I Wonder Which Is Worse

I find myself asking
A lot of questions lately.
More than I ever have.
And there are no simple answers
To the questions that I ask.

Which of these is worse?
The homosexual,
Or the murderer,
Or the rapist,
Or the child molester?

I honestly don’t know.
But I find it interesting
How many people that I know
Are convinced
That murderers,
And rapists,
And child molesters too,
Can become Christians,
And be saved.

But that fag has got to go.

I have other questions
That I ask a lot
These days.
Here’s another one I find
That I ask
From time to time.

What do males talk about
When they’re in a group?
It’s something I don’t really know.
But I’ve been around
Groups of males.
And I know that when I have
They talked about
Very few things.
Like adventures in consuming
Too much alcohol.
Or the latest video game
That they’re all playing.
Or how to escape
Their demanding married life.
Or how hot the service lady was
That served them lunch
At the restaurant that day.

I’ve heard them talk about
The big football game.
Of going fishing
On the weekend.

Are all males supposed to be the same?

At least that would explain
Why so many females that I’ve known
Had nothing good to say
About any of the males
They’d ever known.

Then there was the time
That a friend of mine
Declared to me,
“The speed limit
On that strip of road
Is just flat stupid.”

Which brings up my next question.
Since everyone I know
Pretty much ignores
The laws that we have put in place
In our society,
Is it safe for me to ask
If those laws only apply to other people,
And not to them?

Think about that one for a while.

Is it OK to sit at home and wish
That the President of the USA
Would fall to the floor one day
And die.
Of a massive heart attack.
So that he could be replaced.
‘Cause, damn,
He’s fucked the country up,
And everyone knows that?

Why do people lie
To themselves?
Why do they pretend
That they’re well behaved,
And good.
When they act that way,
And think that way.
Ever single day.

Which is worse, I wonder.
The guy that used
A Black and Decker jigsaw
To cut 22 women in half.
Of the guy that sleeps
In bed each night
With his boyfriend.

I find I have to ask.

Which is worse, I wonder.
The guy that date rapes
College chicks.
Once or twice a week.
Or the gal that sleeps each night
In bed with her girlfriend.

Which is worse, I wonder.
The lady that stops by the bar
On the way home from work
After a rough day,
And has a few drinks
To relax.
Then gets in her car
To drive home.
And kills a mother,
And her three sons
By driving drunk.
Or the guy that takes a shower
With his boyfriend
In their own home
Every night.

There’s so many things
I have no answers to.
So many reasons that I find
I’m not one to judge.

Which leaves me with a single question
That I ask right now.

What gives you the right
To judge someone
That you believe is wrong?
What gives you the right?


Walking Away From Perfection And Success

Pema Chodron said,

“As long as our orientation is toward perfection or success,
we will never learn about unconditional friendship with ourselves,
nor will we find compassion. ”

I cannot help but understand these words.
And I cannot help but feel
The way that my heart aches,
And the tears that my soul cries,
When I look around and see
People all around me
That don’t understand these words
At all.
That think these words
Are wrong.
A lie.

After all,
The American Dream
Is for success.
To be successful in life.
To make a lot of money.
To have a great big home.
To have a job
That pays a lot.
So you can buy
Anything you want.

The Christian Dream
Is to be perfect
Is it not?
To be like Jesus was.
Following the ways of God.
And helping each other
To be that way.

There are other dreams
That people have
That I’ve met in my life.
They all say the same thing.
They all follow
The same plan.
The same framework.

If you work hard enough,
And long enough,
You’ll earn the dream you want.
And if you haven’t
Reached that dream
And you’re not happy yet.

It’s all your fault.

So you have to be punished.
And deny both who
And what you are.
And put more time and effort
Into making the dream you have
Come true.

I got laid off
Back in July
Of 2011.
And everyone was sad.
And apologetic.
“We’re sorry to hear that, Mark.”

“But you’ve got skills.
And talent too.
And if you go out
And look for work
We’re sure you can find a job
That will pay you
What you’re worth.”

And I couldn’t help but feel
That no one would believe
That I could settle for
Any job at all
That wasn’t like the one I’d had.

And there were a lot of people
That I used to know
That were very much surprised
When I went to work part time
In a job that pays
Much less than I used to make.

To them,
It was very sad.

It is for them
That my heart aches
And my soul
Cries tears of pain.

For they don’t understand
The words that Pema Chodron said.
And they still chase a dream
That just can’t be obtained.

Happiness comes from inside.
It doesn’t come at all
From fulfilling a dream.
From searching for success
In the world that I live in.
From punishing myself
For being imperfect
And flawed.

Happiness, I’ve learned
Comes from within.
From knowing who
And what I am.
Knowing I’m imperfect
And forever flawed.
And learning not to be afraid
Of the reality
That I will make mistakes.
And my mistakes
Will not be the end
Of me.

For me,
This turned the world
Upside down.
And success for me has now become
That I can always smile.
And learning
Day by day
What it means to care
About the people that I love.
The people that I call
My friends.

And how to care for them.
Helping them to face the things
That they are afraid of.
So that they can find their smiles

And I know that I will find a way
To write more words
In the coming days.
Because I want to help
The people around me
Learn what I have learned.

That the fear that I once had
Of not being successful
In this world
We all live in
Was just flat wrong.

That my fear is not a warning.
It is a signpost.
Set along the path
That I am meant to walk.

Everyone’s Afraid

There are times
When I have to
Close my eyes.
When I have to
Cover my ears.
When I have to
Just get up
And walk away
From everything.

There are times
When I just can’t walk
Among the wounded
That I see everywhere

And I have to walk away.
To come to terms
With the way
That my heart aches
Within my chest.
And I have to take the time
To dry the tears
That my soul cries.

I find myself wondering
How can people be so blind
To the hurt that they are in?
And then.
I stop.
And I remember me.
And the way I was
Just over a year ago.

And I know.
I know.

The people that I see
Are not cold hearted.
Are not heartless.

They’re just afraid.
That’s all.
They’re just so very much afraid.

Of almost everything.

I remember Wednesday nights
At the church
That I’ve now left.
When they had their prayer service.
And one question
That was always asked.
“Are there any private requests?”

That’s when people
Raised their hands.
Although they never
Said a word.

These were Christians.
Part of a family.
And they couldn’t share
Among themselves
The things that concerned them.

Someone I once knew
Tried to explain to me
The way that people are.
“Mark,” he said,
“They’re private people.
They keep things
To themselves.”

I didn’t understand
What he said back then.
But now,
I have many ways
To interpret the words
He shared with me that day.

Because I know
That the people of that church
That I went to
For several months
Kept things to themselves.
I wouldn’t be surprised
If they never even raise those things
With the Pastor of their church.

Not because those things
Are private things
That should be kept
From other Christians.
Not at all.

They don’t say a word
Because they are afraid.

They’re afraid
Of other people
In the church.
And the reactions
That those other people
With have
If they were to come flat out
And talk about
The things they want
Prayers for.

And this is OK
Because it’s just the way
That everyone there is.
There are some things
That you just never say.
Anyone knows that.

There were times I thought,
“I should come flat out and ask
The people of the church
To pray for my son
And his rebellious ways.
And for my daughter
As she strikes out
On her own.
To move across the country
And live in the home
Of her girlfriend.”

That would have gone over well
In that place.

Can’t you just hear the rumors now?
And the gossip?
“We’ll pray for your family.”
That’s what they’d say.
Straight to my face.
But behind my back,
I’d bet,
They’d all talk about
What a failure that I was
As a father.
To let my children
Be the way they are.

It’s one reason
That I’ve left
The church yet again.

Because I keep finding
That even there
In a place
Where we’re suppose
To sooth each others
Aching hearts,
And dry the tears
Other souls cry,
All I see
Is fear.

And the way that fear
The way people behave.

So I’d say these words
To the person
I once knew.

They’re not private people,
They’re not private people
At all.
They’re just damn afraid
Of what would happen
To the image people have of them
If people knew
How they really were.
And how they really felt.

No wonder this world’s
All fucked up.
When fear determines
How every one

I Could Look Back…

I could look back.
At the past.
At what was.
At who I used to be.
At those I used to know.

I could look back
At the mistakes I’ve made
Time and time again
In this life I lead.

I could look back
At all the friends
That are now
Just plain gone.

Like the Lady Smile.
Or the Lenten Rose.
Or the people
Of the churches
I’ve been too.

I could.
It would not be
All that difficult
To do.

To get lost
In the memories
Of a life
That is just gone.

That’s all.
Just gone.

That life did not end well.
It ended in hell.
I don’t know
That I’ll ever forget
The hurt I saw
In the eyes of My Lady
In those days.
Or in those
Of my children.
Both of them full grown.

But looking back
Would not accomplish
It would only hurt me,
And my family.

I could look back
At what once was.

But I won’t.

I chose instead
To live right now.
To live
Breath to breath.

For I’ve learned
That now
Is all I really have.
That what was
Is gone.
And no one knows
What is yet to come.

The changes I am going through
Are in full swing now.
Not that anyone would notice.
All that anyone would see
If they were to watch me
Is how I don’t do anything at all.

He works part time.
In a job
That doesn’t use his skills.
And he doesn’t seem to be looking
For a job that does.

The inside of his home
Is a total wreck.
He can’t even keep
All the dishes clean.
See how they’re collected
In the kitchen sink.

He tried going to church
For several months.
And couldn’t even
Keep that up.
He had to withdraw.
As if he’d grown too lazy
To bother getting up
On Sundays any more.

Then he stopped communicating with
Everyone he’d come to know
In those few months
He’d gone to that church.

And no one there at all
What the heck he did.
But if he’s that way
That’s his problem.
He’s clearly
Not one of them.

I’ve learned
From having been so hurt
That people do
What they want to.
No matter what they claim
That they believe.

That they’re all tied up
In coping with
The problems in their lives.
As they claim,
“I can’t get involved.”

Part of why I went
To that church for several months
Is that I was searching
For something.
And I’ve finally figured out
What that something is.

I’m searching for people
Where I feel
Like I belong.

And I left that church
Because it was a place
Where I didn’t belong.
Where I didn’t understand
How everyone there was.

I only knew
That from my view
They were all the same.
And I was not.
And I could not help but feel
That my presence there
Disturbed some of them.

Whether it did
Or not.

But I have started to find
Some places in the world
Where I can fit in.
Where I feel
Like I belong.

I have found a few
Creative souls.
Each of them different
From the other people
That I’ve known
Throughout my life.

It’s not a perfect fit.
And I know
It will never be.
But at least
I’ve found people
That aren’t afraid of me.
That let me be
Who I really am.

And I’ve never found
People like them

So I’m learning
To live in this moment,
And not to worry
About what happened
In my past.
I’m learning
To let that go.

I told my doctor
Several weeks ago
That I don’t ever forget.
That’s just not the way
My brain’s been wired
Since birth.

That I remember.
I remember everything.
And because I don’t forget,
I have to integrate it all
Into my life.
And learn to live with it.

That’s what I’m doing now.
Letting go
Of the last thread
To the past
That was holding me back.

The memories
Of the Lenten Rose.
And of the people
That I met
In the past few months
At the church
That I went to.

For the truth is
They’re not part
Of the life I’m going to have.

It’s what my heart
Tells me.

It’s time for me to continue
The walk I’m on.
Down the path
That’s before me.

Even if I can’t tell
Where it really leads.

I could look back
And remember
The stories of my past.

But I chose not to
Any more.

I’ll Try So Hard To Learn Your Ways

OK, God.
There’s something I would talk about
With you on this day.
And I know that you already know
Every word
That I would say.
And every question
I would ask

But I’m going to say the things
That I feel I need to say.
And I’m going to ask the questions
That are eating away at me

And I know
That doesn’t surprise you
One damn bit.

First I wish to say thank you.
For making me the way you have.
For the differences
In my neurology
That I was born with.
Because I’m learning
That those very differences
Are the source
Of the differences
That I’ve been blessed with.

Thank you
For placing me
Outside the little box
That makes up
The society
In which I live.

I can’t help but believe
That you made me this way
So that I would come
To understand your ways
Better than I could have
If I’d been made
Any other way.

I’ve lost count, God
Of how many times
I’ve heard a Christian say,
“I saw a man
Wearing a dress.
And it made my stomach turn.”

I’ve reached the point
Where I find I can’t
Remain silent any more
When I hear that.
Because while I hear those words,
I hear something else
That remains unspoken
To this day.

“Someone kill that fagot,
And get his kind
Out of my world.
They all deserve to die.”

And you know, God.
That just doesn’t strike me
As the way that you want
To really be.

Now, I know that homosexuality
Is something that you don’t approve of.
I understand that
Very well.
But, damn-it, God,
I just can’t understand
Why Christians can’t see in the least
The sins they are committing
When they carry in their hearts
And violence,
Of the kind I see
When they say such things.

I mean, hell, God!
It’s not like none
Of those devoted Christians
That say such things
Are without sin themselves.
I have to wonder
How many of them
Get their jollies off
In the bathroom
With a magazine
Or a raunchy book,
And their own two hands?

I assume they’ve never read the words
Of the Bible that declare
How much of a sin
That masturbation is.
If they have,
I sure can’t tell it
From the way that they behave.

And you’ll never convince me,
That any male I’ve ever known
Has never humped his wife
Without imagining she was someone else
At least one time.

Sin is sin.
Let’s be honest now.
It’s no wonder
You know,
That I can’t go to churches
Filled with people
That live that way.

There’s many things like this
That I don’t understand at all,
And I know
That you already know.

Like the questions that I have
About the Bible,
I do believe,
You know,
That it’s the best interpretation
That we mortals have
Of the words
You’ve shared with us.
That it’s the best tool
We have ever had
To learn your ways.

But, I keep running into people
In the Christian ranks
That conveniently ignore
How the Bible was created.
How it came to be.
The way that it was written.

If you ever want
To piss one of them off,
Ask them how Abraham,
King David,
The 12 disciples,
And Paul,
Managed to gain such favor
With you, Lord,
Before there was a Bible
At all.

And then you can tick them off
Even more
By telling them the facts
Of how the New Testament
Came to contain
The books that it contains.

Talk about politics.
It’s a hell of a story,
And the effect
That the politics had
On the final content
Of the Bible
Are well known.

Anyone can go read them
If they want.

But no.
Too many people that I know
Look at such a topic
And they scream at me,
“Shut up!
It’s all a lie!
It’s just a test
Of faith to me!”

As if they’re screaming
At the top of their lungs,
“I’ll believe
What I damn well want to!
Don’t bother me
With the facts
From history!
I don’t care how things happened.
That doesn’t matter in the least
To me!
I’m going to cling to
The things that I believe,
No matter what!”

We may as well have stayed
Back in the days
When the Earth was flat,
And the entire universe
Was centered on it.

Why can’t people
Just look to you
And do the simple thing?

There’s so very much
In this life
That I don’t know.
And I don’t understand.

And I know
I fuck up
Every single day.
And would be lost forever
In the darkness
Of this life.
But for one single thing.

You’re son
Gave his life
For me.
To pay for the mistakes
That I make
Every day.

I don’t know
Where all the other shit
Came from,

I really,
Really don’t.

It’s like Christianity
Has lost it’s way.
And can no longer hear
The words you say.

Help me to do things
Your way.
I know I’ll fail.
I’ll fail miserably.

But I know
That through your love
For each one of us,
Despite the sins we make
Every single day.

I can be forgiven.
And if I’m blessed
With another day of life
On this world that you made.

I’ll get to try again
On another day.

And that’s what I’ll try to do
For you
My King.

I’ll try so hard
To learn your ways.

Breathe. Just Breathe.

Close your eyes.
Then put your hands together
In your lap.
Sit there.
Sit still.



Breathe in.
Feel your lungs fill
With the air they need
To sustain your body.
To sustain your life.

Breathe out.
Feel your lungs expel
So many things
That your body
Does not need.


Breathe in.
And remember.
Some one you once knew.
Some one who
Is now gone.

Breathe out.
And feel the ache
Of that loss.
A loss
You have never faced.


Breathe in.
And remember.
The magic light
That you could see
In her eyes.
Every time
You looked in them.

Breathe out.
And let go.
Of the pain
That you still feel.
You have never faced.


Breathe in.
And remember.
The way her smile
Touched your frozen,
Rock hard heart.

Breathe out.
And let go.
Of the fear
That you still carry.
That now
She hates you.


Breathe in.
And remember.
The music
Of her laughter.
A music
That you hadn’t heard
In far too many years.

Breath out.
And let go.
Of the fear you saw
When she spoke with you
On Saturday.
September 11th.
Of 2010.


Breathe in.
And remember.
What it was like
To at long last
Have a friend.

Breathe out.
And let go.
Of the darkness
In your heart.
Darkness you still feel.
At how everything
Came to its end.


Just breathe.

Breathe in.
And draw in
All the hurt.
And all the pain.
That you know
Are out there.
In this world.

Breathe out.
And send into the world
The understanding
You now have.
Of how precious
Every heartbeat is.


Breathe in.
And draw in
All the sadness
Your heart tells you she felt.
When your old life
Reached it’s awful

Breathe out.
And send to her
The truth.
That you are OK.
That you have found a way
To smile again.


Breathe in.
And draw in
The fear that you have.
That the things you did.
The things you said.
In those days
When you were hurt
So much worse
Than you will ever say.
Caused her
To go away.

Breathe out.
And know the truth.
That she spoke to you.
When she told you
That you both
Would be OK.


Just breathe.

And remember.
That you are most afraid
When you near the truth.

Just breathe.

And remember.
That your fear
Is just a feeling.
And feelings
Come and go.
They’re transient
You know.

Just breathe.

And remember.
That the only way there is
In this life you’ve been blessed with
To find an answer
To a question.

Is to ask.

Just breathe.

And remember.
Who you are.
And what you wish to be.

The compassionate,

That life meant
For you to be.

A Choice For Me To Make

I’m here,
In this big, cushy chair.
Bleeding into a machine once more.
Using my Iconia 100
To surf the Net.

I was all. set
To monitor Facebook,
And watch music videos
On YouTube.
Like I always do
While I sit here
In this cushy chair,
Bleeding for 2 hours
Or so.

When who I was
16 months ago
Slapped me in the face.
For Facebook
In its desperate way
Of trying to find you friends
Found a name today
I never thought I’d ever
See again.

The name of the Lenten Rose.

I fing it very interesting,
As I sit here in this chair,
To observe the chaos
That’s cut loose
In my emotions.

The simple truth
Of the life that I have now
Is very clear,
And very rational
To me.

Every one I used to know
Told me I had to leave.
It’s what they wanted.
So breaking that silence
They imposed
Isn’t up to me.

Despite my curiosity,
I know what I will do.
I’ll let the silence
That I didn’t start
Remain in place.

For it strikes me
As what I should do.
And what the people
I once knew,
Would ask of me.

And I know too
That by doing so,
One of the last threads
Of who I used to be
Is finally gone from me.

And I am one step closer to
Who I really am.
And what I’m meant
To be.

Fear Of The Dark

I asked her, “Why do you always turn on the lights in the middle of the night, when you get up and walk around in your home?”

She answered me with the words I knew she would say, “So that I can see where I am going.”

I wanted to answer her right then. To tell her that she had not said anything. But I didn’t. Instead, I thought for a moment, and decided to ask her another question. “Why do you need the lights on to see where you are going in your own home? Don’t you know where everything is? Can’t you find your way through your own home in the dark?”

She looked at me as if the question I’d just asked didn’t even deserve an answer. As if to say that everyone knows you turn the lights on in the dark so you won’t trip on anything. So you won’t step on anything. So you want run into anything. So there can be no accidents as you walk through your home in the middle of the night. “Now, you’re just being stupid,” was all she said.

“No,” I responded, trying not to laugh. She’d missed completely what I was trying to say. I’d pretty much known she would. Most people would. They think in such set ways. I’ve learned, over the years of my life, that almost everyone has learned that one, well-worn path through life. That one almost universal way of thinking. And they can’t imagine, really, anything outside that. Anything beyond that.

I used to get angry about that. I used to get so frustrated. Because I’d explain to people, very carefully, what I saw. What I knew. And they’d always look at me like I was an idiot that didn’t know a thing. And they’d always say, “But, you can’t live that way!” But, I don’t get angry about that any more. And I’m learning not to let it frustrate me.

Instead, it makes me very sad. It makes my heart ache. And my soul cry tears of pain. To know that so many people are so very set in their ways that they can’t imagine anything else. Can’t imagine any other way. And that to them, any other way is just flat wrong.

I thought of asking her, “You turn on the lamp that’s right next to the bed when you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, don’t you?” But I didn’t. I knew from her answer, and the way she had behaved, that she did. I didn’t need to ask. So, I thought a bit more. And asked another question, “How do you get across the living room to the light switch that’s all the way across the room in the dark? Carry a flashlight?”

“No, silly. I walk very carefully through the room to the light.”

“So you cross the room without any lights on at all?”

“Yes, silly. I have to. That’s the only way to get to the lights to turn them on.”

She still didn’t get it. Still couldn’t figure out what I was asking her. “So, how do you get across the room in the dark, without running into anything, or tripping on anything, or stepping on anything?”

“I walk slowly, and carefully. And feel my way along.” There was that look again. The one that said I was an idiot. The one that said everyone, everywhere, knew the answer to the question I had asked.

“So, you do walk across the room in the dark when you have no other choice?”

“Yes, silly! Doesn’t everybody?” She rolled her eyes. I thought I was going to die of laughter. It took everything I’d learned to keep from cracking up. I couldn’t do that, you know. Crack up. Not in front of her anyway. All I’d accomplish by laughing would be to get her angry with me. And I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to do my best to explain to her what I’d asked in the first place.

“But isn’t is scary to walk across the room in the dark? When you can’t see where you’re going? Even if it is your room, and you know where everything is?”

“A little bit. But what else can you do? The light’s across the room.”

“I don’t know. Maybe you should keep a flashlight next to the bed, so you can use that to navigate your house in the dark?” It was a planned question. I knew exactly what I was asking.

“That would be overkill, wouldn’t it? I don’t need a flashlight to cross that room. I know where the light switch is. I know where the furniture is. All I have to worry about are things that are little and can move, and get left in the floor between me and the light switch. Get a flashlight. Why?”

“So you can see where you are going? Right?”

“What are you trying to ask, you silly man?” She’d had enough of my little game. She’d realized I was playing a game. Trying to guide her to the real meaning of the first question I’d asked.

“Are you afraid of the dark?”

“Yes. I’m afraid of the dark. Isn’t everyone? Well.. Almost everyone?”

I smiled. “I’m not. Afraid of the dark, that is.”

“Oh, come on. I bet you inch your way around a room in the dark just like me.” She shook her head. “You’re afraid of the dark too. Just like me.”

I smiled. And then I answered her, “I’m not. Not afraid of the dark, that is. But I do admit that I’m afraid of what’s in the dark that I can’t see. Like, maybe one of the cats had a hairball right there on the floor, and I can’t see it in the dark. And I’m afraid I’ll step on it. Have you ever stepped on a hairball in the dark. Yuck. It’s an awful feeling.”

She laughed at that. “But if you turned on the light, you could see that. And it wouldn’t happen.”

“True. And I do turn on the light so I won’t step on such things. But that doesn’t mean I’m afraid of the dark, does it? It just means I’m afraid of what I can’t see in the dark.”

She laughed pretty good at that one. And sighed. “You and your precise use of the language.” Then she smiled at me. “OK. Just for you. I’m not really afraid of the dark either. I’m just afraid of what’s hidden in the dark that I can’t see.”

I smiled. It had taken a while. And I knew there was a long way to go. But I had promised myself I’d help her find a way to face her fear of the unknown. Her fear of the things she couldn’t control.

It had taken me decades to learn that part of life. To become familiar with my own fear of the unknown. To learn to face it, and accept it. And look forward to the adventure of exploring, just to see what I might find. I wanted very much for her to learn about the real adventure that life is. The simply joy of exploring life. Of walking into the unknown. Just to see what’s there.

I wanted her to learn, as I had learned, that fear is just another thing we feel. And we shouldn’t let it tell us how to live. We should decide how to live for ourselves, and recognize that fear is just a feeling. Like laughter. Like smiles. Like joy. Like happiness. And frustration. And anger. It’s just fear. Just another feeling.

And on that day, when I asked her about walking around her home in the dark, I’d helped her take the first step in learning just that. I truly hoped that I could help her on that journey to learn about the things that she’d let fear do to her.

And I knew too, that I’d have to continue my own journey down the path of accepting that I live with fear, and that it’s OK to be afraid of the unknown. Of the things I can’t see. That such fear is a normal thing. And then to walk into the unknown anyway, just to see what’s there.

Fairies : Wild Magic (Part 3)

On that night, when the men had stopped to rest, Rose spoke to the Alpha Wolves that were accompanying them. She explained to them what she would like for them to do. The wolves had agreed, and off they’d gone. Howling all the way.

And it had not been long at all until the number of howls began to grow. And it kept on growing. The rain had kept pouring down. It had not let up since the previous night. The wind continued to howl through the trees. More wolves than ever howled in the night. There were no stars. There was no moon. It was nearly totally dark. And every time a man closed his eyes for just a little while, he woke up screaming from the nightmares that he’d had.

Musica had begun to play her flute once more. A song of someone being hunted. A frantic melody that simply would not let up. One of panic, and of fear. That the men in the camp could not help but hear. And many of the men paced to and frow. Some sharpened their axes. Some practiced with their swords. Some of them talked nervously among themselves.

Not one of them got any sleep at all.

One hour before the dawn, the wolves returned. Fifty or so of them. They silently approached the camp with all the men. And suddenly, all at one time, the wolves raced through the trees, and into the camp of the men. Howling. And growling. And snapping their teeth. They did not attack the men. Instead, they stole bows and arrows, and axes and swords. They didn’t get everything, but they did get away with nearly half of all the weapons that the men had brought with them.

As they’d raced through the camp, the men had panicked. Scattering in all directions. Some had been to terrified to run at all. They just stood there, and didn’t move. A look of complete shock on their faces. A look that said they were certain they were going to die.

The fairies were very excited. Their plan was working so well. Surely the men would give up, and leave Mystica alone. But once the sun came up, they learned that they were wrong. For the men regrouped. And they talked among themselves.

“It’s them! They’re doing this! There was the one that made the rain and wind. There was the one that could get the animals to do anything. there was the one that could put nightmares in your head. There was the one that played music that you could not escape. It’s them! The ones that we abandoned! The ones the witch saved!”

And with that, the men spread out through the trees, and brush of the forest. They were searching for the girls. If they could find those girls, they could put a stop to all this weather, all these things the animals were dong, all the nightmares they had when they tried to sleep. And they’d make sure that those girls could never bother them again. That’s what they’d do.

They’d hunt down those girls, and kill them. That would cure the problems they were having. And when they’d done that, they’d go after that witch.

The fairies were shocked. They were stunned. They stayed right where they were. Hidden in the forest, near the camp of the men. They did not know at all what they should do. So it was not long at all before the men found them. “There they are!” And the few bows and arrows that were left among the men were suddenly being drawn. And arrows were launched through the air.

Arrows that were incinerated in their flight. Bursting into pitch black flames. Other men had raised their axes, and their swords, and were racing toward the girls. The girls were terrified. Until Merlin himself stepped forward. He opened his wings, and spoke. His voice sounded like a sheet of metal being crumpled up, and torn apart. As he screamed, he swung his wings forward, toward the men.

A linear wind lashed through the forest. A wind that took down everything that was within its path. It uprooted trees, and hurled them through the air. Trees that didn’t get uprooted, but held fast in the ground, snapped into pieces, leaving shattered stumps along the ground. And those trees hurtled toward the men. The wind struck the men first. Some of them were lifted from the ground, and hurtled through the air. Being smashed by the wind into the forest, and the trees. Some of them were impaled on tree branches. Some of them bounced off the trees, their bodies being broken, and shattered.

Other men were pushed flat to the ground. where they grabbed at anything that they could. To keep from being blown away by that wind Merlin had made. And that was when the trees the wind had collected reached them. It was as if a wall of trees and brush collided with the men. More men were swept away by the wall of trees and brush. Collected up, and crushed, and tossed around. Being smashed and bashed between tree branches, and tree trunks.

It was over almost as quickly as it had begun. Not one man was left standing. Over half of them had died. And many more were likely to.

That was when Merln spoke again. This time in a voice that you could hear inside your head. “These are my children. I will protect them. They are in my care.”

And that quickly, Mystica was there.

She saw the destruction that had been wrought. And could not help but cry. It was such a waste of life. So many lives destroyed by blind hatred, and anger. She wished very much that Merlin had been left with another choice to make. A way to avoid the action he’d had to take. But she knew he’d had no real choice. He’d done what he had to. To protect the little fairies that he and Mystica loved so very much. He’d protected their family. And she knew she would have done the same thing if she’d been there. If she’d been in his place.

She called forth the white magic. Using it as quickly as she could to mend the broken bones and bodies of the men that were still alive. She did her best to keep as many of those men as she could, alive.

By the time the sun was fully up, and the storm was gone, and the wind had died, the men that were left were gathered up, in a little group. Surrounded by that pack of wolves. With Merlin standing next to Mystica. The witch had healed them. For some reason that they could not understand.

And it was then that Mystica spoke to them.

“Go back to your villages. Tell them what happened here today. Tell that not to come into my forest again. Tell them I will not let them hurt my family. Or the villages with which I am a friend. Tell them what happens to those that try.”

Then Mystica had turned, and picked Fauna up like the tiny little girl she was. She reached down and held Sunshine’s hand. Dream had climbed up on an Alpha wolf’s back. And Rose had spread her wings, and floated into the air, next to Mystica.

Mystica had turned once more to face the men. “Leave my forest. Now.”

Then she’d turned, and walked away. Leaving the men surrounded by the wolves.

The men had left the forest. Fleeing for their lives. They’d run for days. Sleeping only when they could not keep going, and collapsed from sheer exhaustion. They did as Mystica had told them to. They returned to the villages from whence they’d come. Telling everyone what had happened to them when they’d gone into the forest to hunt down and kill the White Witch.

And so it was that the legend of the White Witch grew. And it would be a long time indeed before anyone in the villages would enter the northern forest once again.