Archive | January 3, 2017

Patreon: Thresholds and Liminal places; Laying the Foundation (repost)

The poll has spoken!

The theme for January is Thresholds and Liminal Spaces. For a $5/month pledge, you can leave all the prompts you want.

Doorways literal and figurative, steps into new lives, leaving beyond the old – it’s a good theme for a new year.

Prompt Here

This was originally posted on February 15, 2012; it’s an early-ish story of Stranded world and it involves both thresholds and transitions.


“I think you should come hang out next weekend,” Calgary told Autumn, over the last beer of the last day of Faire. “Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur are building a house.”

“Seriously?” she raised an eyebrow. She was far too drunk to be polite when faced with that.

Calgary grinned, and quaffed her beer. “Three friends of mine, been together since college. Not Faire folk but fair folk, if you know what I mean…

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First: Slaves, School
Previous: Supplicant

One more time, Des opened a small black door under a wide sweeping staircase. He hesitated, hand on the doorknob. Was this a test? Was he supposed to try the wide stairs?

His collar was quiet. He held the door politely for Halthinia, who smirked at him and stepped through.

This time, the hallway was not dark. Smooth, off-grey tiles went forward about the width of the stairs above, and then split in three directions. Halthinia waited at the split for him.

The collar was quiet. Des raised his eyebrows.

“This isn’t the sort of challenge your compatriot can help you with, I’m afraid. As a matter of fact, listening to it in this case could cause you a great deal of sorrow in the future.”

“We’re supposed to work together,” he complained. “And you want me to ignore it?”

“Yes. Because this is a very important point.” Halthinia held up a device the size of a deck of cards to the golden collar adorning their bare neck. “You will obey orders; that is your primary directive as a collared person. You will consult your collar; that is your secondary directive, and a requirement of the magic. But this is more important than anything else: you will not forget your self. If you do, horrible things can happen — to you, to your collar, to the city. And, as such, certain decisions must be made without your collar’s input, and without concern for its opinion on the matter.”

“It’s as if…” Des posited carefully, “you are choosing the shoes you’ll wear for the next year? And your mother and father and sisters all wish to pick those shoes as well? But your feet will be the ones that pinch and blister if you pick shoes that don’t suit.”

“That is a very good analogy.” Halthinia’s eyes went to Desmond’s shoes. Des’ eyes, in turn, went to Halthinia’s robe. It was a very stately look, suitable for judges and other public figures. Des wasn’t sure he wanted to wear it every day, even if it did come with more comfortable shoes.

Thinking about shoes made another question come to his mind. “Who pays for all this? The school, the uniforms, the testing?”

Halthinia’s smile was mischievous. “Why, you do, of course. That is-” Both of Halthinia’s hands went up, forestalling Des’s questions. “-the school profits from the labor of the collared people. Not all of the profits go into the school, of course; some goes into the comforts for the collared people. But you, the school, you are considered one now, much in the way you and your collar are now considered one. Except for decisions such as this one.”

Des wasn’t entirely sure he’d been avoiding the decision, but Halthinia’s reminder brought him abruptly back to the intersection in front of them. “So, uh…”

He didn’t want to guess; that didn’t seem to be the way this place worked. And he wasn’t supposed to listen to his collar on this matter….

“This is where you decide how you are most comfortable handling things. Are you an intellectual,” Halthinia gestured to the left, “preferring to learn things from books? Are you more physical, preferring to work through a problem with your hands?” This came with a gesture directly forward. “Or are you intuitive, preferring to feel your magic?”

His mother would say he went with his gut. He knew that much. She’d always complained that he spent too long feeling and far too little time thinking. It meant he said the wrong thing more often than not, did the inappropriate thing when there was something to be lost because it felt right , got angry when he should smile. Like shouting at Halthinia that it wasn’t fair, as if fairness had anything to do to with anything.

His sisters would say that he was far too intellectual, that he spent too much time in his books and his thoughts, that he thought far too high above their station. He was pretty, they’d point out. He should be worried about pretty things and not about numbers he’d never be able to work with in the real world. Kids from Lesser Hunstsworth and Red Aisle did not end up in jobs where they spent a lot of time counting, not unless they met the right people. Like figuring out a magic trick to go up the stairs. Like asking inappropriate questions like what does it feel like when a collar dies?

HIs father would say that he was too physical. When he got angry, he’d hit things. People, sometimes. He was prone to getting into brawls that left his mother and sisters despairing and his father trying to tell him, once again, that he needed to calm down. Brawlers, too, didn’t get jobs that let them sit comfortably. Sometimes, brawlers ended up on conscript ships, and those were the ships least likely to be seen again, when they went to the edge of the horizon.

He hadn’t punched anyone since he got here, but, then again, he hadn’t been given anyone he wanted to punch, either.

Desmond sighed. “Is it this hard for everyone to decide?”

“Some people decide quickly and without thought, and it is easy for them.” Halthinia’s answer came with a small smirk. “And some people deliberate forever on what other people think of them.”

Desmon winced. “If only my family agreed.”

“To be entirely frank, if your family agreed, you would be far less likely to be here. That’s part of the choosing, you see.” Halthinia patted Des’ head lightly. “What does your gut tell you?”

He smirked, a little amused. “That it’s only one of three choices.”

“Very good, very good.” Halthinia smiled broadly at him. “I’ll be quiet and let you think about it, shall I?”

“I hope you brought a picnic.” Des sat down on the floor. “I might be a while about this.”


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New Year, New Goals, New Everything…

It’s a new year! It’s an arbitrary marker, of course, but I find I like arbitrary markers. I like resolutions. I like clean slates.

(This is starting to sound like the piece of fiction I wrote for January-by-the-numbers Day One).
I’m going to Do Things in 2017. Lots of things. Well, okay. I’m going to do a reasonable number of things.

I’m going to get my 365-day streak in 4theWords, because when you do that, you get fancy wings. I’m at 50-something now. I can do that.

Cal & I started our new project, so that’s a daily writing goal for me – which is conveniently just about a streak-making wordcount on 4thWords.

There’s other writing, of course: Edally and the novella thing, Patreon and all the little long-running stories here, the January By The Numbers posts (and so on and so on and so on and…)

I’m back on the weight-loss wagon, because I really want to do this. Which also means walking every day that I can stand to. T’s been looking at fountain pens (my 15-lbs goal) a lot lately, so that and my backsliding in Nov-December is really getting me geared up to do this, really do this.

Which means keeping track of everything, so hooray just starting a brand new bullet journal.

On pretty paper. With pretty pens, and banners, and all the whole shebang.

(tis a Mnemosyne, with very nice paper, a little smaller than I wanted but quite nice. Here’s a blurry picture).

I want to get the house tidy and keep it that way. I want to actually DO things in spring for the garden.

I want to work actively and consistently on the house.

I want to take a vacation, actually go somewhere. Probably the Adirondacks.

I think it’ll be a good year. I think I’m going to try for monthly goals rather than yearly, small, reachable mobile targets.

What about you? How’s your 2017 shaping up?

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January By the Numbers Three: Butterflies (Fiction piece)

January by the numbers starts here!
From [personal profile] anke‘s prompt “butterflies;” a story of Addergoole (Year 9 character)

“So, I’m going to teach you a few very important things, and when you have figured them out, I want you to be sure you think about them as examples, not just as truths in themselves. Allegories, all right?”

Alhandra remembered her father’s stories for years. The one about the monk who climbed the mountain. The one about the monkey who made bad promises. The one about the princess with the sword. This, this always stuck in her mind, in part because he didn’t start out like he always did:

I’m going to tell you a tale, and when I’m done, perhaps you can tell me what you learned.

All of his tales were lessons, but these, somehow, these were supposed to be more important.

So Alhandra remembered.

“Butterflies first. Pretty things, butterflies, small and fragile, right? They’re not the most dangerous-looking things around. Lots of people are like butterflies, angel. They look pretty, they look weak, like they won’t last too long. You know the sort.”

Allhandra nodded. She knew the type, all right, even then.

“Butterflies can be poison. And people who are beautiful, they can be poison, too. They can be deadly.” He touched her hair, gently. “They don’t have to be. The little butterflies that wander around the meadow behind the house, they’re safe. And not all pretty people are poison – that’s important, too. But you know about the viceroy butterfly, how it imitates the monarchs? Remember that. Some people are poison in a pretty coat, and some people are harmless and look like poison.”

“So… look beyond the wings?”

“It’s more important than you’d think it is, princess. Not just the pretty faces, but the pretty words. Not just the pretty words, but the soft touches. You have to really, really know someone before you know if they’re poison or just pretending.”

“What’s the next part?”

“Noam!” Alhandra’s mother had called from the back yard at that point. “Noam, it’s time.”

She’d had to wait for another day to learn about sharks.

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