Good morning, after working on the ‘Hit & Miss Bibliomancy’ exercise on Wednesday and Thursday I am finally ready to unveil a sample of the short story that resulted from the three words I chose.
Those three words were
I choose to use the words directly in my assignment rather than as themes, because I can’t quite see how they represent thematic concepts. What follows is the first few paragraphs of my second draft.
The first time I saw him was twenty years ago; I was ten years old and terribly ignorant. The unlettered child of a blacksmith, a serf bound to live and die in one place. Ha! How things turned out so differently is a funny tale. Well it is to me. Everyone else? Not so much. Dadda was livid, me mam wasn’t much happier.
My Dadda, older brother Sam, and I were in the smithy. I had the dull job of sweeping up the metal waste (which Dadda told us the scholars called scoria, and which we called flake or slag depending on whether it came from the kiln or the forge; when I went to be a scribe I found out that for a change father actually did know best) from around the forge. It was the middle of summer, we were tired, and filthy, and there he was; lounging languidly on his horse, laughing with his friends.
Because they could, the Earl’s fosterlings tormented Dadda, demanding he check their horse’s shoes, complaining about shoddy workmanship on their weapons and demanding Dadda fix them, there and then, for free. Then they told him how to do his job, like he hadn’t been smithing for ten years before they were even born.
Father bore it all with the good grace of one who has seen a generation or two of strutting adolescent noblemen and outlived them all. Me, well father always said I had a death wish. The boys finally became bored of us and we of them. I must have been glaring daggers because a flaxen lordling, mounting his horse, snarled
“What are you looking at, you filthy little bastard?”
Now, I’ll grant you I probably needed a wash but there was no call for that; my parents were legally married. Like I said, bit of a death wish, so I told him exactly what I was looking at,
“Nothing much at all.”
Strangely enough the boys didn’t appreciate that particular sentiment; they were used to thinking of themselves as rather important. He tells me most of them are dead now; their arrogance killed them.
So, I’ve just insulted half a dozen of my Lord’s fosterlings, each and every one full of hormones and arrogance. How do they react? By trying to kill me!
Or scare me a bit. The yellow haired boy rode towards me. I thought he was going to run me down. But no, he swerved at the last moment. I lashed out with my shovel. The horse whinyed in shock, there was a crack and my assailant cried out in pain.
The other boys took off after their friend, except him. He spoke to me for the first time that day.
“Father is not going to be happy with you.”
“He shouldn’t have been mean to me.” I shrugged.
“Smith, get your boy to Father Arden, he’ll be safe enough in the grove until father gets this sorted out.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
He smiled at me and rode off to catch his friends.
I caught it next, a clip round the ear,
“You had to go and open your mouth again, didn’t you? The gods alone know what’ll happen to you for this. Sam, take Ben to the grove, tell Father Arden what the little idiot has done this time.”
And so I began my life as a scholar.
Occasionally I like writing in first person, and the ‘I’ character of this piece, Ben Smithson, took in a life of his own as I was writing. I have notes for the next twelve years of his life scribbled down, all based around change caused by interactions with the unnamed Earl’s son. He has a very distinct voice in my head. He’s telling a friend, or perhaps an admirer about his life, or maybe about his Lord. They’re sat in a garden, in the shade of a tree, a flask of wine on the table between them. The visitor wants to know about their adventures. They must have done something important or unusual.
Where the story goes from there I don’t know. I’ll probably sketch something out eventually, if the story sticks around and makes a nuisance of itself. I’m working on a couple of other things at the minute and I need my laptop back so I can get the second drafts typed up.
There was another exercise to this section, but for logistical reasons (the aforementioned lack of laptop, and internet access) I’m not able to complete it. I shall move on to section twelve.