Chapter 1: Julian

Chapter 1: Julian

1.

Five crows is an omen of illness to come; six is death.

From my window I watched them flitting about the building across the street, black dragons in miniature. Were they crows or ravens? I don’t know very much about birds. Crows are smaller, duskier. And if the ravens leave the Tower then the kingdom will fall.

Lord Shively and his family had abandoned the house across the street during the winter, retreating through the cold away from the City. They had by then accepted that their Emily was gone. She abandoned them, and they abandoned hope, and then they abandoned their home. That’s what my father said as we watched them go. The crows seemed keen on moving in. I tried to count them but it was hard to keep track, given the way they slipped in and out through the broken window that led into what had once been Emily Shively’s bedroom.

Four? No, five. Illness. For me, who was counting them, or for the Shivelys, whose house the crows were haunting? I’d ask my father later. It was he who told me about counting crows, which I was doing now instead of my geography lessons. France is down and Scotland is up, and across the sea there is a new land filled with fierce and primitive warriors. That was enough learning for now, I felt.

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I think I’m back

I think I’m back

Or at least I’m going to try.

The past two or three weeks have been the first time since about April that I’ve felt like I should be writing, as opposed to doing whatever I’ve been doing. Between work and travel and just being me, I haven’t had a moment to squeeze in much of anything. I’ve taken to waking up at four in the morning so that I can get at least a little exercise in before my day gets going. (I’m not really getting in shape but at least I’ve been able to arrest some of the bloat.) Moments where I’m not doing something for someone else have been so few and far between that I’ve relished the hard-won break and forced myself to rest.

Until a few weeks ago, when I realized that I was spending quite a bit of time watching TV, fiddling with my camera, or (okay, fine, I’ll admit it) playing video games, and it was starting to become a waste. I haven’t read a book in months, and haven’t put any writing up on my wall. More to the point, I wasn’t enjoying resting anymore. My writing muscles were crying out for some exercise.

This week I picked up the new edition of Marianne Moore, and the line about “imaginary gardens with real toads in them” reminded me that I had a goal once, not long ago, and I need to get back to it.

So here we go again. I have a few posts queued up, and I believe that I can spend at least part of some mornings doing some writing instead of lingering over my coffee and playing Peggle on my phone (which is what I did this morning).

I think I’ve exhausted my supply of good old pictures, though, but I bought this expensive camera so I better start using it. (I mean, I live in the middle of Africa, it shouldn’t be hard to find something to photograph.)

I hope you’ll all join me again. I certainly look forward to reading your pages again, too.