Friday, August 10, 2012

Cottleston Pie: a piece of whimsy

My name is Sylvi.” 
“Your name isn’t Cottontail?" 
Simpian was silent for a moment. Her name ought to be Cottontail, because Cottontail sounded very good when matched up with Cottleston Pie, and if his plan was to work at all, it must sound right. But Sylvi was not such a bad name after he thought about it for a moment or two. “Sylvi, do you like Presenti-mints?” 
“I’ve never had one. Are they good to eat?”
-Cottleston Pie

Mad, vain creature that I am, I have a bit of a secret project that I want to share with someone. I ought not to even write this post, as it is only a post of how I shouldn't be telling you what I'm telling you. But my vanity wins over, and when I have written something I like, I want you to like it too. I suppose that is the downfall of any good writer. Or is it the inspiration of any good writer? Who knows--I certainly don't, and my stars! I'm going to tell you so I might as well get it over with. I am trying my hand at a new story--a nonsense story--that follows no particular plot, and is whimsical, lovable, and positively dotty. It is meant either for very young children who live their lives by whimsy and for whoever is reading it to them. :) It is a direct nod to Winnie-the-Pooh, and takes it's name from that lovely nonsense rhyme by A.A.  Milne:

Cottleston Pie

I had not meant to come up with a new story, but it hit me over the head while I was playing with my five year old sister and our cousin who is the same age. I said something to Rebekah about "he's simply in such-and-such" and she misheard me, looked at me with her head cocked on one side, and said, "Who's Simpian?" and just like that an Idea was born.

      Simpian lived in a house perched in a tree, simply because that is the best place to live. (As anyone who has tried it ought to agree.) He lived by himself as far as anyone could tell. He had no father or mother or sisters or brothers and certainly no uncles or aunts. That is, until tea-time. Then you might find Simpian rummaged out of his tree house by the sound of the great brass bell and if you followed him across Waterloo and through The Field (and once or thrice around and through and behind the blueberry bushes) you might hear quite a lot of people calling him “Allister!”—or more often than not—“Come Allister!” and he might look less and less like a pirate and more and more like a grubby-little-chap-in-need-of-washing whose relatives were looking for him.
-Cottleston Pie

The boy who used to be Only Allister is now Simpian Grenadine: Master of Cottleston Pie. And that came to be in this way:

      Allister flipped onto his back in the grass and looked up into the branches of his tree. The sun shone yellow through the green leaves and blue behind that, and Allister whispered his rhyme to himself in a sing-song voice: “Cottleston, cottleston, cottleston pie….” And just like that—without even trying—the words had attached themselves to the tree and the house and Allister sat up, a deal surprised, and half expecting to see a Notice written up and tacked to the tree:      
           Formerly known as Tree-House Belonging To Allister, now known as Cottleston Pie: Home of Simpian Grenadine.”    
   The last bit surprised Allister more than finding that his house had named itself. What sort of a name was Simpian Grenadine? A good one, he thought. But where had it come from? Nowhere, he supposed. And because Allister was clever enough to know that the best thing always come from Nowhere, he didn’t bother to ask any further questions and only said to himself once or twice as if trying on a new jacket: “Simpian Grenadine…master of Cottleston Pie.”
-Cottleston Pie

If you must know, Cottleston Pie is the name of Allister's tree-house and Property. It's a private sort of place and one is never quite sure while he is there if what happens is true or make believe. But it doesn't really matter because everything that does happen is beautiful and entirely fabulous. I thought I had better Advise you as to the species of story Cottleston Pie is, because it may show up in my Snippets of Story posts and then if I didn't tell you, you'd be left hanging out to dry. I am planning on making little pen-and-ink drawings to illustrate it and if it turns out to be good at all I am going to give it to some of my Little Friends come Christmas time.
What do you think of Cottleston Pie? If you don't like Winnie-the-Pooh and wonderful nonsense in general do not read further. You'll hate it. But if there is a little bit of whimsy hanging about in your heart, I think you might enjoy this newest child of mine. :)

      “Well, are you or aren’t you?” he asked.    
          Sylvi stared at him out of one round boot-button eye, then swiveled her head so she looked at him out of the other. “I am’nt.”    
        “You whatn’t?”        
         “I amn’t.”      
         “Ah. That’s what I thought you said.”        
         Sylvi narrowed her eye. “That means I am not.”    
        “I knew that,” Simpian hastened to say. “Only I wanted to be sure you knew what it meant.”      
        “Oh, I know.” And Sylvi began to groom her tawny fur again. She paused mid-brush and looked up at him. “You are a perfect basket of red-herrings, aren’t you?”
-Cottleston Pie  


Elizabeth said...

Awww, that is SO cute! I love it!

Amanda said...

As someone who is very critical when it comes to fantasy stories, and someone who doesn't care for tales that have a close link to any other fairy tale or writer. I have to say, this is LOVELY and genius. You must finish it and make drawings, and publish it so that we can all share it with out little friends come Christmas time.


Rachel Heffington said...

Well, thank you, girls!
@Amanda, I think I intend to finish it, and I am glad you enjoyed this peep at Cottleston Pie. I am also quite glad you liked it, because I share your scruples about all things closely linked to other fiction. I really dislike fanfiction, and Cottleston Pie is not meant so much to be *like* Milne's books as it is to have their flavor. You know--the innocent whimsy of simple childhood. :)
I hope someday I can tell you that Cottleston Pie is available for Little Friends everywhere. :) <3

Mark Coddington said...

Positively lovely pieces of whimsy. :D

Emily Chapman said...

Oh! Oh, oh, oh! This is brilliant. Lovely, whimsical, and OH so brilliant! I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it!