Something You Know About
Coral slammed her head into her desk. “Ow,” she softly whimpered.
“Don’t do that, Mum,” one of her pets said, just coming into the room. “It hurts.”
Coral glared daggers at her eldest, a tall yellow Wocky. “I know it hurts, Portia. I’m mad. Which is the reason I did that. Duh.”
“Well, begging your pardon, Mother. I thought that I was supposed to be the sarcastic one around here.”
“I’m trying to write a story,” Coral complained. “But the characters won’t do or say anything I want them to do!”
Portia narrowed her eyes and thought for a moment. “I have your answer!”
“What?” Coral was desperate for help.
“Make them do what you want them to do.”
Coral slammed her head down on the desk again. “Ow! Well, they won’t. I want them to do one thing, and they end up doing something entirely different that I never meant for them to do! Something that makes me have to go back and change everything!”
Portia rolled her eyes. “Fyora help us.”
“What?” Coral demanded.
“Nothing. Let me read what you’ve written so far.” She extended her paw and Coral grudgingly placed the sheaf of papers into Portia’s grasp.
“Let’s see. Page one...”
* * * * *
It was one of those times – not the best, not the worst. It was seven-oh-three in the evening when the ambience faded from the night sky; when Night dropped her mantle of oblivion twixt the sun and moon. Marian donned her embroidered bathrobe, somewhere between a cerulean blue and an indigo – which she had only finished six days and four hours ago. Silently she crawled, with all the stealth of a Vernax, between the silken sheets – 600 NP, a real deal at Pete’s Best Buy Sheets At Very Very Low Prices, On Sale Today.
“Mother!” she called delicately, with all the refinement of the lady. “Might I have mine bedtime story now, prithee?”
* * * * *
“Noooo! It burns my eyes! Please, sunglasses! Quickly!”
“I HATE it when you do that, Portia. What’s wrong?”
“First of all, Mom... your descriptions are big huge piles of petpet dooey.”
“Petpet dooey? You call that a good description?”
“Mom, please. Let’s work with me here. Chop out that whole description at the beginning.”
“But that takes away from my word total!” Coral whined.
Cringing under Portia’s stern gaze, she cut out the flowery passages.
“And now take away the fancy language.”
“No! It’s nice! I like it!”
“Mom, nobody smart talks like that any more. Not even King Altador does! Get rid of that stupid talk.”
“Fine,” Coral grumped. “Be uncouth and uncultured.”
“Gladly. Let’s see...” Portia stroked her chin meditatively. “Ah, yes. There we are.”
* * * * *
“Mum?” Marian asked quietly.
“What, dearest pet?”
“Where does the sun go to at night?”
“It goes beyond the edges of the world, into the land of shadows. The sun sleeps during the night and comes back in the morning refreshed, ready for a new day.”
“The land of shadows?”
“Wouldn’t that be in our refrigerator?”
* * * * *
“What is this trash?” Portia demanded.
“It’s humor! Even you should be able to see that.”
“It’s psychotic! It’s unnecessary!”
“I’m not mutilating my story any further,” Coral pouted.
Wordlessly, Portia strode over to their own fridge, where she plucked a container of ice cream out of the freezer and dropped it out the window.
“My... my ice cream...” Coral whimpered.
“You can have it back once you ‘mutilate’ that silly bit of humor.”
Coral sulkily crossed out the offending bit of writing as Portia fished the ice cream out of the shrubbery and tossed it on the table. Coral cradled her ice cream protectively as Portia frowned in concentration at the story.
“Hmm... that’s where I was, wasn’t it?”
* * * * *
“No, pet. The land of shadows on the other side of the world. One of the undiscovered lands of Neopia.”
“But if the sun was in the land of shadows, it wouldn’t be that land of shadows anymore, would it?”
“Of course it is.”
“It wouldn’t be, Mummy. The sun makes things bright.”
“Obviously it didn’t make you too bright,” Mum spat between clenched teeth.
“I’m plenty bright, Mum. I’m smartest in my class.”
“No, you’re not. If you were, you wouldn’t be arguing with your mum.”
“But I’m right, Mum.”
Mum glanced furtively around the room. Getting up, she closed the curtains and closed the door. Turning round to face her naughty and disobedient daughter, she grabbed the lamp off the dresser and-
* * * * *
Portia stared at her mother, aghast. “You wrote that?”
“I was desperate! I didn’t have any good ideas.”
“Mom, all the children are going to sob uncontrollably when they read your story. The children’s parents will chase you with pitchforks! You’ll be in exile! I’ll never be allowed to return to school!”
“Oh. It’s as bad as all that, is it?”
“Yes. You cannot do that to one of your characters. Retribution will be swift.”
“Whatever,” Coral muttered. She scribbled over the next five and a half pages with a vim and vigor not to be expected of such a short pers- AUGH!
Author’s Note: Do not make reference to a character’s height, especially when it is a negative comment. You WILL be revenged upon.
And now, back to our scheduled programming.
“Mom, just give me the stuff I haven’t read yet, okay? I don’t want to have to go looking for my spot again.”
Coral handed Portia the last page.
* * * * *
Mum quietly crept out of Marian’s room. No one had heard, no one had seen – and no one would ever know.
Shutting the door behind her, she turned around to see her other daughter face-to-face.
“I want pie. Can I have pie? I like pie. Pie is fun. Cherry pie. Apple pie. Appleseeds. Aaaaaaaaaaappleseed. Johnny fruitcake. John. Johnny Johnny Johnny...”
* * * * *
“What is with that mental daughter girl thing whatever person?” Portia demanded.
“She’s mentally unwell,” Coral protested. “Mum is so overcome with remorse and is so upset over her daughter’s condition that she confesses her actions and goes insane herself. And she and her daughter live in that Meepit Oaks Asylum place for the rest of their lives.”
“Mom, this is ridiculous. You don’t know anything about mental patients. You refused to help in the Tale of Woe plot because of the asylum part! You were scared of it! You didn’t want to go anywhere near it!”
“What do you mean, so? You can’t write about things you don’t know anything about.”
“Mom, write about things you know about. Write about things you’re familiar with. Things you can relate to. Things the readers can relate to.”
Portia padded softly out of the room, leaving her stunned mother sitting in silence at her desk.
What seemed like hours later, Emily, Coral’s other child, crawled in. The baby Korbat’s head kept hitting the floor, because it vastly outweighed the rest of her body.
“Pway wiv me, Mummy?”
“Not right now, precious,” Coral sighed. “I’m trying to write.”
“Not now, Emily!” Coral snapped. Tears trickled down the infant’s cheeks, and Coral hastily sat down on the floor. “It’s okay. Mommy will play with you.”
Emily visibly brightened, and held out a Usuki. “You be Mista Happy. I be Mista Pants.”
Emily triumphantly held up a ratty little pair of blue jeans that Portia had made for the Usuki. “Mistah pants is ebil. Wants to take ova za vold.”
“A pair of pants wants to take over the world, huh? But nobody would ever take him seriously.” Coral laughed.
“Powsha din’t take you seewsly, Mummy. But you wite stawees. An’ Mista Pants takes ova za vold.” Emily blinked innocently.
An idea dawned on Coral. As they played, a story unfolded itself in her mind. Finally, later that night, when both the girls were in bed, Coral sat down at her desk again.
She wrote feverishly until late, and sent in her masterpiece before her head hit her pillow.
* * * * *
“Mom, Mom, guess what! You got published!”
Coral took the newspaper from Portia and turned to the short stories section. Gracing the very front page was her story.
Portia stared intently at her mother. “Mom, what kind of title is that?”
“The Super, Fantastic, Stupendous, Exciting Adventures of Mr. Pants,” Coral read.
“Again, what kind of title is that?”
Coral glanced over at Emily, playing happily on the floor. “A good one.”