I haven’t been posting here much partly because I got trapped in the alternate universe that is Ancestry.com, trying to find an elusive ancestor (I did!) and also because without feedback, posting feels pretty lonely. I’ll try to post more here, but I promise nothing. Ha.
I’m considering a new novel, in its very early stages now, and as usual for me, this trying out begins with a conversation with a character. Pontiviro or ‘Viro as his friends call him, showed up one day and just started talking. I still don’t know where he lives, exactly, and what may be going on, but here’s what he had to say to me:
The Musings of PontiViro
You might say that since I fell in love with Cadio Barbet, I’ve done and seen more than any compact person might have done and seen. But it being an unrequited love tends to take a little of the sheen off of the accomplishments. At least I have him to myself, since there’s not a chance in a frozen hell that he would ever be interested in anyone else, man or woman, compact or full-size.
Sometimes I think things could be improved if Cadio would allow for a sexual relationship, if not a mutually-doting one. But when I brought it up, he considered me through his spectacles for a long minute, so that I knew he was taking my request seriously, then said, “No. No, thank you” and resumed reading.
I knew it wasn’t a reflection on me. Some folk would have an aversion to thinking about lovemaking with a compact man – otherwise known pejoratively as midgets – alright, probably most folk in this country. But not Cadio. He is the least prejudiced person I’ve ever met. He’s also the least interested person I’ve ever met.
Notice that I didn’t say he was uninteresting. Because he isn’t, and I’ve got a few scars to prove just how interesting he can be to others.
If Cadio is his real name and who he might otherwise be, I’ve no idea. And not for lack of trying. But he won’t talk about himself. Oh, once in a while, he’ll say something that seems to be a clue, but then at another time, he’ll say something that contradicts the first something. I used to keep a journal of the somethings, but it got tiresome once I became aware that anything he says about himself is likely a lie of some sort and that he does it on purpose. Probably. I’m not even sure about that.
I suspect him of purposely giving false information despite that I think that, without me to watch out for him, he would probably have been eaten by a beast or drowned crossing a river while trying to read a book. He can’t tell the honest from the dishonest and is clumsy enough with others that it would be hard to attribute any ability to dissemble to him at all. He depends too much on his magical abilities to get him out of trouble he should not have fallen into in the first place, but his magical talents are very great and lately I’m wondering if he didn’t also come out of the womb painted with a very wide lucky streak. Certainly, one of the luckiest things to happen to him is me.
It should be obvious that I am not from here. Where I am from, everyone is about my size. In this place, I choose to let everyone think that I am an oddity – one of their own that came out slightly different. Knowing what I now know, I will not tell anyone the name or location of my people and I pray that the difficulties I went through arriving here will prevent anyone else from doing so anytime soon. An army of people ten and twelve of my hands taller than the mild – and somewhat boring – inhabitants of my home would be disastrous for my people, I think. Better they should continue to live their quiet, isolated lives than be caught up in the chaos that is living in Verch among the Verchers.
Lately, I’m beginning to wonder if Cadio is as oblivious as he seems. Recently, I caught him looking at one of those traveling liars – people who sell an idea of something instead of the real thing – like a cure for baldness. This one did not seem particularly fresh to me; his idea was one I had heard frequently in the past month of traveling, becoming faster or stronger or smarter through focusing on a special stone for a set period of time each day. I was about to move on, certain Cadio had done, but he was still beside me, looking at the liar and there was something very like someone had mashed a sneer and a smile together on his face and then tried to hide it. His spectacles gleamed as the sun caught them, so I could not see his eyes, but that look – one I had never seen before – startled, and yes, unnerved me.
At that moment, the liar was juggling the stones he was selling and lying about how he had become quicker and more adroit because of his focusing. The stones seemed to go faster and faster, and the liar’s expression went from confident to delighted to uncertain then passed into nervousness and careened headlong into fear. He called out and a woman joined him on his improvised stage and he exhorted her to take the stones from his hands. She tried, but they only moved faster. No matter what that two did or how they moved, the stones continued their arc, flying round and round, faster and faster, until sweat began to pour from the liar’s face and the woman herself looked frantic.
Cadio walked off and perforce I followed him. When we returned that way some time later, the liar was on his back in the street, his face covered in sweat and his eyes haunted. There was a crowd around him. The woman was crying into her apron and a burly man was swinging with a cudgel at the stones, which evaded the wood and kept going round, while several people in the group made bets on whether the liar would die before the stones stopped and what the stones would do if that happened.
Cadio did not turn his head to look, nor did his hands make any gestures that I could see, and as a sometime picker of pockets, I think I would notice. But the stones suddenly came tumbling in a heap on the liar’s chest. The man took one long breath and sighed it out, then went unconscious. Those with bets settled them. The rest of the crowd looked disappointed at the entertainment’s tame closure and strode away back to their own business.
I looked at Cadio, who seemed to be talking to himself, as he sometimes did. “Stones,” I heard him say. “One has to have stones to sell stones.” Then he chuckled.
“Pardon?” I said, just to hear his reply.
He glanced at me, his grey eyes with a sort of light in them and said, “Maybe he needed more focus.” That is what passes for humour with him.