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Maux Part 1

September 14, 2011

Hello!  So I have an actual short story for you!  It isn’t “finished” as in I haven’t looked at it 10,000 times and edited the heck out of it, so your opinions are even more valuable than usual.  The title may also change since I’m not completely happy with it,  Anywaddle, I hope you like it, the genre is fantasy/be-prepared-for-fantastical-creatures, this is part 1 because I don’t want to explode wordpress so I’m posting it in bits, please PLEASE tell me what you think especially about Maux since she’s a kind of funky off-growth of me, I love you all, and hope you enjoy it!!!

Maux

“The first time I met Maux Lirut was when I was a boy: very small and exactly three and a quarter.  There was a melancholia about the moors that Mom loved, her endless bedtime stories of boggy mysteries and stone walls to nowhere and brackish dank gloom spiced with wild murder and ghoulish intrigue only heightening her own affection for them and allowing it to grow in me.  But that came later.  When I was three, I became lost.  And alone.  And afraid.  And then quite suddenly not.

We took a vacation to see the English moors my mother had so often dreamed about.  On that sunny late afternoon, I had wandered off from a dozing Mom and Dad, rolling myself up the hill and beyond, wanting to see more of this strange grass and rebel against sleeping because there were at least a hundred more interesting things to be doing other than sleeping.  When I reached the top, I looked back down to see Mommy and Daddy had gotten smaller on their purple blanket, stretched out across the itchy grass, a purple splotch with pale lines of bodies against all the green.  I smiled, walked on, and left them to their dreams.

The English weather did not fail me that day.  It quite suddenly grew dark as clouds blotted out the sky and the frightened sun lifted her skirts and bustled downward, the last rush her tailing yellow and red ribbons starting to disappear altogether.  It left all the green hills with red spots looking like all the other green hills with red spots, but on I walked, hoping to find Mommy eventually but also to be a hobbit and find an enchanted ring.  The little nawing in my tummy and in my chest wasn’t fear because hobbits with enchanted rings weren’t afraid.  I decided that a slip of grass would be my ring, so I picked one and twirled it around my finger.  Now I was surely invisible and invincible: what a surprise Daddy would get when I found them.

My feet started hurting and my stomach rumbling and my head aching.  The darkness deepened as the stupid lady sun sunk more and more–what an awful mother she would be, always leaving her children like this, alone and wandering and only a magic ring for protection.  Maybe magic wasn’t real, after all.  It was really a round slip of green grass that I held together on my finger and it was itchy at best.  I had climbed this hill before, hadn’t I?  Or was it the other?  The nawing grew as the world seemed to shrink and constrict around and soon all was the exact color of gloom the authors describe, with little tendrils of fog and whispering creeping in, and I was very lost indeed.

The fog thickened its grip and I was cold even with my jacket.  I started to cry.  Little sobbing tears as I walked because I was sure that I had been transported into another world, a desolate world at that, and I the only being in it.  This wasn’t fun anymore.  I had walked the moor backwards and forwards and sideways and still no Mommy or Daddy.  All at once I sat down and brought my knees to my chest and cried into myself for my poor fate.  I must have missed the lantern bob, the swing of the light coming closer and closer from out in the mist, the shadowy form growing more solid and real until it was upon me, standing right in front of me on silent feet and staring down expectantly.

‘This isn’t really the time or place for little boys,’ it said down at me.

I started, jumping up and away from the noise and frantically backward.  But then it appeared to only be an older girl, not as old as Mommy but older than the ones as preschool: from my point of view now her older teens.  She was tall, towering above me really, with that strange, almost stunted growth of too long legs and not enough middle.  Her round face was tanned a bit with thick eyebrows and grey-green eyes and her hair a frizzy brown, sticking up and out in all directions but somehow the top bit contained in a maroon ski hat.  She wore holey jeans and knitted fingerless gloves over spidery fingers and a slightly fitted and patchy coat over her plain, and loose long-sleeved, and dirty blue t-shirt.  I tell all this to you now, because that is what she always wore and always looked like and I needn’t describe her again.

At the present moment of the story, this girl-creature was a strange stranger, holding her lantern aloft to let the circle of light include my rammer-rod straight form.  My face was blotchy red with tears against its usual pale with freckles.  Everything from my crooked pinky toe (it turned inward on its own accord: it still does) to my blue eyes to the tips of my buttery red hair was at attention, my hands nailed to my sides and my shoulders up and tense.

‘What are you doing here, little boy?’ repeated the girl-creature, leaning forward as if to make me understand by proximity, her speech tanged with accent like she couldn’t decide which one to adopt.  ‘The moor is not safe at night.  Where’s your mum?  Your dad?’

I wanted to impress her, to make her go away and leave me in my new world of fog and grass and eternal search for Mommy because Daddy had said strangers are dangerous.  So what came out of my mouth was, ‘I’m not a little boy, I’m a Hobbit and I have a magic ring, so if you don’t let me go then, then I’ll, I’ll,’ I stuttered as to what sort for threat I would make her, my eyes downcast but then looking her right in the eye when I found my answer, ‘I’ll turn invisible.’

The girl looked taken aback at my show of bravery and matched my stance except she kept her lantern up.  ‘You’re not a Hobbit.  You’re wearing shoes.  Hobbits needn’t wear shoes.’

My face fell at this point, but then brightened. ‘I’m undercover.’

A smile quirked up on one side of the creature’s face.  ‘That you are, my lovely.  But if you’re a real Hobbit, you’d like a cuppa, won’t you?  Warm you up in all this dark.  We’ll have a right merry party and then I’ll see you off to where ever you’re undercoverly going. Deal?’

I didn’t exactly know what ‘a cuppa’ was, but something in the girl’s manner disarmed me and made me sit awkwardly down on the path as she sat criss-cross applesauce, carefully put her lantern to the side, and pulling things out of her pockets as magicians pull out scarves.  I watched her, fascinated.  Her deft fingers pulled out a small blanket, a single propane burner, a bottle of the gas, a lighter, a kettle, two mugs, two packets of tea (‘you look like a chamomile hobbit, I think.  At least at the present.’), a small quart of milk, a plastic bear full of honey, two spoons, a sugar bowl, and packet of chocolate chip cookies.  Dexterous as if she’d done it a thousand times (she probably has), she cleared grasses away from a spot on the path I’d been walking, set the burner there, connected the gas to it, lit the burner, put the kettle on, and settled the blanket, tea things, and cookies between us.  As we waited for the water, which I didn’t understand how but was in the kettle nonetheless, I asked, ‘Is any of this poisoned?’

‘Now, lovely, if I wanted you to be poisoned I wouldn’t tell you it was poisoned because then you wouldn’t eat or drink it and therefore wouldn’t be poisoned.’ She smiled sweetly.  ‘But none of it is, so don’t fret, my little hobbit.’

‘You could be lying.’  My lips drew down in a pout.  ‘Lots of people lie.’

Her smile grew broader.  ‘Look at you, catching on.  Very good.  But I’m not lying.  I’m not built for it, if you know what I mean.’

I didn’t know what she meant, but then the kettle whistled and quick as a wink the girl was pouring tea into the mugs, stirring the spoons and adding milk and sugar to hers and milk and honey to mine (‘You’re not from around here so honey is prolly your…well, cup of tea.’)  She drank hers, watching me as I watched her, until she reached for a cookie and dunked it into her drink before eating it.  ‘So how old are you?’

‘I’m three and three quarter,’ I said, fibbing.

‘You have yet to lose your baby teeth!’ she said, starting up in surprise, her eyes going wide a bit.  ‘That’s very young for a hobbit to be wandering off on his own, undercover or no.’

‘I’m not afraid!’

‘Really?’ She put down her tea and placed her hands on her knees and leaned real close to me, our noses almost touching as she bore into my eyes.  ‘‘Cause I think you are.‘ Her eyes and mine flicked down to my lonely cup.  ‘You’re not drinking your tea.’

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