went directly to the duck pond. And sitting there, in the shade of an adjacent apple tree, was the small girl whom Martin had met briefly the previous spring.
“You’re Angie, right?” Martin said.
The girl looked up. When she recognized him, she smiled. “Yeah, and you’re Martin, right?”
Martin smiled and said, “Yeah.”
They looked at the duck pond, where seven full-grown ducks drifted slowly across the water, some of them dunking their bills under the pond’s surface in an effort to catch a small bite to eat. Martin then noticed in the mirror-like water the reflection of one of the apple tree’s branches, from which a small, round, bright-red fruit dangled and swayed in the soft breeze blowing across the park.
“Do you see that apple?” Martin asked.
“Yeah,” Angie replied after looking up.
“I am going to pick it.”
“Watch!” And he reached for one of the low-hanging limbs, pulling himself up using all of his strength. Then, he used the trunk to edge his way around to the adjacent branch, from the end of which hung the apple.
“Be careful up there!” Angie warned.
Martin just gave her a grin and began inching his way along the thick branch’s length. When he reached the edge, he slowly reached his hand down under the branch and curled his fingers around the delectable fruit. Carefully, he pulled the apple off of its stem, the branch swaying ever so slightly from the force.
Five minutes later, Martin was on the ground, holding the apple and grinning proudly from ear to ear. As Angie looked on, the boy walked over to the duck pond and dipped the fruit into its clear waters. Drawing it out, he then held out the apple to Angie, who smiled and accepted the gift. She took a bite, and a look of pure ecstasy appeared on her face as the sweet juice of summer washed over her taste buds.
Once Angie was finished eating the apple, the two children ran over to the playground together to play, leaving behind the ducks, who quacked to each other out of sheer joy spawning from the beauty of the world around them.
For the rest of the summer, Martin and Angie met each other often, almost always at the duck pond. They talked and laughed and played the weeks away.
One day, Angie asked, “Martin, do you consider us friends?”
Martin replied, “Of course, I consider us friends! I consider us best friends! Do you consider us friends, Angie?”
“Of course!” And they went back to swinging.
It did not seem like long, however, before the leaves covering the trees turned from a full green to a beautiful, fiery technicolor. The air turned crisp and cool. School began again for Martin, with new teachers and children to meet. The young boy entered the double digits of age. He had more homework than ever before, and he was forced to cancel his weekly playdates with Angie at the park.
Martin was shorter than most of the other boys his age, and he was a quiet idealist, so the others took it upon themselves to make it clear that Martin was not “normal.” It soon became common for the boy to exit the school bus in tears. He began to suffer from frequent stomachaches and would scream when his father would force him into the car to drive to the bus stop. The teachers at school did not know how to help him, and when they tried, they only made Martin more terrified of going into school the next day.
One day in November, Martin put a medical thermometer in boiling water and pretended to have a fever. His parents had him stay home from school. Three hours later, he confessed to his mother that he felt fine. Worried, she decided to give him the day off anyway and drove him to the park.
For hours, he sat silently by the duck pond, waiting. At about four o’clock, Angie arrived. Martin had not seen her since September. Still, though he desperately wanted to, he found himself unable to smile at his best friend when she sat down next to him by the pond.
“Are you okay?” a concerned Angie asked.
Martin did not answer. He looked sullenly at the ground.
Angie put her hand on her friend’s slouched back. “You can tell me what’s wrong, you know.”
Nothing happened for a moment. Then, suddenly, Martin squirmed so as to get Angie’s hand off of him; she removed it promptly, aghast. He then croaked, “I can tell you, but you won’t be able to do much to help me.”
“I can at least try!” the young girl snapped, appalled by Martin’s behavior. After a moment, she asked, “Are you mad at me for something?” Then, Martin started sobbing. Angie did not know what to do. So she walked away across the field of browning grass.
Only the mother duck still swam in the pond. And then, as Martin sat on the pond’s bank, curled up into a ball and rocking back and forth, she walked out of the water, spread her wings, and flapped away from the park for the winter.
Over the next few months, things got better for Martin. His parents sent him to a therapist, and the teachers worked with the school guidance counselor to help the boy out with his problems with the other students. Even as the air grew frigid and biting and snow blew onto the streets of town, Martin’s life grew warm and cozy once more. His classmates began to appreciate Martin’s compassion for others and his innovativeness when it came to solving unusual problems. Peace had returned for the young boy.
However, there was something—someone—still missing from his life: Angie. Each time that Martin crunched across the snowy field at the park and reached the frozen, vacant duck pond, there was nobody in sight. His friend never answered his phone calls nor his emails nor his letters.
He tried to pretend that Angie had just been another one of his imaginary friends, albeit a very realistic one, but none of his previous imaginary friends had been able to make him laugh or cheer him up when he cried. And he never would have climbed up a tree and picked an apple dangling above a duck pond just for an imaginary friend. No, Angie had been very real and very perfect, and now, she was gone.
On one of his many visits to the park during the winter, Martin brought along some ice skates. Wearing a sweater, a heavy jacket, sweatpants, a pair of gloves, and a warm, fuzzy hat, in addition to his ice skates, the boy cautiously walked onto the icy surface of the duck pond and pushed off from the snow-covered bank.
As he cut figure eights into the ice with the blades beneath his feet, Martin imagined Angie skating alongside him, laughing and smiling. He remembered all of the amazing times that the two of them had had together: that time when Angie had snuck up from behind and pushed a previously-idle, now-screaming Martin down the slide; that time when Martin picked the apple for Angie; that time when Angie told bad jokes while melted ice cream surrounded her mouth; that time when the two of them had jumped into a pile of leaves, both grinning from ear to ear—no, wait. They had never gotten the chance to do that last activity; that had merely been a fantasy of Martin’s that he lived through in a dream one night during the fall.
As Martin skated across the frozen pond, tears began slowly snaking their way down his face. It was not long before the droplets and the trails that they had left behind froze on his cheeks. Longing for his best friend’s company, the boy made no move to wipe the frost from his face. He just kept cutting up the ice beneath him.
By the time spring came around, Martin had given up on Angie and his visits to the park. Though he could not completely forget about her, he pushed her from the forefront of his mind and closed the mental door on her, leaving the door unlocked but firmly shut. He found himself unable to find anybody with whom he could be as close as he had been with Angie, but he did not let that bother him.
Instead, he just enjoyed the weather. It was warming up again. Hints of leaves were visible on trees, and the ground was littered with flower buds among the blades of green grass. Perfect weather for returning to the park!
Out of habit, Martin went directly to the duck pond. As he approached, he noticed that the water splashed against the banks once more, and two mother ducks now drifted across the calm surface. Martin thought that they looked familiar and realized that these mothers had probably been part of the group of ducklings that he had seen the previous spring. Their eggs were nestled in the muddy bank opposite Martin.
The boy smiled at the sight of the ducks and the duck eggs; the cycle of life deeply fascinated him. He sat down, cross-legged, on the grass beside the pond and watched the ducks swim around and sit on their eggs. The smells and sounds of spring only deepened the serenity of the scene.
There then came a disturbance: the sound of footsteps behind Martin. He did not need to turn around to know exactly who it was.
“Hello, Martin,” said Angie.
“Hello, Angie,” said Martin.
Angie sat down on the grass next to the boy. Just like old times. Almost.
“I am back,” the girl pointed out.
“Where did you go?” questioned Martin.
“I went to live with my mom for a few months in Greece.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were going?”
“Because I didn’t get the chance. My dad didn’t come home the night of our last meeting. Some ‘social services’ person came and took me to see my mom. And I couldn’t receive your messages because I wasn’t at home or in an area with phone or Internet service.”
“I…wish I could have done something…” Martin trailed off, stunned by the news that his friend had just given him.
“So do I,” Angie said, trying unsuccessfully to hold back tears. “And…that’s why my mom and I moved back here.” She burst out crying, and Martin leaned over and wrapped his arms around her.
“I guess we both need each other after all—” Martin began.
“—But we both knew that all along,” Angie finished, smiling through her tears. Then, she wrapped her arms around Martin.
As the two children held each other tight, silently vowing never to let go, on the opposite bank of the duck pond, high-pitched sounds could be heard as tiny bills poked their way out of their eggs. The mother of the new ducklings quacked for joy.
Bear settled down in his home for the Great Sleep. He closed his eyes, nestled his head in atop his paws, and willed himself to drift off and dream.
But it wasn’t to be so! No matter how hard he tried, Bear couldn’t go to sleep. He tried lying on his side, lying on his back, resting on side of the cave, then resting on the other—but he couldn’t go to sleep! Imagine, a bear unable to hibernate. He was quite embarrassed!
A drink of water, he thought, That’s all I need. So Bear went down to the pond and lapped water by the shore. The water was nice and cool, but he felt no less awake.
Across the pond Bear spotted Fox, silhouetted in front of the moon. “Hello there, Bear!” shouted Fox across the water, “What brings you to the pond at this late hour?”
“I can’t seem to go to sleep!” anguished Bear.
“Ah!” said Fox, musing, “What you must do is go into the forest and find the purple berries flecked with blue. They will bring you right to sleep, they will!”
Bear thanked the Fox for the suggestion and headed into the forest to find the purple berries flecked with blue that would bring him the rest he desired. He found them aplenty on a bush by Owl’s tree. Owl watched Bear as Bear took several of the berries into his mouth and chewed. They did not make him feel any less awake.
“What brings you into the forest at this late hour?” hooted Owl from his tree.
“I cannot sleep,” said Bear, “And fox suggested I find the purple berries flecked with blue to ease me into respite.”
“Pah!” spat Owl, “Fox is a fool! It is not the berries that will lull you to sleep, but the song of the Bluejay! Find Bluejay and have him sing you a lullaby. That will bring your eyelids to a droop and you will soon find yourself asleep.”
The Bear thanked Owl for his suggestion and went deeper into the forest to find Bluejay. When bear came across Bluejay’s tree, he stood up on his hind legs and rapped his knuckles as quietly as he could against the tree’s bark. Soon, Bluejay drifted out of the tree and landed on a low branch to look Bear in the eye.
Bluejay rubbed at his eyes and said, “Bear, what is it that brings you so deep into the forest at this hour? Is there something that you need to wake me up from my sleep?”
“I cannot sleep,” said Bear, “and Owl said that your song would lift me up and let me down easy into my bed. I am sorry to wake you at this hour.”
Bluejay waved Bear away and said it was no problem. Bluejay was the most famous singer in the whole forest and always liked to show his voice off. “If this does not bring you right to sleep,” said Bluejay, “then I do not know what will!” And so Bluejay sang. He sang a song so light and beautiful that no animal could help but be brought to peace when they heard the song.
No animal but Bear.
Bear frowned and said, “I do not feel any less awake. Your song didn’t work.”
“Pah!” said Bluejay, “You have no taste! Away with you!” And Bluejay brought up his wings and flew back into the tree.
Bear became very sad as he walked through the forest. He didn’t know what to do. He’d never be able to go to sleep ever again, he was sure! And when winter came, he would be the only bear still awake! He would just die of embarrassment, he knew.
Distracted, Bear didn’t notice Rabbit as she walked by with a basket of mint in her hands. “What is wrong, Bear?” she asked, “What brings such a sad smile to your fearsome face?”
“I can’t go to sleep,” lamented Bear, “I’ve tried drinking some water, I’ve tried the purple berries with the flecks of blue, and I’ve listened to Bluejay’s song, and I still can’t go to sleep.”
Rabbit thought on his words for a moment. “Aha! I know what must happen. Go to your home, and I will meet you there.”
Bear did not know what Rabbit was planning, but he listened to what she had said and went back home and settled down to wait for her. Soon, she appeared at his door with an assortment of items in her basket.
She had no time for pleasantries. “Where is the stove?”
Bear led her to the kitchen and watched her as she took from her basket a shiny brass kettle, two cups, some herbs, and two sprigs of mint. She held the kettle out to him. “Be a dear, and fill this kettle with water.”
I’m not a deer, thought Bear, I’m a bear, but he did as Rabbit asked and filled the kettle with water from the pond. When he returned, he found Rabbit settled in his old rocking chair knitting away at a large, striped sweater. When she saw him, she rose and took the kettle, added the herbs, and brought it to the stove to boil. She returned to her knitting as they waited for the water to heat. Bear rested his head and watched her as she knit. The rhythmic click and clack of her needles was almost soothing.
When the kettle began to hiss, Rabbit poured the tea into two cups, added some mint, and gave one cup to Bear. “Drink,” she ordered, “While it’s still hot.”
Bear listened. The tea was very soothing. Bear could feel a weight lifting from his shoulders. Rabbit finished her tea earlier than Bear and went right back to her knitting. Bear sipped wearily at his tea as he watched her finish her work.
“There,” she said, “It’s done. Bear, if you’re done with your tea would you be so kind as to model this for me?”
Bear set his empty cup aside and let Rabbit pull the thick sweater over his head. “There!” She said, “It looks marvelous! You may keep it. It looks quite perfect on you.” Bear thanked her. “And now,” said Rabbit, “There is one last thing to do.” Rabbit took from her basket a thick book.
So Bear settled onto the floor and rest his head down atop his paws. Rabbit put on her reading glasses, flipped the book open and began to read. “Once upon a time…” she started, but before she could continue, she heard a rackety snore come from Bear.
He was finally asleep!
Rabbit smiled and set her book down. She gathered up her things and headed for the door. Before she left, she turned back one more time to look on Bear. He looked so very peaceful in his striped sweater, snoring gently, with a smile on his face.
Her work was done. She made a note to bring Bear a nice, hot pie at the end of the winter.
Feel free to comment on individual works here in this thread, or directly to the work's creator! Let me know if I missed your entry somehow, or if there are any errors above. I hope you've enjoyed looking, listening, and reading ~ and hopefully you can participate, too, next time!
About some images not showing up, I'm not sure what the issue might be, other than because it's a png file, or because it's very large (Caleb's is the largest, I think).
I asked a girlfriend fill out the text as well ~ hers ended up being about a bossy girlfriend who was making the lazy boyfriend go to a job interview on a Monday. Makes me wonder if boys and girls think differently.