What’s In a Name

I like when I’m browsing questions for topics and all of the sudden something easy comes up to write about.

What is your character’s full name? How did they get that name? Have they ever gone by a nickname? Do they want to change their name?

“Oh, goodness, my full name?” Maggie looked around, and in a much lower voice, answered, “Apryl Lillian Gallihad. However!” She added in a normal tone, “I go by Lillian if I must, and Maggie to everyone who actually know me. Why Maggie, you might ask? Well, it’s sort of a combination of ‘magpie’ and ‘magazine’. I think magpie is easier to explain. I can talk – oh, boy, can I talk -” she laughed at her own expense. “And I ended up just collecting things that other people discard. Mostly magazines, mind you, and that brings us to the second part of my nickname.”

She adjusted on the couch, nestling in until she was comfortable, then continued. “My love of magazines came from my mother. It’s funny because I still have fond memories of her but she really doesn’t want much to do with me. I had hoped, at one point, as I grew older that the feeling of wanting her to be a part of my life would dissipate, but it’s still there, just muted. I remember spending so much time watching her make scrapbooks. She had this gift of documenting everything in my childhood, and I still hold those dear. Even the one she left incomplete.” Maggie shifted again, clearly a bit uncomfortable with the topic but determined to keep going.

“Anyway, I never got old enough to really scrapbook with her, just to help her collect pieces. I continued to collect magazines as they came in, even after she stopped actively scrapbooking. It was in the hopes that she would find the time to spend with me again. She didn’t. As I get older, I realise now that work and travelling to work was taking a lot out of her and put a huge strain on her relationship with Dad. They separated when I was seven and she’s moved on. We were no longer a part of her life.” She chewed on her bottom lip. “Well, anyway! I’ve never really grown out of the hoarding of magazines. It’s kind of an issue and I really ought to do something with the piles I have just laying around. I mean, I do read through some of them, the ones that hold factual knowledge and not just gossip, but then they just move from one pile to another and doesn’t actually solve the fact that I have far too many magazines, most of which are out of date as more scientific research comes out.”

Maggie sighed, flipping her long, dark brown hair to the front so she could braid it in an attempt to distract herself. “Dad is the most wonderful person though. It’s as if, after Mama left, he was determined to make sure my life was just as full and exciting as it would have with two parents. There’s so much I learn as I get older, about our family dynamics and what it took for Dad to have just pushed all of his pain aside and to make sure I still felt treasured and wanted.” She smiled. “Dad’s great. He’s why I like cooking and maths so much. He’s an accountant, and a good one too, so numbers have always been a part of my existence. He made it fun, so it is fun for me and not tedious. I don’t know what I plan on doing with my life, but I’m sure there will be numbers in there. Somewhere. And maybe food. I do enjoy eating and cooking. It’s a surprise, I suppose. For now, I’m really just focused on school and doing the best I can. I feel like I can say that I’m smart, yes, and I love acquiring new knowledge but at the same time not all of it stays with me so I have to spend extra time on some topics until it sinks in long enough.”

She finished braiding her hair and tied it together with the hair tie she kept on her wrist. “Speaking of, I should drag myself from the past and really just get back to work. Thanks for bringing all of that up. I needed the emotional havoc today.” Her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes, but she tried none-the-less. “Next time, let’s try something happier, yeah?”

Advertisements

If I Were a Rich Man

Missy! Sam! Charlie Riley

If your character was rich, what is one luxury item/service/etc that they would spend lots of money on?

The question was well received by laughs. “If I were rich? I’d be able to sleep. Oh, goodness, sleeping. What’s that like?” The youngest of the Riley girls tried to rub the lingering sleep from her eyes. It was unsuccessful, for she was still tired, and reached out for her thermos of tea in a desperate attempt to stay functional.

“It’s like being knocked out, but you wake up refreshed and not hating your life,” Samantha answered with a smile. “I hear it’s pretty good and you should try it sometime.”

“Is that right? I gave it a try once but when I woke up everything hurt.”

“That’s because you’re old, Charlie.”

“I’m only thirty-three!” Charlene protested. “That’s not old.”

“That’s a whole nine years away for me.” Missy grinned. “I’d say that’s old. Anyone over thirty is ancient.” Being the youngest, there was a whole lot she got away with. Teasing her sisters was one of the many perks.

“Wow, gee thanks, I’m glad I have that to look forward to in two years.” Sam shook her head. “Just wait! Another six years and you’ll be singing a different tune.”

“Yes, well, you’ll both be looking at forty then and that’s a whole ‘nother story. As in, there goes half of your life, is it crisis time yet?”

“You’ll be the last one to know if I do have this crisis moment. I can’t say I see myself panicking though.” Charlie was a lawyer whose job was looking quite stable. “I’m even married, and happily so, which is more than I can say for the two of you.” She held up a finger to halt the replies from her sisters. “Yes, yes, I know you’re dating someone in a sort of serious fashion, Sam, and you, Missy, are married to your work.”

“I wouldn’t be if I could actually get paid like I matter,” Missy grumbled. She held two jobs, both because she sort of had to and because she wanted to have an opportunity to save up for travel. “If I had all the money ever, I’d be able to quit both and go see the world. And take my friends with me.”

“That’s a lie, and you know it. You would totally still work — albeit very part-time — for both. You like the perks too much.” Sam knew her sister far too well to believe such rubbish.

“You know, I think Steffi’s cool enough that even if I didn’t work there I could stop by for free sweets as long as I don’t do it every day. It wouldn’t be a freezer full of whatever we couldn’t sell, that is true, but it’s still not a bad deal.” Her main job was working for Springform Delights. Missy had an eye for decorating and a general affinity for people. Stephanie Vogel, her boss, understood that and gave her cakes to decorate in between waiting upon customers. She liked her boss, she liked her job, it was just sometimes the customers who were unpleasant. “So… perhaps. In between trips I should do something I guess.”

“Or you could travel always and never come back home.”

“Is that even an option?”

“If you’re rich, it is. So I’ve heard, anyway! I wouldn’t know. I’m still working myself.”

“But as a glamourous lawyer! I’m just a receptionist.”

“Which should be applauded, Sam. Really. If I saw half the things you saw in that waiting room I would have quit.”

“On your first day. Man, that was an awful introduction.” Sam worked hard to block out the awful memories of work. “I think, if I were to be rich, I’d go and see every production of every play or musical there was and just follow tour groups around whenever I wished. It’s a nice escape from hospital life.”

“Wouldn’t you get bored of seeing the same show?”

“There are so many nuances that I feel like I miss when I only get to see it once. It allows me to focus on other parts of the stage. Unlike watching something recorded, everything can change depending on who is on that night.” Sam’s entire face lit up as she talked about one of the things that she truly loved. “No, I think it would be wonderful.” She turned toward Charlie. “How about you then?”

There was a long moment of silence as Charlie considered the question. For her, the idea of just having a lot of money to be able to do whatever she wanted wasn’t as enticing. She liked her job. It was challenging and kept her on her toes. Her nightly habit was to come home and decompress with her husband and together they drink half a bottle of wine with their dinner. “I suppose if I had all the money and had to use it for myself I think I just want a tropical island somewhere and unlimited, very sweet, only semi-alcoholic drinks while I read under a covered hammock. There has to be a gentle breeze and it would be nice if it was not too hot.”

“That sounds complicated and you’ll need the perfect environment.”

“Something I don’t think your money could buy,” Missy added. “But that does sound very relaxing. Maybe I’ll tack that onto part of my travel-cation. Except with more alcohol. Much more alcohol.”

“You may or may not be an alcoholic. I’m leaning toward may.” Sam grinned. “I would think after seeing everyone drink-”

“Nope. I really just want to drink more after watching the parade of people.” Her second job was a bartender. It was part-time, and she loved every bit of it. The Miasmic Mire was an unusual sort of pub. Hugh Emmerson was the face of the pub and his vision was that it was a casual place and everyone was a friend or family no matter where they came from. He was a good manager and a good friend, Missy was happy to say, and it was a joy working for him. “Besides, my vodka tolerance is at an all time high and I feel like I would be remiss if I were to let that fall.”

Her sisters frowned at her. “That’s a pretty questionable reason for continuing to drink though.”

Missy shrugged. “I’m functional. It’s fine. If it means I can go vacation somewhere I don’t speak the language and I have to use sign language, that’s great and I don’t have to talk to anyone and everything will be perfect.”

“You’re such an extrovert that sometimes I forget you learned sign language just so you don’t have to verbally speak to someone.” Charlie shook her head.

“Sometimes, there’s just a little too much going on and it’s really just easier to pretend. The good news is, Steffi hired this girl who is deaf and my weird hobby turned into something useful!” It delighted her to know that she had carved a niche that was hard to fill at the bakery. On her off days, Steffi wrote notes and they were quite good at miming to each other, but there was still a huge communication gap.

“Your eyes are actually filled with something when you discuss this.”

Charlie laughed. “It’s called passion I think, Sam. Something you lack.”

“I know. I just can’t see to find something more interesting and I’ve kind of been here long enough that I’m making more than I should and it’s really hard to find anything that pays nearly as well.” Sam shrugged. “I’m sure at some point I’ll think of something I might like more but for now, it’s fine.”

“Everything is on fire but it’s fine sort of fine?” Missy questioned.

“Yes. Exactly that. Reasons why I’d like to disappear into the theatre world which is a lot less stressful and has happy endings normally.”

“Things to strive for one day.” Charlie held up her beer in a toast.

The other two followed suit, clinking their glasses in solidarity. “Let’s hope sooner than later, before Sam really loses what’s left of her sanity.”

A Night In or Out?

Generally, would your character rather go out with friends (or a significant other) or stay at home to hang out?

“In,” Kiana answered.

“Out!” Aimee exclaimed. The two looked at each other and laughed.

“Well, out if Aimee makes me,” Kia conceded, leaning into her best friend with a smile. “I’m really quite a homebody but I’m easily convinced by the right people.”

“Or by the right incentive. She’ll go out for food if she must, but if it has to do with makeup or waterfalls, you can definitely expect her to be there.” Aimee grinned. “As for me, home is nice and all, but-”

“She gets restless.” The two had been friends and roommates for half a decade and were rarely seen without each other. This had some consequences; one of them being that they often finished each other’s sentences.

James Kellington smiled at his little cousin and her friend. He was glad that they had found each other. Kiana had been floating without an anchor when he had rescued her four years ago. She had just lost her mother, was just finishing up schooling and hadn’t had any motivation or will to want to do anything but sit and mourn. He had suggested a change of pace, which she had objected to on the grounds of not being able to see her mother. He had respected that to a degree, but when it came down to it, he had made the judgement call.

And moved her across the ocean into his apartment. The weeks went by slowly. She started to show interest in his work, and he took that opportunity to bring her to work with him. It had been most fortunate that he had been working freelance at the time, for he had the freedom to do what he wished as long as he could pay the bills. As she sat watching, he took a few photos for fun — after all, he was a photographer by trade. He remembered that a long, long time ago, when Kia was little and he was just starting out on his career that she had wanted to be a part of every shot.

So he edited the photos and showed her. It bought a smile to a face no longer accustomed to smiling. It was rewarding enough that James made a point to photograph her in their daily lives. Soon, he had a collection; some photos they liked more than others, and those were the ones that he ended up displaying under her old name: Sunshine.

She grew in popularity and confidence. He hadn’t even been sure it was the right thing to do as day after day passed of watching her mourn, but seeing her here and smiling, comfortable with herself and even happy, James was glad he had made that executive decision. She turned to him, her warm brown eyes alight with a passion he had helped nurture. “Jamie?” It was her pet name for him. He allowed none but her to call him that, even her best friend. “Yes?”

She smiled. “What about you?” There was mischief behind the grin, for she very well knew the answer.

As in almost everything, James indulged her. “In. Nothing is quite as nice as a movie night with pizza that you need half a roll of towels to help clean up after.”

“And popcorn fights.” Aimee chipped in. She had been over on many of those nights and knew just how much the two enjoyed them. She had come to the city quite recently and was trying to figure out how to fit in. Like Kiana, she was a model and an expat; the two girls had bonded quickly with their shared experiences and finding comfort to know they were not alone. James had found himself taking yet another young woman under his wing.

The good news was that he had the approval of her family, at least. They were grateful that not only had their youngest daughter found a friend, but a small support system of her own who could take care of her should she need. Aimee was brave enough to have moved across the ocean to pursue her dreams, a trait James hoped Kiana would pick up a bit of. She had moved in with the two of them for a little while, but his place had been bought with one in mind and all of the sudden three people occupied the small apartment. With some encouraging, Aimee and Kiana moved out into a place of their own, only twenty minutes away but still by themselves. “They seem to happen a lot more often when you’re around,” James teased her. “If it’s just the two of us it’s quite a bit quieter.”

“We’re too busy eating pizza.”

“And she’s sobbing at the romance on the screen.”

Aimee grinned. “I’d imagine it’s a lot harder to throw things accurately when you can’t see through your tears.”

“Just a bit,” Kiana admitted. “It is definitely a lot less of a problem when you chose the movie.”

“That’s because you go for the really sappy ones and I tone it back quite a bit so it’s still cute enough for you but a lot less sappy!” Aimee’s movie preferences leaned more toward adventure type films. As a compromise, the two together watched historical films, dramas and musicals.

James liked movies in general and had a bad habit of letting sitting down and watching things take over his life, no matter what it was. He tried to limit his screen time to movie nights with his cousin, although his efforts were not always so successful. “So, oh adventurous one, what do you do when you drag our dear Kia out?”

“Shopping.” Aimee replied promptly. “We go eat things first though.”

“Eat until regret, walk until there’s much less regret.” Kiana smiled. “We drink a fair bit of soju and just stumble around until it wears off about an hour later.”

“The best alcohol.” Her friend gave a very serious nod. “Tastes like apples, doesn’t burn when you drink it, and has a short enough effect that it’s comfortable.”

“But also concerning how cheap it is. You drink a little and all of the sudden everything gets wiggly.”

James shook his head at their description. Perhaps he should be keeping a closer eye on the girls, but they enjoyed their time alone and knew to call on him should anything arise. “I can’t tell if I am glad I am not there or worried.”

“We’re fine,” Aimee reassured him. “After all, we make sure we can still walk, although perhaps not straight, but walk nonetheless and stay until we’re definitely upright.”

“And stay safe!” Kiana added. “We would never do anything on purpose to worry you!”

“And yet I still worry.” It was a constant thought in the back of his mind, but he supposed that was a side effect of having taken on much younger charges. They brought joy into his life in ways he had never imagined, making everything worth it.

“We’ll bring you soju next time.”

“The not flavoured ones, probably.”

“Mmm, you’re probably right.”

Aimee laughed. “I’d say you could come with us, but I don’t believe you’d enjoy it much, so we’ll bring it to you.”

“That is very kind of you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Interview [Kel/Dacil]

World building is always a challenge. What makes it harder is that it is a world I have been playing around in for ten years now, on and off, for this is the world I played around in my first year of NaNoWriMo. Ten years is a really long time to have been writing and adding to a world that exists through the eyes of my characters and becomes more colorful every time I visit. This is my very first character in this world. She was grumpy ten years ago and no less grumpy now, it would seem.

So, Kel, wanna say hello?

Continue reading

Time to Say Goodbye

She waited at the door, a beer in one hand, having already started on her own. It was about the time Patrick would come home, she knew, and while her greeting him with a beer wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, there was a bit more behind it this time. Vivian sighed, running her fingers through her hair as the nerves that threatened to overwhelm her bubbled beneath the surface, waiting for a moment of weakness. It was all about to end, this dream world she and Pat had forged for themselves. She wasn’t ready. And yet, the rational part of her knew that it was time. Her meeting Pat had been a happy accident. They had both known that if things had been even a little bit different, they never would have met.

She heard the jingle of keys and footsteps approach the porch. That was her cue, and she opened the door with a smile.

“Ah, my two favourite things,” Pat teased, opening the screen door and stepping in. He set his briefcase on the floor before sweeping Vivian up into a large hug ending with a kiss. She melted into the embrace, her own kiss filled with enthusiasm.

He had this mischievous grin on his face as she pulled away and out of his arms. She would remember that look for the rest of her days. “We have dinner reservations, remember?”

“It can wait.”

With reluctance, she slid out of his arms and offered him the beer instead. “There’s something I want to talk to you about.”

He gave a pout and a gentle swat to her backside before taking the beer and following her over to the couch. As she walked passed him, she found herself being pulled down into his lap. Vivian laughed, giving him a peck on the cheek before reaching out for her own beer from the side table. “So, what’s up?” he asked, taking a swig from the bottle.

“Ah, well,” she started. “I found a job.”

“That’s awesome!” Vivian had been looking for a job for several months now ever since she knew her show was ending, but hadn’t been having much luck. She had picked up a couple of shifts here and there at the bar to keep busy, but Vivian was all about theatre and that was what she had set out to do, not to tend to tables and wait upon people. Pat knew that she had been unhappy as far as her professional life went, and was delighted for her to have found something that lit her eyes up.

“Except.”

Ah, there it was. The shadow that lurked behind her brown eyes. “Except?” He echoed, afraid of the answer.

She twirled her bottle in her hands, not meeting his gaze. “It’s back in the States.”

“You’re leaving.”

Vivian nodded. The hint of tears started to build. Pat managed a smile for her, reaching out and touching her cheek gently. She nuzzled into his hand. “Yes. I can’t stay here forever.”

“You could.”

“It has been a dream, Pat. Every minute of this, of you-” she looked at him. “Unexpected.”

“But great.” It was their touchphrase, something that had been born over the months. They really hadn’t expected anything — after all, Vivian came over on a work visa and had only expected to work and to hang out with her dear friend, Sid. Pat had been interested in meeting Sid’s American friend, of course, but never had he thought he would have such an interest in her even after one evening quickly found — or made — excuses for them to spend time together. One thing led to another, and there they were. They were approaching one year: one year of Vivian being in the UK, and, not too long after, a year of them having found their other half.

“And now it’s coming to an end.” Viv finished. “I have to go back. This wasn’t even supposed to be this way,” the rest of her words disappeared within Pat’s kiss. “And I did the math,” she added as she pulled away.

His response was automatic: “maths”.

“Maths,” she corrected herself with a smile. Pat was slowly indoctrinating her into the British culture. “And the column to stay just isn’t as good as the column to leave.” An array of emotion was crossing’s Pat’s face. Some of the thoughts she could guess at, and some were foreign as she watched him absorb the news.

After a long minute in which both of them made quite a mark on their beers, he spoke. “You’ll remain in touch?” Pat asked quietly, looking at her.

It wasn’t the answer she had been expecting, but it was sort of a relief that he was supporting her in her decision. She had feared that there would have been more resistance. Leaving was going to be hard enough as it was, but if he was against it… “Of course.” She wrapped her fingers around his. “And we’ll remain friends.”

“We better.” He hugged her and held her close. “I’m obviously going to be devastated.”

“Me too,” she admitted, nestling in his arms. “I don’t want to go.”

“And yet you do.” He understood. Sort of. His job was stable and secure and he had a future there. It was hard for him to imagine having a career that could end at any time and have to find another one on short notice. “I do not want to be the main reason you stay. I can see it becoming a source of contention between us and I do not want you to resent me over time. So yes, I’ll support you in this.”

“As you have in all things.” She sighed. “Jay will be happy at least.” She kept in touch with her best friend and previous roommate. They talked every other week on several hour long calls and it was partially due to Jaina that she had found out about this new job. “Even if we’re both sad.”

“Yes, I suppose so. How long-?”

“I’m to start in a month.” They sat there in relative silence; Vivian was content just being held by him, and he wanted the comfort of her company. They took a raincheck on the dinner — Sid and Zach understood and placed dibs on hosting Vivian’s farewell party.

The next few weeks passed all too quickly. Pat took some time off from work and they quickly crossed off the rest of the list of things they had once said they would do together. Every night, Vivian would come home and pack a little, even if it meant just folding a stack of clothes from the laundry. She hadn’t come over with too much; it had meant to be a temporary engagement to start with that she extended due to her starting to date Pat, and had slowly been rebuilding since she decided to settle. Most of the bigger items, he would keep. It was the little things, the trinkets they had picked up, the jewellery he had given her, the ticket stubs from the places they had attended together. Those, she packed away carefully. Sometimes, she woke up in the of the night, panicked that she forgot something, only to be soothed by Pat who was photographing everything as she packed it to confirm that it would indeed be going back to the States with her.

As promised, Sid hosted the farewell party. They had bought out the pub for the night. Everyone there was someone Vivian knew. They bought drinks and food and stories of the time they all shared together and what they would miss with Vivian gone. She held herself together the best she could, never venturing too far away from Pat. That was, until Sid came over at the end of the night with a scrapbook with notes, letters, and photos from all of her friends. Maybe it was the alcohol, or the overwhelming emotions from leaving the life she had made for herself in the past year, or just feeling the love from everyone, but Vivian was a sobbing, uncontrollable mess and Pat had to excuse them both to take her home and tuck her into bed.

And then, the day came. Vivian slept poorly, waking every thirty to sixty minutes. After a few times of this, Pat gave up on trying and the two of them stayed up. He put on some show on the television and it played softly as they talked and he held her. They left super early for the airport. Everything had been boxed up and shipped previously, so Vivian had a carry-on and a small travel bag with her remaining possessions and the clothes she had worn the past few days. She was almost certain the two of them got strange looks on the train, for both were crying silently, but she didn’t care. They sat outside until the last possible calculated moment, and then

she was

alone

walking

through the airport

tears streaming down her face

she brushed them away just in time to see a joyous couple reunite, and her vision blurred once more. Somehow, she made it to her gate.

She boarded the plane, praying that the seat next to her would be unoccupied. After all, she had chosen the seat in the very back of the plane to be as far away from people as she could. She watched as waves of people came at her, all coming to a stop before her seat, and, at last, there was an announcement the doors were closed.

And there was no one next to her. It was everything she could have hoped for. She dug through her pack for her blanket, and curled up under it, the emotional exhaustion overriding her. Sleep was a welcome blessing.

Day One

Blogging for Camp NaNo. It’s happening. It’s story time. It’s unedited, raw, and everything I probably shouldn’t be posting on the internet for people to see and I’ll regret at some point down the line when I go read it. However, it’s Camp, I’ve got to write, so I’m taking whatever comes to mind and go with it. Good luck, I’ll edit later, that’s what other months are for.

Or I’ll finish posts later too, in the spirit of true NaNo.

Continue reading

I Remember

I’ve decided, spur of the moment, that my dear Lottie keeps a journal. She could totally be the type to journal, and, on top of it, have crocheted a cover of sorts for it too.

I’m actually quite good at thinking about blogging things. Unfortunately, that does not translate to actually being good at blogging, because I rarely ever make those thoughts into words and have them written. Judging by that alone, my journal would be quite sad and even more neglected than this blog (which is a challenge in itself, I believe) — on top of that, I would have to handwrite and that’s just not a pretty sight to see, much less have to read at a later date.

Still, I think it would be fun to document a few entries in her journal, things that sort of came up, or came to me, and needed to be expressed.

I asked why people write before, and one of the common reasons was that there was something within them that needed to be told, or that they wanted to read something that wasn’t available, so they’ll write it instead. The third reason is characters who refuse to shut up. That’s Lottie at the moment, in my head, narrating scenes and her feelings.

Maybe if I write out these thoughts she could give me a moment’s peace.

Journal Entry
Must use:
Trying not to notice the ex’s birthday.
I have a fairly thin grip on reality to begin with.
I shared too much. I want all of my secrets back.

Continue reading