Tue, Nov
20
2007

Aurora Dreams of Lake Winnipeg

Tue, Nov 20, 2007

lake-winnipeg.jpg

The Dream King’s Daughter Scorecard
Current Word Count: 9171
Progress From Last Report: 4171 words (Nov 1)

The picture above is called Swimming dock at Dunnottar on the shores of “a very calm Lake Winnipeg”. I had no idea you could swim in Lake Winnipeg. Isn’t it too cold? The photo is by Dan McKay and is used in accordance with his Creative Commons license.

Well, that sort of progress is being beaten handily by the top competitors of the NaNoWriMo, who each have to maintain a pace of 1667 words per day in order to fill their 50,000 word quota by the end of the month. However, by maintaining a pace of 209 words (and I’m not writing every day), I’m on track of matching the pace The Night Girl maintained in its better months (roughly 5,000 words per month). Some new story ideas have risen and have added themselves to the narrative. As we explore Aurora’s current state and the strange things that are looking for her, I suspect we’ll also flashback to Aurora’s past, as she learns about her dream-reading powers and uses (or, rather, misuses) them for the first time.

I’m enjoying this story a lot, though a part of me is wondering when the block will hit. It usually does around the third chapter. It’s why I made such good progress initially with The Night Girl but still took almost four years to finish the first draft. This is why I tend to have two projects going at once, with one simmering on the backburner, ready to take over, but it looks like Mount Royal will be waiting a while.

However, the internal editor is speaking up, here, worrying that Aurora is too passive in her surroundings. Mostly she’s just trying to hold on, keeping calm while the world blows up around her, but keeping calm is a close cousin to “doing very little.” But there’ll be plenty of time for edits. The task now is to silence that editor and get down to writing.

For those who have just joined us, The Dream King’s Daughter progresses as follows: the first scene here shows us Aurora’s remarkable abilities, followed by an introduction to her co-worker and confidant Polk and then the arrival of a mysterious man who puts Aurora to sleep with a look and makes her dream of Lake Winnipeg.

Why does she dream of Lake Winnipeg? Read on.

The early summer sun rippled on the surface as she kicked at the stones of the beach. The waves crashed. The seagulls cried. The bracing north breeze flicked back her hair and made her pull up the zipper of her windbreaker.

“Find what you’re looking for, honey?” said her Dad. He grinned at her as he sat on a wave-battered old stump.

She said nothing, just grinned back at his shaggy grey-black mop. The stones beneath her skittered and clacked. Then she found it: a round, flat stone, dark and mottled. She picked it up. It had the heft of a baseball, and narrowed from half an inch thick on one side to almost a knife’s point, but there were no sharp edges to cut her. Her palm and forefinger curved around the thick side perfectly. She cupped it in her palm, clasped it, then eyed the northern horizon and took a deep breath.

She leaned into the shot, swinging the stone in a sidearm throw. It left her fingers, spinning, and caught the air like a sail, meeting the water along its smooth, flat end, arching back into the air again. Aurora smiled as she counted the splashes. She clenched her fist and beamed when she reached eight, and the stone disappeared.

Her father clapped. “A new world record!”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Personal best, silly!”

“Well, who’s to know?” he called. “It’s not like they keep records on that sort of thing.”

“Actually—”

A sound like the squeak of a rusty gate made her turn. On the branch of a stunted tree at the edge of the beach, a crow cocked its head to one side, then the other. It cawed. The north wind picked up and Aurora shivered.

Don’t be stupid, she thought. It’s just a bird.

A bird looking at me.

But a bird’s got eyes. It can look at whatever it wants. It’s a free country.

But a bird shouldn’t look at me with intent. What was it that lawyer guy said on that television show? Malice and forethought? The look was that intense.

I must be imagining it, she thought. That’s all.

She was about to turn away, dismiss the crow from her mind, when she heard a shout. A stone sailed over her head and struck the branch. The crow flew up, crying.

“Get out of here!” her father yelled, reaching for another stone. “Go on, get!” He threw the other rock, and the crow dodged out of the way. It aimed for the sky and took off, cawing.

“Dad!” shouted Aurora when she got her voice back. “Dad, what are you doing?” Then she looked at her father, and her voice changed. “Dad, what’s wrong?”

He was standing half crouched, feet planted, stalwart as a tank, casting his gaze up and down the stony beach. His hands had bent into claws.

Aurora backed away. “Dad?”

He looked up at her, and then stood up sharply. He plastered a smile on his face. “Let’s go home, honey.” Aurora stood her ground. “Dad? What’s wrong?”

He stepped towards her, walking carefully over the slippery stones while keeping one eye on the clouds. “Nothing’s wrong, honey. It’s late and it’s getting cold. It’s time to go home.”

Aurora was about to protest when she heard cawing above, and looked up. There was a dotted line of black specks running along the grey sky. Birds. Crows. Flying in a steady stream, calling out to one another as they migrated east.

East?

Her father swallowed, and reached out to her. “C’mon, honey. Don’t argue. Let’s go home.”

She hesitated, but then he snatched her hand and pulled. He was almost rough.

“Dad,” she said, stumbling alongside him to the car. “Seriously, Dad, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, honey,” he said, looking at the sky. “Your mom will be getting worried.”

Only when you tell her what’s worrying you, she thought.

He let go of her hand as they reached the car and opened the side door for her. As she bent to slide inside, she heard a caw and looked up.

The crow was watching her from the branch again.

She got in and slammed the door after her.

To be continued…


On This Day

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