Word of the Day: Puffy

Sarah glanced at her reflection in the darkened windows as she reached to pull the curtains closed. Her eyes were bloodshot and puffy and her skin looked pale against the black night. This was not unusual: she had cried so often lately that she had given up wearing mascara; no amount of concealer was enough to hide the wreckage underneath. It didn’t much matter. She rarely went out these days anyway, but stayed inside, nursing her grief like a child.




Word of the Day: Intricate

Alea scrunched her eyes up in concentration and tried to follow the intricate steps of the instructor as she demonstrated them for the 17th time. Left, left, shuffle, cross-over, weird figure of 8 thing, throw left arm out, right, right, backwards, forwards… It was no good. No matter how many times she tried, she just couldn’t get the hang of it. Maybe a three-legged Zarg just wasn’t meant to learn how to street dance?



Word of the Day: Splinter

‘This could be somewhat problematic,’ Maria thought, as she frowned down at the thousand tiny splinters of wood that used to be her wand. It was the first time she had tried to cast a warmth spell, and it didn’t seem to have gone quite to plan. Maria could only assume that it had backfired somehow, for the second she had finished the incantation her wand had instantly become so searingly hot that she had dropped it, yelping in pain as it burned through the flesh on her right palm. On the upside, she supposed, she could no longer feel the cold; the angry throbbing pain radiating from her wand hand had seen to that. On the downside, however, she was now in something of a bind. She couldn’t fix her wand without a working wand, and she wouldn’t have a working wand unless she fixed her wand. Maria sighed and sat down cross-legged on the cold flagstone floor, wafting away the final few whisps of smoke from the charred remains of her wand. She pulled her travel-sized copy of Spells for All Occasions out of the inside pocket of her jacket and consulted the index.

Reanimation, human (90)
Reattachment, limb (65)
Reattachment, handle (13)
Recovery of health (7)
Recovery of stolen goods (3)
Recycling (65)
Reincarnation (97)
Removal, evil spirits (8)
Removal, horns (12)
Repairs, clothing (20)
Repairs, housing (48)
Repairs, wand (35)
Reprisal (77)
Rewinding (101)

She flipped to page 35, and was relieved to find a sub-heading labelled Wandless Variant partway down the page. Maria read through the instructions slowly and carefully, then read them again just for good measure. It seemed to be a fairly straightforward piece of magic; a couple of rhymes and a swishy hand motion a bit like conducting a bar of 4/4 time and her wand should be good as new.

‘Here goes nothing,’ she thought to herself, taking a deep breath.

“This splintered wood I place afore me;
A witch’s plea doth now beseech thee:
Fix the wand which hath been broken,
Take heed of that which hath been spoken!”

CRACK! A blinding flash of purple light filled the room.

Maria blinked to clear the purple spots from her vision, then opened her eyes expectantly.

‘Damn.’ she said, and turned to page 48.




Otis: Chapter Six (The Final Chapter… or is it?)

Otis couldn’t believe it. The last thing he remembered was falling asleep in his cage after another swim in the strange non-river – he had been cooped up for so long that even these short swims completely tired him out – and now here he was! Surely he must still be dreaming; he had dreamt of this every night since the fisherman had freed him from the netting and taken him away. Otis could see the man and the woman in their white coats standing a short distance away, and although he was still in a cage, the metal bars at the front had been removed – he could step right out. Most importantly, though, there – right in front of him – was the river. His river! The bank, covered in reeds, where he and his friends used to play hide and seek; the water vole burrows; the serene calm of the slowly moving water; the large oak tree that used to act as boundary to him: it was all there, exactly as he remembered It felt as though Otis had been gone for a lifetime, yet nothing had changed. Unable to wait another second, he gambolled forwards out of the open cage and towards the bank. He was still getting used to balancing without his tail, but the long grass was so soft that he barely noticed when he tripped and lost his balance, rolling back to his feet without missing a beat. He dived straight into the water so smoothly there was hardly a ripple, relishing the feel of the cold, fresh water as he dived almost to the river bed before stretching his arms out and rising back towards the surface. He felt at peace. Finally, he was home.

If you want to know what happened to Otis previously, here are the chapter links:

1. https://pencilandpaperstories.wordpress.com/2018/10/16/word-of-the-day-emergency/

2. https://pencilandpaperstories.wordpress.com/2018/10/24/freeotis-chapter-two/

3. https://pencilandpaperstories.wordpress.com/2018/10/31/otis-chapter-three/

4. https://pencilandpaperstories.wordpress.com/2018/11/15/otis-chapter-4/

5. https://pencilandpaperstories.wordpress.com/2018/11/22/otis-chapter-five/


Word of the Day: Hopeful (Again)

As Rebecca stepped out of her front door, the crisp January air and vivid blue skies could not help but make her feel hopeful. It had been a tough year; the dull monotony of work punctuated only by trips to the hospital and her divorce proceedings, but perhaps this was the beginning of something altogether more promising. She took a deep, slow breath, gazing up at the sky for a second or two. Well, she thought, here goes nothing! and walked boldly into 2019, shutting the door behind her.



Word of the Day: Inspiring

I hate it when people call me inspiring. It implies I’m doing something special, extraordinary even. In reality all I’m doing is trying to survive. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? The only difference is that my odds are significantly worse than yours. I dare any one of you to look death in the face and not try to fight back. No one rolls over, holds their hands up, cowed by the harsh glare of mortality. So don’t call me inspiring: to live is the most basic instinct we have.