“Literature is the extant body of written art. All novels belong to it.”
Ursula K. Le Guin

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Notes from the author:

This fictionette began as something very slight. It came from one of those days when I couldn't find a whole twenty-five minutes to do my freewriting in, so instead I just typed until I could say, "That there's a story idea. Good night."

The two words I used as prompts were "glove" and "laugh."

The original four hundred or so words involved a teacher telling a story to a handful of children, and the children running off to play myriad games of Let's Pretend inspired by the tale of the mage and the gloves. And there was one child who took a very different lesson from the story than anyone else did.

It's funny how some things get longer, the more you focus in. I struggled to get anything of substance down at all until I reduced the scope to just the storyteller and the one child. Then--it blossomed.

And that, friends, is the lesson of the brick. Stop trying to write about the country, the town, the whole building. Focus in, and just write about the upper left-hand brick.

Once was a man, once was a woman, once was a powerful mage. Once was the time the mage reached for the moon, and that's where the gloves came from.

Everyone learns this story as a child. It's the first thing we learn to laugh at. When you were just getting old enough to laugh, we told you this tale.

If the gloves had come from the deep night sky, they might have been black and blue. But they were moon-silver, mirror-silver, full of glints and glimmers. The mage made them by accident, by reaching for the moon. No one's supposed to do that, not men, not women, not anyone else either. And Especially Not Us! But it's easy to forget that, when you get to be a powerful mage. You start thinking that power means you don't have to follow the rules. Remember, my dear, when you are grown-up and powerful, what happens when you forget about the rules.

Now, you might think it's a silly rule, for, reach as you like, you'll never grasp the moon. It's too far away, too big, too bright, too slippery hard to hold. But mages have their ways at which you and I can only guess, and so the mage reached, and so the mage grasped, and drew back hands full of silver.

But it wasn't the moon the mage caught after all. The moon is a trickster who doesn't like being caught, and that's not even the first reason for the rules. The mage only drew back two hands covered in gunk. Moon gunk! Silver ooze, mirror muck, hardening like clay and freezing like ice. That's how the gloves came into being. They fit the mage's hands perfectly, being molded directly onto them, but they nevertheless felt strange and wrong upon those hands.

Up above, high above, the moon laughed and laughed.

So with a great storm-loud bark of disgust, the mage ripped the gloves off and threw them with all their wrongness into the wrongness bin. A wrongness bin is a useful thing to have, when you're a mage. Power doesn't always lead to good ends. It's important to be able to start over.

The mage sealed the wrongness bin up tight and stowed it where no one would see. Only the mage knew where it was, and the mage, sad to say, forgot. The mage knew the secret of living forever, but the mage's memory didn't. So the mage forgot, and no one else knew, and hundreds of years went by.

But the moon, whose memory is perfect, laughs at the mage still. And it sounds, when it laughs, Just Like You!

That's the first story we all learn to laugh at. But when we get a little older, like you are now, we hear that story again and we learn to take care. Listen! You need to hear the rest.

This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for April 10, 2015. The fictionette is available in its entirety (1012 words) in PDF and MP3 format (audio narrated by the author) to Patrons pledging at least $1 and $3 per month respectively.

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