Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Another snippet of book 3 February 16, 2012

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Grace Awakening Myth,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:08 pm
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I was wondering today just what choir class was like for Ben.  Strangely enough, a window promptly opened, and here’s what I know now.

Meg eyed us suspiciously as Paul, Ryan and I came into the band room for choir.
“What’s this? A trio of fools?”
Ryan grinned at her. “Fools for love! Valentine’s Day approaches. Will you be my Valentine, Meg?”
Her expression gentled into a soft amusement. “Oh? Are you serious?”
He shook his head adamantly, “Not even vaguely. Are you kidding? You’re a black widow spider. Do I look suicidal?”
Her eyes narrowed.
Paul punched Ryan in the arm. “Apparently you are! Why would you say something like that?” His voice was low and he watched Meg warily.
She spun on her heels and joined the other altos
Ryan shrugged and continued, “Maybe I feel like living dangerously.” He glanced over at Tanis.
Paul grabbed his arm, “Oh, man. Don’t do it. Tanis is deadly.”
Ryan smirked, “Dynamite is deadly and dangerous, too, but it can be a wonderful thing when handled properly.”
“You think you can handle Tanis properly?”
Ryan winked, “Watch and learn, Paul. Watch and learn.”
Mr. Johnson clapped his hands, “Come on people! Let’s get going. Do you have the ‘Titanic’ score, ready?”
There was a flurry of papers as everyone lined up in sections and readied themselves for warm-up.
Ryan smiled at Tanis.
She wrinkled her brows as she smiled back automatically.
“Ben, give me a C?” I stepped over to the piano and struck middle C, then the octave below, then both together before returning to my spot. The class found their notes and Mr. J. directed us up and down the scales.
I watched Ryan as we sang. He kept catching Tanis’ eye. The first time she met it blankly, without interest.
He winked.
She blinked, and hastily glanced back to Mr. J. A few bars later, she looked back.
Ryan stared at her as he sang, “love can touch us…”
She blushed, looking away again, but moments later her gaze had wandered back.
He smiled dreamily at her as he sang, “You’re here in my heart.”
She inhaled, losing her pitch momentarily before returning his gaze as she sang, “You’re safe in my heart.”
They stared at each other, oblivious to the rest of the class as the final chord reverberated around us. As the notes died out, Ryan nodded at her.
Tanis nodded back.
They broke their gazes, and Ryan nudged Paul, whispering, “See? Putty in my hands. It’s all about crafting the moment. We’ll be telling our grandchildren about this.”
Ryan grunted and looked over to me in disgust.
I grinned, “What can I say? It’s the music. It does it every time.”
“It does, does it?” Meg’s eyes were narrow as she sidled up to us. “You’re sure of that, are you?”
“What do you mean, Meg?” Paul asked. “It seems to be working for Ryan.”
She sneered, “It might work for him, but he’s not the only one relying on the technique.” She stared maliciously at me.
I swallowed, bile rising up my throat like fire.
Paul shook his head, “Meg, Meg, Meg. Don’t be a hater.”
“You’re one to talk.” She raised her eyebrows, glancing at Tanis.
“Well, one traumatic experience shouldn’t turn you off love forever.”
Nonetheless, I noticed he crossed his legs somewhat nervously as he looked over to Tanis.
Ryan had wandered over to Tanis and said something that made her giggle and flutter her eyelashes at him.
I shook my head and muttered, “We should be taking lessons from him.”
Paul nodded. “Things not going well with Grace these days?”
I sighed. “Not particularly well, No.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
I shrugged. “She’s stubborn.”
“Maybe you’re trying too hard?”
I watched Tanis and Ryan flirting at the door, she punched him playfully in the bicep. He made a melodramatic gesture of agony and then pointed at his arm insistently. She shook her head, blushing, but as the bell rang, she quickly stood on tip toe and kissed the bicep. Ryan swoon and grabbed his heart. She giggled and headed out the door, tossing a coquettish look over her shoulder.
Ryan swung around and returned to us, grinning broadly. “She adores me.”
Paul shook his head doubtfully. It always starts well.”
“Not always,” I grumbled.
Paul clamped an arm around my shoulders. “Cheer up, Ben. She’ll come around eventually.”
Meg caught my eye and shook her head, mouthing, “No. She won’t.”


another snippet February 12, 2012

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Grace Awakening Myth — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:41 pm

from Grace Awakening Myth.  This is part of the J-Roy and Misty sub-plot.

I have to do what?” Paul asked, mouth agape.
“Come on man. You know you’ve always wanted to.”
“I wanted to date Georgia. I have definitely not wanted to take dance.”
“You’ll have fun. You’ll see Georgia every day.”
He sighed and rolled his eyes. “I’ll think about it.”
“Think about Georgia, wrapped in your arms, swaying to a slow dance, smiling up at you.”
Paul’s eyes glazed over and a sappy grin oozed across his face.  He stood there frozen.
I waited for a minute or two before I called him back from the vision. “Paul? Yo! Paul!”
“Hmm? Oh. Right.”
“So you’ll do it?”
He sighed again. “I’ll make an appointment with a counsellor.”
“Wait, Ben. I just thought of something.”
“Tanis isn’t in that class, is she?”
“Tanis?” I said innocently.
“You know. Tanis the Terrible. My ex-girlfriend? The one who promised to remove my testicles and serve them pickled as an hors d’oeuvre at the next Grad parent meeting?”
“Oh, right. That Tanis.”
“Make sure she’s not in the class.” He shifted a little, crossing his legs protectively. “She would not appreciate watching me practise my moves on Georgia.”
“Probably not,” I agreed. “If she is in the class, is there any other option?”
“Like what?”
“What if I can neutralize her?”
“Neutralize.” He smirked. “I like the sound of that. Sure. Neutralizing her will be fine as well.” He shut his locker and chuckled as he turned to go, muttering, “Neutralize her, Captain!”


Kharon drops in January 24, 2012

Further to my determination to squeeze out some writing or die trying, I thought I’d share the day’s efforts on Grace Awakening Myth (Book 3 of 4 in the Grace Awakening series).  It’s a first draft, remember.  To be honest, there are already some changes, but you’ll get the idea.  This is 1230 words.  My goal is about 1200 a day, (5 pages) or 6000 words (25 pages) a week.  That was the pace for the first 2 books in the series. 

As I sat down to write, the image in my head was of blackness.  I wrote about that while wondering exactly why it was so black, and then Kharon walked in… 

Truly, I just take dictation.  The story is just floating out there, waiting for me to listen to it.  Ben is narrating.

It’s a black night, Stygian black, as they say. That’s very black. The River Styx drifts, black as crude oil, roiling and burbling with the murmuring sibilance of thousands upon thousands of lost voices. Its thick waters seem to suck the light from the sky, and leave all around it in an inky grey wash. Kharon the boatman floats along on his ferry, pole in hand, pushing it away from the banks, gathering the departing souls and taking them safely to Hades, for the price of a coin, of course. He shows up at the stops to collect what Hermes has dropped off: the confused half-shadows, some still not quite aware that they are ghosts, reclaimed from new graves. The shades dazedly cough up their coin, and they load into the ferry as Hermes waves to them heartily and wishes them luck on the next part of their journey like some jolly tour guide. Hermes can be quite an ass. The vacuous faces hardly stir in response, though. Those without a coin are on their own to get across the Styx. If you’re on your own, you’re not going to make it across. Simple.

I shivered at the memory of that blackness and the descent into the sucking void of the underworld. This was earth though, and not the underworld. This was Grace, not Eurydice. It was a Stygian black night, though, and the oppressive gloom was creeping into my gut.

“Hey, there. Ben is it?” The low voice held a faint glimmer of amusement.

“Hello Kharon.” I nodded courteously, recognising him at once. Had my thoughts summoned him? Or was this dismal atmosphere a result of his presence? “What brings you here? You’re a little far from the river.”
“Not so far. A guy needs a bit of a break from water now and then, after all. The river flows where it needs to. It’s near enough that I can step ashore for a moment.” He looked around with interest. “I thought I’d come have a chat with you.”

“With me?” My heart stopped for a moment. “I’m honoured, of course,” I said with a polite incline of my head, “but…uh…why?”

He smiled. His long nose and slightly blue tinged skin made it a rather eerie expression. Though it was probably meant to be reassuring, it made him look a trifle morose. It didn’t lighten the mood, at any rate.

I waited while he stood ponderously thinking. His thoughts seemed to move like he was punting through them with the stick he used on the ferry. They moved slowly and methodically in one direction. Patiently was the only way to communicate with Kharon. He would not be rushed.

Finally he said, “It’s about the girl.”

I took a deep breath. “Which girl? Grace?”

He shook his head. “No. The other one.”

“Other one?”

“From before. You know. The snake bit her, and you went to Hades to try to get her out? You snuck by the dog with some singing and got everyone down there all in a mush of sentimentality with your music, and they let you take her. But something happened and she had to stay, after all.”

“I looked back.” I whispered, suddenly cold.

“Ah.” Kharon nodded sagely. “Oh right. Looking back can cause a lot of problems for a person, can’t it?”

“Apparently.” I tried to bite back the sarcastic tone in response to his unintentional understatement.

“Yeah. Well. She was at the river bank the other day when I went by, and she asked me to give you a message.”

I swallowed. Then swallowed again. My mouth was the Sahara all of a sudden. I croaked, “She asked you…to give me a message.” She had never tried to communicate with me before. Why did she need to send a message now? What did she know?

He nodded in confirmation at my dazed expression, then after making sure that I was paying attention he looked up, as if trying to recall her exact words. He cleared his throat and intoned, “She said, ‘If you have a chance to see my love, when you’re above. Tell him that the song has many verses, some rich with hate and curses, but that he deserves whatever joy, that girl can give a boy.’”

“She rhymed it?”

He shrugged. “I think she thought it’d help me remember.”


“I think she misses you,” he added. “She looked sad.”

“She’s been in the underworld for a couple of thousand years. Of course she’s sad.”

Kharon shrugged again. “Not everyone is. They get used to it. Everyone has to be there eventually after all.”

“I suppose.” It hurt to think about Eurydice. It hurt to remember that my failure doomed her to that two thousand years in the underworld. She wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t been inept. My failure. Mine. It wasn’t Kharon’s fault. “Thanks for passing along the message.”

He nodded. “I think she was afraid Hermes wouldn’t deliver it and Iris doesn’t have reception there.”

“Oh yes. Of course not. I appreciate you taking the effort.”

He stood waiting for something, with a studied nonchalance.

“Oh, wait.” I rummaged in my pockets and studied the coins. “I don’t have anything ancient. Will a twonie do?”

He eyed the polar bear on the two dollar coin dubiously. “A little on the cheap side, but whatever. Next time we meet in the Other Realm, you can top it up.” His mouth twitched in something that might have been a good-humoured smirk, but might not.

I chose to interpret it positively. “Thank you, Kharon.”

He started to stroll off with that particular, unsteady gait of sailors walking on land, and then looked back over his shoulder, “You take good care of that new girl, you hear? Don’t let looking back blind you to the possibilities ahead of you. What you’ve done before doesn’t have to bind your future.”

His words hit me like an arrow and I reverberated for a moment from the impact. When I went to answer him, he’d disappeared. With him went to ominous atmosphere of blackness, and I was able to take a deep breath again. The fresh air oxygenated my lungs and cleared my head, but his message sat heavily on my heart.

I thought of Eurydice from time to time, of course. If I was being honest with myself, it was her that made me most anxious about Grace. Eurydice was my first and greatest failure. My first love, my first wife, symbolized such an essential lack in my character that any thought of her ensured my elemental humility, despite the loud accolades about my brilliant talent. Such bone deep awareness of inadequacy is not overcome. Ever.

It is also why I am afraid that I won’t be able to protect Grace this time.

I’ll tell you a secret. I’m pretty sure that it is also why they appointed me her guardian. They don’t expect me to succeed. They think that it will appear they’re giving her a guard, when I’m actually so useless that she is doomed.
I know it.

I know it, and despite being overwhelmed with the awareness of my own inadequacies I am so damned full of pride that I’ll risk it anyway, rather than let Mars or Alexandros have the job. What kind of fool’s paradox is that?



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