The Tense Silence of Our Youth

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Instead of Hansel and Gretel, we have been Hannah and Gerta perhaps – two who find themselves lost in the great forest while the breadcrumbs meant to indicate a way home provide nourishment for ever watchful crows.

There have been times we both felt this way. Some of them have been simultaneous.

This state of being included some of our greatest obstacles, not only in writing but in day-to-day living. Hard to go forward when we’re looking back.

Struggles though these times have been keenly disheartening, but reminders from family and friends that everything is relative often sustains us.

Or turning around from running away to face the fear, the discomfort, the pain until it has nothing more to say, no more to deliver.

Like a string of pearls reversing into velvet black time, these difficulties have also formed a radiant calm and beauty, encouraging reflection.

Through all of this, we’ve managed to accomplish what once seemed impossible.

We’re still at it.

Objects Can Be Characters Too

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I remember the movies, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I remember the television series, My Mother, the Car. And of course there’s the TARDIS from the long-running British show, Dr. Who. Objects have been used as characters in these stories to great effect, often having their overlapping status create a built-in twist of some sort or another, difficult or impossible to pull off with mortal humans.

There are at least two things to think of here: one is the bridge between species of a sort (I guess we can include, Mr. Ed then) and two, there are the characteristics, the details that are necessary to bring the inanimate to life and other animals to human language and cognition.

Always, there are disagreements about how much detail is too much or not enough, but to bring a level of interaction bridging the divide takes a bit more detail, rather than less.

Lord of the Rings, an all-time favorite of mine, bestows many objects with special significance, each in their own way, whether it be its history of a sword’s deeds or the evil that the Ring speaks to its wearer.

Thinking about this today, I realize there are some objects we could take into the world of interaction and special detail in the second book of our series. Book One is nearly complete… in ‘final’ revisions, and we’re researching the best self-publisher for our needs as well as the launch date. Then we can more thoroughly attend to the threads we will want to pull through into the next book of the series. It’s an exciting time, and we’ll see what will happen.

If you should happen to have experiences with writing objects as sentient beings OR a great experience self-publishing and want to share, that would be lovely. Please leave a comment below.

 

 

Awareness of the Cue

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A day we couldn’t work brought a new perspective.

 

We both carry a sense of guilt when we can’t do something we’d like to accomplish. No matter that it may stem from the fact that our bodies won’t comply or we’re too distracted by pain, fog, sensory overload, and/or the fear that it will continue to be ‘this way.’ The thing for us to remember is that these situations turn out, time and time again, to be a kind of soil from which grows meaningful writing, revision, or an entire reframing of that part of the story.

 

Every hesitation, need for self-care, change of plans, detour – every hiccup along the way – is an opportunity. The longer we dwell on potential negative impacts, like time lost, the more time we spend forgetting the benefits. These come from the cause and effects which are rarely within our sole conscious control.

 

We are learning – sometimes quickly, sometimes after repeated cueing experiences. Awareness of these cues can be a great help whether we are writing or revising. They try to tell us: “Do not be so hard on yourself. Take your speck of sand and make from it your pearl.”

 

For example, we lost the last nineteen chapters of the book. Sort of…

 

We recently finished the book and returned to the first chapter of the last nineteen (at that point it would’ve been Chapter 63) to do some revision work. We had the clever idea to do all of this work in one Word document which would later be added into Scrivener ™ in chapter-sized segments.

 

The story goes something like this…

 

Once upon a time, we had an extremely productive day. One of those in-the-flow, amazing days. Unfortunately, we had an issue which shut down Word ™ but didn’t save our document correctly. We lost the entire last day’s hours of writing and all of the revision, but in its place after a brief pity party, we came up with back story and another twist we wouldn’t have otherwise conceived.

 

One key was to begin writing again the instant we discovered – and accepted the reality – that this had actually occurred. Much of the work we’d done was still in our short term memory banks, though some things were irretrievably lost, which was okay.

 

When we’re in the midst of feeling unwell, we feel awful about what looks like waste. The minute we get back in the flow, we realize how much insight and creativity happened in the meanwhile.

 

Are there times when you are hard on yourself or times when you could see that an otherwise fallow time yielded fruit?

3… 2…1… Reentry

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We’ve been busy since we last saw you. We hope you’ve kept well and happy. You’ve been in our thoughts.

In the interim, we finished the first draft of our novel after a full year’s creative endeavor. We look forward to sharing snippets and scenes and in-betweens.

We’d like to pose questions and invitations for you to share your works as well.

We are now prepping for a month’s-long set of revision passes.

We find Janice Hardy’s suggestions invaluable as are James Scott Bell’s. The former suggested prepping the book by creating an editorial map with this format for each chapter. You could easily do it for each scene as well:

[SUMMARY

First line

Last line.

Revision Thoughts: ]

 

Here’s the link to Janice’s helpful resource: http://blog.janicehardy.com/2015/02/revison-prep-create-editorial-map.html

Next steps for us include an outline of the three acts and the main turning points within them.

~*~

We’ve missed this space and community. Bloggers everywhere have been in our thoughts. One good thing is we’ve been learning every day we’ve written.

Originally, we didn’t know how coauthoring would go with the two of us having different schedules, varying levels of pain, and the ever-burgeoning list of doctor appointments.

It wasn’t always easy, yet we persevered. We’re now looking for a way to celebrate our, ‘We did it!’ moment in time by reentering 2penthrupain. Please celebrate with us if you have a spare moment or two.

We know the blog is an essential part of what we’re trying to accomplish – touching base with other readers and writers.

We have a few new areas of interest coming up including finding a publisher. We were all set to go with a publishing company, but fortunately happened upon some unfortunate information. In the end because of our research, we decided not to sign their contract though it had been a slam dunk for the months leading up to the discoveries. Something kept us from actually signing the darn thing for quite a while.

Andrea took a month’s creative writing course with prompts. She’s been producing some wonderful stories on a near daily basis…. The rest were poems of equally inspiring innovation. She found the course both eye-opening and mind-stretching.

In our next post we will feature one of her short stories.

The course was offered through Creative Writing Now with Nancy Strauss.

She’s currently offering a free 3 Day Course on Endless Story Ideas. Here is the link.

http://www.creative-writing-now.com/free-online-writing-courses.html

We look forward to diving back in. Thank you for your continued support. We’d love to hear from you.

Two Paragraphs… Three Hours Later

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Revision is an enjoyable experience for both of us. At times it can be lengthy… and grueling, but nothing beats the feeling of finally writing what we think is a clear and concise paragraph… one in which every word has been questioned, rolled about aloud, and interrogated for meaning. It helps motivate us for the next round, whether it be writing or revising.

 

When we look over what we’ve written, we ask ourselves, ‘Selves, how did this paragraph and the next turn into such a mess when it seemed so articulate and meaningful before?

 

Most paragraphs click along after a second look, but some pull us into revision in a deeper way. We take the dare, bringing all our energy to the task. We’re looking for what feels the best to us so that hopefully the reader can enjoy the work more fully.

 

It’s not like one or the other of us say, ‘Hey! Let’s dive into the watery depths of THIS paragraph for an afternoon,’ but sometimes that’s the way it happens. We both know which paragraphs need help and where to dive.

 

We work well together despite the word, ‘grueling’ up above. Any hard task bears with it multiple layers, especially when working with a partner. There’s the level of mechanics, of character, of story, and the level of working together, among others­­­. And that’s just the beginning of breaking it down.

 

We thought we’d include an example of ‘Before and After.’. Please feel free to share your opinions or rewrites in the comments, if you would like to play along at home.

~**~

BEFORE:

Murray waited in silence with his hands behind his back. He was seated on one of those orange curved plastic chairs that made it impossible to sit comfortably. But Murray wasn’t thinking about that. He was simply waiting and waiting… and waiting some more. He didn’t know why he was in this strange room full of arguing, yelling, and smoking cops and criminals. The tendrils of tobacco and noise burnt him even before they entered his body.

~**~

AFTER:

Hands cuffed behind his back, Murray waited in silence. He was seated on a curved plastic chair that made it impossible to get comfortable due to its awkward shape and unyielding construction. His mind longed to be elsewhere. Why am I in this place?

The room was empty but for the lingering cigarette smoke. Tendrils of tobacco burnt his nostrils. Men tried to intimidate him, but he’d succeeded in shutting them down. Frustrated, they left him there.

 

There are many books, websites, and other resources devoted to revision. Though the following link refers to research papers or other drafts with an introduction and conclusion, many of the questions and tips read well for help with fiction too. If a draft is the ‘writer’s clay’ as has been said many times, we hope you enjoy molding and shaping yours.

Revising Drafts

Sam and Lila Try to Use Sentences Fluently

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Sentence Fluency – another important component of good writing. It goes a long way toward creating texture in paragraphs, scenes, and ultimately the entire piece. We have an innate sense of it because we hear how we speak. Dialogue in conversation makes an impact on the language centers of our brain, training them – and us – to go from talking to writing. If you click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph, you will be transported to a website that honestly, goes into just about every aspect of sentence fluency that I would wish to include were I now writing it all out for you instead of sharing someone’s link. It’s a quick read, but nicely organized and thorough, in my opinion.

We hope you will enjoy the following story tidbit. It is a first draft scene from my first NaNoWriMo novel (or National Novel Writing Month – though it’s long since gone International…).

This is pretty much the way it tore onto my computer screen at top typing speed on the day. I’m using it for four reasons today:

-Halloween last week – hope you had a good one.

-NaNoWriMo started November 1st!

-Because the below piece only had one quick look-over since its first draft emergence, perhaps there are some sentence fluency issues to revise. If you see any, please feel free to give me a heads up in a comment, should your time permit.

~*~*~

“Okay, Sir, I’ll be back in a second to let you know what we have.”

 

“Oh, and I am looking for something of a …”

 

“Deal? A lowest possible price? Yes, Sir. I’ll be back in a moment.”

 

The next minute, the little door bell went off. Where there had once been two people occupying that vast, deceiving space, there were now three. Sam turned to look, but he couldn’t see anyone. Kids, he thought.

 

But then he saw it. An old fashioned ladies’ hat, festooned with ribbon flowers and tiny bird-like statuary. All he could see was the hat, and it was moving directly toward him in a straight line. He quickly looked over to see where the manager of the shop was located, but he could no longer see him.

 

The hat continued to draw ever nearer, until it finally rounded the last counter and turned into a beautiful old woman, with a dress right out of the 1940s and lace boots to match.

 

“Hello, Sam,” she said quietly with a hint of encouragement in her voice.

 

“Hello, Ma’am. How do you know my name?”

 

“It says… right there on your shirt.” Sam glanced down, but before he could respond, she spoke again. “All right, it doesn’t say, but I don’t want you to worry. I’m here to help you.”

 

“I’m sorry?” Sam’s mind took off at a hundred miles an hour and didn’t stop, except to hear the next words from the mysterious woman.

 

“I don’t have long, but don’t worry. We WILL meet again. I wish I could tell you more…”

 

“So do I!” Sam said.

 

“Listen to me and please, Sam, for everyone’s sake – try to do as I say. You will need to go to see your landlord about that nasty structural damage spreading in your apartment. When you go, from that moment on, avoid walking within three feet of the depression. Promise me, Sam. Three feet!”

 

“What are you talking about? How would we get into the kitchen?”

 

“You’ll find a way, Sam. This is very important. Three feet is the minimum number. Before you see him, measure and draw a line. If you have to go out to eat for now, do so. By all means do not let anyone closer than that. Prepare them before you see the landlord. That’s all I’m allowed to say right now. You will need to give me $10.00 so the universe will be pleased with you.”

 

“What?” Sam spluttered. “TEN dollars? I’m in a bit of a pinch right now, and why would I want to give it to you, anyway, erm… do you have a name?”

 

“Yes, I have a name. Don’t you recognize me?”

 

“No, I don’t. And I don’t have your ten bucks either. I’m drowning with my expenses right now. You and your ‘information’ are the last things I can afford to purchase!”

 

“Don’t think of it as a purchase, Sam. It’s an offering, in truth of fact. Please, you must offer it. This is for your own good. And have no worries, you will not be struggling with money for long.”

 

Sam felt a warmth flow through him at those words, but his hackles were still raised. “I’m sorry, Ma’am. I don’t even know your name.”

 

“My name is Lila.”

 

The shock on his face must have been evident as he could feel his jaw hanging open, his eyes bulging out of their too – small sockets. “Um… you can’t be my Lila…”

 

“No, Sam. I’m your mother – in – law. I know we haven’t seen each other in many years, but I still somehow fancied that you would recognize me, especially in this outfit.” It was then that Sam recognized the hat that Lila’s mother, also named Lila Matilda, was dressed in for her funeral. He just stood there, as he was at a complete loss for words.

 

Reaching into his pocket for his wallet, his fingers fished the ten dollars out with barely a downward glance, and handed the bills to the old woman.

 

“Thank you, Sam, and good luck in the coming weeks. You will see me again, but you must make good choices for yourself! Please heed everything I said. Maybe write it down so you don’t forget?”

 

“Yeah… I mean, Yes. I’ll do that. There’s so much I want to ask…,” but halfway through the sentence old Lila had turned on her heel, walking down the aisles and out of the store the way she’d come. Still utterly shocked, he drew a blank when he turned to find the shop manager beside him.

 

“I hurried back as I heard you calling me,” he said.

 

“No, I was just talking to another customer, but she’s gone now.”

 

“Sir, I was keeping one eye on you via the security cameras in the office where the rental laptops are located. There was no one else in this shop but you and me.”

 

“What? No, she was just here a second before you came back. Didn’t you hear the bell ringing?”

 

“No, Sir. No bells.”

 

Copyright © 2014 Leslie Engel

From Here to There: Arcs and Transitions

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One way to write is to set down the most dramatic, powerful, important scenes, figure out where they go in relation to each other, and then determine whether there are others lurking between, like waiting-to-be-discovered galaxies.

 

Once all the large beats in your story are in place, you can look at the spaces between them. This is mostly how we are writing our current Young Adult book… only without the mixed metaphors of music and astronomy.

 

If the bridge of your transition feels long and stretched out, there may still be one or more heightened scenes waiting to be developed. Check for alignment with your arcs – whether it be the arcs of your characters, this scene, a dialogue interaction perhaps, or the entire story. There are also those of relationships, places, motivations, and plots… to name a few more.

 

Arcs are stories playing out in time. If I’m wrong, it’ll all be okay soon.

 

A transition will take you from one scene to the next. You can also rely on it to traverse one perspective to another or one part of a universe to another. Maybe in Frank Herbert’s, Dune, ‘Spice’ was originally, ‘The Transition That Ate the Entire Plot,’ bringing in such significance that it changed the story from the inside out. Maybe.

 

As with dialogue it can also be used to reveal character as well as move the story forward. Your first draft may lack the latter feature, but keep a watch out for opportunities on one of your next passes.

 

Some questions to ask yourself about getting from here to there:

*Is this cliché or can I think of a more unique way to accomplish it?

*Am I going off on tangents for good reason or am I taking the direct route?

*Have I packed everything I need?

*Does this reflect back to another part of the story that now needs an adjustment?

*What is my gut telling me as I’m writing this transition?

*Is it as tight as it can be, including only what’s necessary?

 

As with editing in video, we want to glimpse everything we need to see with minimal, non-essential time spent dallying or pointing out odd architectural features that don’t lend to the atmosphere or action.

 

Here’s an example from my first novel’s opening. What line(s) would you identify as a transition in what is an origin story or prologue.

 

[Sitting around the fire in their furs and matted hair, the men looked up as a bright light split the sky. The image burned its way onto every retina and managed to stay there for some time. When it finally cleared, there was barely a trace of the flash from the north…. just a quickly fading ripple of mist down to Earth.

 

It didn’t seem that far away, but night was a dangerous time to go wandering off from shelter and fire. Still, there was something calling to each man, individually… A small voice from the north whispering beckoning words of encouragement.

 

Most thought they would be able to find it in the morning. They’d all get a hunting party together to investigate, but each knew in his own heart that he would be going alone. To find the prize for himself.

 

Shielding his intentions from the others, each man glanced around the circle, only to find all men but one doing the same.

 

Gorag was standing, and it was possible to see the fire in his heart and eyes even from behind. It was as though a string tugged on him like the sinew of a mammoth beast. Shaken out of a daze, he searched around for his club and other essentials: a bow and arrows, his flint knife, an extra fur for warmth. He said no words to them, but they all knew what was on his mind. To follow the trail from  heaven to earth and see what gifts might be found.]
More in future on this topic, especially if you enjoy different views on it.

Interaction is always welcome.

 

Now to wrap it up with a haiku:

 

Transition, bridge, arc

Made of hyper-drives or glue

Once here and now there.

 

 

Vocal Overview Shmoverview

 

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♫ The Voice in Our Heads ♫

 

Voice is a significant characteristic of writing just as it is of people who live off of the page. As the word implies, it speaks to us with personality and purpose. Sometimes, even panache.

 

I’ve found that the most authentic way to write with a strong voice is to get as clear a three-dimensional image of the character as I can, and then step inside his or her skin, clothes, and head.

 

It can also be the easiest because once the potentially challenging job of envisioning and breathing life into the real character is ‘done,’ pretty much all one needs to do is listen and write down what the character says. Whatever can be done with written speech to add inflection and pacing helps too.

 

It is one of the most satisfying components of writing and certainly of revision, that act of going back over the mysterious words that happened to appear on the page, sculpting them into a Life form.

 

I find that it’s easiest to hear when the characters are also thinking or having a dialogue.

 

How do I talk about Voice? If a writer cannot hear the voice of their character while writing them initially, their next opportunity is to read the words aloud… maybe even using a recording device to capture each word and inflection spoken. I can tell with my life-trained ear when it ‘sounds’ right or is off, down to the word, stopping periodically to ask myself questions, like:

 

*Would my character really say that?

*What does that sentence really mean?

*Is this the best word to use here, or would another one work better?

*Does the structure of each sentence in the paragraph help to optimize meaning?

*Did I save my work?

 

Voice is one of the essential 7 traits or components of writing that need special attention when revising or offering feedback. The seven are: Ideas and Content, Sentence Fluency, Voice, Mechanic, Word Choice, Organization, and Presentation. We will periodically develop and go into more detail with each of the traits on future blogs until we’ve covered them all.  And we won’t stop there.

 

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Quoting loosely from Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon are valuable tidbits from Chapter 1:

 

-Voice and Style are often used interchangeably

-Six processes to help you free the imprisoned artist within:

 

>Cultivate deep listening.

>Silence critics; banish censors

>Practice riff-writing

>Revise from your truth

>Harvest your emotions

>Catch fireflies”

 

…and then let go of them say I…

 

 

 

 

Meningitis Mind Sentences

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Throughout my early life I wrote my pain on paper, and it seemed to help. I wasn’t conscious that I was dealing with it that way until an event in my early twenties.

One morning I woke up to get ready for work, and fell into my closet. Next I drove my little blue Fiat to work as if I was underwater, falling to the asphalt, eventually arriving bloodied and confused in the office.

I agreed to go to the hospital at the urging of my neurologist, who was concerned about these symptoms along with the intensity of my headaches and the fact that my naturopath had seen some unusual activity behind my eyes.

They took spinal fluid to rule out the most dangerous potential cause of these anomalies. My neurologist thought it unlikely but better to be safe.

It turned out to be true. I had spinal meningitis, and the next people I saw wore outfits akin to space suits. I stayed a month, and none of the doctors I saw could answer my simple questions: Will I live through this? Will I once again be able to complete sentences and think as well as I once did?

It’s difficult to describe the level of completely useless fear I felt when one after another answered, “We don’t know yet.”

At first, I was not allowed to sit up or stand. I had to do everything lying down. I would eat by rolling over onto my side carefully and using a straw. Though I was in the perfect posture for it, the one thing I couldn’t do was sleep. People entered hourly. There were lights, sounds, and people crying in the night. And there was pain and fear.

All the while I wrote in my mind. Affected cognitively, I couldn’t do much, but I constantly repeated the mantra I had been given by my meditation teacher. Over and over again, I would not only say it, but see it in my mind’s eye. I clung to those words like the lifeline they were. They kept me from drowning in my own fear.

Later, I continued, interspersing thoughts of purpose. “What did I want to do with my life when I was well again?” It took a long time for me to complete thoughts of any complexity, but I was gradually certain I would like to be a naturopath, one of those kind people who spent so much time to help me figure out what was wrong after a slew of doctors told me it was everything from an ear infection to my imagination. I will be a naturopath, I thought, and I asked my nurse for help sending away for information long before the eras of laptops, wifi, and cell phones. Snail mail was IT, baby.

While I waited to hear, I started to sit up again. I responded to cards with a line or two of text and a scribbled picture of the sun, heart, or a flower.

I wrote one line of feelings over and over until I thought of another line to repeat. They soothed my imaginings of the future.

I found out that I needed to do something else to fund the years of study it would take to become a naturopath. I thought I’d like to teach.

All this came together through thoughts that were pinned down to paper so they wouldn’t fly off into the stratosphere before completion. Slowly, I learned to complete sentences again. I applied to schools and wrote their essays with persistence. I struggled to stand and balance my body, and in a month’s time live outside of a hospital. I was a lucky girl who lived.

I did not become a naturopath, but I did become a teacher. I worked at it lovingly for a decade and a half.

Though I will always live with remnants meningitis left in my body, I know I would not be the person I am grateful to be today were it not for that experience and the time spent with myself, talking, whispering, and writing through the pain.

What Grew from Two…Words

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After reading and enjoying Leslie’s flash fiction I decided maybe I would try my hand at it. Well actually my fingers.

I asked a friend to give me two words. I don’t know why two, but that’s what called to me.

The two words were cosmically and pendulum. Hmm, kinda cool. Let’s see what I could do with them.

I would like to share the results of my first flash fiction. I hope you enjoy.

I just this second found out that flash fiction is under 1000 words. This is a little over so it is not exactly flash.

It’s Flash with Sass. It’s a wee bit suggestive, but not too much.

Thank you for reading my first ever flashish fiction.

☮❤☼♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ •.✫:))☮ ❤ ☼✫

“So do you want to see what I found or not? I asked you about an hour ago, and it still hasn’t happened.”

“Okay okay. I’m sorry. You can show me anything you like. Don’t be upset with me. It’s the sky tonight. It’s beautiful and we haven’t been out here in a long time. I got distracted, but you have my full attention now. I was hoping to make another wish, so I’m expecting a shooting star to show up shortly.”

“Oh really? You just expect the stars to comply with your request.”

“Yes of course. I am cosmically inclined you know.” I couldn’t help but tease. It was one of my favorite things to do to the people I cared for most.

“You said another wish. What was the first one?”

“I can’t tell you. What I can tell you,” I looked deep into his eyes then for dramatic effect, “is that it came true.”

“Hmmm.” “There you go again, getting me off topic but it won’t work this time.”

A smirk arose on that face I had known for a little over a year. It was a really good year. I looked forward to many more. I didn’t like to talk about how good things were going. I was superstitious about these sorts of things and I didn’t want to jinx it back to the way it was before I met him. For the first time in a long time, things were going really well. It was easy with Alex. He let me be myself or should I say all my selves.

“Come on, you know I don’t do it on purpose. There’s times when I’m completely focused. It’s just difficult when there is so much activity all around me. I mean look at this place. We can see the city lights and hear the ocean surf from up here. ”

“Yes, it is quite breathtaking up here, but I know how you operate. I also know when I have your full attention,” he said with that look that made me weak in the knees.

“MMM don’t I know it. I’ll be practicing that in a few more minutes. I’ll be getting your ‘full’ attention too.”

“Promises promises.”

All I could do was smile. “Okay, what have you got in your pocket to show me that you haven’t already?”

“Now, don’t get me off topic again. You’ll be seeing, I mean feeling that soon enough.”

Good thing it was dark because I must have turned the deepest shade of red all over. I could feel the warmth spreading through my whole body, but I knew how important this was to him so I took a deep breath and came back to full attention.

He reached in his worn out jeans. They were my favorite pair of his. They fit him so well in all the right places. Yummy. Okay Vanessa, get a grip.

“I found this at the beach. I was walking down by the water and the sun caught it just right. I could hear it calling me, and I answered.”

It was beautiful. It looked like a two inch long diamond on a straight chain with nine distinct sides coming to a point and a flat top. Even in the moonlight, it sparkled. “Wow. It’s amazing; what is it?”

“I wasn’t sure so I went into one of those shops in town, you know the one I mean with all the rocks. You’re always talking about going in and you haven’t yet.

“Yea, I especially like the one where the guy on the stilts hangs out.”

“No seriously, why haven’t you gone in yet?”

“Now who’s getting off topic? And besides, they’re called crystals. Not stones.”

“Oh, pardon me, Miss Fancy Pants. It’s called a pendulum and it’s used, hmmm, the best way to describe it is…”

“Like one of those magic eight balls, but only with yes or no answers?

“I was just going to say that. That’s really weird, Vee.”

She noticed his eyes getting wider and his posture stiffened. “It’s just a coincidence, Alex. A lucky guess.”

“That’s some coincidence; what are the odds. Anyway, care to give it a whirl? You have to ask it what your yes and what your no is.”

“Huh?”

“Here, let me show you. Hold the chain and let it be still over your palm. I like to say a little something to it. ‘Guides, what is my yes?’”

I giggled.

“Vee, this is serious business. Come on.”

“Okay, I’m sorry, go ahead.”

“Guides, what is my yes?” The pendulum started to swing forwards and backwards.

“Come on, Alex, I know you’re doing that.”

“No really, I’m not. I’ll let you try and you can see. ‘Guides, what is my no?’” The crystal started to swing from left to right.

“Hmmm.”

“Here, you try it.”

“Okay, I’ll give it a go. Magic Pendulum, what is my yes?” With that the Pendulum started to swing from front to back. “Whoa, that’s so cool. Have you asked it anything for real?”

“Yes, but just little stuff, nothing big. I wanted to give you first dibbs on the good stuff.”

“Aww, you’re so good to me.” I grabbed that face that I loved so much and gave him a quick smooch. It would have been a longer kiss but I wanted to keep my wits about me. That mind numbing was for later and once we started kissing, he couldn’t control himself. Who am I kidding, I couldn’t either.

“Go ahead, Babe, ask away.”

“Okay, hmmm. Magic Pendulum, will I see a shooting star tonight?” No sooner did the words leave my lips then the crystal took off swinging with a definite yes.

“Ask another.”

“Really? Okay. Magic Pendulum, will my wish tonight come true?” Once again, it swung with a definite yes. I had to hold onto the chain tightly before it flew out of my hand. “Awesome. How lucky am I?”

“You are so lucky, Miss Campbell. You’re with me aren’t you?”

I couldn’t even give him a smart answer back. The truth was, I knew how lucky I was. After the events leading up to literally bumping into him that day on the street, I had to ask myself, How does that happen? Going from the worst time of my life to the best.

He didn’t know I changed my last name. I felt badly about that, but I had no choice. It was to protect him. Maybe one day I could tell him. I hoped that day would come soon. “Okay, your turn, Albus.”

“Haha. Very funny. Okay, here goes. My big question. Guides, will I always be with Vanessa?”

“That’s a heavy question, Alex.” I was afraid of the answer and didn’t want to look, but my curiosity got the better of me. The pendulum stood still. It didn’t move at all. “Hmmm, ask it again.”

“Okay, Guides, please answer my question. Will Vanessa always be with me?” This time, the pendulum moved, slowly at first but then it went in circles. There was no back and forth, no left to right. Just circles.

“What does that mean, Alex?”

“I…I’m not sure. Maybe we aren’t supposed to know. Like it’s a surprise”

“Maybe. That could be it.” I tried to shrug it off and change the subject, but I was concerned. After all, it might have to do with what had happened. Maybe my happiness would be short lived.

“Okay, my sweets, let’s go back and get to snugglin.”

“That sounds perfect. You have the best ideas.” He gave me a tight hug that melted away my worries. We headed back to town listening to our favorite radio station watching the landscape go by. I forgot all about the pendulum’s response, but I also forgot about the shooting star and my second wish that was never made.

Copyright © 2014 Andrea D.E.