Blog is delayed until next month and computer behaves itself. In the meantime, please enjoy this original fairy tale:
THE PRINCESS, THE TIME TRAVELER, AND THE TOAD
Kay Clark Uhles
Once upon a time in a far-away magical forest, in a far-away time, there lived a beautiful princess who wished to meet an intelligent, respectful, and engaging man. She wished upon hearts, blue moons, and rainbows; she wished upon clovers, horseshoes, and bones of chickens. She wished upon stars.
As she walked through the forest one day outside of the castle grounds, she came upon something that, to her, looked like a fallen carriage—but much larger. Not wooden. Constructed of something angular and shimmering. A blaring sound surrounded the object and cut through the stillness of the forest. On the side vessel, just above swirling lights, were the words “Splog Orb Star.”
It hissed and steamed with might and mean. The pod bay doors opened with a “whoosh” before her. The fair damsel, never having seen such a sight, observed an armored creature; his back turned to her, speaking unfamiliar words into a transmitter, “Baboonish frible kilter toot,” she heard. “Twaddle squit gammon cack.”
An audible, astonished gasp left her throat and the critter turned slowly in its chair to face the beautiful princess. Its helmet vaporized to reveal a dashing gentleman with pearly hair and dusky eyes. He gripped a cruet and held it to a spigot; the spigot connected to a tank filled with the healing waters from the wellsprings of the aqueous planet, Splog.
Turning to the console slowly, he spoke into the transmitter again, “Godid gidigo. Seedop elishus.” He pushed the voice piece into a hollow on the console, stood, and turned squarely to the princess. A brawny and stalwart form displayed itself from under the shiny black suit. He sipped once again from the bottle of wellness water and moved along, on foot, toward her.
She curtsied and sighed an unsteady, “Greetings, sire.”
“Howidig,” he replied.
Tilting his head, he stuttered and cleared his throat, “Greetings.”
“I am ’Thialani of Maiden Way.’ Call me ‘Thialani,’” she said. From where did thee fall?”
“I am Commander Aszerlimbi Caerwyn. Call me ‘Commander.’ I am of the planet Splog and my time-travel ship is disabled and unable to return to base.”
The engaging Commander, the ship, the sky and what’s beyond intrigued the princess. She was smitten; he, likewise. They sat on a log and talked until the sun dipped low. They walked together until the moon rose. They wandered through the forest and through the night until the sun emerged once more. The Commander explained his intergalactic cruiser and his travels from Splog to Earth. His intelligence impressed the princess.
It was day again and his canteen was dry when they happened upon a brook. He stepped below her on the rocky bank. He held her arm securely as they walked to the edge of the water where he filled his vessel. He swallowed the clear liquid with great appetite, quenching a thirst which had built over the years, and dribbling a fair amount on his pressed uniform. Thialani and the Commander laughed.
“That will leave a mark,” the Commander said.
“What, perchance, will thy superiors say?” Thialani asked.
“I have no superiors,” and he respectfully held her hand to aid her in ascending the steep bank back to the path.
When the sun was overhead, feeling comfortable with the Commander, the damsel invited him to her castle outside the forest for a meal. At the edge of the trees, the damsel stopped, drew a deep breath, and squinted her eyes. Two saddled horses appeared on the rise of the hill. They galloped toward the couple and stopped just in front of the princess. The Commander took the reins of the Appaloosa and gently helped Thialani mount; he then mounted the dray. Keeping the reigns of both horses, the Commander coaxed them up the hill. He talked of his battles with the great Narrian general of the planet Narrisus and of his heroic deeds on the planet Asternette, pausing only to drink from his canister.
Approaching the castle’s gate and moat, the Commander jumped from his horse to move the draw-bridge into position. The princess drew a deep breath and squinted her eyes once more. The bridge swung instantly to open the passage. The Commander turned to the princess, eyes wide. She rode before him to enter the gatehouse. On the drawbridge, the Commander pulled a rope from the saddle horn, tied it around his decanter, and lowered it to the moat. He drank the murky water and followed Thialani into the gatehouse.
Once inside the castle, the new friends made their way to the great hall where large weapons, murals, and coats of arms hung. Thialani took her place on a gilded chair at the far end of the raised table. “Prithee,” she said. Yet, the Commander remained standing. “Having ears, do you not hear? Having eyes, do you not see?” she said, pointing to the bench alongside the table. The Commander nodded and reluctantly took his place at the lower side of the table. A ewer filled with water was brought to the table, and Thialani washed her hands as she customarily did; the General drank from the ewer before him.
Servants brought beer and wine; they served bread, smoked sturgeon, and mutton pie. Thialani ate with a knife and manners; the Commander ate with his fingers.
“They knife se be sharp to cut fayre thy meat,” Thialani said. The princess drew a deep breath and squinted her eyes tightly. A knife appeared before the Commander’s plate. Yet, again, he ate with his fingers.
Throughout dinner, with elbows on the table, the Commander spoke of the Star Orb, its launch systems and propulsion devices, and how he planned to fix them so that he could carry her off to the planet Splog and to the future.
When the couple was filled, the Commander belched and blew his nose on the cloth napkin, placed it on the table, stood and offered the princess his hand. She stood unassisted and stepped before him, leading him to the garden courtyard. The Commander followed and filled his decanter from the water statues. He brushed against topiaries and kicked at a passing toad as he scrambled to catch up with the princess. The Commander drank of the fountain water in his flask, then moved to wrap his arms around the fair damsel’s waist and swung her face toward him. He kissed her deeply. Thialani broke away and spun quickly taking five steps back. She turned to face him, saying, “This taradiddle, him know I not. For the more that thou raise himself over the other, the more ought she to hold the commandment of the rule. Notice is given. I command you. Go!”
She squinted her eyes one, two, three times, took a deep breath and he was gone. The garden was silent from his twitter and his arrogance.
“Run fast while ye have light so that the murkiness of death overtake thee not,” the princess hollered toward the skies. She held her eyes tight for a period and uplifted her arms with a drawn-out sigh.
The Commander ran fast, as he was commanded, but the dessert he now found himself in was hot and dry. He looked for his canteen, which was nowhere among the cacti and rocks which surrounded him. Running and puzzling over how he was moved to this parched land, he stumbled and fell to the sand. He struggled to rise to his feet, but lift and pull as he might, his feet were heavy and would not move. Suddenly, his space boots split open and his toes spread into a maze-like pattern of roots around him. A large taproot came forth from his manhood and dug deeply into the earth. A green prickly armor spread over him from his feet to his head. He raised his arms toward the sky from which he fell begging for his home planet, Splog. Suddenly his water-filled canteen fell to the ground in front of him. For a moment, he felt relief, but when he attempted to bend to retrieve it, he would not bend. He tried to lower his upstretched arms, but the green thick skin was unmovable. He gazed at the canister. The sunlight glinted off the shiny surface and cut into his eyes.
The Commander thought of the courtyard, the princess, the feel of her body. He recalled her words and realized that he had outrun the murkiness of death which she had commanded. Now, he wished for death and the release from the memories, the relentless dessert sun, and the view of his canteen for eternity.
Meanwhile, back in the garden courtyard, Thialani bent to pick up the tiny green toad. “Thy own faith has healed and thy luck turned,” she said. And she moved in for a kiss on the tiny toad’s lips.
Moral: be respectful of the difference, different cultures, while the princess gave him every opportunity to be a part of the castle realm.