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Srebrna, Skald Arkadii (and thoughts on writing)

Archive for March 2019

“A Desk” – Antique Shop AU

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I posted a snippet of a story on tumblr, and it will hopefully become a bigger thing (see comments on the post on tumblr). In order to manage the contents, I have a Scrivener project, a spreadsheet with dates and a family tree, to keep the ancestors in order.

The snippet then:

The little bell over the shop door tinkled annoyingly, but he had to admit, it was just the right kind of sound to pull him out of his Mind Palace, even in the deepest stage of cataloguing. Unfortunately for the customers, it never put him in the best frame of mind.

The man standing in the entrance was… short.

Or rather, he looked shrunken. Diminished. Reduced.

Not that he could have been much taller, but the cane he carried definitely didn’t help. He was unsymmetrical and that made Sherlock’s skin crawl with discomfort.

“How can I help you?” he asked briskly, walking up to the man in long strides. “Are you looking for something specific? A gift? An intriguing memento, a…” he trailed off, taking in the whole posture – now leaning away from him.

“I’m looking for something for myself, actually. You could call it a gift, but it would be more of a tool,” the man said softly.

“A typewriter,” Sherlock hazarded a guess, because the customer was annoyingly blandBeige jumper, who wears beige jumpers, what would you need a jumper like that for?!

“Actually,” the man ran his finger over all the inlay on one of the cabinets, “I need a writing desk. Something with a bit of substance, but not too big… Has to fit in my not that big a flat.”

Sherlock frowned, taking in the whole sight. Straight as if he had swallowed a stick. Neat. Very neat. Obsessively so. A cane. Very short shave – not cut – of the hair. Precise movements. Economical. Leaning away from that leg when walking, but seems fine when standing. Tanned hands and face, Acceptable, if not very expensive cologne. Obvious signs of lack of sleep. Neat if very bland clothes. Squinting lines in the corners of his eyes, will need glasses soon…

“Afghanistan or Iraq?” he asked finally, unable to work this part out, and the man’s eyes snapped up to his in surprise.

“How did you…” he shook his head and shrugged. “Afghanistan. Back three months ago and… Looking for something to do.”

“So you picked up writing?” Sherlock turned towards the back of the showroom, working his way to the few less expensive pieces that he could maybe offer. “Why on earth would you do that, if you’re so uncomfortable with the idea?”

He heard the man stop behind him and inhale harshly.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Your left hand tensed when you spoke about writing. You’re looking for the right kind of desk, a plain signal of procrastination. You’re not in a very good financial situation, but willing to splurge on unnecessary piece of furniture that will take up a significant portion of your living space. You don’t want to write, but feel compelled to. I can guess your therapist would think it a great idea to have you write – maybe about your war experience, maybe about your everyday life – but you can’t, you are very uneasy about it. Something wrong about writing? Someone in your family…?”

“How did you know?”

The question was slightly broken. Just like the man, now standing by a case of assorted beaded jewellery, looked just a tiny bit not alright.

“I can see it. In you,” he explained impatiently. “Now, maybe one of these? Not too big, not too heavy – if you move out of that ridiculous bedsit one day, you will wish for less heavy lifting.”

Blue eyes blinked at him.

“They are… nice,” the man admitted, pulling one of the drawers open. “Rather modern for an antique store?”

“Well, they are more in the ‘classic design’ area than actual antiques, but Mrs Hudson decided to keep them. People like them. They look old enough, they say, but they have comfortable drawers and a lock that actually locks something.”

“Oh,” the man nodded slowly. “That makes sense… I just…” he trailed off, looking up the aisle, to where the actual old pieces were. “Oh.”

The “Oh” turned out to be an elegant little Davenport desk in dark walnut. Sherlock had set it in the back of the set, intending to come back to it and repair the drawer, but he never got around to doing it… Yet even with the little defect, it was most definitely out of the short soldier’s range.

“This one may be pricey,” he warned as the man caressed the wood in awe.

“Doesn’t matter,” came a breathless reply. “Just tell me how much and I’ll make sure I can get the money. I…”

“You weren’t looking for just a desk. You were looking for this desk,” Sherlock could relax finally. “For whatever reason, this is the exact desk you wanted.”

A slow, dreamy nod.

“I never expected to– just find it,” the man answered softly. “This was supposed to be mine, you see. But they sold it. Without ever telling me. They just got rid of everything that belonged…”

“Ah,” Sherlock slowly slid down to sit on one of the less antique chairs that peppered the room. “Your family got rid of some mementoes… Your great-grandfather’s then?”

“After a fashion,” the customer looked away. “He adopted my grandfather when my actual great-grandparents died in a train accident. Brought the lad up by himself, he was, ah, a confirmed bachelor, I think they called it at the time. Well, he and his friends. My father… He hated the very idea. I adored listening to the stories about “Uncle John” and his adventures, but ever since grandpa died, father forced us to just stop bringing the topic up…” he frowned, fiddling with the lid clasp. “The drawers are in the wrong order.”

W-what?”

The blue eyes smiled at him and suddenly there was a round drawer knob presented to him.

“The one with one knob should be at the bottom. I know, I was the one who broke it. Check if it matches.”

He picked up the piece of walnut and inspected it slowly.

“So,” he said, trying to make some time. “Your great-uncle was a writer?”

“Well, partially. After a fashion. He was a doctor, you see, and used to be a soldier… But then he wrote stories about his adventures with his friend, a detective. Published them in the Strand,” there it was again, that fleeting smile. “I used to read them in secret every night. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, logicking their way through the unusual and complicated crimes of London.”

He straightened up, feeling somewhat lightheaded at the pronouncement.

“John Watson, MD,” the man extended his hand.

“Ah,” he smiled, maybe shakily. “Sherlock Holmes,” he swallowed roughly. “I think, doctor Watson, we may have something to discuss…”

Sherlock…?” the man frowned. “But, how on Earth…”

“There were three Holmes brothers,” he blurted out. “The first Sherlock was the youngest, but my great-grandfather, Sherringford, was the eldest.“

And the tree I’ve written for the purpose, using Family Echo and GIMP:
drzewo genealogiczne J+S
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Written by Srebrna

2019/03/23 at 15:07

Wordcloud – Double Pride Double Trouble

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Written by Srebrna

2019/03/01 at 17:34