Highlights in Ink // Inktober 2020

You, my friend, are a very fortunate person because today I have a brilliant observation to bestow upon you: October is almost over. Which means Inktober is almost over.

How have I been doing with this challenge, you ask? Well. I haven’t written something every day, and the things I have written are quite often not of the highest quality, but overall I have been enjoying myself.

Today I shall share with you three of my favorite scribblings from this month, and if you haven’t already, check out the entries from my first week!

Day 10: Hope

Comet Neowise is a photographer's dream: How to capture it before it  fizzles - CNET


My boots splish-splashed in pools of water as I trudged down the street, wrestling with my umbrella. The metal legs refused to bend back and threatened to pinch my fingers. Gritting my teeth, I shook it a few times, droplets of water spraying back at me. I scowled and stopped walking. One more time, and that would be it. I pressed the button while simultaneously squelching the folds together and pressing the bottom of the handle down on my thigh. It creaked and slid down abruptly, the metal blades snapping against my hand. With a cry, I dropped the umbrella. Water splashed up, soaking my already drenched leggings. I cursed at the umbrella and kicked it away, into the middle of the street. There weren’t many cars at this hour. Even if there was, that umbrella would be someone else’s problem, not mine. I had enough as it was.

I shoved my hands in my pockets and continued walking, keeping my head down even though the wind had left along with the rain. Restaurants on either side of the road were filled with lights and laughter and people. A bright sheen reflected off the puddles, as if there were pools of liquid gold scattered around the street. I scowled and purposefully stomped into one. I continued marching and didn’t look back, but I intimately knew what the muddied colors left in the puddle would look like. A swirl of orange and brown and grey. Like the solution made when I soaked used paintbrushes. At least something that was predictable.

Tears threatened to spill over but I forced them back. I could not let anyone see me cry, even though there weren’t many people walking about to see, because they were all inside the restaurants with family and friends.

I took a shuddering breath and quickened my pace. Splish splash. Muddied colors. You could always depend on a puddle for splashing when you stepped in it, on the brightness for disappearing. It was different with people. They could let you down. Better not to trust. Better to be safe.

Something bright caught my eye, a flashing across a puddle in front of me. I glanced up, the hood of my coat falling back. The wind had chased away the rainclouds, leaving a clear bright sky. Even through the city lights I could see a faint glimmer of stars. But over them all was a brilliant white streak, flying away above me. Bigger than a shooting star. I remembered hearing something about a comet, visiting Earth every eighty years since the first sighting thousands of years ago. Dependably.

My eyes remained fixated on the streak until it shot out of sight. Like a door that hadn’t been opened in ages, my lips slowly widened into a smile.

Day 15: Outpost

Portland Head Light, Maine

They told me it would be better than prison. For a time, I believed them. The salted perfume of the ocean was more pleasant than the loveliest smell in any prison. The usually grey clouds and drizzling days were depressing but not as much as those grey walls. I was completely alone except for the occasional seagull, but I felt more like a hermit than an insane person like when I’d experienced solitary confinement. For a time, I felt free. I could run through the slopes of tall grass until I couldn’t take another step. I could flirt with death by clambering on the cliffs steadily worn down by crashing waves. I could pick flowers and search for pebbles, adding them to my collection.

But every night I would trudge up the one hundred and ninety six stairs to the watch room near the top of the lighthouse. And I would religiously follow my routine. First I would look to my right and left at tiny pinpricks of light. Two more lighthouses, the homes of two other convicts. There were no fences separating us, and I used to think it would be easy to meet up with each other and figure out a way to escape. I was cured of that by the wind that almost blew me into the ocean, the distance that was much larger than it looked, and my poor excuse of muscles.

After my squinting, I would press several buttons and flick several switches, to make myself feel productive even though the light of the lighthouse never turned off no matter what I did. I would grab another bowl of pre-made dried foodstuff that made a blade of grass I’d eaten once taste like a gourmet meal. Then I would plop down into my swivel chair and stare miserably out the windows.

I would see nothing but the tops of the waves illuminated by the beams of light above me, harsh and grey and always rolling. There was absolutely no purpose. This outcropping of land was at the eastern-most point in the empire. No ships in their right minds would be coming close to the cliffs that stretched from my right to my left, and if they did, they deserved to be dashed to pieces. But maybe that was the purpose. To make me feel useless. I glared at the ceiling, at a camera which, like its fellows all over the lighthouse, monitored my movements and made sure I followed the agreement.

Bored to death, I swiveled around in my chair again. The windows of the watch room had three hundred sixty degree visibility, so I could look at the ocean, spin to see the edge of the cliffs with the point of light at the far east, then the open grassy plains, then more cliffs with another point of light at the far west, and finally back to the ocean. Swivel swivel swivel. All night long. Another bowl of dried foodstuff. Swivel swivel – wait. My chair choked on its hinges as I stood, squinting into the far distance along the cliff’s edge. The pinprick of light that was so dependable, that was always there

The bowl dropped from my hands.

Day 22: Chef


I tiptoed through the woods, glancing around furtively and jumping at every leaf rustle. My caution was entirely unnecessary, like almost everything I did, because all the normal people were far out in the fields, enjoying the rare summer sun. Shaded by the sprawling trees, my skin was pale as a raw potato and could use some browning. But this was one of my few chances to be alone.

I reached the hidden glen shielded on all sides by slopes and large boulders and let my heavy bag of supplies fall. At the sound of the bag thumping to the ground, I jumped. Then I grit my teeth. Just because you like cooking, I scolded myself, doesn’t make you any less of a man.

One by one, I gathered sticks and built a special cooking fire. The flames crackled as loudly as they always did, making my nerves frazzled, but I forced myself to take a deep breath. I didn’t have anything to worry about. At least until delicious smells started wafting through the air, smells whose direction I had no control over.

I hauled a small pot out of my bag and set it sturdily on the platform I’d built for it. Then I poured water into it from my flask and let it boil while I dug around in my bag. I wasn’t able to steal much, but I didn’t mind my lack of ingredients, because it would force me to be more creative.

Leaf by leaf, skinned root by skinned root, I added to the soup, stirring with a wooden spoon I’d carved myself. Like the canvas of an artist, the soup swirled in an array of color, creamy orange with tinges of dark purple and warm red. Occasionally I would sprinkle rare pink laya seasoning I kept in a small pouch hung around my neck. I let my friends assume that it contained sacred zevar teeth like the pouches of all appropriately masculine male teenagers did.

As I cooked, I forgot about the possibility that someone would catch me. Soon, fumes of smoke carrying heavenly textures drifted through the air. I breathed in eagerly, closing my eyes and bringing the spoon to my lips. A salty tang sprung into my mouth, followed by a blossom of sweetness which cascaded down my tongue in a waterfall of perfection.

“That smells so divine,” a voice declared breathlessly.

My eyes shot open, I choked, and almost crashed backwards into the fire. A girl stood in front of me, Ravny, as beautiful as a perfectly arranged bowl of fresh fruit. My face reddened, a color that did not go well with pasty white.

“I-I was just –“

“In truth, the best thing I’ve smelled in my life.” Ravny took a step forward and sucked in another breath, sighing in delight. Then she fixed her gaze on me, green eyes flashing even in the shadows of the woods. “I know this is not a popular sentiment, but I think you would agree with me, Povar. That tradition sprung from a mind of mud. Men can cook just as well as women. Better, from that smell.”

My tongue cleaved to the roof of my mouth as if I’d just eaten a lizo berry.

“Making it improper for them to do so,” Ravny continued emphatically, “is as unfair as if it were improper for women to ride horses.”

I forced myself to speak. “That’s…reasonable of you.” I instantly bit my tongue at how pathetic my words were.

Thankfully she didn’t appear to notice. “Well yes, of course it is. I’m a reasonable person.” Then she waved her hand aside. “But that’s not important. Let me try some of that soup!”

I think it’s fairly obvious that I’m extremely partial to writing in first person and that my knowledge on comets, lighthouses, and cooking is mightily limited.

Do you like jumping in puddles? Would you ever want to be a lighthouse keeper? Which of these entries was your favorite and why? Tell me in the comments! 😀

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