Cliffside

Here’s a thing I wrote.  More are here:

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Kerry and I are sitting with our bare feet hanging over the edge of the cliff, watching the sun sink into the sea.  We are so high up that the kids walking along the beach don’t notice us as they start trundling along below us.  I figure they are about twelve or thirteen, but it’s a bit hard to tell from this distance.

Slowly they walk along, making a concerted effort not to really look at each other.  She keeps watching the waves churn onto the sand.  He is mostly watching the ground in front of them.  They are obviously having the sort of earth rending conversations that only teenagers can manage, and the drifting murmur of their voices is scattered across long pauses and evening winds.

She is very deliberately swinging her arms.  The boy steps with each swing, like it’s a metronome.  His right hand clenches into a fist, and then stretches wide and starts to move out toward her pendulum fingers.  Just before they touch, he draws back.

Kerry confirms my suspicion that the girl knows.  She is waiting for him to stop her overly exaggerated swing, but he is not brave enough or wise enough to read the signals.

I agonize for him.  I was twelve the first time I fell in love.  He can’t stop thinking about her and he doesn’t know what to say to her.  She is waiting for him, and in his head, he knows it must be true.  Every time he reaches to her though, the intensity of first love, the all-consuming, entirely confusing need he feels for her is too much.  There is no way she could want him to hold her hand as much as he wants to hold hers.  It is entirely impossible, and when their skin meets, he now knows she will recoil.  He has to pull back, so he can hold on to hope for a moment longer.

All the while, she keeps waiting, as consumed and confused as he is, wanting and waiting.  He never comes right out and says he loves her, never touches her except by accident, leaving her certain that she is imagining all the times it almost happens.

When I was twelve, I pulled back one time to many, and my first love moved away.

I reach out and squeeze Kerry’s hand, for the boy I was, for the boy below, and hope he is a braver child than I.

Published in: on January 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm  Comments (4)  
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The Dealer

I sat with the girl
Curls like deep dried blood
Danced around her near-smile
Soft scar on her chin stood
Against an incursion of joy

The cuffs on her wrists
The wrong elegance

She laid out the spades
We both remained trapped
By greed or absence
All our waning strength sapped
Acting the hour as happy

Published in: on December 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Casino Queen

This piece is what I call a song scene.  Basically, it’s what I see when I listen to the Asteroid Galaxy Tour’s song The Golden Age

Years before the waves of feet washed the colour from the casino carpet, she stepped out of the lift.  The tight black dress she wore, slit to the hip, was covered in swirling oriental dragons.  The diamond dipped earrings hung heavily on her ears.  A complex chaos of blonde hair framed the smile that melted the room.  Crowds parted as she wandered through the floor, and she had no doubt she left adoration in her wake.

She ordered an expensive sounding chardonnay from a familiar waitress beside the roulette table.  She wielded this graceful scepter as she held court over the long velvet table and the spinning wheel.  The players vied for her attention, until she chose a lucky loser with the good sense to bet big.  Pressed to his arm, she shone as his luck and his chips dwindled.

When her chosen champion was finished losing, she left the half-finished wine flute on the buffer, a cherry-red kiss on its rim as memorandum of her presence.  She walked through the lounge to a door you had to know to notice, and slipped into her narrow dressing room.  In the halo of the mirror, she flirted with herself, raking mascara through her long lashes, blowing kisses into wonderland.  When she was finally satisfied, she drifted into the backstage hallway, an unglamorous affair, more like an abandoned school than a star’s greenroom, to await the start of her simple show.

The man behind the piano had brilliant fingers, but when she stepped into view, he was forgotten.  She rasped smoky lust songs.  The faithful worshiped her, the men who came every night while they were in the city.  Curious heads poked into the room, and found a set.  She knew not a single one, and she adored every last one of them.  She worshiped their worship, and they warmed her to the core.

The next afternoon, a lucky winner in a rented convertible pulled up before the casino lobby.  She floated down the lift from her suite.  Her head was wrapped in a beige scarf, her eyes shaded by thick sunglasses, her form unhidden in the wrap of a trench coat.  The only soul brave enough to speak to her after her set held open the car door, and she slipped in, unnoticed by a public that wouldn’t recognize her.

They headed off the strip, to a movie theatre playing a film in which she was a minor background player.  He pretended she was the star she felt she should be, and she pretended he was more than a handsome face with a small measure of caramel coated charm.  They left to the falling rain.  He fumbled to resecure the roof while she clung to the doorway under the marque.  She laughed and smiled at the jeweled city.  He was certain he had hit the jackpot.

At the hotel, she graced him with a quick kiss before she disappointed him.  She headed back into the cacophonous din of her delusion, happy and lost in the artifice of the world she built.

Published in: on November 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Too Cool Too Old

I can’t tell if I’m too old for this party or if it’s too cool for me.  The apartment is small, not dirty so much as ragged, and far too crowded.  In the living room they’re blasting bass infused music that I can’t pretend to like from that close.  I have been struck somewhat shy, so I stay in the kitchen, leaning in the doorway, watching the party.  I don’t go too far from my vodka, as it remains my salvation, and I fill my glass more often than I should.

She comes up to me, the sort of brave extrovert who can’t let someone at a party have a bad time.  She is trying to draw me out.  “What’s that girly drink?”

I look at my saucer shaped glass.  “It’s a vodka martini.  It’s not that girly.”

She scoffs.  It’s been a long time since someone has scoffed at my martinis, certain the glass makes it a weak beverage.  I’m definitely too old for this party.  But the girl challenged me, so I hand her the cup.  “Try it.”

She takes a sip and her face implodes.  She hands it back, and goes back to her Sour Puss and Seven.  She poured it into another one of the stolen martini glasses, and she drinks it through a straw.  We exchange names, and she asks me what I do.

I’m never my job at parties.  I’m a writer, and more importantly, I’m a drunk writer.  I start talking about what I write.  I’m not really talking to her.  I’m enjoying the sound of my own voice, at it goes on and on about what a genius I am.  She seems impressed, nodding and asking the right questions to keep me going.

She is standing close now, head tilted up.  She runs her straw over her lips as she listens.  She’s enthralled by my monologue, but eventually I tire of it and stop.  The music gets turned up.  She sees the change in me and puts her hand on my arm.  “Are you okay?”

“I kind of hate people.”  She looks at me in disbelief.  “In large quantities.  This place is way too crowded.” I glance at the door.  “I’m going outside.

She follows me, a bit to my surprise.  I’m drunk and I’m goofy.  I walk around with my arms stretched as far as they go, along the little wall on some little old ladies little yard.  She is a few steps behind, and she’s laughing.

We reach a park, and I scramble onto the playground equipment as quickly as possible.  She hesitates, and I insist she join me.  We climb as high as we can, nearly eight feet off the ground, and I start to stare at the stars.  I’m lost in their glow.

“I’m cold,” she tells me.  She wants my jacket, but I don’t want to be cold.  Instead,  I wrap an arm around her and she melts into me.  I point out all three of the constellations I know and then kiss her.

I’m not sure when morning got here, but the alarm clock klaxons away.  It’s a terrible sound and I hate it.  She wanders out of my bed and gathers her clothes from the floor.  “Bathroom?” she asks, and I point across the hall without really looking. 

She’s gone, and if I really cared, I could probably figure out her name in the next couple of minutes.  My head hurts and I’m embarrassed, because I doubt she is twenty yet.  I’m afraid to see her drivers license, or what my roommates will say about her.  I sleep till she gets back.

“You think it’s cold out?” she asks as she comes back in.  “Can I borrow a sweater?”

I don’t want her to borrow a sweater.  Borrow implies that I’ll be back in some awkward conversation with her, sober, and responsible for whatever happened in that blank spot last night.  I force myself to somewhere near awake and head to my closet.  I select a hoodie I can live without and hand it to her.

 I’m pretty sure I was too old for that party, but I still hope it was just too cool for me.

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Statuesque

 

What does statuesque mean?  It should mean her, standing out on the balcony of our hotel room.  In just a pair of black panties, she smokes just outside the sliding door, to keep the smoke detector from wailing.  Her back is arched, and nothing about her moves, apart from her lips.  She breaths tendrils of beauty up into the night, and while I dread the taste, I’m enchanted by the dissipating swirls.

She looks like marble.  It’s not just her pale skin, brushed by the pale halogen lights from the city below, sneaking up to the twentieth floor to caress her.  The stars are hiding under the heavy clouds that threaten to weep, so only the angry manmade glows illuminate her.

She looks like marble.  She looks hard, immobile. 

She looks cold.  Her touch would sap the warmth inside.  For the moment, all I want is to watch her, bare to the world and uncaring.  Pale, naked, and too powerful for the night to touch, to diminish.  I want to watch her breath fire.

The clock, the ancient relic, clicks.  It draws my attention, a cocked gun, as every digit of 2:59 flips over to 3:00. 

I want it to be 3:00 forever.

The door slides open.  The nitrogen smell of the coming rain mixes with her nicotine poison.  She’s staring at me, and there’s a violence in her eyes, a terrible hunger.  I just want to watch her smoke.  I have no more need of her cold hands, of the ashy taste of her lips.

She comes no closer, the wrath in her eyes held back by marble of her flesh.  They smoulder, those eyes, catching the red of that alarm clock.  She stands there, frozen watching me.  She is waiting.

I hear the rain drop, the one that hits the small of her back.  The one that melts her, that dilutes the anger in her eyes.  It saps her hunger, and now she is a supplicant for warmth.

Already, I miss what she was.

What does statuesque mean?  It should have meant her.

Published in: on March 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Writing for Depression

I read somewhere, once, in the sort of long ago that I’ll never be able to find the fact to back up what I’m about to say, that a large number of sucessful artist suffer from depression, manic depression, or are bipolar.  The percentage was way higher amongst sucessful artists than within the regular population.

And I have an entirely non-scientific, non-researched, pulling it out of my ass theory on this.

I think people create when it hurts.  I know I do.  If you have ever broken up with me, hidden away somewhere is at least fifty pages of poetry, story, and art created while I try to get over you.

No, you can’t see it.  If you think you’ve seen some of it, you are probably right.  Some of my best work has come out of that sort of frantic, pained place.  Writing doesn’t make it not hurt, but it … it postpones it a little.  It puts it aside, and you don’t have to deal with it when the pen is moving or the keys are clacking.

Which is all good and well when some cute girl is willing to break my heart, but that doesn’t happen everyday.  I’m begining to worry about my prospects as a writer.  See, at the end of a crappy day, normal things get me past it.  I can watch TV or a movie, or have a couple beers, or play some video games, and everything is okay again.  Which is all fine and good, unless you’re trying to develop a body of work.

My novels suffer for my well-adjusted state.  If it wasn’t for a half-assed effort to meet my own personal blogging requirements, this would probalby suffer more too.  Maybe I need to have a mental breakdown.  For the sake of my writing.

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I like to imagine

On certain nights, I like to imagine there is a girl, waiting.  She stands on a footbridge, clenching an overcoat that is just a little too large for her.  Under the cone of the street light, she pretends the cold that flushed her cheeks doesn’t bother her.  The wind picks up a little, and her fist clenches tight on the front of her jacket.  Hair whips across her face, but she waits for the gust to die down before she combs it back in place with her free hand.

A mist surrounds her, an icy frame on the edges of the electric halo of the lamp above.  It rolls over the parts of the river below, steaming up where the last rivulet of moving water runs.  She stares out into the darkness, her eyes the warmest part of her tiny winter world.

Absently, she lets lose her lapels, and rolls up the sleeve of the jacket to glance at her watch.  Her mouth tightens, maybe in concern, maybe in disappointment.  She shivers slightly and leans forward.  With her elbows on the railing of the bridge, she hums softly to herself.  She watches the steam on the free-flowing water, and glances at the edge of the bridge.

I know she’s waiting for me.  She doesn’t need me, but she’d like me to be there.  She’s just about ready to go on, but she lingers a little longer, absorbing the cold.  She doesn’t need me, but she still hopes I’ll show up.

She’s trapped somewhere, in my mind’s eye, on this little bridge.  I think about her every once in a while, on a cold night.  Sometimes I wonder if she’s waiting there, wanting me to follow her, and find her story.  I’m afraid to take her across the bridge.

The moment I do, I admit I made her up, that the girl isn’t waiting for me.  I’m not quite ready to say goodbye, in case she’s out there somewhere, waiting on the bridge, staring at the watch, hoping I walk into the scene to say hello.

Published in: on February 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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PTP: Setting Starburst, Chapter 2

This is the current draft of the second chapter of my novel.  I encourage criticism, questions, and of course, accolades…

Vey-Kalis-En walked up beside his sister and looked over at the soldiers setting up camp.  He was only a bit taller than her, and even at twenty-two, he looked like he had been carved from stone.  Hard lines had been weathered on his brow, and around his mouth.  The sun had beaten his face like leather and bleached his short blonde hair until it was nearly white.  He wore the Order’s uniform, the breast plate and the spears, but also had a broad sword and a bladed mace strapped around his hips.  He watched in silence as the strangers went about their mundane business.

“We’re their last hope, Kal,” Vey-Mara said softly.

“We’re a lot of people’s last hopes,” he grunted.  “We can’t save everyone.”

“There’s at least one Nephelium among them.  I’ve told the others to stay in groups of three.”

Kalis-En nodded.  “Probably best for apprentices.  Send for a couple more full members.  I don’t want to be on my own down there if they’ve got tricks up their sleeves.”

“Are you scared?” Vey-Mara grinned.

“I’m always scared,” he answered evenly.  “I just don’t let it stop me.”

Vey-Mara watched her brother walk alone towards the centre of the camp.  She whispered at his back “Stay safe.”

Kalis-En walked through the Sunburst soldiers, and each one he passed stopped working.  Eyes followed him, appraising him.  It would be foolish for them to attack him, and they must have known they were surrounded.  Still, if they attacked him en mass, it didn’t matter how many apprentices saw, he would still die at their hands.  In the Hills of Ruin, trust was a valuable commodity, and those who gave it to freely suffered dearly.

In the centre of their encampment, he found Captain Tyman.  A few years Kalis-En’s senior, the man hadn’t been born with a soldiers build, but had earned it, tight muscle piled on a small frame.  Shocks of red hair peeked out from under his helmet, and he kept rubbing his chin thoughtfully.  Kalis-En cleared his throat.

The captain turned suddenly towards him.  “Yes?” he squeaked slightly, a little surprised to see Kalis-En.  “Who are you?”

“I am the Emissary of the Dreamer.  My name is Vey-Kalis-En.  I will hear your plea.”

Tyman glanced over his shoulder.  Kalis-En followed his gaze.  There was a young Solarian noble, worse for wear, a cute girl with a splash of freckles across her nose.  Beside her was a Quaraldim, trying not to look stern.  Kalis noticed the Glyph on her stomach, the swirl of thick black sacred script, a moment before he felt the pressure in his temples.  The Glyph started to glow slightly, and Kalis-En pushed out the encroaching head-ache.  He felt the heat building in his own Glyph, his arm feeling warm, like the start of a sunburn.  He exhaled through his nose, trying to push her out of his head before she got in.  She looked away, affecting an air of innocence, and the pressure stopped.  The light on both Glyphs faded, returning to the dormant black.  She nodded slightly to the Captain.

“Alright,” Captain Tyman said, “What do you want to know?”

 “Everything.  I need to know what you need, and if we can help you.”

“What do you know about Gabriel Durihan?”

“Nothing.”  There was a look of surprise from the soldiers, who were gathering as quietly as possible around the fire.  “News doesn’t travel well here.  Nothing reaches us quickly.”

“Start at the beginning,” the Quaraldim said.  “They’re more likely to help us if they know what Gabriel was trying to do.”

The captain nodded.  The column was not his, that much was sure.  He was just their mouthpiece.  He thought for a moment and began to speak.

PTP: Podcasts and Audiobooks

So, as I’m working at bringing Setting Starburst, the current working title for my novel, from the current format to what I want it to be, I’m considering formats.  I know I want it to be available both in a printed format and a PDF format.  I also want to figure out how to get it onto e-readers and kindles.

I’ve also been considering the possibility of using podcasting and audiobooks.  Now, I don’t currently have any experience in sound recording.  I can tell stories, and tell them well, both from written page and with my mighty and sexy voice.  So I’d need to figure out the technical aspect of doing the recording.

But would people be listening? 

Here’s what I’d be doing; I’d put the chapters I’ll be putting up on the internet in written form up as podcasts.  I would also be looking at doing some of my short fiction as podcasts, probably starting there to learn the technical side before Setting Sunburst goes audio.  Then I would also make an audio version of the book, which I would want to sell through iTunes.

If you’ve got any technical knowledge in this field, and want to get in touch with me, I’d love to hear from you.

If you just want the content, let’s talk about that, via poll:

Published in: on November 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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PTP: Chapter 1

So, this is the first chapter of the novel I’m writing.  I don’t have an official title yet.  Right now, I’m thinking either “Setting Sunburst” or “The Lament of Gabriel Durihan” but I don’t like either.  I’d love constructive criticism, acolades, or even hate mail over this.  Feel free to leave a comment, private message me, or email me at joey.stadelmann@gmail.com.  Let me know what you think.  If people want more, I’ll probably post the next chapter next Monday. 

Without further ado:

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Chapter 1

Naria contemplated whether she would really miss Lenna if she leapt across the cairrage and strangled her.  “I thought you said they would help us!”

They jostled along a mountain road.  Lenna was Quaraldim, one of the nomadic elves.  Her skin was dusky, and dark chocolate hair was sheared at her jaw line.  The tapered points of her ears protruded from behind the straight locks.  She was lounging sideways, one foot wedged on the far wall to keep her balance as they headed uphill.  Golden eyes stared out the window.  She had the lackadaisical air her people displayed when lost in thought, a bored hunting cat in the sun.  She shrugged.  “I said we could go to them for help.”

 “But they might turn us down?”

 Lenna closed her eyes, apparently enjoying the beam of sun that washed over her face.  She nodded.

 “But we’ve come so far!”

 Lenna slowly turned her head.  She looked to be about Naria’s age, somewhere circling twenty.  That put the elf in the range of two hundred years old, and as she stared at Naria, the difference tumbled out.  “Effort and result are two very different things.”

“I know,” Naria sighed.  “I just … I’m tired of doing this.”

“I know,” Lenna agreed, closing her eyes again.

Already feeling like a little kid, Naria stuck out her lip and pouted for a bit.  It didn’t really help.  She glared at Lenna, who hadn’t had to dress up today.  The elf wore a sleeveless leather shirt that didn’t cover her midriff, leaving the tribal black tattoo on her arm and its partner on her stomach exposed, and riding pants, belted with a purple sash.  Naria desperately wanted to be wearing something so comfortable.

Knowing they would soon be reaching their destination, it had been decided that morning she would wear her princess costume to make a good impression.  Her objections had been ignored with suprizing enthusiasm.  The ice blue gown, a perfect match for her eyes, had been removed from its chest on the back of the carriage.  Despite the creases and wear from travel, it was deemed suitable by people she was now certain hated her.  Lenna had taken her down to the brook by their campsite, and forced her to bathe in the frigid water.  She shivered while her supposed friend brushed her obsidian hair to her shoulders.  With help she had squeezed into the torturous dress.  It was designed to perfect her form, but it attacked its task with unnecessary vigour.  The whale bone corset made it difficult to breathe.  The skirts were too voluminous to move with the graceful speed Naria was accostumed.  She plodded along, trying to hold up the hem to keep the dirt of the forest from staining it.  It left her shoulders and the upper part of her chest bare, leaving far less to the imagination than she would have liked.

Six inches taller than Naria, Lenna looked down at her while painting her heartshaped face, looking at a canvas, not a person.  A silver circlet was fastened across her brow, and Lenna nodded, proud of her work.  Naria felt like a little girl’s doll.  The resentment had grown throughout the day, and it was starting to boil over as the sun began to dip.

Smoothing her skirts, Naria glared across the cairrage.  “They better help us.”

Lenna didn’t open her eyes.  “Or what?”

“They just better.”

“I think that tiny crown is going to your head.”

“I think it’s probably the fact that I haven’t been able to breathe since you laced me into this prison.”  She tried to stare out the window, biting the inside of her lip.  The spruce raced by.  She couldn’t find the same sense of detached piece the Quaraldim was managing.  “Lenna?”  Naria waited for a slight nod.  “Who are they?”

“The Order of the Dreamer?”

“Yeah.”

“They’re warrior priests.  That’s the best way to describe it.”

“And they’ll be enough to finish what Gabe started?”

“They’re also Nephillium.”

“Oh.”  Naria fidgeted in silence, listening to the clomping of the team, trying to stay calm.  She couldn’t stay still.  She felt her forehead crinkle, feeling an itch under her skin.  There was more that Lenna was keeping from her.  “What happens if they don’t agree to help us?”

Lenna sighed.  She sat upright, despite the slope they travelled on, and leaned forward.  She locked eyes with Naria.  “When we go to them, they will pick a side.  If they don’t decide to help us, they will decide to stop us.”

“Oh, good,” Naria said through a practiced smile.  “A last ditch effort.  As long as we’re on familiar ground.”

Outside the carriage, three squads of soldiers rode along on tired horses.  They wore the Sunburst livery of the Solarian Empire, a yellow circle ringed in tiny triangles, on a sky blue background.  The carriage was in the centre of the column, which was struggling up the steep slope.  It was nearly too much for the horses, and scouts went ahead, constantly ensuring the carriage would be able to take the slope.

The thick spruce on the sides of the road threatened to gobble up the road.  Sunlight struggled to pierce shrouded in murky gloom.  Nervous riders kept seeing shapes fleeting through the branches, shadows that caught the corner of the eye and then vanished.  The animals were becoming increasingly skittish.  Every strange sound caused heads to jerk, or people to gasp, or horses to whiney.  Warbling cries of unfamiliar birds set teeth on edge.  Far from home, not a member of the column was certain what sort of beast could lunge onto the road.

When a scout returned, announcing he had found the settlement a mile ahead, a ripple of relief flowed through the soldiers. 

The dirt road led to a plateau.  A short distance away, the stony shore of a mountain lake was lined with log cottages.  The lake itself was fed by an enormous waterfall, thundering down a craggy cliff face on the opposite side.  The foam churned at the base, and ripples created tiny waves that caressed the rocky shore.  The setting sun stained a grey sky with blood-soaked orange.  The land ground was uneven, a little wild.  They started to ride towards the village on the shore.  A handful of figures emerged, and jogged forward to met the soldiers.

The warriors from the settlement were uniformly clad in steel breast plates.  Their left arms were braced in steel, but the right were bare, each showing the same strange sort of tattoo that marked Lenna’s.  Strapped to their backs, each carried three javelins.  They seemed utterly unconcerned to be staring down sixty mounted soldiers.

A blunt faced young woman, no more than seventeen, with short blonde hair stepped forward.  “Who speaks for this column?” she demanded.

Captain Tyman rode forward.  “I do.”  There was soft sheen of sorrow across his face..

“Why are you here?”

“We wish to petition the help of the Order of the Dreamer.”

“I am Vey-Mara-En,” announced the girl.  “Follow me.  I will show you where to set up camp.”  She led them away from the town, onto an open space on the plateau.  The Sunburst column visibly deflated.  The thought of solid walls around them, real roof over their heads, and maybe even real beds, were dashed, and they slumped behind the girl.  She nodded to an area, with circles of round rocks demarking fire-pits.  There was a stack of split wood near a chopping block, more than enough to get them through the night.  The soldiers dismounted and shuffled like sleepwalkers through the familiar routine of making camp. 

The driver of the coach, a tall man in the same Sunburst livery, clamoured down and opened the door.  He grinned crookedly as he offered a hand to help Naria down.  She screwed an unimpressed look on her face and waited for him to assist Lenna.

 “If they kill us over … over this,” she gestured at the dress, “Then I want you to remember it was your idea.”

 Lenna smiled, and they headed to the nearest of the fire pits, to wait for it to be lit.

Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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