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Friday Fiction Link-up: Battle Wary by Sif Dal

It's Friday!!! As I said at the beginning of the week, from today Fridays will have a Fiction link-up here At the Bottom of the Garden! So, here's my contribution for the week - I really hope to see others link up to their own short fiction or poetry (hey, write a haiku!). Link up at the bottom of this post!

Battle Wary 
by Sif Dal

The cafe in the narrow city side-street was surprisingly well lit by the sun’s rays that performed Olympic-like rebounds off the wall of glass across the way. Gnarth sat in the darkest corner of the cafe, away from the windows, where he could watch the comings and goings. His suit was clean, but worn and shiny in places. He had considered getting a new suit some time ago, but decided he had no need to impress anyone these days. He’d long since lost the bright hue of youth in his skin. He was more pallid grey than iridescent puss green these days, and yet when he spoke, which wasn’t often, there was a self-assuredness that could not be mistaken or ignored.

Gnarth played with the chocolate dust encrusted froth of the cuppucino he’d brought from home, swirling it this way and that as he observed the couple of young redactyls sitting at a table near the door. The red one swayed precariously backward in his chair as laughter erupted from his wide slitty mouth, ‘Mine is so paralysed with the fear of ruining her work that she is finding one thousand and three other things to do in favour of sitting down and editing the manuscript – an unorthodox approach, I admit, but very effective!’

‘I would never have considered that tact, that’s for sure, Reth! You’re an inspiration to us all!’ his small, yellow companion said hesitantly raising his hand in an unnoticed motion to high-five the red one. A moment later the yellow hand dropped and then swooped up to brush away imagined wisps of hair from his tuberous nose.

Reth sat upright in his chair, ‘She’s a curly one, this one. Happy to keeping hacking away at her story, hoping to make it perfect, but then she got those letters telling her that it is practically publishable as is. For a moment, I thought she would to do the recommended tweaks and send it off. I had to think quickly, so I told her that a few small edits would probably be great, but what if she overdid it?’

‘Reverse psychology, a stroke of brilliance!’ the yellow one shrieked pointing a shaky slender finger at the roof.

‘I think so, Seebal. It’s a matter of taking the bull by the horns, showing them who’s boss! If you let a writer believe in their work, then there’d be publishable manuscripts everywhere, we’d be drowning in publications! What kind of world would that be?’ Reth threw his arms up in mock distress then slumped back satisfied with his performance. Seebal’s eye were round with the horror of the image Reth had just produced.

Gnarth’s attention was suddenly drawn to the unusual sight of a redactyl hobbling at speed on spindly legs towards the cafe. The brown one burst into the room gasping and clinging to the doorway to steady himself. Droplets of sweat the size of Gnarth’s coffee cup wobbled like mounds of jelly on his temples. The brown one scooped away at the droplets and flung them at the floor where they slid and rebounded off the skirting board before trembling to a stop.  A passing human waiter slipped on the small mounds and growled, ‘Petri, I told you to clean this gunk off the floor! No wonder no one ever comes to this cafe, the state of this floor is disgusting!’

Gnarth coughed a small laughed, if only the humans knew just how popular this cafe was.

‘He’s reading the book!’ The brown redactyl said as he gingerly lowered himself into the closest chair at the table with the others.

‘No!’ said Seebal

‘Yes!’ said the brown one and clasping the top of his head in his hands.

‘I told you to get rid of the book, Nyalt. That book is always trouble.’ Reth attempted to imperceptibly raise his brows in Gnarth’s direction. Gnarth pretended not to see.

‘I know, I know, but he bought it and then didn’t look at it at all for three years. I honestly didn’t think he’d ever look at it, and then who knew he’d actually take any notice of what of what that Lucke woman wrote! He’s such a perfectionist, I thought for sure he’d still believe in the benefits of one last tweak before submission. Trapping him in the editing cycle has worked a treat until now!’

Gnarth recoiled a little as Nyalt started blubbering. There was nothing quite as repulsive as a redactyl succumbing to his fear of failure. Usually, Gnarth would leave it, let the redactyl figure it out, but Reth ignorantly using him as an example had grated just enough that Gnarth now made his way through the sprawling tables to the one near the door.

'The fact that your writer now knows you exist is an opportunity, not a failure.’ Gnarth said in a low, clear voice.

The others looked at him with gaping slits, Gnarth wasn’t sure if it was because they were confused by what he meant, or simply surprised he’d spoken at all, ‘I know you all think I’m a broken redactyl, that I’ve been tamed by my writer, but you’re looking at it all the wrong way-‘

‘Wrong way? There is only one way to look at it, senescent one. They write. We stop them from thinking more of themselves than they are. We are enemies.’ Reth’s word slithered from his slit cold and wet.

‘I choose to work in partnership with my writer. He acknowledges my existence and listens to me–‘

‘And he is published!’ Seebal squeaked, he long fingers stretched out from his palms as far as they could go.

‘Helping a decent writer get published is not a bad thing. It’s stopping the talented ones and letting the persistent ones with no imagination get through that is bad.’ Gnarth felt he’d said enough. He left the three redactyls to their melodrama and stepped out into the warmth of the street. Like so many redactyls, these three would continue to fight their daily battles with writers, all the time ignoring the war only a few wise souls even acknowledged.

© Sif Dal


Trevor said…
Well done - an amazing story - with some subtle undertones. I haven't published any of my short stories on my blog for quite some time. I used to post one a week at one stage. Some have first seen publication in magazines. The stories I put on my blog are more "Flash Fiction" than short stories, some being less than 100 words. The index can be accessed here:
Sif said…
Thanks for that Trevor. I needed something to keep me honest - put it into the public arena that I will produce something weekly provides a good incentive for a writer who otherwise finds it all too easy to put of the act of writing! (well, I blog all the time, I guess I mean writing as in a piece of creative fiction)
The only things I write are blog posts and they are neither flowing nor interesting to anyone other than my immediate family members!
Sif said…
LOL, I think you're underestimating your writing prowess! I'm sure your blog posts are interesting to a more than just your immediately family! Either that, or you have a very large immediate family, LOL!

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