Young Autumn (Part 2)

A piece of flash fiction, as lightly adapted from an inter-author character interaction with Tirzah Duncan.

Part 1

<<<>>>

II

 

D: Enough dash-about energy gone to be a boy again and take her hand for walking, as first intended.

 

T: There’s a helluva tingling in that.

In the breath-recovering relative stillness, the great question mark presses upward,

Wanting to turn into actual questions,

But she pushes it back down, because this is too nice to be spoilt by thinking about it.

 

D: Piles of the Autumn leaves burn.

He likes the flames, the light, the smoky smell.

 

T: It feels right. Delight, heat, and question all seem mirrored in the environ.

 

D: Some leaves, newly turned, flutter and fall from overhead.

He plucks one from the air,

Tucks it behind her ear.

 

T: She thinks him beautiful.

Not wrong, and not that she’s been blind,

But also not a thought she’s had so wholly before.

 

D: He thinks her… a delicious Red Apple.

Not to consume, but to delight in.

 

T: No questions, no questions, no questions.

It’s hard for her to keep her practical, straightforward, investigative side down,

But she really, really doesn’t want to be bothered with it just now.

 

D: His free hand’s fingers dance in the air, playing afar with the fire’s sparks.

They take on shapes suggestive of butterflies and dragons.

 

T: That’s better. She lets herself be rapt.

 

D: “Do you ever stop to notice,” he says, gaze on the pieces of blue between the boughs overhead, “what a fantastic young-adult cliché we look, right now?”

 

T: Her lips twitch.

“I’ve been working not to think about it,” she says, meaning more than simply that.

“But wasn’t that true from the first moment of

‘You be a human girl, I’ll be a Fey boy’? So it’s your fault.

Only thing I did wrong was have red hair and blue eyes.

I haven’t even bitten my lip.”

 

D: “Oh, never think I blame you! Though the red hair really is a bit much, Apple, did you have to.”

 

T: “That was all Da!” she protests.

 

But it is cliché, right down to the being confused about how I feel about all this, she thinks, cheeks blushing in embarrassment as well as frustration that such feelings are common to the point of overdone.

Feels like all of YA fed her a line.

<<<>>>

To be concluded on Friday.

Young Autumn (Part 1)

A piece of flash fiction, as lightly adapted from an inter-author character interaction with Tirzah Duncan.

<<<>>>

Prologue

 

D: “Spring is wet and green.

Autumn dying. Winter bleak.

Summer… full of life. Rich with life.

I could not choose between them.

Thinking on it, though, I would walk in Autumn.”

 

He departs, and makes a place to be magic.

 

I

 

D: “Apple,” he calls to her mind. “Will you walk in Autumn with me?

Because life is short, and you are pretty?”

 

T: She laughs, pausing time,

And stepping straight out of her self in class into the Autumn woods.

 

D: “Be human,” he tells her. “Be a girl. And I will be Fey and a boy.

Above all, we will be, and be together.”

 

T: She smiles at the words, so fey themselves,

And something in them sits right in her heart.

There’s a lot else spinning around in her mind, a lot of confusion and second-guessing.

But she shakes all that away, for the moment,

To play along with his words.

 

D: He wants to take her hand and walk.

He wants to take the shape of a wolf and frolic, roll and tumble through the leaves.

He wants both, but can’t have both, not in the same moment.

 

T: Which first, then?

 

D: The wolf. It better fits the antsyness.

 

He frisks near and away, tongue lolling like a too-pleased dog.

 

T: She almost snatches his tail a lot,

And stumble-tumbles into leaf piles and underbrush more often.

Can’t. Stop. Giggling.

 

D: He whirls, leaps,

Comes down with paws on her chest, knocking her down.

Lands atop her, boy-shaped,

Laughs and licks her cheek.

Dashes away again.

 

T: Face flaming, still laughing, she up and runs after him again.

She doesn’t play like this on her own. It’s in her,

Her childlikeness and her silliness,

But it takes someone else unlocking it.

(Her father can access some part of it, but the boy she left behind was the only one to open it up this much.)

 

D: (She’s the only one to do this to him.)

T: (Some sort of mutual play-unlocking connection, then.)

D: (Seems so.)

 

He eventually lets her tackle him.

Leaf-rollin’, leaf-rollin’, barky laughter.

 

T: It feels a strange sort of playing to her, half innocent, half… thrillingly more-than.

 

She drops handfuls of leaves on his head.

In this moment, there is no fear, no suspicion.

There is delight, and heat, and…

Question. Uncertainty, but nowhere directed.

It might be any number of questions, if inspected,

But now it just hems the heat and adds to the thrill.

 

D: He butts his big furry head against her, tail a-wag.

For the moment, everything feels perfect.

<<<>>>

To be continued on Wednesday.

Open Journal: Everyday Magic

[Note: My brain’s still not decompressed enough to try conveying the experience of my European river cruise in a blog post. But I’m more-or-less settled in Germany now, and it’s a stage of life I’ll want taken down for posterity. So here’s a glimpse into my day-before-yesterday.]

<<<>>>

Walked out to the forest with some Stranger Than True friends in the hope of maybe getting some highly important, “Outlaws of Avalon”-related photos.

We didn’t find the shots I wanted.

Instead, we found magic.

Lots of little everyday magic.

The way the early-fading light hit things.

The many-shaded piles of clouds.

The snow-globe fall of hail, fine as salt.

The rise of smoke like fire-mist from a chimney.

Moss and wood and leaves and stone and stair railings.

A painted sun on an old barn door.

The blue, blue sky reflected in a window.

Shiny glass panes billowing like bubbles waiting to be.

The dance of a willow.

Puddles on the cobbles.

The smell of old rain.

Unexpected incense in the exhaust of a passing car.

Will Scarlet, every few steps: “Stop. Look at that. Wow.”

“Guys. I’m GLAD.”

His heart was worship, and mine was right there with him –

glorying, in wonder at all around and within me.

A fruitless walk, perhaps, but in no wise a wasted one.

(Pictured above = The post-walk view from my window and balcony. Not pictured here = The brilliant moon that rose soon after. #ISeeYou)

A Pair’s Portrait, and Part of the Sky

Only 3 weeks (WHAT? GAH! HOW IS SEPTEMBER ALMOST GONE?!) until the launch of “The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales)”. To mark* the occasion (*you’ll see in half-a-sec what I did, there), have a look at this gorgeous piece of work from my treasured Wilderhark Artist, Yana Naumova!

Allyn, color final, gallery size

That’s right, it’s one of three new bookmark designs made just for “Story’s End” – which you can bet will feature in a giveaway during the online Launch Party, coming soon to Facebook. If that young man by the fire looks familiar to frequenters of this blog, there’s a solid reason for that. ;D And of course we all know Gant-o’-the-Lute – up in a tree again, just like in his personal bookmark for Book Four.

What’s he thinking about, up there? The same wish he’s held in his heart from the start of things, as glimpsed in “The Song Caster” and laid bare in “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”. Attune your ear and listen. Hear the music? It’s not “Part of Your World” – a fair guess, given the identical melody and lyric structure, but no. This is not the song of a Disney mermaid longing for land, but that of a Wilderhark minstrel who craves higher still…

<<<>>>

Look at this trick. Isn’t it neat?

Wouldn’t you think that my talent’s complete?

You’d think of me, wouldn’t you, that I can do anything?

*

Look at me now. Don’t I astound?

Watch me be a wonder while you wonder how.

One hour around me, and now you’re sure I can do anything.

*

I can top all your top virtuosos –

Any instrument, and any score;

Best you at your best game with my eyes closed.

But so what? Not enough. I want more.

Sky Child, cropped

I want to leave where the people are.

I want to see where no man’s yet ventured.

Land’s been done into the ground.

Try the sea, you say? …Ha. Cute.

*

But even a ship only sails so far.

Higher’s required for my adventure!

Impossible? Ah, you’re forgetting:

I’m Gant-o’-the-Lute.

Rays of Songlight - Copy

You’re free to walk. You’re free to run.

I mean to make my way to the sun,

And hang gravity! I long to be

Part of the sky.

*

What would I give if I could live up where the winds race?

What would I pay to spend a day there ere I die?

What won’t I try? Won’t be denied. Though I spend all my life in the chase,

I’m not quitting. Sick of sitting. Ready to fly!

On Music's Wings

I’m ready to know where the sunset goes!

Follow it westward, and rise come morning!

Dance over stars that your eyes only spy from below!

*

When can I go? Wouldn’t I love,

Love to explore and soar up above?

The sky’s part of me. And someday I’ll be

Part of the sky.

<<<>>>

Story's End Cover, gallery size

For Gant-o’-the-Lute, “ever after” has been less than happy. With the last of Carillon’s charm over him gone, the minstrel-king puts royalty behind him in pursuit of the music he once knew and the lifelong dream he let slip through his fingers. But dark whispers on the wind warn that time is running out – not only for Lute and the apprentice in his shadow, but the whole of earth and Sky.

The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales”, coming October 13, 2015; now available to add to your Goodreads “To Read” shelf.

R.I.P., Romance (Bloody Valentine Horror Hop)

Four posts in one week?? Am I MAD?!

Nah, I just couldn’t resist jumping into—

The Bloody Valentine Horror Hop!

Bloody Valentine Horror Hop

…As hosted by A. F. Stewart (whose work you may recognize from a certain paranormal anthology I hyped a few months back). This hop is essentially the Anti-Valentine’s Day. (Not to be confused with Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre’s Antichristmas Beast… Though I wouldn’t be surprised if they were like cousins or something.) There’s no sweet romance, or lovey-dovey stuff allowed. It’s down with the idea of candy and flowers. For one day writers and bloggers will dispense with the sappy romance, and showcase the bad side of love.

Today, my blog and that of my fellow participants will be all about the heartbreak, love gone wrong, romantic mayhem and tragedy, hopefully with that little splash of humor and blood – an ode to what happens when the rose petals die, the candy melts, and lovers are looking for payback.

For my contribution, I’m throwing up the lyrics to a dark little song I wrote once upon several years ago. (Well, credit where it’s due: My sister wrote the first line, then I, inspired, jumped in with the rest. …or, well, one of my characters did. But he’s not published yet, so I’m slapping my name on it.) Behold, enjoy, and/or recoil in horror from…

R.I.P., Romance

Give me your wishes:

I’ll turn them to horses

And you can ride them straight to heck.

What, you wanted a sunset?

A ball gown and Charming

And true love’s kiss, maybe?

You get what you get.

*

The stars cross all lovers;

Why should your tale end

Any better than those of naïve Capulets?

And naïve you are

If you think ever after

You’ll live happily, for romance is dead.

*

The flowers are wilted;

The chocolates are stale;

A dinner for two involves baby-makes-three.

Used to be, beds were

For more than just sleeping

And “I love you” was more than

Just Greek to me.

*

Remember the happiest

Day of our lives?

I’d give you a visual, but I’ve lost the ring.

The honeymoon’s over –

That much is apparent;

And romance is buried about six feet deep.

<<<>>>

Don’t forget to check out the other blogs on the hop! And if you’ve got anything morbid on the topic of this so-called lovers’ day to add, toss it in the comments below.

Glory, Glory

A reblog of my 30th PerGoSeeMo Psalm from 2011, in honor of Christmas but days away. See you guys after the holiday!

<<<>>>

A humble girl in Nazareth

Is favored above all,

And she sings unto the highest heaven:

Glory! Glory!

Merciful and holy,

The Mighty One who raised his servant lowly!

See how the shepherds leave the hills

To go before the babe who will

Be Shepherd over chosen Israel.

 

Christmas Star

Above the town of Bethlehem,

A host of angels call,

And their voices fill the highest heaven:

“Glory! Glory!

Goodwill to the earth!

The mother of Messiah’s given birth!

See how the kings come from afar

To worship, ‘neath the shining star,

The Savior King of chosen Israel.

 

At Temple in Jerusalem,

An aged man in awe

Lifts his song unto the highest heaven:

 “Glory! Glory!

Light and peace and joy

Will fill the hearts of many, through this boy!

See how the light has yet to dim

For all who still remember him,

And hail the coming of Immanuel.

“Robbed” or “How the Sheriff Stole Christmas”

W.A.I.T. Button

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘How the Sheriff Stole Christmas’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on Allyn-a-Dale – oh,

A fine sight, he, in white robe, wings, and halo –

Sitting high up at the very tip-top

Of an evergreen-like tree-ish-shaped ladder prop.]

~

Allyn: The outlaws of Sherwood liked Christmas a lot,

But the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire did not.

Or rather, with the holiday he had no quarrel,

But how the Hood and his band made the Sheriff’s blood boil!

~

[Enter Will Scarlet with a growl and teeth-gnash

‘Neath the waxy black glory of his false mustache.]

~

Will/Sheriff: How dare they make merry! How dare they go free!

Well, I’ll ruin their day, oh-ho-ho, just you see!

I’ll steal all the gifts from their dearly loved peasants!

For what is a Christmas without any presents?

~

[Will dashes to and fro all over the stage,

As Allyn continues from the script’s next page.]

~

Allyn: So the Sheriff betook himself right through the wood

To a small village known to be friendly with Hood.

He searched high and low in his villainous zeal,

On the hunt for wrapped packages that he could steal.

But lo and behold, not a parcel was there,

For the poverty-stricken had no cash to spare.

~

Will/Sheriff: That’s what I call a nuisance. How am I to filch

From a bunch of poor people with zip, zero, zilch?”

~

Allyn: The Sheriff thought it over, then, aha, had a plan,

And back to his Nottingham castle he ran.

That night, as the peasantry slept, he returned,

His wicked grin glinting beneath eyes that burned.

~

[After a brief trip offstage, Sheriff Scarlet is back,

With Sirs Gawain and Bedivere pulling a cartload of sacks.]

~

Will/Sheriff: Man-at-Arms One and Man-at-Arms Two,

Take the sacks from the wagon. You know what to do.

Spread out. Leave no hovel unvisited. Quick!

~

Allyn: And they ghosted through town like so many Saint Nicks,

Leaving gifts under trees that they hung all with lights –

Shawls, boots, and winter coats, new hats and tights,

Toys and candy for the young ones, and oodles

Of fine supper fare with meat, veggies, and noodles.

~

Gawain/Man-at-Arms One: Can the Sheriff’s coin cover costs of this amount?

~

Bedivere/Man-at-Arms Two: It’s coming out of the “Stick It to Hood” account.

~

Allyn: Come the morning, Sheriff and co. ducked out of view,

Peering out to see just what the peasants would do.

All their attention held by the scene at their fore,

They noticed not, at their back, the coming of one more.

~

[Will’s crew crouching to one side of the ladder-tree,

Enter Robin Hood walking up to join the three.]

~

Robin Hood: Why, hello there, Sheriff, and Joyeux Noel.

What brings you to this humble village, pray tell?

~

[Will Scarlet and knights jump in well-feigned surprise,

And turn to face Robin with hate-narrowed eyes.]

~

Will/Sheriff: Well might you ask, Hood! For your information,

I’m here to bring to these folks some cruel devastation!

~

Robin Hood [raising an eyebrow]: By giving them gifts they could never afford?

By seeing them happy and well-fed and warm?

I don’t see how you figure that, Sheriff of mine.

~

Will/Sheriff [flustered]: Well… I… it seemed like a bad idea at the time…

I’ve forgotten a step. What am I missing, Men?

~

Bedivere/Man-at-Arms Two: Give the peasants their presents, then take them again.

~

Will/Sheriff: Right! Yes! That was it! What think you of that, Hood?

~

Robin Hood: I think it’s high time you got out of Sherwood.

‘Tis a season of peace, so my asking’s polite.

You’ll leave quietly now, or it’s after a fight.

~

Will/Sheriff: Says you and what army? We’re three to your one!

~

Marion [poking her head out around the other side of the ladder-tree]: Shows how well he can count, doesn’t it, Little John?

~

[With the entrance of Marion and Little John behind,

Will Scarlet goes pale as honeydew rind.]

~

Allyn: Shouting curses most ill-befitting the day,

The Sheriff and posse quickly went away.

~

Little John [gaze following the exit of Will and the knights]: That one’s got naught of Christmas spirit at all.

~

Robin Hood [shrugging]: Methinks his heart may be two sizes too small.

~

Allyn: Thus it was the Sheriff, through no love of his own,

Made the loveliest Christmas one town had e’er known –

Proof that even malicious deeds may come to good

With some Christmas magic. …and, of course, Robin Hood.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Tirzah Duncan,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘noodles’ and ‘It seemed like a bad idea at the time…’”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”