Run of the witch

The girl ran, her life depended on it. She could hear the hoofbeats behind her getting closer and closer. Her heart pounded in time with the hooves behind her.
They were gaining on her fast, and she couldn’t keep this up for much longer. Her chest was starting to hurt and she was sucking in air so hard it choked her.
She decided the only option was to try and find somewhere in these Dea-forsaken woods where they couldn’t follow her on horseback. The main problem with that though, was the surprising lack of underbrush. She scanned around, toying with the idea of climbing one of the enormous trees but dismissing the thought almost as soon as it came. They’d just wait her out, or cut it down.
She glanced at the thick canopy overhead, cursing it for not letting enough light reach the forest floor to create some underbrush for her, and she didn’t stop running.
Through the steady pounding of hoofbeats and heartbeats in her ears she heard something else – a steady rush of water. Hope leapt up into her throat and she headed towards the sound.
“The witch is headed to the fall, try to cut her off!”

Two of the three men chasing her broke ranks and split in different directions, with the one who shouted still bearing down on her.
I am no witch! the girl thought fiercely, but she didn’t have the extra air to rebuke the man. She was only concerned with survival. Besides, they hadn’t listened to her before, and that was how they had gotten here.
She nearly ran directly into the horse of one of the men who’d split ranks, but at the last second she twisted her feet and slid right underneath the belly of the beast, picking back up her run on the other side.
The water was getting louder now, and her hope was constricting, twisting anxiously inside her.
She finally reached the falls and prepared to make the jump; when as much to her own surprise as anyone else’s, she popped right out of existence.
The horsemen were left to wonder if they’d really just seen her disappear, or if they’d just missed her jump over the craggy falls.


On a green grassy knoll, somewhere very far away, the same girl popped back into existence with a muffled thump as she hit the ground.
She got to her feet, wincing at the pain of the fall, still out of breath from running, and looked around herself in bewilderment.
“Huh. I guess they were right.”


The Man with the Time Machine

The Man with the Time Machine arrived at his destination. He was going to make it right, this time.

He stepped out of his machine and looked at the house in front of him. It looked the same as it would eight years in the future. There were small differences; the siding would not look so pristine where he came from; the garden, now lush and beautiful – would be abandoned to wild negligence. The doghouse – this thought stopped him momentarily.

“Webster?” His voice almost broke, but he held himself steady. A small ball of fur bounded out of the bushes and hurled itself at the man. He burst into surprised laughter as he picked up the little creature. “You’re still a pup, aren’t you? I’d forgotten. I’ve missed you, buddy.”

The man looked at the house again. She would be in there, right now. She would be crying and packing her bags. His past self would have left a while ago in a huff, and wouldn’t be returning for hours.

This would be his only chance to stop her. He set down the excited dog, took a calming breath, and strode towards the house.

Inside, he could hear the sounds of hurried departure. The muffled swish of clothes being strewn about and packed, the crinkling of newspaper as trinkets were carefully wrapped and placed in boxes.

He faced the stairs with something akin to hope, mixed with paralyzing fear.

Upstairs Sabine was zipping closed a suitcase as he walked through the door behind her. She grabbed a photograph from the nightstand beside her and raised it over her head, pivoting on one heel to face him. At the sight of him, she frowned and the picture frame fell from her hand. The sound of shattering glass was magnified by the tense silence between them.

“Joel? Is that you?” Sabine blinked at him. Her voice was shaking.

“Sabine, you know it is. Please, please don’t go. I’ll do anything, just don’t leave.”

“What happened to you? You’re…different. And your clothes…  Joel, tell me what’s going on.”

“I did it, Sabine. I finally built the time machine. But since this day…” Remember the rules, he reminded himself, she can’t know. “Sabine, since you left, life has been hell. I’ve worked for eight years to come back to today and convince you to stay with me.”

Sabine looked at the sad, scruffy, thin man in front of her. He looked like her Joel, if her Joel hadn’t eaten or slept for months. His eyes, though, were the dark and sunken eyes of a man obsessed. This Joel, though she wouldn’t admit it, terrified her.

She steeled herself before she replied.

“No, Joel. You can’t fix this that way. If we were meant to be, we’d have eventually worked things out. You made some really big mistakes, and you need to live with them for the rest of your life. I’m leaving. If you want me to come back to you, you need to talk to your past self about making that happen, not me.”

With that, she picked up the suitcase and stepped over the broken glass, brushing past him through the door. He heard her descending the stairs, slamming the front door behind her. He heard the car engine start, heard her drive away.

Joel was dumfounded. He’d thought this would work. And now there was nothing he could do. He heaved broken breaths as the sobbing threatened to choke him.

Back inside the time machine, Joel was cradling Webster the puppy and looking at a yellowed newspaper clipping taped to a panel.

Young woman dies in tragic car accident

The date on the machine panel is the same as the date on the paper.

Joel gives a few more sniffles, then gently ushers the pup out the door.

“There you go, bud. No, it’s ok. The guy in there will need you more than I do.”

Joel closed the door and began fiddling with his panels. He couldn’t give up, he wouldn’t give up. He would just have to find another way to do it.

The Man with the Time Machine arrived at his destination. He was going to make it right, this time.

A love affair I have every Autumn.

It might seem strange that I voluntarily live in frigid Wisconsin and hate the cold. I mean, honestly, if it came down to it, I could move. I could go literally anywhere I wanted to live.

Yeah, I’d miss my family, blah blah, but I’d definitely get over it as I’m sipping shirley temples on the beach while they call and whine about the snow, is all I’m saying.

That said, there is one hugely redeeming savior of this time of year. It’s something that I look forward to the second I have to start wearing sweaters, and something I mourn the minute I realize its time has passed for the year.

You’ve probably guess it already, but if you haven’t, I’ll give you a big orange hint:

Oh my. Pumpkins.

I love pumpkins. Jack-O-Lanterns, Real pumpkin pie, Pumpkin bars, Pumpkin bread, Pumpkin Seeds….the list just goes on and on and on.

It’s around this time of year that pumpkins and one of my other favorite things come together and make something sweet, something beautiful, something that just sings of perfection. I’m talking, of course, of Pumpkin Spice Coffee drinks.

Oh mama. That looks heavenly.

Now, you might be asking – but Libris, you can move to a warmer place and still have your pumpkin spice coffee, can’t you?

And the answer would be of course, yes I could. But I think half the reason I love them so much is actually because the weather is so darn miserable. The warm coffee, the spices, the smooth pumpkin flavor almost wouldn’t be the same if I wasn’t bundled up while watching the snow/rain/hail/blizzard through my window, with a really big book in my lap.

Oh, and the other good thing about the weather cooling down? No more road construction. My gosh, I’ve been getting so bloody sick of traffic barrels. Would you believe it? – He tried to hit me with a forklift!  My tolerance for that sort of thing is way down nowadays.

Fall means I get to replace this orange:

With this orange:

© Gruener

And I’m ok with that.


Little Bell’s Challenge

“Get up. Get up, Little Bell, and do it again.”

Little Bell lifted her head from the ground and opened her eyes. The pain that exploded in her temples nearly knocked her out. The Master was still talking, but Bell couldn’t hear it past the ringing in her ears. Her automatic response was to shake her head, and she suppressed it.

Instead she tried to focus. Slowly she pulled the pain inward, siphoning it from her aching head to her chest, where she pushed it down towards her feet and into the ground beneath her. Bell stood and faced the Master.

The Master had a proud smile on her face.

“Again.” She repeated. Little Bell nodded.

Across the sunny field was a large woodpile. Bell looked at it and took a deep breath. She felt deep within herself the spark that was needed and pulled, using all her power to control the searing energy on its way up. Without controlling it properly, it could burn her alive from the inside.

Finally she felt the fire in her throat and expelled it, sending an enormous plume of flame across the field and igniting the piled wood.

“Master! I did it!” Bell exclaimed. She was so excited that she spread her wings and did an exuberant victory lap around the field. When she landed, the Master – teacher of all the young dragons, was beaming at her.

“Good, Little Bell. Again.” She said.

Ode to this purple glass bead I found on the sidewalk today.


Today I found a small purple glass bead on the sidewalk. It had no friends, no bead mates, in sight.

Oh little bead, as small as the nail on my pinkie. You caught my eye as the sun created a little purple light-shadow for you. I’m a sucker for shiny things.

I picked you up, rolled you between my fingers, and wondered how you came to be in that spot. You were all alone, a mysterious oddity for one as small as yourself. One would think that you were once part of a large family of glass beads, maybe all purple, maybe of many colors. One would think that the adventure which led you to the sidewalk on which I found you would have included your glass brethren.

I carried you inside, to my workspace.

I have to admit, Beady, that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with you. I felt that throwing you in the garbage would be too crass, too unfeeling of your plight.

But what does one do with a single, purple, glass bead?

I also, admittedly, feel that keeping you would be overly-sentimental of me. After all, you are a mysteriously discarded glass bead with nothing to offer. Please don’t take it personally.

Look, enough of this emotional onslaught, Beady. This sob story won’t endear you to me. Instead, find a way to make yourself useful and you can stay.

I know it’s tough, but you’re not the first to be confronted with overcoming adversity and obstacles. ThinkBeady, think!


Well, I suppose it’s not original, nor is it as brilliant as I was hoping, but it’s keeping you out of the bin…for now…


Reflections on a woman I never knew, whose light touched my life today

This is a bit complicated. Usually I like to elaborate on a simple subject, or tell a short story, but this has been on my mind today and I just feel like I need to talk about it. Please excuse if it doesn’t all flow very well

So it’s National Suicide Prevention Week. When I saw that, the first thing I thought of was my dear cousin, who left us in March 2011. Initially I thought of writing a small memorial post for him, but I don’t want to be depressing. I know he certainly wouldn’t want that.

However, it did make me want to write something, I just wasn’t sure what, exactly. Then, I saw this obituary, which made national news because of its unusual and touching nature.

That got me to thinking about my own mortality, and how not all that long ago I was at a low point in my life, where I wasn’t exactly suicidal, but I found myself hoping to die. Every day. Hoping that something would happen to me, to end my existence. I saw opportunity everywhere, and tried a lot of dangerous things. It was a dark time and I did climb out of it, and honestly, I like to pretend that point in my life never happened. But we all have pasts that we must face, we all have regrets, and we all have to just get over it. If you’re always looking backwards, you’ll never move forward.

I’m past that now, though, and that isn’t what this post is about.

Anyway, reading that obituary made me wonder about the mark I have left – will leave upon the world. What kind of legacy will I leave behind when I’m gone? That woman, Pink, as she is called by her surviving relatives, sounds like a very extraordinary individual. Her mark is in the love she left behind, everywhere and in every one she ever spoke to.

I’m so very guilty of many petty crimes that Pink rose above.

Never say mean things about rotten people, instead think of them as “poor souls who we should pray for.”

I definitely always say mean things about rotten people. I wish zombification on every horrible driver, I regularly imagine global catastrophes hitting obnoxious crowds, I internally curse every jerk I see in my daily interactions with people. Never, and I mean never, have I pitied those people for their ignorance and lack of respect for anyone else. But what a lofty idea, what a beautiful thought. It makes me think of the book A Little Princess, and how when I was little I wanted to be the sort of person that Sara Crewe was, always behaving like a princess would. A real princess would never say mean things about rotten people, no matter how terribly they behaved. Princesses are above that sort of thing.

Offer rides to people carrying a big load or caught in the rain or the summer heat. Believe the hitchhiker you pick up who says he is a landscaper and his name is “Peat Moss”. Offer to help anyone struggling to get their kids in a car, into a shopping cart or across a parking lot. Give to every single charity that asks. Choose to believe the best about what they do with your money, no matter what your children say they discovered online.

Wow. That’s a tall order. I’m convinced that this woman was a saint.

Are we such a jaded society that we no longer believe in truly good people, who do truly good things? I do my “good deed per day”, most days. I give myself a pat on the back every time too. Yeah, self, there’s some karma points. But now I’m thinking that maybe to make the world a better place, I should become a better person. Not that I think I’m a bad person. I’m not. I’m actually one of the best people that I know. But maybe this world needs people who lead by example, like Pink; instead of people who preach their morality to everyone else.

Take magazines you’ve already read to your doctors’ waiting rooms for others to enjoy. Do not tear off the mailing label … “Because if someone wants to contact me that would be nice.”

Ok, so I don’t actually ever get physical magazines, but this is such a nice thought.

Growing up, there is a mantra drilled into the head of every child. Don’t talk to strangers. Granted, this is pretty good advice for a small child. As an adult, we have to talk to strangers all the time, but we keep the conversation minimal. I don’t start a conversation with anyone I don’t already know at the grocery store, the doctor’s office, not even at social places like beaches, restaurants, bars, sports games, whatever. I keep to my group of family or friends and, I guess honesty is the best policy; I secretly watch and judge everyone else there. We do this all the time. We call it people-watching. You spot a person, or a couple, or a family, and you make up an imaginary life for them inside your head, based on what you see. But you never go up to them and ask to see how their real life compares.

I just think that it’s rare to meet and cultivate a friendship with someone who is not in your pre-established social circles these days. It’s kind of sad, really. So I might make it a point to say hello to people I don’t know now and then. If they’re not interested in a conversation, I won’t push the issue. But you never know if you’ll meet someone who enriches your life in some way. And that would be nice.

It’s especially wonderful that this woman, though I never even met her, has got me rethinking my own bad behavior towards others, and the world in general. Even after she’s gone, she’s touching lives.

What a legacy. What a saint. What a wonderful person to want to emulate.

None of us are perfect. But we can try to be our best, and that’s all that we can do. The legacy we leave behind is the lives we’ve touched, the people we’ve helped, the way we’re remembered as a person, and the lessons we pass on to future generations. The more love you put into the world, the more you’ll get back.

Those who’ve taken her lessons to heart will continue to ensure that a cold drink will be left for the garbage collector and the mail carrier on a hot day, that every baby will be kissed and every person in the nursing home will have a visitor, that the hungry will have a sandwich and the visitor will have a warm bed and a soft nightlight…

Your legacy is when the love you leave behind continues to live after you’re gone.

Make Coffee, Work In My Pajamas

Another Daily Prompt, to get me writing. Here is what I see in my future (a hopeful prediction):

You wake up slowly as the sun shines through the bedroom curtains, gently warming your face. You stretch in stages, methodically and deliberately, waking each muscle in turn.

You look at him, slumbering deeply next to you and smile. You always wake up before he does. His late-night terrible movie addiction keeps him up most of the night. You’ve tried to stay awake with him, but you always fall asleep on his chest, lulled by his heartbeat and steady breathing.

Pulling on a set of pajamas, you tiptoe out of the bedroom and gently close the door behind you. The stairs are maneuvered carefully, as you’ve slipped onto your rear one too many times to be caught off-guard again.

Once you’ve safely reached the first floor, you move almost instinctively, switching on the coffee machine and grabbing your tablet on your way to the porch, where you enjoy the cool and quiet morning air with a cigarette while doing some light reading. It looks to be a beautiful day.

Back inside, you make your coffee and settle into the couch with your laptop, starting the workday. You love being able to work from home. You love your job. You love going to work in your pajamas.

You check the latest reviews from the movie you’ve written, which has just been made into a big-budget blockbuster film. They are glowing, praising reviews. You smile again.

A passing thought strikes you; you can’t remember the last time you actually frowned. You try to frown, just for posterity. It feels wrong, and you’re not quite sure that you’ve succeeded. The thought makes you smile again.

You check your emails, check your blog, your social media. You putter about a little. You jot down notes and ideas. You do some reading, some editing, some story-arc building. You write a few more pages in your novel, which is coming along nicely, by the way.

You attempt to take a sip of your coffee, and discover that the cup is already empty. Ah, that’s what a frown feels like. Ok, make more coffee.

With that done, you decide to go sit on the porch again. That morning air is just wonderful. The sun hovers, still relatively low in the sky, bathing you in orange and pink light.

He joins you on the porch after he wakes, greeting you by brushing his lips against your lips, your cheek, your jaw line, and telling you good morning beautiful. You roll your eyes at the compliment, but inside you’re beaming. You lean into him and breathe him in.

When the two of you go in, you make him a cup of coffee while he fetches his laptop from his office.

Both of you sit on the couch, and continue co-writing your next masterpiece.

Before the day is out you’ve cranked out some wonderful material together, taken an invigorating bike ride, showered, and spent some “quality time” that’s probably best left unwritten here.

You finish the day by falling asleep with your head nestled on his chest while he watches a terrible movie, and you try to stay awake with him, but you both know you’ll be asleep in five minutes, tops.

Everyday is like this, except the ones that aren’t. You love what you do, you make a living off of it, you spend every day in slow-paced bliss with a partner who adores you. Not every day is as perfect as this one, and sometimes you spend nearly the whole day frowning. But not often.

Most days are like this one, and you smile all the time, and you have someone to share your wonderful life with, and most days, the only time you frown is when you run out of coffee.

A Noir/Horror Short Story in screenplay form.

This story is in response to the Daily Prompt today. Let me preface this by saying that I’ve always secretly wanted to write a Noir/Horror style story, because it sounds fun. To add to that fun, since I’ve been writing mostly screenplay stuff for the past year-ish, I’m going to put it in screenplay form. Here goes nothin, boys and girls:


A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN and a SHARPLY-DRESSED MAN stand close together under a street lamp, huddled together in quiet conversation.


I feel like we’re being watched. Are you sure you weren’t followed?


I’ve been at this game a long time, darlin. There’s no way I could have been followed without my knowin’ it.

The woman looks around slowly, pulling her fur coat close.


Well, do you have it? I don’t want to stand out here all night anyhow, even if you’re right.


Here it is.

The man hands an ENVELOPE to the woman. She begins to peek inside, but is stopped by the man.


Not here! Jeezus. You’ll get us both killed.

Leaving hurriedly, the man pulls the collar of his duster high to shield his face as he walks away.

Taking one last look around herself, the woman tucks the envelope into her coat and starts off in the opposite direction. Her silhouette fades into the darkness.

Underneath the street drainage grate near where they were standing, a pair of bloodshot eyes blinks and disappears.


The beautiful woman is poring over the contents of the envelope. She has several papers scattered across her desk, along with some odd trinkets: an OLD KEY, PHOTOGRAPHS of what appears to be a scientific laboratory, and a MINI CASSETTE TAPE – the kind used by small voice recorders. She is so engrossed in her work that she does not hear SAM, a nerdy reporter, come up behind her.


Hey Lydia, are you going to avoid me all day, or are you going to tell me why you stood me up last…

Sam spies the stuff on her desk.


What is all this?

Lydia turns to look at him, leaning to the side in an obvious attempt to block his view.


Sam, I am so sorry. I got a call from a source for this story, and I had to take it. I can’t tell you anything about it right now though. I don’t have all the facts, and this is something big. Like career-making big.

Sam cranes his neck to see the files. He frowns.


That looks like information about the murders. Lydia, shouldn’t you bring that stuff to the police?


My source tried to, and they laughed him off. I’m inclined to take him seriously though.

She gives Sam a measuring look.


Ok, I’ll tell you what I know, but not here. Maybe you can help me decipher some of this stuff. Maybe we could reschedule that date I missed and get together tonight. Your place, 6 o’clock?

SAM (Beaming)

Sure thing, doll. See you then!

Sam leaves with a big smile, and Lydia stuffs the files and trinkets back into the envelope.


Lydia walks along the sidewalk distractedly. She continually looks around suspiciously, exuding an air of intense nervousness. Suddenly, an arm reached out from a shadowed alleyway and pulls her into the darkness. She does not even have time to scream before disappearing off the street.


Sitting on his couch, Sam waits for Lydia to arrive. He checks the clock and frowns.


Stood me up again, it seems.


Lydia is not at her desk. Sam walks past, frowning.


A) NEWSPAPER OFFICE – Sam walks around the office, asking people if they know where Lydia is. Everyone shakes their heads or shrugs.

B) INSERT NEWSPAPER HEADLINE – “Reporter goes missing!”

C) INSERT NEWSPAPER HEADLINE – “Rash of murders leaves public uneasy”

D) INSERT NEWSPAPER HEADLINE – “Murder spree has police eyeing DR. FREAKISH’S laboratory”

E) INSERT NEWSPAPER HEADLINE – “Reporter still missing, sources say she was investigating recent murders”

F) NEWSPAPER OFFICE – Sam sits at his desk, head in hands, several papers related to the murders scattered across the desk. He looks defeated.



Lydia is sitting at a small table with a HOODED FIGURE who has a rasping voice. She appears tired, but otherwise unhurt.


Can you tell me what you plan to do now?


Well, like I said, after I saw myself in the mirror, and all those mangled bodies, I guessed what had happened. He put a very smart brain in me, I suspect so that my intelligence would match his. WHo wants a dull companion? But even knowing what I am, I couldn’t abide what I’d seen. It was just monstrous, what he’d done to all those people.

The hooded figure pauses for breath, opening up his hands in supplication.


No one will never accept me. I’m a creature born of murder and malice, I’m a science experiment. I guess I don’t really have a plan. I just wanted to tell my story to someone. I know I sort of forced you into this, but thank you for listening.

Lydia looks at the figure with pity.


I’m not sure society will ever accept you, but you must help bring Freakish to justice. You’re the only one who knows the whole story. I’ll help you, please let me help you. There may even be a way for you to lead a semi-normal life after this. Please.

Lydia pauses for a moment. Then, gently –


May I see your face, sir? I know it’s impolite of me to ask, but..

She trails off, unsure. The hooded figure is silent while Lydia begins to fidget uncomfortably.


Very well. I will help you. It’s the very least I can do for all those poor people.

There is a pregnant pause while the hooded figure considers Lydia’s other question. Finally, the figure reaches up revealing a bone-white, surprisingly delicate hand. The hood is pulled down, revealing the stitched-together face not of a man, but a woman.


On Journals

Ah, the journal. Alternately a savior and the embarrassing bane of my existence.

I’ll admit right here and now that I’ve never been good at journaling. I’ve given it a go, numerous times, and basically what happens goes along the same formula:

The journal is acquired in one of two ways:

1) It is gifted to me by someone who knows my love of writing.

2) I decide (on a whim) that I should start journaling again, and purchase a really pretty, ohmigosh, isn’t it just beautiful?? one.

Very rarely do I ever find myself picking up a years-old journal and opening it back up to the next empty page. I must always have a shiny new one. Why? Neurosis? I don’t know. Let’s go with that.

Sometimes, I even get a shiny new pen. Yeah, I love a good pen.

I will proceed to write in the new, beautiful journal for days, sometimes weeks, and on the rare occasion, multiple months. 

Not every day, of course. Not necessarily every week either, but for sure some progress is made over time. I will write about my joys and sorrows, I will write about random things that pop into my head, I will remember how much I love putting a real pen to real paper. How satisfying is the sound of the pen, gently scratching against the grain of the paper? How fulfilling is it to watch blank pages fill up with the record of my life?

Sometimes, I think about the person who might find my journal, 100 years from now. I try to mind that imaginary person as I write, I attempt to sound more educated, more pensieve, more interesting than I actually am. If I’m honest, it probably just makes me sound pretentious.

I’ve given up on writing exclusively for me, which is what “they” say you should do, as a writer. I’ve done this because I am my harshest critic. Literally nothing I write is good enough for my own reading pleasure. I know all the stuff that I’m going to do in writing. I’m not going to give myself a shock with a plot twist or anything, lets just face it. 

Which makes it hard for me to keep up interest in a journal. If I’m not writing it for me, who am I writing it for? I certainly don’t want anyone in my personal life reading through my journal, even though its not like I’ve got anything to hide. Its just that my writing in there isn’t polished enough for you to see, Jeeze. It’ll sound better in 100 years, I’m pretty sure of it.

But then of course I lose interest, or forget, or decide that I sound like a whiney/giddy/insert annoying verb here little girl, who is overly-concerned with unimportant things. There’s a bigger picture, self, and you’re just not seeing it. Quit the narcissistic rambling.

So in all honesty, I guess I’m a phase journaler. I chronicle my life in short bursts, with years of nothing between.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not an optimist about it. I still believe I can be a good journaler, even after multiple failed attempts.

I’m a glass half full kinda gal.

Speaking of which, I got a journal last Christmas, and I stopped writing in it back in March, I think.

You know what? I’m going to pick that baby up and write in it, tonight, or maybe this weekend some time. Maybe it’ll break the cycle. Or maybe it won’t.

I think the point, though, is that I try.

Jitterbug Perfume: a (late) review

So I thought that in the spirit of the sort-of original intention of this blog, that I might as well do an actual book review, eh?

Since I’m in the middle of a project right now, my reading has been put off to the wayside, as I love to read between projects, but if I read while I’m in the middle of writing something, my head gets too full of ideas, and it’s hard for me to differentiate between my own, and others. 

So I’m going to be reviewing a book I read years ago, and to this day I recommend it to anyone interested in reading a million miles off of the beaten track. Really, any of Tom Robbins’ novels will take you that million miles, but my personal favorite has always been Jitterbug PerfumeMaybe that’s because it was the first of his novels that I read. Maybe it’s because that particular writing style is so underutilized, probably because not a lot of people make it work. Robbins does. Here is what the book has to say about itself, a type of synopsis not uncommon for all his novels, and yet so fitting:


“Jitterbug Perfume 
is an epic.

Which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn’t conclude until nine o’clock tonight (Paris time).

It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle.

The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. 

If the liquid in the bottle actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left.”

It’s actually incredibly difficult to try and explain to someone what this book is about. It’s about immortality, and perfume, and a very smelly god. Oh, and beets. I know, right?

The characters are fantastic and memorable, the dialogue is carefully and lovingly crafted. Alobar, I think, is the main protagonist. He is the king of an ancient pagan tribe who, by custom, kill their leader once he begins to show signs of aging, replacing him with a younger, stronger leader. Alobar is not okay with that, and worries once he sees one gray hair. He makes his escape, with his favorite wife, and thus begins a wild ride around the world, through the ages. 

Robbins is a talented writer, who does not fly through writing a book. Nor should one fly through reading any of his books. They are something to take your time with, to savor each clever, hilarious, (and more often than one might think) incredibly wise and insightful word. He is a wizard with metaphors, and this book is full of them. 

“Life is too small a container for certain individuals. Some of them, such as Alobar, huff and puff and try to expand the container. Others, such as Kudra, seek to pry the lid off and hop out.” 
― Tom RobbinsJitterbug Perfume


“I do not fear death. I resent it. Everything must die, apparently, and I am no exception. But I want to be consulted. You know what I mean? Death is impatient and thoughtless. It barges into your room when you are right in the middle of something, and it doesn’t bother to wipe its boots. I have a new passion, my darlings, a passion for being myself, and for being more than previously has been manifested for a single lifetime. I am determined to die at my own convenience. Therefore, I journey to the east, where, I have been told, there are men who have taught death some manners.” 
― Tom RobbinsJitterbug Perfume

And I think art of the brilliance of Robbins’ writing is his masterful use of words. His sentences work into his tapestry of paragraphs, and every word, every thread of thought, used in a way that I can only describe as just-so. In my head I see his stories as comparable to a carefully layered painting, a perfectly timed photograph, a sculpture which takes the viewers breath away. Robbins is an artist with words. 

“There are no such things as synonyms!” he practically shouted. “Deluge is not the same as flood.” 
― Tom RobbinsJitterbug Perfume