A few years ago, before I moved out of the coven house, I started seeing this one warlock, Chester. Well, Chester wasn’t his real name; that was, I don’t know, Charleston Copernicus Throckmorton or something like that, but he’d shortened it to Chester because he wanted to blend in with humans. I mean, I’ve never met a human named Chester, but whatever. That was about when we got the word from the Elders about hanging out with humans and getting jobs and all that, and Chester, like me, was young enough to be willing to give it a try.
Actually, I was more than willing. I was already well on my way to being out-of-my-mind bored with traditional witchkind life, with being trapped in the coven house tatting doilies and brewing dumb little spells in the kitchen for a few hundred years, waiting for my older sisters to decide to go to the Beyond so that I could move up the coven ranks and—whoopie!—become a senior witch, who got to move around the Circle closer to the head and tell the younger witches what to do. And then go the Beyond myself when I got to be four hundred. I mean, what’s the point of that? Are doilies the only reason we’re here on this plane, so powerful and long-lived? I didn’t think so.
Michael snuck a glance at his watch, nodding politely as he did so, neither of which the old woman noticed. He'd been stuck in this smelly house for more than an hour. He should have converted this pagan to a Jehovah's Witness twenty-five minutes ago.
I'll give her five more minutes, he thought sullenly as she continued on, barely pausing to take a breath. After that, I swear to God I'm going to become a Quaker.
Opening: Calendula.....Continuation: freddie
"Why don't you stay and brew up your spells, Nancy," my older sisters said, but I wasn't going to be tied down to traditions.
I didn't know what kind of job "politician" was, but I took it anyway and the next thing I knew, I was moving up the ranks in a place that wasn't the least bit boring.
I'm the senior witch around here, not even three hundred yet, and I actually enjoy telling the younger witches what to do. Being the Speaker of the House sure beats tatting doilies in some coven house in San Francisco any day.
"Uh huh," said Mr. Morton disinterestedly. He closed his eyes and shook his head slightly, realizing his eyes must have glazed over.
"I mean, I know for some witches the whole point is to--"
"Thank you, Miss," said Mr. Morton, standing and holding out his hand.
The woman in the black gown with the frizzy hair and crooked teeth looked him up and down.
"You're supposed to shake," said Mr. Morton. "That's rule one in a job interview."
"Oh," she said, shaking his hand.
"And you might want to learn to smile - er, you know what? Forget that. Just lay off the witch stories."
He showed her out.
Mr. Morton sighed. This was absolutely the last time he would interview someone from a temp agency.
Luckily, I was well prepared for my assignment. Chester wasn't so lucky, getting sent off to some movie theater in Aspen. At least I thought he wasn't lucky at the time, but now it really gets under my skin that he got to hobnob with all those famous humans on the ski slopes all winter while I got stuck in this place.
Oh, sure, I came in at a middle rank, so I could move around the circle closer to the head and boss around some of the younger human girls, but being the third Wife of a junior Elder in this Goddess-forsaken, desolate compound in rural Utah is a drag. Like, totally. At least I know how to make a spell to counter the effects of the Viagra the head sneaks when the other Elders aren't looking.
Then Chester took me aside. "I'm thinking of taking off on my own," he said.
I just about had a sacred cow right there in his hexagon. "No!"
"I'm very sensitive about the plight of witchlings," he said. "Warlocks rule and witchlings pearl," is our little joke about you girls. Do you know what you'll be doing when you go to the Beyond? Knitting instead of tatting. Get it? Pearl?"
"I get it."
"I couldn't leave without telling you this. I care so much for you. Do you want to stay with me tonight to talk about your options?"
My witch's radar went off and I threw at truth spell in Chester's direction. He was lying through his teeth. Now I really like him. "Sure," I said.
This isn't bad for a short story. If it's a novel, I'd let her explain the stuff in the second paragraph to another character later on, and get on with whatever job she took in paragraph 2. Something like:
Anyway, that's how I became a bartender, and that's how I met Lance.
Thanks! Yeah, it's a short story, and in fact one that completely falls apart at the end, so I'll be working on that...glad that the opening has potential anyway!
If I were writing this, I wouldn't have the character talking longer than the first two paragraphs. She's kind of rambling - which is fine, it tells us something about her - but that can get old fast. I'd find a way to introduce some action in the third paragraph.
That said, I'd be interested to see this in its entirety (or the first ten pages) on crapometer.
I like rambling, up to a point, but I'm afraid I started to drift in the second para. Odd, because that was my favourite - loved the doilies. Just a bit too much of a good thing, I think.
In my very subjective opinion, I think for a rambling voice to work well here it needs to be a bit sharper. This voice seems rather tame and like it's working too hard to fill up the page with lots of words that taken together will constitute voice. In a short story, especially, a rambling voice needs to make a point and/or find its way back to the topic fairly quickly because, unless it's an extremely memorable, wonderful, fun voice full of non sequiturs and puns and such, you'll lose the reader even more quickly.
I've taken a stab at sharpening the second paragraph. But voice is extremely subjective and what I perceive as sharper someone else may well see as much, much duller ... or simply wrong. So, grain of salt and all.
Actually, more than willing. I was going out-of-my-mind bored with witchkind life, staring out a few hundred years and seeing myself still trapped in the coven house tatting doilies and brewing dumb spells in the kitchen, waiting for my older sisters to give it up and get to the Beyond already. Then I could move up to -- whoopie! -- senior witch and make other witches tat those doils and brew those spells. Geez, when you're sitting on our kind of power, all this traditional stuff is sooo lame.
Four hundred years -- that's what it's going to be, easy, before I can ditch this drag of a plane and go to the Beyond myself. That's why, when the Elders said…
I think there's a very good voice here, it just needs some tightening so that it flows a bit better.
Here's another set of suggestions for you to mull over:
Before I moved out of the coven house, I started seeing this one warlock, Chester. Well, Chester wasn’t his real name. It was, I don’t know, Charleston Copernicus Throckmorton or something like that. He’d shortened it to Chester because he wanted to blend in with humans. I’ve never met a human named Chester, but whatever. We got the word from the Elders about hanging out with humans and getting jobs and all that, and Chester, like me, was young enough to give it a try.
Actually, I was well on my way to being bored-out-of-my-mind with traditional witchkind life. Being trapped in the coven house tatting doilies and brewing dumb little spells in the kitchen for a few hundred years while waiting for my older sisters to decide to go to the Beyond so I could move up the coven ranks and—whoopie!—become a senior witch. Then I’d get to move around the Circle closer to the head and tell the younger witches what to do. And then go the Beyond myself when I got to be four hundred. I mean, what’s the point of that? Are doilies the only reason we’re here on this plane, so powerful and long-lived? I didn’t think so.
Thanks, all! This is very helpful and encouraging.
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