More Stories from the Ever-Awesome Clive

I love Clive. Millions and millions of love. Now, I know it’s very wrong of writers to pick favorites among their characters – much like parents pouring love onto particular children and ignoring the rest. And while it’s true that I love all of my characters equally, and I take their lives and their stories very, very seriously, there is something special about Clive Fitzpatrick – Professor of Literature, Expert on Ancient Texts, Practitioner of Magic, and Defender of Good.

Clive gets me.

Without Clive, my book would not have been finished. He has been my muse, my support and my swift kick in the pants.

Anyway, in the many revisions of the book, I had to remove several selections from Clive’s scholarly, philosophical and folkloric works, and each one was like ripping a piece of my soul away. Clive, when he appeared in my dreams, or in my conversations with him on the page was much more even tempered about it. He has an easier time letting go. Well, bully for him. I can’t let go.

I’m thinking more and more about taking my little selections and expanding them into actual stories. I may even try to publish it under Clive’s name. Because I think he deserves it. Not that he’s my favorite or anything. He’s just……special. Extra special. Here’s a bit from one of his stories:

Once, there was a boy who looked like a boy and spoke like a boy and thought like a boy, but was not a boy at all. His parents, unaware of the non-boyness of their beautiful child, strapped shoes on feet that were meant to be bare and tethered him with baby carriers and swaddling and five-point harnesses to keep him from flying away.

You are our little boy,” his parents cooed as they buttoned his jacket, although the buttons turned to bugs, which turned to butterflies, which flew prettily out the open window. They pretended not to notice. They closed the window, and the shades, and the drapes.

You are our little boy,” his parents sang as they strapped him into a pram, which sprouted flowers, grass, and a crystal spring. They told the neighbors it was a garden ornament. They entered it into a neighborhood beautification contest and received an Honorable Mention.

The boy resisted. He fluttered, he heated, he trembled with magic and rage and frustration. But eventually came to love his parents and his home and his life. And eventually, he believed he was a boy, and called himself a boy.

But the boy would grow. And with growing comes knowing. Even a child knows that.

Tales from Nowhere (or Everywhere), by Clive Fitzpatrick


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And another cut bit

I’m closing in on the draft, which is actually more stressful than I thought. After all this work, all this thought and preparation, the idea that I’m going to actually send this thing, that I’ll transform it into little digital filaments and hurl it into the electronic ether, where it will spin, reassemble and land upon the waiting lap of my beloved Editrix – well, the thought fills me with so much anxiety and nervous energy I’m pretty sure I might hurl at any second.

Sigh.

Anyway, for those who like such things, here’s another little cut bit.

*****

Mr. Perkins crouched in the tall grasses and stared up at the Fitzpatrick house through a pair of bright green binoculars. He had watched Mr. and Mrs. Fitzpatrick leave two hours earlier without the boy, though followed by their troublingly large cats. For one terrifying moment, the cats turned in unison, their whip-like tails pointed towards the sky. They flexed the muscles in their broad shoulders and prepared themselves to pounce. Mr. Perkins held his breath.
“Gog,” Mr. Fitzpatrick called without looking back. “Magog. Come now. There’s a good kitty.” The cats stared towards the edge of the yard, tilted their ears forward and, with a sniff, turned around in unison and trotted after the Fitzpatricks. Mr. Perkins sighed and allowed his body to crumple to the ground. Once he had recovered himself, he opened his sketch pad.
“Seven thirty,” he wrote. “Professor and wife depart. Boy alone. Below that, he began to sketch the house. At first, he didn’t know he was doing it. He simply looked down and saw the broad eaves and the steep roof beginning to take form. He checked the windows. He saw no one peeking through. In all honesty, he was skeptical that he would recognize the boy even if he saw him. There were no pictures, after all.
“Seven fifty two, boy still not visible,” he wrote at the edge of the page.
“Eight thirty seven. No sign of the boy.” Lazy, he thought, though he didn’t know how the time passed so quickly and he suspected that he may have drifted to sleep.
By nine thirty, the sketch was finished, though, Mr. Perkins noticed, the end product looked nothing like the actual house. The roof in his drawing didn’t lay flat as roofs ought, but rather floated and wisped about like hair. He had tried to imagine a boy looking out the windows, and the shape and heft and coloring of that boy. Instead, he made windows that looked oddly like eyes, and a door that was uncomfortably like a mouth.
The Fizpatricks’ parrot had somehow gotten loose, and flew from window to window, trying to find a way back in. He wondered if the boy had let it out or if the bird had inadvertently escaped. Either way, he pressed his body deeper in the grass. He had met that parrot on four occasions, and none were pleasant. It had an exceptionally sharp beak, and Mr. Perkins had the scars to prove it.
“It’s a nasty thing, that parrot,” a voice said in his ear, “but it means well, and that counts for something.” Mr. Perkins dropped his sketchpad and pencil and scrambled sideways with a scream.
“It’s okay, Mr. Perkins. It’s me. Anders. Remember? Nils and Laura Lindstrom are my parents. You were at my house two weeks ago.” Mr. Perkins tried to slow his breathing and lower the panic out of his voice. He sat up and brushed himself off.
“Of course, of course,” he said, his voice pinched and scratchy. “Anders. Of course. You just startled me, that’s all. I was just…” he ground his teeth trying to think. “Taking some measurements. Official business.” He cleared his throat. “For the Exchange.”
Anders rested his chin on his patched knees and looked distinctly like he was trying not to smile. Mr. Perkins nearly wept in frustration.
“Taking measurements with a notebook instead of a measuring tape? That’ll take a while.”
Mr. Perkins stood, closing his notebook with a snap.
“Last I heard,” he said loftily, “it was considered rude for children to pry into grownup affairs. Now, I’d appreciate it if you’d run along, sonny.” He shoved his right hand decisively into his pocket.
Anders stood as well. He was a tall boy, nearly reaching Mr. Perkins’ eyebrows. Judging by his large hands and feet, he would likely grow to a giant of a man, but Mr. Perkins couldn’t be troubled by that now.
“I’m terribly sorry sir,” Anders said, still smiling. “I didn’t mean to bother you.” He began to walk towards the hazel trees. “But, if I were you, I’d give up trying to get information from a bunch of weeds. You want to know about that kid, you can just ask him.” And with that, Anders ducked under the tree branches and disappeared into the corn.

Another cut bit

So, a theme that pops up in my book quite a bit is the issue of dualism – and with that, the idea that it’s not so much the triumph of good over evil, but the capacity in all of us to commit good, commit evil, and the inherent power of choosing. And, in fact, the trouble begins in our little town of Hazelwood when a dreadful man splits a powerful and magical being into two separate entities, one good and one bad in order to unlock the power that exists in stasis between good and bad. Each entity, therefore is robbed of the power of choosing and, in Hazelwood, Things Get Sticky.

Anyway, I love this conversation between Wendy (Prickly Girl You Don’t Want To Cross) and the Mouse Boy (Magical Creature With Unclear Intentions). But I had to cut it because the Mouse Boy was aborted from the text. Poor Mouse Boy.

Anyway, here’s the cut bit for the day:

Wendy stood in the center of dancers. The very small boy sat on her shoulder. The dancers were strange, of course. Really, anyone who pops into being after whirling around in a broken mirror is simply not expected to be ordinary. That there were men and women covered in fur, or moss, or leaves, this, Wendy felt, was probably to be expected. Similarly, that there were dancers as small as the mouse boy on her shoulder, and dancers as tall as the four pines at the edge of her back yard – this she could accept as well. But the double vision, this was entirely too much.

“Why, “ she asked the mouse boy, “are there two of everyone?” Each dancer, locked in arms with their partners, had a mirror image that slipped from side to side. When the dancer smiled, the mirror image smirked. When the dancer laughed, the image cackled.
“There are two of you, “ the mouse boy answered, “when you look in the mirror.”
“But it’s not two. It’s just a reflection.”

“You can think about it that way. Or perhaps the you in the mirror is you in opposite. Perhaps you have two faces, one kind and one wicked. You never know, really. In the end, how do you know exactly which side of the mirror you’re on?”

“You’re insane,” Wendy said, but then she noticed something. She pulled out the mirror shard that she had carefully placed in the pocket of her cut-offs. At her feet, another shard gleamed, and she picked it up. The boy on her shoulder whistled. In each shard a dancer with green hair and skin made of violet petals danced around and around. The same dancer, with her mirror image danced closer and closer her violet petal arms fluttering in an imagined breeze. Both dancer and image looked at Wendy with opposing expressions – one hopeful, the other worried. Each shard had a jagged edge that mirrored the other.

“Look,” Wendy said. “They fit together.” There was a click and scrape of glass, a flash of light, and a loud cry of – pain? joy? – Wendy could not tell, though she suspected it was both.
The dancers stopped. The room fell silent, and Wendy could hear her own breathing. The dancer stood before her, examining her violet hands, her feet that looked more like roots than anything else. She was herself. She had no image. The dancer fell to her knees, panting heavily and laid her head on the stone floor.

“Oh my god, I killed her,” Wendy said, laying the two mirror shards – now fused into one – on the ground.

“Nawp,” the mouse boy said. “She’s just sleeping. It’s exhausting, you know. She’ll feel better when she wakes up. Not so dizzy.”

The dancers waited.

“What are they waiting for,” she whispered.

“What do you think?” the boy said. “Fine. It’s a story, you see? Or an explanation.” He took a deep breath. “It’s the same thing, you know. Honestly, even a child could get it. Once there was a fairy with two faces, one good and one bad.”

Wendy listened to the story. It didn’t explain anything. Until it did.

“Oh,” she said, and her heart sank. “Oh.”