Thursday, November 6, 2008

Travels With My Teapot - Excerpt 1

My NaNoWriMo novel is going well so far...
I managed to do over 6,000 words on the first day (one good by-product of my current status that I like to call my Redundancy Shed-Head Syndrome - I write to keep myself from thinking too hard about lack of jobs...)
So here, as promised, is the first excerpt from my novel,
Travels With My Teapot.

ONE: Sunday Morning Discovery
From the merchant’s field a portal will come,
Loathed by many and acknowledged by few.
In the midst of ridicule, wisdom is found
And thus the Seer is set on the Journey.

Brilliant,’ exclaimed Lottie, even more incredibly pleased with herself than normal. ‘This is exactly what we're looking for.’
‘I fail to see how you can get so excited about a teapot,’ replied Sid, his mind already being beckoned elsewhere by a multitude of more exciting things at the car boot sale.

Travelling at the crack of dawn to a soggy field in the middle of nowhere with no humane toilet facilities and a snack van that could, quite conceivably, speed your early demise, was not Sid’s idea of a perfect Sunday morning jaunt. A nice big coffee, accompanied by a suitably sticky muffin, reading The Sunday Gingko in Clarbucks with a good couple of hours to waste was more like it.

‘This is no teapot!’ Lottie retorted, lifting the disputed item aloft and admiring the unique way the early morning light was reflected on its spout. ‘This is the solution to all our problems.’
For once, Sid struggled to source a suitably sardonic comeback. ‘S-s-sorry?’
Lottie granted him a benevolent smile in spite of his obvious ignorance. ‘Trust me,’ she smoothed, ‘within the visible china confines of this seemingly innocuous object lie the unseen possibilities of time and space.’

It was immediately obvious to Sid that his sister had, finally, succumbed to the madness that had been threatening to accost her sanity for years. ‘It's a teapot,’ he repeated, gently, ‘not a time machine. Maybe we should go back to the car. Do you want to lie down for a bit, perhaps? Have a little rest? You've been working way too hard lately...’
‘Stop fussing!’ his sister snapped, swatting aside his suggestion like an irritating fly around her head. ‘I am perfectly in possession of my faculties, thank you very much. I know what I’m looking at here. And you should learn to have a bit more faith in my Gift.’

Ah, yes. Lottie's Gift. The special skill only referred to in pitying whispers by her closest relatives, foretold by her soon-to-be Grandmother while Lottie was still in the womb, yet never openly discussed after her birth. ‘Young 'un will have skill beyond our brains. Ability to unlock different universes. The Gift will set her apart, attract ridicule and be understood by few. 'Twill be a curse, mark my words, till the time of its relevance dawns.’

‘Seriously, Lotts, I think we should go home now.’
Lottie turned to face her brother, her expression pure exasperated disdain. ‘We are not going home, Sid,’ she replied firmly, digging the heels of her flowered wellies into the soft muddy earth beneath her feet. ‘Everything I’ve been feeling over the past couple of weeks has culminated in me finding this teapot. I knew the time was coming for my Gift to finally find its place. And now it has – and all you can do is stand there with a face like a wet weekend, mocking me. Well thank you for your support, big brother!’

Sid knew the defiant look in Lottie’s eyes all too well. She had been wilful from birth: virtually immovable when she set her mind on something. Grandfather Orrin often joked that it would be easier to shift the Upper Vanyal Mountains than it would be to dissuade Lottie from her chosen course of action. ‘Granite, that lass is, I tell you. Absolute granite.’

You could say many things about Sid (and trust me, people did), but one thing that nobody disputed was his ability to recognise defeat. He let out a large sigh and took the teapot from his sister’s hands, summoning the attention of the slightly bedraggled elderly stallholder, who was wrapped up in so many layers of clothes that she resembled an Arctic Weeble.

‘Good morning. How much for this, please?’
‘Sixty clicks.’
Really? How about forty?’
‘How about sixty?’
‘Fifty-five? Can’t say fairer than that, eh?’
‘Sixty, young ‘un, or I’m walkin’ away.’
More than a little miffed, Sid conceded defeat. ‘Fine. OK. Whatever. Sixty clicks.’
The stallholder grinned. ‘Pleasure doing business with you, sir.’
‘Hmm. Don’t suppose you can gift-wrap it for me?’
‘Not for sixty clicks I can’t.’
‘Ah I see. Still, the newspaper-and-carrier-bag combo is strangely becoming in a rustic sense.’
The stallholder’s eyes narrowed. ‘Everyone’s a flippin’ comedian these days. Here. Take your teapot and begger off.’

Despite his concern for Lottie, Sid couldn’t subdue the thrill of pleasure deep within him when he saw his little sister’s smile, once the precious object was cradled safely in her arms. He’d lost count of the number of times his better judgment had been abandoned in favour of pleasing his sibling. For all her undeniable weirdness, Lottie was a darling at heart; even the most hardened realist in their village found difficulty resisting the charms of her optimistic view of life.

The only part of Grandmother’s prophecy that, thankfully, hadn't come true was that Lottie would face ridicule for her Gift. The effervescence of her personality, coupled with her pretty face, laid waste to many objections she may otherwise have encountered. Whilst many people recognised her ‘other-worldliness’, few thought more of it than just an interesting personality trait and, unusually for people never normally averse to superstition, the residents of Sommertyn accepted her wholeheartedly. Nobody, it appeared, was immune to Lottie’s charms – a fact for which she was more grateful than anyone could realise.

‘Sid, you’re an angel,’ she breathed, a squeak of delight playing in her voice.
‘Yeah, yeah, whatever. Now are we going to risk the Snack Van of Doom or would you prefer to live a few years longer?’

©Miranda Dickinson 2008

What happens next? Tune in soon and meet the secret agents of T-CUP...

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