I caught a bus the other day and was chatting to its driver. In the course of our conversation it was rather disconcerting to be asked ‘if there was anything coming that way’ when he was at a junction.
He was a lovely chap though, even if I did spend the rest of my ride with my metaphorical heart in my metaphorical mouth. Below is a newly discovered truth:
You don’t expect to use public transport and be requested to help drive it.
… it’s not comforting, okay?
I’m away from home at present and have gazed upon a painting of da Vinci’s and a former Archbishop in the flesh! He has ferocious eyebrows, if you’re wondering.
(The former Archbishop. Not the painting.)
(I don’t think it is her eyebrows that the Virgin Mary is famed for.)
NaNoWriMo is trotting along well enough – currently someone is making a dramatic announcement in a rain drenched street. Don’t ask me why. I didn’t plan it. It just happened.
Also: commas. I’m struggling with them. I think I add them where they aren’t wanted, purely because my brain decides that a page needs buckets more of them then it actually does.
Around The World In Thirty-Days is a good book. I should know. I’ve just read it. However, Phileas Fogg needs to stop being so maddeningly impassive. Emote a little more, dear sir!
I suppose I’d better go back to The Many Trials of a Blacksmith and determine how this chapter ends, as always, I’m not quite sure.
April’s Chatterbox is here once more and the topic is Resurrection (in this case – a resurrection of hope and of fear. A big thank you for Rachel for hosting again). This month I have chosen to write of The Many Trials of a Blacksmith and the character of one Gufflocks Thomas, former advisor to a slain king.
— — —
The chamber is cold.
The black iron spirals across the white stone walls and he remembers a time when they weren’t there and the stone was crisp and without shadows.
But he also remembers the blood.
One night – that was all it took.
One night and red spattered the walls, coating it with dripping specks which shone dark by candle light.
He remembers the gurgled cries and cut-off screams.
He remembers the monster who strode in, whose armour was dark and sword was already crimson. One short laugh at the room and at the lords and the councillors in their white nightshirts and thick robes now torn and bloodied by the seeking blades.
One short laugh and fear rose up and consumed him. Choking him like a clinging vine.
Fifteen years and the fear has died – beaten down with sparse food and prison bars and an apathy that clings like the damp does the dungeon walls.
But here he is now – standing where it all began and all ended and he attempts to force down the memories which rise up before him and paint the walls red once more.
He turns his mind away from these thoughts and dwells upon a faded image – fifteen years have worn away the edges and dulled the face so that only the clear, ringing laugh is remembered with clarity.
But then he remembers the loss and turns from thoughts of her as well.
“Did you know – I distinctively remember meeting you for the first time in this room.”
He starts and turns and there, standing by the open door is him. He isn’t wearing armour, isn’t holding a sword. In fact, he is attired in a deep purple tunic, light yellow hose and brown boots with a thin circlet of silver atop of his dark head.
Nothing could be further from the monster of that night, long ago.
Except for one thing.
And fear is resurrected. Or perhaps it was there all along – slumbering in a deep sleep like a dragon awaiting its awakening in the distant caverns of his mind.
As he meets the Duke’s gaze, he realizes that it doesn’t matter if the man is wearing armour and surrounded by bloodshed or standing in a clean room arrayed in immaculate purple – his eyes stay the same; cold as a winter’s night.
And he shivers from the cold of his gaze and wishes for a tinkling laugh which always seemed to melt every chill and warm him from every icy day.
And then the Duke is speaking and he is offered a choice. And the owner of the tinkling laugh is placed within his grasp and he sees her image, resurrected and alive in his mind’s eye and he chooses.
He may become a traitor to his country, a betrayer of his friend. But he is so very cold – he has been for fifteen years – and he has longed for an age and shivered in a tiny cell for an hundred lifetimes while her warmth fades from his heart.
And now a blazing fire could be his and he will do anything – anything at all, to sit by it and bask in its flickering blaze.
And so he closes his eyes and sees his wife once more. He gazes at her in hope and opens his lips and promises to be a traitor.
But in his mind he isn’t making a vow to doom a country.
Another month has gone by. I think I’ve finally resigned myself to the simple fact that a year is a short thing, and not as long as it first appears or indeed, ought to be. But still, we can fit plenty of living into it, plenty of love and plenty of laughter (all beginning with ‘l’!) and also, you’ll never guess but … we can squeeze plenty of writing in too. Which doesn’t begin with an l. But then writing uses letters so I suppose it sort of fits.
And despite the often gloomy weather and rain, the sun still peeks through and God is good, always. And also … it is awfully nice to write with the rain pattering against the window. (And if there isn’t any rain to be pattering or storming … have you heard of RainyMood?)
A small smile was attempted, but it ended in a dismal failure; for lips that smile must turn up at the tips and not downwards like a fast sinking rock dropped in a pool of water.
Staying by the stream I look up at the sky; the sun is low yet, and a soft haze of mist still covers the valley below. I let one hand drift in the stream and hold it just below the surface, feeling the numbing cold trickle between my fingers and watching the sunrays play with the water, causing it to twinkle and wink merrily back at me.
– The Dragons We Hunt
With an unsure glance at Bernice he decided to lay the deer on the table, indoors and out of sight and smell of the scavenging, lolloping pig. Bloody Bernice, they ought to have called her. The Flesh Eating Sow.
– The Many Trials of a Blacksmith
The scene would be forever etched in his memory, branded with all the ferocity of a red-hot iron. The tangled branches of overhanging trees straining over the path, the brown grasses which gave way to the forest, the brightly coloured uniforms of the Captain’s men, the limp body of his brother; awaiting his enemies with all the resistance of a newly born lamb.
I was impatient – I wanted to finish The Many Trials; to get it done. Over with. Complete. Move on to something else. And it seemed such a chore to do so.
I’m sure that you can see the error in my thinking – I didn’t though, and it took me awhile untill it ‘clicked’.
Why on earth was I worrying about getting it done? Why did it feel so hard to plonk one word in front of the other? Why was I beginning to loathe it?
I’d forgotten, you see.
I’d forgotten that writing isn’t about finishing it. Sure – doing so is, you know, just a teeny bit important. But there is no use in finishing a novel which drops like a dead weight around the neck at the very thought of completing it. It was like one of those awful dreams where you want to run, but are stuck in an invisible pool of glue and cannot move.
I’d forgotten to enjoy it – to love telling my tale. Forgotten the thrill of a funny piece of dialogue, a humourous description or an emotional scene.
And that is a rather big thing to forget.
So have patience, Young Grasshopper – you’ll reach the End. But what use is there in reaching the ending when the journey there has been dry and devoid of any enjoyment? Enjoy it. Put heart in every scene. Give colour to the voyage, and those who reach the End will be left with the longing to read just one page more.
It’s Chatterbox again, but this time the topic is ‘Criticism’. Once again I really enjoyed this exercise and present, without further adieu … Robert, of The Many Trials of a Blacksmith …
He lay on his back, wrapped up in his thin cloak.
The sound of the waves, the scent of the sea, and the sight of the stars filled his senses, and yet instead of bathing in the wonder of a still and cloudless night, his mind pressed in upon him.
Phantom shouts and shadowed sights filled his ears and eyes.
He heard the overseer once more: “Move faster!”
He saw the mocking look. “Good enough” – a heartbeat of hope, crushed with the next words – “for a cripple.”
Memories – how they surged.
A log fell in the fire. Sparks flew high in the air.
Leon snored and Garth mumbled in his sleep.
Memories – how they drew him back to years long past.
“We are weak.” It was George this time, appearing in front of him in the mist of time; that mouth curled in its ever scornful way. “No – it is not we … it is you.”
He remembered the twinge of pain those words had given him. Remembered the calm reply he had forced out of lips which longed to snarl – to bite back that it was the right way – the only way, you fool!
“Knave!” ‘twas Master Hughes, regarding him – his tardy apprentice – with narrowed eyes. “I looked for you this morn. Where have you been – loitering? Lazy cur.”
I was saving a child; giving a widow the life of her son, he ached to explain. But the words were never spoken – secrecy was more important than speech.
And then he remembered his youth; the farm, the dawn which came without fail and the brother who had long since past.
He remembered the quick look at the field – ploughed underneath a hot sun with little water to quench his thirst – “‘Bit wonky, Bert.”
A sharp breath and he was back; feeling the dampness of the sand beneath his cloak, hearing the crackle of the fire and the roll of the wave.
And then another memory rose into his mind – the crinkle of a page as he turned it, the old ink forming letters which meant so much: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
He rested in the words – floated in their peace; slept in their calm. The memories dispelled as if they were a suffocating mist and the words a burning sun.
In the morning – when Garth greeted him with a grunt and Leon asked how he slept, he would reply simply: