Kimball Gray

I had a little teddy bear
His name was Kimball Gray
And in the summer, all day long,
Together we would play

We’d roam the meadows by the woods
Wrapped in childhood dreams
We’d chase the spiders through the house
And frolic by the streams

I’d dress my Kimball in Sunday best
And give him cakes and tea
We’d sit for hours on a bench
Beneath the old oak tree

When night arrived, I’d take his hand
And snuggle in the bed
We’d chase away the demon kings
And nightmares from our heads

My dearest friend was Kimball Gray
A soft, plush teddy bear
I won’t forget him, nor the times
We always used to share

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Frodo and Lindir: A Lord of the Rings Fanfiction

This is my first attempt at fanfiction, following the guidelines states at https://flowingcreativity.wordpress.com/.

Summary: Frodo Baggins meets Lindir and learns there is more to the minstrel than meets the eye.

Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings. I believe that distinction goes to JRR Tolkein and Peter Jackson.

The bench was too high for Frodo Baggins. His feet swung an uncomfortable distance above the ground; logical, he supposed, considering the bench was built for elves twice his height. Rivendell was beautiful, but it was quite impractical for a hobbit.
Although, Frodo wasn’t entirely sure he would mind staying in the elfin city for at least a little while longer. He had an inkling his stay would be extended at least a week more than Gandalf had originally said. Even though he had been relieved of the Ring, there were whispers behind closed doors which made Frodo think everything was not quite alright. Gandalf and Elrond would want to ensure the hobbits’ safety before allowing them to return home.
Frodo sighed, jumping slightly as he noticed a figure standing next to him. It was an elf. A dark-haired elf of the House of Elrond, but one who looked slightly familiar. The elf held a lute in his left hand.
Ah, yes, Frodo realised. It was the minstrel from last night’s feast. Londor, or Lindt, or…
“Lindir,” said the elf, extending a hand. Frodo took it hesitantly. “Frodo Baggins.”
“I know.” The elf’s voice was musical. Almost as Frodo would have imagined an elf’s should be. “There has been much talk of you, of late.”
“I am sorry to be the cause of any disturbance in Rivendell.”
“You are not the cause. If anything, you should be commended on your efforts.” Lindir’s words were forceful, and Frodo suspected he had just finished an argument. On what, Frodo couldn’t be certain, but he didn’t want to ask. Elves were sticklers for courtesy, and the last thing Frodo wanted was to offer insults to his gracious Rivendell hosts. He contented himself with offering Lindir a place next to him on the bench, which the elf declined.
“My blood is hot,” said Lindir. “I do not trust my body to stay in one place for long.”
Frodo could understand the feeling, and he told Lindir so. The elf smiled, but offered no other insight into the situation.
A scream from one of the lower floors made both hobbit and elf jump.
“What…?” Frodo stood on the bench, trying to peer over the banister. Lindir gripped his shoulder.
“I’m sure it was nothing, young…”
CRASH!
A large Mirkwood spider appeared at the end of the corridor.
“That’s…a spider…” Frodo’s throat was dry, and his head spun. What should he do?
“Stay here,” said Lindir, twirling his lute menacingly as he stepped in front of the hobbit.
“Lindir! What are you…?” The words died in Frodo’s throat as the spider scuttled towards them.
Lindir, however, hardly seemed perturbed. In one fluid motion, he raised his lute above his head, and struck the spider between the eyes.
The spider froze, giving Lindir time for a roundhouse kick. The spider’s four front legs were whipped from beneath it, and the spider tumbled forward, launching over the banister and landing with a sickening “thud”.
“That one will no longer be a disturbance,” said Lindir, frowning as he wiped blood from his lute.
“How…?” Frodo’s voice cracked.
“The spiders of Mirkwood. This one likely followed Prince Legolas’ party. Rare for them to stray so far from home.” Lindir sighed. “But these are dark times, I suppose.”
“No,” said Frodo. “I meant to ask where you learnt to fight like that. I thought you were a minstrel.”
Lindir tilted his head. “No elf is completely helpless. I give credit for my training to Lord Glorfindel. He is –”
“The Balrog slayer! With hair of gold and deeds worthy of the gods!” Frodo’s face lit up as he remembered Bilbo’s fireside tales.
“He is also my uncle.” Lindir smiled at Frodo’s expression. “Perhaps you would like to meet him?”
Frodo’s widening grin was answer enough.

Insecure

Your blood runs hot as the taunts repeat
It’s just another day stuck on the street
You hold your head high, but the tears still escape
The flashbacks and memories begin to take shape

They called you names, but you turned away
Hoping it would end one of those days
But fire feeds fire with a soul-burning rage
Blocking the advent of a needed new page

You walked through the playground, all on your own
Counting the poppies and daisies alone
They whispered the lies, a child’s contraband
You didn’t believe, but you couldn’t understand

Though the faces have changed, the voices repeat
The taunts and the truths which they call down the street
You know in your heart that their minds are blind
But the past creeps in like a tape on rewind

They assign labels; their world is split
But you are unique, and the labels don’t fit
Everyone has a box (everyone but you)
They can’t see you’re different and accept it, too

So you try to change, to fit in their mould
But you’re not that girl; you can’t do as your told
As you walk down the street, you feel their hearts plead
“Don’t hurt me, please! Don’t make me bleed!”

They’re frightened and scared, but you’re insecure
You can’t handle the truth, so you look for a cure
You change your clothes, and you dye your hair
You hide your emotions behind desperate prayer
But still you ask, as the taunts repeat
“Would you even know me, if we passed in the street?”

That Night

As I step onto the escalator, the guard follows me, pressing on my arm lightly. It’s a warning, nothing more, but I am aware of the power his touch conceals. The world is against me. I am a criminal, a murderer, a label. Good people mutter behind closed doors as their televisions and radios blare my name. But they are right to fear me. Even I fear myself, sometimes. I no longer know my own strength. My limits. My life has become a nightmare. Even my voice damns my soul.

Pleasantries are exchanged behind me. The two new guards begin to complain about the pumpkin frappuccinos from the Starbucks across the street. A sliver of normality in a shadow of fear. Thoughts dart across my mind: how does a “frappuccino” even taste? Would I ever find out?

An unseen hand swings the courtroom doors open, and I walk in. I am pushed towards a table on the left. The room is full of people, but they are strangers. Most are dressed in sombre colours, as if this were a funeral.

What am I thinking? Of course they would see this scene, this courtroom, as a funeral. But not mine.

No, my funeral was weeks ago. At a Christmas party. The twenty-second of December. Someone had spiked the punch. I realised after three glasses, but, by then, it was too late. The dizziness, the rush…

But I wasn’t worried. I knew the rules; I liked to think I was a responsible person. I had head the horror stories; even little Carly Rose down the street…

I would call a cab. Use a friend. The options were open. I could have fun.

But then the phone rang. And the nightmare began.

It was my neighbour. The one who had lost a daughter. “There’s been an accident,” she said. My parents were in the hospital. Critical condition. Fading fast. I’d have to be quick if I wanted to say goodbye.

“What about Phil? Where is he?”

“He was in the back. Oh, darling, he didn’t make it…”

The words continued, but my heart had stopped. I couldn’t hear any more. I didn’t want to hear it.

But the words continued. I had to come quickly, or they’d slip away. Only one more chance to tell them I loved them. How much they meant to me.

Could I make it? To see them, one last time…

My body jerked itself into action. I grabbed my keys and ran to the door, pushing bodies and balloons out of the way.

It was raining too heavily. The pounding on the car matched the pounding in my head. My headlights and the windshield wipers barely made a difference.

I backed out of the driveway, wincing as I heard a crash. Someone’s bins. I hoped.

I don’t remember much of the drive. I never found out how far I had gotten, or how long it took. All I know is that I awoke in a prison hospital with an armed guard reading a list of rights. My hands were handcuffed, as if I were a dangerous maniac.

I never spoke to my lawyer. I never spoke to anyone after that night. They told me the names. Phoebe Kimbrell. Noah Perez. Eve Powers. Edgar Oliver. Four lights blown out in a single second. It was my fault. I was selfish. Irresponsible. Stupid.

I didn’t deserve to live.

I don’t deserve to live.

When the judge enters the courtroom, I am pulled to my feet. But I refuse to look at him. Not because I am afraid or rebellious. But because I am remembering. And, right now, I can only remember one thing.

I never got to say goodbye.

Lift the Curtain

A Reader-Insert!

 

Your feet tread softly on the cold stone floor. You brush your hands against the cracks in the wall, barely visible in the dim daylight seeping through the barred windows. Gray ashes are still plastered against the grate in the cold hearth, but the fading furniture looks smaller than you remember.

It seems like a journey through time, a walk in the past. You might have been looking at a picture from another age, another’s life, another chapter from the cheap science fiction novels your mother used to buy.

Mother. The word creeps into your brain, and tears creep into your eyes. How many times had she held you, sang to you, played with you? In this very room! But, now, she is gone…just another faded memory to join the others around you.

There are shouts outside, and the wailing horns signal a werewolf attack on the castle walls. Instinctively, you stiffen, but your feet refuse to move. Even your quiver, mere metres away, lies still. You are still in shock; this room has caught you by surprise. Sealed behind the termite-torn drapes, you were expecting a closet of sorts. An armoury, maybe, or a repository.

Certainly not a nursery.

Yet here you are, tracing the same path you took with your very first steps. Back then, when you had a mother and a father who loved you. Not like now, when the very ground you walk on trembles, and the soldiers along the battlements cower from your gaze.

The war horns sound again, and, this time, you spring into action, grabbing your quiver and locking the door behind you, gently draping the curtains over the handle. You didn’t want any of the nosy maids or guards poking through your past.

You hear a sentry call your name, and you assume a position of command by the window. The werewolves are vicious; they must be desperate to attack the fortress in broad daylight. Notching an arrow, you aim briefly before letting go.

You miss.

It is difficult to fight your father’s people, but they harbour no similar qualms about attacking you. Neither do the soldiers by your side, who glance at you with suspicion and scorn.

Maybe one day you’ll find your place. Until then, you’ll have to be content with a secret nursery, hidden behind the drapes.

 

Post It on My Heart

Ben’s heart raced every time she walked by. Maria Lopez. The most beautiful girl in the world. The smartest, funniest, kindest…he would speak about her all day, if he could. She was the one reason he didn’t mind coming into the office. The only reason he stayed in this miserable job at all. If only she’d look at him more often, or maybe even send one of those sunshine smiles across the room, he’d be…

“Ben? You okay, ese?”

Ben blinked. “Oh, Carlos. , just thinking. ”

“Well, don’t think too hard. I can see your brains leaking out.”

Ben watched the other man leave the room before he pulled the envelope from his inside jacket pocket, opening it to ensure its contents were still intact. A pair of tickets to the Hoax Beat concert on Friday. Ben knew they were Maria’s favourite band; he had heard her speaking with Gloria from HR about one of the lead singers. Tommy, or Tony. Something like that.

Inhaling deeply, Ben pushed back his chair and strode out the door, walking across the corridor to Maria’s cubicle. Frantic thoughts began to race through his head. Was his hair too greasy? Was he wearing too much aftershave? What if she didn’t like the smell?

But Maria wasn’t there.

Ben exhaled. She had probably stepped out for a break. Should he wait? He had a full thirty minutes before his next call. Or maybe…

Ben grabbed a Post-It note and a pen. A few moments later, he slipped out of the cubicle, sans envelope, and sauntered towards the coffee machine. Soon, Maria appeared at the end of the corridor, her arms linked with Gloria’s. What they were discussing, Ben wasn’t sure, but both of them had huge grins on their faces. The two women disappeared into Maria’s cubicle, and Ben pressed himself against the wall outside, straining to hear the voices…a rustle of paper…a high-pitched giggle.

From your secret admirer? Who could that be?”

“I bet it’s Carlos. Have you seen the way he looks at you?”

Ben’s hands curled into a fist. He’d be sure to have words with Carlos later.

“Well, go on! Open it!”

Ben tried to move, but his legs were frozen to the ground.

“It’s…a pair of tickets…to…wait…”

Qué?”

“They’re Hoax Beat tickets. But I bought mine last week. Who…”

And the Reply

My Dear Fellow,

You can hardly expect me to sympathise with your situation, as I paid Phoebe good money to perform  said task (namely, cleaning your room). The state of disorder is an insult to mankind, and the stench of the rotting banana peels gravitates across the hall to my chambers, preventing sleep when it is most needed. The best advice I can offer is to keep your room in some semblance of an order, or you will face both Phoebe and myself the next time a cleaning is due.

Best regards,

Pepin

P.S. The feather pistol is called a “duster”. You ought to pop into the store and see if they have one available for purchase. I would be happy to show you how to use it. 

A Letter

My Dearest Pepin:

It is with great concern and discomfort that I find myself forced to write this letter. Early this morning, I discovered your youngest niece, Phoebe, in my personal bedchamber, engaging in a most disturbing activity. At first, I thought she meant to murder me in my sleep. Within moments, however, I came to the conclusion that the feathered pistol in her hand was not meant for my body, while the more immediate danger came from a strange collection device near to the door. When ignited, the device pilfered some of my most cherished possessions through a hollow tube, storing them in its gigantic belly. Sorely affronted by this insult to my property, I leapt out of bed, only to be met by a feather-pistol-brandishing Phoebe. Fearing for my personal safety, I abandoned the room to her mercy, seeking refuge in the sweet air of London at rush hour.

Pepin, this course of events has left me distraught and broken. My bedchamber is unrecognisable. Its contents (my treasured possessions!) have been cast in disarray, manhandled, or disappeared entirely. My bedsheets and blankets possess a horrid stench and crispness (which I am quite certain is not conducive to human health). My dear Pepin, I beg you to right this wrong. Restore my bedchamber to its natural order. Otherwise, I will have no choice other than to pursue legal action against you and your feather-pistol-loving family. 

Sincerely yours,

Your faithful friend, —

Early to Bed

For a long time, I went to bed early. Burying my head under blankets and sheets, I cried myself into a restless daze. Sleep was merciful, the only relief from the horrific lunacy I lived each day. The nightmares were too fantastic for me to believe; the images dancing above my head disappeared when my eyes opened, blessing me with one, sweet moment before the memories came rushing back.

I went to bed early to drown out the day, the life, the way she looked at me when…

No. I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t let myself remember…her. Not now. Not yet.

But she was there. Every time I closed my eyes, I could feel her breath on my neck and her arms in mine. I couldn’t see her, wouldn’t look at her, but I knew she was there. I could hear her breath, her laugh, reverberate through my chest and pierce my soul.

Why did she torment me? Had I failed her, somehow? Was there something I could have done, something I might have been…anything, anything at all? I sit with my coffee in the morning and my tea at night, watching the sun journey across the sky. How much she loved the sun! She would stretch her hands above her head and echo the calls of the birds in her own language. Our language.

She was my little sun, and, even when sleep kisses my eyes and tries to let me forget, I hear the songs of old. Our songs. Sometimes, when I’m trapped in a coma of desolation, I walk into the little room and open the curtains. My eyes fall on a blanket (her blanket), a rocking chair, a crib. Everything is in its place, but she is not there. We built her castle. She might have been a princess.

But, now, she is gone. Just a memory. Just a laugh. They ask me when I’ll move on, when I’ll try again. Perhaps a change of scenery might do me some good? I should travel, they say. Relax. Take some time for myself.

But how can I take time for myself when this part of me has died?

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I can do. I only know that going to bed early doesn’t help. It prolongs the agony. The pain. Sleep comes in its own time. It knows no sympathy, especially not for me. 

 

Too Old to Love?

Are we ever tool old to love? Is there ever a time when loves passes over our hearts, choosing instead to pursue a more youthful path? When our hearts, crippled and crumbling, close the gates to love?

She didn’t think so, but, then again, she was no judge of these matters. Three husbands (one divorced, one convicted, and one drowned in a river of his own lies) had left her alone and lonely. She tried to keep busy — really, she did! Knitting clubs, book clubs, gardening, barn dances…

But when the doors closed and everyone returned to their families, she found herself going home alone. Even her little tabby cat had left her last winter, although she did keep his bowl full of milk (in case he ever found his way back).

But she wouldn’t think about that now. She was off to London! To visit a very dear friend of hers, from the old Tennessee days. Sally Jean had met a dashing British chap while he was touring the countryside, and they were now happily married with three girls and a boy. And a grand-daughter or two, if she remembered correctly. In her letter, Sally Jean had even mentioned a maid. And a cook. And a butler. She’d never met a butler; images of posh tuxedos and stiff backs flitted through her mind.

“Eighty-five Westingshire Street, sugah,” she said, climbing into a black cab. “An’ mind them bumps in the road, if ya don’t mind.”

The cabbie grinned before jerking the car into the street. The seatbelt slipped from her hand.

She hoped all Englishmen weren’t like this one.

When they arrived, the cabbie jumped out of the car to open the door for her. “Mind your step, mum.” She thanked him before skirting the manicured gardens to the front door. She couldn’t help but allow jealousy to tint her admiration. Sally Jean had always been prettier in school. And more popular. Perhaps it was just destiny that certain people were to…

The door opened before she could ring the bell. It wasn’t Sally’s face which greeted hers, however, nor was it a little version of a younger Sally Jean. It was a wrinkly little man, whose salt-and-pepper hair framed his wide face.

“Miss Josephine?” the man said, with a slight bow. “May I take your bags?”

“Jus’ Jo is fine. Is Sally Jean around?”

“The missus is resting. I will inform her of your arrival. If you would just wait here?” The man scuttled around the corner, and Jo found herself scrutinising the paintings on the walls. She wondered if they were relatives — ancestors, perhaps — or just pretty subjects who had fallen into an artist’s hands.

“Jo!” Sally Jean rushed around the corner. “It’s been too long!”

 

Several days later, Jo was walking around the gardens, waiting for Sally Jean to return from an engagement at the Horticulture Society. Sally was apologetic, but the Society only allowed members within its doors.

Never mind. Jo was more than happy to admire the roses and…well, she wasn’t quite sure what type of flowers Sally Jean grew here.

“That’s a Jacob’s Ladder, mum. The missus’s favourite.”

Jo turned around. It was that curious butler man. He always seemed to pop up at the strangest times.

Today, Jo decided to be nice. She raised her arms in defeat. “So many flowers. I don’t know a half of ’em.”

“Would you like me to show you?”

“Yes. Yes, I think I’d like that very much, thanks, sugah.”

The butler offered Jo his arm. “Walter.”

“Walter.”

“Miss Jo…”

“Jus’ Jo is fine, sugah. Walter.”

“Jo.” The man was certainly blushing. “Forgive me if I seem too forward, but tomorrow is my day off…and I was wondering if you might do me the honour of…allowing me to escort you to lunch. I know an excellent…”

 

Do you believe we ever grow too old to look for love?