Leo Got Mail

From where Leo sat beneath the sycamore, he could see the cars passing down below through the woods that separated Tobias and his house from the road. He watched them sometimes, absentmindedly, glimpsing them in pieces only. The branches dissected their wholeness, turned them into moving jigsaw. Today though, one slowed down and drew his mind closer in. It was white. It was large. And just as it went around the bend toward the mouth of Tobias's driveway, all the sound it cut into the air ceased to exist. It had stopped.

Leo stood and started down the hill, determined to distract the tresspasser, to redirect whatever curiosity might have brought this driver to his uncle's home. And then he realized. It was a mail truck. He heard it pull away before he even reached the top of the driveway. Tobias never received mail at his house. He only needed to check his post office box once a month. Why would a mail truck stop? Leo had wondered why Tobias kept a mailbox here at all, but he had never bothered to ask the old man.

And so for the first time in his many summers with Tobias, Leo checked the mail. He reached the mailbox in a rush but hesitated before opening it. He laughed at himself for being such a sissy, gave himself a shake, and opened the door to find a single envelope inside. No address. No return address. He pulled it out and tore it open. He laughed again. It had come from Lisa's house, an invitation to the neighborhood yard sale that afternoon. He knew from Lisa's complaints that her mother was in charge of getting word out. From the looks of things, she had been derelict in her duty. Perhaps she had given the mailman some cookies to convince him to help her make it right.

Leo had not planned on going. He had no use for hand-me-downs from strangers. Tobias provided well enough for both of them. Here was an invitation though. A temptation. A sign. A map to being one step closer to Lisa. He would go. A whole neighborhood of strangers would surround him like a gauntlet, but he would go.

He turned to walk back up the driveway and noticed something glinting at the corner of his eye. He took a closer look. A bottle holding what seemed to him like liquid topaz lay half-emptied where the ditch met the road. Its treasure trickled out before his eyes, and he rushed to pick it up. The label read "Jose Cuervo." Tequila.

Could this have been Mrs. Weatherholt's gift to the mailman? If so, here it was, offered up to Leo, a talisman, right beside the invitation. He had never been offered liquor before. His kind did not drink, and he had never even wondered why. It had never seemed like an option until this moment. And even though he knew a reason must exist (his kind had reasons for every omission and admittance), he cast the knowledge away in an instant and put the mouth of the bottle to his lips. One sip, down the throat. It burned, but burning was good, right? It meant it was working. More and more, on and on, down into his belly.

More to come in days ahead...

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Miss Serena Dale...

...83 years, seeks a partner in trade. You'll find her face still springy after all the years, creased a bit but well-moisturized and (she is often told) the pretty kind of pale. This well-worn face sits beneath a spray of deep brown hair that fizzes out to form a cotton candy crown through which a perfectly rounded, smooth and creamy scalp is startlingly visible. You'll find she is a sight to see and attracts interest from every demographic, at street fairs and in her home alike. Miss Dale is adept at reading crystal balls (or palms, in a pinch) but feels she will never glean the science of phrenology, having no lumps of her own on which to practice. Phrenologist wanted for joint endeavors.

So, that's my result for Day 6 of WFMAD. I still didn't stop myself at fifteen minutes, but most of the additional time I spent playing around a bit with editing. I'm going to make myself stop now though! This character is one I've been twiddling around with in my head for A Way Home, but I didn't know she was a psychic until tonight. I don't know how much of the above will be in her actual portrait (maybe some of it or maybe all of it), but I enjoyed writing it for its own sake! (I'm trying to capture a wonderful old woman I helped at the library whose hair was like this. She rocked.)

Today's prompt from 
Write a detailed personals ad for your character. It can be a character in your work-in-progress or someone you make up on the spot. Start with the physical description. Use details from the description as jumping off points to explore the history or life of the character. For example, Where did that scar on her calf come from? Is she still angry about it? Has she ever thought of turning it into a tattoo? What would it look like? Who in her life would it scandalize? Etc., etc.....

Jump, Shive, and Dwale?

 Here is my result from today's WFMAD prompt at halseanderson. I failed again at limiting myself to fifteen minutes (by about double), but I had fun, so I'll call it even. And please remember, I'd like to edit even more, but I'm making myself stop for now!

He rarely entered the kitchens. His status as a Priest of the High Rites kept him well above in the towers most days. Servants left his meals outside whichever door obscured him with his studies. He was too holy for their lowly eyes. Duty had brought him to the ovens today, though. The cook and kitchen hands cleared the room before he entered. 


He could see it in the center oven as he approached, crisp above the flames. The Dwale Loaf. He made the incantation and pulled his sleeves down over his hands for protection from the heat and from the devil's breath. It was the second time this year that a Dwale had been found, a Deceiver, and so the second time he had been called to search the woods for the devil's plant, the nightshade, and to prepare the poison the cooks would bake into the bread. 


He could imagine now the insipid Dwale, waiting at the altar for his unholy communion. If this false prophet survived the loaf, the priests would spare his life. They would punish his lies in prison, but Death would not be bothered. If the loaf killed him outright, the priests would applaud God's justice on a tainted soul. Oh but If it turned his mind away from God completely, made it ramble wicked and perverse, but left his body whole, they would scorch him in his flesh so that all would know the power of God's flame against the dark heart of deceit. 


His mind switched from the altar now to flames licking 'round a stake, the Dwale's false screams made impotent among the rising smoke. He smiled and hummed the noonday hymn as he shived the loaf, made it ready and right for its purpose.


Here's the prompt itself, in case you're interested (copied from 

halseanderson ):

Today's prompt: I've listed two obscure words below, along with some etymology and definition from the online Oxford English Dictionary. Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to write a riff on one or both words, or figure out a way to incorporate whatever you're writing. 

TO SHIVE: "[f.
 SHIVE n.1 Cf. ON. skífa.]  trans. To cut (bread) into slices.

1570 LEVINS Manip. 152/39 To shiue, dissecare. 1629 GAULE Holy Madn. 343 He shiues out his Bread by weight or measure.

DWALE: [In sense 1, a variant o
DWELE n., = OE. *dwela, dweola, dwola, dwala, error, heresy, madness; in sense 2 app. aphetic for OE. {asg}edweola, -dwola, etc. error, heresy, madness, also heretic, deceiver; f. ablaut-series dwel-, dwal-, dwol-: see DWELL v. Cf. OE. dwol- in comb. ‘erring, heretical’, and Goth. dwals ‘foolish’.]
I did a bit of research online to learn that dwale is another name for deadly nightshade as well, which I could not resist incorporating in my little scene. I also learned that the generic name for the dwale plant is "atropa."  I find that interesting because the word atropy seems to go right along with the definition of dwale posted in the prompt--madness, heresy, etc., both referring to some sort of order falling apart. (Look here for more info.)
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Wolf Watching

Since I'm not using this blog as an actual blog right now, I think it might be a good place to post my responses to the WFMAD (Write Fifteen Minutes a Day) challenge I joined over at halseanderson . Maybe I'll direct some friends to check it out at some point. I'm going to twist it a bit and try to write fifteen minutes (and only fifteen minutes) using her prompts on the days I don't work on my novel or A Way Home during August. I can see it will be a challenge, since I went over by five minutes tonight, my first night! (And, oh, I spent about five more minutes editing. Tomorrow I will prevail. But it is hard to stop editing!)

Today's prompt from halseanderson : Describe your writing space. Focus on the smallest details possible, not the big ones. Don't say there is a chair in the room; give details about the wear patterns of the rug under the chair, or the paint chips, or the dog hair in the cushion. Go small to tell big.

I don't think I really adhered to the spirit of the prompt, but I wrote, which is the important part. Once the wolf caught my attention, I couldn't leave him alone.


While my toddler sleeps, a wolf watches me type. He sits near the edge, on the border between the clear glass that makes up most of my desktop and the frosted glass that glamorizes its edge. I hate to say it, or to see it, but the look in his eyes is one of disappointment, or maybe just desperate boredom, which I imagine any wolf would feel if it had to sit still on a piece of glass all day. 


But this wolf has wings, so he should feel a little better, I think. He may be short for a wolf, reaching only five inches or so from his pedestal. He may be stiff, stuck in all that metallic-glazed resin. But he has wings. They should make up for things. He should be able to pretend at least that he is happy to see me typing before his eyes. That's why I brought him home from Green Earth Emporium, after all. For moral support. 


So now I look away from him, at the puddles of paper piled on top of the glass, obscuring the solid black counter underneath. I can't see it now, in this light, but some days, dust stands out against the black below the glass like clouds on a night sky. It's funny, but I find the dust even more tranquil than I imagined the little wolf would be. I did not know that before right now.

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This is my first entry and will probably be the only one for a while. I started an LJ account to participate in the 2xcreative project started by kylecassidy with my new friend moimoietmoi. We are working on word and picture portraits of the residents of a fictional apartment complex we call Way Home. The project itself is called A Way Home. Check it out!

I hope to take up blogging again at some point, because I really enjoy it. (I have an old blog that I've fallen away from since becoming a mother.)