October 16, 2018, 12:46:03 AM

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Messages - JMack

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So, “Two Small Magics” makes 44 stories and 2 poems that I’ve posted in the four years since November 2014, not missing one contest, even if by the skin of my teeth a few times.

@xiagan and @ScarletBea, it’s impossible to say how much this Writing Contest Club has meant to me. I’m a writer because of it and because of you.

The discipline of a champion @JMack . Sounds like you've got yourself a hefty anthology there. Ever think of publishing them as a collection?

It would be fun to do.  :) Lots of editing.  :o

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Unrelated to all that: I just noticed the northern lights for the first time this fall. They're quite faint, but with a bit of luck they'll be more visible in a couple of hours.

Mrs. JMack and I have seeing the Lights on our bucket list. One of these days, we’ll just grab a flight and go north...

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So, “Two Small Magics” makes 44 stories and 2 poems that I’ve posted in the four years since November 2014, not missing one contest, even if by the skin of my teeth a few times.

@xiagan and @ScarletBea, it’s impossible to say how much this Writing Contest Club has meant to me. I’m a writer because of it and because of you.

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1,498 Words

TWO SMALL MAGICS

Spoiler for Hiden:
Mama led her two boys deep into the Blackwood, following a faint fairy trail that seems to wander in circles. She stopped frequently to rest. The boys danced around her. “Real fairies?” asked Aulie breathlessly. “Fairies aren’t real,” Padden scoffed, imitating their da.

“Shh.” Mama put a finger to her lips while she pushed aside a mat of vines to reveal a twilit grotto tucked behind an ancient ash and a moss-clad cleft in the land. She sat the brothers down on a bed of brown leaves and brought out four cups and a clay jar she'd brought in a hamper. “Many years ago,” she said, “my grandfather’s father, his name was Carbin Hode, was a trapper and hunter here in the Blackwood.”

“Da’s a farmer,” offered Aulie.

“Yes, sweet. I married a farmer, so you’re sons of the field. But my da and and his da were men of the forest.”

Aulie and Padden shared a wide-eyed look. Their ma had a da? They only knew their da’s da. He was a hard man who answered any mistake with a mean smack. Like their da did, but even worse.

“Now,” Mama continued. “Carbin Hode was checking his traps one day when he came across a fairy caught by the leg and dangling from a tree.” She touched the bole of the ash. “This very tree.”

“Fairies aren’t real,” Padden said again, then “Ow!” when the normally peaceful Aulie punched his shoulder.

Mama was silent until they settled. “Your great-great-grandfather struck a deal with fairy, then set him free. In return, the fairy gave him a small magic, and promised that any child of his, and any child of his children down to seven generations could come to this hidden place and receive another magic. Just one. And it could be used just once, for one small thing. One little wish.”

The talking tired her, so she let the boys think a while.

“Did you get a magic from the fairies?” Aulie asked.

Mama’s smile had sadness mixed in. “Yes, sweet.”

“What happened to it?” asked Padden.

“I used it to catch the eye of a handsome lad.”

“Was that Da?” the boys asked together.

“Well, maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t, but what’s done is done, and what’s done isn’t always what we think it is.” She ignored the boys’ confused looks, while setting out four portions of bread and butter on little plates. “My question, though,” she said after the food was ready, “is whether you want your own small magic. It’s all I have left to give you. But you don’t have to take it. It might even be simpler for you if you don’t.”

Aulie nodded first, then Padden. Their eyes filled with tears, and they rushed into their mama’s arms, babbling.

*******

When she died, they buried their magics under a stone near her grave in the church yard. “What good are they, anyway,” said Padden.

“We should have used them before she…” Aulie trailed off.

“She told us not too.” Padden kicked dirt over the shining things. “They’re not real, anyway.” Aulie sprang at him, and the two rolled on the ground, throwing punches.

It was that way from then on. While their father drank and raged and the farm went to weed, the brothers ignored each other or fought when they couldn’t stand it anymore.

The day sixteen-year-old Padden ran off, Aulie found his brother’s magic dug up and gone. Good riddance, he thought. Maybe now he’d have some peace. He walked home, kicking stones. Peace. He’d not get any. Da would be waiting, and only Aulie would be there to take the brunt of him. The summer wind gave him shivers.

He stopped dead in the road, one foot forward, one foot back.

The fairy’s magic. Aulie wondered what it could really do. Maybe it could trip a man, send him sprawling. A man could get himself killed, falling. Or maybe it could make a horse kick, catch a person on the side of the head. Just a little wish and he’d be free, too, just like Padden.

Aulie shook himself. I’m such a coward, he said to himself, and continued home. He went around to the barn. “I’m back, Da,” he called.

His father lay stretched out unmoving in the yard. Aulie’s heart caught and stopped. Then he saw the empty bottle by his outstretched hand and heard a long, drunken snore. Aulie marched to the horse trough, scooped up a bucket of stinking water, and flung it across the old cuss’s face.

Da rose yelling and spluttering, scrubbing water from his eyes. Aulie stood frozen, open-mouthed, gripping the bucket. “You!” Da roared. “You’re dead, boy!” If he’d not been reeling drunk, he’d have caught Aulie in his first lunge. Instead, his boots slipped in the fresh mud, sending him sprawling again. He struck a rock in the ground headfirst with a sound like a melon splitting.

Aulie stared, sickened. His world spun. A man could trip. A man could get killed just from falling. All it took was a little magic.

But he hadn’t used it. He knew he hadn’t! But he’d wished it. Maybe that was enough.

He found himself running, back to the church, back to the place they’d buried the magics. He dug and dug, searching, dreading. He only stopped when the pastor’s daughter followed the sound of weeping and took him shaking in her arms. The magic was gone.

Aulie tried to live with what he’d done. He fixed up the farm. He courted the pastor’s daughter and carried her over the threshold. He dreamed of children, but somehow they didn’t come. He tried to be a good man in spite of himself. He loved his wife, and hoped she loved him in return; but he sensed more than saw the wall between them.

The year that Aulie bought his neighbor’s orchard and was voted onto the village council, a stranger rode up to the farm and dismounted. He looked with wonder at the white-washed boards where rough logs had sided the house, the orderly yard where only weeds had grown, and the trim woman throwing seed to a cackling flock of chickens. She shaded her eyes against the sun.

“Can I help you? My husband’s just around back.”

“Anna? Is it Anna Millman?” asked the man.

“Not Millman, not for a while now.” She looked the stranger up and down. Then the feed dropped from her apron as her hands came to her mouth in an O of surprise. “It can’t be Padden, can it?”

Padden smiled at being recognized. “I heard Aulie took a wife. I'm pleased it’s you.” He remembered Anna, remembered they’d smiled across the pews at each other on a Sunday. Who knew what might have happened had he stayed.

Anna took Padden’s travel bag. “Don’t just stand there, Padden Fields. Aulie’s in back. I’ll put another chicken in the pot for dinner.”

Padden found his brother clearing a stone from the shoe of a stolid plow horse. Aulie straightened. A rare smiled creased his lips, then was gone. He clapped Padden on the shoulder. “You look good, brother,” he said. “You’ve done well.”

“You grew taller than me,” laughed Padden. “When did that happen?”

They waved to Anna and walked to the church. Da’s headstone was next to their mother’s. Aulie had kept them both well-tended. He said a prayer over their graves while Padden stood back. They sat under a tree by where they’d buried the fairy magics.

“You used her gift well,” said Aulie to his brother, eying his well-made clothes and polished boots.

Padden looked away. “Oh, certainly,” he said. Then he shook his head. “Actually, no. I never used it. I thought to, many times.” He licked his lips. Aulie saw a vein throbbing in his temple. “Both of them.”

“Both?” The weight on Aulie’s heart shifted.

“I’m ashamed, brother. Truly ashamed.”

Aulie turned away, feeling tears come for the first time since da’s death.

“I came back that same day.” Padden’s voice had a ragged edge. “And I stole your magic. I was selfish, stupid. I wanted to hurt you.” He brought a fine linen handkerchief from his pocket and unwrapped two tiny glowing spheres.

Aulie hands clenched. His jaw ached.

“Will you forgive me?” Padden pleaded. “Say you will.”

A vision of their mother’s face came to Aulie. She wouldn’t want them at odds. Not even with their da, dead as he was. “What’s done is done,” he said. “and what’s done isn’t always what we think it is.”

He placed his magic on their father’s grave, and broke it under his shoe. When he stood back, a lily shoot broke free to kiss the air.

After a moment, Padden set his down on their mother’s side. A little magic. What could it do? He thought of Aulie and Anna and the old house, so empty of children, and made a wish.


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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: October 08, 2018, 11:14:09 AM »
I'm reading Warbreaker. I was just thinking that Denth and Tonk Fah are definitely one of the most humorous duo and lovable duo in fantasy when that acene came up.
I'm tired of things like these, to be honest.  :(
Can't books these days be wholesome and humorous anymore? I avoided grimdark because of this, but end up meeting it all the same.  :-\
oh, I love Warbreaker. I hope you don’t give up on it. I found it worthwhile in every way. Even in spite of that scene.

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Started one draft yesterday.
Somewhere between then and this morning, I ended up interested in a totally different story.
1st draft done at 1,500 words. Some polishing needed, but it holds together.

Now I have to decide whether to go back to the other story and finish it, too.

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: October 07, 2018, 04:53:20 PM »
I finished The Power, by Naomi Alderman - what a book!!! :o :o

It tells the story of the events happening around the world when one day women get a natural ability to give electric shocks.
Where do men fit it?
How are things changing?
Throughout the book we realise that people are people, that women aren't "soft" and men "evil", and it really messes up your mind completely. There are some really uncomfortable scenes that really make you think how women live in certain parts of the world, next door, what is considered normal.

From the ackknowledgements Naomi talked with Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin while writing the book, just to give you an idea of the support this had.

Honestly, everyone should read this and think.

JMacksdotter read that book too, and also found it disturbing and compelling.

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I’ve not read the book, but I’ve heard the phrase. It sort of means what it says: she gave full respect and all the courtesy due to someone for whom you have that respect. Perhaps listening fully, giving weight to what they say, bowing just a bit deeper, etc.

At least that’s my understanding of it.

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General Discussion / Re: Member birthday calendar
« on: October 04, 2018, 11:30:28 AM »
Thanks, guys. I ended up in the dentist chair, but otherwise it was a fine day.
And yes, once upon a time (November 2014), my initial moniker here was “JMacyK”.
But JMack is much easier to remember, so...

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: October 03, 2018, 12:06:33 PM »
@Slaykomimi , That book sounds interesting.
I’m a big fan of Japanese art (https://shinhangagallery.com), movies, Studio Ghibli, but haven’t read much. (The Sound of Waves is a lovely book.)


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Introductions / Re: Say Hi, I'm new thread
« on: October 03, 2018, 12:02:51 PM »
Hi, @Jenny HJ

I’ll be very interested to know whether you find the Forum experience engaging after the Facebook one. (There’s no correct answer, of course.) Most of us who’ve been here awhile haven’t gotten into the FB side much. Anyway, just curiosity. As said above, things go a little slower here, but there are also a bunch of us who’ve formed quite important friendships here.

But welcome in every case! I’ve read Gardens of the Moon and loved it. Started Deadhouse, but haven’t gotten into it yet. I had the same experience with Gardens; it took a few restarts to get going, and then I loved loved loved it.

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Aaahhh, tourists.

We have now entered the period when clusters of these foul creatures will park their cars on dark country highways, turn off the lights, then mill about gawping up at the northern lights, heedless of the freaking traffic!

There’s traffic in Iceland?  :o
Okay fine, there’s traffic. But how dangerous can elf sledges and three runaway goats be?
(Don’t hit me)

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I just wrote my first draft and will start editing it tomorrow.
But before releasing it I will need to send it to someone here in the forum to read it first, it turned out very dark and violent and I dont want to shock others, or even get banned.

If you truly want a pre-read, happy to do it. Just send a PM.

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[JUL + AUG 2018] Games / Re: [Jul+Aug 2018] - Games - Voting Thread
« on: October 03, 2018, 11:37:53 AM »
Congrats, @Alex Hormann for a really smart story.

I voted for Family Game Night @wyvern for its lonely MC
Playing the Devil  @Carter for its mysterious vibe
And Final Days @J.R. Darewood for making me laugh out loud. This was my favorite story of the month.

But Carter, I havevadmit I want the answer spelled out. I think I got it....
Maybe in spoilers below? Please?  ;D

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Hmm... current favorites.

These have been mentioned and certainly are among my favorites:

Jordan - WoT
Donaldson - Thomas covenant
Tolkien - LoTR
Martin - ASOIAF
Pratchett - Discworld
Abraham & Frank - Expanse
Rowling - HP
Sanderson - Warbreaker (What a book)
Lawrence - PoT

Meanwhile, some other nominations:

Tad Williams - Memory, Sorrow & Thorn; Shadow series
Cj Cherryh - Faded Sun, Chanur, Morgaine, Cyteen, etc.
Orson Scott Card - Ender, Alvin Maker
David Brin - Uplift series
Lois McMaster Bujold - Miles Vorkosigan series
David Weber - Honorverse
Frank Herbert - Dune (who cares about the other books; haven’t read ‘em, no interest)
Gordon Dickson - Soldier Ask Not


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