This is my second short story to post in its entirety in Live Out of the Box. This was the story that an editor got interested in but unfortunately, his magazine folded up before it could be considered for publication. I’ll have to start circulating this again in the markets but it’ll probably be hard to find a match for its specific genre and quirkiness.
Dinner with Shakespeare was inspired by a dream I had of Mitch Albom and the Bard himself. Like the title of this blog, the plot is not mainstream (and hell, I don’t want to write stories that way). I guess you might call it interstitial –it’s part fantasy, part YA and part all out weird. It’s a light story and not meant to be taken seriously.
Live Out of the Box is sending an invitation out to all those who’d like to write guest posts in my blog. I’ll be posting an official page to this soon but I’d just like to get the word out there. I’ve already got two guest posts lined up. I’m also offering my services to be a guest writer in your blogs if you’ll have me. If you want articles on writing, travel, blogging, personal development, law of attraction, experiences on living abroad or simply how to live life differently, I’m your man er woman. I’ve already sent out one guest post to a blogger and it’ll be up in her site soon. For anyone’s who’s interested you can contact me at ksirine.yu [at] gmail.
I’ve written an earlier entry on how to get clarity in which I’ve stated my goal on reaching 20,000 stats by the end of this month. Well, never underestimate the power of clarity because it works. I’ve reached my goal in one week but I couldn’t have done it without you so thank you!
It has been a busy blogging week for this teacher. I’ve posted everyday sometimes twice in a day to build up traffic. Now it’s time for me to try another approach. In implementing the 80/20 method, I’ll be doing less posting (4 times) and more networking in the blogosphere this coming week. I’ve always been hesitant in putting on this marketing cap because I’m not very good at this but I am willing to try. This is getting out of my comfort zone for me and I’ve vowed to do this sort of stuff when I changed the title of my blog. One can’t go grow if one isn’t willing to try uncharted waters. It’s a trial or success approach—either way I win because I will gain a learning experience.
Now on with the story. I welcome any feedback or comments from you guys.
Dinner With Shakespeare
If you knew we live on a flying pirate ship, you’d think we’re crazy.
But we do.
It’s not mostly fun, by the way. We spent most of our days cleaning the decks, adjusting the sails and staring up at the puffy white clouds. So it was a welcome change when Uncle Ben suggested we invite literary characters over for dinner.
If you don’t know how to invite them, here’s how it works: You look for the particular book, address the invitation, stick it inside and throw the copy out into the sky.
Mum drove us nuts, shouting orders here and there. The decks have to be scrubbed clean. The sails were changed to newly washed sheets. We had to take out our new china and polish the candelabras till you could finally see their gold.
At six, our first guests came. Like ephemeral creatures, they fluttered wraithlike and alighted on our ship.
“Hello, Hansel and Gretel.”
“Hello, Mrs Dalloway.”
The couples wasted no time in occupying our halls. Scarlett O’ Hara and Rhett Butler glided past us with their haughty Southern air. Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw were much too locked in their eternal passionate embrace. I think they were making up for lost time.
While I directed Dorian Gray to the nearest mirror, Mum ushered two guests to our dining hall.
Mr and Mrs Darcy sat primly on our table. At first, they were delightful and charming and even made small talk to their hosts about lands and houses that nearly bored me to tears. But as they drank more from our watery soup and bit from our potatoes, their rosy cheeks gradually lost their luster. They became paler and paler and talked less and less. Finally, they ceased to speak at all and by then, you could really see right through them! When dinner was over, they seemed to have aged a lot and were starting to look their right years (considering when Jane Austen first released their novel) and left the table with slow agonizing steps.
It was the same the next night when we had Peter Pan and Tom Sawyer over for dinner. From the beginning, the two boys were talking a mile away (they had a lot in common –treasure, pirates, robbers and girls). They at least had enough manners to come to the table first (I knew they wanted to explore the ship). But like Mr and Mrs Darcy, they too began to lose their color till a greatly agitated Peter flung his spoon away exclaiming, “I can’t stand this!” A white lock had sprung overnight on his right temple and the hair at his sides was beginning to turn iron gray.
Tom wrestled the napkin from his collar. “I was waiting till you was to say it. It ain’t no use staying here. Let’s go!”
It took all of Uncle Ben’s effort to push me back to my seat. I knew they were going adventuring, you see.
“How rude!” Mum said in a huff.
“It’s the food, lady!” Peter growled. He gestured to the piles of soup, potatoes and bread. “Don’t you have any imagination?”
And fancying himself very clever as he always does in the book, he crowed and flew off pulling Tom up with him.
Mum was in a state. “What’s wrong with our food?”
It was true we had have the same dishes since last night. We thought that was what everybody ate (living too long in a flying pirate ship can do that to you). It was very easy to conjure these simple dishes using one’s imagination. Mum couldn’t be bothered with doing more what with ordering us around to do all the scrubbing, polishing and bathing.
I curled and uncurled my fists. “Mum—”
“What? Speak up boy!” Mum barked.
“I think Peter wants us to have more food.”
“Bollocks. He’s only a boy.”
“I mean, more kinds.”
“What do you mean more kinds?”
“Like strawberry shortcake, salmon, truffles. I read about them in books.”
“Have you gone mental?”
“No, wait. He’s right, Mary,” Uncle Ben said.
“No, you fool. He meant Peter.”
“No, both of you are right.” Uncle Ben paced to and fro. “I’m sorry Mary but your food’s rubbish –” Mum gasped. “—our guests have stayed alive all these years from the rich vivid words of their worlds. We can’t be feeding them shitty watered down leftovers. They’d get sick. For them to have life, we must feed them life!”
“How are we going to do that?” Dad was sceptical.
“There are some cookbooks downstairs,” my older brother Tommy said. “Worth taking a look.”
So we went down and hunted for these cookbooks. The next day from sunrise to sundown we were busy conjuring food the likes we haven’t yet tasted by looking at the pictures. Succulent spring rolls from Vietnam. Pizza and ravioli from Italy. Quesadillas from Mexico. Dates from the Middle East. Turkey from America. Couscous from Morocco. And so much more.
We were nervous and wanted to make a good impression.
And with good reason too.
It was The Bard’s turn to visit.
He stepped into our dining hall with his most unforgettable creations, Mr and Mrs Capulet-Montague. They were such a sight to behold in their splendid heavy brocade of Elizabethan gowns.
They settled down and Mr Shakespeare took a bite of one of the dates.
Mum held her breath.
He chewed slowly with a thoughtful expression on his face. Then his eyes popped. Color burned brightly on his cheeks. He broke out, “To date or not to date, that is the question.”
Romeo bit into his Vietnamese dish and beheld his Juliet. “What’s in a roll? By any other word would smell as sweet.”
“Cheese! Cheese! My kingdom for cheese!”
“Turkey and couscous, lend me your ears!”
And it went on like this for the entire night. The hall was filled with rich verse and sonnets. It was a miracle we ever got to finish everything what with everyone breaking out into poetry.
In the end, Mr Shakespeare and Mr and Mrs Capulet-Montague went home happy. And that was how we got into our weekly practice of having literary dinners every Saturday. Why every Saturday you ask?
Because just conjuring that much food is no easy task. Besides, it was hard to give up our old time favorites of soup, potatoes and bread.
© Kate Yu 2008. Not to be reproduced without permission of the author.
Other stories you might like to take a look:
Sex with Fairies – is more of a literary vein. It’s a mix of fantasy, horror and paranormal with lots of schizophrenics throw in.
Photo by Gizmodo from Toshiba’s New Promotional Video