I missed my Tuesday Snippet last week. I must have been in another world of some kind. By Wednesday, I completely had forgotten I had missed it.
I thought Life had been pretty easy on me.
Well, here I am, still late, offering an apology to you all. Sorry. I’m a ditz. Not only that… I’m a ditz who writes. Very dangerous!
Now that all the supplications have been made allow me to add “I have nothing to say today” as the majority of this post. That’s right. I’m posting about nothing. I’m posting a snippet and deliberately NOT filling you all in about the events of the past few days. Mostly because they’ve been sucky, but also because I’m still trying to figure out what actually happened.
Do you ever have days like that? When suddenly everything that seemed to have been going well just dissolves into emotional sludge and you feel like you’re drowning in some subterranean ocean (no air pockets here, btw)…
Oh, and just for the fun of it… Here’s a One Minute Writer piece I wrote today for the “Clothes” prompt (to describe the most comfortable clothes and make the reader “really feel them“):
They were soft, not quite like another skin, warm in the light of the sun, but allowing the cool of the breeze to drift through, just enough. There were no lines, no seams… the colors, the way the weave of the fabric was so smooth that I cannot feel even the drag of the spirals and whorls of my fingerprint.
And now, we head back to Acaria, where we left Atyr facing the choice of entering that third door. We’ll leave her there a little while longer. She needed to deal with her ex-husband’s death and her own fears of rejection by him and her children. Let’s, instead, join ‘Listii and ‘Mara for breakfast….
‘Mara watched as his uncle came down, alone, to the table. He knew ‘Listii Mirniia’s expressions well enough from years of watching to detect the discomfort in the smile. The soft greeting was gruffer than normal and laced with a small tiredness.
He pretended not to notice. The servants had already told him where his mother had spent her night. He didn’t plan on getting upset this time. It had been inevitable.
He’d known it would happen when he’d invited his uncle over to talk to his mother. He’d known it would happen when he’d gone to speak with to his father yesterday morning before he’d left to for the port.
Even if his mother had wanted–likely she had–his father wasn’t well enough to provide the companionship she’d needed last night.
“Mother’s taking her meal with Father,” he offered before his uncle could ask.
The man nodded. “I figured she might. I’ll be heading to Toril for most of the day. Will you be alright here?”
‘Mara restrained his sigh only out of years of practice. The Sier was in his deathbed, courting the graces of Kéline herself, and his uncle still preferred to spend his time catering to Alanii Vestimiir’s whims.
Even his own father had done far too much time as that man’s willing puppet. Commander of the Royal Armies and Governor of Yiiroia for years, Valichii Miniira had spouted dictates from Katsdaniis as if they were spoke of the Bright Sent Herself.
As far as ‘Mara was concerned, the Council of Governors could go play with themselves until this was over. It was only one more week. Couldn’t they wait that long?
His expression must have revealed more than he’d intended. Either that, or his uncle was too familiar with his opinion of the Council, the Guard, and anything else that rose from that man.
That was more likely.
“I’ve got promises to keep, too, ‘Mara. And since you refuse to take Val’s place on the Council, I have to speak for his people and mine. Otherwise your great-grandfather will have them sleeping in the gutters of the Laris while he stripmines this place for a laugh and spite.”
His great-grandfather…. ‘Mara rarely acknowledged the kinship he held with Council Elder Versii diXiilis. His mother’s bad sense to have been spawned by the man’s son…. Devlin Lirimyr might have been the man’s renegade bastard, but he had still been seed of a poisonous tree.
“Versii would have Alanii Vestimiir living in a gutter if he could, Uncle. I don’t take the man personally. You and Father both spend too much of your energy worrying about him.”
His uncle set down the tea he’d just poured without tasting it. “You don’t know him, ‘Mara. We do. Ask your mother sometime if she thinks we’re overreacting.”
‘Mara let the topic drop. He knew too well what his mother would say. Something somehow less complimentary than referring to her grandfather as so twisted and wrong that he would live forever.
Heaven didn’t want him; Hell feared he would take over.
“Yesterday I had a talk with Father.”
His uncle’s brow rose, although he didn’t bother setting down his tea this time. He murmured something vaguely like “oh” and resumed drinking.
‘Mara watched as the servers entered to lay out the meal.
‘Listii and he were the only people crazed enough to up at this hour.
All the better he decided and served himself some eggs, a strip of sausage, some meal and a dollop of fruit preserves for that. He passed a thoughtful gaze over the cherries then took a few.
‘Listii Mirniia showed no such caution.
“You know, ‘Mara, sometimes I think I put up with my brother’s crap solely to get a good meal out of him. Fresh eggs and cherries…. Alanii doesn’t eat this well unless he’d putting on a show for someone.”
He gave as cautious and politic an answer as he could. “We grow it here. It doesn’t cost us anything to import.”
His uncle took a cherry stem, pit still attached, from his mouth with a look of satisfaction. He hadn’t missed much of the fruit either. “So what did my brother have to say?”
“I asked him who he wanted at his Vigil. When I saw Alanii Vestimiir at the port yesterday I forgot to ask if he’d stay and watch. Lan Kailiis was also mentioned.”
“And probably me, Ytramli Seilya, and half the damned family,” his uncle interjected dryly.
‘Mara shrugged. “No. None of the children are to be asked. Just old friends. I was asked to stay out too.” He sighed and stabbed at his sausage. “Father did get the one person he thought wouldn’t be able to come. I didn’t tell him I had invited Mother here weeks ago.”
“Good thing, or she’d instantly been unwelcome. I was asked, right?”
He nodded. “Of course. And so was Ytramli Seilya.”
“Ytramli’s visiting his father at the moment. He’ll likely be honored by the request. Since I’ll be seeing Larris today, would you like me to extend the invitation?”
“If you would. I’ll ask Alanii Vestimiir myself, but if you could speak to Lan Kailiis and janis Vartanian–“
“Vartanian is on Alentrii right now, working at the embassy. If you’d spoken to me about this yesterday, I might have been able to get him here in time. Even that would have been cutting things close though.”
“Contact him anyway, if you could. Father might appreciate a message.”
His uncle nodded. “Of course.” The man stared at his plate for a moment. Then he set down his fork and grabbed another cherry, this time proceeding to fillet the stem with his fingernails. “Did you see Val when you talked with him?”
His uncle’s gaze seemed to bore right through him for several moments. Then the man sighed and set down the cherry uneaten. “I’ll warn the others.”
Fuzzy distractions, memories of talks he’d had long ago. At least he was fairly sure he’d had them long ago. All his fellow conversationalists were dead now. Many he’d laid to rest himself.
He knew that much was true.
So why was his father telling his to hold on and wait. And who was Marssæn?
Something outside his gray dreamworld clicked. His priest? That was right. This was the last week, praise be to Myékis. The fi-Harnii had said he would work with him daily now.
It still seemed early for that though. He’d always had an excellent sense of time. That hadn’t changed since the visions had started. If anything, he feared it was stronger.
Of course everyone noticed the passage of time with more clarity when the waiting began. When the waiting began, each second could be hand chiseled in stone before it passed. He hated waiting.
The visions pressed a bit longer. Yet he knew his eyes were open. The door wasn’t opening. He squinted suspiciously, wondering if one of the more curious house staff had decided to check on him despite the prohibitions. As the first of the House to choose the High Ritual and Death Greeting, he knew many were curious to know what was happening behind his closed door.
What would they think if they knew the truth? If they knew that only he, out of all his kin, felt so bad about his life that he needed to find peace before he courted Myékis in Her Glory? That She had refused him the peace of a quick death until he’d considered his wrongs and made the amends he could?
Yesterday his visions had finally approached his tormented feelings toward Atyr.
Atyr… As if the thought was a summons, he realized what the click had been. A flick of a glance to his right, toward the Door.
This wasn’t a vision.
Who was Marssæn?
Her voice was everything he remembered about her, love, fear, heaven, horror. He wondered if he was imagining things still as he noted a marked hesitance in her tone.
The question refused to go away. Instead of answering her query, he closed his eyes and willed the voices of the dead to silence. ~I’ll ask,~ he told them.
Opening his eyes again, he glanced toward his uninvited guest. His wanted guest… There had never been a moment he hadn’t wanted her. He asked. Who was Marssæn?
She gasped. Her pale complexion iced over like that of an arctic corpse. Silence seemed to catch her. He counted long hours of seconds before she caught her breath. She stammered even so.
“Who–who told you about him?”
Someone important to her then. He closed his eyes again trying to picture what little the visions had told him. His conscience nagged, and he wondered if Marssæn was her lover, her new love. Had he driven her away completely after all?
Despite the reassurance her presence brought, he feared that he’d done just that. And now, when he’d learned how much his misbegotten pride had cost him, when he needed to know she was there if only for the end….
Something in him seemed to laugh right through his self-recrimination, mocking his distress. Atyr was sitting down next to him. He felt her hands taking his fingers. They felt ice cold.
“I didn’t intend to keep him a secret from you, Val,” she whispered. “I didn’t. It just was never the right time.” She paused a moment, her expressing uncomfortably thoughtful. “It’ll probably never be the right time, I guess. I’m sorry, Val. I should have told you sooner.”
He looked at her again though he didn’t open his eyes fully. “What are you talking about?” He wanted to ask who was Marssæn again, but his throat rasped.
She brought him a glass of water as soon as she’d assured herself that his cough was little more than dryness. “Here, Val. Drink it slowly. I want to make sure you don’t lose last night’s meal.”
He’d eaten with her last night, talked with her last night.
He’d refused his last cup last night.
He didn’t know whether to be happy or not about that now. Who was Marssæn?
He must have spoken aloud. She sighed. “Not ‘was’, Val. Is. He’s not dead.” She took his hand gently, reassuringly.
Her lover, he decided.
She smiled, holding his hand firmly. “He’s our son, Val. He’s a wonderful young man, so much like you, but finally like me as well. When I left home to come here, he was off-world on a duty round. If all goes well, he should be here in nine days.” She blushed. “It’s the best I could do.”
Nine days…a little over a week and a half.
No wonder his father wanted him to wait. His son was coming. His son. A man he’d never seen….
Unable to stop himself, he clenched his hand, then drew it free. A man he’d never seen. A child he’d never known about…never felt. Never felt!
“You blocked me out, Atyr.” He heard his whisper seething between his clenched teeth. “You blocked me out, denied the filia. You denied me!”
“I didn’t know how to tell you, Val.” Her tone was conciliatory, soft and pleading for his understanding. “I hadn’t expected to get pregnant at the time. I hadn’t want to–I just couldn’t–“
“Couldn’t what? Think of a reason to tell me?”
“Couldn’t terminate him when I realized it had happened.” This time she snapped back, her voice no longer soft or mild. “I denied you nothing. I asked you to come visit several times, tried to talk to you. You didn’t want to come between Alanii and I more than you already had, you told me. You even started having Nisxel field your calls. I denied you? You denied me!”
“The filia…” Now he took up the conciliatory cause. He didn’t want to fight with her. Not now. He should have accepted her apology and left things at that. He needed her comforting presence more than her contradictory nature and sensitive ego right now.
“I don’t know why you never noticed it. Maybe you blocked it. It’s there–I know he’s your son. By the Gods, I couldn’t mistake that! Butt wasn’t my place to force you to acknowledge him, Val. Nisxel told me that! And you wondered why I never wanted to come here…”
She stood up and headed for the door. “I don’t deserve to be yelled at for this, Val. I put up with years of abuse from that woman, not to mention the excuses and evasions from you. Why should I have shared my son with you when I wasn’t important enough to you to even share a minute on the comm with? I denied you nothing except maybe a reminder that I’d once been a lover. And you didn’t seem to want that!”
He watched helplessly as she nearly tore the handle off the door in her anger. Little details seemed to stand out, the lock of hair that swept up against her lips and clung there, the scrape where the floor hadn’t been leveled enough, her irate pause to brush back the offending hair. Just like all the times before when he’d been paralyzed by his shock and fear. Just like all the times he’d realized his own nightmares by his inaction.
It couldn’t happen again. Not again.
Well, there you go again. I hope you are still enjoying the story. But don’t feel you can’t tell me if you don’t. I appreciate constructive criticism.