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And another of my stories written today is sponsored! I'm taking a moment to post it before I return to writing.  This one was prompted by  kelkyag and sponsored by Mikka.

Thank you both!


Alligator’s First Midsummer Dance

By Deirdre M. Murphy

It was Summer Solstice in the Riilass Swamps, and the animals were dancing in celebration. Skycat was dancing with Squirrel on a branch and Duck with Heron in the water. Gull and Woodpecker and many other birds were dancing in the sky, and Mouse was dancing on Turtle’s back. Everyone was having a great time until Alligator swam up. Then they all stopped and flew or scampered away from the water. Even Turtle strove to hurry.

“Where are you all going?” said Alligator.

“We’re getting out of the way of your big jaws!” said Skycat.

“And teeth” said Duck, her eyes very wide.

“It’s Solstice—I want to join the dance.”

Water Snake slithered up onto a tree. “You don’t dance. You eat.”

Alligator drew himself ponderously up onto the shore by Turtle, who doubled his efforts to get away from the water and under a stout bramble-bush. “I dance better than Turtle, here.”

But all the animals drew away from him.

He looked at each one. “Please? Won’t anyone dance with me?”

“And have you eat us? Alligator, we’re not that stupid.” The animals all shook their heads.

“Skycat? Surely you are brave enough to dance with me on Solstice! You were riding on my head just the other day.”

“But you’ve been mad at me ever since, and your teeth are long.”

“I forgive you!

But Skycat would not be moved. “I like dancing up here in the branches. You’re too heavy to climb up here.”

“Won’t anyone dance with me? I promise I won’t eat you.”

“Do you think we can trust him?” Woodpecker asked.

“Not even with the whole swamp to bear witness.” Duck answered.

“I—If someone will dance with me, I won’t eat you or your kind, ever again.”

Plover flew down, settling on a branch just out of reach. “Do you make that a solemn promise? With the whole swamp listening?”

“Yes! If you will dance with me, I promise to never again eat a plover. “

She cocked her head, trying to judge his sincerity.

“If I break this promise, may these hookworms triple in size!”

Now everyone knew how much hookworms plagued Alligator, since he simply was not agile enough to do more than try to scrape them off on rocks. And while the ones on his hide were bad, the ones in his mouth were worse—his teeth just weren’t angled right to for him to spit out a rock again if he tried to use it to bash the worms off.

Everyone started talking. “Really?” “Maybe he does mean it!” “Don’t trust him, Plover!”

But Plover said, “I accept.”

Skycat darted down her branch to stare at Plover. “Are you certain?”

Plover nodded firmly. “If Alligator means what he says, then my children and sisters and their children will all be safe from him, forever. And if not, my sisters will name many children after me, and sing of Alligator’s perfidy forever. It’s worth the risk.” She rose into the air.

“Thank you, Plover! Thank you. Thank you!” Alligator smiled, and tried a few steps, but ended flopping awkwardly on his belly in the mud.

Plover rose into the air. “You can dance in the water, Alligator, and I will dance on your back.”

“That sounds good to me!” Alligator slid into the water, and Plover landed on his head, and started to dance, but Alligator swung his head around, and she had to dart back into the air.

She looked at him suspiciously, noting that his mouth was mostly closed. “What was that, Alligator?”

“I’m sorry. The hook worm by my front tooth bit deeper, and it hurts. I wish there was some way to get it out.”

“Prop your head on the bank, open your mouth, and let me have a look.”

Alligator did as she said, and she hopped down to the ground right beside his mouth. All the watching birds and animals watched closely, holding their breath to see what would happen.

“That’s a big one all right. It looks delicious!”

“It—what? You could eat it?”

“Open your mouth and hold still, you dummy! Or you’ll be foresworn.”

“Huh? Oh, sorry.” Alligator squirmed. “Give me a minute here.” Then he opened his mouth wide, and wider still, and finally stopped.

Plover hopped right to his lip, ignoring the quivering of his mouth, and snatched that hookworm right out of there and ate it. Then she hopped back out again. “Done.”

Alligator closed his mouth, then swished some water through it. “That’s so much better. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome! Let’s dance now.”

Alligator and Plover started dancing, in the middle of the water. Slowly, as the other animals got over the novelty, they returned to dancing as well, though it took Turtle a while to get back out from under the bramble-bush. The whole Riilass Swamp had a wonderful Solstice.

And not only did Plover gain safety for her kind from Alligator forevermore, she also found them an extra source of food.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 10th, 2010 07:13 am (UTC)
I was fully expecting Alligator to munch on plover. I like this ending. Thank you for sharing, it was a nice treat as usual.
Feb. 10th, 2010 07:20 am (UTC)
Thanks! Nice to have you along for the ride.
Feb. 10th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Worthy of Mr. Kipling himself. Good story.
Feb. 10th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
High praise indeed! Thank you!
Feb. 10th, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this story.
Feb. 10th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC)
Glad you could drop by and read it!

(Now the paranoid part of me is wondering why this story is getting all the comments, and Building a Home is getting none...Oh, well, I'll have a chance to re-read it, and to edit it in conjunction with the canon review, if it needs tweaking.)
Feb. 10th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
I love that you said this. I thought you might. I actually was in a rush this morning. The third I missed and saw later. The first I wanted to think more about as it related to Torn World concepts - the regulations. I wanted more headspace. This one was just like a cool fable kind of thing or a nice bedtime story.
Feb. 10th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
The third just got put up!

As to the licenses and such, at first glance they look like a repressive nightmare, but wait--how many times have people said people should be required to learn how to raise kids before having them? In Torn World, classes and tests are part of what is covered by license fees.

Oh--and on Torn World, there's no income tax or sales tax. It's all license fees.

That in itself shifted how I see the licensing system. It's different from how our government runs, certainly. If nothing else, it's an intriguing thought experiment.

One of the other prompts was to see a marriage license being turned down; I believe Ellen wrote something for that one, though I haven't had the chance to read it yet.

And thank you for this comment on wanting to think about that story. The primary prompt for that story was for the specific situation Dini and Layla are in; the all-male and all-female theatre troupes are an established part of Torn World, though there are also mixed groups.

But all that IS a lot to toss out at someone who hasn't been involved in Torn World. Wanting to think before commenting is a valid response.
Feb. 10th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
I want to become involved in this project. I am dipping my toes in. I have so much I am juggling but I don't want to see this get so far from my grasp that I lose the chance. Thank you for taking the time to explain this to me. It is a neat concept. I like twisting things for new perspectives that way.

You are a good teacher.
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
It would be fun to have you.

Are you friended to the Torn World LJ group? Right now, (on non-Muse-Fusion days, anyway) there's one post a day, devoted to different things--new members, new characters, background information, and so on. Logging onto the site and reading some of the forums is a little more intense, though you could just read the stories (and poetry) and look at the art, if that's more what you have time for right now.

And if you want to try writing a story, you can look up the aspects of the world you need at that point.
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
It would be like doing wiki research. Yes, I am friended to the group. I think I will look into becoming a contributor.
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)

The site keeps getting easier to navigate; poor Ellen is doing more coding than creative stuff at this point (and still finds time to provide links for people who can't find stuff on their own) but boy is it making a difference.

I have the same username there; feel free to give me a shout if you need help. No, better yet, give me a shout once you get there, just because! :-D
Feb. 10th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
I am mg_ellington over there.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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