fingerpaint the sky

till everything shines

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[misc] dreamers
Another random bit of writing -- and totally original, no less! It was inspired in part by schiarire's wonderfully bizarre story recently -- not that Laurie has much of anything to do with Alice Green, but it made me want to write something original and slightly weird. (You all should go read that story, though, especially if you like Gaiman, because it's weird and creepy and fantastic.)

So here it is. A character sketch, really; I think Laurie will rattle around in my brain for a while longer. I'd like to make her a secondary character in something. Concrit is very much welcomed.

ETA: My brother amsterdarn gave me a very helpful, if inimitably phrased, session of concrit. (Favorite quote: "Way to not be dumb.") So the ending has been slightly changed, because he pointed out all the bits I was vaguely uncertain of, and helped me figure out why they were wrong.


She was a child of the fall, a dry stick girl with dead-leaf eyes and crackly short hair that tumbled in whorls and spikes on her high pale forehead. She chewed pencils to splinters and wore long sweaters with cuffs that reached past her knuckles and perched on desks and tables and the edges of chairs. Her hands were thin and pale and always cold, and her joints cracked with whispery popping noises, though she always moved with an angular disjointed grace. When she thought hard she cocked her head like a bird and half-lidded her large eyes in her thin sharp face and gnawed on a thumbnail. When she was little her mother (lush and wide-hipped, but with the same opaque dead-leaf eyes) had painted her nails red and white and pink to stop her from chewing on them, but she only nibbled the polish away, distant-eyed.

When she went to college, her mother wept and hugged her, and her father (stick-thin and sharp-faced, with bright dark eyes like a sparrow's) carried her bags from the house to the car and from the car to the baggage check. He stood awkwardly, hands in pockets, and then when her mother was in the bathroom cleared his throat and said "You make us proud, now, Laurie. Learn what you can from everyone, and call us whenever you want. Be happy, too, that's important."

"I will," she said, and she smiled her small crooked smile. Then she hugged them both one last time and disappeared into the crowd past the security checks. They watched her as long as they could, a small figure swathed in a rust-orange sweater, and then went home to a quiet house. That night they turned the tv to the baseball game just for the noise, though Laurie had always been a silent barefooted presence even when the school's handouts about Your Growing Teen had warned them that she would start thumping down stairs and playing loud discordant music.

In college Laurie majored in biology, though everyone guessed English or art when they looked at her. She only grinned at them, curled up in a beanbag chair or perched on the arm of a couch, and told them that she didn't have the patience for symbolism, with the faint superiority of one who could make an English major's eyes glaze over in 3.5 seconds with proper application of a Krebs cycle diagram. "She'll end up on a farm somewhere, with a barn full of goats and an apple orchard," predicted her friends, but in fact she went on to graduate school and then took a job with a scientific journal, editing dense dry papers on phytochemical reactions with a keen eye and a slashing red pen. She chose a tiny apartment high in a towering building, and painted it in tan and rust and burgundy, and grew straggling half-dead basil in the windowsill. Her rooms were cluttered with papers and pillows and coffee mugs, and she walked bare-toed on the mismatched rugs and chewed the ends of her pens while she thought.

At forty she looked nearly the same as she had at twenty. "How do you do it?" asked her friend Jean, who went to the gym three times a week for low-impact aerobics and wistfully eyed anti-aging creams at the drugstore.

"Black magic," said Laurie with such owlish seriousness that Jean stared at her for a moment, nonplussed, until Laurie grinned and Jean laughed. But the truth was that most of her family had aged the same way, thin sharp faces defying wrinkles, narrow hands thin and nimble.

At sixty her strange wide eyes had faint papery crows-feet at the corners and her short untidy hair was streaked silver and white like the trunk of a young aspen. She had finally retired, and she moved to a tiny house in the mountains at a time when most of her friends were leaving for warm southern cities. There she walked barefoot under tall trees and dipped her cool thin fingers in cold mountain streams. When she was young she had climbed trees, loose-limbed and sure-footed, and sat in them still as a squirrel to watch the world move around her, but now she hung a large comfortable swing from the best wide-branched climbing tree she could find, and sat in it for hours reading hardback books. She marked her place in them with a bookmark she had braided from tall grass.

On her sixty-ninth birthday, her next door neighbor came to visit with apple pie and a book about Darwin. He told her that she was looking well, and she laughed.

The next day, he returned with another book, which he had bought but forgotten the day before. She was curled on the couch, still and cold, and on her white face was her crooked smile. And everywhere around her warm cluttered house were swirls and piles of dry crackling leaves.

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Lovely. I hope she rattles around more, too. :)

Thanks. :)

(Gehayi, incidentally, mentioned wondering what would happen if Alice met Laurie. I hope for my character's sake that she's just fey enough that her soul would slip through the camera lens and through Alice's fingers like crumbling autumn leaves, but I suppose if not I would at least get to read some neat description. Whether or not Laurie would appreciate the silver lining. :) )

Ji's brain: *kaboom*

I imagine Alice would think that was very interesting.

I made a brain go kaboom! Yay! ...I mean, um, sorry about that.

I should think she would, yes.

...I think this is very interesting too...



Beautiful! You can't let a character this good get away.

Thanks. :) Glad you liked her!

Ooh, I like! It reminds me of a Brian Froud painting.

(Deleted comment)

Re: what stake said!

What I said to stake below applies here, too. Yay; that's exactly what I was going for. Thanks!

Ooh. I am dancing in my chair with happiness now, because I adore Brian Froud. Thanks!

Oh my god, it's Ms. Ryan!

No, really, this is my science teacher from seventh and eighth grade!

Seriously, though, I got here from gehayi, and this is--wow. So beautiful. I love the leaves.

Hee! I envy you, then! Although my science teachers in junior high were pretty cool, too; two immensely silly men who so far as I could tell were very good friends too.

I'm glad you liked it. :)

(Took a wander over to your journal -- mind if I friend you?)

Of course not! *is absurdly gleeful* I've seen you over at deletrius before and you always seemed really awesome. ^_^

And here's where I stare and blush. *grin* I thought I recognized your name from deleterius. Whee!

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