“Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.” ~ Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick
Ch 6 ~ Intermission
Dryst grabbed the book, such as it was (he thought to himself from a place of gentleness, “I mean if you can even call it a book”), and turned the page. He snapped the paper fibers tightly and flipped them back rapidly. He sighed more than a little bit.
Where is she, he muttered. She’s in here somewhere.
“Come out, come out wherever you are, Mya,” he sang.
He paused and looked up, then said, “Sheesh, no offense. Truly, I mean it…no offense. But uh, c’mon. It’s a bit of a mess, really. Well. Let’s be honest. More than a bit of a mess. It’s — uh, yeah — really more like a meltdown. Surely, even you can see that? No rhyme, no reason. Blah blah blah blah…oh!” Dryst laughed hysterically. “And you seriously think that you’ll have me saying what exactly in Chapter 21?”
He read for a few minutes, buzzing through the paragraphs.
“Blah blah blah…hmmmm. Uh. Yeah. You wouldn’t catch me saying that. Just sayin’. I know it’s difficult to know someone when you’re meeting them in bits and pieces across paragraph bursts for days running – and especially when you’re outlining or drafting or whatever it is you’re doing, ahead of yourself — but just sayin’ uh I wouldn’t say what you have me saying in Chapter 21, line 20 or whatever it is. I know, I know. The whole thing is organic. It’s all unfolding and taking on a life of its own and all of that good stuff. It’s all a work in progress. But, uh, can we be honest? The 1700 daily word count? That’s driving alot of this, isn’t it. Causing you to put – how do I say this delicately…well, there’s no getting around it — causing you to put words in my mouth? No pun intended? That’s it, isn’t it. I understand it’s a great deal of pressure. Coming up with 1700 new words or a new combination of the same words to describe something new. And to do that every single day for 30 days. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to trade places with you. But…”
He looked up again and leaned forward. His eyes scoured the edges of the web page. He smudged his finger up and down on the scroll bar. He pointed and clicked onto every button in the WordPress dashboard.
“There’s got to be a delete key here. Somewhere…” his voice trailed off as his nose bumped up to the computer screen. “Owch,” he cursed mildly then chuckled to himself. He looked directly at me and winked. “Can really get lost in here, can’t you?”
Dryst pulled back with a start. “What’s this?” He dropped his chin onto the top of his chest and looked at the book. “Mmmmmfffphh!!!!”
“Oh criminey.” He lifted the book by its binding, turned it upside down, and shook. Hard. The pages in the book waved against each other like a drunk accordian until, at last, a body plopped out from between them and flopped onto the table.
“Well, hello to you, too, Mya,” he laughed.
“Shit,” she growled, half kiddingly, half menacingly.
“Took you long enough to get here.”
“Took you long enough to get me here.”
“As if you couldn’t figure it out on your own. C’mon.” He winked at her and returned his attention to the computer screen.
“Uh,” she stared at him nonplussed, “have you forgotten that I’ve been abducted and am sitting twiddling my thumbs in some other dimension staring at some gothed-out caveman? Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten. It’s not exactly an easy place to be released from. Not exactly an easy place to reconcile and make sense of.”
Mya placed a hand over her mouth and whispered, “She put me there, let’s not forget. That’s why we decided to come here, after all.” Her eyes looked wide at the screen and then narrowed on the center of it with no small amount of insinuation.
“Oh now…be gentle. There’s no malice in it. A touch of, well, incompetence perhaps, but certainly no malice.”
She brushed the alphabet off of her skin, along with a few misplaced commas, overused ellipses, uncertain semi-colons (they always seemed to be an insecure bunch, she noted), and the ever-present parentheses…two of which had affixed themselves over the top of each of her eyebrows.
“Ah hahahahaha!” Dryst just about choked from laughter. “You look like Grocho Marx.”
She scowled. “Can we get serious here? For a moment or two? Besides, I haven’t the first notion what a Grocho Marx is.”
“What? Oh –” Dryst tsked in disbelief. “Well, you simply must google sometime.”
I cleared my throat.
“Erh?” Dryst and Mya said together. And, predictably so, at the same time, the two of them turned their heads back to the center of the computer screen and looked at me.
“You really want to talk…like that? ‘You simply must google sometime’?”
The corner of his mouth turned up a tad, along with the edge of one of his eyebrows. “Yes…well…hello. And point taken, I suppose.” He sighed a touch sadly. “It’s not easy to hear criticism. I do know. That’s quite understandable.” He leaned closer into the screen. “Much like I’m not terribly fond of the way that you have the old guy calling me ‘kid’ all the time. It really is a touch condescending, don’t you think? And for what? Oh but at any rate. This isn’t about me. Well…actually it is…but right at this moment and in this breath, it’s really about you. All I mean to say in this moment is that I just hope that you find a way to take any criticism that you have heard and are about to hear in the constructive spirit in which it’s being offered.”
“Her story sucks, Dryst.”
“Mya!” Dryst chided under his breath.
I inhaled a bit and tapped my thumb against the keyboard in an effort to preoccupy my hand away from a very real urge to mouse over and click on the delete key.
“Well?” Mya asked and shrugged as if victimized.
Dryst wheeled onto the computer screen with a gentle reassurance. “It’s not that it sucks, really. Really, it’s not half bad. It’s just that…well…if I can put it bluntly…”
“Please do,” I said, more out of curiousity than out of seriously entertaining what he might say next.
He hesitated. Mya poked him in his shoulder and muttered under her breath.
“Well,” he said softly, “it’s just that…we have no idea where you’re going with this.”
“Interesting,” I said.
“Uh,” Mya chimed back, “not very. What is with that caveman? And I am so sorry,” Mya rolled her eyes and threw up her hands, “I so do not look like that. That can’t possibly be me. Not even on a bad hair day.”
“And,” Dryst added, “a magical patio? Uh…it really feels like you’re over-reaching.”
Mya gestured in agreement at Dryst and exhaled a laugh through her nose. “Yeah,” she said, “but come to think of it, I wouldn’t know anything about that because I’m stuck in limbo with Mad Max.”
I paused and thought about this rebellious little duo. Rather fitting that they would rebel in a story with the word “iconoclast” in its title, I thought. But if I give in to them now, there’s no telling where they will take this.
“Give us a clue where you’re going with this. Tell us our motivation.” Dryst smiled gently while Mya’s gritted smile looked pained.
I studied them both with a great deal of fondness. Oh, questions I can’t answer, I thought to myself…but even if I could, there’s no controlling where they’ll go, how the pages will be written.
“I’m not sure I know how to answer that,” I finally said.
And then the three of us sat and looked at each other.
Just because we could.
(I’m writing the story, after all…and hit my word count for the day.)
National Novel Writing Month: Chapter 6 total wordcount: 1325 (not including this notation). Total total count: 9425.