New Orleans is in Play

Florida may or may not be breathing a sigh of relief now that it looks like Hurricane Ivan might skip west into the Gulf, but every step west puts us closer to what can only be termed a nightmare scenario. All it would take is a well-placed, well-timed Category One to destroy the city of New Orleans.

I have friends in New Orleans. I’ll be praying.

Bloggers Remembering Darfur

After I talked about forgetting about Darfur, Jim Elve pointed me to The Passion of the Present, a group blog dedicated to keeping the attention of the blogosphere on Sudan. Jim Elve’s own thoughts on the matter are to be found here.

I think I should thank Colin Powell for calling the catastrophe in Darfur “genocide”. This combined with strengthening words on the EU front lends me some hope that the world will get around to doing something. If only our government would take the lead… heck, I’d be satisfied if they just followed in Powell’s footsteps and called genocide, rather than sitting in silence.

Workshopping Sealwife

Erin has helped me pull Sealwife into a publishable format. We’re still a long way there, but we’ve come a long way from where I started.

First of all, I’ve managed to pull the story back below 6000 words. At one point, it was up to 6600 words. I altered a scene where Cassie takes Silk with her to her job at the lobster fishery. Several reasons for this, not the least of which being that I have no idea how a lobster fishery operates, and I was completely talking through my hat throughout the scene. And, other than showing a few of Silk’s mythical abilities, the scene was just an overly complicated reason to get Cassie and Silk out of the boathouse so that Cassie’s father could find the sealskin and pull Silk back in. Thanks to Erin, I realized that I already had a reason to get Cassie and Silk out of the boathouse: going to the police to try and reunite Silk with her folks.

That and changes to word choice is tightening the tale up nicely, but there is still a lot that could be done. Little touches would help enhance the atmosphere, I think. The make-or-break element remains Cassie’s voice, which still hasn’t crystallized. This is why most stories go through several drafts before being submitted to publishers.

Here’s the scene that replaced the lobster fishery scene. It occurs the day after this scene here. Cassie and Silk have left the boathouse at a run to keep out of sight of Cassie’s father.

They ran from the boathouse, Cassie looking back, wondering if she caught sight of shifting drapes in one window. But the house stayed closed. When it slipped out of sight as they reached the beach, she breathed a sigh of relief and stopped and held her knees. “Silk,” she gasped. “Wait!”

Silk stopped running, turned, and came loping back. She stared quizzically at Cassie as the girl caught her breath.

“I’m sorry,” Cassie wheezed. “I didn’t mean to scare you. We just had to get out of there.”

Silk cocked her head. She blinked.

Cassie reached for Silk’s hand. Silk smiled as they clasped fingers. Together, they trudged down the beach, the wind blowing off the bay. Silk’s hair fluttered. The stones clicked beneath Cassie’s shoes and Silk’s bare feet. The air bit with salt and chill, but Silk didn’t complain. As they walked, they looked out to sea. At last, Cassie spoke.

“My Dad,” she said. “He’s not a bad man… It’s just… when Mom died….” She cleared her throat. “At first he’d just sit all day at the kitchen table, staring, while I made tea. Then one day I saw him out, on the beach, staring out to sea. I asked him, for what, and he said for my Mom. I thought it was because she drowned out there, but it wasn’t. He said she’d come back, her drowned spirit, as a seal, and he could take her back… take her home again.”

Silk stared at the sea, and then looked at Cassie. “Did… she?”

“‘Course not,” Cassie snapped. “Just Dad crazy with grief, is all. He heard some old folks talking the old stories. Selkies, souls of the drowned, they called them. It gave him false hope. He stood out here all day, all night, and the next day too. Called to the waves the day after that. Nothing came back. Then he came home and started drinking.”

They had stopped walking. Silk stared at Cassie, then reached out and touched the tear that was dangling from the tip of Cassie’s nose. Cassie looked up, then cleared her nose with a sniff. She laughed and took a deep breath. “I’m being silly. I—”

Abruptly, Silk embraced her. Cassie jerked, then buried her face in Silk’s shoulder. She sank to her knees, but Silk held her, letting her cry. The waves rumbled and the seabirds shrieked. Cassie cried until she was spent. She kept her face pressed to Silk’s shoulder, which now smelt of wet sheep. Finally, she pushed away.

“I— never cried like that before,” she said haltingly. “I must look a wreck, but…” She looked Silk in the eye. “Thank you.”

Silk beamed. “Sister,” she said, and hugged her again. Cassie clasped her close a moment, then eased her back. “Come on. We still got to go to the police.”

“You stay with me?” asked Silk.

“Yeah,” said Cassie. “All the while, ‘til your folks come.”

They struck out along the beach, Silk prancing over the stones, Cassie walking lighter. She smiled to see Silk kicking her feet in the water. They played tag with each other and the waves. Their laughter rose with the gulls. Gradually, they rounded the bay, and neared the first houses of the village.

Suddenly Silk stopped in her tracks. Cassie took two steps before she realized Silk wasn’t beside her. She looked back.

Silk stood as though pressed against a wall of glass. She let out a short bleat.

“Silk?” Cassie reached out. “Silk, what is it?”

“I… go,” said Silk, turning. She took stiff steps towards the water.

“What are you—”

“I… go,” Silk gasped, and she walked faster, than ran. Cassie grabbed at her and stumbled. Silk splashed into the water, and met the first wave with the grace of a swan.

“Silk!” Cassie screamed. Then she stared. Silk slipped through the waves like a torpedo, her strokes barely raising spray. She swam effortlessly, making like a bee-line towards Cassie’s house.

Cassie stared dumbfounded. Then, stumbling on the stones, she ran along the beach towards home.

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