Still Searching for Answers

Still Searching for Answers

sending emailsFinding the writers’ group was not as easy as I had expected. I was not anticipating enough writers in a town of less than 13,000 people to support multiple writers’ groups.

Finding the online contact information for each group, I sent out numerous e-mails requesting information. I hoped that the information I requested might help me identify the group Crawford had mentioned. Find the group, find Crawford – and his alleged griffin – and find some answers about our mysterious young neighbor, Marisol, and her unique abilities. At least that was the plan.

Once I had sent the e-mails, I headed for the kitchen and some leftover vegetable soup.

* * *

I had not yet received a reply from any of the groups when Dragon emerged from her deep slumber a week later.

Elf cleric close-uptea and cake“You’re looking a lot better!” I smiled at the beautiful elf maiden, Dragon’s preferred guise. I pointed at the kettle boiling on the stove, and the cake server on the counter. “Tea and cake? It’s orange chiffon.”

“Yes, thank you. That sounds good.” She yawned and stretched. “Could we take our refreshments on the deck? Methinks I am in need of some fresh air.”tea and cake on the deck

We were settled on the deck, sharing our snacks, when I saw Dragon stiffen.

“What’s wrong?”

MarisolBefore Dragon could reply, the problem became evident. Our young neighbor, Marisol, skipped into view, rounding the corner of the house. She stopped and looked toward the back of the yard. Her shoulders slumped and her smile turned into a pout. Then she saw us on the deck, and she brightened again. “Hello!”

I returned her smile and waved. “Hello, Marisol. Does your mother know you’re here?”

Marisol accuses DragonThe little girl hung her head and scuffed her shoe back and forth in the grass. “No. I came to see if the horses were back, but I see they’re still gone. Why did you send them away?” She gave Dragon an accusing look. “And why aren’t you a dragon anymore?”

Dragon lifted a delicate eyebrow at Marisol. “Was I ever a dragon?”

Red and blue scalesThe child smiled. “Oh, yes, you were such a majestic dragon – all shiny scales, and sharp teeth and claws, and powerful wings! But you were so much prettier with red scales. When you had blue scales, you weren’t as shiny, and you had all those yucky smoke bubbles dripping from your nose.”

Dragon laughed “Your mother says you have a very wild and vivid imagination.”Dragon and horses

Marisol frowned and glared at Dragon. “It’s not my imagination. You are a dragon, and there were horses here.”

Marisol looks at cake“If you say so.” Dragon kept her tone light. “Would you like a piece of cake and a glass of milk?”

Marisol looked longingly at the cake. “I would, but I have to go home. Mommy will miss me soon and start looking for me.”

“Why didn’t you tell her you were coming to visit us?” I tilted my head and furrowed my brow. “I’m sure she wouldn’t mind, as long as she knew where you were. She just worries about your safety when you go off without telling her.”

The child shook her head. “She doesn’t want me coming here. She says she doesn’t want me being a bother.”

Dragon looked at Marisol. “It sounds as if you think your mother has another reason for not wanting you to come here, child.”Is she a witch 2

Marisol nodded and spoke somberly. “She’s worried about the things that happened here, when I said you were a dragon and when I saw the horses here.” The little girl heaved a huge sigh. “She thinks people are going to think I’m a witch. She worries that I might be a witch.”

“Are you?” Dragon’s tone was teasing, and she smiled warmly at the youngster.

“I don’t know. I guess I might be.” She turned and listened to something in the distance. “That’s my mommy calling me. I better go. Bye!”

And she was off, running toward the front of the house.

Dragon visibly relaxed once Marisol was out of sight. She sighed and drained her teacup in one swallow. “It takes much energy and control not to revert to my true form when Marisol is around me! We need to find out exactly what she is, and the precise nature and source of her ability, without delay. Have you had any luck tracking down the writers’ group of which Crawford spoke?”

“Not yet. I found a number of writers’ groups in the area, and I sent each an email soliciting information, but I’ve received no responses yet.” I poured us each another cup of tea.

MilesCrawford and GriffinMiles walked up behind us and joined the conversation as he snatched a piece of cake. “You’re talking about that guy who fixed the heat element in our rain gutters? The one who claims to have a griffin, and who told you about the writers’ group?” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/03/17/not-exactly-deja-vu-all-over-again/

I nodded.

Miles nibbled on the slice of cake and furrowed his brow. “Didn’t you say he told you they meet at a local coffee shop? Just call around until you find the shop that hosts their meetings.”

I blinked. “Why didn’t I think of that? Honey, you’re a genius!”You're my witness

Miles grinned as he popped the last bite of cake in his mouth. “You’re my witness, Dragon!”

* * *

The Local Coffee Shoppe“When Crawford said the local coffee shop, I didn’t realize he meant it literally.” I pulled into the last open parking spot in front of a storefront sporting the name The Local Coffee Shoppe in huge red letters. After Miles suggested calling around to local coffee shops, I easily tracked down the location, day, and time for the writers’ group Lost in the Words.

Dragon and I entered the cafe and looked around. There was a good crowd in the small bistro, but most patrons were sitting alone, or in groups of two or three. I didn’t see anything that looked like a writers’ group.

At the counter we ordered some beverages – a spiced tea for Dragon, and a hot chocolate for me – and asked about the meeting. The barista directed us to a large alcove I hadn’t noticed, where a diverse group of ten people were sipping beverages and shuffling papers around the surface of the tables they had pushed together.

I scanned the group and found Crawford. Looking at the others, I figured Crawford to be the oldest, somewhere between retiree and ancient. He was talking to a younger guy sitting next to him, well-groomed with a welcoming smile and intense eyes. The others – four more men and four women – ran the spectrum of age and styles from a matronly woman in a vintage dress and necklace and an older man with small, rectangular glasses and a bowtie, to a 20-something geek in sweats and several people in business attire.Writing group

Me and CrawfordCrawford looked up, and a big smile lit up his face. “Mrs. Tesch!” He came forward and gave me a warm handshake. “How nice to see you! And Dra . . .”

Dragon and CrawfordDragon quickly extended her hand. “I’m Dray. Nice to meet you.” She and Crawford seemed to exchange sly smiles as they shook hands, but the moment passed so quickly, I couldn’t be sure.

Crawford turned back to me. “So, are you here for the meeting?”

I nodded. “I remembered you mentioning the writer’s group, and I thought I’d come check it out. And, please, call me Marge.”

“Okay, Marge, is there anything specific you need help with?” He ushered us to the table.

“Yes, something involving magic.”

Art - leader - multi-genre (1)“You should have called and informed us you would be in attendance.” The bow-tied gentleman glowered. “The agenda for today’s meeting is already set.”

“Chill, Arthur!” Crawford scoffed. “Marge and her friend can sit in, and if there’s time at the end of the meeting, we can discuss her problem.”

Dray and GriffThe young man with whom Crawford had been speaking earlier smiled at Dragon. “Indeed, and if there isn’t any time left, some of us would be glad to stay after the meeting and discuss things.”

Dragon blushed prettily and inclined her head toward the young man as she took a seat next to him and I sat next to Crawford.

Arthur clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention. “This meeting of the Waconia chapter of Lost in the Words is hereby called to order. Since we have . . . guests . . . in attendance,” Arthur sneered in the general direction of Dragon and me, “we need to introduce ourselves – name, genre, publishing credits only. Let’s not waste time.” Looking around the group, he pointed to the matronly woman. “Lavinia, start, please, then clockwise around the table.”

Moving around the table, each member of the group gave a quick introduction. The group was as diverse in writing as in age and dress. Their work represented a wide variety of genres – sci-fi, romance, mystery, true crime, poetry, biography, history, science, education – and there were four fantasy writers in the group. I was very impressed. I was sure Dragon and I would find some answers here.

“Now that that’s done, let’s get down to work.” Arthur fixed one of the writers with a contemptuous look. “I hope you’re more prepared this week, Didi. Do you have your handouts?”

Didi2 - cozy mystery wannabeDidi glared at Arthur but passed out some papers to everyone. “This is an excerpt from chapter three of my manuscript. I’m sorry, I didn’t know there would be guests. There’s not enough for everyone.”

“No problem, Didi.” Crawford smiled. He shared his pages with me, and Griff and Dragon moved their chairs a little closer so they could share.

Didi's handoutI was appalled at the work Didi had chosen to share, full of misspellings, grammatical errors, dull characters, and stilted dialog. Still, I was shocked at Arthur, who tossed the pages back at her and said, “You’re really wasting our time here. There are so many problems with this, it would take us the next ten meetings to discuss them.” He pointed at the matronly lady, and asked, “Are you prepared, Lavinia?”

“I am. This is from my latest romance.”

Lavinia's handoutAs I read through the pages she shared, I was amazed at her talent. Everyone gave her good feedback on the excerpt, complimenting her choice of words and her pacing. Then Arthur tore it apart, nit-picking every detail. To hear him dissect Lavinia’s words, one would think her writing was little better than Didi’s.

The meeting went on in that same vein for the better part of two hours. Six of the ten writers shared their works-in-progress, and each in turn got good, helpful feedback and constructive criticism from the group before Arthur took his verbal scalpel and destroyed their work.

When he was finished dissecting Crawford’s work, he looked at his watch. “Well, I guess we have a few minutes before the meeting ends. I understand you have a work you’d like critiqued?” Arthur glared at me.

“Actually, I didn’t bring my work-in-progress. I’m . . .”

Arthur started to interrupt, but Crawford cut him off. “I think Marge said she was having a problem with magic. Why not let her explain and maybe someone here can help her work it out.”

Arthur turned beet-red when Crawford cut him off, and now he sat glowering at me. “Well? What is your problem? Or are you unable to articulate the issue?”

I glared at Arthur, then turned to the group. “In a nutshell, I have a character who has magic, but is not a magician. She sees through spells of concealment, and she sees the true nature of any person or creature who has shapeshifted to another form. She can also cause others to see what she sees just by telling them what she sees. But she is unaware that she has any magical talent. What I need is some sort of label for her and her ability. She’s not a witch, she’s not a sorceress. She cannot create illusions, she cannot conjure, she cannot enchant, she cannot cast any sort of spell. What is she, and what would you call her power?”

Lavinia - romanceThe matronly Lavinia wrinkled her brow. “This is fascinating, but out of my wheelhouse. Robaire, SueZ, Crawford, Griff, you all write fantasy. Maybe you could help our guest.”

Robert2 - fantasyRobaire waved his hand dismissively. “It’s your story. You can call your character and her ability anything you want.”

I frowned. “I was hoping that someone might have encountered this sort of magic before.”

Sue Z - fantasySueZ laughed. “You make it sound as if it were real. How could we have encountered something you are creating for your story?”

I gave her a rueful smile. “Of course, I meant maybe you had encountered it in a book. Maybe someone else has written about such a person, such a magic power, and that writer gave it a name.”

SueZ shook her head. “No, sorry, I don’t remember anything like that in the books I’ve read.”

Crawford and Griff likewise had no knowledge of such power.

Art - leader - multi-genre (2)“This is so ridiculous!” Arthur scowled. “As Robaire stated, it is your book. You need to formulate the rules of the magic system and name it and its practitioners. If you can’t do that without an advisory board, maybe you shouldn’t be a writer.” He gave me a disgusted look, the type of look one might give something on the bottom of their shoe. “You are a writer, aren’t you? You have been published? Or are you just another pathetic wannabe, like Didi there?” He jutted his chin toward the humiliated Didi, who glared back at him.

“I have not yet had a book published, but I have a good number of articles, poems, and short-stories published, including two stories in an anthology.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/12/02/its-here/

Arthur scoffed, but I continued. “And I’m sure there was a time in each writer’s life – even yours – when they were as inexperienced and unpublished as Didi. That doesn’t make them pathetic.”

Arthur turned beet-red again, and stood there opening and closing his mouth, but no sound came out. He looked like a fish gasping for air.

I turned away from him and addressed the rest of the group. “It was nice meeting everyone today. Thank you all for your input. I appreciate your time.”Writing group

Arthur couldn’t seem to leave fast enough, but the other writers came over and said a few words before departing. Didi looked as if she was going to kiss my hand. Instead, she just mumbled a heart-felt “Thank you!”

After the others left, Crawford invited me and Dragon to stay for another round of beverages with him and Griff. He leaned toward me and lowered his voice. “Griff and I may know someone who can help you.”Staying after

Who does Crawford know? Is it another fantasy writer? Be sure to come back next week and see if we can get any further identifying what Marisol is and whence she gets her power. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Jean Rabe Has Done it Again!

Jean Rabe Has Done it Again!

Cleric healing DragonIt took Dragon several days, and many doses of Cleric’s healing herbs, to recuperate. After Marisol and her mother had departed, Dragon had collapsed, weak as a kitten. She had used vast stores of her energy and strength resisting Marisol’s not inconsiderable power.Dragon doing research

Now, Dragon was sequestered in the conference room with her scrolls, books, grimoires, and potions, trying to discover what the child might really be, the conceivable extent of her powers, and whence she acquired such power.

While awaiting Dragon’s results, I took the opportunity to do some reading. One of my favorite authors, Jean Rabe, had just released a new book, and I had downloaded it onto my computer e-book app. I was sitting on the living room couch enjoying it when Cleric found me.Cleric sees me reading

“What are you reading, Mistress?” She tried to see the screen of my laptop.

Cleric looks at laptop 2

I held it so she could look. “Jean Rabe’s new release – The Dead of Summer. It’s the third book in her Piper Blackwell mystery series.”

Cleric’s face lit up. “Oh, Dragon will want to read that once she has completed her research on Marisol. This is an author Dragon particularly likes. And I wish to read it after she has completed it.”

I gave Cleric a curious look. “Oh? I didn’t know you read mysteries.”

Cleric smiled. “I do not have time for much recreational reading. However, Dragon liked this author so much, I had to start reading her books to see what Dragon was raving about. When I was finished with them, I passed them on to Sorceress, who passed them on to your Gypsy lad and your Young Hero. I think everyone has read them now, with the possible exception of your Arrogant One.”

My eyes widened. “That surprises me. I had to convince Dragon to give Jean’s mysteries a chance. When she initially read the first one, she hated it.” I laughed.

Cleric’s cornflower eyes shone with mirth. “I remember. No dragons.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/mystery/

I nodded. “Dragon had read many of Jean’s fantasy books and was so disappointed with the mystery. She didn’t see the point of a book with no dragons, no magic. I’m glad she changed her mind.”

“Me, too.” Cleric settled in a nearby chair. “Else, I might never have discovered the delights of this author’s mysteries.”Joining the conversation

“What author are we discussing?” My Gypsy and Sorceress entered the room, simultaneously dropping into chairs and the conversation.Jean

“Jean Rabe.” Cleric bounced with excitement.

“Oh, I love the details she includes in her books.” My Gypsy leaned forward. “Her books in the genre you term fantasy are truly inspired. I believe she may have actually visited some of the worlds of which she has written. But even more, I enjoy her mysteries set in this world, the one you refer to as the real world. The particulars of her character’s daily lives and routines not only add flavor and charm, they have helped me better understand the people of your world and their idiosyncrasies.”

“She has just released the third book in her Piper Blackwell mystery series, and Mistress is reading it.” Cleric turned to me. “What did you say it is called?”

The Dead of Summer.” I turned the laptop so everyone could see it.

Showing laptop image to my characters

The Dead of Summer? That sounds intriguing.” Sorceress tilted her head, a half-frown pulling at her mouth. “But I am not sure I understand. The titles of her other two books in this series – The Dead of Night and The Dead of Winter – are common phrases in your language. As I understand it, the dead of night is the middle of the night, the quietest and darkest part of the night. The dead of winter is the middle of that season, when the nights are longest, and the temperatures are low. But I have never heard the idiom dead of summer.”

County FairI nodded. “I don’t think it’s a common expression, just a clever turn of phrase. The Dead of Summer starts with a deadly accident at a county fair. County fairs are the epitome of summer for a lot of people, one of the things they most identify with summer, especially in a rural area like the part of Indiana where this series of books takes place. So, the victims of this fatal accident are the dead of summer. So is the murder victim that is discovered later in the book.”

“Wow.” My Gypsy whistled. “Two intertwined mysteries? It sounds like Mistress Rabe has written another excellent book.”

Again, I nodded. “There’s a reader’s review on one of the book sites that agrees with that.” I brought it up on my laptop and read it to my characters.

Jean Rabe has done it again! Her third Piper Blackwell mystery, The Dead of Summer, is a real page-turner, and a worthy addition to the series!

The heart-stopping action erupts in the first sentence of the book and never slows down, keeping readers breathless and on the edge of their seats as novice sheriff Piper Blackwell and her small department are thrown into two major cases with tendrils reaching out far from their rural Indiana locale.

Whether you’re a fan of police procedurals, cozy mysteries, well-written and believable characters, or just darn good writing, you’ll become a fan of Jean Rabe and Sheriff Piper Blackwell. I can’t wait for the next one in this series!

Is she a witch“Oh, I cannot wait to read this one!” Cleric clapped her hands. “I hope Dragon takes a long time with her research on Marisol. Maybe then I can read the book after you, Mistress.” Cleric gave me a hopeful look.

I smiled. “Well, if Dragon was not tied up with her research, maybe she could create some illusory laptops so you could all read the book without waiting.”

Illusory laptops

“Like she created the illusory cameras for everyone!” My Gypsy grinned and nodded his understanding. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/a-change-of-pace/

“It is unfortunate Dragon may be occupied for quite some time with her research.” Sorceress made a moue.

Arrogant One full bodyI wrinkled my brow in thought. “My Arrogant One is an illusionist. Is this something he is capable of handling?”

Sorceress snorted. “That buffoon?”

Cleric tittered. “I do not believe the elf capable of creating an illusion of such advanced technology that would be solid and substantial enough to function properly.”

“Perhaps not on his own.” My Gypsy waggled his eyebrows and grinned. “But I wager with our help, he could manage it.”

My characters instantly took their leave to search for my Arrogant One, and I settled back to read The Dead of Summer.

reading

“The gut-punching clang of metal striking metal merged with the screams of fairgoers. Sheriff Piper Blackwell whirled toward the sound, swearing World War III had broken out in Spencer County…”

While Dragon does her research to find out what Marisol is, and to identify the source of the incredible power the child appears to wield, why not join me in reading Jean Rabe’s excellent series? You can follow the adventures of Sheriff Piper Blackwell in The Dead of Winter, The Dead of Night, and Jean’s latest release, The Dead of Summer. These and other books by Jean Rabe can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. And you can find Jean’s website at https://jeanrabe.com/, where you can subscribe to her newsletter.

Come back next week and see if Dragon has made any headway researching our latest mystery. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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Characters I Write About and Characters I Write

Characters I Write About and Characters I Write

Young hero 2

NightmareI didn’t get a chance to talk to Dragon for the better part of a week. Thankfully, it was a fairly quiet week. My Young Hero no longer seemed to be wrestling with nightmares. If he was, he was doing it quietly.

Smoke drifting from Dragon's snoutOn Friday, I found Dragon in the conference room, shivering in front of her illusory fireplace. She greeted me with a growl.

“Nice to see you, too.” I frowned. “I’ve been looking for you all week. I need to talk to you.”

Dragon’s eyes narrowed dangerously, the tip of her tail started twitching, and acrid smoke puffed from her snout. “I do not wish to talk. I wish to warm myself.”

I scoffed. “You’ve made this room hotter than a dwarven forge with your illusory fireplace!”

Dragon nodded solemnly. “It is my only defense against your Minnesota weather. What happened to spring? Last week, the temperatures were just starting to rise to comfortable levels, and some flowers had started sprouting.” The unhappy beast scowled at me. “Then the ice and sleet and snow came again, and the temperatures are frigid!”

I laughed. “Oh, come now! The temperatures aren’t that bad, at least not by Minnesota standards, and the slush is already starting to melt. By Sunday, it should all be gone.”

“For how long?” The despondent creature hung her head and looked miserable.

“Hopefully until next winter, but in Minnesota, you never can tell. The latest snow ever recorded in MN was June 4, 1935, when one and a half inches fell in northern Minnesota.”

“Oh, you are just full of fascinating minutiae.” Dragon glowered at me.

I raised an eyebrow and chuckled. “Funny, you don’t look fascinated.” Before Dragon could respond, I quickly pressed on. “But I didn’t want to discuss the weather. It’s not like we can do anything about it anyway.”

Dragon growled and thumped her tail on the floor. “I have offered more than once to change your weather to something more agreeable.”

“And I told you that is not an option.”

“Did you?” Dragon gave me a coy look. “I am afraid I do not remember.”

“Funny thing, memory.” I steepled my fingers and gazed at Dragon. “And that’s exactly the topic I wish to discuss.”

“Oh?” The big beast looked interested in spite of herself.

I nodded and took a seat in the recliner, pausing a few moments to gather my thoughts.

manuscript“Dragon, do you recall when you fell from my manuscript and entered this world?”

Dragon frowned. “Of course, I do. It has been a number of years, but I clearly remember the look on your face when you entered your office and found me sitting at your desk.”

I smiled at the memory. “Ah, yes! I remember that day, too. You weren’t the first of my characters to make the passage from book to reality, so it wasn’t as much a shock as it could have been. Still…”

Dragon in officeThe memory of the scaly creature sitting on the arm of my chair, shock and disapproval clearly etched on her reptilian face as she surveyed the chaos I call an office, still made me chuckle.

I shook my head and dragged myself back to the conversation at hand. “But I am really more interested in your memories of the world from which you came. Do you remember what you were doing when you fell from the manuscript?”

Dragon frowned. She rolled onto her stomach and tucked her front arms under her chest, assuming a sphinx-like pose. She tilted her head in thought and remained silent for a long time before replying. “No. No, I do not.”

“What memories do you have of your previous existence?”

Dragon studied my face. “Why do I get the feeling it is not my memories that concern you?”

I ducked my head guiltily. “How easily you can see through me, old friend. You’re right . . . or at least partially correct. I am trying to understand something about a character’s memory once that character has fallen from the manuscript into this world.”

“Any character in particular?”

“Yes, but we can discuss that later. For now, I am curious about your memories. Since you first arrived here, it has been obvious you and my Old Dwarf share a very special bond.”

dragon and dwarf

 

Dragon nodded. “Indeed, we do.”

I frowned. “Yet, in the two manuscripts I penned, you never met.”

Dragon blinked. “Are you sure?”

I raised an eyebrow.

Dragon scratched her head. “But I have such clear memories.” She paused, then frowned. “Well, maybe not so clear. More like snatches of memories – friendly banter, small gifts the dwarf carved for me.”

I shook my head. “Those events were not part of the stories I chronicled.”

Dragon stared off into the distance. “No… no, I do not suppose they were. I was just a very young dragon then, barely more than a wyrmling.”

I wrinkled my brow. “So, if the memories are from before the events in my manuscripts, how is it you can recall them? Remember, you are not the Dragon about whom I wrote. You are the Dragon I wrote, the Dragon I created in my books. And the only memories you should have are the events in the book from which you fell.”

dragondragon-1964202_960_720Dragon pondered. “I believe I may have an explanation. The Great Wyrm. I believe she is the Dragon about whom you wrote, only much further along in her life than when you wrote about her. I believe she may have inadvertently shared some of her memories with me when she and I crossed paths.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/waiting-to-see-if-it-worked/

I raised my eyebrow. I was surprised she had worked that out. I put that tidbit of information aside and continued the conversation. “I see.” I sighed. “Well, that solves that mystery, but it doesn’t help me understand recent events regarding my Young Hero and his memories. Unlike you, he seems to be missing memories he should have.”missing memories

“Oh? Enlighten me.”

I raked my hand through my hair. “You remember my Young Hero recently suffered a spate of nightmares.”
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/nightmares/    and
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/do-heroes-have-nightmares/

Dragon nodded and frowned, a puff of black smoke escaping her nostrils. “Yes. He should have come to me for help.”

I waved at her dismissively. “Perhaps, but he was embarrassed. You know, a hero being frightened by bad dreams.”

“Ah, yes. He felt a hero should be brave enough to face his nightmares.” Dragon nodded sagely.fear vs heroism

“Exactly. But when he described his dreams to me, he said they were people and images he thought he should know but didn’t. He felt they were snatches of memories he could not clearly recall. From his descriptions, however, I recognized them as scenes from my first manuscript. I assume my Young Hero fell from my second book, as he has very clear memories of various people and events from that book – the Innkeeper, the snowball fight with my Gypsy . . .”
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/vacation-is-over/

Dragon nodded again. “So, you wonder why he has no memories predating the second book, even though you wrote about your Young Hero in the first book as well.”

“Exactly.”

Dragon shrugged. “You answered your own question. It is as you said of me, Mistress Writer. I am not the Dragon about whom you wrote. I am the Dragon you wrote, the one you created.”

I frowned, not understanding.

Young hero 2Young Hero passing out“Well, neither is your Young Hero the hero about whom you wrote. He is the hero you wrote, the hero you created. But, having fallen from your second manuscript, he is also not the hero you wrote in your first book. So, his memories would not be the memories of that hero. Those memories would be but an echo in his subconscious.”

I blinked. “I think I understand. You know, I may have to go back to my manuscripts and rewrite you. I don’t think I made you nearly as wise and insightful as you really are.”

Dragon smiled smugly. “Does that mean I can go back to warming myself by the fire, while you go change me in your book to a creature more closely resembling my most splendiferous self?”Dragon looks up from fireplace

I chuckled. “Go back to your fire, old friend. I’ll try not to disturb you again until spring is really here.”

“I can make that happen any time you say.” The big beast winked at me.

Be sure to come back next week and see what is happening with my little band of displaced characters. We might be in the middle of a heat wave by then. You never can tell about the weather in Minnesota, especially if a Dragon is involved. And, of course, we’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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Elf facing rightHello, cherished readers. Cleric here. Shortly after the completion of this week’s blog, Mistress Writer went to see her doctor. (Why she never allows me to treat her, I cannot understand!) Mistress Writer has been diagnosed with pneumonia, and is undergoing treatment. Master Miles is experiencing heavy chest congestion and will see his doctor this week. We all hope Mistress Writer will be able to continue her duties preparing this blog for your entertainment; however, it may be a while before she is up to such strenuous activity. If we are absent for a time, please know we have not forgotten you, and we look forward to returning with more adventures and misadventures.

It’s Here!

It’s Here!

Elf facing right“I do not think Mistress Writer is in the mood to celebrate.” Cleric fidgeted with her belt and shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
Stu-04-NatGal
“Why would she not be? Is she not happy her stories have been published?” Sorceress furrowed her brow.

“Oh, she is very pleased with her accomplishment.” Cleric was quick to respond.
Dwarf
The Old Dwarf shook his head. “Thet do na be makin’ sense. Iffin tha lass be pleased, then why be she not wantin’ ta be celebratin’?”
foreman-facing-left
“I believe she is in pain. She has been complaining about her neck.” The Foreman shifted his position on the hard chair.

Cleric nodded. “She has been plagued by stiffness in her neck that causes sharp pains to extend behind her ear and to the top of her head. She spoke with her doctor about this when she went for her regular checkup. The doctor changed some medications Mistress is taking for some chronic conditions, and she sent Mistress to see a physical therapist. That is where she is right now. Master Miles drove her to her appointment.”

“A physic therapodist? Wot be thet?” The dwarf scowled.

Young hero 2The Young Hero chuckled. “It is pronounced phys-i-cal ther-a-pist. I looked it up on Mistress Writer’s magic box, the one she calls a computer. A physical therapist is someone who can help relieve a person’s pain and help them gain mobility through physical means, like exercise or massage, as opposed to the use of surgery or a lot of medicines.”

Physical therapy

Cleric sighed. “I do not understand why Mistress will not simply allow me to tend her with my healing herbs.”

GypsyThe Gypsy shrugged. “Mistress Writer has never been in favor of us utilizing the skills, materials, and processes of our world on her or others from this world. Maybe she is afraid things that work in our world would have adverse effects on someone from this world.”
Arrogant One facing right
“Mayhap.” The Arrogant One raised an eyebrow. “But she does allow us to perform magic sometimes.”

Sorceress shrugged. “Perchance she is just more comfortable with the physician and the medical processes with which she is familiar.”
Bounty Hunter
The Bounty Hunter sighed. “Are we going to sit here all day and discuss Mistress Writer’s maladies, or are we going to go to her office and read the book containing her stories?”

“Why is everyone so interested in her stories anyway?” Dragon sniffed and proceeded to inspect her claws. “What is so interesting about a romance involving a cowboy anyway?”

second story - cowboy tale
My other dragon
The dwarf doubled over with laughter. “It do na be her cowboy story wot ye do na be likin’, beastie. It be her story o thet other dragon!” He nodded and tapped the side of his forehead knowingly. “Ye still be jealous!”
Dragon with smoke
Dragon glared at the dwarf, and dark smoke spewed from her nostrils. “I am not jealous.”

“Right.” The Gypsy tittered.

“I am not.” Dragon shot him a baleful look. “As a matter of fact, I have read her story of the other dragon, and I agree with her completely. I was not right for that story. I am much too good and noble and playful.”

The Foreman shook his head. “Well, Mistress Writer is not the only person whose work is contained in this anthology. I, for one, would like to see some of the other works in there.”

The Gypsy stood and beckoned to his companions as he walked toward the stairs. “Come with me. We can borrow Mistress Writer’s portable computer, the one she calls a laptop. We can take that into the conference room, where there is enough room for everyone to sit comfortably. Then, with a little magic, Dragon should be able to make the words of the book go from the laptop to the wall, so everyone can see them.”

A few minutes later, the companions were all comfortably ensconced in the conference room. Dragon was curled up on the rug in front of her illusory fireplace while the others occupied sofas and chairs.

“So’s kin ye be gittin’ tha book ta be showin’ itself on tha wall?” The dwarf swigged a bottle of juice and chomped a handful of popcorn while he waited.

The Gypsy frowned as he tapped various keys on the laptop. “I do not think Mistress has placed the book into this device yet. Let me see if I can do that.”

“You need to download it. The link to it can be found on her Facebook page.” Cleric turned red as everyone turned to stare at her. “I was with her when she was getting the book on her office computer. I remember what she did.”

Cleric went over and sat next to the Gypsy. “Can you find her Facebook page?”

The Gypsy tapped a few more keys. “Yes, here it is. And here is the information.”

Margaret Tesch
Wednesday at 8:11 AM •
Well, today is publication day! I have two stories in this collection, and I am humbled to be part of such a wonderful, creative group of writers and poets.
On the Platform, Waiting: A Writer’s Group Anthology can now be downloaded and read through Smashwords.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/909374?fbclid=IwAR15_opnZHJRPrY2-jioKWRHlnbgbGJd8nWucIKQOchZbZjr0amdKn5HUFI

Cleric nodded. “Click on that link and it will take you to the place where you can get the book.”

The Gypsy clicked on it, and the page for Smashwords opened in another window.

“You have to go to that tab now.” Cleric pointed.

The Gypsy navigated to Smashwords and read: On the Platform, Waiting: A Writer’s Group Anthology. “Is that it?”

Anthology cover

Cleric nodded. “Now, do you see where it says Download?”

The Gypsy nodded.

“There are a number of ways you can download it to a computer or other device. Mistress explained it to me. She has something called Kindle for PC installed on her computers. So, to get the book to appear on this computer, you would click on the button that says mobi (Kindle). If this computer did not have a kindle device, there are other choices. No matter what type of computer or device you have, Mistress Writer says you can get the book. And, it is free.”

“Free! I like that! I was afraid we might have to wait for Mistress Writer to return and ask her to purchase it for us.” The Gypsy looked relieved.

The dwarf poked the Gypsy and grinned. “Dinna ye been sayin’ ye be knowin’ how ta be doin’ this?”

“Well, I was not positive, but if it is free, there is no trouble.” The Gypsy clicked on the button Cleric had pointed to and downloaded the book.

reading the book 2A few moments later, Dragon stood by the laptop and waved her clawed hand. The image on the computer appeared on the wall, big enough for everyone to see. She clicked on a few keys on the computer, and they began to read the book.

“Wow! There are more than 30 poems, essays, and stories in this collection, by more than 20 different writers.” The Foreman sounded impressed.

“Where shall we start?” The Gypsy looked at the others.

“Why do na ye start at the startin’ point?” The dwarf munched another handful of popcorn. “But somebody better be readin’ it out loud. I do na ever be learnin’ ta read good.”

So, they took turns reading, savoring the various works.

* * *

Hello, dear readers. Dragon here. Mistress Writer is still at her physical therapy appointment. But I know she would want you to know that if you would like to read this book, just follow the link and download the anthology for free. (Here it is again, so you will not have to go looking for it.) https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/909374?fbclid=IwAR3h3w9eYqa0V6X9tT7Yt3ZifNVEyOkIs0MAF2EifBlRVEMVAY5_xqhuO-8

I also know Mistress Writer would tell you that if you like the book, please consider leaving some feedback on Smashwords for the authors. It can be as simple as “I like it!” or it could entail a more in-depth review of a piece in the collection that entertained you or really resonated with you in some way. I know Mistress Writer and the other authors will look forward to hearing from you.

We hope you’ll be back again next week to visit. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Woo-hoo! Coming Soon!

Woo-hoo! Coming Soon!

birthdays-weekend-trip-to-wi-018

“What are you going to tell Dragon?” My husband, Miles, looked at me, his brow furrowed and the corners of his usually smiling mouth turned down.

looking for dragon“Shhhh!” I poked my head out of the laundry room and scanned the hallway. Hearing Dragon snoring in the conference room, I returned to Miles and took one end of the fitted sheet he was trying to fold. “Keep your voice down. I don’t want her to hear us.”

Miles lowered his voice. “She’s going to find out eventually. It would be best if you told her. Remember how she reacted before?”

I nodded. I remembered the hurt in her eyes, the scorn in her voice, the look of betrayal on her reptilian face. I didn’t want to go through that again.

https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/dragon-or-green-eyed-monster/

“Well? What are you going to tell her, then?” Miles gave me a searching look.

I furrowed my brow and chewed on my lower lip as Miles and I finished folding the sheet. “I’ll think of something.”

Dwarf and hamA short while later, I was in my office with the door closed. My Old Dwarf shouldered the door open, turning the doorknob with one hand while munching a ham he held in his other hand. He plopped down in a chair next to me. “Be ye busy, lass?”

“I would have thought the closed door would convey that impression.” I gave him an icy glare.

“Oh, did tha door been closed? I dinna be noticin’.” He looked at my computer monitor. “What be ye doin’?”

I immediately minimized the window, hiding the image that had filled the screen. “Nothing important.”

Dragon with smoke“Good. Then we kin be chattin’.” He took a big bite of the ham, then continued talking around the mouthful of food. “Lass, I be worried aboot tha big beastie.”

I tried to ignore the bits of ham that fell from the dwarf’s mouth onto his grizzled beard. “Dragon? Why are you worried about her?”

“She be seemin’ out o sorts tha past few days.”

I sighed. “She gets this way every winter, you know that. She’ll spend the rest of the winter huddled in front of her illusory fireplace, grumbling and fuming about the cold.”

Smoke drifting from Dragon's snout

“Ye think thet be all there be ta it?” The dwarf looked relieved.

“I’m sure of it.” I gave him a big smile and a reassuring pat on his hand.

He jumped out of his seat and headed out the door, humming around another mouthful of food.

After my Old Dwarf left, I got up, closed the door, and returned to my computer. I brought up the image I had been viewing before the interruption.

Promo for anthology

“Is that about the book where your new dragon lives?”

I jumped up, almost knocking over my chair. I shot a quick glance at the door – it was still closed tight. “How did you get in here?” I gaped at Dragon.
Dragon asks about book
“That matters not. I am here.” She looked pointedly at the image on the monitor. “Is that about the book where your new dragon lives?”

I nodded, not knowing what to say.

“It is to be published soon?” Thin tendrils of smoke drifted from her snout.
Coming November 27
“Yes.” I pointed to the monitor. “It will be available online starting November 27.”

JourneysDragon stared at the image for several long minutes. “It states that the anthology explores the topic of journeys.”

Dragon looked at me, and I nodded my affirmation.

Dragon narrowed her eyes. “To what wondrous and exotic places does your new dragon go?”

I wrinkled my forehead. “He does not take a literal journey. The dragon in that story is on the journey of life, a journey of discovery.”

Dragon studied the image again. “The other stories, the essays, the poems in this anthology – do they all involve dragons?”

I laughed. “No.”
Dragon with smoke
Dragon frowned, and the smoky tendrils drifting from her nose darkened. “Are they all about journeys of life and discovery?”

second story - cowboy taleI tilted my head and rubbed the back of my neck. “Well, no. Each story, essay, and poem in the anthology is a unique interpretation of the concept of a journey. Each author has their own understanding of the topic. I, myself, have a second story in the anthology that involves a cowboy’s journey from grief, guilt, and blame to understanding and acceptance, and on to romance.”

Dragon remained silent as she digested this information. “Your new dragon is not in that story?”
My other dragon 2
I smiled. “No. He had no place in that story.”
Dragon with smoke bubbles
“As I had no place in his story?” Her voice was soft, but a note of petulance crept into her words. Her distress was plain to see, as she morphed to blue and started dripping smoke bubbles from her nose.

I nodded. “As you had no place in his story.”

dragon looking rightDragon snorted and returned to an angry shade of red. “Because, as you once told me, I am not right for the part? You claimed I was too noble, too experienced, too good, too playful. You claimed your new dragon did not have my knowledge, my compassion, my sense of fair-play, or my humor.” She glared at me.

“That is correct, my friend.” I reached out and placed my hand on her scaly arm.

Dragon stopped glaring. “You also once told me I could not meet your new dragon then, as you claimed I would be a good influence on him, which would be bad for your story…his story. But you also said I might meet him someday.”

I nodded, remembering the exchange.

“May I meet him now?”

I shook my head. “He is not like you. He lives only within the words of the story. You will have to read the story to meet him.”

“Then, may I read the story?”

“You may read that one, and all the other stories, essays, and poems in the anthology – after it is published on November 27. At that time, specific information will be released, detailing where and how it will be available.”
Promo for anthology
Dragon nodded. She turned back to the image on the computer monitor and stared at it again. “Tell me about the others whose stories, essays, and poems are in this anthology.”

I felt a big smile spread across my face. “They are a wonderful, diverse group of writers. We met in cyberspace some years ago when we all participated in an online workshop – the 2015 October Platform Challenge. That was a Writer’s Digest workshop presented by Robert Lee Brewer, then Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community. The workshop was designed to teach writers how to develop or improve a writing platform and promotion plan, as well as to cultivate a positive presence on social media.”

“That was three years ago.” Dragon seemed surprised. “Is that not when you started writing your blog?”

I nodded. “Starting a blog was one of the tasks for the workshop.”

Dragon eyed me curiously. “And your group has remained together since then?”

I nodded. “We have. We formed a writer’s group on one of the social media sites, and we still offer each other support and encouragement. This anthology was a major project for that group, and the members who served as editors gave tirelessly of their time and expertise to ensure the completion and eventual publication of our work.”

Elf clericDragon nodded. She began to shimmer and slowly shape-shift into her accustomed guise of an elf maiden.

“I look forward to reading their work.” She smiled at me. “Perhaps, when the anthology is released, my fellow characters and I can throw you a small party, celebrating the publication of your two stories in this anthology.”
My other dragon
I grinned and winked at her. “You would celebrate the publication of my new dragon’s story?”

Dragon tilted her head and paused a moment before answering. “Only if you promise someday we will be celebrating the publication of our stories.”

I sighed. “I will do my best.”

I hope you will all come back next week to find out how to get your copy of this anthology, called on the platform, waiting. I know all my readers will enjoy these works by my fellow writers and me. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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What Have my Characters Done Now?

What Have my Characters Done Now?

computer_keyboardpen and writing pad for blogAfter sufficiently recovering from my . . . uhm . . . small problem of the day before (https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/10/14/a-small-problem/), I decided I had neglected my Young Adult Fantasy series for far too long. But before I could return to my book manuscripts, I had to work on this week’s blog.

office-and-bookshelf-for-blog-002I went to my office, intent on getting my blog outlined and written. Evidently, my brain had other ideas. This is a frequent occurrence. A very frequent occurrence. To quote a famous sports figure, it was déjà vu all over again.

computer-308393_960_720I stared at the blank computer screen and tried to wrestle some ideas into submission. My fingernails tapped out a staccato beat on my desk, and I grumbled under my breath. Why did I ever start this blog? No one ever told me how difficult it would be to come up with fresh, new ideas every single week!

“Mistress?”

Elf facing rightI just about jumped out of my skin. If an idea had been about to cooperate and take shape, it was lost now. I spun my chair around, ready to bite someone’s head off. I found myself looking up into the soulful, cornflower-blue eyes of my Cleric, and bit back my impending outburst.

“What can I do for you?”

“I just wanted to make certain you were feeling better after your ordeal yesterday. I was so glad I was able to help.”

Cleric’s warm smile was infectious, and I returned it in kind. “I greatly appreciate your help. I assure you, I’m fully recovered, and now it’s back to work for me.” I glanced pointedly at the computer, my smile fading to a scowl.

“I shall take my leave, then, Mistress, so you can continue with your work uninterrupted.” She turned and skipped off down the hallway, leaving me and the blank screen to stare at each other again.

Pileated Woodpecker on suet logI sighed. I removed my glasses, cleaned them on my shirttail, and put them back on. I squirmed around in my chair. I looked out the window and stared at the huge Pileated Woodpecker on the underside of the suet log. Hmmm…maybe… My fingers moved toward the keyboard.

“Mistress?”

Young hero 2GypsyI jumped again, another idea flying out of my brain, probably never to return. For a second time, I swiveled my chair around, ready to give someone a severe tongue-lashing. This time, it was my Young Hero and my Gypsy sticking their heads in the door. I groaned.

“What is it?”

“It is almost noon. We thought you might want some lunch.” My Gypsy had obviously started without me, as he spoke around a mouthful of food.

food-dinner-pasta-broccoliMy Young Hero placed a small platter on my desk. “There were plenty of leftovers from last night’s dinner.”

“Yes, I had thought to have them for this night’s dinner.” I attempted to frown, but the food did smell good, and my stomach was growling. As usual, I had lost track of time while working on my blog.

After a quick bite to eat and some chit-chat with the lads, I thanked them and handed them the empty platter. They headed upstairs, and I turned back to my computer once more.

146-computer-free-vector-clip-art-lTwenty minutes later, my screen was still blank. I rubbed my head, which was starting to pound. Suddenly, I blinked several times rapidly and leaned in toward the computer. Oh, this is a great idea! My readers will love this! My hands were poised over the keyboard, ready to start typing.

“Mistress?”

I jerked, and my fingers tripped all over themselves, the letters on the monitor jumbling into an incoherent mess.

Arrogant One“What?” I whirled my chair around, ready to take no prisoners. My Arrogant One stood just inside my office door.

My eyes narrowed, and I slowly rose from my chair. “Out. Now.” I pointed to the door.

“But…”

“Now!” I advanced on the annoying elf, the perpetrator of my small misadventure of the preceding day.

He stammered. “B…b…but the Old Dwarf said…”

“If you aren’t out of here in the next 10 seconds, what I do to you will be a hundred times worse than anything my Old Dwarf could ever dream of doing!”

I took another step toward him, and my Arrogant One turned and fled down the hallway and up the stairs. I heard the back-door slam, so presumably the elf was going to take refuge in the shed.

One more time. I sighed as I returned to my seat. The great idea I had conceived just moments before would not revisit my brain. I spent the next half-hour staring at the blank screen, half-formed ideas chasing each other around my mind. Suddenly, my head jerked up and I smiled. Eureka! I started to type again.

“Mistress?”

“Aaaauuugh!”

sorceress-facing-rightI twisted around in my chair to see the latest intruder. Sorceress stood there, her brow furrowed.

I narrowed my eyes and crossed my arms. “What is it?”

Sorceress hesitated in the face of my obvious annoyance. “I am sorry. Am I disturbing you?”

“No, I always give a murderous look to every fifth person who interrupts my train of thought while I’m writing.” I glared at her.

“Mayhap I should return later.” She started backing out of the room.

“You’re here now. Why don’t you just tell me what you want?”

“Well…” She hesitated again, chewing on her lower lip.

“Well?”

“Mistress, do you remember the two sheriff’s deputies who were here earlier this year?”

I felt the blood drain from my face. Remember them? How could I forget them?

2 Police OfficersDeputy Melody Whitewash was a rather non-descript, but extremely efficient, law-enforcement officer. Her partner, Deputy Dustin Dawg, was a barrel-chested hulk who perpetually wore sunglasses, outdoors or in. They had first come to our door in February of this year, investigating a complaint lodged by our neighborhood nosey-bodies, Mace and Gloria, who claimed we were keeping horses on our residential property. I thought the deputies were going to shoot my Old Dwarf, who had held them at bay with his axe when he thought they might disturb my husband and me. (https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/02/18/more-visitors/)

I shuddered at the memory. “I remember them. What do those two want now?”

Sorceress wrinkled her nose and tilted her head. “Well, I am not certain what they want, Mistress.”

I furrowed my brow. “Oh?”

Sorceress nodded. “Your Old Dwarf has observed them skulking about the edges of the property.”

I sighed. The blog would have to wait. I needed to find out what the intrepid deputies were up to.exterior-interior-wonderful-white-wooden-entrance-glass-double-french-door-frames-as-modern-interior-accesories-decors-witching-french-door-inspirational-pictures-collection-interior-french-doors-whit-840x1120

I followed Sorceress up the stairs to the living room. We went over to the French doors leading to the deck and peered through the glass.

“See? There, in the next yard.” Sorceress pointed to the left.

Deputies trying to hideI tried not to giggle. “I wonder if Deputy Dawg really believes that tree is wide enough to hide him.”

Sorceress arched an eyebrow and shrugged. “It does a better job concealing him than that short bush does concealing his partner.”

I smirked and shook my head. “Do you happen to know where Dragon is currently? I need to ask her about the spell of concealment she has cast on the property. I don’t want to walk over to the edge of the yard and start talking to the deputies if they can’t see me. It might be hard to explain a disembodied voice.”

dragon talking“You need not worry.” Dragon had overheard the last part of the conversation as she entered the room. “The spell does not conceal anyone who is from your world, what you term the real world. It only conceals your characters and the illusions I have created, such as the barn, the paddocks, and the horses. If you walk out into the yard, the deputies will see you.”

I nodded. “Good. I think it’s time to have a conversation with the deputies. In the meantime, where are the precise boundaries of the spell? At what point would you or any of my other characters become visible to the residents of our real world?”

“Of course, you and Master Miles can see us wherever we are. Other people from your world would see us any time we leave the property.”

“You mean you are invisible until you step off the property, then poof! You’re visible?”

“That is correct.”

I frowned. “That’s no good. Can the spell be altered?”

Dragon nodded. “How do wish it altered?”

horses-all-gone-for-blog“I think from now on, if anyone wants to leave the property, they need to leave the house through the front door and be visible there, just as Miles and I are visible walking out of the house. That way, it looks natural when they walk down the sidewalk and step out onto the street. They don’t just suddenly appear and scare the heart and soul out of anyone who sees them. They should still be concealed by the spell if they are in the back yard.”

Dragon nodded again. “It shall be done.”

Sorceress sighed. “I best inform the others, so they all know to exit the property through the front door and down the driveway.”

I smiled at the two of them. “Thanks. Now I’m off to see what’s up with the deputies.”

Talking to deputiesAs I crossed the yard, the two deputies saw they had been spotted. They stepped out from behind the vegetation and tried to look nonchalant.

I pasted on a grim smile as I greeted them. “Deputy Whitewash! Deputy Dawg! It’s so nice to see you again. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“No, not a thing,” Deputy Whitewash assured me. Her partner merely grunted and gawked at the tree as if watching for squirrels.

I narrowed my eyes. “You seem to be surveilling my property. Is something wrong?”

“No, not a thing,” Deputy Whitewash assured me again, and again her partner merely grunted.

I folded my arms over my chest. “Then why are you watching my property?”

Deputy Dawg drew himself up, hooking his thumbs into his belt. “We’re not at liberty to discuss any ongoing investigations. Department policy.”

“Are you saying my husband and I are under investigation?”

“Didn’t say that.”
Police Officer in sunglasses
I frowned. I wish he’d take his sunglasses off. It’s hard to tell what he’s thinking when I can’t even see his eyes. “Well, then, we’re not under investigation?”

“Didn’t say that, either.”

“Well then, unless you have a warrant allowing you to trespass on my neighbor’s property and stare at my house, I think you had best leave.”
Another person hiding

The two deputies glanced surreptitiously at a nearby tree as if looking for answers. That’s when I spied another figure hiding behind that tree. Judging from his attire, he was not a member of the sheriff’s department.

 

I balled my hands into fists and placed them on my hips. “Just what is going on here?”

SuitsI jumped back when a surprising number of figures, all similarly dressed in black suits, stepped into sight from behind trees, bushes, and the neighbor’s house. One man hurried over to stand in front of the deputies. “Ma’am, as Deputy Dawg indicated, we are engaged in an ongoing investigation and cannot discuss the details with civilians. If you return to your house, you will be safe.”

I scowled at the man. “So, something’s going on that makes my back yard unsafe?”

“We can neither confirm nor deny that, ma’am.”

“Then can you at least tell me who is involved in this ongoing investigation? You certainly don’t look like a sheriff’s deputy.”
Deputy Whitewash
Before the man could stop her, Deputy Whitewash replied, “He’s not. This is a joint taskforce between local law enforcement represented by the county sheriff’s office, and the FBI, ICE and Homeland Security.”wide-eyed

My jaw dropped. What had my characters done now?

 
Be sure to come back next week. If we’re not all in prison, we’ll be sure to leave the porch light on for you.

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Ruth’s World

Ruth’s World

gazebo for blogBackyard 050The late afternoon sun was shining, the birds were singing, a cool breeze was wafting . . . and I wasn’t noticing any of it. Sitting in my backyard gazebo, I was lost in thought.

Elf facing right“Mistress?”

I looked up to see Cleric standing next to me, her brow furrowed, a look of concern clouding her blue eyes.

“Huh?” I hadn’t even noticed her walk into the gazebo.

Cleric bit her lower lip and fidgeted with her corded belt. When she responded, she spoke softly, as if embarrassed. “Mistress, I have been talking to you for the past several minutes. You did not appear to hear me. Is everything all right?”

I sighed. “Yeah, everything’s peachy.”

Cleric took a seat opposite me at the glass-topped table. “I think mayhap you are being . . .” She paused and rubbed her chin. “Sarcastic?” She lifted an eyebrow at me.

“What gave you the first clue?” Before she could answer, I cut her off with the wave of my hand. “You know, I’d just like to be alone right now, if you don’t mind.”

Looking like a puppy that had just been kicked by its favorite human, Cleric rose and left without another word. I felt worse than I had before, if that were possible.

iced tea for blogBefore I had time to thoroughly berate myself for my despicable behavior and return to my previous musings, Cleric returned – with reinforcements. She placed a pitcher of iced tea and four glasses on the table, then resumed her seat opposite me. Sorceress took the seat on my right. Dragon, in her customary form of an elf maiden, sat to my left.

Cleric poured tea for everyone and passed the glasses around. I grunted my thanks, then gulped down half the glassful in one swallow.

Dragon raised an eyebrow. “Mayhap you are in need of something stronger? I could ask the dwarf for some of his brew.”

I shook my head and frowned.

DwarfFlaskAs if conjured by the mention of his name, my Old Dwarf walked down the steps from the house and joined us. He took a chair, turned it around, set it back away from the table between me and Sorceress, and straddled it. “Ye be servin’ real dwarven brew, lass?” He looked eagerly at Dragon, who scowled and shook her head. The old reprobate snorted, then took out his flask and slurped a mouthful of the liquid. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and sighed contentedly. “Ye do na be knowin’ wot ye be missin’.”

Sorceress gave my Old Dwarf a scathing look, which he ignored as he turned toward me. “So’s, what be tha problem?”

I shrugged. “No problem. I just want to be alone.”

Cleric cleared her throat. “Mistress, you seem very . . . despondent.”

When I didn’t reply, Dragon asked, “Does it have something to do with the old friend you visited this morning?”

“What old friend?” Sorceress tilted her head and wrinkled her brow.

I ignored Dragon’s question and answered Sorceress. “Ruth. I knew her many years ago. She kept her horse at my boarding stable in New Jersey. She was friends with me and my husband for a long time. We rode our horses together, and we attended auctions together, went to horse shows, watched movies, assembled jigsaw puzzles, did so many things together, even just hanging out together. She was always around. She was our third musketeer, one of our closest friends. Then her job transferred her halfway across the country. We kept in touch at first, with weekly telephone calls and long letters. In time, our contact consisted of annual Christmas cards and a phone call on each other’s birthday. Eventually, even that stopped. I never even contacted her when I moved to Minnesota, an hour away from the last address I had for her.”

“How did you happen to go visit her today?” Cleric asked.

“I got a call from her niece. She asked me to go visit Ruth.”

“And this visit upset you?” Dragon frowned. “Cleric mentioned you had seemed out of sorts since returning from your sojourn.”

I nodded and drank some more tea. I remained silent for a long time. In my mind, I was traveling back through the years.

*  * *

cleaning stallsI was cleaning stalls. I heard someone calling from the entrance to the barn. “Hello? Anyone here?”

I propped the pitchfork and rake against the wheelbarrow and walked down the aisle. “In here.”

The speaker walked in. She was about two inches taller than my four-foot-ten-and-a-half-inches and she was stick thin. Her bottle-blonde hair was chin-length, and her brown eyes sparkled. “Marge?”

I nodded.

Young Ruth“Hi! I’m Ruth. I called earlier about boarding my horse here.”

We shook hands and I gave her the tour, detailing the stabling arrangements, the feed and hay we used, and the available riding areas, including an outdoor arena and nearby trails. We discussed security for the horses and tack, liability of the stable versus the horse owners, both while on the property and when riding the trails. I gave Ruth the written rules, which included such mandates as no drug or alcohol use and no borrowing of horses or equipment without the written permission of the owner. I detailed the stable owner’s rights should a boarder become delinquent in their payments. She signed the contract and informed me she would trailer her horse to the stable the next day.

“Meanwhile, it looks like you were cleaning stalls when I interrupted you. Let me give you a hand finishing up.”

I gave Ruth a cynical look. “No discount for helping with the stable chores.”

“I never expected there would be.”

hay and feedShe dove right in and we were finished in no time. Then she went with me to pick up a load of hay and feed. The vet arrived to do routine de-worming and inoculations just as we finished storing the feed and stacking the hay, and Ruth stayed to assist with that, too. And that was the start of our friendship.

* * *

Dragon cleared her throat.

I looked up. Four sets of eyes focused on me, four friends waited for answers. I pulled myself back into the present.

“Yes, the visit with my old friend . . . with Ruth . . . left me feeling out of sorts, depressed, angry.”

“Why?” Sorceress tilted her head.

I frowned and sighed heavily. “Because time has robbed her.”

I could see from the quizzical looks my characters gave me they did not understand. I sighed again.

Ruth's activities“I first met Ruth when I was in my early twenties, and she was a good two and a half decades my senior. She had more energy than the average kid on a sugar high. She routinely worked 60-hour weeks at a stressful job in the field of high finance but seemed to have unlimited energy whenever she came to the stable to ride her horse and help with stable chores. As small as she was – just a bit taller than me – Ruth was strong. She used to toss around 75-pound bales of hay and hundred-pound bags of feed as if they were feather-light. She hauled heavy water buckets and helped with the hard work of cleaning stalls. And she was always on the go, not just at the stable, either. She rode, she hiked, she skated, she skied, she bowled, she swam, and she played tennis, handball, and softball.”

Dragon lifted her eyebrow. “Ruth sounds like quite the . . . what is the word you use? Dynamite? Dynamo?”

Puzzles“Dynamo.” I nodded. “She was. And she was sharp as a tack, too. Her career in finance took a lot of intelligence. She was a great puzzle-solver, too – jigsaw puzzles, number puzzles, word puzzles, logic problems – and she read every mystery novel she could get her hands on, solving most of them long before the end of the book.” I chuckled. “It was like a challenge to her. I remember once she solved a whodunit before the end of the fourth chapter.”

I paused, swiping at a tear that threatened to leak from the corner of my eye.

“You said time robbed her, Mistress. What did you mean? How can time rob a person?”

I took a long swallow of my tea as I tried to find an answer to the question Sorceress posed.

walker“Ruth didn’t stay strong and healthy. Her niece told me that over the years, Ruth has been able to do less and less. Today, Ruth hobbles around with the aid of a walker. She can’t go more than a few yards without having to stop and rest. She’s got heart and lung problems, a bad back, and a bad hip. And it’s not just her body that is failing. Today, I took her a bunch of puzzles and books, and she didn’t even want to look at them. Her memory’s shot – during the three hours I visited with her at the nursing home, she lost track of who I was a half dozen times. She had a hard time remembering any of the things she used to do, and when she did remember, she cried because she could no longer do any of it.”

Dragon nodded. “I can understand your difficulty upon seeing your old friend this way.”

I swiped at another tear. “I know it’s been more than 35 years since I saw Ruth, but I wasn’t expecting this drastic a change in her. She . . . she’s just a shell of the person I used to know.”

Young Ruth 2Ruth 2

Cleric, Sorceress, and Dragon nodded and murmured in sympathy.

dwarfMy Old Dwarf had been listening quietly, nipping from his flask. Now he took a big swig of his brew and slammed the container down on the table. “So’s ye be sittin’ here blubberfyin’.”

I gaped at my Old Dwarf, stunned. “Well, just what do you propose I do?”

He gave me a wistful smile, and patted my hand. “Lass, ye can na be doin’ naught fer yer friend now, udder den be givin’ ’er voice.”

I furrowed my brow. “I don’t understand.”

He snorted. “Lass, ye be a writer. Ye be needin’ ta be writin’. Fer ’er, yer friend. An’ for alla the udder Ruths in tha world.” He gave me a pointed look and took another long swallow of his brew.

For many long minutes, I stared at him. Then I nodded, rose, and went to my office to write.

Writer

 

                                                                   Ruth’s world

Ruth's WorldMy world is growing smaller.

I can no longer walk as far,
Carry as much,
Work as hard,
See as clearly,
Hear as precisely,
Taste as acutely,
Smell as effectively,
Think as critically,
Remember as accurately,
Concentrate as completely,
Sleep as peacefully,
Breathe as deeply,
Laugh as freely,
Feel as intensely,
Enjoy as abundantly.

walker 3I am no longer as healthy,
As strong,
As energetic,
As graceful,
As courageous,
As hopeful,
As joyful,
As patient,
As content,
As willing,
As carefree,
As enthusiastic,
As creative,
As industrious.
I am no longer as much . . . me.

RuthI am less able,
Less stable,
More frustrated,
More isolated.

Broken linkMy friends are fewer,
Dropping away one by one,
Broken links in the ever-shortening chain
That tethers me
To my humanity,
To my sanity.

Death2I will not fear death.
I will not fight death.
What can it take from me
That is not already gone?
What indignity can it impose on me
That I have not already endured?

Ruth 2

My world has grown smaller.

My world is gone.

 

 

 

We hope you’ll come back again next week. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.