Wednesday, March 27, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompts

On February 20, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a "lost and found' department, a mountain, and a toadstool.

This Tale of the Navel popped into my head. Guess I'm mentally preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo. Besides it's been a while since Madam Journey wandered into one of my stories...

Few looked twice at the wrinkled old woman in shabby skirts, tattered scarves wrapped around her head, pushing a cart. To the passing eye, Madam Journey was just another bag lady. 

None of this concerned her. She just kept walking. Even when the world changed around her, the pavement turning into cobblestones beneah her feet, the cart itself changing from metal to wood, Madam Journey moved along.

Walking between worlds was her speciality. She moved through Doors unseen, shadows not even noticing her, although they sniffed for a moment at the cart. 

She ignored them, found another path and followed it, coming out onto another cobbled street in a small town. Heads turned to eye her, but just for a moment. Many of the citizens had pointed ears, feline whiskers, or glowing eyes. There was always something about those living in Omphalos, something different. If the old lady was here, why, she was one of them.

Madam Journey didn’t pause in pushing the cart, although she did nod to a tall, thin girl who swayed down the street, not quite looking at anyone. Not that she guessed Hebe would remember her. It had been a long time. 

She kept moving until she came to a close between shops which neither she nor the cart should have been able to squeeze through. In spite of this, Madam Journey trotted into the gap, the space widening as she did, allowing her passage. 

A tall, golden haired woman wearing a loose tunic and flowing skirts waited for Madam Journey at the back of the shop. Today those skirts were covered with tiny shells dangling from long, silver and bronze chains. Matching shells were draped around her neck, dangling from her ears, and woven in her hair. 

Too many people didn’t take the proprietor of the Navel seriously due to her flashy, if not eccentric clothes. Madam Journey wasn’t one of them. Gabrielle might look like a woman, yet she was far more than that. Still she was trying to live as a human woman, plus she was an important part of the community of Omphalos. Not that most folk around here realized that. 

“Y’know, the Navel sometimes reminds me of the ultimate lost and found.” Madam Journey stopped her cart to face Gabrielle. “People lost something. I find it and bring it here. Eventually they come and collect it.” Madam Journey cocked her head and sniffed at the air. “Unless those somethings find their way into the Navel by themselves. I’m guessing you’ll find a few additions on your shelves you won’t recognize.”

“I often do.” ‘Brie stepped up beside the cart. “Not that I don’t appreciate all the items you bring here.”

“Saves me a trip or three, coming here.” Madam Journey dug into the cart. She pulled out a purple toadstool, uprooted and dirty. “I believe this is for you.” 

Tears gathered in Gabrielle’s dark blue eyes at the sight of it. She took the fungus in hands that trembled. “He’s alive.” She cupped the toadstool with a protective, almost maternal tenderness. “Both of them are.”

“You can’t go opening Doors to the Shadow Forest without leaving something of yourself alive there, no matter how you might break or change.” Madam Journey dug through what a blind eye might see as trash in the cart. “You’ll live. Maybe it’ll be in a new form, but you’ll live.” She pulled out a painting of a mountain under a stormy sky with a tower jutting on the top of it. “This is yours, too. For now.”

Gabrielle tensed at the sight of that familiar mound looming over the valley below. No wonder. A similar hill looked down on Omphalos, on every Omphalos. In this particular Omphalos, there was a circle of stones topping it. 

In another Omphalos, there might well be a tower with a skeletal crown, clawing at the heavens. Anyone who’d seen this particular sight trembled if there was a stormy sky overhead. 

Power was brewing. Whomever built the tower wanted power. They sensed it in the sky, but the sky didn’t like it. It would strike back with fire and lighting. It would take that crown and anyone near it. 

Would the tower be able to take the blows? Or would part of it still stand after the heavens vented its rage? Its foundations were going to shake. 

This was often bad news for Omphalos. Any Omphalos. This was the problem with being the town, village, or single cottage living in the shadow of the tower. When it took a beating, Omphalos got beaten up, too. Only the barest bones might be left behind. 

“I recognize this art style.” Gabrielle pressed the toadstool to her breast, paying no attention to the dirt. She kept those blue eyes of hers fixed on the tower. “Damian, Damian, what are you trying to do?”

“What many a sorcerer before him has. Challenge the heavens.” Madam Journey sighed. “It would be much easier for that boy if he’d chosen to be a fool rather than a sorcerer. Fools go everywhere, learn all kinds of stuff sorcerers are too proud to.”

“Is that why you continue to travel, Madam Journey?” Gabrielle lowered her hands, still clutching their precious burden. “There was a time when you could have built a tower. Become the greatest sorcerer of them all.” She turned that storm colored eye of hers on the other woman. “If you had challenged the heavens, you would have won.”

“Why would I want to do that?” Madam Journey backed away a step. “If I did, I’d have all the power of the heavens, but also all of the responsibility.” She shook her head, tassels swaying on her scarves wrapped around her head. “Following the path I do allows me to see the world. To stop and rest when I please. Sure, from time to time I come close to the abyss, but I’ve had a better look at it than anyone. This may help the next time a fool dances near the edge.”

“If only there were more sorcerers like you.” Gabrielle heaved a sigh and stared at the painting. “Wise enough not to want power.”

“Now, now, we don’t all want the same thing and that boy has got to make his own choices!” Madam Journey waved a wrinkled finger at Gabrielle. “You know that better than most, ‘Brie. Have some faith in him.” She glanced down at the painting in her hands. “Your Damian is as smart as he is stupid. The smart might just win in the end.”

“You’re right.” In a swift, decisive move, Gabrielle pocketed the toadstool in one of the gaping folds of her skirt. She reached out to take the painting from the other woman. “Thank you.”

“Eh, we’re in the business, right? Gotta help each other when we can.” Madam Journey winked and wandered around the cart to start backing it up. “You take care of yourself, ‘Brie. Don’t let yourself worry too much.”

“You, too, Madam Journey.” Gabrielle watched the old woman shuffle away, moving backwards. 

Poor girl. She was one of the few people who knew the contents in Madam Journey’s cart, what they truly were. Similar, yet different from what was on the shelves of the Navel. 

Some thought ‘Brie was a fool, staying in that shop, looking after them. 

Madam Journey was just glad of the help. No one else knew how important trinkets and trash could be to the right person. 

She and ‘Brie, they were there to see they made their way back to them. 

Only Gabrielle was stuck here, looking after the Navel while Madam Journey got to wander the world. 

It didn’t always seem fair, but the world wasn’t always a fair place. What was important was making the best of what you got and changing it when it got too bad to put up with. 

‘Brie was getting a lot better at both. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Aristophania

Quartz: So you’re the futuristic version of a jester or a fool. 

Aristophania: (smiles) Oh, they call us comedians during my time, but yes, I am a fool. I am after all the other half of your soul. 

Quartz: What?!

Nimmie Not: (hidden behind the curtain, but his voice can be heard) What??!!

Aristophania: Just joking! I do that a lot. I was just looking at you, a funny little man with a beard and thinking how absurd it would be if you were the other half of my soul. 

Quartz: Absurd is right. And just what’s wrong with my beard? (He strokes it in a fussy manner.) I’ll have you know I took good care of it before you died. 

Aristophania: Oh, you died? (She inspects him from head to toe.) That’s reassuring. You seem quite energetic for one dead. It gives me hope that there’s life after death.

Quartz: Gah, no, I’m not! Not really dead. Bloody scribbler. She’s been off on other projects for so long I wonder if she isn’t going to leave me for dead. I refuse to stay that way, though, even if I have to pound my way out of this bloody coffin! Stupid fanfics and prior obligations! They keep distracting her! Never mind, no, sorry to dash your hopes. Not that I’m really sorry, any more than I’m really dead. 

Aristophania: Ah, I had a bad feeling that was the case. There go my hopes.

Quartz: Er, let’s leave that aside. Today is the release day for your story, A Symposium in Space, right?

Aristophania: Well, technically it was published in a short story form back in 2016. It’s been picked up by Nine Star Press and extended to its current tragic form.

Quartz: Huh? I didn’t know A Symposium in Space was a tragedy.

Aristophania: It is for me! Sweet young things hook up sweet ships and each other, old loves reunite, and what happens to the comedian? A chandelier falls upon her!

Quartz: Eh, that sounds rough. Looks like the scribbler giving all the happiness to the main characters while the secondary ones get the dregs. Again. 

Aristophania: Well, I don’t know about that. One could argue Sokrat and Alkibiadea are secondary characters and they may have gotten the happiest ending of all in their demented way. At the same time, I wasn’t the worst off after the chandelier crash, heh. 

Quartz: Now, now, spoilers! I don’t suppose something like that happened in Plato’s original Symposium. 

Aristophania: No, a bunch of drunks crashed the party with Alcibiades being the biggest drunk of the lot. 

Quartz: Heh, yes, I’ve noticed many of the characters in A Symposium in Space have similar names to those in the orginal Symposium. 

Aristophania: Just a bit. Not that all of us would admit it, heh. We are quite different than the original party members were, as you’ll find if you read both books. I’m probably closer to be like my counterpart at the original party as is Sokrat. Pausania is like an inverse reflection of hers while Agathea and Eryximachia are monstrous distortions. Phaedra is the biggest departure, being very much her own girl. 

Quartz: Eryximachia and Agathea are distortions? How so?

Aristophania: Eryximachius was only a pompous windbag while Agathon was a pretty bit of fluff with no substance to his words. What the scribbler created, inspired by bits and pieces of their speeches is quite terrifying. I’ll admit, I’m a bit afraid of Agathea and Eryximachia. 
Quartz: Yet you openly mock them.

Aristophania: Of course! Fools go where the wise would never venture and dare what the sensible know better than to try. 

Quartz: Yet Sokrat is going to this symposium, too. (His nose turns red.) Isn’t she what you’d call wise?

Aristophania: I wonder. She herself would deny it. And who I am to tell a life giver who and what she is? (She winks at Quartz.) I am, after all, just a fool. 

Quartz: Only you yourself said you were a comedian. You’re called a comedian in your time. 

Aristophania: That, too! See you at the Symposium, dear readers! (waves) 

Want to go to the Symposium, see what’s up? Here are some buy links!

Nine Star Press:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompt

On February 13, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a seashell, a mortar and pestle, and a tin can.

This instantly made me think of the Navel. It's been a while since I wrote anything from Peter's perspective. I thought it was time to get into his head a bit while he got used to Omphalos and the strange shop he found himself working at...

Some of the items in the Navel drew my eye, even though they weren’t the flashiest things on the shell. 

A seashell with delicate layers of color inside, spreading out from the center. Somehow this reminded me of Christopher’s eyes. If you glanced at them, they were violet blue. A second, longer look revealed a rosy ring around the purple, followed by a deeper blue one, haloed by a hint of green. Colors were trapped within those glistening orbs, slipping across the surface, like light reflected upon a pond’s surface.

Or perhaps it was just my fancy. 

Another object which caught my attention was a mortar and pestle. Paul had once possessed one of these. His always had a layer of dust at the bottom from past grinds.  The rock bottom of this particular stone bowl was smooth, unblemished. 

I might have missed these things, perusing the shelves of the Navel. This place is full of shiny, distracting shapes, from pink rose quartz to giant water pipes, shaped like roosters. Only I would have noticed that tin can. A gaudy image of a woman in brilliant red and orange skirts was emblazoned on the side, kicking up her scarlet heels and grinning. 

I recognized that grin. I’d seen it in the glass a few times. I wasn’t about to forget those skirts either. They’d got caught around my ankles. I’d learned to lift them up, show a little leg, without giving the game away by showing any dangling bits. 

How Paul laughed, ah, but he’d enjoyed the show. His dark eyes gleamed with appreciation when he watched me throw my arms over the shoulders a couple of other girls and lift our legs. I fit in perfectly. The lady on either side of me was more musclar than I was. 

Dancers are a lot stronger than a lot of people realize, something a few owners of wandering hands got to know. 

Perhaps Paul got his taste for the stage, watching me move. He’d always been quieter, more shy than I was, but he’d come to life that night. 

I blinked back tears, rubbed a sleeve over my eyes. I was supposed to be working. 

“It’s different for everyone who enters the Navel.” Gabrielle, my new employer glanced over at the small bowl, shell, and can. “Anyone who finds their way in here has something waiting for them. Particuliar objects attract particuliar eyes.” She shrugged, rolling her shoulders in what was almost a stretch. “Not even I know what’s on all of my shelves.” 

“Not even you? You’re the proprietor!” I tried to wrap my head around this haphazard business concept. “Should you know what you’re selling?”

“Being the proprietor is more like being the caretaker here at the Navel.” Gabrielle tapped a long finger against her full lower lip. Such a lush, full mouth she had, different than Christopher’s tiny, hesitant rosebud. Both alluring in their own ways. “I provide a place for items to find the right people. In the end, it’s the objects in this shop who decide whether or not a transaction will be made.”

She spoke as if the objects were alive themselves. As if matters weren’t confusing enough.

“You have to make transactions. Don’t you need to earn money?” I focused on the concrete, the real. The things I’d been forced to build my existence around, even though I often wished I didn’t have to. “You have to pay for food, utilities, and clothes. You gave me a paycheck.”

“Which should still work when you return to the real world.” Gabrielle offered me a little bow of her golden head. “We’re on the edge of a Door here, so reality and shadow has a tendency to ripple. The check will remain solid and transferrable when you return to someplace more solid with a comparable technology.” She fixed her steady blue gaze upon me. “I’m not one of the Fair Folk. What I offer you doesn’t disappear when you leave this place, although it might change form.”

“That’s not what I meant!” I lifted a hand to run it through my hair, half expecting it to be filled with elf locks. “You say you’re on the edge of the reality. Does this mean you can somehow survive without money?” 
“Well, I need to eat. I didn’t used to, but I’m trying to live as a human.” Gabrielle walked towards the tiny window, letting in beams of light from outside. “There’s a garden beyond Omphalos at the foot of a hill. Anyone who lives there has access to it. Clothes, yes, I do like clothes.” ‘Brie did a little twirls, skirts flaring out to reveal a hint of muscular legs. Shells dangling from silver chains clinked in a faint, musical melody when she did. “I often find something which seems perfect to wear when inventory comes in. I’ve put together beads, shells, and bones together with baggy skirts and tunics no one wants anymore.” She came to a stop, allowing her hands to undulate over her body, dancing over her torso, hips, and gesturing to her legs and feet. “I’ve found sandals in the packages, too, which fit my feet.”

“You’re telling me you just find whatever you need in inventory?” This couldn’t be true. No one would give someone something for nothing. It simply didn’t happen, no matter how much we might wish it to.

“Peter, the Navel accepted me as its proprietor. Chose me. As long as I do what it requires, I don’t have to pay rent and it will provide for me.” Gabrielle scratched her head, bare of any hat today, although shells were braided into the tresses. “I’m really not that greedy a person. I don’t require a lot of extra things. As such I don’t have much of a use for money.”

I paused for a moment to marvel at the concept, swallowing the sour bubble of envy threatening to rise up my throat. 

Money had been greatest stumbling block in my existence. It kept me from doing what I wanted to do, going where I wanted to go, having what I wanted to have. Money was required for all three of these things. If I hadn’t been in need of money, I could have been more honest. 

If I had been more honest, perhaps Paul would still be at my side. 

No, probably not. Paul had let me know he was a path I couldn’t follow him down, no matter how much I might wish to. 

I fingered my own throat, searched for something else to use my hands for. I detested brooding and moping. Paul and Christopher both seemed to be victims of their own despair at times. I refused to be prey to mine. 

“Sounds like an idyllic way to live.” I offered Gabrielle a smile and a little bow of my own. “Watch out. I may not wish to leave if you make it too comfortable for me.”

“Why should you leave?” Gabrielle cocked back her head. “The Navel has need of you and so do I. Besides you make Christopher smile.” She allowed her eyes to shift to the shelves, a row of grinning skulls sitting upon them. “All of these things make you a vital part of this place.” 

“Until Damian returns at least.” I did my best to grin and not grimace at the name of Gabrielle’s previous employee. 

Gabrielle spun and moved with a swiftness I hadn’t thought her capable of, laying a hand on my arm. 

“There are things you can do here which Damian can’t.” Once more, she pinned me with that direct blue gaze. “I hope you’ll come to understand that in time.”

“Me, too.” The words came out more bitter than I expected. Still I managed to smile back. I covered her hand with my own. 

Me, too. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompt

On February 6, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a favorite meal, a gift, and "just another day".

This freebie story for my Work in Progress, The Players Are the Thing was the result. I was astonished at how nice Beatrix was in this story. Usually she's a lot grumpier and borderline abusive. Maybe Zoe's presence is a positive influence on her...

The yorkshire pudding rose, crisp on edges, golden pale in others, just as it should be. 

Rhane breathed a sigh of relief. She never knew how her puddings would turn out. This one would be good.
It had been just another day. She’d worked in the library for a few hours before coming back to her apartment. Beatrix wasn’t there, but Beatrix was often gone for long hours. It might be because of work. It might be because of something else. 

Well, tonight she was in for a surprise.

Rhane glanced over at the small, black velvet bag. Inside were various cloudy shades of purple ten-sided dice. Beatrix’s favorite color was purple. 

Things would never be perfect. Something would go wrong, something had been going wrong on a regular basis. Either Beatrix was in a bad mood or Rhane was. This was why she wasn’t hoping for perfect. Was nice too much for ask for?

At this point, Rhane would settle for tolerable. 

The door opened onto a dark head and coat, splattered with rain and animated conversation. Beatrix wasn’t alone.

“…the thing to know if you’re playing Rhiannon is you never reveal too much to anyone. Your secrets and what side you’re on are a mystery.” Beatrix stopped talking, brown eyes alight, high cheekbones flushed. “I’m a little sad to let her go, but Rhiannon should be one of the player characters.”

“I’ll remember that and try to be worthy of her.” Beatrix’s companion shook out her dark curls, sending droplets of water flying. Green eyes in an oval face searched the room, only to light up when they settled upon Rhane. 

Rhane froze at the familiarity, but she couldn’t place this girl. What’s more, she was in Beatrix’s apartment on a work night. Beatrix never brought home company except on the days she ran her roleplaying game. The company always came to her. 

“It smells wonderful.” The girl breathed in, the nostrils of her snubbed nose flaring. She glanced over at the tray. “Is that yorkshire pudding? I hope I’m not interrupting.”

“Rhane, did you cook?” Beatrix frowned in the direction of the sinking pudding. “It’s too late at night for a full meal. Certainly too late for anything as heavy as yorkshire pudding. You’ll get sick.”

“I know, but I really wanted to make it. I wanted to do something special.” Tongue sticking to the top of her mouth, Rhane flapped a hand in the direction of the dice bag.”

“Are those dice?” The oddly familar girl glanced over at the bag. 

“Excellent timing. Zoe will need some when she joins our troupe.” Beatrix picked up the bag, fished inside for a purple die. “These are pretty, very pretty. I’m tempted to keep them for myself.”

“I bought them for you.” Rhane’s voice sounded small and weak in her own ears. “I thought you’d like them.” 

“I do, but Zoe doesn’t have any dice of her own. You remember Zoe, don’t you?” Beatrix tapped a finger against her side in an impatient rhythm. “We met her in the cafe across from the library where you work. She came up and introduced herself when she overheard us talking about gaming.”

“I certainly remember you.” Zoe gazed at Beatrix with an intensity which made Rhane feel a bit flushed. “I noticed you in the library before I spoke to you in the cafe. You have the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen.”

“I..err…thank you,” Rhane stammered. She glanced at Beatrix, wondering if she’d object or say something to the effect that she and Rhane were a couple. 

Not that Rhane was sure if they were a couple. They lived together, slept together, and gamed together, but something they felt worlds apart. 

Like now. Beatrix didn’t even notice that someone else was coming very close to flirting with Rhane. She was too busy holding up the die, admiring it from every angle. 

At least Rhane had been right about the dice. Beatrix did like them, even if she was ready to give them to someone else. 

“I wanted to speak to you, but something about your eyes made me shy.” Zoe lowered her head. “Only I overheard you and Beatrix talking about your game and Amberwyne.” She lifted her chin and grinned, dispelling the tension her compliment had generated. “I could resist no longer. I had to talk to you.”

“I’m glad you did.” Rhane smiled back, thinking back at moments in the library when she’d been shelving, organizing the catalogue, or lost in her own thoughts. She’d look up, feeling like someone was watching her. Only everyone had been absorbed in their books. 

Had it been Zoe?

“I’m surprised you’re here now.” Rhane glanced over at the third woman in the room, who was oddly apart from this. “Beatrix doesn’t usually bring people home.”

“Well, I met Beatrix in the street. We started talking about the game and she told me about Rhiannon. The mysterious stranger who appears out of nowhere to help Amberwyne, much to Isolde’s chagrin.” Zoe lifted a hand to run through her tousled black curls. “It seemed it would be easier to play her, an existing character than to create somebody new.”

“That’s true,” Rhane murmured, studying Beatrix out of the corner of her eye. She was digging through the dice bag, admiring its contents. “I’m surprised you’re willing to give Rhiannon up. Isn’t she your favorite non-player character?”

“Yes, but she’ll get to do so much more if she’s one of the player characters.” Beatrix shrugged her way out of her coat and let it drop on the floor. “Sometimes you have to let someone go that you love.”

Rhane moved to pick up the coat, irritated at the off hand gesture of dropping her clothes on the floor. Sometimes Beatrix did these little things as if she expected a servant to come and clean up after her. There were no servants here, unless Beatrix regarded Rhane as some kind of servant. 

There were moments when Rhane wondered if she was. She should leave the damned coat. Much as she hated picking up after Beatrix, she hated disorder more. Someone had to try to keep things organized in the apartment. 

She felt Zoe’s eyes on her as she folded the coat over her arm and carried it the closet. Their apartments would have clothes, dice and books strewn everywhere, not to mention dirty dishes in the sink if Rhane didn’t clean up. There should be at least clear walking paths through the apartment. Rhane tended to daydream and trip over things otherwise. 

Rhane fumbled for a hanger, feeling self conscious and awkward as she wrestled the coat onto it. “Will you be joining Mona and I for next Saturday’s game, Zoe?”

“That’s the hopeful plan.” Zoe slid into a seat at the table and rested her chin on her hands. “I’m pretty excited. It’s been too long.” She winked at Rhane. “It sounds like Isolde and I are going to be rivals for Amberwyne’s attention.”

“Oh, not you, too,” Beatrix groaned, looking up at last from her examination of the dice. “Don’t get carried away with romantic subtext.” The game master rolled her eyes and went into the kitchen. “Mona and Rhane are constantly derailing the plot, going off on tangents where Amber and Isolde look deep into each other’s eyes.” Beatrix picked up a knife and scowled at it. “I feel like I should describe the trees, weeping sap.” She carried the blade over to the tray.

“Beatrix, no.” Rhane made a distressed little movement toward the kitchen. “Let me do that. You’ve been working all day.”

“So have you.” Beatrix sawed the pudding into three, rough chunks. “Besides you bought me dice. This is the least I can do.” She eyed the nearby pan. “Are those sausages and creamed spinach? I’m surprised you didn’t make toads in the hole.”

“And I wonder if Rhane didn’t guess I was coming to visit.” Zoe lowered long eyelashes over green eyes. “She made enough for three.”

“Well, um, if you’d like to join us.” Rhane felt herself blush again. “Let me take your coat.”

“No need.” Zoe shrugged out of her black covering, revealing a purple and red bodice, trimmed with black lace. “I’ll put it away.” 

Rhane tried not to stare at the creamy, exposed flesh, the rounded limbs while Zoe moved to claim a hanger, sliding her coat on it with an easy grace Rhane could only envy. This woman was an old fashioned French postcard in all too alluring way. 

“Go ahead and sit down. Both of you.” Beatrix had her back turned, oblivious to Zoe’s attributes or Rhane’s reaction to them. She was busy dishing creamed spinach and sausages onto three plates already covered with yorkshire pudding. “I’ll bring you food.”

“This was a really nice surprise.” Zoe dropped into a seat with the same elegance she’d slid her coat onto a hanger. “It’s been a long time since I’ve a home cooked meal. It’s been ever longer since I’ve had yorkshire pudding.”

“You haven’t had real yorkshire pudding until you’ve had Rhane’s.” Beatrix brought a couple of plates to the table. “This recipe has been in her family for generations. It’s better than any I’ve ever tried. You can tell her ancestors are from Yorkshire.” She plopped a dish in front of Zoe. “Rhane, stop fidgeting and sit down.”

Rhane, unable to stop fidgeting, slunk into her seat, feeling awkward and useless. All right, she’d made dinner, but watching Beatrix bustle around the kitchen made her anxious. 

“It’s all right.” Zoe smiled and leaned a little closer. “She’s been worried about you lately. She wanted to do something for you, even if it was something small.”

Hearing those words eased some of tension in Rhane’s neck and chest. 

She waited until Beatrix sat down with her own plate of food. 

Almost as one, each woman reached for her fork and broke off a piece of yorkshire pudding. 

Rhane popped hers into her mouth. It had turned out as delicious as she’d hoped. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompt

On January 30, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted a prompt involving a tree, a promise kept, and a book.

The result was a freebie story involving someone very interested in her favorite dwarf...;)

I made a promise under the tree within view of your cottage. Do you remember?

No, of course you don’t. You probably weren’t paying attention. Communing with your precious namestones, you were. Or perhaps you were whittling, carving something out of a wood. 

I doubt you even saw me under the tree. You wouldn’t have heard what I whispered on the wind. The last thing you ever wanted was the burden of any promises from someone outside of your family. 

Well, too bad, you stubborn dwarf. The moment I saw your name in my book, a chill went up my spine and my toes tingled. 

Humans ignore these little warnings in their bodies all the time. We kobolds learn to pay attention. When I met you in person, the tingling intensified. 

You were special. Not just because you were Person of Importance, but you were involved in the tapestry of my destiny.  I didn’t know how or why, but we were connected. If I didn’t skip forward to meet whatever you represented, Destiny would fall on me, crushing me flat. 

It might well crush both of us in the end. 

I arranged to meet you, try to ‘gift’ you with this cottage, but you got the better of me. Not that I wouldn’t have ever chance to get the better of you. For as long as you and your brothers live in that cottage, my chance will be lying in wait. 

You think that cuckoo clock is just an annoying gadget, but it’s more than that. It’s my eyes, ears, and on occasion, my voice. 

I may not be in the cottage, but the clock is there. As long as it is, I’m keeping this promise, Quartz. 

I’ll be watching you.