Illuminated Manuscripts

Behold, a collection of sundry writings from the scriptorium...

~Fan Fiction~


 I don't usually write fan fiction, but after Once Upon a Time's Episode "The Outsider" in the middle of Season 2, poor hospitalized Belle was whispering to me all through the night, and she wouldn't stop until I put this one-shot down on paper. I hope you enjoy my one (and only, maybe?) fan fiction.

The girl huddled in the bed, knees up to her chin, and found her confinement in the hospital room dismaying but familiar. She took slight comfort in this familiarity because she had no other.  She briefly thought she might like a story to contrast the bare sterility of her surroundings, but she wasn’t sure.  Perhaps she would be more content to sit folded up like a closed book.  Eyes shut, she measured each of her exhales like a slash on a wall.


            A feathery touch across her lips drew her gently from sleep. The kiss spread the warmth of a hearth throughout her limbs, and she knew that when she opened her eyes she would be home.  But the man in the suit loomed in front of her, brown eyes wide with tremulous hope.  Black wings of fear unfurled and beat frantically against the girl’s mind, and in that instant she saw dark feathers spring from his coat, this beast who could wield fire in his hand.  She shoved him away, the fear gouting from her in a cacophony of madness; it was only when her voice was spent that she heard his apologies, saw the shocked sadness in his eyes as he practically threw himself from the room, and realized that his suit was just a well-tailored suit.


            It was the emotion in his eyes that moved her to grudgingly allow him entry in the morning.  He pushed a cup into her hands, urging her to focus.  It’s just a cup, she said, and with those words a dark sense of déjà vu rustled the wings in her mind.  Then he spoke of impossible, fairy tale things, and the panicked drum of wings drowned out his voice and her reason.  In a gust of frustrated fear she sent his cup flying to the wall.  Just go away, she demanded shrilly, and chanced a sideways glance up at him.  His expression was as shattered as the cup.  He turned to her, eyes stunned and unfocused.  Hot shame rose in her cheeks, and she folded herself up again, barely hearing his choked apology, and staring down at the bedsheets as he limped out the door.  She curled up, blanket to her nose, and shook and shook for hours.  When her nerves finally stopped humming enough that she could stand, she shuffled on numbed feet to the end of the bed to look at the destroyed cup.  Now she realized his insistence had been fueled by desperation, and it suddenly felt wrong that she had caused him such misery when blinded by her selfish fear.  It was not like her to display such lack of empathy.  Was it?  She picked up a shard of the cup.

            The nurse appeared in the doorway.  I…this cup broke, the girl replied to the nurse’s query.  The man in the suit said it would help me remember, she continued.  Tell me, have I lost my memory?  The nurse shooed her back to bed with such a pitying look that the girl knew the answer.  After checking her blood pressure, the nurse gently reprimanded her.  She needed to calm down and rest.

            The girl looked at the shard in her hand.  It was painted with a delicate vein of blue.  She held it in her palm and compared it to the blue webwork in her own wrist.  An orderly came in to clean up, sweeping the floor, emptying the waste bin.  Fragmented, the girl thought.  What I know of myself is this fragment, and the rest of my life has been swept away.  She traced the blue line with her fingertip, over and over, until drowsiness pressed on her.  As she sank down, an overwhelming compulsion tugged at her to tuck the shard under her pillow.  Suspicious alarm made her drop it instead into the night table drawer.

            On the precipice of sleep she heard a ticking, rattling sound, a familiar sound.  Moving towards it she saw a spinning wheel turning, gleaming with light from the rich oiled wood and glints of gold thread.  The figure sitting at it was blurred, but she was not afraid.  She watched the wheel and listened to its slow clockwork creak and felt at home.  A thought unbidden came: He used it to forget.  Can I use it to remember?  The sound led her into a long, deep sleep.


            The next morning the girl had no recollection of the spinning wheel.  But the wings of fear had dissolved, leaving her mind calm, and she was ready to listen reasonably when the doctor and a girl in a red shirt came in to talk with her.  They told her that her name was Belle.

            When they left, she rubbed the shard of the cup between her fingers, waiting.  But the man in the suit did not come back that day. 


 *Images from Pinterest*



Grasping fingers of icy sea wind

lift strings of my unbound hair,

reanimating wooden limbs petrified

by seasonless cold and endless inertia,

dragging me atop the bleak turret of my prison tower,

battering me into another beckoning.

Quill staggers clotted ink across parchment.

The missive unfurls and glides along the cliffs,

riding the roads of air currents towards a far forest.

My gown’s sleeves, salt-stiffened tatters, slap against the stone wall:

the only war banners of my quest.

I wait, a stone sentry again, until…

I can almost hear your heralds’ trumpets clarion call

cutting through the dragon roar of damp gusts in my ears.

Almost hear the ringing mail mingling with the pounding gait of your steed

drumming through the churn of furious surf below.

It must be the silver glint of your armor that pierces my sight,

and not the sun’s glare mixed with tears in my aching eyes.

Close them, shut out the wind and sea and sun, so I can see you

in the solace of my mind.

Pretend the tears that trace down my face are your fingers:

the champion knight finally come to rescue his numbed queen…

But I know it is to empty ragged rock and endless sea that the unrelenting wind

compels me to beckon,

And my written page wanders, tempest-tossed, a wayward messenger hawk.

I do not really expect a reply, but I shall stand watch nevertheless,

for now I have nothing else to do,

(and no more parchment besides),

but listen to the moan of the sea wind sliding

through the rusting links of closed drawbridge chains.

*Images from Pinterest* 

~Flash Fiction~


Her daughter’s birth was the turning point in the English teacher’s life story.  Nestled with soft terrycloth-clad baby weight in the glider, she knew the life in the child’s veins was her own A- blood.  An adopted child herself, the new mother finally had a wonderful gift, one she had longed for from childhood: the ability to see pieces of herself in another person. What could this former English teacher give her now, as a new mother, to show the child how enveloped her soul was with love for her?

She read her stories.  First board books with colors and shapes, then little stories with bunnies and moons.  She told her stories, sweet ones like when she first opened her eyes in the hospital and funny ones like when she yelled her brother’s name so close to her mother’s pregnant belly that the baby kicked.  The child would giggle, “Tell me again about me.” And again.  And again.

She started school, and every night she would beg her mother to read to her in bed.  The child’s hair grew longer, straighter, as did her legs.  Her eyes turned a strange greenish-bluish-gray to match her mother’s. They read longer books.  Suddenly, the words unlocked for the child, and she could read: chapter books, paperbacks that her mother catches herself reading when the girl is at school, books about fairies and magic tree houses.  Now she is seven, and she reads herself to sleep.  She only needs her mother to put out the light. 

One night the child came downstairs waving a novel about a kid’s diary.  “Mom, this is sooooo funny! Please, please, please, come to my room so I can read it to you!”

And that was the best gift that a former English teacher mom could ever have.

(298 words)

Author’s Note: This flash was written for the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop.
This story was originally written in first person, but then I changed it to third person for the sake of making it a “tale of tales,” as the blog hop introduction suggests. 
Claire, this story is for you.  I love you above and beyond words, my daughter.
*Images from Pinterest*

 There and Back Again: A Writer's Rediscovery

"We shall not cease from exploration
  And the end of all our exploring
 Will be to arrive where we started
 And know the place for the first time."
      T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

 "Why don't you write anymore?" asked Denise.
 "I don't have the time," answered Lori.
   Countless post-college conversations

My dearest friend Denise,

          Yes, this is my blog.  I will grant you a moment to collect yourself and mop up that spilled coffee.
          My first entry is a long-overdue letter to you, my oldest and closest friend. I watch my handwriting form my thoughts and flow over lines again for the first time in 15 years and my mind rewinds to our college days, when the patterns of our lives were shaped by words.
           **Cloistered in the third floor of the library with smuggled cups of tea, pulling words out of stacks of research books and reforming them in notebook pages to create reams of English, History, and education reports, academia laced with laughter and the neverending drama of young adults.
           **Sprawled in your basement apartment, a writer's collective (Temi, you, me, your future husband, your brother the Bard), creating stories together on paper but living stories as well.  We had a novel friendship as bound together as the books we discussed.  And, oh, the colorful language we hurled at each other during those ruthless card games!  Drinking coffee (sometimes more potent concoctions), and singing along to Fleetwood Mac's The Dance, always.  I will never forgot those times with kindred spirits.
           I'm drafting this letter in the old journal I used to carry to your home; my part of the story we were writing together is still in the front.  There is no difference between my handwriting then and now, except for time. 
           Time.  I have decided to write again.  A simple yet profound statement (with my ever-present leaning toward the dramatic), as you who understand me all too well know.  I don't remember ever deciding to stop, just as I don't remember deciding to begin when I was a child and I wrote my first unicorn poem, as little girls are wont to do.  I just was a writer.  And I carried that being in me through the ensuing years, filling binders with poems and stories, ideas and dreams, even sketches and maps of the lands of my mind.  I can only suppose that once we emerged from that college cocoon I focused more on the landscape of outside life rather than inward.  I started teaching, focusing on perhaps the more practical career of a steady income, but also getting fulfillment from the service to young people, the enrichment of their minds and selves and inspiring them to love and understand literature as I did.  And the more I focused on bettering the world through my students, the more I left the worlds that existed in my imagination.  And that seemed okay at that time. I was happy, and even happier to become a wife and then a stay-at-home mom involved in my children's school.  But over the course of these years an ink blot has seeped into my being, spreading until I have finally taken note of it, finally realized there is an emptiness that is staining my reactions.  And it's really just because I stopped writing; I stopped being fully me.
           Now you want to say to me, my sarcastically astute friend, "You are going through one hell of a mid-life crisis, aren't you, Lor?"  Yes, yes I am. After all, I am turning 40 this year (as are you, dearie). Perhaps it's simply the shock of reaching this magic number, but I have finally accepted a certain truth that you have been gently trying to impart to me for a long time:  one must be selfish in the nourishment of one's soul every now and again, in order to be selfless to others with fullness and grace.  I have been teacher, wife, and mother all encompassing and with much love, but I have neglected the writer who was at the core of my being. I have been false to the medieval concept of "trouthe" (integrity, being true to one's self) that spoke so strongly to me long ago that I devoted a section of my thesis to it. Dee, I'm so tired of feeling like the impotent Fisher King. I can't go on like this, with this nothingness that bleeds into everything, draining my energy and joy.  "I sat upon the shore/ Fishing, with the arid plain behind me/ Shall I at least set my lands in order?" (T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land)
          Synchronicity prompted this.  I know it seems silly, but the catalyst really was that show. Once Upon a Time is the only TV show to enthrall me like my favorite books have and inspire me to analysis and discussion.  In my quest to connect with people who shared my obsession (haha), I joined Twitter and the Once Upon a Fan website (  Upon reading a fabulous cast member interview by one of the website's team, I tweeted the interviewer, Diane J. Reed, who is a published "indie" author of the novel Twixt.  As I read interviews in which she described her writing process and then I tore through the fan fiction on the website[1], I begin to feel a glimmer of possibility that I could, at this stage in my life,  revisit the lands of my mind and bring them out on paper again.  But the turning point was when Diane encouraged me directly, replying to a comment I made about her interview on Rachel Kall's Blog: "I truly believe that if such a yearning is within you, then that's your soul's way of telling you the dream is within reach.  Artistic hunger is a sacred fire.  And if you honor it, then the universe will open up a way for you."[2] I read this and sobbed.  I realized that this chain of events was caused by an otherworldly presence trying to get back in touch with me, so I could get back in touch with myself: the muses granted me an epiphany. I sobbed, and I felt that creative fire rise up in me again.  I was distracted by the longing to write.  Then I heard your voice, Dee, and your question. I'm finally ready to give the right answer: this blog.
          So, here it is Dee.  I'm going to make the time again, for me, for the words, for the imaginary lands that I left for too long and the characters that are huffing in exasperation at me. When I'm done with this epistle I'm pulling out the dusty plastic box wherein lies all my old writing: here be dragons.  Most likely I'll first write a review of Twixt, which was a blessing to me in a myriad of ways. Maybe I'll eventually write a story for my bookworm daughter, who carries stacks of paperbacks from her bedroom to the basement playroom, a gift of my being to her so that she can know who her mother truly is. I don't know how this is going to turn out, or where exactly I'm going with this blog.  But it exists now.  Time to arrive where I started and start writing again.

Love you,
there and back again,



[1] Especially influential were "The Price" by Woodrow and "Belle's Diary" by Jennifer Brouillard
[2] Kall, Rachel.  "Fairy Tales & Fairy Cakes: Meet Diane Reed." June1-2, 2012.

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