Number 9

In the last hours of summer, as the season was waning and getting ready for the equinox, Verse's ninth kitten, who shall go unnamed, but not unloved, passed away in the wee hours of the morning.  It did not live to see the falling of the leaves, or the way that the autumn sky lights up with the clouds in the evenings as the sun sets and turns everything to a bright brilliant red. It did not get to see the leaves change from green to yellow to orange as the season progresses, eventually turning brown and falling off.  It never opened its eyes to see Mr. A and DJ looking down at it, with love and devotion. 

 But it did know the feel of love.  It knew that love poured into his little body every time he snuggled up to his mother and put that nipple in his mouth, the warm milk giving it just enough to hold on until his little heart was too full of love and let go into the hereafter.  It was old enough to feel the warm bodies of his brothers and sisters as he looks his last breath, pressing up against him, letting him know that he too was part of something special and wonderful and so full of love and devotion, that there was nothing in the world better than being in this fur pile. He could smell the breath of his mother, pouring over him as she licked him and cared for him, nuzzling him with her face. He is to be envied, for he will never know a world with cold bitterness or hate. He will never know a world where there wasn't someone there to love him, to nuzzle him, to take care of every need, to make sure that he is comfortable.

 His spirit, his energy, will flow into his brothers and sisters who will feel his love for him always, even if they don't know what that love is, but they will know that there is something in their little kitten hearts that makes them stronger, that makes them take on the world as they grow, and separate.  He will be the thread that connects them through all of their lives, because he will be there to watch over all of them. And when their time comes, many years down the road, he will be waiting for them, still a kitten at the foot of that rainbow bridge asking what took them so long, and talking so fast about all of the great people and pets that he has to introduce them to as they cross over that bridge themselves. He will forever remain a kitten in the hearts of those who loved him.


The Spider's Web (Part II of The Escape).

Just a quick note. I don't think this is going to go on much longer than three parts, but we'll see. I'm sort of writing it as I go, and this is all rough draft of a story I'm still kind of making up in my head.  If you like it, let me know by leaving me a comment here or on Twitter, since that's where I pretty much live. Thanks for reading!

The bustle of the city was not one that I expected. I knew that the ghetto was crowded, but I did not expect that the city would be crowded as well.  I pushed through a few crowds, mumbling my apologies in Polish, smiling kindly when one gentleman or another tipped his hat at us as we wandered through the streets. I had the directions in my head, and had repeated them back to Mila several times before we left the ghetto, but my head was so full of fear that I would forget where I was going.
Three right turns, several left turns, and I find myself in a part of Warsaw that I had never heard of before and never seen.  This part of town was dark and the buildings were decaying.  Looking around at it, I was surprised that they had not made this part of the city, this beaten, old part of the city that looked as if was about to crumble into instant decay, the ghetto.  I almost forgot my errand as I looked at this old narrow architecture, the pathways barely large enough for two people to walk abreast of each other. Gustav whined a little bit, clutching on to my skirt and popping his thumb into his mouth the way that he did when he was nervous or scared.  I looked down at him, and his eyes were full of fright and worry.
"My darling, you have to trust me," I leaned down and smiled. "We are having an adventure.  Would I let any harm come to you?"
He shook his head and I smiled at him as his thumb made an audible pop when he removed it from his mouth. "But Mum.. there are spiders." His voice trembled and his eyes scanned the walls up and down the alley.  The dark walls did have a copious amount of spiderwebs on them, twisted among the masonry of the buildings and hanging in doorways and window frames like so much delicate lace placed there by a gentle hand.  
"Oh, those," I said, trying to sound reassuring. "Well, you know about spiders, don't you?"
Gustav's eyes lit up with curiosity, and the fear seemed to drain from his tiny body. "No," he said. "What do spiders do?"
"Well," I replied, trying to put on my best adult knowledge voice and not let the fear that I felt myself creep into my voice. "Well, you see... Spiders eat other bugs. They actually help out a lot because they will eat things like fleas, and baby creepy crawlies and flies and things like that.  They wrap them up in a big warm blanket of spiders web..." I stopped at this point, and checked the spider web in the one of the windows of a shop, making sure that there were no spiders on it before pulling it off carefully, and holding it out to Gustav. "See, they make these webs, and the webs catch the bugs in them, see how it's sticking to my fingers?"
Gustav experimentally pulled out his own finger and placed it in the spider's web and watched as it clung to the very tip of his finger.  He pulled it back a bit and giggled when a strand or two of webbing followed behind it.  His eyes widened in wonder as he began to wave the strands back and forth like a little flag. 
"So," I continued, "The spider wraps up the little bugs to protect them from the big bad world. They wrap them all up in soft bundles and hug them and squeeze them so that they can't get out and hurt humans. They take all the nasty bugs and protect us from them."
"Then why do they bite humans?"  The curiosity had overcome his fear.
"Remember what I told you about bees when we were in the country?" I asked him, thinking about the time that we had gone into the country and there were patches of flowers in a meadow, the bees buzzing warmly in the spring sunlight, fuzzy fat bodies collecting the nectar of the flowers. 
Gustav nodded.
"Well, bees don't sting humans if humans don't bother them.  If you leave them alone, they will go about their day and be a wonderful thing and make honey just for us."
"For our tea?"
"Yes, for our tea.  Well, the spiders don't bite us very often except for the same reason.  They bite us if they are scared or if we bother them."
"Is that what the red sheet means, with the spider on it?  That they are going to help protect us like the spiders protect the us from the other bugs?"
My throat closed up in fear and apprehension and I was uncertain how to answer him, so I merely stood, brushing the cobwebs off of the front of my dress and took his tiny hand in mine. "Yes.  They are here to protect people."
Just not us I thought as I took his hand in mine again and we continued our long journey.


Escape (Working Title)

This is the first part of a story that was written for Ego's (Amanda McCormick) blog challenge. The prompt was Write a story including the following three elements: A stolen ring, fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger.  My story has some of those things, and is not finished. More will follow..


"But Maman, I don't want to go."  The small voice at my side was high and frightened, wanting something that I couldn't give it, telling me that there was something wrong in their world, and there was little that I could do to end that fearful voice. 
I gently pushed at his back, the cloth of his rough woolen jacket pressing against my fingers, and smiled at him as best as I could, trying to tell him that I was brave, that there was nothing to worry about.  My son looked up at me with a smile, with eyes that shined with trust and I smiled back at him, trying not to cry. "We will be fine, Gustav.  There is nothing to worry about.  We have nothing to worry about."
We walked through the ghetto, and I tried to avoid the eyes of everybody around me. I did not want to look into anybody's face, and I did not want to think about what we were about to do. All I did was clutch Gustav's tiny little hand in mine and keep going. I did not want to look like I was racing anywhere, I did not want to look like I was dawdling either, so I tried to keep my pace normal as I wandered down the streets.  The stones of the old roadways rose and fell and she was afraid of catching her boot on the edge, but they made it to the arches of the ghetto and paused. 
"What are we doing here, Maman?" Gustav asked. 
"We are going to see an old friend of mine," I said, as I watched the hordes of other jews walk in and out of the gateway in front of me. Greta had told me how to do this, but I still was scared, I still didn't know if I could do it.  I smiled down at Gustav, hoping that my smile was reassuring, or at least refreshing, since he hadn't seen it much in the last while, but he only looked up at me with the same looks on his face, a crease of concern on his brow and his little hand squeezing mine has tight has he could. He hadn't been this close to the gates of the ghetto in a while, and I tried to be reassuring, but it was as if he could sense the fear in my body. I smiled at him, and then turned towards the corner and slid the yellow armband off of my arm, quickly, so as not to be noticed.  Gustav's eyes widened a bit at this; he was too young to wear an armand successfully, so he did not have one on his arm, but he knew that there was a punishment for not wearing the star. Even at the young age of three, he had seen death in the streets of the ghetto.
I slipped the star into my pocket and watched the flow of the crowd, and joined the stream just behind a nice older couple, who smiled brightly and held hands as they walked out the gate.  I kept expecting the guards to jump out at me, to question me, to ask to see my star, to ask to see my papers, but the young men, who both wore shiny golden pins with the swastika in black on it. They smiled down at me, and Gustav, and I smiled back, but averted my eyes quickly.  I did not want them too see the blush on my cheek or the fear in my eyes.
I had memorized the directions to the dealer's house.  Someone on the inside had told me about him.  I was not sure that I could trust this man, a broker in lost items and a finder of hidden things. I had hoped that he could perhaps find what I was looking for, and had sent word to him before I chose to take this journey.  His answer was rolled tightly in a ball in the hem of my pocket. Just a single word printed in old script. "Come".  it was the best that I could do for myself and Gustav, and so here I was, skirting the walls of the Ghetto, furtively looking through the streets, avoiding each face as much as I could while still making sure that I kept my head held high, as if I belonged.  The trick was to look like you belonged.
The ghetto here at Warsaw was not what we expected when we were told that we would have to move out of the country and into the city. We had expected clean housing, a community of Jewish people who would help take care of us in the absence of my husband, a people that we could call family, even if we weren't related by blood.  What we found was ... none of that.  What we found was a community living in fear, where we were hunted or holed up like so many vermin, packed in so close that we did not have privacy, in a place where - in order to get ahead - sometimes a neighbor, a roommate, even a relative that you happened to find living in the same terrible conditions would rat on you. And there were rumors that our own Judenrat within our ghetto was working with the Germans, getting ready to deport us all. Some had said that there were families who had managed to find a way out, a place to live outside the ghetto, a way to get away, that their relatives on the council had told them that it would be best if they left.
I had heard that rumor too, through the lips of Marta Klein, who had suddenly disappeared one night with her daughter from the ghetto. She had let slip that she wasn't going to be around anymore for the Germans to kick around, and I was uncertain what she meant, until she was no longer there. It was Marta's disappearance that had led me to finally get up the courage to seek out help from outside the ghetto.
I held Gustav's hand tightly, and in the other hand, I squeezed the stolen ring that was going to be our ticket out.
(to be continued...)


Ego's Blog Challenge: Day One

Blog challenge: Introduce yourself as a writer.  Write a post introducing yourself as a writer! Talk about what you're working on/what you have worked on! Talk about how long you have been writing and what got you started/why you do it! And then talk about why you're doing this challenge! Bonus points if you link to other people who are doing the challenge! Drop your post in here when you're done!
Hi, I'm ToryLynn Writer.  Well, Writer is sort of a profession, but the reason that I use Writer as a moniker was that when I finally decided to be serious about writing on Second Life, they had the last name Writer available, and so about ten years ago, I became ToryLynn Writer. It kind of stuck. As a writer, I always figure that if I decide to have a pen name, it will just be Tory Lynn, or maybe Tory Lynn something, but I've been going by Tory or ToryLynn for over ten years now and it feels natural to do that. 
Ten years ago, however, was just when I discovered Second Life and the writing communities there. I had, and still have, been a writer for much longer than that.  In fact, I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't telling stories of some sort.  I know that it's kind of a cliche for writers to say "Oh, I've been writing as long as I can remember", and then there's always the "I write because that's what I have to do to keep my sanity" trope.  I guess I'm just a tropish cliche because that's who I am; that's what I do. 
One of my earliest memories was telling my grandmother and having her transcribe a story about a black unicorn that didn't fit in with the other unicorns and was teased all the time. I probably was like four or five at the time, but I think it speaks volumes about my mental state at the time, and pretty much for the rest of my life.  I have always felt like I don't really "fit in" in places sometimes. I feel like there are things in my life, or people in my life who are just there because I happen to be taking up space around them, like they don't really like me.  I guess it's called imposter syndrome or something like that: the feeling that you don't really belong somewhere even though you've kind of earned it.  That is always how I have felt in the world.
Except in writing communities.  I am now part of a Discord Server full of writers who I really enjoy spending time with. I feel like I can talk to them, and I feel like I finally have some knowledge about something. In fact, it is often in writing communities that I have felt that I have found my place- just being around other writers. I also am part of two local writing groups in my hometown, which I enjoy being a part of.  My favorite time of year, though, is October through the beginning of December as my writing groups, and many of my friends, decide to focus on Nanowrimo.  
I started becoming involved with Nanowrimo around 2002. I have no idea how I got involved, who led me to this place, but since 2002, Nanowrimo has been my in to find my place with other writers.  Every year I have attempted a novel. About eight of those 16 years, I have successful completed the challenge of writing 50,000 words.  I wouldn't say that I have written a complete novel for any of them, and most of them are unedited drabble that will probably never see much outside of my hard drive Don't get me wrong, there are good bits, but there are also like a billion typos that I would have to go through and fix, and since most of the stories aren't that great, or just stuttering narrative, I think they are best laid down and put to rest.
But through Nanowrimo I found a calling as someone who loves to write, but also someone who loves to support the writers around me. I'm a writing cheerleader. I love watching other people succeed, even when it makes me totally jealous! I guess that's why I became the Municipal Liaison for the Nanowrimo bunch in my city.  I love gathering people together to watch them be successful.  It's such a rush to watch people be happy at something they have created.
Now I have online writing friends, real life writing friends, and memories of writing friends past. I even made one of those writing friends my husband.  I guess I can say I'm a happy writer. And I found a group that is really amazing and who inspires me to keep writing every single day, which is kind of why I am doing this blog writing challenge. It really helps to have people to share your writing with, and that's what I hope to do.  it may be silly, or awful, or funny or just weird, but at least I know that there are people out there who care about me and my writing enough to read it once in a while. I guess I'm just proud to be a writer.
Oh, and if you're interested, here is a OneTab link to all of my friends who are doing the blog challenge with me this month.  I totally recommend checking them out. They are awesome people.  


Graveyard Story

A note: This was written from a prompt a while ago, but is one of my favorite shorts that I've done in a while.  

"Doesn't it always seem like all graveyards should be wreathed in fog," Gladys said to nobody in particular as she hobbled down the gravel pathway through the grass patches.  "There should be fog... and moonlight." she continued, "but they don't let us out in the nighttime at that old home of mine, and California is no good for fog in August, even if you are in San Francisco."  
She took a left at a particular fork in the path, keeping to the path for a while more and then cutting across the grass.  She greeted the headstones as she passed old friends. "Well, Joseph and Edith. It is so good of you to visit.  I hope things are going well for you down wherever you are."  She chuckled to herself and remembered how Joseph pinched her bottom every time he stood to let her by into the pew at church.  That was before his heart had given out while he was laying on top of Mabel Merryweather.
"Good to see you too, Moses and Rachel."  Their tombstone not only listed their dates of birth and death, but the dates of their marriages and the life spans of their seven children.  Too bad only three of the children had been Moses's.  The other four had fathers of various patronage from around the village.
She came at last to the headstone that she knew best of all, her sister, Clarice. There was a bench near the tombstone and she laid her cane across the seat of the bench and sat on the edge, bending forward to adjust the wrinkles in her support stockings. As she did this, she spoke to the headstone.
"Well, Clarice. Looks like I'm about to join you.  The doctor said I have cancer now, and that it's eating my bones, and has spread into my brain.  he says I have maybe a week to live, and I thought I would come out here and say goodbye to you, since I'm not likely to get another visit."  She fidgeted with her shoe laces, tied expertly that morning by the nurse, and smiled. "I beat you though. I beat you by twenty years, and I got to keep Albert for another ten after you were gone.  Looks like I won after all."  She turned her head and looked around her and then stood to walk towards the tombstone.
"Funny thing," she said, as she placed her hand on the tombstone and patted it. "They call these headstones, but they don't go to the head. They go to the feet.  Your head should be right about" she walked about 5 paces and then turned. "here." She set her feet wide.  "I'm standing on your head, Clarice. Remember how I used to do that when we were pretending to be acrobats for the circus. We always swore that we would run away to the circus together when we were old enough to take care of ourselves." 
Gladys grabbed at the hem of her skirt and began to hike it up until it turned inside out and covered her rather ample bosom. "We were always going to do everything together, but then, you went and got yourself pregnant, and dashed our dreams forever.  And you got yourself knocked up" she grabbed the band of her underwear and pushed them down past her hips.. "by my Albert.  Do you think I would ever forgive you for that?" 
She bent forward and sent the hot yellow stream down onto the grave where her sister's head would be.  It wasn't much, as she still had an old lady's bladder, but it was enough, and she hiked her underwear back up, pushed her skirt down and stomped on the now slightly yellower ground.
"I hope, dear sister, that you are rotting in hell.  Who knows, maybe we'll see each other again.  But I won't be back, and I'm glad that you're dead and I made it longer than you, you fucking hussy."
She hobbled back to the bench, grabbing her cane and began making her way towards the pathway again. "Hope you enjoyed the show, Albert." she said to the tombstone that sat next to her sisters.  "Sorry I didn't save enough for you."


Writing Challenges and Blogging

I haven't been blogging or writing nearly as often as I would like. It wasn't but.. oh,... 5 years ago that I had a pretty active blog, and so now, I am going to be blogging and writing again.  This time, however, I am going to be working with a writing network and writing challenges, so that's pretty exciting to me.

So, what have I been doing with myself for the last five years? Not much. Just living the blissfully married life, focusing on the teaching life, being an amazing human being (or trying my best) and doing Nanowrimo every year.

I am involved with two writing groups here in Stockton, the Stockton Writer's Group and the San Joaquin Valley Writer's, the local branch of the California Writer's Club.  I also have been keeping myself busy with teaching, which really helps me fill up all that extra time!

So, what's in my future?

Well, I'm working with people on a Discord server who are amazing and who really are helping me get better at writing.  I am trying to read through a bunch of KM Weiland writing advice as well as the StoryGrid book.

I am working on editing Broken Dolls in order to make it a novel that I'm willing to publish.

I want to write more poetry.

I just want to write more.

Waking up my blog is going to start helping me do that.

Here goes...


What D&D Character am I?

True Neutral Human Wizard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 10
Dexterity- 9
Constitution- 9
Intelligence- 17
Wisdom- 12
Charisma- 13

True Neutral- A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Wizards- Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Detailed Results:

Chaotic Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (17)
Chaotic Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (19)
Lawful Evil ----- XXXXXXXXX (9)
Neutral Evil ---- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Chaotic Evil ---- XXXXX (5)

Law & Chaos:
Law ----- XXXXXXXX (8)
Neutral - XXXXXXXXX (9)
Chaos --- XXXX (4)

Good & Evil:
Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Evil ---- X (1)

Human ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Dwarf ---- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Elf ------ XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Gnome ---- XXXXXXXX (8)
Halfling - XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Half-Elf - XXXXXXXX (8)
Half-Orc - (-2)

Barbarian - (-6)
Bard ------ (0)
Cleric ---- (-6)
Druid ----- XX (2)
Fighter --- (0)
Monk ------ (-23)
Paladin --- (-21)
Ranger ---- XXXX (4)
Rogue ----- (-2)
Sorcerer -- XXXX (4)
Wizard ---- XXXXXX (6)