Quintessa

Glad you could join us for the next quirky episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

Elliot Q
Photo credit: Neomi Zehavi Goldshtein

“There’s something I must do before we leave,” Cassandra announced. “Would you mind making one stop?”

“Of course not! Just tell me which direction to go.” Elliot couldn’t believe his recent trials had led him here. There was no way he was going to mess this up.

“Just beyond the mossy knoll, and then behind the fern, you’ll see a tall stalk not quite ready to bloom. That’s where we have to go. I need to say goodbye to my mother.”

Elliot was glad Cassandra couldn’t see his face; his smile had disappeared as he bit his lips, nervous about what her mother might say. Would she think he was a cad and a bounder? Would she try to talk her daughter out of going with him? Would she take away his one chance for love? Would she ruin his life?

But when they arrived at the base of the tall stalk, there wasn’t anyone else there, and Elliot thought maybe he had escaped scrutiny — until Cassandra spoke again.

“Don’t leave without me, Elliot, okay?”

She’d just said his name for the first time, and the sound was so enchanting, his head started spinning. Somehow, he managed to respond, “I wouldn’t think of it!”

Dizzily, he watched her climb to the tip of the stalk, humming as she went. The sight filled him with joy until an ominous buzzing filled the air. A monstrous golden dragonfly swooped from the trees.

Elliot opened his mouth to shout a warning, but it was already too late. The crystal-winged beast landed on the very same plant tip, reaching out for his love!

His breath catching in his throat, he latched onto the stalk and began to climb, only to hear Cassandra call his name again.

“Elliot!”

It stopped him dead.

Normally, at this point, Suspense would take Time prisoner, so the world would have to wait to hear what happened next. But the magic Cassandra’s voice put into Elliot’s name freed Time from the shackles of convention, and Time continued, unfettered, on its way.

“I’d like you to meet my mother, Quintessa.”

Flummoxed, Elliot fell back on the lessons his own mother had taught him. Ever polite in awkward situations, he said, “I am very pleased to meet you, ma’am.”

Cassandra’s giggle sprinkled down on his befuddlement, assuring him everything was fine. “She adopted me when I was just a little slug, alone and vulnerable in the Deep Woods.”

The dragonfly spoke. “You happy?” Cassandra nodded. “You such good daughter. I happy you happy. It time I let you go.” Staring hard at Elliot, she added with only the slightest hint of menace, “I know you keep my daughter happy. And safe.”

Wide-eyed, Elliot nodded.

Cassandra’s mother turned back to her beloved little girl. “You seek your fortune. I see much excitement in your future. And much danger. Beware false piety. It wait right around corner.”

Her warning ringing in Elliot’s ears, she kissed Cassandra and whizzed away.

To be continued…

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

Today’s twofer from April 21, 2016:

Quandary

Mom must have been weighing her options. Patty had stayed home from kindergarten because of tonsillitis. Again. Kim was only one. I was three-and-a-half and coloring in the living room so my sisters could sleep in the bedroom the three of us shared. It was almost lunchtime.

We were out of bread.

Apparently, there could be no lunch without bread, because Mom decided to put a quarter, a nickel, and two pennies in my three-and-a-half year old fist, and send me to The  Corner Store to buy a loaf of bread.

“Remember, it’s the one with the red, yellow, and blue balloons.” Mom the Savvy Shopper

I would have to cross two streets. Alone.

Of course Mom warned me:

“Look both ways before you cross the street, and Watch. Out. For. Cars.” Mom the Wise

This is where I started.

06-13-07, Racine 01
3605 Kinzie Avenue. My house.

Now turn left, and stand in front of the house next door. It’s on the corner. This is where I was going.

06-13-07, Racine 03
See that pale grayish-greenish building straight ahead beyond the trees? That’s The Corner Store. My destination.

I stood on our corner for a couple minutes, waiting for a car to come so I could show Mom that I knew how to wait for it to go by before I crossed. No car came, but I waited until Mom yelled:

“Go ahead! Cross the street!” Mom the Impatient
06-13-07, Racine 02
Fratt Elementary on Cleveland Avenue, bordered on the left by Kinzie Avenue — the school Patty stayed home from.

I walked past the Kinzie Avenue end of Fratt Elementary School, to Arthur Avenue, the second street I had to cross to get to The Corner Store.

06-13-07, Racine 04
When I was 3-1/2, this was The Corner Store. In 2007, it was a party favor store. Now it’s Rich’s Sport Card Store. Sigh. Time changes everything.

I stood on the corner of Kinzie and Arthur, determined to wait for a car. If Mom was yelling, I couldn’t hear her.

After a few minutes, a trash truck came toward me on Kinzie and turned onto Arthur, right in front of me! I waved and the guy in the passenger seat waved back. I’ve loved trash trucks ever since.

Inside The Corner Store, the bread with the red, yellow, and blue balloons sat on a shelf just inside the door. Higher than I could reach.

Wonder bread 2
Had I come all this way to fail because I was too short?

Tilting my head back so I could see the bread with the red, yellow, and blue balloons, my sweaty fist clutched the coins, and tears welled. Lower lip quivering, I needed help. I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, but people who worked at the store would be okay, right?

I ran to the butcher counter at the back of the store. It looked a lot like this one:

Butcher 2
…but minus the high prices and the cell phone warning.

It took a while to get the butcher’s attention. He must have been a bachelor butcher; I’m pretty sure a dad would have cared about the little kid crying in front of the cold cuts. When he finally asked what I needed, his advice was to ask somebody at the front of the store.

I believed was he was trapped back there or he would have come with me and helped me.

I cried all the way back to the bread. There were a few people around, but nobody I knew who worked there, and I still wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers no matter what the butcher told me to do.

I stood there crying at the bread with the red, yellow, and blue balloons.

That’s when a lady in a flowery dress stopped to get her own bread. She didn’t have any kids with her, but I knew she was somebody’s mom because she looked right at me and said:

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” A Mom to the Rescue

As I recall, she even smiled when she handed me the bread.

I paid at the cash register counter, just like I’d watched Mom do, and I hurried home. No more waiting for another car to prove I could do the right thing. No more tears. No plans to go to any store alone again until I was at least five feet tall. I was just going home. To have lunch.

Mom used the same peanut butter and jelly she always used to make my sandwich with white bread from the bag with the red, yellow, and blue balloons, but this time, it tasted like triumph.

What challenges do you remember from your short days?

#AtoZChallenge A-to-Z Fictioneers: Interested in original fiction? Here’s a list of writers who are writing stories for the 2017 A to Z Challenge. The author’s link will take you to their “A” post. If you know of any other story writers I can share, please drop the link in the comments!

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Author: Sue Ranscht

I am a writer. Let me tell you a story...

28 thoughts on “Quintessa”

  1. Hahaha! Poor Elliot! To be fair, I didn’t see that one coming either! 🙂

    How times have changed! Would anyone let their 3 year old go to the corner store alone in this day and age? You did good for being such a tiny punkin. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad I can surprise you, Vanessa!

      No, I don’t believe that would happen in most neighborhoods today. I think being the second child pushed me to prove I was as responsible as my older sister. I thought it wasn’t fair to be told I was too young to be allowed to do things she did, but too old to behave like my younger sister. Besides, I was POSITIVE I was as capable as the older one! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Clearly, you were right! And your mom knew that. 🙂 I think our kids are missing out on so many character building opportunities like that these days, but the world is scarier now, too. It can be hard to find the balance.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m tickled I could surprise you, Samantha! Entertainment is the goal. Both the little girl me and I appreciate your sympathy. Thank you. I figure any experience I can remember with love was worth whatever fear and discomfort it brought me at the time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. At 5 feet and 1 and a half inches, I continue to live my short days:)
    Bachelor Butcher– Loved it.
    Your memoir reads like a dream.
    And thank you for gems like this :”Cassandra’s voice put into Elliot’s name freed Time from the shackles of convention, and Time continued, unfettered, on its way.” And the stunning photos.
    Elliot, I adore of course, but Quintessa– she’s a stroke of genius.
    Such fun to be here Sue.
    Q is for questions to a Blogger

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I finally grew to average height, but I have great empathy for you and the other glorious Short People. I am really happy you find so much to enjoy here, Arti. Many, many thanks!

      Like

  3. Clear evidence we’re in the magical zone when time is freed from the shackles of convention. I confess I laughed out loud despite the suspense! Lucky Cassandra to have such a golden crystal-winged future-seeing Mom with the name Quintessa to boot. Nothing but good can come from that for sure. I’m glad Elliot passed muster, but now I’m a little nervous about Quintessa’s predictions. Oh dear…

    Speaking of nervous, whew – I’m glad your bread acquisition adventure had a triumphant ending! In celebration of that hard-earned victory I think I’ll have a PBJ sandwich for lunch today. Alas, it won’t be on balloon-wrapped Wonder Bread of yesteryear, but it’ll still count, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deborah, I appreciate your support as a member of The Sisterhood! The magic, as you well know, is in the words, and laughing in the face of suspense is not only acceptable, it is encouraged. Your enjoyment brings me great joy.

      Mom’s choice that day still puzzles me. If I were going to risk anything in that situation, I probably would have taken the awake kid with me to the store and risk one of the sleeping ones might wake up during the 5 minutes I was gone. Still not the best choice, but… Child rearing philosophy in the ’50’s advocated a more hands-off approach than today’s. I’m not sure Mom ever realized the impact that little adventure had on me. So PBJ all around! On whole wheat, for me, please!

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    1. Haha! Glad you enjoyed it. I’ve discovered working with these non-humans provides all sorts of opportunities for lines you never expected to read — or write, for that matter. lol

      I’ve thought about that shopping trip many times. Mom must have been desperate, because she was certainly a dutiful 1950’s mother. Maybe she stood outside watching the whole time. I don’t know. I have a cloudy recollection that she was inside, but waiting to open the closed screen door when I got back. It was a different time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think children’s books might be in your future, Sue. My grandson would love Elliot’s story. And different times for sure! My brothers and I are lucky to be alive with the things my parents encouraged us to do! 🙂

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        1. All the encouragement we needed was, “Go outside and play!” followed by the command, “Don’t let the screen door slam!” followed by the BAM-ba-bam-bam of the screen door slamming. Ah, the glorious sound of freedom. Eventually, Dad foiled us by installing one of those pneumatic door closers at the top, but I loved that sound so much, I installed a wooden screen door on my own house just so I would hear it every time I go outside.

          I actually have one children’s book written (for ages 3 and up) that my beta readers tell me they would read to their kids every night and enjoy it themselves. I was looking for an illustrator when I spotted an iPad showing off Procreate at the Apple Store while my son was buying one for himself. I said, “Whoa. With that, I could illustrate my own children’s books!” And not long afterward, he bought one for me. I’ve been practicing — that’s where I moodled. 🙂

          When I first created Elliot, I posted it on my FB author page, and received repeated requests to release it as an ebook. I’ve spent many hours digging photo attributions out of cyberspace, but that wouldn’t be enough if I had a book to sell, so I’ll have to illustrate Elliot’s Adventures, too. My first iPad drawing was a free hand re-imagining of a dream one of the characters we haven’t met yet has about what her cross-species first born might look like. It’s here, if you’d like to see it: https://www.facebook.com/SusanTRanscht.SpaceTimeandRaspberries/photos/a.518607194892133.1073741828.518564231563096/1064743053611875/?type=3&theater

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’ll go over and look, Sue. I’m delighted that his is actually happening! It’s a wonderful story full of excitement and emotion and great characters with distinct voices. How fun would that be to read to kids! Thanks for the note on Procreate also. I’ve been interested in a drawing/illustration program for a while and didn’t know where to start. Great luck with this project. I’m heading over to FB now. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Diane! That’s very kind of you. I think I’ve had more fun writing Elliot’s Adventures than almost anything else I’ve written — although Sarcasm Font is way up there on my Fun meter. I highly recommend writers try their hand at this kind of serial. It forced me to focus on voice and trimming the fat. I’m happy you’re enjoying them both. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That is quite a compliment, Diane. Thank you very much! I’m thoroughly enjoying your 100-word stories. You not only choose the right words, but you develop characters, plots, and provide a twist! No small feat.

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  4. Whoa! The adoption was an unexpected twist but I’m glad that “the magic Cassandra’s voice put into Elliot’s name freed Time from the shackles of convention, and Time continued, unfettered, on its way.” 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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