Doloise had been sitting quietly under a charm she called a “veil,” but really was just a misdirection.  It’s that terminology issue again, I think.  When I think of a veil, I think of a physical manipulation of the visual field, but she merely made people look different places, like any magician worth his (kosher sea) salt.  (I think prestidigitation should be a required course of study for practitioners, because there are so many important lessons in it.  Of course, I have been trying to learn to juggle for years.  I know, I know, I can create a doorway from here to the Nymphic Pleasuregrounds (well, in theory, anyway) but I am concerned about throwing a few balls in the air and catching them in order?  You’re smart.  I’ll just let you sort out the obvious corollaries…)

There was one awkward moment when my boss du jour, chatting with me about flummery and ephemera nearly decided to sit in the seat across from me, where the Realm perched, happily ensconced in trying to figure out how to make the little electronic ninjas fly.  I was able to dodge the sports questions (thank you, talk radio!) and he was called back to his office by the clock.

(The clock is a harsh mistress.  Time seems inevitable, and, I’ve been told by some, it is one of the hardest elements to manipulate even though it is one of the most basic and mathematically simple.  We are slaves to our perceptions, even at the finest levels.  I have considered the idea of being able to make a portal that crosses through, but I find myself hesitant at best.  I don’t want to be on the wrong side of time.  Time has me (and probably you) by various short hairs, and it’s a knuckly, sweaty grip.  Time to laugh, time to cry, time to get to work in the morning, time to check and make sure Doloise is still entertained and not about to make immortal trouble…)

I like to be active.  When it’s busy, I feel like I’m getting things accomplished.  I don’t have time to think.  The whole “Idle Hands” proverb is true on many levels – if you’re thinking too much, you’re not just being self-indulgent, you’re on the precipice of mental disaster.  Chances are you’re not self-affirming, you’re instead worrying about what other people think, what needs to be done, how you’ve failed in some fashion.

Which is all nonsense.  Downtime should not be a chance to slide straight into a depressive spiral of things you _ought_ to be doing; it should be a chance to recoup, to heal, to improve.  You should be levelling up, darnit.  The problem is the entropy.  When I’m sleepy that lack of focus can turn everything soft and fuzzy, maybe even nicer, that blanket of arousal that leads into pleasant dreams, but when you’re awake there’s more anxiety.  The clock breathes down your neck, showing you that lovely door straight into Guilt.

I have been known to unplug my clock on weekends.  I stay up too late on weeknights as it is – regular sleep would make a heck of a difference, but I don’t want to be ruled by Queen Clock.  (Hey, would it be a King, or only if it missed a letter?  Don’t answer.) So I’ll bumble around tired now and then.

Not so tired not to make a disapproving click as Doloise suddenly sat up, a flash against her amber lenses alerting me.  Adrenaline flooded my system.  What was she going to destroy?  Where was the danger?  Did she download some killer app and I was going to have to spend another half hour with more of the electronic equivalent of duct tape and baling wire?  Did she need another doughnut from the break room?

“Your wrist is beeping.”

Oh, so it was.  Well, not the wrist, but my watch.  The Red Poets.  Yeah.

I stared at Doloise.  I only knew faintly of rusalka, the firebirds, and Old Man Winter.  I recognize that I have a blindness when it comes to fey, thinking of them as mostly Celtic in origin.  Tatiana.  Hmmm.  Well, maybe they’ll recognize her, or even better yet, have some kind of cure.