Our Next-Door Neighbor

Heartwarming stories from “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books are considered timeless literature for me. I can pick any story from any of these series at any time in my life and feel wonderful and uplifted. There’s a quote that reminds me of an event that happened during Christmas time many years ago.

We once had a neighbor who moved from New York into the house next to ours. She was a friendly and attractive lady who my siblings and I always waved to her and wished her a good morning. At the time, my siblings and I were all young children.

She had some mannerisms that were unfamiliar to us in the suburbs. She also had a habit of gardening in the front yard in her bathing suit catching the attention of any males who happened to walk their dogs into our cul-de-sac. My visiting cousins made fun of her, but I came to her defense saying that she never caused us any harm and looked out for us. I suspected that even if she heard my cousins speaking behind her back, she wouldn’t have cared what they thought because she was confident in who she was.

One Christmas day, we heard our doorbell ring. My siblings and I ran to the front door and looked outside the window. There was a wrapped package outside our door. I saw the back of a blond woman’s head and she herself was dressed in a lush red Christmas coat like Mrs. Clause. It was our neighbor, but she didn’t stay to chat probably due to any language barriers.

During a time when we didn’t have to be weary of potential bomb packages outside residential homes, we naturally brought the box inside and opened it since it was from our non-malicious neighbor. Inside our neighbor packed all sorts of goodies for us. We were amazed all all the snacks, toys, and refrigerator holiday magnets she packed for us.

I think back on this memory and feel that it’s a special moment when a neighbor wants to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in spite of the increasing cynicism and all things that go on in the world. I’m grateful that we had such a great neighbor while growing up!

In response to :

Saturday Symphony #20 – Dream Catcher

The best color in the world is the one that looks good on you.

Coco Chanel

Hello! Today, I’ll be exploring a bizarre dream I had last night. It’s definitely related to an enlightening, yet disturbing conference I attended a few months ago. I’ll be responding to Jude’s Saturday Symphony prompt below:

DREAM-CATCHER”
This week, let’s use the beauty of a dream,
Or the horror of a nightmare
To share from the realm without time
And loose some of the secret magic that lies in us all.

In case you can’t hold on to a dream for long, it’s best to keep a notebook bedside so you can catch them before they float away.

And then share them for the prompt.lol

The Fashion Police

The afternoon sunlight shone through the skylights. I was walking to an unknown destination in an airport lobby. I scanned the area around me. Nothing out of the ordinary. Business people heading to where their flight is located. Giggling girls shopping in the nearby gift shops. Families munching on their lunches in the food courts.

Nothing out of the ordinary until… I noticed hovering robots scanning individuals.

“HOVERING ROBOTS?!”

Holographic images of the individual’s clothing appeared in thin air. Electrical blue schematic diagrams indicated particular stats on the outfit while analyzing the cultural influences, the quality of the fabric, the stitching, and brand name. The robot would then determine if the outfit itself was a fashion atrocity.

Some people were unfazed by the intrusive lasers and went about the day accepting the current state of affairs. When an outfit was deemed unacceptable, the robot would recommend a series of outfits that the individual could wear instead and offer several payment options to purchase the outfit. After the individual presses a few buttons in the air, the robot constructs the outfit from the pattern that the brand provides and 3-D prints the outfit and tailors it for the individual right then and there.

Meanwhile, I’m watching in awe as the thread in the fabric’s fiber are assembling themselves. When they were finished, they scanned around their surroundings. Their lasers scans reached me, and they proceeded in my direction. I looked down and noticed my jeans and t-shirt were in a state of disrepair.

Frightened, I ran away in the opposite direction as fast as I could. I tripped and fell on the ground which accidentally toggled my own dashboard of my current wardrobe to my own surprise. I quickly chose an outfit my mother made for me many years ago. I frantically thought to myself, “She’s a seamstress and had a good eye for stuff. Sure, let’s put it on!”

The robots scanned me again and told me I was free to go. Thankfully, they glided away away. I took a deep breath and exhaled a sigh of relief.

Saturday Symphony #19 – The Magic Paintbrush

Jude is the host of Saturday Symphony. This weekend’s theme is:

TALES FROM THE FAR EAST. The far East includes;
– Russian Siberia
– Mongolia
– Taiwan
– China
Japan
– North and South Korea
– Hong Kong
This week share something themed from this part of the world.
It can come from real life experiences, a favourite story, history, myths, books and legends.

Hello! I’m really excited about this prompt because I will be sharing a tale from a new book I bought from the bookstore during Thanksgiving break. I waited in line at the Japanese bookstore for about half an hour before being able to go inside. In fact, I haven’t even read any of the tales in this book until this post.

The Magic Paintbrush

China, chinese folktale

There once was a very poor young man named Ma Liang who loved to draw very much. One night he had a dream that an old man gave him a magical paintbrush and asked him to help people. When he awoke, the magic paintbrush lay beside him.

Whatever Ma Liang drew with the magic paintbrush came into being and he used its powers to benefit the struggling people around him. He used the brush to paint a river next to a dry field and to draw food for the poor. Quickly his fame grew, and everyone was grateful to Ma Liang.

In the same village lived a rich man who soon came to covet the magical brush. He didn’t want to help people but instead wanted to paint gold and make himself richer. In the dark of the night, he sent his servants into Ma Liang’s home, and while Ma Liang was sleeping, they stole his brush.

The next day, the rich man painted many pictures of riches beyond belief. But no matter how many he drew, none of the images would come to life for him. Frustrated, the rich man ordered his guards to capture Ma Liang and bring him forward. When Ma Liang arrived, the rich man demanded that he draw for him or face punishment.

The quiet Ma Liang smiled and agreed. He asked the rich man what he would like, and the rich man said he wanted a mountain of gold. So Ma Liang painted a mountain, but he painted it in the middle of a vast sea. The rich man then demanded a large boat to sail the ocean with enough room in its hull to carry all the gold. So Ma Liang painted a huge sailboat, and the rich man and all his cronies got in it and set sail. But when they got halfway to the mountain, Ma Liang painted a wicked storm, and the boat capsized and all the men were lost at sea.

From that day on, Ma Liang and all the people of his village lived happy and peaceful lives.

Featured Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash


Saturday Symphony #16 – Together In the Shadows of the Forest

Hello all, happy Saturday!

Jude is the host for Saturday Symphony. Here is ponderous thought for the week :

FAIRY TALE EDITS
Ever wanted to change the fate of one of your favourite fairy tale characters?
This week share with us,
Which character?
In which tale?
And how you’d change their fate.

This week I’m inspired by the story of Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the hunt. She is a fierce warrior and can be quite vindictive when someone kills those that she protects or insults her family. She and her brother Apollo killed Niobe’s children when Niobe mocked Artemis’ mom, Leto. You do not want to get on her wrong side!

Artemis remained an eternal virgin and never married. Actaeon, a mortal hunter, mesmerized by her beauty once saw her bathing naked in the valley which was forbidden. Artemis who was very livid turned him into a stag, and he was later killed by his hunting hounds.

In my poetic retelling, I explore what would have happened if Actaeon and Artemis fell in love instead. What if they got married? Would Artemis learn how to be forgiving? Would she take a different, less extreme route to justice?

Below I played around with Magnetic Poetry to create this story. 🙂

#Saturday Symphony – Voodoo Dolls

Good evening! The horror genre is not exactly my forte, but I want to deliver a story for Jude’s birthday and introduce the month of October! It’s been a long while since I’ve last indulged in this genre and maybe, I’ve purposely chose to stay away. 😉

Lois Duncan and Tess Gerritsen are two of my favorite horror/ thriller authors who successfully gave me the chills. I also interviewed a parapsychologist and learned about some mysterious encounters he’s experienced to discover some inspiration. Hope you enjoy my flash fiction below!

Dicey Appearances

Lightning lit up the sky as the rain from the thunder storm pelted the mailman. The package finally arrived at the man’s doorstep. Weeks ago, he bought a set of adorable, amigurumi voodoo dolls from Etsy. It was the perfect gift for his granddaughter.

Image Credit: Etsy – Creative Chaos Arts

He placed the dolls in her closet and walked away to make some dinner. Little did she know who resided in her closet. A shy, young girl emerged from the dark. She curiously peeked outside and immediately shut the door.

Image Credit: Pinterest

Spinning their webs, the spiders watched as the dolls sprung to life and began walking around. They danced around the girl, and she was happy to have new friends. One of the dolls did a somersault in the air and landed on the dome of a board game.

POP! The magnified sound of the dice reverberate throughout the closet. Five slimy leaches materialized in the dome and slithered away from the closet in search of a host. They found a sleeping dog peacefully unaware of the danger that lurked nearby and stealthily surrounded it.

Pirouetting in the air with the finesse of an acrobat, another doll landed on the dome. POP! A terrifying creature materialized. One hungry demonic sprite flashed its sharp teeth at the ghostly girl and opened his red, gleaming eyes. Ensconced in the tight closet space, it opened the door eagerly waiting to tear into some juicy flesh…

Imaged Credit: Mysterious Universe

The Rise of a Median King

Hello everyone, hope you are well! One of my favorite interests include Greek classical history and mythology.

I’m endlessly fascinated about the downfall of former empires and the Greek tragedies that touch upon universal themes and issues that impact humanity. To this day, classical mythology has influenced modern-day culture in a variety of arenas: sports, cardinal virtues, architecture, chemistry. Many series such as The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson is highly influenced by classical myth.

The fictional story below is an embellishment of historical and biblical events that took place in ancient Iran, Iraq, and Ukraine during 627 BCE to 560 BCE. I loosely followed the accounts of Herodotus, a Greek historian, in his book, “The Histories”, Josephus’ in “Against Apion”, the Bible, and Qu’ran. There are some inconsistencies regarding the parentage of Amytis across historical accounts, but that leaves room for my imagination to weave in some magic. 🙂

A Bold Maneuver

He noted the situation had become grim...

Young Cyaxares, son of the late king of Media, Phraotes, received news that his father was dead. He was slain in battle by members of the Assyrian army led by Ashurbanipal, the zealous and brutal king of Assyria.

Relief of Ashurbanipal hunting on horseback. Nineveh, Assyria, 645–635 BC.
Image Credit: British Museum

The Assyrian empire was powerful and dominated the lands. They reached the ultimate heights of technological, scientific and cultural achievements of the time. Ashurbanipal, in all his might and military expertise, reasserted dominion over the Medes, Persians, and Parthians. His glorious palace along the Tigris River served as a reminder of his status in the world.

The Monuments of Nineveh by Sir Austen Henry Layard, 1853
Image Credit: National Geographic

Nomadic Scythian warriors got wind of the news and swiftly raided Cyaxares’ homeland. For nearly three decades, Scythian officials controlled the region and exacted tribute from the Median citizens. Cyaxares resented their presence and began to formulate a strategic plan to avenge his father.

One evening, Cyaxares invited the Scythian chieftains to a fine banquet where they enjoyed a fine feast and alcohol. The aroma of marijuana filled the air. Cyaxares murdered them while they were drunk and their guards were lowered. He later proclaimed that he was king of Medes. The Scythians soon recognized their leaders were killed and subsequently retreated to the steppes.

Taking Down the Big Kahuna

Cyaxares united various tribal forces afterward and gradually conquered and occupied several Assyrian territories. He prepared to go to war against the Assyrian empire, but he was going to need help. He formed a few alliance and friendship treaties. One of his allies was Nabopolassar, Chaldean king of Babylonia, who decided to join Cyaxares’ effort to confront the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies.

The eventual death of Ashurbanipal led to Assyria’s weakened political infrastructure. The Medians and the Babylonians took advantage of Assyria’s internal strife and besieged the capital of Assryia, Nineveh, one of the greatest cities in the world.

Battle of Nineveh
Image Credit: Alchetron

Raising a Family

Cyaxares married and soon gave birth to a son named Astyages and a daughter named Amytis. To forge and formalize the alliance between the Babylonian and the Median dynasties, Cyaxares gave his daughter’s, Amytis, hand in marriage to Nabopolassar’s son, Nebuchadrezzar II.

Image Credit: Louvre Museum

She packed a few belongings and moved to Babylon with Nebuchadrezzar II. When she arrived, she was dismayed at the dry and flat landscape. She missed the mountains and lush scenery of Media. Cognizant of Amytis’ homesickness, he decided to replicate a piece of her homeland by creating: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

 Maarten van Heemskerck (1498-1574)

Amytis was surprised that her new husband would go to such lengths to make her happy. She recognized certain trees and plants that she enjoyed in her homeland and was touched by his commiseration. Not only was she pleased, the community shared their plaudits. She knew that he was capable of bringing Babylon back to its full glory.

Image Credit: Wallpaper Safari

Her husband fortified the city’s defenses and rebuilt many temples. Little did she know, however, that he would go mad towards his final days. All of his past achievements and success contributed to an increasingly high ego.

Nebuchadrezzar II
Image Credit: jubran.deviantart.com

When three young Hebrew men didn’t bow down to him one fateful day, he tried to burn them in a fiery furnace to no avail. Daniel, a revealer of future mysteries, was held in captivity with them. He interpreted the king’s dreams and predicted that world powers shall rise and fall. Feeling a bit insecure, Nebuchadnezzar threw Daniel into a pit of lions. Imagine his surprise when the lions didn’t eat Daniel… 🙂