MINOR KEYS

By John Thomas Tuft

Samantha possessed a bijou-like spirit, while her thoughts were more like a loveliness of ladybugs, swarming and fluttering, jostling for space. She spent hours at her front window, planning for dreams and losing faith in princes. Her mother had always told her, “Don’t put faith in your imagination. It’s a hard, cold world out there.” But she refused to give up. Out there, in the night, were there angels and demons playing with the lives of the unsuspecting? Ghosts and spirits reveling in the foolishness of those unaware? Some believe that the buildings around her are simply houses and businesses, but to her it is revealed that they are the homes of gnomes and knights, peasants and priests, fair maidens and dashing marquis.

She wanted to explore that world, find her place, make a homeland that welcomed her, needed her in it. Samantha longed to be a heroine, to conquer her fears, overcome the sense of foreboding that something awful was going to happen. People told her she worried too much, that the proper thing to do was the right thing. But Samantha realized that there was something going on in the shadows of the night, something terrible that she needed to prepare for before it came. One night as she was looking out her window, a faint beam of light appeared. At first it simply gave a dim glow to the moat and castle walls she could make out in the distance. Then, gradually it focused and moved across the huts of the villagers, as though seeking her out.

Samantha held her breath. Was this a messenger from on high, a minstrel of the stars beckoning to her? Was it good news, or a warning of grave danger? The beam held its place on the lawn across the way, seeming to Samantha an ordaining of her certain knowledge that not all is at it appears. She bowed her head and nodded in assurance and humility. She gladly accepted the task set before her and went to bed that night in her sallow chamber with determination in her heart. The next day she set about her task. She took all her savings and invested in a building project in the shadow of the castle’s walls, or as other’s knew it, the local WalMart. Workers were hired and labored mightily to made large chamber of thick stone, and strange plumbing. Then large trucks began arriving bringing huge freezers, one after another, and putting them in the structure.

Samantha was singularly focused in her pursuit of what she knew would happen. The townspeople all gathered near the building site to mock the workers and particularly Samantha’s dreams. “Is this a new kind of store?” they jeered. “She’s lost it because her lover left her,” prattled others. “She couldn’t keep a man, how can she keep her emotions from getting the best of her?” asked others, cruelly. “She’s depressed, she needs medication,” said the local book club members. Clergy were called in to consult. “The poor child is seeking a spiritual quest,” said one. “A room full of freezers,” mused one theologian. “Interesting. The anti-hell, without being heaven.” They broke into groups to have a learned discussion and drew up plans for a paper to be published on the modern angst manifested in medieval symbology.

Samantha ignored all of this distraction and chatter. She was the picture of dogged determination and perseverance. She went before the local zoning board and made her arguments for getting more electricity and more water onto the site. When they asked for an explanation, all she could say was, “Trouble is coming.” The esteemed politicians all scoffed but managed to look studious and serious. “We’re supposed to take your word for it?” Those in attendance still recall how tiny and fragile Samantha appeared, standing there, straight, and firm in her tone. “We must prepare. We need more ice. Tons of ice.” The crowd erupted in derisive hooting and catcalls. “More ice?! We don’t need more ice. You’re crazy. You and your family should be run out of town. We don’t need you and your kind.”

Samantha went home in tears and stood at the front window. Were they right? Maybe it was simply shadows and houses out there. But she mustered her resolve and continued her quest. When the workers all quit, she labored on alone. Finally, the building was finished, and Samantha lay down exhausted. Shouting and yelling woke her from her fair slumber. The mob had gathered and was destroying her ice plant. She could only watch in horror as her dream, her vision, was laid waste before her eyes. All her labors, all her energy all her devotion turned to ashes. Heartsick she wept as she gazed out the window, hoping that maybe she was wrong. People walked past her home, shaking their heads in disbelief and scorn.

And then the dragons came…

Words are magic and writers are wizards.

Photo credit: Nancy Tuft Kus