Animals/Pets, Fiction, Interviews, My Thoughts, Nature, Nonfiction, Photography/Visual Art, Poetry, Writing

‘Rewind Interview’ with Writer, Blogger, & Poet Ryan Stone #amwriting #interview #nonfiction #poetry


Welcome to another ‘Rewind Interview =” in my now weekly interview series. Ryan is a talented Australian poet, extremely amazing, so I’m excited to reshare his interview with you both on my own blog and now on the Go Dog Go Cafe. The Cafe is a writer’s hangout and you can even submit your work there for publication. Here is the link to do that here: Go Dog Go Cage Contact Page.

Originally, I was doing this as a bi-weekly feature, only on my own blog. So in order to do this as a weekly feature on both my blog and on the Cafe, I’m going to be sharing some ‘Rewind interviews” as I think these writers are equally due recognition on both sites. Just to mention, since this is a ‘Rewind Interview’ some of the info might not be current.

Today, I’m excited and pleased to share with you the talented writer, poet, and blogger Ryan Stone of ‘Days of Stone’. Please visit the link provided to read more about Ryan and read his superb poetry.


Ryan Stone Image
Ryan Stone

1. Please Tell Us About Yourself? 

The blood of the Irish runs deep in my veins but I’m an Australian born and bred. I was raised in a ‘man’s land’ of karate, fast motorbikesheavy metal guitars, and football with Aussie rules.

My love of reading and writing was not readily accepted. Instead, I was forced to indulge my interests under my bed covers by torchlight. But the poets Seamus Heaney, Kenneth SlessorWalt Whitman, and Maya Angelou  — all have a way of asserting themselves in my writing.

Although I have no real love of uniforms, I’ve worn a few in my life so far: the combat fatigues of a soldier in the field and driving a battle tank; the torn black denim of a metal guitarist; and the turnout gear of a firefighter. I’ve been a rank-and-file cop, a detective, and a member of a plainclothes special duties team. When all the uniforms are stripped off, I like to think it is the writer who remains.

I have no formal credentials, only an observer’s eye and an insatiable appetite for books. I’m rough around the edges, but the right turn of phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time. I love MetallicaTed Kooser, and with equal passion, my closest friend in the world, my German Shepherd (don’t tell my wife).


 “When all the uniforms are stripped off, I like to think it is the writer who remains . . . the right turn of a phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time.” – Ryan Stone 


 2.  When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?

The first time I considered my writing to be writing, was towards the end of high school. I was blessed with an incredibly passionate English teacher who managed to channel a teenage boy’s angst and anger into something less destructive. When one of my poems earned me a kiss from a pretty girl I had a crush on, I knew writing was something I’d stick with.

I’ve never been much of a social media fan. But I reached a point where I became sick of waiting several months for editors to respond to my poetry submissions; I turned instead to WordPress. Along with all the great writing and posts, I’m able to read from other writers.

However, I’ve developed a wonderful, supportive group of friends, and readers, who offer feedback and advice in a much shorter time frame than editors. While I still submit to poetry journals, my year of blogging has given me a huge amount of enjoyment and satisfaction.


 3. What Does Poetry Mean To You? Why Do You Write?

To borrow from my favorite quote by Anton Chekhov: Poetry isn’t being told the moon is shining – for me, it is being shown the glint of light on broken glass.

I love the way a poem can capture more than a photograph, can carry an image or emotion over time and space, and let me experience someone else’s worldview for a moment. I also like the way reading one of my own poems years after it was written can transport me back to a previous ‘headspace,’ for a moment.


” . . .Poetry isn’t being told the moon is shining – for me, it is being shown the glint of light on broken glass.” – Ryan Stone (borrowing from Anton Chekhov)


4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation To Write?

Nearly all of my poetry begins while I’m running with my dog through the rain forest beside my house. Usually, a thought, a memory, or an observation takes root and nags at me until I jot it down. Sometimes, an unusual word or phrase will catch me the same way.

My dog has developed his very own here we go again’ face which he pulls each time I pause during a run so I can tap out a note or two on my phone.


 5. Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like To Write?

Predominantly, I write at night, when my boys are asleep, and the house is quiet. I am frequently awake into the small hours of the morning and find my 2:00 am mind is quite adept at slipping out of the shackles my daytime mind imposes. During these hours, I can most effectively explore and develop the notes I jot down during the day.


Writing Night Ryan Stone
Credit: Andrew Neel via UnSplash 

” I am frequently awake in the small hours of the morning and find my 2:00 am mind is quite adept at slipping out of the shackles my daytime mind imposes.” – Ryan  Stone


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? 

I have two fantasy novels I’m working on at present. One is about a princess who becomes a pirate queen after her parents are murdered, the other is about an orphan boy who becomes a magician and later, a king.

Both novels began as short stories which expanded and grew during a couple of National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo).  As well, both novels are over hundred-thousand words and in need of serious revision. As with everything, time is a killer.

Poetry wise, I’m writing a chapbook with one of my closest internet mates (Ajay) who lives in India. It is loosely based on flowers and cultural differences. I’m currently editing a collection of my Senryu (5-7-5) poems, with the intention of self-publishing a small e-book of one-hundred Senryu poems, in the next few months, unless a publisher comes along sooner.


 7. Have You Published Any Writing or Are You Planning To Publish Works Of Writing In The Future?

I’m fortunate enough to have had many poems published in a number of online journalsprint anthologies, and poetry magazines. I never thought anyone other than my mum would enjoy my writing and rarely submitted my writing anywhere until recently.

A few years ago, I wrote a poem called “Unburied Hatchet,” which I thought had a chance of being published, so I submitted it to a couple of places and was rejected each time. On a whim, I sent it into the monthly competition in Writers’ Forum Magazine (a magazine in the UK to which I subscribe).

I was blown away when my poem won first prize and £100 (quite a lot of money with the Australian exchange rate being what it is). That first win gave my confidence a much-needed boost and I’ve been submitting ever since.


“I wrote a poem called “Unburied Hatchet” . . .I sent it into the monthly competition in Writers’ Forum Magazine . . .and was blown away when it won first prize and £100.” – Ryan Stone


8. Can You Briefly Describe The Process You Went Through To Publish or Are Going Through To Have Your Writing Published?

All my publishing to date has been by submission, so I’ll talk about publishing by submission. Whether it’s a print journal, online review, magazine, blog, or something else, the rules are always the same:

  • Read the publication first, to gain an idea of what style of writing they publish. While it doesn’t hurt to offer something fresh, I usually have a fair idea of an editor’s likes and dislikes before I submit.
  •  Read and re-read the submission guidelines before you hit sendAn improperly worded subject line can be enough for an editor to discount the submission without even reading the poem. Some publications request everything in the body of an email, others prefer attachments. Decent editors are inundated with submissions which meet their specific requirements and most, won’t waste their time with substandard submissions.
  • Take rejections gracefully. Analyze any critiques subjectively and apply critiques if you think they are warranted. BUT DON’T GIVE UP – submit, submit, submit. There are a million homes for poems out there and because a poem isn’t right for one editor or magazine certainly doesn’t mean it won’t be a prize winner for another editor or magazine. While I’m realistic about my own writing, I generally look at rejections as a case of a bad fitnot a bad poem.

 


 

 9. What Is Your Writing Process Like?

Almost exclusively, my writing begins as a note or two on my iPhone (often while I’m running) and later develops on my iPad. My writing environment is incredibly vital to me and the Mac/iPad writing program — Ulysses — puts me in an excellent creative ‘headspace.’ I tend to write the first draft quickly once idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two, before returning and revising a poem over and over and over…

I am incredibly fortunate to have found a brilliant first reader. She’s an amazingly talented poet in her own right as well as possessing editing skills second to none. For some reason, I’ve yet to understand, she seems to enjoy my writing and conversation and has nurtured and developed my poetry to no end. My first reader’s input is a huge part of my process in developing a poem from initial idea to finished piece.


“I tend to write a first draft quickly once an idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two, before returning and revising a poem over and over and over . . .” – Ryan Stone


10. Do You Prefer Certain areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?

When I’m reading a novel, it is usually fantasy and almost always a seriesStephen King’s Dark Tower collection is a favorite, as are Game of ThronesMagicianThe BelgariadLord of the Rings, and Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian books.

I also play a great deal of electric guitar which draws me to music biographies as well, anything rock or metal is fair game. Additionally, I love short story collections: Italo Calvino takes first prize there, and I read as much modern poetry as I can get my hands on.

Originally, my love of poetry was nurtured by Maya AngelouKenneth SlessorJim Morrison (The Doors), and Jewel Kilcher. When I first discovered Ted Kooser a few years ago, my own poetry made a huge leap.

Kooser’s book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, was full of ‘Aha!’ moments for me. Most recently, I’ve lost myself in the brilliant Buddy Wakefield and Richard Hugo’s: The Triggering Town.


 11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice For Other Writers?
 

I’m not really big on dishing out advice, as everyone writes uniquely. What works for one person, won’t always help another person; but I can certainly share what works for me.

  • The important thing is to write, write, write and keep writing. It doesn’t have to be good. I have loads of writing which will probably never see the light of day; however, once the first jumble is out of my head, the writing that follows is much better.
  •  I don’t edit my first draft as I write. I write it all down and worry about cleaning it up later. If I’m only editing a word or two, then I’ll delete and replace. If I’m editing a whole line or large section, I cut and paste in a new version – v1, v2, v3, (etc .) and keep each version in the same document. I find it’s much easier to revise without the fear of losing words or ideas I may want to later reinstate.
  •  Once I’m happy with a version of my work, I put it aside for a few days and return to it later with ‘fresh eyes.’ I find it much easier to spot weak pointssticky spotsdoubled up words, bad rhythm, (etc.) when I’m reading it fresh.
  • The poem is more important than the truth. When I’m writing a poem based on an actual event, I find it easy to place value on a thing because its memory is significant to me. Often, I don’t want to let the thing go from the poem. This can become a weak point as the particular thing doesn’t make the poem better and doesn’t hold the same value for the reader. Once I let the poem dictate what to keep and what to cut, rather than trying to stay one-hundred-percent true to my memory, my poetry comes together far tighter.

“Once I let the poem dictate what to keep and what to cut, rather than trying to stay one-hundred-percent true to my memory, my poetry comes together far tighter.” – Ryan Stone


12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like The Share With Us Which You Think Is Pertinent To Writing or Yourself?

An honest first reader who will tell me what works and what sucks without worrying about my feelings is worth her weight in gold.


 13. Can You Please Share With Us Few Links Of Your Favourite or Most Loved Pieces?  
*****
“Unburied Hatchet”
by
Ryan Stone
*****
Axe
Credit Markus Spiske via UnSplash
*****

Until I saw those wasted hands,

brittle as chalk, I hadn’t thought

how fast the years make ghosts.

*****

I heard them once called brawler’s paws.

For me, they were always more:

cobras, poised to strike.

*****

But his brawling days are gone now;

I could kill him with a pillow,

if I cared enough to try.

*****

Thin sheets press tightly to a bed

more empty than full, his body broken

like the promises of childhood.

*****

Haunted eyes betray last thoughts

of a dim path, spiraling down.

He hopes to make amends.

*****

“Forgiven?” he croaks,

barely there, as always,

and I’m wishing that I wasn’t.

*****

With the last rays of day as witness,

I turn my back with purpose

and hear the silence roar.

*****

In a late-night bar, I catch my reflection

swimming in a glass of bourbon;

but I’m staring at a ghost.

*****

First published in Writers’ Forum Magazine issue 163, April 2015 – first place

 


Please Find More Links to Ryan’s Writing Below:


Thank you so much to Ryan Stone for doing an interview for me. I appreciate his time answering the interview questions a great deal. I would love to interview you too. Please let me know if you’re interested in sharing yourself and your writing on my blog. You can reach me on my Contact Page.


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

Pinterest, Quotes

Noteable Quotes: Part One – January 2017 #quotes #pinterest #newyear


Happy New Year 2017!!!!! Here are some quotes to start the new year off right. I look forward this year to exciting challenges to learn from, experiences to be present in, and new people I will have to pleasure to know and meet both out and about and in the blogging/writing world online. 

 Thank you to all of you who follow my blog and/or read my blog posts and writing. Thank you for your support and for your time! It’s much appreciated as are your likes, comments, and follows on WordPress, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook!!!! You are amazing!!!! Hoping 2017 is everything fantastic you hope it will be! 

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©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved. 

Interviews, Nonfiction, Poetry, Quotes, Short Stories And Serial Stories, Writing

Interview with Ryan Stone


Welcome to another interview in my interview series. Originally, I was going to make this a monthly feature, but I had a great response from other bloggers and writers who wish to be interviewed, so I will try it as a series which occurs every two-weeks.
Today, I’m excited and pleased to share with you the talented writer and blogger Ryan Stone of ‘Days of Stone’. Please visit the link provided to read more about Ryan and read his superb poetry.

Ryan Stone Image
Ryan Stone

1. Please Tell Us About Yourself.
The blood of the Irish runs deep in my veins but I’m an Australian born and bred. I was raised in a ‘man’s land’ of karate, fast motorbikes, heavy metal guitars, and football with Aussie rules. My love of reading and writing was not readily accepted. Instead, I was forced to indulge my interests under my bed covers by torchlight. But the poets Seamus Heaney, Kenneth Slessor, Walt Whitman, and Maya Angelou  — all have a way of asserting themselves in my writing.
Although I have no real love of uniforms, I’ve worn a few in my life so far: the combat fatigues of a soldier in the field and driving a battle tank; the torn black denim of a metal guitarist; and the turnout gear of a fire-fighter. I’ve been a rank-and-file cop, a detective, and a member of a plain-clothes special duties team. When all the uniforms are stripped off, I like to think it is the writer who remains.
I have no formal credentials, only an observer’s eye and an insatiable appetite for books. I’m rough around the edges, but the right turn of phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time. I love MetallicaTed Kooser, and with equal passion, my closest friend in the world, my German Shepherd (don’t tell my wife).

 “When all the uniforms are stripped off, I like to think it is the writer who remains . . . the right turn of a phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time.” – Ryan Stone 

 2.  When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?
The first time I considered my writing to be writing, was towards the end of high school. I was blessed with an incredibly passionate English teacher who managed to channel a teenage boy’s angst and anger into something less destructive. When one of my poems earned me a kiss from a pretty girl I had a crush on, I knew writing was something I’d stick with.
I’ve never been much of a social media fan. But I reached a point where I became sick of waiting several months for editors to respond to my poetry submissions; I turned instead to WordPress. Along with all the great writing and posts I’m able to read from other writers, I’ve developed a wonderful, supportive group of friends, and readers, who offer feedback and advice in a much shorter time frame than editors. While I still submit to poetry journals, my year of blogging has given me a huge amount of enjoyment and satisfaction.

 3. What Does Poetry Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
To borrow from my favourite quote by Anton Chekhov: Poetry isn’t being told the moon is shining – for me, it is being shown the glint of light on broken glass.
 
I love the way a poem can capture more than a photograph, can carry an image or emotion over time and space, and let me experience someone else’s worldview for a moment. I also like the way reading one of my own poems years after it was written can transport me back to a previous ‘headspace,’ for a moment.

” . . .Poetry isn’t being told the moon is shining – for me, it is being shown the glint of light on broken glass.” – Ryan Stone (borrowing from Anton Chekhov)

4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation To Write?
Nearly all of my poetry begins while I’m running with my dog through the rain forest beside my house. Usually, a thought, a memory, or an observation takes root and nags at me until I jot it down. Sometimes, an unusual word or phrase will catch me the same way. My dog has developed his very own here we go again’ face which he pulls each time I pause during a run, so I can tap out a note or two on my phone.

 5. Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like To Write?
Predominantly, I write at night, when my boys are asleep, and the house is quiet. I am frequently awake into the small hours of the morning and find my 2:00 am mind is quite adept at slipping out of the shackles my daytime mind imposes. During these hours, I can most effectively explore and develop the notes I jot down during the day.

” I am frequently awake in the small hours of the morning and find my 2:00 am mind is quite adept at slipping out of the shackles my daytime mind imposes.” – Ryan  Stone

6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? 
I have two fantasy novels I’m working on at present. One is about a princess who becomes a pirate queen after her parents are murdered, the other is about an orphan boy who becomes a magician and later, a king. Both novels began as short stories which expanded and grew during a couple of National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo). Both novels are over a hundred-thousand words and in need of serious revision. As with everything, time is a killer.
Poetry wise, I’m writing a chapbook with one of my closest internet mates (Ajay) who lives in India. It is loosely based around flowers and cultural differences. I’m currently editing a collection of my Senryu (5-7-5) poems, with the intention of self-publishing a small e-book of one-hundred Senryu poems, in the next few months…unless a publisher comes along sooner.

 7. Have You Published Any Writing or Are You Planning To Publish Works Of Writing In The Future?
I’m fortunate enough to have had many poems published in a number of online journals, print anthologies, and poetry magazines. I never thought anyone other than my mum would enjoy my writing and rarely submitted my writing anywhere until recently.
A few years ago, I wrote a poem called “Unburied Hatchet,” which I thought had a chance of being published, so I submitted it to a couple of places…and was rejected each time. On a whim, I sent it into the monthly competition in Writers’ Forum Magazine (a magazine in the UK to which I subscribe), and was blown away when it won first prize and £100 (quite a lot of money with the Australian exchange rate being what it is). That first win, gave my confidence a much-needed boost and I’ve been submitting ever since.

” I wrote a poem called “Unburied Hatchet” . . .I sent it into the monthly competition in Writers’ Forum Magazine . . .and was blown away when it won first prize and £100.” – Ryan Stone

8. Can You Briefly Describe The Process You Went Through To Publish or Are Going Through To Have Your Writing Published?
 
All my publishing to date has been by submission, so I’ll talk about publishing by submission. Whether it’s a print journal, online review, magazine, blog, or something else, the rules are always the same.
  • Read the publication first, to gain an idea of what style of writing they publish. While it doesn’t hurt to offer something fresh, I usually have a fair idea of an editor’s likes and dislikes before I submit.

 

  •  Read and re-read the submission guidelines before you hit sendAn improperly worded subject line can be enough for an editor to discount the submission without even reading the poem. Some publications request everything in the body of an email, others prefer attachments. Decent editors are inundated with submissions which meet their specific requirements and most, won’t waste their time with sub-standard submissions.

 

  • Take rejections gracefully. Analyze any critiques subjectively and apply critiques if you think they are warranted. BUT DON’T GIVE UP – submit, submit, submit. There are a million homes for poems out there and because a poem isn’t right for one editor or magazine certainly doesn’t mean it won’t be a prize winner for another editor or magazine. While I’m realistic about my own writing, I generally look at rejections as a case of a bad fit, not a bad poem.

 9. What Is Your Writing Process Like?
Almost exclusively, my writing begins as a note or two on my iPhone (often while I’m running) and later develops on my iPad. My writing environment is incredibly vital to me and the Mac/iPad writing program — Ulysses — puts me in an excellent creative ‘headspace.’ I tend to write a first draft quickly once an idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two, before returning and revising a poem over and over and over…
I am incredibly fortunate to have found a brilliant first reader. She’s an amazingly talented poet in her own right as well as possessing editing skills second to none. For some reason, I’ve yet to understand, she seems to enjoy my writing and conversation and has nurtured and developed my poetry to no end. My first reader’s input is a huge part of my process in developing a poem from initial idea to finished piece.

” I tend to write a first draft quickly once an idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two, before returning and revising a poem over and over and over . . .” – Ryan Stone

10. Do You Prefer Certain areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?
When I’m reading a novel, it is usually fantasy and almost always a series. Stephen King’s Dark Tower collection is a favourite, as are Game of Thrones, Magician, The Belgariad, Lord of the Rings, and Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian books.  I play a great deal of electric guitar which draws me to music biographies as well, anything rock or metal is fair game. Additionally, I love short story collections: Italo Calvino takes first prize there, and I read as much modern poetry as I can get my hands on.
Originally, my love of poetry was nurtured by Maya Angelou, Kenneth Slessor, Jim Morrison (The Doors), and Jewel Kilcher. When I first discovered Ted Kooser a few years ago, my own poetry made a huge leap. Kooser’s book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, was full of ‘Aha!’ moments for me. Most recently, I’ve lost myself in the brilliant Buddy Wakefield and Richard Hugo’s: The Triggering Town.

 11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice For Other Writers?
I’m not really big on dishing out advice, as everyone writes uniquely. What works for one person, won’t always help another person; but I can certainly share what works for me.
  •  The important thing is to write, write, write and keep writing. It doesn’t have to be good. I have loads of writing which will probably never see the light of day; however, once the first jumble is out of my head, the writing that follows is  much better.

 

  •  I don’t edit my first draft as I write. I write it all down and worry about cleaning it up later. If I’m only editing a word or two, then I’ll delete and replace. If I’m editing a whole line or large section, I cut and paste in a new version – v1, v2, v3, (etc .) and keep each version in the same document. I find it’s much easier to revise without the fear of losing words or ideas I may want to later reinstate.

 

  •  Once I’m happy with a version of my work, I put it aside for a few days and return to it later with ‘fresh eyes.’ I find it much easier to spot weak points, sticky spots, doubled up words, bad rhythm, (etc.), when I’m reading it fresh.

 

  • The poem is more important than the truth. When I’m writing a poem based on an actual event, I find it easy to place value on a thing because its memory is significant to me. Often, I don’t want to let the thing go from the poem. This can become a weak point as the particular thing doesn’t make the poem better and doesn’t hold the same value for the reader. Once I let the poem dictate what to keep and what to cut, rather than trying to stay one-hundred-percent true to my memory, my poetry comes together far tighter.

“Once I let the poem dictate what to keep and what to cut, rather than trying to stay one-hundred-percent true to my memory, my poetry comes together far tighter.” – Ryan Stone


12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like The Share With Us Which You Think Is Pertinent To Writing or Yourself?
An honest first reader who will tell me what works and what sucks without worrying about my feelings, is worth her weight in gold.

 13. Can You Please Share With Us Few Links Of Your Favourite or Most Loved Pieces?  
“Unburied Hatchet”
Until I saw those wasted hands,
brittle as chalk, I hadn’t thought
how fast the years make ghosts.
I heard them once called brawler’s paws.
For me, they were always more:
cobras, poised to strike.
But his brawling days are gone now;
I could kill him with a pillow,
if I cared enough to try.
Thin sheets press tightly to a bed
more empty than full, his body broken
like the promises of childhood.
Haunted eyes betray last thoughts
of a dim path, spiralling down.
He hopes to make amends.
“Forgiven?” he croaks,
barely there, as always,
and I’m wishing that I wasn’t.
With the last rays of day as witness,
I turn my back with purpose
and hear the silence roar.
In a late-night bar I catch my reflection
swimming in a glass of bourbon;
but I’m staring at a ghost.
– Ryan Stone
First published in Writers’ Forum Magazine issue 163, April 2015 – first place

Please Find More Links to Ryan’s Writing Below:


Thank you so much to Ryan Stone for doing an interview for me. I appreciate his time answering the interview questions a great deal.

I would love to interview you too. Please let me know if you’re interested in sharing yourself and your writing on my blog. You can reach me on my Contact Page.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

Fiction, My Thoughts, Novel - First Draft -"How Was Last Night For You.", Relationship, Short Stories And Serial Stories, Writing

23. How Was Last Night For You: Rianne’s Mugged and Nina Disappears.


Please read Chapter 22 here.

Chapter 23:  Rianne’s Mugged and Nina  Disappears.

Rianne’s head ached badly, and so did her once broken arm. She had been lying on it for what felt like forever. The more Rianne tried to escape the tiredness that plagued her, the deeper she fell into nightmares

Rianne dreamed Nina had a fish tale. She dreamed Jasper and herself were visiting Nina on a beach. Nina kept the lower half of her body beneath the waves and refused to come any closer to shore. Behind Rianne, Jasper regarded Sam and Eric playing in the sand. They were building sand castles as Rianne had shown them how to do properly.

Sam and Eric adored Auntie Nina and wanted her to come play in the sand too, but Nina only smiled at John’s nephews sadly; she waved her hands at them blowing both boys air kisses which they pretended to catch with their hands. Rianne reached out for Nina but her hands only grasped lake water. Her best friend and childhood pal, swam away into the Sirene Lake, a mermaids tale flicking behind her.

Rianne recalled Nina had always stood up for her since the time they first met in primary school. Nina was the girl who despite being shorter and smaller, beat-up other girls for pushing Rianne around on the playground and calling Rianne names. Rianne had grown tall and sturdy, but not until high school when she began to workout and play basketball. Rianne had been nearly fifteen-years-old before she began to grow into maturity.

Rianne wrinkled her nose. It smelt like Chinese food in her dream, Chinese food that was stale. Something wet dripped on Rianne’s face and she abruptly awoke. A homeless man leaned over Rianne, his water bottle in hand. His weathered face showed concern.

“Lady, are you okay? Sorry about pouring water on you, but you looked passed-out and I didn’t know another way to wake you without involving the police. We’re you mugged? ”

Rianne gazed up at the man from the sidewalk where she lay on her bad arm. She forced her body into a more upright position and realized her savior could badly use some help of his own. His shoes had holes, his clothes dusty, ragged, and tattered.The man carried an old backpack and his face was covered with a straggly grey beard. Rianne tried to thank the man, but no words came out of her mouth. She was relieved this homeless man was no foe.

“There’s a bump, a red goose egg on your forehead. It looks as though someone knocked you out and robbed you.” The homeless man said to Rianne.

Rianne groaned and rose to her feet hanging onto the homeless man for balance. She felt dizzy but not all that bad considering the bump she saw on her forehead in her reflection on the glass of the Chinese food place. Rianne checked the time on her watch which hadn’t been stolen. It was early morning, around 1:00 am; how long had she been passed-out?

After a while, Rianne was able to walk without help leaning on the homelessman or the window of the Chinese restaurant. Rianne smiled at the man in gratitude.

“Thank you for waking me up and ensuring I’m alright,”  she told the homeless man with sincerity. Rianne’s voice sounded groggy. The man grinned, showing teeth that needed dental work she knew he couldn’t afford. “I wish I could give you something, some money for helping me, but my purse is gone. It’s lime colored, you would see it if it was here.” The man chuckled.

” Someone stole your purse when they knocked you out. I’ve seen it occur before. It happens to quite a few woman at night. Maybe buy a cheaper purse next time. I’m betting your purse was designer.” The homeless man said knowingly.

Then he looked at the bags of food  by Rianne’s feet and smiled. “Can I have your food?” Rianne looked at the man confused at first. “Your Chinese food, it’s probably still okay to eat. I felt the bag, it’s kind of warm yet.”

“Are you sure it might be dangerous to eat now?” Rianne asked the man. He smiled at her again.

” For me it’s fine, I’m used to eating food with recent expiration dates,” the homeless man said chuckling again. Rianne slowly, picked up the food with her good arm and gave it to the man. She was sorry that stale Chinese food was all she had to give.

“My watch,” Rianne said suddenly, “you could take it and pawn it. It’s worth a lot. I received it from my Mom for my twenty-first birthday?” She held out her precious watch to the man. He took it placed it in her hand and closed Rianne’s fingers around it, shaking his head. The man observed Rianne closely.

“Are you sure you’re feeling okay, Lady?” Rianne nodded slowly.

“I’m a tad dizzy and my head hurts but I’m alright. I need to get back to my friend. I told her I’d be back with food hours ago. She’ll be worried.”

The homeless man thanked Rianne for the food after Rianne had reassured him she didn’t need to go to a near by medical clinic.

Rianne thanked the man again, for caring enough to wake her up and they parted ways. She wished there was a way to help him more, to give the homeless man something better then old Chinese food. But he seemed happy and declined to give Rianne any information so she could find him again and give him money.


 

She walked as fast as she could, back to Nina’s condo building, passing The Manhattan which was full of people having a good time before last call.

Rianne didn’t have her key, but luckily a neighbour was coming out the door and recognized Rianne as Nina’s friend. Delighted to see her and asking Rianne about the bump on her head, the kindly woman waved Rianne through the condo door entrance.

Rianne rode the elevator up to Nina’s condo on the seventeenth floor. She had a sick feeling in her stomach, as if something was wrong. Not only had Rianne been mugged two blocks from Nina’s condo, but she had had a weird dream about Nina being a mermaid.

Rianne contemplated her dream, wondering why she remembered it with such clarity. The dream about Nina being a mermaid seemed awfully coincidental considering curses, magic, and sea witches had become real to Rianne in the past few months. She pondered if her dream was as John’s dreams, a premonition of what could be.

Rianne’s head was pounding out a study rhythm when she entered the condo. Nina’s front door had opened without Rianne having a key. Rianne prayed this meant Nina was home safe. Instead, when Rianne walked into the condo she could immediately tell the condo was empty; something wasn’t right.

A messy scrawled note from Nina read that Nina was staying at Heather’s tonight. Nina hated staying at Heather’s place. Heather was a nice lady, but lately, she had had a lot of male company. Company Nina more then a few times, had run into as they were half-naked. Heather would later tell Nina: ” Oh he’s no one.” But Nina had preferred not to stay over at her Mom’s after running into her Mothers various lovers.

All these thoughts sprang to Rianne’s mind in an instant. She needed to talk to Jasper but she didn’t think she had a phone. Nina had no landline, only her cell and Nina’s cell was in Rianne’s purse. Amazingly, Rianne found her own cell half-charged in her pocket. It’s lime leather cover matched her stolen purse.

Rianne sat down at Nina’s kitchen table. Her arms were suddenly wet, there was water all over Nina’s table from a water pitcher. But the pitcher wasn’t leaking so how did the water get there?

Rianne dialed Jasper on her phone; her head throbbed painfully.

” Jasper, sorry to wake you but it’s me. I was mugged on the street picking-up Chinese food for Nina and I. It should’ve taken me fifteen-minutes but someone knocked me out. I have this horrible bump on my head.They took my purse. When I arrived back to Nina’s condo, her door was unlocked and she isn’t here. Her condo is empty.” Rianne said as quickly as she could manage.

” Huh, what?”  Jasper said sleepily but concerned, “Are you okay? Do you need to go to a hospital? You could have a concussion you know. Did Nina leave a note? Maybe give her a call on her phone?”

“Her phone was in my purse Jasper. I took it away from her because she kept looking at her phone to see if John had answered her messages to him. I was so stupid. I shouldn’t have taken it from her.” Rianne said.

“And there was this note. It was really weird it was on the kitchen table which was sopping wet. There is water all over the table and that is unlike Nina to leave water all over her table. The water pitcher wasn’t even broken.” Rianne was getting tears in her eyes. She was usually self-contained.

” What did the note say Ri?” Jasper asked her gently.

“It said she was staying at her Mom’s tonight. But Nina hates staying at her Mom’s house. She would’ve told me if she was going to be sleeping there earlier. I called Heather’s cell but she’s not answering. I’ve left several messages. What if Talise has Nina? What if she took Nina away and wants to kill her like John said?” Rianne was full-out crying now.

“What do we Jasper?” Rianne said fatigued.”John is out at Talise’s cave and Nina is mysteriously gone from her condo. Somethings wrong Jasper.”

“Call Heather again right now,” Jasper ordered Rianne. “I’ll be over soon. Maybe, I can reach John on his phone. He should be back from the cave by now, depending how things went. I should’ve never let him go alone, but he insisted. . .”

“It’s not your fault Jasper. John’s headstrong, especially where Talise is concerned. I’ll try calling Heather again but I don’t think she’s picking up the phone. Maybe she’s out with one of her boyfriends? Come quick and bring ice for my head.” Jasper sighed. She could tell he was exasperated with the entire situation.

” A homeless guy woke me up in time Jasper.” Rianne said trying to stop him for worrying. ” I’ll be okay. It’s Nina I’m worried about.”

“Alright, stay there at Nina’s don’t move.” Jasper told Rianne. “I’ll buy you a new purse and we’ll figure out where Nina is…What did the homeless guy say? I hope Nina is safe, John’s going to kill me. ..”

” Hurry Jasper, don’t worry about the purse right now. I love you.” Rianne told Jasper, hanging up on him before she started to bawl. Rianne didn’t say anything to Jasper, but she knew she was the person supposed to be watching Nina for John. This was her fault, Rianne told herself sternly.

Her head hurt painfully. She got up from the table and took two Advil from Nina’s medicine cupboard. Rianne changed out of her sweater with wet sleeves from the pool of water on Nina’s table, before soaking up the water with paper towel.

Exhausted and frustrated that Jasper was taking so long getting to Nina’s Condo, Rianne lay on Nina’s soft suede couch. She drifted in and out of a sleep of nightmares, none as clear as the one she had when she was unconscious earlier. Rianne knew she shouldn’t be sleeping after being hit on her head so hard, but she couldn’t help it; she passed out.

Suddenly, Rianne awoke. She heard the door knob turn on Nina’s front door and it startled her. The room was dark except for a lamp Rianne had turned on earlier. She arose carefully, and went to meet Jasper at the condo door. He hugged Rianne hard when he saw her, towering over her and giving her security.

” Are you okay? You shouldn’t be sleeping with a bump like that on your head.” Jasper shouted at Rianne. She glimpsed past Jasper’s shoulder and was relieved to see he hadn’t come alone, he had brought Jordan with him.

“Thank God your both here,” Rianne said tears sliding down her freckled cheeks. “I’m worried about Nina, we need to find her. Did you hear from John, either of you?”

“I talked to him briefly,” Jordan said curtly. He was trying to not upset Rianne and she could tell.

“Sit down both of you,” she commanded, “are Sam and Eric alright?” Rianne asked Jasper, slamming the front door and sitting beside Jasper.

“Yep,” Jasper said his arm around Rianne as he gently felt the bump on her head and reached down to a grocery bag for an ice pack. The ice stung Rianne’s bump but after a minute or two her head felt better. Jasper continued:

“Mom is watching the boys. They’ll be okay. Super thrilled to have Grandma take them for swim lessons tomorrow. How are you feeling Ri? That bump is nasty. I want Mom to look at it tomorrow.” Jasper seemed to be stalling and Rianne who was usually calm began to panic. She looked at Jordan:

” What did John say? Does he know where Nina is? Is she with him?” Jordan looked uncomfortable but began to talk anyways.

“John’s phone wasn’t working too well. Too much water got in it. He ran into Talise on her piece of paradise. She tried to trap him in the cave, but he managed to steal her dagger. She took my boat to shore and she was coming after Nina. But um, John injured Talise when they fought for the dagger, it effected her magic; she’s not as strong as she was and her barrier trapping John in the cave broke. John had to swim to shore. . . he’s so afraid for Nina. Then, John’s phone went dead . . .” Jordan let out a breath.

Rianne’s eyes were as big as saucers. “No, Talise can’t have gotten to land so fast could she Jordan?”

Jordan swallowed afraid. “John was at the harbor when I called him. We need to go there, I think. If Talise has Nina, that’s the first place she’ll be. And we need to find John, he must be exhausted and freezing.”

” I agree,” Jasper said. His voice was firm and he looked angry as Rianne had never seen him before.

“Let’s go guys,” Rianne said, “Damn it, my keys were in my purse.”

“You hurt your head,” Jasper said tenderly, ” I’ll drive.”

All three of them ran down the stairs as it was faster then taking the elevator. They sped off in Jasper’s car towards the harbor, to the Sirene. All of them were afraid of what had become of John and Nina.

Please Read Chapter 24 here.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.