Below are short sections from two of my longer writings.

The first is from a novel that takes place in Wales (Cymru) around 900 A.D. In Bridgette's Braid, there are two heroines (Lyeanna and her daughter Gwendolyn) and a hero (Padraic). In this selection, Gwendolyn is showing her mother Lyeanna how the Druids swim.

Swimming Lesson

Despite the sun shining hard through the crystal sky, the water was icy cold at Beltain. Lyeanna was wondering whether this trip was wise. Even though both had become expert warriors in their years with the Druids, Lyeanna's anxiety rose steadily as they neared the beach. The sound of the breakers, which should soothe, made her strangely uneasy. And the first touch of the ice-cold ocean on her feet made her shiver violently and not just with the frigid brine. Yet, Lyeanna wanted her daughter to grow up brave; not foolhardy, but without groundless fear and able to overcome well-grounded fear when that was a necessity. The priestess had told her often enough that it was a necessity that would face them both many times over the next few years. Despite Lyeanna's discomfort, a smile came to her lips, perhaps a slightly tight smile, but a smile nonetheless, as she saw Gwendolyn gallop into the water laughing. Gwen's golden hair streamed behind her glowing in the sunlight. Just as a wave of water came to greet her, Gwen dove beneath it.

Lyeanna was trying to convince herself to leap in with the same wild abandon when something caught her eye a hundred yards down the beach. It was a! It was another swimmer! But who? Damn! She had been assured over and over that this cove was safe. Then Lyeanna had the sensation that her consciousness was split in two. One half of her, the logical half that had saved her life on several occasions, kept wondering who this stranger was that was swimming toward her. The other half -- the magic, perceptive half that had grown stronger under the Druids' tutelage -- recognized this stranger to be without the slightest doubt, her own daughter.

"Gwen," she said simply to herself. "But that's impossible," added her conscious mind. Though swimming was not a common avocation, especially for females, as a child, Lyeanna had shown an aptitude for swimming and had learned quickly in the small pool within her father's garden. Her father had ignored and even laughed at the popular notion that such an activity was unhealthy. Suddenly, Gwen was beside her breathless, bent double with her hands on her knees, taking great gulps of air.

"Ah. My. Fun. Whew. Come on, Mom, give it a try! The water's wonderful!"

"But Gwen. How can you .... how did you ... go so fast?"

"What do you mean? I just swam, that's all. Let's go together." She took Lyeanna's hand. The reluctant mother sighed and then, with a resigned grimace, trotted out with Gwendolyn into the water. When they hit the water, Gwen again disappeared, bobbed up about thirty yards away and looked around for her mother.

It had been a long time, but Lyeanna remembered now that she had once loved swimming and instantly remembered how. But what was that noise? Laughter? It was Gwen on the beach laughing. What now?

Lyeanna turned and swam back to the beach. Gwen was still laughing.

"What, my daughter, is so blessed funny?"

"Oh, mother, forgive me, but I'm laughing at your joke!"

"What joke?" asked Lyeanna with just a touch of pique.

"Why, your joke about swimming, you know, windmilling your arms and legs through the water as though you were....I don't know, trying to run through the water lying on your stomach or ...crawling through the water," and here Gwen went into another fit of levity.

"Daughter! Stop laughing. What are you talking about? I'm swimming the way everyone does." There was a small note of genuine annoyance in her voice now.

Gwen sobered and looked deep in her mother's eyes for a long moment. "Oh! Mom. You're serious, aren't you? That's how you were taught to swim?!" Gwen was desperately trying to be polite but still, the image of her mother thrashing through the water with hands and feet almost made her laugh aloud. Prudence won though and instead, she simply said, "I'm sorry."

"Well..." began Lyeanna, shivering, "I don't understand. How do you swim, then?"

"Well, Mother, like a fish, of course."

Silence grew between them. Lyeanna thought back to how she had seen Gwen appear so quickly so far away. She had thought it impossible; so impossible, she had nearly forgotten or rather pushed it out of her mind. Lyeanna spoke slowly. " you mean? Show me."

"Sure, mother." Gwen waded slowly this time into the water side by side with Lyeanna. Gwen was breathing heavily. She suddenly took a great gulp of air, plunged over on her side and wriggled away exactly as a fish might! She turned about twenty yards away, leapt fully out of the water, and was soon back at her mother's side.

Lyeanna's mind was working furiously. Her daughter was magic, side one said. She had turned herself from human to fish and now back again. Side two was saying, no, not exactly. Her daughter had moved just like a fish and that was what enabled her to swim so fast. "Can....can you move like that on land? I mean can you do that....that thing...standing up?"

"Well, I suppose," hesitated Gwen, "but what would be the point? I wouldn't get anywhere on land. It would look as silly as..." here Gwen's voice faded. They both knew that she was thinking of her mother's way of so-called swimming. "Here, I'll try it." And so. There it was. Gwen put her hands above her head and a quick sequence of spasm/ripple/waves went down the entire length of her body. Looking from a slight distance, one would not believe that Gwen possessed solid bones, so fluid was her motion. Not only fluid, thought Lyeanna, but beautiful! It was somehow so ... right ... like a bird in flight or a horse galloping ... or Wulf loping along easily.

Lyeanna suddenly realized with a violent shiver that she was deathly cold. As she re-wrapped herself, she was wondering what else her daughter had learned that the Druids had not shared with Lyeanna. She didn't know, but she intended to find out. Carefully.

They had barely begun the hike back, mostly uphill, when Gwendolyn gave her mother another shock. "Mother, why do you dislike the ocean sound so much? Isn't it....I mean...don't you find it peaceful?"

Lyeanna blushed despite herself as she thought back to that other day at the beach so long ago when ... things had happened ... bad things ... but things that led to Gwendolyn, beautiful, beautiful Gwendolyn who could run like the wind and, as it turns out, swim like a fish. What would she learn next? To fly like a bird? Lyeanna chuckled slightly to herself. She didn't think even the Druids could pull that one off. Or could they, she wondered, biting her lip.


"What? Oh." Again Lyeanna blushed having realized that her mind had led her protectively away from her daugher's question and the pain it still embodied. Lyeanna sighed and then walked in silence for a long while before she began to tell the tale.

This selection is from a full-length play entitled: "By Any Other Name." It describes an alternative version of creation on earth in which God delegates the last little bit -- designing the brain of humankind -- to an angel named Peter. Here, we see Peter finally admitting to God (in heaven) that he messed up the design.

God: So, there I was on the fifth hole, you know, that dog-leg to the right (gestures) that kind of slopes down? So, anyway, I'm right on the fairway, but on the damnedest clump of grass you ever want to see. What do I do? Well, to be fair, I lift it (gestures bending over and picking up a golf ball) and put it on the normal part of the fairway a few yards away. And, who do you suppose comes by just then but Thor of all people. You know him and his holier than thou attitude! And, of course, he misinterprets the whole thing and thinks I'm just trying to get a better lie or something. (God, as though suddenly aware of Peter's presence, turns to him) And, by the way, that reminds me, Peter. Zeus said that he stopped by earth and that those creatures are dressing in clothes. Do you know anything about that? You didn't screw up the implementation did you?

Peter: (looking around as though for support; bows his head) Um, er, no God, I mean Lord no. I mean no Lord. (ticks off on his fingers). We were on schedule and under budget. Significantly under budget. And, as for the creatures...well...they are just fine. It's just, (looks up briefly, then back down) you know, with that big a brain, some weird things happened, that's all. (looks up) If I may be so bold as to offer a suggestion, I don't think we ought to endow worldly creatures with such large brains any more. I believe that the Bachman equations clearly show...

God: Peter, you are tiresome. Don't tell me about Bachman equations, NOW! I'm in the middle of a golf story here. Just bottom-line it. Did you and your buddies screw up or not?

Peter: (bows head again and folds hands together as though in prayer) Thy will be done, Lord.

God: Uh-huh. That's right. Well, I'm going to check back in a few thousand years, Petie, and you'd better not be lying to me. Or, you'll have a tough time getting a martini to stay cold, if you catch my drift.

Peter: Sure, God. No, we did fine really. I mean, the creatures themselves are a bit messed up, know...nothing major.

God: Uh-huh. (turns back to Lucifer) So, anyway, Thor says, to me, he says: "put the ball back, God." I'm like: "I'm supposed to play the ball where it lies. Right? But what is the underlying essence of 'where it lies'? Isn't it that I should play the ball from the essential underlying reality which in this case is that I have hit a great shot that is on the fairway that is supposed to be essentially of the very essence of fairness?" (looks questioningly at Lucifer; then slowly turns back to Peter). What do you mean by 'a bit messed up'?

Peter: Well, nothing really. It's just that....I mean they did take that command, you know, (shakes body from side to side) to go forth and multiply rather seriously.

God: Uh-huh. Well, nothing wrong with that. That's part of the plan. All animals enjoy sex. So?

Peter: Well Sir, it's just that....I mean they have just about covered the planet, you see. Many of your other creations, um, no longer exist, to put it bluntly. (shrugs shoulders and puts hands out, palm up).

God: (Makes fists) What!? These creatures that you made are destroying my creations? What????!??! (Walks closer to Peter). What do you mean? (Talking directly into Peter's face now) You mean to eat, a few, or as in whole species are gone?

Peter: (head deeply bowed) Well, I'm afraid, I rather mean, as in whole species are gone.


Lucifer: (Remains silent during this interchange but his face and body language show that he is enjoying it immensely until finally his smile is a caricature of frozen delight).

Peter: (drops to knees and holds hands up to God imploringly) Well, Lord, really than that.

God: How many Peter? How many?

Peter: Actually, um, at last count, that is, er, thousands, at least.


Peter: I'm sure. Lord knows, you're right. But, the truth is, they have pretty much gone off on the idea that the earth was, um, given to them by you for their own purpose and they um, pretty much cover it with themselves and their own food supply and...

God: WHAT ARE THESE THINGS YOU'VE MADE?! THIS WAS NOT ACCORDING TO SPEC! (begins pacing). You botched it. I swear, you are going to pay for this, Peter, and pay dearly. (Goes back over to Peter and pulls him up straight; then looks deeply in his eyes with his face very close, still holding Peter by the lapels). What kind of creature would go around killing other whole species? Where is their reverence for other life forms?

Peter: (Peter shrugs shoulders) Well, to be fair. They also kill each other at quite a rate.

God: You mean for food?

Peter: Oh, no. Not for food. Because. Well, I'm not really sure why. You know, we just have the report summaries and I...

God: (Lets go of Peter and paces) Don't these creatures appreciate the beauty of the natural world that I made for them? Or what?

Peter: Oh, they do. (shakes head vigorously up and down) Yes, indeed, God. Well...except, there isn't that much left, actually.

God: (turns on heel back toward Peter again and approaches him, grabs him) What do you mean, not much left? There's a whole beautiful planet!

Peter: (bows head) Yes, God, I know. At least, there is where they haven't sort of... replaced it.

God: Replaced natural beauty? My creation!? With what, pray tell?

Peter: Various things. Parking lots, highways, shopping malls, factories, land fills....

God: Enough! (Drops hold of Peter. Walks away shaking head. Stops. Turns back toward Peter). You did remember to put in sufficient hypercortex, right?

Peter: Oh. Um. Well, God, I distinctly heard you say, hydrocortext.

God: Hydrocortex? What on earth is that?

Peter: We...we.. didn't know, Lord.

God: Hypercortex; (points to his head) you know, the projective bundle of fibers from the cortex back to the hypothalamus so humans can apply their intelligence to their appetites! You did put that in, right?

Peter: Well. Um. God, I distinctly heard you said 'hydrocortex.'

God: (sighs and puts head down in hands rocking back and forth slowly). This is just totally unacceptable work, Peter. And what about the serotonin levels? You did get that right, yes?

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Last modified: Sun May 18, 1997