Flash Fiction Thursday – The Maiden of the Stone

Today is Flash Fiction Thursday… and I decided to try something a little different.

This is a story that I grew up with, something that was told to me when I was very young, in many different ways.  And I’ve decided to share it with you today.

There is a town in Iowa, where I spent the first 11 years of my life.  And in this town, there is a park, with an enormous, glacier-dropped boulder.  In fact, the park is named “Boulder Park” because of it.  And there is a giant crack in the side of the stone, and a cross…carved deep into the top of this stone.  This is the story I was told about where this crack, and this cross came from.

The Maiden of the Stone

Many years ago, in the time of The People, a maiden of the tribe fell in love with a hunter from an opposing people.  They had met at the time of the great hunt, and had been seeing one another secretly, each slipping away from their own people to meet in the forest. 

But they were discovered.  And the maiden’s love was forbidden by her father.  He had her every move shadowed, keeping her close to the camp, not allowing her any space to sneak off again to see her love.  He also sent a message to the opposing camp, warning them to keep the hunter away from his beloved daughter. 

But the hunter refused to stay away.  He had fallen for the lovely maiden, as well, and would not stay parted from her for long.  Late one night, he snuck, stealthily, to the maiden’s camp, searching for his love.  Finding the tent she slept in, he cut a slit in the side of the hides, reached in, and found himself dragged inside by her father. 

Enraged, the maiden’s father had the hunter tied to a post in the center of their camp, threatening to have him killed to keep him from stealing his daughter away like a thief.  The maiden pleaded with her father, but he was resolute, and the hunter was brought to the sacrificial rock.  A giant boulder not far from their village, which the old ones had said was an altar, left by the earth spirits, it was used to lay out the seasonal sacrifices for the ancestors.  Most often, it was grains, gourds, and fruits.  But occasionally, when a hunt had gone badly, or the elders declared that the spirits were in need of a larger gift to bring the rain, there was an animal sacrificed there.

And now, the maiden’s love was to be killed here.  Not as a necessary sacrifice, but out of revenge, anger, and hatred.  The maiden was inconsolable, weeping and tearing her hair, as they brought her hunter out to the stone.  He sang of his love for her, and of his deeds for his tribe as a hunter.  Watching as her father began to cut the hunter, which would cause him to bleed slowly to death, the maiden keened and cut herself too, letting her blood flow from her arms and legs onto the stone, wailing that she would not marry any other than him, even unto her own death.

And when her father was satisfied with his work, he returned to his daughter, grabbing her as she struggled to reach the man dying atop the rock.  In a surprising show of strength, she threw off her father’s restraining arms and leapt onto the sacrificial altar with her beloved. 

Standing atop the stone with her long butchering knife in hand, the maiden declared that if this was to be her love’s last moment, it would be hers as well, and any that followed her to the top of the stone would meet her blade.

No one followed, they all waited in silence, as she laid herself down next to her hunter, her love.  They knew that strength such as she had shown did not come from the body, but from the heart, and the gods, and to defy such was to defy their own ancestors’ wishes.  None would dare to do so.

And as they lay in one another’s arms, the life slowly slipping from them both, the maiden wept, whispering to her hunter of her love for him, as he gently kissed her brow and breathed his last. 

Knowing that her love had walked over the river of death ahead of her, to await her on the other side, the maiden took her blade and drove it into her own heart.  It passed completely through her own body and lodged itself into the stone beneath. 

And at just that moment, the earth gave a mighty groan, a rumbling that shook The People from their feet, and the sacrificial stone heaved once and settled back, booming a mighty noise.  When they arose, the tribe saw that the stone had cracked, an enormous fissure, now visible, along the front of the stone – but looking as though it had always been.  The spirits had spoken.

Elders stepped forth, keening for the lost maiden, and berating the father, telling him that the Ancestors had broken the sacrificial altar in her honor, spilling all the magic into the ground, where it would no longer benefit The People.  It could no longer be used for any spiritual purpose, but had been profaned in his act of revenge. 

Humbled and afraid, the father begged the Elders to help him, to tell him what needed to be done to placate the spirits.  And the answer came swiftly.

There was no way to bring back the dead, but he could honor the sacrifice they both had made for their love.  They would be buried in a place of honor, and songs sung to speed them on their way to the Summer Lands.  The hunter’s body was retrieved easily, having just been tied, and weighted with rocks wrapped in rope – but the maiden’s body had been pinned to the boulder by her blade, and the only way to remove it, was for the father to pull the knife from her, himself.  Grasping the hilt, he wept as he pulled the blade from the stone, and when her body had been lifted away, he looked down and saw – a cross, cut into the bare rock- just where her heart had been pierced.

Deeply cut into the stone, it was stained with her blood, red as crimson, and it ran like tears along the face of the boulder. 

And it remains there, to this day.  No longer red with the blood of the slain, but deep, and as lasting as the stone, itself.

And so it was told to me, and so I keep the tradition, and tell it to the next generation.


Where Childhood Ends- And Depression Begins

When I was little, I was very outgoing.  Very outspoken.  “Quite the little dickens” I heard, over and over.  I had a smile that never quit, unless I was thwarted in my evil plans to take over the universe.  I was bright, and sunny, and even had a pink bedroom. 

I was just the little girl my mother always wanted.

Of course, there were the mudfights, and the climbing trees, and the getting my clothes filthy 2 minutes after I got dressed… but still.  It was a near-perfect childhood.

When I was 11, we moved to North Dakota.  But, our family kept in close touch with another family, one that I’d known my whole life.  My best friend was the daughter, her parents were my parent’s best friends, and her brother was a good friend of my brother’s.  We spent pretty much all our time together growing up, until we moved away.  Even then, I would go down to their house in the summer, spend a couple of weeks, and come home.

Until one summer, when I was 15, going on 16. (Correction made, not that it matters to the telling, but it matters to me to tell the truth)

That summer, I went to stay at their house, like always, but things were different.  The brother was more aggressive, and more persistent in picking on, and teasing me.  I didn’t think much about it, except that he was really becoming a jerk.

One night, as I lay sleeping, I awoke to him molesting me.

In my shock and abject terror, I pretended to have a nightmare, so he’d leave, and I’d wake my friend, who was sleeping in the bed next to me.  After he snuck out, I ran downstairs, grabbed the phone, and called my parents.  At 2 in the morning.

My parents were groggy, of course, but told me to go wake up the adults in the house.  When I did, my mom spoke to their mom, who promptly dragged me upstairs, and forced me to confront her son, asking if he’d done what I said he’d done.  He faked confusion.  I was led, back downstairs, bawling, to be told by my parents that obviously I was just dreaming, and how dare I say such things.

I begged to go home, instantly.  Instead, I was shuttled from family member to family member, each taking me part way, until I reached home.

Once there, it was not spoken of again for 5 years.

In those years, I rebelled.  Getting more and more angry, more and more furious with my parents, and my mother in particular.  These were the people who were supposed to back me up, supposed to protect me.  And instead, they defended their friends and their horrible son.  I blamed my mother more than my father, because it was her opinions that carried the most weight in our household.  Her ability to apply guilt to everything, weighing it in the direction she wanted it to go, was overwhelming. 

I pushed the memories down deep, blocking them, even from myself, not realizing that they were where most of my rebellion stemmed from.  My desperate need to escape, to be different from those people.

The summer that I went from 19 to 20yrs. old, my parents finally got fed up with me running all night, every weekend.  Even though I never really drank at that age, they assumed that because I was out late, sometimes not coming home till the next morning, that I was on drugs.  Truth be told, most of the time, I was driving the other drunks home, and that’s why I was late.  I had never, and have never, taken any form of illegal or illicit drugs.  Even though they were offered many times, I had “control issues”, and couldn’t stand to think of acting the way I saw so many of my friends act while they were stoned.  Out of control, I couldn’t be sure of what would happen to me.  And I couldn’t do that.

Anyway, that summer, my parents (mostly the mother), decided that maybe I needed counseling.  They sent me to see a social worker, and when I arrived for the first meeting, his first words were “Your parents are worried about your behavior.  They think it might have something to do with you claiming you were molested a few years ago.”

Claiming.  Not admitting that it actually happened.  Just that I “claimed” it.

Needless to say, the counseling session went straight to hell, with me leaving in a ball of fury and tears.  All the memories came flooding back, causing a whole new batch of hot mess, which ended in me – hitting a spiral of bad behavior that I’d never seen before that summer.  I was told by my father that it was either join the armed services, or find a job.  I found a job nannying in New Jersey, and ended up there for 2 months, until I found out that I was – pregnant with Eldest.  I hadn’t realized it when I left home, as I’d been irregular all summer, due to drinking, and horrible eating habits.

To this day, I have never had any of the adults involved admit to what happened.

I have forbidden them to allow any of my children anywhere near “him” if they happened to take them back to Iowa.

He approached me a few years ago, wanting to “talk”.  I told him to get away from me instantly, and that if he didn’t, or if he ever touched one of my children?  I would kill him.  Myself.  And gladly go to jail for it.

The place where childhood ends, is not always at the initial abuse.  Sometimes, it comes later, when the people that are supposed to protect you, listen to you, believe you, and stick up for you….. don’t.  When you stop trusting that they’ll be there for you, you have to rely on only yourself.  When your life blows up, and there’s no one to catch you, hold you, and tell you that it’ll be alright, someday.  When your self-esteem disappears at 2am on a tearful phone call with your parents 800 miles away – because if your own parents won’t believe you, won’t stick up for you, then maybe you’re not worth it.

That’s where childhood ends.

True Confessions

So, I’m pretty much out of go-juice right now.  The snot monster has won, taken my brains hostage, and I am having trouble stringing useable sentences together.

Don’t ask me to comprehend….. please? 

So, it’s time to play True Confessions:

1.  I have never seen Rocky Horror Picture Show all the way through.  I get the campiness, I love Tim Curry, but every time it comes on, I start to fidget – and find something else to do to distract me.  Maybe it’s Meatloaf’s fault?

2.  I cry at stupid things – like songs.  Katy Perry’s “Firework” gets to me, almost every time.  As well as Linkin Park’s “Leave Out All The Rest”, and Queen’s “The Days of Our Lives”.  There are others, but those are the man ones.  Don’t ask why, didn’t I say I can’t brain today?  Obviously, since I’m spilling all my embarrassing secrets… 😦

3.  I hate doing things just because people all clamor to do them, or see them.  If there’s a meme out there going, and I see that everyone is doing it – I won’t.  I just won’t.  I’ve successfully avoided ever seeing the Old Spice dude in the shower.  I hate reposting those “If you have a husband/brother/sister/child that you absolutely love/hate/loathe/are proud of then REPOST THIS LIKE A MILLION FRICKIN TIMES, OR OBVIOUSLY YOU DON’T LOVE YOUR LOVED ONE.”

You want to bet?  I just don’t like following the herd, and I hate having people tell me what to do when, especially on social media networks.  If I feel like posting something, then I’ll damn well do it my own way – when I’m good and ready.

4.  I was a holy terror as a kid – or so I’m told.  I was a snot to my best friend’s cousin when I was little, growing up in Iowa.  I think it was mostly because I was jealous. *shrug*  I apologized when she told me about it years later – but to this day, I still don’t remember telling her that she couldn’t play Barbies with us.

And one more, just to round out the list for today: (and because I can’t think of anything else)

5.   I get really uncomfortable when people compliment me – for anything.  I don’t know why, not really.  Probably something to do with my childhood. *shrug*  I never really know what to say when someone says something nice to me.  I usually go for a “Thanks, but…” and say something self-deprecating to make myself feel better about the compliment. Ok, that didn’t come out right… but the truth is in there, somewhere.  So if my responses to anyone’s nice words came out sounding lame, I’m sorry, I just really have trouble taking compliments.  I love you for saying them, I just have self-esteem issues.  Please, don’t think I don’t mean the Thank you.  I sincerely do. 

Ok, so enough for the True Confessions!  Ack.  Time to take something for this fever and hallucination, and think about what I’m going to write for the blog tomorrow…..

Butterfly in a Jar

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge-
That myth is more potent than history.
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts-
That hope always triumphs over experience-
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
~Robert Fulghum


*One of my favorite things is butterflies.  I love, not just the colors, and the varieties of shapes, but the silent grace of these creatures.  Butterflies are a welcome sight, no matter where you go, people are happy to see them.

Moths, their cousins, are seen as pests.  They are reputed to *eat clothes* and people stock up on mothballs to put in their closets to keep them away.  They are not often seen as lovely, delicate, and silently graceful. 

I dare you to tell me these creatures are not just as beautiful.

Yes, they flutter more frenetically, at least the smaller ones do, and yes, they will flock toward a light-source, whether it be a lightbulb, or a candle’s flame. 

But they can be just as gorgeous, just as graceful, as their daytime counterparts.

They too, might sit delicately on your hand or arm, licking the salt from your skin, gently fanning their wings.

In my experience, moths are simply butterflies that prefer the darkness to the light.

They are not as showy as their cousins, preferring to keep their colors more muted, subdued.  They also tend to be smaller, except for this behemoth, the luna moth.  My personal favorite.  We used to see these occasionally where I grew up in Iowa.  Not often, just enough to keep me fascinated with them.

So, you’re asking now, why butterflies and moths, in the middle of winter?  What do these have anything to do with snow, with the holidays, with ice and cold?

Not a damn thing.

I’m tired of feeling like a creature, caught and kept in glass.

I found a Butterfly in a Jar in one of the local stores this weekend.  I instantly wanted it, but had to forego buying it.  No, it’s not a real butterfly.  It’s electronic, a beautiful, fake thing on a wire, that flutters around the jar when you tap on the lid.

I still want one, not so much because I have any desire to capture a real live butterfly, I prefer releasing them to capturing.

No, I want one – to remind myself that even though people may stare, may tap at the glass, and may even shake it up now and again – the butterfly you see inside the jar is not real.  You can’t hurt it, you can’t kill it.  The batteries, or whatever it is that fuels this electronic critter, will eventually run down, but it will not die.

The real ones are still free.  Still beautiful, still graceful in all their silence.

And sometimes, they’re not even butterflies.  Sometimes, they’re moths.

 Tonight is Yule.  It is also the night of the total lunar eclipse.  If it stops snowing, even for a moment, around midnight, I’ll get to see it.

And, like those moths, I will flutter toward it, yearning for the light, and the renewal that comes with it.

Brea, The Feral Dandelion

Every year, about this time, I start thinking about what the true meaning of Thanksgiving is.  I contemplate our land’s history, how Thanksgiving got its start, and what does it stand for, anyway?  And I get all wound up over origins.

You see, I’m a feral species.

Not in the eat-your-face-off-on-a-whim type of feral, but in the my-people-are-not-from-here-originally type of feral.

My Dad is Austrian by blood.  His family emigrated here, loooong time ago, and settled in Iowa.  My Mom is Norwegian/Swedish.  Her family emigrated too, loooong time ago, and settled in Minnesota. 

So, technically, my people are not related to the people that lived here when all the madness started back with the Pilgrims.  Then again, going back even further, the people living here when the Pilgrims got here weren’t truly native to the land either, they emigrated from elsewhere too.  Some historians say they took the long way, from Asia, across the land bridge, through Canada and on down to the good ole USA.  I don’t know, I wasn’t there. 

*deep breath for long segue* ANYWAY, That means that no one living on the continent of North America really has roots that go allllllll the way back to the dawn of time.  So, if everyone that lives here now, was introduced to this country at some point, then there really are no people that are native to the land.  We’re all feral introduced species, living on borrowed ground.

Much like dandelions.

Dandelions are thought to have evolved about thirty million years ago in Eurasia; they have been used by humans for food and as a herb for much of recorded history. They were introduced to North America by early European immigrants. * source-Wikipedia*

 But, and here’s where things get a little sticky for me – Dandelions have been around for so long, that people don’t know anymore that they’re on introduced thing, that came here in some other guy’s pocket, on a boat, from overseas.

They’re just a part of this country now.  They’re a deep-rooted species that belongs to our dirt here now.

So, when does a feral species truly become native to the land?

This Thanksgiving has seen me thankful for a lot of things.  I try to be grateful all year long, and not put it off till November, practically the end of the year, and try to show my gratitude by paying back or paying forward when I can.

But one of the things that I’m most thankful for, is the right and the ability to be able to say it.



With new friends and old.

Thank you.  I appreciate it.

Happy Holidays.

With love and wishes for you all ~ Brea, the Feral Dandelion