Richard Parks' stories have have appeared in Asimov's SF, Realms of Fantasy, Fantasy Magazine, Weird Tales, and numerous anthologies, including several Year's Bests. His first story collection, THE OGRE'S WIFE, was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. He is the author of the Yamada Monogatari series from Prime Books.
I mean, I should have expected it, right? Tendency to be more active and alert at night, which I just ascribed to being a writer. We’re known for keeping odd hours, but if I can stay up all night and sleep all day, I’m a happy guy. Never been quite able to manage it, but now I have an excuse to try harder.
Well, a temporary one, anyway.
Apparently, I have Baker’s Knee. Nothing to do with baking, which I only do on impulse, quelled usually by the ungodly results, so that’s likely a good thing. Anyway, Baker’s Knee is a “popliteal cyst” behind the knee, a buildup of synoval fluid caused by injury to the knee, blood clots, or arthritis. Not a blood clot, but otherwise no clue what caused this one. Anyway, twisted my ankle slightly on the stairs, which twisted the knee, which ruptured the cyst.
Leg swelled up to almost twice its normal size. Dopey me, I just lived with it for about five days, finally gave up and saw medical people, where it was diagnosed and confirmed not caused by a blood clot. Immediately got put on antibiotics because the ruptured cyst caused an infection.
Doing better, but one side effect of the medication is I have to avoid sunlight for the next week if I don’t want to turn into a pile of ashes. Or maybe just get a rash.
I’m going with vampire. Even if the sight of blood makes me woozy.
Now that the contracts are signed I see no reason to keep anything secret. Paula Guran has picked up “The Fox’s Daughter” from Beneath Ceaseless Skies #344 for the first issue of her new Year’s Best Fantasy series from Pyr Books. It’s nice to be working with Paula again. She was my line/copy editor for most of the Yamada Monogatari series when I was with Prime Books.
There have been a lot of YBF series over the years, and I’ve managed to appear in a few, but this is the first in a while. I remember the David Harwell and Kathryn Cramer Year’s Bests fondly, so it’s great to see a new one getting started. I’ll put up links as soon as Paula’s is out and I hope it does well. The field always benefits from a diversity of sources.
Spent the time I’d planned to use getting Monday’s blog entry on finishing a flash piece due tomorrow. Won’t be uploading it here to get me off the hook for a couple of reasons, foremost is the thing is still pretty rough and not yet suitable for human consumption. The second is it’s a little darker than I usually go, and this isn’t a horror-themed blog. Except when I talk about politics, which is another level of dark.
I usually spend later evenings in the (small) library where all my writing tools are. This time of year I’ll also be running a space heater which keeps the room cozy enough to tolerate. I’m a night owl, and First Reader is a morning lark. This usually works for me, since late evenings and very early mornings are quiet and conducive for working. It should be a good time to avoid interruptions, and yet…
Sometimes I’ll be at the computer when a sudden cold chill creeps up my legs. Before I can notify any of the paranormal shows, I remember what it is.
There he is above in a comfy spot. The cat has pushed the door open and let in the cold air as he comes in to get some attention. Yes, he can open the door but never bothers to close it. If I’m quick I can get up before he’s commandeered my lap and shut the bloody door. He gets his lap and scritches time, then gets bored and leaves.
And opens the door again.
This little morality play might occur anywhere from two to three times every evening. I love that cat, but I do wish he’d learn to shut the damn door.
P.S. Got a bit of good writing news last week. All will be revealed when the contracts are signed, and not one moment before.
Meditation on “To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church“
He: (watching a documentary on politics) ”O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!”
She: Burns had it wrong.
He: Which part?
She: Pretty much all of it. That wouldn’t be a gift. It would be a curse.
He: I’m thinking both Bobby Burns and the Louse might disagree.
She (Shrugs): Burns, maybe. But the Louse is free to roam and feed and live its lousy life only so long as its host remains blissfully unaware of its presence. As soon as the “gift” arrives, the jig is up.
She (attempting to nip that bud): If you’re about to mansplain what Burns meant about the potential difference in the poor woman’s attitude if she is humbled before her peers by hosting a common louse, spare me.
He: You can’t deny it would puncture her pretensions, and by extension, everyone else’s under the same circumstances.
She: You’re making my point. What is she pretending, except to be what her society expects from a proper woman of the time? Take that away from her, and what does she have left?
She: Rubbish. Every one of us, and that includes you, build our identities from the ground up, and that perspective would amount to what Tarot calls “a Tower moment,” when everything comes crashing down. No one could survive it with their sense of self intact. That leads to madness…perhaps literally.
He: That old “we become what we pretend to be” saw? Maybe we become what we’re supposed to be.
She: Now you’re excluding free will. Are you claiming our choices are preordained?
He: Maybe, and what’s that got to do with it?
She: Everything. There’s choice involved where building a sense of self. Not always good ones, but that’s the tragedy of free will. Maybe the “proper woman” motif is a bad choice, an unsustainable choice despite society’s expectations. But it’s hers. Does she deserve to lose it just because an observer sees what she does not?
He: Sorry, I just got a flash of the lady in church as a metaphor for Schrodinger’s cat. Alive or dead, proper or ridiculous, all depending on the observer.
She: For once you may not be too far wrong. Now. Do you really want your own fragile—and I say that because we are all fragile—identity and sense of self dependent on the kindness of strangers?
He: From a poet to a playwright. You’re mixing your argumentative metaphors.
She: Say rather I’m expanding my examples. If you always snort the same way when you choke back a laugh, do you really want or need to know that it sounds like a sow in heat?
He: It does?
She: That’s not the point. Assuming there’s nothing you can do about it, would you want to know?
He: I guess not…so, does it?
She: Of course not. It’s just an example.
He: As long as I don’t have to depend on the kindness of strangers.
This might go in the eventual Master & Apprentice flash series. For right now, I’ll put it here.
To Dine, Perchance to Scream
Master was already awake and up. This wasn’t unusual. Try as I might, I could never quite manage to rise before he did. That wasn’t the odd part.
Master simply sat at the table, smoking his ancient pipe and blowing smoke rings. Even then I wasn’t especially concerned, that is until I realized he was deep in thought.
That was never a good sign.
He finally looked at me. “We have a problem. Morea is hungry.”
“The dryad? I thought she didn’t need to eat.”
“Technically she is a maliades, not a dryad, since her tree is a mulberry, not an oak…I wouldn’t mention that to her if I were you.”
“Believe me, I won’t.”
“We’re having a dry spell. Now it’s come to my attention Morea is refusing to feed so that her tree can take in what water there is. Sunshine alone isn’t enough, and we can’t have the poor lass starving.”
I was beginning to see the issue. “Well, she can eat human food, right? The problem would be getting her to accept it.”
Morea, as I well knew, was a prickly and prideful creature. She would not accept charity from a human. Now I knew the reason for Master’s deep contemplation. Yet I’d had several run-ins with the nymph which Master had been wise enough to avoid. It wasn’t anything like a relationship, but it was something approaching an understanding. That is, I thought I understood her. Now was my chance to see if I was right.
“Master, I have an idea.”
“Pleased to hear it. Frankly, I’m at a loss.”
By noon I had reached the meadow carrying a heavy basket and doing my best to appear nonchalant. It was sunny and warm, though the trees ringing the meadow were resting in shadow.
“Lovely day for a picnic,” I said aloud, and to no one in particular.
I judged the distance and placed my basket just inside the shade of Morea’s mulberry tree. “I do need some wild onion. I saw some growing near the brook.”
Of course, no sooner had I taken a few steps I heard Morea’s laughter. I turned, and of course she had the basket.
“That’s mine,” I said.
“Anything in the shadow of my mulberry belongs to me, and don’t think I’ve forgotten the time you put your filthy hands on my tree. I think I still owe you something for that. Now watch.”
And I did, looking sullen, as she ate everything in the basket and drank the small jug of cider besides. I had wondered about the cider, but considering it was mostly water, I didn’t think it would hurt her. It did bring a bit of a blush to her already rosy cheeks.
“May I at least have the basket back?”
“Sure,” she said, and threw it at me. “One more thing…”
“Yes?” I asked.
“You’re a terrible actor. Thank you,” she said, and disappeared.