bzedan: Cropped image of suspenders worn over collared shirt (me)
posted by [personal profile] bzedan at 04:34pm on 19/03/2013 under

Based on The Pink, collected by the Grimm brothers. The original is an Aarne-Thompson type 652, The Boy Whose Wishes Always Come True.

 

One moment, I existed.

The moment before that I wasn’t even a thought. It’s a different thing, to not exist. It’s not all nothingness, that’s for sure. Nothing is something, if it’s the absence of it. It wasn’t all that jarring to suddenly be, but my mind was full with being around finite things, with just being. I wasn’t, then I was. I wondered if, from then on I couldn’t ever not have been.

The first words I heard were that I was so beautiful a painter couldn’t do my face justice. I didn’t know how to respond to that, for various reasons. Then the man who’d spoken patted a boy on the head and wandered off. The boy and I stared at each other. I wiggled my fingers and toes, not ready to look at them yet. I think we stood there a while, regarding each other. Something friendly broke through the boy and he took my hand and showed me around.

I learned we were children, of about the same age. He chattered at me about how he’d been stolen, his mother framed for negligence and locked away. The castle and grounds we walked had been asked for by the captor and wished into existence by the boy. It turned out I’d been wished for as well, to be a friend and playmate.

“I’m glad you turned out pretty,” he told me.

So we bided time, living a lazy existence not really worthy of itself. We rode horses, I gathered flowers while we walked the gardens, I took up needlework. I liked needlework, because I could pretend to create things, when I was really just transmuting thread into designs, flat fabric into dimensional, purposeful shapes. My work scattered around the house, marking the passing of time as a runner laid itself across the table, a cloth appeared over a basket of bread, doilies insinuated themselves under vases and knick-knacks.

I realised early on that my own position in the castle was on par with the aprons I made—we both were fancy things created to ease the wear of daily life on more valuable things. I listened to the prince talk and did not ask aloud why we lived here with his abductor when he knew his mother lived in punishment for the supposed death of her child. Sometimes the prince said he missed his father, but I don’t know if he meant it.

 

There were no servants. Meals appeared, rooms became clean when you looked away, dust never collected and the gardens tended to themselves. We didn’t see much of the man; he was always out hunting, or studying maps, or flowers, or something.

There were originally no books in the castle, because the prince didn’t care for them. The library had false shelves lined with sheets of pretty-coloured spines. The man had the prince wish him books, once, but their insides were blank. Perhaps the prince was being petty. Perhaps if the man had wanted specific books, the boy could have wished them. His wishes seemed to take care of themselves. I had a heart that beat, I ate and eliminated. My anatomy was a female’s, though the prince when wishing me, had been fully ignorant of what that might consist of. I was like the books though, empty. I never bled with the moon. The man asked once about it, I wouldn’t have known it was a missing function otherwise.

So we lived and existed. The prince told me he loved me and I told him I loved him. I doubt he meant it more than I did, but he seemed to believe what was said. The prince mentioned his father more regularly and the man became more anxious, spending more time hunting.

One day the man found me alone and told me to kill the prince. I told him I could not, that I saw no reason for it, as the prince had never harmed anyone. The man threatened my life and left. When he next returned from hunting and saw the prince and I playing dice, the man held my gaze, mouthing again his threat to my life.

He repeated his command the next day before riding out. When he’d gone into the woods I asked the prince to wish me a deer. He did it without question. I butchered the animal, cutting out its tongue and heart, setting them on a plate.

“You could have just asked for those,” the prince commented, turning the plate so a ray of sun lit the blood like jewels.

I shrugged and we went about our day until the man was due home. The prince hid and I held out the plate to the man as he entered, removing his gloves.

“You’ve killed the prince as I asked, then?” He did not take the plate. We regarded each other a moment before the prince emerged from his hiding place and swore at the man, whose face turned white.

The prince wished the man into a dog and fed it coals, but it did not die. Looking at the beast sobbing on the tile, the prince told me he was going to return to his father, the king. I hesitated joining him, for I’d never been off the grounds of our wished-for home.

But the prince wanted me, so he wished me into a flower, put me in his pocket and went on his way. I didn’t know of his adventures in travelling, or what kind of flower I was, or if the castle continued to exist after we left it. I found out most things later, but not what happened to the castle.

 

Being a flower was not like being a human and it was also unlike not existing. There was still an “I.” I was a flower. As flowers measure it, I was a flower for a very long time.

When the prince wished me human again I was standing on a table and the first words I heard were that I was so beautiful a painter couldn’t do my face justice. I looked at those seated along the table and lining the walls. At my feet sat a tired old man with a crown. The prince stood next to him. The dog who had been a man was not there. All the rest totalled more faces than I’d seen in my existence.

Four more strangers led in a woman whose eyes held nothing behind them. From the prince and king’s conversation with her, she was the falsely accused queen. The little family talked there at the head of the table while all the court looked on, straining their ears. I remained standing on the table, but no one seemed to notice.

The queen died some days later and the king soon followed. The prince became king and married me, I accompanied him on walks through the gardens, or stood by his side in court. I went back to my needlework.

 

I wonder what will happen to me after he dies. Will I keep existing? I have asked, but nobody knows if the castle we once lived in still exists even though it stands empty and the prince has forgotten it. If I stop existing, with the things I make with my hands still exist? Will the little cloths that cover the chair arms still protect them from dirt, the lace still keep the sharp legs of vases from scratching the woodwork? I worry that if the king dies, the things I have done will come undone.

Mirrored from Journal of a Something or Other.

bzedan: Cropped image of suspenders worn over collared shirt (me)

So, what’s the status right now?

  • The outline of the second book is where it was last week, that’s fine, because:
  • I’m about a third into the first write of the chapter that has to be inserted into the first book—which I’m not going to let Chase (my beloved first reader and editor) read until he is further along in going over the edits of the first book. Incentive, folks.

And!

As I may have mentioned before, once he’s gone over the edits and the new scenes are plugged in, I’m getting a couple copies of The Audacity Gambit printed POD, for another read-through. It’ll need a cover though, right? How about this:

Shooting The Audacity Gambit draft 2 cover
This was fun to do and a great image test as well. I’ll probably revisit the visual theme.

Shooting The Audacity Gambit draft 2 cover

So, progress continues.

Mirrored from Journal of a Something or Other.

bzedan: Cropped image of suspenders worn over collared shirt (me)

I have like two thirds of the book outlined! This is a hella beefier outline that what I used for the first book, but I have a lot more characters and tropes to keep track of and fulfil.

Outlining that next book.

I still want to write a flash or two to fill out what gets done this month, but since I’m also revising/editing The Audacity Gambit, we’ll see. I want to print out the revised draft through a POD, for one more read through, but it will need a cover.  Which is why I made this.

Roughly built, but not bad

You’ll find out why.

Mirrored from Journal of a Something or Other.

bzedan: Cropped image of suspenders worn over collared shirt (me)
posted by [personal profile] bzedan at 06:58pm on 06/06/2012 under ,
Looking over notes from a discussion Chase and I had about revising The Audacity Gambit. This is the general tone of the theme declarative ones:
  • “Immortality or power breeds immaturity.”
  • “Needs are what dominate and shape human existence.”
  • “In the end, it’s just you versus Sauron.”

Though this month is about working on the second book, the first book is going under revision, which is actually pretty great, as I can build the framework for book two a little easier when I’m using the same materials to renovate book one.

The first book is getting two more full scenes (that’ll probably end up equalling a chapter) and two half scenes. The two half scenes are done and already I’m loving how they’re helping flesh out the themes, world and characters. Revisions, guys, they’re fun.

And here, so it’s not all words, how about a little sketch of Dry-Eyes?

A chatacter from that book I'm writing, why not.

Mirrored from Journal of a Something or Other.

bzedan: Cropped image of suspenders worn over collared shirt (me)
posted by [personal profile] bzedan at 07:18pm on 27/03/2012 under

Oop, wrote a quick story.

From his balcony carved out of living rock, Teags watched the Great Burn eat its way across the world. Huddled around his coffee in the crisp mountain air, he saw flames licking at the borders of Second Hope. His sister, along with the rest of the township, had been evacuated on schedule according to the proctor’s evaluation of the fire’s path through their sector. It hadn’t been a panicked evac, a full month’s notice gave the people of Second Hope plenty of time to close up and clear out. Teag’s sister had told him before they left that the mayorship predicted an 80% property recovery on return.

“It’s not like the bad old days before we understood the mirrors, Johhan,” her face flickering warmly on the screen. “We’re well-prepared and have plenty of warning.” She smiled and Teags smiled back at her, even though it was a recorded message. “Besides, all thirty-five towns before us in the path have evacuated safely.” Teags sing-songed the familiar joke along with his sister, “fifty years since the last Great Burn death!”

Up in his cliff wall eyrie, Teags had a different evac date than the forest below. He’d built the house into the rock, on the edge of the cut sliced into the mountain by untold cycles of the sun’s fire. The contractors had given him a 98% property recovery rate. His own calculations placed him closer to 90%, but most of the damage would be from dust and extreme radiant heat, rather than forest fire and direct flame. He touched the leaves of a bush growing from a sculpted hollow in the rock. His plants would die, but the things inside the house would stay relatively cool and protected in their man-made cave.

Inside, the phone chimed insistently. Teags stayed on the balcony, watching the fire and finishing his coffee. He listened to the familiar automated message. It reminded him of each individual person’s value to the community, the importance of prudence and safety and gave him the evacuation route for his sector. There was a human-like pause as the program checked its calendar against his position. “The Great Burn will reach your location in one day.”

Teags went inside to make himself a meal, but brought it back out to eat. The air was growing slowly warmer, the first flakes of ash landing on his arms. At night, trails of smoke occluded the stars, reflecting back the light of the flames, pierced by the colourless ray of sunfire chewing its way towards the mountain.

In the morning, Teags ran another systems check. Everything that could be damaged by heat had already been moved deeper into the rock. Satisfied, Teags went back to the balcony, watching from behind dark glasses as the light edged its way into the ravine burned over millennia. Chiming sounded again from inside, the message calm but insistent. Teags had grown to admire the automated system. It had just enough AI to send out notifications and warnings independent of the proctor’s calculations.

With a last look at the fire, Teags closed up his home and followed the winding stairs down to the sub-basements. At the bottom he stumbled in the dark and panicked, worrying about the security’s power grid. His glasses slid down as he shook his head, the soft backup lights shining around the lenses like dawn. Grimacing, he took them off.

Bundled in a heavy coat against the chill, he ran a final check of the air system, already yawning in anticipation of sleep. He never could get used to sleeping under the fire-lit clouds. Finally assured that if he died, it wouldn’t be through suffocation, Teags fell onto a cot under a pile of blankets and slept.

He’d set the lights to dim at night, in an attempt to fend off the timelessness of evenly reflected, constant illumination. They were dialling back up as he woke, sweating, the calendar telling him he’d slept a full day, but no more. Slurping an emergency ration, Teags settled in at the rickety camp table, reviewing charts. He didn’t need them to see that the mirror cycles were speeding up at a geometric rate, the last Great Burn had come through only a month before, the one before just a half year before that. He didn’t want to project when the next one would be.

He gazed blankly at the stack of papers. The sector map was now useless, the last few towns he’d caught radio signals from had gone quiet over the last week. His home-made weather station data gave him nothing helpful. If the world was spinning faster or if only the mirrors had gone insane he didn’t know.

When the lights dimmed again he was still at the table, twirling a dried twig in his fingers. No matter how quickly the new growth was burned off, the native plants on the mountain burst back into fruitful bloom as soon as the temperature dropped below oven-hot. Teags wished he was a botanist, or that a botanist was still around to appreciate what the plants were doing.

He’d stripped to his underwear and slippers, wishing for a shower to take the edge off the pervasive heat. With deliberate movements, he set out the last of the emergency rations and tried to make a banquet out of them, mixing elements the best he could without a kitchen. He decided against watching his sister’s message again and put on a pair of pants and the dark glasses. With a shrug, he started up the stairs.

Mirrored from Journal of a Something or Other.

bzedan: Cropped image of suspenders worn over collared shirt (me)
posted by [personal profile] bzedan at 09:00pm on 11/03/2012 under ,

You can find all the sections here.

Even the Terrin’s double-wide trailer was too small for everyone and their kids. A loose group milled in the common yard around the arbour, exhaling visible puffs of breath in the chilling air. Lawn torches were staked around the edges of the grassy area, adding a hellish tiki light to the gathering.

Emily realised she’d instinctively ushered the others before her, counting heads. She spotted the two younger girls, Mathilde and Hannah, looking small and concerned. As soon as Hannah saw Ian, she rushed over, starting in on a barrage of words before her brother was fully in earshot. Mathilde, who Emily had last seen toddling, was now one of those sturdy middle school children that have no hint of the adult they’d start to look like in five years. She wore her bulky headphones with an unconcerned air, but Emily remembered the tiny wrinkle between the eyebrows that meant she was worrying.

Grabbing her hand, Hannah dragged a reluctant Mathilde up to Emily. “Gosh dammit, I knew something was up. Matty, do you remember Emily?”

The younger girl shrugged and shifted her headphones to expose an ear. “I was a baby, Hannah. And I mean, like, you were too. You just remember her from pictures.”

Janice spotted Emily and motioned her over. Smiling wanly, Emily excused herself from the now-arguing girls and moved to her aunt’s side.

“Go drop your bag off at the trailer. And get your knife.” She saw Emily’s panic. “Hon, just for show and just in case, don’t be squeamish, just do it. Mrs. Hill is going to start soon”.

Emily jogged to their trailer. In her room, she dropped her backpack next to the lumpy bags of things she’d outgrown. The ache of worry growing beneath her ribs settled as she buckled on her knife belt. There was a glimmer of guilt. She still hadn’t cleaned it. Not that it really mattered, it wasn’t as if it was some named blade that had saved her life in a fairy book. Though it had become a sword again when she confronted the court. Emily wondered where it got the magic to do that. On a hunch, she checked the envelope of cash.

Her mouth went dry and she tried to swallow, as she counted the bills a second time. The amount she’d given Michael had been replaced. Checking the tobacco pouch, she couldn’t tell if the level was the same as when she’d arrived or not. With a deep breath, she replaced the envelope of money in her backpack and decided that right now was a very good time not to think about it.

Mrs. Hill was calling everyone to attention as Emily slipped back into the crowd next to her aunt. Brusquely, Mrs. Hill outlined the basics—the Sidhe, fairy-kind, thanks to Amelia for opening the way back. She directed her words at the court’s children, who stood in a tight huddle off to the side of the yard. Emily exchanged glances with a couple of them, but most of the teens were trying in vain to make eye contact with their parents All of the adults were looking to the arbour, their faces masks in the torchlight.

“Amelia has bound us to provide for you children, in return for what she’s done. You’ll find that in each of your homes is a packet of documents; bank information, the paperwork for the trailer, that sort of thing. You’ve each been added to your parent’s bank accounts. Those of us with no children have deposited our money into the Royal Oak Court common fund. As Amelia will be the only one legally of age once we leave, the information for that account has been left for her as well.”

The old woman grimaced. “We forged your signatures and from now on you’ll have to forge ours. We’ve voted. Our half of the bargain is fulfilled. The rest of your lives are yours to make.”

Moving as a group, the adults walked up to the arbour while their children stared after them, open-mouthed.

“Mom?” Hannah started after Mrs. Terrin, but Ian caught her by the arm. The girl’s shoulders fell when her mother didn’t look back.

One by one, the court walked into the arbour and didn’t walk out the other side. Janice and Becky were the last to go. They faced the court’s children. Mathilde was quietly sobbing, her headphones still askew. Becky leaned in to hug her and the girl hit her in the face.

Rocking back, Becky rubbed her cheek. She looked at Emily. “I left you a lot of documents and information. I was the treasurer, you know. Anyway,” her hands fumbled blindly, searching for words. “You guys will be fine. And I have this for you.” She handed Emily a folded slip of paper.

Janice pulled her niece in for a hug, but Emily was stiff against her arms.

“I’m sorry.” Janice was crying, tears smearing through her makeup. “Honey, I did what I could.”

Emily shrugged, feeling empty except for a knot of anger burning in her throat. “Whatever. It’ll work out.”

The two women went through the arbour, leaving the group of kids and teens in silence. Emily opened the paper Becky had given her. In her round, girlish handwriting it said, “I lied. I’ve always known your name.”

Emily read it twice, then held the paper to the flame of the nearest torch. She lit a cigarette with it, feeling something between terrified and badass. She turned to look at the others. The flickering torches picked out shining tracks of tears on more faces than Mathilde, who had wound down to sniffling.

“You shouldn’t smoke.” The girl was mindlessly rubbing her wrist.

Emily exhaled, looking at Mathilde out of the corner of her eye. “And you should keep your wrist straight if you’re going to punch someone.” She touched her lightly on the shoulder.

Ian cleared his throat. “So it’s just us, we’re the court?”

Emily looked up at him and nodded. “And we’ll be fine.”

We’ve got money, she thought. And I’ve got my name.

 

Mirrored from Journal of a Something or Other.

bzedan: Cropped image of suspenders worn over collared shirt (me)
posted by [personal profile] bzedan at 09:00pm on 04/03/2012 under ,

You can find all the sections here.

Bored and restless, Emily started cleaning her room while she waited for school to let out. She was surprised at how much detritus a person could accumulate in the short span of a childhood. Most things held little more than hollow twinges of nostalgia for her, which was more surprising.

She’d sorted out a couple bags of toys and clothes in good enough condition to donate and was picking faded posters off the wall when her alarm went off at three. She grabbed a notebook threw it and a pen in her backpack with the envelope of the king’s money and headed to the coffee shop.

Dawn was with the group this time, homework on the table. Emily smiled at the pair she and Tank made. Where he was all hair-in-eyes surfer affecting a punk toughness, Dawn emanated a slicked-back ponytail competency of perfect grades and varsity sports. Emily still felt awkward around the group, but the happy swiftness with which Ian grabbed a chair for her helped somewhat.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Journal of a Something or Other.

bzedan: Cropped image of suspenders worn over collared shirt (me)
posted by [personal profile] bzedan at 09:00pm on 26/02/2012 under ,

You can find all the sections here.

The trailer park was deserted again, everyone at work or school. Emily kicked through fallen leaves to the arbour, smoking one of her aunt’s cigarettes.

Charred, with the withered remains of flowers clinging to it, the latticed arch looked like an abandoned roadside memorial. Which, Emily mused, it pretty much was. She walked around it, wondering if it was active as a jump point already. Looking around self-consciously, Emily stuck an arm through. It vanished up to the elbow. Swallowing hard, she jerked back. Her hand tingled.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Journal of a Something or Other.

bzedan: Cropped image of suspenders worn over collared shirt (me)
posted by [personal profile] bzedan at 09:00pm on 19/02/2012 under ,

You can find all the sections here.

Despite her worry, Emily fell asleep easily and woke at her aunt’s clock stereo blaring the static between stations. She tried to make coffee while her aunt was in the shower, but the stained, capable coffee maker had been replaced by something all shiny metal and clean glass. Emily was still staring at it when Janice emerged in a cloud of steam, towelling her hair.

“It’s a French press.”

“Okay.”

“It seemed silly to have something that made so much coffee when it was just me drinking it. Besides, it tastes better.” She flicked the towel at Emily. “Go wash and I’ll make it.”

Laughing, Emily complied.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Journal of a Something or Other.

bzedan: Cropped image of suspenders worn over collared shirt (me)
posted by [personal profile] bzedan at 09:00pm on 12/02/2012 under ,

You can find all the sections here.

Emily fell onto the couch, grimaced, then removed the knife sheath from the back of her pants. “I didn’t see Becky there.” Emily felt weirdly calm. “What I did wasn’t stupid, was it?”

“No.” Janice hung up her coat and crossed the short space to the kitchen. “Dangerous, maybe, but not stupid. Do you want something to eat?”

“Sure.” Emily’s stomach leapt to life. “I’m starving, actually.” She joined her aunt, opening cupboards full of unfamiliar packaging.

They talked about the kids while they ate. From what Janice could tell, they more or less kept out of mischief. The coffee shop had opened just in time to give them somewhere to hang out.

“With a place to go and each other, they’ve got something to occupy their time and keep them from inventing trouble.” Janice spoke around her sandwich. “Not all kids are as good as you were, hanging around home and making your own fun.”

“I didn’t have much of a choice.” Emily tried to take the edge off her words. “Of course, you were a good influence, enjoying the results of the sexual revolution as only an ex-Victorian could.”

Janice laughed, full and hard.

Finally unpacking her backpack later that evening, Emily found the envelope of money from the king. She’d forgotten about the film she was supposed to get for the hare. Light snores from the next room told Emily that her aunt was already asleep. She’d have to figure out where to pick up the film in the morning.

 

Mirrored from Journal of a Something or Other.

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