Sunday 4 June 2023

At The Edge of Paradise - Short Story by Angel Edwards


At The Edge of Paradise
Short Story

By Angel Edwards

The place was flat. There were no mountains visible in any direction. There were no hillsides and no valleys. The blue cloud spattered sky started at the green grassy earth and expanded to a bluer endless universe. Maddie saw no ending to the sky. There were many plants and all of them were enclosed in various gold and silver containers.

Two large seagulls were engaged in conversation with a splendid blue point Siamese cat. A trio of cupids danced in a circle above the girl’s head and peppered her with their bright orange arrows. They caused no pain but annoyed her somehow and Maddie scurried from their mischief and clambered up a leafy oak tree. (The tree occupied an enormous silver bucket)

“Who invited you?” growled the old tree (who was in fact the King Tree- the only tree)

Madeline was surprised to hear the tree speak but she answered just the same. ”I am hiding from the cupids.” The tree laughed and shook so violently that the girl was knocked from its branches.

One small orange arrow narrowly missed her right eye.

“Hey!” she yelled

The cupids giggled making a lovely sound like children singing in harmony. They kept bombarding her with their arrows.

“Will you stop bothering the girl!” said a voice which seemed to come from far above.

A person with skin the exact color of the sky and with hair matching the white clouds was difficult to see at first-blue on blue and white on white. He was round faced with curly white hair, short and small in stature .and he stood upon a fluffy cloud. The white and blue little man began to sing a funny song.

“I am Clowe the cloud cleaner

Here to entertain you

I keep the white clouds white

I keep the blue sky blue”

Maddie did not know how to reply but she found herself liking the little blue and white man very much. Clowe disappeared. leaving her feeling lonely but just then a white and gold collie bounded to her and licked her face, making her giggle.

Maddie noticed that the tree had a big red apple in its leafy branches .She was certain that it had not been there before. Maddie was hungry suddenly and plucked the fine apple from the oak tree. Just as she was about to take a bite a voice cried out “Don’t eat it!” She dropped the apple.

“Ha ha !”sad the raspy speaker at her feet. The girl looked down and a black and purple snake winked at her. “Haven’t you heard about apples and Paradise? Don’t eat apples here” The snake was a sight to behold. He was wearing a red fedora and a shiny white scarf around his “neck” An unlit cigarette hung from the corner of his mouth

“Paradise?” repeated Maddie. “This is Heaven?”

“Well no it is the Edge of Paradise actually, quite a different place altogether. Why I know more about the Edge of Paradise than any…”

Sig the snake was interrupted when Clowe appeared above them

“Don’t pay attention to Sig my dear.” advised the cloud cleaner. He is an old old serpent and a born trouble maker.” Right on cue, Sig hissed rather nastily and said “You aren’t really hungry you know kiddo. You do know that you are Dead?” Somehow Maddie knew this and was not frightened. She knew all along that she was in a different world. “The after life” she thought to herself. “What was the before life?” The child had no memory of dying. She could not remember anything before or beyond the endless sky of the Edge of Paradise. Madeleine felt happy and safe when she looked at the blue sky.

The snake stuck his tongue out and all at once the three little cupids made their entry. Harte grabbed the snake by the tail and tossed poor Sig into the air. Val and Blem quickly joined in the game, tossing the snake back and forth. The poor creature hissed and sputtered and Madeleine felt sorry for him and begged the cupids to stop throwing him. Reluctantly, Harte dropped Sig to the ground taunting further with “That’s one you owe her Sig and by the way get out of here would you!”

“You are out of bounds,” added Val somewhat arrogantly .The cupids pelted him with their arrows.

“I’m going I’m going” cried Sig almost in tears .Miraculously the unlit cigarette still dangled from his mouth and the hat and scarf remained in place throughout his ordeal with the cupids. . He knew that he was not technically allowed anywhere near Paradise or even its edges. However Sig loved the warmth of the Edge of Paradise. and breathed its honeyed air deep into himself. He discovered that he could utilize this warm energy to elevate him from his home in Hell to the Edge of Paradise. The guardians of Hell were negligent, ancient and lazy and they also took extremely long naps. In Hell Sig could smoke as many cigarettes as he wanted but he could find no fire at all at the Edge of Paradise so his cigarette remained in his mouth unlit .Still the snake always brought one up whenever he visited. The visits usually didn’t last long. The cupids were always on the look out for his undesired appearance and would expel him from the Edge of Paradise. Sig was not a bad soul really as far as snakes went. Paradise simply allowed no snakes. Zero tolerance had been the inflexible rule, dating back centuries since the first snake’s interference with Adam and Eve .Paradise has an eternal memory apparently and transgressions are never pardoned. ( So much for the Golden Rule.)

“Would you care for a swim in the pool with us Dearie? ”Maddie saw two seagulls. They were bigger than she was and their eyes held intelligence such as never seen in a bird on earth. One bird wore a frilly pink tutu and a bright red ribbon and the other had a green cowboy hat upon his head. Madeleine liked the look of them immensely.

“Mrs. Glimmer, Jill Glimmer” said the bird in the tutu, holding out a wing for the girl to shake.

“Mr.Glimmer Gill Glimmer,” said the larger seagull, awkwardly patting Maddie’s head.

“You are seagulls aren’t you?’ asked Maddie.

“Sometimes” answered Mr. Glimmer with a chuckle .”And if you agree to go swimming with us we will be…”

“Follow us,.follow us” cried Mrs. Glimmer and the two white birds flew off at such a pace that Maddie could not possibly keep up. Never mind, she now plainly saw the pale blue pool a few hundred yards away.

Watch it! Watch it!”? cried Clowe appearing out of nowhere as usual.. Clowe carried Madeleine to his cloud and showed her the pool below and she saw a pair of white swans enjoying the water. Maddie also saw a huge precipice ,like a wall, ending in space. There was a three foot gap between the pool and the abyss.

“I guess I don’t feel much like swimming,” said Maddie.

“Nonsense!” protested the cloud cleaning man and he puffed out his blue cheeks and gently blew the girl into the air. Maddie landed in the pool with a loud splash. Mr. and Mrs. Glimmer laughed (and this is a sound like no other). Maddie accidentally swallowed some of the pool water and it tasted of butterscotch, bananas and lemons. She swam leisurely and then floated happily on her back. The sky above was a deep royal blue and several stars were visible although there was bright sunlight.

After some time Maddie wanted to get out of the pool. To her surprise the blue Siamese cat paddled up to her.

“Are you ready to come out of the pool?” asked the cat. “They sent me ,mew to fetch you., mew.

My name is Meeyow and you are Madeleine but prefer to be called Maddie”

“So you are Meeyow the cat” said Maddie

“Now Maddie the girl ,if you will just swim along behind me.”

Maddie had to swim furiously to keep the cat in sight. Over white rapids and a churning waterfall they tumbled. Maddie could breathe the water and it was an exhilarating ride. Clowe the cloud cleaner called down to her from his cloud. ”Did you enjoy your swim?”

“Yes,” replied Madeleine “It was wonderful!”

Meeyow began to solemnly wash herself . From out of nowhere a grey heavy cloud drifted into the sky and without warning released its burden and poured cold water all over Maddie .This dampened her spirits.

Clowe stared at the girl for a moment and then he asked “Have you ever traveled upon a cloud?” “No,” admitted Maddie

“Or would you prefer to ride upon a large seagull? Did I say ‘seagull’? That is not what I meant-Look here is a fine Pegasus .Do you wish to go for a ride on a magic Pegasus?”

“Yes! Yes!” exclaimed Madeleine.

She was thrilled beyond words as she gracefully mounted the flying horse ,which hovered in the air and politely allowed Maddie to climb up onto his broad back.

“Its me Gill Glimmer”, said the Pegasus “We shall see all of the Edge of Paradise. Look up above and you may even glimpse the Pearly Gates themselves.”

“You Are Gill aren’t you?” asked Maddie, a bit doubtfully “The last time we were swimming together you were a swan weren’t you? And you were a seagull before that?”

“We are ahem shape changers, an ancient family gift.” said Gill with justifiable pride.

A large white snowbird flew up beside them.

“Its Jill Glimmer Maddie. I’m very pleased to see you up so high in our sky. Well see you later on. Enjoy your ride.”

Jill Glimmer flew off and Maddie watched and watched until the bird became a tiny white speck in the sky.. The Pegasus flew up and up and Maddie was so happy. Her heart was light and she laughed and hugged Gill’s silky pale blue mane.

“How high can you fly Gill Glimmer?’ asked the girl speaking into his right ear. “Can we fly all the way to Paradise?”

“Fly to Heaven?” snorted Gill.” Absolutely NOT. It is and has always been invitation only.”

“Have you ever been to Paradise?” asked Maddie.

“not yet my sweet,” answered Gill Glimmer. “I fear my heart and my wings are not strong enough. It is a long way up, you know. I know I shall fly there one day I just know it! But the journey is far and once inside Cloud Nine well few beings ever leave Cloud Nine.. It is such a beautiful and blissful place right at Heaven’s Door, so to speak..”

“And what number cloud is Clowe always standing on” questioned the inquisitive girl.

“Cloud two and a Half of course,” said the Pegasus.

Gill rose up higher and higher into the sapphire sky.

“I will now attempt to reach Cloud Four. .Hang on tightly girl.”

“Yes!” screamed Madeleine as the almighty wind stole her voice from her throat and whipped them both around in circles.

“Sorry my dear,” said Gill. “Better prepare for a crash landing.”

Down,down,down they tumbled. Madeleine tried desperately to hang onto Gill’s mane but inevitably she was tossed from his back into the endless depths of the sky. Maddie awoke on the lush green lawn of the Edge of Paradise .The little collie was whimpering and licking her hand. Maddie buried her face in the animal’s soft fur and sobbed. Nothing about the after life made any sense to her!

She seemed to sleep for a while or at least she felt herself slip into a pleasant peaceful frame of mind, almost devoid of thought. Despair and worry subsided. Suddenly the little cupids flew over and entangled themselves in Maddie’s long dark hair.

“Don’t!” cried Maddie

“We are smoothing out the tangles.” said Blem, earnestly pulling her hair

“Collie!” shouted Maddie “Save me from these wretches.”

In spite of herself she began to laugh. The three cupids untangled themselves and flew off into the sapphire sky.

Meeyow appeared to quietly advise,” Don’t take the cupids seriously. They are babies and exist for fun and games only. I would smack them but I fear Hell. There is no fury you know mew like the fury of hell.”

“But they are cupids. What do they have to do with Hell?” demanded Maddie.

Nothing of course,” said the cat stretching out his left leg and giving it a good cleaning. ”My point exactly ,mew, my viewpoint, my candid cat opinion .Oh precious cupids from Paradise! They must not be smacked , can’t be scratched.. A lesson for our better selves-or so they teach us…”

“I see,” said the girl.” They are creatures of Paradise and so protected.”

Meeyow yawned widely. ”Hmmm “ she purred in a bored tone.” Every soul knows that! Still those three cupids are annoying ,mew “

“Why are the cupids here if they are from Paradise?” asked Maddie deep in thought.

“Well meow. I was born in Paradise and as you can see here I am”

They kicked me out for being too curious, curious like you ,my girl, asking too many questions…Collie, Clowe and The king Tree and myself are ancient guardian spirits. .You could say that we are here for you.”

“You are here for me?” repeated Maddie quite overcome.

“We are here to help you through the Edge of Paradise.”

“Can’t I stay here with you all?” asked Maddie almost in tears.

“Don’t cry girly,” exclaimed Clowe from his cloud above them. ”You don’t want to summon the rain clouds!”

Clowe’s cloud was shaped like a large white pirate ship and Maddie saw Gill and Jill Glimmer, in seagull form flapping their wings at her from the ships’ deck.

“Hello hello!”they called to her.

Collie bounded up and leapt into her arms. Maddie snuggled him close feeling love for the small dog.

“I see you’ve met our canine resident, Collie. “said Meeyow, reappearing again…

“Collie is Collie and all in all not so bad -for a dog.” Meeyow shuddered slightly and Collie giggled (This is another sound which I can not describe)

“Where are the cupids?” asked Madeleine.

“Probably in Hell” replied Jill Glimmer shaped once more as a seagull in a tutu..

“Why on earth…?” began Maddie and was interrupted by Gill Glimmer.

“It’s not Earth Child and this is the Edge of Paradise. Hell is not that far away. The cupids, in their extreme innocence, find Hell entertaining. We must all go there.”

This really makes no sense to me at tall!” exclaimed Maddie. ”This place …well it’s not like any religion on earth. I have no desire to go to Hell”

“But you must Dearie,”soothed Mrs. Glimmer patting Maddie softly with her long white wing.

“Yes” agreed Gill somewhat sternly.” We must show you.”

“To Hell now Madeleine!” bellowed Clowe and his cloud burst into brilliant orange flames. Maddie screamed at the top of her lungs. Moments later, as she slowly opened her eyes she felt bitterly cold. Smoke was all around her in a thick pinkish colored haze. The smoke was sweet smelling and somehow soothing and she inhaled it. She got shakily to her feet and stood upon what looked like fine red sand.(It was in fact billions of crushed rubies.) As she began to walk forward her feet crunched along the ruby sand. There were no other sounds and not a soul in sight. Glancing above she realized that there was no sky. This world owned only a deep inky blackness unrelieved by a single starlight sunray or moonbeam. The little girl cried aloud in panic and sheer loneliness for her companions.

“Collie!” she cried and there was no answer,

Mrs.Glimmer.Jill?” and there was no reply

“Gill,Mr.Glimmer”! she called receiving no response.

“Clowe” called Maddie in tears

“”Now why would a cloud cleaner by here?” said Meeyow , and Maddie was so glad to see her that she squeezed her hard right in the middle of her stomach.

“Meeyow” she howled and Maddie loosened her grip

“I am here Maddie” mewed Meeyow. ”I hate it here!”

“Well, I have seen enough!” Let’s go!’ said Maddie shivering and unhappy.

“Humph” retorted the cat. ”I thought that you wanted to see about the cupids “

There they were right on cue, pulling the ears of a miserable looking creature who was sobbing like a small child. Kindhearted Madeleine begged them to leave the creature alone.

“Yes,” said Harte and made himself busy in Maddie’s long dark hair.Blem and Val flew over giggling and pitching their orange arrows at Meeyow and Maddie.

“Please get out of my hair!” pleaded the girl almost in tears.

Exasperated, Meeyow scratched the right wing of Harte ,and the three little cupids all shrieked at once in disharmony.

“We want to go home” they sang out in unison..

The creature with the ears and tail was joined by several others similar to him. I will describe these hellions the best that I can. Their bodies were naked to the waist and skinny. They all possessed piggy pink flesh, red eyes permanently shedding hot red tears. Their tiny mouths turned way down in perpetual sorrow. They had the ears and hooves of a mountain goat and a tail in the form of an arrow. (Perhaps it was the arrowed tails which the cupids found so irresistible.)Cupids, of course are passionate about arrows.

Blem Val and Harte bellowed aloud their cupidic childlike rage and were joined by all of the hellions. Their noisy wails resounded and ricocheted off into the empty space of Hell.Maddie covered her ears and sang a song loudly of her own invention. Meeyow began to howl and cat call.. All at once Gill Glimmer, dressed as a large white swan swooped down from somewhere above and silence ensued.

“You silly dears” said Jill Glimmer appearing as a tiny pink and white pigeon. She addressed the three cupids.” You cannot go home from here. Off you go to the Edge of Paradise.:

Maddie was delighted to see the Glimmers. She felt safe in their presence.

The sad hellions began wailing again. “Can’t something be done for them” asked the sympathetic Maddie .

“They are content as they are” said Gill a trifle sadly.

“They are blind to all but their own self inflicted misery.” said Jill. “The hellions think only of themselves and are imprisoned in their own self absorbed despair.. Now enough Madeleine you jump on Gill’s back. Gill Glimmer was a Pegasus again and Maddie perched herself on his white back and Meeyow unexpectedly jumped into her arms in a single bound and buried his face in her chest shivering..

Off they flew and the nest thing Maddde knew she was safe and sound on the soft green grass of the Edge of Paradise.

Collie was there waiting and danced up and down in his excitement to see her back safely from Hell.

“Welcome back “ sang Clowe doing a little tap dance on his cloud which was shaped like a sumptuous blue silver and white ballroom with stars for chandeliers..

“I don’t feel much like dancing” said Maddie feeling depressed.

“Just the ticket!” insisted Clowe and the next thing Maddie knew she was wearing a shimmering dress in her favourite old colour of rose pink. Collie was wearing a pink bowtie and stood up on his hind legs becoming exactly her height. Collie winked and a 4 piece rock and roll band began to play music from the 1960s.. The band was resplendent with exceedingly famous rock musicians. Maddie was too young to recognize any of them but maybe you would have!

Meeyow sat watching fastidiously licking her fur.

“Meeyow,” she grumbled to nobody in particular. “The stench of hell will linger on my fur for days!”

Maddie and Collie stopped dancing. Collie scampered off on four feet.

“I didn’t see much of hell” said Maddie

“There is not much to see!” said Val pulling on her hair as usual.” No just what we saw for miles on end. There are no changes no goodness nothing nice”

“No” said little Harte beginning to cry., partly in pain due to his sore wing. ”I’m never going there again”

“Well four visits are enough” agreed Blem as he studiously started to braid half of the girl’s mane of dark hair.

“Let’s go for a swim” exclaimed Collie bounding into view.

“Lets all go” chorused the three cupids

“”No arrows please” said Madeleine firmly.

Maddie, Collie and the three cupids alit upon Clowe’s ballroom cloud and there they saw a large swimming pool containing violet coloured sea water .Clowe hovered in mid air above the pool.

“Meeyow the cat will not be swimming this time” stated Clowe “We have received a serious complaint from Above regarding…Clowe unfurled a piece of parchment scroll.”As I was saying Paradise has been notified of this Cat’s vicious attack on the cupid Harte. The Heavens are displeased.”

Harte and his brothers began to cry.

“But my wing will be okay” protested Harte who was very fond of Meeyow.. ”Please don’t hurt Meeyow”

“Of course Meeyow will not be hurt” said Jill Glimmer appearing and wearing a long iridescent robe with human feet barely visible but human feet they were. She had a beautiful woman’s face with high sculpted cheekbones, and long wavy white blonde hair .Her eyes were deep blue and long and large with shimmering thick silver eyelashes. The mouth was of medium size with a fine shape and very pale pink in color. Jill Glimmer was dressed as an angel and Maddie was absolutely enthralled

“Harte, Blem Val” Jill Glimmer said to the three cupids

“You are to return to Paradise. Sheruby has summoned you”

Meeyow stood on his four paws with feline tears pouring down his furry face and the loyal Collie scampered over to console and lick his friend’s cat face.

Harte patted Meeyow awkwardly on her head.

“We have been called home,” said Harte proudly

“Summoned” corrected Val turning a somersault and pelting Meeyow with several arrows. The cat did not even move.

“Summoned” echoed Blem .

Immediately the three small cupids disappeared.

There was a somewhat sombre hush at the Edge of Paradise.

“Who is Sheruby” asked Maddie breaking the silence.

Sheruby is a divine creature half fairy half angel with shape shifting abilities. Gill Glimmer and Jill Glimmer are from the same species. These people are exceedingly rare. There are less then a hundred beings.”

Clowe stood on his cloud shaped like a cathedral. Organ music poured down in visible musical notes

“Your stay at the Edge of Paradise is almost at an end dear Madeleine” said Clowe smiling a sad smile.

“One last swim before you depart?” suggested Meeyow timidly

“You’ve been given a reprieve Cat” said Clowe sternly “You must continue here at the Edge of Paradise for a few more days.”

Meeyow sighed deeply but nodded accepting his punishment for harming a creature of Paradise.

Maddie saw a stone well and Jill and Gill dressed as white chickadees were dipping in their beaks. Meeyow lapped from a bright blue bowl which she happily shared with Collie… Mrs. Glimmer transforming into an angel handed Jill a golden goblet full of bright sparkly green liquid. Maddie drank and the taste was delectable .Imagine the taste of raspberries, cherries, strawberries, lemons and limes baked in dark chocolate with caramel on top.

“Good bye Maddie” said Clowe solemnly.

“Good bye Maddie,” said Meeyow “But I will see you in just a few more days .I don’t know how long days are…” her voice trailing off into an embarrassed purr.

“I’m coming with you Maddie” cried collie leaping into her arms.

Jill Glimmer stretched out a white wing and took the girl’s left hand. Gill stretched out his wing and then clasped the right hand of Maddie.

“Where are we going?” asked Maddie

“We are taking you home to Paradise” said Gill and Jill in unison

And so Maddie went to Paradise.

Angel Edwards is a singer songwriter guitarist published writer published poet with 4 books from Vancouver BC Canada. Member of AFM local 145. BMI SOCAN




1 comment:

Five Poems by Richard Levine

    Blinded     There are thoughts I keep mostly to myself,   the way day and night mind their own business.       Would it surprise you to ...