The House of the Seventh Minuet XLVI

I only slept in a little on Saturday. The nice thing about working from home as a writer is that I can set my own hours, so unless I have a meeting, I’m much less likely to need to sacrifice sleep, and in turn I didn’t have to play catch-up on the weekends. It was still a little rainy outside, and the autumn air was cool but not too cold.

Chopin had found a quiet corner to sleep in. I don’t know what she’d been up to all night while I rested, but now it was her turn. I didn’t disturb her, and when I went downstairs, I left my door open so she could fly out and come to me if she did wake up and need something. In the meantime, I had to get down to the kitchen to check on the stock and get it ready to strain and separate into jars. I turned it up to bring it to one final boil while I made breakfast.

Stefan called me in the middle of the afternoon.

“What are you up to?” I asked him.

“Oh, just taking a lunch break from work.”

“Oh, you’re at the music store today?”

“You bet,” he said. “I’m not interrupting your writing, am I?”

“No,” I replied with a laugh. “I just finished canning a bunch of chicken stock I made.”

“Embracing the rural lifestyle, are we? I like the sound of it.”

“I’m actually really enjoying it,” I told him. I had just finished making some mint green tea, and I set it on a table to cool before stretching out on a couch. “I’m thinking about starting a compost heap, too. It would help out with trash, and I want to start a garden in the spring.”

“A garden?” He seemed to perk up at the sound of it. “Will you let me help you build it?”

“You’d really want to? It might be more digging than building…”

“Of course! Anything you need help with, call me first,” he said. “So, that comes back to why I was calling. I talked to the manager about getting some time off.”

“Okay, sounds good so far.”

“Larsa has fall break in October, and most of the music students Killian tutors will be out of town, too,” Stefan explained. “My manager can give me time off at the same time; I told him I’d double check with you before making a final decision.”

“That sounds great,” I told him. It wasn’t easy for three people to get time off together, so this was actually really good. “Which dates can you guys come up for?”

“October ninth through the… well, we don’t want to over-stay our welcome, but we wouldn’t have to be home until the eighteenth or nineteenth. I figured I’d tell you the dates and let you put your two cents in.”

I wish he could see how much I was grinning just then. “You mean you could all be here for my birthday?”

“Yeah,” he said. “But if you’re doing anything with family, I underst–“

“I’m not doing anything,” I told him. “I invited Jonathan and Sean up here, but they both have plans already.”

“Whaaaaaaaat? They made plans on your birthday?”

“Yeah,” I grumbled. “Jonathan and his wife are going to Disneyland, and Sean’s college doesn’t have fall break. His plans actually boil down to studying like crazy for exams.”

“I see; your big brother is really mean!” Stefan teased. “First he keeps taking your teddy bear, then he can’t even take you to Disneyland for your birthday!”

“You’re incorrigible,” I laughed, shaking my head. Jonathan was actually a very nice brother, but I knew Stefan was being silly. “He did say I could tag along, but I didn’t want to be a third wheel.”

“It’s not because the pirates scared you?”

“Stefan,” I said in mock condescension, “you know very well that I would put those pirates in their place and take over their ships.”

“There’s the pirate queen I look up to,” he laughed.

I got up and hurried over to the calendar hanging in the kitchen. “So you can be here… early on that Wednesday?” I asked once I’d flipped over to October. “Tuesday is okay, too, if you can make it.”

“That part I’ll have to check with Killian on.”

“Okay… And you guys can stay as long as you want. I don’t think we have anything major at work, but I might have some small things, if you’re okay with me working from home a few hours during the week.”

“Of course. I’m actually really excited about being their for your birthday. We can even help build your compost area.”

“You’re not obligated to, but I’m not going to stop you.”

We talked a little longer, and agreed to sort out the final details later. This was turning out to be a great weekend already. My birthday was more or less a month away, and I would be able to have my friends over and really enjoy our time together. Plus my stock had turned out delicious, and I had the whole rest of the day to do whatever I liked.

It was still raining out, so I decided not to drive into town, even though it would have been a good opportunity to catch a new movie. I just wasn’t ready to go down the mountain on wet roads, and come back up in darkness and possibly harder rain. What I decided to do, even though it was still early, was clean a few of the rooms in the house. It was just some basic dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming, but it felt nice to get it out of the way.

Another thing I took care of was checking the linen closets. Great Aunt Lydia had gotten a lot of the unused bedding packed into storage bins and vacuum-sealed bags, which really helped preserve them and keep out odors. All I would have to do was give them a wash right before it was time for my friends to come, and they’d have fresh linens to sleep on.

Once the domestic stuff was out of the way, I spent some time soaking in the bath before settling in for some gaming. I had a lot to catch up on in Final Fantasy, so I kept myself occupied with that until the evening.

Chopin flew into the room just as the sun was setting. She perched on the back of the couch and cooed at me until I paused the game and turned to her.

“Hello there, night owl.”

She hooted several times and flew over to the window.

“Yeah, I figured you were about ready to go outside.” I unlocked the windows and opened them a little. The rain was much lighter, but it wasn’t completely gone. “Go on, catch some mice, do whatever else you need to take care of.”

She hooted and glanced outside.

“I can’t help the fact that it’s raining,” I told her. “You can come back in after you’ve eaten. If these windows are closed, just try to find whichever other one I’ve opened.”

With a little hesitation and some more hooting, she took flight and vanished into the darkness. I left the windows open while I went back to my game, but I only played long enough to get to a save point. Then I shut off the electronics, closed the windows, and headed to the kitchen. I didn’t expect the owl to return right away, but I still opened a window and enjoyed the fresh air.

I made spaghetti and meatballs with garlic toast and salad; it was hard to keep the portions small enough for just me, and to be quite honest, I was looking forward to having guests to share meals with. Chopin returned after I’d eaten and was cleaning up the kitchen. I had everything from the past couple days either scrubbed and set out to dry, or loaded into the now running dishwasher. She was kind enough to shake off the water while perched on the window sill, rather than on the kitchen counters.

“Welcome back,” I told her. I hoped that Larsa was right about owls being lucky, because there was no avoiding this one anymore.

Chopin hopped into the kitchen, cooing and looking up at me. Then she looked more upwards, and I followed her gaze.

“I know,” I sighed, “You want me to get the key.”

I closed and locked the kitchen window first, then brought down the wooden box from the top of the fridge, then replaced it as soon as I had the number seven key in hand.

“Just help make sure I don’t regret this later on, okay?”

The owl hooted. I dried off the counters, did one more check that the kitchen was clean, and then headed upstairs with a tall glass of water. Chopin followed me all the way to my office and found a spot near my desk to perch so she could watch and hoot at me without being too in the way.

The hours passed as I wrote, pausing only when I needed to look something up. I hadn’t heard from Stefan for a while, and figured he was busy working late at the music store. He was really good with the music equipment they dealt in, from simple fixes to demonstrations to loading it into customers’ cars. He probably also remembered that I tended to write in the evenings.

When the old grandfather clocked chimed out the eleventh hour, Chopin flapped her wings and ruffled her feathers excitedly. I stopped typing and looked up at her.

“You think it’ll happen tonight?” I asked her. Then I sighed. “Just when I was getting to the part about the newborn unicorn twins.”

She hooted and cooed, and I shook my head.

“I just… Listen, I said I’d go. I’ll talk to Jean-Marc, but I can’t stay.”

She hooted again.

“My friends would miss me if I disappeared,” I told her. “I can’t do that to them… especially Stefan.”

Chopin hopped closer to me and looked at my screen, cooing and hooting the whole time.

“He’s not online right now. And you should know, if I told him my house was going to turn gold soon, and that I was going through a magical door into another world, he would insist that I not go.”

She pecked at the keyboard.

“No, don’t start doing that.” Thinking about Stefan had me burying my face in my hands. “Argh, I don’t even know if he’d come to Tierney Ríocht with me if he were here.”

Chopin cooed at me softer, and I felt her wing drape across my arm.

“Your feathers are really soft,” I whispered to her. Then I took a few deep breaths and sat up. “Okay, Chopin, here’s the plan for tonight: I’m going to do some more writing. If something happens when midnight rolls around, we’ll go. If not, it’ll be time to get some sleep.”

At the same time, I was secretly hoping that Stefan would come online and keep me company for the next hour.


About Legends of Lorata

Eleanor Willow is the author of the high fantasy series Legends of Lorata, which takes place on a medieval-style world filled with elves, dragons, and faeries. There is also a fourth race, one that is rare and magical: the angelic Starr. Lorata is a planet where four gods are known: good, evil, elemental and celestial-- and there are plenty of legends about them all! One of the most important ones is the prophecy of Jenh's champion, Loracaz, who is promised to return to the land whenever evil threatens to take hold. There are currently three books completed, and the first one can be read online. Book four is currently being written, and a fifth will most likely be in the future. Any news I have on about publishing will be shared as it comes in!
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