Auda, the Mushroom Princess, sat in her home far below the busy streets of Baltimore, worried and nervously tapping the arm of her chair. Two bags full of wilting food sat at her feet. Scallions were limp and wrinkly and drooped over the edge of the bag, the spinach bag that was next to it was fogged up and looked unappetizing.
She was one hundred and ninety three, but her memory never failed her and she had a good century left before she became one again with the soil. Auda could remember the finest details of all that she had experienced in her lifetime, and was even able to recall all of her dreams. It disturbed her to realize that she did not remember getting home. She clearly remembered enjoying the overcast August morning in Mount Vernon. It was Sunday and she had walked her way to the Farmer’s Market. The princess remembered walking home and stopping by Dooby’s for an iced coffee and a savory scone. She remembered sitting in the park with her purchases and finishing the coffee and scone while having an impromptu conversation with the Council Mystic Ola.
Auda stopped tapping the arm of her chair and took a deep breath. She looked around the room. Her eyes scanned, but never stopped on anything in particular. She looked for some clue as to how she got where she was, but found nothing. Auda took the bags into the kitchen and began to put away the items as she began to think again about the last memories. Laloux had joined them at the park and talked about names she was considering for her new heliump. It was due to hatch any day now and she was too excited to contain herself.
Auda cut the wilted ends off of the scallions and tossed them in the compost with a disappointed exhale. The base of a few of them didn’t make it either and the spinach had shrunk considerably, but could still be salvaged if sautéed. It was still morning when she walked her way up W Read Street and the church bells mixed with the disapproving howls from neighboring dogs. She had left her friends at the park to chat with each other and had told them to come by for an early supper. Auda remembered that she had made it up to the manhole that she usually used to enter the caverns that led to her home, but a moving van was parked nearby. She lingered as the family loaded the van and remembered hearing dogs barking in the distance - communicating in their secret language. As she waited for the family to head back for another load she considered other entrances she might try instead, but the family moved back inside. The coast was clear and as she made her way to the manhole, a tall man caught her off guard and asked her if she knew the time. His voice was odd and his eyes were shadowed from the brim of his hat. He was extremely tall. Seven foot or more. He held out his pocket watch and asked if it was the right time. Sun reflected from the glass on the face of the timepiece as it fell from his hand to the ground. Her next memory was sitting at home in her chair.
Auda looked at the clock on her wall and gasped. It was only a few minutes shy of 4:45pm. She had lost half the day. Her friends would arrive any minute and they would be expecting one of here elaborate meals. What had happened to her? Her mind began to move too fast and she had to keep herself from falling. How did she get home? Was she taken? Did she walk home on her own? She ran to the front door and it was closed but unlocked. It was difficult for her to keep up with her thoughts. Her head felt like a blender and she forced it to stop.
Auda held the title of Princess, but it had been some time since she had any people to rule over. The kingdom had dwindled and eventually dispersed however Auda never lost the skills that were essential in her position. She was still able to be cool under pressure, a trait that had served her well as Princess.
First things first - food. Guests would be here in 20 minutes. It was not what she would have preferred, but under the time constraints she had little options. She considered the food she had and with a moments thought, added them to a large pot on the stove. Rarely did she ever use magic to cook, but she had little choice at this point. She was out of time. The princess wove her hand over the pot and then over the spice rack, food, cutlery and finally over the stove.
“Twenty minutes” she said out loud, to complete the spell.
Next she searched each room, with he help of a spell, for anyone that may be there. The result was relieving to her. It was just her and the occasional spider and cricket. She locked the entrance behind her and made her way double-time to the last place she remembered. Standing at the intersection she looked around. Nothing seemed odd. She heard someone loudly singing out-of-tune in distance, dogs barked, cars drove by - nothing was strange.
“Your highness.” Ola called from down the block. She was walking her way with Laloux.
They liked to call her by that title, not as a formality and certainly not because Auda wanted them to or required it, but simply because they enjoyed the fact that they knew someone with such a noble title.
“What are you doing here?” Laloux asked. “We were expecting to meet you at you at your place.”
Ola knew something was off. She studied Auda for a moment. Not just her physical body, but her energy and her soul. “Tell us what happened.”
Auda motioned for them to follow her to the manhole. They slipped inside and by the time they made it to her home, Auda had explained all that had happened since she last saw them (which to her only seemed like an hour ago) and the heavenly aroma of an early supper greeted them as they stepped into her home to enjoy the meal and put together the pieces of this lost time.
Renée French was born in the early 60’s in rural New Jersey and now her and her husband split their time living between the US and Australia. Up until very recently, graphite was her preferred medium, however now that she has begun using paints, her works have concentrated in that field. French’s works are small-miniature (typically only a few square inches) and sometimes she has to get creative to allow herself to work smaller than her instrument may allow. Her work has hung in galleries across the globe and often the entire show can travel in an envelope. Renée's art carrer began through working in comics as both a writer and illustrator, where she was honored with the Inkpot Award, and is also the author of two children’s books under the pen name Rainy Dohaney. The switch to painting came from living in Australia and wanting to learn classic techniques. After learning the oil methods of the masters, French realized that painting in acrylic is where she felt the most comfortable and less stressed during the creation process. This also allows her to paint where and when she wants (the same way she draws). The Bunny painting I have highlighted is one of these paintings and despite the brilliant gold background, the painting shows her fondness of a muted palette which I adore. Follow her work using some of the links below and discover the farcical and often worrisome, fuzzy fleshy and squishy characters that Renée French has become synonymous with.
As of October 2016, I intended to use this blog as an accompaniment to my Facebook page and Instagram page. On this blog I post information and updates about my work as well as once a month I highlighted an artist whose work I like (I stopped doing this when I opened my gallery www.GalleryBlueDoor.com). As of March 2017, I began posting a monthly Story Entry with an accompanying illustration of mine. In mid-2019 I took a break from this, but it will resume.