What Dreams May Hatch
739 words long
To fall--perhaps to crack; ay, there's the rub / for from that crackéd shell, what dreams may hatch?
Notes from the author:
The #CTC29 prompt for Day 22 was to rewrite the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme using the voice and style of some particular writer. The idea, I must admit, did not initially inspire me. Mother Goose and I aren't ready acquaintances, and the story of the Egg's rise and fall I find particularly boring. As for mimicking the style of a famous author, I felt helpless. I had no ready references. My books were packed away in storage while my husband and I were going on Week 3 in a Louisville, Colorado hotel while our home was being reconstructed from the inside out.
I suppose I could have visited Project Gutenberg or dug through the ebooks on my hard drive, but I didn't think of it. I relied instead on having the opening of The Last Unicorn all but memorized, and attempted a loose imitation of Peter S. Beagle. To some extent I think I even succeeded. If I look aslant at the bees and the butterflies, I can almost see Beagle's blue jay couple bickering in their nest. From there, the piece meanders through a number of modern fantasy writers' voices before striking out at last across the desert on a path of its own making. I'm absurdly pleased with how its adventures turned out.
Nevertheless, it seems embarrassingly obvious that the first sentence to cross my mind was, "The great egg-shaped man sat atop a brick wall, and he sat there all alone." In my defense, I did not actually write it down. Well, until now, of course.
The great-egg shaped man sat atop an ancient wall of crumbling brick. The wall was overgrown with morning glory and ivy, each surprised to find itself in competition with the other for those rare beams of the sunlight that won past the unaccustomed egg-shaped shadow. Butterflies visited the just-opened blossoms of morning glory, sipping nectar and trying to interest the bees in small talk: news of the day, nectar-gathering techniques, that sort of thing. The bees were unamused. They had a strict schedule to maintain, and they wished that the butterflies wouldn't gossip so.
"Cabbage moths," said one worker bee to another. "Not butterflies. They're cabbage months. Their larva eat brassicas down to the root. You see them coming, enjoy the arugula blossoms while you can, right?"
"Shut up and stick to your work," said the other worker bee to the one. Although what she said may actually have been, "Stick to your worth." The record is unclear, and for good reason. In their language, the two words are very near to each other in both meaning and sound. Also, bees tend to lisp.
The great-egg shaped man heard none of this exchange. He had no ears to speak of. He had no eyes, either, but that did not stop him from contemplating the view. Beyond the wall that bordered his native land, there was nothing but miles and miles of desert. All the green growing things were behind him, walled up inside the kingdom. It occurred to him, slowly, for thoughts moved sluggishly across the great egg yolk of his brain, that he and his homeland were both eggs of a sort, all shut up in their shells. The shell of the kingdom held inside of itself a fantastic lushness and fertility which it jealously guarded against escape. Thus the badlands remained badlands, and the kingdom remained hermetically sealed. How sad, thought the egg-shaped man, how very selfish, to sit on life as a dragon sits on its hoard, keeping all of life to itself and denying to the world outside its walls! If only someone could break those walls down, let the life inside spill out. It might make the desert bloom. It might grow up to be a bird, and fly away.
This thought so moved the egg-shaped man that he suited thought to deed. It was not hard. Just a small shift in posture allowed gravity to do the rest. On the desert floor, among the sere and withered fallen leaves of morning glory and ivy, his breached shell allowed his own yellow life to seep freely into the sand. His thoughts beyond this point have not been recorded.
Within a few minutes, the royal guard arrived, having been summoned by the alarm that sounded any time a citizen crossed the wall. They climbed up and peered over, but, seeing nothing other than egg shell, they returned, grumbling, to the palace.
"The alarms are too sensitive," the sergeant reported. "They go off for any damn thing. Today we were summoned out to arrest a broken egg. An egg! I ask you."
The king nodded his feathered head, but was troubled. Nothing but trouble came from eggs. He should know. He preened thoughtfully, then dipped his beak into a bowl of clear water. He wondered what shape the trouble would take this time.
The sergeant returned from the king's audience chamber irritated, but not altogether unhappy. This outing had left the guards' hands clean. It made a nice change.
At the foot of the wall, green stained the sand, and the green stain grew. It sprouted upright and released a new sort of leaf, oval and smooth. It sent forth the promise of a blossom. The cabbage moths took the tale away to spread through vine and bush, but their larva did not find the new plant good to eat.
"Silly dreamers," said a worker bee, watching them go. She landed on the bud of the new plant and investigated, but the little green doors were still locked tight. She returned to the morning glory, whose blossoms were wide open and joyous with it. "Comes of turning everything into a story, I suppose," she muttered, more to herself than for the edification of her junior colleague. "Stick to what you know, that's the thing. Stick to your worth."
The new plant kept growing, reaching tendrils down the slope and into lands as yet unexplored.
This has been the Friday Fictionette for September 26, 2014, and was released as the "Fictionette Freebie" for September 30. You can also read it at Wattpad and on Patreon. Become a Patron for as little as $1/month to read a new Fictionette every first through fourth Friday.