1) Make a list of fifteen characters first, and keep it to yourself for the moment.
2) Ask your flist to post questions in the comments. For example: 'One, nine and fifteen are chosen by a prophecy to save the world from four. Do they succeed?', 'Under what circumstances might five and fourteen fall in love?', 'Which character on the list would you most want on your side in a zombie invasion?'
3) After your flist has asked enough questions, round them up and answer them using the fifteen characters you selected beforehand, then post them.
Here's hoping it's interesting. (I wonder if it's cheating to use characters of my own device.)
( A difficult spot to get out of )
Musings: I really kind of hate this form, but it could just be the repetition without the constraints of proper meter. Also, the last tercet is awful. I'll keep working with this form, though, for the next couple of weeks.
In other news, my living room is again full of girl scout cookies, though it's thankfully not nearly as many as last year. I'm not the cookie mom, so I'm not in charge of everyone else's stuff! I just have to deliver my cookies and collect for them and make all the various deposits, which is awesome. I also need to figure out wtf happened with the money from the nut sale, because that shit's complicated as hell. Next year, I've decided we're going to do nuts and not magazines, or that if we do do magazines, it'll be through the online stuff because that way, it's all figured out by the site's algorithms or formulae or whatever and I don't have to sit here figuring out how much we keep and how much we send away and what gets send where. There has to be a more efficient meatspace way of handling that, though I have no idea what it would be. It was just a huge pain in the ass all the way 'round. Other than that, the troop is going pretty well - I both love and hate this time of year, where it starts seeming like the kids are out of school more than in. Yesterday should have been a meeting, would have been if it weren't for this week being midwinter break. In a month and a half, maybe two months, we have spring break. Not to mention conferences and all the various other days off of school here and there. But it's okay, because it's still less of a pain than the summer, with constant park madness and all. We've been missing piano this year because of lack of funds, but we've still been crazy busy with the extra homework that goes along with being in the advanced class and all. Liana just turned five at the beginning of the month, and can't wait for kindergarten to start, so it's crazy and exciting and busy here, as always.
( LOOK MA, TWO CUTS IN ONE ENTRY )
And . . . that's about it, really. Whee.
( Halloweenie reviews part one. )
There, that's done. The oddities of HTML and formatting boggle me sometimes, but it all looks right from here, as I can tell. And, I am having a momentary inferiority complex as my reviews are rather blah and boring when compared to the friends who got me into this with their writing of gorgeousness and all. Oh, well, they get the point across sufficiently.
And thus, onward!
Stress is . . . somewhat alleviated. I mean, it's still there; Jerry's still unemployed and so we're still having trouble making ends meet. His parents are a huge help financially if not in any other way. Morgen's settling into a routine at school (OMG FINALLY) and dealing a lot better with all the changes brought not only by being in second grade, but by being in the advanced class. Liana's getting used to not having Morgen around and being stuck with parents who have to pay as much attention to her baby sister as to her. And Kaelinn's getting used to . . . well, being, I guess. Liana's the same OMG LOUD ball of perpetual motion as always; I love her to death, but I certainly don't pity her future teachers, I tell you.
The drama I at least half expected with an old friend hasn't happened, and though I'm sort of waiting for the shoe to drop, I'm far more relaxed about it. We're not hanging out or anything, and I'm not encouraging my kids to hang out with hers (long story in its own right), but it's alright. Or . . . I'm alright with it, though that makes me sound terribly self centered. People I used to work with ages ago have found me on facebook - it's always strange when that happens, like when eighty gazillion people that I graduated with suddenly found me a while ago. I owe one of Morgen's friend's moms fifteen bucks because she brought a U of M shirt back from Ann Arbor for Morgen. Brownies are going well - I need to read the kid book chapter and activities, though I'm pretty well accquainted with the leader book section - except for the renovations being done in our meeting room and displacing us; I need to figure out what we're going to do for meetings until that's done.
NaNo is almost here! I have an idea and have decided to use the snowflake method of outlining in hopes that I actually finish something for once, rather than writing and writing until I get bored with it, and losing interest somewhere along the way. It's a pretty exciting prospect, that, and I kind of can't wait.
But now, it's time to go pick up Morgen from school. I'll try to remember to update more often!
And now, behind the cut . . .
Somewhere a clock ticks unheeded, noting the passage of time that is meaningless to the boy in the chair. Surrounded by books, he studies obsessively. He revels in the texture of the pages between his fingers, and in the smell of glue, ink and no one knows how many centuries worth of other people with what must have been similar ends in mind. He, though, will succeed where so many have failed and died in in the attempt. Of this, he is certain.
The flat consists of one room aside from the WC (this is what he calls it in his head; he has to consciously remember to call it anything else when he speaks) and the minuscule closet that contains a suitcase, old and battered, and a slim wardrobe that only avoids being out of date by the simple, classic cuts inherent in trousers and shirts both. Nearly everything he owns, everything that is clearly his, seems somehow taken out of time, as he himself does.
Every surface is covered with books, though the moniker seems too light for the tomes, volumes that the boy seems to prefer. A small space exists at the table where he must take his meals (though upon examining the refrigerator and cupboards, one would conclude that he does so rarely at best) and paths wind through stacks upon stacks of books on every subject imaginable. One, open, reveals a yellowed with age, signed bookplate. 'To Gregory,' it reads, 'on his birthday.' The author whose signature it bears has long since passed away and yet the boy remains, perpetual, eternal.
He is, of course, not as young as he seems.
The books are strange and scattered amongst English titles are a handful in Latin and other largely forgotten languages – a great many of them seem to revolve around some sort of alchemy or chemistry, and it's to these that he turns most often. He sits, curls, lies, sprawls on the bed, one of the few bare places, and he studies. He takes notes. His space, so small and so cluttered is ignored much like the refrigerator and stove, everything that might be used to create something nutritious or at least filling other than his electric kettle. That sees significant use, even if nothing else but his books does.
Amongst all the books, there are little clues, pieces to a puzzle or three that might combine somehow to equal the sum total of the boy. There are Muppet toys, vintage and in near-mint condition. There are LEGOs and Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys. There are test tubes and beakers and Bunsen burners and things that take up more space than his actual kitchen appliances. There is World War II propaganda and memorabilia. These things make it difficult to get a true reading of who this boy might be; against the white walls and wood floor, they're as nearly anonymous as the flat itself. The only thing they truly point to is a possible start of the time line.
Anonymity seems to be the rule of this strange place; it could be anywhere or nowhere at all, or some odd combination of both. The ground appears solid and there are defined dimensions, but still it's a bland, blank space with nothing recognizable, nothing to mark it out in anyone's mind. It's a purgatory of sorts and the people here are not particularly pleased about their waiting.
"He's never been the brightest, you know; if he does ever figure it out, there's no guarantee he'll have what it takes to do what needs to be done. He's just another brash seeker, and he'll lose himself - the rest of himself - in the search," says the woman (because such a voice must belong to a woman, so sweet and soprano-pitched). A smirk that would likely bear significant resemblance to the boy's own takes residence in her voice even if no eye alights on a solid face. Nothing is certain here, nothing is solid. Only the personalities stay true, only the voices. Perhaps that's all there really is.
“You're awful, and you're lying – and we've all been taught that your House is incapable of such.” Thus comes the answer and this voice is clearly masculine, a rich, deep bass that curls, stretches and rests, caressing what ears are lucky enough to hear it.
A chuckle comes through, though it's not truly amused. Like him, she is impatient. Like him, she hopes though everything in her says she shouldn't, that they're placing a losing bet. “Oh, I'm not lying. I'm speaking the truth as I know it, boy, and your darling Gregory would say the same.”
“If anyone can fix our mistakes, it's he. You're wrong,” the male voice says stubbornly. “As would he be if he repeated such foolishness and bile. If we're lucky, though, he'll constrain himself to mine and leave you here to rot.”
“How sweet, your faith in love.” It's not a smirk any more, but has shifted audibly if not necessarily visually to become a sneer. “And yet you loved him no better or more than any Eisley did.”
“He'd be whole, if not for you and your lot. It's not I who broke him.”
“Ah, such innocence, such denial from one who forgets that there's very little I don't – didn't – know. His mother issues were nothing compared to your pregnant whore.”
“Shut your mouth.” He's furious, fuming, and there would be a fight in a more solid, more physical plane.
“It's never pleasant to hear the truth, is it? You took him from us, encouraged his deviance and perversion, inspired his devotion and near worship. What did you think would happen when you abandoned him, left him by the wayside in favor of the little tart?”
“........” The pause is long, heavy, full, and then he continues. “She would have born me an heir, to be named after him. He was my love, he knew that.”
“And yet he can hardly bear to speak your name, to think of such a transient, foolish thing as love. Did you truly think I didn't know? Or that I haven't always known that you weren't his first in anything but a physical sense? We're not from that wretched place, any of us, but we Eisleys remember.”
“He'd have said . . .”
“Would he?” There's silence for a long moment and the triumph around the female voice is nearly tangible, something to be cut through. It's she who continues. “I know how you cherished him even if he doesn't. You loved him as you loved your favorite hound. He was your first man at arms and you found him useful – for something other than buggery, I hope, though I would be hard pressed to say what. He was little better than a favored servant until you chose him as concubine, and he tried so hard to please you. Almost as hard as he tried – tries – to please us.”
“No wonder he couldn't wait to be rid of you, rid of the whole family.”
"We all come up with reasons for everything we do. There's justification and rationalization; anything to get through the night. Whatever he told you was only part of the picture - the very small part that he saw then, only a child and so terribly certain that his way was right and ours not only wrong, but false. He never got anything he didn't deserve."
"You beat him nearly to death, Adela, and terrified most of your servants to the point where they wouldn't even go near his room. And I saw that, as well as the scars it left."
"As I said, boy. As I said."
One book leads to the next and the next and the next, and goodness only knows how much ground has to be covered to find all the information one needs for a given project. Research at some point became an obsession, the food he eats, the air he breathes. For the boy, it's long since been a substitute for a great many things; there's not much else he does, really. He reads, he practices what he's learned, and he reads some more with the occasional meal or bit of broken sleep thrown in as a matter of pure survival. Every free, waking moment is taken up this way—every bit of time not taken up by the work he sees as means to an end. The bookstore above which he lives, in which he earns the right to do so, serves as an excellent trading post for the sorts of books he wants (needs, craves) in addition to providing him with access to some more mundane delights he might not enjoy (if he bothered to pursue them) otherwise.
It's always in the shop that they meet, the boy and the ones who make his cold and somehow still beating heart stutter; never are they normal, the ones he sees, but still there's a screening process. There are certain qualities to be found, matched, and the boy is meticulous about it all; he is the worst sort of perfectionist. Today, a day like any other, he's expecting something, prepared for it—he usually is, in fact. He's terribly lucky that way, or perhaps skilled. In the nicest of his trousers and shirts, he sits behind the desk, manning the store alone and never mind that its during hours that most people his age should be in school. The store is, of course, spotless and as neat as it ever gets—books are sorted roughly by genre, and alphabetized by author within their sections, but that's as far as such efforts go here, in this place that is oddly comfortable despite its state of disrepair, despite the demeanor of the current staff. The bell over the door rings with each customer, and like every other day, by noon the boy's temporarily disabled the thing just to save his sanity; he's not quickly aging, after all. He can hear and see, and he knows when someone new has come in. In the same bored tones and attitudes he helps everyone he has to, though there's a different air about him on this sort of day than there is usually—he's waiting, and not terribly patiently at that.
It's nearly time to close when it finally happens, and the world outside has fallen into dark illuminated by streetlamps; a white-blond head is bent over the daily books (because here, there are no computers to keep count of cash flow or what's been bought and sold) when the bell falls from where it's been secured, giving its irritating ring to indicate some new customer, though the noise is, at least, blessedly short.
“Welcome to Lár's Rare and Used Books,” he says, all cool indifference, not yet bothering to look up; he knows, already, quite a bit about this particular customer. Not everything, mind, but everything that would be gleaned by seeing him (they're always male, always brunet, always a bit over six feet tall, always smiling or at least friendly looking). It will take more than that, the sort of judgment that the boy needs to make, so he simply waits to see what happens. There's a routine to this, like to nearly everything else; there's order in the boy's chaos, a method to his madness.
“Thank you,” comes the answer in a rich, warm voice, and that's a good sign; it pauses the boy's pen where it moves over the page, but for now, he continues with the obvious task at hand; the other thing that holds more of his attention takes a subtler place in the proceedings.
“Were you looking for anything in specific?” Of course, he doesn't truly care—or so says the tone.
“Music, actually, if you have any such thing—sheet music, especially for lute though guitar will do in a pinch. The older the better.”
It's a negative mark, that, but not a strong one—a half a mark, perhaps, something off, out of place, but not a deal breaker. “It's not exactly our forte,” comes the bored answer, “but we might have something with the historical nonfiction, or if you know the title of the specific text you want, we may be able to find it.”
“Thank you again, Sir.” The honorific (something about it, at any rate) is a big plus, it must be said; again, the boy's pen stills momentarily before the numbers continue lining up in their neat columns, marching into sums.
“We do try to be accommodating,” is the reply, and there's quiet for a while as the new arrival browses and the boy finishes what he's doing; before too long, though, the boy's done and rising restlessly to turn the sign to indicate they're closed, to lock the door. “You'll have to make your selections, I'm afraid, or you'll have to return another day.”
“Oh, of course. I'll take this for now, and if you—or your employer, as you're not a short, fat old man with Saint Nicholas glasses—happen to come across such a thing as I've mentioned when you're buying things, I hope you'll keep me in mind.”
“I'm sure we will, Mister . . . ?” Now, the boy is looking at this customer and he's distracted; eyes trace idly over the planes of the man's face, the curls of his hair, and for the first time in a very long time, the boy finds himself blushing and looking away (or trying to) even as he's caught by the customer's eyes . . . one of which winks at him.
“You'll find out soon enough, Sir, what my name is. In the mean time, I'm sure I'll return; this is a lovely little place.”
“Thank you, I'll pass along the compliment.”
Cash changes hands and the book, safely wrapped in a plastic bag, is handed over and the customer makes his way out into the night, leaving the boy to the last of his work before he can disappear upstairs into his flat, where he'll be lost in books shortly after closing the door behind him.
Once he's shut away, Gregory is nearly frantic; he's driven, guided, and yes, perhaps he is obsessed with the work he's assigned himself, the chore he's sworn to complete. He has the ingredients he needs, and the experience necessary to combine them in the way he's found, and the recipe close at hand; late into the night, he works on his concoction. Morning's light finds him asleep with his head in the small bare space on his table, the results of his night's labor cooling in its container.
The odd night out is not without purpose; very little the boy does ever is, and this is no exception. If it were aimless he'd certainly not have chosen a place like this, so loud that he can hardly hear himself think and throbbing with bass and bodies, cluttered with emotions that people think they've cleverly tucked away. All it takes is a look, a smile, a murmured word, a twist, and the boy is smiling in a dark, pleased sort of way, listening to the sounds of people arguing, girls crying and feeling it all as he makes his way through the milling crowd with the drink in his hand untasted. He glows with it, this sort of thing—he takes pleasure from what he can do, however easily it may come for him. It's different every time, altered slightly by the person from whom he's wrenching the thought, the emotion. The rote process of doing such a thing – and he's heard it called everything from psychic vampirism to empathic theft – leaves him completely undistracted from the rare feeling of being truly full in a sense that has nothing to do with his stomach or food.
It never lasts long, this feeling.
As pleasant as the process may be, though, it's is not the reason for his being here. He watches carefully as he goes, and when he finds his quarry the boy arranges a carefully surprised look on his face; it's not a smile, not quite, but then given what the occasional customer (because of course he's been in more than once at random by now and still, somehow, the boy is the one working the store every time) has come to know about him in the time intervening, he can hardly expect it to be such a true expression of joy or pleasure.
“You came! I wasn't sure you would, you know—I thought the band would go on and you'd miss them for sure,” says the other man when his eyes fall on white-blond hair and pale skin; they've hardly become friends in the time intervening and neither of them treats it as if they have, but still there's more than politeness and pleasantry between them, at least.
The boy approaches, stops just outside of the circle (always on the edges looking in, is he) but close enough to be heard; he's a bit shy, as the other man knows by now. “I got out early,” he says and it's just loud enough to be heard—not so much because he's raised his voice, but because he knows how to make sure his point gets across without doing so. “Otherwise, I'd have missed it. May I get you a drink?”
“Oh, if you must, but the next is on me. Gregory—not Greg, guys!--meet the guys.”
Introductions are made and the boy is politely disinterested in all of it but for his attention to the brunet. As soon as he can escape to get the drinks, he does so. It is, of course, the drink of the man's request, slightly altered in a chemical sense by the time it makes its way to the man's hand and still, the boy's glass is half full. The night passes and blond and brunet stay together; they dance a bit, laugh, and though Gregory's drink (drinks—he's careful to keep up appearances) goes slowly the man is a bit more seasoned of a drinker than he.
“That's . . . a far stronger cider than they usually serve here,” says the man, a bit wobbly on his feet after a full set and a few pints, all altered.
“Is it? It's a good thing I'm not trying to keep up, then, or I'd likely be on the floor,” answers the boy with a hint of a smirk. “Would you like to get some air?”
“Wise idea, Gregory. Keep me company?”
It proves harder than he expected, secreting the man away somewhere when at last the drink (or more aptly, the modifications Gregory'd applied) take their toll; he's heavier than he looks, and studious Gregory, though stronger than he looks, is hardly a body builder. Still, they make it into a cab and away to the flat, where the man is secured in a chair cleared for this precise purpose. There are a great many bonds—some magical in bent and some not--involved in this securing and only when it's done to Gregory's perfectionist standards does he step back; he's learned, he thinks, how to achieve the results he wants. Now, he can wait as he has for so long—far longer than anyone would credit.
“I suppose you were right—maybe he did figure out a way, my boy. Maybe he's finally becoming what he should have been all along.” There's a bit of pride in the female voice, though it's still carefully reserved, and so painfully cold.
The answering male voice is a bit horrified, though it, too, tries to keep it hidden; it's not so skilled, though, as the female. “Not this way, Gregory. Stars' sake, what are you going to do?”
There's no answer from the female voice, simply a feeling of satisfaction, and of waiting in the murky fog.