Black Petals Issue #82 Winter, 2018

Home
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Nowhere Friend-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Broken Image-Fiction by Andrew Newall
Monster-Fiction by Paloma Palacios
Salvation_Fiction by Scott Dixon, Featured Author
Scream-Fiction by Anthony ('Tony') Lukas
Surviving Montezuma-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist, Chapters 13 & 14
The Foundling-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Girl Who Isn't Talked About-Fiction by James Gallagher
Wallie's Reflection-Fiction by Janet C. Ro
Beggar's Curse-Poem by Alexis Child
Marco-Three poems from Christopher Hivner
In Line at the Terminal-Four poems by Michael Keshigian
Ghost Poets-Four Poems by Jerry McGinley
Killer Clowns-Four Cryptid Poems by Richard Stevenson

goblinwizard.jpg

Wallie’s Reflection

 

By Janet C. Ro

 

A furry allegorical tale

 

 

In Blackwood Forest many magical creatures roamed among the gigantic trees and caves. Witches, sprites, and wizards were the most respected by the humans who cherished the woods.

The sprites lived along the river, tinkles of laughter betraying their presence as they fluttered high in the trees, sprinkling magic down onto the ground. They were also detected, as they happily flitted from one part of the forest to the next, by glowing spots in the night. Indeed, activity in Blackwood Forest could be seen and heard for miles around. As if to compliment the sprightly glow, lighting bolts of wizard magic would shoot up into the air as they attempted to send their light to the moon. The magic of witches was more discreet, set within large bonfires where they circle-danced. Each of these families of the forest received proud respect from the villagers around it.  

There was one family of creatures, however, that was shunned by humans: goblins. Goblins not only had a lumbering walk, but were also crude and dull-witted. They picked on each other constantly in their desperation to be beautiful. Knowing they were horrid made them act that way. Without magic to decorate the forest with any light or wellbeing, they were simply dark despoilers. And Wallie was the unhappiest of them. 

Wallie’s unusual physical strength was used by his fellow goblins to carry the largest logs to their camps. Because of his strength, they saw him as the most beautiful and, therefore, one day, cut off his tail. He continued to work in his crippled state and simply accepted what they had done to him as his lot. He kept the fires lit, dragged the trees, and hunted the grimy grub goblins were forced to eat.

 

One dreary day Wallie was trudging along with a large stack of branches in his arms, until one of his ‘friends’ tripped him. When they all laughed at him Wallie felt more sad than angry. He knew there was something wrong with him but wasn’t sure what. Worse yet, his comrades could see that he was off balance, yet set the hardest tasks for him. They had hurt him, but he had been indoctrinated by the goblin code to take abuse… Then, that very night, Wallie woke up, and realized he didn’t know who he was. Somewhere in his journey to get along and belong, he had lost not just his tail, but his heart and mind. He looked up at the tail (hung up for him above his straw-covered rock bed) reminding him, they said, of how important to them he was, then sighed and tried to sleep.  

The next day dawned dull and grey. Clouds were gathering for a storm and, exhausted from trying to keep his balance yet hold his load, Wallie took a good long look at the camp from a distance, and decided. Returning home only to get his precious tail, he walked away from his family and ‘friends’ forever. He had no more mental and emotional reserve left. Although he yearned to be more, if he was destined to be a goblin, he could do so alone!  

He wanted to matter. After all, even mighty wizards aspired to greater heights. That gave him the courage to walk away from a role that now felt wrong. He wanted to believe that he could be magnificent, powerful, and maybe a leader on the other side of Black Mountain where magic lived. 

 

Living alone for years, Wallie felt happier being unhappy by himself than with goblins who did not understand him. He wandered the mountain fastness, seeing glimpses of the world around him. Eventually, one day, he saw a small light at the creek and walked toward it. 

“AAAH!” screamed the sparkling sprite at his approach. 

“I’m sorry!” Wallie cried, putting his hands over his face. But he soon peeked out, for he had never seen a sprite before, and she acted as if she had never seen a goblin. They stared at each other curiously. She seemed all opalescent fire, and he nothing but a dull cinder by comparison.

“Are you alone?” 

“Yes,” he replied and turned to walk away. 

“Wait!”  

He stopped and looked back. 

“My name is Emma,” she said. “Won’t you come with me?” 

Because he had nothing better to do, he followed her glowing footprints. They didn’t speak, but Emma often gave him sidelong glances. Undoubtedly, she was scared, and Wallie blamed himself. She noticed his struggle to stay balanced and the stub of his tail. The next thing he knew they were standing in a witches’ circle. Emma whistled, and the seven naked witches there stopped dancing.

Sleek, powerful, and elegant, the women ducked their heads, put out their bonfire, and filed away, one by one, into the woods. When the youngest and loveliest witch (a mere slip of a girl with long dark hair) giggled, her elder shushed her. Wallie watched, enthralled, as slowly, she dissolved like sand into the forest depths.

 

Wallie didn’t understand this behavior, but Emma did. “You were lost and alone in the forest shadows,” she said with a smile, “but there is a bright new world all around you.” 

They walked up the mountain and met a group of brown-robed wizards using crystals to throw lightning bolts. 

Wallie eyed them suspiciously, envying even the wind singing through the crystal towers where they lived.

The master wizard glared at him and said in a voice like distant thunder, “Take him to the Mirror for testing.” 

Emma began to cry, then said in a shaky voice, “But, Master Stefan, it’s so tragic when it doesn’t work out.” 

“Take him!” Master Stefan gave Wallie a withering glance, as if he expected the goblin to fail this test.

Wallie listened, acutely aware of all of the ways he had already been humiliated. Could this be worse?

The wizard, who must have heard his thoughts, rumbled, “The goblin realm is the lowest Black Mountain holds, for it feeds on degradation. But in all worlds, where effort is being made, humiliation is inevitable.” 

The master then walked over to a junior wizard’s crystal glistening with rainbows of light. The young wizard watched helplessly as Stefan overpowered his magic by turning the light into a deep, disturbing red. The younger wizard bowed to his better. 

“This is how you learn,” cried Stefan, “even in the world of wizards!” 

The chastened young wizard looked at Wallie and shrugged, admitting, “Humiliation happens when you sojourn with others.” He motioned them toward a large crystal cave in the mountain behind him.

Emma shook her head, took Wallie’s trembling hand, and led him through the cave into the mountain’s heart. 

Wallie was scared, since he didn’t even know what a mirror was. But he trusted Emma, for she was their light.

The pair climbed down a spiraling set of crystal stairs so long that it would have taken a human years to reach the great room where a huge, gilded Mirror hung in mid-air. 

“Goblins need to see their reflection,” said Emma, her comforting glow surrounding them. 

When Wallie shrank back in horror, Emma dragged him back, kicking, screaming and holding his hands over his face. “This is your destiny,” she said and stepped away, her light dimmed. 

Wallie fell into a fetal position and wept loudly. “I can’t!”

After years of living apart from a world moving without him, he felt that his mocking brothers and sisters had finally caught up to him. In the healing coolness of Emma’s aura, Wallie chafed under the layer guarding his inner heart. He clawed at his chest to get rid of the sweetness that had never allowed his true nature to be expressed. He worried that, should this sweetness be removed, he might unleash the resentment that he had learned to sublimate, yet must embrace for enlightenment.  

He felt his strength awaken. His hands clenched into fists as outrage overwhelmed him. He got up on his hands and knees, remembering how his fellow goblins had berated his mind, heart, and ability to embrace his place in the forest. Before the Mirror Wallie’s chest started to heave, and he stood up, fueled by the resentment of being part of a family of unhappy creatures who lived only to survive. The rage coupled with helplessness made him shake as he stood, head lowered, hands balled, and legs stiff. Then he looked into the mirror. 

Emma watched from between her fingers and whimpered. She had seen this many times, times that had too often led to her devastation and disappointment.  

Wallie’s heart swelled. He felt overwhelmed by thoughts of too many years of being fed words by those who used and abused him. Overwhelming emotions erupted to make him strike at a pillar near the mirror and shatter it. After he did this, he faced that mirror. Martyr of sweetness, tyrant of rage, he thought as he beheld his unbelievable beauty and slowly smiled a smile of pride. 

Emma’s whimper resounded in his ears. The rage in him had managed to destroy the plaque of sweetness around his heart and he was finally free. So he looked at her, surprised that she was crying. She could not tell him that, seeing the love for himself in his eyes, she thought he had failed.  

Wallie gathered his limbs and opened his fists. He saw the shattered pillar and tried to reclaim his mind, which was wrapped in a web of voices telling him terrible things. He took a deep breath, fell back onto his knees, and thought of the day he had realized the swamp had made him out of nothing more than dirt and water. His brothers and sisters never looked into a mirror. The only reflection they saw of themselves was the reaction of the beautiful creatures and humans as they shrank back or, worse yet, ran away. When they looked at their limbs, they saw green, and knew they had a lumbering walk.

As Wallie considered his brothers and sisters and the way he loved them, his rage ebbed. He would never stop loving them. He wept in the helplessness of loving a family who never really knew who he was, so could only love him as best as they knew how. 

Wallie looked at the ruined pillar and began to weep again. The truth made him drop to his knees weeping. That glorious moment of self-love had departed, leaving him downcast, afraid to look into the Mirror again. 

Emma watched all of this and shouted with glee. She ran to him and kissed him on the head. He shook his head harder and wailed aloud, confused that he hated and loved what had hurt him. Emma tried to force his hands open for him to look into the Mirror again. His hands finally gave way and he looked. 

Wallie saw something ugly, terrible, and sad. He wept and, although he had realized that he had great strength both in his sweetness and his rage, he was a monster again. He thought of his journey thus far, and chose to hope.

 

Emma looked at him and laughed. There was sudden applause, and he turned around to see a party of people with friendly looks waiting to greet him. 

He touched his face and looked into the Mirror a third time. Wallie saw a man, a man who had lived on both ends of the power of passivity and of dominance. The crowd was gleeful as they welcomed into their world another man who had seen his human monstrosity reflected and chosen to fight, to love, to hope for a world despite what being in it had done to him. He didn’t see a man who loved himself in that wickedly violent way, nor did he see the sweet submission that had made him ashamed. When he looked at Emma and the crowd he saw that they applauded his struggle; in their eyes he was simply another human being. Now he could understand the beauty and ugliness in himself as he fought in this life, accepting his human nature. 

He stared at himself and took in a deep breath. He was handsome, he realized, although he had never noticed, because he was at such odds as to how he wanted to be beautiful. Two looks into the mirror had shown him that he had chosen to love the world and was no longer a monster in it.  

The crowd walked up to him. Men shook his hand. Women kissed him on the cheek. People began to tell him of their own journeys as goblins, what had led them to that terrible place of enlightenment when they chose to hope, to fight, to love the world, and how, after a courageous look into what and who they were, they could accept what it would mean to be human together.  

Wallie looked at his hands and thought about the living spectrum of emotions, from passivity to dominance. He was somewhere in the middle now, knowing that the reasons for rage coupled with helplessness would never go away. Now he had enlightenment about this continuing journey for himself and everyone else who had chosen to serve the larger world, and not themselves alone.  

Wallie walked away amidst laughter and joy as his new family and friends expressed respect for his journey and so many of them related their own. The life of a goblin is the beginning, they eagerly told him. He looked out on Blackwood Forest and saw the wizards shoot light high into the sky, trying to reach the stars. He saw the smoke of the dancing witches who celebrated their womanhood, and saw the sprites’ glow and heard their faint laughter.

Emma said, “We’re all trying to move higher and be more.”

As Wallie walked away from the forest and gazed back, everything about the world he had come from made perfect sense. He thought of the small creatures at the creek where he used to wander, delighted to hear the chirps, crickets, ribbits and tinkling water. He took a deep breath in and looked around. Although he had reached the next step, he knew this fight would be different. He knew the higher creatures of the forest would watch his journey and his struggle as a human being. That there is no easy way was a lesson he had already learned, unsure how much knowing this counted. He closed his fists again, flustered by the mystery of living, and this made him smile. He would struggle, and would feel helpless doing so at times, but, with his newfound wisdom this was more than okay.  

He looked up, admiring the clear night sky with moon and stars shining down as if put there simply to inspire. He smiled at the thought. Taken to his new home, he found a small mirror on his table. Reflected therein, he found his tear-stained face, and winced, then laughed at himself. The groan of the swamp from a distance made him shake his head. He didn’t miss his tail at all. There’s always going to be conflict, he thought, and, with newfound resolve, went out to the welcoming party on the village green. Happy Ending

 

Janet C. Ro, janet.c.ro80@gmail.com, of Evanston, IL, wrote BP #82’s “Wallie’s Reflection” (+ the BP #81 poem, “The Statue”; BP #76 poems, “Ghost Lover” & “My Walk to Emberly Park”; BP #73’s editor’s favorite, “The Witch and the Rock; the poem, “Farewell, My Isobel” for BP #68; “Monstrous” and “The Scientist,” for BP #67; “Rose and Gold” for BP #65, as well as the “Angelic and Animated Rhyme Sets”; Alien Rhymes for BP #64, and was featured poet in BP #63 with her Thorough Rhymes). She writes: “Thrashing through armies of roses and thorn, I’m rushing to save my dear pet unicorn. My bones are now breaking and my poor skin does bleed. But rescued by every new word that you read: janetcro.blogspot.com.”

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