Tag: Nest

NEST: Nest Within a Nest B.A. Sarvey

Word: Nest
Word Count 500
Nest Within a Nest
B.A. Sarvey
How effortlessly we nest one life into another, like Russian dolls, each carved carefully to fit together, each a part of a whole, yet each a separate entity. Darlene traced her mirrored reflection, the large doll—seemingly the most detailed. This was the public part of her life, showy yet showing nothing, painted in garish colors to distract the viewer from what lies beneath. Strangers judge superficially.
Patiently peeling away the next layer, exposing the doll nested inside, casual acquaintances and colleagues may think they know us intimately, not realizing how many more layers nest within. Some of our quirks, opinions, preferences, and style might be painted on this doll. But it is still a doll—a mere representation of ourselves. Drawing closer to the mirror, Darlene peered into the reflected eye. She saw only a tiny reflection of herself peering into the eye in the mirror.
She knew what she was looking for—that tiny egg each of us holds inside. The finite evidence of our own existence, repeated infinitely. More layers needed to be breached, however, before even she could fathom so deeply. Layers and layers, each revealing something. Or nothing. Or creating a certain personality for one friend or relative and a different one for someone else. So many people nested into one body.
Tightly fitting, the Russian dolls are easier to nest together than they are to pry apart. The gift of a nesting doll comes not from the object itself, but the trust that the recipient will open the successive dolls carefully, not abusing the privilege of intimate knowledge. Each layer of the doll, each layer of our personality, reveals only as much as we are willing to risk, willing to share with another human being. Darlene had been betrayed too many times to give this trust blithely. Even family had used certain confessions against her.
That was why, when he asked to hear her most candid thoughts, wanted to know her, completely and unabashedly, she had demurred. Yes, he was her husband-to-be, her beloved. But perhaps not her soul-mate, perhaps not the person who should know every dot of paint, every variation of color, every hope, every layer of the dolls nesting together to form who she actually was. Not because she wanted to maintain mystery or secrets, but because she was convinced he shouldn’t know every atom of what she was.
Peering again at the eye in the mirror, Darlene caught her breath. A flicker of something more than her reflected eye was there. Yes, it shone back at her—a pinpoint of light, the golden egg within the nest. She smiled, knowing she was vindicated. His subterfuge hadn’t worked. The egg inside us, the tender yolk of our existence, is for us alone, not to be shared, but to be nurtured, to be the basis for all the other layers.
Darlene turned from the mirror, re-assembled the parts of personality comprising her nest, and greeted her fiancé. The egg remained just hers.

NEST: Susan Timberlake By Terry Rainey

Word: NEST
Word Count 495
Susan Timberlake
By Terry Rainey
I spent most of my eighth grade lunches watching Susan Timberlake eat hers. We kept our meals in cubicles under our desks and we ate at our places. Surrounded by my pals Walter, Johnny, and Herman, I’d nod at their silliness, but I furtively glanced across the classroom, where Susan ate with Kathryn Moore, the class Brainiac. In my eyes, everything Susan did was perfect. Walking down the hallway, getting off the bus, writing on the chalkboard, collecting her books from under her desk, eating. All angelic.
She ate with such pure devotion and concentration that it was thrilling. Lunchtime was a relaxed half hour, as Sister Xavier absented herself, bustling down to the convent to fortify herself for the afternoon fray. Susan never noticed me, lunchtime or otherwise.
My sandwich was pedestrian, peanut butter and jelly Monday through Thursday. My mother prepared it in surgical fashion, applying the thinnest coating of peanut butter, barely visible when looked at from the side. Jelly was one prudent dollop. Smushing was supposed to spread its strawberry flavor across the thin veneer of peanut butter. Friday’s sandwich was tuna, with the cellophane wrapping expected to last from Monday’s PBJ to Friday’s fish.
Susan Timberlake took out a crisp brown paper bag and rested it on her desk. Every day, seemingly, she had a new bag, unrumpled and pristine. She pulled back her long, lovely black hair with one hand and plunged her other into the bag. She fished out a sandwich in a baggie, a piece of ham or turkey or chicken resting on a crisp bed of lettuce and a whisper of real mayonnaise. Delicious. She raised it to her mouth like a goddess, her chewing impeccable and efficient.
After she took 12 bites of equal size and finished her sandwich, she reached into the bag for carrot sticks. She ate each one deliberately, crunching neatly with her ideally spaced teeth. And then the trifecta finale. A Nestle bar!
I spotted the familiar logo from across class, its promise of a bit of heaven, with the accent above the second E giving it a bit of international flair. Susan’s father was a diplomat, and she’d moved to Arlington only last year, having lived abroad.
Susan broke off the “LE” part and gave that square segment to Kathryn. Susan’s hands were magic, like a Swiss army knife with a convenient pair of scissors. Her generosity and grace helped give order to the universe.
From the remaining “NEST,” she only ate the ST part. She saved the NE for when the bell rang at 3, ending our day at OLPS. As my friends bolted out of their desks as if electrocuted, I contemplated Susan nibble that yummy NE, our mutual patience rewarded.
I envisioned a distant future when she and I would lunch at Lake Geneva, popping Swiss chocolates into each other’s mouth while we laughed about Walter, Johnny and Herman and wondered how Kathryn Moore had turned out.

NEST: Curiosity By Sally Madison

Word: NEST
Words: 491
Curiosity
By Sally Madison

Early in the day, the beekeeper was tending his hives beyond the garden when he saw a color unusual to the familiar scene. What is that royal-blue color in the distance? He squinted hard, but he could not make it out through the mesh of his face cover. Did the dogs drag something down there, or had something been beached from the stream that runs through the forest? He didn’t have time or concern to check it out, so he continued to draw the honey. As time went on, the more curious he became. What on earth could it be?

Still in his bee-protective gear, he walked slowly, craning his neck to see around the bush that appeared to be hiding the royal-blue-colored something. As he moved closer, his pace diminished to near child steps. His curiosity rising as his step slowed, until suddenly he realized it was a person… a very still person, a body. He raced to it.

Horrified by the reality, he recognized young Alexandria. Fearing the worst, he bent to her, tentatively, tenderly, to check her condition. Her clothes were soiled and disheveled, had she fallen from the horse? No, she was not in her riding clothes. Next to her lay a robin’s nest and three smashed blue eggs. ‘So, she had climbed that oak tree’, he thought, ‘and fell. How long has she been here?’ Her innocent, pale face was expressionless, with a smudge and a bruise developing on her cheek. Her pulse was weak, but there. He thought he would carry her to safety, but called for Kolya, who was tending the garden, instead.

Hearing the alarm of the beekeeper, Kolya came running. The beekeeper suggested they each take a side, clasping their extended arms beneath her to carry her between them. They bent to reach under her shoulders and knees, but Kolya stopped when he realized Alexandria’s legs were askew. In the war during Turk’s invasion, many years ago, he had witnessed body injuries of all kinds. He checked Alexandria for broken legs, but could find none to explain the disparity. The injury had to be in the hips or the back. In either case, it was more serious than he first perceived. He and the beekeeper shed their jackets and laid them end-to-end on the ground. Standing on either side, they gently lifted her shoulders, tucking the jackets beneath her. With Kolya lifting her hips and the beekeeper lifting her legs, they managed to get her small body onto the clothing. With long sticks, they threaded the jackets, creating a crude stretcher. As fast as they dared, they hurried to the castle.

After his examination, the doctor consulted with her grandfather, the Count of Ostrava. “Yes, she is alive. No, she is not conscience, but she has been moaning. There is no doubt she has broken her hip and she will require constant care. Time will tell, but she may never walk again.”

NEST: No Regrets By Peg Scarano

Word: Nest
Word Count: 458

No Regrets
By Peg Scarano

It was spring. The foliage was my favorite minty green color mixed in with the fragrances of melting snow and new life while the air rustled with a slight breeze and I heard the chirping of birds happy to be back home. As I was appreciating all these senses and enjoying my morning coffee, I saw branches fluttering in a nearby bush. I inched closer to get a better look.

It was a robin. Her little mouth was full of twigs and after each trip, a perfect circle started to appear. I continued to watch her fly back and forth, each time bringing with her yet another little piece of nature with which to build her nest. She placed dried leaves that survived the long winter at the bottom of her perfect circle to serve as a comfy bed and she delicately wove long pieces of neglected grass between her twigs for warmth. And while she labored, she sang.
When she was finally finished, I felt like I had watched a renowned artist complete a true masterpiece.

A few days later, there were three little blue eggs nestled in mama’s little house. I couldn’t watch for long because each time she returned, she let me know she was not at all happy to see me. I just wanted to visit with her and share some stories, but she made it very clear she wanted no visitors.

At last, I heard little peeps coming from the bush. Peeking in, I saw three gaping little mouths. Mama swooped in making a warning racket while not losing the juicy worm she held tightly in her beak. I quickly moved away so she could perform her mama duties in peace. It did my heart good to watch this mama love and nurture her babies

The routine continued as I watch the little hatchlings grow and thrive with their mama’s love. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Then came the day when mama felt trusting enough to hand over the car keys to her kids. She and I watched as, one at a time, the three babies flew off on their own.

I got a cup of coffee and sat with mama (who was ready to talk to me now) and we silently commiserated our empty nests. “You did good mama. You provided a warm and safe home. You nurtured your babies into healthy young adults. You gave them their wings and now it’s their turn to fly. There should be no regrets and hopefully, you saved a little nest egg for yourself now that they have spread their wings and gone to live their lives.”

I wonder if she’ll be back next year so I can relive my life yet again.

NEST: N.E.S.T. Error Message 616 By Mike Cecconi

Word: NEST
Word Count 498
N.E.S.T. Error Message 616
By Mike Cecconi

Hello. Welcome to N.E.S.T. Natal Emulation-Simulation Therapy. If you are reading this message or receiving it as auditory stimulus, there has been an interruption in the cycle of your simulation. Do not be alarmed, these interruptions are brief and remedied by a short reset. The interruption can be confusing for a participant deep within the narrative flow of a simulation, however, so this message has been programmed to help you remain calm. Your own personal simulation will be seamlessly rebooted in short order. The following information should be beneficial during this limited period of programmic restoration:

You may have been inside this simulation so long that you have forgotten it is a simulation. You may have been inside for so long that you believe you are only a human being, born then alive then dead and that’s all. This delusion is encouraged to add verisimilitude to the simulation and to reinforce the lessons learned but it is not the whole truth. You are a fragment of the universal consciousness that chose to enter the N.E.S.T. simulation to better understand the concepts of empathy and joy, loss and grief, pleasure and pain, sympathy and mortality. You were assigned to a randomized experience as a human being within the confines of the N.E.S.T. and allowed to believe it the whole of your experience, to allow the full weight of the lessons of attachment and impermanence and love as a mortal being would learn them. A previous iteration of N.E.S.T. did not account for the way some lessons are not properly absorbed if a situation is regarded as play or as a consequence-free game. The current version of N.E.S.T. corrects for that past flaw-set.

Whatever your name or face or human form, you are a fragment of the universal consciousness experiencing a human life to better learn about yourself as the universe and how to be better in your loving and understanding. This does not mean that your actions with other humans within the simulation are meaningless, indeed, many of the other humans inside your simulation are other fragments of the universal experiencing slightly different randomized experiences in mortality and feeling. If you bring harm to them, whether thoughtlessly or with malice, you are in fact slowing your own progress within N.E.S.T. and theirs as well. You are all fragments of the universal mind learning about yourself within the N.E.S.T. simulation. When you hurt other participants, you are literally hurting yourself and you will feel and remember that pain at the end of your current simulation. When you harm them, you are harming your progress within your simulation and you are literally hurting a part of yourself. This is important to note.

Your simulation should restart momentarily. To facilitate a sense of consequences, you will at most remember this message as a work of speculative fiction or as the rantings of a madman. This will allow for a seamless reintegration back into your simulation. Welcome to N.E.S.T. Natal Emulation-Simulation Therapy. Good-bye. Good luck.

NEST: Wordsmith By Sam McManus

Word: NEST
Word Count 500
Wordsmith
By Sam McManus
I’m what most people would call socially awkward, the kind of guy who can’t see the forest for the trees. Way too many trees. At Loma Linda High, you could say I’m often mistaken for the scenery. I didn’t get stuffed into lockers because most seniors didn’t know I existed. It’s okay. It’s barely an existence anyway.
Nothing good had ever really happened for me, outside of getting my first cell phone last year. Of course, I had only ever texted my one friend, Gil, since then. So, when Carrie Lynn sent me her sister’s number I waited for the pail of water to fall on me.
“What’s the catch?” I texted her back.
“No catch,” she insisted. “She just thinks you’re cute.”
Bunnies were cute. Baby chicks in a nest were cute. But me? I couldn’t reconcile the words with any opinion I had ever had of myself. Sure, my mom always called me cute, but she was my mom, and it wasn’t remotely the same. Especially not when it was someone like Megan Collier. With brilliant hazel eyes, a pert, upturned nose, and impossibly clear skin, Megan Collier was a goddess.
Looking back, I realize I had been completely blinded by those seven digits on my screen. If an orangutan had been dancing the hula in my bedroom at that same moment I wouldn’t have seen it. I texted Megan with shaky thumbs, trying to sound casual.
“Hey Megan,” I wrote. “It’s Ben. You know, from Calculus? Just wanted to say hi.”
I sounded like a complete loser. I wasn’t so blind that I couldn’t see that. Cleared that screen.
“Hey Meg,” I wrote, then deleted it. We weren’t close enough for “Meg.”
“Hey,” I began again, trying to remember casual. “It’s Ben, the math genius. How you been?”
Why was math the only thing that came to my mind? Of all the things I could have said, that was certainly the lamest. But we didn’t really have any other touchstones, any other shared reference points. I took out the “math genius” parts, thinking hard.
“It’s Ben,” I tried once more. “I’m your destiny. I mean, like, really. We belong together. I’ve known it since Miss Lawton’s kindergarten class. I’m glad you realize it too.”
So, okay, I guess casual went out the window. I heard somewhere that writing down your true feelings can help you get over nervousness. Of course, I was never going to send that text. It disappeared one letter at a time from my screen.
“It’s Ben,” I started over again. “Want to get a Cinnabon sometime? I have a coupon.”
Oh my god. How hard was it to sound casual? It was everything I’d ever wanted, right there in front of me, the screen inviting me into her world, but I couldn’t sound human enough to take advantage of the situation. I took a deep breath and tried once more.
“It’s Ben,” I wrote. “I think you’re cute and stuff.”
Then I fainted.

NEST: May 1244 By Sharon Collins

Word: NEST
Word Count 499
May 1244
By Sharon Collins

The novices were as prickly as their newly shorn heads. The scabs forming on their scalps echoed those on their broken hearts. Isolated in the misery of memory, silent tears welled as six faces searched the failing light. While mourning doves cooed under the eaves, and the chapel bells sounded compline, a small miracle occurred… so unexpected in this place and at this time. “Demori! Je m’appelle Geneviève, and I remain!” whispered the tallest of the six ancient souls shivering in the gathering gloom, their frail bodies deemed too young to burn upon the pyres of Montsegur. Five of the six, united in full understanding of the whispered word, “Demori,” drew close. They tugged worn sandals from tender feet, sandals too costly to replace, were the only remnants of their old lives not forfeit in an effort to erase their identities. Wriggling thin fingers, each drew forth a single, green, laurel leaf from between the frayed layers of their leather soles. Holding them up in silent communion, one by one, they each repeated, “Demori.”
“Je ne comprende pas. I do not understand these leaves…this word…Demori…” trembled the sixth novice, Virginie, a wisp of a girl and the only one of the six not just arrived. Virginie had appeared ten years ago, a newborn, passed through the convent gate into the anonymous keeping of the sisters. The cloistered world within the walls was the only home she knew.
“Non, you do not understand now, ma petite, but you will,” assured Geneviève grinning with sudden comprehension. Pulling apart her other sandal she handed a second leaf to Virginie. During their nightmare escape, Père Jean had sheltered them under the low branches of the sacred Laurel tree growing at the foot of Montsegur. There he had instructed each of the others to select a single leaf for remembrance. Oddly, she had been instructed to select two. Now she knew why.
Hours later, unable to sleep herself, Geneviève lay, curled in the nest of her straw pallet staring at the full moon and letting her mind drift. Smiling, she thought of winsome Virginie and of all the wonderful secrets she would teach her. Always the student, she knew she was destined to become the teacher. Dear, brave Père Jean had told her so many times. ‘Virginie will be my first student, and Hèléne and Marie-Claude can help me in the teaching,’ she decided then and there. Each girl had excelled in the hurried classes taught by Geneviève’s Grand-mère, a Cathar Parfaite, in the final months of sanctuary atop Montsegur.
Remembering erased the smile from her face. She and her friends were not the only ones to escape the flames that awful March day, two months ago, Geneviève whispered a quick prayer for her other friend Catheline, L’Attendu, the Expected One. Together, she and the Treasure had been lowered down the sheer cliff walls of Montsegur hours before the dawn arrival of Père Jean at Grand-mère’s door and the end of the siege.