Among Extra Socks and Wooly Mittens

Another Today’s Author Prompt: Develop a new character ONLY by describing the contents of their purse (backpack, etc.). Prompt found here.

The non-descript black satchel is worn down to grey in some places, canvas fraying in spots. The pockets are stretched and warped by its contents and years of use.

The small outer pocket is kept empty on account of it being unusable- the hempstrings fretted away from countless attempts to cinch and tie them around the pocket when it was overstuffed with crucial supplies. The initials HAS (Hestalia Asmondia Stellaluna) adorn the canvas just above the unused pocket, but the H is coming unstitched such that it more resembles the number 4 and the S bares a dark umber stain of unknown origin.

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Some Holiday Stories

Taking this time of year to draw attention to two of my older stories, both written in previous years around the holidays.

The Hidden Properties of Fruitcake
(1) (2)
~ An Epiphany Story

The Yearlings
~ A New Years Story

I really love both of these pieces and hope you do, too.

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Lillia’s Tale ~ Updated Every So Often

Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 2,000-ish
Rating: 10+
Summary: Lillia’s father has always been a half-seen shadow- never present, but always close.
Author’s Note: This story is being written in snippets using the prompts in the table at the end. Lillia’s Tale Will make more sense if you read Ari’s Tale, since Lillia is Ari’s daughter and what happened to Ari is much in my mind as I write of Lillia. The year is 1968.

Lillia is careful not to let the screen door slam as she steps out into the back. The sparse clumps of grass that dot the dirt of the yard unsteady her feet as she makes her way from the house in the waning dark.

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Bent or the Modern Tiresias(3)

Word Count:2,145
Summary:Lauren juggles playing Portia’s boyfriend with being her sister, and another visit to Hera Lake makes Lauren wonder how hopeless her situation is.

Previous Parts (1) (2)

The Way About Her

And despite the fact that Lauren’s life felt as if it should be on hold until she got her real body back- and saved Terry from the fate of forever being a frog- it wasn’t. Portia and Lauren’s parents got her letter and promptly forgot about how worried they were, getting angry at her instead. Lauren couldn’t blame them. If she had really run off with no word to anyone so that she could find herself, it would have been supremely stupid and selfish. Somewhat ironically, finding herself was kind of what She was having to do- well, it was more like finding Terry’s self– finding out who he is and what he does so that she could fake her way through his life well enough that his mother would stop worrying and Portia would stop looking at her funny for continuing to be nice to her even though the crisis of Lauren’s disappearance had blown over.

Lauren had thought that she had been doing a pretty good job of not making Portia suspect anything while Lauren hedged and stalled while waiting for the day that Terry was scheduled to get on a plane to the other side of the country to start college. She thought she had been doing a pretty good job. Apparently she was wrong.

“Okay, that’s it! I can’t take this anymore, so just do it already!” Portia shouted at Lauren right after she had offered to go shopping with Portia so she could use Terry’s ridiculously muscle-bound arms to carry packages for Portia.

“Umm-” Lauren said, stunned, because Portia never spoke to Terry like that- Lauren she had used to scream like a banshee at, but Terry? Never. Also she had no clue what she had done wrong.

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Bent or the Modern Tiresias (2)

Word Count:4,375
Summary:Lauren tries to deal with the very strange change in herself. A serial fairy tale about a girl and a frog- No, not that one- not that one at all.

Find Part 1 here.

2. Portia and the Letter

Lauren was awake in the night- all night. Everyone kept telling her to try and rest- that it would all look better, be easier, in the morning. Lauren didn’t really expect a night’s sleep to make a difference, but staying awake and getting this strange body sick wouldn’t help matters any, so she tried to catch some sleep anyway. Terry’s eyes (which felt overly large and tight in their sockets- she could almost hear them sliding against his eyelids as she moved them) continually popped open on their own.

And his ears- the ones that could hear eyes moving- the ears she was wearing kept alerting her to useless things- little innocuous sounds making her borrowed heart skip faster and faster.

She sat up in bed, turned on the light and looked around Terry’s bedroom. She was in a foreign land- everything in the room, things that belonged in it, made her nervous. She didn’t belong there, but everyone still thought she did. At least, they thought Terry’s body did.

She sat there, being green with someone else’s stomach and thought about the last week….

“Aye no, midge, I cannot do it. I cannot switch you and the great brute back- not until he is not an enchanted frog anymore,” Tris, the pixie’s voice echoed in Lauren’s memory.

“So, turn him human again,” she had answered, incredulous that the little magical beast was refusing to fix the mess he had made.

“I cannot change what I cannot see. Find me the frog and I can make all well.”

“But, he hopped away!” she cried, frustrated. “His tiny frog brain was too stupid to know he should have come back.”

“Then there is naught I can do for you.” Then the weasel of a pixie disappeared from sight and didn’t come back no matter that Lauren had called and called for him until Terry’s voice grew hoarse.

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Online Fiction Recommendation

So, another writer, whose blog I’ve recently started reading, has posted a series of short stories titled Instructions to a Young Deity. It is funny and clever and you all should go read it right now.

1. Time Travellers
2. Delegating/Color Scheme
3. in the beginning, there was the Word
4. Intelligence
5. Laws of Physics

Go on now. Run along and read, then tell Vive how great she is.

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Bent or the Modern Tiresias (1)

Word Count:4,375
Summary:18 year old Lauren Dwyer’s life takes a serious turn when she meets a magical trickster. A serial fairy tale about a girl and a frog- No, not that one- not that one at all.

1. The Pixie and the Frog

“Portia, will you just pick a suit already?” Lauren whined again, as she cursed whatever force in the universe made her mother fall for Paul Gauguin last year, thereby creating the new blended family Lauren was now a part of- a family that included one Portia Gauguin, drama queen, cheerleader, shopping addict, and Lauren’s current problem.

“Just because you don’t take pains with your appearance doesn’t mean that I can’t,” Portia replied with a pout as she came out of the changing room. You see, Portia had an irrational need for a new bikini before her trip to Hera Lake- a last fling with her A-list high school friends before they all went off to college in different cities. And, Portia couldn’t decide between pink and forest green. “Ooo- that one’s nice, too,” she added, spotting one that almost got away and pulling her size from the rack. It was white.

“You’re gonna have the car for a week starting tomorrow, while I’m seeing my dad- can’t you come back without me? I just wanted some soy nut butter from the health food store. My shopping took three minutes- yours is taking my entire life. And I have Screaming Vaginas tickets- they don’t tour very often what with the house arrests and the pregnancies and all. And, Jane on Fire is opening- too cool- but I’m never gonna get there if you don’t pick a swimsuit so we can leave the frickin’ mall.” Lauren still needed to drive Princess Portia, the annoying, home so she could have the car and go pick up Troy, who had the concert tickets, and maybe get there before the lead singer of the other opening act, The Flaming Banshees, was completely naked.

“Why’d you invite me along if you were in a hurry?” Portia called from inside the dressing room stall.

“I didn’t,” Lauren reminded her, “Your dad made me take you. Don’t you have like six other swimsuits?”

“Those are poolside suits- concrete. I’m looking for lakeside suits- natural surroundings- the background is completely different,” she reasoned. “I like this one.” She emerged modeling a white swimsuit, which would undoubtedly be all but see-through if it ever saw water.

“Great! Get it and let’s go.”

“Anybody ever tell you that you shop like a guy, Lauren?”

“Anybody ever tell you that you’re a walking stereotype, Portia?”

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Spirals (6)

Word Count:3,500
Summary:The final battle between Skyla and the escaped clone.

Previous Parts (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

In the Pit

Pretty exciting stuff, that last bit, eh? With the escapes and the kidnapping and the tranq guns and the rescues and the injuries and the miraculous healings- all the good stuff, right? Let me tell ya, you ain’t seen nothing yet, my friends, nothing yet. To get back into the story, there is Skyla, again on the trail of the nasty beast 9836-A, the head of lab security, Arthur Cummings, was looking for her, and Docs Mears and Kelly were at the university hospital, Doc Mears having been injured during the escape of the clone, 9836-A.

The trail of the Beast was wide and easily followed. The coward was running from Skyla rather than face his judgment- and he was brutal and careless in his panic. Sklya soon came upon an innocent- an elderman, weakened by time, beaten down on the path. He was bloodied head and shoulder, and he reeked of the monstrosity she hunted.

“Please,” the elderman whispered to her, the red of his lifeblood trickling out of his mouth and over the dark brown of his skin as he spoke.

“Take your ease, uncle,” Skyla soothed, “I will set it to rights.” She placed one slender hand on his bruised face and the other at the his heart, letting the healing bleed through her and into him.

Often in those times, Skyla had found this simple act of healing an innocent far harder than she remembered it to be. It seemed to take a great deal more of her strength than it used to, and more time as well. She was all but certain that it was to do with how those at the strange keep knew few or perhaps none of the True rituals. They showed Skyla little deference and took no particular heed when she advised them. They keep her vouchsafed inside the keep as if she did not have work to do in their world. They expected her to create havoc instead of restore peace. Mayhap the calling ritual they were using lacked something critical, and that lack hindered her access to her true font, to her powers.

The elderman beneath her hands gave a harsh, wet cough, rolled to his side and spit up lifeblood. Then he pushed himself up to sit and looked at her in awe and wonder, asking, “How did you…”

“Rest the next three days and nights,” she instructed him, and could not tarry any longer. The beast gained advantage with every breath she waited. She stood and followed the wide, wild trail again.

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Brave the Arid Ocean (6)

Word Count:4,095
Summary: Setena makes contact with the Naedrani and Daulis reads and learns.

Previous parts (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)


When her own village had been attacked, Setena had only just returned from a forbidden swim in the sands and joined her age mates in the ocean. The screaming hum of the Black Shells’ metal birds broke up their frolicking water games. Like the others, she rushed back to the village, rushed to help in any way she could. Before they reached sight of the village, they were set upon by a group of Black Shells. Setena was felled by a Black Shell blade and lay bleeding while the soldiers moved on to other victims. She pushed her way beneath the sands and hid in that safety until the village lay quiet and smoldering.

Days ago at the wall, being unable to help, but unable to look away from the death of the Belurian she did not recognize (but to know he was of her own kind), had pulled her from the insulated place she had existed in since losing all she had ever known, losing her kith and kin, losing her village. The detached peace, which she had gotten from the inevitability of death, from the futility of life, faded and the grief of it all flooded through her. Since then, the covered river failed to refresh Setena. The barloots turned her stomach. Sleep, which before had been hard to achieve wrapped in her thin cloak for the long, cold desert night, failed her entirely.

For you see, Setena was the sort of young that still related its own transgressions with the disconnected misfortunes the world rains into every life, as if her sins brought on retribution. She was also the sort of young that couldn’t see that simplistic connection in itself until faced with an horrific truth, like the one she faced on the desert wall. It was then she realized that evil doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t work in such an understandable way, nor in such a reasonable and workable way. It has no rules, no system and no tit for tat. She could not hold the blame for the invasion of her village or her planet on her shoulders anymore.

She also could truly have done nothing to stop it, no one could have. She had let herself occasionally imagine that she was the foretold Apante’, the reincarnation of Vvadana, that could save her people. Perhaps that too had been naught more than childish imaginings by the leaders of her people, perhaps there was nothing in the world but happenstance.

As she lay, shivering on the sands, listening to the winds across the sands and the whisper of squinkies crawling just below the surface and the passing sizzle of the Naedrani as they moved through the sands, she began to hear more. One of the Naedrani, one much smaller than nearly all the others, was near the edge of her shallows swimming to and fro over the same channel of sands. She got the odd idea that it was waiting for her, almost calling to her. ‘Zzzseteeenaaa,’ it called, buzzing her name with its body against the sand, ‘Zzzseteeenaaa.’ She put her back to the strange sound and incanted for sleep. The incantation, which she had never been particularly good at, did nothing.

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Travis Keller (Not So Super Hero) ~ Part 6

Word Count:4,559
Summary:Travis and Owen find a new village, suffer attacks of one kind and another and pick up a few more for their little band of strangeness.

Previous Parts (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Part six- Tinkering

It’s been a day since our spur of the moment swim and we have found ourselves a town, which is a good thing since the foraging on this side of the river isn’t as good as it was on the other side, although we have managed to find a few all right herbs and do the protective, smelly mud thing again. I have convinced Owen that we’ll fair better off we don’t go into town the first time coated in mud and sticks, even if it would make the place more endurable. So, we spend an hour washing up before we walk closer to town.

It looks like more people live in this village than live in Owen’s hometown for sure. There are some ruins, but there’s also a good number of newer buildings built from course bricks and wood instead of straw. Some of the old ones look like they might be hundreds of years old- newer layers of brick capping older ones, as if they might have been kept up- been in continuous use- and repaired again and again. Unfortunately, while this town- not so much a village really- while this town might look better than Owen’s village, it still smelled the same- maybe even a might worse on account of the more unwashed bodies to contribute to the fragrance of the place. And it is louder- there is the sound of metal hand tools in use, and larger crowds outside in the street making the noises of working and living, even if they aren’t talking.

We pass a whole livery stable of gigantigoats smelly and loud in a wood-fenced corral. I can see that most of them wear a sort of a bridle and one or two are even saddled. Seems to put the last nail in the coffin of the horses to see that the goats have taken their place like that. A few streets further in, there are shops selling cloths and foodstuffs (by the smell of it, more with the stuff and less with the food, unfortunately) and pottery. There is another selling rough knives and swords and other simple metal tools- shovels and scythes and the like.

We reach a town square with a great well at the center and Owen stops and signs with a very ripe old woman. I stand back trying not to grimace from the stink and rethinking the no herbs decision wanting to go back in time and put some on before we’d come into the town.

“Ask her where we can stop for the night,” I suggest. Then I remember how pungent the inside of the longhouse had been without the mask of the herbs and mud, which we don’t currently got any of. “Scratch that, ask her about food,” I correct. Then I remember the local cuisine. “Wait, just ask her-” I falter, not sure what we’d want from her. “Ask her- heck! I don’t know what you shoul-”

“Trav!” he cuts me off. “This way.” He points across the square.

“What’s over there? What did you ask her for?”

He simply says, “Outcast,” and heads in the direction he’d pointed.

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