Day 183 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about creating one amazing thing from many ordinary things.
Erin: “Flour, baking soda, salt, butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract, chocolate chips.”
“Yeah so,” I argued when I was confident her list was complete.
“They are all fine things alone, but put them together and you have a warm gooey chocolate chip cookie. That’s what I think your traits do. They add up to a heavenly concoction.”
I just blushed and shook my head at her naivety.
Shannon: I’ve always had a fascination with things that get left behind. That’s why I make a lot of recycled art. I’ll take something old and worn down, like bookshelf and make it new and exciting again. I’ll take the garbage bottle caps and toilet paper rolls and make them into containers to hold the odds and ends I find that don’t yet have a place to be reused.
I recently started collecting color pencil shavings from my electric sharpener, and glued them to a canvas. When I was done I was amazed at how beautifully the colors displayed themselves when they mixed back together. I think a lot about how all the forgotten beauty that gets thrown out everyday, and it makes me sad.
Blank + Blank = What?
Darkness was forever closing in on me; it took away my breath and stifled my terrified screams. Every now and then, I could see a flash of something, or someone, on the otherwise pitch horizon, but it was gone before I could register anything other than blurs and shapes. Staggering through a foot of scalding hot sand that I could neither step over nor dig myself out of, I had to just continue moving forward. If I stopped for longer than a few seconds, I could feel things that crawled and inched their way across the dirt on more feet than I wanted to imagine and scales hard as rock slithering past my sedentary, and oddly vulnerable, legs.
After what could have been an eternity, the lightning struck again, revealing a single figure standing atop a pile of what appeared to be bleached bones. The first thing that I noticed, though, wasn’t the figure itself; it was the fact that, in all the time I’d been wandering listless and directionless on the desert of nothingness, I hadn’t once seen an inkling of sun or stars. So, my question was this: how did the bones become so blanched with nothing to beat down on them? Of course, this first thought was overshadowed by the next bolt which showed a long flowing mane of hair waving behind the woman and a gleaming sword was held out at such an angle that the light refracted off its smooth surface.
Letting out a tiny cry at the prospect of meeting another human being in the horrible place, I picked up my pace as the bolts struck home more often than ever. By the time I’d mounted the hill and stood before the warrior, the strikes were near-constant and creating a dramatic background for the magnificent being. Up close, I could see that her skin practically exuded energy, though her every cell was completely stationary. Breathing quickly through burnt lungs, I eyed her for signs of life and found none. The cry of relief turned to a silent sob that wracked my entire body and I fell to the boiling sand as thunder rumbled around me like waves crashing on a sun-drenched shore in the middle of a storm.
I remained like that, defenseless in a deathly still desert, for a long time as the sand scarred my bare arms and legs. When I felt a gentle touch at my shoulder, I leapt backward so fast I slide several feet down the sandy hill and landed in a heap of burns and tear-streaked skin. Standing before me, with her sword resting at her hip, was the statuesque woman with her captured-lightning eyes and fierce stance. Gracefully leaning down, she offered me her hand and the minute I our fingers touched, the world was thrown into full daylight and vivid colour as though the sun had suddenly risen after an eternal night. As I allowed myself to be lifted up, I stood on top of the sand instead of embedded in it like ancient pottery, and couldn’t help the elation that followed. Beyond her, I could see that the white material I thought were bones was actually a cluster of stones in striking alabaster that she’d been standing upon.
When she released my hand I feared, momentarily, that the world would fall into the spell of darkness, but everything remained as it was meant to be. She grinned with a set of fangs that made my toes curl and beckoned me to follow as she silently stalked back up to the top of the hill. Clamouring up behind her, I nearly fell as I felt the weight I’d been carrying had been lifted both from the sand weighing me down, but also the pain I felt in my heart at my failed plan to save us all. That thought had wormed its way into my head, in this fantasyland, and I could finally lay it to rest behind me.
Cresting the top of the hill, I finally saw what the, now silent, lightning had been striking; an enormous, sprawling tree whose roots had slithered under the sand to keep it in place in the drought-like environment. Though the storm had just passed a few seconds ago, the tree itself was perfectly intact with no signs of having ever been struck with more than a light drizzling of rain. As I slipped down the other side of the hill, feeling a little like I was skiing without skis, the woman reached the mighty trunk and fell to her knee, one hand resting comfortably on the hilt of her sword. It was a long, slow walk under an aqua-hued sun to reach the first ring of roots, and a good trek after that to be standing in the shadow of the tree itself.
When I was standing beside the Amazonian, she nodded slowly to me, with a pointed look in her wide, glinting eyes. Puzzled, I furrowed my brow and made to speak, but she reached her free hand to touch her own lips before bowing low to the tree before us. Finally, understanding dawned and I mirrored her stance of reverence and knelt to one knee, feeling the awkward tug of gravity near my hips. The woman grinned with her ghoulish teeth again and let her hair cover her face as she leaned forward. As soon as I was staring into the sand, there was a deep rumbling growl from directly in front of us and the tree’s many branches began to twitch and shift as though it were sentient.
“Daughter of the Skies,” spoke a low, feminine voice that vibrated the very ground we knelt upon, “you feel a great weight on your innocent heart.” Hardly daring to raise my head, I turned slightly to see what the other woman was doing and found her upright with her sword stuck into the sand. Lifting my head, I straightened my back, but remained on my knee because I wasn’t certain my legs would hold me up. I trembled from head to foot as the voice of the tree boomed again, “You need not fear me, as I am the symbol of the great Dryad Society of the Physical Planes of Earth. Your heart sings of the misfortunes which had befallen you in the mortal worlds, while those around you are powerless and senseless to aid.” Somewhere in the back of my mind, a squealed about the tree speaking of my connection to the weather, I couldn’t tell you that it wasn’t just me thinking that.
The tree, having shaken out some dead leaves, that I would imagine itched terribly, continued in the same voice, “I have a gift for you that will sever the connection you have to the skies forever and ever. You do not have to talk it, but my servant, here, will help you to perform it here so you may commit it to memory for when you awake.” Though it didn’t have lips, I could hear the smile in the tree’s words as it spoke as though it were a human being standing before me.
Something troubled me, though, about their statement, and I stuttered a question before I could stop it from leaving my lips, “But, I, I am, awake, of course I’m awake, aren’t, aren’t I?” Beside me, the otherwise deathly-still woman shifted anxiously but I dared not look at her. My breath came in spurts of icy mist as the truth finally dawned. “I’m asleep; this is all a dream.” For the longest time, Sophia had been sweetening our dreams to make the world an easier place to live, so I’d assumed I was awake when I was trapped in the sand.
“I am sorry, Daughter of the Skies, but your struggle here was nothing more than a test warped by your own guilty conscience. I shall leave you to your decision and ritual. Be well, Daughter of Dryad,” it called as its voice faded like a nightmare from the world itself.
Stiffening, the woman beside me cleared her throat noisily and spoke for the first time in a fire-melted-caramel voice, “Come, we have much preparation to attend to before you can make you decision.” With that, she headed around the leafy branches of the Dryad tree and was lost from my view among the foliage. I struggled to my feet and limped after her with my hips feeling as though the joints were made of rusted metal.
On the other side of the giant tree was a large cobblestone courtyard with an awning shading the entire space from the damaging sunshine. I stopped dead to think about how insane this whole thing was, before I noticed the table set up with various spell ingredients and curiosity got the better of me. Prancing over to the ritual space, I felt the comfortably cold bricks under my feet and hurried to the table and the inhumanly tall woman. “What do I call you?” I asked before I could stop myself, blushing furiously. When she turned, the same strange smile was present on her deep red lips.
“Oh, you can call me Dryad, I was born from the original tree and I exist to serve her. I take her name when I am in the presence of humans or other physical species as you require names or monikers to identify yourselves and others,” she spoke monotonously and without any deeper understanding of her words. She really was a part of that plant; literally, a branch that was no more human than the great deciduous tree. “It is time to perform the ritual. You will need to use each of these ingredients to sever your connection to the skies and beyond.” Gesturing to a small vial sitting on the table, she lifted it in long fingers and spoke as coolly as before, “The first part is blood; it will need to be from your dominant hand. You will cast your circle with these items set at the eleven points around it. This is from the lux or light or spirit element and goes at the top.”
Gently setting the vial in my trembling hand, she pointed and I turned to see a circle drawn in chalk that encompassed the entire space. I placed it in front of a white candle, just within the circle itself and turned back for the next part of the spell.
“As each element is presented you must call it to you. You must also have the candles positioned.” When she leaned for the next aspect, I thought about how her thinking wasn’t linear; if it were, she would have said everything about prepping the space with the circle and candles before moving on to the good part. Plucking a leaf from the table, she held it above her head to watch the colour change in the pale light shining through the canopy. “Inside the circle, you must draw the sigil that is there, as well as the symbols for each element before their candle and physical symbol. The second element of flora is a leaf from an oak tree, which grow in abundance in Port Obscurity.”
I caught the leaf in my fingers and laid it on its chalk symbol before returning to Dryad again. This time, she picked up a stick of incense and it floated from her finger and landed in the circle as though a phantom breeze had carried it there. Dryad stared at it with wonder in her lightning eyes before snapping back to the task and rushing through the element in a husky tone, “The next is aer, which will be any type of incense you wish.” As a feather floated of its own accord, she spoke to it quickly as well, “And that’s fauna; a raven’s feather is the only thing that will do.”
Grabbing up the next, a stone, I beat her to the punch, “Element of terra or earth, right? And, it’s just a rock.” I held it out in my palm, willing it to move as Dryad made hers, but I had no power in this strange dream, so I skipped around the circle and deposited the stone by a brown candle.
“The next is ignis or fire,” she shouted dangerously, levitating a small bowl with angry red sparks spitting out of it across the circle and letting it fall in front of the red candle. “Just ensure that the flame will not go out, start a fire or set off any alarms,” she warned, briskly moving a bowl of blackened dirt toward the pitch candle. “This is darkness or nox; grave dirt. I am told a local shop specializing in magick stocks it.” With the next element, a scrap of metal, shooting toward a silver candle, I moved over to watch it fall with interest. “Metal or aes must be a magnet. Just make sure it does not shift any of the other elements.”
A cloud floated to the purple candle, where it hovered like a lost puppy as Dryad explained with a little more animation in her voice, “This one is tricky; you will need someone who can create a cloud to sever yourself from the element of tempus. But the next two are easy as you simply need ice for gelu and water from anywhere for aqua,” she finished, two more bowls making their way to their places around the circle.
With the elements all laid out, Dryad picked up her sword, which had been waiting patiently for her against a table leg, and slashed it through the table itself with a mighty swing. Hacking it into smaller pieces, she shifted them around as though she were searching for something. As she straightened herself from her stoop, she held in her hand a page of wrinkled paper, which she waved expectantly at me. “Come, this is the spell you shall speak three times after you have called the elements. When it is over, the tempus person who aided you with the cloud will have to dispel the elements, as you will be unable to do it once you have been severed from it,” she called as I came to stand with her, taking the page gently. When she spoke again, her voice was full of sympathy and care that didn’t match her outward, tough, appearance, “This cannot be undone. If you complete the ritual, you will have no connection to any of us, but it is up to you.” She bowed and stalked out from under the canopy and disappeared around the tree, leaving me alone with my ritual and thoughts.
I stood on the dock on the mainland, the clouds obscuring the sun and a light drizzle falling upon my head, without experiencing any adverse emotions in the dreary weather. Sighing deeply, I marvelled at what a few random ingredients could do to free someone who’d been under the weather all her life; I could begin my new life as a mortal with no opinions on magick now.
Rick finally got around to seeing Andrew’s robot, he didn’t wait a second to ask him questions.
“When did you start building this?”
“When I was ten,” Andrew says. He starts up the tech given to him last birthday by Tony Stark. “It wasn’t this model. I had a model that was two feet tall. It was made of things I could get a hold of. Mostly Legos, Mindstorm pieces. When I got older, I used my school’s tech machines to make some pieces. Like this one,” Andrew points to a shoulder plate, “So many little things, things that others said wouldn’t work. But it was a start. And every new, ordinary thing I added, made me want to work on it even more.”