I Am Isabel the Storyteller

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#3. I need an escape den: could it be this blog?

Mom and I found at least 8 escape dens in the back woods last year. Our Red Fox used them to get away from predators and storms. But! She slept in the open. I need something like this too: both a way to escape bad guys and weather and also a way to emerge and do what needs doing. I’m thinking metaphorically. Although the idea of curling up under a hemlock with a furry tail or warm coat all around me? Not bad.


It’s over.  We had a memorial service at the stone chapel near Raging River, which was not.

I can’t remember much of what was said except this. One of the readers quoted Abraham Lincoln, “it’s not the years in a life, it’s the life in the years.”

Words as comforting as peroxide on a cut. When President Lincoln’s kids, Tad, Edward, and Willie died,  he couldn’t have uttered this.

I don’t process most of the words. They were like that blah blah background grown-up talk in Charlie Brown TV specials.

In the front row, Pop and Mimi clamp onto us like Dad’s woodwork vise, the one with super sturdy metal and wide wide “jaws.” I use this vise, Izzy, for the heavy-duty projects, Dad would explain while I sat on the cellar steps just above the work bench. See? The vise keeps it all from coming apart.

Sam, Clyde, and I are Mimi and Pop’s heavy-duty projects. Otherwise, I know we’d come apart.

Now we’re back at Pop’s. The twins and I are hiding out on a glider behind a tall wooden trellis loaded with viney, orange trumpet-shaped flowers. They’re glorious. Inappropriately jolly?

What a minute, Isabel. Give it a rest.

Clyde and Sam had a playgroup we brought them to for a while; we stopped because one of the mothers was always scolding kids for being “inappropriate.” Honestly?  At age 2!!  So, take a lesson, self. These flowers are perfect. Mom would be pointing out how their shape suits Hummingbirds.

I peer at the bunches of people in the backyard. If you didn’t know, you’d think this was a picnic.  Pop calls the crowd the partying mourners. Some party.

Right now one of Mom’s scientist buddies is talking to Mimi. Just last week I was at Mom’s lab waiting for her. The two of them were comparing slides, talking about honey bee mouth parts. Now he looks up at the trumpet trellis and gives a tiny wave.

Sam and Clyde are rolling their little trucks back and forth on the seat slats.  It’s weird though. Unlike usually, they make no noise. None. It’s like their volume control knob is turned all the way to OFF.  If Mom were here, she’d be holding their foreheads and murmuring, where you gone, little guys?

But they’re not. Gone, that is.

And she is.

And there’s this killer, not even in jail. Even though he made Mom and Dad go off the road and roll down a hill.

And die.

And, unlike the river, I am, raging that is.




#1. Preface to a murder memoir by Isabel Scheherazade, story catcher and orphan.

A week before he was murdered, Dad was learning Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” on his guitar. First he listened to the song a lot. Then he learned the guitar part. Then he played it while he deliberately talked to me or Mom. Then he listened again.  Then he copied the lyrics and read them over and over while he brushed his teeth. Then he sang along with Bob Dylan on his iPod figuring out which words and syllables had chord changes. Then he sang and strummed and finally said, Listen up, Izzy.

One of the lyrics went like this:

“…something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is…”

That is exactly what it’s like for me now. Something is happening, and I don’t know what it is.

And, Dad? Are you  nearby, somehow? How else to explain why I’m hearing “Thin Man” in my mind’s ear? And Listen up, Izzy? in your exact tone of voice?

Is there magic going on?

—Isabel Scheherazade (who’s trying to keep it all together by writing it down in this blog)

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