Grief 

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One of my best friends lost her dad over the weekend, and today was his funeral. During the procession, they traveled on a major highway where there was some road work going on, and traffic had to be funneled through a bit at a time. My friend was angry because the workers let through the first three cars of the procession, and the remainder were left behind. This made me think of the times I’ve participated in funeral processions. Unfortunately, there have been a few.

You’re trapped in a car for an undetermined amount of time. It’s quiet. There’s not a lot to do. In some cases, it’s really the first calm moment you’ve had to think about the deceased. This can bring up all kinds of hairy emotions, so my friend’s anger over the traffic doesn’t surprise me. Hell, during one procession I was in, a woman in the car in front of me leaned out the window and vomited. I don’t know who she was, but I felt for her. The funeral was for a young guy in his twenties who died in a car accident. I think we all felt like puking.

Of course, the procession is just the beginning of that strange train we call grief. And “train” is probably the worst metaphor ever for it, since it isn’t remotely linear. It’s more like the ocean, with wave upon wave coming to shore. At first the waves are huge, but as time goes on they get smaller and more manageable. Then, just when you least expect it, a big-ass wave knocks you down and pulls you underwater. By the time you manage to regain your footing, you’re all scratched up, your bathing suit is all twisted around, and you have sand stuck in your butt crack. Shit.

I Was Dreaming of a White Christmas 

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I’m dreaming of a white Christmas​
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I was dreaming of a white Christmas
But then global warming took its toll
Now the only thing glistening
Is the perspiration misting
On my nose, slowly down it rolls

I was dreaming of a white Christmas
But Santa’s wearing flip-flops and a thong
Thank God you can’t see it
It’s just a song
Cause no matter how you slice it, that’s just wrong

The pros and cons of waking up to a power outage

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Pro: Without appliances and air-conditioning humming in the background, the silence is profound.

Con: Your cat is silent, too, and one of his favorite games is to stalk you.

Pro: Having your morning tea by candlelight is romantic.

Con: As you light the gas stove with a match in order to boil water for tea, you hope that you won’t blow up the house.

Pro: Without phone and Internet, you can read something printed on paper instead of mindlessly surfing the Internet and checking out Facebook.

Con: Without phone and Internet, you can read something printed on paper instead of mindlessly surfing the Internet and checking out Facebook.

This sucks.

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I fully intended to post the first installment of a sequel to my unnamed story today, but then the day before yesterday my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctor used the other, less shitty C-word, too–cure–so hopefully this will eventually have a happy ending. For now, however, this sucks. My brain has been hopping from thought to anxious thought like a spastic chihuahua, so I’m not up to the task of sitting down and writing something right now. I’m pretty damn proud of myself just for writing this. So with that, dear readers, I will beg your understanding and forgiveness for being a shitty blogger for a while. I’ll try to check in from time to time if I can.

xo

Laine

A self-critique of The Continuing Saga

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Now that I’ve wrapped up my unnamed story I wrote back in 1988 as a final paper for my Fantasy/Sci-Fi class (Hi, Mr. W! Are you still teaching and pulling practical jokes on everyone?), I have a few thoughts about the story. Overall, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s not too bad considering I was 17 years old at the time. However, as I revisited it, a few things stood out:

1. What happened to Cochran? He travels to the war in the West, but the last we see of him is in chapter 9. Does he survive? No one seems to give a shit. So much for him being considered family.

2. Adrienne is sooo special, being a kick-ass sorceress soldier and all–so special that she narrowly missed being chosen as a human sacrifice–but Darien is the one whom Lorenai chooses as her successor? Of course, this is convenient so Adrienne can run off with Jacob, but Lorenai was one powerful chick. Didn’t she want to see another powerful chick in a leadership position? You know, yay feminism? Way to go, Lorenai.

3. Adrienne is kind of a stone-cold bitch. When the Eastern leader chooses another girl as a human sacrifice, Adrienne doesn’t give the poor girl a second thought. She’s just grateful that she was spared. And let’s not forget how easily and dispassionately she kills people. She boo-hooed a little after killing Daddy, but she seemed more concerned about how people would view her than anything.

4. The Adrienne-Jacob love story is so bloodless and sterile that we may as well be talking about a banking transaction. He thinks she’s hot, he proposes, and BAM! She really feels joy at the engagement? Because up until now, she’s showed little, if any, emotion. I’m starting to wonder if my protagonist is a psychopath. Hell, what do you expect coming from a writer who happens to be a teenage girl?

Pillow talk 

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I’ve recently realized that when I’m tired, my mouth makes many words that make very little sense. Example:

The scene: We are tucked in and ready to fall asleep.

Charlie: *falling asleep*

Me: Good night, sweetie. I love you.

Charlie: Mmmmmm.

Me: Do you love me?

Charlie: Mmp.

Me: Because if you didn’t, my heart would break into a million pieces. I’d have to find a clock tower somewhere.

Charlie: Uh-oh.

Me: But I don’t like the idea of taking out innocent people, so it would have to be a clock tower in the middle of a bunch of serial killers and rapists. I’d be like the Dexter of mass murderers.

Charlie: Mmmhmmm.

Me: Better yet, I could strap a bomb to myself and lock myself in a room full of those ISIS guys. But with them, you get rid of some, and more just crop up. It would be a waste of good explosives.

Charlie: Or you could just go to sleep.

Me: But–do you love me?

Charlie: *snoring*

The continuing saga concludes (chapter thirteen)

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Finally, the conclusion. Links to the preceding twelve chapters: chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 6, chapter 7, chapter 8, chapter 9, chapter 10, chapter 11, chapter 12.

Chapter Thirteen

Adrienne awoke to find herself in a strange room. When she could finally focus her eyes, she noticed that Jacob was there. When he saw she was awake, he rushed to her side.

“Jacob,” she said. “I killed my father.”

“I know. Darien told me everything that happened,” he said and gently embraced her.

“Do you think me horrible?”

“No, I could never do that. You did what had to be done.” He paused. “I’m afraid I have some bad news, Adrienne.”

“What?”

“I received a message from the North. Lorenai has gone to be with the Gods.”

Adrienne looked at her hands and then hid her face. Jacob held her in his arms until she composed herself, and then she pulled away.

“She will be happiest there,” she said.

“Darien is now the Northern leader, according to Lorenai’s wishes,” said Jacob. “And I have a wish of my own.”

“What is that?” asked Adrienne.

“For you to become my wife. I need you by my side, Adrienne. What do you say?”

“Yes.”

Jacob felt joy run through his heart, and Adrienne felt the same. She knew that when she looked into his eyes, everything would be all right.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Adrienne spent the next week in bed, recovering from her wound. At the end of the week she would be fit for travel, because she would need to be. While Darien was traveling back to the North to assume his new leadership, Adrienne would be traveling to the South with Jacob, where they would be married.

The days passed quickly, and Adrienne’s health improved. It was determined that she was fit for travel, and everything was prepared for the journey.

Adrienne stood by her horse, packing the last of her gear. Darien approached, and she turned toward him.

“The time has come so quickly,” he said, holding her hands.

Adrienne felt tears well in her eyes but refused to let them fall. “I will miss you,” she said and embraced him.

“I will miss you, too,” said Darien. He let go of her then so she could get on her horse. Jacob, already mounted, was waiting.

Adrienne looked down at her brother and reached for his hand one last time. “Be a good leader,” she said, squeezing his hand before letting go.

Darien watched them go until they were only a cloud of dust in the distance.

The continuing saga, chapter twelve

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Almost there. Catch up here: chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 6, chapter 7, chapter 8, chapter 9, chapter 10, and chapter 11.

Chapter Twelve

The great armies fought all through the day. Suddenly, a golden light emanated from the castle, and all knew what had happened. Rado was dead. After this, the Western army crumbled and the armies of the North, South, and East prevailed.

Jacob cleaned his sword of blood and returned it to its sheath. Suddenly, a boy ran up to him.

“A message from the Northern land,” he said and handed the message to Jacob.

“Thank you,” said Jacob, and the boy ran off. He opened the message. After he finished reading, grief filled his heart. Lorenai, the leader of the North, had died after living a long life. How would he tell Adrienne? He wondered where she was then and hoped she was faring well.

“I must find her,” he thought and went off in search of her.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Adrienne sat next to Darien and tried to rouse him.

“Darien,” she said. “Darien, please wake up.”

Darien opened his eyes and looked up at his sister. He stood up with Adrienne’s aid and saw Rado’s body on the floor.

“You did it,” he said. Darien saw the tears on his sister’s cheeks and asked, “Why do you cry?”

Adrienne looked at him and said, “I killed my own father.”

Darien embraced her, suddenly noticing the blood on her shirt.

“Adrienne, you are hurt!”

Just then, the door opened, Jacob standing in the doorway. He saw Adrienne’s wound and rushed to her side.

“I am fine,” said Adrienne, then collapsed.

Come back next week for chapter 13–the conclusion.

The continuing saga, chapter eleven

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Things are winding down now. Only two more chapters to go. (Holy shit, what am I going to do then? Nothing like planning ahead or anything.)

If you’re new to the story, here’s where you can read the rest of it thus far: chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 6, chapter 7, chapter 8, chapter 9, and chapter 10.

Chapter Eleven

Rado sat by himself, drinking a goblet of wine. Suddenly he stood up, the goblet dropping to the floor. Red wine coursed through the grooves in the floor. He thought, “This cannot be! I feel it–my son is here!” Rado turned around and saw the door opening. He quickly hid himself as two people walked in.

As he looked at them, immense joy flooded through him. One of them was a young man. His hair was the color of spun gold, his eyes a rich blue.

“My son,” Rado thought.

The other was a woman-child. Her hair hung long down her back in a cascade of black curls, and her eyes were also black. When Rado beheld her face, he thought his heart might leap from his chest. Her face was exactly as Dalia’s once had been. The large eyes, full lips, and elfin nose all matched precisely.

“My daughter?” he thought. “But how?”

Adrienne walked quietly through the room, observing every detail. Darien was on the other side of the room, looking at the many wonders displayed there. Suddenly, Adrienne felt a presence in the room and drew her sword. Darien followed suit.

“Come out if you value your life,” he said.

A tall man walked out from behind a screen in the corner of the room. He had black hair and black eyes, and Adrienne noticed he was dressed all in black, just as she was. Realization hit her like a sharp blow.

“He is our father,” she thought and looked at Darien. Darien looked back at her, and she could tell by his eyes that he also knew.

“Welcome, friends,” said Rado in a friendly tone. “Won’t you sit and have some wine with me?”

Darien immediately sheathed his sword and sat down, but Adrienne stood her ground.

Rado looked at her. “Please,” he said, and she knew then that he would not harm them.

After Rado had poured the wine, he said, “You know who I am, do you not?”

“Yes,” replied Darien, “we do.”

“My son–and my daughter, who I did not even know existed. I never thought the day would come when I would see my children.”

Darien gave Rado a cold look and said, “How could anyone as evil as you have been with someone was good as our mother was?”

“I loved your mother more than life!” roared Rado, standing up. “Why do you think I have done all this?” he said, gesturing around him. “To avenge her death! Life dealt me a cruel blow. The only way to ease my pain was to inflict it on others.”

“You disgust me,” said Adrienne. Rado looked at her and then struck her hard across the face.

Darien jumped to his feet with a drawn sword. “How dare you!” he cried.

“No, Darien,” Adrienne said quietly as she stood up. She stared into Rado’s eyes and gathered her power.

It felt as if someone had kicked Rado in the gut, and he stumbled backwards. He straightened and said, “You have the power.”

“It is the only thing I can thank you for, Father,” she said, spitting out the last word like an obscenity.

Adrienne felt Rado putting his power over her. He was very strong, and it felt like someone was crushing her, putting an unbearable amount of pressure on her body. Adrienne pointed her finger at him and flicked a flame toward him. It singed his hand, and he cried out in pain. She felt the pressure immediately subside.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Rado, his eyes pleading. “You could stay here with me–my two children. And when I am gone, all of this shall be yours!”

“You cannot bribe us,” said Darien.

“Perhaps,” said Rado, his pleading tone turning darker. “But I can force you.”

Rado reached into his cloak and brought out a golden globe that sparkled in the light.

“The golden sphere,” thought Adrienne. “The ultimate power.” A power unlike anything she had ever felt before ran through her.

Suddenly, Darien lunged at Rado with his sword, and Rado knocked him down with a surge of power from the sphere. Adrienne watched in horror as he hit the ground and struck his head,

“Darien!” she cried.

Darien did not get up, and Adrienne looked at Rado with a new hatred.

“Wither!” she yelled, and Rado fell to his knees, dropping the golden sphere. Adrienne picked it up, and it suddenly glowed brighter. She put it in her cloak and drew her sword. Rado, now recovered, did the same.

“You will pay,” said Rado and lashed at her with his sword.

“Believe me, I already have,” said Adrienne and blocked him.

Father and daughter circled one another, and Rado suddenly jabbed Adrienne in the side. She could feel the pain sear through her. She tried to ignore it and went on.

Rado attempted to strike her again, and they locked swords. Rado pushed her to the ground, but she took him with her. Their swords clattered away to the side, and Adrienne took her dagger from its leg sheath. Rado grabbed her wrist holding the dagger, and Adrienne kneed him sharply in the groin. She swiftly stabbed him in the chest, penetrating his heart.

Rado’s eyes widened, and he looked at her. He put his hands over hers where she held the knife at the hilt and whispered, “My daughter.” Then his eyes were empty.

Adrienne got up and gently folded Rado’s hands on top of his breast. Excruciating grief filled her heart, and she turned away from her father’s dead body. She looked over to where Darien lay, his chest rising and falling with steady breathing.

“Can you forgive my terrible deed, Darien?” she thought. “Can I forgive myself?”

Adrienne took the golden sphere from her cloak and looked at it. “I have fulfilled my purpose,” she thought. She walked over to the window and looked out over the land as her father had so many times before her. She knew nothing would ever be the same again.

Come back next Thursday for chapter 12!