fingerpaint the sky

till everything shines

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[misc] dreamers
Writing meme! Taken from schiarire.

Leave me a drabble of backstory. It can be about anyone -- one of your characters, one of mine, someone else's, no-one's. Anyone. Then I'll write one for you.

It's up to you whether you want to do an actual drabble, 100 words exactly, or just a short snippet. I've been trying to work on drabbles recently, inspired by the last success, so that's probably what you'll get in return.

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What are the rules for a drabble? Just a short evocative bit of story?

Yep. 100 words exactly (although you can fudge a bit if you don't feel like being strict about it), and it should be a complete entity. 100 words don't give you much space for plot, so, yeah, the idea is generally to be evocative, to give a short slice that is self-complete but also hints at a larger story.

Here we go. I haven't written fiction in years and years, and have barely read any. So of course I decided to write about fire ecology. I got exactly 100 words, though.


He struck a match and flicked it with deliberate carelessness out into the grass. If the forest warden was going to rant about how they were a bunch of feckless yokels, he might as well act like one.

The match fell into the yellow center of an aged tussock. It died down until you could barely see the red glow. Then a wisp of wind teased it up, a thin orange flame grabbing at the dried stalks. They turned brown, crumbling in toward the fire.

Dead grass to ashes, and ashes to fresh green pick for the sheep by Christmas.

Ooh. I like it!

You did better than I at following the rules; I couldn't trim this down beyond a drabble and a half, at 150 words.


A boy sits crouched in the dirt. He is a child who loves mysteries and puzzles, who frowns intently over word-finds and laboriously connects all the dots, who plays with words and books. He has a stuffed triceratops named Fred; Fred's frill, he told his mother sadly, is all wrong and his horns too stubby and his tail too thick. But he still sleeps with Fred every night.

So perhaps it is no surprise that the boy sifts through the dirt of his backyard, carefully cleaning each pebble and muddy bottle with an old paintbrush, blithely oblivious to the scolding he will get when his mother discovers that he has dug up her petunias.

And perhaps it is no surprise that, years later, a young man will frown, and stand, and say to the dig supervisor, Sir? Can you come take a look at this? I think I've found something.

Very nice. But no fair writing a true story about the person you're replying to! (Well, true in spirit, if not in detail.)

It was the second time she had reason to curse the length of her hair. Even tied to an ancient iron cleat in the cave floor, it was just long enough for her to swim out past the mouth, to crane her neck till it pulled tight at the nape and peer up and up to see the sun sparkling at the surface of the water. She gulped her stale bubble of breath back down to make it last as long as she could, and wished and wished for one strong beam of light to break through the depths and fall upon her face.

She should know better. Even that twiced damned braid had forgotten the sun at last, all the gold leached away. And wishes, the Sea Witch knew, were for those who still had names.

Oooh. That's lovely.

Inspired by the sea in yours, then:

There is nothing like the feeling of a pearl in your hand, his grandfather the pearl diver used to tell him. He was a man who spoke with twinkling eyes and expansive gestures, and words were heavy and halting in his mouth, so that was all he said, but his grandson the pearl diver understood.

When you dive, he told his own grandson much later, when he was not a pearl diver but ran a snorkeling-tour business for Western tourists, there is nothing around you but water. (And words for him came quick and fluid like darting fish, but in his mind were brown waving hands.) It is your world as it is for no other humans, and there is a headiness in that, but you are always a stranger there too, and it is only the great gulp of surface air in your lungs that lets you pretend to belong. And the quick twist of the knife to pry hard knobbly handfuls of oysters off the rocks yields only handfuls of oysters, often. But then you open one and there is a pearl shining inside, glimmering white against the pink moist flesh, and you feel it smooth in your hand and know that you have bought yourself more dives, more time bridging worlds.

His own grandson remembers that, even now that he has moved far across the sea to a land where there are many rocks but no seas and no oysters. For his wedding, he bought his wife a great rope of pearls, and poured them from hand to brown hand as he walked from the store.

Ooh, I like. That's a story in itself, that is. Beautiful.

Fate is.
Before anyone, Fate knows.
More than anyone, Fate owns.

Fate is bored.
Variety does not spice his life; everyone is:
Born and then they live and then they die and then it starts again.
He wants something new.

Fate is challenged.

A game, my lord.

The devil is in the details. Change the details, load the dice, and the world changes with them.

People change with the world, and gods change with people.

The observer learns from the observed.


Fate is changing.
He learns to be excitable.
He learns to be surprised.
He learns to be happy, sad, angry.
He learns to do more than observe.
He learns to do.

Fate is anxious to begin again, now that he knows the rules, and how to break them.

A game, my lady.

She plays.

Fate plays.

When Thom was three, his nurse Susanna found him juggling balls of purple fire. She bit back a startled shriek at the sight, and Thom turned to smile at her, a gleeful gloating smirk that sat oddly on his chubby child's face. He tossed the fire across the room at his twin, and then Susanna did scream, and dashed fruitlessly across the room. When Alanna caught the ball in her hands and laughed, Susanna slumped into a chair, torn between relief and dread over the havoc these two could wreak with Gifts. Magic was unnatural, her ma had always said, and as Susanna looked at the colored flames dancing in a toddler's hands she couldn't help but agree.

Alanna looked at her and frowned, worried, and let the fireball slip between her fingers and dissipate on its way to the floor. Thom giggled and created two more balls to juggle.

Your baby!Thom is infinitely better than mine. This embarrasses me, and yet I love you for it. Thankee. :)

(yes, I did respond and then delete it. the first one, I discovered, made no sense, so I fixed it.)

You have a philosophy, but nobody thinks to ask you. You're only eleven, after all; how can an eleven-year-old have experienced enough to form a philosophy?

You're ten, and he's an idiot boy - you're getting to realize, even now, that they're all idiot boys, some just less so than others - and she's an idiot girl. Agnes knew about them. (Of course she knew about them. Agnes knew about everything. Are you turning into an idiot girl too?) She warned you about them.

She also, you later discover, told you how you wouldn't listen.

One day, when you want to be outside but you refuse to go, because the idiot girl and idiot boy are out there - you are turning into an idiot girl too, Anathema; when have you ever not done something because certain people are? - you page through the Book in your window seat, looking out every once in a while.

You see a prophecy, and give it no thought. You go on, looking with interest at some of them.

A pause, and you turn the pages back. You read it over, and then over again, and a smile lights your face.

After that day you go outside whenever you want.

You're eleven, and your philosophy has never let you down.

Drabble and a half. It's the night for that, apparently.

You tell your freshman advisor that you want to major in math, absolutely positively and she nods and makes a note and points out that you’ll have to take all the core courses anyway. So you take English (boring) and biology (more boring, but with a cute prof so it’s almost okay) and French (interesting except for the spelling) and philosophy. Which astonishes you by not being boring at all.

You study Kant, and Hegel, and Avicenna. And pretty soon you’ve switched majors and advisors and you’re starting to think that maybe you know how to look at the world, if not exactly how it works.

Which is maybe why you’re so shocked when your closet door starts leading to an entirely different place that has grass and trees and is decidedly not the inside of your closet, and reminds you that there are more things in heaven and earth.

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