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Fantasy Drama Historical Fiction

I return to avenge my friend in the shadow of a windmill.

Charging at it on my trusty steed, I cry a warrior’s cry.

No hay viento en el infierno!”

The windmill will not budge. It only turns. I pull back on the reins. My horse makes not a sound. There is no sound to make. It would be captured by the wind. My horse is not a horse. She is a giant caterpillar. She is not a butterfly, but her name is Luna.

Luna Panza, my only living friend.

All others are ghosts.

Ghosts that search the Heavens for my face.

Sigo vivo y no se porque.”

What if I believe in the old dreams? The old fantasies?

What if I make myself a madman?

Will I then have a greater understanding within the space of memory?

Will I dance the old dances and sing the old songs?

Lyrics lost to me brought back? A tarantella? A paso doble?

What will my feet remember after my mind has forgotten?

I dismount from Luna and lay in the grass. The shadow of my foe covers me in topaz shade. It is not yet summer, but the sun is eager. She wants to burn me. She wants to send me to the dragons. I will charge them. I have nothing to fear.

Back when my friends were alive, I was the voz de la razón. I would shake my head and beg them to retire back to hearths where the blandest stews were boiling and the coolest ceviches were waiting to be consumed. I wanted to pray over my small blessings and keep those closest to me around the table.

Di gracias, di gracias. Porque seguramente soy bendecido.

The grass alerts my ears that ants are approaching. They see me as their windmill. I am an invader to them. They see only danger in my lounging form. What is safe when one is so small against the looming menace? Better to strike first and go to God later.

Lo siento. Estaba asustada.

In the background, I hear the sounds of nuns calling out for me. I am in their care now. One rainy night, a knock at the door and a plea for hospitable hearts. They are not permitted to tend to a man indefinitely. Indeed, they should have let me rot on their doorstep. Not a soul would have blamed them. They have their rules. Their order. The sister who plants and harvests the onions carried me in. She would hear nothing of the dangers of men.

“Miralo,” she said, “Apenas es un hombre.”

He’s barely a man.

What do I give them for their trouble?

I run off.

I run away.

They search.

They find me.

I’m digging holes in the dirt.

I’m trying to find something that was never lost.

It takes four or five of them to drag me back to the convent.

I’m screaming.

Sweat pouring down the robes they’ve sewn for me.

Rope around my wrists to keep me in bed.

I’m a madman, but I’m not.

It’s an act.

A performance.

I want to understand.

To understand one must occupy the space.

I scream as a madman would.

I rave as a madman would.

I talk of windmills.

The nuns pray.

I shake.

The sun sets.

Shadows cast me into dreams.

Lo siento, mi dio.

Lo siento a todos.

Lo siento.

And what have I to be sorry for?

Because I was a barrier when I should have been a passageway.

Because I was a naysayer when I should have been a champion.

Because when I rode alongside the brave, I closed my eyes.

The bravery knocked.

I would not let it in.

It was only towards the end that I saw the light of fantasy.

The moon parted the leaves of the trees and showed me the cyan truth.

As I clung to the familiar, I saw those I loved pressing on into the greatest of adventures. What danger there was relinquished itself at the foot of their bravado. I hid behind bushes. They did a flamenco by the fires of fear. They held out their hands. I only took it once mine was withered and wrinkled with age.

Aldonza loved me last, but best. A kind woman. She swore that after having lived to carry on the mantle of our beloved, she would pass the dream onto someone new. A young man with a few hairs on his chin barely resembling a bear.

She asked him if he believed in dragons.

He told her that he was raised by dragons.

She knighted him in our kitchen with a wooden spoon. A tap on each shoulder, and he was off to find the monsters of the world. He was off to tell them his name and the name that came before his and the name that came before that name and all the names that were written down on parchment that would be recoiled and remade and retold forever and ever.

Amen.

While she did this, I sat and ate my stew. She came to sit beside me. She told me she was leaving, and I would never find her, but she said that she would always live inside my heart. As a friend and fellow carrier of a shared story.

I stirred a few potatoes in a murky broth.

She kissed the top of my head.

And she was gone.

Dejó la puerta abierta al salir.

The chorus of nuns places my name in harmony. It becomes music. Sancho, a note. Panza, a word. I gather my strength to stand. Luna looks at me--perplexed.

What is the old fool doing?

I begin to dance. I dance as the windmill cuts the sun and when the rays return I dance in those as well. I dance around the ants--careful not to crush my almost foes. I dance to raise up praise the way those who sing sing up the names of their dead. Their loved ones. To exorcise their grief. To say “No more.”

No mas.

When the nuns find me, I am still dancing. A paso doble. A flamenco. I take the hands of the sister who looks after the onions, and I bring her into the dance. Her staid uniform flies from her body, and beneath it is a cebolla dress. We step on grass and it becomes floor. We look to the other sister and they have become musicians. We laugh at the windmill and the windmill turns into a dragon, but the dragon flies away.

“Así es la vida,” the sister says to me, “Fuiste perdonado antes de que nacieras.”

You were forgiven before you were born.

I take a step--not at something, but in longing.

A step in time.

Next to me, I hear a crack.

When I look down, Luna has shed her skin.

Now there is a thorax.

Now an abdomen.

Now wings.

She offers me her back for flight, but I decline.

I have not yet finished the dance.

April 21, 2023 21:00

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10 comments

Amanda Lieser
15:52 May 06, 2023

Hi Kevin! Oh my gosh, this piece was utterly breathtaking. It felt like something that was more of a poem than a traditional fiction piece. I loved the way that you incorporated the phrases in Spanish and I thought that you did an amazing job of creating a life summary for this character. My favorite line came from the love story you wrote: Aldonza loved me last, but best. Sometimes, I think, love is in the little things-the consistency of knowing another human soul cares for yours. Nice work!!

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Story Time
00:50 May 07, 2023

Thank you so much, Amanda.

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Mustang Patty
14:28 Apr 29, 2023

Oh, my. The lilt of the words took me into a poetic state, and I didn't want to leave the comfort of the words. Thank you for sharing, ~MP~

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Story Time
21:19 Apr 30, 2023

Thank you so much. Don Quixote is one of my favorites, so any chance to play around in that world is always welcome.

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Mustang Patty
13:22 May 01, 2023

I look forward to reading more of your work, ~MP~

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Lily Finch
00:31 Apr 25, 2023

Oh the realization after the fact and while it's happening but unable to stop it. Shaking my head I write such a shame. I felt this line had meaning. "As I clung to the familiar, I saw those I loved pressing on into the greatest of adventures." This Kevin. I enjoyed. "When the nuns find me, I am still dancing. A paso doble. A flamenco. I take the hands of the sister who looks after the onions, and I bring her into the dance. Her staid uniform flies from her body, and beneath it is a cebolla dress. We step on grass and it becomes floor....

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Story Time
16:18 Apr 25, 2023

Thank you, Lily.

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Mary Bendickson
21:47 Apr 21, 2023

Brilliant!

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Story Time
22:08 Apr 21, 2023

Thank you, Mary!

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Graham Kinross
13:23 Dec 17, 2023

I know this was inspired by Don Quixote but the visual imagery of it also reminded me of a film called The Fall from 2006. Mostly for the visuals because I don’t remember the story from it. But the joyful madness of this is colourful. I like that he’s too into the dance to ride the dragon at the end. I’m sure it’s a metaphor. Either way Sancho is missing out.

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