Starry Wars

4

No new stories forthcoming as of now because my wife and I have decided to remodel our kitchen before moving on with our lives.  We just decided it the other day, as easily as deciding to pick up McDonald’s on the way home.  We will probably look back for years and debate the financial merits of our decision, but sometimes you just have to go with a gut feeling, especially when you have one at exactly the same time.

That’s how Sally and I operate.  When we both have an idea at roughly the same time, or are feeling the same about handling a particular problem we are facing, you may as well write it in stone: that’s just what we’re gonna do.  And this is remarkable for many reasons, not least of which is I am a Star Wars person, while she is a Star Trek person.

I’d like to say we are both a couple of nerds, but that would fail to recognize the important differences in our quirkiness.  I, on the one hand, am a pure nerd, head full of useless information, always eager to share it, lacking in so many ill-defined social graces.  But my wife is a dork, and she knows it.  She comes from a family of dorks, strange but witty people who joke and pun all day and care not a whit what other people think of them.  They hold up signboards with their names… in airports…in front of people.  A nerd can’t help but make a fool of himself; a dork takes foolishness to an art.

Anyway, our marriage is fueled by these fine distinctions, as well as our polar opposite affinities for sci-fi humor.  She speaks to me in Trek references and I speak to her in Star Wars phrases.  And we understand one another.  The other day I was headed home from an excursion to Home Depot and I called her up.  The conversation went like this:  “Hello?” she answered.  “Hey, babe.”  “Hi honey; are you headed back?”  “I need you to move the fleet away from the Death Star,” I informed her.  “Okay, I’ll throw on some shoes in a minute.”  She knew that I meant I wanted her to move the Tahoe away from the front entrance so that I could load and unload the truck more easily.  No other explanation necessary; the woman knows me.

I still hope that she will one day acknowledge the superiority of the Star Wars saga.  She still loves William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and the whole Star Trek enterprise (a pun :-P).  So for now, she drives at warp speed while I travel in hyperspace.  She invokes logic while I use Jedi mind tricks.  She’s a dork from the Midwest and I’m a nerd from a galaxy far, far away.  And we like it like that.

The Walmart Effect

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My sincere hope was that Home Depot would carry a scientific calculator.  I’m not sure what made me think this.  As I approached the tool aisle I could already see from a distance that I would be disappointed.  There were only two different calculators hanging on hooks and neither one of them was smarter than a fifth grader.  Oh well; I tried.  I resigned myself at that moment to a trip to the Walmart across the highway knowing full well what would happen: the Walmart effect.

I went in with the intention of buying a Casio solar scientific calculator, the one I’ve used since my college days (since which the price has gone from $15.00 twenty years ago to $7.00 now; with inflation, that’s less than $4.00,  giving a clue as to how much they were screwing us twenty years ago.)  Alas, I came out with a calculator, a set of 500-thread bed sheets, a matching throw, Alice in Wonderland on DVD (what else would it be on?), and only narrowly avoided a ready-to-bake pizza, Starbuck’s dark chocolate mocha frappucino, and coconut M&Ms.  I went in intending to spend seven dollars and I spent a hundred and thirty-eight.

There comes a point at which convenience is criminal.  Even a convenience store jacks up their prices to prevent you from going hog wild.  But Walmart?  So much variety, so much color, so much of everything you need, want, or fancy; this plus millions of dollars of psychological research conducted over decades on unsuspecting shoppers in order to figure out what makes their wallets tick; all at rock bottom prices; it has its effect on me, to say the least.

I’m gonna love my new sheets, though.

Takoda’s Song

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Here follows a retelling of the Aztec Fifth Sun legend.  In the original story, Nanoatzin, the old god, is pitted against Tecuciztecatl, the proud young god, in a battle to find their place in the heavens.  In this reimagining, the protagonist and the antagonist are brothers who are destined to take their place in the heavens, but are rivals for same love interest.  The names selected are North American native names to give it a more familiar flare.   As usual, comments and critiques are welcome.

Target age:  9 to 14 years.  Both genders.  Word count target: 1000

Takoda’s Song

              Takoda had never felt so cold as in these last weeks.  How many days had passed?  A hundred?  A thousand?  Maybe more.  Here in the Cave of Preparation, the Feather-Spirits waited with him while the new planet was finished.  He could remember when Elu, the Great Eagle and Creator, had summoned him.

            “Takoda, most humble of Feather-Spirits, I have chosen you to give light to a new world that I will make.”

            “Great Father,” said Takoda, for he dared not speak his name, “I accept this grave honor.”

            “At the appointed hour, the Chosen Ones will sing the Glimmering Song and become stars.  And one will be given a great and terrible task.”

            Takoda had left Elu’s presence brimming with great joy.  What could the special task be?  He had heard rumor that only the best Feather-Spirits were chosen to be lights.  He had heard that Sakari, most virtuous of Elu’s angels, would go to the Cave as well.

            He looked at her now, shivering in the icy cave, radiant as the shining star she would become.  No one spoke in the cave, but they had often stared into each other’s smiling faces.  He hoped that she could see in his eyes how much he loved her, how much he yearned to spend eternity with her in the new sky.

            Nearby, glaring at him with growing envy, was Kuruk, strongest and proudest.  Long had he endeavored to win the affections of Sakari, who had laughed at his feats of strength, and giggled through his long-winded odes to his own mighty deeds.

            Takoda loved Kuruk as well, for he was his brother.  He knew Kuruk resented him now more than ever.

            “Folly!” Kuruk had charged long ago, when he found out that Takoda was chosen.  “You are not yet grown, and yet you are picked to give light.”

            “You are hardly older than I,” Takoda reminded him.  “Let the wisdom of the Great Eagle bear itself out.”

            In the Circle of Heaven, their rivalry had been one-sided.  Takoda was humblest of angels and meek before his brother, even in front of Sakari.  He wondered if that was why she never had pledged to him.

            Here in the Cave, it would be different.  Takoda prepared his heart and steeled his mind for the terrible task.  Whatever it was, he would finally show Sakari his worth; he would finally be with her.  Surely she would pledge then.

            The Cave shook with Elu’s call.  The time for light had come.  One by one, the Feather-Spirits emerged.  First went Nodin, swiftest.  He sang the Glimmering Song, filling the opening of the Cave with silver brilliance.  Takoda’s eyes brimmed with tears as the strains soared to their climax, Nodin’s body bathed in white flames as his music swooped and swelled and pulsed.  Then Nodin was gone, swept up into the sky.

            Takoda watched them go out one by one to sing and then alight: Meda, holiest, then Aiyana, the fairest, then Wapeka, most skilled weaver, and Taima, of loudest voice.  He waited until the end, hoping to perform the great task.  His eyes followed Sakari as she stepped forward to take her place in the sky.  Finally, only he and Kuruk were left.

            “Come forth and gaze upon this world that I have made,” came the voice of Elu.

            They both walked out of the cave, and Takoda could now see the new starlit world, but something was terribly wrong.  The creatures, great and small, were shivering and slowly dying.

            “One of you must save them,” declared Elu.  “Sing the Death Song and give your body to be burned forever.  You will die doing this thing.”

            This could not be!  Takoda thought of Sakari, already waiting for him.  He looked at the beautiful creatures, lovingly made by Elu, yet fading in dark shadows of the new world.

            Suddenly, Kuruk began to sing, boldly and proudly!  This would be his greatest achievement!  But fear gripped his heart as the red flames began to touch him.  He refused to die.  He refused to leave Sakari.  Kuruk failed and turned to stone.

            Now Takoda breathed deeply of the icy stillness, and sang out, of love and death and the world’s beginning and end.  As the red flames swirled about his limbs, still he cried out in singular melody.  Yellow fire consumed him and his body convulsed in agony.  Feeling his life force slipping away, he whispered a prayer: “Elu bless you, Sakari.”

            Now Elu sang.  In the strains of the Divine Medicine song, Takoda was no more, but was reborn as Ishan, the Sun.  Elu lifted him into the sky to warm all the creatures of the world.

            Kuruk he placed on the other side of the world to be the Moon, never again to shine but by the light of others.

            “Great Father,” cried Ishan.  “I did not know it would be like this.  I know not words to speak of this joy.  Only I regret that I will never again see Sakari, brightest of stars.”

            “Child, she is pledged unto you forever, for she knows your fate and your worth.  Look upon her now, for she is the morning star, always to share in your radiance.”

            At this Ishan smiled, and looked lovingly at Sakari.  Then he turned his face toward the earth.

© 2009 Daniel Alegria