Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A to Z - "L" is for Leeto

Have I introduced you to Leeto?

Leeto is a character my co-author and I created from a beautiful painting that inspired us. That particular painting has gone on to become an online graphic novel by the talented artist and visionary Daniel Lieske.
This amazing picture has become an epic children's novel stored on my laptop. Life has stepped in and stolen my co-author from me for a time, but I think it is time to take Leeto to the next stage in the publishing process.

Here is Chapter 2: (note: Dar is his teddy bear whom you meet in chapter 1. It has also been established that the painting can be passed through.)

Nana wasn’t in the kitchen. This was strange, but maybe she had found something to do to keep her busy, too. She wasn’t in the front room where she worked her crosswords, and she wasn’t outside in the garden where she told me I could grow anything I wanted. She wasn’t in the ghostly family room, it was still locked, and she wasn’t in the bathroom, the door was wide open.
“Nana?” I called softly at her bedroom door. It was open a crack. I tapped on it and heard a tiny cough. Pushing it wider, I could see she was in bed, all snuggled up to her chin. “Nana?” I asked a little more loudly.
“Oh, Little! Nana’s a bit under the weather. I think I have a touch of fever.”
I gasped. It was back!
I felt my heart jump, beating fast, and my throat closed up making me squeak like when you pinch the neck of a balloon and only let a tiny bit of air through. The corners of my mouth turned down and my eyes began to water as my nose stung. What if I lost Nana, too?
“Oh no, Little! Not that fever! This is just a cold. A little flu bug. I need to rest, that’s all. Don’t you worry. That other fever is all gone now. You know how to fix a sandwich for yourself, right?”
All I could do was nod. My throat was so tight it hurt to swallow.
“Then go fix yourself a sandwich for lunch and let me rest here a bit.”
I kept thinking about what would happen if I lost Nana. That scared me. I don’t think I have any family left but her. When my sandwich was only crusts, I grabbed Dar and went back up to the attic space. I hugged him tight and told him my worries, getting his ears wet with my tears.
I stopped crying because I felt I had to go check on Nana. She was sound asleep in her bed. I touched a hand to her forehead. She was burning up! Her breathing was shaky like a weak rattlesnake shaking its tail. It scared me. Her face was red, too.
Nana’s fever made me think about my parents again. I remembered the rain and the clouds. It was like the whole world was crying for my Mama and Papa who had gone and left me and Nana behind.
“Nana, why would the gods let Mama and Papa die?” I had asked her in the car.
“Little, the gods have the whole world to look after and sometimes they forget and let things happen.”
I knew Nana didn’t have much time. Once the fever started, it was only a few days before she would die. She hadn’t had the vaccination, she’d told me, and though she claimed this was just a cold, I knew it wasn’t. My nightmare had started all over again. Nana’s house was a long way from the hospital. I had fallen asleep in the car and had no idea how long. It didn’t matter, because she didn’t even have a phone. When I asked her why not, she replied, “Words are much more powerful when written down.”
I realized the help I needed was on the mountain in the picture upstairs. The book said it was Mount Olympus, where the gods live. The gods were the only ones who could stop this fever plague. I looked at Leo and Dar. “We are going to go remind the gods about us and Nana, so they can stop this!” I ran to get my backpack, hurrying back to Nana to tell her good-bye.
Her warm clammy body tossed and turned like I do the night before Christmas. “Don’t worry Nana, we are going to Olympus to make sure the gods know you are sick. They will tell me what to do.”
Nana’s head turned toward my voice, but her eyes stayed closed. “That which you seek you can never obtain,” she mumbled in her sleep.
“What, seek and never obtain?” I asked her, but she must have been in a dream like the oracles in those stories from history class. Oracles could talk to the gods, but it always sounded like they were in a dream or a trance. Maybe Nana could talk to the gods in her sleep. That seemed impossible, so I threw that thought out.
“Nana, are you fooling around, trying to trick me?” This wasn’t like her, but in fever-dreams you are not like yourself. She stretched her body a little, like her back was uncomfortable and moaned. I picked up a damp cloth in a bowl by her bed and held it to her head like the nurses had done to me.
“The only way to change the world is to change ourselves,” she rasped. Now I was a little scared. I wanted her to wake up and tell me she was feeling much better and what a crazy dream she had. “Nana?”
“Do not be angry or afraid. Do not doubt yourself. The power of evil men is fueled by fear and doubt.”
“Nana, wake up!” I tried shaking her lightly, but she rolled over and stayed asleep, sighing and saying nothing more. I stood back away from her, eyes wide open, as big as I could get them. Her words echoed through my brain, over and over. Terrified, my mouth went dry, but she told me not to be afraid, didn’t she?
Maybe she did hear my plans in her sleep. Her words made no sense to me, what evil men? How would I change the world? I took this as a sign that she was really sick and it was time I went to see the gods. I picked up my backpack from where I had dropped it in my surprise. While I stuffed Dar inside, Leo meowed at me.
“Leo, if I don’t come back, tell Nana I tried to save her.”
“Mew!” the cat seemed to argue.
“I know you are a wise old cat, but you can’t follow me. Please stay here and take care of Nana while I’m gone. Purr to make her happy and keep her covers on.” I carried him with my arms under his front armpits to Nana’s bed. He didn’t like that, because when he was all stretched out, he was almost as tall as me. He jumped off immediately and knocked over a basket of yarn, then dashed out of her room. I sighed. I had to pick it up. Nana could get up in the night and step on it, tripping and falling. The largest balls held enough yarn to go around this house, I was sure. This gave me an idea. I packed one ball of yarn into my backpack.
Upstairs, I grabbed my wooden sword from the attic floor. I stared at the picture. It seemed even brighter than before. “That’s where we are going, Dar. It’s far from home, farther than we’ve ever been. But we’ll be okay, because Papa went there and he made it back. If you get scared just believe in me, because I believe in you.”
I took out the yarn and tied it around one of the beams holding up the roof. “Now we can find our way back!” I smiled at Dar as I picked up the backpack and put it back on. Holding the yarn and my sword, I was ready.

I stepped into the frame, the same way I would if Mama broke a plate, carefully lifting my foot to step over it and closed my eyes. I felt a warm gust of air blow my hair back and the quiet of the attic became filled with the songs of birds. I looked down at my ball of yarn. It had unwound in my hand and a string stretched from the ball right into thin air! I’d never have found the way back home without it.
What do you think?

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