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The Chosen Grandma, Chapter 28.1

by BlueAfrica


A/N: Eighty-three-year-old Chosen One Edna Fisher has finally faced her first dragon, and in the aftermath she's not doing so well.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

The washing machine had lost the battle with dragon’s blood. Edna’s dress was splotched a faded mauve, but at least it wasn’t so stiff now as she barreled through the western United States in Dan’s Chevy Peryton. Her glasses were spotless and she’d showered in the fire station locker room. Beatrice, on the other hand, was a lost cause. She’d spent the better part of two hours by the mop sink in the back of the fire station, soaping, scrubbing, and rinsing the carpet, to no avail. At last Beatrice slipped out of her grasp and darted up the ceiling, out of reach.

Clem had yanked the washcloth out of Edna’s hand. “What’s your deal? Amir knew what we needed a carpet for when he made one for us.”

Edna pushed her glasses further up her nose, slick with sweat. “Amir wrecked his health making a carpet for us, and I’ve ruined it in less time than it took him to enchant it.”

Up by the ceiling, Beatrice circled a light fixture angrily, as if to say that their carpet wasn’t entirely ruined, thank you very much.

Clem threw the washcloth in the mop sink, where it landed with a wet plop. “Amir’s fine, okay? Benny would call if something happened to him.”

Edna gazed out the window of the Perytonand wished Benjamin would call. She wanted to hear his voice—she wanted to know Amir was all right. No news was not, after all, good news. No news was no news and didn’t mean anything.

Dan’s eyes found hers in the rearview mirror. “You doing okay back there?”

“Mmm?” Edna blinked and smiled at him with an effort. “Oh, yes, dear. I’m fine.”

Beatrice sulked under the back seat. Dan had sequestered himself in the fire station office for nearly an hour, arguing with someone on the phone, and emerged with a deeply furrowed brow.

“Are you okay?” Clem asked.

“I,” he’d said through gritted teeth, “have to go to Barstow. Immediately. Some bigwig Knights want to interrogate me about the attack.”

He ran his hands through his disheveled hair. “Look, I get their concern, but I have a town to rebuild, people to take care of—why the fu—”

He glanced at Clem and amended, “I just don’t get why they need me to go there.”

Clem looked at him primly and let loose an impressive string of expletives, just to prove he didn’t need to censor himself around her.

She ought to teach me some of those, Edna thought vaguely.

Why-ever the Knights wanted to question Dan in person, he’d insisted on driving them the rest of the way to Barstow. It was safer, he said, more comfortable, and it would give the carpet a break.

Not that Beatrice appreciated the break.

Fields of corn and soy gave way to hills and then mountains. Edna had never been this far west before, but she barely noticed that scenery flashing by. She half-listened as Dan and Clem talked: about their families and what they’d been doing since they’d last seen each other, about the musical she and Clem were supposedly on their way to see, about the boldness of dragons these days. She paid attention just enough to know Clem danced around the dragon issue and said nothing that might give their real mission away.

She wondered if she’d made a mistake telling Kiernan. Not that she’d told him anything terribly important: just that Clem was the Chosen One. If they’d ended up using him…but instead she’d told him and then turned him away. It didn’t matter. He wouldn’t tell anyone, surely, and if he did he had the wrong person anyhow and knew nothing of their plans.

Except that they were going to Barstow. Not even Edna really knew what they were going to do there—knock on doors until they found Monica Evans?

Still. One more person out there knew the Chosen One was one of them.

A fine job she was doing, she thought bitterly. She had no plans and no idea what she was doing. Even her plan to steal the sword from the auction wouldn’t have gone anywhere if Clem hadn’t beaten her to it and accidentally set the church on fire.

It should have been Clem.

A crack of thunder overhead made her jump. Dan and Clem didn’t notice, or else they didn’t care. Clem had plugged her phone into the car’s stereo and they were both singing along, loudly and very badly, to the musical’s soundtrack. Rain poured down outside, so thick Edna could no longer see out the window. Everything was a silver-gray blur.

Edna looked down. One of Beatrice’s corners poked out from under the back seat.

“See?” Edna said, nudging the carpet with her foot. “Aren’t you glad you don’t have to fly in this weather?”

Beatrice retreated further under the seat. Edna sighed.

It was still raining when they pulled into a shabby hotel after dark. Dan went out into the hall to take a call from his wife. Beatrice had hidden under one of the beds, to avoid being stepped on. Clem watched television from the doorway to the bathroom, smearing some sort of red goop onto her face until she looked like an extra in a zombie film. Edna sat on the edge of one of the beds, looking at her shoes. She kept telling herself she ought to remove them but made no move to do so.

Clem washed the red goop off her hands, though not her face, and glanced at Edna. “So I was thinking we could do takeout for dinner.”

Edna couldn’t stop staring at her shoes, the sort of black rubber-soled loafers that the nursing home staff preferred residents wear so as to avoid falls. “All right.”

“Do you need the shower?”

“No.”

The dragon’s blood had come off the shoes more easily than out of her dress, but there were scuff marks all over the toes and the sole of the right shoe was starting to peel away from the rest of it.

Clem stepped closer, hesitated, and then put a tentative hand on her shoulder. “Are you all right?”

Tears welled up in Edna’s eyes. She tried to blink them back, but they sloshed down her face and fell into her lap. Clem patted her shoulder, once, twice, and then let her hand fall back at her side. A sob slipped out before Edna could stop it.

“Oh, dear,” she choked. “Oh—what good did it do?”

“What?” Clem said helplessly, but the tears were in earnest. Edna sat on the bed, shuddering and crying and trying to stop crying, thinking about Amir and Beatrice and the burnt town and townspeople searching for each other in the cave, about Benjamin and her son and—

“I haven’t even called Marguerite!” she burst out at last and started sobbing so hard she couldn’t speak.

Clem sank onto the bed beside her and held her fiercely. If tears were a person, they would have taken one look at the girl and run the other way.

Edna sobbed until she tired herself out and then quieted, hiccupping in Clem’s arms. She still hadn’t taken off her shoes.

“I should have stayed at the nursing home,” she said at last, wearily. She felt about a hundred years old and briefly hoped she wouldn’t actually have to live quite that long. “It didn’t do anything. It didn’t do any good.”

Clem let go of her, stood up, and retrieved tissues from the bedside table. Edna dabbed at her eyes and blew her nose with a honk. The lenses of her glasses were spotted with salt.

“You’re too young,” she said, holding the used tissue in her lap. “You think killing Redway will bring your sister back—don’t you?”

Clem didn’t say anything. The red goop on her face had started to dry, making it look like she was wearing a mask.

“I know you do,” Edna said. “You’ve spent so much time trying to figure out how to get at him, but it won’t do any good. She’s dead.”

The moment the words were out of her mouth, she wanted to take them back, but it was too late. Clem’s jaw tightened, cracking the red mask. Edna dabbed at her nose and waited, prepared for whatever tongue-lashing was about to come.

Instead, Clem said calmly, “I can still stop him from hurting other people.”

“I’m sorry,” Edna said.

Clem sat back down beside her and hugged her knees, resting her chin gingerly on them so as not to smudge her mask on her pajama bottoms.

“What was your son like?” she asked.


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Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:31 am
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Mea wrote a review...



And I'm back!

I really love the detail of Edna scrubbing frantically and fruitlessly at the dragon blood on her clothes and on Beatrice. Her fixation on it says so much in a subtle way about her mental state and how she's reacting to the fight. Similarly with the fact that she hasn't called Marguerite being one of the things that really sets her crying. Like I said in my previous review, something that shocks her system like this was needed. You write her whole self-doubt spiel so well, though I do think her self-doubt should extend beyond just comparing herself with Clem (because remember, she's been repeatedly frustrated with Clem when she does dumb stuff, so it's not like she doesn't see Clem's flaws).

I continue to love Beatrice the carpet. :D

Dan is weird to me as a character. He just doesn't seem to fit in, like he's a minor character that's suddenly taking a role too big for him by having to come with them to Barstow. And later his eagerness for tourism doesn't fit with his anger here at having to go in the first place. I'm just not sure why he's here beyond this encounter in the town. (I guess it's to drive them there, since Clem can't drive. But it still feels odd.)

My biggest critique for this chapter in particular is that the ending just didn't work for me - everything up until Clem refrained from getting too angry at what Edna said felt natural, but the last few paragraphs just felt forced, like you were taking the conversation in a different direction much too quickly. For one thing, Clem is just not that good at not getting angry - asking about Edna's son immediately afterwards, without any hint of hurt feelings, feels out of character. And then since the next chapter isn't actually them talking about Edna's son, but cutting away, it feels even more like an obvious "look, see, they bonded here" rather than a natural instance of them getting closer.

And I'll leave it here! On to the next. :D




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Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:48 pm
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LadyBird wrote a review...



Before I talk about anything else. Would not recommend looking in the spoiler but it's there.

She wondered if she’d made a mistake telling Kiernan. Not that she’d told him anything terribly important: just that Clem was the Chosen One. If they’d ended up using him…but instead she’d told him and then turned him away. It didn’t matter. He wouldn’t tell anyone, surely, and if he did he had the wrong person anyhow and knew nothing of their plans.

Spoiler! :
LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL
LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL
LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL
LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL
LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL
LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL
LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL
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LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL
LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL


So back on track.
The car is probably a fictional name and referring to the mythical creature, but I went and looked it up on google anyways. When you type in "chevy peryton" to google search, after a 2 pinterest links, your chapter is the 3rd result. So if anyone happens to search up that phrase, you might get some random readers from the internet, even though that's not much different than what you have now.

What happened to the lies about Beatrice being sentient, she seems pretty sentient now and willing to have a gender. Why is the carpet my favorite character? Like how is the carpet the smartest character in the book, unless she's just like the replacement for Amir aka the only sane person in the book. Dan might become the replacement for Ben and we're all losing sight of ever seeing any of the other characters again, it seems like with each new chapter, you keep disconnecting people. Which is the serious issue i wanted to talk about at the end of all of those jokes.

This chapter was filled with those little touching moments, the same premise as was seen with the dragon, which is something that was legit saddening. Like before these points, it was more along the lines of standard drama and sad scenes, mostly through the recollection of memories, not really hurting anyone.
Now these two characters are caring about each other more, than when it was only like Edna putting some effort forwards. Glad to see that Clem is getting better.

Also the swearing scene.
That was great.

I don't have like that many more comments on this chapter so I think I'll go now. These continue to just be like random comments and general complaints, so if I keep talking, I might hit actual critique, and no one wants to hear that.
<3
Lizz




BlueAfrica says...


This week's chapter actually drags a bit because I was suddenly like "CRA BENJAMIN NEEDS TO GET BACK BEFORE THIS OTHER THING HAPPENS" but in revisions I'll have to bring it up earlier for sure.

Omg the spoiler lol.

Beatrice is sentient but still a carpet and therefore genderless.



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Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:50 am
DarkPandemonium wrote a review...



Hiya, BlueAfrica. Pan dropping in for another review.

Small Comments

Up by the ceiling, Beatrice circled a light fixture angrily, as if to say that their carpet wasn’t entirely ruined, thank you very much.


I love how moody Beatrice is. I love that you manage to make a carpet be moody.

Clem threw the washcloth in the mop sink, where it landed with a wet plop. “Amir’s fine, okay? Benny would call if something happened to him.”

Edna gazed out the window of the Perytonand wished Benjamin would call.


The switch back to the present here isn't that clearly signposted, so it took me a moment to realise that I had to pull myself out of the flashback and enter back into the main scene. I think if you wrote the bit about Clem throwing the washcloth in the past perfect tense rather than just in the regular past, the flash forward would be more clear.

No news was not, after all, good news. No news was no news and didn’t mean anything.


Finally someone said it! I never thought that saying made much sense. No news can can bad news in as many circumstances as it can be good news. I'd say it's more likely to be bad, actually.

“I,” he’d said through gritted teeth, “have to go to Barstow. Immediately. Some bigwig Knights want to interrogate me about the attack.”

He ran his hands through his disheveled hair. “Look, I get their concern, but I have a town to rebuild, people to take care of—why the fu—”


I don't think you need the line break. I think his dialogue would flow better without the gap. Also, this is horrendously picky, but there's something I don't like about the use of 'look'. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe because it's usually the kind of thing you say in response to somebody, but neither Clem nor Edna said anything, so it just feels kinda weird.

She ought to teach me some of those, Edna thought vaguely.


Hah! Then she'll have something to yell other than 'snickerdoodles' the next time she faces down a dragon.

She wondered if she’d made a mistake telling Kiernan


Oh, hun. If only you knew.

A fine job she was doing, she thought bitterly. She had no plans and no idea what she was doing. Even her plan to steal the sword from the auction wouldn’t have gone anywhere if Clem hadn’t beaten her to it and accidentally set the church on fire.

It should have been Clem.


Like, I do get that Edna has a lot of self-doubt, but heck, she did just help to take down a dragon. They actually told her that if it wasn't for her, they probably wouldn't have managed to get a clear shot at the thing. Clem had nothing to do with that victory.

Let's not pretend that the church fire was Clem's finest hour, either. I love the kid, but she's probably mucked up more than anyone else in the whole story. I could understand Edna's feelings if Clem had done something of particular merit during the dragon fight, but she had very little to do with it. And it's not like Edna's approach didn't work.

To clarify, I don't think you need to do away with the self-doubt. It's great that you're including it. I just think you could take an angle that doesn't involve Edna comparing herself to Clem, because it doesn't feel like it fully fits here. She could easily just be doubtful about committing to the quest as a whole. Having finally stared death in the face and helped to take down a dragon, she could be fraught with terror at the idea of going through it again. She might have expected it to make her more confident, only for it to actually make her more afraid, because now she fully understands the danger. I'm just spitballing here, but I think there are better approaches you could go for rather than just using Clem again.

Edna couldn’t stop staring at her shoes, the sort of black rubber-soled loafers that the nursing home staff preferred residents wear so as to avoid falls.


Ah, I like the deeper meaning behind the description. It's a subtle way of showing Edna's frame of mind.

Overall Thoughts

1) I really appreciate that you're showing Edna's vulnerability in the aftermath of the dragon attack. In most fantasy stories, winning a fight is pretty much always met with jubilation, and it would've been easy for you to take this development and say 'right, Edna's proved herself. She has confidence now'. Instead, she's still wracked with doubt and obviously very shaken up by the whole thing. As mentioned, I think you could take a more believable angle on that doubt, because I don't think it fully fits for her to just be comparing herself to Clem again, but it feels like it's in the right ball park.

2) So nice to see Clem and Edna bonding properly! I feel like Clem's character is really developing. A while back, she'd have probably snapped at Edna for saying what she did about Marisol at the end of the chapter, but now she's a lot calmer. It feels like she's beginning to accept her sister's death a little more and grieve properly. Her quest has become more about doing good than getting revenge. Something tells me it won't be plain sailing from here, though, because grief is a rocky path and recovery isn't linear.

3) In all other areas, this is basically a very nice chapter. It feels like it's paced more slowly, but I like that - it captures Edna's blank hopelessness very well. As always, there's some nice humour, and I really admire your ability to integrate comedy without it overshadowing the more serious undertones. It's great.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




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Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:57 pm
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papillote says...



I like Beatrice and Dan so much.
I even like Clem in this chapter. It's the most annoying thing about her, I think: one chapter, she is decent and, the next, I want to reach into the story to slap her.
I'm looking forward to the next chapter, not so much to hear about Edna's son, but to learn more about her. 27 chapters in, she is still very mysterious.




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Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:13 pm
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Saen wrote a review...



Hello, BlueAfrica! I hope my review can do your work justice.

Grammar and Syntax

No problems here, so I'll move onto the next bit.

Characters

Beatrice's sassy personality is absolutely wonderful, and she's a gem that deserves to be treasured. There's just something amusing about a magical object being as full of life as the protagonists of the story.

Speaking of the protagonists, I love how complex Edna is. I've talked about in the majority of my past reviews, but she feels real. She doubts herself. She doesn't say the right things all of the time. She's had some rough spots in her past, and she doesn't just put them behind her and forget about them.

And Clem shares that complexity. She fits the role of the stereotypical hero, but she's just a really good person. Even when she's not the one the world is counting on, she doesn't give up. And Edna doesn't think of her in a negative light because she wants revenge; she just doesn't want her wasting her life.

Reading your novel is like listening to a true story, even though there's knights and wizards and dragons and all sorts of magical stuff. You're not just talking about characters. You're talking about actual people with lives that aren't simple and easy to describe. I love that about your novel.

Plot

Poor Dan! At least he was kind enough to take them with him on his way to Barstow. I hope he gets a break soon. The poor guy deserves it.

I'm excited to learn more about Edna's son. Even though I'm sure the chapter will be a tearjerker, I think it'll also be a heartwarming moment where Edna and Clem bond over their losses.

I really enjoyed reading your work. While there may have been a few rough spots, it's overall a wonderful piece of writing. If you feel like some parts of my review need further explanation or just aren't good enough, please let me know. I'd gladly clear up anything about this review.

Keep up the great work (which I doubt you'll have trouble with) and good luck on your writing endeavors!





"I think; therefore, I am."
— René Descartes