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Your Dearest Lives

Your Dearest Lives
Word Count 600

Your Dearest Lives

My corrections to Amleth were nearly done. My back ached and my eyes burned. Writing, done well, is work as hard as the plow or the herring net. Kit was working on a project of his own, something about fairies. He pushed his chair back, the sound of it, sudden in the silence.

“Storm seems to have missed us, Kyd,” he said. He opened the shutter, and the scent of the world came in. I could see a little of the sky, blue as a blue egg. A mass of clouds too, piled up like feather pillows.

Kit was wrong about the storm. I could smell it coming, the earth was opening for the rain. The leaves of trees shivered in expectation

“We should--” Kit said. But I never found out the rest of it; we both heard the rushing footsteps, the knock at the door.

“Marcella--” I drew her into a close embrace. We usually met at her house. Besides she had a new man now, since the baby. Still I was glad to see her. She was awkward against me, even without the great belly. I could feel a steely tension in her, under the soft cover of her flesh. She was not here to kiss me.

Kit stepped from the window to the shadow of the room.

“Give you good day, Sir.” Her curtsy was absentminded. She knew his name of course, though I do not think they had met before today. I shut the door, and she shone in the dim little chamber, darkness and light, like the stormy sky.

“How now, honey, what troubles thee?” I said.

“This. Did your friend write this Tom; did you?”
The paper that she held out to me was bigger than a book page. It was meant to be put up on a wall. And indeed it had been, it was damp and mud spattered.

A pretty bit of writing, here. It scanned, the rhyme did not falter or bind. The threat was clear and direct, hateful. Dutch strangers should watch themselves, stop taking Englishmen's jobs, better yet, leave town; Jews too. Old words. Fighting words. Kindling words for that acrid fire, that burned underground; the one that came with rocks and screams, It was signed 'Tamberlaine.'

I knew Kit had not written it, of course. As sure as I knew his step or face from any other. But Marcella did not know, neither would the rest of London.

“My mother saw it,” Marcella said. “She's so afraid.” Marcella's mother and father had come here from Africa, by way of Holland. They were assigned to the Dutch church, the one designated for Strangers, for dark faces, and
strange tongues. And it was there that Marcella went, every Sunday, on pain of fine. There she sat and stood and knelt, in her best dress, and a pristine kerchief, Marcella, with her brown skin, and her sharp tongue, her stout boots, and her soft breasts. She had been born in London, the same as me.

“I did not write this, Mistress.” Kit said. She looked at him with quizzical sorrow

“My mother has nightmares you know.” She made an abrupt flapping gesture. She opened the door, shut it quietly, and was gone.
“Jesus, “ Kit said. He went to the table and sat. “They want a bloody riot,” his gaze was distant and cold. “Someone was paid for this—I have to go.” He left too, taking the paper with him. I, and my unease, got back to work on Hamleth,

Those painted ponies-- things and stuff

Things.Things happen. That is, after all the nature of things.

The cooling of the air, and the apartment to myself, there are three of them here, but they are away doing things. I am able to let the thinking part of me expand. I have been writing a little. So happy that Following Sea has come alive again. I started with that. There at least I know what I want to say, and am able to keep a consistent tone.

Marlowe is harder. I am making that all by myself, and right now it is growing in all sorts of weird disconnected sections. The plot is a jigsaw with pieces missing. But I have not given up. Please don't mock me for writing so slowly.

We are still in the same little second floor apartment, in Brooklyn. Fall is here. You want a sweatshirt some mornings now.

Biggest news of all-- my daughter is going to be a mother! There will be a baby at the beginning of April. We don't know what sort of baby yet. But as daughter and her man live with us, we get to enjoy the whole thing. She is just entering 2nd trimester. Have the go-ahead to share. I am 54. i do not feel any older, on the inside, than I did at 12, or 16. The stout wrinkly woman in the mirror does not match how I am on the inside. I look just a little like Angela Merkal. I wonder how old she feels to herself.


Captain Sir Edward Pellew, your time for idling is over...

Look where Ned turned up! I wonder how he would have liked my world...

The Best Laid Plans

Title The Best Laid Plans
Author Eglantine_br
Word Count 1144

The Best Laid Plans

The horse was one he did not know, a big gelding with a tough mouth, and disinclined to listen. Kit had gone to speak and meet him, to blow in his face, before mounting. But he did not get a greeting bunt, or sneeze, or nuzzle. The horse rolled a white eye at him, and shifted his feet. Now Kit's hands slipped, sweaty on the reins. His arms ached. His back itched. Two hours more to go. The empty trees and land made his stomach upset. At least in the city there were people nearby, who might not be friends, were perhaps not enemies-- yet. And, too, it bothered him obscurely that he had not had to bring apples for the horse.

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(This one belongs before the other one,)

The limb of the tree was warm beneath him, too wide and solid to move with his clambering, or with the small wind. It was too solid to move, really, at all. But his shirt lifted as he wormed his way forward. He could feel the scrape of the bark and green lichen on the soft belly of him. His hands were full. He had the things he needed wrapped in his doublet, the old leather one from home, it hardly fit anymore. He steadied his way with his elbows and knees, pushed the doublet bundle carefully ahead. He had left his sadd cloth robe back in his room. An infraction, of course, but next Wednesday was a full week away, and nobody could get up a tree in an ankle length robe. Inside the doublet, sheltered by his hands, were important things. He had a corked inkhorn, a pen and knife, his commonplace book, (not the one he used for school but the real one, that he put his thoughts in) He had two apples, taken from the tree itself. They were small and rather wrinkled but still edible. There was a piece of cheese too, that he had been saving.

Nobody else that he knew seemed to have this need-- he had never seen it in them. Never seen them show any sign of the clawing that overcame him, to be alone, to spill out the words that climbed up the insides of him, that wedged in his throat, that peopled his dreams. Not Latin words, at least not mostly, not school words; question words, names of things, bits of stories that didn't fit together yet, those things went into his book. He put them there so they would leave him alone. And too, he put them there to hone and sharpen them, to return to them, to make them right, to get them cutting sharp. He had to be alone for that.

He had felt the words itching him all week, like a living thing scratching at his insides, as he tried to be good and pay attention, or at least seem to. Every moment was spoken for, meant for something here. He had class, study, prayers, study, class again, time to eat in silence There were only a few moments of humanity as they readied themselves for sleep, a few mumbled words, in Latin now out of habit. So this time was stolen of course-- but he thought he had gotten away unnoticed again. And if not, he would be punished for it, but not until next week, a whole week from today. Worth it.

There were little corners in the world, even here, as there had been at home, where he could fade from sight, where he could see and be less seen, where he could hear and be he nearly unheard. And now here was the the join of the tree , the trunk with the branches, and he could sit, with the doublet to pad his backside. His feet hung down free either side of the limb, and he leaned the little book against the wood and began to write.

He saw it clear as he worked, the towers of Troy, the faces and bodies of Hector and Achilles, the grating voice of old Nestor. He had thought it would be a poem-- and it was, but as he worked he realized it could perhaps be also a play.

He muttered to himself as worked, getting the voices right. He did not know this. For some time the only other sound was the sound of the tree itself. He had forgotten the tree, forgotten the food and his own empty insides.

The other sound came to him slowly, from below. It nagged and at first he ignored it, but it wrapped itself around his thoughts and his words and his pen stopped. He leaned over the side of the tree branch, pushing the leaves aside.

“Who are you?” Kit kept his own voice low, but he was not really worried. One small voice, at the base of tree, snuffling and sobbing was certainly another student. And it was Wednesday, after all.

“Who wants to know?” The voice was young, hoarse from weeping, but belligerent as well. Dark eyes, under a flop of limp dark hair, pale skin, except the nose which was kitten pink at the moment.

“Here, I'll come down.” He could not think why he said that exactly; said it to the rough little voice and the pink abraded nose. And anyway, Kit knew who this was now. This was the broken armed sizer of last winter's ice.

The boy nodded and scrambled back a little to let Kit drop.

“ I am Thomas Nashe, he said. “”Well, Tommy really.”

“Tommy then,” A smile then, swift and purely reflexive, buck teeth white under the floppy mane made Kit think of a pony in need of the farrier.

“You are a sizer-- I mean, I have seen you before.” Kit thought, a moment too late, that this was, perhaps not the best start.

“A sizer aye What of it? My father is a poor curate from a town of fishermen. At least he--”

“Nothing of it--” Kit rode over the words though he kept his own gentle. “My father is a cobbler. He can barely sign his name.” And that was true. It was true though Kit had never said it before to anyone. Father was good with his hands-- good at making the shoes, fixing the shoes, fitting shoes, fitting the shoes. Father was good at convincing the reluctant to buy. But mother was the clever one. Mother and Kit.

“My father is a cobbler--” Kit said again. “My name is Cristofer. At home they call me Kit.”


Night Season

Here is a little bit of my never ending much-suffering Marlowe thing. Baby Marlowe and Baby Nashe-- at University together. (Yes I know they were in different colleges, but they so need each other...) This little adventure is only half done. I am putting it up in hopes it will help me complete the other half more quickly.

First snow today-- early in the year I think. We got about an inch or two. Usually don't get that until after Thanksgiving. (Closer to the end of the month.)And that is going by North of here... Anyway, it is pretty. Clean, for the moment. And new snow feels like a fresh start.

Kit Marlowe
Word Count 886

Night Season

To Kit, each day seemed like a bootlace, soaked tight with rain, each day was 12 hours of picking at it, slow and dull as dripping water, before it resolved. That was lessons. He was much less likely to be beaten here-- but he rarely learned anything new. He picked and picked, and nothing seemed to move, and then the whole thing gave, and the day opened itself into a violet spring sunset. Then the dark came, and the day was over.

This evening he yawned through his prayers and his mutton. He cleaned his plate, utterly, but already half dreaming. He watched for Nashe, out of habit now. Tonight the sharp little face was seen nowhere. Some nights Kit had to study, some nights too, he stayed up to write. This was not such a night. Kit ached for sleep. Once in bed, he let the sounds of the other boys go to nonsense around him. They would include him if he spoke, they were kind enough now. But he turned the pillow and pushed his face deeper in. Darkness came.

There were bits of dreams that made no sense, fathers hands holding Kit's better foot, and a boom of voice like the brass voice of God. Father's hands improbably huge, and so careful. And a shoe made a of soft leather scraps, too soft for walking. So that made no sense at all. Kit had never worn such a shoe-- and his two feet were as good as each other. So that made no sense at all.

It was sometime later, in the dark that a sound came. It was a persistent scritch-scratch. He turned from it but it kept on. He groaned and covered his ears. No good.

“Christopher--” A hiss in his ear.

“It's me. Tommy Nashe.”

“What is it?' Kit replied in a whisper dulled to near silence, mouthing the shapes of the sounds. He could see now the shape of the thin boy crouched on the floor in the deeper shadow of the wall and the bed.

“Why-- Why are you holding a piss pot?” Kit asked

“Sizer, remember. This is my passage to the gentleman's chambers.” Scorn in the whisper, and the sound of it thin now as steel wire. Kit realized that Tom Nashe was shaking.

“Something bad-- something bad has happened.” Tommy's hands in Kit's now, small and cold.

“Th'art freezing. Come here, warm, and tell me.”

Thus Kit spoke to his little sisters. He had been a refuge in nightmares before. He did not think this was a nightmare though. He lifted the blanket, the bed was narrow but there was room for two boys.

“There you are now, come here close, Jesus thou are as cold as a newt. Now tell me.”

“I sleep on Master Kett's hearth.” Tommy began, his voice was rapid now and Kit thought it was colder and further out somehow. Tommy was pushing the memory down and away. “It was Kett brought me here-- I attend lectures only as long as I work. So I go into the kitchens at 3, every morning to build the fire up, and line the loaves up ready-- they bake at 5.”

“So that is why you miss breakfast and prayers so often.”

“Aye. I sleep too long. Kett promises the others that he beats me for it, but he does not so. Oh God--”

Why this troubled him Kit did not understand. Nashe gave a gulp of a sob, scrubbed at his nose with his wrist.

“Tonight, I was asleep, wrapped warm by the fire, I heard the bell strike 3, and left to the kitchen. All was as always, Master Kett was snoring. I am quiet, not to trouble his sleep.
It was cold, dark.”

“Yes.” Kit said. He could picture easily the hush at the deep end of night, the stars in the trees, the frost on the grass, the other boy's breath like smoke.

“I did not make a light-- no night candle. All was dark when I left the room, all was well. I was gone less than an hour. When I came back to Master Kett's room, it was-- he was-- gone.


“He is gone”

“Well-- what of it? Maybe he is at the privy. Maybe he could not sleep. Certain this is no--”

“No!” The whisper was a sharp hiss. “Not gone like that. Some of his things are missing too. And the room askew. Come with me. Come see.”

Kit sat forward, chin on knees. Tommy's breath has slowed now, but the distress was clear on his face.

“Aye, I will come. But hasty. Why me, Tommy? Why not someone older, or even another master?”

Nashe made the word a horse does, by a firm exhalation through the nose. “I fear some harm has come to him-- I don't know who I can--” he waved a hand in the air in frustration. “And I like thee, Kit,” He said. “Thou art not stupid.”

And so Kit was shivering now, pulling on his robe over his nightshirt, stepping into his shoes barefoot.

“Don't forget the piss-pot,” he said.

Kit Marlowe
Word Count 886

new start, old life

I am here in my new house, after 3 years of turmoil of trying to move, of saving up, of worrying about landlords and everything horrible. We found a house to rent-- the top floor of a house. Warm and full of light-- pets are happy here-- street is so quiet it does not even feel like city.

I am between jobs again, have been resting for the past few weeks, sleeping late, waking to blue and yellow light. I look around and think, this is so beautiful, I should write it down, and then some other thing happens, and the day ends, and I have not.

No fiction either, though I can feel it pressing at me. If I were to put fiction up here, just as a place to save it, I mean the kind I used to do, would anyone like it? Would anyone out there still want to read it? LJ seems much diminished, but I too have been part of the shrinkage.

Tracing One Warm Line

Title: Tracing one warm line
Author Eglantine_br
Word Count 920

HMS Hamadryad, at sea

Tracing one warm line

“Nothing wrong with the number-work, but it will have to be recopied. It is not legible, blots here... and is this blood?”

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