I am proud to announce the release of my newest novel, THE VICTORIAN VIGILANTE. I have been teasing it slowly for over a year, and I can finally share it with you all. If you like books with strong female protagonists set in historical London, this one is for you!
Una Egerton is a woman adrift in a world dominated by man’s corruption and crisis. Riddled with a dark side herself, when night falls Una cloaks her feminine appearance and becomes the fighter known in the London Underground as the Silver-Haired Devil. But just as Una finally has a grip on her abnormal condition, the body of a woman is found floating in the Thames River in an oddly familiar way to that which claimed the life of her mother a decade ago. This murder sets off a series of events that fall one after another. Her alter ego is rapidly labeled a person of interest and the mysterious death toll continues to climb. A secret society hidden in the shadows begins to emerge having her question everything she thought she held dear.
Una must set aside her convictions and become the detective her city desperately needs. With themes of sacrifice and personal virtue, The Victorian Vigilante is a grounded take on vigilantism with an elaborate plot canvasing Ancient Egypt and the London underbelly known as the East End.
“A mystery with endless twists and turns.” – Ellen Z.
“Brilliant.” -Early Beta Reader
Available early 2023, preorder details will be up soon and I will be announcing giveaways for free copies of the book in the coming weeks. Excited to have this baby out and share it will you all! It has been a labor to write but every much worth it!
The Shadow of Our Stars can be found for sale as an ebook or paperback exclusively on Amazon.com by clicking here.
“Paris Letters” by Janice MacLeod was a delightfully quick read. Having finished the book in four-ish days, I can admit I’ve traipsed through the streets of Paris now (or so Janice has been to Paris and I’ve lived vicariously through her experiences).
The Paris Letters at its core is about freedom, love, and self-discovering. It’s really one giant self-reflection, which struck a nerve within my own life. I found myself relating to the fast day to day work life that suffocated Janice. Although I’m no copywriter, I would have to say my job can be just as strenuous and unnerving. The itch for “going out on your own” as they say, has always been a ship waiting to set sail. Seeing first hand how Janice put her plans into motion is inspiring.
The story spends a lot of time detailing an epic back and forth love story between Janice and Christophe who can barely communicate with each other. There’s a massive language barrier that exists, but somehow they make it work with unusual methods. Thinking outside the box with hand gestures, pictures, and “Franglish” as she has coined.
I find myself enjoying the watercolored letters to Áine the most. The Parisian imagery and attention to detail they possess was baffling. Having closed the book, there was one letter that I’ll remember for years to come. It can be found in chapter nineteen entitled “How Would You Like Your Eggs?” There’s a moment where Janice meets an elder woman in a cemetery and comes to aid her. I won’t spoil the scene because it’s profoundly pure but I will reveal that it depicts what honest love is. It was heart-touching… Thank you Janice.
But enough of that. Would I recommend reading “Paris Letters” by Janice MacLeod? Absolutely. Coming off the cusp of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy, “A Game of Thrones” I needed something lighter and much more relatable. Janice MacLeod gave that to me along with moments of pure inspiration. Maybe there will come a day in my life when I, too, can chronicle a magnificent tale as she’s done so beautifully.
Welcome to 2020 said no one this year!
The start of a new year usually comes with new goals or expectations for what you’d like to accomplish. As a novel writing junkie, my goals were to finish TWO of my works in progress. One of which being, FORSAKEN. A fantasy novel that I’ve been scribbling away for the last five years, only to redraft the entire thing! Another project being HERE AND THERE, a collection of short stories and flash fictions that I’ve labored off and on for a couple years (which is closer to be finished than yesterday!).
Needless to say, as we reach the crest of the year and time has withered away before our eyes, I can say with all honesty, I’ve completed neither of these projects. That’s not to say, however, that I haven’t made strides forward on both, it’s just not progress that meets my OVERLY LARGE EXPECTATIONS nor my established goals.
So In process of reflecting over the last few months, I’ve ditched my 2020 goals entirely and I think you should too. We’re under abnormal circumstances, meaning that things should be handled differently.
What does this all mean?
Goals are detrimental to actually completing tasks, at least I think so. If the goal is too big, then I like to break it down into even smaller chucks so I feel like the train is constantly moving down the tracks (even if it’s at a slow and steady pace). When we focus on the big picture, we tend to discourage ourselves from finishing.
With that all in mind, this year has affected each of us in different ways– negatively and positively. But I’m here to say : Throw away your 2020 goals and leave them in your rear view mirror!
Where do we go from here?
The saying, “keeping looking forward because the past has already happened” should be the mantra you’re living right now. Even if you write ten words a day, that’s still ten words more than yesterday. Being anxious about self appointed deadlines is worthless. You should value the progress forward a lot more than the end destination. 2020 goals are so outdated! Enjoy, live life, and happily write when you want! Cheers, Alexander // the Tea Cup Writer
I, for one, can say that these pesky stay at home orders have actually impacted my writing in a productive way. But for others, the stress of the unknown and the hysteria that flows through the air has done nothing than be a giant road block. The question is, how do you find the want to write when you can’t stop stressing about what’s going on around you?
Today, I’ll discuss a few ways I’ve found it helpful to continue my writing progress without becoming distracted or overwhelmed. These proven methods have landed me 70,000 words in a two month block of time. So, it works!!
1. A digital detox
Yes. You heard me. Sometimes unplugging from the very source that’s driving our stress is the only way to immerse ourself back into our literary worlds. At the start of March, I found myself consuming news media while reading and writing less and less each day. I can admit openly and honestly, the fear got to me in a bad way. Once I realized how detrimental it was to my passion, I made the decision to detox entirely. In the process of a couple days I found myself refreshed and able to move back into the stories I was vigorously writing before.
2. Read a book!
So easy huh? But it isn’t! The world is SO DISTRACTING. How can anyone find the time to read?
It’s quite obvious to me as a writer, that reading is extremely important. The more you read, the better writer you become. And I’ve learned first hand how true this statement is. When Covid-19 hit, I stopped reading. The result was bland and uninteresting words. That “idea” pot, as I like to call it, was drained. Actually, it was a barren wasteland. I didn’t have the constant influx of stories ideas as before when I was reading all the time and my style wasn’t improving. I like to think of reading as studying. The more exposure to other author’s styles and writing techniques, the better I can be at it. So reading helps!
3. Clear your head
This is often times the hardest of the four because we don’t always have a lot of extra time on our hands. Some of us juggle families, work, and other responsibilities that slow our progress done, but I have a solution for that!
EFFECTIVE WAYS TO CLEAR YOUR HEAD
1. Take a walk around the block
2. Immerse yourself in the outdoors
3. Talk with a loved one
4. Journal about the things that clog your head
I bet if you do any of these, you’ll come out cleaner and much more ready to put words onto the page. Perhaps, even inspired beyond your imagination!
4. Lastly, remember why you did it all in the first place
What made you take up the pen rather than the sword? Why was the glory of being a writer appealing to you? And what fueled your fire from the start?
It’s self evident that chaos creates distraction. Distraction moves you further away from why you decided to become a writer in the first place.
I get it. Self-doubt is something all people struggle with. I do, however, think that artists get an extra dose of self-doubt that others aren’t accustomed to. The equation becomes unbalanced the minute you lose sight of the reason why you started. I know, because this happened to me. The less and less I wrote, the less I felt like a writer and the more I contemplated just giving up the fantasy entirely.
It wasn’t until I was pretty down on my spirits that I remembered what was important to me. Words were important. Telling stories were important. And showing those to the word was more important than ever. If people were sad, then I’d give them something to cheer them up! If people needed humor, I’d try making them laugh! Writing for me, has always been about moving other people and challenging others way of thinking. Convincing myself of these mission statements was what it took for me to continue forward.
My last bit of Advice
Don’t forget your passion. Never forget your drive. Always remember the destination ahead of you.
Alexander // the Tea Cup Writer
Dearest Father, I must confess the eternal emptiness since your passing. A year has faded in events that I find difficulty in comprehension. People swore it'd get better, but just as interest compounds, so does hurt. My memory cannot allow me to forget the unresolved matters and move onward. Our final words, my abrupt goodbye, and your faint dying breath. I didn't want to let go of your hand. Ever. I sat and studied your face. I needed to remember it in precise detail. A collective of tears and tissues, we wept for our loss. I was selfish. I wanted you to stay and bare the pain. I feared that the agony of my loss was greater than that of your cancer. And I learned in death, it was your salvation. You're no longer suffering, you're free to be. To roam with the buffalos, where the wind wanders. I reflect on life's matters ahead. I practice remembering the memories with cheer. You are who I look up to, who I want to emulate. And I'll never forget who you are. You're always in my heart... in life and death. Your Loving Son
Ocean waves raged out of control,
Tossing me from the stern.
I was ashamed and defeated,
Lost and shipwrecked.
The skies darkened,
Inside the eye of the storm.
The vessel’s in my mind sunk,
Into the deep blue waters.
Stranded and Starved,
Hanging on to this life.
I thought survival was my doing,
Things I could control.
I had no food.
I had no water.
I had no savior.
And wrinkled skin.
I prayed for You.
Burdened and broken,
Desperately seeking the only help.
I found mercy in Your healing.
You lifted me from the sea,
Placed me by your side,
And filled the empty parts of my soul.
I gained a new life,
Shedding my old skin.
I was born again,
Baptized from the Ocean,
And placed in Your heart.
What is beta reading? What are the benefits of being a beta reader? And how can it improve your writing?
What is beta reading?
Beta reading is the act of viewing another writer’s early drafts in order to offer constructive feedback about what works and what doesn’t. An author usually gives a story to a beta reader after the second draft and the story has been given a quick spelling and grammar edit. This is the point where the writer has labored over the story for an extended period of time and a fresh set of eyes is required to see through all the muck. Included, but not limited to, character believability, plot holes, and consistency.
It takes a lot of courage to be at a stage where you feel comfortable enough to let another person read your work. It also takes a very thick skin when you receive undesired feedback. It’s not always what you want to hear, but here’s the good news, it only makes your writing that much better. Would you rather people lie to you?
I’ve gone through the process of giving my work to beta readers and being a beta reader. The experiences were totally different, but both as enlightening to my writing abilities. I recommend participating in both practices as often as you can, which brings me to my next point.
What are the benefits of being a beta reader?
Now that you know what a beta reader is, I’m going to discuss how being a beta reader is beneficial to your learning and growth as a writer. These are a couple of my own personal growth examples.
I used the word “had” about 1,000 times in a draft. It took beta readers to reveal to me what words I was abusing. So, I learned how to write around that and developed a watchful eye when it comes to the repetition of words.
I had a nasty habit of telling things when they were happening, and not showing the readers. My manuscript felt very told and when I received that advice, I made it a mission to discover the differences between showing and telling, and when applications were relevant to serve the story. It made my writing more immersive and pushed my skill forward. HINT HINT. It makes your writing a lot less amateur.
Character development and plot were a big one. The most important parts of a story were lost and all over the place. A beta reader told me that painful truth, so I sat down, learned, and re-wrote a story that was more cohesive and believable. This turned my bland writing into writing that was better!
Lastly, spend time reading books on the craft of writing. Any educational opportunity whether it be a writer’s workshop, writer’s retreat, or a friendly writing critique, I recommend being a participant– help those who help you!
Advice for receiving beta feedback
- LISTEN TO YOUR READERS. If you’re under the idea that given feedback is invaluable and that the reader just “doesn’t know your characters well enough” please remove the blindfold over your eyes. Readers are more often than not right. That’s right, you heard me correctly. Sure, maybe they weren’t attentive enough to piece together all your subtle nuances, but if the average reader can’t make sense of your work, then somethings off. After all, scholars won’t be the ones to be picking up your book, the average reader will be buying it. LISTEN TO YOUR READERS.
- DON’T EXPECT PRAISE. You’re not always going to receive the words you want right off the heels of your new story idea. Believe me, everyone thinks that their story is the next BIG IDEA and it can be, but there’s a long road for it to get where it can be and your beta readers are here to help you navigate!
- STUDY THE CRAFT. If beta readers inform you that your story is boring, don’t let it discourage you from writing. Take the time to study the craft. I recommend reading Andrew J Chamberlain’s “The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt Handbook” or the infamous “Save the Cat! Writes a Novel” by Jessica Brody. These are two books that I pour through often and have taken my writing to new heights!
Are you looking for a beta reader? I’d love to help! Contact me!
COVID-19 has turned our very world upside down and I don’t believe my internet router can handle it much longer. Working from home is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I can be safe at home, but a curse because I miss out on social interactions.
My initial thoughts about working from home were positive. Sure, there is the constant technical setbacks, at least in my situation, but the good news is, I can make snacks whenever I please, enjoy the comfortability of an environment tailored to me, and have the option of rolling out of bed five until my shift begins if I choose. The first week was great. I was extremely productive with a good sense of enjoyment that my new come freedom paired with, but then week two began and I started to realize the negative aspects of this new arrangement.
There are long term effects of an extended stay at home order.
Now, now I understand that to battle this disease, we need to distance ourselves from each other so we have a chance at slowing the spread, but it comes at a cost to our mental wellness. It’s come at a cost to my mental well being. I NEED interactions with people. This is hilarious to admit because the ability to work from home has always been seen as a must for me. I’ve actually requested it from my direct supervisor in the past and now having tried it, I’m not a supporter.
I am an introvert, loner, wallflower, whatever you’d like to call it. I’m okay with the feeling of being alone. I opt to work individually on projects with my employment, but this entire event has changed that. I feel the loss of connecting to the outside world more than ever– if I even did before. It seems funny to admit, considering I naturally like to exclude myself from gatherings.
I miss the interaction with people, over the phone or through email is not the same. It doesn’t have the same feel as an in-person conversation. I thrive for helping others when problems are presented in front of me but subtracting the ability to work face-to-face has really been a challenge.
One thing that I’ve held close to my heart during this troubling time is this verse. Although the light at the end of the tunnel seems a long ways walk from here, I am taking this all day by day and not thinking about tomorrow.
Stay Home and Be Safe,
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. ”
Paperbacks, Hardcovers, eBooks, and more!
Bookworm, bibliophile, nerd; these are the nicknames you go by for your love of reading and ultimately, the hoarded collection that sits proudly on your bookshelves. Do you find yourself smelling the pages in between reading? Wait! That might just be me.
Books are timeless, they never expire and their ideas never die. They’re always relevant to the person who gives them a chance and they have everlasting impacts on us after the tears we shed or the smiles we surrender, all in the name of black and white printed pages. Reading has always been a hobby of mine. Since the AR reading club in primary school, to the midnight releases of our favorite wizarding series, I’ve always longed for a good book, but sometimes it can be a rather expensive habit.
The Store We All Love
I love Barnes & Noble, no seriously, their stores are a dreamers paradise. From the atmosphere to their cafe, Barnes & Noble adds an experience to your reading that will drive you into the stores time and time again. They have book clubs, membership options, book releases parties, and events of all sorts. Personally, I’ve spent the better part of a year working out of these stores when writing my first book. I don’t know why, but when I stepped into that setting, words flowed from the deepest parts of my writer’s brain and unto my word document. Barnes has a particularly high place in my mind as it was the place where I decided I wanted to be a writer.
Although Barnes & Noble prices are, in my own opinion, very high, they do offer online ordering which I have found to be much more affordable. If you visit their website, you’ll find prices that are sometimes, $5-$10 cheaper than the store price. So, if you’re not in a hurry to read your book, I’d recommend ordering it online and using my next option to hold you over until you get your printed copy.
eBooks with Libby for your local library
Libby delivers ebooks and audiobooks right to your phone or Kinde device straight from your local library. Read from your bedroom, read while on vacation, read while flying into space. With Libby, I’ve found that when I’m in desperate need of a book, I usually can check it out or place a hold for it to be available relatively soon.
Libby offers a “try before you buy” approach. I, like some people, like to read the first couple chapters of a book before I buy them to add to my collection and using Libby, has made it very easy.
If you’d like to take Libby for a spin, click here and take it for a test run, you won’t regret it!
Online, Fast, and Affordable
One place that I’ve saved tons of money when buying books, is Thriftbooks. I cannot stress to you how amazing they are. They have something called “readingrewards” which gives you points for every book you purchase and depending on the tier, i.e. reader, at 500 points you get a free book (a $5 value). They always have promotional events where you can earn more points like on birthdays or holidays. Plus, if you download the app now, you get 100 bonus points when you place your first order! I love the app and considering most of their books are already under $5.00, you cannot beat that anywhere else.
The books do come in a variety of conditions, printing editions, and covers. Depending on what’s in stock, you can purchase new, lightly used, library bindings, and signed copies too! In my experience, even the lowest qualities are still fairly decent. Plus, if there are any major defects, they will let you know beforehand.
If you’re looking to try Thriftbooks out, click here and receive 15% off your first order!
Exceptions to Saving Money
If an indie author or a self-published author ever releases a book, these are the exception where I don’t mind paying full price. I understand that every bit of the process is difficult and doing it on your own, only adds to the pile. If I can ever support the cause, I definitely choose to!
Thank you for reading & stay safe!
1. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
I cracked this story open with an Instagram reading group during January. As we chose in alphabetical order, naturally my name is Alexander, I was the first to pick and this was it. My first run-in with A Darker Shade of Magic was on the shelf of my local Barnes and Noble. The cover intrigued me and I loved that it was set in alternative Londons. At the time I didn’t buy it, but it was always placed on my “to be read list”.
I love the way this novel plays out. It kinda reminds me of a movie with scenes. Chapters are broken up into small sections and they flow like chapters you’d find in a movie’s table of contents with a name defining a group of moments. The overall characters are believable, Kell and Lila being my favorites. I enjoyed the sass and pain in the bottom that Lila was and Kell’s drive to do the right thing even when he knew it was wrong. There’s magic, multiple Londons, and a greedy set of royals who want it all.
2. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Who doesn’t love a great murder mystery by a warm fireplace? Murder on the Orient Express was the first one that I’ve ever read, can you believe it? Now I’m addicted. I will shamefully confess that I watched the film adaptation before reading the actual book and while it was a better book than the film, it helped clarify the story for me, which was very hard for me to follow. There are so many characters, perspectives, and subtle details that are important for the reader to catch for the story to make sense. If you don’t read closely, then the pay off at the end is not as worth it.
3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
If you want to take a literal journey back in time, then this is your book. I felt immensely deep in a world from the past. Written from the first-person view of Claire, Outlander explores the deep and dark history of Scotland while weaving an intense love story in the middle of it. I love this book because it presents real decisions that need to be made between living in the past and Claire’s life in the present. Another book with many subtle details, PAY ATTENTION, they really are worth finding.
4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Does this book need any explanation? It’s brilliant on so many levels. The underlying themes and messages of friendship and love make it one of my favorites in the entire series.
Harry discovers so much about the past and what’s to come in the future. It’s in many ways a coming of age story. The first two books, Harry is much more in a child’s world, but the third book really shows Harry entering manhood with the challenges and responsibilities that come with it. It’s everything you’d expect from a Harry Potter book with its clever characters, sprinkled cookie crumbs, and story driving dialogue. Cannot recommend this book enough. I’ve read it like seventeen times and probably will read it seventeen more.
5. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Polished blue stone and a farm boy. What could go wrong? A lot! This is Paolini’s first published book in the Inheritance Cycle and although it shows throughout the writing, I as I writer enjoyed that. I enjoyed seeing how the writing progress unraveled throughout the story. In a way, it was a self-discovery tale for myself. The overall plot is really engaging and drives at a decent pace. The author builds languages, a deep world, and lots of back story to interest the reader kind of reminds me of Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth.
6. Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
I’ve read this book a couple different times and listened to the Brendan Fraser audiobook and I have to say, each time is better. A silver dragon named Firedrake, a brownie named Sorrel, and a boy named Ben set off in an adventure to find the hidden Rim of Heaven where they will be safe from evil humans and an even more so evil beasts. Gosh, this book really ignites your imagination. I hope one day I can read it to my children!
7. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
A fallen star, a lost boy, and two vastly different worlds separated by a stone wall. A fairytale story that will bring you back to when you read The Brothers Grimm as a child, Stardust is full of humor and true love. It’s definitely targeted as an adult fairytale and as a grown adult, I enjoy the less childish approach that a normal fairytale might have.
8. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
A story of beginnings, The Fellowship of the Ring has always been my favorite book of the series as well as favorite installment of the Peter Jackson films. I enjoy this number because it has the start of what is to be an epic journey. Not only do we meet all of our important characters and watch them traveled to Mordon to destroy the ring, but we see them face adversity and watch their plotlines weave away and travel in different directions. I recommend it to anyone! Tolkien’s work can never be praised enough.
9. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
To be frank, the first time I read this book was a few months ago. I’ve read the most popular entry in the series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and never bothered venturing into any of the other books. After I received quite a bit of praise from other readers and a couple quotable moments throughout the book from my church, I decided to give it a read. My overall thoughts about the book were great. The story really mirrors the creation story in the bible and having diving deeper in my faith, I’ve noticed all the subtle easter eggs that Lewis incorporated in the fundamentals of Narnia and their stories. There’s a real sense of discovery as you find all those moments that make you smile. This book by far is my favorite in the series. Polly and Diggory’s characters were relatable as children and the Witch really remained me of the snake in the book Genesis.
10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A classic novel that really makes you think as you read. The Great Gatsby isn’t a particularly long story but I think that it packs a punch with the words it has. This book is a very old world. Times have changed, so it was nice to step back into New York during the early part of the 1900s. The lingo, the characters, and the story greatly reflect a time that has long since been forgotten about.
Happy reading and be safe out there!
What crossroad am I approaching? London Bridge towards the National Rail Southeastern train surely.
Are my considerations haunting me? I can hear foolish gossip.
The wick on a wax candle burns until its finale. Am I at my wicks end– setting fire to the paper airplanes circling Westminster?
Another train passes by.
“This one yours?” asked the middle-aged conductor.
“No,” I said eyeing the face of my watch. “10:31 PM to Ladywell.”
The humming iron railways of the tube vibrate what delicate material is left between my ears. A Frenchman and his family depart for what seems like an extended holiday. They have suitcases and sun hutswith shades. I wonder if they’re going to Dover Beach. I haven’t been there since I was little–haven’t been anywhere but a cubicle since I left university. I wonder if it was worth it. Maybe corporate was a misstep. Numbers, paper, and white spaces will be at my demise. A tea cup party for all the miseries that my work smog brings.
I missed out on life’s focal moments.
A birthday here and there, the last few holidays.
Broke mother’s heart when father died– broke all of our hearts. I wasn’t there. I couldn’t be there. I didn’t try hard enough to be there. But no matter, father would have wanted me to travel onward. A man’s responsibility. Nevertheless it was the exact contrary of what I was doing.
I quit my employment. May have said a small number of cruel things in the process, but it felt moral– that was until my bank balance went red. I’ve been living off biscuits and tea since. The Blue Lady wants me out by the weekend. I’ve nowhere to stay. I’ll be displaced.
Another train passes by.
“Hey vister?” a heavy accented woman interrupted. “You vill be late.”
“No,” I said eyeing the face of my watch. “10:31 PM to Ladywell.”
In leisurely time, I stroll around the plush gardens like a habitual squirrel. What was originally a causal appreciation of London’s magnificent cityscapes and unnerving settlers, hastily mutated into a scavenger hunt for eating– after all, a bloke has to survive somehow. That’s when mother started facilitating. A few pounds whenever she could. A full stomach meant more than being ashamed.
A bouquet of lilies wither away in my grasp, they’re meant for father’s grave in Brockley and Ladywell. Almost got clubbed by the Bobbies for ripping them from the earth at Kensington. If he could see me now.
Another train passes by.
“A wee bit late, ay?” asked a Scottish pop.
“Bullocks!” I took off with my messenger bag flapping the side of my thigh. The train’s doors were nearly sealed. A Chinese man was luckily enough to see my despaired as he wedged his size five into the door jam. ”Thanks mate,” I said kindly seating myself.
The soles of my oxfords are leaking rapidly with the murky rain water. I have two wet socks. I suppose it’s better than being barefoot like a peace protestor in the sixties.
“Oi!” a dodgy punter shouted. “What’re you playing at?”
It took me a minute to understand why this shifty character was screaming at me. I guess the seat I was settled in was his,and the blond character sitting to my right was his “girl”. To be frank, she looked like everyone’s “girl”, but rather than land a black eye, I walked towards a seat elsewhere.
“Nice, right?” said the voice of my adjacent neighbor with a wink of her eye and before I knew it, we were laughing together.
“Who are those for?” she asked looking at the flowers in my hands.
“These? Oh, a grave,” I said putting a nail in the coffin of our happiness. Her face turned. “He was a funny man.”
“Was he?” she asked pulling the brunette curls from her face.
“Could make you have a fit and wet yourself,” I said. “A real knack for humor.
“How long has he–”
“Been dead?” I interjected, “Almost a year.”
“Oh, nahh,” I lied.
“Tell me one of his anecdotes?” she requested. A poetry book was resting on her lap. The spine read, Romantic Poetry to Sooth the Soul and Safe You from Grief. I laughed a little on the inside.
“Uhm, he has this joke he told all the time,” I said searching for the right choice. “He has this one where he describes the Royals. I dunno if you’ve noticed, but their teeth– like a horses– more so than other Brits.”
“Mhm,” her way of signaling that she was still listening.
“He makes this face and imagines eating an apple through a picket fence. He’s American born, so his version of a British Accent is pretty terrible.”
“Oh yes,” she said laughing. “They do have abnormally larger teeth, I’ve noticed that myself as well. What does the face look like?”
“You sure?” I laughed. “I may scare you away.”
“Alright– if you say so. ‘Ello’ Govena’,’” I said in a proper accent, like Dick Van Dyke. “Fancy a up’ of tea?” My lips moved back to revealing my front teeth.
We shared laughter together and both of our faces turned as bright as beets.
“Well done,” she said. “My names Emma.”
“I’m Peter,” I said kindly. “Where’re you headed?”
“Away,” she said.
“From where?” I pressed.
“Do you want to join?” she asked. “And journey into the unknown.”
My face searched for a sarcastic smile, but there wasn’t one to offer. “You’re serious?”
“Why not?” Emma said. “Unless you don’t want to.”
That was quite the opposite of what I wanted. Something new and exciting to rescue you me from old and mundane. Father’s grave wasn’t going anywhere. He would have desired me to be spontaneous and adventure.
“I don’t have any plans.”
“Perfecto,” Emma said. “Next stop? Hope a different rail?”
A bit hesitant that this was really happening, I agreed. We exited the train on to station’s landing. Emma and I found the train diagram and she sealed her eyes and aimed with her small index finger landing on Dover.
“Dover it is,” Emma fastened her bag.
“I haven’t any money,” I admitted.
“Neither do I,” Emma grinned. “Who pays for the tube?”
“Civilized human beings.”
“Who said I was civilized?” Emma said. “You’re a runaway, just like me aren’t you?”
I didn’t want to admit it at this time, but she was dead-on. I had nothing to my name other than the clothes on my back and the lint in my pockets. My likelihood of existence was wiry and would be much more electrifying in the company of another. And Emma’s impulsive trait may be pleasant in the unforeseen future.
“A little lost,” I admitted.
“Let’s go find you then,” Emma said. “I’m good at scavenger hunts.”
So much for a burnt candle sticks.
And that book of Poetry.
I set father’s lilies down and proceed towards my future.