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dead nights, up waiting

Your gifts for our marriage bed are
long-winding sheets woven from discourse,
words spun out into thread and spindled into sentences,
into whole mythologies of late-night deadlines
and beer out with the boys,
dyed for authenticity with under-eye bags and sleep-drugged slurring.
A flawless fabric, smooth as Egyptian cotton,
satiny on bare, cold, unfeeling skin.

long hunger fed

Grandmother warned me to never sell the horseshoe, it was cold iron and would ward me from evil, but starvation isn’t evil and it’ll kill you all the same. When the peddler offered two loaves of bread for it, I didn’t hesitate. I slept that night on a full stomach.

The scratching at my window woke me at three a.m. Something outside tittered with malicious laughter. I pulled my blankets over my head, but the scratching continued, a relentless scritch, scritch, scritch until I thought I was going mad.

The scratching stopped.

In the breath of silence that followed, there came a sound that made the fresh bread calcify in my stomach: the soft, sure sound of a latch being undone from the outside.

clarion west week 5-ish (and 6) report

Due to some miscalculation on my part, I ended up starting my write-a-thon midway through the week instead of the start. So of course I did the most sensible thing possible, and crammed the last two weeks into one and a half.

Short story: “The Rest of Lias Igdo”

Word count: 2,789

Status: Incomplete

The good: Some actual story continuity between this one and the previous! I’m so excited.

The bad: Oops, I’m sorry I accidentally betrayed you, no hard feelings, right? (Wrong.)

The resigned: This wasn’t so much of “one story” as it was “three different possible starts for a story.” I have a definite favorite, so all that’s next is to develop that one.

Excerpt:

The whiskey was raw with imperfections, strong enough to knock down a horse, the sort of thing I’d stomached when I was younger, loving it for the mere fact that it would get me drunk. It had been Lias who’d taught me how to appreciate liquor for the taste, not just the strength. We’d spent hours in small-town pubs, shot glasses lined up in an endless row like soldiers marching into the pit of battle, him never speaking, never lecturing, just setting drink after drink in front of me until the harshness mellowed and sweeter notes began to surface, all on their own.

He’d been mentor, teacher, father. He’d taught me how to read the weather and track the stars, how to skin forest pigs and burn ichormoss at night to keep wildlife at bay, all in the same way as he’d taught me to drink whiskey: no words, no soapboxes, just me figuring things out for myself and him keeping a watchful eye on me.

_____

Three and a half short stories in six weeks. Not bad, not bad at all. I didn’t make my goal of six short story drafts, but it was always an Improbably Yet Totally Necessarily Improbable Goal anyways.

Right now I’m just breathing a sigh of relief that I powered through the whole thing. And it’s actually sparked a whole host of other ideas that I’m itching to dive into. Let the good times roll.

headspace is full of dust and old clothes

All I ever wanted growing up was a room of my own. Like Virginia Woolf, I fantasized about some sunny, airy bunker that would be mine and no one else’s. It would be a haven against unwanted influences, a grotto of creativity. In my mind, I arranged and rearranged the furniture of this hypothetical oasis endlessly. The desk would go against the far wall, right beneath the windows for maximum lightly, or angled off on a diagonal if I wanted to make room for a cushioned window seat. Sometimes I had a drafting table as well, side holders crammed with paints and brushes for whenever the artistic mood struck. Dramatic, haunting paintings–not prints–hung on the walls, their unrelieving intensity broken up by framed poetry calligraphs on parchment. And of course, the books: piles and piles and shelves and shelves of everything I loved, learned through, and shamelessly stole from.

The room’s location varied as often as its design. At first I tended towards castle turrets reachable by winding staircase only, or secret rooms concealed behind hinged bookcases. After I moved north, my priorities shifted to windows and lots of sunshine. And if it came with a lake view or was up in a treehouse in the middle of forest, all the better. At times I thought that all I needed was a room like any I’d ever imagined throughout my life, a place I could retreat to and shut out the rest of the world, and I would want nothing else.

Last year, we bought a house. Two bedrooms for one couple. I claimed the second bedroom as my own and declared that no one would set foot in it without my express invitation. Furthermore, when I shut the door, I was not to be disturbed under any circumstance whatsoever. You could shove pizza under the door to keep me alive, but don’t you dare try to turn that doorknob.

I got my desk, my bookshelves, my windows. I arranged and rearranged furniture. And then, somehow, I never went in. Papers collected in haphazard piles on the floor. The PC I inherited from an ex-boyfriend sat in a corner and pined for lack of use. Only the books remain clean, though they leave tracks in the dust whenever I move them on the shelves. I can’t even remember the last time I sat down in my office chair. Instead, more often than not I find myself at the kitchen table with my laptop, the clutter of shoes and backpacks and airplane-sized snacks everywhere and my fiance cooking or watching TV on the couch, a space as crowded with his as with mine and not a single painting in sight, and I don’t feel like I’m missing a thing.

missed you, missed me

fixtureshadows

We found each other by accident down Third Avenue one warm day after the Fourth of July, the city air still choked with fireworks. Our eyes locked. In that instant, we knew: this was who we’d been searching for. And who’d been searching for us. All our lives had been zeroing relentlessly in on this moment where time lost absolute meaning and all that counted was the relative measure of who made the first move.

She was fast. So was I.

With so much gunpowder in the air, a little more wouldn’t hurt. Bullets, on the other hand, always do.

clarion west write-a-thon week 4 report

Short story: “Beneath Stone Tides”

Word count: 1,856

Status: Complete!

The good: Urban exploration. And treasure (that may or may not be pirate booty).

The bad: Greeeeed.

The resigned: This week’s story was sparse. Very sparse. It definitely needs to put more meat on its bones. But it has a coherent start, middle, and end, so it still counts.

Coming up next: Betrayal, revenge, the whole nine yards.

Excerpt:

The man was called Trevor. He worked as a surveyor for the local Authority’s office with one of the girls, Madeleine, who was responsible for liaising with the quadrant office. Jess was her roommate. She worked as a bioengineer for a local concern. Like everyone else in Purple Dot, they were slick with high fashion and flaunting the latest in bio-integrated tech in not-so-discreet-you-won’t-notice hints of chrome and stainless steel round their eyes and ears. Jess’s was the most extreme, elongated silver darts that wrapped from the corners of her eyes to the curve of her ear and flashed with neon lights depending on her mood. She’d even shaved around her ears to make them more noticeable.

_____

Clarion West is a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing some of the best speculative fiction workshops in the galaxy. It’s run by volunteers and a small, hardworking paid staff, and it depends on the support of the community.

My goal is to finish a rough draft of one short story per week for In the Drift, a sci-fi collection that follows the adventures of Joseph Talleyrand Arch, a traveler among worlds in the wake of humanity’s First Expansion into the stars.

As always, I hope you’ll consider supporting me this summer. It’s not just about giving money to sustain an amazing workshop, but also about helping sustain my writing spirit.

I hope you’ll sponsor me and help support my goals and the Clarion West workshop. A sponsorship in any amount helps, as does helping spread the word to friends, family, and coworkers.

the becoming thing

My friend over at flutterinspacetime has sponsored me for the Clarion West Write-a-thon! You, good sir, are a pinnacle of awesomeness. :D

As thanks, I promised to write a short poem for him on a topic of his choosing. Which, flutter, was a damn sight more difficult than it should have been.

Topic: write a short poem about a person who wants to become stardust.
_____

in the absence of a cohesive core we resort
to diffusion: inner workings
extruded, particulates turned
inside out. to seeing molecular bonds
unraveled and
the gulf between protons amplified
on a scale of galaxies, each part greater than
the sum-all being. what’s more perfect than
total, absolute dissipation?
like every aimless vagabond, I want
nothing more than to say, for a microcosmic moment,
that I was vaster than the ghost of me.