First Look: Storytime at the Orphanage

To truly ring in NaNo, I’m going to give you another excerpt! This portion takes place after Wren sees Nevermor for the first time in her dream…I actually think it comes directly after another except I’ve already given you, where she meets Rifter.


Excerpt from the upcoming novel, Nevermor

text copyright Lani Lenore 2012

As Wren awoke back in her bed at the orphanage, a flash of lightning and a crack of thunder jolted her, but she was not the only one.  The other children began to stir in their beds, roused by the tempest outside.  Thunder was grumbling angrily in the heavens and the wind was urging tree limbs to scratch at the window like a stray – or a monster from nightmares.  Wren knew that soon, all of them would be awake, and would probably need consoling.

What a strange dream…   

Wren felt groggy, unable to sit up for several moments in the wake of her dream, which had been so vivid that it had taken all the energy out of her.  She still remembered the island and the frustrating, feral boy called Rifter – the endless water and the sand between her toes.

It seemed so real.  Could it have been?

No, of course that wasn’t possible.  She had dreamed it all up of course – the beach, the shadows, the Rifter…  There was no way that it could have existed except in a child’s desperate reverie, and she swore that she was not a child.

Sea of Dreams?  Wake up, Wren.

She was still in a bit of a daze when Max crawled into her bed, frightened by the storm.  She hushed him instinctively, but she was still in a distant world, wondering how she had found her way to it beyond the sea, but she could not map out clear directions.

In the next bed, Henry had rolled over, peering at her through the dark.  The flashes of lightning illuminated his grim features, but he didn’t speak.  Some of the others were coming out of their beds now, gathering around her to be protected as if she was their mother hen.

“I’m scared.”

“I can’t sleep.”

“Can we go to the closet?” they began to ask.

There was a deep closet that housed all their coats and shoes, and sometimes they would gather there when the weather was bad so that they could not hear the wind and thunder.  Here, they could all huddle together cozily for comfort, and often in the past, they would get a story or a song if they were good.  Wren looked around to see that some of the others had not even stirred, but she would not wake them.

“Get your pillows and come on,” she said, taking Maxwell by the hand.

Wren consented that they should go into the closet and instructed a couple of the older children to get candles.  Once there was light with them, they dared to go inside where they sat in rows on the floor beneath the clothes that brushed the tops of their heads.  They settled themselves, excited for the adventure of the closet which could have been called their secret clubhouse.  Wren was in the midst of them with a lamp, and they had no sooner closed the door than Max turned to her.

“Tell us a story, Wren,” he asked.  “Please?”

This did not go ignored by the others, who jumped in immediately to express themselves as well.

“Yes, it’s been so long since we’ve had a story!”

Wren sighed, knowing that it was contagious now, but she had made a vow to herself that there would be no more stories to influence them in negative ways.  No more talk of the factory and no more nonsense about running away.

“I don’t know any more stories,” she claimed.  “I’ve told them all to you.  How about I sing instead?”

“No, no!  You must make one up!”

“Please!  A story!”

Wren looked at their anxious faces, and while she had been able to make excuses for a while, they had all come together as one against her.  She didn’t think that they could be appeased otherwise – all wide-awake because of the storm.  They would continue to be until the storm had passed.

I shouldn’t be filling their heads with these things anymore, but…

Max was looking up at her with eagerness in his wide blue eyes, and she found Henry’s face nearby as well, watching her intently.  Perhaps they needed this, whether or not it was good for them.  Wren surrendered, and started off on the thing that was nearest to her mind.

“Somewhere out there, beyond the sea of dreams, there is an island.  It is the place where dreams go.  It’s called Nevermor, and if you’re very lucky, you may see it some night when you are asleep, but it can only be found by flying low over the ocean and following the music of a reed flute in the distance.  On that island, everything you could possibly imagine, from all your wonderful dreams, can be seen and realized.  Every day is an adventure, and every day you will discover something new.”

Wren wasn’t sure how she knew these things.  She had not seen enough of Nevermor to be able to make those judgments, but now that she was seeking it, the answers rose to the top of her mind.

“A boy lives there, and he is called the Rifter.  He is dressed in leaves and is protected by a strange glowing light – a fairy, perhaps – but you can’t quite see her because she moves about so quickly.  There is a sword at his hip which he uses for battle.  Though Nevermor is a place of dreams, sometimes, there are nightmares that threaten the world, and he has to fight against them to keep the island safe.  Nevermor is his world, and he protects it.”

Wren continued on, building her story about the Rifter and a particular adventure of how he battled a nightmare creature that often frightened the orphanage children: the mythical crocodile that lived under their beds.  It seemed to move around from one bed to the next, but it never actually left the dormitory as far as they were concerned, but at the end of her story, Rifter had killed it good and dead, and they did not have to worry about it anymore.

All of the children seemed pleased and relieved that the crocodile was dead, and agreed to this among themselves.  Wren wondered why she had never thought of such a thing before.  A warrior that battles nightmares seemed like such a simple idea, but perhaps she never would have thought of it if she hadn’t seen it in her dream.

“Rifter is very brave,” Liam commented.  “The crocodile is a slippery fellow.”

“Yes,” Wren confirmed.  “He is very brave.  He is a bit full of himself and he thinks that he is always right, but no one could accuse him of being a coward.”

Wren wasn’t sure that this was true, but she thought it might have been.

“Is Rifter very handsome?” Laura, who was nine, asked.  “I think I should like to marry him.”

Wren thought that was adorable, but within her heart she had also begun to feel fond of Rifter because of her own story – but that seemed very ridiculous to her.  He was not even real – just something she dreamed up.

“Could we really go to Nevermor?” Lewis asked.  “Could we run away there?”

Wren knew she should not entertain these ideas.  She should tell them that it was all just a story and that none of it was real, but yet she saw that glimmer in their eyes – a sparkle of hope that she had not seen in a while – and she could not crush them.

“Perhaps if you are very good and brave children, then the Rifter will choose you to join him there.”

“I want to go to Nevermor,” Max said, and all the others agreed.

Wren wasn’t sure what she had done by this, but they all seemed very happy to hear it.  They had forgotten their troubles and the storm outside, and they were peaceful now, hoping for a new dream.  Wren felt guilty for telling them lies.

But what if it was real?

Her mind kept shifting back to that, and Wren understood that even though she knew better, she wanted to believe in it just as they did.  Hadn’t she been hearing the sound of that flute calling her for two nights already?  She had a vague memory of flying over the sea, and then last night, she had finally found what she had been seeking.  She couldn’t deny that it was one of the most brilliant dreams she’d ever had, and if given the choice, she probably would have stayed there in it forever.

Nevermor.  It was hovering in her mind like the thunderheads looming outside.  Inside herself, Wren felt a sprig of new hope as she tried to keep the images of that place with her.  She thought that maybe, if she held onto that, she might be able to find her way back.


Yayyy! I know most of the excerpt I’ve given are before the main storyline really gets started, but I guess that’s so I don’t give too much away too soon. :p

To update my progress, I reached my word count for yesterday – passed it, actually – and I’ve pretty much met my count for today already! In total we have 55,700 words. That’s good. I did feel myself dwindling a bit, but I think doing NaNo has refreshed my zeal. It’s telling me I only have one more month to go and then!!!!!! …then it will at least be complete and I can edit. But hey, baby steps.


1 thought on “First Look: Storytime at the Orphanage

  1. Janie Torrez

    It all ties together nicely. Wren has that same motherly responsibility, but seems more mature than the original Wendy. I really like it. 🙂

    Yeah, these contests deadlines definitely push you to complete it, don’t they? Can’t wait till it’s done.


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