Airbrush doodle complete with labels just for you to look at this morning. The cheeriness going about just now is because I finished some daunting tasks. You know that pleasant sensation of having won out against chaos? Have you had that feeling before? I have it now. Hopefully it lasts for a while, ’cause it feels good. Yay!
Good/Bad Writing Example
The magic mirror seemed like a really good investment at the time, until I unwrapped it. Man, right away it was ‘Hang me over there,’ and ‘The light is too much in this corner,’ and ‘Boy, someone needs to shave.’ It was like owning a really talkative parrot who thought I was a loser.
The brochure talked about pleasant companionship, and this was not it. I called the customer service line and they told me to do a factory reset.
“How do I do that?” I asked. Well, the lady talked me through this really complicated spell, and I hung up and tried it. Yeah, it didn’t work. Well, it did give my magic mirror what I think is an Armenian accent and a little bit of a lisp, but it certainly didn’t cut down on the chatter or the personal remarks, and let me tell you, until you’ve heard a large oval of glass tell you in an Armenian lisp that you need to do your laundry and throw out your favorite sweater because it makes you look like a pile of fuzz a caterpillar vomited, you have not experienced truly personal remarks.
I called customer service again, and they told me the same rigamarole about a factory reset spell, which I wasn’t interested in. I’d dropped a load of money on the mirror, and the company strongly discouraged refunds, so I was dogged and loud and I worked my way up the call-center food chain until I got a manager on the phone.
“Let me hear a sample,” the manager directed. I, accordingly, took my cell phone over to the mirror, which launched into a long diatribe about my awkward way of breathing too loudly. “Is that an Armenian accent?” the manager asked, sounding somewhat awestruck.
“Yes, and there’s a lisp. This thing’s been telling me for the last two days that ‘my breath thmells like thauerkraut,’ which is ridiculous. I don’t eat sauerkraut, you see,” I told her.
“No, yes, I can see how that would be irritating. Walk away from the mirror, would you?” the manager asked.
“Yeah, gladly,” I said, beating a retreat in the face of yet another lecture from the mirror on the unsatisfactory state of my eyebrows. The magic mirror had strong opinions about personal grooming, and wanted me to pluck mine. No thank you! When I was out of earshot, I told the manager to go ahead.
“Well, have you tried threatening it?” the manager asked in a soft voice.
“Pardon?” I asked, frowning across my workshop at the mirror, which, deprived of my immediate company, had taken up a lisping Armenian folk song that sounded like a tipsy lullaby.
“You know, pick up a cleaver or a really impressive hammer and wave it about near the mirror, exclaiming about your superiority as a conscious being,” the manager explained. I blinked several times, for this sounded both savage and undignified.
“That sounds very odd,” I said.
“Well, try it, and if it doesn’t solve your problem, feel free to call the help line at any time,” the manager said, and she hung up before I could protest further.
I held out for another two days until the mirror broke me. It began to make the most uncalled-for remarks about my dear mother, and in desperation I snatched up a heavy chopping knife I kept on hand for slicing toadstools and brandished it near the surface of the mirror. I thought I looked pretty silly, but the mirror, which had been describing what it theorized my mother had gotten up to the previous evening, broke suddenly off.
The silence was so welcome that I paused in my knife shaking and looked at myself in the mirror.
“Are you finished?” I asked. To my total surprise, the mirror replied in a most clear, civil tone, without a hint of an accent or a lisp.
“I’m so sorry, sir. How can I help you?” the mirror asked.
We’ve since had a fairly productive relationship. Every once in a while, my mirror starts to develop an uppity Canadian accent—I’ve no idea why—and I casually heft a large pot or a mallet near the mirror in a vaguely threatening way. That clears up the problem, and back my mirror goes to reliable, civil behavior.
(This one is really, really bad!)
Theopold is the name I have given my mirror. He’s an excellent, helpful mirror, always at hand when I require a distant look at some far off party of adventurers in the wild or if I am looking up some criminal to send a creature following in the night, which is very dark. Ah, but I recall in the olden days, last year sometime, or perhaps seven months ago, when Lucy, my magic mirror, first came to live in my magical, magic den where I work magic. It’s such a magical place. I do magic there. Did I mention that it’s like a laboratory for magic? And Lucy, my magic mirror, hangs upon the wall and looks magical.
Then, about eight months ago when I first acquired Lucy—I bought Theopold at a bazaar for clever wizard-types, and they had some awesome pocket protectors there, too.
My magical pocket protector keeps all the ink away from my shirt. Oh, I am going to mention, though—and this is a really funny story, I think—but my magical pocket protector is actually just a regular plain old piece of plastic. It isn’t magical except in the way that it keeps ink out of my shirt, so that’s hilarious. Oftentimes I’ll be introducing myself at parties and I’ll say, here is my magical pocket protector, and all the admiring people wil shout, in a chorus, ‘What does it do?’
Because of course they expect that it’s magic, right? And I string them along for a little while, saying things like, ‘Look at this,’ and ‘Wait until you see!’ and then after ten minutes I reveal that it’s actually just a piece of plastic. That always goes over well.
I’m pretty much the funniest person you’ll ever meet. Ha ha. But Lucy, my mirror, I got her at a bazaar and she was hanging up in the back, behind a whole lot of other pictures and mirrors, and I dug through every one because I hate buying anything that’s at the front of the shelf—you know, one time, I purchased milk that was at the front of the refrigerated shelf in the coffee shop that’s just by my house, and—but that’s another story that I’ll have to tell some other time.
“Ah, heck, I’ll let you know now!”
The milk was expired, and when I went back to complain at the coffee shop, the person who had put the milk in in the first place had put the freshest containers all the way at the back of the line, almost like they were trying to pawn off the older stuff on guys like me. I always choose my milk from the back of whatever stack is there, and everything else, pretty much.
I got Lucy at the bazaar and she’s the best mirror. I use her all the time to find criminals or look up distant scenes for adventure groups I’m supposed to be helping from afar in my magic, magic workshop.
The good example was a lot of fun, but wow, that mess with Lucy/Theopold made me tired! Did the inconsistency bother you? Here is what comes next for our Diana adventure:
A Useful Epiphany
“You asked for the names of people in my family, and I’ve been including way too many people, because they aren’t my siblings at all. They’re my cousins and awkward foster people that were forced on me. I’m sure I’d like them fine if we’d actually been cousins, but I pretty much hate all four of them, those three and then baby Karen. I hate what they did to my family,” Stuart said.
He glanced up at Diana, his expression darkening.
“Are you going to tell me all that crap people say about how it wasn’t their fault and they didn’t ask for it?” Stuart demanded. Diana shook her head, spearing another purple cube. “How come? Everyone says stupid garbage like that,” Stuart said, looking brooding and irritable.
“That was really disgusting of your dad to do that to your mom,” Diana commented.
“Yeah! Yeah, it was. I used to hate my dad, you know, before my mom died. Everything got kind of—twisted around, I guess, after she was gone. Just—my insides went dark, and my dad was still there, you know?” Stuart asked, wiping suddenly at his eyes, as if to keep back the hint of tears, though he wasn’t crying yet.
“I don’t mind, Stu,” Diana said.
“What?! What does that mean?” Stuart asked.
The hologram of George appeared between their plates.
“Normal circumstance, we remove the companion for violent intent,” George said, looking at Diana.
“No, he’s fine. He’s processing grief. That’s a violent emotion. He’s mad at his father, and he’s sad,” Diana told the small white figure of an alien, which nodded and disappeared.
“Are you handling them the way you’re working your way around me?” Stuart asked, sniffling a little and scrubbing a hand over his face.
“They wanted to hear about that list of people you gave me, Stu. Finish that,” Diana said. Stuart, to her surprise, nodded and let out a heavy sigh.
“Okay. Finishing things is important, I guess,” Stuart said. It was the first time he’d shown positive forward motion in an emotional sense, with the effort coming from inside his deep self, and Diana was tempted to stand up and do a little victory dance. Her heart raced with excitement and she kept her face calm as she munched on the purple fruit chunks.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current book, the unhatched man is nearing the moment of crisis (meaning he’s about to come to life).