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Contemporary Fantasy Fiction

Some things happen so quickly that it's hard to figure out if it was a dream or reality. Case in point:


After a long day at work, I was pulling carefully into the driveway at home. I just wanted to go inside, stretch out on the living room couch, and relax. I hadn't done the crossword puzzle in today's newspaper. That and a cup of hot chocolate would do me just fine.


But moments later, I heard a car skidding on the street behind me. Looking in the rear-view mirror, I saw the car slewing this way and that. The street ended a few houses away in a T-intersection, with a wall of evergreen woods beyond the intersection. The car slid right through the intersection and plunged into the woods. I thought I heard the blaring of a car horn.


Forget the newspaper and the hot chocolate.


I ran as quickly and as carefully as I could down the street. There wasn't any cross traffic at the T-intersection, thank goodness, so I ran into the woods, brushing the snow-covered branches out of my way. The snow on the ground came up to my shins. Despite that, the tracks the car had made in the deep snow and the brightly-lit brake lights made it easy to find.


The inside of the car was dark. I couldn't see anyone inside it. I worked my way around to the driver's side and peered inside. The driver's head was facing downward, pressed against the center of the steering wheel. They weren't moving.


Looking around, I found a rock about the size of my forearm. I used that to smash the driver's side window. Shards fell both inside the car as well as in the snow around me. I reached inside, unlocked the door, and pulled it open. The seat belt was pulled forward along with the driver's body. I undid the seat belt, put my arms around the driver's chest, and slowly pulled them out of the car. Putting my ear to their mouth, I was thankful to hear breathing, even if it wasn't steady breathing.


I couldn't do all this on my own, and there didn't seem to be anyone coming to help me. I put my hand into my right front pants pocket and pulled out my cell phone. I dialed 911 and told them what had happened and where I was. They said that they were notifying both the police and sending an ambulance to my location. They would be there as soon as they could. I thanked them, hung up, and put the cell phone back in my pants pocket.


It wasn't easy, but I managed to half-carry, half-drag the driver's body to the T-intersection. Standing at the top of the hill, this neighborhood had never felt so empty as it did now. Everyone was probably inside their homes and might not have heard the car skidding or crashing into the trees. I was relieved to see flashing lights climbing uphill toward me soon after.


The paramedics placed the driver on a stretcher and carried them to the back of their van. They slid the stretcher into the van and shut the rear doors. The police took my statement and thanked me for saving the driver's life and calling 911. I just said that I'd done what anyone would've done in this situation. They accepted that and offered me a ride home, even though it wasn't far from the T-intersection.


Back at home, I went inside. What had happened felt more and more unreal. Had it really happened? It seemed to have, but, like with dreams, it's sometimes hard to differentiate between a really vivid dream and reality.


Instead of grabbing the newspaper, a pen, and a cup of hot chocolate, I went into the kitchen. I stood at the sink, looking out the kitchen window at the backyard. I sighed and took a few deep breaths and let them out. Maybe making some dinner and eating it would help.


---------


I was filling the dishwasher after dinner when I heard a knock on the front door. As I dried my hands with a dish towel, I wondered if it was the police, returning to ask more questions. Another knock. Whoever it was, they weren't giving up. I heard another knock as I walked over to the front door and opened it.


A tall woman in a long, dark-blue winter coat stood on the front porch. She had long golden hair, blue eyes, and a face that looked like it had come out of a pre-Raphaelite painting. She didn't look as though she'd been walking in the snow to reach my house. In fact, I wasn't sure if she was barefooted or not. A barn owl about a foot tall stood on her right shoulder. It seemed to be quite at home there.


“Harold Innes?” she asked.


“That's right,” I said. “Who's asking?”


“May I come in and explain?” she asked.


I rolled my eyes, nodded, and backed away. She walked past me and waited as I shut the door.


“I heard what happened at the police station,” she said. “That was very brave, what you did.”


“You could've waited until tomorrow to tell me,” I said.


“Perhaps,” she said. “But I thought that some recognition might be in order.”


“First, tell me who you are,” I said.


“I am Athena,” she said.


“Nice to meet you, Athena,” I said. “I don't normally get to meet women like you.”


“I know,” she said. “You live alone and have lived alone since your wife died several years ago.”


I raised my left eyebrow.


“I was working at the morgue back then,” she said. “I saw the gurney with your wife's covered body lying on it. I'm very sorry about what happened to her.”


“Is this normal procedure?” I asked. “Or are you just being friendly and neighborly?”


She smiled slightly. “You really have no idea who I am.”


“You said your name is Athena,” I said. “You could be anyone with that name. After all, some parents like giving their children unusual names.”


“My father thought it was an appropriate name for me,” she said. “Though he did say that I could be a bit of a headache sometimes.”


“What about your mother?” I asked.


“She was pleased that I wasn't the result of another of his philanderings,” she said. “Something that, sadly, he is still known for.”


I felt like I was being a bad host, even to an uninvited guest like her. “Look – if you're hungry or want something to drink, just ask.”


“No need,” she said. “I just wanted to give you a reward for what you did for that driver after their accident. I believe that you've earned it.”


“Okay,” I said, still not sure if this was some sort of joke. “What sort of reward?”


She reached up to the owl with her left hand, gently stroking the top of its head and along its beak.


“You don't usually have pets,” she said. “But the ones you've had, you've taken care of as well as you can.”


“You seem to know far more about me than I know about you,” I said.


She nodded. “Comes with the territory.” She hummed to the owl and it hooted in return. “A pet might do you some good right now. Companionship. Someone to come home to.”


“What sort of pet did you have in mind?” I asked.


“Sophie,” she said.


“I thought you said your name was Athena,” I said.


“That's her name,” she said, nodding at the owl, “not mine. It's short for Sophia, which means 'wisdom' in Greek.”


“What about her?” I asked, not caring for the language lesson.


“I think she might like living here with you,” she said. “If you don't mind, that is.”


“And I think this joke has gone on a little too far, lady,” I said.


She glared at me. “What joke? And my name is Athena, not 'lady'.”


“Yours,” I said. “Why don't you just go back where you came from and let me spend another night by myself. There's a crossword puzzle waiting to be solved and I was thinking of making some hot chocolate.”


“If you think I'm joking, then you're sadly mistaken, Mr. Innes,” she said.


I sighed. “All I did was help save a woman's life. Nothing unusual. Anyone in my neighborhood would've done it, had they heard about it instead of me.”


“You really think so?” she asked.


I nodded.


She placed her left hand on my chest. Without pushing hard, she easily pushed me back until I suddenly sat down on the living room couch. Her relaxed demeanor was replaced with a deadly serious expression.


“I don't think you truly understand the situation you're in," she said. “I don't do this for every mortal. Certainly not for mortals who think that I'm a prankster like Hermes is. I do not joke. Ever.” A long spear suddenly appeared in her left hand. She poked its point against my chest. “This is not a stage prop. This is a real spear. I can demonstrate that fact if you don't believe me.”


I said nothing.


She whipped the spear around, leaving a jagged scar in the wall behind me, just inches above my head.


I turned to look at it. “I hope you're planning to repair that.”


Her nostrils flared for a moment, and then she flicked her fingers at the scar in the wall. The scar disappeared. So did the spear.


“Thank you,” I said.


Malaka, but you're stubborn!” she snarled.


“That's right,” I said. “And you can show yourself out. This conversation is over.”


“You won't change your mind?” she asked.


I shook my head.


She scowled and stamped her foot once, hard, on the living room carpet. Then she was gone. Standing in her place was the owl.


“You can leave, too,” I told her.


The owl hooted and then half-walked, half-flew toward me.


“Go on,” I said. “Get out of here.”


The owl hooted again.


“Your mistress is gone, Sophie,” I said. “How and where, I could care less. You should be with her, not here with me.”


The owl didn't hoot this time. She jumped up and landed in my lap.


“I guess I'm not the only stubborn one,” I said and found myself stroking the top of her head.


She seemed to enjoy that and hooted happily.


“How I'm going to take care of you until Athena returns, I don't know,” I said. “How do you take care of an owl?”


Sophie hopped off of my lap and flew down the short hall that divided the kitchen, bathroom, and one bedroom from the home office and the master bedroom. I heard her hooting over and over.


I sighed and stood up. “All right, all right. I'm coming.”


She was standing on top of my closed laptop, pecking it every so often.


“You want me to open it?” I asked.


The owl bobbed her head a few times.


“Okay,” I said and opened the laptop. Sophie backed out of the way a little as I did so. “I guess there are websites for pet shops online. But I doubt that they would have anything for owls.”


I clicked on the icon for my favorite browser, went to Google, typed “how to take care of owls” in the search field, and hit “enter”.


When the first page of results appeared, one thing I saw was: Owls need a lot of space. No cages. Well, I had a fair-sized backyard with trees and bushes. Sophie might like being out there sometimes. She might also find some prey to catch and eat.


What else, though? I wondered.


A birdbath. Hmm. Don't have one of those. But I could improvise one. There was a small table in the backyard with a chair near it. I could put the improvised birdbath on the tabletop. It would have to be big enough and deep enough for an owl the size of Sophie.


Good grief. I'm making this sound like I'm going to keep her as a pet for the foreseeable future. Surely Athena, or whoever she was, would be returning soon enough for her pet owl. People don't just give owls as pets (except for the parents who bought owls for their children who were fans of Harry Potter, I reminded myself). Owls were wild animals. They weren't tame.


But Sophie certainly was tame enough. Maybe that meant she had spent a lot of time with Athena, wherever they normally lived.


Food. It seemed like owls preferred rats and small birds. Where in the world was I going to get those?


I typed “owl food” in Google's search field. It came back and gave me several possible places where I could buy what Sophie liked to eat. I wasn't exactly keen on buying dead rats and small dead birds and bringing them home in a shopping bag, but she had to eat something until Athena returned for her.


That night Sophie tried to get me to open the bedroom door, pecking on it repeatedly. But it didn't do any good and we both slept alone.


The next morning, once roads were cleared of snow, I went to the store I'd seen in the Google results. I bought a first installment (and hopefully only installment) of food for Sophie and a birdbath. When I returned home, she was waiting for me. She flew over to me and landed on the rolled over “handle” of the bag of food. She definitely knew what was in it and kept hooting as she tried to get access to the bag's contents.


“Be patient, Sophie,” I said. “Birdbath first, then food.”


At least I didn't have to improvise one. This one was just the right size for her. I cleared the top of the table in the backyard of snow and placed the birdbath in its center. Then I filled it with water. The owl flew over to it, landed in the water, and happily bathed herself.


“While you do that, I'll get your meal ready,” I told her.


She hooted at me and continued her bath.


I found a large mixing bowl and placed several of the dead rats and little birds in it. Not the most pleasant and appetizing of sights, but I reminded myself that this was for an owl, not for myself. I carried the bowl out to the table in the backyard.


Sophie finished her bath and happily attacked her first dead rat, tearing at it with her beak and talons. She used her wings to keep her balance as she ate.


I cleared the chair of snow and sat down. “You seem to be easy to take care of, after all,” I told her. “Your diet isn't filled with anything expensive. This might just work out for the two of us. At least until Athena returns. If she returns.”


Once she finished her meal, Sophie walked over to me and jumped onto my chest. She rubbed her cheek against my face.


“Okay, okay,” I said, trying not to laugh. “I do like having you around. I just never expected to have an owl as a pet. They always seemed too exotic for me. You seem nicely down-to-earth.” I stroked the top of her head and her wings. “To be honest, I wouldn't mind if Athena never returned for you. I'd like you as my very own, Sophie.”


She hooted happily.


----------


Back on Mount Olympos in Greece, what looked like a wall frieze went dark.


“Mission accomplished, daughter,” Zeus said. “Well done.”


“It would've been easier had he been female, Father,” Athena said. “You males, mortal or immortal, can be so – so -”


“Ornery and stubborn?” he asked.


“Exactly!” she said. “I mean, look at Paris. You'd think with the golden apple of Hesperides, he would've been satisfied. But he wasn't. He wanted more. So he kidnapped Queen Helen of Sparta and took her back to Troy with him.”


“I don't recall that she dragged her heels too much,” her father pointed out. “No more than your mortal acquaintance did. A little persuasion can go a long way.”


“At least this time it won't cause any wars,” Athena said. “And they are definitely happy together, and getting more so all the time.”


“You gave him a gift of wisdom,” he said. “Wisdom accompanied by love, affection, and companionship. Something he has been in sore need of, whether he realized it or not.” He looked at his daughter. “One question remains.”


“And that is?” she asked.


“Will you miss Sophie?” Zeus asked.


“Always,” she said. “I have other owls, of course, but she is definitely my favorite.”


“And yet you were willing to part with her,” he said. “She will never be with you again.”


“He needed her more than I did,” Athena said simply.


Zeus smiled at her. “Indeed he did.”


----------


When I went to sleep the second night, I'd intended to sleep alone again. But Sophie wasn't having any of that. Once was enough for her. She curled up next to me, tucked her head under one wing, and seemed to fall asleep.


“Good thing you're not nocturnal”, I said softly. “I'm not much of a night-owl.”


One of her eyes opened. She gave me an indignant look and hooted in a way that sounded like, “And what's wrong with night-owls?”


“Nothing at all,” I said. “Sleep well, Sophie. I hope you have happy dreams.”


She hooted softly and we both fell asleep.

December 18, 2020 19:20

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118 comments

Laiba M
20:26 Dec 18, 2020

Hi, Philip!~ We haven't talked in a while :) How are you?

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Philip Clayberg
20:57 Dec 18, 2020

Doing okay. Still not sleeping well. And waiting for the snow/ice mixture outside to melt enough that I can actually open my front door's screen door all the way. I managed to get it about six or seven inches outward this afternoon. I'm thinking of filling a half-gallon plastic bottle with steaming-hot water and see if that melts the snow and ice (of course any moisture that doesn't evaporate will just freeze overnight, since temps will be below freezing again tonight). Because I'm going to have to go get food again (or have it delivere...

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Laiba M
00:30 Dec 19, 2020

Ah, okay. I hope your sleep gets better! Oh, that's unfortunate. If you own rock salt, you can try to sprinkle that over the snow :) I'm doing well, thanks~ Yes, we currently have snow :D Do you celebrate a winter holiday?

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Philip Clayberg
00:59 Dec 19, 2020

I don't have any rock salt. But I did find that the hot water did melt enough of the ice/snow on the front deck that I could open the screen door almost to the top of the stairs that lead down to the front walk. I did some shoveling, but need to do a lot more. I either need to shovel the snow/ice mixture all the way to the car and then go get some food, or I need to shovel the same amount and get food delivered to me. I would never want the delivery person to risk slipping, falling, and hurting themselves just trying to reach the front d...

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Laiba M
14:18 Dec 19, 2020

Ahh, okay! I'm glad something worked :) That makes sense, though, as it is hard to shovel snow... That's nice!~ I hope you're able to find your webcam and talk to your family :D Do you normally decorate for Christmas?

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Philip Clayberg
16:50 Dec 19, 2020

I haven't been back outside today yet, but temps will only get up to 32 degrees F. I'll have to pour more hot water on the ice/snow, which will make shoveling easier. I need to at least shovel up to where my car is parked so that I can order pizza delivered or food from grocery stores. I wouldn't want the delivery people to have to try not to slide downslope from the street and then along the front walk to the stairs to the front deck and finally reach the front door. I have 1 1/2 pizzas in the fridge right now, which is 3 meals in all. ...

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B. W.
19:40 Dec 18, 2020

Okay, im just gonna say this, I love that you had a bit of Greek Mythology in it, at least with having Zeus and some of the other Greek gods/goddesses in the story. I've always loved Greek mythology along with some other ones, this gets a 10/10 :)

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Philip Clayberg
19:46 Dec 18, 2020

Glad you liked it, and hope that you read the current version (each time I thought it was okay, I found more errors to fix). I knew ahead of time that there would be an owl in the story. That suggested Athena, because she had owls as friends. And the rest just flowed from there. But I also knew that I had to write the beginning section first (about the car accident) or the rest would've been okay on its own, but a reader probably would've said, "This doesn't make sense. How did she know? What happened before she arrived? What's going ...

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B. W.
20:08 Dec 18, 2020

Athena was friends with Owls? I know a lot of stuff about Greek mythology and stuff, but I never really knew that about Athena. I knew that she at least HAD an owl.

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Philip Clayberg
20:50 Dec 18, 2020

Her symbol was the owl, so I'm guessing that she was friends with them. It's been awhile since I've read any Greek mythology books, so I might have that wrong.

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B. W.
21:21 Dec 18, 2020

Oh, i guess that makes sense. I mostly look at myths and all that of other gods and goddesses, I don't look at much stuff for Athena.

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Philip Clayberg
21:29 Dec 18, 2020

I think there are websites that discuss different kinds of mythology. I've seen some that discuss Norse mythology, so I figure there must be some that discuss other kinds of mythology.

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17:42 Dec 21, 2020

A lovely story. I liked the way you had brought Greek characters into the story.

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Philip Clayberg
18:13 Dec 21, 2020

Glad you liked it. I wasn't sure if I structured it correctly, with that big first scene. But I realized that I needed it for the rest of the story to make sense. Without that first big scene, the rest of the story might've seemed a bit odd (to say the least). It would lack a reason for being. Like Harold needing Sophie the owl, the rest of the story needed that first scene. Maybe the first scene could've been reduced somewhat, but it was hard describing what happened with fewer words. So I just let it flow and didn't edit it much. I...

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16:14 Dec 22, 2020

I felt that the first scene was aptly written. Such detailed description about that scene made me think that maybe Harold's wife had died due to a similar accident and that he hadn't acted accordingly (maybe he panicked and felt helpless, or maybe she had been alone and no one had been there for her in that situation as he had been there for this woman...and he didn't want another woman to die in a similar way). He didn't panic and call the ambulance and just wait for someone to help the injured woman. So, maybe that explains why Athena had ...

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Philip Clayberg
19:47 Dec 22, 2020

Oh golly. I hadn't even made that connection until you mentioned it. Yes, that would make a lot of sense. I was just trying to set up a prologue (of sorts) to the other 2/3 of the story. I didn't think that Harold was reacting to the car accident because of what happened to his wife (and I hadn't even thought *what* had killed her and *why* until you gave me your suggestions). Maybe guilt about his wife's death motivated him to save the woman's life after she crashed her car in the trees. If so, that part of his motivation was apparent...

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18:08 Dec 25, 2020

From what I've read, Gods and Goddesses hardly shape-shift to be someone's (a human's, in particular) pet. So, maybe Sophie could just be an actual owl, but is far more wise than regular ones (after all, she was once the pet of the Goddess of Wisdom). But, of course, this is just my opinion. Yes, that sounds like a good idea. With the help of Sophie, Harold could learn how to make new friends (in quite a few books, I've read how the pet creates the perfect situation for meet-cute scenarios) and regain his happiness. Oh, the irony! I had w...

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Philip Clayberg
20:09 Dec 25, 2020

Makes sense to me. After all, if Sophie is with Harold, how could Athena simultaneously be on Mount Olympos with her father Zeus? Ergo, Sophie isn't Athena. Would Sophie be another goddess in owl-shape? If that were so, Artemis is the only one I can think of who would willingly spend extended periods of time in the shape of an animal. But even then, I don't think she would want to. Artemis' dislike of mortal males is well-known (after all, she ordered her wolves to tear apart a mortal man who accidentally came upon her and her maids ba...

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14:06 Jan 05, 2021

I guessed he would fall for Sophie in the end! And I enjoyed your version of Athena. My only question is--are the goddess and the injured driver connected somehow? It seemed a bit random for Athena to show up with an owl after one good deed

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Philip Clayberg
21:17 Jan 05, 2021

That's my guess (because it's possible that Sophie's real form isn't an owl; she just enjoys being in that shape). As far as I know, they aren't connected. I thought that *maybe* the driver had been on her way to visit Harold (but I'm not sure why). Maybe he and Sophie go visit her in the hospital and she tells them why she was in his neighborhood. I'm just brainstorming at this point. I think Athena (and her father Zeus) wanted to help Harold recover from the loss of his wife. Find a way to break through the "shell" he's built up arou...

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00:08 Jan 06, 2021

Gotcha--maybe a sequel could further answer the question. I'm glad Harold's out of his shell, though!

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Philip Clayberg
03:30 Jan 07, 2021

Maybe. I wish I could say that I've been able to write complete stories (including sequels) over the last week. But I haven't. They start all right, but then about 4 or 5 pages later, they tend to fall apart. Maybe I'm trying too hard and should just wait until the inspiration comes to me. I'm glad Harold's out of his shell, too. Btw, Harold is the name of my paternal grandfather (he died in 1964, so I never got to meet him). He had a twin brother, Harvey, who didn't survive to adulthood. I also knew a fellow student named Harold in ...

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H L Mc Quaid
12:44 Dec 27, 2020

Nice story. Original and unexpected!

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Philip Clayberg
20:13 Dec 27, 2020

Thank you. I like it when a story surprises me with what I call creative curveballs. Initially, I wondered how in the world to write a story about someone receiving a bird as a pet. But the more I asked myself questions, the more I found answers to them (not always the easiest of answers). I think there are times when people who live alone (like I do) eventually find that sharing their lives with another (human or animal) is a good thing. Though some people might insist that they're just fine alone, I think that somewhere inside of them...

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H L Mc Quaid
20:42 Dec 27, 2020

Well, then, we both appreciate 'creative curveballs' and I'm stealing that nomenclature. When you wrote about living alone, we share that too, although I realise I say it as "living on my own', perhaps because it sounds more purposeful and independent, and therefore less likely to inspire sympathy about 'being alone'. I don't think I'd want to live with someone again, but maybe I'm just fooling myself, and I ought to get a bird, or fish, or maybe a nice stick insect?

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Philip Clayberg
21:10 Dec 27, 2020

No problem. I think I borrowed "curveball" (the creative kind) from an article on Eat Static's second CD, "Implant" in Keyboard Magazine (this would be back in the mid-1990s). So you're borrowing something that's already been borrowed. And that's not even considering its usual context: baseball games. I wouldn't choose an owl (too many children apparently demanded a pet owl after reading the first Harry Potter book or maybe after they saw the first Harry Potter movie). Maybe a parakeet or a canary. Something that isn't as rare as an o...

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H L Mc Quaid
14:17 Dec 28, 2020

My lease doesn't permit pets...tho who would know if I had a hermit crab? The elder sister of a childhood friend had a guinea pig, and it squeaked all night long, so unless was lucky enough to get a really quiet one, it wouldn't work for me or my neighbours. Growing up I had a mouse and hamsters, and the family pets were some unremarkable fish and a beagle that climbed trees. In college I had a tarantula, a rat (saved from dissection table), which joined my roommates' pets--a python, an iguana and mouse named 'lunch' that escaped from pyth...

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Philip Clayberg
20:06 Feb 07, 2021

(Sorry for very belated response to your message. Been catching up on messages for the past week. A lot more piled up while I was away from this website the second half of last month than I was aware of. Hoping I'll be caught up ... eventually.) I would agree, if it's worth the risk. Hermit crabs live in terrariums, don't each much, don't create big messes, and (if I remember correctly) don't have a strong odor. I would agree about not getting a guinea pig. They can be very noisy when they feel that they're being ignored and/or not be...

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Kylie Rudolf
23:06 Dec 26, 2020

I love this unique story! The greek gods are in my opinion are such fun to read! Very nice! And for your sleep, I myself have insomnia, things I find helpful are sleeping teas and making a nighttime routine. Hope your sleep improves!

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Philip Clayberg
04:26 Dec 27, 2020

I'm glad you liked it. This story threw a few creative curveballs at me, surprising me at times. I think creative surprises are a good thing. Otherwise, I'd get bored once I realized how the basic storyline went and give up working on it. I don't want to know how it ends until I reach the ending itself. That makes it easier to go back and edit it (usually to get the word-count back to 3000 words or less). Some writers plan their stories like they're drawing a blueprint of a building or church. It doesn't mean that they'll stick to tha...

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Kylie Rudolf
04:42 Dec 27, 2020

I understand, I was raised in a very southern environment and that meant lots of sweet black tea. About the myths, I too read Roman, Egyptian, Norse, and Greek. I am so sorry about your father, he sounded like a very wise man.

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Philip Clayberg
20:17 Feb 07, 2021

(Sorry for the belated response. I took two weeks (or so) off from this website last month and have spent the last week trying to catch up to messages I hadn't answered yet.) First, though: You have two duplicates of your response (I'm replying to the first one, so that it's easier for you to delete the duplicates). Apparently, the REPLY button bug is still happening. You just need to click once on the REPLY button (even though it doesn't seem to do anything). When you go back to check the thread, you'll find your reply message is ther...

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Kylie Rudolf
04:42 Dec 27, 2020

I understand, I was raised in a very southern environment and that meant lots of sweet black tea. About the myths, I too read Roman, Egyptian, Norse, and Greek. I am so sorry about your father, he sounded like a very wise man.

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Kylie Rudolf
04:42 Dec 27, 2020

I understand, I was raised in a very southern environment and that meant lots of sweet black tea. About the myths, I too read Roman, Egyptian, Norse, and Greek. I am so sorry about your father, he sounded like a very wise man.

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Alicia Cooper
18:44 Dec 26, 2020

It could be a Rick Riordan story. Well done.

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Philip Clayberg
03:42 Dec 27, 2020

Not intentionally. I read about Greek mythology many years before the first Rick Riordan book came out. Back in the 1970s. Because of that, I knew about Athena and owls. But how much that would influence my story, I wasn't sure until I got into the thick of writing it. Even then, the story still sometimes threw curveballs at me, surprising me. Which I don't mind. I like being surprised. It's like unintentionally making a wrong turn. You have to decide immediately whether to keep going the new way, or back up and continue on the old ...

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Aman Fatima
13:45 Dec 26, 2020

Its a fascinating story

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Philip Clayberg
20:38 Feb 07, 2021

Glad you liked it.

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Aman Fatima
07:05 Feb 08, 2021

:)

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Abdul Rehman
11:01 Dec 26, 2020

Very Well written.

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Philip Clayberg
02:51 Dec 27, 2020

Thank you very much. I'm glad that I can write things that others enjoy reading. But there will always be an ongoing tug-of-war between the desire to share my creative efforts with others and the fear of rejection and the desire to hide from view. If you want a more in-depth response, feel free to read my response to Bill Cipher. It's not always easy to explain this sort of thing, but I did my best to.

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Abdul Rehman
10:06 Dec 28, 2020

Maybe that is what defines us as human beings. It is never easy to express your vulnerable side. And maybe we writers are brave enough to expose what people won't ever share.

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Philip Clayberg
20:39 Dec 28, 2020

(You must have clicked on the blue REPLY button the last time more than once. It might not seem to be working normally, but if you click on it more than once, you create additional copies of your reply message. When you go back to check the thread, you'll see what I mean. I'm answering your first reply message so that you can just delete your duplicate messages. I've already told Tech Support at this website about the problem and they said they're looking into it.) I seem to have no trouble expressing vulnerability (to the point where I...

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Abdul Rehman
15:28 Dec 30, 2020

(I am sorry for that. I didn't know because I don't use websites much) I can't agree more with "creating a world where fears and vulnerabilities are openly thought about". That is what makes writers empathetic and alienated; creating a place not just for them but people around them too, your imperfect characters complement this. Vulnerabilities are not easily expressed, but for most we hide them because people can't understand the world inside us. Beautifully explained!

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Philip Clayberg
00:15 Dec 31, 2020

I can recommend other writers who have imperfect characters who are interesting to read about: C.J. Cherryh (Downbelow Station, Merchanter's Luck, and Cyteen, to name a few of her science fiction novels; she also writes fantasy novels); Jo Clayton (her "Diadem" saga, especially the first four novels, "Diadem from the Stars", "Lamarchos", "Irsud", and "Maeve; Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books; and John le Carre's books (especially "The Russia House", my absolute favorite book by him). I like following characters who won't always do the...

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Abdul Rehman
10:06 Dec 28, 2020

Maybe that is what defines us as human beings. It is never easy to express your vulnerable side. And maybe we writers are brave enough to expose what people won't ever share.

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Philip Clayberg
20:23 Feb 07, 2021

Hi. Sorry for the long delay in responding. As I just said in a message to Kylie, I fell behind after two weeks away from this website last month, and I've been trying to catch up over the past week. I also noticed that you're encountering the same software bug the rest of us are encountering: when you click on the blue REPLY button, it doesn't seem to do anything. So you click on it again and again. But when you go back to check this thread, you'll notice that each extra click created a duplicate of your message. In Kylie's case, she...

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Abdul Rehman
10:06 Dec 28, 2020

Maybe that is what defines us as human beings. It is never easy to express your vulnerable side. And maybe we writers are brave enough to expose what people won't ever share.

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B. W.
08:12 Jan 03, 2021

Hey.

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Philip Clayberg
22:31 Jan 03, 2021

Hi. How's it going? I hope you had a nice Christmas and New Year's. Outside of two short stories last week, I confess that I'm not doing much creative writing. I am, however, sharing some of my past poetry (prose, rhyming, etc.) with two writers on this website (Laila and Akshaya) and they both seem to like what I've written. One of them said that, if I can find a prompt that fits it, I should convert my prose poem, "The Portrait" into a short story. Maybe someday I'll be able to. I hope so. It's been waiting at least three years, af...

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B. W.
22:36 Jan 03, 2021

I guess I'm fine, i recently finished one of the books I told ya about actually. also, its not Clara, its Cora remember? Recently, like yesterday or something, I also managed to make two stories. one of them is a spin-off of my demi-god series. Did you have a good Christmas and new years?

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Philip Clayberg
22:53 Jan 03, 2021

*SIGH* Messing up names runs in the family. My late maternal grandmother did it; my mother's sister does it; my mother does it; and apparently I do, too. Sorry about that. I spent Christmas and New Year's here at home. But my mother was generous enough to let me do some Christmas shopping online at Amazon's website. I bought her a crossword puzzle book (300 puzzles); like NY Times puzzles, I think they're hard enough for her. I got the same book for myself, and it's definitely harder than I'm used to. I prefer easy and medium level c...

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B. W.
22:58 Jan 03, 2021

I kind of finished that Five Nights at Freddy's thing I told you about, and I'm already kind of planning on writing a second and third book for it. I'm not exactly sure if I'll publish and put it on something for other people though, it might have just been for fun.

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Philip Clayberg
23:21 Jan 03, 2021

I confess I've forgotten about your Freddy's book. You really should try to get one of your books published (I think Amazon does self-publishing), if you think it's good enough. And then if it sells (at least a little), you know you have an audience (ergo, publish and sell more books). But if it doesn't sell, you haven't wasted a huge amount of time and effort on it, and you can just continue writing books for yourself. I guess I haven't seen much point in writing anything longer than a short story if I have no way to get it published fo...

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B. W.
20:31 Jan 16, 2021

Hey

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Philip Clayberg
20:37 Feb 07, 2021

I'm back. Maybe not as frequently as before, though. Sorry for the two weeks of silence. Apparently, I needed a two-week break from this website. I just didn't realize how far behind I would fall, answering-messages-wise. It's taken a week so far, and I'm still not caught up.

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B. W.
03:16 Feb 08, 2021

Eh it's fine, I know that sometimes people will have to have a break and stuff. How have you been?

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Philip Clayberg
23:33 Feb 08, 2021

Just wishing that my sleep pattern would go back to normal, instead of sleep for an hour or two, bathroom break, another hour or two of sleep, another bathroom break, etc. My mother recently told me that she's started doing the same thing. But I think it's more understandable in her case: she's 78 years old (whereas I'm 53). I've done some creative writing, but I'm falling behind on it again. I'm spending more time watching videos on YouTube, catching up on news, and catching up on messages on this website. It's amazing how fast a day ...

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B. W.
03:55 Feb 09, 2021

Well, I do want to write some more stories and novels, though I just can't. The past few new prompts haven't been that good (at least for me) and I just haven't been able to come up with any ideas for a while. I can't even really continue a series, though I managed to continue the otherworldly repairs thing a little while ago and maybe something else, but that was about it.

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Philip Clayberg
21:36 Feb 09, 2021

I can sympathize. I wrote only one story last week, and nothing (so far) this week. There are still a few days until the end of this week's story contest, so maybe something will come along and inspire me. I hope so. I also hope you didn't mind (too much) the amount of editing comments I responded with after reading your most recent Reboot/Axel/Cora story. If my editing comments are really unhelpful, please politely tell me so and I'll back off and just try to read your stories and give a very very very short response to them. I have ...

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