Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Week(s) (02/10/11)
TITLE: The Fourteen
By Anita van der Elst
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âIt is so beyond my imagination that we are finally going to make this sojourn, my dear,â Beatrice rumbled in her contralto voice.
Brunhilde merely nodded her head in agreement. The two, being best friends for so long, hardly needed to speak their thoughts to each other.
Beatrice, known however for her stream of consciousness type of expression, mused, âJust to think that Great-Grandmother came here for the first time back in 1924. She supposed it would only be for a couple of weeks. All for the chance of stardom! My, how exciting that must have been.â
Beatrice turned to see what basso grump had interrupted her historical recital. âOh, Bartemas, I was not aware that you would be embarking on this journey as well.â
Bartemas, his shaggy brow lowered, grumped further. âThere was no stardom, nor any promise of such, and you know it. Your great-grandmother came with thirteen others as nothing more than extras. Besides it wasnât as though they had a choice. And yes, Iâm coming too.â
The throaty humph issued just then by Brunhilde alerted them to two young eavesdroppers who now emerged from behind some large boulders at the side of the path.
âAuntie Bea! Where are you going? Whatâs Uncle Bart talking about? What are extras? And why didnât they have a choice?â asked Buster and Bronwyn speaking in stereo.
âHave you never heard our history of origin, children?â Beatrice asked.
Bronwyn wagged her head solemnly while Buster nonchalantly flicked a fly off his back.
With a snort, Bartemas lumbered past the lagging ladies. âSee you on the boat. Better not be late,â he warned. Mashing lilies, fiddlenecks and paintbrush underfoot, he tossed over his shoulder, âNo sense in wallowing in the past.â
Beatrice rolled her eyes dismissively. âBrunhilde,â she said. âIt will be alright for the children to accompany us to the dock, will it not? There is just enough time to tell the story.â
Brunhilde shrugged her broad shoulders in acquiescence.
In a hushed reverent manner Beatrice described how the Hollywood filmmakers came to the island. The movie they intended to make needed authentication with some special characters.
âThus they brought in âThe Fourteenâ,â Beatrice breathed dramatically. To her gratification, the whites of her young listenersâ eyes shone around their brown irises and their nostrils flared. She could tell they were fully as star-struck as she.
âThe filming took just a few short weeks but oh, my, what an impact âThe Fourteenâ would have in it. Who knew what fame and fortune would be theirs.â Here Beatriceâs voice faltered. Her eyes filled with great tears. âBut alas, it was not to be. All the scenes featuring âThe Fourteenâ were cut from the finished cinematic product. No one would ever see the beauty and majesty of our great-grandparentsâ contribution to the arts.â
Two very disappointed faces stared up at her.
âThe saddest thing, children? Not only was all chance at stardom eliminated, the filmmakers, after the completion of The Vanishing American, had not the funding to send âThe Fourteenâ back home. A few weeks has turned into years and âThe Fourteenâ has become hundreds. Too many for this island to sustain. Recently it has been decided that periodically a few of us be chosen to return to our homeland in a place called North Dakota. That is where Bartemas, Brunhilde and I are going. I will miss this Santa Catalina Island.â Beatrice lifted her eyes to the wildflowers. âThink of us, will you, children, and remember? And âThe Fourteenâ, those handsome bison whose brush with fame and fortune was so short-lived. I fear no one else ever will.â
âWe will, Aunt Bea,â chorused the two shaggy-haired youngsters, stamping hoof prints in the sandy shore, as Busterâs tufted tail flicked another fly off his back.
âNever-has-been wanna-bes,â harrumphed Bartemas, plodding up the gangplank. He turned his gaze across the channel towards the California coastline to hide from Beatrice and Brunhilde the tear sliding down his wooly face.
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