This is week 50, and I’ve got 51 & most of 52 written. I’m not happy about the dangly bits at the end of the story, and I’m having trouble bringing that last scene to a satisfying conclusion. That’s the hazard of a first draft where I can’t go back and tweak the past to match the present – kind of like life!
The good news, or bad depending on your opinion, is that this is clearly a series. And, of course if I were doing the revision, I’d set up the last act to balance the current work with the future one.
So. If you’ve kept pace all along, bless you. If you are new here, welcome. Either way, feel free to comment with your thoughts and opinions on the whole experiment of writing a first draft in public!
Make It Rain
In the end, they decided to make a show of the story they wanted the people to believe. Jackie argued it was the fastest way to get everyone on board at once. Sharna argued it was embarrassing. Edgard had to be talked out of literally showing everyone how the seeds were produced.
The three of them stood on a parapet of stone with the misty sky pressing down and city spread out like a skirt below. Patches and seams of roads and homes were still and silent. Only a rare movement caught the eye. There had been no Culling today, but that also meant there had been no Mother found – or so the people believed.
Edgard raised his eyebrows at the women before putting his back to the edge of the wall. Behind him was a drop of fifty feet. “Let’s make history,” and he stepped backward into the void. Jackie couldn’t help but gasp, even though somewhere in her mind she knew he wasn’t going to fall. He fluttered back into view as a hawk with one golden eye and one blue. With a screech and a flap, he swept past Jackie, making her duck and curse.
“Are you sure about this, Sharna?” Jackie looked at her friend. She seemed nervous, her shoulders were hunched and she squinted into the soft breeze. “I don’t just mean because he’s an ass. I mean, are you truly okay with doing this?”
Sharna shrugged. “I can’t stop wondering, why me? All those girls at the Mansion, they were smarter and better at every lesson. How is it I’m here, about to save an entire world with magic, and not them?”
Jackie took her Sharna’s hand in her own. “Do you remember the first time we met? And the second?”
Sharna nodded, “You made it pretty memorable.”
“No. You did. Each time I found you, you were doing your best to do the good thing. Not the flashiest or what would give you power or wealth, but the thing that mattered in the long run. That’s one of the reasons I love you, Sharna. You do the hard thing, even if you don’t know how.”
The hawk circled above them on silent wings. “Now, go do the hard thing before he shits on my head.”
Sharna laughed through the tears she’d been holding back. “He would, too.” She took a calming breath, peeked over the edge of the wall, and then waved with the tips of her fingers at Jackie, “See you in a bit.”
Her leap was a jump and a spin, so she was facing Jackie as she transformed into a sand-colored owl. Her wings were so long they rolled rather than flapped, and reminded Jackie of the ocean back home. The two birds of prey swooped around each other, screaming and shrieking. When they were over the center of the city, they both became larger and larger, until Jackie wondered how they were still flying. She wasn’t alone. People gathered in crowds and bunches to watch the aerial display. Jackie was glad she knew the fight was fake, otherwise she’d have been worried for her friend.
When it seemed the entire city was watching, the owl flipped and dove to catch the hawk in a giant white talon. She held him there as he appeared to flutter and fight, and then go limp. The owl pulled a tight curve to bring herself back to the top-most tower of the Fathers’ stone keep, and the people followed at a run.
From there, Sharna in owl-form, plucked the feathers of the hawk out one by one. The hawk screamed and cried and showed his pale tongue. As the feathers fell to the ground, they shifted into raindrops. With every drop that hit the ground, a mournful bell tolled. When the owl had ripped out most of the hawk’s plumage, she flung his body out over the crowd. The people moaned in fear. He warped and wavered, and then dissipated into a bank of fog, as if without his feathers he had come undone.
The people watched in silence. There was no cheering. No joy at his demise. Only a grim accounting. Sharna spread her wings wide and let out a terrible shrill cry, and then she shattered into a million pieces of light. Those sparkling shards penetrated the fog bank like pinpricks of glass, shimmering white and yellow and gold. And then, seeds began to fall. A rain of hope and redemption. That was when the crowd cheered.
(See you next week!)