Here is yet another (I know, so many) muscle study, because they do not stick in my brain until I draw them fifteen billion times. (But you don’t see most of those sketches, so . . . aren’t you glad you’re not seeing repeats?)
My disrespectful middle child is struggling with the concept of actually engaging with homework . . . because typical kid. My insanely disdainful oldest child is in perma-time out, because hello. You can’t act like that, kid. My youngest, extremely discourteous child (yes, there’s a pattern there, they all feed on each other’s poor behavior) is isolated with a book, because learning how to read is important, don’t-cha-know.
And now, here is the promised Good/Bad Snippet of fairy hijinks. Be warned: the bad one is really, really bad.
Blue-winged Catherine, a fairy with the most beautiful good nature of any living being ever at all, was unhappy with her lot in life. Forsooth, her beautiful super-pretty gossamer skirts were so pleasing that she felt they weren’t humble, and so she changed them for plain leaves that dried out. Oh, yuck, Catherine the fairy thought. She went back to her glorious attire and flitted about casting charms of romance on all the humans who passed through the woods. She was so glad to be her.
None of the fairies in the kingdom of magical creatures in the woods had ever been as perfect and wonderful as Catherine, and finally the Queen of the fairies said Catherine was obviously first and best choice as Princess Fairy to all living.
Catherine was so humbled and grateful for the honor that she cried a lot and gave a four-hour acceptance speech that was so apt and perfect that all the sparrows wept at her wonderful beauty.
The fairies, the squirrels, the foxes, the deer, and the humans lived in peace among the fungi and the trees and moss, and every morning Catherine buzzed around on her gossamer blue wings and felt moved to grateful tears at the perfection of her life. She also sang songs a lot to the little baby animals.
It is not so hot being a fairy in the forest. First, we aren’t allowed to wear modern clothes, and I for one am sick of sewing frocks out of leaves. I mean, they dry out and crumble away at the most inconvenient times, and harvesting thread from spider webs is just a sticky mess. Don’t even get me started on threading needles with that goo. I’m the only woodland fey who wears muumuus. Yes, I make my own muumuus out of snake skins. I want to use magic on really dark hoodies and tight, low-slung jeans to make them small enough to fit me, but the Queen Mother has a dress code. Natural, forest-sourced materials only. Green and brown, mostly leaves or bark. No fur. Sigh.
The second thing that stinks about my current life is that romance is totally off limits. I’m not allowed to desire anyone or anything. I can’t even have a crush. Yeah, I know. Unreasonable, right? I ask you, what is the point of having limitless access to infatuation charms when I’m not supposed to use them on myself?! Like, gosh! I want love!
I have more complaints, but these two are the main motivators for my planned rebellion against the Sacred Court of the Woodland Fey. I’m getting out of this dump, and someday very soon I’m going to wear jeans, dammit. And I’m gonna flirt. With HUMANS. The only trouble is that I have to screw up badly enough to be banished without earning a death sentence or having my wings stripped off. That’s a hard balance to strike, which is why I’m going right now to visit Moffer Bones, who is, like, the oldest guy in the forest and also kinda evil. I’m pretty sure he’ll give me good advice. He’ll sense that we’re kindred spirits, since I’m all rebellious and stuff. He’ll totally help me. I hope.
Let us all remember the importance of voice and conflict in our fantasy stories. And now, here is what happens next to Diana:
“The companion is gathering food as you requested earlier. We have question,” George said in a perfectly clear, human voice.
“It should be ‘We have a question,'” Diana said, skimming through the paragraphs on recommended therapeutic practices for covert abusers. She was looking for the section about isolating violent men, which she vaguely remembered from the last time she’d read the book.
“Human language not our priority,” George said, in what Diana supposed was the alien version of snippiness.
“If you’re trying to study our emotional exchanges, you’re not going to get very far without respecting the nuances of grammar,” Diana remarked.
George vanished and the sunlight flickered. Diana saw her legs begin to melt away and she came to the rapid conclusion that she was being taken up for another conference. She was both pleased and annoyed by this interruption, as she felt she was making very good progress with Stuart just now.
Diana’s parents’ bedroom vanished and she found herself in the same dark room on the alien ship that she’d visited before. This time an alien was standing there.
“Explain,” the alien said.
“You’re trying to understand our emotional bonding process, right?” Diana asked, folding her arms and looking a lot calmer than she felt. The alien made a chuffing laugh.
“Explain, scared girl,” the alien said.
“You’re more in charge than the others,” Diana said. The alien raised a hand and a flickering image of Stuart appeared.
“He is your companion and you control him. You use words, sometimes actions, but all with feelings. I could control you through feelings. Do not push at me with this—it is insolence, you would speak? That’s a word for fighting back and spite?” the alien said.
“Yes, insolence is the correct word for that dynamic. Are you wanting me to admit to being insolent? Because I don’t think it’s insolent to recognize that you have more authority than the others I’ve spoken to. I can see you do, and I’d rather not get into a fight about that,” Diana said. The alien waved a disparaging hand.
“Explain. You said details of language connect to understanding emotional bondage. Tell why,” the alien said.
“We use words to communicate with each other. What do you mean, emotional bondage?” Diana asked.
“Answer first question. Time of pause interval almost used up,” the alien said, sounding both rushed and impatient.
“It’s important because words and grammar convey context and emotional tone. You can’t understand all the nuances of interpersonal communication if you don’t have a grasp of what different words and sentence constructions mean,” Diana said.
“Good. Begin again,” the alien said, waving a dismissive hand. The alien spaceship vanished and Diana found herself, with a slight sense of disorientation, sitting on her mother’s side of the bed with the book on domestic abusers in her hands. She breathed in and looked around the room. George the hologram was still standing in miniature on the blanket.
“Question,” George said.
“Yes?” Diana asked, feeling her heart jolt at the strangeness of being transported hither and yon without warning.
“You hurt companion and he—as you say—eats it up. Why? Quick. He’s coming back,” George said.
“I’m replicating some of the conditions of his abuse as a child and that’s making him feel validated and recognized as a psychological entity, because everyone but his mother and her boyfriend pretended that abuse didn’t happen to him, and he only met the boyfriend—oh,” Diana said, because George had vanished. In a moment, Stuart came back into the room with a pair of box-shaped vegetables in his arms. They were the size of watermelons, though in the form of rounded cubes.
“Do you want me to cut these up for us, Di?” Stuart asked.
“No, set them down and come cry on me some more,” Diana said.
“Okay,” Stuart said, looking pleased. He set down the boxy vegetables, and as soon as they were out of his arms, Diana made a disapproving noise.
“Put those down in the kitchen, Stu. Duh,” Diana said, shaking her head with annoyance. Stuart blinked and frowned, and then picked up the vegetables again, obviously preparing to carry them away. “Stu! I told you to come and cuddle in my lap! Why are you being so stupid and frustrating about this?” Diana exclaimed, looking up from her book. Stuart went red and stared at her for a moment.
“But—” he said, and then he practically dropped the boxy vegetables and rushed in against her lap, jamming his face against her abdomen and giving out what Diana classified to herself as a hungry purr.
“Stu, those things really ought to be put into the kitchen. You can’t leave food sitting around on bedroom floors. It’s unsanitary. What if you step on one of them by accident? What if the floor’s dirty? Honestly, you’re so dumb,” Diana said, sounding affectionate. Stuart sucked in a deep, happy breath and nodded against Diana’s midsection, pushing his arms around her waist and appearing to hold on for dear life. “Hey, don’t ignore me, mucus-brain. That’s bad manners,” Diana added. She felt Stuart smile against her shirt.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, plans are being laid surrounding the guy waiting in a hotel room near the shopping district. He’s been halfway imprisoned for almost two months.