For most of the story installments, I’ve been able to cut the scene where it counts. Not so this time, so know that I know, and I’m sorry. This one lands with a clunk rather than a bell chime. First drafts are wild and unwieldy. The added restriction of trying to make each entry bite-sized is a fun challenge, but I don’t always succeed.
There’s a LOT going on over at my Patreon: new chapbook theme & anchor poem, the revision process of Ferals & Blights, book reviews, my panic at giving a panel at Miscon, and a whole word nerd experience. Come join us. This week we wrote 5-line poetry together!
Jackie’s leg disappeared as she stepped down into the crack in the fabric of the world.
“I’ll never get used to this,” she said.
Sharna pulled her hand back from where she’d spoken the Shard into life as it fell from her palm. The green unfurled like a long flag of leaves. “I don’t know how long it’ll hold, you better go.”
They’d already said goodbye in numerous ways and touches. Jackie had insisted on staying long enough to see the people of the Cloud Realm eat and gain some weight. They’d bounced back faster than anyone expected, and Jackie softened toward Edgard as she watched his relief at their lives improving. He was still an arrogant prick, but he treated Sharna like gold. That went a long way toward redemption.
Jackie’s pockets were stuffed with seeds of varying sizes and colors. She was about to make Diddle the happiest black market seller in Medlare, and make all of Ty’s dreams come true. Well, almost all his dreams. First, she had to figure out what the Mothers were up to. She stepped down two more leaves until she was only visible from the shoulders up to Sharna. The Mother bent and kissed her on the forehead.
“Don’t do anything stupid. You are important to me.” She didn’t wait to watch Jackie fully descend, but turned on her heel and strode off toward the center of town.
Jackie watched for only a moment longer, and then hastened down her magic ladder.
The sea spread out like a glittering sky. She had a moment of disorientation while her mind tried to cope with the view. Directly below her was not visible except for the underside of wide, dense leaves and the trunk of the Stalk. She focused on the prickly hairs in front of her and controlled her breathing. The agreement with Birdie had included rescue, but Jackie had her doubts. While the only way Birdie could recover her investment was to stick to the plan, Jackie knew from direct experience that shit happened.
She was a third of the way down the upside-down Stalk when she spied a ship through the leaves. The knot in her stomach relaxed, and she climbed down more quickly now that she knew she wasn’t going to end up as fish food.
The ship was smaller than the one she and Sharna had used when they began this adventure, and there didn’t seem to be much crew. As a matter of fact, Jackie didn’t see anyone aboard. She hung by her arms for a moment, feet dangling above the deck, and then let go. She winced at the sting of the boards against the soles of her feet as she bent her legs to take the shock.
A head popped up from belowdecks. It was Hugo. Jackie laughed at the look of surprise on his face.
(See you next week!)