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.

Drabble 126 – Quiescent

Altemps, sleeping Erinyes / CC BY-SA 3.0

Aeschylus’ Oresteia is one of those works I read and immediately knew I was reading against authorial intent. I didn’t have enough English literature education in me yet to understand why I shouldn’t care what some old dead man thought about Clytemnestra, but there was something about her rage that resonated with me, a rage so big and violent its aftershocks woke the dark gods beneath the earth.

I can’t imagine why I found that important.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 125 – Sweven


When I was a kid, I lucid dreamed without trying. I thought it was something everybody did; I’d wish myself out of nightmares and turn every dream I could control into a grand, playful experiment. I worked out problems from my real life by acting them out in dreams. It didn’t help, but at least it gave me some measure of control.

Now that I’m older, I never lucid dream. I still try to work my problems out, but my dreams seem to actively work against me, coming up with increasingly difficult problems to solve, more frustrating situations, more awful rehashing of my worst fears.

I kept a dream journal for a while to see if there was any consistency there, but there wasn’t. Just an inscrutable soup of thoughts bubbling to the surface and sinking back down again, over and over, while I sleep.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 124 – Heliolater


There’s a period of time in late November and early December where I think I like winter. I prefer cold weather, certainly, but the next time I try to convince myself that I like short days, a muddy garden, and fewer delicious fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, I’d like someone to gently remind me that I’m a liar and a fraud and have no idea what I’m talking about.

I don’t like deep summer, either. I’m horribly picky about weather, and prefer transitory seasons; fall has all the chill of winter without the oppressive darkness, and spring has the warmth and growth I like in summer without giving me heat-induced rage. I begrudgingly admit I might like the sun, no matter how many times, come summer, I’ll try to deny it.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 123 – Billet-Doux


In high school, I got on a letter-writing kick. I joined a postcard exchange club that matched you with people in other countries; that’s how I was introduced to Moomin, because of a postcard I got from someone in Finland I never spoke to again. I wrote all my friends letters that they never returned because I’m forever sappy and have a thing for snail mail. It didn’t matter, really–I did it because I wanted to, not because I wanted to get something back.

I grew up between snail mail and cell phones. I didn’t have a cell phone until after I graduated, so we communicated through a mixture of AIM, handwritten notes, and face-to-face conversation. I still have a lot of those notes stored away somewhere. They’re probably not interesting to anybody but me, just as little relics of who I was in those moments, how I expressed myself, what was funny or moving or confusing to me.

One thing I don’t have is love letters. I never dated anybody in high school, and by the time I met my now-husband, we’d transitioned smoothly to cell phones and there was no reason to send him a letter, especially because we moved in together after six months. It’s probably for the best; I can’t imagine teenage Melissa’s love notes would be something I could look at without getting embarrassed.

Despite that, I have a fascination with love letters. One of the stories I’m working on now (something I had to put aside to finish The Compendium of Magical Beasts) is based on love letters–I wanted to play with words and how a relationship based mostly in written communication changes, especially when anybody might be watching.

Anyway, here’s a drabble, a short letter between the love interests of that story.

Drabble 122 – Mångata

John Weiss / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I grew up on an island, which sounds much more romantic than it is. I didn’t lead some kind of idyllic life there, I just happened to be closer to water than a lot of people, and have fond memories of my mom taking me to the beach at low tide so I could peer at starfish and anemones.

But the Puget Sound is a sound, not the ocean, so I still remember the first time I went to the coast and saw the ocean stretch out ahead of me, long and flat, with no mountains or islands to be seen. The world had always felt small to me, but seeing out across the Pacific, with nothing visible on the other side, I finally got a sense of how big it was.

I wasn’t afraid of it, but it stuck with me. How could anything be that large? I knew the sun orbited the earth, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but imagine the sizzle of a giant ball of fire as it sank into something so cold.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 121 – Pauciloquent


As I’m writing this, I’m listening to a truly atrocious conversation going on at the coffee shop behind me. I’ve been trying to start this blog post for roughly twenty minutes, but I’m so wrapped up in discovering what awful opinion is going to come spilling out of this man’s mouth next (especially because he drops the volume every time he goes to say something awful) that I couldn’t get started.

I keep thinking the conversation has reached a low point, but they find new depths to plumb. I suppose sharing their horrible opinions is how they’re getting to know one another; I’m getting to know them, too, and I’m thinking more and more about unhinging my jaw and swallowing the world. Such is the life of writing in coffeeshops.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 120 – Meraki


The baking challenge I set for myself has, so far, gone exceptionally well. I’ve had pumpkins leftover from my garden since roughly August (no, I don’t know how they managed to stay fresh that long), which have been turned into a pie and four batches of madeleines. The first batch of madeleines and the pie involved a great deal of cursing (thanks to a surprise lack of eggs and crust troubles, respectively), but the second batch was easy and tasted spectacular.

There are few skills that have such noticeable results as you improve at them. I’m sure I’m going to hit a plateau with this eventually, and suddenly everything I bake will taste bland, won’t rise, or fail to impress. But for right now, I’m enjoying the feeling that comes from making something I couldn’t make before, even if it’s simple.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.