There and Back Again – With a Bright New Idea

Yesterday, I returned from an 11-day missions trip to Asia.

Our primary goal was to run a kids’ camp for a week, and show them Jesus’ love.  Which we did.  But God used us in so many other ways that I wasn’t expecting.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much writing done.

But I did a whole lot of dreaming.  With scenery like this, it was impossible for my mind to not wander into my story.


Snow-capped mountains, herds of sheep, new smells, a foreign language — of course I was planning new scenes for TSOC.  But then… wait.  What if… what if… oh dear.  It seems I have a new story to write.

The idea actually began before my trip, at writer’s club a few weeks ago.  We were assigned to plan out a short story about something that had actually happened, and then embellish it with something fictional.  The girl next to me asked if the embellishment had to be realistic.  “Like, could there be dragons in it?” she asked innocently.  “Sure,” replied the lady in charge.

Well, in that case…

I decided to write a short story about a girl named Emily taking the SAT, something I myself had done recently.  The ticking clock, the quiet scratching of pencils, the glares from the proctor person when Emily’s eyes wandered into hers, the pressure in her mind while trying to figure out a problem.  And then… the smell of smoke.  The sound of a hurricane, and the window behind her breaking, shattering the silence into a million pieces.  Emily’s dragon coming to rescue her from the terror of the SAT.  It was brilliant.  Because, as Tolkien said:

It’s simply not a story worth telling if they’re aren’t any dragons.

So there we had it: normal girl, hiding a very abnormal life.  She trains dragons and other magical creatures, but tries to attend public high school.  I loved the concept.

What does this have to do with my trip to Asia?  Well… the mountains were stunning.  I couldn’t help but imagine Emily and her dragon spiraling through them, looping the clouds, throwing snowballs at each other from the top, or just hiding in them to block out the world.

But on the plane trip home, I added another character.  There was an elderly man sitting across the isle from me.  He was so unique, I instantly started thinking, he would be so much fun to describe.  And then, he would be such a fun character.  And then THIS happened:

Mr. Norrison.  He looked to be at least a hundred years old.  Pale, sullen skin clung to his face.  He had a very hooked nose that gave him the look of a vulture, although the sparkle in his eyes gave him the look of a kind vulture.

As always, he wore a perfect back suit, that if possible, looked even older than Mr. Norrison himself.  Yet like him, it seemed to still be in perfect working order.

“Good morning, Emily,” he said in his raspy voice, laying a small briefcase on the table.  Emily had never seen him without it, but she’d also never seen him pull the same thing out of it twice.

“What do you have for me today?” she asked, leaning closer.  She desperately needed a new animal to train, but she hoped that she could afford the purchase of whatever he was selling.

Not for the first time, he seemed to read her mind.  “You and I are both a wee bit short on money at the moment, darling.  So I have a proposition to make.”  He lowered his bony fingers to the case and unbuckled it with a click.  He smiled, and then opened the top.

Inside lay two enormous eggs, each a shimmering, translucent turquoise color, dappled yet smooth as glass.

“Where — ?” she began, then stopped.  “How much?”

His eyes shone.  “Free.”

She waited for him to continue.

“Train them both for me, my dear Emma, and when they are two years old, we will sell them both and split the profit.”

She bit her lip.  Two years of training with no money put forward.  But still, the profit from a well-trained two-year-old Blue Tongue would be enormous – word on the street was that there were less than a hundred left alive.

She locked eyes with Mr. Norrrison.  “Deal.”

They shook hands.  No paperwork, no magical contract, no drops of blood put into a vial – it wasn’t needed between them.  Emily was a well-respected trainer that had never let a client down.  And as for Mr. Norrison – he might not look it, but he was a more powerful wizard than any she’d ever met.  The unspoken trust between them was utterly complete.

Emily gently took the eggs out of the case that would have been too small for them without magic.  She laid them in a basket by the fireplace, wrapped in a warm red blanket.  She’d check their shell temperature later, but for now, they were fine.

“Thank you,” she said, as Mr. Norrison clicked his case shut.

“Until next time.”  He turned and left, the door shutting softly behind him.

Emily turned and looked at the two eggs, quiet and harmless – for now.  “What have I gotten myself into this time?” she asked to no one in particular.

It feels so good to have another project to work on when TSOC is finished.  I was worried for a while that I might always be a one-story author, that TSOC would forever drain my creative juices.  Hahaha, I should never have worried.  All it took was a night at writer’s club and a trip to Asia.

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