Thursday, October 06, 2011

Humpty Dumpty Sat On a Wall

I don’t remember much about falling off the wall, but what I do remains vivid – first the rending crack, a shaking sigh, and the green of the grass, each blade a perfect sword. My insides oozed out and coated the ground with a pearly sheen. The stark brilliance of the sky pained my eyes. Angels sung, a low thrumming hymn, and this peace, this grace overtook me and I cried, I cried, I was so happy! But then the men came in their shiny white jackets and picked up my brittle shards. My mind slithered down the hill, a rainbow of gold and pink and black. They caught the black but the rest escaped, and they bundled us up and carted us away in a screaming car and deposited us in a room without color or light and here I stay, swaddled like a baby, me and the black.

To this day, most people think I fell off the wall. Saying so kind of smoothes over the awkwardness of that event, just like calling someone who is rip-roaring drunk indisposed. But I know the truth, and until I speak it they will keep me here. “For your safety,” they tell me. Meanwhile, they bring me teeny white cups filled with luminosity: blue triangles, orange ovals, yellow spheres. Sometimes I swallow, sometimes not. What keeps me sane is the memory of that day looping through my shell of a head, the only other color in my otherwise black-and-white world.


Humpty Dumpty appeared earlier this week in 52, the final quarterly (and grand finale) of the 52/250 Flash-A-Year Challenge. Editors extraordinaire Michelle Elvy, Walter Bjorkman, and John Wentworth Chapin asked several of us *chronic* flashers to retell a fairy or folk tale. I chose Humpty because I'd always wondered if his crack-up was literal or metaphorical. Several of my older stories appear in weeks #44 (ANT FARM), #48 (TAINTED LOVE), and #52 (PHANTOM SISTER). Allow yourself to linger here -- fabulous work by many names you will recognize.



  1. Linda, I've long thought that Humpty had issues; you can't blame the poor egg really. I loved your take on his situation. Check out Vestal Review: they are looking for 500 word stories about the untold tales of fairy tale characters.

  2. I love your take on Humpty! Never read anything like it before.

  3. Especially with the picture, I enjoyed reading it as an intense amnesia case for the tragic egg.

  4. Such clear images in this - of humpty dumpty, and of something darker. You handle these pieces deftly, with a delicate master's touch.

  5. I nice re-tread of the old tale, Linda. I like your version more. It gives us some insight into the character.

  6. Absolutely Love this Linda! I've always wondered about poor Humpty myself. You've shown us what "really" happened perfectly.