But first, here’s the opening of Fiona Lehn’s The Last Letter.
The famous biologist Helmut Janvy stooped to collect the mail from his foyer floor below the mailslot, as he did each day. But on this particular morning, amidst the damp leaking in from the winter outside, he detected a scent he had known well years ago, one he hadn’t smelled since. He’d long given up trying to name the fragrance which resembled, more than anything, a summer storm: steaming earth, singed grosses, wind-whipped blossoms. He fell back against the wall as a wave of emotion washed over him. That scent! Had he imagined it? With trembling hands, he sifted through the pile until he found the source: a large, thick envelope bearing his name and address, several stamps from another continent, and the marks of travel. No return address. He inhaled. None needed.
It’s cold and blustery and oh so sunny outside, so I delayed all my desk work this morning in favor of a stomp out in the wind. East Vancouver is chilly, beautiful, and the air is full of flying leaves. It’s exhilarating and thoroughly wonderful, and as a bonus I directed my path in a loop past many places I needed to visit, so I’ve picked up many needed items for our house and upcoming trip, which is now four weeks away.
Here’s some Tanith Lee to go with the bluster:
Then he reaches the clearing. It is as they described it. The fallen tree and beyond, the stone sundial, and there the ruined garden, in which still the tall and somber roses grow, and from which they have climbed up into the trees. Up the walls of the towers the roses have risen also, among the black-green ivy. Roses with terrible thorns.
“She Sleeps in a Tower,” Tanith Lee
Today’s snippet is from Stephen King’s It.
The lightning plays fitfully across his face and although he does not know it, the day has just turned. May 28th, 1985 has become May 29th over the dark and stormy country that is western Illinois tonight; farmers backsore with plantings sleep like the dead below and dream their quicksilver dreams and who knows what may move in their barns and their cellars and their fields as the lightning walks and the thunder talks? No one knows these things; they only know that power is loose in the night, and the air is crazy with the big volts of the storm.
We have a character on a journey here, and this conveys that–time passing, miles traveled, and storms ahead.
There should be a review of It up soon on Tor.com, by the way, as part of my look at Eighties horror.
I love the humor in this fragment, and the way you can see the scene so clearly.
“You’re mumbling again, big guy,” said Memory, shivering into hallucinatorily clear focus on the rumpled sheets, her thighs warm and golden against the Royal Stewart flannel. She adjusted the nosecones of her chrome bustier. “Also, you’re on the verge of a major fashion crime.”
I froze, the starched white tails of an Elmore of Shinjuku evening shirt half-tucked into the waistband of a favorite pair of lovingly-mended calfskin jodhpurs. She was right. Pearl buttons scattered like a flock of miniscule flying saucers as I tore myself out of the offending Elmore.
This is my favorite paragraph from my favorite Erik Larson book, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. I can see and hear and smell this all so clearly that it’s hard to remember I haven’t been here:
Other ballots followed. Daylight faded to thin broth. The sidewalks filled with men and women leaving work. Typewriters–the women who operated the latest business machines–streamed from the Rookery, the Montauk, and other skyscrapers wearing under their coats the customary white blouse and long black skirt that so evoked the keys of their Remingtons. A lamplighter scuttled along the edges of the crowd igniting the gas jets atop cast-iron poles. Abruptly there was color everywhere: the yellow streetcars and the sudden blues of telegraph boys jolting past with satchels full of joy and gloom; cab drivers lighting the red night-lamps at the backs of their hansoms; a large gilded lion crouching before the hat store across the street. In the high buildings above, gas and electric lights bloomed in the dusk like moonflowers.