Finicksland

Finicksland

A Story by Rana
"

places, people, life

"

"I consider it good luck that I found this place, I wish to continue teaching here", Sarah spoke slowly.

"The stars work their magic, hah. I'll be at the table this afternoon, for the staff meeting I mean where they'll discuss you and seal your Fate, red wax and all. I'll tell you the news", Jo turned to leave.

"Thank you. Or I couldn't thank you enough", Sarah flashed him a generous parting smile.

The air was subtly chilly, dry leaves off some Canadian flags turned in swirls like invisible merry-go-grounds hanging in the air. Sarah's white vans trudged her onward the sun-bathing asphalt, all the grey spreading infinitely beneath her soles. She felt dismal. Then she felt calm. Her mind changed states like the breeze around her that moved with changing flurries of speeds and temperature. One moment, she was warm from the sun, at another she was cold from the shade until she reached her door. The coconut doormat, dull brown, lay like a puppy awaiting her return with eager loving eyes. She didn't step on it. As her boots crossed the threshold, the familiar smell of the room greeted her nose like a mother's hug. She switched the lights on, put her bag down on an armchair beside the door. Removing her scarf, gloves, ear-rings (long, metallic things designed like a wind chime) and coat, she set her brown hair free from the ponytail ribbon and prepared to put a plate of cooked pasta into the microwave for a reheat. As she laid waiting for it, slumped on a sofa, she heard herself murmur a song. She was surprised it did not trigger any flashbacks this time. With a deep sigh, she jumped on to fetch the food.

 

***

"Do you suggest we let her on the board of teachers here at Mimidgetty Medgehog Middle School where, that has never before accepted any staff based on their demo performance alone? We have no referral letters, no data about her past teaching records except for rumors in the air, no CV, nothing that could serve as good evidence of her ever having taught before", the chairman looked at Jo.

"She is a refugee. Carrying her documents between countries instead of rations and stuff necessary for survival during the risky journey of escape may not have occurred to her mind, you see", Jo spoke.

"She looks national enough to me. Tanned like they are under our sun. Features like those you'd find on a couple faces from a dozen of us."

"Yes, yes, that may be true. Why would she lie? Not like the pay here befits the pocket of a queen or something."

"This is not about the money, Teacher Jo. This is about tradition. And we are not going to break it for her. Meeting concluded. Rise, all."

 

***

The snap of the plastic spoon made her bare her teeth as if she had hurt it. Slowly and carefully, she retrieved the pieces from the creamy puddle of pasta on her plate and discarded them on the table beside her to resume eating with her hands. It was a cheap plastic spoon and she shouldn't have twisted it around carelessly as if it were a strong old iron fork. She tried to entertain herself by studying the shapes of the different pasta, butterflies, pipes, tangled mop hair. The taste wasn't great, she was an amateur cook. The phone rang.

"They decided on a no, Sarah."
"Oh, that's fine. I'll try elsewhere."
"I really wished you be part of us."
"I do not have the documents, I know."
"Yeah. Well, good luck with whatever is up next"
"Thank you, Jo"

 

She put the phone down and broke into a shivery weeping, arms around her, head buried in them. She had been so sure in her heart about making it this time, messy headed bean. They had told her the trustee and the chairman was kind and always looking for deserving candidates. Deserving. She didn't know what that word really meant. Who deserves what and how do you tell? What was she going to do now? Wiping her nose in an oil-stabbed tissue paper, she began to look for jobs in the city.

 

***

Jo walked down the alley to meet a bunch of cats in a big trunk, a waste tin, the lid lay two feet away. Meow, they eyed him, yellow alight in the black. Night was not the best time to talk with the felines. He remembered their cousins, the lions, from his trip to the safari. They had given him a near-death encounter with life. Or was it near-life encounter with death. He couldn't order the phrase well and that was a sign he needed to get past the animals before his fear overtook his composure. Back on safer grounds, his mind unjumbled itself. Near-death encounters in life. His thoughts wandered to the refugee lady. She must have seen things, really bad things. He clenched his teeth at a recollection of the horrific videos documenting the massacre in the land she’d said she came from. He found his destination. 

Jo jumped down a sewer hole, pulled the sewer cover back in place above him and climbed down the ladder sticking to one side of the hollow cylindrical space he was in. You have to focus to not lose your balance or faint at the smell, so while he was busy doing just that he gasped. Why? To inspect the painless loss of his feet, for they were gone. Neither could he feel them, nor see them anymore. In his great perplexity, he could not observe the rapid progress of the transition around him. The sewer land disappeared for finicksland to reappear.

"Hello, Marshal Jo", a finick smiled at him as it darted into the sunlight. His vision soon adapted to take in the world that had evolved around him, in a matter of seconds. The round porthole was now the sun, the mucky walls around him were now a stretch of black bricked land, the ladder was now roller skates, roller skates on his feet, and he was now wearing them and began to skate on. The finick returned to alight on his shoulder.

"You have one stupid coat, marshal, what's with these artificial shoulders protruding like edges of a cliff, huh."

"They fail yet to match your skills at exaggeration, my dramatic friend. Why don't you jump off the cliff and mock suicide?"

"Presently, but now let me finish the task I been assigned and lead you on to the celebration hall."

"Yay, a fiesta"

"Not good at feigning merriment, are you?"

"You know what I'm better at?"

"Keeping silence, I plead, until we reach the doors we seek."

Jo rolled on, making the noise from his skating, and whistling with the finick on his shoulder. It was a silvery purple, the little creature, finick, a cross between a gecko and a dragonfly. Or more like a hybrid of a chameleon and a moth. Whichever your imagination prefers, but it matters to state that its skin was smooth like rose petals and the wings were hard like rocks or those metal wings on tiny toy animals. It could cut open a wound if it fluttered too close to your cheek and rapid enough, for the edges like a blade were sharp, but the creature most careful and kind.

 

***

Sarah was chewing her pencil into splinters. Drawing big ugly circles around three job ads were all the work she had needed to do with the pencil. She sent an email to the first address. The two other jobs were vacancies for a waitress at eating-places of shaky reputes and were temporary. For them, she had to show up in person within the times specified.

 

***


The doors of the hall opened and Jo bade the finick goodbye before he entered to partake in the meaningless celebration that was to happen there. Mindreading finicks hovering near the ceiling caught your thoughts and served you well.

"Marshal Jello!"

"Straighten your bun, there, finick, it's almost off to a fall down your petite pretty purple head. You've made a halt too abrupt here"

"Thank you, I'm in a hurry but I still hear you. Meaningless celebration, huh?"

"I mean, not for you guys that belong here, I get it, you have your reasons. I don't share them. Besides, I’ve had a bad day at work, so."

"All the more reason to join in and celebrate!"

"What"

"Come on, I'll tell you what in a song, hop along, my dear mellow"

"Uh-huh"

"Watch out, don't you tumble. You look giddy but you’re nimble. I've known you for a thousand songs. Oh, come on hop along, now"

"Finick"

"Saggy, your shoulders, look how they carry weight, of troubles and mumbles that you to yourself keep safe."

"Mmm hmm"

"Let your minds off, let your minds out, come on make lassoes of them and throw them at us, you’ll catch some of our mirth"

"Nay, nay"

"Reasons, you say! Why we have no reasons! Would you believe us? If we told you we watch our reasons come from this"

"This crazy dance? Fit for the lunes!"

"Leap with us, lose your reasons, become a lunatic for a while, Adam! Let that weary mind of yours rest a while, Oh Adam"

"Marshal Jo Adams, that's meeeee. O ho ho ho the gleeeee"

"Yes! Yes, yes and yes!"

 

***

Sarah walked around the little house, setting things in place, cleaning here and dusting there. She had been living in this place for over a month now. She remembered the children at school, blinking at a world that was still new to them. She recalled the motion of their hands as they scribbled in notes, lacking the swiftness that comes with habit. She had watched them as they received her teaching differently, some listening more eagerly than others. It meant something to her to be a part of their journey. 

***


"Slow Mo, move your feet faster, Jo. Yas. Can you beat her, that lady there"

"I don't even care to, hah."

"Smells like food is served, come on to it"

"I'll join you in a minute, I think. Here I blink, and let my spirits sink. This pretended lunacy, has done me no good, I think."

"Oh dear."

"No reason surmises. No new sun rises. It's the same old meaningless celebration, what it was before I joined in it."

"No. No"

"Why do I dance, why do I giggle, why do I feast, and mingle with the fickles. My bad day lingers."

"Face it; let us face it"

"Finick, my purple friend. I was at a meeting of the staff board. I could not present my case well. They wouldn't hire her."

"Well, someone would!"

"The disappointment, we had been so certain. I couldn't help."

"Well, someone would, too!"

"Do you think I should check up on h- on her once to see how she's holding up? She's alone in the city and she's also new."


"Here's my phone!"

Sarah was asleep the phone rang. With blurry eyes, she crinkled her nose while squinting at the screen to read who was calling. Jo, it said.

"Hey?"
"Sarah, how are you?"
"Sleepy flea, I only woke up"
"Uh, I see. I apologize, you may go back to bed"
"It's fine. What was it? Tell me."
"I hope you're in good spirits, about things."
"I am. I am. I have an interview tomorrow, tutor thing."
"Wonderful news! Would you need a ride? I could come by, pick and drop you on my way."
"I don't know. I can take the bus."
"Oh, okay. Call me if you need anything. Alright?"
"Alright."

Sarah went back to bed with the remnants of a peaceful smile. It was a benevolent world.

Jo sat down for the grand feast. There were fruits and vegetables, baked, cooked, fried, arranged, decorated and carved in the most interesting and delightful fashions. Roughage, mostly roughage. But he dug into a plate of sliced bananas with sparkly pink jelly gleaming on the top with a fork. Mmm, berry fluid. He was merry. There were reasons to celebrate in a world where things go wrong only to find the right fixes.

© 2019 Rana


Author's Note

Rana
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Featured Review

Well, you did ask...

• "There has been a mis-reading and a mis-understanding. But I like my stay here at the campus and I wish to teach here."

Here, someone unknown is asking someone not introduced about something meaningless to a reader because, unlike you, they lack context. What did they misread and misunderstand? No way to tell.

• "How did the word get around? About you being an adept teacher for the physically challenged?"

Get around? To whom? And why does it matter. No way to tell. You know. The people involved, and who passed on the information know. Shouldn't the ones you wrote this for, the reader, know too?

Here, the one addressed in the first paragraph responds with a question that a reader finds meaningless. What's "an adept teacher for the physically challenged" to mean to a reader who doesn't know where we are in time and space, who we are, or what's going on? What's "physically challenged" to mean. If this is a fantasy, it could mean unable to master the gestures that being a wizard requires. If sci-fi it could mean a winged intelligent being with deformed wings. It would mean different things at a university focused on sports than at one focused on science. How can a reader create a mental picture when you give them no context?

Will they eventually learn what's needed to make sense of this? Who cares? If the reader puts the story down because it makes no sense as they read it, they will never see that clarification. And in any case, you cannot retroactively remove confusion.

Here's the problem: In our school days we learn only nonfiction writing techniques. And because they yield only what reads too much like a report, we try to get around that by using the skills of other mediums, like verbal storytelling, or describing the visuals in a film. In your case, you're mentally watching the film version and reporting what happens on-screen. But as you can see from the first few lines, because you already know the story, you leave out information you have no need for, but which the reader requires.

The solution? Simplicity itself. Add the craft of the fiction writer to the skills you already own.

Unfortunately, while that is the solution, and quite simple, adding a set of techniques equal in size and complexity to the skills you perfected in twelve years of school will not be an overnight process. It is, though, fun to learn if you are meant to be a writer. And it makes the act of writing more MUCH fun because you're forced to live it as the reader will rather than saying, "So what should I make happen next?"

But learning any profession takes time, study, and dedication, so it's not something you hoped for, but it is something every writer faces and overcomes on the path to publication, so it's no big deal. Just part of becoming a writer.

In acquiring the necessary skills, the local library can be a huge resource. Its fiction-writing section is filled with the views of pros in publishing, teaching, and writing.

My personal recommendation, as it so often is, is to look for the names, Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon on the cover. They're pure gold.

You might dig into a few articles in my writing blog, for an overview of the issues you need to look into. They're meant for hopeful writers like yourself.

I know this was the last thing you hoped to see, and I really wish there was a more gentle way of breaking such dire news, but I've not found one. Still, it is useful, even necessary information, and, as I said above, I thought you would want to know. But whatever you do...hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/


Posted 5 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Rana

5 Months Ago

This has been very helpful, thank you so much. I made changes using your suggestions and it reads be.. read more
Rana

5 Months Ago

I will keep your words close, will read them again too :) so i need to work on the development area .. read more
JayG

5 Months Ago

I know you believe you fixed the problem, but as someone who has been published, taught at workshops.. read more



Reviews

Well, you did ask...

• "There has been a mis-reading and a mis-understanding. But I like my stay here at the campus and I wish to teach here."

Here, someone unknown is asking someone not introduced about something meaningless to a reader because, unlike you, they lack context. What did they misread and misunderstand? No way to tell.

• "How did the word get around? About you being an adept teacher for the physically challenged?"

Get around? To whom? And why does it matter. No way to tell. You know. The people involved, and who passed on the information know. Shouldn't the ones you wrote this for, the reader, know too?

Here, the one addressed in the first paragraph responds with a question that a reader finds meaningless. What's "an adept teacher for the physically challenged" to mean to a reader who doesn't know where we are in time and space, who we are, or what's going on? What's "physically challenged" to mean. If this is a fantasy, it could mean unable to master the gestures that being a wizard requires. If sci-fi it could mean a winged intelligent being with deformed wings. It would mean different things at a university focused on sports than at one focused on science. How can a reader create a mental picture when you give them no context?

Will they eventually learn what's needed to make sense of this? Who cares? If the reader puts the story down because it makes no sense as they read it, they will never see that clarification. And in any case, you cannot retroactively remove confusion.

Here's the problem: In our school days we learn only nonfiction writing techniques. And because they yield only what reads too much like a report, we try to get around that by using the skills of other mediums, like verbal storytelling, or describing the visuals in a film. In your case, you're mentally watching the film version and reporting what happens on-screen. But as you can see from the first few lines, because you already know the story, you leave out information you have no need for, but which the reader requires.

The solution? Simplicity itself. Add the craft of the fiction writer to the skills you already own.

Unfortunately, while that is the solution, and quite simple, adding a set of techniques equal in size and complexity to the skills you perfected in twelve years of school will not be an overnight process. It is, though, fun to learn if you are meant to be a writer. And it makes the act of writing more MUCH fun because you're forced to live it as the reader will rather than saying, "So what should I make happen next?"

But learning any profession takes time, study, and dedication, so it's not something you hoped for, but it is something every writer faces and overcomes on the path to publication, so it's no big deal. Just part of becoming a writer.

In acquiring the necessary skills, the local library can be a huge resource. Its fiction-writing section is filled with the views of pros in publishing, teaching, and writing.

My personal recommendation, as it so often is, is to look for the names, Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon on the cover. They're pure gold.

You might dig into a few articles in my writing blog, for an overview of the issues you need to look into. They're meant for hopeful writers like yourself.

I know this was the last thing you hoped to see, and I really wish there was a more gentle way of breaking such dire news, but I've not found one. Still, it is useful, even necessary information, and, as I said above, I thought you would want to know. But whatever you do...hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/


Posted 5 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Rana

5 Months Ago

This has been very helpful, thank you so much. I made changes using your suggestions and it reads be.. read more
Rana

5 Months Ago

I will keep your words close, will read them again too :) so i need to work on the development area .. read more
JayG

5 Months Ago

I know you believe you fixed the problem, but as someone who has been published, taught at workshops.. read more

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Added on February 10, 2019
Last Updated on February 11, 2019
Tags: fiction

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Rana
Rana

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Yay! hello :) I have a butterfly net that sweeps in ideas fluttering in my head. I like to write just as much as i like to read and i began writing fiction in 7th grade. But the first thing i ever wr.. more..

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