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As a writer there are moments, that solidify ones career. This is one of mine.
Artists inspire me, they create a visual that I can only do with my words. Above is one of mine. Years Ago I wrote a version of the little match girl. However I changed it from the cold, to the massive pollution.
So why does this make me remember why I write in the genre of fairy tales. Here is the answer. folklore, fairy tales and nursery rhymes were all written about major things that affected the writers in their times. A long standing tradition among fairy tale writers. It is one of the reasons that they stand the test of time; because nothing new under the sun and all of those cliches.
I never went out of my way to write my stories this way; and I don't think they did either. We all just write what we know. What we see happening all around us. My short story Flower Girls and my Novella Unmasked both deal with pollution and climate change. Flower girls, as was little match girl, by Anderson are a bit heavy handed as is the Image by Banksy.
Unmaksed, shows the consequences of a dying ocean, sea levels and the merworld. Many of the themes throughout my stores deal with a bankrupt government, the gap between poor and the wealthy... and so many other issues plaguing the world today; without ever meaning to.
This is a gift, I am a writer and my genre epitomizes all of that.
Without further ado, here is my story:
Flower Girls by K. A. Petentler Copyright 2013.
The air was brisk. The sky above was a muted light brown, which was quickly turning dark as it spilled out thick layers of large flakes of ash. The flakes fall in sheets, covering the little factory town in dirt. Two young girls walk down the empty street of store fronts that lead towards the dark foreboding factory that seemed to pump out the smoke that formed the sky and air above. The young girls boot prints in the thick soot are the only signs of life on the street; as the soot has fallen and covered up all signs of the early bustle of activity of people heading to work.
Both girls walked beneath a large black umbrella that was full of holes and completely tattered around the edges. The Umbrella was supposed to keep the falling soot from destroying their tattered coats. The taller girl was holding the umbrella in her hand, her arm linked with the younger girls. The taller girl always made sure that the less tattered and worn side of the umbrella always covered the younger girl to protect her. In her other hand the tall girl held a bundle of five brilliantly colorful flowers, perfectly upright. The smaller girl was holding three beautiful flowers limply in her other hand as well.
The quickened their pace as they came near the store front window that held a beautiful painted beach scene, their only glimpse of a blue sky. Neither of them had ever seen anything so beautiful and always tried to have time to enjoy such beauty, and hope captured in paint before the factory bell rang and the hunt for the elusive coin would begin. Finding the treasure meant food; that would end the rumble in their stomachs if only for a little while.
Once the girls stepped up to the store front window their breath seemed to form a fog on the window. The older girl took her tattered sleeve of her coat and wiped the window pain, removing the fog and the soot sot that they could see the small painting of a beautiful ocean scene with a bright blue sky dotted with the purest white clouds either of the girls had ever seen. As the younger girl was quickly mesmerized by the image, the older girl noticed their reflections in the pain of glass.
She grimaced when she saw her soot covered face, but it was covered by her mask. She had dirty blonde hair like her little sister, hers was oily and dirty. Her sister had an old dark blue hat rimmed with white fuzz that had now turned dark brown. One of the strands had a tainted ball, the others ball was missing. Her younger girls eyes were blue, a reflection of the painting. The taller girls were a muted gray. The younger girl still had smooth cheeks that were stained a light pink blush. While the older girl’s cheeks were rough and chapped.
A tear came to taller girl as she finally focused on the painting carefully displayed in a beautifully carved wooden frame. The younger girl tugged shook the taller girls arm, pleading with her eyes as she mumbled something inaudible through the mask across her mouth. The taller girl knew immediately what she meant, every time they came and saw the painting the younger girl would ask to hear the story their mother once told them when they were babes. The older girl tugged her mouth to the side of her cheek and began to tell the story, quickly transporting the girls to the warm beach in the scene before them. “There once was a beautiful pebbled beach where the grains of sand were pure and white. The ocean would unfold and wash slowly back into the sands…”
Both of the girls would be there, on the beach standing in beautiful clean white lace dresses, and bare feet feeling the warmth of the sand in their free toes. They would run and play as their mother sat on the beach watching them play, a smile and laugh constantly lighting up her face, like when she told them about the beach. An old man would bring them beautiful clouds of pink on a stick, just as they would reach out for the sweet treats the scene changed back to dingy gray-brown all around them as the old, cranky store owner came out and shooed them away from the window with a ratty broom spraying dust and dirt in their faces.
The older girl dragged the younger girl over to a corner spot as close to the factory as they were allowed. The younger girl was shaking so much that her flower petals littered the path, bright colors sprinkling the dingy path they had just taken as they fled the mean storekeeper.
On the corner near the factory the embers were thicker, some still flaming. A strong breeze picked up. The girl’s tattered black umbrella did nothing to block the cold chill or stop the burning embers from bleaching the tops of their once dark coats. They stood huddled together, shivering on the corner. The factory puffed out more and more soot and ash, along with a stench that made them both queasy despite their masks. As they waited for the fateful bell, the single for their treasure hunt to begin what is left of their flowers; to sell to obtain their treasure had begun to wilt. The older sister looked over to the younger girl whose hands were shaking uncontrollably as petals fell around her boots, leaving her flowers sparse, and almost completely bent over.
Where her sisters coat was over long, pinned together in a line of rusty old safety pins; her coat was short, tattered and held together by a single button that was stretched on one single frayed tread. The younger girl had one patchwork pocket that she would put her hand in squishing what was left of her wilted flowers; the other had fallen off long ago. Both of the girl’s boots looked like a dog had chewed through them and the holey socks beneath looked no better, with a small toe peeking through.
The younger girls face was covered in ash, as was her hat, and shoulders of her coat despite the fact that she had the less tattered side of the umbrella protecting her. The older girl knew that she looked worse, and knew that this would not help them obtain the elusive treasure that they had gone too many days without lately. She looked down at her coat, that did not drag like the younger girls, but showed off her shredded dress and stockings that were more holes then wool.
They huddled closer together trying to block the ever growing cold as the factory bell finally rang and the streets quickly filled with large crowds of angry, grumbling and worn adults who were all slumped over. Each had black umbrellas, making it impossible to see a glimpse of the sky. It was time to try and sell some flowers while the ash no longer fell on the young girls.
After trying to wipe their faces off with their coat sleeves the older girl dragged the younger girl through the streets. They tugged on one long coat after another; with each tug and disgruntled look hope that they would finally find their treasure began to evaporate. They were bumped, pushed, shoved through the crowds and the flowers had slowly lost most of their petals, until they only had five limp stems with only one or three petals on them a piece. The younger girl had dropped hers several bumps back.
The smaller girl’s eyes had drooped and at some point she had lost her mask, her lips blue and chapped trembling as the tears fell streaking her soot covered face. The older girl’s shoulders slumped in defeat as the streets began to clear and the soot came down in thick sheets. The older girl took her mask off and placed it on the younger girl, before they slowly trudged through the soot and ash to the alley that held once held their makeshift shelter. They huddled next to each other near a vent that released warm air through out the night. They had one last quarter slice of bread. The older sister gave it to the younger girl, and then helped her replace the mask on her face. The smaller girl laid her head on the older girls lap as the older girl told the story of the warm beach with blue skies and beautiful pure white fluffy clouds.
The brown billowing clouds began to sink lower, until it formed a fog so thick that the older girl could not see her own hands or the younger girl on her lap. She covered her mouth with her gloved hand with the tips of her fingers sticking out, slightly shaking; until she too joined her sister in sleep. The next day as the wind slowly lifter the fog the two girls were discovered in the alley. They were surrounded by bright colored petals slightly sticking through the deep ash that covered them and half of their bodies, covering them like a blanket. Both girls’ lips were completely blue and chapped. The younger girls mask hung, flapping in the breeze. Yet both had a peaceful expression on their faces, like they had somehow found a way to ride away on white fluffy clouds to the beach where the sky was blue.
I hope you enjoyed this short story. I hope that in the New Year and all the years to come we can remember the stories of old and new; and learn to take care of our world for the generations to come.
Signing out for 2018