I lay on my back in the sleeping bag, head pillowed on crossed arms, no tent between me and the sky. The meteor shower was supposed to peak around four in the morning, but I wasn’t so sure I could make it that late. Early? I never know how to talk about the time between midnight and sunrise.
I know how lucky I was to find that clearing. After a long day of hiking, it was a godsend to find somewhere tailor made for watching the night sky. The moon was the merest sliver of light; only a new moon would have made for better viewing.
I snuggled a little deeper into my bed under the stars, the soft rustle of nylon and polyester singing me a sweet lullaby of peaceful, warm comfort. I smiled to myself as I saw my third double meteor of the night. I don’t know why two shooting stars at the same time make me feel that way, but they do. Like it doesn’t really matter how much we’ve screwed up, that things will still be okay in the end.
I dozed off for a little while, but when I checked my watch upon waking, and it was a little after three. I felt rested enough to stay awake for a while, so I felt around to my right until my hand touched my water bottle. I took a slug and looked at the sky.
Once upon a time, there was a princess who lived in a castle. She went out every day to play by the fountain in the garden, but she always had to play by herself, because she wasn’t allowed to play with the servants, and there weren’t any other princesses her age.
One day she wanted to go outside, but the queen forbid it because of a lightning storm. Finally the storm ended, and the princess ran outside. A beautiful rainbow arced over the castle, and the raindrops glistened in the leaves of the apple trees like diamonds in the bright sunlight.
The princess sat on the side of the fountain and peered over to look for the goldfish she loved to feed pieces of bread. She saw only one, lazily flipping its tail as it swam in circles nearby. She pulled a smuggled piece of bread from her pocket and began to tear it into tiny pieces, dropping them into the water one at a time.
Suddenly, she heard a plop. The princess looked around on the surface of the water until she was where the ripples were coming from, but that was all she saw. Then a turtle popped into view from under the lily pads right in front of her, next to the fish.
She tore some larger pieces of bread for the turtle, and he took them gently from her fingers before disappearing into the depths of the fountain.
“And then what happened?” the little girl asked, sleepily, bundled up in her covers.
“You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out. Goodnight, sweetie.”
Frank picked up his phone and called the pet store. The empty aquarium had been bubbling in his living room for far too long, and it was time to do something about it.
Some punk kid answered the phone with disinterest, and Frank simply ended the call. There was no way a part-time teenager would know anything about tropical fish. No way.
He pulled on a pair of jeans, shoved his feet into some sandals, and grabbed his keys from the table by the door. It was only a couple of miles to the pet store. He flip-flopped his way in and paced back and forth in front of the wall of fish tanks for nearly an hour.
All four of the employees had stopped by to check on him, more than once, but he waved them off, a fierce look of concentration on his face.
Finally, he froze.
“That’s him!” Frank announced to the whole store at the top of his lungs. Three of the employees immediately trotted over to find out which was the magic fish. Frank’s finger was following a beauty of a yellow tang, lazily flicking its tail as it circled the tank.
The pony-tailed girl wearing a name tag that said Deloris quickly snatched up a net and a plastic baggie for the lucky fish. She deftly scooped it up and tied the baggie before handing it to Frank. He cradled it lovingly and headed straight for the registers.
Frank nestled to bag into the crook of his elbow to use one hand to open the drink cooler and snag a blue Gatorade, which he placed on the conveyor belt. He paid and brought his new friend home.
Frank never took a break from the upkeep of his saltwater tank, so he popped the fish right on in there and stepped back to see how it liked its new home. He gasped, appalled that he’d nearly forgotten the most important part. He unscrewed the Gatorade bottle and used an eyedropper to collect a bit.
And then he counted four drops into the aquarium.
Frank wasn’t quite right in the head.
Eye shot an arrow
When the turtle told me to
He failed to specify direction.
Eye shot one north
Then turned around and shot one south
Eye spun, stringing and loosing.
Eye shot at the moon
And snacked on a red apple
Out of arrows, Eye went to sleep.
This time I only rolled five cubes.
Have any of you seen Rory’s Story Cubes? I picked up the basic set as a stocking stuffer for Ian a couple years ago, and while we love playing games, we’ve never gotten around to this one.
I pulled them off the game bookcase a few weeks ago, and they’ve been sitting on the kitchen island ever since. Today I decided it was time to put them to good use. As Ian was leaving for work I told him I was going to write a cube story tonight.
We have the basic set; nine cubes with a different picture on each side. I’m not good at sticking to recurring post idea kind of things (obviously), but I had sort of an idea to use them as prompts. Maybe a hundred words for every cube I roll? I don’t know. We’ll see.
Anyway, here’s what I just rolled.
I’ll leave them as photos so anyone who’d like to join in won’t be contaminated by my interpretation of what the cubes mean.
Let’s see what I come up with.