Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Hundred & Thirteenth

A dark forest sits beneath a starry sky. Creepy black goo drips over the scenery. White whimsical letters read: “Fit the Hundred & Thirteenth: The Candle in Your Heart.”

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She is currently the editor at the SPECk, a monthly publication on speculative poetry by the SFPA.]


Hello, All! Melanie here.

Last week, Cradensburg hosted a Procrastinate-a-thon to raise money for an extra-large wall calendar for the town council. Fortunately, nothing prepares you for procrastination like being a writer. In fact, writers are really professional procrastinators who write on the side. Writer X participated in the fundraiser with a brilliant move: she waited until after the procrastinate-a-thon had already concluded before she began soliciting pledges!

Well, it’s spring in Cradensburg, and that means the weather is finally slightly above freezing. People will want to get outdoors! That is get outdoors for something that isn’t ice fishing or throwing yourself down a mountain while strapped to two waxed slabs of fiberglass!

Without further ado…


Dear Gladys,

I need a list of monsters that can also take the shape of a yowling ring-tailed cat with glowing yellow eyes and teeth made of fire because I think that’s the precise situation we have on our hands.

Anyhoo. This morning started out very differently from the way the evening ended.

We were all very stressed out. Tryxy was disgruntled and became particularly slammy. Slammy is when you slam the fridge and the silverware drawers as an expression to the universe of just how stressed you are but really you have only yourself to blame. Tryxy’s been stressed because he’s getting to the end of his semester at Miskatonic Online University and apparently he never planned for his final project and has to do all of his research in one week instead of four.

I was very stressed because, as you know, the town’s Procrastinate-a-thon was a smashing success. The town was able to raise the $76.42 needed to purchase an extra large wall calendar so that they can have a sense of what they’re supposed to be doing rather than prioritizing things based on whichever crisis had caught on fire.

Once they got the new wall calendar filled in, they discovered they were already late for hosting the first “Evening Author Reading in the Town Green.”

They usually book a local author to read a short story or a selection from a novel. OF COURSE what they SHOULD have done is requested me to come read from my novel-in-progress that I haven’t worked on in at least two years because I’m the next big epic fantasy writer of all time.

But they didn’t. Instead they booked a man who calls himself “Arthur Willingsby” who was nominated for a Push a wagon or Push a wheelbarrow award or something like that.

My meta fiancé, award nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins, was stressed because of the weird noise his car is making lately and he keeps asking me VERY POINTED QUESTIONS about the last time I drove it. He hasn’t made any open accusations yet, but you drive ONE LITTLE CAR off a bridge TWO OR THREE TIMES and people never get over it, Gladys!!!!!

#bestkitten has been the most stressed out of all of us. Firstly there’s the fact that the birds are all coming back to New Hampshire and a family of robins made a nest in the bush outside our front living room window and no matter how much #bestkitten does her best chirping noises, none of the birds so far have climbed into her mouth!!!!!

And then there’s the new cat slinking around our neighborhood. It’s terrorized the squirrels, who have in turn terrorized a sasquatch nest, who have in turn started sasquatch season early and have begun tearing off people’s siding before we’ve even had the chance to repair the siding damage they did last fall!!!!! THIS CAT IS DISRUPTING THE NATURAL CYCLES OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

I have tried everything to get this cat to leave. I’ve taken up playing the tuba (everyone knows there’s nothing a cat likes least than someone playing “When the Saints Go Marching in” on tuba except for if you play “When the Saints Go Marching in” on the vacuum cleaner!!!!!) I’ve put out a cat nip trap. I’ve offered the cat an all-expense paid vacation to Sandals, Jamaica, but NOTHING IS WORKING, GALDYS!!!!!

After a day of playing tuba and sending angry emails to the town, we all decided that we’ve gotten a little stir crazy being in the house all week. We begrudgingly chose to go down to the burnt down gazebo in the town green and grit our teeth and listen to the obviously inferior work of the so-called local author “Arthur Willingsby.”

It was a packed house. There were a lot of people who brought lawn chairs and blankets and there was a hot dog cart and a man selling maple sugar floss. Everyone seemed a little disgruntled. Maybe they were also stressed from whatever they have going on in their lives or from the fact that our weather has been yo-yoing, or from the fact that they weren’t going to hear the next big epic fantasy writer of all time. Or maybe they were all annoyed that the town had announced YET ANOTHER event paid for by taxpayers at the last possible moment. 

Fortunately, no one brought any candles like they did for the Neil Gaiman reading.

“Arthur Willingsby” turned out to be a bald man with a strong, beak-like nose and a charming smile. He began his authorial chat with an obviously egotistical comment about how he had been asked at the last possible minute by the town to do this reading and he thought about turning them down because the last author reading hosted by the town ended up in a massive fire. And he has asthma.

Everyone in the audience tittered stiffly, but someone in the crowd, and I’m not saying I know who it was, shouted, “Maybe you should have said no seeing that you’re not the next big epic fantasy writer of all time” and some people are saying it was me BUT if you hear that it was me who said it, Gladys, I need you to correct that rumor right away!!!!!1!

But then, “Arthur Willingsby” took out a story he had published a few years ago and began to read and as he began to read, the audience grew quieter and quieter and their eyes grew wider and wider so that each of the faces in the crowd looked more childlike.

The story was called “Wishes.” It’s about an older woman who had recently buried her adult daughter on the morning she discovers that her house had been put into lien. The older woman starts thinking she would lose her house for sure and how hard it would be to start life in a little apartment at her age with so many memories already built into the house she has.

The older woman finds an injured fairy in the butterfly garden her daughter built in the back yard and she nurses the fairy back to health with all the care she had showed her daughter while her daughter was in hospice. The fairy then gives the old woman three wishes with a warning that wishing someone back from the grave never works the way one wants.

And Galdsy, I can’t tell you how it all happened or how it all made sense the way it did, but somehow “Arthur Willingsby” wrote this story so that when the woman decides instead to take up all the things her daughter never got to finish and the fairy disappears into the fairy world for ever, it made it so that a tiny, glowing candle was lit in each of our hearts.

Which is good that it was a candle in our hearts because of what happened the last time we had so many candles at the town green.

Anyhoo, when “Arthur Willingsby” finished his story, we all sat in silence for several seconds before bursting into tearful applause. But it was like the quiet never left us. Sitting under those stars on a chilly spring night with blankets wrapped around our shoulders as the cry of a lone sasquatch tearing the siding off a barn echoed into the night.

It’s funny what a story does to us, isn’t it Gladys? How you start a story as one person, and you end the story as a slightly different person?

But I must get back to my tuba!!! This cat isn’t going to catch itself!!!!

Pages next week, Galdsy!!!!




















TO. :-/

Discover more from File 770

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.