MEMO

To: Billy Joel

Re: Captain Jack


I have questions.

1. Who is Captain Jack?

2. Why is he getting me high tonight?

3. Did I consent?

4. WTF is my special island?

5. Where is this island?

6. Can I get there via public transportation?

7. Is the island a metaphor?

8. FOR WHAT?

9. Is this a “you should smile more” negging kind of a thing?

10. Seriously, WHAT SPECIAL ISLAND.


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Hillary Shrugs

This Hillary Clinton fanfic contains spoilers for season one of The Good Place.


Do you recall the young woman in Los Angeles who had her knitting with her despite the heat? Radha, I believe. We spoke about her knitting and you nudged me to move along the signing line? I am trying to recall the name of the website she told me about. I believe it was a pun but I can’t recall the word.


Yes, Ravelry! And you say the site is secure? I will need a username. Probably not the usual.


Thank you, Huma, my profile is all set up but I can’t figure out how to add a profile picture. I did manage to add my favorite television shows, Madam Secretary and Parks and Recreation. Also The Good Place, have you seen it?


Thank you for your help with my profile picture. Is it vain to use one from ten years ago? I do enjoy the fact that I am wearing a hand knitted sweater in it. Yes, I love The Good Place. I confess, I did see it coming. In the first episode, I turned to Bill and said, “that is the bad place,” and he laughed at me.


You should have seen Bill’s reaction when we watched The Sixth Sense.


I added my first project to Ravelry! I even managed to add a photo from my phone, but it is sideways. Just when I was feeling quite technologically savvy for a woman of my age.


Huma!! I was so touched by your birthday gift. The wool is delightfully soft, and my favorite color (of course you know that). I appreciate, too, the note on using revelry’s advanced search to find a pattern. What a wonderful treat! See you at dinner.


What a splendid birthday dinner. The creme brulee was among the best I’ve tasted. Now to tackle the revelry advanced search!


What is a cowl? Is that like Batman?


Thank you for explaining cowls. I have settled on knitting a shrug. Yes, I know what it means! I looked it up. (I asked Chelsea.)


Thank you for helping me understand PayPal. I have my pattern downloaded and printed. Bill thought I should put it on my iPad but I could not figure out how and did not wish to trouble you or Chelsea again.


The abbreviations in this knitting pattern threw me a bit, so I pulled out my mother’s craft books from the attic. What a treasure trove! Everything is out of fashion but they are an invaluable resource and a lovely connection to my past. I knitted as a girl, of course, but those skills lay dormant for decades as I pursued a career and family. I have now CO (cast on my stitches, that is put them on my knitting needs) and started to k and p (knit and purl) with the occasional yo (yarn over, we used to say yarn forward).


I have learned the terms tink and frog. They sound offensive but I am assured they are not!


Don’t worry, my knitting is back on course! I hope to be shrugging by Christmas.

 

The Joker

Content warning: self-harm; sexual harassment

It wasn’t anything special, the one that broke her. It was, comparatively speaking, a minor offense. Just a whistle—a compliment, as so many people had assured her—followed with a “Smile, love” when she glanced in the whistler’s direction. But she was tired.

She went home and sat at her dressing table. Vanity. She hated that word, vanity. It wasn’t vain to look at your own face.

“Smile, love.”

She picked up her favorite lipstick, the bright red one, and traced her lips. She kept going around and around, making her mouth redder and wider and she painted on layer after layer of lipstick.

Then, just as suddenly as she’d needed to apply the makeup, she wanted it off, off, OFF. She wiped at it with a tissue, but it barely touched it. She tried a wet wipe and only succeeded in smearing the red stain larger.

She walked to the kitchen and picked up a knife.

She scraped the lipstick off, cutting her lips out of her face until no man would ever again tell her to smile, because now her entire face was a smile, a great grinning maw.

She laughed.


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You Can't Go Back To Narnia

Even Susan

Bearer of the horn

Savior of Narnia 

Could not go back

 

She grew taller and she

Met a spy and they

Fell in love

Susan and this spy

 

And Susan wore lipstick

And sent her lover

Love letters in code

But Aslan found out

 

And he was jealous

 

Susan was his own precious discovery

And once a queen in Narnia

Always a queen in Narnia

 

But Susan

Gentle and afraid

Learned that she had

Always been brave

 

Susan’s lover sent her nylons

And French perfumes

And, once,

A whole coat, worth 18 coupons

 

Susan had nothing to send but letters

“Dear Beryl,” she wrote,

“Last night I dreamed

I went to Narnia again.

 

“I dreamed that I held

Once again

My arrows and bow

And my aim was true.

 

“I dreamed of a feast

And the end of wartime

I dreamed I could hold

You close to me without fear.”

 

Aslan visited

Susan in her dreams

And told her she must

Choose: Narnia or Beryl

 

Susan chose.

 

And Aslan, angry

Rewrote the story

But Susan is her own

Savior now.


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Reylo is a ‘90s Teen Drama

Dear Diary,

Today at school I didn’t look at him once. It felt like a victory. If I don’t see him, does he even exist?

Rey


Ben KYLO'S JOURNAL

SHE DIDN'T IGNORE ME I IGNORED HER. Let’s just get that straight, okay?


R: hello?

K: it’s me.

R: oh.

K: I’m sorry, I thought—

R: it’s okay.

K: I miss you.

R: I miss you too.

K: tomorrow—

R: don’t talk to me at school!


Dear Diary,

Mr. Skywalker caught me looking at Kylo today. I was just looking in that direction! He happened to be there! GOD.

Rey


Ben KYLO'S JOURNAL

I think she likes me.


R: hello?

K: …

R: are you there? I know it’s you.

K: …

R: what’s up?

K: I’m not sad! I just need you.

R: okay. I’m here.


Dear Diary,

I don’t understand Kylo. Does he want my help? I’ll help him if he lets me.

Rey


Ben KYLO'S JOURNAL

She understands me like no one else. But I can’t trust her. What would everyone think.


He still doesn’t talk to me at school.


Ben KYLO'S JOURNAL

She doesn’t even look at me unless I get her attention. I’m not calling her again.


R: hello?

K: it’s me.

R: I know.

K: I don’t LIKE you.

R: I think you do.

K: damn it.

R: I like you, too.

K: SHUT UP I HATE YOU.



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Sorsha, Warrior Princess

She has always known that she will never be as much as her mother. Not as good — good is a word that few would use to describe her mother — but as much. Her mother is everything.

She can’t stand the thought of being a pale imitation of Bavmorda, so she trains to be a warrior. Her mother fights with words and magic; she will fight with might. She trains her whole life and becomes her mother’s most trusted ally—but never the leader of her army; that honor goes to Kael, even though she is the superior fighter. She does not question it but buries the disappointment down deep and works to show her mettle.

Then comes the prophecy.

Bavmorda imprisons all pregnant women and orders all midwives to her dungeons. Sorsha oversees the inspection of the babies, looking for the one with the birthmark that spells doom for Bavmorda. She questions nothing.

And one day, the child is born with the mark on her arm. The prophecy is true, and Sorsha goes straight to Bavmorda to tell her. In that time—so quickly!—the midwife steals the baby and escapes. It takes months, but Bavmorda’s wargs find her. The baby eludes them still, but Sorsha is determined to find her; to make it right with her mother. Bavmorda, angry that all she’s seen is the remains of the midwife, orders Kael to help Sorsha in her quest. Sorsha tries to object, but Bavmorda doesn’t listen.

Then one rainy night Sorsha raids a tavern. There's something off about the woman in the rose-colored dress holding the baby. Why do none of these men question this absurdly buxom lass? Oh. That’s why. Sorsha, who has no time for men and their foolishness, reveals his disguise with a flip of her wrist. But she never saw Lug coming, and the man in the dress escapes with the baby and a Peck. Her men give chase, but somehow the baby’s protectors luck out once again.

Finally Sorsha catches a break and captures the baby, the man, and the Peck at the lake’s edge. Slowly they caravan back toward home. The man is impossibly saucy with her, but she notices that he cares for the Peck when they encounter snow and the Peck falters.

At camp, Sorsha triumphantly shows Kael her prize. Now, at last, her mother will be pleased. The very next morning, her prisoners somehow escape their cage and the man finds his way into her tent, no doubt looking for the baby. But he can’t resist stealing a kiss. She pulls a blade but he says terrible things, claims to love her. He isn’t afraid of her. This is new.

Kael hears the disturbance and bursts in, breaking her reverie, but it’s too late. He distracted her and the baby is gone. Slipped through her fingers. And worst of all, Sorsha wants to be distracted. She can only watch as the trio escapes.

When she catches up, he’s waiting for her. He ambushes her and takes her prisoner. Perhaps it was all a trick. His friend Airk speaks freely in front of her, and Madmartigan and Willow explain their plan to take the child to Tir Asleen. Surely she is dead now that she knows the plan. He uses her as cover for their escape, taking her with them.

He holds her too tight on the horse, and says he doesn’t remember declaring his love. He says it just…went away.

“I dwell in darkness without you” and it went away?

She runs. He catches her. She sees in his eyes: it didn’t go away. She runs again. He watches her go. It didn’t go away.

She reunites with General Kael and leads him and their men to Tir Asleen. It’s crawling with trolls, but there’s only Madmartigan to mount a defense. The men aren’t as afraid of the giant troll as they are of General Kael. Why can’t she be as commanding as he is?

She watches Madmartigan fight off her men left and right, then catapult himself across the moat to save the Peck. What inspires such loyalty? Is it the Peck? Or is it the baby, who they are still protecting? He slays the monster and she has the chance to catch him, to kill him—but she finds herself kissing him instead.

In the fracas, Kael grabs the baby and rides to Bavmorda at Nockmaar, even as Airk and his men arrive. Willow seems broken, and Madmartigan promises they will rescue the baby. Sorsha finds her allegiances in question. She does not leave them.

She approaches the castle at Madmartigan’s side and watches as her mother turns the men into pigs. She begs Bavmorda to stop, and is rewarded with terrible, blinding pain. Being transformed into a pig is the pits. She is surprised to find herself a woman again, transformed by Fin Raziel, who Willow has somehow returned to her true form.

Time is of the essence. She knows her mother has already begun the ritual. Willow has a plan to get inside the castle; the men do not agree with it, but Raziel believes in him and Madmartigan comes around quickly. It’s time.

Kael laughs when Willow and Raziel call for surrender. He orders the gate lowered, and her men—his men—ride out to kill the sorcerers.

After what seems an age, Willow bangs the drum and they rush from their ferret holes and storm the castle. Inside the walls, Airk leads the troops and Sorsha leads Willow and Fin Raziel to her mother and Elora Danan. Her mother's men attack, but Sorsha cannot be so easily defeated. Bavmorda herself tries to kill Sorsha, her own child. Everything goes black and Sorsha’s allegiance is changed forever.

Sorsha comes to in time to see Bavmorda send herself to the netherworld. She learns later that Fin Raziel saved her; Willow saved Elora; that Kael killed Airk and Marmoartigan killed Kael to avenge his friend. Sorsha would like to have killed Kael herself, but if she could not, she is glad it was Madmartigan.

Everything changes. Sorsha no longer has to be as much as her mother. She can be as good as herself. She can care for Elora Danan and rule the kingdom fairly, the way her mother never could. She can make Madmartigan take a bath. He cleans up pretty good.