7.05.2009

Prelude to a Tome: Part 1

As old, gray, and slightly arthritic Professor Wineburst entered his morning classroom, he noticed something unusual hanging quietly on the back wall. He took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes and turned around three times but it was still there. The tingling in his foot reminded him that he had been sitting for quite some time before he had gotten up to enter the room. His entire left leg had been asleep...

"Oh darn, I wish I was still in the Barnswallow pub having a dark malt with me mates," he whispered to the slightly-built but delightfully-colored parrot perched proudly on the glistening white window sill.

The parrot's name was Milton, and the professor didn't know it but the way the parrot was standing was very significant to what was hanging on the back wall.

"Shibbledeedee," said the parrot and flew out the window, which by this time of the morning was wide open to let the fresh morning sea air come in.

"Gone," said Professor Wineburst. "As gone as the day is long, but not forgotten."

He looked at the back wall again and the unusual thing had moved. Now it was on the floor, looking quite like a pool of linen; chartreuse linen with an interwoven ivory and lemon patchwork pattern that reminded the professor of his fun-soaked childhood in the high mountains of St. Alaban.

"Ahh St. Alaban," he sighed. "To be young and in St. Alaban again. So many happy hours, so many sunny days and tin can fights. So many times I can't remember most of them."

He realized he was talking to himself and remembered what his therapist had told him, so with a hard pinch to his left under arm he came back to the situation at hand.

Years ago when he was a boy, his grandmother had knitted for hours making skirts for the foreign girls that spent summers interning for the local gentries on their rolling, sweeping, densley-wooded estates. The skirts she made them would swirl around their legs as they walked by and he tried to tend to his chores. They would laugh, his grandmother would laugh, and he would laugh along with them.

As the professor bent down to touch the "linen" he was struck in the back by a sharp object. It felt sharp at least. It actually felt a little like a stabbing pain shooting through his lattisimus dorsi, paralyzing his left side momentarily, but since he was a man not prone to complaining he stifled his reaction.

"Ouch," he said. "That hurt my back."

He tried to rub it, but the professor was not a man with double joints or inclined towards contortionism, so he could only rub his hip which wasn't doing much good at all. So he chuckled and stopped.

He noticed there was a small nut-brown porcupine with an solemn yet intent expression on his porcupine face throwing porcupine quills right at him! The porcupine was standing outside the door so the professor walked over and closed it.