Left or Lived

“I didn’t do this.” Charming would have added ‘Deputy’, but the epithet no longer seemed to apply. Mondroon just stood in the boat staring under the gang and under Charming’s feet. He held himself steady on the easy shuffle of the Benhá by grasping a charred pile with the claw of his hammer. She repeated, “I didn’t do this.”

“You brought it.”

Charming thought about that for a moment. She had brought it. She’d brought Gane; she’d brought Roundmartin; and she’d brought the destruction of her only home. Though Mondroon didn’t know it, she’d probably brought the ruin of [cool named monastery] too—maybe her second home, maybe her last. “I didn’t do that either.”

“Well, it came.” Mondroon glanced up at Charming and then Outward. “And you left.”

“Left or lived?”

Even clinging to the pile, Mondroon’s shrug indicated there was no real difference. Charming hmm’d noncommittally. Another denial would be a waste.

Mondroon looked back to Charming and caught her eye. “Gonna stay? Gonna help?”

No and yes. “That’s not really an invitation is it?”

Mondroon smiled. Maybe the burning of Song had changed everyone Charming thought. Maybe it wasn’t just her. Maybe she could stay. “It isn’t much of one, but we need all kinds.”

The last three words echoed one of the last things Gane said to her before he died and they brought both a painful stone to her throat and a tidal swell of warmth to her chest. Charming stepped a quarter turn to face away from Mondroon and hide her tears, but a sob wracked her body anyway.

Charming put up her hand to ask for a moment. She drew a breath to clear the stone and then another to speak, but walked away instead. Walked Upward over fresh aluminum decking and through the rising skeleton of new construction to the Leaf and to the flit deck she’d just climbed down from.

317 words on day 712

Why Charming Venda Hates Me

As I was making breakfast and logging on this morning I was thinking I’d come back to the Green Man story I’d started last night. Now I’m not so sure.

Last night I thought some on the fact that I’ve not been able to pin down much of Charming Venda’s character or characteristics. During that thinking I dawned on me that Charming didn’t—wouldn’t if she were real—like me very much. I’m not yet sure what that means in terms of her characterization, but it gave me both a direction to pursue and a pause to pursuing it.

I don’t mean that she won’t like me much as an author after I’m done with her story, that she won’t be pleased with my slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. I mean that if she were a person she wouldn’t like me as a person. She’d be respectful and tolerant, but she wouldn’t seek out my company. She’d understand that others might befriend me, that others could love me, but she would never feel that way. Now I’ve got to figure out why she wouldn’t like me, and I’ve got to figure out who to put that into a character I would like.

A little crazy; never thought of a character in this way.

First, she’s the type of person who does what they say they’ll do, when they say they’ll do it or when they know others expect it done. She won’t appreciate my tolerance for excuses not to get things done or not to get them done in a timely manner. That would be her surface complaint.

Second, she’ll find my cussing inappropriate and excessive. She’s OK with cursing, though she doesn’t do it herself, but she’ll find my rationale for using impolite language suspect and nearly always flimsy.

My kind of anger won’t be her kind of anger. She will be righteously angry at injustice and mistreatment. She won’t understand anger which is nothing more than concentrated and vehement annoyance elevated beyond reason. Outbursts will not be her style; she’ll internalize anger and then affect changes outwardly. She’ll use her anger to fuel solutions.

OK, Doc. That’s all the shrinking I can handle for the day.

367 words on day 709

After Morning Coffee at The Galley Cat Grill

Ugh. Must write something prosey.

Upward Charma heard the bay of Melon’s Flitworks creak even before she heard the nautical chime of the Pit’s wakebell sound. The two sounds were close together so she steadied for a substantial surge.

“Ma’am, grab hold.” Charma pointed her only shopper of the morning to one of the stanchions that held her stall’s green canopy aloft. “Quick.”

Charma scanned the Pit to see that her fellow stallmates around the Pit were directing the few early morning patrons likewise. Unsurprisingly the crunkle of the aluminum deck began at the north corner and waved rapidly underfoot till it concluded with a watery slap at the Pit’s south corner.

“Oh, my! What was that? I thought we were safe out here,” the touri said.

“We’re safe, ma’am. Nothing to worry about there. But the Pit,” Charma flicked her finger from north to south across the Pit, “The Pit isn’t moored like the rest of Benhá. We’re only tied on. It’s how you get these great prices.”

“Ahhh,” the woman responded but Charma could see she didn’t understand.

“Like a boat.”

“Ohhh, now I see. So that was a wake?”

“Yes. A pretty big one too. Look over here.” Charma guestured around to the southeast where you could see out into the river’s upper delta past The Galley Cat Grillery. “Should be a cruise ship coming by in a moment or two.”

Indeed in a moment or two a cruiseship’s triangular prow slid into view. It was so close that it nearly seemed to exit The Galley Cat after coffee with friends.

264 words on day 703

NPCs for Charming

I think I need to find more characters for Charming to play with in Song on the Benhá. I’ve plotted this out with a focus on Charming and Gane opposing Roundmartin. I’ve not given any consideration to secondary characters.

Until I come up with something better the plan is for Charming to grow toward a better understanding of acceptance of friendship. Jeez—got to word that simply. Having secondary characters who can and do challenge her to fit in seems like a good plan. I’d think that I would get better conflict from characters who made it harder for her to fit in.

Someone who is outwardly antagonistic and jealous of her abilities or her closeness with Gane comes to mind. I’ll have to be careful not to make that person flat. Will also need to consider that person’s final disposition. Someone like that vould become Charming’s biggest supporter in the end or bitterest rival. Flat.

Charming will need a companion too. Maybe a lame friend; the kind who latches on early and you always feel embarrassed to have around. Someone easy to take advantage of if neccessary. Someone to feel guilty about when you do.

204 words on day 602

An Ending to Benhá

Charming stood on the Leaf’s southern flit deck overlooking Song. She hadn’t expected the surviving Bennies’ reconstruction efforts to be so far along. She hadn’t expected the reconstruction to be so thorough. Her Song had been laid out like a casual meeting of like-minded friends with no purpose other than togetherness. It was built in the vernacular of what was good at the time. This new Song was something else. It was something organized. It was something purposeful.

Obviously, Mondron had worked with the architecture firm and the Lander backers to keep the river style, but from the well-plotted thoroughfares to the river-level concrete flit deck and landing pad this Song sought a mercenary goal. That goal was well enough for them because they stayed, but it didn’t serve Charming because she wouldn’t.

She pulled some cash and coins from her pants pocket. Fanning the bills, she only found pale Lander money. She cupped the coins and folded the money before tucking it away in a different pocket. Charming thought she might find a touri shell or at least a scale, but none of the coins were Song tokens. She pocketed them all.

“For what it’s worth!” She flung an imaginary coin out over the new Song and pretended it glinted in the sunlight as it sailed out over the piers and scaffolding and green redi-mades already bunched inward.

The putting idle of the flit reminded her she still hadn’t left and that she needed to go, so she mounted it and revved the thrusters to clear out the dust. She jumped it into the air overlooking Song—again—just high enough that the engine noise didn’t echo off the deck. Below, laborers called to each other across the water and the gangs. Charming checked her line, planning on dropping from the Leaf and skimming out over Song. She noticed a scale wedged into the trim of the foot-board, smiled, and picked it free.

Good luck after all, but she kept it as a souvenir instead.

###

Laborers’ POV of Charming out of nowhere and skimming too low and outward over Song.

361 words on day 599

A Crystalline Swig

Purple clouds wall the Western sky. They beckon terribly. If someone asked you to recall the itch of a scrape healing on your elbow you’d say it was the same. The morning’s sun brightens this purple fortress and skips the ocean swells like a throwed stone. In Spring this near storm would have Bennies clattering down gangways and docks tying down boats and latching shutters. In Fall, now, shopkeepers drink coffee to the show while fisherman arrange their nets ignorant of the event.

Charming catches a few neon sparks strobe from cloud to ocean. Sweat beads on her Red Bull. She swirls the slush of the half-frozen energy drink, takes a crystalline swig, and heads back to The Pit to set up her t-shirt stall.

###

“Ah, poop.”

Charming’s Sunday morning Pit neighbor chuckles while reading his pad. He’s not laughing at the feed.

“Hush-up Karl. We don’t all need to sound like fishermen.” Charming absently tugs the cord from her braid and shakes her hair loose. Karl waggles his head in agreement.

The vector of Charming’s consternation, Jun-kata, threads his way around the stalls and through the few customers in The Pit. He’s tall; girls fall for him. He thinks Charming owes him money; she thinks he owes her shirts. He’s a dick. Rebraiding her hair will keep her hands from throttling him. Maybe.

234 words on day 516

A Redemption of Crows

I need to have an extended plotting session with the Benhá storyline, but that’s not going to happen here. That’s not going to happen now.

Not that the unlikely path to today’s topic matters but I fired up The Crow soundtrack thinking it was the musical score—guess I haven’t ripped that after all—and am listening to The Cure sing “Burn”. The word redemption resolves in my mind from no where out of the song or the movie. Neither one holds redemption as a theme. Now I’ve got redemption on the brain. I’m looking for some missing ingredients for Benhá. Maybe I could stir in this theme.

Where? Charming’s going to be about acceptance. Redemption isn’t something she needs since she’s done nothing to require seeking it. Of the available known main characters that leaves Brother Gane and Mr. Roundmartin. This is not Brother Gane’s story. It’s Charming’s. Gane doesn’t need to change. Which leaves me to cast off the idea of redemption or try to write an antagonist whos actions are all driven by a need to redeem himself. Opposing actions like killing and burning don’t immediately strike me as obviously linked to such a theme.

I find the challenge compelling. Redemption rings of extremes. A person seeking forgiveness or validation for some heinous past act might incline himself to do things differently. Maybe. Or worse, if they’d spent a good chunk of their lives in contrition following said heinous act but no one noticed lashing out makes sense. Hello! You’re making this harder to write not easier. Though I’ve nicely stumbled on a parallel between Charming and Mr. Roundmartin: both desire to be accepted. For different reasons.

287 words on day 515