My Castle

Scattered around a muddy field of written content, my words wander—grouping, attaching, forming, multiplying, sometimes stumbling over one another—meanings jumbled, misunderstood, working toward clarity.

Climbing the hill of dangling participles I slide down the steep slope of run-on sentences and fall into a patch of points of view. Rolling around I/we, bumping into you/yours, then jumping up with the assistance of they/them, I move on.

Chopping through a copse of sentence fragments, I relish in a mild shower of adjectives, then break through a wall of quotes and take a deep sigh of relief. I find myself staring at the Castle of Clarity. I just need to run through a lovely field of adverbs and call for the bridge to be dropped over the moat of writer’s block. Two short paragraphs later, I stand on one side of the moat, calling for the positioned end parenthesis to start the bridge lowering. Up on the wall of the castle, I notice that “end p” is staring at a turret. He does not hear me, I realize.

A beginning parenthesis taps on my shoulder and hands me a cell phone. “Text your request,” she says.

End parenthesis looks at his phone, turns, waves, and drops the bridge.

As I walk through the gates I am overwhelmed with the beauty of the castle. How can it be imposing and welcoming at the same time? I wonder, while deciding the creamy stonewalls resembled my best linen card stock. I see writers sitting at small tables strategically placed around the courtyard. Ludicrous as it may seem, there are as many handwriting with pens and pencils as there are using laptops. What century is this?

Three large doors stare at me from across the courtyard. A man—wait, no, yes—my history teacher from high school, is pointing at the doors in order from left to right, door #1, door #2, door #3, inviting me to choose. But I don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. I wave to Mr. History and turn to my right. A man is holding a scroll of typeset words. His smile reminds me of my journalism instructor, also from high school. He unfurls the roll of copy and it creates a path to a small alcove with “door #4” on it. As I walk along the side of the carpet of copy I realize it is my original horoscope column from the school paper. I remember what fun it was to write all those years ago.

Deciding to trust what was behind door #4, I open it and step inside, shocked to walk into a huge, ornate bathroom. A shower sounds great. I shed years of regret, like soiled clothing, and flip them into a pile in a corner. My bare feet enjoy heated marble tiles. The Carpenters’ song, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” is playing softly. As I listen to my school song from graduating class, I step into the shower. Crystal clear thoughts and ideas drop from the showerhead like warm rain dancing on a windowsill.

Refreshed and invigorated, I wrap myself in a fluffy robe of contentment and cozy slippers. A sense of familiarity comes over me as I walk down the hall into my kitchen—my regular kitchen from my real-life home. The delicious scent of brewing coffee greets me. Italian dark roast coffee is dripping into a mug; a perfect hard-boiled egg is sitting in an eggcup; and, toast pops up from the toaster. Just as I pick up my adorable dog, and he licks my chin, I look out the French doors leading from the breakfast nook to the front of the house, and straight out the bow window in the dining room. A child is playing in a tall pile of leaves on my neighbor’s lawn. A light source bounces off my right eye and I turn to see where it is originating. My old puppy is still in my arms as I spot the ornate, silver-framed piece sitting on the granite countertop.

It is the only thing I don’t recognize in my kitchen.

I move toward it, look closer, and read the inscribed words intricately woven into silver vines on the frame.

“Everything you need is right here,” I read aloud, glancing at the mirror inside the frame. I am pictured there, holding my dog, a glimpse of the Keurig® on the counter to my right, a corner of the laptop on the breakfast table to my left.

Gently lowering my sweet, old dog to the floor, I get the egg, toast, and coffee, then sit down in front of the laptop. Freeing my hands of the food, I open the laptop to a new document.

The page is blank.

I smile as my fingers type.

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