An Orange For You To Peel

   When my oldest son was about eighteen months old, I would occasionally try to put words down on paper. It usually didn’t go very well, partly because my oldest son was about eighteen months old, and partly because I was fully immersed in mothering and had forgotten nearly everything else. But one day, I felt like trying again. Every time I started to type, T would come up and tug at my shirt, or push a block across my lap making vroom-vroom noises. Finally, I handed him an orange and showed him how to peel it with his fingers. He peeled and I wrote and I felt like I had figured out the secret to everything. For about twenty minutes.

     So here I am, a decade later, still working on making time for writing. I started a blog, in part, to give myself a reason to write and a weekly deadline. Originally, my goal was to post here at least once a week, which seemed realistic and still does, except for during summer vacation, when the kids aren’t in classes and everything just basically goes to hell in a hand basket, schedule-wise. With the time I have had to write, I’ve been exploring ideas that are so half baked as to be not baked at all, meaning that I don’t want to post that stuff, at least no today.

     Enter, the orange.

     Maybe I can give you something to read while I fool around with these other not-baked-at-all ideas. Something to keep you busy until I can manage. I opened my Big Fat File of snippets and pieces, looking for something that might be of interest, and below you will find the very first story I saw. I wrote it quite a while ago, read it out once to a group, stuck it in the BFF and there it stayed. At one point a friend of mine, who is a brilliant illustrator, sketched some ideas for the main characters, but somewhere along the line it was forgotten. It’s meant to be read out loud, so try that and let me know how it goes.

                                            Far West

Far, far west they went, Gorgeous George and Wendy Best, slight and sunny in their sixteenth year. Gorgeous George, with two left feet and three missing toes, walked in a circle, forever arriving at the place he just left. Around and around and around he went, until one day he met Wendy Best. Sweet Miss Best. The very best dressed of the three Best sisters who lived in a house on Lilac Lane, surrounded by roses bread for their prickles (the roses I mean), on Lilac Lane where the three girls three lived a charmingly charmed life.

Each of the girls was neat as a pretty pin, a perfectly pert little lollipop. But Missy (the baby), was her father’s eye’s apple, all satin and slickery slips, and Rose (the eldest), was a help to her mother, handy and happy and healthy as a bear.

But dear Wendy was planted in the prickliest of places (you’ve heard of it, surely?), the middle. In church folks whispered, “What an oddball”, “She’s a mystery,” and other things too could be heard from the pew, like “psssst!” and “shshshshs!” and “hmmmm” and “ooooooh!”

Wendy’s mother, at night, stroked her hair, her wild ringlets, saying, “Pay them no mind. They are just jealous schoolgirls.” And schoolgirls they were, with a lesson or two to learn about life. But that’s another tale completely.

In this particular story I’m telling, Miss Wendy Best, in her bright sky blue dress, and Gorgeous George, with three toes too few, set off hand in hand on a quest for WEST on Wendy’s Great grandfather’s map— yes, a map! There must be a map when heading out west, so said Wendy Best, eating pickles and peanuts by the glow of the slow sinking sun.

George spread the map all flat on his lap and they studied the front and they studied the back. They studied the upside and even the down, every which way they flipped it and turned it around, but they just couldn’t find it, that WEST that they wanted. Where was it? Where’s WEST, wondered George and Miss Best.

They sat under a tree, a sad sobbing willow, and the sun changed from orange to yellow to red, then a worm drilled a hole through the bark of the willow. (Did you know worms can drill? With the right tools they’re impressive!) The worm drilled a hole and then stuck out his head, a head no bigger than a wee seed of sesame, but even with that, he was smart. How smart? He knew math and mathematics, language and linguistics and inside that head, that miniscule melon, he stored volumes and volumes of historical history, hysterical history and, well, you see where I’m headed— smart worm!

“Follow the sun, for it’s going your way!” He hollered so loud that the willow stopped sobbing, wiping its eyes with its very own leaves.

The worm yelled so loud that the brook stopped babbling, stopped dead in its tracks, no rippling or wrinkling. The fish stopped too, when they heard the worm scream, stopped blowing their bubbles and just held their breath. Gorgeous George looked up from the map in his lap, and Wendy Best sat still, licking salt from her lips, and they thought. And they thought. They thought pitter pat thoughts, twinkle-twinkle twitter thoughts, itsy-bitsy grizzly growly gnarly hardly anywhere thoughts.

“Don’t wait!” Wolfed the worm. “Can’t you see? Don’t you know? West is the direction you both want to go, so follow the sun, you’ll get there alright, but you’ll both miss your chance if you wait ‘til it’s night!”

Then the worm disappeared deep into the tree, back down to the roots far below. Below the below, for that matter, which is much too far down in the ground, past the darkest-of-dark-tree-bark-funky-dark for us to discuss, so we won’t.

Let me just say that by the time the worm had burrowed back in a mere inch, Gorgeous George and Wendy Best had forgotten the map, the peanuts, the pickles and the blue-in-the-face fish holding their breath in the brook. Sniffling a sniff, the willow waved so-long to the sweethearts shrinking on the violet horizon, chasing the sun like the worm (what a brain!) had intelligently told them to do.

“But wait,” weeped the willow, who choked and then broke into sobs, long sobs, huge wails big as whales! The willows tears trickled down, drip drop, to the ground, watering it’s own roots (which is unusual for a tree and not very healthy, to be sure.)

“Don’t you know,” the tree whimpered, “the sun never stops. It never gets there. Wherever you’re going, this WEST that you seek, you’ll never arrive in a day or a week or a year or a decade or however long. The sun’s always setting, the worm, he was wrong!!”

So the willow, it seems, was right on the money, but try to tell that to two misfits in love and I say, so what??? Some people love seeking and that’s what they seek. While seeking they smile and they laugh and they weep tears of joy that roll right down their sweet apple cheeks. They seek just for the thrill of seeking to seek, living happily alone or in pairs.

So the schoolgirls will learn, and the worm will drill holes, and the willow will weep and the fish will breathe deep and Gorgeous George and Wendy Best will never find WEST, and I think that’s just fine by them.

                                             The End

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