Drabble 136 – Hamirostrate


Clearly, publishing drabbles on Tuesday wasn’t working. It’s been a stressful month. A stressful few months? Can I remember a time when I wasn’t stressed?

I think, at age 29, it’s time to accept that stress is a permanent state of being. I am constantly churning through the garbage of my life, chewing on it and spitting it out and chewing on it again, breaking it into smaller and smaller pieces. Eventually, maybe those pieces will get so small I no longer have to think about them. For now, I’m surrounded by them, just a garbage queen on her garbage throne.

Part of this process is recognizing what does have to be done versus what doesn’t. And it when it comes to posting a story once per week, it seems that my brain (and me) have filed that into ‘doesn’t’. Which is to say that I’ll be posting Wednesdays instead, because it gives me an extra day to sort out the garbage and turn it into something I’m proud of.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 135 – Astrogony


I both love and hate where I live. On one hand, it’s small and conservative and the neighborhood kids are forever doing that thing they warn you about in driver’s ed where they chase a ball out in front of your moving vehicle. On the other hand, there are so, so many stars at night.

I grew up on an island where the night sky was absolutely filled with stars. I used to watch them through my curtain when I couldn’t sleep, imagining they were eyes winking back at me from somewhere out in deep space. When I got older and moved out, spending some time in a city, the lack of stars was disconcerting.

Of course, they’re there even if I can’t see them. But there’s always been something comforting to me about looking up and seeing thousands of tiny points of light, each one so far away I can’t even fathom the distance.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 134 – Paralian


I have written about the ocean so many times. I would say that I’m running out of things to say about it, and maybe that’s true to an extent, but then I think about the feeling of seeing a humpback whale in the wild, or the way the riptide tries to drag you out to see, or the feeling of turning over a rock to find a crab underneath.

It’s not heard to understand why it’s a potent metaphor. And though it might be borderline cliche, we return to it time and time again, because there is still so much of it unexplored.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 133 – Anathema


‘Anathema’ is one of those words I’m convinced is pronounced differently than it is. Both uh-NATH-uh-muh and ANNA-theme-uh sound equally nice to me, to the point that I’m never entirely certain which is which. Thankfully, it’s not a word I use in conversation much.

The concept is something I think about, though. When I was a kid, I used to think I was cursed (and since we played around at witchcraft, the idea made far too much sense to me). If enough bad things happened to me, a curse was the most logical explanation. It was too much to ask of a nine- and ten-year-old Melissa to conceive of a world that is randomly cruel, so magic and curses made more sense.

I’m not cursed. I don’t think I am. Strange things tend to happen to me, but they’re not all bad. Not a curse, just life.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 132 – Aesthete


I’m one of those people who really benefited from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Not because I needed to individually thank all my belongings for their service (you do you, though) but because I have trouble letting go.

This isn’t a surprise to anybody who knows me.

My problem is not an accumulation of what I would call “trash.” It’s an accumulation of sentimentality; things I’ve given others that have since returned to me, things that were given to me that remind me of particular times in my life, report cards, photos, newspaper clippings. I don’t know what to do with them, but I can’t let them go. What if I forget?

I probably don’t need a get-well-soon card I made for my mother when I was eight, but I can’t get rid of it. I’ve tried; I put it in a pile of papers to be tossed, but I can’t bring myself to throw it away. Some of these paper survived a house fire – who am I to toss them in the trash now?

So I keep them, moving them from one place to another, hoping Marie Kondo isn’t cringing somewhere over the way I just can’t throw away these soot-stained papers because of all the memories they contain. Maybe someday they’ll join the ranks of clothes I’ve donated, but for now they take up space, and I’m okay with that.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 131 – Oracular


In elementary school, much like today, witches were the hot new thing. I think Sabrina the Teenage Witch was the most likely explanation, but, whatever the reason, my class was obsessed with gaining or recognizing our innate magical ability. We formed a club of aspiring witches, with the richer kids purchasing kits and things to share among the group.

There are a lot of uncanny things about that time period – the weird way one of the spells I cast worked, for example – but it’s the fact that this group of friends formed at all that sticks with me. Several young girls of different social and economic statuses came together, all out of the desire to work magic. Those who couldn’t provide for themselves were provided for. Our spells were benign, usually helpful things; we worked them together or separate, and informed one another of the results in hushed whispers, delighting in our abilities.

The club didn’t last long, but the memories of Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, the necklace hidden from parents, the anxious flutter of a heart in anticipation of changing the world do.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 130 – Propinquity


One of the best things about writing is that sometimes you get ideas that won’t leave you alone. This is also one of the worst things about writing.

I’ve had an idea that’s been haunting me for, oh, years at this point. And in the backlog of things I have to do–the short stories I’ve started, the book I’m editing, the other book I’m editing, the other book I should really finish before I start yet another writing project–I haven’t yet gotten to it. Instead, I keep ramping up this anticipation for it in the hopes that someday, when I get there, I’ll be so ready that the words won’t fight to come out and the whole thing will be smoother than any story has ever been.

It won’t, because I’m too in love with the damn thing to see that I have no plan beyond the first chapter. Logically, I know this. But I’m telling myself a different story and letting that hype build up and carry me through the difficult parts, when I’m certain I’m no good at anything. Because if this thing doesn’t work out, there’s always that next one, better than the one that came before.

I probably won’t have a drabble for next week precisely because of the aforementioned backlog. But for now, here’s one, a significantly altered taste of that thing I just can’t wait to start.

Drabble 129 – L’Appel du Vide

L'Appel du Vide

Here’s something exciting – The Compendium of Magical Beasts has a cover, and it’s available for preorder!

I’m unbelievably excited about this book. The ‘unbelievably’ is as true as true can be, because I still don’t believe it. I’m aware I wrote a book, and that it has a cover, and that there’s still work to be done on it before it makes its way into the world. But I also don’t believe it, because I’m me, a person that I have lived with for almost thirty years, and I can’t have written a book that, later this year, can be bought in a store.

But I do believe it enough to worry about it, which I’ve been doing all day. Worry is seductive; if I listen to even one of the many nonsense concerns floating around my brain, I’ll listen to all of them. It’s like someone is talking in the next room, and I know they’re talking about me, and I know I shouldn’t listen because it’s none of my business. But I listen anyway, because I have to know. And once I start listening, I can’t stop.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 128 – Vellichor


My last quarter of college was difficult. Not what I was studying – in fact, that quarter may very well have been one of my favorites – but rather the experience of it. I felt weighted down with expectations of what came next, with the knowledge that I’d be spending less time in the city and therefore less with my new group of friends, with the feeling that one large stage of my life was over and the next would be far scarier.

I spent much of that quarter isolating myself. Not in the sense that I cut off everybody around me, but in the sense that I consciously spent time with myself. I studied alone in weird places. I ate lunch by myself. I spent more time exploring campus for no reason other than that I could.

I also spent a lot of time in bookstores. I never looked for anything in particular; I’d just wander the aisles, looking at titles and occasionally pulling one off the shelf to read the back cover. I bought more than a few weird volumes of things I still have yet to read, stuffing my already overflowing backpack full of things I picked up on a whim.

That period of time might have been sad, in a sense. But it’s also a quarter I look back on fondly; I spent so much quiet time in the spring sun, people-watching and reading surrounded by plants. I ducked into bookstores on rainy days and found new, weird parts of the library to explore. I don’t regret it at all.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 127 – Euphonius


Two of the first horror books I ever read were about carnivals. These were years before I ever picked up Something Wicked This Way Comes, which likely would have scarred me for life. They were the silly kind of Goosebumps horror that was spooky but not really scary, but they haunted me for years afterward.

I spent a lot of time at fairs as a kid. I grew up in a small town with nothing to do, and our yearly summer fair was one of the few things I looked forward to every year. One year, when I was particularly young, I spent every day at the fair, open to close, wandering around by myself.

Nothing scary happened to me, but, even that young, it was surreal. I felt like I’d become part of the carnival somehow, a feature as intrinsic to the experience as the barkers drawing you in to play games. Just a girl wandering around with a bag of cotton candy and an unlimited rides bracelet, ready to fade away as soon as the fair packed up and moved along.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.