Sunday, March 04, 2012

Sunday Snippets

This is the first time I've had a Sunday snippet in a while. I've not been writing as much as I'd like, mostly editing Scylla and Charybdis - and I'm far enough into that manuscript that it's difficult to pick out sections that work out of context without spoiling plot.

This, however, is the opening of a short story I'm working on entitled "The Base of the World," about a grieving healer and her new assignment ...

Turgid artic waters rushed about Adris Isle, swept by low currents towards the icelands and the base of the world. From here, Liva could see the dim shadow of the immense column that anchored the world in the field of stars, but that was not her destination.

She clutched her cloak tighter, a speck of brown in the small boat: a figure no smaller than a child, though girlish amber curls had been given a hatchet job before she applied. She had been the first healer to do so - the only healer to do so. No one wanted this post.

The boatman rowed without glance or sound, but his apprentice kept peeking under his elbow at her. "Why are you doing this, miss?" he asked finally.

The voice did not match the woman, resonant, midnight-deep. "Someone has to."

It was more complicated than that, but Liva allowed herself enough vanity to be pleased with the way it sounded. The moment of delight passed as the encampment came into view, tents and temporary wooden lodges pressed together like a pile of dead leaves. She had come here to prove to herself she didn't have to be trapped in her past, but had she simply exchanged one prison for another?

"On a clear day," the apprentice whispered, "they say you can see the dead descending the pillar to visit their relatives on earth."

Liva shook her head. If such apparitions were possible, she would have had company months ago. Her chest tightened as she thought: if Islu didn't blame her as the others had. Some said children could forgive anything, but in her experience, they held blame more fiercely.

The encampment's dock was as rickety and dull as the tents. The boat oozed to a halt, bumping against the wood. Liva squinted, but saw no one waiting for her, not even as a cleverly disguised shadow.

"We're here. Go." It was the first thing the boatman had said since they departed.

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