A Stinker of a Time

If you’ve read me for more than a season, then you already know that my springs tend to be full of T.S. Eliot and The Waste Land. Who can resist inspiration like: “That corpse you planted last year in your garden / Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?”

“A Stinker of a Time”

I learned the trade from Primavera the Fisher.

“Spring can’t stand botched up winter jobs,” Primavera said, the first morning she took me to the docks. “She always floats their mistakes to the surface. It’s a stinker of a time for us, even when their rot comes carrying gifts.”

Before I could ask what she meant, Primavera speared a severed hand that had been bobbing for sunlight. Its pinky finger wore a huge ruby ring.

“They’ll never be good at winter jobs, if they can’t keep a corpse from blooming in spring.”

In winter, it’s best to bury or burn.

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a wee note…
– Linked to Friday Fictioneers. Visit Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog, to join the writing bloom. Then follow this LINK, to read what others have fished out of the docks.

photo by Fatima Fakier Deria

Stones, Echoes, Skulls

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!          
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!   
Weave a circle round him thrice,      
And close your eyes with holy dread,          
For he on honey-dew hath fed,        
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
~ Kubla Khan, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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“I lost the skull charm three years ago, Grandmother. But there is nothing to worry about. I promise.”

Her eyes grew wide and shiny, so he added a smile to the fib. “Grandmother, there are no echoes. There have never been. I feel a little silly telling you this, but I never really heard them. Or saw anything. I used to wear the charm to bed because it made you happy. That’s all.”

She shook her head and began to fade, slowly gliding backwards towards the opened window, as if pulled by a force she couldn’t control.

“Grandmother? Don’t leave like that. Don’t be upset. I… it’s just that…” He knew he had to tell her, but the lie had gone for so long. He was sure that if he refused to believe in them, they would just go… But their screams just got louder and closer, and her voice faded. “Grandmother, I threw it away. The skull charm, I buried it.”

Her translucent features crumpled, phantom tears filled the wrinkles that cracked her youth. The unseen pulled on her, ripping off her clothes. Before her skin was also torn, the lips of his grandmother’s spirit mouthed: Stones, stones, stones…

It was the last time he saw her, years ago, when the dead only whispered from the shadows. The first echoes began to take shape the night he turned twenty-one. He went back for the skull charm, but the earth had eaten the protection. He returned home with hands and pockets full of stones.

Placing the rocks around him didn’t quiet the dead, but it kept their skulls from smothering him into madness. Some nights, when he fell asleep between books and stones, he could hear the echoes of his grandmother’s warnings: Beware, beware…

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a wee note…
– First published in 2014. This wee tale was born while a motif from my AlmaMia Cienfuegos world, my favorite bit from Kubla Khan and the illustration below dance in my head. I’m linking to Prompt Nights – Let’s gather around for some ghost stories (Sanaa, thanks so much for helping me revive my oldies).

Poet's Sleep, by Chang Houg Ahn“Poet’s Sleep”, by Chang Houg Ahn

Of Caribbean Gothic and Observing One’s Own Life from the Outside

“People build something that works. Then circumstances change, and they have to tinker with it to make it continue to work, and they are so busy tinkering that they cannot see that a much better idea would be to build a whole new system to deal with the new circumstances. But to an outsider, the idea is obvious.” ~ Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett

I’m stable enough to start writing full time again. This doesn’t mean that I’m healed or cured or anything that fun—my illnesses are chronic, so we just have to learn to live with each other. By stable, I mean that I understand my ailments enough to know how much I can push and for how long. That’s as good as it gets (for now). There are days when my feet and hands hurt so much that I can barely concentrate. The same goes for the left side of my back, and my stomach.

But the pain no longer takes me by surprise. I’ve learned to identify the signs, to ready myself for the nasty kicks. When the pain is bad, but not quite killing me yet, I watch television in bed with my Piano Man, do house cleaning, blog, play with my books, complain, and do other fun things that don’t take tons of brain power. I use my good days for editing, rewriting, and for doing other bits that require concentration.

During one of my really good days—while battling with two storylines that didn’t seem to like each other much—I realized something: at the moment, my immune system and I don’t have enough consecutive good days to deal with the stress involved in independent publishing. So I started revising the novel I wanted to self-publish next year, in order to make it as agent worthy as I possibly could. The more I worked on it, the more I knew that I didn’t want to change anything about it. I got frustrated. After lots of arguing with myself, I set the novel aside and reread some Pratchett. I laughed really hard when I got to the quote at the beginning of this post. I took the words as a sign from my Knight Writer.

So yesterday, I asked Facebook friends to choose between Caribbean Gothic, Mythical Circus and Mythical Realities. I didn’t say why—but since I have super brilliant friends, they deduced that I was talking about stories to be written. The winning choice (by a rather healthy margin) was Caribbean Gothic. I had three ideas for new novels in my head. But like any word-mother, who loves all her children equally, I couldn’t pick one. Thank you for the help, my Wicked Luvs.

I shall start putting pen to paper (all right, fingertips to keyboard) on the morning of the 28th. I haven’t met all the characters yet. But I know the story’s beginning, two of the main conflicts, and most of the ending. And yes, I know the setting—a Dominican Republic (real and imagined) bursting with wonders, beauties and horrors.

There will probably certainly be mangoes, wild witchery, fighting, loving, and furious dancing.

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Hard Times Require Furious Dancingdetail from the cover of Hard Times Require Furious Dancing, by Alice Walker