Two reminders about Celeste:
1) This is an exercise. The principal point is practice with dialogic characters. Even if you're working alone, realistic characters create a dialogue with the author, forcing the story to shift and move in unexpected directions. Crystal and I haven't had much opportunity to discuss or revise these sections. A bit of revision could work wonders, and maybe one or both of us will want to take up the final product and try to pull it together into a cohesive work.
2) The fact that this is an exercise doesn't mean we're exempt from critique. We're already critiquing one another behind the scenes. We'd love to hear from anyone else who has additional critical comments. And, yes, this mean that anyone who joins in the fun also has to be willing to accept criticism.
As for the near future: it's almost Thanksgiving, folks, and I'm the family cook, so I'll be offline tonight and most (if not all) of tomorrow. That means I'll not be working on a response to this section until at least Friday.
Jacob came away from the fire, no longer chilled from the winter’s snow. He climbed into Celeste’s lap hoping to be lavished with tender strokes of affection. That was not what he got. What he got was Celeste sitting entirely still, slouching in her chair, unaware of his presence.
Jacob not one to be easily disappointed, stretched across her lap, content to share her bodies heat. Both cat and woman went unusually quiet. Gawain sat across from them and watched intently, chewing on his bottom lip and tapping his foot. He was waiting for some kind of action, word, scream, anything but silence.
Celeste jumped up from her chair and dump Jacob to the floor with a shrieking meow.
He righted himself on his feet and rushed out from under her shuffling feet. :What the hell, woman?: he screamed mentally out loud as he fell to the floor.
Celeste frantically paced the room back and forth. She zipped back and forth raising her hands and swinging them around. Occasionally Gawain and Jacob heard a word or two escape her lips. “What the …?” followed by more pacing, “…not right”, silence, more pacing, “….off my rocker…” pacing, silence, pause, pacing, “…tortured my brother”, pause, silence, pacing, “…Ninue…the Merlin…”
The boys watched this and took it all in as a normal day at the office.
“Wonder how long she will be like this, this time?” Gawain asked Jacob who sat under a large table dutifully cleaning himself.
:Who knows: he remarked, :longest I’ve seen this go on for was 23 and a half hours, of course that was when she found out I was a cat. It could be a while, I’m guessing it’s a bit of a shock.:
“When she was younger, she shut out the entire world when she got like this. Has she mellowed any over the past hundred years?” he asked.
:Nope, completely oblivious. It’s her coping mechanism when things make no sense. Perhaps that’s what brought about Ninue, she finally just flipped her rocker with all the stress or perhaps…more likely, her personality split. That rings truer.:
“How did you live with it for so many years?” Gawain asked.
:Because,: a mental sigh rang through the room, :Because I love her dearly. That, and she loves me. However, it is her unusual condition that aided me in becoming a cat. Word of advice my friend, don’t work magic and utter a curse at your wife in the same breath, it can have dire consequences. All I said was, “I’d rather be a mangy cat than married to you, you shrew” and, well here I am. It seems the universe has a keen sense of irony.:
“But you said earlier that she divorced you.”
:Oh, yes, she did. She had to in order to handle our affairs. I gave her everything in the divorce, because, well to be blunt, what does a cat need for possessions and money? I am much better off letting her pamper me out of guilt.: he chuckled, a strange sound from a cat. :And, besides, I am still too proud to let people know what I did to myself. Most people think I ran off to the 23rd century and that I’m basking on some beach in France with a bikini model. So, obviously, I’m hoping in time I can remove this…mess, and we can remarry and move on from there. Of course this new situation may delay that plan for a while.:
“As for Lestie’s condition, don’t they have medications that she can take to alleviate this type of behavior?” Gawain asked. “I mean, it’s really none of my business, but I love her, and when she gets like this it worries me.”
:Oh, they do have medications that can stop this behavior, however she did not wish to take it and I would never ask her to. To overcome her “disposition” the only medications available to her would leave her drooling in the corner and unable to do more than take care of day to day needs. The brilliant mind we see light up and sparkle behind those beautiful blue eyes would dull and the lights would go out. I’d rather deal with her infrequent “bouts”, than lose the woman I love.:
“Oh,” Gawain replied.
Both men watched Celeste pace back and forth. “You know it’s actually relaxing to watch her, it’s like watching a tennis match.”
:You know, you’re right,: Jacob agreed.
The two males watched her pace some more, but it was boring. It was Gawain that broke the uncomfortable silence. “So Jacob, if it’s not too personal, what’s it like being a cat?” With that said, the two men talked for a couple hours.
Celeste continued to pace back and forth, back and forth, and then, as quickly as she began, she ceased, plopping her butt back down in the chair, with an exasperated “Fuck!”
Jacob sat up on his haunches and looked at her. :Welcome back dear, any amazing breakthroughs?:
“No—yes—maybe. At least I have the whole thing centered in my mind, and I can think clearly again. Thanks for your patience,” she replied.
:No problem dear.:
“How long was I out of commission?” she asked.
:About five hours,: Jacob told her.
“Oh, so not too badly all things considered. Okay, moving on, Gawain, I need to know how and when you first noticed you were being trailed—when, where and how. After we discuss that, I’d like to take the time to discuss Balrog with Jacob. Mythical monsters were always his field of knowledge, I’m lucky to even know what Balrog is. I’ve decided that I’m going to try and move us to another time period, further away from Northumbria, A.D. 656.”
“Won’t she know where you’ll take me? She is you after all.”
“She doesn’t know me any better than I know her. Why the hell did I take over the name of Ninue and take the Merlin? Hell, I’m going to have to spend a day researching the Merlin again. But, whatever, I need to take us someplace, and sometime that would neither be a place I’d choose or a place I’d avoid. Those are the most likely places for me to look, I would imagine I’m not thinking as clearly on this as I, Ninue, would like.”
:Where then?: Jacob asked.
“I’m thinking 1973. Not the most pleasant time, with Vietnam mostly over but still a mess, women’s rights moving forward, civil rights moving forward. It’s a time of stress, but not of historical significance to me really. Besides, the drugs are good and the sex doesn’t have commitments—sorry, hon,” she said looking at Jacob, “but I’m still a woman with physical needs.”
:I understand, just as you do when I go out for a few days monthly in the warm weather. Nature is nature.: Jacob replied.
“I also think you should leave your comm-screen in this time period Gawain. That could be one of the easiest ways for her to track you down. I will give you Jacob’s. I have it somewhere here in my purse,” she said as she dug around through the bottomless contents. “Oh here it is. I’m sorry, hon, but I think you should also leave your father’s ring and watch. Those are things I know you would never willingly part with, and those are also traceable.”
“Sorry Gawain, no buts. She’ll use that as her secondary way of following you. Everyone knows that you wouldn’t willingly part with your heirlooms, and I’m sorry to ask you to do so. But we need time. Forcing her to look harder for you buys us that time.”
Gawain bowed his head and sighed, “You are right, I know you are right, but there has to be some way for these to be returned.”
“Go to the bank and put them in a safety deposit box or they may be called a paymaster’s strongbox in this time, I don’t remember. Tell them this is an inheritance for your great-grandchild who will provide proper verification them at the time. Pay them for 100 years and when this is over go back and get it.”
“Now stop whining about incidentals,” she continued, “we have things to do. Jacob, you and Gawain take care of his items and discuss this Balrog. I will collect the items I need to do this spell the old fashioned way, with candles, ritual and a crystal. It’s much harder to trace us that way since it leaves a huge amount of magical residue. I should be back by mid-morning.” Celeste headed for the door, pausing for a moment to look at her comm-bracelet. “Good, it’s not too early, it’s after 0800.” With that said, she disappeared out the door.
They heard the door open and then heard footsteps back, “I nearly forgot, when I return we shall discuss what you remember of Ninue tracking you down. I need that information to ponder in the back of my mind while I work on other things, but not now, I need to be moving. Cheerio.” She turned on her heels and left. This time they heard the door shut.
“Needs to be moving?” Gawain said, “Well, she seems to have come to some ideas in her all her manic pacing—that was not moving,” Gawain said shaking his head.
:So it would seem: Jacob agreed as he stood up and stretched, arching his back. :I just hope she remembers what it’s like to be a woman from this century and what the current currency is or the day could get very interesting, since I’m sure she did not remember to look at the address of where we are.: