Friday, April 10, 2009

Wordzzle - The acrobat, the optometrist, and the bumble bee

This is my contribution to this week's Wordzzle. Wordzzle is a game in which each week word lists, used to create stories, are given on the blog Views from Raven's Nest. Participating users post their stories on their own blogs.

This is the second time I've played the game.

Ten Word Challenge:

grocery store,
ceiling fan,
bumble bee,

The acrobat took his scissors, which he had just purchased at the grocery store, and proceeded to carefully clip the dandelions in his yard. A bumble bee flew nearby, watching, not sure it liked this new development. Inside, a chartreuse cube talked to an alabaster-colored ceiling fan, making plans for the evening. Outside, the acrobat finished and took all the dandelions in and started putting them in vases. The bumble bee looked through the window, watching, sometimes strenuously bumping against it.

The cube said to the ceiling fan, "What do you think?"

The ceiling fan said, "Well, first let's hide the scissors. And next time, we need to write out a list. We told him we needed dust cloths, not dandelions."

Mini Challenge:

poison ivy,

The optometrist, listening to his iPod, walked mindlessly through the poison ivy. From high on a pole a camera watched, and a distant computer recorded the information. In a distant country, an interpreter translated the information for the use of people who keep track of such things. The optometrist knew none of this, not even about the poison ivy, and kept on listening to Bob Dylan singing "How does it feel?"

Mega challenge:

grocery store,
ceiling fan,
bumble bee,

poison ivy,

Poison ivy grew among the dandelions, or perhaps vice versa. The optometrist, carrying a small bag of supplies, made his way carefully along the path, avoiding both of them. The optometrist was accompanied by a bumble bee, who rode on his shoulder, conserving his energies. The optometrist worried about the sanity of his friend, the acrobat, and sometimes spoke to the bumble bee about it. The bumble bee worried too, and not just about the acrobat, but didn't say anything.

As the optometrist came up to the house, he found the front porch covered with vines. Working strenuously, he pulled them aside, and finally reached the front door. He knocked on the door, while the bumble bee investigated some nearby flowers. The optometrist waited, but received no response. He knocked, and knocked again, and fearing something was wrong, was considering whether he should break in when the door began to open. Daylight poured in through the opening, illuminating an otherwise dark room. As the door opened further, he saw the face of the acrobat, blinking in the light. There was silence.

"You emailed me, saying you had a big problem and had to see me right away?" the optometrist finally said.

"Oh, oh, that's right," the acrobat said. "I was listening to my iPod, and got distracted." He peered outside the door. "Wow. I guess I should get out more often. Well, come on in." The acrobat led the way back into the house, the optometrist following. At the last minute the bumble bee zoomed in, just before the door closed.

"I hate to say this," the optometrist said, "but you seem to be getting kind of thin and out of shape."

"Yeah, well, acrobat work is hard to find these days. I guess I kind of let things go. I had to get into a different line of work. I act as kind of an interpreter, taking old translations of works of Greek and Roman literature and redoing them for a modern audience, simplifying them and putting in modern language, using lots of current slang and idioms and things like that."

"People pay you for this?" asked the optometrist.

"Yeah, but not as much as you might think. I have to make it up on volume." He paused before a picture of himself wearing an alabaster-colored costume, standing on an elephant that was wearing an ornate chartreuse and crimson head covering. "It's not like the old days," he said wistfully, "though it does keep me occupied."

He led the way to a room that had a computer in it, sitting on boards stretched across stacks of bricks. Beside the computer was a large, old fashioned monitor, and beside it was a printer. In front of the monitor was a keyboard and beside it, on a mouse pad, was a mouse. A large wooden box, cube-shaped, evidently used as a chair, sat on the floor in front of the setup. The floor of the room was covered in thousands of sheets of paper, some crumpled, some not. In one corner, several boxes of new paper were piled, with what appeared to be boxes of computer ink in a jumble on top of them. Overhead, a dusty ceiling fan slowly turned, only one of its three bulbs still working.

The optometrist stood there, taking in the situation, surprised and a little saddened. The bumble bee flew in and went to the computer, sometimes hovering in front of the screen, sometimes banging against the keyboard and mouse. A new window appeared on the screen for a while, and then went away. The acrobat stood a few feet inside the door, seemingly lost in thought. Time passed.

The optometrist finally said, "What seems to be the problem?"

"Eh? Oh. Oh. Well, I used to be sharp as a pair of scissors, just cutting through things, going really fast, but lately its gotten harder and harder and I've gotten slower and slower. I think the real problem is that I just can't see as well as I used to. The letters on the screen have gotten fuzzier and fuzzier and dimmer and dimmer. I know the light in here isn't bright, but the screen is lit from within, so lighting shouldn't be a problem."

The optometrist walked over to the monitor and stared at it. Then he bent down and blew on it, and took a bottle of eyeglass cleaner out of his bag and sprayed it. Then he took out a soft cloth and wiped it clean.

"How's that?" he asked, stepping back.

The acrobat stepped forward and peered at the screen. "Wow, I can see perfectly. Thank you, thank you, how can I ever repay you?"

"It's ... okay," the optometrist said. "Just let me know if you need help again."

"Sure, sure, I sure will, thanks again. Say, you want to stay for dinner? I don't get to the grocery store very often, but I've still got a lot of food I stockpiled when I thought the world was going to end."

The optometrist looked around at the dust and debris, and considered the prospect of dining on what was perhaps years-old food. "Thank you, but no, I really have to be going, I have a previous appointment. Someone else I have to help. I really can't break it."

"Sure, sure, I understand, someone as good as you must get a lot of calls for help. Maybe some other time then?" He fished around in some of the papers on the floor. "Here, at least take a granola bar," he said, somehow producing one from the mess.

"Yes, of course," the optometrist said, absently taking it and putting it in his coat pocket. "I'll, um, let you know."

He went quickly toward the door. As he reached it he paused, then turned around and waved. The acrobat waved happily back. The optometrist turned, then, and went out the door and closed it, then started carefully down the path. The bumble bee, who had flown out when the door was opened, settled on his shoulder once more.

"Well, that was different," the optometrist said. "At least I was able to help him."

The bumble bee still didn't say anything, but thought happily about the landscaping service that was going to come tomorrow, the one it had sent for with the computer, that was going to clean up the place and put in a lot more and better flowers. Next time, and the bumble bee knew there would be a next time, at least the bumble bee would eat well.

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Blogger Dr.John said...

Welcome back to the wordzzle world. Loved your story. You write very well and worked the words in seamlessly.

5:51 AM, April 11, 2009  
Blogger Fandango said...

Glad your back. We dragons liked your story.
Your writing was very good. But now we have to go and clean our monitor.

8:59 AM, April 11, 2009  
Blogger DawnTreader said...

Second time for me too. I liked your mega challenge story especially! :)

10:28 AM, April 11, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great use of the words. I love the 10 word challenge real well but they were all good. Excellent. Happy Easter to you and your family :)

11:03 AM, April 11, 2009  
Blogger Richard said...

I loved this story. I am fascinated by the optometrist and his talking bumblebee. Great work.

11:43 AM, April 11, 2009  
Blogger Raven said...

Talking bumble bees and fans and boxes and optometrists who make house calls. Cool.

2:23 PM, April 11, 2009  
Blogger gabrielle said...

Have you ever seen a film called "The Brave Little Toaster"? It's older animation, a story about five appliances banding together to find their owner and save themselves from obsolescence.

Your stories have a magical quality to them. “Inside, a chartreuse cube talked to an alabaster-colored ceiling fan, making plans for the evening. Outside, the acrobat finished and took all the dandelions in and started putting them in vases.” Parallel universes all happening in real time.

4:40 PM, April 11, 2009  
Blogger Alice (in BC Canada) said...

A very unique and interesting way of using the words this week. Happy Easter weekend.

11:31 PM, April 11, 2009  
Anonymous quilly said...

LOL! Sneaky bumble bee! And sneaky you, getting all the words in there so seamlessly!

My Wordzzle is finally posted.

3:59 AM, April 12, 2009  
Blogger Just Me said...

I really like your story it was cute.
Just me

2:31 AM, April 14, 2009  
Blogger Stephen said...

Thanks Dr.John, Fandango, DawnTreader, Thom, Richard, Raven, gabrielle, Alice (in BC Canada), quilly, and Just Me.

I don't recall seeing "The Brave Little Toaster," but I've seen some other films that had animated inanimate objects, and, of course, talking animals. I'm glad that these were enjoyed in my stories. Not all my stories will feature such things, but I expect that many of them will.

1:52 AM, April 17, 2009  

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