An old pile of papers

“Mollie Salvers was lonely. Not alone, but lonely”
So starts a story I began on the 11th February 1995 – about the time when I was reading a great deal of Thomas Hardy and the Bronte Sisters. I never finished the story, but I did write a full synopsis, which I share here:

Mollie and Joseph (her husband) split up.
Mollie goes to stay with her Aunt Constance in Oxfordshire (“Aunt Constance was a strange creature of obvious wealthy ancestry. She was respected within her countryside village as one of the oldest and wisest residents and, as a young woman, had been courted by many a hopeful youth”).
She meets Adam, who she loved as a child. Adam is a recluse and has changed greatly since their childhood – his sister flung herself from a cliff after a failed love affair – he has never recovered.
Mollie still loves Joseph very much. She discovers she is pregnant. When she tells Joseph he is happy, but thinks it is better if they don’t get back together.
Mollie finds herself growing closer to Adam. She needs him, but he falls in love with her.
While on a walk on the cliffs, Adam admits he loves Mollie. She tells him she doesn’t feel the same. Joseph turns up – he has heard everything. He picks a fight with Adam. Mollie tries to stop them and is pushed away. She is hanging by one hand off the side of a cliff. Joseph turns to a nervous wreck but Adam helps her up.
Feeling useless that he couldn’t help, Joseph throws himself off the cliff.
Adam and Mollie live happily ever after.

That, there, people, is an Oster / Price masterpiece that will never be written…


On writing a Novel in Thirty Days

I haven’t blogged much in the last month choosing, instead, to save all my words for NaNoWriMo, which came to a close last night. I am writing these words as someone who has just written a 50,000+ word novel. I never thought I’d say that! I feel incredibly smug about having finished, not just because I reached the Sacred Word Limit, but also because I feel like the process of writing taught me a great many lessons.

Firstly, if you make an entire chapter of your book a conversation over email, you can spend a great deal of your words on the formatting of To, From, Date and Subject. But that’s cheating…

Seriously, it was a curious experience shutting myself up in my study every night after school and every weekend and just trying to get some words down. Some days it was so easy my fingers could barely keep up and I was averaging a thousand words every forty minutes. Other days, I thought I’d never be able to say anything at all and it was a real struggle to sit down and type anything. On a good day, the words seemed to be coming, not from my head, but from somewhere behind me – I was catching them as they flew past. Whole pieces of dialogue came to me from somewhere else, as though I was merely transcribing a conversation I was eavesdropping on. Some of the things the main character says about her friends and her husband, where so cruel I couldn’t believe I’d thought them up myself. Some of them were so funny, I wondered the same thing.
On days when the writing wasn’t coming so easily, I borrowed fairly heavily from real life. This is just one of the many reasons why I won’t be sharing the book with anyone I love.

Writing, they say, takes dedication. I always thought this would be the hardest thing about writing, I’m not a very organised person, and I find it difficult to commit to anything for a long period of time. But the times when I was writing, and writing well, were a real joy to me. I can write. I am a writer.

Throughout the month, the thing I was most bowled-over by, was the huge amount of support I received from the people around me. I’ve written before about why I felt the need to so publicly announce on facebook quite how many words I had, or hadn’t written each day. I needed to do it, at first, so that I might be spurred on by the threat of having to tell my facebook friends that I had caved and given in. But soon, the many posts I got from friends who were following my progress were the best thing about writing. It was beautiful to bask in their awe, their love, and I was really spurred on by them. Wordman came to make me tea as I wrote. The Husband cooked, cleaned, did my laundry and hugged me lots (he does all that anyway, even when I’m not working to a ridiculous deadline!). All the friends I saw over the month talked to me about my writing, suggested car chases and brutal murders, asked me what it was about. My tutor group, usually so lethargic and apathetic, asked on occasion how it was going. Without these people, I’m not sure I’d have finished as soon as I did.

Finding that you have over 50,000 words in your head that can be out down on paper is a truly incredible experience, and one which I recommend to anyone. I’d heard nightmare tales about losing my social life and staying up all night to meet deadlines. I didn’t find any of that I real issue, which maybe only suggests I don’t have a very exciting social life in the first place. I finished with days to spare and, whilst I can’t say that my mental health is unscathed by the incident, I feel a real sense of achievement.

As for the book, it’s a piece of cliched Chick Lit. But, in my humble opinion, it’s the best Chick Lit I’ve ever read…

NaNoWriMo. Day Seven.

Wordman tells me that he wouldn’t be telling people if he were writing a novel in 30 days, that he wouldn’t be updating his facebook status every thousand words, that he wouldn’t be sharing the day’s WORST WORDS with so many people. He says he’d be paranoid that by telling people, it would hex it somehow and the novel would never get done.
I do it for the exact opposite reason. The idea behind telling people the massive task I have decided to undertake, is that I will have to continue with it, even when (like today) I REALLY DON’T WANT TO. Because I have told them all I’m doing it, and I hate to look like an idiot.
This isn’t entirely true, however. The real reason I am constantly updating my facebook status to include all the words I have written that day is because I am doing nothing at all with my days but work and write, and because facebook is a fantastic way to procrastinate while still sitting in the study trying to prove to the Husband that I am writing.

Closed-door writing

Stephen King in On Writing, says that you should write the first draft of any novel in a quiet space, without interruption, and you should never show it to anyone until it is finished. So, in preparation for writing my Great First Novel, I have sorted out the space in the spare room so I can work there. It’s not ideal – it’s where P keeps all his clothes (clean and dirty) and also the home for all that stuff that has nowhere else to live. But it is a space, nonetheless, and now that I’ve personalised it a little more, with pictures from my Favourite Little Person and a noticeboard full of PLOT, it feels much much better.
So. I’ve done the hard bit, right? Now I can just sit down and happily write a bestseller. In a month. While working full time. Yes.

Three pages a week.

At the weekend, the Inventor (who lives on the Farm with my Mother-in-law-sister) started a conversation about my writing. “The poetry’s going well”, he said “By which I mean, you’re writing”. He asked if I wanted to write a novel, it’s something I’ve mentioned before. “Yes” I say, not entirely sure this is a conversation I want to have. “Then you will”. He asks me how long it takes me to write a page, when I tell him I don’t have the time to write my book. He asks how I spend the rest of my time, he asks what I do when I’m smoking, whether I watch TV, whether there are times in my life I could be using better. He understands, he says, that teachers are so often dead on their feet at the end of the day; but is there some way I could be making sure this book gets written? I admit that there are times I could be using better.
Three pages a week, he says. Write three pages a week, for six months, and you’ll have a novel. This is such an engineer’s way of thinking it makes me laugh. But, yes, writing is a job like any other. You do it, and you do it, and you keep on doing it, until it is done.
I promise him three pages a week, not yet knowing if I even have a story that will take more than three pages. But he has given me the rules, given me the framework, that the little girl in me needs if I’m ever going to get this done. He has given me – in that short instruction – all the support and “I believe you can’ that this neurotic child is looking for. And he knows, I suspect, that this is all I really need.
This is what I do, he says. Once, my Mother-in-law-sister told him she wanted to play in a band. Classically trained on the piano, she wasn’t sure she could play the Blues, jazz, all that modern stuff. So he made her practice, he helped her ignore that little voice in her head- that maybe said she couldn’t, and he found her a band.
This is what he does.

Check out my Mother-in-law-sister and the Inventor’s band here – they’re well worth a visit if you’re in the area:

New Writing App

To help me with my three pages a week, and to best utilise my time on the bus, and out for cigarette breaks, I have downloaded the My Writing Nook app on iPhone (Procrastinate? Me?)
I’ll let you know how it goes, but it looks pretty good – clean and usable. It synchs with Writing Nook on Google, and also gives you a very useful word count (good for NaNoWriMo, if, indeed, I ever get around to doing that).
Check it out here:

NaNoWriMo – I signed up for this.

National Novel Writing Month. 50,000 words in 30 days. Don’t expect to see me much in November. Or, expect me to be deeply ashamed of myself when I can’t write a word…
Any prompts, ideas or tips would be much appreciated – you can contact me on twitter (@sunshriek), or on facebook if you’re already a friend!
And don’t invite me anywhere (except that wedding, of course) for the whole of November!

William Fort, Time Traveller

FICTION FRIDAY PROMT: Your Main Character is a time traveller. He/She arrives at a destination but not all is as expected…

William Fort seemed like any ordinary boy, living with his Aunt Bette in an ordinary semi-detached in a very ordinary town. He went to an ordinary school, with painfully ordinary teachers, who were all in the job for the long summer holidays. The circumstances of his parents’ deaths seemed also very ordinary, a car crash on their way back from a wedding in Scotland. No children, the invite had said, so William’s parents had left him at home with his Aunt Bette, which is where, of course, he was today.
William, however, had a secret, as all little boys in stories like this one do. William was a time traveller. No one could remember the first time that William stepped into the cupboard under his stairs and was transported to a different time, and though many people had tried (and the cat, Kafka, too) no one else had ever been able to travel through time just by stepping into the dark cupboard. William was special.
Perhaps it was that William was an orphan, living in a home with a woman who didn’t know how to talk to children, or to kiss them better after a fall. Perhaps William’s parents had also had this special power, but of course they weren’t around for him to ask. How William had become a time traveller, and why, remained a mystery, but one that William intended to find out.
Today, coming home from a particularly ordinary day at school (Mr Higgins had called him ‘useless’ during javelin practice and Miss Spacey had held the whole class back because Billy Cooper wouldn’t stop humming while she was talking) William decided to find out once and for all how he had come to be a time traveller. In recent months, his time travel had become much easier. Now, on entering the cupboard, he could fix his mind on a specific time period, hold his breath tight in his chest, and then open the door, finding himself exactly where he had wished. This revelation had been a happy one for William, who had previously gotten himself in all sorts of trouble having no control over where he was going; his trip to the time of the Aztecs being a good example (he thought they were all really rather lovely, until it turned out they intended to cut his heart out with a stone).
And so, William got himself a cup of milk, grabbed a biscuit from Aunt Bette’s secret biscuit jar, and opened the door to the cupboard under the stairs. He took a swig of milk, crammed a biscuit in his mouth, shut his eyes, held his breath…. And opened the cupboard door.
The wonder of William’s time travelling was that he could also travel in space. When he opened the cupboard door, he might find himself in a vast green field, in a market place in 16th century Venice, in a far off planet inhabited by small purple caterpillars. This time, however, William was surprised to find that he was exactly where he should expect to be. The cupboard door opened onto the hallway of his ordinary semi-detached house in his ordinary town. The stairs, still covered with that horrid green carpet went, as you would expect, directly up to the landing and into his bedroom. The kitchen still smelled of lino and those plastic plants that had been there as long as William could remember. Perhaps something had gone wrong, thought William. Perhaps he had lost his powers, perhaps he was just an ordinary boy after all.
And then he heard it. The unmistakeable sound of a baby crying. And a mother, gently humming as she paced, and jigged, and try to rock the baby better. William recognised the sound. The same song his mother had hummed to him when he couldn’t sleep, when he woke in the night after a nightmare. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”. William’s breath caught in his throat. Had he managed it? Was he here? Would he get to see her again? He had thought about this day often. What good was time travel if he didn’t use it to see his parents, even one last time?
He looked up from the bottom of the stairs, holding his breath for fear he would be discovered. He didn’t want to frighten his mother. How would she even know who he was? Would she think he was a neighbourhood boy, breaking into the house for a laugh? He thought for a while about how he would begin to explain to her how he came to be there. He hoped that she would know, that she would understand and finally he would know the answer to the question he had wondered about for so long: were his parents time traveller’s too?
Suddenly, William was surprised by a key sounding in the lock behind him. He darted to the cupboard under the stairs and jumped in, careful not to close the door fully behind him. “Hey there! Where’s my beautiful family?” said a voice that William remembered well. His father.
“Up here!” called his mother, “William’s a little grumpy, I think he’s teething”.
William’s father dropped his bag by the stairs and climbed them two at a time. William heard the sound of his father kissing his mother on the cheek and cooing over the baby. Baby William. He crept out from under the stairs.
The hallway, now he came to look at it properly, was different to how he remembered it. Photos on the wall showed a smiling couple, recently married and a baby William, in a hospital cot. The photos of hideous cats that Aunt Bette had brought with her after his parents death, were nowhere to be seen. The carpet, too, looked different, new. The purple stain that had been there since his accident with a pot of paint and a rusty bicycle was yet to be made and the kitchen, despite smelly of those same plastic plants, was less meticulously clean – baby food and cutlery littered the sideboard.
“… a tough day…” William heard from upstairs “… worried… have to… Scotland, they say…” William moved nearer to the bottom of the stairs.
“I’ll come with you” he heard his mother say “It’s about time I got back to work, anyway, William’s nearly old enough to be left with someone. Bette, maybe?”
“I don’t want your sister coming round here, bringing those godawful cats. Stay home with William a little longer. Maybe until he goes to school?”
“I’d love to, Charlie, you know I would. But the cause! I miss feeling like I’m fighting for something. I feel like I’m letting you all down”.
“No one thinks that, Luce, you know that. They’re just all glad William’s safe”. William heard his father say. He stood stunned. Aunt Bette had told him that his father had worked in the city, and that his mother had been a librarian. What was this cause they were speaking of? Why were the others so glad he was safe? William began to suspect that the story he had been told about his parents, about his life, was not the whole story after all.

Why did the tooth fairy… cont.

As the fairy and her grasshopper, George, neared the three towers for the second time, they slowed to a trot. “We need to stay quiet and not been seen” said the fairy, and George winked in understanding. Keeping close to the great wall that surrounded the towers and their accompanying buildings, they looked for an entrance at the back. Finding one, the fairy told George to stay where he was, and crept through the huge, iron gate. The courtyard was oppressively warm, and smoky from the towers, which were, even now, chugging out thick grey clouds. Seeing no one, the fairy hurried across the yard, and toward the main building from which two of the towers protruded. The noise was deafening, that same mechanical kerchunk-kerchunk she had heard from her cottage just yesterday evening. An oak door stood to her left, she pushed it open, peered in and, seeing no one, walked into the noise.
A huge machine filled the room. At one end, a chute from an upper room fed into a large grey box, within which the fairy heard that dreadful noise. At the other end of the box, poured a thick, white paste, the consistency of cement but with a far more odious smell. Suddenly, a clattering from above, which made the fairy jump and grab her chest, and the chute filled with hundreds of fist-sized white objects, which the fairy recognised immediately. Teeth.
The paste at the far end of the machine, poured thicker, faster, with this new input of teeth. ‘A paste made of teeth?’ thought the fairy, and wondered what on earth it could be for. Her thoughts were interrupted by a movement to her left. The fairy ducked beneath a thick wooden barrel and held her breath, but not before catching a whiff of that now-familiar leaf smoke. “Steepals!” said Deep Voice, for it was he, “Steepals! Where are you?”. A scuffling from the other room, came as an answer. “Steepals, get out here!”. Steepals, the owner of that other voice the fairy had heard just yesterday evening, came through into the great room, his voice barely audible above the chugging of the machine. “Yessir? Here, sir. Sorry, sir”. Deep Voice looked up at him, for his companion was far taller and skinnier than Deep Voice himself, and sighed. “Steepals, the trolls in the Pasting House are complaining of hunger. Perhaps you could give them something to get them through til second-lunch? We need an efficient workforce and they can’t work if they’re moaning”. Steepals nodded in agreement and scuttled off to find something for the trolls. The fairy looked at Deep Voice, who was rubbing his podgy hands together as he looked at all the paste, collecting in barrels at the end of the machine. Smiling, he reached into his pocket and took out his pipe, filled it and lit it with a firefly match. The first exhalation of smoke drifted close enough to the fairy that she couldn’t help but inhale. Her lungs burned, she felt a – “Cough!” she choked and immediately raised a hand to her mouth. But it was too late. Deep Voice turned sharply, and saw the top of the fairy’s hat poking over the barrel. “Tooth fairy?!” he roared, and the fairy was too frightened to do anything, but stand up from her hiding place and nod. Deep Voice grabbed her by the shoulder and pulled her to his side, “Tooth fairy?” he repeated “and just what are you doing here?”
The tooth fairy trembled, unsure whether to be honest, as she always tried to be, or to tell a lie that might save her from his anger. “I… er” she stammered “I… well, I came here to find out what you were doing. I couldn’t leave it. I needed to know”.
Deep Voice smirked. “You couldn’t leave it, eh, tooth fairy? Had to stick your pretty, little nose into my business? Well, you’ll find out now what we do with those precious teeth of yours. And don’t be crying on me when you can’t deal with the truth!”. With that, he dragged the poor fairy through the room and back out into the corridor, across the yard and over to the other building, which carried a sign above it’s door: The Pasting House. The smell, as they pushed open the door, was overpowering and, if you’ve ever spent any time under a bridge, by the river, you would recognise it as the unmistakeable smell of troll-feet. All around, countless trolls sweated over barrels of paste, heaving it from one end of the room to the other, where more trolls mixed it with green leaves and squeezed the paste into fairy-sized tubes labelled ‘Coldate’ and ‘Sensovine’. Fastening on screw-top lids, the trolls threw the tubes into boxes, which were then carried into large carts on the far courtyard.
“This,” said Deep Voice “is the truth about what happens to all those baby teeth. All those teeth you lovingly collect, and carry back on your mute grasshopper”. The fairy looked on. “I still don’t quite understand”, she said.
Deep Voice laughed. “What, my dear tooth fairy, would you call a paste made entirely of teeth?” he asked.
“Why… um… toothpaste…” she replied, and gasped as she started to understand. “Are you telling me”, she asked, looking him in the eye, “Are you telling me that the main ingredient of the toothpaste all Huemans use to clean their teeth is… teeth?”. She blinked, startled.
“Yes”, replied her employer “teeth. And what do you suppose happens to a human when they swallow a toothpaste made of their own baby teeth by accident?”
“I… I don’t know” whispered the tooth fairy “what happens?”
“They grow up”, said Deep Voice. “They lose their innocence, their imagination. Their souls, once bright and full of potential, become cold and dark. Their ability to play, to laugh, simply dies. They become… adults”
The tooth fairy gasped. “You are telling me that because of the teeth I collect, the teeth that you turn into paste, the whole Hueman race grows old and dies? Why?”
Deep Voice paused. “Imagine”, he replied “a land of Huemen where no one ever aged. No one ever grew old, and put away childish toys. What do you suppose would happen?”
“I don’t know. They’d be happy? They could laugh, and play. They could smile in the sun and dance under the moon. All the things we fairies like to do”
“Yes”, said Deep Voice “and nothing would ever get done! No, it is better that they age, that they grow wise. Without my toothpaste, the whole hueman race would be no good for anything.”
The fairy thought for a moment, and shook her head. “No”, she said. “No. That isn’t so. It is the children of the land of Huemen who have it right. What use is war? or taxes? what reason is there to worry about money and status and all those other things? It is the children who have it right, who see the world in all the wonder in which it should be seen”.
“Then you do not agree with what we are doing here? You do not agree with the part you play?”
“No”, said the fairy, who was always quick to make up her mind, “No. It isn’t right”.
“I’m sorry to hear you say that, my dear” said Deep Voice, and then “Steepals! Steepals, get over here! Steepals, the tooth fairy is no longer in our employment. Please pay her whatever is owed and escort her from the premises. Tooth fairy, I am sorry our relationship must end like this, but end it must. We will write you excellent references, of course, but the work we do here is far too important to have people around who do not agree with it. I wish you all the best with your future”. And with that, Deep Voice turned and began a lengthy discussion with a particularly smelly troll about the manner in which he was stacking barrels.
As the tooth fairy left the building, followed closely by Steepals, who was eyeing her carefully, she wondered about her decision. Was it necessary for all huemen to become adults. To leave behind their wonder and their smiles? She didn’t believe so. Walking across the courtyard to where she had left George, her grasshopper, the fairy smiled. Tonight there would be no list, tonight she would not have to make the long journey to the land of Huemen. Tonight she could dance under the moon with her fairy friends and laugh until bedtime, where she would sleep deeply and dream well.
The End.

[because it’s time for dinner and I got a little bored. I haven’t written a story for more years than I remember, and I never was very good at finishing them. I wonder if writing a children’s story about the dangers of toothpaste is a particularly good idea?]

Why did the tooth fairy fail to deliver coins one evening?

For years, she had followed the same routine. The list of toothless children arrived through her letter box in the early evening, complete with a silver coin for every child. Over the course of the night, the fairy went from house to house, collecting the teeth that had fallen from tiny mouths – pulled, wobbled free, stuck to toffees or other sticky treats – and swapping them for silver coins. A whole under-the-pillow transaction performed with such agility that the children barely woke and never caught her. And for years, she had loved her job, assuming herself to be part of a bigger picture, keeping the world as it should be. She had relished the mentions in storybooks and had a collection of thank you letters lining the walls of her home. But that was before the discovery. Before she realised the truth of her job, and who was really behind it.

One evening, as the fairy woke from her afternoon nap, and brushed the crumbs of her pre-nap blueberry muffin from her chest, she heard, in the distance, a mechanical groaning. A clattering and kerchunking that she had never heard before. Pulling herself up from her oakwood bed, she moved towards the window of her tiny cottage. On the horizon, great plumes of smoke rose into the blue sky from three, dark towers she had previously never noticed. Curious, she went to the door, opening it to find the courier delivering her daily list. “Egbottom! “ she exclaimed “why thank you, gosh – what a long list!”. Egbottom smiled his crooked smile, and handed her the small black sack of coins. “There’s’m your coins, miss”, he said, “and them that’s extra are for you”. The fairy thanked him and handed him the previous night’s teeth. As he turned to go, the fairy said, “Egbottom? Those towers? Have they – are they… I don’t believe I’ve seen them before”.
Egbottom turned back and looked at the fairy, his green eyes sparkling, unnervingly. “Them towers, miss?” he said, “them towers is nothing you should be worrying about, miss”. And with that, Egbottom limped down the garden path and climbed back on his horsefly, who shuddered and took off.
The fairy, a creature of much curiosity and not one to leave a mystery unsolved, paused. She knew that there were children waiting, tucked in bed, for the tooth fairy to come. She knew that her job was one of the utmost importance. She knew she couldn’t let all those people down. But, she thought, there was certainly time to look into the issue of the towers before she set off for the night’s work.
Packing up her work bag, and pulling on her cloak, the fairy left the house and wandered to the stable, where her grasshopper, George, was ready to take her off on her travels. He looked up as she approached, and seemed to understand as she told him they would be going a different way, this evening. Not towards the land of Huemen, on the other side of the woods, but nearer to home – the horizon. She saddled him up and they set off towards the towers.
It took them longer than expected to reach the towers, which always seemed to be right on the end of the earth, where the land touches the sky. For a long time, the smoke from the towers seemed all around them, and George had to stop once or twice to catch his breath. As the sun began to set, however, George and the fairy found themselves entering a small courtyard, in front of the three giant towers, that now seemed even more dark and mysterious than they had from the distance of the fairy cottage. The fairy found herself suddenly afraid, and when she heard voices moving towards them from inside one of the darkened buildings, she hid, quickly and quietly behind a large stone wall, pushing George behind her.
“We need more” said a deep, angry voice. “There simply isn’t enough for what we need. We need more!”
“Yessir!” said a quieter voice, uncertainly, “But… well… how?”
There was a pause, the only sound a thick inhale of breath, followed by coughing – a whisp of stale-smelling smoke creeping over the wall to where the fairy sat, holding her breath. “Sweets.” said the first voice “They must eat more sweets. We will fill the schools with sweet treats; chocolates and toffees. We shall have a fair! Candy-floss and sticky apples! We’ll pour sugar in the water supply! We’ll pull up paving stones, so they trip and knock them out – I don’t care how we do it, but we need more teeth!”
The fairy gasped. Teeth? Who were these people?
“Did the fairy get her list?” continued the voice “It was a nice long list this evening. When can we expect her to bring us back the loot?”
“Tomorrow ev’ning, sir” came the reply “Egbottom will pick them up then”
“No. No, that won’t do. I shall visit her myself and collect them first thing tomorrow”. And with that, the owners of both voices, vanished back into the building.
The fairy pulled herself up from the difficult position she had been crouching in, and turned to comfort George. As she stroked his wise, green head, she thought about her job. How much did she really know about what she did? She had never thought to ask herself about her employers, about where the teeth went when Egbottom collected them from her each evening. She had only ever handed them over, happy that she had a new list of children to visit, a new bag of coins to distribute. She shook her head slowly. What was she to do? Looking up at the sky, now definitely night, the fairy realised that for now, at least, she had just one thing she could do. She needed to deliver those coins and collect her teeth. After that was done, she would think about what to do next. She jumped onto George’s back, and off they went galloping across the land, through the woods, and into the land of Huemen, where the children were fast asleep and never caught her.

Dawn was well underway when the fairy arrived back at her cottage and fell into her bed. She was exhausted, having spent all night worrying, wondering, pondering what she had heard earlier at the towers. Looking down at the bag of teeth by the fireplace, she sighed.
There was a knock on the door. “Hello? Tooth fairy? You in?”. It was deep voice. He had come.
The fairy got up, smoothed down her red hair, and opened the door. She coughed, as her lungs filled with leaf smoke from her visitor’s pipe. With tears in her eyes, she looked at him. A small, squat toad-like creature with black, black eyes and hair covering his face. “Tooth fairy.” he said “How nice to meet you, it has been too long, may I come in?”. Deep voice stepped forward, turning sideways to get through the tiny door, pushing past the fairy as she moved back in surprise. “Er, yes, um, do – come in.” she stuttered and then rushed to find him a chair to sit by the fire.
“Tooth fairy. I have come for the teeth”.
“Erm, yes, well, I… yes” said the fairy, eying the bag of teeth that was now at her visitors feet. “I… Um. Well, I’ve collected them as usual. This is most unusual, where is Egbottom? He normally collects them in the evening, when he drops by with my list”
“There has been a change in plans”, said Deep Voice “I have come to get the teeth myself. I wished to see you, to thank you for your hard work”. As he spoke, he looked down at the bag, visibly fighting the urge not to grab the teeth and leave immediately. “You are a most valuable employee, Miss Fairy, and we wish to acknowledge that. I have bought you a gift”. From his coat, Deep Voice drew out a long, thin riding crop made of the finest silver birch and a matching saddle. “For you”, he said ‘They tell me you still travel by ‘hopper?”
“Why, yes sir, thank you” said the fairy and took the gifts from him, a feeling of uneasiness in her stomach.
“Good” said her guest “Well, I must be off. The teeth?”
“Well, yes… here”she said, holding the bag up to him, and hesitating, “Sir? the teeth? Where do they go?”.
Deep voice rose and looked at the fairy. He paused. “Tooth fairy, why do you do your job?”
“Why, I love it, Sir. I like to think it is important, that it needs to be done. I like to think of the happy children when they wake in the morning and find the coin under their pillow”
“Then it is of no concern to you where the teeth go, my dear. Stay happy knowing all you need to know”. And with that, he turned and let himself out.

The fairy turned back to the fire. Despite the night’s work, she found she was not in the least bit tired, and instead felt more energised than she had in months. She didn’t trust Deep Voice. She didn’t like him. Whatever he was doing with all those beautiful baby teeth, she didn’t think it was anything good, and she needed to find out what was going on, what the teeth were being used for. She needed to know if all her work, the work she had been so proud of for so long, had all been a lie. She pulled on her cloak and went out for George.

[The rules clearly state it should be unedited. It is. It’s also not finished, but I have to go to bed. To be continued… maybe…]