Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's so Novel About a Peanut?

Peanut's fingers scurried across the lined paper leaving letters along the way. She dropped  a word or two and then snuffed them out with the pink rubber rectangle that magically removed the pencil line. Laying on her tummy, with a spiraled notebook before her, she crossed her feet and raised  them up and down as if to pump the waters of imagination from a deep well. 

A simple sigh ran up her throat, and dropping the pencil, she rolled over on her back and stared up at the ceiling. Leveling her hand toward the light she flexed her fingers, stiff and crampy from gripping the slender yellow stick. With fleshy pink lids falling over her hazel green eyes she tried to envision the legend leaking from her fingertips. 
In this one page prose the words had to set the scene, the spelling precise, and the penmanship prime. All of it had to be perfect. There was something to be earned from perfection. Approval, love, acceptance; these things were the salt on a tender peanuts shell; the flavor that made life tasteful, like a seasoned novel left you wanting more. She wondered if she was novel, and she wished to be wanted. 

Peanut pulled her eyes from the ceiling and they fluttered around the room lighting here and there, finally settling on a skid row of cardboard covered tales. The love of books was woven into her character. They were her faithful friends. But, the few she acquired were paperback paupers, lean on the reserved space upon her dresser. She cherished reading and could evaporate in the epic of a lined adventure. Her favorite fiction were those about horses, her pals and passion.  

Feeling the weight of her arm in the air, she lowered it onto a copy of Black Beauty. A tingling sensation raced to her fingers as she gripped the book and divided it in half. She brought it to her face, buried her nose between the pages, and delighted in the pleasant aroma of the paper bouquet. She inhaled a scent of satisfaction.

Laying the book down, she groped for the pencil resting quietly beside her. She wiggled the baton like a parade majorette, raised it to her lips, and clenched it between her teeth. The whiff of leaded wood drifted into her nostrils. She breathed deeper taking in the sylvan scent.

The smell made her think of a fabled forest, and a flight of fantasy carried her away to a covert cover of trees. She was flung down upon a bed of prickly pine needles and rusty leaves. The fall knocked the air from her lungs and she lay there for an instant catching her breath. Before she was coherent a velvet muzzle nestled in close and a burst of hot air blew her eyes wide open. Face to face, she stared into two deep pools of steely blue liquid color, surrounded by boundless white satin tresses laced with silver.

An urgent beat skipped across her heart. Trying to lift her head, she found her hair pinned to the ground by a cabochon cornet. A warm breath cleared a path to consciousness, and an odor of horse mixed with nectareous perfume brushed her flutters aside. She blinked away the last of the lethargy and her eyes crept up the magical myth.

There before her stood a fabulous beast not conceived from human fear, but from fantasy; fierce yet good, selfless yet solitary, and mysteriously beautiful. Sizable cloven hooves were covered in liquid silver locks. Staunch limbs sustained a massive, muscular anatomy coated in plush sterling, shimmering with the brilliance of diamond dust. Never had she seen such a resplendent creature. 

Curiosity replaced capriciousness and Peanut reached up to touch the sparkling spiraled horn of the unicorn. Instantly, she was transformed from a peanut to a princess. Pedal pushers and plaid became an iridescent gown cloaked in minuscule crystals that matched the brilliance of the beast. Banded at her waist was a breadth of belted silver, studded in striking gems. At the side of each hip it divided, and joined once again well below her waist, where it narrowed to a pearly silver cord weighted with a filigree pendant of perfectly matched jewels. 

Her hair was no longer a stringy mass of girl curls but long, beautiful golden tresses. She felt a tickle and touched her brow now wreathed in a braided crown that mocked the waist-belt. Hung from the crest, in tiered fashion, were fine strands of silver lilliputian roses. 

Feeling as beautiful as the marvelous myth before her, she rested her forehead against his cushiony cheek and reveled in the grand, graceful moment. A flutter of wings momentarily distracted her and she raised her head to the mottled ceiling of natures greenhouse.  

A pure white dove descended from the heights and found footing upon her shoulder. The brush of his feathers fluttered against her cheek, and he cooed a tender greeting in her ear. Attached to his leg was a tiny band that looked something like a miniature mail box. Peanut peered closer and discovered a micro scroll stuffed inside. With nimble fingers she dislodged it from its hiding place and unrolled the parchment. Written in fine gold script was a message from the Lord of the Land she stood upon.

In a breath, Peanut was pulled from the fantasy by her own respiration. She exhaled in awe and wondered if she had fallen asleep and dreamed a dream; or been carried off by some mystical vision. It felt so real she could almost imagine a dusty shine in the air and thought she detected the faint, sweet scent of a mysterious nectar. And then she knew. This would be her story. 

Rolling back onto her tummy her fingers flew across the paper recording the conception of the scenes that paraded before her memory. Her mommy would be so proud of her. Maybe, even her father would give his approbation. She imagined the reception; an accepting hug, genuine approval, and love beyond measure. 

Dotting the last sentence she gathered up the paper and pulled open her bedroom door. She was excited about her teeny novel, but even more excited to present it. Down the hallway she could hear brittle bickering between her parents. It was commonplace and she shrugged it off. 

She stood a few feet from the doorway of the kitchen, gathering bits of courage. The smell of mulligan stew barred her tummy into a growl. Her mother was stirring the kettle and her father sat in his usual position at the table. She pondered him for a moment wondering what made him so unhappy, and what she had done to earn his disdain. His countenance looked shameful and disturbing. 

Suddenly he turned and caught her stare. Her eyes had lingered too long. Venom shot from him like an angry snake and Peanut recoiled at the sting of his words. She sidestepped the bite and swept to her mother's flank while quickly explaining her presence. But, she had not been fast enough. The story and her esteem were ripped from her.  

Her father briefly studied the adolescent script and a tiny tide of hope began to rise within her. Then the dam burst forth spewing a river of vile language and disparagement, and with a harrumph he tossed the crumpled paper onto the table and huffed from the room.

She retrieved the wrinkled composition, and before turning to her mom, swallowed the hurt, and forced back the waters that threatened to invade her eyes. Her pillow would soak up the tears later as she cried herself to sleep. She had watched her mama cry too much, and  learned to do without the comfort of consoling. An empty glass could not fill another. 

Handing the text to her mother, she already knew what to expect as it was placed to the side. It would be read later, but there would be no encouragement. In fact, because of some of the bigger words Peanut used, her mother would think she copied it from another source. 

If her parents had taken an interest in her report cards, they might have known she was a good student. High marks in spelling and language were one of her major accomplishments. And her imagination for weaving a story was beyond her young years. But, all that would wilt without the water of worth.  

With her head hung in shame and eyes on the floor, Peanut retreated to her corner like a whipped puppy. She tried to tell herself it was a good story, and reviewed the fairy tale fiction in her mind. She wished she could live in that beautiful land and be a princess upon a unicorn, and write in tiny, gold script on rich parchment. 

As she got lost in the fog of fantasy, a strange peace filled her heart and she remembered the scroll and what was written on it. "I am the King and you are my princess. Soon, very soon you will wear the crown of life."

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