Struggling on

Eating badly, sleeping badly, unable to think straight or plan for my daily commitments. I get all messed up in the head sometimes.

But this month i have noticed that if i sit down to write as soon as I can (which in my case is usually once I have kicked everyone out of the house with lunches and homework and pecks on the cheek – or whichever reluctant body part I can reach), my whole day goes better.

Even if i don’t write my story first thing, if i write in my journal before i check email or Facebook or twitter or read a book or stack the dishwasher or do any of the thousand little things that suck me in, my whole day runs more smoothly. I’m calmer, more focused and stand a much better chance of getting to the things that are important rather thn drifting in a sea of competing distractions.

And if i carve out time, before the return of the chattering classes, to make a good start on a story idea, then I am almost guaranteed to chew over it -instead of avoidance strategies- while i do the housework or the preschool run, or AOTTLTTSMI…in fact, i end up wanting to fold laundry and unload the dishwasher so i can ponder how to get character A together with character B at point Z.

I was in danger of going out of my mind a little this morning, so I said to hell with the everyday obligations, and took myself, my coffee and my notebook outside and wrote. I had no idea what to write so i wrote about where i was. And it turned into something.

Pen to paper. That’s how i am writing a story a day.

Motherfrakked

“I’m sorry, not today. No”

And just like that he’s down.

It’s like all the bones in his legs melt and he collapses to the floor. His little arms are raised high above his head, which is thrown back in a silent scream. Not silent for long, of course.

The rest of his body hits the linoleum. The cool floor must feel nice on his forehead, I think; briefly; envious. Tiny fists pound the shiny surface, one hitting a dark square, the other slamming an off-white one.

I take a breath. Size up my options. Turn to check the cart and, oh! Heart jumps in chest. Where is …? But there he is: five year old legs pumping, carrying my ‘big boy’ towards the dratted automatic front doors that slide open onto a crosswalk that no-one ever slows down for.

How do you choose between your children? Oo, oo! I know this one: You choose the one whose life is in most imminent danger. You leave behind the one who might possibly survive until you get back. Repeat to fade. I glance at the grey-haired lady behind me in line. I glance at the screaming bundle of my DNA on the ground (I’m so proud). She nods a tiny nod and I turn and dash for the door. I think I see her smirk.

If anything’s going to kill them, I pray as I dash towards the door, let it be old age. Or me. No, I mean “old age”. Definitely not some stranger who’s in too much of a hurry to get to Costco to slow down for my child on the busy crosswalk.

I grab his arm as his first foot breaks the plane of the front door. He swings around, almost flying. Wheeee! We could be in the living room at home, swinging around and around, feet off the ground, gasping with pleasure and laughter. But we’re not.

I frog-march him back to the checkout, wrestle him back into the cart, pick up the sobbing bundle of Three and tuck him, legs flailing under my arm. I never knew I had such strength. I am incoherent with rage. I don’t remember paying the cashier or getting back to the car. I’m pretty sure that if any one hurriedly drove through that crosswalk in their two-ton death-mobile, they were repelled by the powerful force-field of my anger, alone.

On the road -somehow they are strapped in- and everyone in the back is crying. I roll up to a four-way stop sign. The car in front of me goes, then the one to my right, his right, his right until the dance comes back to me. I pull forward to the line, tap my brakes -a vehicular curtsey- and lead off. A moment later and there are blue lights in my rear view. Where did you come from? Can I pull over here and get out of your way? Yes, it’s safe.

But he’s not roaring past me. He is stopping behind me. What in the…

I’m not sure yet if it is adrenaline or a cop’s mind games that make it seem like several scream-filled minutes pass before he saunters up to my window. Fifteen minutes later I’m sure it’s all him. I’m also sure that he has no children, that he has a quota to fill and that he is ambitious. I think he thinks he has a sense of humor as he tells me I can challenge the citation by going to court.

Hating him all the rest of the way home deflects my anger from the two tiny, crumpled boys in my mirror, who have fallen asleep right as I pull into the driveway.

My strength deserts me. I poke the car’s nose into the garage but leave the door open. I crack the car windows and recline my chair. The next moment, I am flying above town, through a clear blue sky, a boy holding on to each hand. We are laughing, tumbling through the cool air; each of us keeping the others from from falling.

Angel Eyes

I’m on a mission. I’m on a mission to save the soul of my friend Jill Brown. I’m just not sure how to do that.


With her average height and average build and, yes I’ll say it, average face, you might overlook my friend Jill but for three things:

  1. She’s 22 years old. You have to try pretty hard to look BAD at 22.
  2. Her smile. While her face, as I said, is quite average, Jill’s smile is something else. Easily earned, a full-on Jill-Brown-smile still makes you feel important, special, a little better than you suspect, deep down in the darkest corners of your heart, you actually are. And the best thing about her smile? Jill has no idea of the effect it has on people.
  3. Her voice. Even when she’s just speaking, her voice makes you think of words like “chocolatey”, “sensual” and “soothing”. She’s not doing it on purpose, but I know people who call Jill up when they’re down, just to hear her voice on the other end of the line. It’s like therapy. And when she sings? Well. Rooms fall silent; birds pause in mid-air. I’ve even seen crusty old jazz-men nod their heads and break into awed applause, and that is saying something, believe me.

Jill loves all that “Stormy Weather”, “It Had To Be You”, Harry Connick, Frank Sinatra stuff. And that’s where I come in.

I’m Annie, the good-looking friend. I’m the one who tags along and looks after Jill while she’s tracking all over the dodgiest parts of the city, searching for a jazz session. She doesn’t care if people look at her sideways as she wanders through their neighborhood. She doesn’t care about groups of guys huddled on the corner. She doesn’t even care, when we get to some hole-in-the-wall bar or other, if she gets to sing. She just wants to hang with the jazzmen and listen. She’s got this big corporate career starting up, but she’s here in a dive at 1 AM, listening to mean old men play ancient music.

The old jazz guys, crusty and cynical as can be, love her. And why not? She’s into them. She’s the youngest woman in 40 years to say anything to them other than “Want me to warm up your coffee, hun?”

It cracks me up, it really does. Anywhere else in the known universe and I’m the one the guys are swarming over. The smarter ones, of course, catch a few rays of the Jill-Brown smile and drift into her orbit, but I’m usually the big star. But not in those jazz clubs. There, I’m invisible. It’s all about the music and really, I can take it or leave it. I’m more about something electronic, with a crazy heart-beat pounding beneath it, and the guys in the jazz clubs? They can see it on my face: I’m just there to remember descriptions for the police report, if need be.

Luckily with all my years behind a bar, I’m good at picking out the trouble makers and I already keep jazz club hours, not like those drones at Jill’s fancy big pharma company. Oh, did I mention Jill’s smart? Always has been, ever since I was copying her answers in First Grade maths tests. And that’s where the trouble started.

All the way through school they brought in ‘successful’ and famous people to talk to us about how lucky we were, about how we could do anything with our lives. But what they meant by ‘anything’ was “this thing”: work hard, study hard, go to college, meet a suitable spouse, get a well-paid job – who cares what – buy a big house on a piece of land that used to be a farm, employ the farmer’s daughter to clean your big house, have two children and raise them in a day-care, join the country club, join the Kiwanis, do acts of charity so you think you won’t go to hell. Be wealthy. Be fabulous. But don’t do anything less.

As her friend I’m sad to report that Jill swallowed it all. She worked hard, she went to college, she even got the ‘suitable’ boyfriend who looks like a politician. (How does a guy manage to look like a politician at 23 years old?)

I, on the other hand, worked in bars while she worked on her schoolwork. She went off to college, I went off on a bus, worked to earn my fare, traveled, slept on train station benches, worked some more, traveled further, attended the mighty School of Life, learned to be the person I’m supposed to be and eventually found my way back here, where I discovered Jill again. She thinks she’s done everything right. She thinks she’s On Her Way. She’s going to have a productive, worthwhile life, she thinks, by discovering a drug, saving a few lives, settling down, raising some kids, doing Good Works.

For a smart girl, she sure can be dumb.

I tell her she’s kidding herself. I tell her there’s more than one way to save a life. I tell her…but who am I? Just the irresponsible friend — the only one of her friends, you’ll note, who will stay up past 9 PM and come to the seedy section of town to help keep her safe while she secretly feeds her soul with music and the ‘low’ life. Yup, they’ve brainwashed her, but good.

Tonight, though? Tonight I’m feeling good. Tonight I’m willing to bet, is going to be one of those, what do you call it? Pivot-points. Tonight I’m betting, is the night when my friend Jill starts to understand her place in this universe.

Because tonight the good Lord has listened to my prayers and sent an angel into this basement bar to lead Jill Brown to glory (hallelujah!). And if she won’t listen to me, I have to believe she’ll listen to an angel.

Especially one who’s six feet tall with a slow, shy, brilliant smile of his own.

Especially one who plays the piano like that.

Pardon me, but I’ve got to run….I think Jill’s going to find her way home just fine, without me, tonight.


Learning To Fly

Sonia hunched her shoulders against the bitter sea wind. She looked around. This place was grey above and grey below, with only hints of yellow from the crumbling sandstone walls. No greens, no browns even, and certainly nothing from the red family unless you counted the stones that capped the high perimeter wall. No-one looked out and no-one looked in.

There was the blue of the uniforms, she supposed, but even that seemed to melt into the gravel and tarmac underfoot an the grey-upon-grey of the clouds. Before she had come to this place, she hadn’t even known you could watch different layers of cloud race by each other. She had thought of “clouds scudding by” as something that happened in blue skies.

Everything was wrong here. The way they talked, the jokes they made. Even the games. Everything, calculated to make her feel like an outsider forever.

Sonia leaned against a drainpipe until she was barged aside by some kid flying “home”. Drainpipes! She’d had trees as home-base, climbing frames, grass underfoot, before. What kind of a place was this to send kids? Drainpipes and dreariness. It made some kind of sense.

Sonia trudged around the corner, out of the building’s measure of shelter, and staggered. The seagulls were heading inland in great coasting circles and the stormy blast almost picked Sonia up off her feet.

“C’mon Sonia!”

Sonia’s scowl slipped a little when she saw Paula beaming at her. Paula had been “assigned” to he on her first day. Not, perhaps, who Sonia would have chosen for a best friend but there as no denying she was a good choice to look after a new girl: unfailingly kind and sweet.

“Were’ve you been? C’mon, let’s be kites!”

“Kites?”

“Uh-huh. Kites!”

The girls at this school were full of new games that left Sonia clumsy and frustrated: skipping rhymes, hand-clapping, elastics, kick the can, hares and hounds.

“What’s kites,” she shouted into the wind, dreading the answer.

Paula grinned.

“It’s magic!” The words raced past Sonia on a gust of salty air and were gone.

Paula grinned again and reached each hand down to grasp the front corners of her blue woolen blazer. With a deft move, as if throwing a skipping rope forward over her head, she pulled her jacket up, behind her and stretch her arms up high. The upside-down coat-back caught the air, ballooned out and pulled the giggling girl backwards. Paula leaned forward at an impossible angle, letting her ‘sail’ hold her up, defying gravity.

“Come ON, Sonia. Its brilliant, so it is!”

Fumbling, Sonia struggled with her own blazer. She wriggled the bottom hem up towards her neck, her head. She gasped as icy fingers of wind wrapped themselves around her shirt-clad middle, but she kept pulling at her coat until her arms were straight overhead.

Sonia staggered backwards as a huge gust of wind caught her kite-coat. She fought it and took a step forward.

“Lean into it!”

She thought she had caught all of Paula’s words as they tumbled past.

She leaned.

She strained into the wind.

She knew she ought to be falling but the very air of this place was holding her up.

And she was laughing; wild, silent laughter, erupting from her frozen belly, escaping through her wide-open mouth, sound snatched away by the wind-friend who was letting her fly.


The Piano Man

Piano

They found him, dinner suit dripping, by the river.

He was not able to tell them his name — or perhaps it was there, amongst the screams and panic.

Back at the station they brought in linguists and translators who narrowed it down to some Russian dialect. Mira Dobleyskia, who spoke 12 languages, picked out,

“I don’t know who I am!”

They moved him from a cell to a ward.

In the day room he found the piano. He clung to it like driftwood, pouring out Rachmaninov’s heartaches as if they were his own.

The nurses began to call him “Billy”.

Gregor and The Dragon And The Storm

It was a wild and stormy night. (No, really it was!)

Gregor was in bed. He was curled up under the covers with his stuffed manatee (Matawee) and his toy dolphin. He wasn’t quite asleep but he was in that comfortable, warm and drowsy state where sleep is not far off.

And so, when he heard a sound at his window (snork, snurfle, skronk) he couldn’t be sure at first if he was asleep and dreaming it, or if he was awake and hearing it.

The noise continued. Snork, snork, snurfle, skronk, CLINK and then a definite thwonk against his windowpane.

Gregor knew then that this was no dream. He pulled off his covers, climbed down the ladder of his loft bed, and padded over to the window. He tweaked back the curtain and looked up in to the huge yellow eye of his very own dragon.

“Hello Dragon. What do you want now?” If he sounded a little cross it was only because he had been so very comfortable.

(And if you don’t know how a five-year-old boy could have a dragon for a friend, you must ask me to tell you some time and I’ll tell you how the whole thing started. It’s quite a tale).

The dragon snuffled a little more and then began to speak. His voice sounded like gravel being rolled around in the bottom of a drum, the roar of an airplane engine and, faintly, like the clinking of a heavy chain.

“The storm, Little One,” he said. “It has brought down power lines. I need your help to find them and restore them.”

“Me? How can I possibly help?”

“You must climb on my back and fly with me. In a storm such as this, I need an extra pair of eyes to help me find my way.”

Gregor chewed the collar of his pyjamas a little and then said,

“I can’t.”

“Why not?” asked the dragon.

“I’m…” Gregor screwed up his face and blurted out, “I’m scared of the storm.”

The dragon roared and Gregor clamped his hands over his ears.

“Don’t laugh at me!” Gregor’s lip trembled.

“I’m sorry, Little One,” the dragon said. “It’s just that, in a storm there is no safer place you can be, than on a dragon’s back.”

“Why?” Gregor was interested. His soggy collar fell out of his mouth.

“You’ll see if you come with me,” said the dragon.

[the rest of this story is in a very cute audio file that I’m too tired to transcribe just now. Or figure out how to get it out of iTunes and upload.]

A Constitutional Pause

The preparations had all been made. The last minute flutterings and flappings had been calmed. Their masters had retreated to the country to answer for their actions.

Sir Alec had cast his vote and had returned to the club for a rare evening with no-one asking him for favours, no-one knocking on his door, obsequious, seeking an audience. It was understood that this was Sir Alec’s Night Off.

He lit a cigar and leaned back, shrouded by the red leather of his wing chair by the fireplace, unlit on this seasonably warm spring day. Off duty, perhaps, but still holding court, Sir Alec received visitors as they passed by his throne, accepting congratulations on the smooth running of the election thus far; to ask him jokingly, since they knew he would never offer an opinion, who his master might be tomorrow morning.

He always gave the same retort,

“The politicians come, the politicians go. The Service will always be here to run the country.”

People chuckled approvingly and moved back to their small groups. Occasionally Burridge would stop by to refill his brandy balloon. One or two of his favoured inner cirlce would sit in the chair opposite and reminisce about previous election nights.

Ten o’clock rolled around and someone turned on a television that seemed not to know it could receive any signal but that of the BBC. The exit polls were making it clear that this was indeed going to be as close an election as the papers had been hinting for months. Within the hour, the first results were in from Sunderland, as usual. Sir Alec had been there, once, as  a junior civil servant, watching the frenzied activity as the town struggled to hold onto its record as primoris. He could picture them now, frantically flipping through the corners of ballots, licking a finger occasionally for traction; panic and pride on the faces of the returning officer and his team.

He sipped his brandy and glanced at the television that was incongruously bolted to the wood panelling high in the corner. There was Dimbleby, as ever. Statesman-like, himself.  A little like a civil servant, Sir Alec thought. We fence with them, of course, but really we are very similar. Bastions. Institutions that hold the culture of the country in our briefcases.

The clock chimed the hour, the quarter, the half, the three quarters. The mood in the room had grown somber. It was clear that the post-election day script was not going to be the familiar ushering out, ushering in, soothing, welcoming charming, and driving to the palace. This would be something, if not ‘new’ then at least ‘unfamiliar’, and Whitehall was not a place in love with ‘unfamiliar’. Phones were buzzing. People talked in hushed voice.

At five minutes to twelve, Sir Alec put down his glass and his cigar and pulled himself out of his barricaded chair. All eyes turned to him, an unspoken question in the air.

“Well,” Sir Alec said. “I think…”

The room grew, if possible, even quieter and Sir Alec would have been lying if he had pretended–in the retelling– that he had not savoured the moment a little and let it dangle a fraction longer than was strictly necessarily.

“I think,” he repeated. “That I had better have an early night.”

The Father

His feet hurt.
It had been a long day and a long evening too.
Philip touched the doorframe briefly, sighed, and bent to untie his sandals.
“Father! You’re back at last!”
Miraim’s head appeared in the inner doorway, then disappeared before she returned carrying a large vase of water.
“Here,” she said. “Wash.”
Philip smiled at his busy daughter, so like her mother and a welcome reminder of home, of their real life.
“And how was your supper after we women left you to your gossiping?” She asked, hands on hips.
Philip carefully dried his toes, one by one, on the rag she had brought him.
“Odd,” he said, at last.
“Oh?”
“You know my master is often cryptic,” he began.  Miriam bent her head quickly so that he would not see her expression and Philip laughed out loud.
“You are a good girl, Miriam, but you do not hide your feelings well! Still, my lord seemed … strange tonight.”
“Extra strange?”
“Miriam!”
“Sorry, Father. How ‘strange’?”
Philip sat, weaving the drying rag around first one hand then the other, considering his answer.
“Sometimes, I think, he is being deliberately difficult. Like, tonight. You know he is always going on about ‘the father’: “In my father’s house”, “doing my father’s work”? We all know he’s not talking about poor old Joseph. So I asked him, right at the table, if he will show us this father. “
Philip put down the rag at looked at his daughter.
“And he gave me that look. You know the one a lamb gives you when you’re sharpening the knife? I hate it when he does the look.”
“He said nothing?”
“Oh he did. He gave me the ‘look’ and then he said, ‘If you have seen me, you have seen the father.’ See? Cryptic. Which leaves me no better off in terms of knowledge and looking like a fool in front of my brothers.  They, of course, all sit around nodding as if they have understood perfectly well.”
“Simon Peter?” Miriam guessed.
“Oh, Simon Peter!” Philip waved the cup at his daughter. “He always understands – except we all know perfectly well that he doesn’t. Didn’t stop him going on and on tonight about how devoted he is to the master. I think the wine went to his head, because he must have said it three or four times. And then he and James and John get invited to go to the garden and pray with him while questioning-old-Philip goes…here!”
Philip scowled around at the bare rented room that held nothing of value to him. Except of course that it did:  his most treasured possession, who was now looking at him with tears in her beautiful eyes. Philip wished he still had on his sandals so that he could kick himself and make it really hurt. Always, he told himself, always the wrong thing is lurking in your mouth, waiting for the perfectly wrong moment to leap out and shame you again.
With an effort, he brightened his face and his tone and continued.
“…Here! With my lovely daughter, the light of my life, and so why am I complaining?”
He reached over and pinched her cheek. Anointed by a forgiving smile, Philip sat back again and felt his heart swell with pride. At least he had done some things right in his life, he thought.
“The lord wasn’t very angry with you, was he?” Miriam asked.
“Oh no. Anyway, he was thinking of other things, I think.  Still, it was odd…”
Miriam, to prove she had forgiven her father, teased him,
“You said that, old man. Did you forget?”
He gave her a mock-stern frown then continued.
“More odd. At one point he started talking about eating flesh and drinking blood.”
“No!” Miriam gasped, her mouth frozen on the last sound it had made.
“He did.” Philip said. “I thought maybe he’d been out in the desert too long, but his eyes…they were not the eyes of a madman.”
He shook his head and added softly,
“This time it was like he had something really important to share and he actually wanted us to understand it, only the words – the world – couldn’t hold what he was trying to say.”
From the window the night-sounds of the waning festival slipped into the silence between father and daughter.
Philip stood and drained his cup.
“Thank you, my good and beautiful daughter, for looking after an old man. This visit to the city has lasted too long. I hope that soon something will change and that we may leave this place.”
Miriam stood too.
“Amen!” She prayed, as she began tidying and preparing for sleep.
A clattering at the door made her shriek and drop the cup she had taken fromPhilip. He eyes sought out her father’s and she saw fear there, too. The hammering at the door continued.
“Philip!” A voice cried from the night outside. “Philip! Are you in there? Open up! Let me in! Something has happened. A terrible thing has happened!”

The Fourth Egg

Bonnie heard the front door of the farmhouse slam shut, the murmur of voices, a pause, then Frank’s heavy tread on the stairs. She knew she should get up and wash her face, but she couldn’t move. Another sob shook her and she curled into a tighter ball on the bed.

“Bonnie?” Frank appeared in the doorway. “Everything OK?”

He took one look at her, curled on the bed, sobbing, and rushed to her side.

“Bonnie! What is it? You didn’t…? Is it the baby?”

Bonnie buried her face in the pillows and shook her head. One hand crept to her still-flat belly.

“Then what’re you doing, carrying on like this?”

Bonnie shook her head again, but began to pull herself upright. She gulped down two steadying breaths. Still, her voice wavered when she spoke.

“Maggie’s…Maggie’s eggs,” she began.

“Yeah,” Frank smiled, glad to talk about something he understood. “She showed me. Three rooster, huh? She’ll have to trade them.”

Maggie, their eldest at 5, was raising chicks for her first year in 4H. She and Babs, the toddler, had been waiting at the window all afternoon for daddy to come home, so they could tell him the eggs had hatched, nearly all of them.

“She was pretty excited,” Frank said. His eyes never left Bonnie’s face.

Bonnie, crying, was something he didn’t have words to deal with. In six years of married life there had been nothing to hint that it was possible for Bonnie to cry. Even in the darkest days, after the last baby, Bonnie had stayed strong. Stronger than him, truth be told. There were crops coming in now that he was astonished to reflect had been watered by his own tears for the tiny transparent creature he had buried behind the barn, protected– God knows why– by a big flat stone he had dug out of the fallow field.

Bonnie was sitting now, wiping her face with her ever-present handkerchief. She sat, poker-straight, and stared at her shoes, not at her husband.

“It’s so stupid,” she said. “I’m Secretary of the 4H Club, for crying out loud. I been raising and slaughtering animals since I was Maggie’s age!”

She shook her head again.

Frank opened his mouth to speak and then, unaccountably, closed it again. He waited. Bonnie stood up and moved to the mirror. She picked up her large, silver-backed hairbrush and began to smooth out the curls that had sprung up on her head while she lay on the bed; a lifelong battle. Her eyes in the reflection met Frank’s gaze for just a moment and then flicked back to her hair.

“It was the darned fourth egg,” she said. “It was peeping all morning and its big brothers all gathered around, poking at it and watching it the way they do.”

Bonnie set her brush down on the oak dresser.

“It was weak, but it punched through, all the way around in a circle. We were waiting for it to burst through.” She turned sharply towards the bed again, still not looking at Frank.

“And it just gave up.”

Bonnie started fluffing pillows as she talked, tugging blankets straight, shooing Frank off the bed with a one-two flap of the hand.

“It just stopped!” Tug.

“And it never came out!” Tuck.

“It just quit on us!” Punch.

Bonnie stroked the neatened blankets one more time.

“It caught me sideways,” she said, risking a quick glance at Frank.

“It don’t mean nothing,” he said from across the high, wooden bed.

“I know it,” she said.

“It don’t mean a goddamn thing!”

“I know it,” she repeated, softer now.

“I’ll get rid of it,” Frank said. He turned and left their room.

Bonnie’s hand touched her belly for  a moment before she snatched it away.

From the window at the top of the stairs she saw Frank, something cradled in his strong, farmer’s hands, stride across the yard and turn the corner to the space behind the big barn.

Day One; Story Done!

Wow.

That was tough.

I’m the person that had the most warning that StoryADay was coming, and yet I think I was the least prepared of anyone!

For some reason I thought that I should save up all my ideas and writing energy until May started, and then today? That’s when I realised that I had been completely and utterly wrong.

Sitting down to write a story out of the blue today was so difficult. I didn’t think it was going to happen.
But that, in itself made me so glad I had launched this as a public challenge, because I couldn’t face telling everyone I had crapped out on the first day!

So I soldiered on, wrote tons of stuff, then started again, wrote through dinner and kids’ TV shows and people talking to me…and loved it.

The story’s not brilliant but it is a story and might polish up into something better.

Best of all, I’m loving reading everyone’s posts, which all have a kind of breathless quality to them. We’re all giddy and excited because we committed to this and can’t believe it, and yet we have written and had fun and are loving letting our creative kittens out of the river-bound sack.

So fun.

Also? StoryADay stories are not the kind of stories I’m going to be able to spend a lot of time researching. I did that today to get myself going, but that’s not sustainable.