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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)

TITLE: The Abecedarian
By Val Clark


‘That one, in the corner, how much is that?’

‘The yellow one? Not very popular these days. What about one of these nice brown ones.’

For goodness sake, woman, he’s the first person to show an interest in six years!

He prised me open.

‘No space for credit cards, Mr. Ward. Hand made, it was, for a client who, er, passed on.’

That’s done it. Anybody would think you didn’t want to make a sale.

He squeezed my smooth leather casing.

‘Keep the receipt and if you change your mind within two weeks...’

‘Oh I won’t change my mind. I’m an abecedarian, you see, and this zipped compartment is perfect for my treasures.’

‘Yes, well, each to his own, sir. Have a good day.’

‘My golden beauty, you and I are going to make poetry together.’

He wrote abecedarian on a slip of paper and tucked it into my zippered compartment. I pondered the meaning of that word for weeks as he went about his business.

His life could hardly be called exciting. Most mornings he spent tapping away at his computer. In the afternoon he’d read. Some evenings he’d sit at a corner table in the pub, nursing one beer, scribbling snippets of conversations in his notebook or on folded paper napkins. Some evening he dined with friends.

On Saturdays he found unusual places to shop. (It seemed he had an aversion to Malls as well as credit cards.)

‘Pure silk, all the way from Thailand.’

‘Bazaar.’ He whispered, handing the money over. But bizarre was the word he tucked behind abecedarian.

Coadunate made a threesome after he accidentally super-glued his finger to his thumb.

One morning his fingers probed each of my corners. Only three slips of paper were to be found. With a sigh he added depauperate. ‘Next to the presence of the Divine, Goldilocks, language is our most precious gift but a hot meal....’

Letter after letter arrived, was scrunched into a ball and dropped onto his once pristine carpet. He stayed at home wandering around the house, chinking the keys in his pocket, plucking at the edge of the curtain, pushing his coffee away.

‘Here’s another one for you my little cauldron, exanimate.

'I won’t give in; words are poetry; phrases are poetry in motion, treasure to be plundered.'

Farouch was gifted to me after an unpleasant encounter in the street. Grimalkin when a particularly old cat made its home on our doorstep.

OK, so I’m a slow learner. It’s ironic that it was with the word hebetude that I finally realised how dimwitted I had been. Ward was an abecedarian and I the receptacle for his collection.

In the election booth he muttered ‘Government by the worst citizens.’

Kakistocracy! Ward, no one will believe that's really a word.

It took an inordinately long time for him to accumulate twenty-six words. It was months after the zipper closed over zymosis before Ward released each word into the world.

He propped me at the edge of his desk.

‘Well, my golden friend. What have you been doing with my bounty over the last four years? Have you cogitated on each word? Can we make cognitive sense of their corporate meaning?’

He laughed and began arranging and rearranging.

‘Language, my friend. Without words we would not be able to think. There would be no ideas. No communication. We would be paupers, alone on this planet.

Finally, he switched on the desk lamp and read:

A Ward.


The work is suddenly done and I am replete.
I stand on the vertiginous cusp of the book and
offer it to a kakistocracy.
I will not ever again fall
for your fawning machinations.
Critics! Caterwauling grimalkins, upbraid me for tautologies
if you must but it is time!
My once juvenescent beauty,
We have labored in weltering battle,
bringing you to adulthood.
In the midst of my stubborn hebetude, the numionous
has worked upon you a perfection that is
more than the sum of your parts,
suffused by a bizarre, farouche spirit
a spirit that is not me, yet pervades me.
Ah, bright wings, no phizgig, you
will never disappoint or fail to inflame
me; though the fuse be long and I, tardy
in my acceptance of inspiration.
I ingurgitate;
Quaff your generosity.
When I flag, like sweet Ylang-Ylang oil, you
resurrect my exanimate spirit.
We are coadunate, moving in a librated dance.
You gift me with xenogglossia. Spirit’s love will
not depauperate me.

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This article has been read 1381 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 05/18/06
Me no speekie englis...however, very creative in a unique sort of way...but Prosperous? Sorry, didn't catch the lingo, but loved the sport. Thanks.
Lynda Schultz 05/19/06
And I just finished packing my dictionary! You are rich in language, and I wouldn't dare steal a word from you (wouldn't know what to do with it!) Great writing.
Sherry Wendling05/19/06
Ha ha! The brilliance of this original is clever beyond Webster's. Words are truly treasures to a writer...And you, my friend, are most prosperous in this medium. Wonderful take on the topic, and few could have pulled it off so well.
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/20/06
I enjoyed this, but didn't quite understand it until I read Sherry's comment. Well done!
Jan Ackerson 05/22/06
Ok--whoever wrote this, I want to be your best friend. You love words! Aren't they fun? This is EXACTLY the way that I think and collect words, and I adored it.
James Clem 05/22/06
I think I'm in the presence of a former spelling bee champion.
Thy vocabulary exceedeth mine.
I commend you on a novel approach to this topic, but I'll leave a word of caution: be careful not to make your reader feel stupid.
Joanne Malley05/22/06
I applaud your creativity and the subtle, yet effective way you focused on the word prosperity. Even though the majority of people will have to grab their dictionaries to understand what the words mean, the meaning is not really necessary. The words in and of themselves bring forth your intentions for this article perfectly!
George Parler 05/22/06
"...be careful not to make your reader feel stupid." Too late. HA HA

Although your masterful use of syntax is wasted on me, your gift of creativity is not. Very unique approach. Good job.
Sue Dent05/23/06
I LOVED this! Prosperity of words. I'm going to use one of these words in my sequel! I don't know how yet, but I'm going to use one. How long did it take you to do this? You couldn't possibly have known all of these meanings! There was a sesame street episode once where they sang the alphabet as a song. They pronounced the alphabet as a word. Phonetically it sounded something like, "ab ca def gee hi jak lem nop q er stuv wix z" or something like that. And your POV. . . how clever and well pulled off. ;)
Pat Guy 05/23/06
Genius! You have given me a treasure trove of words! Lovely, lovely words! And a marvelous story! What a delight to the senses. I thank you! :)
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/23/06
I don't have my dictionary handy but I loved the concept. It's a fact that words are our medium for communication.
Valora Otis05/24/06
You are, the word master. You have knowingly, engaged each of us in mental gymnastics. Loved the workout and your original take on prosperity. Bravo!
Beth Muehlhausen05/24/06
I was too dense to get it at first too - LOL - but now I see...and how obvious! Prosperity in the sense of tons of off-the-wall words. :-)

I admire your creativity. Amazing!

Rita Garcia05/24/06
Creative, unique and I love it!!
Suzanne R05/25/06
Wow! That's amazing - especially the piece at the end!!!!!! Whew! Brilliant!