The Fortune Teller Part IV The Box

Special Note: This is the fourth (and final) section of the short story “The Fortune Teller.” If you haven’t read Part I, II and III, then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link to start the tale from the beginning.

The story continues on with Joe the Mechanic leading Selena to the Keeper of Odds and Ends. This has been a crazy night, Selena thinks to herself. Never did she dream that having her fortune told would require so much work!

From her encounter with the Tall Man, the awful clowns in the Funhouse, and following Joe the Mechanic with his jiggling toolbelt halfway across the carnival, Selena feels like the main character in a Felini film. All of this to retrieve a box which the Fortune Teller, Madame Zofina, insists will tell Selena what she needs to know most about the future.

“Here we are!” Joe calls back to Selena as he ducks into The Sideshow, a large carnival tent selling knick-knacks. Teenagers crowd around tables with novelty pranks for sale; the bug in the fake ice cube, the shock-hand buzzer, the old fashion whoopie cushion, and many other items meant to trick an unsuspecting victim.

Throughout the tent there are mystical items such as magic eight balls, wizard wands, and Tarot cards. There are magic tricks and even books on how to become an Illusionist.

And for the daring, there is candy with disgusting flavors. Jelly beans that taste (and look) like snot. Trash can gummy bears like slimy banana peel and dirty socks.

There are nostalgic carnival souvenirs such as small replicas of the Ferris Wheel and Funhouse (a souvenir Selena can do without).

And then there are the items not for sale, but definitely crowd pleasers, inspiring pointed fingers with oohs and ahs. One-of-a-kind oddities, frauds of course, but fun nonetheless, such as scales from the Loch Ness monster, a trio of shrunken heads, dragon teeth, and a straight jacket once worn by Houdini.

“Maggie!” Joe bellows out as he heads towards a middle-aged woman with wiry long, blonde hair that stands on end as though it were styled by an electric socket. She looks back at the Mechanic with her hands on her hips wearing a purple hippie skirt and long pink t-shirt dressed up with a pair of dangling beaded earrings and sparkling bracelets.

Joe gives Maggie a quick hug and then keeps one arm wrapped around her shoulders, “Maggie, my darling, this is Selena. She’s giving this to you in exchange for the box.” After finishing his announcement, Joe officially hands off the token to Maggie.

“My job is done, so I’m heading off back to work,” he sneaks a quick kiss to Maggie’s cheek.

“Stop flirting with me, you oaf!” She laughs and pushes him away. Joe smiles back at her.

“Goodbye, Selena. Never mind my old lady, she might sound tough but she’s a sweetheart. Best of luck to you,” Joe shakes Selena’s hand before leaving. She can hear his toolbelt jingling along as he walks away.

“That man is insufferable, but I do love him. God help me,” Maggie mutters as she watches him go. “Selena, dear, it’s nice to meet you. Come with me. I have what you’re looking for,” Maggie motions to Selena to follow.

Maggie steps behind a wooden counter and proceeds to plunk down three boxes in front of Selena.

“Go on, love. Pick one,” she says with a smile and then rests her chin on her hands and her elbows on the counter. Her bright blue eyes carefully watch Selena’s selection like a cat observing a mouse.

“I have to choose? I thought the box was supposed to be special. You know “like very old and very wise”?

Maggie laughs. “Of course, all of these boxes are very old. But which one do you want?” She continues to study Selena with her chin resting on the palms of her hands.

“But what if I pick the wrong one?” Selena absentmindedly lets the words slip out. How silly, I’m being! She thinks to herself. I’ve almost forgotten that I don’t believe in any of this!

“You won’t. Most people are paralyzed by choice. Who should I marry? Which job should I take? What if I get it all wrong they say to themselves.” Maggie shrugs her shoulders. “Truth is. darling, you can’t get it wrong. True, some choices we’re sorely sorry for and wish we could undo, but they become a part of our story and lead to other choices, some of which bring out the best in us.”

Maggie leans in closer, “Here’s the secret. As long as you’re doing the choosing, in the end, your life will start to reflect more and more of you who you are. But if you don’t choose, something else will choose for you, and that’s when your life turns ugly.” She sighs and then Maggie’s smile returns, “So, go on then. Choose!”

Selena carefully examines the three boxes. The first is small like a jewelry box with golden pedestal legs and an oval light blue cushion top, something an admirer would give to a love interest. The second box is larger, the size of a Kleenex box, and made of monkey wood. A puzzle box, perhaps? Selena feels wary of this one for some unknown reason, as though it might have secrets of its own hidden inside. The last box is the largest of the three, but still no more than twelve inches tall or wide. It is sturdy; made of mahogany wood, but plain, as if what you see is exactly what you get.

“I’ll pick this one,” Selena points to the largest box.

“Then it is yours,” Maggie smiles and stands tall again. “I wish you the best, Selena.” Her bright eyes look at Selena warmly as if conveying the truth of her sentiment. Then without further fanfare, Maggie turns her attention back to the noisy crowd of customers collecting in her tent.

Selena leaves The Sideshow carrying her chosen box, ready to see Madame Zofina. Her fingers can feel the smoothness of the wood. A thought creeps up through her hands and wiggles its way into her awareness, “What’s inside the box?”

She laughs at herself. Really? Her little adventure must have suckered her into Josie’s world of fortune cookie logic. Now, she’s actually curious about what’s inside the box. Ridiculous!

Still, tonight had changed her somehow, hadn’t it? A tiny part of herself speaks up pointing out the truth. The Tall Man, Joe, Maggie, even the damn clowns, they had gotten to her somehow, softened her, made her see the world differently. What will happen when she opens the box?

Well, I guess I’m about to find out, she reasons. Back at the Fortune Teller’s lair, Selena takes a deep breath and goes inside.

“You’ve returned, child,” Madame Zofina’s voice fills the tent, “and I see that you’ve chosen a box. Good, bring it here.”

Selena’s eyes begin to adjust to the dim lighting and gradually she sees Madame Zofina seated at the round table.

“Have a seat, Selena,” Madame Zofina gestures with a wave of the hand. “Are you ready to open the box?”

“So, the box will tell me my future?” Selena asks as she places the box on the table. She catches the nervousness in her voice as it echoes back to her.

“The box will tell you what you need to know about the future, so you can be happier,” Madame Zofina answers and as she speaks she rises from her chair. Graceful as a kitty, she moves to stand behind Selena. “Go ahead, child. Open the box.”

Selena feels a tingling sliver of hope that maybe this might work. She opens the box. Stunned, she stares at it trying to make sense of what she finds.

“I don’t understand,” Selena utters the words out loud without taking her eyes off the box.

“You don’t understand?” Madame Zofina asks. “You’re such a clever girl. I thought you might have guessed.”

“There’s nothing in here, except for a mirror. It’s just an empty box!” Selena’s voice rises in pitch, unable to hide the anger at being played a fool.

“In that way, the box is exactly like the future, Selena. My dear, the future does not exist. Not really. It lives only in the imagination. It is a myth we tell ourselves to inspire fear or hope, a convention of time used for planning. But we never live in the future, do we? Each minute when it arrives is exactly as it has always been, the present.,” Madame Zofina sighs.

“So, this has all been for nothing. There is no special box that is “very old and very wise” that can help me,” Selena replies. Her words drop to the ground like a deflated balloon.

“You’re wrong, Selena. The box is very wise. Look into the mirror, child,” upon saying the words Madame Zofina places both hands softly on Selena’s shoulders.

Selena’s image begins to change. The color drains from her face and clothes melding into tones of white, black and red. She watches in horror as she sees herself once again trapped inside a clown.

“The present only becomes a nightmare when it doesn’t reflect who you truly are. Good and bad things will always come and go, but it is when you stop making our own choices that everything around you becomes distorted, and you’re left feeling like something is missing. What you are missing is yourself, Selena,” after hearing the words the image swirls and again Selena is staring at her real face.

“My dear child, start making your own choices instead of pleasing those around you. The more you express yourself, the more you will see your true face in your surroundings, the world around will start to reflect the world within.”

“I’m so lost, Madame Zofina. I don’t even know who I am,” Selena slumps in her chair.

“Turn the box over, Selena,” Madame Zofina’s voice floats gently like a grandmother coaxing a tired child.

When she turns the box upside-down, Selena sees a tiny golden lever. She’s holding a music box.

“The box is wise because it listens. It listens not only to words and thoughts, but to feelings that are rarely given voice. Tonight, it has been listening to you. Wind the music box, child,” Madame Zofina leans in closer still keeping her hands lightly on Selena’s shoulders. She whispers into her ear, “This is who you are.”

Words flood Selena’s mind like an ocean. Some phrases start to surface and she begins to hear them echo through out the room.

“I don’t need a Fortune Teller to tell me my life will be screwed up in the future!” She hears her thoughts out loud and watches in the mirror as she enters the carnival. A recording of the past, but unlike a movie, she feels the emotions.

Madame Zofina watches and laughs, “I love that you think for yourself. Very smart. No one dictates your future!”

Now Selena sees herself standing outside the Fortune Teller’s tent looking angry. She hears her own voice sharing her unsaid thoughts at the time, “Even if this is stupid, I’m not going to let Josie down. I can’t lie to her, so I’m going to do this.”

“Honest and loyal,” Madame Zofina whispers behind her.

The images start to blur together and the phrases blend out of sequence. She sees herself with the Tall Man and then trying to open the wrought iron gates. The words call out, “There’s no going back. I’m happier alone than with a man like that. When you can’t go backwards, you have to go forward, right?”

“You are strong, Selena!” The Fortune Teller’s voice rises above the blending memories.

Now she’s in the Funhouse watching her face turn from a clown into her own. “I’d rather be alone and laughed at than to be stuck in this hideous image. Set me free. I want to see myself.” She feels gratitude swell in her heart looking at her true image.

“Beautiful, my child. You are beautiful!” Madame Zofina’s voice rings out.

The Tall Man is back. He leans down to hear her answer, “Yes, I’m a writer. I love to write. If only I had a pen I would stop everything and capture it all.”

The flood of images takes Selena back to the beginning of her night. She sees Madame Zofina rise to retrieve a small object from a nearby shelf, “How could such a beautiful, strong, smart woman, such as yourself, not be happy? We live in a truly strange world, I think.” This time Selena sees the sadness in Madame Zofina’s eyes as she says the words.

Madame Zofina closes the box. The room returns to normal. The Fortune Teller sits next to Selena and gently holds her hand.

“The world is only strange when you are a stranger to yourself. You are beautiful, strong, smart and honest. Show yourself in your writing, your friendships, work, and in everything you do and to everyone you meet. Then your world will not be strange, because you will recognize yourself in it.”

Selena feels her eyes tear up not from sadness, but from a sense of feeling loved and understood.

“Madame Zofina, where does your magic come from?” Selena asks.

“Oh no, my dear. That wasn’t me. That was you. The box has been listening to you, remember? You put everything inside.”

“I don’t have any magic,” Selena shakes her head in disbelief.

“Don’t you? Creating worlds out of thin air, isn’t that what writers do?” Madame Zofina winks and laughs.

Not sure of what to make of that revelation, Selena decides to laugh with her, because laughing feels incredibly good.

“How can I repay you for this gift?” Selena asks.

“Your friend Josie asked the same question.”

“She did?”

“Yes,” Madame Zofina reaches into her pocket and hands Selena a ticket. “Give this to someone who needs it. All I ask for is a name. Can you think of someone?”

Selena stares into Madame Zofina’s green cat eyes and gives it some thought.

“Oh, yes. I have a name,” Selena answers.

Dearest Reader, the one who was willing to read to the very end of this long tale. The one who has walked hand and hand with me in this imaginary carnival. Did you guess the name given? You’re so clever, I’m sure you did.

Dancing Solo

My boyfriend is a dancer like me. He is the one who first taught me how to dance Salsa. We’ve been in a relationship for over nine years and even live together. That said. Most of the time I go out dancing, I go alone.

In an ideal world it wouldn’t be this way, right? Then again, maybe I’m wrong? Perhaps, things are exactly the way they should be, and the universe in its infinite wisdom knows what’s best for me. It happens quite often.

Why doesn’t he go out with me? I’ve been asked this more than a few times, and have even been accused by several men that my boyfriend is made up, a convenient excuse for turning down their advances.

The truth is simple. He doesn’t want to. He’s living his dream of growing his own business, and he wants to put his energy into making it a success. I can respect that. It makes him who he is, and he respects that I’m not going to stop dancing.

How do I feel about going out dancing alone? Do I sometimes feel lonely? Yes, of course, I do. Often, I wish he were with me. I look at other women with their boyfriends and long for their security. When I go out with my boyfriend, I am one hundred percent certain I will know at least one person at the club and will undoubtedly dance the night away. Who wouldn’t want that?

But the more interesting question is how much have I gained by flying solo more nights than not throughout the last nine years? Such experiences have literally shaped the way I view myself.

I have a profound sense of faith. I know that when I venture out alone everything will be provided: friendly faces, dance partners, learning opportunities, and laughter. Even when I’ve traveled to a dance workshop in a different city hours away, I’ve never driven home empty-handed. The universe always delivers sweet memories that enrich my life.

I trust myself to go after what I want, even if it means braving the unknown on my own. I’ve done it so many times now. The reward is that I’ve accepted happiness is my responsibility and dependent on no one else.

Over the years, I’ve collected many wonderful experiences that would have never happened if I had waited for my boyfriend to go with me. Or worse yet, I could have spent the last nine years nagging him, giving away my power and energy to someone else, who would eventually resent me for trying to make him into someone he’s not. Who would do that?

I’m sharing this, because I think a lot of women do just that. I’ve done this countless times myself in the past in different scenarios.

I always find it funny (and odd) when a man asks me why I am out dancing alone, especially when the gentlemen himself is flying solo. In fact, most of the men I see entering the clubs walk through the doors alone. Why is it strange for a woman and not a man? I think its because men have been taught to feel comfortable in their independence and women (in general, not all) have not.

Guess who’s getting more out of life?

Think about that, and then get out there. Do whatever you’ve been dreaming about, even if you have to do it alone. I’ll be with you in spirit. You know, that little voice in your head saying, “Life is too short! Just try it already!”

The Game Maker

It is said that creation is a two-way street. As an artist creates the artwork, the artwork creates the artist. I think that is why many of us love stories. Hidden in the conflict of every fairytale is the story of a writer wrestling with real life. Sometimes, it is easier to find an answer in a make believe world. Sometimes, it is the story that saves you.

And so, I’ve created the tale of “The Game Maker.” I hope you enjoy it.

“How can I get her to find the Golden Castle if she’s stuck in the Temple of Gloom!” The Game Maker shakes his head and takes a deep breath.

“There has to be a way! Something I haven’t tried yet,” he rubs his face and bald head with his hands, a nervous tick. The doorbell rings and breaks him away from his thoughts. Oh, it must be the pizza guy.

He gets up from his computer chair. His legs are stiff from sitting so long. Slowly, he makes his way to the door and opens it.

“How’s it going, Mr. Comp-Man?” It’s Barry, the pizza guy. The twenty-something old pizza deliveryman that visits his house too often. How many times has he ordered pizza this week? So many times that Barry has given him a nickname, “The Comp-Man.”

“Are you working on a new game?” Barry asks as he hands him his pizza.

“Yeah, this one has me stumped,” he answers as he hands Barry twenty bucks for the pizza and an extra ten for the tip. It’s a bit much, but looking at Barry’s raggedy red flannel shirt and worn blue jeans, he figures the kid needs it.

“Thanks, Mr. Comp-Man,” Barry answers as he pockets the ten and puts the twenty in the money bag.

“I have a big favor to ask, Mr. Comp-Man. I met this beautiful girl. I mean, she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. Anyways, she’s a gamer and a big fan of yours. She’s even read your book about how to create games. Could I bring her by tonight to get your autograph?” Barry asks as he shifts his weight from foot to foot.

“Sure, bring her by,” he tells Barry. The kid looks happy.

“Thanks, Mr. Comp-Man,” Barry says as he heads back to his car.

Young love. Must be nice. He thinks to himself as he goes back to his computer to work on the game.

His heroine is in trouble. The game works flawlessly in every scenario, except this one. From the beginning, the game is rigged in her favor. She starts out smart, sweet, and confident. The only child of loving parents. In all other versions of the game, she finds her way to the Golden Castle where she overthrows the Foolish Monkeys and brings happiness to the land. No matter what choices the gamer makes, he can always find enough clues to get her to the happy ending.

The only glitch happens if the gamer stumbles upon this storyline. The one where her father wanders into the Forest of Error and abandons her at the tender age of fourteen. From there, the heroine gets off track searching for love instead of looking for clues to her destiny. She falls in love with men who treat her badly. She suffers heartbreak after heartbreak, until she ends up dancing in the Temple of Gloom. Trapped in her own dance of sorrow, the gamer has no way of getting her out.

The Game Maker has tried everything. For longer than he can remember, he’s been stuck in his house working non-stop trying to fix this problem. He refuses to let this ending exist. His head hurts from trying to create clues that will entice her out of the Temple of Gloom. She ignores them all. It’s as if she has a mind of her own. He can’t stand to see her suffer when he’s created her to be heroic. He sinks his face into his hands and weeps.

When he finally lifts his head, he looks at the dancing girl on the screen. He feels her sorrow and loss. As she spins and twirls, he remembers all the hours of hard work it took to make her look so beautiful. She moves like a cat, smooth and graceful. Will she ever see her own beauty as she dances before the mirrors of the Temple of Gloom?

Exhausted, the Game Maker finally talks to the dancing girl.

“I’ve watched you for so long, so much so, that your disappointments have become my disappointments, and your heartaches my own. I’ve created a better life for you, but you won’t leave this place. Even so, I just want to tell you that despite all the wrong turns that have landed you in this screwed up scenario, I love you more today than when I first created you.”

He looks at the girl remembering how he agonized over choosing every detail from her eye color, hairstyle, angle of her smile, quick wit, and kind personality. In his eyes, she remains a most beautiful creation.

It is in that moment the girl stops dancing. She stares back into his eyes and smiles. Tears streaming down her face, not tears of sorrow, but of joy. He watches as her energy level rises and her power increases.

Without touching his keyboard, he tells her, “Go right now. Leave this place!”

She exits without hesitation.

The Game Maker laughs. Leaning back in his chair, he feels waves of relief wash over him. Now that the dancing girl has left the Temple of Gloom, she will bump into a kind, handsome young man who will walk with her to the Golden Castle.

The doorbell rings. The Game Maker gets up to answer it. He feels so much lighter, that he’s tempted to skip to the door.

When he opens it, he see Barry and a beautiful young woman. Both kids are wearing flannel shirts and well-worn jeans, a charming couple. The girl has a big grin and her eyes are bright.

“Suzy, this is Mr. Comp-Man, ” Barry starts to say, but Suzy can’t hold back her excitement.

“Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it,” Suzy grabs his hand and starts to shake it. “It’s you, it’s really you. I love your games! I love your book!” She takes a deep breath and then nervously confesses, “I dream of creating my own games one day. It would mean a lot to me if you would sign my book.”

“Of course,” Mr. Comp-Man smiles as he takes her copy of his book.

She reminds me of the girl in the game, he thinks to himself. He knows his dancing girl will find her way to a future as bright as Suzy’s eyes.

Dear Suzy,

The future is yours. Go after your dream, and let nothing hold you back.

Best wishes,

Mike Compassion

A.K.A. “The Comp-Man”

Are you asking yourself, “What was that all about?” Well, it is the clue I have created for you.

Have you ever felt trapped and unable to move forward in life? Before there is change, forgiveness or courage; there must be compassion. If you can’t find compassion for yourself, then imagine it for another, another woman, sister or friend. See your life through someone else’s eyes. Let Compassion move you forward.

The Wishing Fountain

I’ve been taking a writing course for the past couple of months. My last assignment was a fun piece of writing peppered with a touch of magical realism. I thought I’d share it for this week’s blog. I think every writer has to create his/her own version of a mysterious encounter with a stranger. It’s called, “The Wishing Fountain.” Hope you enjoy it!

At the heart of California’s La Purisma Mission, there is a large stone wishing fountain tucked under the shade of the old trees watching over it. My love for this place goes far back into my childhood days.

Here, I am surrounded by the past, or at least, a re-creation of the past. Making my way to the fountain, I’ve passed adobe buildings, farm animals, and plants showcasing the vegetation of the 1800s.

I have my penny in hand ready to toss it into the Wishing Fountain. My problem? How can I pick just one wish? There is so much wrong with my life. I’ve been standing here for half an hour with my penny trying to decide what wish might change my luck.

“Are you having a tough time making your wish? Too many choices?” A voice calls out to me. I turn to see a beautiful woman standing by my side, smiling at me. I can’t help but laugh.

“Yeah, you could say that!” I answer. The laughter feels good. I feel better laughing at myself rather than sulking in my dark mood.

The woman captures my attention. She’s around my age and size, but I can tell she’s not from around here. She’s not a small town girl like me. Her colorful dress and high heel shoes are not practical. The designer hat seated with a fashionable tilt on her head has not been seen in our little Lompoc before. To top it off, she’s relishing her Pineapple Sundae as if each bite is to die for. I’m mesmerized. How can she eat that and stay small?

“I used to have the same problem making wishes,” the mystery woman shares before taking in another spoonful of ice cream. “Can I show you something? I think it might help.”

“Sure,” I say half listening, half dreaming of finishing off her Pineapple Sundae.

“This Wishing Fountain is filled with dreams and desires. Stare at it for a moment. Tell me what you see,” her voice cradles my ear and in an enchanted-like state I find myself watching the water, becoming the water.

I see Marianne, the woman I am most jealous of, and I feel the envy swell up inside me. She spins about the dance floor with golden hair cascading down her back. How many times have I seen her dance? She moves in ways my body can’t and makes it look easy. She attracts men like honey. Twenty years younger than me, she has the glow of youth. There are no wrinkles on her face. In her bright blue eyes, I see hope staring back at me. Her smile speaks of a carefree life. Her clothes tell me money is no object.

“What is this?” I break free from the trance and turn away from the fountain. I face the mystery woman again.

“Who are you? Why did you show this to me?” I ask. My hands have a slight tremble. I’m not sure if it’s from fear or lingering jealousy.

“I’ll tell you who I am later. As for why, well, it’s because you’re unhappy, love,” she answers and carefully crafts a scoop of ice cream that includes a touch of whip cream and pineapple.

“How do you know I’m unhappy?” I hear the anger in my voice echo off the trees.

“Because you can see me. Let me cut to the chase. This wish of yours is not for you. It won’t make you happy. If you give me that penny, then I will show you what you should wish for,” after making her bargain she extends her hand towards me with her palm open.

It’s only a penny I reason. What can it hurt? And yet, as I place the penny into her hand, it feels like I’m offering her something more, my trust. Is that wise?

“Look again,” she tells me.

This time the minute I look into the water I am emerged in its depths. I’m not looking at it, but living it. Or rather, it is living my life. In a flash flood of memories I feel the happy moments and sad ones that have inhabited my years. The places I’ve lived, jobs I’ve worked and friends that have come and gone. Trying times with my boys, along with the sweetest moments of being a mom.

As I come closer to the present, the images slow down and the feelings intensify. I watch myself struggling to learn how to dance. Seeing others catch on quicker. My face growing older in the mirror, one wrinkle here, another there. My husband leaving me for a younger woman. My hard work at the Junkyard filled with dirt, grease, and grumpy men. My early mornings and late nights spent at my computer writing my stories. Wondering if anyone will bother to read them.

“Is this some kind of sick joke?” I turn to the stranger. I feel the heat on my cheeks and the tears threatening to wet my face.

“Hmm, well, let me see,” she takes another spoonful of ice cream and touches the water lightly with her finger tips, like an artist’s brush stroke.

The story of my life is placed next to the beautiful dancing girl. There we are side by side films sharing the watery stage. The young beauty with her army of gorgeous men adoring her, while I struggle away working at the Junkyard.

“Look at that! I see you writing in your journal when your boss isn’t watching,” the mystery woman laughs. “You love to write, huh?

“Yeah, it’s true. I can’t help myself,” I answer. I laugh a little. It is funny how I try to sneak in bits of writing when no one’s watching.

“Tell me, which of these women would make a better storyteller?” I watch the two women again, but this time I see everything differently. The beautiful girl knows nothing of challenge, at least not yet. While that poor frazzled wreck I call myself has been to hell and back many times.

I turn towards the mystery woman to give my answer, but I lose my words. Her face has changed. I’m staring at myself.

“What are you?” I ask.

“This is me,” she says as she points her index finger towards my direction. Then after a short pause adds, “This is you,” as she points towards herself. “You can see through the disguise, because you’re seeing clearly now. Who is the better storyteller?” she asks again.

“Me,” I answer.


“Because my life is so screwed up,” I’m about to continue on when she holds up her hand to quiet me.

“You’ve learned from making a lot of mistakes,” she replies.

“Yeah, that too,” I laugh.

She takes my hand, places the penny in my palm, and gently curves my fingers around it.

“Let someone else waste their time on wishes. Keeping living your own life, learning and sharing your stories. Real life is what connects us to one another. We all struggle. And do me a favor, finish this Pineapple Sundae. It’s your favorite. I can’t remember the last time you had one.”

I wander away from the Wishing Fountain, and the mystery woman disappears back into the nowhere she calls home. I enjoy my Pineapple Sundae, adjust my hat to keep the sun out of my eyes, and think about my next story.

The Dancing Writer

Dancing and writing are the funky glasses I wear in life that gives color and depth to the world around and within me. One grounds me to the physical sensation of being alive. The other invites me to launch my imagination and explore endless possibilities. Dancing inhabits only the present, whereas writing exists forever on the page. And so I dance and write between now and forever in a playful way, living life in the moment and writing down what I learn.

Okay, so that’s the fancy way of saying both are just so much fun! I honestly don’t recognize myself if I don’t dance and write. This blog is my way of sharing what I love. My life is far from perfect, and I’m fine with that. What could be more boring than being perfect? No, I’ve had many bumps and bruises along the way, and skinned knees from kissing dirt after a tumble. Countless times, I have ended up hopelessly lost. And yet, here I am still standing, wearing my funky glasses.

I’m sure this blog will be about many things, because life is just so damn interesting, isn’t it? However, there is one question that is closest to my heart. I’m sure it will show up in my writing wearing disguises here and there, and when you spot it you’ll say, “Yep, I recognize that character.”

So, I’ll ask the question here. Are you alive?

Please tell me you’re not among the living dead. Zombies are all around us. I talk to them every day. Instead of seeking brains, the modern Zombie just wants more. More of what? Well, more of anything that will fill that void of not having enough. More time to get things done, more youth, more goodies, more money, more perfection, you get the idea. I was a Zombie for many years. I died taking care of everyone else. Never even noticed, I wasn’t even invited to the funeral. I just lost touch with that feeling of aliveness that comes from slowing down and breathing life in.

Somewhere along my twisted travels, I’ve come back from the undead. I dance and write, and I don’t think Zombies are capable of doing either of those things. So as long as I keep writing, you can rest assured I’m alive.

What about you? Did you check? If you found a heartbeat, then I hope this blog inspires you to keep exploring your own curiosities. If you didn’t find a pulse, don’t panic. Zombies are welcome here too. The more you hang out with the living, the more likely you’re heart will recharge. I’ll even let you borrow my funky glasses.