Monday, January 9, 2012

Soaring Like an Eagle

Haven't posted in a while, working on a short story for a friend.  My friend asked me to imagine her childhood friend Clarice and her adventures as a young woman.  Clarice is in an elder care facility, but is still of sound mind, but wanted something new to enjoy.  So far she's enjoyed the adventures I've created for her, and amazingly many of the memories of her are accurate, although the story I've written is entirely fiction.  Hope you enjoy it also!


“Lynda, come over here and tell me why you’re crying?”  The old woman called out in a surprisingly strong voice, for someone who looked every one of the eighty nine years that she had lived.”

“Oh, Nana, the young girl said between hiccoughs, Jimmy said no one would ever want to kiss me,” he said my hair is too red, and my freckles make me look spotty.”  Nana, do you remember the first time you were ever kissed?  You told me your hair used to be red just like mine, I bet no one ever said you were spotty, and I bet you didn’t have a bratty brother like mine.

The old woman chuckled to herself as she pulled her great, great grandchild down on the porch swing next to her and gave her a gentle hug.  Looking out over the little garden in her granddaughter’s back yard Nana sighed as she related the memories of her first kiss. 

“Child, my fondest memories as a young girl were of running up to the top of the grassy hill behind my folks old farmhouse and lying on my back, watching the clouds morph into castles, and sailing ships, watching birds soar overhead, and bees and other insects flit and buzz around me, easily moving from place to place.  Oh, it would be so wonderful to soar like the hawks, to join those clouds, or to travel from flower to flower like those bees.

When I was about sixteen there was a great hubbub in the little town where we traveled to picked up feed for our livestock and necessities for us.  A crop duster/stunt pilot was coming to town, he was actually called a barnstormer in those days, and the whole community was invited to the 25 acre field outside of town to see this amazing flying machine and watch someone who could actually do what I had only dreamed about.

Wanting to make sure I could obtain the best spot to observe this fantastic event, I conspired with my best friend Delores and obtained permission to spend the night with her as long as I finished my chores around the house first.  Our plan was to sneak out without her parent’s knowledge very early in the morning to beat the other townspeople to the flying field.

We were up and on our way so early that morning that the roosters hadn’t even begun crowing.  One of the neighborhood dogs started barking and howling as we snuck by, but we soon ran out of his field of vision and continued running until we reached the old barn at the end of the 25 acre field.  Inside was the most wonderful sight I had ever beheld.  Before me stood a magnificent airplane, wings, one above the other, spread out like a bird when he soars, two seats, one in front for a passenger and one behind for the barnstormer, not enclosed like the airplanes today, and a propeller in front carved out of the most beautiful wood. 

“What are you two doing here?” boomed a deep male voice, making both of us jump, although I’m proud to say, only Delores squealed.  There staring at us by the light of his lantern were the bluest eyes I’d ever seen.

“I had to come and see for myself your wonderful flying machine,” I said.  “Soaring like a hawk has always been my most cherished dream.” Grinning with a smile that would melt butter, the young man said, “then you’re in luck Red, I’ll take you up with me today.” 

“I don’t think you should do this,” Delores whispered, but I put my arm around her and made her promise she wouldn’t tell a soul until I was back down on the ground.

It wasn’t easy stuffing my hair into the leather helmet he made me put on, and then he strapped me into the front of his amazing machine and off we went.

By that time most of the townsfolk, and many of the nearby farmers and their families, including my parents and brothers, had crowded around the rim of the field to watch the spectacle that was to take place.

After pushing the plane out of the barn and onto the packed ground of the field, the young man pulled down on the beautiful wooden propeller until it started spinning at an amazing rate, he then ran back and jumped into the seat behind me.  A boy from town pulled a wooden block out from in front of the wheels, and off we went.

We started rolling faster and faster and in the blink of an eye we were off of the ground, heading skyward up over the tops of the trees, soaring like the hawks and crows that took off around us into the air in noisy surprise.  Up higher and higher, through one of those puffy white clouds that looked so much like a castle. 

After I opened my eyes, which I’m ashamed to admit I had squeezed shut during our some of our ascent, I couldn’t believe the wonderful sights above, around, and most of all below me.  There were people waving at us from the ground, looking much like the tin soldiers that my brothers used to play with, except these tin soldiers were moving about.  The cows in the O’Malley’s field started running toward their barn, I expect they gave sour milk that evening, and you could almost imagine the town dogs growling and barking.

We did figure eights in the sky, and at one point that young man scared me witless, by doing a summersault right there in the middle of the sky.

Oh, this was such an amazing day, a day I would never forget, in more ways than one.

After a few bumps and stomach turning ups and downs, up and down, we headed back to the rutted field and we were once again on solid ground where we stopped.  The young man jumped down out of his seat and reached up to help me down from the cozy nest I had been strapped into.  He reached up and pulled the leather helmet off of my head, pulling a few hairs out in the process I’m sure.  He then looked me square in the face, said something about my having the greenest eyes he’d ever seen, and kissed me right on the lips.

That was the day I was able to soar with the hawks, was kissed by a blue-eyed young man, and was whipped with a switch when my parents found out what I’d done.

Nana, what became of the blue-eyed young man? 

Oh, he later became your great grandfather, but that’s another story for another time.

Lynda, you have a few years yet until you will be kissed, after all you’re only seven, but I can guarantee the time will come, and your red hair will be like a crown for you, and your “spots” won’t even be noticed, they just add to your beauty, and oh my, those green eyes of yours! 

Nana, tell me more, when did you and Oompa get married, did you get switched because he kissed you?  Oh no child, I was switched for lying to my parents, in fact Lynda was in trouble with her parents too.  I learned a lesson that day and was never switched again, although to be fair, I probably should have been.

I didn’t meet with Oompa again until four years later when I was traveling in Morroco, doing what folks called a “Grand Tour” after graduating from Normal School with a degree in teaching.  My maiden aunt Minta (everyone called her Minnie) was traveling with me, we had been in Europe for most of the summer when an opportunity arose to board a touring ship that sailed up the Nile River.  Oh, the exotic sights we saw, nomads on camels watching us from the river shore, the giant pyramids and the Spynx with his nose broken off.  We even were able to climb to the top of one of those pyramids, it took us hours to reach the top, but the view of Egypt was worth every minute.

Anyway, after a trip to the Rock of Gibralter we crossed over into Morocco, suddenly we were in a totally different world.  Not at all like Gibralter where we felt we were setting in a tea room in England.  The smell of exotic spices filled our noses, and colorful bolts of cloth were exhibited at the sides of the parthways. 

The hotel where we stayed for a month had been a former harem, with clay and rock walls that looked totally unassuming from the outside but, when you entered by a tall wooden door, you were suddenly in another world where there were colorful flowers everywhere, and fountains with water splashing and tinkling a wonderful lilting song, tiles of blue and green, and windows low enough to see out of if you were on tiptoe, but high enough so no one could see inside.

One day, Minnie said she just didn’t feel up to going out to explore, I suspect she had a bug from some of the spicy food we’d eaten the night before, so she suggested that I should stay in a rest also.  Well, once again I contrived to sneak out without her knowledge and walked the winding roads into the Casbah.  I had taken a precaution of putting on a local robe striped red and camel color, oh red is such a horrible color on redheads, remember that dear, and pulled a cloth over my face so I wouldn’t be too obviously a white woman alone among all of these men selling their wares, the native women who were walking around were there in groups and always seemed to have an escort with them. 

As I stopped in shop after shop to look at the treasures available for sale I realized someone had followed me along my path, hiding just outside of the open doors of shops, crouching behind carts loaded with fruits and vegetables.  Maybe I should re-consider being here in the Casbah by myself and return to the harem hotel.  As I turned around to retrace my steps I realized I didn’t know the way back, I had taken too many twists and turns, and followed too many exotic looking treasures on my little solo adventure.

Spinning around and around I was suddenly grabbed from behind and pulled roughly into a shadowy alleyway, a place just wide enough for a man or a donkey to walk down, there was a stream of who knows what trickliing down what looked like a little culvert in the middle of the alleyway.  I had been warned many times during my stay here of just this dire problem, young women who went into the Casbah alone were often abducted and sent away to be a part of someone’s harem, of course I thought I was immune to this happening to me.  Even though fear flashed through me all I could think of was how mad Aunt Minnie was going to be at me.  Once again I had gotten myself into a jam by lying, and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get out of it this time.

Trying to kick with the long robes impeding my legs and feet was useless, I flailed out with my arms, only to be hit in the side of the head.  Screaming was out of the question as a dirty hand was held over my mouth, I couldn’t even open my mouth wide enough to bite him.  Just as I felt myself going faint from lack of breath the arms that held me were jerked away.  As I fell to the ground I caught a glimpse of the bluest eyes.  No, this couldn’t be, I thought, here was the same man who took me soaring with the hawks, only he wasn’t a young man any longer, he was just perfect.  At that thought I fainted.

"Red, wake up, you’re safe now, wake up", a voice that sounded older, yet still sounded the same called out to me.  I was being held in the arms of the man who had given me my first kiss, and here he was in the Casbah, how could this possibly be?

"I thought I recognized you and your red hair kept slipping out of your scarf, and I could never forget those green eyes. I was here buying supplies for my excursion into the desert.  Whatever possessed you to walk around here alone?  If I hadn’t come along when I did you would be long gone." 

"I’m perfectly fine", I huffed, although truth be told I was anything but fine.  I shuddered when I watched the dirty robed man run around a curve in the alleyway where my rescuer found me.

"You’re a little fibber" he said, "I’m in a hurry if I’m to meet my caravan into the desert, what am I going to do with you?"

"Please, just take me back to my Aunt Minnie" I replied, trying really hard not to show him my fear, although I’m sure he saw the tears in my eyes.

"I don’t even know your name even though you were my first kiss, and the only time I ever soared with the eagles, and now you’ve saved me from heaven know what, you don't have to sound so short with me you know."

"I don’t know your name either, since we’re on such good terms I suppose you should know I’m called Jordon, named by my folks after the Jordon River, and I'm not being short with you, you just scared me, and I am in a hurry." 

I’m Clarise" I replied, and by the way thanks for saving me, I really am thankful." 

"You’re quite welcome, now, let’s get you back to your Aunt Minnie, but first, I need to do this one thing", and he bent down and kissed me once again, but this time the kiss was magical, I felt it all the way to my toes.

"Grandma, is that when you and Oompa got married?"

"No my dear, that story is for yet another time.  I’m afraid Jordon deposited me back at the Harem Hotel into the angry care of my Aunt Minnie, with a quick whisper in my ear not to get into trouble again, and off he went, not to be seen for quite a while."

"I think this trip was just too much for Aunt Minnie, because she never asked me to travel with her again."

"But, Nana, I can’t wait for another story, I need to know when you were kissed again, and when you met Oompa again?"

"Well, my child, four years later I was asked to take a teaching assignment in an old Spanish town called Santa Fe, in what at that time was the Territory of New Mexico.  My folks weren’t too happy to have me go off to such a “wild” place, but I was certainly excited to be off on another adventure, my life had been just too tame for my taste in the years after my Grand Tour."

"Santa Fe looked much like the small towns in Spain that I had visited with my Aunt Minnie.  The houses were built out of a type of clay called adobe, their roofs were flat, and the only building with a peaked roof was the Cathedral that the Catholic Bishop Lamy had built just off of the plaza." 

"As I stepped off of the train into the horse and wagon that was waiting for me, an old gentleman with grizzled hands and wearing something called a serape told me in broken English that he would take me to the little schoolhouse and small adobe cabin that would be my home for the next year.  As we road the dirt roads into my new town I could smell the bonfires of pinion wood burning all over the area, the fires were called faralitos or (little fires), and around the eaves of every adobe house were beautiful red garlands made of chiles that hung one after another, being dried for use in the winter.  What an exotic and wonderful sight, Santa Fe was surrounded by snow topped mountains with bright Aspen trees covering the lower slopes looking much like golden frosting dripping off of a birthday cake.

I knew I would have a wonderful adventure and couldn’t wait to start teaching the children of this amazing part of the country.

To be continued:

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