A Mage Like Any Other

Perhaps it was a dream, she thought. Perhaps if she pinched herself, she would wake up. But she didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay in this dream world where she is a mage.

Females don’t get to be mages. Only men are born with the ability to wield magic. Nora wasn’t supposed to be a mage, but she was. Today and the days she had spent at the Magic Academy didn’t seem real so far. Any second now someone would change their mind and she wouldn’t be allowed to stay. She knew this couldn’t be true. 

But it was. And everyone was scrambling to discover how this had happened, but she already knew the answer. It was probably because she was a girl or maybe because she was a mage-in-training, but no one believed her when she told them she thought she knew why. Oh well. Guess they could keep looking forever then. She was determined to enjoy being here, no matter what. 

________________________________________________

6 months prior to their 16th birthday, twins Aron and Nora were out doing exactly what they were not supposed to be doing. They were climbing the rocky hillside in search of a mountain cat. Lately their family’s farm was the target of one particularly aggressive cat who had already eaten enough chickens according to their papa. The twins were usually doing things in direct defiance to the instructions given by their parents, but the idea of getting in trouble never stopped either of them from being reckless. 

Mountain-Lion

Just that morning before they set out into the hillside forest, their mother stopped them in the kitchen. 

“Stay off the hills today, ” she said. “Your father is going into town to hire a mage to cast a locating spell for that mountain cat. Stay close by. You know how I feel about spellcasting.” 

Their mother was a typical country farm wife. She didn’t like messing with magic; you just couldn’t trust things you can’t explain. Despite her dislike of magic, the twins had been sent to the closest town school until the age of 14. Most farm children didn’t get that kind of education. Farm kids were usually taught to read and write at home with some basic math thrown in by their parents. The twins knew things the other farm children didn’t. Many times throughout their childhood, their curious nature combined with wanting to prove their knowledge to their peers had led to them getting into all sorts of mischief. 

Today was another one of those days. There had been a gathering last night of the farms surrounding theirs, and all the fathers had been there. Tomas arrived with his father; they lived on a neighboring sheep ranch. They too had trouble with the mountain cat. 

The twins and Tomas sat on the wagons listening to their dads come up with a plan. 

“Something must be done, ” said Lucas, Tomas’s father. 

There were lots of nods and staring at boots. 

Nora and Aron’s father spoke up. Seeing as it was his farm, he thought he should take the lead. 

“We could gather up some weapons and go after it.” Fewer nods followed this comment. “However, I think that’s a bad idea. We all know what happened to Pete Delray when he and his men went after a cat a couple of years ago.” 

There was again fervent nodding, and one very quiet, “Rest his soul” was murmured. 

“I propose we all donate a small amount and hire that new mage in town to locate it for us,” said their father. 

All eyes were on their father now. “Well…” began Lucas. 

Before he could finish their father interrupted, “Now, now Lucas. Before you object. I know how some of you feel about messing with magic, but it could save us a lot of trouble.”

The men stopped shifting and started to listen. 

Their father continued, “We hire the mage. He locates the cat. We leave out some poison meat. In a few days we go back and check. But if all goes well, problem solved with no loss of human life.” 

The men looked at each other uncertainly. 

Over on the wagons, the three teens were discussing the situation as well. 

“I bet we could find it and poison it without having to use a locating spell, ” said Aron. 

“Yeah, we go all over the hills. It has to be in a cave or something. We could poison it and bring it back to dad, he would be impressed, ” chimed in Nora. 

Tomas was shaking his head. “You two are asking for trouble. Your dad is not going to like it. Besides, how you going to poison it? You don’t even know about poison.”

“Do too, ” the twins said in unison. 

“We read all about poisons in the library at school, ” said Aron. 

And that’s why they were in the hills today. They had a pretty good idea where to find the mountain cat. There was a cave that used to be empty, but now when they were near it, there was a smell. 

They were approaching the cave and both twins got very quiet. Nora and Aron didn’t really need to talk to communicate anyway. Their parents thought the two could read others minds. They couldn’t; they were just in tune to one another in a way people didn’t understand. 

As they came upon the last group of trees before the cave, they both stopped and got behind the largest trunks they could. Nora looked over at Aron. He just nodded and slowly crouched down and peered around his hiding spot. 

He posed crouched for what felt like hours, but was only a matter of seconds. He was looking to see if the cat was anywhere in sight. Nora relaxed without even looking at him; the moment his tension left his body, she felt it. She joined him in a crouched position peering towards the cave. 

Aron motioned towards the silent dark opening, and Nora began to edge forward with the bag of poisoned meat. She was just going to drop it outside the cave entrance. After all, the cat would be along sooner or later and would be hungry. It would eat it on its own. 

As she was placing the meat on the ground, she felt her brother tense again. She looked towards him. The cat was between him and her and looking right at her. 

She didn’t move. There was no way she could outrun the cat. In that moment, she didn’t even think to be afraid. All she thought was, “Why is it just sitting there looking at me?” 

She still didn’t move. She didn’t blink, and she did her best not to breathe.

Maybe she was afraid. She felt time stretching endlessly and could think of no way to break the spell she seemed to be frozen in. 

In the end, she didn’t have to. Aron came running around the cat and grabbed the meat out of her hands. The cat was definitely interested in a chase over the paralyzed target. The cat took off after Aron. In less than 5 bounds on its great paws, it took him down. 

Nora didn’t want to look, but she did. She saw Aron holding onto the poison meat, making sure that if the cat was going to eat him, it was going to eat that too. 

________________________________________________________________________

Nora was unconscious for the better part of a week. When she awoke, she knew Aron was gone. She looked around her room, which looked the same as the last time she saw it. She quietly got out of bed and walked outside. She stepped off the porch and dropped to her knees. 

After falling on the ground, she screamed. And as she screamed, thunder rolled in. Lightening began to strike everywhere around her without actually hitting her. 

Days later when the farmers ran into one another and discussed that day, it wasn’t the weather they mentioned; it was the screaming. They say they could hear her over 5 miles away. 

farm storm

 

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Mid-February Rant

It is time for my mid-month check in. However, this time it’s not going to be about writing. It’s going to be a rant. If you don’t like rants, don’t read further. Also, it’s going to be about “mom culture.” If that doesn’t interest you, no need to read further. 

Let me start by saying there is no winning in mom culture. No matter what you do, you aren’t a good mom. At least that’s how all moms treat each other. It drives me crazy. No matter what I do or don’t do, I am not good enough. I hate being judged, but I especially hate being judged because I made a choice different than yours and that’s the only reason you have decided I am a bad mom. You don’t know me as a person; you don’t know why I made the choices I did. It doesn’t matter to you; all you know is that I am not exactly like you and don’t prescribe to the same obsessive tribe as you, so you think I’m a bad mom. 

pooh can't win

Give me a break.

I am only human. I only have one child, so this is literally the one and only time I’ve been a parent. I do the best I can. 

I let me child drink soda. GASP!! And no one in my house exercises or eats enough veggies. I love that some parents make this happen but I just choose not to worry about this. It turns out my child was labeled “failure to thrive” and didn’t gain weight from the time she was 6 months to a year. She didn’t really eat “food” until she was almost two. But you didn’t ask or care to learn that about me. All you know is that she drinks soda, and therefore, I am a bad mom. 

Oh and I only have one child. This is not enough. That’s right, other moms judge me because I choose to have an only child. You don’t care why I have only one child, only that I do. Another child actually told my daughter once that being an only child made her a bad kid. No. My daughter is actually a really good kid, and I’m not saying that because she’s my kid. Ask her teacher and other grownups who know her. She is a good person. That’s what I am raising at my house. Not the assholes you ladies are creating by turning them into judgey people who make blanket statements about people you don’t know. Guess what! My husband and I had a hard time getting pregnant. It was hard on us as a married couple. I also didn’t enjoy being pregnant. So, we decided together for us, one was enough. But that too makes me a bad mom. 

But you can’t win. I have a friend who has 5 children and a 6th on the way. Recently on her way out of a store, a complete stranger said loud enough for my friend to over hear, “She has too many children.” WTF! This lady doesn’t know my friend or anything about her. What I know is that she loves having a big family. She takes good care of those children. She is not on welfare, which also does not make you a bad person. She also home schools them. (Which my sanity would not survive, but kudos to her). She is a great mom, but again, someone who doesn’t know her feels the need to judge her because of a choice that stranger has no say in. And having a big family makes you a bad mom. 

You just can’t win. I also know women who are married and wait for it…. have no children. And they don’t plan on having any. People judge them too. Usually other women. I have actually heard someone say, “Why did you get married if you don’t want children.” Really. STFU! There is no pleasing people. No kids, one kid, or too many kids. What do you people want? You want everyone to have one girl, one boy, and that’s the only acceptable family. No, no it isn’t. You should do what is best for you and your family. So, let me say to my friends who only have “fur-babies.” I think that’s great. Love those fur-babies. Being without a human child does not make you a bad mom. 

Not only do women criticize how many children you have, they also judge how you raise your children. Constantly. I have had enough of this. You can’t please any of them. I am going to tell you something and feel free to judge away, but I don’t care because I am just being honest. I let my child watch tv and play on an iPad. Yes, I know I am just perpetuating the downfall of society by letting my child have screen time, but I am not fighting the battle. It’s a battle I can’t win. She uses an iPad at school, and it’s not optional. My husband and I monitor her tv watching and iPad use very thoroughly. But yes, she uses one. I use one. My husband uses screens. Most jobs now use them. You can’t escape screens. If you choose not to let your child use any screens, again, kudos to you. However, not everyone makes that choice, why hold that against them? My child uses an iPad and that makes me a bad mom.

And guess what, bottom line. I don’t care. I am just tired of you telling me how you think I’m a bad mom or rolling your eyes at me. I would never roll my eyes at anyone during conversation, but this recently happened to me. Another mom rolled her eyes at me, several times. Okay, I get it. You don’t like me. Fine. Not everyone is going to like me. I realized that a long time ago. What you should know is that I don’t judge people for their choices. I do like to have open dialogue with people about their choices because I think it’s interesting. Apparently openly admitting my human failures makes me a bad mom too.

Maybe I am naïve, but I think people should be nice. Whether you are a mom or not. I do know that being a mom, no matter what type you are, is often a thankless job, and it would be better for all of us if we would perpetuate a positive social environment for all moms. Respect each other’s choices and realize that we are all raising our children differently. And that’s okay. Our goals for our families are all different. 

I know it’s cliché, but being kind and supportive is better than judging everyone. 

Rant over. 

Be positive writing and reading this month!

 

February’s Prompt

complete the story

Today is February (you probably know that by now). What that means is it is time for a new writing prompt. Again, I am taking my prompt from a book that one of my lovely sisters bought me titled Complete the Story. 

This month’s prompt is:

Perhaps it was a dream, she thought. Perhaps if she pinched herself, she would wake up. But she didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay in this dream world where….

I am looking forward to this month because the prompt is very vague, which leaves a lot of room to create. Looking back at January’s prompt, I felt like it was too narrow. The prompt made me feel stuck in one story. I actually had a hard time finding a direction to take it other than the one provided in the prompt.

And although I am looking forward to this month and trying to write, as always, personal struggles are already effecting my writing. In particular this month, I have decided to give up soda. I went cold turkey and cut it out of my diet. I feel sluggish today, but I am surviving.

I am not trying to lose weight. I just need to stop drinking it. I drink A LOT of soda. I have a feeling this might effect my writing. Right now I just feel like I am missing my usual “get up and go.”

However, we will survive (even without soda). Happy reading and writing this month! And good luck with your personal goals and struggles!