The Daily Spur Presents……La Stessa, La Stessissima Variations

Alice loved watching him play the piano. There was no denying it. She loved how watching his fingers move in fast rat-a-tat staccatos and in graceful lilting phrases.

She had watched him practice so many pieces. Mozart. Beatles. Chopin. Disney. Beethoven. 

Beethoven.

In particular, Beethoven’s 10 variations on Salieri’s La Stessa, La Stessissima. 

His fingers pranced and danced through the difficult phrases and measures. He quietly mouthed “Bah bah buh bah bah.” through some of the trickier parts, which made her smile. She remembered doing that herself when she had learned that piece.

She had learned it, but never managed to reach his level of mastery. Her fingers always bumped and tripped into each other. She never could get them to move quite fast enough. 

He played it with all of the important expression and all of the joy the piece required. It was not meant to be played like a perfect wind up toy. It was meant to be played like a little girl twirling in a brand new dress. It was meant to be like a goldfinch’s uplifting song. It was meant to be all of the best parts of springtime. Flowers and new grass. Lilac leaf buds growing bigger by the day.

That was what that piece meant to her.

And she could tell that it meant the same thing to him as well.

As he played, she remembered the girl she once was. She twirled in her soft cotton housedress. She almost caught a whiff of lilac blossoms and fresh strawberries and new grass.

The front screen door opened and banged shut.

Alice stopped just as his fingers went still.

His mother entered the room and kissed his head. “Sounds like you’re getting better.”

He smiled up at her. “Do you really think so? The ending keeps tripping me up.”

Alice smiled at him. Even though she knew he could not see or hear her voice, she said, “You sound wonderful, my dear grandson. I’m so proud of you both.” 

Alice’s daughter sat on the piano bench to help him through the ending.

Alice watched them for a few minutes more before quietly fading away.

10 Variations on :”La stessa, la stessissima”, WoO 73 from Salieri’s “Falstaff”: Variation X | The Daily Spur (wordpress.com)

 

The Daily Spur Presents…..A Little White Car

I was in the middle of a photo shoot for the Landscapes and HomeBoys magazine. We were off the Corsica coast and I had just finished a round of beach and lagoon shots. Now, I was all set to do some city pics, to give the article a nice, rounded feel.

I wandered the city looking for interesting people and intricate architecture. The air was balmy and filled with the scent of ocean. I met many locals. Some wanted to be photographed. Others politely declined. Some were naturals before the camera. Others had no idea what “Pose naturally” even meant.

I took pictures of open air markets and quaint buildings that had seen many lives come and go.

With each photograph I took, I fell a little bit in love with the city and the air and the ocean. I had several fanciful daydreams of quitting my job, dumping my previous life in New Hampshire, and eke out a living here.

Then, I happened upon an abandoned building. The whole upper portion of its east wall was decorated with large flowers and leaves. Rusted metal bars served as backing for the flowers. The wall’s lower half was a bright white stucco.

The play of light and shadow!

The sharp contrast of colors!

I needed to take a picture. Whether it was used or not, I was determined to take a picture of it. If the magazine didn’t want it, I would simply include it in my own private collection.

I raised my camera and took several steps back to get the best angle and the most details in frame. 

My index finger posed over the shutter button, ready to hit it as soon as I was content with the shot composition. 

A white car rushed into view. It was all out of focus – a white blur with a black roof and black tires. 

I raised my head to tell the driver to get out of my shot….but the car was empty. No one was inside of it. No one was standing anywhere near it.

It annoyed me. I had such a great shot all lined up and someone pulled the car over here and left it. I tried to change my position so the car was out of frame, but that spot was the best for lighting and impact. Nothing else would do.

I scowled at the car and mentally cussed the driver out…whoever the driver was. But then.

Then.

Standing there and looking at the car, I couldn’t help but notice that this little white car was a lot like the people I had photographed earlier. The way it straddled just the right amount of parking lines.

The colors.

The contrast.

I laughed. “You wish to be photographed too, do you? Okay, little white car. I wouldn’t say you’re posing naturally, but this will be a great shot all the same.”

The car, if it could speak at all, kept its thoughts to itself.

“Okay.” I raised my camera again and recentered my shot. “Hold still. Don’t breathe. Don’t move. Staaaaaay…..” I pressed the button. “Perfect!”

I took several more shots of this little white car outside an abandoned building in Corsica. And I knew without a doubt, if the magazine didn’t want any of these shots, I would keep them for my own personal records.

I lowered my camera and smiled at my metal model. “I’m gonna move on my way. I have much more to photograph before I can relax.” I felt silly asking the question, but I asked it anyway, “Do you want to come with me?”

The car didn’t respond, which didn’t surprise or disappoint me. It was pretty much what I was expecting.

I continued walking.

The gravel on the road popped and crunched as the little white car followed me.

Photo Prompt | The Daily Spur (wordpress.com)

Rory Cubes #2 – Preparing For Karaoke With A Fey And A Vampire

Isellta hugged the poofy sheep pillow Robin had given him for Christmas. It was lavender and chamomile scented as if someone had poured a whole cup of tea into it. He burrowed his face into it and inhaled. It wasn’t Robin’s bright tangerine scent, but it was good.

It was calming, not invigorating.

It was as tranquil as a hug before bedtime. 

It didn’t smell like Robin at all, but it made Isellta think of him anyway. He smiled and hugged it harder.

“Yes!” Robin entered the room, twirling a microphone like it was a baton.

Isellta perked up and flapped his large black feathery wings. “You found it!”

“Heck yeah!” He plugged it into the karaoke machine. “Ain’t got a clue why the heck it were under the bed.”

Isellta hugged the sheep one more time before setting it on the L-shaped couch. He walked over to Robin and lightly ran his fingers down the middle of the vampire’s messy brown hair.

Robin looked up at him and all of the love he felt for Isellta was there. It was easy to see. So plain on his face. Practically scrawled in the walls of the scar running through his eye and down his face.

Isellta knelt and traced the scar’s soft skin. “It still amazes me.”

“What?” Robin asked softly.

“That you are here and I am here. And we are together.”

He laid his hand on the side of Isellta’s face. “And we’re so happy. So in love.”

Isellta’s gaze dipped down to Robin’s mouth, to his lips.

And Robin’s lips curved up into a smile. Such an amazing smile.

Isellta couldn’t resist it. He leaned forward and gently kissed him.

Robin’s hands slid up into his hair.

Isellta’s wings flapped faster. Robin’s hands felt so good in his hair. They somehow made his blond hair feel like something fine and beautiful, like the best kind of alpaca fur.

The doorbell rang, interrupting them.

Robin swept Isellta’s bangs out of the way and kissed his forehead. “Prob’lly Ambrose and Raven.” He sighed. “Do we e’en gotta let them in?”

Isellta looked into Robin’s eyes – one a warm brown, the scarred one clouded over. But they were both beautiful in Isellta’s mind. “I guess we should.”

“Yeah. Guess so. Don’t want Am’rose to go yellin’ in my head like a freakin’ yak in labor.”

Isellta smiled and kissed him one more time. “I’ll get the door.” His wings relaxed.

“And I’ll double check all the selections.”

“Oh! Oh, are you going to include that pretty Beatles’ song?”

“What? Wait. Which one? They got sev’ral.”

Robin smiled lovingly as Isellta sang:
“There are places I remember
All my life
Though some have changed…”

He stopped. “That song.”

“Yeah. Was the first one I put on.” He smiled. “I knew you’d want it.”

Isellta’s wings fluttered happily as he went to open the door.

Rory Cubes #2 – The Mind of Nox

Blogging Insights For 2021

Dr. Tanya over at Salted Caramel posed a question to all of the bloggers out here:

How do you see your blog in 2021? What are your hopes and aspirations for your blog this year?

So, I just had to answer it.

HERE IS MY ANSWER:

What are my hopes and aspirations for my blog this year? Well! With my cosistories blog, I hope to pay a bit more attention to her. Poor thing tends to get ignored in favor of my other two blogs. So, I will try to post more frequently over here.

With my ambroseandelsie.wordpress.com blog, I hope to keep pushing the story further and further ahead. With some amount of luck and the power of sheer determination, I will reach the 2-3 big scenes I have mentally planned out some time before next January. I’ve been holding those scenes in my head and sorting through all of the hows and whys leading up to them for the past year. One scene in particular has been in my head ever since I started this blog. That one is going to be an absolute killer to write….in all the best ways.

With my ravenlovesmayrose.home.blog , I hope to likewise keep pushing the story ahead and finally get to James and May Rose being young adults. I have a bunch of scenes involving James and May Rose that I’ve copied and pasted from my ambroseandelsie blog. I am hoping to finally put those scenes into the story some time this year. I plan to rework them a little, maybe change the point of view, so it isn’t a direct copy paste. I am looking forward to that so much!

Then, there’s my poor, very neglected jackjilhouseorlorddeama.wordpress.com blog. There are a lot of small things that bother me about that story. A lot of character and worldbuilding stuff that just aren’t working for me. So, I want to salvage the scenes, ideas, and characters I like from that story and start over from scratch. It will be such a relief to start over again, because I know I can do it better. I just need to figure out better character motivations and actions.

Soooo, yep! Those are my 2021 goals for my blogs! We’ll see how things turn out for them all this time next year. 😀

If you want to reveal your blogging insights/plans for 2021, just type them up in a post and paste the link over at:

Blogging Insights # 62 — Your blog in 2021 – Salted Caramel (wordpress.com)

Have a great New Year!!

Rory Cubes #1 – Comedia And Tragedy

AUTHOR NOTE: AJ at The Mind of Nox has started a new writing prompt:

We are going to start off every week with a Weekly Writing Prompt, that ya’ll can participate in. And AJ will write up something for me on the fly for a Saturday posting. If we get anyone sharing their own stories, I will try to get a post in where I have read and oohed and ahhed over them here. Really Lax – The Mind of Nox

Here is the link to the starting prompt: Rory Cubes #1 – The Mind of Nox and here is my take on it! Enjoy!

Comedia had finished the drawing challenge and was waiting for Tragedy to finish his last picture. While she waited, she watched his expression. It intrigued her. For someone named Tragedy, he had a lot of nuanced microexpressions. A lot of eyebrow movement that wasn’t a frown or anything nameable. 

She found reason for joy in every slight forehead crease, every movement of his lips, every muscle twitch.

He raised his head. “I wish you wouldn’t stare at me like that when I’m drawing. It distracts me.”

“Sorry!” she said cheerfully. “Are you done with your drawings yet?”

He lowered his head. “No. Need to finish some shading.”

Comedia watched Tragedy for a few minutes. A playful smile crossed her face. She looked at the list of items they were supposed to draw for the challenge: A comedy/tragedy mask set. A daisy. A shooting star. An arrow.

Her smile grew.

She flipped several pages ahead in her sketch book and settled in to draw the items again. Only this time she included Tragedy in the sketches.

His face was the Comedy/Tragedy mask set.

He held a daisy in his hands with a bewildered expression on his face. He had no idea what to do with the daisy.

She caught him in mid-jump trying to catch the shooting star with a baseball mitt.

The arrow, however, threw her off. She had several ideas as to what to do with it, but they weren’t very compelling ideas. Definitely not worth the drawing. She tapped her art pencil against the paper.

“Done.” Tragedy said.

She flipped back to her real drawings, but turned the sketchbook upside down. “Let me see yours first.”

“Um. Okay. I don’t know if they’re really all that good, but…” He shrugs and moves his sketchbook to her.

Comedia was floored.

Tragedy had drawn her as both Comedy and Tragedy.

As Comedy, she wore a jester’s highly detailed costume. She hid her laughter behind her black gloved hands. Her eyes were delighted arches of mirth.

As Tragedy, she wore a widow’s full length costume. Her white gloved hands hung limp at her sides. Her shoulders arched inward. She looked straight at the viewer with heartbroken eyes.

Comedia stared long and hard at that expression. How could he have captured that look so well? When had he seen me look that lost and devastated?

She flipped to the next page.

The daisy was a whole field of daisies. She sat among them with a daisy crown in her long hair. Her dress was an extravagant Medieval dress with a lot of fine line detailing. Her expression was a calm happiness. She looked like a queen at her leisure, waiting for her servants to bring her afternoon tea.

She flipped to the next page.

The shooting star….She ran across a field of rolled hay bales. Her gown was a loose-fitted black dress with white stars all over it. Her arms and feet were bare. Her hair streamed behind in long lines. A delighted smile lit her face. She wasn’t running in fear. She was running with joy and for the joy of it.

The last drawing…

The arrow.

This time, he had included himself in the drawing. He was tied to a tree. His hands somewhere behind the tree. He looked straight ahead at her with an expression that was both brave and afraid. She stood a couple of feet before him dressed in a fine white Grecian gown. She held a discharged bow in her hands. The arrow was just a couple of inches away from hitting his heart.

Comedia raised her head, unsure and not quite understanding. She wasn’t even sure what to ask. She closed the book and moved it back to him.

“Can I see yours?” he asked.

She shook her head. “You win this round. Mines are just silly. Yours are gorgeous. I’ll do better in the next round.”

His serious expression turned even more serious. “There’s a reason why mines were so good.” He looked at her and there was something in his eyes.

Something she had never noticed before.

A light. A decidedly warm light.

And she didn’t know how to feel about it.

But she thought about her own drawings. They had been of just him. 

Comedia looked at Tragedy. She wondered if he saw that warm light in her eyes too.

Rory Cubes #1 – The Mind of Nox

Belugas And Dreamlifters

Give me dreams of belugas and dreamlifters.
Let the belugas soar in the sky so blue.
Let the sun shine sleek gold on the belugas.
Let their skin shine like a pearl.

Give me dreams of belugas and dreamlifters.
Let the lifters elevate my dreams.
Let them take my dreams so high into the night sky.
Let the moon glow white cotton on the dreamlifters.
Let the lifters’ frames glow like iced over snow.

Give me dreams of belugas and dreamlifters.
Let nightmares stay far away.
Let my dreams be of sunlight and moonglow.
Let me sleep well tonight.

January 2021 Writing Prompts – Putting My Feet in the Dirt

Salty

He was salty.
Never had a reason.
Didn’t matter the season.
The man was as salty as the sea.

He was salty
In June
In December
In May
Under the full moon
And in every possible way.

He never had a reason.
Didn’t matter the season.
The man was as salty as the sea.

He was salty
For breakfast
For lunch
For dinner
For brunch

He never had a reason
Never mattered what the season.
The man was as salty as the sea.

January 2021 Writing Prompts – Putting My Feet in the Dirt

When A Stray Cat Meets A Vampire…

The smoke gray tabby lived alone. Any place that offered her shelter was home.

Underneath porch stairs.

Inside cardboard boxes.

Inside broken down and abandoned houses.

But when she slept, she dreamed of having a real home. 

A place that was warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer.

A place where food and water was readily available. She wouldn’t have to hunt for either or fight for them. They would be there, sitting there, waiting for her.

A place with soft beds and soft perches.

A place of gentle hands and kind voices. No one would grab her by her scruff and toss her. No one would throw things at her. No one would yell profanities at her.

It would be more than a home. It would be a haven of safety.

It was her favorite dream.

***

The smoke gray tabby skulked down the sidewalk. She tried her best to be invisible. People were strange and unpredictable. The less they noticed her the better.

Venturing out for food was always a high risk, but it was one she couldn’t afford to ignore. And not just for the obvious reason. People picked on stray cats bad enough. But stray cats who looked half-starved were treated even worse.

She couldn’t afford to look half-starved.

She stayed on high alert as she skulked down the sidewalk. 

Watching for danger.

Watching for any conveniently dropped food.

Watching for any mice, birds, rats, or other prey that were stupid enough to cross her path.

Listening to the voices around her.

Getting ready to bolt if those voices came too close. If they came too close, they could accidently step on her. Or they could grab her and deliberately hurt her.

A dog broke through the pedestrians and charged right at her. She ran.

But he was bigger than her. His large feet thumped on the pavement. If he caught her, he’d eat her. She had no doubts about it. He was going to eat her.

But she refused to surrender. She ran as fast as she could. If she could just get to higher ground, she’d be safe. Needed to find higher ground. Needed to be safe.

She darted around flip-flops, sneakers, high heels, luggage on wheels, bikes, wheelchairs, and crutches.

But the dog wasn’t thrown off by her maneuvers. He stayed on her trail.

His feet thumped the pavement like a horseman of doom. His loud breathing overcame the noise of the crowd. He was going to catch her and eat her. She knew it. She just knew it.

There!

There was a tree in a bricked up planter right ahead. She ran to it and flew up into the tree. She climbed as high as she could and huddled tight to the thick branch.

The dog paced around the planter, barking.

She dug her claws into the branch and hoped the dog didn’t have any climbing skills.

He hopped onto the planter.

She bristled her fur. If he climbed up after her, she was ready to give him a good fight. The odds would not be in her favor at all, but she was willing to fight anyway.

She froze as a person ran to the dog. “Midge! You stupid dog!”

Midge barked one more time before turning her delirious attention to the human. She wagged her tail and whimpered and shimmied.

The human snapped a leash onto Midge’s collar. “You had me scared stiff. I thought I’d lost you this time.”

The cat held her breath and stayed as still as she could. She could not let the human notice her. He’d grab her and throw her and hurt her. No doubts about it.

But the human didn’t notice. He knelt before Midge and hugged her. “Don’t you ever do that again. Okay?” 

Midge chin-propped on his shoulder and seemed to smile.

“Come on. Let’s go back home.” He released her neck and led her away.

The cat relaxed, but she stayed up in the tree. It was safe up there and she needed to calm down after that whole chase scene.

She watched the people below. It amused her that she could see them, but they couldn’t see her. And it was the first time she’d seen them from this point of view. They were no longer dangerous feet and grasping hands. They were heads.

They were hats.

They were hair.

And such a variety of heights.

But none of them noticed her.

She happily tapped the tip of her tail against her front feet.

A person with black hair stopped near the planter. He looked up at her. His eyes were as dark as his hair. He smiled.

Her tail went still. Her pupils went wide. He was going to grab her! He was going to hurt her and yell at her and throw things at her! She knew it!

“Hi there.” His voice had a nice sound to it. Something like soft cushions and warm beds. But he was a person. He was dangerous. He couldn’t be trusted.

And he smelled like blood.

She clung to her branch with all of her might.

“It’s okay. I won’t hurt you. I’m not in the habit of biting animals, not even when I’m very hungry. It would take a lot for me to cross that line.”

She bristled her fur out, making her appear to be at least three times her real size.

“You don’t have to be afraid of me.”

His ignorance astounded her. Didn’t he even know what other people were like? Didn’t he know she had to be afraid in order to survive?

“I’ve seen you about when I’ve gone hunting. You’re smart. You’re a survivor. But you deserve better than to simply survive.”

Yet, he kept talking at her in that comfortable bed sounding voice. No one ever talked to her. And when they did, it was in volumes of unpleasant screeches and swears. No one ever talked to her like this.

“You deserve a good home. I can give that to you.”

What if he were just another dog waiting for his chance to eat her? But dogs didn’t talk. They barked. They chased. They nipped. They bit.

Could he be trusted? Could she surrender to him? There were so many risks in doing so. Was he worth taking the risk?

“You will be loved and cared for. You will have good food, clean water—-” He smiled. “—-and a whole house to claim as your own.”

But such words…Such wonderful sounding words…So alluring. So tempting. What if she gave in?

His expression turned serious. “If you come with me, you will not be hurt again. I promise. You’ll be safe.”

She released her death grip on the branch and climbed down the tree. It was a skill she had to learn on her own. Yet, even after having done it so many times, climbing down a tree still felt weird. She felt as if all of her blood was rushing down to her head and pooling up inside her face.

But she managed to do it successfully without falling and embarrassing herself. 

The human sat on the planter and held his hand out to her.

There was something different about this human. He was not like the others. She inched forward, ready to flee at the very whiff of danger. She stretched her head forward and sniffed his fingertips. She darted back. His fingertips smelled like claws and blood.

He was a hunter. Just like her. But he wasn’t crude and loud like a dog. He was quiet and calm. If he touched her, she knew his hands would be gentle. He wouldn’t grab her or hurt her in any way. She just knew it.

She had no doubts about it at all.

She crept back to him and rubbed her head against his hand.

He smiled at her and petted her head. His hands were gentle, after all!

She purred and she surrendered.

Feline Good

My name is Cassiopeia.
I am a feline.
I am good.

Oops!
The medicine bottle hit the floor.
I double checked.
Yep.
It hit the floor.

I am always on my best behavior.
I never do anything wrong.
I am a feline.
I am so good.

Oops!
How did that glass of wine
Wind up on the new white carpet?
I just slapped it a couple of times with my paw.
Look at it.
Lying on the floor.

But I am good.
I never do anything wrong.
You can watch me all day.
And I am perfect all day.
No trouble.
No mischief.

Oops!
Who could have left that
Dead mouse on the counter?
I was just playing with it.
Here.
Let me swat it again.

Oops!
The mouse wound up in your soup.
I wonder how it wound up there.
I didn’t do it.

Because
I am Cassiopeia.
I am a feline.

And I am sooooo good.

December 2020 Writing Prompts – Putting My Feet in the Dirt