Friday, May 18, 2012

FFF: Minus the Flash, A Preview

In celebration of having finished the editing process, I wanted to share one of the early scenes from Fates' Motif. Figured it fit with Fiction Friday, though it's a bit long to be considered "flash." 

This is the first time we meet our two main characters. The goal here was pretty simple. Introduce the characters, give you enough of a description to start forming a picture, and keep the scene domestic. In fantasy, it's always key to flirt with the line between the known and unknown. You want readers to be able to relate first (hence the domestic scene). If you succeed there, it makes the fantastical elements a lot easier to swallow. There are a couple magical hints thrown in here for spice, too. Anyway, the goal is to have this out Saturday. E-book first, print to follow quick on its heels. We'll see if we hit the date.

“Mother,” Werim yelled.

No answer.

“Mother,” Werim yelled again, louder this time.

Still no answer.

“Renee!” Werim screamed, his voice cracking.

“What?” came the irritated reply from inside the house.

“Mom?” Werim queried once more, bursting through the front door and skidding to a halt just across the threshold. “Whew, I thought you had left already.”

Across the room, a slim, red-haired woman straightened from the pot she had been crouched over. She calmly wiped her hands on her apron and fixed her eldest son with a level, green eyed stare. “Aye, ‘tis me. And just where would I be going, hmm?” Her voice trailed off into the pleasant thrum of household noise. Fire crackling, stew bubbling; the general din of housework. Strangely, the wooden spoon continued to spin in the pot, unnoticed, while emitting a faint, almost indiscernible glow.

Werim normally found his mother’s unique, lilting accent comforting, but being the target of the stare, he soon began to squirm. To buy time, he ran one dirty hand through his curly black hair, tousling it further. Halfway through the motion, he pulled the hand back and fixed hazel eyes on grimy palms. He would have to wash tonight, his mother would see to that. He hated washing. Carrying buckets of water, heating it, pouring it in the big, brass tub. It was backbreaking labor, and for what? To get clean? He would be dirty again the next day. Why couldn’t he just stay dirty?

“Um, I don’t know,” Werim admitted. “I guess I just thought maybe you’d gone away.”

Hmpf,” his mother snorted in reply. She reached a slender hand up and tucked a wisp of hair behind her ear before turning back to the pot. Casually, her hand found the spoon and continued stirring.

Werim blinked for a moment, his brain stumbling on the self-stirring spoon, but the delicious smells of cooking and pleasant hum of activity quickly chased the oddity from his mind. It was obviously a stew. The aroma of meat, vegetables, potatoes, and broth filled the small house. Werim’s mouth watered in anticipation. He’d had nothing but a loaf of bread, stolen while the baker’s back was turned, since lunch. It had been tasty, warm and fresh, but it was no match for mother’s stew.

A loud thump startled them both as Werim’s sister, Sharee, burst into the room. Her straight, auburn hair was cut short like her brother’s. It barely reached the bottom of her ears and was slightly mussed from an apparent mad dash back to the house. Green eyes like her mother’s quickly took in the scene. She was wearing the same tan pants and white, long-sleeved woolen shirt as her brother, though hers was markedly whiter. Both children were of similar height, and though the curves of early womanhood were beginning to differentiate brother from sister, they had yet to take a firm hold in Sharee. Lanky and awkward, the two could have been twins, though Werim claimed the title of eldest.

“Werim stole a loaf of bread!” Sharee announced.

The tattling was only a recent affectation. Growing up, Sharee had idolized her brother, thinking he could do no wrong. It reflected in her dress and mannerisms, but a recent jealousy caused her to be harsher on her brother than was strictly necessary. It wasn’t Werim’s fault he was older, and thus had reached his sixteenth year months sooner than she. Still, if he was now an adult in the eyes of the village, then he should begin to act like an adult. It was a view Sharee shared with her mother.

Standing aright from the pot once again and smoothing her apron, mother fixed son with another glare. The spoon continued to spin. Sharee was too intent on her brother’s suffering to notice, and Werim’s eyes had found the floor. He might be a good liar around the other village youths, but he could not for the life of him lie to his mother.

“Werim,” she began in a serious tone, “you’ll be going back to the baker’s tomorrow to make this right, hmm? I think several hours o’ sweeping floors should suffice, but be sure Roland is satisfied.”

“But, Mom,” Werim protested.

“No buts, Werim. What would your father say, hmm?” she asked, shaking her head.

“I’d ask him, but he’s not here,” Werim mumbled.

A frown creased his mother’s face, but she said only, “What was that?”

“Nothing, Mom,” Werim covered. “I’ll make it right tomorrow. Promise.”

“Good. Since that’s settled, you can go get some water and wash up before dinner. ‘Tis almost ready now,” their mother said, turning back to the pot and snatching up the spoon. As Werim turned toward the kitchen to fetch the water buckets, Sharee attempted to slink in the opposite direction. Without looking, their mother added, “Both o’ you.”

“But, Mom,” Sharee protested.

“Ah!” their mother snapped, raising the wooden spoon. The room had suddenly gone silent. “If you’re going to dress like a lad and get into mischief like a lad, then you’ll do the chores o’ a lad, too.”

Sharee crossed her arms and stomped a foot, “But I didn’t steal the bread.”

Their mother turned her head slightly and raised an eyebrow, “And you didn’t stop him either.”

A pout firmly ensconced on her face, Sharee redirected toward the kitchen where Werim waited with his tongue out.


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