Moments in Magical Modernity: I

She barreled into the café, nearly knocking over a gnomish couple on their way out. “Sorry! So sorry!” she bawled as she made her way up to the counter.

“Softly and gently, Sophie, lamb,” said the fairy barista behind it, her words punctuated with a flutter of her sun-sparkly wings, her apron dusted with a sparkle of a different kind: glamourized sugar.

“I’m late and I…my presentation!” panted the aforementioned distraught Sophie.

“Gotcha covered, lovely,” Pearla replied before producing a drink just ready-made with a flourish. “White chocolate caramel latte, skim milk, easy on the foam, with a shot of charisma for that extra boost of confidence and pizzazz. Just what the alchemist ordered!”

“Pearla, you’re my treasure!” Grasping the cup in both hands as if for dear life, Sophie took a sip, careful not to tingle her tongue too much as she drank gratefully.

Pearla, on the other hand, just smiles softly. “I know, darling. Now go kick ass,” she encourages, fluttering herself up to lean over the counter to drop a kiss on her best friend’s forehead for good luck before sending the now-charisma-armed Sophie off into the fray.


BloPoMo Day 8, Post 2: “From One Stray to Another”

Dear Chance,

I hope this letter finds you okay, and that your family is doing well.

I found the fox. He’s sitting safe and sound on my shelf, waiting and ready, if you ever want him back. Just let me know and I’ll send him home to you. I miss you. A lot. I feel like we haven’t spoken in months, and I worry about you all the time. I wish well for you every day, lots of car windows and frosty eyelashes. I still catch myself making coffee for you early in the morning before training sometimes because I expect you to be burning the midnight oil upstairs.

I’m sorry for everything that happened during the war. I know that it was hard for you. Are you okay? It was weird when all the lantern power went away. I still feel…different, not entirely sure how but I do a bit. I hope you’re okay, really-really. And thank you for being there for me when I was shaky and holding me fast; as usual, you were right on time.

I’m so glad that I got to see you before Christmas. I know it was a coincidence but still! It was one of the best presents I could have gotten. I’m so glad you were there and that I got to share a snowy park with you. Thanks for coming to say hi.

You are wonderful, Chance. You know it. You can do this. All of this. And it’ll be great. Be safe and be brave, hon. I’ll keep an ear out for you. And don’t forget: you promised me a surprise from a young man in a tux in an art gallery someday.



From One Stray to Another



NaBloPoMo Day 17: The Fiction of Relationships

Author’s Note: Edited, revised, and updated on 11-18-2015. That first draft was quite rough. Thank you for wading through this all with me.

I am an avid roleplayer. I have been roleplaying — tabletop and larp — for the past ten years. Nowadays, my gaming is largely restricted to online forum games but that is still fun as it affords me a writing outlet. There is one that I have been in for the past almost-five years: a Hero System-based X-men rpg entitled “Legacy” where the children of superheroes from both the Marvel and DC universes come together at Xavier’s School for the Gifted to learn to manage their abilities, use them wisely, and, yes, become heroes. I play a young “muggle-born” (in other words, her parents aren’t named superheroes) mutant named Elizabeth Martin and I have played her from an in-character age of fourteen to almost seventeen. And, yes, Zoe Saldana is my character model. Over the past few days, I have found myself reading back through the first scenes, the beginnings of her story years ago. There are 32 pages of bookmarked scenes on my account, ones I have participated in as well as others that concerned her or characters to whom she was tightly bound. And one thing that has always struck me about her is her relationships with other characters, friendly and otherwise.

Betsy has perhaps had the most romantic entanglements of any female character in the game, each of them unique in their own situations and ways. Roleplay like this is an incredibly organic form of writing for me, where my character can change, grow, and surprise me based on her interactions with other characters, plot, and situations within the game. I am able to be startled, surprised, horrified, elated by the things that Betsy does and chooses, how she falls and grows. I have been re-reading and, therefore re-living, some of her romantic relationships and I have happened upon some key differences between them that have struck and clarified some things for me as her writer.

Continue reading

Lost in the Spiral

Author’s Note: Inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and based on the Writers Write writing prompt: “Need advice Which fictional character would you turn to?”

I wander through the black and white spiraled paths that wind through Le Cirque du Reves, finding myself lost in thought and melancholy.

I wander through the black and white spiraled paths that wind through Le Cirque du Reves, finding myself lost in thought and melancholy.

“You look as though you could use this,” comes a voice and a small bag of chocolate drilled kettle corn is held under my nose. The warm, sweet smell seems to fill my head and clear it for a moment, replacing my anxiety with a momentary comfort.

I turn to meet a lovely face, framed by brilliant red hair. Penelope Aislin Murray, known lovingly to all in the Cirque family as “Poppet”. She smiles in that knowing way she has and bids me eat.

“And tell me what has you so twisted up?” she requests as well, beginning to lead the way along the windy circular paths between the black and white tents.

It is late, nearing dawn. One can see the telltale line of light beginning to illumine the horizon. Soon, the cirque will close for the night, the lights will dim and silence will fall.

“I…am stuck, Poppet,” I finally tell her after we have passed a tent or two, “I do not know whether to come or go, stay or venture. I know what will happen if I leave but what might not happen if I stay?” I know that I am being vague but vagueries have never stumped Poppet before and I know they will not now.

The young woman walks silently alongside me, our path curling and circling in on itself. “You are not stuck,” she tells me, “You are afraid.” She regards me with those poignant eyes and gentle mouth. “You don’t have to be afraid.”

She’s right. I am afraid. Deathly afraid. “What if–” I stammer, “What if this is all the magic there is in the world? What if there is no more?”

Poppet gives me that enigmatic, ethereal smile. “How can you think that, dear heart? When it was magic that brought you here?” she asks, her voice like the most soothing music. I noticed that when she was giving advice: her voice took on a musical quality to it. It calmed me. My heart beat more slowly and I felt less like I was going to collapse.

I noticed that when she was giving advice: her voice took on a musical quality to it. It calmed me. My heart beat more slowly and I felt less like I was going to collapse.

“Don’t be afraid,” she says, turning and taking my hand to lead me into a certain tent. Within it are jars of all shapes and sizes, filled with a myriad of different things and the labels all different. It is my favorite tent. Dreams and memories. My favorite place in the entire circus.

“There will always be magic, dear. It is around you, within you, a part of you. And you will always be a part of us and we of you, no matter where you go.” Poppet then picks up a bottle that I had never seen before. It is warm, the glass almost feels silky. The label has my name on it.


Failed Matchmaker

Inspired by White Wolf CCP’s Changeling: The Lost game.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match. Find me a find, catch me a catch!

What if you had an exact match? Something – no, someone – who looked just like you, is you in every respect? They aren’t just you; they are the you that you wish you could be. Wouldn’t that be amazing?


She had never intended to find it. Hell no! And she didn’t. It found her. Of course, by Arcadia’s curse, one was older, the other still young. They hardly looked alike anymore; rather like mismatched twins from different species.

If you could See, that is.

She seemed perfectly content, working in a chocolate shop on the swanky side of town. She didn’t live there, of course, but it wasn’t a bad job. Everyone needs money these days.

Christmas-time. Busy season as always. Parties to attend; hosts to impress; meaningless presents to be given.

She stood at the end of the counter, wrapping gift boxes. She had a way with paper, ribbon and scissors that was just short of magic, the shop owner liked to say. Her wrapping was the best in town; people came just to watch her make her creations. The shiny paper, the sparkling ribbons, the little decorative touches that she added: a curl here, a twist there, a double bow for flair.

It was Christmas Eve when it found her.

Six years old with eyes like shards of blue glass, sunken into a pale face devoid of emotion or expression.

The au pair left her at the wrapping table. “Stay here. I’ll be just a second.”

It was like something had turned her spine to ice inside her body. She saw that girl standing there, and it was then that she felt like her glamour shields were savagely ripped away. She stood there, a Changeling, naked before this child monster.

“I know what you are.” That was all it said, but that was enough.

The store was crowded, full to capacity. Surely it wouldn’t try here. That would give her time to run away. Start again. Somewhere, anywhere.

No. Her shears were gone.

“No second chances,” came the acidic hiss.

The shears sliced into her side, through flesh and blood, with nary a sound at all. She felt a chink inside her and stumbled back, blood pouring from the wound now vacated as it yanked back the scissors. Red streamed through her fingers as she grasped at her side. But resistance is futile.

The monster-child’s hand and dress were covered in her blood, making pink velvet ugly.

Somewhere there was a shriek; it sounded muffled, far away. The first sign that you are dying. Still holding her side, she blinked slowly. Once. Twice. It was still there, over her, ignoring the screams of her au pair. It pushed the woman away fiercely, violently. It only had one goal, after all. It wasn’t going to let her come back; it wasn’t going to let her exist.

“No second chances.”

It was going to watch her die, make sure she was gone. Already the store owner was calling 911, and people were shielding their children from the spilling blood when all the little ones wanted was to watch with rapt attention. The au pair, gutless woman that she was, cowered from the thing with the bloody shears.

She tried to make herself aware, call on her defenses, her abilities, but it just smiled.

“Anything you can do, I can do better…” Wretched song.

She was dying, she knew it. The blood was pooling on the floor now, staining white marble. Ouch! Something behind her pricked her fingers, something sharp.

A chocolate knife? Good enough.

It was less than pleased and screeched with all the rage of a 6-year-old as it pulled the small blade out of its shoulder. Loss of blood makes you dizzy, throws off your aim.

It became even angrier when a child-voice, like its own should have been, cried out. “Leave her alone, freak!”

“Stupid changeling. Stupid humans. Fine. Didn’t like it here anyway.”

The world went blurry along its edges; she was almost gone. It had won, no denying that.

Just as she was fading, it turned to her and grabbed her hair. “Not yet. You need to see this.”

Even amidst her blurred fading, it was like a nightmare. The kind that you see and feel, clearly and crisply. The very seams of the store tore away, the world turedn on its side, and a great horned beast, more terrifying than any horse, dragon, or chimera that can be imagined thundered through the break. The creature that sat atop it was infinitely more beautiful and infinitely more terrifying.

People screamed, children keened, humanity swooned.

It ran to him and he scooped it up with a look one part affection and one part disgust. It threw its arms around his neck and then gestured around.

“Merry Christmas, Daddy!”

Instead, he turned his eyes on her. “Time to go home, my pretty.”

She had been right. It was like someone lowering a curtain. No hope, no peace, no heaven. No second chances.

What Remains of War

This belongs to Melissa Snyder

The river had swollen with an early thaw, overflowing its banks and swamping the riverside. Standing sentry in the flooded bank, the river still running with ice flows, was a bare, spindly-branched sapling. Caught and waving from its bent fingers was a shredded swatch of red, fluttering weakly in the late-winter wind. The ravaged flag, its golden sunburst obliterated by mud and fire, was only vestige of the bloody battle fought here. The Winterwise had washed away all other evidence, hiding it beneath the ripple of its icy skirts.

A flash of glossy black with peacock sheen broke the grey of the waterlogged landscape, standing out in stark relief to the white-capped river ripples. Landing on the tree branch, the rook pecked at the remnant, attracted by the golden flicker of the sunburst. Its beak, however, dislodged the flag’s tenuous hold on the branch, and the icy wind grabbed hold with greedy fingers to sweep it away through the grey air over the Winterwise.

The river had swollen and overflowed its banks, washing away any evidence of the battle that had splattered the crystal snow with hot blood.

A Time Lord’s Auld Lang Syne

The night is waning, the year is bidding farewell, her family is asleep, and her world is quiet. Until she hears it. On her back porch, that whooshing thrum that echoes through the New Year’s Eve air. Standing from her blanket cocoon on her couch, she makes her way to the back door, reaching for the handle, only to have the screen door open without warning, leaving her to jump back from the blast of cold night air.

And there he is, standing in the snow-swirled doorway like the proverbial bow-tied Peter Pan at her window.

“Happy New Year!” he crows.

“Shhh!” comes the retort and he instantly shrinks down, hand before his mouth, eyes wide with mirth.

“Happy New Year?” comes the greeting once more, only much, much quieter.

“You’re on the western side of the Atlantic, love. It’s not New Year’s quite yet,” she says with a smile at the mad man with the police box, reaching behind him to close the door and shut out the cold once more.

“Really? My timing must be off, though I’d get here right after they knocked the ball off. Oh, well, no matter! Time left then!”

“Shhh!” she reprimands again but, this time, he just smiles.

“How are you?” he asks, crossing his arms behind him.

“Seeing out the old year and welcoming the new,” she replies leading him through her small house and into a living room warmed by a small fireplace. She offers him a seat on the sofa, if he wishes.

“What brings you here on New Year’s Eve?” she then asks as she sits.

He doesn’t answer for a moment but then his words are soft and honest. “To say goodbye as well.”

Her face falls as she reads his. “This seriously is it, isn’t it? You are saying goodbye.”

This adorable maniac purses his lips and nods slowly. “Times change and so must we.”

She cannot help but glance down the hall towards the bedrooms where her husband and toddler daughter slumber peacefully. “We do change, don’t we?” she murmurs softly. “I remember the first time you and your crazy box came to me. Seems like so very long ago.”

A smile, sad and joyous all at the same time, curls his lips. “I do, too. The Girl Who Stayed Behind.”

She chuckles. “Oh, I get a title, now do I?”

“Well, of course!” he replies, “It’s a thing I do.”

Reaching out gently, she cups that cheek in her hand. So young that face but so old those eyes. Neither of them says anything for the longest time, though everyone knows that the most significant words are spoken in the space between. In the silences.

“Thank you for stopping for me that day,” she finally says, “Though I have not regretted not going with you.”

“I know you haven’t; you think I haven’t kept an eye on you? You’ve had some pretty amazing adventures of your own,” he says, “I wouldn’t have offset that destiny for all the stars in the expanse.” He stands then, moving through her home as if it was his own. Coming to her daughter’s room, he pauses in the doorway, watching the toddler dream in her crib.

“Never stop dreaming, little one. Your mum didn’t and look what it got her,” he whispers his blessing on a breath of golden stardust. He then steps from the door, closing it most of the way again before returning to the living room and her couch.

“You don’t forget, do you?” he asks, and she instinctively knows what he’s asking about.

“Not the important things, no,” she replies lowly, “And you are one of the important things.” Reaching out, she takes his hand gently. “Don’t you ever think that you’re not. You won’t be forgotten, not by anyone who has ever met or been blessed by you. It doesn’t matter where you go, what you do…what face you wear…you will always be the adorable mad man with a box. You will always be the Doctor to me.”

His smile is wobbly, his eyes limpid in the firelight, as he grasps her hand with both of his, lifting it to kiss it ardently. “Thank you,” he whispers, “Thank you for that.”

Suddenly, there comes a faint beeping from the arm of the couch. Her phone. It’s midnight.

“Happy New Year, Doctor-dear.”

“Happy New Year, my girl,” he murmurs in reply.

The moments pass and she is alone on her couch once more, her house locked up safe and sound, and there is a void in the snow on her porch, a square large enough for a person to stand in. The fire has burned down, the world is quiet. The New Year has begun.

May it be blessed.

Credit to Ashley Feiler on Pinterest

NaBloMoPo Day 18: Story Weaving

Property of Melissa Snyder

“Dreamer’s Caste” (cont.)

Mercy. It was an ironic name, because this young woman was anything but. Mercy didn’t complement Affluence. Affluence  demanded skill, cunning, and ruthlessness.  Mercy had all of these in spades, just like her father did. She was skilled in trade, in investment, in acquisition. She was the very definition of Affluent. Her name was therefore a clever, shall we say, diversion.

Gown swishing and whispering over the marble floors, Mercy made her way through her father’s stately town mansion at the center of the Inner City, ordering about the morning household. She then took herself out to the balcony to break her fast. Morning fresh grapes, with the dew still on them, cheese aged for years until perfectly sharp, bread made from the finest wheat. As she sits there, eating daintily and savoring the flavors beneath the elegantly-embroidered cloth hangings to protect her pale skin from the morning sun. As she eats, a plain, wide-brimed hat passes beneath her sight and she pauses, threaded eyebrows knitting in consternation.

It was that damned Dreamer. Every other day she passed Mercy’s home on her way to the Grande Bazaar. She wasn’t the only one, to be sure, but this one annoyed her more than those other lowlifes because she was actually brazen enough to show her face in the Grande. And there were fools in the Grande who dared to purchase her dreamspun wares, giving her hard-minted money for nothing! Like common barterers! Traitors to Affluence! She wanted to lob the entire loaf at that dreadful hat, smack some sense into the Dreamer’s head to get back to the Outers where she belonged. Instead, Mercy determined to enjoy her very expensive breakfast to spite the Dream Girl’s face. She would not allow the nobody to ruin her day.

Finishing her food, Mercy rang for the servant girl to clear away and then rose from her seat to begin her day. Business and Affluence would not run themselves, after all.

January 3, 2010 – Court on Progress

Author’s Note: Over Christmas break, I had the opportunity to go horseback riding for the first time in about 14 years. But as we ambled along, I couldn’t help but feel…well, regal in a way. My mind drifted off to royal progresses through the country. I found myself dreaming of horses decked in elegant trappings, of gorgeous riding habits, gloves, and hats, of  people coming out to view a beloved queen or princess as she rode by, strew flowers before her horse’s hooves or hand up little nosegays to her in the saddle. I found myself sitting a little straighter in the saddle, a small smile on my lips. Here, I have endeavored to write it all down, cast myself in royalty, and paint that gorgeous picture that floated in my mind.

~ ~ ~ ~

The morning dawned clear and blue and bright as the courtyard rang with the activity.  Carts were being loaded, horses tacked, and litters prepared. The royal court of England was on Progress!

Mistress Elizabeth Blackwell, maid-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon, was helped onto her horse by a man-at-arms who then held the horse’s bridle as she settled herself upon the saddle, adjusting the skirts of her tulip yellow riding habit along the horse’s back and flanks. Her mount was a handsome chestnut gelding with a silvery-white blaze down his nose and was lovely in his green and white trappings, the colors of the Tudor dynasty. Bess arranged herself a bit more comfortably in her saddle and reached up to make sure that her hat was pinned securely over the coils of her rich, soil-brown hair and her gauzy gossamer veil drawn down and fastened.

“Make way for his Majesty the King!” came the cry and King Henry VIII bounded out into the courtyard, the picture of youth, health, and vitality.

“A wonderful day to begin a progress!” he bellowed joyously, clapping his hands with a laugh. He was resplendent in a crimson velvet doublet, sleeves slashed with cloth of gold, crimson breeches, a summer mantle of crimson and thread of gold and the finest boots and gloves. He strode towards his great horse, swinging himself up into the saddle with ease, laughing jovially with his lifelong friend Charles Brandon as the rest of the cavalcade prepared.

Queen Catherine smiled elegantly from atop her palfrey, dressed in lovely deep Tudor green damask and velvet, her mount decked in the beautiful red and white trappings of the King’s rose. “A better day could not have been picked, my dearest husband,” she said sweetly as he reined his steed alongside hers.

“Nor a more beautiful Queen, my dear Catherine,” Henry agreed, raising her gloved hand to his lips and kissing it fervently. “Come now, let us away to our adoring subjects!”

And with that, the Royal Court commenced its summer Progress.

September 10, 2010 – Arsenic Candy (short story in process)

“I taste arsenic on the back of my throat. Are you trying to kill me again?”

I slowly, gently nudged the brown-glass bottle to the back of the open cabinet in front of my chair with the toe of my shoe. “No,” I said, not moving from my Microsoft, though I knew my voice carried a bit of 5-year-old pout. The sort of pout that you get when something doesn’t go your way but you can’t admit it.

Of course I had been trying to kill him. I had been trying to kill him for years. But it seemed that he had developed a tolerance for rat poison after all the dollops in his morning coffee. Oh, well. Scratch experiment #275 for a failure. Back to the drawing board, I supposed, literally and figuratively.

He just shook his head and looked at me in that contemptuous, pitying way. “You’d do better with ricin,” he commented rather sagely and shuffled over to his lab table.

Who was he to pity me and, moreover, give me advice on how to kill him? It was his fault I was still stuck here, amongst these fumes and biologicals all day long. If he’d simply approve my thesis, I could move on and be done with it. But no.

“I have determined,” as he loved to say, “that your thesis lacks depth, structure, and you need more time to perfect your method of experimentation.”

More tests, more experiments, more data. Evermore data. It had been seven long years, my financial aid was just about dry, the university was dead set on being rid of me, and here was the old geezer pissing time away because he was a lonely, old, sadist prick.

The place smelled like mothballs and formaldehyde and it clung to me when I left. Even showering with hot water and lemons didn’t get rid of it. That was no way to pick up a girl in a bar or club: smelling like a convalescent home. Once, a girl told me that being with me was like sleeping in a coffin or a morgue. Yeah, that relationship went well, meaning it was blessedly brief and long ago.

I hadn’t had sex in three years. Three damned years with nothing but my own hand for company! Even the macabre girl was good for a roll at least.

So, yes, I was trying to kill him, had been for years. But the old baggage just wouldn’t keel over and die. It was like he had made a deal with the afterlife to be my personal torment here on earth just so long as he could keep living, keeping me from my goals, from even the barest acknowledgement of the scientific community. Because of a foul ordinance of the university that required doctoral candidates to have the signed approval of their supervisor on any article they wished to publish, my professional dossier was empty. Old Crab wouldn’t sign off any even the merest observational report that was intended to leave his lab.

Yes, Old Crab. And he looked the part, too. His eyes were beady and black and glittered in the lights of the old-fashioned Bunsen burners that he insisted on using, scoffing at modern heating plates. His hands were gnarled and he had arthritis so badly that his fingers sort of clamped together most of the time so that he looked to have two claws instead of ten fingers. When he flew into a rage, he turned a bright orangey red. Not even a pinky red like most humans. His skin was so sallow that the red fused into an almost carrot color when the blood rushed to his face and neck.