At the Damfaster Master Caster Class
“If one ever hopes to become adept at flying a Damfaster Sports Broom, then one must always go in the right direction. The training for this attainment begins early, right after birth or within sixty or so years of it, first by walking, always in the right direction of course, and on your feet, which is the right goal for most crawlers. Once right walking is achieved, advancement is rapid, first by short hops, like a bicycle or skateboard would do, being careful of course, to always go in the right direction. Then by running and flying, especially by flying learner brooms, you know, those brooms with the little broom attached to the side. Again, choose directions wisely. Listen to the squawk of this Old Thang over here and go in the right direction, for gosh sakes.”
This Old Thang stopped her lecture and sat down, feeling world-weary as she eyed the meager group gathered before her. Four today; two Bright Eyed and eager to learn, one reeking of Privilege and disdain and one who watched her curiously, then gazed into space, then watched her again then closed his eyes and slumped over, apparently asleep. Then he'd jerk upright and repeat it all again. Now she watched as he dropped off to sleep for the third time.
One of the Bright-Eyed Pupils raised her hand, “Miz Old Thang, how do you know which way is right?”
“Ahh,” she said, standing. “Now that's the question, isn't it?” She strolled across the room and stopping in front of Sleeping Pupil she clapped her hands together above his head. There was a loud crack, much louder than one would expect, and Sleeping Pupil immediately jerked upright, giving her a curious look.
“You know, of course,” she continued, “that 'right' in this context does not refer to the opposite of left, nor does it necessarily mean the opposite of wrong, except it does generally work out that way. It definitely does not refer to the political belief of preserving and elevating class privilege. So, how do you know the right way?” She'd started pacing casually in front of the class, but now she stopped, standing squarely in front of Sleeping Pupil again, himself oblivious, gazing off into space.
“So how do you know, Sleeping Pupil?” she demanded loudly, hands on hips and glaring intently at him.
Sleeping Pupil gave this Old Thang a vacant look, becoming increasingly droopy eyed until, ker-plop! He fell asleep.
This Old Thang sat down again, wondering how to explain it. “See here,” she continued, “it isn't about making choices, it's about being. I think you all want to be better people, right?” She stood and looked questioningly at Privilege, who was involved with her nails and appeared unaware of this Old Thang's attention. This Old Thang spoke again, with feeling, “Flying a Damfaster is an accordance with nature!” Sleeping Pupil woke and sat up, watching her with curiosity as she spoke. She continued, “But not in defiance of one's own nature, for everything is a part, and it all functions nicely, as long as it's right.” She smiled at them. “When these principles are diligently applied the right course becomes pretty much anything that sustains and furthers the Great Wheel of Life.”
Sleeping Pupil said, “Sounds like transformation with a do-no-harm positive bias.”
“Yep,” this Old Thang whispered. “Yep, that's about it alright.”
Privilege spoke up, “The only good change is that which makes me richer.”
This Old Thang smiled sadly at her while the two Bright Eyed Pupils seemed to be considering what Privilege had said. Sleeping Pupil was staring into space as the gong sounded and the class ended.
“Tomorrow we fly!” this Old Thang yelled at their departing backs. She had to grin thinking of Privilege riding a Damfaster. When the door closed, she laughed out loud.
Going To Shwarga
I've come to a crossing but I see it's three way, something I didn't expect, leaving me facing two choices, one right and one wrong. I whipped out my map. Uh-huh, mmm, just as I thought. There's no fork in the path here. Not supposed to be anyway. My feeling is if it's not on the map then it doesn't exist, so I was stymied. I sat down. I was told that this was the path to Shwarga, which is where I wanted to go and that this map would take me there.
As I sat pondering an old hag dressed in black and wearing a tall pointed hat appeared. She was in fact the stereotypical image of a witch and I gaped in surprise.
“You sitten' on the crossroad girl. You come for me?” she asked in a low and feeble sounding voice.
“No ma'am,” I answered. “I'm trying to find Shwarga.” I looked at the two paths and pointed at them, “You know which one of these paths'll get me there?”
“Why it's the High Road, dearie,” she sang out. When I looked back, she was gone. I did a complete circle but she was nowhere to be seen. That was kind of creepy. I looked at my two choices again and realized I didn't know for sure which two they were as all three looked alike and I had just spun around. There definitely wasn't one that seemed higher than the others or different in any other way. I sat down again.
After a while, a red man appeared. Like the hag I did not see his approach. He was crimson red with short horns and a tail that was pointed on the end. He was smiling at me with a hungry look.
“What is your greatest wish?” he asked. He began hopping back and forth and I realized his bottom part was like a goat and that he had hooves.
“My greatest wish?” I stammered. I hadn't expected any of this. “I was just trying to get to Shwarga.”
He scowled at me and pointed to a path. I faced the path and when I looked back, he was gone. Just like the hag but this time I didn't spin around, just stood facing the indicated path. Looking back again, I shrugged and proceeded down the path.
I had gone for quite a ways when I saw something that seemed familiar. A small grassy knoll with an apple tree on top. I had sat under the shade of an apple tree just like this earlier, going the other way. I could see a spot that looked like it had been sat on recently and nearby, exactly as I'd left it, was an apple core someone had tossed there. I looked around with a bad feeling. I was becoming increasingly aware that I've been going in the wrong direction. I reached up and pulled an apple from the tree then sat in the spot, each movement reinforcing my deja vu. I ate the apple, throwing the core over with my earlier core and rested for a while. I put a couple apples in my pack then headed back the way I had come.
When I got to the crossroad, I scratched big exes on either side of the path I had arrived on. Okay, I thought, I won't be going that way again. I turned and now I was faced again with my original choice between two paths. I sat down facing them. It was starting to get dark so I pulled my blanket out of my pack along with a sandwich and one of the apples that I'd brought from the tree. I ate the sandwich and apple, tossing the core behind me. I decided to sleep between the two unknown paths across from where I sat. When I walked over, I noticed that the spot wasn't quite as smooth as on the other side but my intuition told me to stay and I listened. I slept with my head facing the path I'd arrived on. I was surprised to find that the uneven ground conformed nicely to my body and I slept well.
I was awakened just before dawn by a light drizzle of rain that was slowly getting heavier. I sat up and quickly rolled my blanket, grabbed my pack and ran to a nearby thicket of trees just as a fairly heavy downpour began. I sat under their protection while it rained, taking frequent catnaps to help while away the time. It rained until about midday, sometimes quite hard, but I managed to stay fairly dry. When it finally stopped, I walked over to the crossroad and was shocked to find that the rain had washed away the exes I'd scratched in the ground. The three paths all looked alike again and I groaned with despair. I was ready to give up and return to where I'd started if I just knew which way that was. I was loath to do that though as I knew my family, who I haven't seen in a long time, awaited me in Shwarga. I sat, contemplating my dilemma. I still had a couple apples that I'd brought from the tree and I pulled out another and ate it, thankful that I'd thought to bring them.
When I finished, I tossed the core across from where I sat. I looked at it for a moment, then got up and walked over to where it lay. From there I started walking a large circle, keeping the crossroad at the center. I soon came across yesterday's apple core half buried in the mud which meant that my way was in the opposite direction, as I clearly remembered tossing it behind me.
I was so thrilled at figuring this out that I didn't give my dilemma another thought. In joy and appreciation, I gazed at the two paths facing me without actually seeing them. I was happy and grateful just to be here. As I focused, I looked again at the paths ahead. Both paths seemed equally bright and promising, but as I stared the path on the left began to glow just a little brighter. I looked closer and now, somehow now, it was becoming the apparent high road. I eagerly followed it as it rose higher and higher until I reached Shwarga. And there, just past the large gates, stood my family home. Going inside I met my family, smiling and welcoming me home.