Reply To: Exercise 4

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Thanks for your feedback, Peter! That’s great to know you still feel the senses in scene. Here’s the expanded version with Tuesday’s work. I did a tiny bit of editing to what was there and continued another 20ish minutes, 372 words last night. no new bagels


From the in-flight first draft flash, working title “Suzana and the Time-Twisted Trials”


The trumpets tat-a-tat-tatted, a joyous sound raining down around Suzana’s family, her best friend Ashley and what remained of her family, all of them in their funeral finery. No black allowed, not when celebrating a life like Ashley’s dad had led. Suzana’s grip on Ashley’s hand tightened. Ashley’s dad, the closest thing Suzana could ever remember to a dad, should be giving them a hard time about plotting how to get out of bagel. He should not have been the third Uncertain assassinated in as many weeks. Bagel concept of what this society looks like. Bagel, now best friend is in financial straights. Bagel, in scene being mocked for what she’s worn to celebrate her best friend’s dad.


Suzana pushed crates out of the way. They obscured the cellar corner she craved. Why did her family keep them? These remnants from a time their neighbors still admired them. Thanked them for their harrowing service by bringing tomatoes, potatoes, apples and more by the peck. If she could shove herself deep enough back there, she wouldn’t have to face the laughter at her thrice-mended socks, the stitches in rainbow colors from the threads scavenged from the shirt in the scraps bag. Of course her toes had shoved through the hole she’d poked in the shoe’s leather tip, so thin she needn’t lie about it being unintended.

A rock rolled under her foot, lurching her into a crate so darkened with age, it might have been the first they ever received. She picked up the offender, prepared to hurl it. An earthy smell teased at her, the ground fresh with rain. A nub on the end, and another, impossibly soft against her palm. This was a potato, and as shriveled as it was, it clung to the promise of new lives. The prize belonged in the garden, eyes cut out to seed at least two plants. Maybe more? Carefully, she nudged it into her pants pocket.

As she squiggled her way back out through the wreckage she’d created, a ray of sunlight lucky enough to spear through the cellar window’s grime reflected brilliantly off a squiggle in the dirt. The flash of metal disappeared at the base of that oldest crate. Without care for her knees, she slammed to the ground. Only one metal, one piece of jewelry had such allure. But it wasn’t possible. The Certains had destroyed every last one of the Time-Twisting necklaces. No, the known necklaces.

Was her great-grandmother’s story true? That during the first casting, the family’s best mouser, White Whiskers, had stolen one before the final spell had locked in the magics of twisting time against itself back as well as forth—to step through, amend a past that had led to an unfortunate future, and return to the zero point of the new future? No one had seen it again, her ’gama used to say, probably for the best, because if anyone ever tried to use it, no telling if they’d successfully return.

This thin strand of metal kinked right, left, right, doubling back on itself, so unlike the fine herringbone strands locking together. She’d held only the Learning one, the bracelet limited to jumps a few days back and no more, but identical in look and feel to the others her ancestors had crafted in the Time of Calamities. White Whiskers had mangled this, but the necklace held together. That’s what mattered, right? If only she could free it from its prison. She needn’t come back to now. She’d reach it in good time.

Fingernail bits shredded off as she clawed at the dirt, solidly pounded into the cellar’s base. She bit down on her tongue, hard enough for saliva to pool up. Taking aim, she spit onto the metal. The shine intensified, the same red-gold as the sketch at the back of their family bible, looked at so many times in the six years since the Certains destroyed all the possibilities.

Did she dare run to the barn for a hand trowel? Maybe a screwdriver from her mom’s tool chest? No, if anyone saw her, the state of her fingernails would invite questions. That queasiness of dodging, or lying, never eased up.

The old crates yielded the answer, a length of wood that she might have cracked off when she ventured into this hideout. To keep splinters from skewering her, she wrapped her shirt around it, then resumed work digging. Against her determination, the ground yielded the necklace.

Red gold, a blaze of heat against her palm. The air sizzled. Her tears, proving the necklace’s power.


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