Good Morning Ted and Jody:
It started snowing yesterday around noon. Nancy tells me it will continue through Tuesday. That could pose some problems getting to OHSU as it is high on a hill and Portland does not use salt to break up ice. We shall see what we see.
The attached story is the first episode of a new attempt at another 70,000-word story. This story will involve child abduction, theft (property and identity) for starters. It will also involve a subset of the characters who appeared in Amanda7 and hence time travel. However, the time travel will not have as much scientific “gobblely” gook as that was largely dealt with in Amanda7 (which I hope to clean up when I revise, edit and proof that work over the next month or so. It will take some time as I get to reading and forget I am supposed to find mistakes and fix them.). For lack of a title, we can call it “Agent Amanda’ until I like it or find a better title. I figure if I keep up this writing habit, some day, I may get it right.
However, I am acutely aware of the difference between doing something many times and doing something many times and learning from the experience. Back when we first started student teacher visits as ‘subject matter specialists’ I visited Mark Miller over in the Saginaw area. He student taught for a civics teacher and a chemistry teacher. I asked him what the difference was between the two teachers. He said, one has 17 years of experience and the other has 17 years of first year experience—the difference between pure repetition and repetition with learning.
At 6 last evening, the power went out for 3 ½ hours. A Transformer blew over by Castle Rock. Since I was in the midst of cleaning my system and the sewage here at the house only works when the power is on (a pump to get it to the main sewer at the road), it made for a slightly uncomfortable period of time as I was less than half way though the prep for the colonoscopy. The prep is the worst part. Having no power made it “worser.” The time doctors spend inside looking around is a piece of cake—after all I am sedated for that. Now, if the roads aren’t too bad . . .
I trust this finds you warm, happy and healthy.
Warmest regards, Ed
001 Bedtime Story
Fiction in 1213 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
Melissia Hickson, thirty something single mother of Jessica Ann, four and going on eighteen, picked up the book, held the cover so Jessica Ann could see the many red, sandstone pillars on the book’s glossy front cover. The pillars had holes cut by the relentless wind blowing sand into the sandstone pillars in the vast deserts of the planet named Alexander. The title of the book wafted out as flowing ribbons from five holes in the largest and left most of the pillars on the cover. The five flowing ribbons declared, The Whispering Pillars of Alexander.
Jessica Ann, ran her finger over the front cover tracing the ribbon that spelled Whispering. “I like this,” she said.
Melissa Hickson, opened the book to reveal that the inside cover and first page showed a wider version of the front cover across the two pages. The inside cover repeated the title flowing from the largest pillar from the cover. The first page contained a slightly smaller pillar with seven ribbons flowing from it declaring By Walter Janson, Illustrated by Joanne Swans. Jessica Ann, again ran her finger over the word Whispering. As Melissa Hickson read, she ran her finger under each word “The Whispering Pillars of Alexander, by Walter Janson, Illustrated by Joanne Swans.”
“Where is Alexander, Mommy?” asked Jessica Ann.
“It is far, far, away, Baby,” replied her mother.
“Can we go there?” asked Jessica Ann.
Melissa Hickson looked down at her daughter by her side and gently said, “Why don’t we read the book first and then see if we want to go. OK?”
Jessica Ann, turned the page and said, “OK, mommy.”
A single Pillar with a large white space and the very fine pint of the copyright notice graced the second page. Jessica Ann Pointed, “What does this say Mommy. Read.”
Melissa Hickson read, “Copyright with the symbol, 2665 by 27th Century Childhood Publications. All rights reserved Printed in The Republic. No part of this book may be reproduced without explicit permission from the Publisher.“
Jessica Ann said, “That’s not the story. Read the story.”
The third page contained a single Pillar with ribbons of words flowing from it Melissia Hickson’s finger followed the flowing words as she read in a loud whisper, “I need someone to come and help me. I am alone. Will you come help me?” Looking down at her daughter, she asked, “Will you go help the Pillar?”
Jessica Ann had a very serious look on her face as she shook her head saying yes. Jessica Ann said “Yes, I will help the Pillar.”
Melissa Hickson gently said, “Then turn the page, Baby and let’s see what help it needs.”
The same Pillar was on the fourth page but moved to the left. On the right was a little girl standing looking at the Pillar. The little girl had a balloon coming out of her mouth which read, Hello, my name is _____. Melissa read this to herself and then told her daughter, “The Pillar wants to know your name.”
“I’m Jessica Ann. Tell it Mommy.”
Melissa Hickson took a pencil she had tucked behind her ear and wrote Jessica Ann in the bank space in the bubble coming out of the little girl’s mouth. She also wrote Jessica Ann in the empty ribbon where the Pillar was answering her daughter. Then she read, “The little girl says, Hello, my Name is Jessica Ann.” She looked down to watch the broad smile cross her daughter’s face. Then Melissa whispered the words on the ribbons coming from the Pillar. “Hello Jessica Ann. My name is Freddie.”
Jessica Ann’s face beamed with delight and she said, “Hi, Freddie,” And she waved.
Melissa Hickson’s hand moved to the fifth page where Freddie was whispering to his new friend Jessica Ann. She read, “How old are you, Jessica Ann?
Jessica Ann replied and held up four fingers. “I am four. I am four years old?”
Melissa Hickson turned to page only to have her daughter put out her hand to stop her before the page was completely turned. Jessica Ann cocked her head with a serious expression of concern, “That is my job, Mommy. You read. I turn pages.” With a determined nod, Jessica Ann turned the page.
On page six Freddie the Pillar had arms that he held out so he resembled a cross with wingtips. Melissa Hickson read “Jessica Ann, I can’t move. I am stuck here.” Melissa looked down and asked her daughter “Do you know why Freddie can’t move?”
“He’s a rock. Rocks don’t move Mommy,” Jessica said with all the authority she could muster. With that, she pointed the ribbons of words coming out of Freddie’s mouth on page seven and said, “Read, Mommy, find out what Freddie Wants.”
Melissa Hickson moved her finger to the ribbons of Freddie’s words on the next page and read, “It is close to bed time and I can’t move to turn out the lights.” Since there were no other words on the page Melissa said to her daughter, “Turn the page Baby.”
On page eight, Freddie stood with his eyes bigger than they had been on the previous page. His mouth was clenched tight. His head was tilted to one side and his two arms served as a pretend pillow. Melissa read, “Will you turn out the lights for me?”
This time, Jessica Ann did not need prompting to turn the page.
On page nine, Freddie’s eyes were very droopy and only half open. Melissa read, “I am very sleepy?
Again, Jessica Ann turned the page as she could see her mother’s finger had run out of words.
On Page 10, the little girl had a balloon, but no words in it. Melissa said, “I think Freddie needs you to answer. Will you turn the lights off for him?”
Without hesitation Jessica Ann nodded her head and said, “Yes, Freddie, I will turn off the lights so you can sleep.”
Jessica Anne slid off her bed and started towards the light switch. Her mother stopped her saying, “Baby, we need to turn the page and tell Freddie good night before we turn off the lights, OK?”
With all of the seriousness of clear understanding that a little girl of four could demonstrate by posture alone, Jessica Ann climbed back into her bed and said with much gravity, “Yes, Mommy.”
Page eleven found Freddie standing with his right arm held high as if he were waving and his left arm down toward his side. Melissa Hickson read the ribbons coming from Freddie’s holes, “Thank you Jessica Ann. You are most kind, good night.”
Jessica Ann turned the page. Page twelve found Freddie the Pillar standing in a darkened desert with z’s on all his ribbons. “I’ll turn the light off now, Mommy.”
“I’ll turn the light off for both you and Freddie, Baby. Sleep tight,” said Melissa Hickson as she tucked in her daughter. Then she leaned down and kissed her goodnight.
“Good night Mommy. I like Freddie and Alexander,” replied a sleepy Jessica Ann.
Moving to the front of the RV she shared with her daughter, Melissa Hickson pulled the curtain to cut the light to the back, opened her lap top and began to type: The Whispering Pillars of Wulingyuan by Melissa Hickson. Copyright 2010 by Melissa Hickson.