The Little Sisters of Eluria (The Dark Tower 0.5)

Image result for little sisters of eluria book cover

A scorching day has Roland of Gilead approaching a town’s gate in the Desatoya Mountains. His horse was on his last legs and Roland noted decayed flowers attached to the gate, which signified a festival of some kind, and the quiet within erroneous. The few sounds heard coming from a bug which made a deep buzz, a rap on wood, and little bells. Roland dismounts the slowly dying horse, and respectfully grooms him a bit as he notes the sounds and enters through the gate, the only other defining mark being an odd looking cross, he having seen the typical style of this in other towns he’d seen in the ten months he’d been travelling, the norm being a large cross at the entrance, a smaller one upon exiting. He views the usual businesses within, two bars, a motel, a trade shop, town hall, and a metal-smith, he also viewing a church the further into town he got, the god of choice being Jesus, which wan’t a common deity in Mid-World, but still having a following. He then is pulled back into the only sounds described, he wary of the meaning of this involving death. As Roland led his horse through the gates, he saw a forgotten cob pipe in front of the trade shop, and the swinging doors of The Bustling Pig bar were in disrepair, one hanging open, the other leaning on the building, and what looked like blood on the door still attached. A fire had taken out a barn behind a stable, and as he gets ever closer to the church, he estimates the town’s current condition would’ve occurred possibly two weeks ago due to the flowers not being completely dead in front of the church.

Roland learns where the bells he heard came from, the cross on the church door having bells strung up, he then shouting out a greeting to the town, no reply being heard. He sensed he was being monitored though, he continuing his trek to the front of the Sheriff’s office, a billow of trapped heat consuming him upon opening the door. Roland sees a blood stain in the cell, flies getting a snack from the spatter, he discovering a notebook revealing the town’s name of Eluria. He then reads some of the entries, the last leaving him to suppose the criminal may have escaped. Roland continues toward the center of town, he identifying the wooden tapping to a lame dog chewing at the boot upon a dead body in a trough. When the dog notices him and doesn’t move along after Roland shoos him, he fires a warning shot which gets the dog limping away, and mournfully howling as he headed toward the back exit of the town. When he takes a look at the body, it’s of a teenager, he noticing a trinket around the boy’s neck, which he retrieves, the engraving including the name, James. Roland was pleased he’d gotten the necklace since he now could save it on the chance he met anyone knowing the boy, realizing ka could make the possibility more certain. He debated whether to bury the lad when his horse finally drops, he catching a glimpse of eight green-tinged people walking in his direction, their gender uncertain and approaching like zombies. The group carried wooden sticks off of furniture, one of them falling as they got closer.

Roland finally fires a warning shot after another pitches a stick at him, but not far enough, and his verbal warnings go unnoticed; the shot has the desired effect of pausing their progress. As he begins instructing them to keep still as he backs away, another of the green men shoots forward, making odd noises as he came (Roland beginning to identify their sexes as they got closer). Roland shoots him squarely, the man’s reaction being to step backwards at his same quick momentum, scratching at the bullet wound, he finally tripping and staying down. The dead(-er?) bodies reaction to the sun, bullet, or both, has Roland believing there wouldn’t be a corpse to think of an excuse for soon enough. The others stay put, until “Bowler Hat” takes another step after Roland had gotten behind the trough, he blasting a final warning shot, and sharing his plans of leaving unhindered, when another greenie is heard from behind him, this one hidden by a toppled wagon, the man-thing whacking Roland on the shoulder, and he missing his aim at the greenie, the gang he’d kept still, now speeding closer. The greenie whom hit him was a whopper of a fella with two heads, Roland putting him down with a head shot as he was readying to club him again, he now having to deal with the gang finally upon him, more club hits to contend with. Roland is able to send a few back, and hopes he’s able to get the buffer of the wagon so he could finish them off, he wanting to believe ka wouldn’t have his search end so early before locating the Dark Tower. Roland gets whacked hard enough to hit the wagon, he still working on escape, now aware of more greenies coming, perhaps thirty strong. As he’s losing consciousness, he still plans to shoot, but the gun is knocked away from him, he being consumed by darkness as the previously mentioned sounds, plus the dog’s barks, lull him into unconsciousness.

When Roland ascends to wakefulness, which he hadn’t experienced before, he believes he was no longer living, but as his sight came back slowly, he no longer thought he was dead, the singing he heard changing his mind, similar buzzing bugs being heard, he opening his eyes again and being tested whether he was actually living, noting he was hovering in a white, majestic place, thinking he was inside a cloud at first, hearing the buzzing and bells. Then, upon an attempt to turn, he felt straps holding him in place, feeling a hurt sensation climb up his back, another more terrible one in one of his legs. He realizes these pains came from the club with the nails in it, his head feeling terrible, as well. When he tries to call out, he’s having trouble convincing himself he was hearing his own voice, which sounded crow-like. He believed he imagined hearing the dog bark again, and then felt a hand on his face, comforting him at first, before thinking it could be a greenie, but then she spoke, attempting to keep him quiet so he could rest longer, he thinking of how he must be hanging above a bed, too wounded to be lain prostrate.

Roland, soon after this thought, falls into unconsciousness, only this time not as deeply as before. Some time later, he hears the girl angrily protesting to someone seeming to want to acquire something he had. When he awakes again, the “white beauty” place still charmed him, he recognizing it was a long, high, narrow space, he estimating it was about two hundred yards in length, he feeling it was a bit like being inside a large tent, silk above him giving the impression of being inside a cloud, from each section of silk having a rope with little bells attached, wind making them sound pleasantly. Roland saw two rows of forty beds, and two more were in use next to him, one Roland was suspicious in believing was truly the boy in the trough, now alive and sleeping, the necklace Roland had taken from him, on the neck of this one, supporting his disbelieved notion. The other man he saw was further away from the two, and much older, hanging above his bed, and Roland thinking his eyes were tricking him when he viewed the unconscious man’s multiple fractured legs in motion, dark impressions surrounding them, as well as one on his cheek; his back feeling the same, he attempting to ignore his curiosity to learn why. He then notices a cotton cloth on his chest, he recognizing he was wearing the same gown as the old man, and when grabbing and inspecting a chain he wore, realized he had the dead boy’s chain still. When he took a last look at the old man, the black line on the man’s cheek was gone, a wound still healing there, Roland confused by this, but able to fall asleep with the bells chiming and the bugs buzzing.

Roland next wakes and believes he must be having a night terror, seeing the first witch he’d ever met as more than a single woman, but five, and they were dressed in uniform, their faces heavily lined, small bells on the silk upon their heads. When Roland saw the sign of the Dark Tower on the front of their habits, he realized he was actually awake, then they noticing he is conscious, and when they approach, the age of their faces become a bit younger. When he inquires who they are, the one whom had spoken to him first introduces them as the Little Sisters of Eluria, and she was called Sister Mary, she revealing the others as Sister Louise, Sister Michela, and Sister Coquina, the final one sharing her name was Sister Tamra, her face changing quickly into quite an old crone’s, the group moving closer to him, and he bringing pain when cringing away, they curious by his pain, and as Michela readies to touch him, Mary warns of not doing so, Roland thinking it had to do with the medallion which had fallen out. A sixth, Jenna also bids them to go away, the Sisters teasing her of having fallen for him, she ignoring them and insisting they move along so Roland could rest, Jenna easing her tone with Mary’s sober reply of they not ever kidding around, after stating this, she deciding they’d visit the other needy souls.

Jenna attempts to soothe him with the fact of they not wanting to hurt him, but Roland knows this wasn’t the case. He then asks whether they followed Jesus, she amusedly denying this, which prompts him to inquire where the doctors were, Jenna debating sharing and finally warning him not to yell in panic with the boy right next to him, to which he agrees. So, she moves to where the old man hung, Jenna ringing the bells on her head as she leaned over him, the bugs he heard buzzing, going down his legs, Roland realizing this was what he was feeling on his back, securing his wounds. Roland definitely felt the urge to shriek as the bugs jumped off the man on to the floor. When Jenna rejoins him, she informs him how he was discovered, he grateful to her and sharing his name as requested, he sensing she wasn’t being truthful when she shares of not knowing where his weapons were, but didn’t hold this against her, believing she could be declaring this dishonesty for being scared. When she’s called by Sister Mary, she has him promise not to make known she’d shown him the doctors, and before going, has him stick to the story of he being James, the young man next to him his brother, otherwise she’d be in great danger. Roland considers the reason Jenna had moved the medallion to encircle his neck, thinking the Little Sisters may murder Jenna if they learned of this, Roland then drifting to sleep.

Roland is sleepily imagining a bug which could be one of the doctors, irritatingly bumping his face and chuckling whilst he uncoordinatedly attempted to swat it away. When the nightmare turns to a large greenie sneaking up on him, he jolts to consciousness to see Coquina had been happily tapping his face with a wooden spoon, and made her drop the bowl she had been holding with his sudden movement. Roland snatches the bowl before it drops out of reach, which impresses Coquina, he then gesturing for the spoon which she gives him, but he soon realizes isn’t necessary, drinking from the bowl directly, whilst warning Coquina to remember his agility. The two then get into discussing the pull each had on the other: if Roland mentioned Coquina’s teasing to Mary, and she making Jenna’s life difficult if he did. The two agree to stay silent about their exchange, Coquina confiding Jenna was currently on a ‘time out’, she then inquiring if he knew the no-longer-sleeping boy, he watching them, Roland not missing a beat to claim him as his brother, the boy supplying his own name to Coquina and Tamra, whom walked up, John also referring to Roland as Jimmy.

After the two Sisters leave, they speak of James’ fate, Jenna’s uniqueness, the non-mortal state of the nurses, and how John had gotten there, he deducing why James hadn’t been saved. As they spoke, Roland isn’t aware the soup he’d drank had been spiked, he becoming tired, John describing how many beds had been occupied before he’d gotten there, and how they didn’t return when healed, and as Roland became more deeply affected by the drug, John confesses what had happened to Roland to make him feel sluggish, the boy also questioning Roland’s thoughts on his presence when he was pretty much healed now, and his belief neither of them would see daylight again. When Roland wakes up in the night to laughter, he struggles to turn his head to see all of the Sisters except Jenna surrounding the old man, Mary speaking words he didn’t understand. When the room is thrown into pitch black, Roland hears the sounds of slurping, and when they’re done, he moves his head the other way. As they get closer to him and speak of their wanting to kiss him, but the medallion keeping them away, this doesn’t stop one of them from grabbing his boner until he quickly finds release, he seeing two faces bewhiskered with blood, and Roland’s assurance of not ever sleeping again. (Liar.)

When next Roland woke, it is brightly day, John asleep, and the old man removed, Sister Mary soon arrives with Louise, she speaking of not being grateful to him and revealing his ways had brought about Jenna’s revolt, she demanding he show his hand, the bowl of soup they’d brought with them making his stomach growl, Mary annoyed with how well he stuck to his story of being Jim, even after threatening Jenna, Roland stating of ending her if Jenna was harmed. Then, after refusing the soup unless given to him by Jenna, Mary informs whilst she had been released from time-out, she was bound to extra meditation, Roland having no choice, but to acquiesce, Mary’s threat of whipping Jenna keeping him trapped. When he sleeps once more, he believes he’s visited by Jenna, whom advises him to check beneath his pillow later, and when he’s finally able to, sees six stems of reed heads with instructions, and once finishing reading, realizes the importance of following the words carefully. The last time Roland speaks with John, they regret the circumstances they’d met, John unable to move well, and next heard from him, being a shriek. Michela comes with his soup next, along with bread, her words of his leaving soon giving him the impression of this being otherwise, what with her wolfish looks of hunger.

Roland eats another reed upon waking after his dose of soup, believing he’d overdone it with feeling ill, and having to stay still as all the Sisters, except Jenna had another person with them to obtain his and John’s necklaces. When Roland sees Mary with one of his guns, he vows she’ll regret having been so bold. The Sisters bribed Bowler Hat to relieve the two of their protection, he giving the impression he was about to obey their orders with John first, but then taunting them with leaving it on, he knowing their threats didn’t hold much water, other than the firearm, which after another threat from Mary, gives him pause. When he does finally go through with his task, he does a bit extra by killing John quickly after. The Sisters properly preoccupied, Bowler Hat escapes, the Sisters feeding, and when they’d gone, Roland taken over by the soup drug again, a nightmare hitting for the first time since his arrival, it foreboding the spread of the Sisters to surrounding towns, Bowler Hat’s presence in his dream waking him, he seeing John’s bed now empty, Roland being the last man swinging. He had some of the reed before Mary came with porridge, her youthful image strong due to her feast. Roland mentions his idea they’d been drugging him, but Mary denies this gleefully, she then turning to his lie about John being his brother when he asks after him, he then attempting to bribe the truth he kept by seeing Jenna, Mary angered and threatening his willingness to confess would come regardless.

 It ended up being quite a drawn out day, he fitfully napping and maintaining optimism of being able to survive this due to Jenna’s aid. He then bides his time with reminiscences of the past, he periodically chewing some reed, and noting they seemed to be overpowering the Sisters’ drug, and when evening came, Sister Tamra delivers his supper of soup, as well as a desert lily from Jenna, which Tamra asks of the topic being promised to Roland, he making up she’d told him they’d speak again, Tamra getting a kick out of this and sharing how Mary had chosen to deny this possibility already, she then asking why he didn’t take his necklace off, pointing out how John had, and when her words to convince him to do the same fail, she leaves, indifferent. Roland then plans on getting both necklaces to the Norman brothers’ family, as he chews another reed and feels actual endurance in him, he then drowsing easily, he awaking at true nightfall, and hearing the loud bugs, he chewing a reed. He hears a voice which turns out to be Coquina, she revealing herself, then Jenna walks toward them to confess she’d supplied the reeds to Roland, he thrusting the medallion toward Coquina to keep her away from him, Jenna having brought Roland’s firearms as he thought she would, but he still caught in the slings after attempting to break loose.

Jenna then uses the bells around her head to call the bugs, they swarming, and Jenna getting Roland loose, the two walking out of the tent, which is when Roland realizes he’d forgotten John’s necklace with regret, but Jenna revealing she’d picked it up, requesting he take it quickly because it was burning her. Then, three of the four Sisters approach, teasing Jenna as they get closer, she responding by speaking of leaving with Roland, the three surprised into silence, they warning her of what would occur if she tried, but Jenna stating how none of them truly knew whether there were consequences, she then threatening the bugs on them if they didn’t let she and Roland pass, but they standing aside willingly, Jenna leading Roland up a road, away from Eluria, not liking how Mary hadn’t shown herself, yet. They discuss how they were both in agreement in keeping each other company when Mary interrupts, she looking properly death-like. Jenna attempting and failing to summon the bugs, and Mary coming closer, Roland deciding he’d try choking her out, her flesh disgusting to the touch, and she thrusting him away with her power. Jenna then tries her bells again, this time getting a dog to answer the call, it going after Mary with gusto, as Roland pulls Jenna along.

When they stop to catch their breath, Roland considers why the dog had been immune to the Sisters’ powers when Jenna senses he must know something about it, which he responds by relating his theory, and then suggests they cover some ground before daylight. They cover a few miles, but not too many because of Roland still flushing out the Sisters’ drug, they locating a decent spot to spend the day, the two sharing a kiss before he passes out, dreaming of the dog discovering the Dark Tower, he then hearing bells and a scream which doesn’t fade with his dream, he waking to see he was alone, detecting Jenna’s clothes and then hearing the bugs, he ringing the dropped bells and the bugs making a sign which seemed to confirm his thoughts, Roland then tracking Walter once more, he troubled with the imagined ringing bells as he traveled on by himself. I liked this story, but I’m also annoyed I won’t be getting my hands on the comics any time soon, alas. At least I’ll be on to the next soon enough though, which isn’t actually soon enough.

Kitchen

Image result for kitchen banana book cover

 

The Narrator, Mikage begins with her most favorite spot being a kitchen, the size, kind, or location not an issue, preferably well used. Even if they’re spattered with food, which Mikage hopes happens to the larger kitchens she may visit, currently though, she leaning on a large fridge, viewing through a window the evening stars. Only she and the kitchen present whilst considering how she would be content with dying in a kitchen. She remembers when her grandmother died and couldn’t sleep, sleeping near the fridge easing her mind. Mikage’s parents died at a young age, she then living with her grandparents, when starting junior high, her grandfather died, and the previous day, her grandmother died, she shocked to learn she was now the last one in her family, after attending the funeral, moving her futon to the kitchen. When she realizes she must move, the list of apartment options overwhelms her, she buckling with the task, but as the days passed by, she is visited by a young man, Yuichi, as she’s glancing disinterestedly at the apartment list, and binding up old magazines with strings. Mikage thanks him for helping her at the funeral, they having attended the same university, and she taking bereavement leave.

Yuichi inquires after her apartment hunt and she informs him of its stagnation, Yuichi then inviting her to stay, he having discussed this with his mother, and giving her directions, setting a time she could visit later. Mikage accepts without thinking too much about it, he then leaving, she recalling Yuichi’s reaction of sadness at the funeral, she thinking he must’ve had a relationship with her grandmother she wasn’t aware of, but after he’d offered her his help there, he’d continued helping her. Then she remembers her grandmother talking of the boy, Tanabe, whom worked at the flower shop she frequented, Mikage sensing he was the solitary sort, since even after knowing him for a bit, he seemed stand-offish. It began raining as she walked to his house, their homes separated by a park, she walking through, and when seeing how high their floor was, considering how wonderful their view must be, she not thinking past their invitation. She’s greeted by Yuichi at their front door, and is hit with the size of the couch before seeing the large kitchen behind it, and loving it from the first viewing. Normally, when confronted with people she didn’t know well, in a different home, she felt isolated, but knowing how alone she already was, put a spin on the situation, giving her new perspective.

Mikage gets straight to the question of why she was there, Yuichi plainly stating how nice her grandmother had been to him and they having plenty of space to spare, the two interrupted by Yuichi’s mother, Eriko rushing in, Mikage captivated by her stunning features. Whilst getting through pleasantries, Eriko quickly changes to return to work at a nightclub, she mentioning how she expected Yuichi to convince her to stay over, Yuichi walked her out and suggests Mikage watch TV for a moment as he rushed out to speak with his mother, Mikage finally understanding what being enchanted was. When Yuichi returns, he inquires whether she’d felt timid around Eriko, she being honest and remarking on her exquisite features, Yuichi confides how she’d had surgery, and had been a man, Mikage at first thinking he was messing with her, but then listens to how his parents met when they were young, his mother’s family giving Eriko a home, he then running away to get married with his mother. After his mother died, Eriko decided to get the surgeries to become a woman and started the nightclub. So whilst she still didn’t know whether to trust him fully, she gave them a shot because she did have faith in their kitchen, the two’s “Buddha” smiles being nice, as well.

When they end their night, Yuichi shows her how the shower worked and gets her set up with blankets, pajamas and what not, she again making certain her staying was fine, he then leaving her to get settled. When she lays down, she’s quite content with the silence, view, plants, and kitchen so close, she going to sleep, content. When she’s greeted by Eriko in the morning, she forgets for a moment of her male genetics, but then offers to make breakfast when Eriko decides takeout would be easier, she leaving Mikage to work the kitchen. Eriko shows her healthy appetite and by afternoon, Mikage is reveling in the slow, calm atmosphere. Eriko then mentions how Yuichi had described her as looking like a dog they used to have (17 Again), Eriko insisting on seeing the resemblance and how amused she was by it the night they met, Mikage hoping the dog wasn’t a Saint Bernard. Eriko then explains how she understood why Yuichi was so attached to her was for this reason, and she regretting not being a better mother for recognizing his aloofness, but he turning into a good person; she recognizing the same of Mikage, relating how hard life could be, but wanting her to be comfortable. When Mikage offers to pay rent, Eriko instead request she make the soupy rice once in awhile, hers surpassing Yuichi’s.

Mikage then realizes upon review, how stressing living with the elderly could be, knowing they could die soon. She recalls how easy the relationship between she and her grandmother was and the times she may have mentioned Yuichi, but even during times Mikage was impaired by drink or love, she knew there was only one person left in her life, and while she was aware of having been loved, the loneliness of her life sobered her to how it was, so she didn’t take long to move in. She showed her appreciation with making food and tidying, still working her part-time job, the three of them working different hours so it feeling spacious, Mikage extremely grateful with how she’d gotten so lucky. When she’d gone to her old home for the remainder of her belongings, she already felt estranged, and as she cleaned the fridge, her house phone rang, she hearing her ex, whom was out of the picture when her grandmother got worse. He called to give condolences, having heard through classmates, they then making a time to see each other. Sotaro’s main interest is plants, he normally outside near parks and whatnot, but due to the winter season, they agree on a cafe near a park.

They have general chat until Sotaro brings up knowing she’d moved in with Yuichi, whom had been slapped by his now ex-girlfriend in school. As they walked through the park she was reminded why they weren’t good together, he not making her feel good about herself, but by nothing he outwardly said, only how he was, they then leave each other on good terms. As she’s watching TV later in the evening, Yuichi comes home with a word processor, Mikage noting Yuichi and his mother’s penchant for pricey electronics. When he questions her on when she would post her change-of-address forms and how she’d rather get it done when she moved for good, he reacts bluntly, but quickly lightens, Mikage again asking if her being there imposed on him, he acting oblivious. They get the forms ready to send out, she learning Yuichi wanted to help for despising spare time. As they continued, she asks about the issues her being there seemed to have for him, he finally catching on and as they worked, she sensed he was quite melancholy, she understanding the issue he’d had with his girlfriend, and if she stayed there, she’d only make his life more difficult, she also seeing how their intimate conversations could complicate her feelings toward him, so whilst making the new address forms, she attempted to convince herself of needing to move as soon as possible.

When Eriko comes in to drop off a newly bought juicer, she remembers a gift for Mikage upon seeing the address cards, Mikage overcome by the thoughtful banana glass (a nod to herself?). Mikage cleared out her stuff and finished cleaning the next day, she seeing the landlord and chatting amiably like she and her grandmother used to do. She was heading to her new home by nightfall and getting emotional about how she was truly done with her childhood home, but then getting cranky when riding a crowded bus, feeling better when seeing an airship. A grandmother and granddaughter sitting nearby, the girl seemingly in a bad mood is unphased when her grandmother points out the same airship to her. When the girl’s grandmother finally gets the girl to smile though, Mikage is overwhelmed by no longer getting to see her own grandmother, she rushing off the bus and crying violently, knowing it was because she hadn’t properly mourned, but she then noticing she had stopped at a kitchen, she immediately feeling better and continuing on her way. When she got back, she announced how tired she was to Yuichi and is almost fully asleep when he’d gone to the kitchen to make tea, she halfway aware of his commenting on how quickly she’d gone down. She dreamt about the kitchen in the old apartment, a floor color she once hated, now loving. She sees Yuichi cleaning the floor and she suggests they have a tea break.

They have an aimless chat, until Yuichi asks whether she was going to leave their apartment, and before she was able to answer, telling her not to, which confused her since he sounded like they’d already begun this topic. He explains how he’d considered carefully before inviting her, and believed being with them is what’s best for now, Mikage conveying her agreement and Yuichi returning to his task of cleaning the floor. They they begin singing together as they worked, Mikage believing she broke the dream-mode by requesting they stop in case her grandmother woke, he instead suggesting they go to a ramen noodle stand at the park when they were through. Mikage wakes up after this, it now two in the morning. Yuichi takes her by surprise whilst she’s in the kitchen pouring water for herself, he also having woken up and deciding to make ramen, Mikage offering to cook it for him and to sit on the couch. When she mentions in her dream he’d also wanted ramen, she notices his surprise, he then inquiring of the color of the kitchen floor, she confirming he was correct, and thanking him for mopping the floor, he then offering to get them both juice, Mikage letting the discussion about the dream lay, knowing they had plenty of time in the future to talk about the shared experience.

One night Eriko is watering the plants when she blurts how it isn’t simple being female, and learning one’s breaking points is healthy in truly having the ability to know happiness, she appreciating the hard times she’d gotten through. Mikage states how she believed she knew what Eriko meant, Eriko then complimenting Mikage’s grandmother for having been an extraordinary lady for having raised a truthful, good-hearted young woman, she loving Mikage for it and how she’d been fortunate. Mikage begins reading the magazine she had started before Eriko’s spontaneous chat, and also ponders how she’d have to move again at some point, she debating if she’d ever come back when she did or would only have her fond memories. She then decides to focus on ‘the now’ and enjoy them whilst she could, also considering how she planned on handling the tough times in the future. She then thinks about imagined and real kitchens she’d experience with many people or only one other, in every place she would live and knowing there would be plenty more.

Eriko was murdered by a crazed regular at her club after the man had seen her walking to work one night. Yuichi phones Mikage to let her know, waking her up and stating how Eriko had taken her murderer down with her, Mikage having difficulty allowing this to sink in due to grogginess. Another blow came when Yuichi confesses how long ago it had happened, he not able to let himself inform her before the funeral, begging her forgiveness. Mikage decides she’d rather have this talk in person and offers to come by (this being after she’d finished school and now worked in a cooking school as an assistant), she then remembering the last encounter she’d had with Eriko being at a store late one night, the two ending their passing with smiles. Mikage dashes through her apartment hurriedly to grab what she needed, finally getting her head together with the items she required and left. On her walk, she starts to get upset, her eyes blurring and making everything viewed in a pretty glaze. She was truly broken by the news though, life not seeming worth living, none of this showing . When she sees Yuichi, she’s quite happy since it’d been awhile, Yuichi surprised she wasn’t furious with him. Instead they sit on the couch drinking coffee, he at first asking about her job, she in the honeymoon phase, then relaying his state of mind being wildly out of sorts around the time of the funeral, he having her in his thoughts, but unable to confess for it becoming too real, regardless of Mikage and Eriko being so chummy.

Mikage handles his explanation by noting how they were a pair, having lost so many people already, she successfully lightening Yuichi’s mood and they proceeding with Eriko’s will, but Yuichi also giving her Eriko’s red sweater which one day she had guiltily admitted looked better on Mikage. She proceeds with reading the letter written to Yuichi by Eriko, she starting lightly, stating of the ridiculous possibility of her death by someone’s hand, but sensing the necessity, she glad Mikage had entered his life since Eriko was the last of Yuichi’s family, this before warning him to refrain communicating with his mother’s side. She then tells how she attempted writing as a man and failed, she then reminiscing about the good times throughout her life, Mikage living with them being one, then ending with what legal papers he would find and to phone the lawyer for further detail, everything but the club going to him. Mikage stayed up most of the night grieving, the two not getting up until after noon. Yuichi readies for school and inquires if Mikage planned on going home, she thoughtfully declaring she would wait until dinnertime, which lights the idea in Yuichi’s head she should make a fancy feast, she wholly into the idea and supplying a grocery list for him to retrieve for her, after he’d gone, she getting the empty-house feeling, prominent after a death.

Mikage treasured the six months she’d had with Eriko, she getting overcome with the empty feeling and sleepiness, but resisting for knowing nightmares would arise, she moving to the kitchen and upon inspection, cleans the place for not being used in awhile. As she made progress, the kitchen duties eased her mind, she realizing she had turned a corner. She remembers how the summer she was with Eriko and Yuichi had also been the one she’d learned to cook. She bought three books which covered all the necessary information to attempt the task. Yuichi and Eriko would tease her because of the flurry of excitement she’d display as she learned, she even finding how cooking made her feel when in negative moods. She realizes she had brought the family together due to how much she cooked, she looking back on those days fondly, then considering how the possibility of beginning the cooking process depended on if the heat was at the right temperature before cooking, believing this affected the taste and look of the dish, they certainly not looking like the pictures in her texts. Mikage then goes over how frustrated she had at first become upon failure of making a dish properly, but how she’d gotten through it, not changing her, but helping her discover her own process. The position of the celebrity cook she’d landed, she believed was acquired by the difference in temperament between herself and the other candidates, especially with only the three month study program (her three books) she’d given herself. The other women not living a life which would allow the same type of learning Mikage had gotten (those three months of heaven), enough to understand risks needed to be made for anything good to come from life.

All of Mikage’s cleaning had passed the day, Yuichi having her help him with two more bags of groceries in the car, he then seeing the moon looking nice, Mikage catching his attempt at changing the subject due to making her help him with bags having nothing to do with the dinner like he’d claimed. As they rode the elevator back up, Mikage came to the idea how Yuichi made her feel content, but unable to make sense of the emotion. Dinner took her two hours to finish, she mentioning how she wouldn’t be able to cope with Eriko’s death all at once, and noting how worn down Yuichi seemed, which is why neither brought up Eriko. After they had eaten all they could, Mikage saw an empty bottle of wine Yuichi must have drank by himself, he then conveying how it did help cause his putting off calling her about Eriko, being drunk for a month and his mind believing she’d hold his not confessing sooner against him. Yuichi then confides all the thoughts he’d built up about how he’d handled his mother’s death and not being brave enough to face Mikage, he then asking if she’d move back, she not knowing if he was too drunk to understand what he was saying, but stating of it on the table for debate. Yuichi brings down the mood with how he could end up becoming stuck in his gloom, she getting upset and deciding they should see how things would go. He passes out and Mikage cleans the dishes whilst she bawls over her isolation. When she is woken by the phone the next morning, she picks it up before remembering she wasn’t at home, the caller disconnecting after she says hello, she then going to work. After she learns she’d be let out early, she was also invited to a three-day research retreat for food, she immediately accepting, which answered her own question of whether she’d be staying with Yuichi. As she entered the prep area, she speaks with the two head assistants who couldn’t go to the three-day research retreat, due to golf lessons, the girls sweet, and Mikage pleased to work with them.

Then the three are visited by the defensive, know-it-all caller, a classmate of Yuichi whom is also in love with him, she attempting to demand Mikage leave him alone whilst also schooling her about how she’d gotten him in a rut, she mentioning how she’d comforted him after his mother had died, and before she could continue her selfish tirade, Mikage starts speaking about how the girl hadn’t even gotten her side of what happened, she feeling bad for the girl having wasted her time for a useless task. Once Mikage had said her peace, the girl left, the two assistants supporting Mikage’s side, she feeling worn down. When Yuichi returns home later, Mikage shares her news about work and planning on leaving to pack, but as he’d been driving her home, she craves some tea beforehand, and upon sitting, she mentions this being their first time out together. When he’d gotten her home, they discuss what he’d like for a souvenir, she burying her face in his arm when realizing how cold it was outside, then leaving and discovering her own jealousy, not knowing whom was “winning”. Mikage then relates a sad memory of Eriko when she was sharing a story about before she became a woman, his wife terribly ill and how he’d visit her before and after work every day. At one point, his wife asks for something alive to be with her in the hospital room, Eriko immediately out and buying a pineapple potted-plant, his wife extremely grateful. When she was about to get worse (Eriko not confessing to her the nature of her illness), she requests he take the plant home with him, his isolation shared with the pineapple, he also coming to his first realization of becoming a woman as he decided against hailing a taxi, after his wife’s death, planning on maintaining a bemused sunniness, he then transitions to become a lady. Mikage figures what she’d meant by sharing the story, she fighting her weaknesses as she tried to sleep.

The next morning Mikage gets a phone call from Chika, the head girl at Eriko’s club, whom now owned it by Eriko’s will. Chika was a transvestite, but quite pretty, he calling to speak with her about an important topic, mysteriously only giving the place they’d meet and hanging up. Upon meeting him at the noodle place, Mikage begins eating and then inquires what was so urgent, he usually exaggerating, but he talking about how Yuichi was acting oddly, usually so austere, but his emotions breaking through, he referring to Yuichi to an Inn since he’d not been sleeping well. Chika then confides his sense of they’re deep affection for each other and she should go after him, Mikage numbed with his deduction. He goes on to figure out what the hold up was besides Mikage’s trip, she relenting by deciding to give tracking him down some thought, Chika relaying how Yuichi’s state of mind needed changing what with his mother’s death affecting him in such a bad way. As Mikage walks Chika out, he breaking down loudly, he also gives her the information on the Inn. As he leaves, Mikage affected with his emotion, but still undecided about her next move, she end up doing nothing about it and begins her trip to Izu with Sensei, other staff, and a cameraman, Mikage reverting back to thinking this was best, the muddled feelings being too difficult to sort.

Later in the evening, Mikage goes to Sensei’s room to ask if she’d be allowed to go get a meal since the Inn served only veggies she didn’t like, she not minding, and once Mikage had gone out walking, she discovering she’d love to be on the road more often, but Yuichi having put too much of an impression on her. When reaching the first restaurant she still saw open with only one other patron, she goes in and gives her order. As she waits, she uses the phone sitting on the counter and dials Yuichi’s Inn, when he answers, he deduces how Mikage got the number, she asking about the food there, tofu being the answer, after they joking about not eating apart, together. Mikage asks about how long he’d stay, she not believing his reply of it not being long, the two hanging up soon after, Mikage’s sense of isolation returning, but once her katsudon was done and tasted, she abruptly deciding to order a second and both made to go, she remembering Sensei had mentioned this place and was disappointed they couldn’t hit it.

Mikage debated her next move, which is again made for her when a taxi pulls up, she getting him to agree to the longish fare, when they get there, the cabbie able to arrive in decent time, she then having to contemplate how she’d get into Yuichi’s room since no one at front desk was answering, it after midnight, and the lights in all the rooms being off, she then sensing which room it was and climbing to it, but getting stuck, and after a few moments, able to pull herself up, but sustaining an injury. Now bleeding and after take a rest, she knocks on the window, Yuichi answering after a minute, disbelieving he was seeing her at first, but once getting her inside, gives her tea whilst she insisted he eat the katsudon she’d gotten for him. Her original feeling of gloom permeated and dissipated with the memories they’d shared. Before leaving, she finally gets her thoughts out about wanting to be with him, but for him to think on it until he felt better, after the two joke about Yuichi wanting to exude masculinity when Mikage saw him, they part. Mikage is next awoken by footfalls outside her door, she viewing the snowstorm which moved in, and getting up when Sensei called. On their final day of the trip, they had a French menu, Mikage taking a walk on an unbearably cold day on the beach, only warmed by a can of coffee (I’ve had one before, heated with chemicals at the sealed bottom, not bad stuff), when returning and readying a hot shower and tea, Yuichi calls, she informing him of the foodstuffs she’d sent ahead, he declaring he’d be picking her up, and so giving him the information of when and where, contentedly.

This was a wonderful story, quite gripping and entertaining. The fact it didn’t really have chapters didn’t make it difficult to read due to the fascination the writing brought. I’m glad I decided to read this on a whim.

Moonlight Shadow

Hitoshi was given a bell which he carried with him on his case he used as a wallet, the Narrator giving this as a token of love, which he would keep close to him until the end (…of the story?). The two were in the same sophomore committee for a field trip, their time together brief since being in separate groups when arriving, they only spending time together on the train. When they’re about to join their groups, the Narrator, Satsuki (annoyingly not introduced until five pages later) gives Hitoshi a spur-of-the-moment gift of the bell left behind by her cat. She was impressed with his sensitivity in reacting to her present, all day the two thinking of the bell and their shared memory, upon returning, head-over-heels for each other. The bell had stayed with them for almost four years through all the poignant moments of their time together. Then Satsuki confesses to sensing Hitoshi’s fuzziness in reality to her, she considering if this thought was a bad omen of the future, it would be quite unfortunate.

Hitoshi was gone by the time Satsuki was twenty, she drastically changed by his death, feeling something terrible must now occur to her because of her instability. Her connection to him involved many major firsts in her life which they were able to learn together, but now she couldn’t stand living for not having Hitoshi. Satsuki takes up running for two months after Hitoshi’s death (Octopus Pie having a similar story when Hanna takes up running after splitting with Marek, more funny, but still sad), she getting terrible sleep with consistent dreams of Hitoshi. Her depression led to feeling nauseous and instead of becoming anxious for dawn to rise, she’d started jogging. During the day, she would distract herself with buddies, she awaiting the day she’d have her eureka moment. Even after Hitoshi’s death, Satsuki still enjoyed the river which he had lived on the other side of, they meeting on the bridge, frequently. She meditated how these times of rest helped her stay sane for the day.

The next morning she is woken with a nightmare, prepares to run, but finds when doing so, brought difficulty in breathing, deciding to push through it. When reaching the bridge and pouring some tea for herself, she’s snuck up on by a lady asking for a cup (presumptuous), Satsuki dropping her thermos over the ledge, the lady seeming friendly and light-spirited, so once taking a sip herself, offers the woman the rest, she offering to replace the thermos. The woman then states how she’d arrived recently from a fairly distant place to view a sight only seen once a century, she then inquiring if Satsuki knew of this, but when being told she hadn’t, agrees to share what the phenomenon was in some time. Satsuki doesn’t wait though, she realizing she needed to be heading back, then Urara introduces herself, she stating of hopefully seeing her again.

Satsuki thinks how strange Urara was, and when taking a second look at her, sees an expression which changed her features, but smiles and waves again when looking away from the river and sees her staring. She wonders about the type of person she could be as she continues on, then Hiiragi, Hitoshi’s brother is mentioned to stepping to the beat of his own drummer, his eighteenth birthday “this month”. When Satsuki meets him after his class, he was in full sailor girl uniform, Satsuki horrified, but able to act natural for his nonchalance. As they order tea, Satsuki notices a movement Hiiragi did, which reminded her of Hitoshi, the two now having a system of making light of it so as to throw away the sadness they felt. Then it’s elaborated on Hiiragi losing his girlfriend, Yumiko the same night Hitoshi had given her a ride to the train station, whilst Hitoshi not being at fault, both of their lives having been taken.

Hiiragi makes chit chat about her running, then suggests they go to a new spot with delicious tempura on rice, after how the running didn’t seem to help her getting chunky. Satsuki knew she’d been actually losing weight, but plays along, agreeing and then explains how the outfit was Yumiko’s, his late girlfriend, her parents attempting to have him stop, but he having a good laugh over it, Satsuki having asked about it and he explaining it made him hurt less. Satsuki realizes then they had a new expression for their faces which conveyed the attempt to bury the thought of their partners. Then Satsuki states of having to let her parents know she wasn’t coming home for dinner, Hiiragi planning on ordering out for delivery for his mother, she saying how nice the gesture was. When Satsuki had first been informed by Hitoshi of his younger brother, he’d specified how his weirdness made him worry whether it could affect Satsuki still liking him, also mentioning how adult-like he acted except around his family, but Hitoshi also stating it was most likely okay since Hiiragi enjoyed meeting “‘good people'”.

Then back to real time, they about to walk to the place across the river, Satsuki remembering she hadn’t seen Urara since the first morning they met, she getting another hit of pain when Hiiragi thought she’d hesitated and offering to drive her back, his kindness dripping of Hitoshi. Then Satsuki shares of meeting strange Urara, recalling the expression on her face seeming demonic and Satsuki thinking it was because she thought she shouldn’t have human feelings, then comparing how minor her melancholy seemed, wondering if she was in store for worse pain. As they neared the restaurant, they ended up having to go through the cross streets where Hitoshi and Yumiko had their accident, Satsuki and Hiiragi becoming solemn and trying to stay upbeat, she discovering how cells could get the feeling of people from the past, not comprehending the idea before, like when tour guides in castles would offer this possibility. She then begins to consider Hitoshi’s last thoughts and emotions, as well as how it would’ve looked at night and whether this night looked similarly. She noted how beautiful the moon was as Hiiragi nudged her to cross the street. They were eating when Satsuki regained a luster for life caused by the meal, she complimenting it so hard, the employee was embarrassed.

One afternoon, Satsuki had gotten sick, too ill to run, she realizing the phone was ringing and having to pick up for no one else at the house. She’s surprised to learn Urara was calling to see if she could meet up, Satsuki agreeing, but also asking how she’d discovered her number, Urara good-naturedly relating how she wanted it, so it came (synchronicity), Satsuki accepting this due to how she explained it. Urara then informs Satsuki to join her at a department store in the thermos area, Satsuki knowing she shouldn’t leave for her cold, but too intrigued, following her gut. Making sure to dress warmly, Satsuki rides her bicycle, noticing the weather promising spring, everyone outside seeming to go about their business pleasantly, whilst Satsuki remained insouciant, wanting her heart to finish the job of breaking already. When she sees Urara, she notes how she looked closer in age to herself this time, when Urara sees Satsuki, she notices immediately she was sick and getting straight down to showing the different sorts of thermoses available to choose from, she feeling much better for Urara’s exuberance.

After Satsuki detected one, they have tea, she then giving Satsuki a variety of tea to break in the new thermos with since a shop owner closing his shop gave away a bunch to her, Satsuki again grateful. She then asks once more about how Urara had come by her number, she divulging more information about how she’d become proficient in sensing them, allowing her finger to choose without thinking, Satsuki wanting to trust this since she felt like she’d known Urara a long time ago, and her nature made one susceptible to accepting her far-fetched explanations. Satsuki describes her gratitude in a strange way, she being as euphoric as a “lover”, Urara not missing a beat and advising Satsuki feel better by the day after next, Satsuki deducing the phenomenon must be the reason, which Urara admits, also relaying the hour to be at the bridge, she asking about what it could be and Urara finally confiding how if all progressed accordingly, Satsuki may see a kind of supernatural sight, she sensing Satsuki had a deep bond with the river making it more possible she’d succeed in seeing it, whatever it was being unique. Satsuki dazedly finalizes the meeting, she then flashing back to Hitoshi and her last time at the bridge being a fine one, he getting ready for a boys night, Satsuki a healthy amount plumper and much more content. When they say their goodnight’s, Satsuki hears the bell as he walks off. She then confesses how terrible their fights could be, the two also having affairs with others, they both wounding the other countless times, but overall their time together being happy.

Satsuki used to dream how she’d stop him from leaving, the memory consistently having the affect of upsetting her and bottling her pain in public hurting more. As Urara and she split later, she was wishing this something did happen, but also soothing herself with the thought of still being pleased by the both of them being at the river, regardless of the outcome. As she’s about to reach her bicycle, she spots Hiiragi, in normal-wear, she thinking he was playing hooky and instead of calling to him for weakness, walks in his direction, but he going off, fortunately in the direction she needed, unfortunately at a speed she couldn’t equal. Hiiragi soon stops in front of a tennis shop though, Yumiko having played, he blankly staring within, Satsuki not making herself known, she deciding she wouldn’t go up to him, seeing the look of a bird searching for its mother on his face, it being adorable, but also feeling down about how his presence soothed her because of reminding her of Hitoshi. When she had first met Yumiko, she couldn’t imagine the hold she had on Hiiragi, she seeming average in most ways, but for whatever reason, she complimenting him in her way. Hitoshi relays to her it was because of her tennis abilities, they watching a finals game, where the two realized Hiiragi was right, and her friendship to the girl budding, which made the events later even more terrible to think on. Satsuki leaves Hiiragi without saying hello and decides to not mention ever having seen him, her illness getting worse. She awakens from a dream again, still sick and debating her run, wanting dawn to break, instead making tea, returning to her room, and looking out her window to see Urara, whom mimes permission to pass their front gate, she nodding. Urara then explains being on her way home from work, noting how terrible Satsuki looked and offering a vitamin C candy and some comforting advice, afterwards closing her window for her, she feeling better enough to catch a few more z’s.

Satsuki gets much more rest, she awaking early in the evening, questioning whether she’d actually spoken with Urara, also wondering if more horrible nights were in her future, she then surprised by a visit from Hiiragi, whom had called, learned of the sickness from her mother and dropping by to see how she was feeling. He then shows her his get well gift of KFC, enough for them both so it being time to dig in. During this, Hiiragi opens up with letting her know of how concerned he’d been for her and to call him if she felt too alone, glad and surprised he’d said anything. Later, she sleeps better than she had been in a long time, the aid of medicine helping, she next waking at the right hour to prepare her meet up with Urara. She still goes for a run, and Urara is waiting for her at the designated spot, she greeting her warmly and warning her what to do as the time neared, she mentioning of their dimension about to change, and not to move or say anything when they viewed whatever they would see across the river. As the sky lightened, first Satsuki hears a bell, then notices Urara had disappeared, when looking back at the river, she sees Hitoshi at the other shore, breaking down, but not saying a word, he waving to her as his image faded with dawn, she again seeing Urara and telling her how worth the experience had been.

When Urara shares of the Weaver Festival Phenomenon whilst they drank tea in a shop, she explains how the vision was produced, she also having lost a significant other, she then mentioning of seeing Satsuki the first night and deciding to extend the invitation. Satsuki then wonders what plans Urara had next for herself, whom she’d seen, as well as still curious about the sort of person she truly was, unable to say anything to her. Urara states how the moment having allowed them to have a second chance with goodbye’s should ease their minds, Satsuki still in much agony over the memory, she finally inquiring after Urara’s next destination and she giving the vague answer of seeing each other again, as well as knowing Satsuki’s number, they parting, and she considering what Urara had done for her. Satsuki is next waiting at Hiiragi’s school to deliver his birthday present of a record to him, when he dashes out claiming to have seen Yumiko, he not wearing her uniform. He shares how one night he’d been woken up seeing Yumiko walk through his door (after opening it, of course) and taking the sailor suit, she then mouthing, “‘Bye-bye'”, waving, and he going back to sleep, the next morning unable to locate the outfit. When questioning his own sanity lightly, Satsuki suggests he start running when getting those emotions, he cracking up. Then from Hitoshi’s perspective, he states of having to be on the move, then giving an idea of Urara being a part of him and grateful of Satsuki waving goodbye to him.

This was an interesting and odd one, as well, but there’s something about Kitchen where the characters hold one’s attention more, connecting with Mikage, and the goodness of Eriko. Overall worth it, quite an easy read on top of everything, too.

The Hours

I saw the movie awhile back so the story should be read with fresh eyes. I’ll be curious to see if, as the story goes, I’ll recognize any moments. We begin with a woman walking off to a river, loading herself down with stones, a fisherman within visual distance, but not being noticed as she walks into the water, stumbling and being dragged the rest of the way in, she having terrible migraines and voices only distantly within her hearing. We jump to her husband’s perspective, getting news from the maid being of which his wife having gone out for a walk and would return shortly, he then going upstairs to watch the news and locating a letter addressed to him, his wife remarking of her soon-to-be bad times again and not wanting to put him through the trouble. He rushes back downstairs to ask the maid which way she’d gone, heading in the right direction but seeing no one but a fisherman. We then go back to Virginia’s perspective, she floating along briskly, but not far, getting stuck near a bridge, still underwater but feeling the resonance of a little boy and his mother, he throwing down a stick into the water and soldiers waving to him as they pass on a truck.

We’re then introduced to Clarissa who needs to pick up flowers, leaving to return hopefully within a half hour. She’s in New York and content with her errand for a party she will be throwing. We then learn Clarissa is in her early fifties and feeling as young as her eighteen-year-old self. As she’s walking down the street, Richard comes up to her and calls hello to her, referring to her as Mrs. Dalloway for their similarities in fate, apparently (and current tasks). Richard (who shares a name with the Clarissa of Mrs. Dalloways’ husband) is dealing with AIDS and speaking his mind of what he thought of the day in opposition of Clarissa’s view. The narration of the story also somewhat mirrors Mrs. Dalloway, shown with description of what Clarissa thinks of certain objects and people she sees on the street, her plans, and the attempt at flowing other characters thoughts as she passes (which doesn’t have the same smoothness of Woolf).

When Clarissa is walking through the park and meets another friend, we discern she, like “M.D.” Clarissa, also has a daughter, her daughter begrudging her for her conventionalism. Clarissa invites Walter, her friend to the party in the evening if he and his partner will be up to it and also states the reason for her party and how Richard had won an award. We are then told Walter’s invite could possibly upset Richard and their friend Sally, in support of him because of Walter’s profession and possibly due to his personality when it came to his shallowness. When he leaves, we determine Sally and Clarissa live together (seeming to give the Clarissa of “M.D.” a future she could live rather than possibly fantasize about); I’m also recognizing how Cunningham has long run on paragraphs like Woolf, but because his flow differs, it gives me the feeling like I must struggle to get through it rather than flow with it, regrettably.

We then identify Richard not liking Sally because of her personality and he and Clarissa used to having fantastic arguments, but because of his illness this side of their relationship had taken a backseat. Clarissa then goes to a book shop to look for a gift for another friend and also thought of buying a dress for Julia she wouldn’t likely wear. She continues with a memory from her childhood which gives her a feeling she hoped to discover one of the books could embody for the both of them and then thinks of Mary Krull who seemed to have a hold on her daughter (similar to Elizabeth and Doris Kilman). Clarissa then goes to the flower shop and has another childhood memory before greeting the florist, Mary Krull warmly, after which we get some background on Mary and then Clarissa begins choosing flowers leftover from Mary’s busy week of supplying for weddings and whatnot until they hear a crash from the street (straight out of Mrs. Dalloway). They figure the noise came from the “movie people” who have set up camp in the area and then Clarissa sees a woman come out of a trailer she can’t identify, but knows must be a famous star. We get Clarissa’s interpretation of what goes on between the woman and one of the crew before she withdraws once more into her trailer.

We next get Virginia Woolf’s perspective, starting with how she thought Clarissa’s story should begin and then dreaming of being in a vibrantly green park and awaking with the feeling left by the dream, but forgetting the line she wanted to add to her story, not bothered since she was aware of the feeling it gave still. As she washes her face in the bathroom we are given the same quirk Septimus had, but is now showing in Virginia’s personality, which was her avoidance of looking in the mirror for fear of what it would show. When she then gets coffee and heads for the printing room where she discovers Leonard looking over page proofs and greeting Virginia, asking how she’d slept, and she answering with insouciance. We then learn of Leonard’s cheerleader status of Virginia’s work and how he considered her the most intellectual and surprisingly talented woman in England, he attempting to insist breakfast on her, but she maintaining coffee will be enough, he relenting, but making certain she takes a proper lunch, she consenting for wanting to get straight to work, which she does by retiring upstairs to begin. She’s quite self-aware of how she will feel and if she will be able to get into the right state for a fruitful session of writing, we seeing she was beginning her foray into Mrs. Dalloway.

We then continue in California, 1949 and follow a Mrs. Laura Brown who was reading, but shouldn’t have been for whose birthday it was, feeling she should be preparing breakfast for Dan and Richie, but hearing Dan already downstairs with Richie and thinking she should be, as well. She had started her day late, though (7 am) and was consumed by a dream she’d been having and was aware the day wouldn’t be an easy one for it. We then learn she’s given allowances for her lapses in judgement due to being pregnant. She decides she’ll make up for missing breakfast by baking the “perfect” cake and other tasks. She goes on reading to calm herself and we get an excerpt from Mrs. Dalloway, she then expressing how she would spend her whole life reading if she could. We then discover Dan was in a situation where his identity had been mistaken for someone with a similar name and was believed dead for a couple days, but came back unchanged, fortunately from his military service. We then distinguish how the two had known each other and she seeming similar to Clarissa’s daughter, Elizabeth with her foreign-seeming features in comparison with her relatives. We then continue reading with Laura as she reads Virginia Woolf’s novella, Laura wondering how Virginia came to kill herself when she could write such beautiful sentences, she planning on reading all of Woolf’s novels.

Laura hopes she had some touch of brilliance which people noticed, having fantasies about what others would be impressed with, she leaving this thought and readying to go downstairs, feeling unprepared like she was about to go onstage without proper rehearsing. As she pauses before entering the kitchen, we get a feel for her peccadillo about her husband and reaffirming how she’d contribute to her husband’s birthday. He notices how she seemed annoyed at he not waking her, but they both discussing gently in front of their three-year-old of he not wanting to disturb her only because he naturally woke up at dawn, albeit regardless of she wanting to be able to make his breakfast for him. He then promises to do so the next morning and then begins the rituals of getting ready to go off to work, Laura not as sure of herself when being left alone with her son, straining to keep a steady hold on how to unceasingly act a mother’s part. She decides to continue their day by getting him to finish his breakfast, whilst she contemplated whether her reading so late in the night could affect the baby, having an irrational fear of being told she shouldn’t read, deciding she’ll make an effort to go to bed earlier, cutting her reading back. She then shares with Richie their main plan for the day, she deciding she will do all the necessary tasks a mother and wife should.

Clarissa is then shown walking toward the trailer where she saw a crowd of tourists congregating, she with her bouquet of flowers and overhearing two girls argue whether the woman within was Susan Sarandon or Meryl Streep (an interesting choice, now I think of it), Clarissa believing it to be the latter. She uncomfortably awaits the star’s reappearance, but gives up to continue on to Richard’s apartment. When she gets closer to his street she begins to remember way back when on a certain corner where the two had argued over something, she not quite remembering, then reminiscing about the stores, some still from the era referenced being there, but selling items only tourists would be interested in. When she goes into the lobby of Richard’s building, she rates and is repeatedly surprised by the seedy look of it, thinking about how differently the building must have begun. She tries the elevator only to get back out on the ground floor for it not seeming to work properly, climbing the five flights to Richard’s floor, he calling for her to enter and she debating whether or not to bring up the nickname she didn’t feel necessary to continue using, then thinking it wasn’t the right time.

When Clarissa gets in and greets him, opening a blind for more light since his lamps all had low wattage bulbs, she then regards his trashed chair which he refused to get rid of, smelling the rot of it and asking how he felt since he didn’t sleep much those days due to medication induced hallucinations. We then learn a bit more about Richard’s views of life and the people around him, seeing them in a very precise light, Clarissa then making sure he remembers the party and ceremony later, he so fogged he thought it already happened, Clarissa then promising to stay by him the whole night. Richard then voices his embarrassment for what he thinks is a wrongful win of the award he’d be receiving and Clarissa continuing to reassure him, she suggesting he nap before she came back to help him dress, he giving in and she thinking of how their lives would have been if they’d gone a different course than the one they’d lived.

Mrs. Woolf is swallowed by time for two hours and was feeling powerful about what she’d accomplished, also knowing she may not like any of what she’s written by the next day. She reads over what she has, believing it to be acceptable, some parts more-so. She had the hope this would be her finest novel, considering how her main character, Clarissa would die. She then noticing she’d like to write all day, but something stopping her which makes her think she shouldn’t overdo it since it could ruin her progress. She also didn’t like doing anything but write when she could, due to the fear of a “headache” getting in the way. She goes into how all encompassing it is which warrants a better word than “headache” to describe it, but for fear of sounding melodramatic calling it only by this. We learn when the voices are heard during the pain threshold and how once she’s finished with an episode and had rest, she’s ready to continue to write, believing the pain a requirement, but hasn’t made the descent in years, also knowing how swiftly they could return and wanting to be in London if she must return to madness. She then wonders whether to continue writing or break, perpetually being torn by the possibility of being lazy, but she’s reached her goal for the day and considers she should be patient, she having tomorrow to write more.

Virginia walks out of the room and is greeted by Ralph, who was working with Leonard reading proofs and despite the greeting, he not having a good morning. We discover Virginia’s stance to Leonard’s assistants at the printing press and invariably stayed loyal to Leonard regardless of his unfair attitude toward his employees. Virginia indicates needing a walk before helping the two with their project. We then learn of Ralph and Leonard’s traits when it came to their work. Virginia’s next statement taken wrongly by Ralph when it seemed she was coming to his support, she actually boosting Leonard’s spirits, but not correcting his goofy relief.

Meanwhile, Laura Brown is preparing ingredients for the cake whilst admiring a bird passing the window. She then includes Richie in the process, overly proud with his response to her question regarding the number of cups of flour they needed for the cake. Laura is content with her life and family at this moment, making the cake she’ll soon bake feeling on par with those in magazines and other grand contentment which comes from being satisfied with one’s place in the world. She then has Richie play a part in the process of measuring out the flour and depositing it into an empty bowl, the task being performed concisely and uncertainly, but Laura giving him verbal support he’s completing the task successfully. For a moment Laura gives the impression of something going wrong which puts poor Richie on the verge of tears, but she quickly reverses her statement to reassure he’s done his part correctly and asking if he’s ready to repeat the process, he relieved and wanting to try again.  Laura then regains her enduring love for her son and realizes she will want this second child and is glad she’s married (all of this sounding like she’s kidding herself since her life sounds bloody idyllic, the dope. I hope for her sake I’m reading her positive reinforcements for herself incorrectly).

Mrs. Woolf is then shown walking down the street thinking of the details of Clarissa Dalloway’s suicide. She maps out her first love in her youth and her growth into womanhood making her see she shall marry, then considering how to make her inevitable suicide properly heart-rending. She continues her focus on Clarissa’s friend from childhood, deciding to leave the specific details of her death to be worked out more fully, later. As she walks, an old woman brings to her attention she must be speaking aloud to herself again and is prepared to defend herself if necessary upon the old woman passing her, but not getting further reaction she continues her walk. Virginia thinks of her own sister, whom mirrors a habit she’s given to one of her characters and then considers how much she misses London and the reason they had moved to the dull town being for her health, but all the while, wanting to “return to the dangers of city life…”.

Before reentering her home, she readies herself to remember herself properly, not only for her hubby and maids, but mainly for reacclimating herself to her own principles. She then considers the differences between herself and male writers, they seeming to have a particular viewpoint of literature compared to herself and moving her thoughts again back to what will eventually topple Clarissa over the edge. Virginia makes her way down to the kitchen after hanging her coat, in the character she believed “Virginia Woolf” would and learns from the cook what they will be having for lunch, she having the option to request whatever she wishes, but doesn’t, approving of the menu even though she didn’t care for most of what was listed, Virginia mentioning since her sister would be joining them she wanted a specific side with their tea later, the item requested needing to be gotten from London. Nelly, the cook seems to think it may be too late in the morning to go to London if lunch were to be ready on time at four, but Virginia explains the time frame and imagines Nelly is passive-aggressively responding to her. Virginia then relates how Clarissa won’t have these social issues with her servants and their want to go above and beyond her wishes will be affirmed.

Clarissa is then shown meeting Sally at the door of their apartment, the latter sharing of she having a lunch appointment with a “movie star” and had tidied before being off. Clarissa not previously knowing of her meeting, but not holding it against her and wishing her a nice time before the two part. All the while, Clarissa is thinking of how Sally doesn’t look good in yellow and will disclose this to her later. After Clarissa goes inside, she thinks of her ruined plans of she and Richard growing old together and then of how lucky she and Sally were with the apartment they inhabited in New York. She then senses how whilst looking around, she didn’t feel as if her home was hers in this moment. She comes to understand if she were to leave all these bric-a-brac behind, she wouldn’t miss them, nor Sally or Richard, but be able to be comfortable with herself, alone (I can relate).

Clarissa doesn’t seem to necessarily feel repressed, but there is a sense of being content in her apartment by herself, at this moment and then the feeling leaves and she throws away some old flowers and thinks of the plans ahead of her and her contentment in the rituals of her life with her partner. She listens to messages from the caterer they’ve hired, a friend needing to go see a friend who is also ill, and a request from a guest if they could bring a plus-one. Clarissa then thinks of the possibility Sally hadn’t specified her lunch was due to she not being invited (also what happens to Clarissa Dalloway), even though she’s met Oliver and had a personal conversation with him, but she believed her lack of invite was because she may be thought of as only a housewife which didn’t bother her as much as thinking her popularity in the art world and her career were waning; Also realizing Oliver most likely hadn’t passed over inviting her on purpose, but only because he hadn’t thought to extend the invitation.

Clarissa then is aware of the nearby sounds outside as she does some busy work in her apartment. She having a flashback of a time when she was eighteen and believing everything was at her fingertips, but it falling mainly on the house she and her roommates shared (one of them being Richard) and how this had influenced her move to New York. Meanwhile she’s still endeavoring to convince herself she doesn’t care Oliver hadn’t invited her to lunch, then thinking back to her experimental college years with Richard and his boyfriend, Louis. She then considered what her life would have been if she’d returned Richard’s kiss on a significant night, but then realizes to stray too far from one’s principles for love would not be a stable and responsible course of action. Clarissa then shares her memory of the night Richard and she had kissed, along with how they’d spent their time after this day and considering why she’d think back nostalgically to those times was because she was more optimistic and happy then, and the kiss was the only memory which mattered.

Laura Brown is now realizing her cake is well below the standards she’d expected. Nothing was actually wrong with it, but she thought it would be larger and more pretty, the one she looked at seeming unprofessional. At the same time she also tried to ease her own mind, knowing she was being too hard on herself and instead focused on the chores she would be attending to later. She then considers Dan’s responses to the gifts she’ll be giving him and how he consistently showed thankfulness but not ever seeming to truly want something, unfailingly content with what he already had. Laura begins thinking of her comfortable life and pleasant husband, deciding if there was something missing in her life and what it would be. Kitty then knocks at the door and Laura is torn between answering and feeling too frumpy and wanting to wait until she left, but then Richie rushes in and, like an excitable dog shouting about the visitor at the door with happiness and nervousness, she decides.

Laura opens the door and invites Kitty in for coffee after she inquires if Laura would be able to do a favor for her, she seeing Laura’s cake, noticing she continually glancing at it and stating how she thought it was “cute”, completely tearing down Laura’s idea she was indifferent to how crap it looked, the review making her feel her attempt was childish (she must having forgotten, she was making the “monstrosity” with a child; sounds like Laura is riddled with hormones). They make idle conversation and we get background as to how Laura knew Kitty, she treasuring their neighborly friendship, but knowing they wouldn’t have been friends in high school. We then learn about Kitty’s husband and his civil service as well as Laura’s husband in comparison, understanding more as to why Laura had married him, after which, the two making idle chitchat.

Kitty then gets down to why she’s come by, which gives some insight to Laura’s curiosity about why she hadn’t started a family with her husband yet. Laura then began seeing Kitty as someone to be revered and to look up to for her bravery, having customarily blamed Ray as being the issue to her barrenness. Laura then shows her empathy for Kitty’s situation by instigating a hug and then considering how men must feel when comforting women. Kitty then shares of she being fine, but is more worried about her sensitive husband, Laura advising her to let go of this train of thought for the moment. The two then share an intimate moment which Kitty ends first, Laura internally taking the blame and seeing Richie watching. Kitty then confirms the task needing looking after before leaving, Laura stating she’d call her in the hospital. After, noticing her son’s multi-emotional look and wanting to return to bed and book, instead leading Richie to the living room to entertain himself whilst she dealt with making a cake she can be proud of, dumping the last, and planning carefully to avoid another “failure”.

As Virginia helps Leonard and Ralph, Lottie informs them of Mrs. Vanessa Bell having returned with her children, Virginia not expecting them for two more hours. Meanwhile Marjorie is wrapping books up in twine and speaks of wanting to have finished by this time, Virginia hiding her reaction to Marjorie’s voice. Leonard announces of being unable to stop his work at the moment and will meet them at the designated hour if Vanessa waits. Virginia states she’ll handle Vanessa, aware of how unkempt she looked and would have been more prepared if Vanessa had come at the proper time. Virginia resists looking in the mirror, knowing Vanessa would let her know. Virginia greets her warmly and we are described of Vanessa’s features and differences to Virginia, whom is three years younger, but doesn’t look it. Vanessa states how they’d finished earlier than expected in London and had decided to journey to Virginia’s for lack of activities, her sons and daughter in the garden moving a dying bird from the road. As they walk to the children and talk, Virginia notes how Vanessa has the proper air of how one would react to servants and sisters, firm but forgiving.

When they reach Vanessa’s offspring, they begin speaking of how they must save it and Virginia struggling to relate to them, but Vanessa habitually being honest and unyielding when need be, letting them know they wouldn’t be taking the bird indoors and it most likely going to die regardless of their efforts. Vanessa’s daughter thinks of the “brighter” side by spouting the idea of having a funeral for the bird and will sing, Julian reminding her of it still being alive and attending to making a bed for it. Virginia estimates the children’s looks and how they may change when grown, she then offering to pick flowers with Angelica as well as the grass she was collecting. Angelica then was adamant she would locate the nest in case the dying bird had eggs to care for, her brothers getting amused by her belief she would be able to hatch them.

Virginia was suggesting they place the bird in the pallet made, but Angelica insisted they lay the roses in first which Virginia would argue with if her sister and nephews weren’t present. Angelica arranges the flowers, nicely to Virginia’s surprise and then they are ready to have the bird placed in the middle, Quentin undertaking the task as Virginia remembers when Julian had no longer seemed like a child and Angelica getting bored with her game now she’s designed the deathbed. Virginia realizes the bird had died on it’s wait to be placed on its final resting place and the group moves indoors for early tea. As she watches her sister and nephew walk inside, she contemplates wanting to change places with the bird so she could lay in the bed of roses and how the nest looked like it could be a hat, then considering Clarissa’s role as no longer being thought of as the bride of death, but the bed.

We then see Clarissa organizing a vase of flowers and confirming to herself of striving to give the best party she could to Richard and looking out for his comfort at the party. She then hears her apartment buzzer go off and goes to investigate who could be ringing, discovering it was Louis and letting him up. She delightedly awaits he showing up at the door, hoping he brings good news and had named the particular feeling he gave her after him whilst she waited. When he turns up, they greet warmly and he gets emotional as he shares when he had arrived in town and Clarissa updating him as to his good timing for Richard’s upcoming party. As she invites him inside, Louis is noticing how she had finally reached the stage of no longer having retained her youthful look and how it was like a small victory for him considering all the time she had gotten with Richard and how he’d written a novel focusing on a character based on Clarissa, but representing her of only complaining about love, regardless of all the years Richard and he had spent together, seeming a bit bitter about the reference he’d received.

After sitting down and making small talk about where Louis was staying, they voice how appreciative they are to see each other, Clarissa offering him a drink, and he noticing how she still maintained her infuriating qualities, then surveying Clarissa’s home and thinking how unlike her style it was and it must having been caused by her partner, Sally. When Clarissa reenters with the waters in hand, Louis realizes despite her obvious dissent in to old age, she still had her charm and style which drew him to her. She remarks upon sitting, how he could stay away for five years, he not saying he’d actually been back more than a few times during those years, but instead commenting on he deciding to stay in New York and wanting to uncover an “honest” job, teaching not cutting it. He then remarks the oddness of Richard’s book, after Clarissa warns him of Richard’s looks having changed and he needing to prepare himself. After his rash decision of Clarissa seeming to have lost her loveliness, he changes his tune whilst they discuss his opinion of Richard’s book and its surprise ending. Clarissa then notifies Louis to keep in mind of Richard’s condition, he maintaining some part of himself, but being a bit more loopy now.

Clarissa then flashes back to a fond memory she had with Louis and Richard after sharing the spot she wanted her ashes to be scattered. Louis then reminiscing about a day where he’d gone back to their college home before moving to California and how the house remained unchanged, Clarissa admitting she’d like to see the house herself again sometime, Louis agreeing it was a good idea if she wanted her ashes scattered there. Clarissa then confesses she didn’t actually mean what she’d said and the summer was the cause of her morbidity. When Clarissa touches Louis’ shoulder, we are given a strange comparison of the two seeming like gladiators (Michael Cunningham certainly came up with some strange metaphors and fantasies to give voice through his characters). Louis then confides he’d fallen in love with one of his students from the previous year and Clarissa immediately goes into her same reaction of wanting to shake him to his senses, Louis explaining the young man’s talent. After reiterating his declaration of love, he begins to weep, even to his own surprise, and only admitting to himself he didn’t actually love him and wouldn’t miss him when he left. As Clarissa comforts him she considers her own relationship and how they at no time truly fought in their eighteen-year relationship, she longing to be in an exciting and not so stable circumstance.

Louis stands and walks to her window whilst now weeping for not only his infatuation, but also his friends and their misfortunes, his train of thought being interrupted by Julia, Clarissa’s daughter coming in and he exerting to get a hold of himself, she greeting him formally and he noting how she’d consistently had a seriousness and quirky way since her youth. When Louis turns to greet her in return, he evaluates how she’d changed since the last time he’d seen her, she growing into herself and obtaining a measured confidence, not beautiful, but “handsome”. Louis decides to leave at this moment, Clarissa making sure he’ll return to the party (the same way Clarissa Dalloway had) and he agreeing he would. We then perceive he had an attraction to Julia he couldn’t explain and wasn’t in accordance to his sexuality and fantasized how they would flee this place together. As he leaves Clarissa’s building, he notices the variety of people along the street as he remembered the days when he’d been with Richard and how their relationship ended and the freedom he felt after.

Laura is found driving along a highway where a fire had recently started and feeling as if she was driving in a dream. We then get back story as to why she’s driving and how it was due to an unsettled, seemingly depressive state of mind, so she dropped Richie off with a neighbor with the excuse of picking up something needed for her husband’s birthday, then instead, deciding to go driving around (since the book reading wasn’t cutting it). Laura convinced herself since she’d completed all necessary tasks for the upcoming birthday party, she deserved some time alone to pursue reading her copy of Mrs. Dalloway without interruption. She thinks about the new cake (which still disappoints her), but is an improvement from the first and then lingering on the thought of her kiss shared with Kitty and the desire behind her thoughts. It now seems like Laura is suppressing her same-sex inclinations by being devoted and still loving her husband, but she moves on to thoughts about why she believed her cake was still labeled as an amateur attempt. She then considers how much time she’ll have to herself before having to return to her life and then has to decide which direction she wanted to go in, debating where she could ferret out a place to quietly read and deciding she’ll splurge on a hotel only so she could sit and read for a couple of hours in peace.

Laura checks in to a hotel which she knows is populated by businessmen and tourists and comes up with a viable excuse as to the absence of any luggage; lying for the first time to someone she didn’t care about (strangely). The attendant doesn’t suspect anything though and Laura gets her key easily. She makes her way to her room, she noticing the quirks of the hotel environment and not yet losing her nervous energy, it only having been moved to a dissociative level. When she sees her unsurprisingly plain room and looks through her window, she again gets a dream-like quality and so lies on the bed, not reading her book yet, but relating to the character of Clarissa Dalloway and how she had felt. After getting comfortable she begins to read, we getting an excerpt of Mrs. Dalloway where Clarissa remembers a time when she’d made a wish, and her thoughts on death. Reading this then made Laura consider how it could be easy to release herself from her life and how her family would react to her absence and then realizing how she loved life too much to do such a thing to her family or herself and how easy it must have been for Virginia Woolf to come to her decision.

Virginia is shown in the kitchen with her sister drinking tea and discussing Vanessa’s daughter not considering a coat a gift, of which she was referring to one at Harrod’s she thought was perfect for her, but felt bad about getting it for her since there wasn’t anything for the boys, believing she could have given the coat to Angelica for her birthday, but she being too young to accept it as a viable gifting option. Virginia is weighing what advice she’d share with her sister whilst also figuring whom should actually commit suicide in her story, no longer believing Clarissa was the right character to do so, and as she’s about to speak, Nelly walks in with the requested china and sugared ginger requested for their tea, Virginia changing her moment to instead kiss her sister. (It seems moments of intimacy should repeatedly be shown with the possibility of sexuality, this moment no different than the others.)

Meanwhile Julia is voicing empathy for Louis’ situation, Clarissa wanting to be him at this moment for having a particular freedom she didn’t. She then thinks of the possibility of he ruining the night for Richard on top of regretting the invite to Walter Hardy. Clarissa then requesting a hug from her daughter and inquiring after her, hoping it didn’t inspire annoyance like it had with her own mother. We are then given the reasons why Clarissa asks after Julia, she believing Richard would not enjoy the party and believing her daughter would speak ill of her to her buddies. Clarissa then tries to make herself feel better with the thought of helping Julia’s self-esteem. (And again, like Mrs. Dalloway, Mary Krull isn’t liked and was awaiting Julia outside for their shopping outing.)

When Clarissa is informed of this, she asks why she hadn’t come up to say, “Hi.”, Julia then showing she didn’t want to oblige, but would since Clarissa was now declining and “releasing” her to Mary, she fetching Mary and upon Clarissa seeing her, sharing the image of a ragged stray a child would bring home in hopes of adopting, Mary’s appearance being grungy, bald, and over forty years of age. Mary and Clarissa go through the normal pleasantries, Mary letting loose with some true feelings she had toward store clerks and the shopping experience in general, after which Julia decides it’s time to go, we getting an inside look of what’s going on inside Clarissa and Mary’s heads, the two snubbing their noses at one another and their ways of life in the Lesbian community. We are then made sure to be aware of Julia’s sexuality and Clarissa wondering if Julia had befriended Mary in lieu of a father figure. We are then shown Mary’s pain of being permanently in the friend zone as Julia urges her to hurry to their task of boot-hunting.

Vanessa has left and Nelly is unnaturally upbeat in Virginia’s eyes, whilst she thinks and fears her novel won’t evoke the emotion desired. Virginia continues to ventures to convince herself she’s satisfied with the night ahead of her and her work tomorrow. She then tricks herself into thinking a headache was coming, but nothing more occurs to support her paranoia and decides a walk is needed. She’s then hit with the thought of being in the dead bird’s territory and a comforting feeling of death is about her, she then thinking what will soon be done with the bird which still laid in its nest of roses. Virginia thought how death made one smaller and reduced a life’s value once it had left the body, essentially the body being waste and any thoughts otherwise was for the delicate eyes and ears of children. Virginia begins in the direction of town, seeing people along the way before deciding she was going into town and didn’t yet know the reason. Virginia then intermittently overhears a couple whom upon the lady hearing a question which makes her react with delight, Virginia goes off and has the thought of being alone and what this will eventually mean, it being described as the devil and the feeling, like a shadow of the headache haunting her and making her react as one would with undertaking to ignore it by not turning around.

Virginia then makes a split decision to take the train to London since shops were already closing in town and she’d rather be walking the London streets. When she reaches the station, though and realizes she had over twenty minutes to wait, she wonders the conversation she’d have with Leonard and his reasons for she not going to London, Virginia knowing his words would be mostly true, but also knowing she was bored to pieces and this wasn’t helping her either. She makes her decision, buys her ticket, and after waiting as long as she could stand, decides to walk around until her train arrives, on her way, running into Leonard, whom she greets jokingly formally. Leonard revealing his worry of not discovering her and feeling as if something being amiss, Virginia not confessing to him of her extended plan and feeling sorry for him; men being so fragile and all. Virginia then voices her want of the two of them to move back to London, he agreeing to discuss it over dinner and wishing she could accustom herself to small city life, she agreeing, and the two returning home, arms linked.

Sally is then seen having her lunch with Oliver, they drinking coffee and Oliver asking for confirmation of Sally and Walter’s opinions of making his screenplay “come alive”, Walter not speaking and Sally avoiding a straight answer. Oliver takes a different approach by complimenting Walter, and Sally imagining how the two would’ve been in their youths, one forever looking like a star whilst the other having a fat-boy look which would spur his knack to knowing where other kids stood on the social food-chain, Walter’s only hold back being not ever having done a thriller before and Sally noticing the difference between the story Oliver was attempting to express as opposed to the others in the genre. Sally then has conflicting feelings about staying and wanting to leave, noticing Oliver’s taste in styling his apartment is similar to how Clarissa was looking and measuring their own.

Sally is then imagining returning the relics brought to her attention in Oliver’s apartment, wanting to put them back in their places of origin, when Oliver asks whether she supported his idea, she not committing to anything, claiming to not understand Hollywood. Oliver tries to get a more solid answer through flattery, finally insisting she must not be certain, she acquiescing into agreement. They discuss ideas of what would be a part of the story, Oliver including Walter, but he not sure for only having recently agreed and needing time to warm up, apparently. Oliver decides to pick his brain at a later date. Sally is about to change her opinion, but decides to not mention it, leaving. We then see Walter and Sally walking down the street together and get the impression of how they both failed and succeeded at Oliver’s lunch, but instead talk of Richard’s party later and how he was doing, Walter making the proper responses, but seeming fake for knowing of his own celebrity. Sally was going to try and ditch him when he hooks her into joining him inside a store upon seeing a t-shirt his boyfriend would like and she feeling sorry for him. As she browses, she thinks of how Clarissa is so difficult to read when it came to appropriate gift-choosing, she being similar to Dan in they both will show their love of the gift, the gifter only discovering later if the gift will be used once or at all.

Sally then becomes sentimental and wants to see Clarissa, deciding to make an excuse to leave Walter who was checking out, attempting to have her wait for him, but she adamant in leaving and only giving him enough time to provide her agreement on the shirt chosen being a good one. The next part reminding me of Clarissa Dalloway’s husband struggling to detect the perfect gift for Clarissa and working a way to confide he loved her, Sally also striving to come up with a gift, but puzzling to decipher another way of saying “I love you” for regularly saying it plainly. We then get a closer idea into how much Sally cares about Clarissa, she then seeing a flower cart and taking the same route of decision as Mrs. Dalloway’s husband. Sally, upon going inside her home though, considering more intimate matters in plainer terms than Richard Dalloway had. Once hearing Clarissa’s voice though, Sally senses something isn’t right, her feelings going sour. Clarissa doesn’t share Sally’s sense of wrongness in the air, instead recapping about Louis and Julia’s passing through. Clarissa then notices the roses and they share a lighter moment since both then noticed the roses already on the table, realizing their pure happiness at this moment.

Laura is late, but not too late, having gotten halfway through her novel and driving to pick up Richie, still immersed in Mrs. Dalloway’s world and era. She imagines herself being someone inside the novel or the author, she then stopping in the babysitter’s drive, she realizing she needed to get her car checked, she then feeling a dissociation to her life, all due to her hotel visit and being in the driveway and thinking warmly of death. Laura then begins feeling faint, wanting to go to her car and leave, but knowing she needed to claim her son and finish her husband’s birthday dinner. Laura then considers how her time alone would stay secret only since she wouldn’t know how to confess such an unusual, but harmless moment in her typical house-wife existence. She rings the bell and apologizes for her tardiness, the sitter not bothered and Richie rushing to the door, Laura having a moment of paranoid low self-esteem (as is seemingly her usual behavior; this story could be perfect for a psychology major).

As Richie arrives at Laura, he bursts into tears, she apparently having gauged his emotional state correctly, the gist being he had started to believe his sitter’s home would now be where he’d continue to live. As the sitter relays how much fun they had in her absence, we are also made to believe she was resentful and angered by Richie’s reaction since she had thought staying with her was a theme park-like visit to Richie, Laura wondering if people thought she was over protective of him and why he reacted this way consistently. Laura shares how they were an hour late in getting back and needed to have dinner prepared in time for Dan’s return, Laura now feeling like herself and fitting in her life once more. Laura notices Richie staring at her from the back and questions if everything was alright, he loudly professing his love to her, she returning his sentiments as naturally as she could muster whilst deciphering this new look on his face and nervous in knowing he will perpetually be attentive to her every move, she nonchalantly making conversation of how beneficial Dan’s hours were and they orchestrating a great party and she then thinking how Richie will unceasingly be able to sense if anything’s wrong and notice her failures, but she reiterating her love to her son and maintaining a smile as she doesn’t get angry, on their way home. (The emotions we are told about which Laura isn’t feeling are baffling and possibly showing her conviction to wanting to be happy with her life and future.)

Clarissa goes to Richard’s to help him prepare for his party, but doesn’t get a response at his door. She tries once more before using her own key, apprehensive to what she’ll walk in on, seeing the apartment bathed in light for all the shades being opened and the filthiness of the place revealed. Clarissa discovers Richard sitting astride the window, marveling at the beauty of the outside, she demanding he get down from his perch on the window. When Clarissa voices she’s unsettled by how he’s acting, he gives the impression he’s going further out the window and then shares the medicinal cocktail he’d taken to make him feel so good and the difficulty he’d had getting to the spot he was currently sitting, Clarissa requesting he at least put his foot back on the floor, he then confiding he didn’t feel he could come to the party, she stating he didn’t have to go, feeling like she were calm and once again apart from herself.

Clarissa imagined this moment as a memory and asks Richard to come back in once more. Richard looks seriously at her in response and she tries a stern tone, he then nodding, but not moving, confessing his thoughts of coming to the end of his ability to continue his existence further, she attempting to remind him of still having good days and he regarding her statements as nice, but feeling otherwise, Clarissa then inquiring if he was hearing the voices, he responding he was hearing her, but they forever being there; Richard continuing to come back to the beauty of the day and asking Clarissa to call his mother since she didn’t have anyone and finally requesting a story from Clarissa’s day, she describing of her time buying flowers, keeping the description brief and ending with her command of getting inside. Richard is then reminded of when they were young and being in love with her and Louis, circling to his thought of being a failure and she disagreeing, Richard going on to explain of wanting to have his work seen a certain way, she having to deny it being a “foolish” thought. Richard again repeating being unable to attend the party and Clarissa wanting to ease his mind and not to worry about it, offering to have him take her hand. He states his love to her (in a way I believe is from Virginia Woolf’s last letter to her husband) before he slides out the window.

Clarissa’s reaction was screaming in denial and then almost believing it hadn’t happened due to the look of calm on his face, but when she reaches the window, she’s in time to still see his descent, it almost seeming like it could end being only minimally damaging, but as he reaches his inevitable destination, Clarissa calling out softly, questioning, his head covered by his robe, she running out of the apartment still in shock and confused for a moment as to how to reach the spot Richard had fallen. When she gets a closer look she realizes the damage his landing had, then noticing glass and realizing it wasn’t caused by his fall and wanting to move him, but instead moves his robe, but after seeing the state of his face, paining and surprising her, she puts it back, leaving a hand on his shoulder and not wanting to leave him, but also realizing no one had noticed Richard fall, she knowing the police should be called, struggling to come up with an idea of getting the attention of a neighbor, she considering the feelings unexpressed and for not showing and confiding her love for him caused by flimsy excuses.

Laura is now watching Dan blow out the candles on his cake, hyper aware of the moment and Richie following her lead of applause once the candles are no longer lit. After she’s wished him a happy birthday, we are told of her pure anger at his apish ways and her fate of living this life and this role with him indefinitely, but the fury passes and he shows his affection in a way which makes her regret her reaction and noting his good qualities, she feeling the back of his head and again, describing it in a way which shows displeasure of the pure manliness and halfway unpleasant physicality. Dan offers Richie the task of helping cut the cake as Laura retrieves dinnerware for the slices and thinking of Kitty in the hospital whilst they, along with other families on the block set up their dinner tables. Laura then realizes the significance of her life with husband and son plus child on the way as she watches Richie pull out candles and is urged to lick the frosting off.

Virginia is attempting to keep focused on the book she is reading, knowing she and Laura will soon be moving to London. She thinks of all the places she’ll go and activities she’ll do, all of these moments feeding her stories. She then thinks of the kiss she shared with Vanessa and what it represented, then considering Clarissa Dalloway going to have a kiss which she’ll carry with her throughout her life. Virginia closes her book which prompts Leonard to ask if she’s ready to sleep, she declining due to restlessness and he hoping she’ll be ready in an hour, she agreeable since the fight for London was won, thinking again of Clarissa and whom will die being a brilliant, wonderful person.

Laura is getting ready for bed and anticipating her husband’s pose in bed not ever changing, and how she won’t be able to read this night. She puts her toothbrush and accessories away, noticing the recently refilled scrip. of sleeping pills, knowing she couldn’t use them whilst pregnant. She picks up the bottle and imagines the simpleness of ending everything. She goes into her bedroom, Dan greeting her, and she confirming he had a nice birthday, she feeling “like a ghost”, not feeling her body, taking so long to get in bed, Dan asking if she were going to lie down, she confirming, but not moving, hearing a dog bark. Knowing the woman is unhappy with life and is most likely verging on suicidal unless she comes to terms with her same sex inclinations is a bit annoying since we don’t get a determinate answer on how she ends up, only knowing she’s alone.

Clarissa is leading an old woman, Laura (double-take moment when I read this part, but it does come together if one pays attention) into her apartment where Clarissa notices her unarranged flowers once more. Clarissa introduces Laura to her daughter, Julia whom catches Clarissa up on those who had shown up to the party since not receiving the message, Louis being one of those focused on. Julia offers to get Laura a drink after she declines food from Clarissa, but setting an assortment, in case, knowing it had been awhile since she’d eaten.

Clarissa then gives away whom Laura is and why she’s at her apartment and would be staying overnight in the guest room, not the main reason being Laura was from Richard’s poetry, Clarissa then making a statement which she regrets due to they soon would be having enough people stating of Richard’s goodness, but Laura agrees with her and takes it well. Clarissa struggling to make conversation and wondering aloud about the status of Laura’s tea, then inwardly thinking of what Richard’s descent from the window must have been like, deciding to go check, coming into the kitchen to observe the selection of appetizers put out, impressed with the amount and thinking of its shelf-life lasting longer than everyone she knew. Clarissa then gauging the lasting power of Richard’s work and how Richard’s party would now only be entertaining four, Clarissa going back to the living room to fetch Laura.

Well, I certainly don’t remember the movie much since none of the story rang any bells other than a fuzzy image of Meryl Streep playing Clarissa, so I may have to revisit viewing it only to be a completist and having been surprised by Nicole Kidman’s transformation. In knowing the resources Cunningham researched, I suppose I’m less surprised by all the sexual references made, which only makes me wonder about the truth behind his fiction. I may do further research on Woolf, but until then, this was quite an interesting story and held my attention fairly consistently, which makes it worth the read by itself, but moreso if one has read Mrs. Dalloway.

 

The Veldt

The Veldt was first published as “The World the Children Made” and began with a wife speaking to her husband about how the children’s room seemed changed somehow and if he didn’t look at it to confirm her thoughts he should call in a psychologist to gauge whether the room seemed odd, which finally gets him to agree to check. As they walk down the hallway we learn the futuristic quality of this family’s home and how the children’s’ room had the atmosphere of an African grassland, Lydia telling her husband, George to wait for the oddity to appear. Lydia tries to point out the sounds and images she’d seen and heard, but George didn’t witness either and was marveling over the technology of the room. The lions they’d seen in the distance going towards the watering hole were now coming their way, each noticing how real they seemed.

Eventually the lions act as lions do and Lydia runs off with George tailing her, he exhilarated and she upset by the too real experience which makes her demand he speak with their children on not studying African subject matter anymore and to keep the door locked until she got her bearings about the effect. Lydia then considers perhaps they should shut the whole house down for a little while and she’ll do all the tasks a wife and mother was meant to do, the good ole fashion way, she noticing how George had been stressing and not knowing what to do with himself as much as she was having the same problem. They sit down for dinner without the children who’d called to reminds them they’d be late for staying at a plastic carnival on the other side of town, George thinking about how young their children were and how they’d already started to find some fascination with death through the African plains they constantly were entertained by in their playroom. George is soon absorbed with the thought he decodes to go and listen at the nursery door, hearing a lion roar and then hearing the scream Lydia must have heard, he unlocking and opening the door for a peak inside.

George then tries to change the scenery which doesn’t respond and when he gets back to the dinner table Lydia considers their son may be the culprit, the children then walking in. George then asks about the African veldt, the children acting like they had no idea what he was talking about and when he asks his son to take a look, his daughter goes off instead and when they follow after her, the scenery has changed. George sends the children to bed and before leaving the room sees an old wallet of his had signs of the veldt, he locking the nursery door before leaving. At night George and Lydia are up late and discussing the state of their children’s attitudes, which was not being respectful towards them and how they all were spoiled. Then they both hear screams from upstairs and how the scenery must have changed in the nursery again, this happening after they discussed how the children had been acting coolly towards them after being denied a trip to New York in a rocket. The next morning George gets a taste of his son’s insolence at having the nursery locked up and having the house possibly shut down for awhile, his son, Peter finally backing off.

The next day Mr. McClean, the psychologist visits and they go to the nursery so he can study what the children were conjuring, he immediately getting a terrible feeling from the room and explaining why they must definitely shut down the house and get rid of the room. They immediately begin and the children have the fits expected, Lydia turning into an every day house wife with the words of turning it on for a moment so the children can adjust to it being turned off, but George staying strong and keeping the place shut down. At the last moment though, he gives in, giving the children one minute to stay in the room before they all left for a vacation, he going upstairs to dress and Lydia following after turning the nursery on. The children then call them from the nursery and when the two enter, are locked inside, the next we see being Mr. McClean returning and the children sitting in the nursery informing him their parents will be along shortly and the little girl enquiring whether Mr. McClean wanted tea whilst he waited; Dark and crazy, but good. Next up, A Sound of Thunder.

UR

We begin with Wesley Smith and how his co-workers had enquired about a “gadget” he’d told them he was using to experiment “new technology” with, but wasn’t the truth, since he was referring to his newly purchased Kindle which was gotten with a feeling of maliciousness. We then learn Wesley is an English instructor at a college in Kentucky who had aspirations to write a novel. Then we are introduced to his only friend in the department whom makes a joke about his name with a now classic rock band’s name and says something I can’t help but agree with about realists. Then they talk of how people spoke of their school like it was a good school, but how it was actually mediocre due to it being small and not prestigious.

I have noticed already the style of King’s writing of this one is to repeatedly use a certain type of phrasing at least twice right next to each other, which I’m debating is supposed to be seen as sardonic, but discovering it being overused. We then get a description of what successes the school had and in what area of education, it not being hugely impressive and being in the sports department. Then we are told of Wesley’s ex who also worked at the same college, but different department and what may have gone wrong which then went into why he’d gotten his Kindle. We then get a flashback of when Wesley first sees a Kindle, which he pretended he didn’t know existed in front of his class, believing when he did eventually get one, it would be to deliver a witty remark to his ex whom would see it and have it spark their first conversation since the break-up. When he bought the Kindle and had received it in the mail, he had gotten one which was pink which didn’t occur to him as odd at the time.

After Wesley had told his buddy his break-up story and had gone home, he was starting to listen to his couple of messages left on his answering machine and was surprised to hear one from his ex who now apologized for her hasty reaction to his inattention and the cause of their fight which had ended their relationship, but could possibly be interested in rekindling after she’d finished an important away game with her team, which had gotten Wesley to believe the opposite of her supposition on the message of it being a bad idea. The second message is his ex continuing her message which went on to mention how she’d also heard about his getting an e-reader and how if it’s a Kindle he could go online, also believing he’d grown which had made her believe they could be ready to try again, but she’d call him and he should not call her first, since she wasn’t ready to talk to him about it yet. Wesley then goes online to see what discussions were going on about the Kindle, one being whether they’d ever come in different colors, which he then considers perhaps his was discolored in some way, then turning the e-reader on to discover whether it could go online, realizing it could, but was in the “experimental” section, also discovering another puzzling choice titled, UR Functions and clicking it to uncover what it meant, hesitating for a moment, but wanting to feel like a “modern man” and when he’d clicked the selection, the Kindle changes, having kolor and a black tower behind the welcome message.

After trying out it’s search capabilities, then becoming spooked by its return message which only accepted numerical entries, he deciding to put in his birthday, even though he also thought he should put the Kindle somewhere out of sight. When the screen gives him more information about the entry requested, he realized he didn’t recognize some of the works given by the author he knew so well, detecting a few plus his date of death being different from what he remembered. He decides to buy the book only to see if it’s a fluke after confirming his purchase with a puzzling description after the accept button. Wesley then calls his buddy up to confirm his idea the novel he’d bought couldn’t be one of the author’s work, he getting the confirmation needed with a slight oddity in knowing the name of the dog being the same as the title of the book he’d ordered. After hanging up with him, he observes his download had completed and reads some of the book, it shaking him in knowing what he was reading sounded exactly like the author’s work, but unbelieving since it had been released after his death. He then tries a couple other author’s, some showing up and some not. After trying to go to sleep and leave the e-reader alone, he gives up for lying there and realizing he hadn’t tried looking up Poe. After ascertaining novels, he read one until morning and then slept for two hours.

After trying to teach a class midway through the week, he realized he was close to losing his sanity with how many differences of works he’s been reading, his class realizing his odd behavior. One of his student’s confronts him after he’d dismissed the class for the day to enquire to how he was feeling, Wesley deciding to entrust to the young man what he’d been reading, asking him to accompany him to his office to show him what his e-reader was doing so he can decide whether he’s going mad. After showing Robbie, his student and his buddy Don what he’d been dealing with and how they each had a chance to read an author they knew well and being completely blown away with the results, Don suggests Wesley figure out who had sent the e-reader, to be sure it had come from Amazon by checking his credit card record online. Wesley learns he hadn’t been charged for the Kindle, but Don supposes wherever the Kindle actually came from, Wesley Smith was being charged.

They extend their study session of the Kindle after the college closes, Don leaving temporarily to help his wife with the kids and Robbie joining Wesley at his apartment. Robbie brings Wesley’s attention to the other options in the UR Functions and wondering what they were, Wesley not remembering and going back to check, one being for news, selecting it and having Robbie put in the selection of what to look up. Wesley opens the door for Don as Robbie reads the news, it being about newly appointed President Hilary Clinton and who she’d replaced. They search sports before Robbie suggests checking for the JFK assassination. Wesley then sticks to one particular UR dimension, but after perusing for hours, he was becoming too tired to continue, but not before Robbie tries one more, Wesley being plagued with dread by the possibility of what pops up and the only selection available in the timeline. After they read the few articles available and being depressed with the results, they stop and leave Wesley’s apartment. Don leaves with the advice to stop reading those stories for how it could addict him, Wesley already realizing this and looking forward to future discussions, he then walking along the street a bit more with Robbie who lived only a couple blocks down. Wesley then goes to sleep and it being a deep and long one, deciding not to read ur-Hemingway the rest of the night.

When Wesley wakes up, he goes to a local cafe where Robbie’s apartment was and gets some late breakfast. After taking out his e-reader and eating his breakfast as he read more Hemingway, he decides to check UR Local, it being a crappy local paper and the fees being much more expensive, Wesley compromising with the middle, slightly less expensive deal, then getting unsettling news after putting in the current date. The college school bus passes the cafe and Wesley gets to see his exes team cheering out the windows, he having his chance to wave at them everyone else, distracted by his eReader’s information, it giving him devastating news which Wesley immediately goes up to Robbie’s apartment to share. After trying to call his ex to warn her of the possible fate she and her team were in for and being interrupted and refused to be listened to, Robbie comes up with the idea to search for the lady who causes the bad news.

They discern where she stops and see it’s a dive bar, also seeing the vehicle she drove and it’s foretelling bumper stickers. Wesley believes what they plan to do should be waited out until her last stop whilst Robbie thinks the moment would be better, but are unable to do anything since her reemergence from the bar happens then and drives off, they following. They learn more about the woman from the future news articles, giving her sad history and what she’d possibly done before causing manslaughter. As they follow her and notice her close calls with other cars, Wesley and Robbie lose their pity and get angry at her recklessness. After she stops again, they both do what they’d planned on, with success and wait in the car to see what she’d do next. Wesley goes a bit overboard, deciding not to only watch her, but approaching her to physically harass her into the reality of her actions. Robbie stops him after Wesley doesn’t seem to be able to stop himself, also getting the attention of the patrons and bartender, who watch but don’t engage and one man only deciding to go after them as they leave.

As they depart, Wesley decides they should park near a cornfield rather than go home yet as he checks his e-reader for the UR Local which was now unavailable, but not worried about it and felt no guilt for breaking the rules the UR program had given, waiting to see if the school bus would return their way and when it does, they’re both happy to see it and join the already trailing cars behind the bus, parade-style deciding to join them, as well. They make it back to town, everyone in one piece, but Wesley is now wondering what repercussions he’s in for due to his dimensional violation, soon going home and spotting a car parked in his spot. Wesley is unnerved by the vehicle itself and touches it, feeling even more uneasy due to it’s strange warmth. When he goes to his apartment he’s greeted by an oddly not quite human voice, revealing two men inside of opposite ages. We are then given description of their attire which makes them obviously a part of the low men in yellow coats.

As one asks Wesley why he thought they were there and he not actually knowing even though he thought it was due to the laws he’d broken, one of them tells of the Tower and rose being affected by it. Wesley is then given a chance to explain why he’d knowingly broken the laws, he listing the reasons of those who would have died and the selfish drunk involved. The low man then tells Wesley of how ignorant he was to do such a thing since what he’d allowed to happen could change the course of history for someone who may have survived the crash who was meant to die for being an evil character and dealing death in the future. Wesley of course hadn’t thought of those possibilities and the low man continues they won’t know for certain since the ability to see the future only works in a six-month-radius after which there’s no clue. Wesley then confesses he hadn’t ordered the e-reader he’d received, the low men considering a mistake in shipping was most likely the reason, the older low man professing of everything in the end serving the Tower’s purpose. Wesley then gives up the e-reader upon request and the low men allow him his freedom, threatening worse what would happen if he ever got mixed up in a situation like this again. Wesley is visibly shaken by his encounter and he lies down to calm himself knowing he won’t be sleeping any time soon. He then hears his cell go off, but isn’t in time to get the call, listening to the message recently left. It was Don telling him to check the morning paper, he going out to uncover one and reading the head-line. He has a loud reaction and runs upstairs to make a phone call.

This story may have started off weak, but made a turn around pretty quickly, being exciting the rest of the way through; I enjoyed this indirect connection to the Dark Tower series and now can’t wait to read the follow-ups.

Skeleton Crew – The Mist

A nice introduction before getting into the one story I planned on reading from this collection, The Mist. It starts by mentioning how in New England there were a series of violent thunderstorms narrated by the main character. Dave, the narrator mentions his family by name since they had been at their lake house at the time the storms had occurred. We don’t learn Dave’s name until someone addresses him, but in any case he is  the first to realize the storms were only getting started and mentions it to Steff, his wife. Dave’s son, Billy is the first to see the cyclone within a dangerous distance to them, Dave corralling everyone indoors. As they all retreat inside, Dave watches the lake begin to look like the ocean with the waves and whitecaps. As he realizes how horribly injured his family could get where they were standing, he moves them into the kitchen as the telephone begins to ring. He then orders Steff to go downstairs, trying to get Billy to go with his mother whilst he looked for candles. After he locates the candles, he also retreats downstairs into a guest room to wait out the storm. When they begin to hear a calm, they go upstairs to check and see it’s begun to lull, but would pick up again an hour later.

We then get background to how oddly the weather had been the last few weeks, in general and the excuses people had come up with for them. When the second storm hit, it wasn’t as brutal as the first, but finished taking down many trees the first storm had weakened, one of them falling on the roof, scaring Billy, but Dave reassuring him the roof was strong enough to hold it. Then later in the night, the third storm hits, being a tough one. After this point we learn Dave’s name, he deciding it being best they go back downstairs, Steff now overwhelmed by the storm’s violence. By this time Billy had gone to sleep and Steff was worried about the picture window they’d heard get smashed, Dave rationalizing the insurance will cover the damage done and after Steff had drifted to sleep, checked the damage and confirmed his thoughts of needing repairs for the living room, then going to sleep in the guest bed with the two.

The next morning Billy sees the damage outside, some power lines coming down in the storm are close to where he’s standing, Dave stops him from getting any closer suggesting they walk down the driveway. They see four trees had fallen there, one being quite old and large. Soon Billy goes down to the lake, getting tired of moving branches into the woods, Dave going into the garage to get the electric chainsaw. Steff comes out to relay how much she’d gotten cleaned up inside and what damage had occurred outside when Billy comes running back to show Dave the damage done to the boathouse, scaring Steff because of the live wires still sparking nearby and ready to make him go inside, but Dave calms her and directs Billy a different way down so he can show him what he’d found. Then we are told about another townie, Mrs. Carmody who liked to reminisce about all the historical myths about the place and owned an antiquary where Steff liked to shop every once in a while, but also was one of the many which got taken in by her stories. Dave remembers hearing the story himself from another townie with a shop, an older gentleman by the name of Bill Giosti, after we get the back-story on him, David invites Steff down to take a look at the damage at the boathouse which she isn’t interested in, but agrees to, knowing their son would be happy to show them both.

When they get down there and see his description is fairly accurate, David asks Billy to fish out the flag which had gotten in the water, surveying the damage to the boathouse which could have been avoided if not for the man responsible in having the dead tree which had fallen, cut down. Then Billy notices the other side of the lake is hidden by a thick oddly straight-moving mist, even Steff is surprised there would be a fog-bank on the lake. David assuring her and suggesting she make the grocery list she’d planned on writing for him. Meanwhile Dave and Billy lay out the flag and Billy shares how he’d learned having the flag on the ground is a “lectercute”-able offense. Billy then goes to visit some neighbors, Dave warning him about steering clear of any other live wires and to stay out of their neighbors way. After Billy leaves, Dave is looking at the mist again and how it seemed to have come closer, also how it was unaffected by the oppositely blowing wind and how extremely white it was, noticing no rainbow reflected off of it. He then hears his next-door neighbor, Brenton Norton trying to start up his electric chainsaw with no luck, which gave Dave some satisfaction. He then notices the damaged property Norton was trying to cut, even more glad he’d be dealing with damage of his own, he heading back to his own project in the drive. Later on Billy comes with the list and a beer for Dave, going back to give his mother the answer to her question and with the acceptance of being able to accompany his father to town, with his mother as well if everyone agreed.

Dave then sees a CMP truck coming up the road, which quelled his worry of trees blocking the road. After Billy comes by with another note, Norton is next to make his presence known to Dave, they not having left off on kind terms, he wondering what brought him over. He discovers it’s to do with his chainsaw and also learns his T-bird had been damaged, wanting to borrow his car to go to town for supplies, Dave offering him a ride after sharing they’d also be going to town. Then Dave checks on where the mist was, since it had warmed up since the last time he’d checked and noticed it had gotten closer. They still get ready to leave, Dave giving Steff one more chance to come with them, but not wanting to with how pervy Norton was acting. We then become privy this is the last time Dave will see his wife. On their way to town Dave and Norton had to move another tree out of their path, reminding Dave of the Ents of The Lord of the Rings, which was brought to his mind because his son wanted to help too, but he was worried he’d get poked in the eye with the effort, it being an old tree. Now they were in the truck and getting on their way, Dave had a chance to get Billy to check the radio stations which usually came in and weren’t at the moment, possibly caused by being on the other side of the fog. When they reach town, they head for the grocery store, it being quite busy. Dave sees Mrs. Carmody talking with some women, everyone seeming to have their little groups in the parking lot, speaking to one another. Dave gets lucky pulling in to a spot to park near the front and sends Billy with Norton inside to start on the list whilst he searches for a pay phone to call Steff.

Unfortunately the line seemed to be dead, so he didn’t get the chance to speak with her and so makes his way into the market. He eventually happens upon the two in an aisle and sees Norton checking the list, when Norton sees him, he brings his attention to the state of the lines at the check-out, they being so long as to go out of sight and with only two lanes open with only the use of pocket calculators to tally everything up. Dave decides he’ll wait in the line whilst Norton got the rest of his belongings, thinking of how worried he was about Steff and wondering whether it would’ve made a difference if they’d decided to go back then or if it would have been too late already. Billy is first to notice the two soldiers in the decently large line and also what with the lack of certain product, they had to make due with some generic, if not completely chemically based substitutes of bologna and bacon.

The only item left on the list was a bottle of wine and as Dave gets it and then passes the storage area, he hears the generator and deduces its capabilities and what it was powering in the grocery store. When he gets back to the line, which has grown longer Dave and Norton make idle chit-chat, which ends shortly, due to their legal dispute making the situation a bit difficult in making nice for long. Billy seemed to get apprehensive for a moment as they waited in line, but it passed and they slowly got closer to the front. They then hear the passing of police sirens after which they hear the fire alarm go off. Norton thinks it’s for a fire which might be on Kansas Road, but then a teenager comes in to inform them all about how the fog has come down the road and they should take a look, some do and go out the door.

When someone comes back in asking for a camera, more people go out to have a look, which gets Mrs. Carmody, who’s also in line to voice her opinion of erring on the side of caution. Then a man comes in with a bloody nose shouting about another man getting taken by the fog and hearing his screams. This is when people slowly begin to panic, either heading for the doors out or going toward the window to look, some leaving with their unpaid groceries. The mist is described as making the town seem darker and the sun looking like an eclipse between clouds. As they became engulfed in the mist, the sky is lost and only white can be seen, a woman’s scream is what finally sends people running for the door and out, which the checker of the place is yelling at people to refrain from taking the items in their arms, but some beyond the realm of listening, others tossing their items down as they leave. Norton begins heading for the door as well, until Dave grabs him and voices his opinion to not follow the others. After Norton questions him, they all hear another scream which continues as the sound gets those near the door back inside. One man still goes out, seemingly to rescue the one who had been screaming for such a prolonged amount of time and Dave feels he’d been the only one to see something pull the man outside, into the fog more deeply.

After, Norton seemed more ready to get out of there again, trying to convince Dave to go with him when the building is shaken and bottles begin to fall. When the noise stops Norton changes his tune again trying to get the people inside to stay there until the fog dissipates, which everyone is at odds in deciding. One woman becomes adamant in going though, after confessing her children being home alone and hoping someone would walk her, no one volunteering and she going off into the fog alone with the insult of hoping they’ll all go to hell. Billy then loses it, becoming uncontrollably upset and shrieking for his mother, Dave leading him to the back of the store to try and calm him. When Billy does compose himself enough to confirm the fog wasn’t a normal one, he then doses off into a deep sleep.

Dave then goes in search of something to cover Billy with, whilst he dosed in the back, looking in the front and noticing Norton trying to work his word magic on the people who would listen. Dave makes his way behind the big double doors reserved for crew, noticing the pungent smell of diesel, deciding to investigate and deducing the exhaust pipe was possibly blocked off on the outside and so resolved to turn the generator off, but upon doing so is left in almost complete darkness and getting spooked by his unexpected blindness, falling and feeling like a fool. After taking a moment to calm his nerves he detects the line of light which could be seen through the double doors, but before making for it, notices a disturbing sound which panicked him to that of a four-year-old, finally making him run for the double doors, then running into a few guys who were coming to look into why the lights had turned off, first asking why Dave looked so spooked, but after learning this and not wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt what with already dealing with a terrible situation, other than for Ollie, he then divulging why he turned off the generator and the others ready to turn it on again.

After the bag boy hands Dave, among others a flashlight, Dave decides to take it for not having found a blanket for Billy yet, one of the others with them conceding to Dave’s judgement in turning the generator off due to the smell. Some of the men are testing the generator themselves as the bag boy gets closer to the loading door, Dave expressing to him to consider differently, but the boy has a different plan in mind, which involved the men turning the generator on long enough for him to open the loading door a bit and go out to clear whatever was plugging the exhaust pipe. Ollie is now dubious to the bag boy’s idea, another man volunteering and Ollie trying to get them to understand no one should try to embark on this plan, soon those wanting to try it arguing as to who it should be, Dave getting them to be quiet enough to consider reason and after not getting it, becoming frustrated and more scared for the situation they were in. The men and boy go on with the plan regardless of the naysayers and Dave still is speaking of how odd it seems they would go so far to restart a generator which doesn’t matter to anyone in the long run, but wouldn’t help the woman home earlier, getting threats of violence in return. The bag boy begins looking scared now and ready to call off his dumb plan, with Dave and Ollie’s support in doing so, when the two men turn the generator on and they all proceed with their plan.

When the door goes up they see the fog everywhere and feel the chill in the air, as they turn the generator off, they then see the tentacle near the loading platform and see it get the bag boy around the ankle. Everyone retreats, but the bag boy puts up a valiant fight and is holding tight trying to get anyone to help him, Dave stepping forward, but with not much luck and soon calling for the others to help, no one responding. After struggling for a while longer, Dave soon thinks of his son and lets the bag boy go, realizing what the tentacles were now doing to him. Dave gets back inside and notices the two men near the generator are staring at the mess of tentacles outside the door in a hypnotic daze, Dave tries to get their attention, but only succeeds with one and he being too busy apologizing and making excuses to why he didn’t believe Dave to turn the generator on again. Ollie taking it upon himself to do it, all the while the bag boy still hanging on to the door, but Ollie can’t reach the button for the other tentacles being in the way, Dave then locates a broom handle to push the button with, this also being the moment the bag boy gives up his struggle and loses his grip on the door, being pulled into the mist. A piece of a tentacle is cut off on the door’s return into it’s closed position.

Dave then starts walloping one of the big-mouthed men because they’d gotten the teenager killed, after awhile Ollie trying to stop him. When Dave calms down, they stop the generator again and start back out to the front of the store, Dave acquiring a rug for Billy. As Dave and Ollie were getting ready to join the others, Dave pulls Ollie back to convince him they’ll be needing to update the others about what they’d seen, Ollie being worried about a panic, but Dave considers most of the people present wanted to leave for having someone at their homes waiting for them. Ollie continues to ask what could possibly be attached to all of the tentacles and questioning what the mist is to allow such a creature to even be slithering along, unable to get a definitive answer. Dave covers Billy with the closest thing he’s found to a blanket, noticing Jim and Myron, the moronic duo standing outside the double doors. Dave then breaks the news to them of needing to advise the others of something about what’s occurred which they readily agreed to after also being told they wouldn’t get the finger pointed at them for having sent the bag boy to his death. Ollie then brings up the possibility of the tentacles getting in for what the store was made of; it not being of impregnable quality.

As the others are drinking their dread away, Dave goes off to see what Norton is up to, being a conversation with another man called Bud Brown at the front of the store near a register. Norton, upon being greeted reacts in a way he’s noticed the amount of time Dave had been gone, Bud Brown-nosing about the men drinking beer in the back of the store, Dave ignoring him to pull Norton aside, but not before Bud stating they would be put to a stop with conviction in his visage. Dave then tries to proceed in explaining to Norton what had happened, but not before almost getting explosive giggles and then remembering the man which had come back out of the mist in hysterics, deciding first to ask what had happened to him, which was after being revived, he was then led to the manager’s office to stay since he’d been upsetting some of the women. Dave then had trouble getting Norton to listen since Norton seemed to be caught up with the job security of one of the men who was drinking in the back, but Dave holds back his temper due to knowing Norton’s usefulness in breaking the terrible news to everyone else. Unfortunately, Norton couldn’t bring himself to come to terms with this reality, even after Dave gets the other men to verify the goings-on, Norton thinking they’d either gone mad or were trying to prank him, not even entertaining the idea of seeing the proof of the tentacle still in the back room.

Norton then rationalizes Dave and the townies were only looking after themselves and didn’t care about anyone from out-of-town, bringing in their court-room dispute as his only validation. From frustration and trying to get Norton to understand how serious he was, Dave threatens to whack him a few, which Norton takes as he showing he’d be willing to beat up someone the age of his father, but Dave gets support by Jim, believing he lacked humanity anyways. Instead, Dave tries to level with him and get him to go into the back room with him to see the evidence, Norton still resisting and Dave deciding he’ll get him in there even if he has to force him. Norton starts to put up a real fuss once he’s getting physically brought closer to the double doors, then trying to scream and plead for help from anyone, most staring, until Bud Brown tries to stop them, Ollie speaking up to defend Dave once Bud starts to try and give Ollie crap for “drinking on the job”. Soon though, Ollie had gotten the other people in the store to gather and prefaced Dave’s testimony about the monster outdoors, Norton still putting his two-cents of denial in; the prick. Bud Brown then tries to support Norton’s view, lightening the mood of the others in the crowd until Mrs. Carmody then brings everyone back down to their unfortunate reality, but bringing it to Doomsday-style talk, Ollie then having to reign her back in. By then though, Dave suggests they go into the back room rather than argue the point, Bud Brown finally agreeing after still arrogantly hanging onto the fact the back room is off limits to customers. Bud Brown is then shown and convinced of the tentacles being real and then wanting to get out of there as quickly as possible, the tentacles outside still being heard, he then concluding the chapter by speaking to the onlookers outside the double-doors of the extent of the situation they were in.

The next few hours has everyone coming to terms with the news, Norton being a part of a group of ten unwilling to bend on their inability to accepting the fantastically horrifying truth and upon being confronted by Ollie to go around to the back where there were recyclable items and to bring one back in to prove he’d done it, Ollie rewarding him the highest of courtesies, which Norton couldn’t give a comeback to since Ollie interrupted him with more sobering confessions, not getting Norton to stop his tirade, but getting some others who weren’t sure of the truth to start making a leap due to the look in Ollie’s eyes. Norton’s diminished group goes off as far as they can from the others and upon passing Billy, one of them awakens him, Dave going over to try and put him back down, but Billy having enough and instead had gone back and saw the spot-light was now on Mrs. Carmody. She still only stating of their imminent deaths until being prompted by one to actually give a suggestion which made her come out with giving a “blood sacrifice” which brought one man out to smack her in the face, presumably for seeming so smug and about to say more. It doesn’t shut her up for long unfortunately, she ending her speech with the foretelling of someone else being killed by the time night fell.

After calm was found, some of the group began talking of the exits and how well they were reinforced, one man coming up with an idea which Dave silently considered to be useless, but harmless and good for morale, being to pile some lawn-food and fertilizer like sand bags against any seemingly weak entrance, some getting behind this idea. Then the same man asks whether anyone has a fire-arm, one woman packing some heat and also divulging of not ever having used it but once on a firing range, they then learning whom can shoot, it being Ollie. Then the crowd began to figure out other make-shift weapons, they all sounding weak if one hadn’t seen the tentacles as Ollie and Dave had. The man with all the good ideas, Dan Miller, catches their aside and gets them alone to speak with them, coming up with another good plan, at least good enough to possibly be a distraction to the tentacles. A couple hours after they’d implemented the bags of fertilizer and what not, they’d posted watchmen at certain spots along with the make-shift torches. Soon Dave has a shift as a sentry with Billy and his son fire-balled multiple unanswerable questions until finally crying and Dave being unable to comfort him in the way he most likely needed: a motherly one. Billy then recognizes a woman whom used to babysit for him and she offers to watch Billy until Dave’s shift is over, both he and Billy agreeing it would be nice, then later someone is arguing about trying to go out, Norton getting loud and trying to get everyone to make room to let them through. One man is still trying to reason with Norton to stop and try to calm down, but he’s gotten it into his head to leave, with only a few others joining him one leaving in the middle of the others protesting.

Dave then gives Norton a package of clothesline, hoping he’d tie it around his waist and then attach it something outside to at least prove he’d gotten to a certain distance, Norton refusing, but one of the others agreeing. When they go out, everything seems to be going smoothly until Dave reaches halfway through the clothesline, soon hearing confirmation to some of the people’s fates. The man whom worked at the grocery since Dave’s preteens was the one to grill up some chicken for everyone in the store, Billy refusing to eat other than going to get a peach upon Dave’s suggestion. Meanwhile the woman who used to babysit Billy requests to watch him for Dave for having something to focus on and being able to stay strong for him. As Mrs. Turman, Billy’s caretaker at the moment had him doing crafts at the back of the store now, Ollie approached Dave with some unsettling news of noticing movement outside and not being the only one. A half hour after, another of the sentries sees something attach itself to the glass and ravingly screams, retreating to the back as others either had gone further back themselves or closer to see what had spooked him, the creature being impish and having suckers to hang onto the glass with and also not being alone, more appearing in varying sizes acting like houseflies, but much more creepy in appearance, being bigger. Dave is the only one to notice another flying creature snatch one of the smaller ones up and eat it, scaring him to the point of he not knowing whether or not he had screamed. Then the situation starts to rev up to panic-mode, people running to the back and at one point trampling an old woman, Dave and Ollie then seeing one man get knocked by one of the plant-food bags as some of the impish bugs began to work their way through cracks in the window. One of them gets in and people see the man whom had fallen was now being perched on by the bug whilst being slowly consumed.

To be clear, the details with which King describes this horror is of perfect pitch and doesn’t reveal much more than necessary, it grabs the reader at the right time and swings one through like the movie should have. Now to get back into it, another of the men does succeed in getting the creature aflame and subsequently burning it to death, but it does bring more terror from everyone regardless of this minor success. Bud Brown brings Dave’s attention to another of the creatures having entered through the cracked window, but before he can do anything an older wiry woman Raid’s the creature which works quite well in ending the creature’s life. Later on, they began re-enforcing some of the barriers with heavier crates filled with fruit, realizing the bird-creatures or the impish ones would have more trouble getting through those, but still not having anything strong enough to keep out the tentacled creature.

People slept fitfully, including Dave, later on we discover he’s noticing an uncomfortable attraction to the woman whom had the gun, Amanda, believing it was most likely caused by the situation they were in, but the feeling not waning. To distract himself, we are told of what career he tried and failed at, then moving on to what had made him his money. Ollie comes to collect Dave, needing to show him something terrible in the back room, being the two soldiers noticed earlier hanging off the ceiling. They consider how the two had hung themselves whilst having their hands tied behind their backs, then Ollie tries to convince Dave to help him hide their bodies, which he succeeds in doing eventually once they figure the Arrowhead Project could have something to do with the fog. When Dave gets back out to where Billy is asleep, Amanda has gone and Mrs. Turman has taken her place staying with Billy, they both still sleeping. Amanda turns up again, though to ask whether Dave would like to go to the office, since it had a lock and no one was currently in it, confronting him about noticing the look he’d had whilst watching her. They do something about it, as well, Dave then joining Dan Miller for a moment upon request, he bringing up some valid points as to what their long term plans involved since they couldn’t stay in the market forever. Dave realized he had a good point, but the man also didn’t have a son to look after.

Dan then brings him to the window to consider why they hadn’t heard any cars getting smashed up when the large creatures had come, theorizing some had either only then disappeared or somehow been “vaporized” during the large crash they’d heard in the market, thinking perhaps the area they inhabited had been separated from the rest of the town since they’d also stopped hearing the town whistle at the same time. Dan also brings up how the pharmacy, which is only next door was also open and why no one from there hadn’t tried to get to the market, wanting to put together a group to go see what happened, then moving on to Mrs. Carmody and how she’s starting to get a following of ladies already and if they stay another night, the possibility of more people considering her strange ideas of sacrificing someone, giving him another reason to leave before anything drastic happens. Dave is then convinced in trying out his drug store expedition idea, planning on getting together again in an hour. Dave informs both Amanda and Mrs. Turman of his plans, then spending some time with Billy before he had to go, he giving him the news last which doesn’t go over well with him. Dave then notices Myron has gone to be with Mrs. Carmody’s other followers, reminding him why he’s going out in to possible danger.

Dave is on his way to leave when Amanda approaches him looking miffed until Dave shares Dan’s theory about Mrs. Carmody, which she accepts and is sure Dave will look out for himself and split if there’s any sign of trouble. Seven people are in the group to go search for the Pharmacy with Dan and Dave. Before leaving, Dan makes an announcement of their plans which included locating medicine for the woman whom got trampled in the bug infestation. After it’s known what they planned to do, Mrs. Carmody opens her fat mouth again and spouts threats of death for anyone who ventures out of the market, but also for those who stayed inside due to the one’s who leave would lead the monsters right to them; Damn woman covers all the bases. Mrs. Carmody is heightening the fervor when someone throws some canned produce at her, successfully getting her to be silent. The moment of paranoia she tried to cause dissipates and the group get on their way, then as Dave begins to lose sight of the two at the forefront, being Ollie and Dan, he begins to think about how close to twenty feet the two must already be when Dan screams an oath and as Dave begins to see what had scared him, he realizes what must have happened to the people in the Pharmacy. King immediately lets the reader know why the people in the market had made it through the night with their lives and the ones in the Pharmacy hadn’t.

Dave would have turned back at this point if he hadn’t promised his son some comics, so goes in after Dan, notices some on the floor at his feet almost immediately and then one of the others begins to examine something black on the floor which Dave then comes to the realization of what had gotten the people in the Pharmacy, advising everyone to get out, then hearing screams coming from outside. Another man was trying to defend himself near the telephone booth, but was wrapped around the leg by a cable looking rope, the man is eventually gotten out of his dire situation, but then Dan gets caught up among hanging threads, like an insect, but frees himself minus a part of his shirt. More of the hanging strings began to fall around them, everyone retreating back to the market. The man who’d been caught at the leg had passed out and another man was lost to the strings, Dave helping Ollie carry the one man, now unconscious. Dan is then caught by one of the strings as well, Dave then sees what was using the strings to catch them. Ollie uses the gun finally and hits the monster, he then confessing to Dave he can let the injured man go, since he was no longer alive. Then they see Dan has been caught again by another of the monster’s and the only woman in their group sprays it with a can of Black Flag, which makes the monster retreat, but not in time to save Dan. Before the three enter the market once more, Dave spears one of the creature’s, javelin-style and once they’ve gotten inside, they describe to everyone what they’d confronted.

After Dave sleeps, he’s approached by the old man who’d offered to grab his shotgun in his truck, speaking of the trouble Mrs. Carmody was brewing and needing to put a stop to it. Unfortunately there was already an altercation between Bud Brown and Myron over Mrs. Carmody’s nonsense so an easy way of dissolving the group seemed improbable. Dave begins to consider the creatures and how they took out their prey, then deciding he needed to speak with Ollie about it. When he finds him and also hears Mrs. Carmody’s rantings, he brings to Ollie’s attention his plan of escape for at least half a dozen of them which he seemed dubious would work, but after Dave figures what others he’d take and where they’d go, Ollie is convinced and they plan an early start the next morning.

By night, Mrs. Carmody had gotten even more followers and by four-fifteen in the morning, Ollie wakes Dave who in succession wakens Amanda and Mrs. Turman to let them in on the plan, both agreeing to come, as well as the woman whom had ventured out with Dave and Ollie before. As Mrs. Carmody is doing her crazy sermonizing still, Ollie is planning out who will sit where in the car when Mrs. Carmody makes her presence known and asks where they thought they were going, dissolving their plan due to her followers blocking both exits and she smashing their rations of food, shouting of sacrifice needing to come from their group. After some of Mrs. Carmody’s followers try to do her bidding, Ollie fires a shot which stops everyone in their tracks, making her followers scatter and leaving Mrs. Carmody to collapse to the floor. Dave and his group then make their way out as planned, but without any food. When Ollie reaches Dave’s car and gets the doors open, he meets his demise by another unknown creature, then Mrs. Turman is taken leaving Amanda and Mrs. Reppler the only others to make it to the car, the old man turning back after seeing what was happening.

Dave then retrieves Amanda’s gun and after letting the car idle awhile, they begin to head back to where Dave’s home is, which doesn’t work out completely as planned, since he’d only been able to get past two of the obstacles in his drive and still had a quarter of a mile to travel, stopping for a while to see if he could figure a way around it, not being successful and coming to terms with having to move on. Well on their way out of town, they come across a couple different creatures, one so tall they couldn’t see the body of it. Dave then mentions how he’s been journaling their progress up to then and describes its end to be Albert Hitchcock-ian. The difference between the movie and story is mostly in the ending since it stayed faithful mostly throughout (recently having seen the black and white version), but whilst it was hilariously evil how they ended the movie, I definitely prefer the story. I enjoyed this read, it was thrilling and whilst not too scary, kept one wondering what could happen next and it will be fun to see the correlation between The Dark Tower series and the next I read which is UR.

Shade’s Children

I read this book, I believe, in junior high. It’s one of those novels which sucks one into the story and doesn’t let go until the end and then leaving the reader wanting more. It’s about a group of kids, set in the future, when all the adults are gone. Poof, gone; Plus this set of teenagers are trying to survive in a world run by machines when at 12 years old one might as well kiss life goodbye because by that age one is old enough to become a drone of some kind or food.

So there’s a rogue group who are trying to change things and Gold Eye, the main character is rescued by them and starts going along on missions where he learns more about life, love and growing up.

I really enjoyed this book and if readers have previously liked any of Nix’s other works this one should be added to the list. As well as if one starts on this: I started with this book, it will be appreciated and the addiction to his work most likely will continue. After reading this, whilst also reading The Seventh Tower series (also very good) check out my review for The Abhorsen Chronicles.