The Emotional Landscape – A Short Story

The Dead but Alive Woman

She woke up every morning only seeing what was behind her. She sometimes would try to turn her head but could not. It was as if she was made of stone. So, she looked back. She remembered the many signs telling her not to go in that direction and how long the journey down the road had been. She cried remembering when she so terribly wanted shade and found only tree stumps. She was disgusted when she remembered going through the trash looking for something to eat and finding only rotting food, which she ate. She saw the snake and was scared all over again. She remembered the pain of the bite and the dizziness and fever she felt almost immediately afterward. She wondered if her eyes were fooling her because she didn’t remember the coyote being pink, though she did remember it howling as she fell in the hole. She didn’t want to look at the river at all, but couldn’t help it. It was where she drowned after she stumbled out of the hole.

The Woman in the Cabin

The woman in the cabin lived alone. The cabin was small but still had enough room to bring in strays that needed help. She had such a stray now. It was a dead but alive woman she had found in the river. The woman was dead but alive, a phenomenon she had seen many times before. There was no heartbeat, no breathing. She was cold but not hard. The woman in the cabin poured warm water over her and then laid a blanket of orange flowers on her naked body. She sprinkled grass on top of the blanket, then very fine pebbles on top of that. She left her alone and went to carve the rock.

The Indian with the Limp

At the edge of the plateau there lived an Indian with the limp who the woman in the cabin was friends with. She would tell him about her work carving the rock and he would sometimes help her move the broken stones to the waterfall so they could be washed away. He didn’t understand what she was carving but he enjoyed the sound of her hammering in the distance during the day. He sometimes brought her rabbit for dinner. She sometimes brought him corn for breakfast.

The indian with the limp asked her once what she was trying to do with the rock. All the woman in the cabin would say is she was working on creating a new face on the other side of it, facing the hills and mountains, similar but not exactly like the face facing the dry land. He didn’t see anything resembling a face  yet but it didn’t matter, he encouraged her anyway because he liked her. She knew he didn’t see it but she didn’t mind, because she liked him.

The Indian with the limp had collected the orange flowers and the pebbles and brought them to the woman in the cabin the day before, when she had a stray coyote with a twisted tail come in. But the tail had straightened itself out with just a little burnt crepe myrtle paste put on it so the flowers and pebbles weren’t needed. The Indian was happy about this because he knew they would be helpful to the dead but alive woman from the river.

The Indian with the limp loved to gather things for the woman in the cabin. It was a chance for him to explore and have a purpose. He didn’t know what jobs were but if he did he would have called it his job and he liked his job very much. He also liked that he was helping animals and people heal. His favorite thing was to collect the little pebbles from the river. He often thought about how he helped her throw the big rocks into the river after she chiseled them off the carving, then he would bring back little pebbles that were just those big rocks having been broken down. The Indian with the limp thought that was amusing and would smile as carried them back up to the plateau.

The Healing

The dead but alive woman took a long time to recover. She stayed at the woman in the cabin’s cabin for many months. She would sit in a chair and look back over the plateau to the dry land below and feel no better than the day before. The woman in the cabin saw what was happening and one morning moved the chair to the other side of the plateau. The dead but alive woman then was forced to look over the hills and mountains and to watch the woman in the cabin do her carving. She learned about the carving and would watch the woman in the cabin chisel every day as she sat in her chair. She met the Indian with the limp and thanked him for help the woman in the cabin get the supplies to make her better.  When she felt strong enough she asked if she could be of any help and the woman in the cabin told her it would be helpful if she would sing for her while she carved.  She she said she only knew 2 songs. The woman in the cabin told her not to worry, she would teach her many songs, which she did.

The dead but alive woman loved the new songs she learned and would sing them beautifully. The Indian with the limp started coming by each morning and would play along with a drum he had.  The coyote with the no longer twisted tail would even come close once in a while and howl in harmony. The woman in the cabin was able to work faster and longer with the beautiful music being sung and soon the new carving was almost finished.

The Leaving

One morning, well before the sun rose, the woman in the cabin awoke the dead but alive woman and told her to get ready, she was going on a journey.  The dead but alive woman asked what sort of journey. The woman in the cabin said she wasn’t able to tell her what sort of journey or how long it would last. All she said about the journey was that the Indian with the limp would help her as she got on her way.

The woman in the cabin had packed a nice backpack full of food, clothing, and supplies for the dead but alive woman. The dead but alive woman wanted to take one last look around, to remember where she had been healed. The woman in the cabin let her do that, but would not let her go to the edge of the plateau and look back at the dry land below.

The Indian with the limp was waiting at the other edge of the plateau with a lantern to help them down to the hills below in the dark. The dead but alive woman hugged the woman in the cabin and said she would see her later.  The woman in the cabin said nothing, just smiled and gave her a kiss goodbye. The indian with the limp and the dead but alive woman hiked down the side of the plateau until they reached a trail going up the hills towards the mountains. They traveled over three sets of hills until mid-day. Then they took a break, sitting down for lunch. The Indian with the limp told her this was where he was going to leave her.

The Alive Woman

The dead but alive woman was about to ask why when she saw the carving in the distance. Up on the plateau, high and strong in the mid-day sun, was a beautiful face facing her. It was her face but it wasn’t. It was the face of an alive woman, not of a dead but alive woman. She forgot what she was going to ask the Indian with the limp and just stared.  Then she looked in the direction the face in the rock was looking. It was looking towards the mountains.

The alive woman said goodbye to the Indian with a limp and asked him to make sure the woman in the cabin knew how grateful she was for her love. The indian with the limp said he would. Then he said his goodbye and went back towards the plateau. The alive woman hiked the backpack up onto her back and set off.  As she walked she could hear the howl of the coyote with the no longer twisted tail. She started to sing along.

The End

Drawing and story © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Numbers at Starbucks – An Illustrated Short Story

Chapter One

It was two in the afternoon when I noticed the two. The two were self-involved and didn’t see the other one. I notice that one had two distinct colors, her hair and her dress.  I noticed the other one had two things strange about him, he was wearing sunglasses inside and he was mumbling to himself.

Chapter Two

It was two oh two when I started drawing the one. It took me two minutes. It was two twenty two by the time I drew the other one. It was two forty two by the time I drew everything in between and around the two.

Chapter Three

After I was done I drew three more drawings of three more people, neither one of whom knew the other two. That took me until three twenty two. I waited three weeks before I colored the drawing of the two. It took me a total of two hours at three different times to finish this one.

The End

But & And – A Short Short Story

But and And

She was stuck in the middle of somewhere but wasn’t sure where that was and that made her feel lost and scared but she did like her shirt and how her necklace matched her hair but she was self-conscious about her freckles because it was so weird that she had only three of them in each location on her face and she did like her new eyelash extensions that she had never used before but were given to her by her friend who she thought she might see so she wore them but now she doubted it because she didn’t know where she was even though she knew she was somewhere and then her ears started burning bright red which was not usual because she was usually blue but it made her look around and she saw a teepee in the distance not far from a big city that only confused her because she knew she had somewhere to go now but wasn’t sure where because they both looked attractive and both her ears were burning meaning both places were talking about her so she decided to wait and think about it some more.

The End

The Woman at the Motel – A Short Short Story

The Woman at the Motel

A woman named Nancy at the Del Mar Motel who has 3 kids and Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses & always reads the sports section because her dad was a high school football coach who talked about her son with ADHD & Tourette Syndrome whom they adopted from the next town over in Orange County and took to Hawaii on his 6th birthday and hoped he didn’t think he would always get trips like that and who is trying to think ahead about real estate for her kids’ future.

The End

 


Drawing and story by Marty Coleman


The Blue Woman and the Red Bird – a Friendship Story

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The Blue Woman and the Red Bird 

One day the blue woman was walking to the edge of the volcano so she could jump in and kill herself. On the way she came across a red bird standing on a dead branch near the trail she was on. The red bird started talking to the blue woman and what she said made her cry. They weren’t tears of sadness but tears of joy because what the red bird said was that she was lonely being the only red bird in the area and wanted someone to talk to who would understand her. She saw the blue woman walking by and since she had never seen a blue woman before she figured she had to feel pretty lonely as well. She was right. The blue woman felt very lonely.  But thanks to the red bird noticing her and saying something she didn’t feel that way anymore. The red bird and the blue woman became great friends and accompanied each other everywhere together until the end of their days. And they were never lonely again.

The End


Drawing and story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

Two Women Talking – 2004-2016

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Two Women Talking – A Short Short Story

Chapter One

The woman with more hair who could do flamenco curls on her jaw if she wanted talking hesitantly to the friend with the thin eyes and arched eyebrows and lower lip that jutted out who was judging her friend’s mascara as too thick and dark (but I liked it) about why her boyfriend won’t commit and not knowing what to do and how she wakes up at night sure that someone is breaking in and she wonders if she should get a boob job to be more sexy for him and if that would help and her friend said maybe.

The End

Note: original ink drawing was done in 2004.  Color added in 2016.


Drawing and Story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

Ella’s Table of Contents – An Illustrated Short Story

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Buy the original | buy a print | matte and frame are available

Chapter One – Ella Goes

Chapter Two – Ella Drinks

Chapter Three – Ella Looks

Chapter Three – Ella Realizes

Chapter Four – Ella Blushes

Chapter Five – Ella Points

Chapter Six – Ella Laughs

Chapter Seven – Ella Speaks

Chapter Eight – Ella Listens

Chapter Nine – Ella Argues

Chapter Ten – Ella Laughs Again

Chapter Eleven – Ella Gets Married

The End

 

The Genie – A Very Short Story

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The Genie

The woman rubbed the tea pot and a Genie came out. The woman said, “Wow, this is amazing! I am going to wish for…”

But the Genie stopped her and said, “Sorry, I am not that kind of Genie. I don’t grant wishes and I don’t do dishes. I am a comedian, all I do is tell jokes.” And with that the Genie rolled herself into a ball and floated out of the room through the vent.  

The Genie eventually made it big and got her own sitcom. But the woman who rubbed the teapot was bitter about it for the rest of her life.

The End


Drawing and short story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

Serendipity – Three Illustrated Very Short Stories

Very Short Story #1

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The Man

The man texted the stranger from the dating app but didn’t know the person was sitting right next to him at the coffee place. Later they would laugh when telling the story of how they met.

The End


Very Short Story #2

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The Woman

The woman looked at the stranger’s picture on the dating site and liked what she saw. Then she realized the woman in the picture was actually sitting outside the window at the cafe.  She went and introduced herself. They became best friends and would laugh when they told the story of how they met.

The End


Very Short Story #3

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The Violinist 

The violinist stared at the person in church, sure she knew him from somewhere.  He came up to her afterwards and said they went to high school together.  They got married a year later and always laughed when they told the story of how they found each other again.

The End


Drawings and Short Stories © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

The Two Sisters – A Short Story

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Once upon a time there were two sisters from a tropical island. One of the sisters was round and voluptuous, the other thin and angular.  The one who was round and voluptuous was very popular. She had boyfriends and was invited to parties all the time.  The one who was thin and angular would often tag along with her sister, the pretty one, to the parties and other activities. Her sister and her sister’s friends were mean to her and the men showed no interest because she was not very pretty or sexy.  She knew she was ugly and just accepted it as the way it was.

After she graduated from high school the thin one had a chance to move to the city and live with relatives. She didn’t see many prospects or options staying on the Island so she decided to go.  As soon as she had moved to the city she had started to notice men paying attention to her.  They would chat with her in cafes, flirt with her on the street, smile at her even when she took her young nephew for a walk. All of it was quite confusing for her since she knew she was ugly.

The thin one had only been in the city a few weeks when she was stopped on the street by someone who asked if she was a model.  She laughed at the man and told him she was not and could never be, a model. He begged to differ and gave her his card. He asked her to call him if she was interested.  She laughed all the way home but her Aunt, when she heard about it, said she should go check it out, that she actually was model material. The thin one laughed because she knew she was ugly and certainly not model material.

The thin one decided to go meet the man just to get her Aunt off her back.  And in what was the biggest surprise of her young life, the man was actually the artistic director of a very large and legitimate modeling agency.  They liked her and within a month she had her first paid assignment and within 6 months she was making a good living.

In the meanwhile the voluptuous one was hearing about this back on the island.  She was very confused, and a bit jealous, because she knew what her sister knew. She was the pretty one, the popular one, and her sister was the ugly one. But now she was hearing she was a model in the city? How could that be? It made no sense.  She decided to go visit and see for herself.

The first thing the voluptuous one noticed when she got to the city was how few men paid any attention to her.  She walked through the airline terminal, picked up her bag at the baggage claim, and even hailed a taxi and no one paid any attention. It was not something she was used to and it made no sense.  But she chalked it up to her maybe not being all that fresh looking after the long flight and forgot about it.

It didn’t take her long to become annoyed by how opinionated her sister was. She wasn’t nearly as meek as she used to be. She had even argued with her about what to wear when they went out to the party her sister had been invited to that night! The voluptuous one wanted to wear a revealing dress, one that showed off her cleavage (which was plentiful) and her legs.  Her sister told her that was not a good look, that she had to choose one or the other, show cleavage or show legs, not both. The voluptuous one didn’t like that but decided to go with the leg look, just so they wouldn’t have a big fight on their first day together in the city.

The party was very exciting. There were some people the sister who was visiting recognized from TV and from magazines, though she couldn’t remember their names. Her sister introduced her to many people, so many she lost track.  She realized that her sister was one of the stars of the party, she was popular with men and women alike, older people and younger.  When the sister from the city would go off to chat and leave the sister from the island alone she noticed once again she got barely any attention from anyone, unless it was when someone came up to her to tell her how amazing her sister is.

It was then that she had her epiphany.  She saw it so clearly.  They had switched roles.  Here in the city her sister was the pretty one, and she was the ugly one.  She went to the bathroom and sat in a stall and cried.  When she came out her sister realized something was wrong.  She smiled inside, happy to see her sister, who had been so mean to her so often get a taste of what it was like to be the ugly one.  The sister from the island tried to explain to her how she felt but the sister from the city wasn’t showing much sympathy.  By the time they got home to the Aunt and Uncle’s house they were having a fight about it.

The Uncle and Aunt were still up when they got home and couldn’t help but hear them fighting.  They invited them to sit in the kitchen and have a cup of tea, calm down a bit and maybe talk to them about it, which they did.  They both explained their version of what happened that night, which led to an explanation of what used to happen on the Island. How they both felt ugly and both felt pretty, all depending on where they were.  They talked about how they didn’t want to feel that way but did in spite of that.

The Uncle said, “You know, your Aunt has gone through this too.”  

They looked at her and said in unison, “You have?” 

“Yes.  I was voluptuous and popular on the Island just like you are. Then I came to the City and I didn’t get nearly as much attention, just like you.” she said to the voluptuous one.  “So I decided I would do whatever it took to become attractive to the people in the City. I worked and worked and worked.  Finally I started to get noticed.  I went on dates, had fun, had a lot of friends.  Then I was in that car accident you heard about many years ago and wasn’t able to keep in shape after that. I became like I had been before.  Many friends left me and I wasn’t asked on any dates anymore.  But there was one person who knew me when I first came from the Island, knew me when I became popular and pretty, and knew me after my accident. That person was always my friend, was always supportive, was always saying kind and complimentary things to me.  I saw him almost every day because he worked the counter at the grocery store I would go in.  You know who that is, right?  He’s your Uncle.”

The sisters had never heard that story before.  They smiled and told their Uncle what a great man he was. But he stopped them.  He said, “I was not that great a guy.  All I did was care about your Aunt.  I didn’t know anything about ‘popular’ or ‘pretty’ in the city. All I knew was your Aunt was kind and thoughtful and smart. She also was very pretty to me, so I am not saying that wasn’t there. But her ‘pretty’ came as much from her smile and kind words as it did from her beautiful face.”

“What that taught me girls is this,” the Aunt said, “You are planted somewhere in the world, it’s called your home. But not everyone fits in perfectly to the larger home that is your island or your city.  Some look out of place to others in the city or the Island.  Some look like they belong.  You can’t control what the rest of the Island or the City are going to think of you. What you can do is develop the things that matter, no matter where you are, city or island.  You develop those things and someone will be there to see them.  In my case I was lucky enough to have the boy at the grocery counter notice them. I am grateful for that.”

The uncle piped up with a laugh, “And I am grateful this beautiful woman noticed me!”

The sisters went upstairs to bed. They talked a long time, apologizing for all the small and big slights they had laid on each other. They decided to be more supportive and loving to each other and others in the future. And they did just that.

And in the most ironic twist of all. The sister from the Island met the man of her dreams on the flight back to the Island. The man was from the city and was going on a business trip to visit some resorts he had contracts with. They talked the entire time and she knew by the end of the flight he was the man for her.  They ended up marrying and settling in the city of all places.  She felt loved and cherished the rest of her life. 

The sister from the city had a more roundabout journey to her true love. But it was equally ironic when it happened.  It was when she went back to visit her family on the island 10 years later. She was a famous model by then and everyone on the island knew of her.  Well, almost everyone.  There was a man in her home town who ran the local orphanage. He never really had time to pay attention to fashion magazines or watch TV and didn’t know who she was.  But when she came with her mother to help at the orphanage one day, he watched her play with the kids with rapt attention. He noticed the care she showed, the willingness to get dirty, the smarts to figure out why the roof was leaking in one corner.  He asked her to come back again if she could. And she did, the very next day.  Within a year, after she had made many more visits to the island than she ever had before, they were engaged.  She moved back to the island permanently a short while later and they got married in a ceremony on the beach with all the orphans and her family all around.

She would occasionally do some runway modeling shows at the resorts but otherwise she was full-time at the orphanage, loving her life and her husband until the end of her days.

The End


Drawing and story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Victor Hugo


 

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