Faerewryn (from Orphan Plane)


In the shadow of dawn, Faerewryn rustled through papers in the executive desk and found what she was looking for, a contract that signed her life away. Holding her breath, she became so absorbed in the details of this deception she didn’t hear the footfall or connect the warning itch in the palm of her hand with the danger of discovery until the overhead light snapped on.

“What are you doing?” Sir Thomas blinked at her like a troglobite emerging from its cave.

“What have you done?” Faerewryn thrust out in front of her the thick file she had just filched from her father’s desk. She kept her voice low, even as the LED tattoos on her palms burned with her anger. Sir Thomas moved to the wall to dim the light. Attracting attention to their presence in the building would not be wise.

Faerewryn watched as Sir Thomas Richardson, Chief Technologist on staff reporting to the Servant of the People of Haiti, considered his options. She knew that once she had been his beloved only child, the product of his relationship with the Servant’s doomed niece Bronte. Now she could see that she scared the living daylights out of him. Tall as giraffe, she towered over her father. She was aware that she had her mother’s poise, but not her charm. Signs of intelligence she exhibited as a young child – she was reading by the time she was 18 months old – dissipated soon after she started school. When she failed to grasp the Path of Technical Solutions, she earned herself the label “incapacitated thinker.” It was as if all her energy had gone into growing her long, stick-like arms and legs.

Dolores Moraga (from The Sheep Walker)

The coroner leaves and I enter Leora’s bedroom one last time. I pull the sheet off her face and look at her in the morning light that is beginning to flash through the branches of the pepper tree near the window. The sun snaking up the back of that tree surprises me with its early intensity and brings tears to my bleary eyes.

The glow of my mother’s well-cared-for skin has cooled to form the waxy gray mask of death. I replay her struggle over the past year in my head, trying to understand the interplay between a body losing control and a mind holding on to secrets—secrets that my mother has taken with her to the grave.

There is something else I must do. I pull a stool out of the closet and go to the window. On top of the stool, I struggle to loosen the window frame from its casement until it opens. This takes all the energy I have left, but now Leora’s soul can depart. That was one of the few traditions my mother taught me.

Nellie Belle (from Courting Nellie Belle)

How prophetic that Nellie’s future would turn on this book that told the story of a man who abandoned his place in the world. Like Philip Nolan, Nellie would wander most of her adult life because of a choice she made to leave those she loved and those who loved her. But unlike the hapless lieutenant, Nellie would embrace that itinerant life.

Jaye (from Beanpunk Cafe)

At 2 a.m. Jaye turned the deadbolt and slumped to the floor of her apartment. She had just survived her 13th bad date. “Killer good looks” turned out to be a killer bore. Worse, his name was actually Kill and he talked nonstop about himself in the third person until Jaye thought she might pass out.

“Kill doesn’t believe that Perfect Match Dating Service is using the right algorithm on Kill’s profile,” Kill had narrowed his eyes while inspecting Jaye as if she were a bug pinned to foam core board for his personal scrutiny.“Nevertheless, Kill will take Jaye to Mother’s for dinner.”

Mother’s was a new restaurant in the city that served comfort food. Jaye had been dying to try it, so maybe this date wouldn’t be all bad. They headed east out of her neighborhood in Kill’s underpowered Subaru Justy. When Kill drove past the downtown exit, Jaye got a sick feeling in her stomach.

Two hours later, they pulled up in front of the Lazy Daze Independent Living Apartments where Kill’s mother lived. Mother had forgotten to expect company. When Jaye suggested they go out for dinner, two pairs of eyes frowned at her.

“Waste of money.” Mother plunked her sizeable bottom down into the depression in the sofa.

“Kill will find something in the freezer.” Kill rummaged through boxes stuck together by layers of ice. “Mother, has your power been out again?”

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