Short Story Letter “D”

A short while ago I came up with this wonderful idea to start writing stories A-Z to keep my mind brewing with fresh, new ideas while I focus on my job as a personal assistant/marketer. Yes, I have been quite stingy in the past about releasing my short stories online, but who am I to keep my work all to myself? Sharing is caring after all.

Each of the stories will be crafted into a short story collection that will be in the correct order, but for now (since inspiration kicks in at the strangest of times) the stories will be uploaded out of order, which I’m assuming is logical since I’ve only completed letter D and am partially finished with letter G. For now let’s just keep it simple and not rush the creative process. I feel like a teakettle ready to burst out steam.

So let’s get a move on. Tell me what you think about this story and if I get enough of likes by the end of the week I’ll try my hardest to upload the next. This way I’ll have more motivation to finish this project.

Happy reading everyone!

Follow @katyaszew for short story updates!


THE DRAGONFLY TAMER

Bushels of green and lavish colors filled Mrs. Besby’s gardens. Buzzing, plump bees that wore fuzzy sweaters kissed the tips of the lilies and roses. Like a playful lion cub, out pounced a golden dust that scattered over the petals, leaves and stems of each blossom.

Mrs. Besby was hard at work. Tending to her garden, she wiped the sweat off of her brow and sprinkled her flowers with crisp water poured from the mouth of her watering can. She was a little, old woman with silver hair tied into a tight bun. She had wrinkles, dry lips and trembling hands. Dressed in a rucked apron, she sifted through the soil and nattered with the blooming flowers.

“Oh, what a sigh this day brings. It is awfully hot,” Mrs. Besby fussed.

“But flowers do so enjoy this weather,” a little voice replied, “The sun helps them grow, you mustn’t worry.”

Now, what Mrs. Besby hadn’t known was deep inside of her sprawling garden there lived teeny-tiny people called Nymphs who helped tend the soil, massage the flowers’ roots, feed the wiggly earth worms and tamed the dragonflies. Together these Nymphs were called the Odonata Clan and they were forbidden to talk to humans, especially those that were wrinkled as prunes.

The Duke of Odonata Clan, Cordulie, was a young child. He had rosy-red cheeks and a pudgy belly.

Of course, the people were too afraid to betray the Duke so kept busy with their wheelbarrows of dirt and weeds. All except Reed, the Dragonfly Tamer, who visited the lonely Mrs. Besby every day.

 “Would you like some tea and crumpets, young Dragonfly Tamer?” Mrs. Besby asked.

Reed chuckled a belly laugh.

 “I am not young, I am as old as you are. But that sounds like a mighty, fine idea.”

The second Mrs. Besby hurried off to her shabby house to fetch the snacks, Reed took out his pipe and smoked the golden pollen from a yellow daisy. He took the time to appreciate the beauty around him and gave praise to the hard work Mrs. Besby put into her garden.

 “Quite the woman,” he whispered to his dragonfly, “But so lonesome. How I wish to find her friends of her own kind.”

Suddenly, an idea sparked in Reed’s mind and he leapt atop of his dragonfly’s back.

“If I can get the others to listen,” he told the creature, “we can find a friend for Mrs. Besby.”

He saw that Mrs. Besby had returned with a platter of crumpets and let out a whooping laugh.

“Are you to leave now, Dragonfly Tamer?” the old woman asked sadly. The platter trembled in her hands and the look on her face was painted with gloom.

Reed shook his head and grabbed the dragonfly’s reigns.

“Of course not, Mrs. Besby. I’ve to tell the others about your scrumptious crumpets.”

“There are others like you?” Mrs. Besby asked, her voice hoarse and low.

“Oh, yes. Indeed, there are many.”

“I’ve to knit sweaters for you all before the cold seasons. My garden freezes up, oh my.”

“Not to fret,” Reed reassured, “Those like me migrate with the birds, but no matter what, we always return to your garden, because it is the most beautiful.”

“Heavens,” Mrs. Besby wept in joy, “I do not deserve your praise.”

“But you do. I’ve to tell of your greatness to the others. Then they will no longer fear you.”

The old woman gasped.

“Why ever would they fear an old lady?”

“The Wrinkled Ones— that’s what our Duke calls you— are ones of frightening wisdom.”

“That Duke needs a spankin’!” Mrs. Besby hollered.

“He sure does!” Reed shouted.

He gathered four crumpets and wrapped each into his beard as if it were a knapsack.

“I’ve to spread this good news. I will return soon.”

Reed kissed Mrs. Besby’s cheek and jumped back into the pits of the garden.

* * *

Deep within the gardens, Reed took a deep breath and grabbed onto a tattered rope that dangled from above. He pulled on it twice and the charming sounds of bells chimed. For a moment there was no life beyond the dirt grounds, but as the sounds of the bells travelled forth, a young Nymph wearing a thimble on his head pushed a teacup through the foliage.

 “Mr. Reed!” the Nymph cried, “You were to return to the Dragonfly Farms to collect the wasps and mosquitoes this fine mornin’.”

Reed shoved the warm crumpets into the teacup and took a seat.

The chauffeur took off as quick as a dragonfly’s fluttering wing.

Down the teacup went, through the fragile stem fields and over heaps of rusty gardening tools. Little huts stuck up like teepees and scattered around the entire providence. There were handmade birdhouses fallen from storms; neatly stacked tin cans blanketed in straw from the wheat fields and one big wicker basket once used for picnicking, Duke Cordulie’s home.

Reed tapped on the chauffeur’s back three times before he gained his attention.

“We’ve to stop here, my lad,” he told.

The chauffeur shook his head.

“His Excellency is not to be disturbed. This time’s his eating hour.”

Reed, still carrying the crumpets, jumped out of the teacup and hurried towards the basket. He heard the blasted chauffeur shouting after him, but advanced with heightened spirits.

When he made it to the entrance of the basket he was stopped by two, batty Nymphs.

“No trespassin’, dung beetle breath,” one Nymph spat.

“Ain’t nobody a’gonna pass through here,” the other shadowed, “‘less they’ve got a’pointment with Cordulie.”

These scamps were the troublesome duo, Leste and Gomphe, twin Nymphs who were put in charge to guard the basket whenever Cordulie was in attendance. They had shaggy, blonde hair, plump cheeks and menacing eyes.

“It just so happens that I do have an appointment with His Excellency, my good sirs,” Reed started.

Leste pulled out a list of names scribbled shoddily on a rose petal.

“You ain’t on here, fuzz-ball.”

Reed nodded.

“Yes, but I do have a gift.”

The Nymphs rung up their noses.

“No ‘pointment, means no plea,” Gomphe explained.

“Get back to work, ol’ man,” Leste growled.

Reed fussed and sweated. As if he had been carrying stacks of thick firewood, he felt the crumpets had gotten heavier and heavier.

 “What do you have there, ol’ man?” Gomphe wondered.

“These are a gift for His Excellency.”

Leste whiffed the air.

 “Sweeties,” he whispered.

Suddenly, the townsfolk gathered round and stared at Reed in hunger. They had gotten closer and closer, all slobbering and squealing for a taste of the crumpets.

Reed was frightened out of his wits. Nymphs tackled him and devoured the crumpets.

 * * *

Reed knew what was to become of his home after Cordulie found out about his barmy frenzy. It had happened many times before. Whenever he had been late to Flying Drills or the Morning Line-up, his hut would be knocked and burnt down by the Odonata Military.

The chauffeur, who was called Vierfleck, had been kind enough to invite Reed into his home. It was a small hut, crafted out of dried leaves, petals and the shoots of corn leftover from a dry patch of summer soil.

“It doesn’t keep out much rain,” Vierfleck said, “but it does keep my dragonfly Azure from the Argiope Bruennichi and Tetragnatha Extensa. Those buggers are bloody scary.”

Wrapped in a blanket, Reed thought.

 “The humans call them spiders.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“The Argiope Bruennichi and Tetragnatha Extensa are called spiders. Many make their homes near Mrs. Besby’s shed.”

Vierfleck gasped.

 “Belt up, mate!” he shouted, “Someone’s to hear you.”

“I’ve ought to tell Cordulie about what I know.”

Vierfleck shook his shaggy head.

“Blimey,” he muttered, “What do you know?”

“Not much,” Reed confessed, “but what I know for sure is that Mrs. Besby is old and lonely and I cannot just sit around here muttering while she cries herself to sleep every, darn night.”

“You’ve spoken with her? Mr. Reed, if Cordulie is to find out—“

“Those crumpets were to convince him, but now I’ve to get more.”

Vierfleck exclaimed:

“You’re bloody mad, mate! If you told Cordulie that you’ve made friends with the human—“

“—Mrs. Besby,” Reed corrected.

“—Mrs. Besby, then your house won’t be the only thing that’s burned down.”

Reed drew a long sigh.

 “We’ve to do something about this mess,” he claimed.

“We’ve?” Vierfleck stuttered, “Mr. Reed, I’m a mere chauffeur. What could I do to assist you?”

“Get some courage. You’ll need it to survive in this world.”

Reed laughed and headed for the door.

 “I’ve to meet with Farmer Braune of the Dragonfly Farms.”

He thanked Vierfleck for his patronage and traveled south to the Dragonfly Farms that rested near a boggy marsh outside of the gardens.

* * *

Farmer Braune was a grumpy man with a long, pointy nose and a strong chin. He had been Mrs. Besby’s neighbor for many years who made a living by hunting in the woods. He knew much about the existence of the Nymphs and always ruined their huts with his big, floppy boots.

Reed and Vierfleck reached the outskirts of his barnyard when they heard stomping boots and the clanking of keys.

“What are you varmints doin’ out here?” the old farmer bellowed.

Reed wobbled forward.

 “We need your help, sir.”

The farmer grumbled.

 “I don’t help no thieves. You’ve gone and stole my bean plants ‘gain.”

Vierfleck looked over at the potted bean plants and noticed all of the bite marks.

 “Good sir,” he whispered, “a rabbit is the culprit, not us Nymphs.”

Farmer Braune drew a shovel from his denim overalls and swung it over the Nymphs.

 “Scram, you nasty hooligans!”

“Farmer Braune!” Mrs. Besby’s hoarse, mousy voice called, “You leave those fellows alone.”

“Why, ma’am, you out’ta know these here thieves ruined my garden.”

Mrs. Besby put her hands on her hips and waved a finger in Farmer Braune’s face.

 “And you ought to know that these fellows help my garden flourish each and every year. You will not cause them any trouble.”

Farmer Braune grunted and folded his arms over his thin chest.

Suddenly, a dragonfly flew overhead and landed atop of his shoulder. He tried swatting it away, but Reed shouted ‘Stop’ and startled the man.

“It is said that if a dragonfly lands on your shoulder, you are a good soul.”

Farmer Braune stayed still and wiggled his scratchy whiskers. He looked down and saw hundreds of Nymphs gathering in the weeds of his garden. Leste and Gomphe were about to attack the farmer and Mrs. Besby, but Duke Cordulie stopped them.

“The dragonfly trusts him, so why don’t we?” he wondered.

The Nymphs moved closer to Farmer Braune and started crawling up his overalls.

“They seem to like you, Farmer Braune,” Mrs. Besby said.

“Get these varmints off of me!” the farmer cried.

Reed and Vierfleck whistled for their dragonflies and flew to Mrs. Besby’s nose.

“Why don’t you give Farmer Braune some of your crumpets, Mrs. Besby?”

“What a splendid idea.”

The old woman waltzed beside the fussing farmer and shoved a crumpet into his mouth.

“Tame yourself, Farmer Braune. These fellows will help tend your garden.”

“—If,” Reed added, “you’ll be kind enough to have dinner with Mrs. Besby.”

The farmer picked the Nymphs off of his overalls and scratched his beard.

“What’s for dinner?” he asked.

* * *

Later in the day, the Nymphs finished tending to the gardens and even shared a homemade meal with Mrs. Besby and Farmer Braun.

Reed sat outside with Vierfleck and shared a cup of tea with him. He hoped everything would soon change and kept his eyes to the skies.

“What now?” Vierfleck wondered.

And Reed replied:

“Maybe the simple life will return soon.”

The two sipped at the tea and cheered when Mrs. Besby brought out a fresh plate of crumpets, smiling.


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About Katya Szewczuk

Katya is the Freelance Writer, Editor and Journalist for New Jersey based publishers Renna Media. She is also a videographer who creates book trailers for authors and is the host of the Youtube series 'The Kat's Meow'. She is currently working on two middle grade novels both featuring a spunky, adventurous heroine who goes off on a journey.
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