a piece of fabric lies cluttered beside rail tracks its owner misplaced
did she run along the train’s rails, heart in her throat, or did her dress tear
did she see the beast leave the shadows of the trees no bones or blood tracked
The Girl Running Beside the Train Tracks
Millie lost her shoe in the flight from whatever lunged after her. She’d been about to tie her laces at the time. Bent down, she’d heard a noise. Low, keening. Like a wounded animal. She’d thought perhaps a dog—
And gone to look. Eyes hooded like a snake; the beast had crept from the woods. She’d shouted but no one came. Perhaps the train drowned out all sound from around her. Gusting down the tracks, the people inside paid her no mind as they went about their travels. Never mind, that she’d been a passenger. She’d gotten down to investigate some flowers and that was that.
She raced down the path beside the rails, the beast coming near enough to snatch a piece of her purple dress. It spun her around as it did so. She stumbled and braced herself on a tree trunk. Please. Whatever god was out there—
She wanted to live. To grow up. To do so many things.
Why she hadn’t even kissed a frog and turned it into a prince yet.
Okay, maybe that was a stretch. But what about the pony she wanted? Surely, she should have that. Or at least, a kitten.
She sucked in air. Must run. She bolted toward the blue sky ahead. Someone, help.
The beast panted behind her, its claws snarling in her hair. It swung her around. She batted at it, pushing those great snapping jaws to the side. Her gaze widened at the trickle of blood on its paw. She examined it further, the beast stifling its rage. At once, she saw the problem.
The thorn removed; the beast bowed to her. “My thanks.” He gestured to a saddled and bridled pony. “Yours.”
Dead windows wait for the joy of the children once roomed within their walls
curtains hang limp with dust as a stillborn cries
pictures decay while tears drop
The House on Vasket Street
They’d moved in three months ago. Dreams full. Hopes high. Delaney inspected her face in the passenger mirror window. Her face had filled out. She patted her stomach. Any day now. She glanced over at Keith and the twins in the back street. Life was good.
The moving van pulled in front of the house while they parked in the drive.
Shouted orders came from one of the guys in the truck to his fellow crew.
Keith smiled at her and rushed to unlock the door for the movers while she rested her head back and closed her eyelids.
Had that only been three months ago? It seemed a lifetime as they wheeled her into the operating room. An emergency C-section. She ignored the nurses’ whispers about her paleness. She’d heard too much of that conversation of late. She didn’t need anyone to tell her what she saw when she glanced in the mirror: she’d failed.
She bowed her head over the basinet as the moving van came.
The twins giggled down the hall as their daddy played with them for perhaps the last time in a long while.
She’d failed at marriage too.
Tears scattered on the floor, catching on the frame of a picture.
And then a loving-hand found hers and crouched beside her, his sobs mingling with her own.
“I’m sorry so sorry,” he said.
“It’s me you need to forgive.”
“It isn’t your fault.”
They kissed. The movers waited out on the curb.
“I’ll tell them.” He stood and she wandered down the hall to the twins.
Perhaps things weren’t perfect. Life rarely worked that way. But it was time for a new start. She hugged her children and led them downstairs to make dinner for her family.
We were given the words “blessed” and “hexed.” I chose to use the synonyms, holy and damned in three tankas of 5/7/5, 3/5/3, and 2/3/2. I also added a story. Hope you enjoy!
deep in prayer the monk folded his hands upon the trio of stones
lost in flight the angel waited damned to hear
blamed for her part in his lies
The Angel and the Monk
They met by a pool in the gardens. The monk often went there to pray. He didn’t know she was listening or so she thought. In truth, he lured her there each night with his praise of her lord.
She thought it sad that such a poetic man called on the devil to strengthen his claim to the temple.
He entrusted his soul to her keeping, sure that she would pass it on to her Master. But she could not. For the angel had fallen. As all the damned do. They are like butterflies hovering close to the flower. Always seeking, searching for the best beneath, they do not see the trap until it is too late.
Such is the fate of the cursed.
Now, she is bound to the chambers of sin where the monk goes each night to pray. Not for forgiveness or to save his people. His are for the dark to rise him as a might throughout the land. He will be feared and above all. Never to fall. Or so he thought.
And as such, they play out their hex. One drawn to the other who wishes to break the chains and find hope again.
Writerly Things 6/25/2020: How Important is Appearance in Characters?
Do you take the usual path? Describing a character in details galore? Draw back just a little. What’s most important about them? What sets them apart from others?
Is it Their Eyes?
Stan is at the coffee corner table and sips his Dragon fruit smoothie when in walks a redhead with green eyes. Err, boring. If all you do is list attributes, you’re leaving so much more info off the table. What if they had cat eyes? Or red orb eyes with veins bulging? That would more likely need to be explained. But normal eye color you can maybe pass on.
The shape of their eyes might be noted if it’s unusual. Maybe they have no eyelids. There could be no iris. Again, mention the eyes if there’s something different to mention. Sooner or later you’re going to veer into characters that are “other.” They shouldn’t all resemble us.
What About Their Height?
Too ordinary. Again, unless he or she is a giant. Or tiny. They could be bent with age. Paralyzed from birth. Make it count. Make them an individual. If you do, your readers will dig into the material. They want larger-than-life characters for a reason.
Look at Harry Potter. A boy wizard had never been done before. Much less one with a jagged scar like a bolt of lightning shared by his common enemy. It instantly placed an image of the boy into the readers’ minds and they came back for more time after time.
What about Katniss? In the book, she’s described with dark hair and olive skin. Only the dark hair stayed through casting. It’s her attitude and force of strength that bring her alive as a character. There’s nothing she wouldn’t do to save her sister.
In Throne of Glass, Calaena has the appearance of a human but what’s inside her brings a monster to call in times of battle. Others think she’s weak. That being female will make her no match. When they find out otherwise, it’s too late. She fights from freedom from a king that caged her and uses everyone he knows.
In Graceling, Katsa can kill a man without touching him. She is an assassin for the king but seeks a better life. When an opportunity for freedom comes, she takes it despite the companion she must travel with. Do you need to know her physical details to describe her? No, the lethal force she can use against others reveals her character to the reader. She both takes lives and saves them.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely is about a girl who is kidnapped into the land of the beast. To save a kingdom, she must overcome the curse that keeps him and his guard captive by a powerful sorceress. Can she face off with her despite her disability?
You see. You don’t need to go down to the button of their coat. Unless it’s important. A few details that set them apart from other characters are what matter. Is he a proud king? A hateful prince? Is she destined to be a slave? Or a witch to be slaughtered? Maybe she’s a Danish girl fighting alongside her Viking warrior?
However, you describe your characters, give them purpose. Show why we should care about them. Put them in the middle of the action. Make someone they care about be in danger. Destroy their world. Save their loved ones. Or let a few fall. The more reason for her to go on. Those left behind will give her something and someone to fight for. That brings out a character’s qualities.
My parents were friends with one of the most prolific pulp writers of his day, W. T. Ballard (who also had several pseudonyms). I was too young to realize how cool that was. I wish I’d been aware enough to ask him some intelligent questions about writing! (I’ve blogged about Ballard before.) Fortunately, I was the recipient of many of his paperback books and a collection of his stories for Black Mask about a Hollywood troubleshooter named Bill Lennox. Lennox was like a PI, but did his work for a studio. I thought that was a nice departure from pure detective.
So I decided to create a troubleshooter of my own. The first thing I did was write up a backstory for him:
WILLIAM “WILD BILL” ARMBREWSTER was born in 1899 in Cleveland,”
YA also appeals to multi-generations of readers, evolving from the single-problem stories of an after school special to the mega-blockbusters we see today. One thing is for sure: readers of all ages are gobbling up these stories.
Writers today have questions about how this multifaceted category works, and whether their novel is actually YA. Below are tips to help you answer these questions. (Plenty of examples and ways to enhance your current story are included.)”
5. https://writershelpingwriters.net/2020/06/conflict-thesaurus-entry-being-mistaken-for-someone-else/ “Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.
It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.”
Dozmary Pool is a small and isolated lake left behind by a glacier. Around it the remains of flint-working have been found, suggesting it was a gathering place for early Man and there are many prehistoric remains in the area. The waters of Dozmary feed nearby Colliford Lake and it is one of the sources of the River Fowey. There are no trees and no shelter, and although the ordinary world measures its depth at around ten feet, it is said to be bottomless. Perhaps it is, for the waters of Dozmary mirror only the vastness of the sky and the light that shimmers and sparkles in its wind-born ripples. You can imagine that at night, here where there are few traces of modern man, the still surface would reflect the stars and would indeed appear to hold infinity within its heart.”
3. https://marciamearawrites.com/2020/06/26/how-to-publish-with-kdp-part-eleven/ “Harmony Kent is back on Story Empire today with #11 in How to Publish with KDP: How to Preview Your Book. This step is very important, and one that writers need to pay close attention to. Check out Harmony’s full instructions and illustrations to see just how to handle it. Don’t forget to pass the post along so others can check it out, as well, thanks. And thanks to Harmony for such a helpful post! 🙂”
Know the definition of an underdog. That means the hero is considered to have little or no chance of success. It doesn’t mean that they are the strongest character in the story, but have a long walk ahead of them. They need to be at a level below whatever they are facing to be a real underdog.
The title doesn’t remain indefinitely. Yes, I’m using two tips to drive this point home because people don’t get it. An underdog can become powerful enough to be a real contender. As soon as he or she wins, he is no longer an underdog as well. The best example I can think of is Rocky Balboa. He was the underdog in the first two movies since nobody thought he had a chance and he was lacking. The rest of the series, he’s the champion or a powerful contender. Don’t mistake a character being slightly weaker for having not chance either. Yeah, he lost to Clubber Lang, but I still don’t believe he regained the underdog title.”
The graph below presents the increase in sales in April (red bar) and May 2020 (blue bar) compared to the same months last year. One notable conclusion is that sales have increased for every single outlet, in some cases as much as almost 300%.”
1. https://middlegrademojo.com/2020/06/23/mo-books-the-oddmire-book-2-the-unready-queen-by-willam-ritter/ “Today is the official release of William Ritter’s second book in the Oddmire Series, THE UNREADY QUEEN. Readers and reviewers alike enjoyed book one in the Oddmire series, THE CHANGLING. Publishers Weekly said that “Ritter crafts a well-paced adventure filled with whimsy and peril, in which the bonds of family and love prove stronger than any spell or curse. With memorable characters—especially the irrepressible protagonists, who make a delightful team—and an atmospheric setting, this is a strong series opener.” You should pick up THE CHANGLINGand the THE UNREADY QUEEN today!”
2. http://www.literaryrambles.com/2020/06/niki-lenz-interview-and-stepmom-skake.html “Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Niki Lenz here to share about her new MG humorous contemporary THE STEPMOM SKAKE-UP. It sounds like a great story that is funny but also deals with contemporary issues that middle graders go through. Niki is also the author of another MG funny book, BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN, which got fantastic reviews.
Here’s a blurb of THE STEPMOM SHAKE-UP from Goodreads:
After Grace’s mom died, she and her dad grew extra close. They have special nicknames and are always busy with new projects-like building a puppy condo for their dog, Potus- and they love learning random facts about the US presidents. Grace thinks her little family of two is perfect.”
Delightful blogger and fascinating person, Pat at e-Quips recently did a post about bells. I stumbled upon it after I wrote this chapter, but Bells was a perfect random reader thing for today. I only had to make a minor adjustment to use it.
Also, I was finally able to use a “thing” that was sent months ago from one of my original followers, author and translator, Olga Núñez Miret. She comes up with such fabulous things, like Papyrus!”
“…Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time…”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
a man broken, battered wins valor on the field he gives all, defends all gladly hero
Adam struggled to raise his head. He didn’t know how long it’d been since the bomb dropped. The other men beside him lay or toppled in the dugout. Ringing clamored for his attention. He held his head. Calm. Stay calm. It isn’t over yet.
Would they come for him soon? Climbing over rubble and barbwire dipped in blood? He swallowed. Images drilled into him. Mary and the baby. His brother. His best friend. They’d both been taken years before in this long war. Was he to join them?
He bowed his head. Keep me strong.
Footsteps sounded above.
He drew back into the dugout. Was he to be a prisoner then? Did they even keep prisoners anymore? Maybe a firing squad would greet him.
When the silence drew on longer, he peered out. Men in robes scouted the area. Monks here? He rubbed his eyes. Were those—wings?
He lay back. Blood slathered his hand. Whose? Stars clouded his vision. He sank into blackness. Cold air woke him. Where had the angels gone? No one laid strewn about the dugout. He crawled to the top for a glimpse. Bombs and smoke had cleared. He climbed further out.
Barbwire snagged his pants. Pain battered him. Sweat glistened on his skin as he pulled at the wire to remove it. It had gone deep but was no worse than any of the other thousand wounds that scarred him. He crept through the field.
A light shone on him.
He covered his head and lay still.
The light departed.
His breath returned.
A light breeze cooled his skin. He sighed. What he’d give for air-conditioning and a home-cooked meal again. He continued on. The light swept the area again. Just as before, he froze.
What did it want with him?
Why wouldn’t it let him be?
Something touched his hand and he belted out a scream.
Hoarse, ragged, he thirsted.
Still no one appeared.
Was he the lone survivor of the war? Had he been caught in some Twilight Zone episode? Why didn’t his enemies recover him? He could do nothing to save himself.
He came across a pack. Dog tags in hand, he read what was written: To the lone soldier. May blessings find you.
With a shake of his head, he rummaged through the pack. Maybe there was something usual to be found. His hand curled around a bottle of water and he quenched his thirst. Deeper in, he found some jerky and a can of Spam. He hungrily devoured each. What else was in here?
He withdrew some Neosporin, gauze, and tape and dressed his wounds. Another search recovered a bottle of Ibuprofen. He smiled. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.
“Can I help you, son?”
He jerked his head up.
Maybe it was the ringing. He’d just imagined it. He considered the pack and its contents again. Might come in useful. He strapped it to his back and pulled himself onward.
“You have no need to flee.”
He jerked left and right and beheld no one. What was happening? Was he losing his mind? Imagining it all? Perhaps he was asleep in his tent right now. The boys would sure have a laugh at his expense when he told them. He waited to wake but no sirens blasted the camp.
A shadow fell over him. As he looked up, he wheezed. Winged beings surrounded him. One gently squeezed his hand.
“You are safe with us.”
“W-who are you?”
They smiled. “Don’t you know?”
A memory from childhood hit him. Drawings he and his brother had done in Sunday school. “Are you-angels?”
The tallest gestured for the others to raise him up. “Time to go home, soldier. Your family awaits.”
A vision of his mother, father, and brother around the table at dinner delivered him to his chair.
“Pass the mashed potatoes,” his brother said.
His mother smiled at him and placed several pieces of turkey on his plate. Corn on the cob and honey-glazed carrots already resided there. He eyed the peach cobbler in the center of the table and grinned. His favorites. Now what had he been worried about? Ah. It didn’t matter. All days from here forward would be Thanksgiving Days.
How many of you have started to view masks as the normal wear when out and about? It’s strange how it’s gone from weird to just another part of the day. How will we be changed for the better and worse when this is all over?
What’s the Newest Item in Your Life?
Mine is a cellphone from Sprint. I wasn’t planning on one, but I was looking at them for my daughter and came home with one for each of us. I hope to add my son to those in the future. I never thought I’d be texting (not while driving) and learning the different buttons on the keyboard. It takes some getting used to. Even now, I haven’t used it all that much, but I wanted one for emergencies and for those times I need to have a question answered by a loved one while out.
I used to glance at those going through the store with a cellphone in hand and wonder why they couldn’t wait to ask a question till they were home. Now, I get it. Do we need a gallon of milk? How are we on bread? And with the crisis times: this is what they have available. What should I choose? It’s easier to ask picky eaters than to waste food.
Still, I didn’t see myself as part of the cellphone crowd. Until recently. Now, I find it essential.
Being Labeled Essential or Non-Essential.
It’s a tough roll call for folks. How can I say to someone: what you do doesn’t matter? Stay home. Since the virus happened though that’s been happening to a lot of folks. Some factories have switched what they’re making. Still with all those making ventilators, why are we still behind? Shouldn’t our hospitals be bursting with sanitizers and equipment they need?
Sadly, no. People are dying. Because there are no hospitals to take them to. Or no equipment to help them. Maybe there’s even fear in a person to not ask for help until it’s too late. Hey, this business has all turned us inside out. Now animals are getting COVID-19. Where will it end?
Will More Panic Turn Us On Each Other?
When will neighbor start calling on neighbor? Maybe they’re ticked at a bush in your yard that obscures their view. They might not like your dog treading on their lawn. Have they always envied you your fruit trees? China used others to spy on one another. Why wouldn’t it happen elsewhere?
It’s a scary thought that we might not be able to trust those we live beside. Will that policeman sent to investigate even listen to your side? Whose rights are more important? The few or the majority? It would seem the few have called the shots in the recent days as democratic states are being targeted by Trumpers Forever. I find it sad that a president would stir others to violence and protest with his tweets. Should he even be allowed in office? It’s eerie to hear his own words echo from loved ones as well. That our freedom is being crushed. Um, excuse me? This virus is serious business. Not a ploy to steal our rights from citizens.
What the Future Holds.
I’m not going to make predictions here. I only mean to say, I hope as a nation, we do not fall or lose our way. If we can get past the North versus the South, surely, we can find a way past all this unrest. Sometimes, I wish I could stay inside and never venture out but there are things that must be done. Mail to be checked. Groceries to buy. Prescriptions to pick up. We need to somehow find our way back together again. We had disagreements in the past, yes, but we stood together on important matters. As long as there are politicians, they will be strife. We need to remember it’s the common people who hold the weight of a country and elect leaders who include us all not just the minority.
What am I saying? I guess don’t lose sight of our common ground. Our loved ones and what’s best for them. All our votes matter not one more than another. Have a great week, take care, and God bless.
Writerly Things 4/6/2020: Confinement and the Writer
We spend so much time practicing our craft, when we look up days could’ve gone by. If we’re not interacting with a spouse or kids even longer. So why is the confinement to our homes bothering us so much?
When We’re Forced to do Something.
Put simply, we resist. We start getting the itch to get outdoors, to see someone. We want to spend time with our friends or extended family. We go out of our way to talk to neighbors even over the smallest thing. Yeah, confinement has the opposite effect of what our officials are trying to do. It makes us want to get out more.
So how do We Combat the Rebellion?
First, we stop looking at our circumstances as imprisonment. We are with family. Maybe we didn’t spend so much time together before the shelter went into place but now’s our chance to rectify that. Get to know one another again. Play some games. Watch some TV together. Listen to some music. Compare notes to how things are now to when they were children to when you were children. Get everyone involved in the discussion. Ask grandparents to tell their stories. It’ll set off a chain reaction of interest and research.
Maybe you didn’t know much about WWII. Listen to what happened to your elders. Again, research. Learn as much as you can. Regroup and inform others what you’ve learned. Try to find documentaries or movies on such. Feed your mind further by reading about the subject. Everything can be a learning project.
Discover Where You Came From.
Research family roots. Make it a family project. Divide up ancestors and see what each can learn about theirs. Bring the info together, study it. Decide what fits and what might not apply. Don’t be too hasty to discard a fact though, just like a puzzle, you might find the piece fits later down the line. Start a chart. Record from your immediate family members back to as far as you can. Do you know about one branch of family more than others? Make a priority to learn something new about the forgotten side.
Call other family members up or visit on the pc or a smartphone. Talk to them about growing up, what they remember. The more details you can put to each family member the better. Some families kept Bibles. In them, they recorded family history. Ask if anyone has them. If you could get a peek inside one, it could save you years of research.
What About the Younger Generation?
Do you know your children’s favorite song? Band? Movie? And so on? Do they like anything beyond sports, band, the theater? Are they maybe into the high school newsletter? Makeup? Fashion? Creative writing? Have you spent time talking to them about what they’re into? Now’s the perfect time to open up a channel that might not happen again in today’s busy lives. Listen to what they’re doing. Where they want to go.
Help them dig into info on the subjects dear to their hearts. They’ll remember in later years that you were willing to try to see their viewpoint. Don’t judge them or try to change their minds. Just let them go and discover what they will about it. If they fail, they’ll learn there’s something better out there then what they thought. And they won’t look back with hurt that you didn’t care enough to allow them to try.
I get it. Parents want to keep their kids from getting hurt. But controlling them isn’t the way to do it. You have to let them go and experience what they will in life. They’ll respect you for it. Come back to you for advice. Listen to what you have to say on a subject. All because you took the time and didn’t push. Open up a conversation today. You won’t regret it. Take care and God bless.
The tiny kitten inspected the flower in its crack on the sidewalk. It smelled—different. Not like the scents he was used to growing up on the streets. He pawed at the stem. It sprang back and forth. His whiskers twitched. This was odd. Playful. Not like his other toys out here. This one seemed tamed, polished and yet, it was wild like him.
He sniffed the dew of the morning. Another day out in the sun. At least, it didn’t rain like yesterday. Yesterday, had drenched even his hiding spot under the alley’s porch.
The brisk sound of heels on the sidewalk sent him scurrying under the porch. He hid until only a faint sound remained of the well-dressed woman. Out in the open again, he returned to the flower. Why did it hang about so? Why didn’t it choose to hide like the kitten? What kept it rooted to its spot?
A siren blared in the distance.
He backed against the brick wall of the building behind him.
This had to be a trick. Something to get him to come out and play. Just as the children had tried to do a few days ago. He stared at the flower suspiciously. Why didn’t it fight back? Protect itself?
Its smile was forlorn.
It looked in need of a pick-me-up.
He approached it again. Hello?
The breeze brushed the petals. It leaned toward the kitten and gently stroked his pink nose.
He scooted back further. It—liked—him.
How did he feel about it?
It was a curious thing, for sure. All gentle and no prickers.
It was built for a meadow not this sidewalk. But here, it’d leaped to life. Maybe that’s why it wanted to make friends.
He walked around it. Sat down. The wind tickled it again. He reached out and tested it with his claws. It didn’t jump back or hiss or spit. It stayed up, bright and sunny. A welcome.
A homeless woman traveled down the alleyway; her cart pushed out before her with her finds for the day.
He scampered under the porch before she could find him.
Before long, the stars came out. He drifted off to sleep. Movement woke him. A rodent rummaged in the trash on the other side of the porch. Quick as a snake, he hurtled toward it, caught it in his claws, and snapped its neck. Dinner for the night. Pleased with himself, he scurried under the porch and ate.
The sun came up and the flower bid him welcome.
He touched it with his paw. Perhaps it would bring him good luck.
He darted down the alley, hunger coursing through him in zigzags of lightning. One small meal in a week didn’t curb the longing. He searched and found—nothing. He returned to the flower and discovered a small can of something wet and delicious next to his porch home. With a quick taste, he found it scrumptious.
Morning saw a new can placed outside the porch. He gulped it down. With a glance at the flower, he wondered who could be putting it there? The old woman with the cart? The kids?
He heard a click of heels and hunched down inside his hideout.
The woman bent down and placed another can. She stepped away.
He crawled out and tasted it.
She hadn’t gone far. “Hello, kitty,” she said.
He scurried inside. Peeked out.
She was still there.
His whiskers tested the air.
“It’s okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
And she did. And the next day after that. Pretty soon, she got to be as regular as the flower. One day, he let her pet him. Another, he allowed her to pick him up, scratch behind his ear. Still more days passed before he let her take him home. From her apartment, he could see the tiny flower, its friendship still abloom.
Below are three haiku and a story inspired by the theme, “The Night Sky,” by Sally Cronin. The syllables are in the form of 5/7/5, 3/5/3, and 2/3/2.
Three Haiku and a story
colored in eggshells the dust of the ancients hangs bright in the air
bright dots blink stars and planets glimpse mystery
wonder cherubic legend
Ayian had been too long in the stars.
She wanted to go home but wasn’t sure there even was a home to go to. The stars blinked around her, their secrets lost to her after all these years.
Would the Captain still be there?
Would the boy she’d loved?
Why had she left? Oh, yes. He’d gone on to adventure first. She couldn’t stand the loneliness, the waiting. Out here, she thought she’d find the answer. Share the mystery and wonder of all the divinity. But if there were any gods, they were hiding. Now, she longed for the ship she’d spent her teen years on, learning, growing, finding love. The home she’d known before that was gone. Decimated by hunger and fear.
In the end, her people had gone mad.
If she stayed out here any longer, she feared she would as well.
She longed for the crew she’d journeyed with, the places they’d gone.
Out here, there was little adventure.
With those she called family, there was an oasis of worlds to explore.
Why had she left? Had she really been so childish as to want to nurse a heartache? Where had that gotten her? She could’ve seen her friends daily and eased the hurt over some ice cream. Instead, she’d pouted and gone off on her own, determined to make the best of things. Well, she hadn’t. At first, it’d been freeing. The unfamiliarity. Needing to work to survive. The Captain had warned her she would have to. Not that she didn’t believe him. She just didn’t want to think that far ahead. Not when the pain consumed her.
She brought the orb up and veered left. The ship should run into the coordinates the Captain left her at any time. From there she would hail him. She blinked. What would she do then? Join him in his retirement? Perhaps, he’d heard from the boy. Perhaps the boy was even now, waiting for her. She pushed faster. Could it be true?
Maybe but don’t count on it. He’d loved adventure more than her.
She fisted her hands.
Don’t remind her. He’d been so eager to go, so determined to leave her.
Like others through the years.
Only the Captain had been there for her in the end.
She’d waste no more time on the boy.
A signal flashed on her panel. She glanced down and recalculated. The Captain had picked up her arrival. She grinned. He was the father she’d never had.
She glided to the planet and docked at the port. Before she even made it to the ground, the Captain was there. He hugged her and commented how she’d grown lovelier than ever. Her gaze sparkled at his compliments.
Another figure moved beside him.
The boy. Grown into a man.
“He arrived just yesterday,” the Captain said.
She went into the boy’s arms stiffly.
“Ayian. I thought of you so often.”
She drew back and took in his dark hair streaked with silver, his blue eyes crinkled with age. “Are you even the same person?” she asked, direct and to-the-point as always.
He shrugged. “I’d like to find out if we’re the same couple.”
“But we were so young.”
“Love doesn’t age.”
“No, but it can grow stale.”
“I’d like a chance, just the same.”
She closed her eyes, thought of how they’d been, and nodded.
“Why don’t we start with a walk?” He directed her down off the plank with a touch of her elbow. She waved back at the Captain. He awarded her a smile.