Chicken Noodle Soup Maiden

By on Mar 31, 2019 in Fiction

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Lizard man with woman on Mars with chips and soda

I soon had more to grin about that school year, when my teacher, Mrs. Brettman, assigned us the clumsy task of writing one sentence each for 20 words the school district decreed all fourth-graders must “not just spell, but understand.”

“Be as creative as you wish,” she announced. Her counsel spurred a plot in my love-sick brain that might compensate for my lack of muscles, looks, charm, you name it, and cast a skeleton key to Carol’s heart.

I asked Mrs. B., as the rest of the class filed out to start their weekends, if the words could be used in a story instead of a bunch of sentences.

“A story about what, Stuart?”

I was stumped.

“How about,” she said, walking out of the building as I fumbled with my school bag, “you bring me your story Monday, and I’ll take a look.”


“Stuart, if you really want to be a writer, you have to sacrifice some weekend TV time. How else can I be sure your story is an appropriate replacement assignment?”

That night, I chased after that assignment on my perpetual fantasy flight into B-movie outer space, twisting tiny buttons on my headboard like they were spaceship-control knobs. Soon I was off to Mars, battling an evil Lizard Man, trying to save…Carol.

Wait. Her name would give my game away…how about Chicken Noodle Soup Maiden…she of the yellow hair? That settled, I wrestled those carefully-underlined vocabulary words into a story, lit by a Superman flashlight and my determination to make that peanut-butter/potato-chip date come true.

My ancestors left instructions. They said danger might blossom on Mars. I was afraid of captivity. They would congratulate me today. I saw a disaster. I was furious. I wanted generosity from my host on Mars. If I became invisible, maybe my lack of evil would help me find the meadow where Chicken Noodle Soup Maiden was. If I became noble, maybe my quest would not be pointless. I was queasy, and I wanted to reduce Lizard Man’s powers and save the Maiden. Her jail cell was shabby, and I wanted her to survive. It wasn’t as tidy as she liked, and I had a variety of tricks to save her. But I was weary.

(So much so that I descended into dreamland, unconcerned that my masterpiece had no conclusion.)

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Stuart Michaelson is a semi-retired journalist and Philadelphia native. He spent 22 years working on newspapers in the Philly area, Connecticut, and New Jersey as a reporter, editor, columnist, and supervisor, as well as more than a decade at TV Guide magazine, where he contributed to three books on television history. He started writing fiction in 2017, and had a short story published in 2018 in the Schuylkill Valley Journal. Apart from writing fiction, as well as part-time freelance non-fiction, he spends his time reading political and rock-music bios, listening to CDs, and watching old TV shows, ranging from Lost to such escapist fare as "Melrose Place."