Afternoon, Near Lane Avenue Mall

She would have just stepped into the traffic. “Ma’am!” I catch hold of her arm at the last moment.

She turns around, a look of annoyance on her face. Then she suddenly smiles at me. “You were concerned that I would get hit by traffic weren’t you?”

Well, duh. “Yes, I was.”

“Good. That means I am allowed to reward you. Make a wish.”

Definitely cracked. I step back a bit further from the edge of the sidewalk, taking her with me. She does seem genuinely pleased. No harm in playing her game and playing it like we’re really in some fairy-tale. If it was a fairy-tale, it would be about finding love in some improbable way. “Alright, I believe ‘love’ is traditional.”

The annoyance returns. “I cannot change othe— Wait.” Her eyes glaze over for a moment. “Yes, it could be arranged in this case.” She leans forward and looks into my eyes for a moment. “And you would be alright. So, it is love you want, love? Are you certain?”

She’s amazingly convincing. An actress? “Yes, I am.”

She opens her purse and takes out a small scroll case. “There you are, dear. Take good care of it today, and it will be as you have wished.”

I watch her back as she turns around and walks off. Guess that was the weird thing for the day. Time to head back.

I get back to my room, smile at Elwing and go in.

Chard's picture
“Alright, I believe ‘love’ is traditional.”

The annoyance returns. “I cannot change othe— Wait.” Her eyes glaze over for a moment. “Yes, it could be arranged in this case.”

It's not obvious how going from "I believe love is traditional" to the narrator wanting love. There's something missing in here that would make this transition believable. Right now it looks like both the narrator and the old lady is nuts.

From the last piece:
The door— somebody has taped a poster to my door, covering the bit of calligraphy that was there. Elwing landing on Vingilot, wearing the last Silmaril. At least whoever did this understood the message he covered up and it’s a really nice picture.
Is Elwing the thing on the poster or the calligraphy that was covered up? My initial impression was that the line in italics was the calligraphy but now with the narrator smiling at Elwing I'm guessing it's the thing on the poster.

I wonder if having knowledge of Tolkien's Silmarillion would help. I have no knowledge of it, so I hope I won't be lost without understanding the allusions and references that I feel are sure to be coming.

Feedback on site: The subject, if left blank, defaults to a portion of the first line. I don't like this. And where are my paragraph breaks!?!! I'd like to see white space between paragraphs. And indenting the paragraphs doesn't work either. It removes the white space I add.
Chard said:

It's not obvious how going from "I believe love is traditional" to the narrator wanting love. There's something missing in here that would make this transition believable. Right now it looks like both the narrator and the old lady is nuts.

I understand Chard's concern, but I disagree. There is no evidence that Cat's true desire for love is a consequence of her "wish", assuming such a desire even exists (not strictly demonstrated so far in the story).

Let me flash back to when I was 25 and in graduate school. Assuming someone offered me a wish for selflessly helping them, I'd probably think it's a gag or the person was nuts. (The more mature self would add the possibility that it's a spiritual or religious offer, and I should be respectful of the intent.) I'd probably be kind and play along, unless I thought I were in immediate danger. Following that line of thought, there are about 3 things that I might want at that age: success in my research, love (the grown up equivalent of...), and financial success when I graduated. The last two are very common "wishes" in fantasy, fairy-tales, and legends. The last usually fails miserably. Heck, let's have fun with the middle one!

I think that's rather Cat's perspective. Why not have fun playing the game..?

Now, maybe she also fosters a deep hope that this is real. If so, I'm sure she'd be embarrassed to admit it! :-)


Rob's picture
Tolkien and other references
General idea: if it's relevant to the plot or characterization, it will be explained. They'll talk about the stuff on the door and you shouldn't need the Silmarillion to get it.
Rob's picture
Re: site feedback
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The Scroll Explained
Now I can finish my thought from the last section.

Even now that we have the story behind the Scrolls--at least from Cat's side, with implication that George's side is similar--it's still not clear why:
  • Cat or George went on the bus (no instructions to do that)
  • George or Cat would spend their time doing this, even if they had instructions. Belief that magic really is afoot here?
  • George has such "confidence" in the Scroll (Nem's comment in the last section mentioned something similar.)

I'm not sure it really matters much to the story. I'm still interested in what's happening, and I'm willing to accept that there's "background" here that may not be apparent to the readers now--or ever. In any story, authors trade off exposition, pace, and voice. The last two must trump complex explanations in this type of story. (I'll lose interest if this becomes War and Peace!)

I would ask you, Rob, whether there is something in the background here that's worth the reader's attention...?


Rob's picture
Scrolly deconstruction
Clearly there's something in the background that readers want to know, whether or not the thing feels worthy of their attention. :)

It would be easy enough to work into the narrative at some point, but I will warn that the truth is disappointingly simple.
Chard's picture
The old lady still seems nuts. I have no idea why she is pleased that Cat was concerned about her safety or why she gets to grant the wish. The lady says she is allowed to grant a wish, not that she is compelled to do so. Why is she so happy about all of this? Does she just like messing with people? Because right now, with just a single read that ends on Tuesday afternoon a week hence, it seems that the lady is downright cracked.

We don't know enough about Cat's and George's life before the switch (yet), at least I don't, to know that their quest for love requires the switching they experience (and we don't know for sure that it is a permanent switch yet, which also makes the scenario requiring rather heavy doses of disbelief suspension regarding this one particular issue).

...What? No spoiler tags?
Rob's picture
Agreed that she seems nuts at this point. And maybe she is, or maybe she's far enough off-center that a lot of people would think she's nuts and maybe she's the sanest person in the world and we just have to wait for her sanity to be revealed.

Certainly, the implementation of the wish seems to suggest that she knows (Was able to see? Knew beforehand?) quite a bit about Cat and by implication also about George.

I'm still wrestling with the suspension issue you have. I'd honestly love to do something about it, but I'm equally honestly lost as to what's going on. To me, it reads like you're saying that the story could only be believable if the motivations of all the characters were revealed up front and I doubt that's what you mean. So... Can you help me here?
Chard's picture
No, the motivations don't need to be revealed up front. I'm just have to hit a really big "I believe" button for this character right now. She hasn't seen any development from her initial mention here to Tuesday of the week hence, so I don't know anything more about her than she seems downright cuckoo. Maybe a little more detail about why she's happy that Cat actually seemed concerned about her safety or perhaps play up the complete loony a bit more to sell her off as a "crazy lady." Or do both, play up the crazy more as a way to get around the happy display of Cat being concerned about her. Creating some depth here could create some foreshadowing, build up the world more around Cat, or detail out some part of Cat's personality that would be an important part of the story later.
Rob's picture
Thanks! That's something I can work with. I'll let this one simmer a bit, as I see several possible paths.