Monday, January 31, 2011

The Semi-Pantser Plots A Story, with Whine

How I hate you,
plot outline!
You make me groan,
you make me whine -
my fingers itch
to tell my tale,
my notebook calls but
muses flail -
they do not know
just what to do.
Plot outline,
how I hate you!

Let me meander
free and fine,
choose what to say,
line by line,
backtrack, rewrite,
wander free -
but that won't do
for you, I see.
You wrap me up
in writer's twine -
how I hate you,
plot outline!

How I hate you,
plot outline!
You make me choose,
think and design
before I know
my players' voices
as they make their way
through all those choices.
You make me groan,
you make me whine -
O how I hate you,
plot outline!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Birthday Plans

They stood out on the patio, watching the sunset and the garden, and how the light painted the mountains red as the sun went down.

"You were saying?" she said as he stood behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist. She lightly rested her hands on his.

"First, I thought we'd do dinner. I heard about this great Chinese place that opened downtown." He nuzzled the side of her neck, and his breath on her ear made her shiver.

She tilted her head to the side and leaned against him. "Chinese would be nice," she replied, and took a deep breath as his lips took advantage of her position, and planted little kisses from her ear to her shoulder. "And then what?"

He pulled her closer. "There's that movie you were telling me about." His left hand began to drift up from her waist.

She sighed a little as his hand found her breast, kneading gently through the fabric of her tee shirt. "I didn't think you liked chick flicks."

"I do if they make you happy," he replied. "After all, it's your birthday present."

Amused, she turned in his arms and looked up in his violet eyes. Tiptoeing up, she gave him a quick peck on the lips. "Or we could just come home."

He smiled down at her. "And what would we do here?" he asked, kissing her back. His kiss lingered, and led to another.

"Oh, I suspect we could find something to do," she replied. "Hot tub, massage oil, feathers . . . " The fingers of her right hand, resting lightly on his waist, began to drift down his hip.

"Feathers?" he asked, arching an eyebrow.

She smiled up at him a bit wickedly. "Just an idea I --"

"Mama!" Suddenly the storm door from the kitchen to the patio was pushed open and a small girl toddled out. "Brudder took my doll!"

She picked up the little girl, smoothed the girl's hair, and gave her a kiss. "Did he?" she said. "Well, let's go find out what's happening." Moving to the door, she turned back and looked at her husband. "First item isn't dinner," she said.

"No?" he asked as he opened the door for her.

"Nope. First thing is to call your mother and see if she'll keep the kids overnight." She stepped inside.

"You have a point there," he replied, stepping into the kitchen, let the storm door close behind him.

If you like this piece, you can read more about this couple here:  This is an ongoing vignette series that I write purely for enjoying their company.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Dreamed

I dreamed last night
of a dragon,
green scaled
and hungry.

Tired of ransacking the countryside,
he took a hint from his more civilized cousins,
and shape-shifted
through myriad possibilities
until he became a man,
intense and charismatic,
who then became  a politician.

He ate the supporters
of his opponents
when the press wasn't looking,
and an opponent or two
for appetizers,
and a businessman at times for dessert,
had shiny brass buttons on his chest,
and a trophy wife
in the best Jackie Kennedy fashion,
wore an expensive suit
and wanted to rule the world.

Eh, sounds like a Doctor Who episode,
I thought, waking up,
or maybe real life -
haven't been able to decide.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Here by the Waters

Here by the waters,
here by the flowing waters,
here the pale green arms
of willow wakened by spring
entwine me, binding my heart.

The waters flow on,
never ceasing their singing.
A single leaf lands,
turns once, drifting away
on the clear, sunlit surface.

The withies hold fast,
willow, tree of remembrance,
rooting in my thoughts
the memories, the pain
binding me in those yesterdays.

Let me be a leaf
slipping into tomorrow
drifting in sunlight
down the clear rushing water,
not the unmovable tree.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Water Ghost

I stand beneath the deep blue waters
looking up,
the waters pulling at my hair,
my heart
caught in the rhythm of the tides,
for a moment before the flood washes once again
over me.

Here you are little more than a bright shadow,
O Sun,
Filtered by the flow of the waters,
a warm spot
that at times I reach out to find,
of that time before I tread the paths
beneath the surface.

Shall I remember the day  long, long ago?
The sand
was warm beneath my dry feet in summer,
the waves
crashed along a beach that seemed to go on forever,
and I
fell into the waters, pulled down by hands who never
let go.

Lost in the depth beneath the sea, they say
a castle rises,
Home of the Dragon King and his host beneath
the waves,
Where the maidens dressed in finery gracefully sway as
they serve –
Tales made by those who never have seen the darkness of
the abyssal plain.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One Day at the Fair

A bit of  something I'm tentatively calling The Boy Who Wouldn't Say No (definitely just a working title):

His mother used to tell him when he was a small boy that fairs were the most amazing, wondrous, messy things.  As the red-headed man  stepped out of the tent and into the cool spring sunlight the last day of the fair at Redhaven, he began to believe she was right, at least about them being wondrously messy.

It had rained off and on during the course of the fair, and the grounds were trampled into a sea of mud, mixed in with all the remains of human activity the last few days. He picked his way carefully across the walkway and took a seat at a damp but mostly clean bench and sat down, ignoring the looks of the passers by who gawked at the man sitting there in his work cloak and armor.  Mercenaries, the fighting men who were an essential part of all trading houses,  just like merchants themselves, were an unusual spectacle to the locals.

Instead, he looked up. The sky was a brilliant blue, and for the first time since the trade fair began, there was not a hint of cloud.   A bird circled overhead - an eagle maybe, or more likely a hawk.  The mercenary admired how it glided, barely moving a feather.   

“Are you just enjoying the fine weather, or waiting for all of us to get off your field so you can go back to hunting  mice again?” he said.  “Patience, friend. It won’t be much longer. But I can tell you, friend hawk, you won’t be the only one glad when we leave.”

He stretched his legs out in front of him, and kicked a clump of mud off the toe of his boot.  Not as patient as the hawk, people were milling around the gaudy tents that invited them to spend their money -  cloth and trinkets from the south, tools and worked metals from the east, soft furs from the north, spices and medicines from everywhere.  It was the last day of the trade fair, and the townsmen dressed in their best clothes, had turned out in numbers, hoping for bargains before the merchants all packed up and their town returned to normal for another year.

The merchants, having made their big deals and settled accounts with each other, were staying put in their booths where they were more than happy to oblige the locals in their quest to spend silver and gold. The redheaded man watched the bargain hunters mill by, mildly amused as they stopped in this booth and that, fingering the goods and arguing with the vendors, pinching every coin in their pouches three times before they let one go.  Their women, dressed in fine linen, or silk if they had it, gave their husbands sultry eyes and sighs and pouts to loosen their purse strings.  Sometimes it worked.

A small child, golden-haired and sticky-faced from some concoction the food vendors sold, almost ran into the fighter where he sat on his bench, but was rescued at the last minute by the strong hands of another fighter, younger, dark-haired, and smiling.

“Whoa there, little guy.  You don’t want to bump into my friend Hawk.  He might eat you,” the black-haired mercenary said, steering him clear of the bench.

The little boy’s eyes grew big.  The young man gave the boy a pat on the backside and the child took off running.

“Eat him, eh? Muirnin, you are an ass,” Hawk said as the young man joined him.  “Ought to eat you for keeping me waiting.”

“Sorry,” Muirnin said.  “There was this woman over by old Deasun’s tent.”

Hawk snorted.  “There’s always a woman.”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Apple Trees

A man  walked down the path, looking tired and burdened, dressed in a black suit and beige overcoat.  Catching his breath, he ran fingers through his graying hair, looking around him.  It had been a long time since he had been here last.

"Do you remember, Mary?" he said softly, even though he was alone.  "Do you  remember  the first time you brought me here?"

He looked around, and remembered. It was a day in early spring, and still cool, and the apples were in full bloom, white arms lifted against a hazy blue sky.  The trees were blooming in a little hollow, with a natural berm on one side and a post and rail fence on the other, but no gate.  Mary, her blonde hair pulled into a ponytail,  tugged his hand as she led him into the orchard.  Her cheeks and nose were red from walking in the cool.  His breath caught a little when she turned to check on his progress  and he saw her looking at him with a sparkle in her eyes.

"Hurry up!  Come on!" she urged.  "I know the perfect place!"

"I'm coming!" he replied.  "So where is it?"

He let go of her hand and watched her climb a path halfway up the rise behind the grove.  There, a large shelf of rock jutted out.  Last year's weeds framed it, brown and crispy, with just a little bit of new green peeking through.  Jumping on the rock, she turned around in circles, her scarf and golden hair dancing around her as  she leaned her head back and raised her arms to the sky.

"Here!" she said.  "Come join me!"

He scrambled up the trail while she sat down and pulled her jean-covered knees close to her body, wrapping her arms around them.

"Do you come up here often?" he said, dropping down beside and a little behind her.

She nodded.  "It's nice and peaceful.  You can't see the street from here.  It's easy to think you're somewhere far away from town, out in the country, just you and the sky and the trees.  On a good day, when the wind is right, I've even seen deer coming through the orchard."

"Better not let my brother know.  He'd try to be out here next deer season," he said.

Mary tilted her head and looked thoughtful for a moment, then smiled."Oh, I don't think so.  It's still in town here."

"Lucky deer," he said. He moved in a little closer and wrapped his arm around her.  She looked up at him, surprised, but smiled, and leaned against him.  The wind picked up a little, and blew a strand of her hair across his face.  It tickled, but he didn't want to move and spoil the moment.

"I really like it here when the trees are blooming," she said.  "Everything's so beautiful."

"Yeah," he replied, but it wasn't the trees he was looking at.

She turned and looked at him.  Her eyes were blue with hazel rings, and he thought he could fall into her eyes forever.  She reached up, and touched his cheek.  His hand slid up to her neck, and surprising even himself, he kissed her, gently, softly.

Suddenly, they both pulled back, as if surprised.

"Do it again," she whispered.

Breaking out of his memory, his body suddenly ached at the recollection of that second kiss and the emptiness he felt now.  "Mary," he whispered.  Shaking his head, he walked down the road.

So much had changed since he was here last.  The town had grown, and houses had popped up everywhere.  He found the old  rise, and even the rock slab.  Pulling his coat closed against the cool autumn wind, he walked out on it and looked down.  Instead of an apple grove, there was a park here, with a slide and swings and things for kids to climb up on.

"I guess the apple trees had to go, like you did," he said.  "But I think you'd like the park.  It looks like it's still a happy place."

He watched two children at play for several minutes, their mothers talking together on a park bench, then thought of deer and lost youth and the hole in his heart, and went back to his car.   He headed back to his daughter's house where they waited for him with food and soft looks and visits from well-wishers who offered sympathy after his loss, but what he really wanted was to go home.

He just didn't know if he'd ever really  find it again.

A New Blog!

And what is this one about?  It's about my journey through space and time as a writer.  About those things that catch my eye.  About what I think is new and interesting.  Stuff.

Maybe you'll find it interesting.  Hope so!  If so, come join me!