Speed Writing #16 – The Dragon at the Party

“Zoua!” I heard my name shouted over the din of music and too many voices talking.  “Zoua, there’s a dragon at the door!”

I poked my head out of the kitchen and looked into the living room, crowded with friends and acquaintances.  My sister was across the room at the door, encouraging someone to come in.  Grabbing my beer bottle, I carefully moved around the group aggressively playing Boggle at the coffee table to the front door.

“No,” I heard her whine a little.  “You have to come in.  She’s going to love it.”

A young man in an amazing dragon costume stood in the doorway, clearly conflicted about something.  He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t quite place him.

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Speed Writing #17 – Fandom Mashup

“Gryffindor,” Mikhail said firmly.  “Neville Longbottom level.”

“Airbender,” Evie countered, a smug smile on her lips.

“What?” Mikhail asked, an eyebrow raised in confusion.  “Did you just jump fandoms on me?”

“Ashitaka is clearly an airbender,” she replied.  He was one of the few people she could have this type of argument with.  “He’s all about peace and freedom.  He’s practically a reincarnation of Aang.”  She paused for a moment, her eyes going to the ceiling.  “Though I’m not sure how that would work, since Aang’s already a reincarnation.  So maybe we could call him alternate reality Aang.”

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Speed Writing #15 – Heatwave

  The power was out, as it had been for the last three days.  Caleb sat on the front steps, leaning against the railing and fanning himself with the lid from the largest Tupperware bowl he’d been able to find.  The neighborhood was smothering in the sticky silence of the second brutal heat wave of the summer.  Nobody on this side of town could afford generators to power fans and refrigerators, and it was nearly too hot to move.  For some of the city’s elderly folks, moving too much had been a fatal mistake.

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Speed Writing #14 – Going Solo

I woke disoriented and my eyes felt gritty.  Sunlight was shining on me from a strange direction, though my blanket felt and smelled familiar.  I stretched and rubbed my eyes before looking around the room.  The eggshell white walls were bare and there were boxes stacked next to the dresser.  I was in a new apartment.  I’d moved my stuff in yesterday, but hadn’t finished in time to even start unpacking.  Kicking off the blanket, I sat up and rested my feet on the bare wood floor.  It was cool against my skin, so different from the carpet of my old place.  But that had kind of been the point.

The efficiency was my first apartment on my own.  The last place I’d shared with my boyfriend.  Ex-boyfriend, rather.  We’d broken up a couple months back, and it had been ugly and uncomfortable ever since.  To be honest, it hadn’t been comfortable for the two or three months leading to our dissolution.  Getting out was a relief, and it felt like I could finally breathe again.  But it was also a very definitive sign that we were really through and there was no reconciling.  Not that I really wanted him back.  I mean he’d been a jerk.  He’d already slept with two or three people since I told him we were through, and that didn’t count the ones he’d been with when we were supposedly monogamous.  It wasn’t the end of the relationship that was hard; it was more the destruction of the idea of what the relationship was supposed to have been that hurt.

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Speed Writing #13 – Summer Vacation in Terra Norma

Laura was sitting in the mid-level branches of the oak tree when she heard the garden gate creak open.  From her vantage point she could see Aster’s entire garden, a formal European design in extremely rural Minnesota.  She recognized the blond-haired teen walking along the path, cobblestones that had been placed with liberal use of magic when Laura had been away two summers ago.  She placed a marker in her book and considered calling to Jason, but decided to see how long it took him to find her.

He started by knocking at the back door.  Aster answered fairly quickly, and Laura briefly wondered if he’d come to see her.  Though her grandma had lost the ability to do magic, she’d been highly trained and could still serve as a valuable resource.  Aster waved her arms around a bit, as if indicating the garden, but Laura couldn’t hear her voice.  They had a brief conversation, then Aster went back to the kitchen and Jason turned away from the door and looked around.  

After a moment, in which she was sure he was considering all the options, he walked the path to the bench nestled in a thick patch of lily-of-the valley, right beneath the oak tree.  He took a seat, then looked up and smiled.  “Hello, Laura.”

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Speed Writing #12 – A Soggy Start

Morning dawned gloomy and threatening rain. The campground was filled with the nervous energy of people packing up as quickly as possible to beat the weather, or adjusting their tarps and rain flies to tough it out. By the time the first fat drops fell, those who remained planned to see it through.

Chai tossed a book and fuzzy blanket down on the couch of her motor home and went to put on the tea kettle. As she waited for the water to boil, she gazed out into the mostly deserted campground. There were only two tents left and herself. One of the tents was a high end enormous structure that looked well anchored down. The other, closer tent, was a tiny backpacker model designed more for weight and insect protection than severe weather. She frowned, wondering if its inhabitant was ready for a day long soaking which would surely seep through the light rip-stop. There was a green internal frame pack leaning against the closest tree.

Chai settled on the couch, snuggled into the blanket with her tea and book. She loved the low rolling thunder in the background and the gentle pounding of the rain. After a while, she set aside the book and closed her eyes to enjoy the weather.

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Speed Writing #11 – 2 AM Snack

The rumbling of my stomach woke me.  I rubbed it, hoping it would stop, then rolled over to glance at the clock.  Fuck.  Two am?  Seriously?  I burrowed back under my blankets, but it was no use.  There was no going back to sleep without a snack.

  As I padded to the kitchen I remembered that because I’d picked up an extra shift, I hadn’t actually been to the grocery store.  I was out of nearly everything.  I could make up some plain pasta with butter and salt, though that had been dinner.  Or maybe heat up a can of green beans.  Yeah.  That wasn’t happening.  I went back to my room for a sweatshirt, and pulled my hair into a messy tail on the back of my head.  As a whim, I decided my nightgown was perhaps a bit too risqué to be traipsing around in on State Street, so I yanked on a pair of long yoga shorts.  They were supposed to be capris but my ungodly long legs made them knickers.  Perfect.  I looked like a crazy disaster, which meant no one would bother me.

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Speed Writing #10 – Fumbled Shot

Stupid forest.  Stupid right of passage requirements.  Stupid bow and arrow.

So I’m not your typical elf.  Yes, I’m tall and can pretend to be a willow tree if I really try.  And it’s dark.  And you’re half blind.  I can stomp through the woods without making the kind of noise that draws attention, even if I want to call attention to myself.  I’m pretty smart, though I don’t think I’m really old enough to be considered wise.  I mean, who’s wise at nineteen?

My people have a rich culture mired in our history, and no one clings to tradition and history like elves.  I mean, I have some cousins, on my dad’s side, who still work for Saint Nicholas, despite the fact that their great, great, great, great grandparents fulfilled the terms of that indenture contract.  This might sound great, if you’re the sort of person who prefers stability to uncertainty, and custom to progress.

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Speed Writing #9 – Inappropriate Apparel

The air was more than crisp as I stood at the bus stop, embracing the predawn stillness.  I’d had to haul out my hat and gloves this morning, and I could smell a hint of snow with each inhalation.  I tipped my head back and yawned, admiring the deep blue of the sky, where only the brightest stars and Venus could be seen. It was so quiet that everyday noises came across as intrusive.  The crunch of gravel and scrape of rubber soles against concrete warned me that someone was coming up the sidewalk behind me.

I glanced at him… well, it started as a glance but turned into straight out gawking.  The young man had sandy brown hair that would’ve fit right in with the skateboarders back when I was in high school.  He looked about twenty-four, roughly my age, and he hadn’t dressed anywhere close to appropriate for the temperature.  His short shorts and T-shirt showed off his very fine limbs;  He was obviously an athlete, but didn’t have weirdly bulky muscles.  He was several inches shorter than me, and had his head down, eyes pointed at his trainers, so I don’t think he noticed my lapse in manners.

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Speed Writing #8 – Good Deeds

“Excuse me.”  The young voice startled me, and I looked up from where I was hunched into the trunk of my car, rummaging for the jack.  She looked Japanese and about fourteen.  Her black and silver clothes made me think of the night sky.  She stood in the center of the sidewalk, a hopeful expression on her face. 

“Do you have a map I could borrow?” she asked.

“Uhh…”  It took me a moment to pull my brain from the track it was on, to one that could answer her question.  Poor kid was lost.  I realized she wasn’t alone, though.  Another girl, similarly dressed, stood in the grass several feet back.  She was holding what looked like a couple of brooms behind her back.  “I don’t have like a paper map or anything,” I said, wondering what happened to the one I used to keep in the glove box.  “But I could pull one up on my phone, if that would help.”

She looked puzzled.  “You can do that?” she asked.

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