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Sunday Scribble – “Autumn”

Autumn

The fires were getting worse, a tell-tale sign that autumn was on its way. The dry leaves, twigs, and old trees provided perfect fodder for the wild dragons’ attempts at keeping their territories warm.

“Why they can’t just fly south for the cold season like birds, I’ll never know,” Brom grumbled. “They’ve wings, don’t they?”

“They’re more reptiles than birds,” Simon said, hefting a couple of buckets of water over to the trough. It was to keep a ready supply of water in case some of the crops did begin to burn. “With their territorial instincts, they’re more apt to warm up their surroundings than go elsewhere. I’m sure most have hoards to protect—”

“Spare us the biology lesson, please,” Luella said. She was resting on an overturned bucket, having used her energy on creating a raincloud to quench a brush fire that had gotten dangerously close to the local town’s wheat fields.

“I’d be able to spare it if Brom paid attention when I explained it last year and the previous year before that,” Simon said. He ducked away from the handful of sand Brom tossed his way. “Seriously, you complain every year.”

“Probably because I don’t like using my skills to shovel dirt around to prevent forest fires,” Brom said. “I’d rather be getting paid for bashing in the skulls of bandits.”

“Oh, c’mon.” I dumped out half a bag of sand on a pile of dead undergrowth, ensuring that it wouldn’t catch fire should the dragons make their way over to the crops. “There’s plenty of payment opportunity in helping villages with chores like these.”

Glancing up, I stared at the villages doing the same work as us in the distance, working hard to prevent their fields and homes for burning should a dragon arrive.

My gaze caught Luella’s narrowed one. “How many of these villages still have their coin purses?” she asked.

“Most of them, I suspect,” I said cheerfully, nudging around the pile of sand with my foot to even it out. “Honestly, I haven’t lifted a purse from a person today.”

“But if you found one unattended,” Brom said, “say, with other supplies lying about, then…”

“Finders-keepers,” Simon and I chanted in unison.

Luella’s baby-blues rolled. “You’re all horrible.”

“Says a lot about how used to us you are if that’s your only reaction,” Brom said.

Our mage gave him the driest look I’d ever seen her muster before turning to watch some of the other villagers. I kicked some more sand around, more than ready to quit for a snack, as my attention wandered to the inn rooms we had secured for the night.

“Are we done yet?” Apparently Simon had similar thoughts.

“Perhaps.” Luella stood up, stumbled momentarily until Brom caught her elbow, and added, “The headman is coming closer.”

I stood up straighter, my hands deftly double-checking that the “found” purses were well hidden in my pockets, and waited with my companions as the headman caught up to us.

“Thank you all for your help,” Elsworth said, giving us a small bow. Luella gave a brief one in return, Brom inclined his head in a nod, I didn’t even think to join in, and Simon’s gaze was fixed on the smiley face he was toeing in the sand.

“The preparations went so much smoother with such strong help.” Elsworth clapped a hand on Brom’s shoulder, and our warrior’s free hand twitched. It was a feat that Brom didn’t shake off the contact. Had it been a few years prior, I would have marveled at Brom not outright punching the headman.

“We’re always happy to help for the right price,” Simon chirped with a cheeky wink.

Elsworth chuckled. “Ah, that’s right, always know what your work is worth! Come on back to the square and I’ll get my assistant to give you your wages before you turn in for the night.” He turned away to head back before glancing over his shoulders at us. “By the way, if you happen to find a red-skinned coin purse, please let me know. I seemed to have misplaced it.”

As soon as Elsworth was a few paces away, Luella shot me a glare while Brom raised an eyebrow inquisitively.

“Finders-keepers,” I whispered to Simon’s muffled laughter.

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Posted by on October 1, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble — “Adapted”

Adapted

While the manner in which the party was constructed was a bit odd – really, who thought it best to put up a scribbled sign in the village square to find companions for an adventure? – it at least provided me with an out. An out of the village, an out of the rut my life had become, an out to find somewhere in the world where I could grow.

It was a motley crew at best, a haphazard assortment just waiting to implode at worst. I stood in the threshold of the meeting room, the borrowed storage place of the village’s tavern, and glanced around. There were a trio of broad-shouldered men, somewhat on the shorter side, with brilliant beards and large hands holding onto axes and hammers. The dwarves were speaking amongst themselves, but not bothered by anyone else hearing if their volume was anything to judge by. I wondered why dwarves were so far from their cavern homes, sure that they usually lived in the north.

A man was in the corner, staying so silent and standing so far into the shadows that I nearly missed seeing him. His arms were crossed, the visible fingers fidgeting as much as the hat upon his head was twitching. I talked myself out of marching over and snatching the hat away to see what lay beneath, my curiosity wavering at the sight of the pointed daggers at the man’s waist. I was sure the blades were not just for show.

A red-orange light zipped by my ear on the way into the room, sparkles of the same color marking a trail as it flew along, until it settled atop of a bare spot on the shelf tacked to the western wall. Before my eyes, the light grew into a glow before shaping a child just sitting there with her legs swinging below her seat. Her skin was dark, a sharp contrast to the mass of hair and wide eyes that had matched her sparkles. She gazed around the room with an excited grin, unable to keep a giggle here or there from slipping out.

A slender figure, at least part elf with the point of the ears, the angled eyes, the lean arm muscles, lounged on the solitary chair in the room. The strap of a quiver crossed over the figure’s chest while a bow of curved metal leaned against the chair. Those eyes caught mine as they roamed around the room. Briefly, we gave each other a nod, seemingly understanding that we were two of the most sensible of the gathered lot.

“Are you responding to the ad from the square as well?”

I brought my attention to the young man in front of me, his face smooth, lightly tanned, barely looking as if he had ever been out of the village let alone the world. Still, he appeared to be taking this rather seriously, as there was no hint of mirth around him. No upward turns of the lip, no gleams of wanderlust in his dark eyes, no flush on his cheeks from anticipation.

I nodded in response and, when he asked for my name and skills, I flipped open to the appropriate page of my book of common phrases.

He frowned as he glanced at it long enough to comprehend the words that not only answered his question but also explained that I was born without a voice. “A Runekeeper? How can you be a Runekeeper if you cannot speak?”

He was blunt, I would give him that. He was also lucky I had been dealing with that kind of question all my life.

With years of practice, I snapped my common phrase book shut, slipped it into its sleeve hanging on the left side of my belt, and brought out the book of thin paper from my right holster. A stick of coal helped me write my rune on a strip of paper before I ripped the parchment from the book’s binding and smacked the paper, coal marks facedown, against the wooden frame of the door.

Slowly, ivy vines sprouted from the paper, much to the cooing delight of the fairy, encompassing the parchment until it was dissolved completely from the rune’s workings. Greenery sprouted around the frame until the wood was merely the flowerbed for the ivy.

When the young man pulled his gaze away from the ivy, it was to see my common phrase book opened once more to the page that told him, “I’ve adapted.”

He gave one chuckle, his lips settling into a crooked grin as he said, “Welcome to the team.”

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Sing-Along”

Sing-Along

“Shall we start a sing-along?”

I turned and gave Simon a bemused look, seeing him grinning in turn at the rest of us as he all but bounced by Luella on the path. “I’m sure singing will ruin the element of surprise that we’re going for, won’t it?” I asked.

“Aw, c’mon, we’re trying to find a dragon,” Simon said. “Don’t dragons, ya know, have noses and stuff to smell us coming? It wouldn’t matter if it heard us.”

“I’d rather not get baked by a dragon’s flames while singing a tavern song, thanks,” Brom said dryly.

“Maybe we can sing the dragon to sleep,” Luella said with a small, teasing smile.

“Don’t encourage him,” Brom muttered.

“Aw, c’mon, singing’s fun—”

I interrupted Simon by saying, “I vote we keep quiet on the path. Not only do we not want to invoke the dragon before we’re ready, we don’t know how many people, friendly or otherwise, are around this area.”

“Yeah, keep your mouth shut so bandits don’t find us,” Brom translated for Simon.

Simon huffed but he listened and honestly didn’t say much at all for the remainder of the walk. The village was a mere dot on the horizon at the base of the hill below us when we first smelled the stench of smoke.

Luella sneezed. “That’s… not just a campfire.”

“It’s burned corpses,” Brom said grimly.

I took a deep breath to steel myself, immediately coughed due to the stench, then straightened up. “I think we found our dragon…”

“Why are we going after a dragon again?” Simon asked. “Is this for gold?”

“It’s stealing maidens from the village,” Luella said. “I think this is more important than gold!”

“Although gold would be nice,” Brom mused, “our main goal is to be nice people and try to slay the dragon—”

A screech echoed as overhead leathery wings beat through the air, carrying the reptile north. I stared at the creature’s underbelly, marveling at the glint of the gray scales from the midday sun.

Instead of slaying the creature, perhaps we could tame it…

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Blight”

Blight

While he had no doubt been raised prim and proper, the foot soldier before her looked ready to wet himself. Clad in the scarlet and goldenrod livery of the Harding family, the young man was shaking so much the helmet he held rattled. He was either extremely desperate or extremely stupid to seek her out and leave his skull unprotected.

“Did you say your name?” Kora asked, her sudden question making him jump.

“Dax Cabot,” he answered immediately.

A common enough name.

“How long have you been with them?” She gestured vaguely to the uniform.

“Since I was about seven,” he said. After a beat, he added, “Ma’am.”

“Not what I asked.”

“About ten years.”

“Now why,” she leaned closer to him, speaking slowly, “would you toss all those years of loyalty to one of the houses closest to the king to come to the Blight?”

Dax straightened his spine, but his Adam’s apple bobbed with a hard swallow. “I heard the rumors of a rebellion against the crown—”

“Yes. So?”

He faltered, but pressed on. “It’s not the usual rabble of talk from those here in the Blight. The rumors are coursing from the noble houses, Harding included.”

Kora raised a thin eyebrow. “Again, so?” I have no interest in noble arguments. Why not tell the king’s advisors of this?”

Dax paled even more, had it been possible. “I don’t know how deep the rebellion has gotten,” he said. “And I… I thought you’d stop it. You’ve the royal family in your pockets, don’t you?”

“Curious.” Kora tilted her head to the side, her gaze narrowing. “Why would a little foot soldier like yourself figure that?”

“Rumors,” was the weak reply.

Silence stretched between the two, Kora staring at Dax and Dax looking anywhere but at her.

Eventually Kora said, “If I was to get involved in this squabble, what would be my reward?”

“The royal family stays neatly in your pocket?” Dax winced at his own answer and looked more frightened than relieved when Kora laughed.

“Keep honing your wit,” Kora said. “Your tongue may be able to save you just as much as your sword. Brogan.” One of her guards – a squinty-eyed man with arm muscles as thick as his neck – stepped forward. In one movement, Brogan put a sack over Dax’s head and pinned the soldier’s arms to his side. “Mr. Cabot, should you wish to really pursue our help in this matter, you’d do well to bring leverage to persuade me to the cause. The Blight works with tangible rewards and goods, not pretty words and promises. Brogan will kindly escort you back to the streets.”

Dax began to stutter a protest, but he fell silent when Brogan nearly lifted him off his feet and out of the office. Graham came in almost immediately after, his gaze lingering on the retreating pair.

“His ass doesn’t look broken,” Graham commented lightly. “Did you go straight for the face? That what the sack was for?”

Kora shook her head, her fingers steepled in front of her face as she wondered how the supposed foot soldier found his way around the Blight enough to reach an audience with her. “He’s still in one piece.”

“Feeling generous today, are we?”

“I would hardly think it appropriate,” Kora drawled, “to maim the kingdom’s prince.”

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Bittersweet Part Five”

Bittersweet
Part Five
First Part | Previous Part

Logan wasn’t quite sure what he was feeling when he woke up to half a dozen texts from Aidan:

8:01 am: Dude, your mom just called my mom. Didn’t even know that she had our number!

8:09 am: Why is my mom asking where you are? Didn’t you go on that senior trip? Shouldn’t you be home by now?

8:15 am: Seriously this isn’t funny. If your mom doesn’t know where you are, and she ALWAYS DOES, then where are you?

8:22 am: Did you run away? Please tell me you’re okay.

8:33 am: Seamus says not to worry about you, that you had contacted him at the beginning of the senior trip, and Carter is cool with that but I’m still really confused. Where are you?

8:37 am: Just please fucking respond and tell me you’re okay.

Logan groaned as he dragged himself off his creaky motel mattress, his back popping like firecrackers as he stretched. Considering how young he was, he could only pray that getting a better mattress in a new place would help his spine not sound like an old man every time he moved.

He glanced back down at his phone, knowing that he couldn’t leave Aidan hanging. Before he could talk himself out of it, Logan hit the call button next to Aidan’s picture on his contact screen.

Aidan picked up on the first ring. “Logan?!”

“Hey.”

“Don’t ‘hey’ me!” Aidan said, sounding as if he had just run a marathon. “Are you okay?”

“I’m alright, Aidan,” Logan said, trying to sound calm instead of inwardly panicking at the difficult conversation he was about to have. “I just moved out of Mother’s house, that’s all.”

There was a pause on the line. “Logan, judging by how she spoke to Mom, I don’t think your mother knows that you moved out. What’s really going on?”

“I, uh, may not have told Mother yet,” Logan said.

Aidan barked out a laugh, one that was the result of nerves rather than amusement. “Wait, wait, wait… What do you mean she doesn’t know? Hang on.” Logan listened as Aidan spoke quietly to his own parents with Logan hearing snatches of the conversation such as, “Yes, this is Logan and he says he’s okay,” and “Dunno where he is yet.”

“So, spill,” Aidan said as soon as he was back on the phone.

Logan took a deep breath. “Well, uh, I didn’t want to go back to Mother’s house, so after the graduation, I took my car to the train station and made my way to Belleview.”

“Belleview?” Aidan’s echo sounded heartbroken. “You’re that far away? Why?”

“It was cheaper?” was Logan’s offered response. “I just… I was able to get a room and a job here that I found last month during that weekend I was sitting in on bank meetings for Mother.”

“B-but…” Aidan took a moment to gather his words, and Logan could just picture his friend biting his lip as he usually did whenever he was trying to carefully think of what to say. “Will we still hang out this summer?”

“Of course,” Logan said. “Aidan, of course we will, I just needed to get away. I couldn’t… I wouldn’t have been able to stand living with her for another summer. I needed to leave her, not you or Carter or Seamus. Please understand that.”

“No, I get it.” It didn’t sound as if Aidan totally did, but Logan would let it slide as Aidan continued talking. “I had just been hoping we could have done more with each other since you guys were all leaving for college in the fall, you know? I really don’t know what I’m going to do without you all.”

“Aidan, you have friends in your class,” Logan said.

“Yeah, but not like you guys,” Aidan said dismissively, and Logan silently agreed. Aidan had tagged onto their friend group since he and Carter had been paired up together for a project in one of their shared elective classes when Aidan had been a freshman and the rest of them were sophomores.

“Well, you don’t have to worry about me next year,” Logan said, padding in his slippers across the motel room to stick the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the outside of his door. “I’m not planning on going to college. Not right away, anyway.”

“Really?” Adian’s voice went up about an octave in his surprise. “But you got accepted to, like, a dozen Ivy League schools—”

“No, I didn’t,” Logan said with a scoff that turned into a chuckle at how much Aidan could exaggerate. “I was only accepted to three universities, none of which are Ivy League.”

(His mother complained all the way up to his graduation day as to what a waste of her money it would be to send him to some mediocre school instead of Harvard or Princeton. Logan said nothing in his defense. Even back then he knew he wouldn’t be going to college.)

“Well, still, getting accepted into some universities is awesome,” Aidan said. “I’m sorry you’re not planning on going right away, but that does mean I can call on you more often than the others during the school year!”

“You would have been able to call me anytime either way,” Logan said.

“I know you wouldn’t have minded,” Aidan said, “but I would have felt like I was bothering you guys, ya know? College is a big deal and you all would have been hella busy.”

“You’re going to be hella busy as a senior, you know,” Logan warned.

“Yeah, right!” Aidan laughed. “I remember how often Carter slacked off! Seamus worked his ass off because Seamus isn’t happy otherwise, and you…” He trailed off, and Logan felt a frown touch his lips. “School was always easy for you.”

(Thank goodness it had been. Way to not mention how Mother made Logan jet off to the nearby cities to get a taste of the business he had been supposed to inherit instead of enjoying his last year of high school with his class, Aidan.)

“I was blessed that way, I guess,” Logan said, trying to keep his tone casual. It didn’t really work when he added, “Um, Aidan, are you or your parents going to tell Mother where I am?”

“Uh, well…” Aidan hesitated. “She did call looking for you, man. I imagine she’s worried that you didn’t go back home after the senior trip. Shouldn’t you tell her that you moved out?”

“She’s probably more worried about our family’s reputation,” Logan muttered.

“C’mon, Logan, she must—”

“Look, please don’t tell her where I am, alright?” Logan interrupted. “I mean, tell her I moved out, but didn’t tell you where, okay? Please?”

Aidan was quiet on the line for so long that Logan had a fear that the pair had been disconnected. Finally Aidan said, “Alright, I promise, Logan. Mom is going to want to know the details, though.”

“I trust your parents,” Logan said, “as long as you trust that they won’t tell Mother the truth. Rather, the whole truth.”

“Fine, fine, I’ll make sure,” Aidan said. “I’ll just have Mom tell your mom that you… Uh, what exactly should I say?”

“Tell her that I moved out,” Logan said. “It’s honestly as simple as that.”

“Your mom isn’t going to be happy with just that as a response,” Aidan deadpanned.

“No… No, she’s not,” Logan agreed. “Better have your mother tell her, your mom can handle her, I think.”

“Oh, definitely,” Aidan said. “Dad would probably get all flustered trying to talk to your mom. And we’ll of course let your mom know that you’re okay.”

(Logan wondered how the hell Aidan was so pure enough to think that Mother still gave a damn about Logan’s wellbeing past the fact that he was heir to the family name.)

“You are okay, though, right?” Aidan’s voice snapped Logan back to the present. “Like, you’re staying in a good place?”

“Um, yeah.” Logan glanced around the sparse motel room after killing a fly against the bathroom sink with his bare hand.

“Gee, that sounded confident,” was Aidan’s sarcastic reply.

“No, seriously, I’m fine.” Logan wiped his hand on one of the towels. “I’m staying at a motel right now, but I’m actually going out later this afternoon to meet with someone about a room in an apartment.”

“In a public place, right?” Aidan asked immediately. “So you can make sure this person isn’t a psycho? Dammit, I wish I was there with you, I can read people like books.”

“You are good with people,” Logan said sincerely, and the warm thanks he received in return made him smile. “I’m pretty sure these people aren’t psychos, though. It’s a pair of sisters, actually, and they have an extra room in the apartment. I met the older sister already, in a public place, and she seems cool. I’m meeting her again with the younger sister at a park today, see how we all get along.”

“Good, meeting in the daytime, I like that. Don’t let them lead you down any dark paths at this park, okay?”

“Aidan—!”

“I’m serious, man, that’s how people disappear—”

“I’m going to hang up on you—”

“No, don’t!” Despite Logan joking, it sounded like there was legit panic in Aidan’s voice. “I miss talking to you.”

“Aidan, I miss you too,” Logan said, trying to keep his voice gentle, “but I’m not that far, not really.”

“I know that, but…” Aidan sighed, then gave off a light laugh that really didn’t sound as if it held any mirth. “You know, I’ve been complaining so much about applying to colleges, enough so that Dad asked why I was so against them. I answered that it’s because college makes my friends go away… I know you said you’re not going to college, but you’re still farther than I’d like you to be.”

“Aidan, you’re talking like we’re countries apart,” Logan said, trying to bring some amount of common sense back into the conversation. “We will see and talk with each other as often as possible, I promise. And, hey, maybe you can apply to a college close to Belleview.”

“You’ll still be there next year?” Aidan asked.

“I…” Logan trailed off, a mistake that made Aidan do that stupid, humorless laugh again.

“Okay, how about this,” Aidan said. “Tell me whenever you decide where you’re going to be next year and I’ll find a college as close as possible to you, okay?”

Logan rolled his eyes in good humor. “Alright, that sounds fine. Hey, do you ask Seamus and Carter about things like this too, or is it just me?”

“The first two colleges I’m going to apply to are their schools,” was the immediate answer.

“Oh, I see how it is,” Logan teased. “I thought I was special.”

“You are very special, Logan,” Aidan said. “Their colleges will be a backup just in case I can’t keep up with you.”

“Keep up with me?” Logan echoed. “Aidan, my friend, you’re leading the way.”

Aidan laughed, a real one this time, into the phone. “Alright, well… Good luck with your meeting with the sisters. I’d better go and let Mom know all about your situation. Text me later, will you?”

“Of course,” Logan said, and the pair said their good-byes.

The phone felt heavier when the line clicked dead.

Did Logan do the right thing? Moving so far away? Yes, he was away from Mother, away from those social and family obligations that did nothing except control his future, but… Would having a secure future, even one he couldn’t make himself, be so terrible if he was closer to his friends?

His cell phone slipped out of his hands and onto the floor with a clatter, snapping Logan out of his thoughts. He shook his head, checked that his phone still worked, and muttered, “Get ahold of yourself. Your life is fine, everything is okay, this is what you wanted…”

Logan glanced at the time and stepped into the shower to be certain that he wouldn’t be late for his shift at the restaurant.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Bittersweet Part Four”

Bittersweet
Part Four
First Part | Previous Part

It took Glenn another moment before saying, “Tell me about your work, then. It’s a point in your favor that you already have a job.”

Logan took the change in subject in stride and did his best not to seem too excited with the latter part of Glenn’s comment. While there wasn’t too much to tell regarding being a waiter (really, how many ways can you describe writing down orders, taking them to the cooks, pick up the orders, then bringing them to the correct table?), Logan hoped that he conveyed enough details so Glenn wouldn’t think he was lying about having a job.

(Not that there would be a reason for Glenn to think he was lying, but his mother used to tell white lies all the time in order to persuade managers or bankers over to her side.)

“I’m usually scheduled five shifts a week,” Logan said, “but I’ve been trying to pick up more, usually on Sundays for the time and a half.”

“Do you like it there?” Glenn asked.

“Well, it’s a job.” Logan shrugged. “As long as I work hard enough to get paid, I won’t complain.”

“I didn’t say anything about you complaining,” Glenn said. “I asked if you enjoyed being there.”

Logan wasn’t sure how he was supposed to respond, and he desperately hoped that Glenn wasn’t deducting points against him getting the room. “I enjoy it enough, I suppose,” he eventually settled with as a reply. Was that enough? Why did it matter if he enjoyed it as long as he was getting paid enough to earn his keep?

“You get along well with your coworkers and supervisors?” was Glenn’s next question.

“Yes, very well,” Logan said, figuring that how well he got along with them could give Glenn an idea of how decent of a roommate he’d be.

“How long do you plan on being at Chefron’s?”

What? No, Logan didn’t want to think about a timeline for his job. He didn’t want to be a waiter for the rest of his life, but he also didn’t want to be stuck in the mentality that he needed a day-by-day plan. His mother had one picked out for him, so detailed that Logan wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that she even had a church booked for a wedding date, and to even think about how long he’d be at one job when all he really wanted was to figure out his own life was too much–

“Logan?” Glenn snapped in front of his face and he jumped, his chair wobbling, and the other half of his Frappuccino almost falling off the table. Glenn caught the Starbucks drink without taking her eyes off him. “You alright there?”

“Yeah, yes, I’m sorry,” Logan said, rubbing his temple for a moment, acutely aware of how hot his face was. “I just… uh…”

“Too much espresso?” Glenn raised an eyebrow.

“Must be.” Logan was positive both of them knew he was lying, but he would take the offered excuse. “I was up late last night after my shift and thought that an extra shot would keep me awake and alert, but apparently it did the opposite, heh.”

“Apparently,” Glenn agreed dryly. She took a sip of her Frappuccino, the slurping sound being the only thing to break the silence for the next moment. Logan hoped she wouldn’t repeat her previous question, for he still had no idea how to answer it, but he wasn’t quite prepared for her asking, “Do you have any plans for college?”

Logan briefly thought of the trio of acceptance letters he still had stuffed somewhere in the bottom of his suitcase, unsure as to why he had actually brought them with him (maybe as a reminder that he actually did do well in high school, even if accounting and business weren’t what he would have majored in had he been given the choice).

(What would he have chosen as a major if his family name hadn’t chosen for him? He hadn’t been able to develop enough of his own interests to really think about it.)

“No,” Logan answered. “Not anytime soon, anyway.”

“Yeah, don’t rush it,” Glenn said, swinging an easy and casual atmosphere back to the conversation. “I think there’s so much pressure to go to college nowadays. I think it doesn’t make sense to go if you don’t know what you want out of it, especially with how expensive it can be.”

“Are you in college?” Logan asked. Being a few years older than he, he had assumed she was.

Instead, she shook her head. “Nah. Went long enough to get an associate’s degree in IT, just a couple of years, since I had the grades from high school. I was never a fan of the classroom setting, though, and found a job that I enjoy.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a dog trainer,” she said with a grin. “It’s tons of fun, especially with the really young puppies!”

While he smiled at the enthusiastic response, but was still puzzled enough to say, “That doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with IT.”

“Oh, of course it doesn’t.” Glenn shrugged. “I just found that working with animals was more my calling.”

“It sounds like you enjoy it,” Logan said honestly. Maybe one day he could find something that was his calling, as Glenn put it, as well. “What about your sister? I remember you mentioned that she was still in high school, but is she thinking about college?”

“Sort of?” Glenn said. “Merry is going back and forth between ideas, but I don’t think she’s freaking out about it. I know she wants to get some sort of degree, but she has no idea in what yet. Education, journalism, nursing, oceanography…”

Logan chuckled. “She has big plans, by the sound of it.”

Glenn smiled. “That she does. She has the drive to do it all, too, if she really wanted.”

“I hope I get to meet her,” Logan said.

“Well, that’s the next test,” Glenn said, finishing up her Frappuccino and tossing it into the trash bin behind her. “If you’re still interested in the room after meeting me, we can set up a second meeting where you’ll meet Merry, answer any questions she may have, and we’ll answer any other questions you think of.”

“Oh, I’m definitely still interested in the room,” Logan said. “I’m hoping that you’re willing to still consider me as a roommate.”

“And we’re back to being formal.” Glenn cracked a crooked grin. “No worries, buddy, you’re still in the running. I judge by how long it takes me to finish a Frappuccino during an interview to see if you’d be a decent fit.”

Logan’s brows furrowed in confusion. “I’m not sure I follow.”

“The faster I drink my Frappuccino, the shorter the interview,” Glenn said, “because the faster I drink my Frappuccino, the faster I want to be done talking. Get it?”

Logan glanced at his watch, finding that they spent a decent time chatting. “Well, then, I’m flattered you didn’t rush through your drink.”

“You should be.” Glenn winked. “Alrightie, so I have your email. I’ll send you another set of dates and places to meet up so you can become acquainted with Merry.”

“Excellent.” Logan stood up with Glenn and gave her another handshake. “Thank you for your time. It was wonderful meeting you.”

“Likewise,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing you again, Logan.”

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Bittersweet Part Three”

Bittersweet
Part Three
First Part | Previous Part

Logan’s fidgeting leg was making the uneven table he had happened to pick to sit at wobble. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for Logan to try to distract himself by figuring out which leg of the table was uneven.

(It took him far too long to realize that it was the chair that was uneven rather than the table.)

Logan took a deep breath, checked his watch to be sure Glenn still had a few minutes to arrive, and tried to look composed, certain that Glenn wouldn’t want to meet someone shaking with nerves. Logan did his best to relax, did his best to ignore the voice in his head that sounded too damn much like his mother’s to sit up straight, keep his eyes open, don’t yawn when the interviewer is talking—

(The advice was what he needed, but the voice was not.)

The door to the Starbucks creaked open, loud and protesting as it moved too fast on its hinges. Logan glanced up and spotted a young woman, most likely a few years older than him, marching into the place. He wouldn’t have given her a second glance except that the bright red t-shirt clinging to her curves demanded to be noticed, but he supposes that was a good thing, for it took him another moment to realize that she was wearing a gray baseball hat with the Batman logo emblazoned on the front.

Logan’s brows furrowed, even as the young woman paused in the middle of the Starbucks – completely heedless of the few stares she was getting from employers and other customers alike – to look around, clearly trying to spot someone. She paused as turned his way, and Logan found himself staring into a pair of dark brown eyes.

She cracked a grin. “You expected a guy.”

“Uh…” Logan cleared his throat and remembered to stand up when he was greeting someone. “I did, actually. I apologize for making an assumption.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Glenn waved off his apology. “You can imagine how often I get that. Pretty sure most of my high school teachers all thought I was joking around when they called my name on the attendance sheet and a short girl raised her hand instead of a guy. My parents’ reasoning is that they apparently saw a Glenn Close movie the night before they found out Mom was pregnant with me.

“Now that you know some random facts about my backstory,” she said, “I’m going to get a drink and I’ll join you at your table here so we can chat a little more about you. Be right back!”

She gave him a smile over her shoulder as she joined the line of customers and Logan shakily took his seat again. He was smiling too, but his nerves were shot and the espresso shot in his Frappuccino probably wasn’t helping.

(He had gotten back to his motel room late last night due to a customer knocking one of his trays of food to the ground. Thank goodness the laundromat by the motel was open 24-hours.)

“Alrightie.” A tall caramel, by the smell of it, Frappuccino plopped down on the table across from his seat, and Logan stood up before Glenn could sit down.

“Despite your cracks about me being formal,” Logan said, his smile easily growing as he stretched his hand out for a shake, “I would like to introduce myself. I’m Logan Fields.”

“Glenn Connors.” Her handshake was firm, unwavering, and Logan wasn’t sure if she was trying to test his strength or not yet. Once the pair sat down and Glenn took a long sip of her Frappuccino, she asked without preamble, “So, what about the room’s description caught your eye?”

“How it was written, really,” Logan answered honestly. “It sounded like I was talking to a person – talking to you, I presume – and it clearly laid out the rules for the rent, the other bills, what was allowed in the place, a bit of background of the landlord… And you mentioned pets. I like pets, but was never allowed one growing up.”

She grinned and shoved some of her loose black hair back under her Batman hat. Whipping out her phone, she showed off her lock screen that had a couple of dachshunds sitting pretty on a leather sofa. Pointing to the silver dappled one, she said, “That’s Peppermint, but we mostly call her Pepper, and the chocolate-brown one is Mocha. They’re sisters from the same litter, we got ’em a couple of winters ago, so naturally we named them after our favorite hot Starbucks drink.”

“Peppermint Mocha.” Logan chuckled. “They’re adorable. They’d be cool with a new person in the house?”

“Considering they weren’t too thrilled with our last roommate,” Glenn said, taking her phone back and swiping at the screen a couple of times, “I think they’d be fine. They can be little yappers, as most small dogs are, but they’ll warm up to you eventually.”

Logan smiled, pleased to hear the positive annotation that it could be him moving into the third room of Glenn’s apartment.

“Here’s Snickers.” The new picture was of a brown maine coon-like cat staring out a window.

“Named after your favorite candy, I’m guessing?” Logan asked.

Glenn shared his smirk. “My sister’s, actually. She’s the one who picked out Snickers at the shelter and ended up picking the name that would stick. I wanted to call him Churro because we had just gotten back from a trip to Disneyworld and those things are absolutely delicious. By the way, my sister is our other roommate, in case that wasn’t mentioned. Her name is Meredith, nicknamed Merry, after a Lord of the Rings character. She’s a couple of years younger than you, by the looks of it, and just finishing up her junior year of high school. How old are you, anyway?”

“Eighteen,” he said. “Just graduated high school.”

One eyebrow rose slowly. “Already trying to get out of your house, huh? Is it that bad?”

(Considering he had been out of it for a couple of weeks already, yes.)

“I just felt the need to get on with my life,” he settled for saying. Keeping an easy smile on his face, he added, “There wasn’t much left for me back there.”

Glenn hummed, a neutral reply, but her dark eyes stared at him as if they were going to strip his soul away. He’s seen that calculating look on plenty of people before. Madison, when she had been getting a scoop for the school newspaper. Carter and Aidan, when April Fool’s Day came around. Seamus, when he was figuring out a particular science equation. His mother, when she was crushing another independent store beneath her stilettos.

(Granted, no one else’s calculating look was as terrifying as his mother’s. Most people’s calculating looks still held a shred of humanity in them.)

“Did you graduate from the local high school?” Glenn asked. “Belleview High?”

“No,” Logan said. “It was Havana High, just a couple of cities over.”

“A couple of cities my ass,” Glenn said. “That’s almost seven hours away from here. Please don’t tell me you came all the way here just for an interview for a room?”

“No, I’m working and living here,” Logan said.

“Havana High’s graduation wasn’t even two weeks ago.”

“Right,” Logan said, nodding and doing his best not to fidget under Glenn’s gaze. “I’ve been out here for about that long.”

Glenn’s brows furrowed and she proceeded to take a long sip from her drink as she tried to figure out Logan’s timeline of his life.

“Where are you living right now?” Her question was almost gentle.

Logan hesitated, wondering if dashing out of his hometown so soon after graduating was a point against him getting this room, but Glenn may be persuaded by pity to give the place to him if she didn’t like the sound of the motel he was staying at. She was an older sister who apparently cared enough about her younger sister to live together even though said sister was obviously young enough to still be with their parents. The sympathy card may work against her.

Then again she played the part of a tough interrogator, the kind that made the conversation sound amicable but was really filing away every word, every tone, every new shift of body language away in whatever file was her mind to gleam over later for clues and truths and lies.

Logan couldn’t start off a living arrangement lying to his roommates, though. He couldn’t even consider trying to create some little story of him living with a nearby cousin or a coworker from the restaurant.

“I’m at the Red Hawk motel at the edge of town,” he said. “I booked my room there about two weeks before graduation. I’m a waiter at Chefron’s.”

Glenn pursed her lips and Logan wondered how affective playing the sympathy card would be. He could be manipulative and persuasive when he wanted it to be.

(It was something that he had learned from his mother. For the most part, he hated it, but every once in a while he could justify it when something harmless worked out in his favor.)

(He pointedly ignored when that just made him feel worse.)

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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