Writing project, December 2021

This month’s word is snow, meaning “a precipitation in the form of ice crystals, mainly of intricately branched, hexagonal form and often agglomerated into snowflakes, formed directly from the freezing of the water vapor in the air”, “these flakes as forming a layer on the ground or other surface”, “to send down snow; fall as snow” or “to descend like snow”.

————–

I never thought I’d see snow, living in the tropics as I do. And yet, here I am, watching fat white flakes drift down from the sky. The sun is blazing away, the temperature must be nearly 40°C, and yet. Snow. It doesn’t settle, of course, melting the instant it touches anything.

But still, snow. Magical, beautiful, bizarre.

I take picture after picture, snow falling around the palm trees, snow blowing past the hibiscus, snow falling through a grove of bamboo. Snow drifting over a very confused hummingbird and some very outraged flamingos, a dog shaking snow from its coat. Without proof even I won’t believe this tomorrow.

I’ve no idea how or why this is happening, and I don’t wish to ruin the mystery of it all by finding out. So I switch my phone off and just watch, reaching a hand out from under the verandah’s roof from time to time to feel the tiny bite of cold as flakes brush my palm.

I step out into the snow, feeling it fall on my arms, my bare legs, my upturned face, feeling the transition from cold to wet as it melts on impact. I laugh, watching snow drift past me.

A miracle, a little, silly, amazing miracle, and I get to see it.

I know I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, November 2021

This month’s word is cold, meaning “having a relatively low temperature; having little or no warmth”, “feeling an uncomfortable lack of warmth; chilled”, “the relative absence of heat”, or “the sensation produced by loss of heat from the body, as by contact with anything having a lower temperature than that of the body”.

This is late, but I’m catching up!

————–

I really thought it would be colder. I mean, it’s cold, no doubt about it, but I was expecting something more extreme. I mean, they call it an ice planet for a reason, right?

I know it’s an odd choice for a holiday, but I don’t like the heat, and I’ve done gas giants and asteroid belts already. But it’s just been… underwhelming.

I guess I was expecting amazing ice canyons or something, but this is just kind of flat. I suppose the 8000 km/hr winds might have something to do with that. Maybe I should’ve chosen a different planet.

It’s just been a disappointing holiday, that’s all. I haven’t been able to land, due to the aforementioned wind, so I’m just looking at it. And the trip here was kind of long and boring.

I guess I’ll leave a bad review; this is not what I was led to believe it would be. That’s what I get for trusting my cousin’s mate’s sister’s friend’s travel agency. Never again. Next time I’ll plan it myself.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, October 2021

This month’s word is fruit, meaning “any product of plant growth useful to humans or animals”, “anything produced or accruing; product, result, or effect; return or profit” or “to bear or cause to bear fruit”.

It’s very late, I know. I’m hoping to be up to date by the end of the year.

————–

I’m so hungry, but there’s nothing but fruit available. Piles of crunchy apples, bright oranges, furry brown kiwi fruit, bananas turning from yellow to brown, a mixed bowl of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. So many options, and I hate all of them.

Fruit. It sucks, and yet they buy nothing else for me, in the vain hope that I’ll give in and eat some due to my growing hunger.

But they underestimate my hatred of fruit, my stubbornness and my hunger-fueled ingenuity. You won’t catch me eating fruit. I’d rather eat the rats I hear scratching in the walls. I’d eat nettles, spinach, sprouts before I’d let a banana touch these lips.

And yet, fruit.

Everywhere, fruit.

So. Much. Fruit.

They say it’s good for me, but I say it’s gross, disgusting, horrible. None for me, thanks, I say, and wave it away.

I hope (I hope!) I can outlast them, that they give in before I do, because I just. Hate. Fruit.

But here they come with more fruit, as if these will tempt me where all others have failed. I suppose they have to say they’ve tried.

I wish they’d just bring me a carrot.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, September 2021

This month’s word is sleepy, meaning “ready or inclined to sleep; drowsy”, “of or showing drowsiness”, “languid; languorous”, “lethargic; sluggish”, “quiet” or “inducing sleep; soporific”.

It’s very late, I know. I’m sorry.

————–

I’m so tired all the time, always sleepy, eyes drifting closed every time I sit, or even if I just slow down.

A slow heaviness presses me down, turning air to mud, an effort to walk, speak, breathe.

I can’t remember the time before. Was there a time before? My brain works slowly, badly; thoughts slip away almost before they’re finished. I can’t recall, can’t think, can’t… I just can’t.

I’m forgetting things, my fingers fumbling with actions I’ve done a million times. I stumble over nothing, my feet forgetting to lift from the floor.

I want it to stop. I want to wake up, and feel awake, alert, refreshed. I want to feel anything but this exhaustion.

But it just goes on, and on. I… Is this it, forever? Please, let it get better. Let the fog lift, even if just for a day. Please.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, August 2021

This month’s word is light, meaning “something that makes things visible or affords illumination”, “to set burning, as a candle, lamp, fire, match, or cigarette; kindle; ignite”, “of little weight; not heavy”, “of little weight in proportion to bulk; of low specific gravity” or “of less than the usual or average weight”.

This one is late too, but at least I’m catching up a bit!

————–

It’s bright here. I like it. The light suffuses my soul, fills me up with heat and colour. It tastes… like love.

I’m happy here. I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy before. Maybe I’ve never been happy at all.

I don’t remember the time before, the darkness that covered everything, that obscured my feelings. Now everything is light and free, and I feel like all the bad things have been wiped away, leaving me empty, and ready for something new.

Ready for what? I don’t know, but I’m sure it’ll be wonderful.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, July 2021

This month’s word is silent, meaning “making no sound; quiet; still”, “refraining from speech”,
“speechless; mute”, “not inclined to speak; taciturn; reticent”, “characterized by absence of speech or sound”.

This is really late, sorry. I’m going to try to catch up this month with all the overdue ones.

————–

I’ve always been the silent type. Not strong, mind you, just silent. I like to lurk in the background, listening but not speaking.

I’ve learned many secrets that way.

Not that anyone would know, of course. I keep them all to myself. I like knowing things, but I don’t want to be known for that.

I’m not sure what I do want to be known for. Nobody’s ever asked, so I’ve never really thought about it. I suppose that’s the downside of being quiet, nobody thinks to ask you anything.

It works to my advantage mostly: I’m never called on to speak unexpectedly, never asked nosy questions. I’m never expected to testify against my peers.

But also, nobody ever just asks me how I am. Sometimes… sometimes I wish they would. Sometimes I wish I could break out of this shell of silence I’ve wrapped myself in, but I just don’t know how. Or if anyone would care if I did.

So I stay as I am, an extra in my own life, a background figure, a statue in a world of automata. I pretend to like it like this, but really, truly, it’s just safer this way.

© bardofupton 2021

Inkwarriors, part 7 (Fiction)

People who weren’t wizards often wondered how they reproduced. After all, you nearly always saw wizards alone, and if you did see two together, they were always mentor and student. One teaching the other, or introducing them to important people, or recommending them for a particular task. You never saw a couple, and somehow it was both ludicrous and disturbing to think of them dating or even married.

People who were wizards didn’t think about it at all. At some point, a baby would appear, and a wizard, or two, or even three or four, would adopt it. (Very few wizards ever stopped to wonder where exactly the babies came from. Those who did were discouraged from pursuing that line of thought.* Babies arrived, new wizards were produced, and that was all anyone needed to know.)

This is one of the reasons that a wizard’s parentage is a complicated topic. Fortunately, no normal person would enquire about it.

Meril, of course, was no normal person, and wondered about it. A lot. Partly this was because she was still obsessed with her wizard, and partly this was to distract herself from the fact that she was still locked in her room. How, and whether, wizards dated or married was occupying a great deal of her thoughts at the present time.

***********

The wizard for their part had not gained any particularly useful advice from their mentor.

“Well, you can’t kill her, she’s an inkwarrior, and that could cause problems. You’ll just have to wait for her to forget you.”

“Don’t you mean them? Not her?”

“No, inkwarriors use he and she. And the way they dress tells you which. You said she was wearing green?”

The wizard nodded, confused once again as to why inkwarriors (and other people in general) wasted their time with different genders. Far more efficient to just have one.

“Green is for unmarried girls and women.”

The wizard sniffed.

“She, then. But they… she’s been thinking about me for years! It might never stop! I get woken up by it! I just want it to stop!” the wizard said wildly.

Their mentor shook their head.

“Perhaps an official complaint. To the head of the Inkwarriors Guild.”

The wizard sighed. How humiliating. They thanked their mentor, and plodded home, mentally composing the complaint as they went. They’d have to involve a priest, as they themself couldn’t write, and the complaint had to be in writing.

Is it really worth it? They… she’s bound to get bored with me eventually, isn’t she? I don’t want to embarrass myself. On the other hand, it’s been a long time and they… she’s still thinking about me, so maybe I should. Or… They said I couldn’t kill th… her, but what about magic? Could I make her forget me?

The wizard resolved to research that last point, because it did not escape them that one possible result of a complaint was that Meril would think about them even more, not to mention anyone else who was involved in the complaints procedure, and, probably, Meril’s family, and maybe the entire Inkwarriors Guild.

The wizard shuddered at the thought. No, magic would definitely be a better solution than the possibility of all those minds thinking about them.

*nothing nefarious. The wizards have an arrangement with distant kingdoms to take in orphans. People think it’s to train as servants, because it is an extremely closely guarded secret that anyone with the right training can become a wizard. It is not, in any way, hereditary. This would be dangerous in the kingdom of Azoudar, were it not for the fact that no living wizard is aware of the facts of human reproduction, and how babies actually come into the world. It’s simply not a concern for them, since something about doing magic seems to take the place of romantic and/or sexual interest – or perhaps they are somehow very skilled at choosing babies who will never be interested in that kind of thing. They therefore accept any child that comes into their life as their own, and so the child officially is. It helps, naturally, that all wizards are extremely secretive.
© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, June 2021

This month’s word is inside, meaning “on the inner side or part of; within”.

It’s a little late, sorry.

————–

I’ve never been inside it. I’ve been up close, wandered around the outside, close enough to peer in its windows, if it had windows, but I’ve never been inside.

Neither has anyone else, of course.

That’s the whole point of it, that you can’t get in. There’s no door, no windows, no skylight or air vent or even drainpipe; there’s just the smooth fluorescing metal of the walls and the peculiar stippled fabric (or what looks like fabric) of the roof.

It just appeared overnight. Nobody claimed responsibility for its appearance, so of course conspiracy theories abounded.

My personal favourite was that it was an intelligence test for humanity. Once we got inside, we’d gain access to the rest of the galaxy, or even the universe.

That would be nice, but I don’t believe it. I’m too cynical to believe in benevolent aliens carefully testing us for worthiness. I think if there were aliens they’d just destroy us to be on the safe side.

My belief is that some rich bastard is messing with us, using their high-tech top-secret inventions to create a buzz. In a year, or less, there’ll be some product on the market using those materials. Or possibly it’s a test of new equipment by the military, but it seems a little public for that.

Of course, it’s turned into a huge tourist attraction. Little stalls have popped up around it, selling food, drinks and a variety of merch of varying quality – everything from keyrings to clothing to plushies. Although I still maintain that a plushie of a building is just weird.

People have tried to force their way in, by drilling or cutting into the walls or roof, occasionally with explosives. Some even tried tunnelling under and then inside.

All of them failed, some spectacularly.

The House still stands, inviolate, taunting. Maybe one day we’ll learn its secrets, but not today, and not me.

I take a final photo, catching it silhouetted against the sunset, and walk away, leaving mystery behind.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, May 2021

This month’s word is tall, meaning “having a relatively great height; of more than average stature”, “large in amount or degree; considerable” or “extravagant; difficult to believe”.

This is late also, sorry. So it’s very short.

————–

I always wanted to be tall, to tower over my peers. I thought it would make me feel powerful.

Well I got my wish. It was the usual thing, find an old lamp, help an old woman, the usual nonsense where they turn out to be magical and you get a wish.

And my wish was to be taller than anyone else I knew. Taller than any human had ever been. So they turned me into a giraffe.

And that’s why you should never accept wishes.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, April 2021

This month’s word is home, meaning “a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household” or “the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered”.

This is really really late, sorry, so it’s going to be short.

————–

This place was never my home. It’s where I sleep, where I eat, but I don’t live here. This is just the place I exist in.

I don’t think I’ve ever really had a home, a place where I belonged. Just a series of temporary abodes.

Home has always been a theoretical concept for me. Sometimes I think I’m missing out, other times I’m grateful for the freedom. It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose.

And my perspective has always been odd.

© bardofupton 2021