Charles and the Dodo by Jonathan Bowerman

Charles and the Dodo
Jonathan Bowerman

I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date! Charles stressed as he sat at his desk and blew on the end of his feathered fountain pen, chastising himself.

“No, no. That simply will not do.
If you start a novel with that, what will they think of you?”

The hour was late and the fire was smoldering. A slight warmth still lingered in the room but not enough to shake the cold. Here and there a snap or a pop reminded Charles that even though he was in the process of a monumental breakthrough, projects were due.

He pushed his loose papers aside and turned his attention back to his studies,
“Symbolic logic, what do I intend?
The shapes and figures, I swear they will not end!”

A sudden creaking at his study door proved to be all he needed to daydream once again.
“Master Dodgson? Are you well enough for me?
I come to give you inspiration if you’d allow it to be.”

A dodo of massive size, sporting a waistcoat and pipe, peeked into the room. He pushed his feathered palms down his coat in an attempt to flatten out the few wrinkles it had. He then took a step, then another, and then another.

“You see, words of fantasy come to me with ease.
I’d share some with you if you lend me your ear, please.
I see that you bounce from here to there,
From quantifications to walking in thin air—“

“Please do not bother me I am impatient,” Charles rubbed his temples,
“You are simply in my imagination.”

The dodo ceased walking further into the room and nearly choked on his pipe,
“Imagination, my good man?
Tis simply not true,
In all actuality, I am—”
The dodo stopped and took a big puff of his pipe, “Well, I am you.”

Charles stood and paced the room. Out-of-the-box thinking was definitely within his scope of practice, but to propose a dodo was him, well, that was completely bizarre.

“My good man, strange and large you are
But one thing is certain,
This is the strangest thing, by far.
To propose that I am you, therefore you are me
I do apologize, but that simply cannot be.
I deal with words, and pictures, and numbers.
You deal with waddling, squawking, and blunders.
My head is of hair, my arms are of skin.
Yours are of feathers so do not pretend
To be me in any shape or form.
Besides, though you are great, my priorities are torn.”

At this, the dodo seemed quite perplexed. He walked to the hearth and knocked his pipe on the bricks. He then refilled it with a curious colored substance. He lit it slowly and took a few puffs. Purple and pink smoke began to whimsically creep throughout the room.

“I do believe your imagination needs a lift,
So please breath deep and take this smoke as a gift.
In your mind, an explosion of colors and scenes
Will shortly take place though off it will seem.
Put your studies aside and do what you desire
Write about a girl who grows higher and higher.
Her hair is of gold and her adventures abundant.
But your story—regarding reality—will be most repugnant.
Dream awake and write to your heart’s delight
But do write swiftly for the spell only lasts tonight.”

The dodo smiled as Charles plopped down into his chair. His imagination was racing and ideas poured into his mind like a raging flood. He lifted his pen and began to write. By the time the sun peeked over the horizon and his inkwell was empty, a stack of papers sat in front of him in place of his textbook.

“Finally, I am done and not a moment too soon.
My story is complete and your smoke was a boon.
The sun shines its face but you’ve taken to flight
For you have gone, disappeared, sometime in the night.
Thank you, my friend, for your inspiration
For if not for you, my imagination
would have been squandered all through the night.
But as it is, I wrote a story that’s fun and bright.
I stand and applaud you, oh feathered, wondrous man
So, in memory of you, I shall call the story, Wonderland.”

Charles stood and stretched then walked over to the fire. He poked it a few times and dropped a fresh log on the embers. He tried to remember every detail about the mysterious, large bird that visited him in the night. Alas, he was tired and the memory was slipping. Forfeiting to the inevitable he turned and proceeded back to his desk. After sitting he saw something he hadn’t noticed before. Placed precariously on the bricks of the hearth was a still smoking pipe.


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