Tale #83: Above the clouds, beneath the sun

Don’t go
Don’t go
his father said.

Don’t fly
Don’t fly

Keep your feet on the ground
and your heart at home

But Icarus went

Icarus flew
up towards the sun
and the shadow
that he saw there
the shadow he’d dreamt of
the shadow he’d missed
ever since he was young

And as he rose
above the clouds
as his eyes wept
from the brightness of the sun
and his arms faltered
from the weight of his wings
and questions
and doubts
clouded his mind
a voice said
down to him

“Our father had wings, but was afraid to fly”
“Our father had eyes but was afraid of what he might see”
“Our father had a wife, and was afraid she’d be free.”
“Our father had children, but was afraid we’d leave.”

And Icarus looked up at the shadow above him
and saw
the sister
of whom he’d always dreamt

And Icarus looked down
at their house below them
and at the sky around them
and the world
that stretched out
bigger and bigger
as he rose
higher and higher

He held out his hand
to his sister above him
and she took it
and held it
and never let go
and together they flew
they flew

They flew

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Notes:

1. Written on August 10th, 2019

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Tale #82: Ariadne’s Web

There is, of course, the story of Ariadne and her ball of string. It’s always told as if that was her way of keeping Theseus from getting lost. But really it was to tie him in place.

Just as her brother was half bull, she was, as her name alludes, half spider. And with every adventurer she lured in with her tricks, with every length of twine she gave them, she slowly remade her brother’s labyrinth into her web.

And, despite what the stories say, no-one ever escaped.

How many entered that labyrinth? How many in good faith took with them her wool? Unspooling it behind them, each loop they left behind a comfort to their terrified hearts, a protection against disorientation, despair.

In reality all it did was lead her brother to them. He left no trail, yet his victim’s always did. In his fury he tore those poor men limb from limb, ate the hearts from their chests, sucked the marrow from their bones, watched in the dark with demented glee as the last lights of life left their dying eyes.

Ariadne lay her eggs in the bodies he left. When they hatched, her children feasted on the rotting flesh in which they had been born, before, eventually, they scuttled down the delicate trails of her web that stretched out around them.

Out from the dark, towards the light of the town.

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Notes:

1. Written in January 2016
2. One final thing
3. For that maze
4. Of ours

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Tale #81: How to escape from every maze in the world

I listen to my dad. Not always, but often. He’s my father and I don’t want to let him down.

He told me once how to escape from any maze in the world. You just hold out your left hand, let it touch the wall by your side, and then, no matter where in the maze you are, you just follow it until you escape.

It might take a while, he said, but it’ll never let you down. Try it. Put your hand here, and start walking. Trace your fingers along the wall and follow them to freedom.

And so I tried it. I held my left hand out and placed my palm against the wall, and then stepped forward, one step, then two. On and on.

In this way I followed my father’s advice. Followed the path my finger traced along this wall. Followed the path like he said I should.

I have followed and followed and followed his loop forever. Have, in all my years, never found my way to anywhere at all.

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Notes:

1. Written in January 2016
2. For that Maze
3. Again

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Tale #80: A Labyrinth Of Streets

The labyrinth was built over several generations, new pathways added every few years at the whims of each successive lord, until eventually the maze was so large and complex, so tightly woven and dense in self-referentiality, that the people of the town it encompassed (and embraced, and contained) could not only never find their way out, they could never reliably find their way home either.

Over time they settled in new houses, made new families, found new friends, and formed new communities to replace the ones they had lost in the ever-branching complexity of this prison in which they lived.

The lords grew ever angrier at this resistance. They built the maze ever larger, wove it ever tight, progressed, they imagined, ever closer to their dreams of complete control.

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Notes:

1. Written on July 3rd, 2019

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Tale #79: Trail Of Breadcrumbs

We knew our way in, and we knew our way out. And we wanted so much to show everyone what we knew. To show them what we’d found, to show them everything we had. But telling would diminish it all. And asking, well, that would diminish us.

We waited and no one ever came. We left a trail of stones to mark the way, but no one ever thought to follow. We left a trail of breadcrumbs behind us, yet all we attracted were sparrows. We left a path of flowers, and they brought us nothing but bees.

So now instead we used coins we’d stolen from the machines by the pier. And we laid them down on our path as we walked out of town and down into the woods, our way twisting here and there between the trees and through the undergrowth, taking half-forgotten paths along river banks and across nearly-broken bridges, until our trail reached the hidden clearing we loved so much, and the forgotten lake where we always swam.

There we took off our clothes and stepped into the water and waited. Waited for whoever would follow their greed and come to us.

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Notes:

1. This was originally written in July 2014
2. As part of what became An Escape
3. But this version was written in January 2016
4. For use in the Maze
5. That I have mentioned before

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