Sunday September 28th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: hidden gems.

Back home safe and sound in Osoyoos. Good to be here.

Little time to waste though. Second to last boxes need to be harvested and put together tomorrow and Tuesday. Tuesday? Ah yes, that's also Kat's first official day of work, as she's going up to OK Falls to check out the learning space with her co-teacher and a group of their students' parents.

Wednesday sees Kat teaching a yoga class in Oliver to cover for someone who is away, Thursday is her first day with the kids, and then Friday... what's on Friday. Oh, right. I suppose we should get ready for this Saturday's farmers market.

I'm about ready to sleep now.


The drive to Vancouver and back is a bit of a different experience now that we have Max with us. Before we'd make one stop for lunch and one more for gas and that was about it. Durations varied by how bad traffic was going into and out of the city, but we generally had a pretty good idea of what time we'd be arriving based on what time we left.

Now? We leave when we're able to get Max ready and into the car. We drive until it becomes obvious that he won't put up with being in the car any longer. If he's napping, we're driving. Always have food at hand in case we need to keep going through planned lunch or snack breaks.

Above all else, let the toddler sleep.

The car is still packed pretty tight, but now a fairly significant portion is devoted to things that could potentially keep him entertained while we're making forward progress. Lego, books, stuffed animals, empty yogurt containers, toys of varying shapes and sizes.

Green space well away from the road is golden. We'll stop and let him run around and find rocks and explore dirt and touch trees until he can be convinced to return to his car seat. Sometimes we'll have an idea of where the next one is, but mostly when it's time to pull over we just drive until we find something that looks like it will be suitable.

This leads to the discovery of places we would otherwise have no reason to visit, as we'd be too focused on getting wherever we're going. On the way home this afternoon we ended up taking a brief tour of the Skagit River Trail. Big beautiful trees, fresh air, water rushing over rocks, mountains reaching for the sky.

It was a break and a place we all needed.

I should mention that this journey was a fairly good one, as I feel like I'm giving the impression it was a bit of a nightmare. Max was basically entertained in the car (or sleeping) for the vast majority of the trip. But when those moments arrived when he'd just had enough, hidden gems like this one were absolute life savers.


Anonymous said...

A darker grey glinted slightly amidst the dull ash. I bent down to get a better look. Brushing off remains of furniture and human flesh, I found a simple ring of keys, each made of simple iron yet were wrought into elegance.
The house had no such locks. Every door handle was crafted with the modern edged piece of metal. But the keys spoke for themselves.
I fingered each of the five keys in turn. One was longer and more slender than the others. If it wasn’t for the ends, I would have mistook it for a hairpin. I turned it over and over in my hand, successfully rubbing the dirt and grim into the ridges of my skin. Skillfully scratched into the metal near the knob were two cursive letters: R.J.
I pantomimed unlocking a door. R.J. had done just that several times in whatever time the key was made. Strange how something so small could host so many memories.
As if I was standing in front of a cave, a gust of wind assaulted me as a large box of light opened where I had turned the key in the air. The light hurt to look at, the wind stung the exposed skin of my face and hands as I tried to block it. I heard a high keening whistle all around me.
The red behind my lids vanished. My skin began to feel normal if a little wind burned. When I opened my eyes again, I saw a large expanse of pine trees and a brick mansion instead of ash and death.

Greg said...

That sounds like a pretty busy week you've got ahead of you there! It's definitely good that you've had a kind of mini-break beforehand, I think, though managing a toddler is possibly nothing like a holiday at all :) I think you need to break out those rusting project management skills and start getting these people to multitask... I reckon fruit-picking and yogic stretching should synergise nicely, and Miss Snippet would happily make suggestions on how to get those children on Thursday to prep for Saturday's market for you :)
I like the image of the car stuffed full but all the nooks and crannies filled with things to amuse Max, and I'm sure that though you may never have intended to spend much time in passing green spaces you are appreciating finding out just what's out there and nearer than you'd think.

Hidden gems
Angmar slipped a screwdriver from his belt and started unscrewing the mirror from the wall. He had no idea why anyone would leave behind such a thing when they left -- it was clearly an antique, and despite being dusty and some of the gold-wire having snapped was worth a small fortune -- but he certainly wasn't that daft himself. Next to him, Sylvia sighed.
"My Gods, Angmar," she said. "We're here to check this place out, find out if the previous occupant did leave any gold behind, and then burn it to the ground. We've not got through the f-ing hall and you're carrying enough stuff to weigh down a donkey!"
"The previous occupant was a wizard," said Angmar, and paused as Sylvia snorted. "What?"
"Only if you believe in magic," she said.
"Why would I believe in it?" asked Angmar. The screws had been stiff at first but were turning more easily now. "It's real. It's what keeps the moon up in the sky, and makes the vampire bats fly every night. It's the only thing keeping that chainmail brassiere you're wearing up!"
"Are you calling me flat-chested?!"
"I'm calling you woefully underdressed if we get into trouble!"
Sylvia snorted, and drew her shortsword to check that the blade was oiled and sharp. The screws squeaked, and then bounced on the floor, and Angmar lifted the mirror down. It might be heavy, but he'd made several fortunes looting everywhere he visited.
"Well would you look at that!" he said, and then whistled for extra emphasis. Behind the mirror was a hole in the wall, inside of which rubies glittered blood red. "Hidden gems."
"Mine!" said Sylvia with considerable speed, and thrust her fist through the hole. As she grabbed the first gem the hole seemed to shimmer, and then grow teeth. "Oh crap."
"It's a good job you don't believe in magic," said Angmar. "That way you haven't just shoved your arm down the throat of some minor demon bound into this wall."

morganna said...

Chris's jaw dropped. Emily smiled sweetly. "Weren't expecting us, were you?"

"Nnno, actually," stuttered Chris. "I I I ... was going to come looking for you today."

It was Emily's turn to look stunned. "Really?"

"Yes, my darling," and Chris took her into his arms. Their hug was interrupted by a throat being cleared.

"As much as I am enjoying this touching reunion, I would prefer to remove myself from the doorstep."

Chris looked around in surprise at the haughty voice. Emily jumped. "Oh, yes, Chris, I'd like you to meet my mother, Helen."

Her mother had been quite insistent about using a pseudonym. "We don't know who he's been talking to, dear, or who will find him later. It's bad enough as it is, how much of our private business we will have to tell this young man." Emily preened at the use of the word 'our' and agreed.

Chris stood back from the door and ushered them into the tiny stone cottage. He arranged three chairs in front of the wood stove.

As they seated themselves, Helen spoke. "I suppose I shall have to tell you what this is all about. You two children have been caught up in an ongoing feud between two criminal gangs, mine, and my arch-rivals. The other gang is searching for the trove of hidden gems I stole thirty years ago, when I was about your age. I hid them, and no one has seen them since. But my rivals have caught word of them, and will not rest until they find them."

Nicole Major said...

She stood before me in all her glory. Truly, a magnificent manifestation of human beauty...
Her pearly white teeth were concealed by glossy, ruby lips. Emeralds glistened in her eyes. Her dark hair seemed to shimmer like diamonds.
Truly, a hidden gem.

Marc said...

Ivybennet - fascinating scene that could easily be the opening to a rather epic tale. Excellent descriptions, especially of the opening as it appears after the turn of the key.

Greg - heh, if only those kids could have helped out on the farm for the day instead of doing... whatever it was they were doing. I can't remember, this was like three weeks ago already... sigh.

Quite enjoyed your characters back and forth, as usual. And that was a decidedly appropriate ending too!

Morganna - always glad to see another entry in this exciting tale. Saga? Yes, perhaps 'saga' is the better word now :)

Nicole - lovely use of gem words to describe your narrator's focal point. I think I liked 'Emeralds glistened in her eyes.' the best of the bunch.