You smell like mothballs

cubes 3“Where have you been?!”

“What’ya mean? You’re the one who stashed me away.”

“Since when did that ever stop you?”

“Anyway, I’m here now. What’a we got?”


Muse peers over her shoulder at the picture. “What’s that thing?”

“Best I can come up with is an upright Leaning Tower of Pisa.”

“Might work.”

“Maybe a story about a guy who fell asleep on the job, and while he slept a…scarab…using the guy’s…. abacus…calculates how to aright the Tower of Pisa.”



“And… lemme see that picture again.”


“And…wait. Let’s go back. Further. Before. OK, so the guy’s been working all day….Wait! Let’s go back even further. The King calls the guy…OH! Yes! I got it …. on his cell phone, summoning him to the castle…”

“…OK, I’m with ya…and says, ‘Hey, guy, I need you to fix the Tower of Pisa. It looks like it might actually fall over this time.”

“Right! And so, the guy grabs his tools and blueprints…”

“Wait, which one’s a blueprint?”

“None. Just makes sense he’d need a blueprint.”

“OK. Go on.”

“The guy gets his tools and the blueprint and starts working out how to make the Tower of Pisa upright.”


“What? You expect me to write the whole thing? C’mon, Miss I-Loves-Me-A-Good-Crowd-Writing-Story. It’s your turn.”

“Uh….” (Thinks for moment. And then another moment. Stares out the window. Are those clouds going to blow away today, or is this going to be another January in July kind of summer around here? Sips coffee. Blech. Cold. Goes to the kitchen and gets a refill. Returns to computer. Checks email. Looks up info about weekend street fair. Resumes staring out the window).

“HEY! We’re writin’ here!”

“OK, OK…No need to…OK. So. Where were we? Right. The guy’s figuring things out. He drafts, and calculates, and scribbles notes, but nothing is working. Can’t seem to solve the puzzle (ponders what to do about the star and the fire). AH! OK, how ’bout this: He keeps working until the sun sets. It gets cold, so he builds a fire! Now he’s gotta go to sleep…Well, he gets tired. Decides a small break would not be out of order, (oh, right the star. Hmmm. The star…Oh!) so he sits down and gazes up at the night sky and all the shooting stars. So many of them. And as he wonders about why so many shooting stars, he drifts off to sleep…”

“…and the scarab crawls out and onto the blueprints. He scurries this way and that, studying the prints. He hops onto the abacus…”

“Hops? Do beetles hop?”

“This one does. He’s very agile.”


“…the scarab hops onto the abacus and furiously starts calculating, pushing the beads back and forth, scurrying this way and that.”

“Don’t stop there. You’re doing great.”

“And, yeah. He figures out how to realign the Tower of Pisa, and when the guy wakes up he sees all these notes and calculations and wonders how he did all that in his sleep.”

“Huh. That’s it? It works. I suppose.”

“Better than what you were going to write”

“What was I going to write?”

“Nothing! Which is my point.”

“So what’a we do with the flower?”

“Who knows. Leave it there.”

“It seems kinda lonely. Sad, like the kid who is never selected to play kickball at school.”

“Whatever. I can’t think anymore.”

“OK. Anyway, thanks. Been a while since you and I worked together.”

“As I said, you’re the one who stashed me away.”

“Ah, now I get it. Hence the smell of mothball, yes? I mean, nice touch.”

“I thought you’d like it.”

For TBP’s Cubing Stories #3. The device I choose (can you guess?) is Dialogue

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