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Butterfly Wings - Chapter 18 - Stir

by BlackThorne


The chalk was smooth and dusty in her fingers.

scritch-scritch-scritch-scritch

Small fires of dead leaves crackled in the crevices, tips flickering with red-hot embers. They ate away at them until they melted into ash, fed with sticks, thick deadwood fallen from oak trees and maples in parks, splintered with burning threads like gold candlewick. They warmed the air with a billowing heat, to keep her head clear. The chalk-scrawled walls were lit with scented candles.

scritch-scritch-scritch-scritch

Numbers and words unfolded from the tip of her chalk, calculations and charts and arrows.

scritch-scritch-scritch-scritch

“Can’t you at least take a break?” asked Aaron.

“Not yet, I’ve almost got it.”

scritch-scritch-scritch-scritch

Empty, miscellaneous bottles and cans rolled over the floor. A plastic sand bucket wobbled in the middle like a bright red cauldron, sticky with a warm, thick mixture. The stirring ladle dried on a piece of newspaper. Ciana was shuffling the deck of cards she’d found again, bored.

scritch-scritch-scritch-scritch

She flung down her chalk with a glassy clink, and snapped up one of the chapstick tubes in her fingers. It was cherry-flavored. She popped open the cap and began screwing, until the balmy cylinder slid out of the casing, dropped it into the bucket and stirred. It broke up into chunks, and melted. The mixture was a little thicker now. She scooped some up in her ladle and drizzled it over the floor.

“Try this, Ciana.”

“Ugh, again?”

“It’s important for the lipids to be at the right consistency. Just see if it’ll light.”

“Okay, okay. One second.”

Ciana scooted over to where she could see the window and closed her eyes.

“Ready?”

“Yeah.”

Ciana opened her eyes for just a second, and saw the moon, pale as milk and round in the evening sky, a starry cookie with a small bite missing.

CRACKLE

It was close. The drizzle of liquid glowed and spit sparks. But then the light faded and it sizzled out.

“Just a little more,” said Daffodil, reaching for another tube of scented chapstick. But they were gone.

“Looks like we ran out of chapstick,” she said. “Aaron, can you go get some more? Like I said. Just a little more.”

“That’s what you said the last five times,” he said. “Are you....sure you have to add wax in such...tiny amounts?”

“Yes.”

He sighed.

* * *

Aisle upon aisle, layered like stacks of laundry. Bags of chips and cans of soda gleamed from between sandwiches of shelf as freezers hummed. Layers upon layers of packaging and gleaming candies, sending sparse glints of light from neon tubes spinning off into the aggregate. Candy bars gleamed like molded iron in the flickering, hued light that made gummy bears glow from the inside, and bags of porcelain mints painted with red seams crackled. Tubes of neon light lined slanted metal shelves like waxy squiggles of cake frosting, glowing from behind glass freezer doors that reflected nothing.

The tubes of chapstick gleamed from the checkout rack. Aaron grabbed a handful.

His foot brushed something. He looked down. There was a tote bag on the floor, green and strung with black cords. There was something hard inside of it. He pulled it out.

It was a liter soda bottle, with sticky bits where the label had been. Pink lemonade sloshed inside.

Daffodil had said there was a computer with security tapes in the back room. He was curious about that.

tak

tak

tak

The back room was very dark, and it was hard to see. It was a natural darkness, though, one that didn’t whisper, or collect in odd places. The computer screen gleamed with a grainy sheen like polished wax, and the papers spread over the table were pale against the shadows. He turned on the computer, and it rippled with brightness.

There was a file folder on the desktop, He opened the security footage from a few days ago, and saw Starling. Her face was blurred out. She had been an aspiring cryptid, after all. She’d shown up, made a bang, and disappeared without a trace.

His hand bumped something cold on the table. It was a bottle of iodine, next to a frizzy stick of cotton swab.

It was what she would’ve wanted.

* * *

Daffodil finished stirring and drizzled another swath on the floor, next to at least a dozen dried others. “You know the drill.”

Ciana sighed.

CRACKLE

FWOOSH

They all stared.

The mixture was burning. Cores of a pale, electric energy, that simmered like the white light that dripped from Ciana’s eye sockets during a full moon.

It was time.


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1464 Reviews


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Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:02 am
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JabberHut wrote a review...



Hi!! Thought I'd stop by again after the awesome taste I got in chapter 17. :D

I like how this opened up. There's definitely a unique magic to your world that I'm just massively intrigued by. But that aside, watching your characters interact here was a fresh take as a new reader, especially after that eerie dream we had in the previous chapter.

I didn't know it was Daffodil making the misture until halfway through that first section, which certainly confused me. Hopefully that makes sense to your consistent readers though. In fact, I think there's quite an element of vagueness in your writing for this chapter. It works for dream segments like the previous chapter. Here, it feels a bit disjointed. For instance, the first part is Daffodil making this mixture for Ciana. Aaron and Ciana are doing nothing but waiting, but perhaps there is dialogue that could happen here or actions or thoughts that could at least develop character growth if not advance the plot/any subplots.

When Aaron goes to get the chapstick, I thought that section started out really strong again. I could identify the purpose and knew how it was relevant. I love how you described the market again -- you really just have a knack for imagery. It's outstanding. Then when Aaron mentions computers, I wasn't sure what the purpose for that was or what he was referencing or anything. I understand I haven't read chapters before this, but the transition from chapstick to computer probably could have been transitioned smoother. Maybe we can get into his head and go through his thought process better, how this relates to his current situation, why it's worth taking the extra time from chapstick shopping to do this, etc.

What an eerie end to your chapter, though! Gosh, I love the look and feel of this magic. The way you described it at the end was just awesome. I think it could have transitioned better again from the previous scene to here. It felt like a mere glimpse of storytelling when you could really wrap us up in the scene again, give it some more drive. You're fantastic at showing us images and details, and I think it would really enhance your main plot if you did the same to these sections too.

Aside from some fleshing out, I think it's a decent chapter. It definitely has some drive and is achieving a significant part of your plot, which is to develop this mixture for Ciana. And what an awesome cliffhanger to end on. I certainly will have to read the next one to see what I'm missing here!!



Random avatar
BlackThorne says...


Thanks for the advice! :) Yes, the computer part does make a lot more sense if you've read the previous chapters. It parallels and builds on two earlier scenes.



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Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:32 am
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ChrisCalaid wrote a review...



Hola!
Here to conquer your words & thoughts!
I'm here for a quick review. I love how you write this and I think it's really well written. I enjoyed reading this story and please understand that I'm might be wrong here. I never read any stories by you and never had read any part of this book. As you can see, it's my first time reading your story!

Without farther ado, let's jump in!

They ate away at them until they melted into ash, fed with sticks, thick deadwood fallen from oak trees and maples in parks, splintered with burning threads like gold candlewick


You need "a" before "gold".

She flung down her chalk with a glassy clink, and snapped up one of the chapstick tubes in her fingers


You don't necessarily need to use a comma after "clink" if you rather not.

It was cherry-flavored. She popped open the cap and began screwing, until the balmy cylinder slid out of the casing, dropped it into the bucket and stirred. It broke up into chunks, and melted.


I think you need a comma before "and", and "the" before "chunks".
1)You have two things you did, "dropped" and "stirred", and so you need a comma to connect them.

2)It's not singular it's more than only one 'chunk', and it's an article you especially need "the" before "chunks".

Aisle upon aisle, layered like stacks of laundry. Bags of chips and cans of soda gleamed from between sandwiches of shelf as freezers hummed


You need "the" before "shelf".

I don't understand what you mean by "of the shelf". Do you perhaps mean "on the shelf"?

It was a natural darkness, though, one that didn’t whisper, or collect in odd places.


It's an indefinite article you don't need "a" necessarily unless it's how you want it.

[quote]Cores of a pale, electric energy, that simmered like the white light that dripped from Ciana’s eye sockets during a full moon.
[/qoute]

It's "cores" right? It's more than one 'core', and so it's just "cores".

I enjoyed time reading this piece of writings you've shared and would always love to review any of your works!

Thank you for writing this!

Hope for the best!

~Chris



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BlackThorne says...


Thank you! I appreciate the review :)




To be a master of metaphor is the greatest thing by far. It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others, and it is also a sign of genius.
— Aristotle, Poetics