Tag Archives: Arden Dale

In which I use fiction to deal with reality for #WIPpet Wednesday

After I stumbled upon the news I blogged about in my last post, I wasn’t intending to participate in WIPpet Wednesday today. But I found myself needing to do something with the renewed bout of pain. (This is turning into a really shi*ty summer, sorry.)

So I decided to take the pain and use it to write a scene of loss that I had planned but not yet written. I have no math today — my only math is learning about my friend’s death and using it for the scene I wrote today:

The weanling tossed her head at the unfamiliar halter, and Celemon spoke to her soothingly, stroking her neck. “Whoa, Arantia, it’s all right. Time for you to get used to a lead rope, you know.”
The filly shook her head again, calming down reluctantly.
“That’s the way, girl.” Celemon looped the rope gently around her neck with one hand, the other tight on the lead beneath her chin. Arantia’s golden chestnut coat glinted in the late summer sun, a shade darker than that of her dam, who stood calmly by, providing the safety the skittish filly needed.
Slowly Celemon let out the lead while keeping a loose loop around her neck. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Taliesin leaning on the fence, smiling as he watched.
Then behind the bard, she noticed a horse and rider heading straight for the paddock where she was trying to break Arantia to the halter. The horse’s pace was far too fast for it to be anything other than urgent news.
Celemon unlooped the rope and dropped the lead, hurrying towards the fence. Taliesin straightened and glanced behind him to see what was the matter.
She reached the paddock gate the same time as the rider. He used the fence to help dismount and then knelt in the grass at her feet, panting to catch his breath.
“Come, man, what news?” she rapped out. “Is it Kustennin?”
He drew a deep breath and shook his head. “No, Lady. Caer Gai is taken. Your brother is dead.”
Celemon put her hands to her cheeks. She felt tears streaming down between her fingers, a sudden onrush at the unexpected news. “Taken?” she choked out.
“Maelgwn,” the messenger said. “Garanwyn refused to acknowledge him as High King of Britain, even laughed in his face, it is said. I am so sorry, Lady.”
She felt an arm go around her shoulders and turned to the comfort of a solid chest. Taliesin. She did not sob, but the tears kept coming and coming, a well she hadn’t known she possessed. Since they were children and had gone into fosterage with different relatives, she’d seen so little of her brother. She should have visited him more, or at the very least, written him more often.
Now he was gone, and she would never be able to make good on all her intentions to reforge a family bond with him.

Love you, Ardie.


My eyes hurt.

All the rest of you friends stay alive, ok? I’m getting tired of this mourning business.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Goodbye, Arden Dale, July 29, 1959 – July 13, 2014

This is turning out to be a less than stellar year for news of friends. I realized today that I’d missed the birthday of my best friend from high school, so I went to her Facebook page to leave her a late birthday greeting — only to see picture upon picture with memories and goodbyes.

Arden in The Cloisters, 1989/90

We hadn’t been part of each others’ lives for a long time, and I hadn’t seen her in about 20 years. But she was incredibly important to me during difficult and formative years, and I would not be the person I am now without her. I wish so much that we could have seen each other again. Last year, we missed both being in Oregon at the same time by a couple of weeks.

Birthday party
A surprise birthday party Arden organized for me in high school

Here’s a poem I wrote for her almost 30 years ago now:

I sit in the sun
watching the lizard
in stripes of gray and brown
with a truncated tail
scuttle along
the sun-baked stone wall
at my back.
The lizard lost it,
but what did she need it for?
It will grow back
She is resilient.

These are the contents
of content:
I have myself,
the lizard,
the sun,
the wall,
the pen in my hand
to reach a friend
halfway around the world.

She has not seen the lizard,
though she knows the wall.

Arden Dale and Ruth Nestvold
Arden taking me to the airport for Germany, 1978

Goodbye, Ardie.