Jacky loved eyes

via Daily Prompt: Eyes

Jacky loved eyes more than anything else.

She moved through the market, watching the eyes. The men, she could see their hands, their necks, their beards, their ears, their long hair braided outside of their white robes. The women, all she could see was the eyes.

Eyes watching eyes: all over the market, all across a square mile under the highland sun, people were watching people’s eyes, as they bartered, as they bantered, as they pondered how to get along or how to get around each other. They had lived here for thousands of years, lived just this way, these people with their brown eyes and their black hair and their white robes and their little horses and their scrawny sheep and their bright curved knives. Thousands of years: Jacky had not spent three weeks in the same world in many—well, in a long time.

She scanned, she watched, she glanced. She looked up: she was moving past a little booth with a little patch of shade from the merciless highland sun. A man with a long stringy grey and brown beard was watching her with a disdain that  bordered on malice. As soon as she met his brown eyes, he switched his face to a smile, but the eyes remained disdainful. He held a length of whitest cloth.

She bowed a little to him, and pulled her scarf a little forward over most of her own black hair. She put her hands together, palms up, and said, not letting go his eyes, “May I?”

Those eyes warmed ten degrees. “Of course,” he muttered.

She took the cloth and felt it, pulled it through her hands. She had spoken his language, she had reminded him of her concession to his people’s ways; he was never going to not know she was from away, so why cover her work shirt and jeans and boots in a robe just to talk to him? He knew all this. She looked at the cloth, and then she met his eyes again. He smiled. She smiled.

“If the lady would wait just a moment,” he said in a low voice, as if speaking something shameful, “your humble servant has a bright cloth she might wish for.”

“A print?” she asked.

He almost laughed at her. He quelled his mirth and said, “A tapestry. It is from Mahash, over the mountains. Shall I?”

“I would be honored,” said Jacky.

“Just a small moment,” said the man. He turned and pushed back through a curtain, which gave him what must have been a tiny inner booth. She looked around.

The eyes were on her. There were many, as always. Brown eyes, almost black or almost amber, women who showed no more than eyes and the bridge of a young nose, men whose eyes hid deep in wrinkly faces, children, boys and girls, who ran with smiling eyes or scared, suspicious eyes, the big eyes of small horses, the strange eyes of goats and sheep.

Jacky looked across that optic panorama. She was not challenging anyone’s eyes, not today. She who had challenged the eyes of the Lady, Lakanth in the heart of Sinafror, she who had met the eyes of the schoolmaster Photius, in conference or in conflict, she who had met and defeated so many eyes, she who had fallen in love with so many eyes, she who had fallen in love so many times.

A woman’s eyes smiled. A little ways away, a young stone seller’s eyes smiled. A pair of children smiled, with eyes and mouths, then laughed and ran on. She smiled at them.

She scanned to the left. There. Those eyes.

They vanished. Her heart jumped into her throat. She stepped left, still holding the white cloth. She held it up, then let it unfurl a little.

She had a spell ready: she had several, actually. She needed no wand: she had long disdained such stuff. But here, in the middle of the market, under this unforgiving sun, under all those eyes: no, no spell.

Jacky bent to lay the white cloth back respectfully on the table. She put her hand down to her boot.

She stood and looked a little further to the left. Those eyes, those green eyes, between horses.

She unfolded. From her right hand flew that little paring knife of hers. The young man selling stones and one of the women: their eyes were fast enough to follow that paring knife, which Jacky had used just yesterday to cut up an apple. They saw what it did, and then they looked back at Jacky, changing their appraisal again.

She turned back to the man with the beard. He had just come back through his curtain, carrying several folded tapestries over his arms. His eyes went from where that knife had flown back to Jacky’s blue eyes.

“Perhaps,” he said, setting down his burden and lifting one tapestry, of a hunt with a lord and a lady with bows, “this might be what one is looking for?”

“Yes,” said Jacky, giving it a fair assessment. “Yes, I think this would be excellent.” She smiled at him: they were the same height. “I prefer not to haggle,” she said, finally fully meeting his brown eyes. “Name your price.”

Paul J Gies, 19 August 2016


Comma Sense

It’s my contention that the rules for commas are so numerous and so conditional that there is almost no point in trying to memorize them. As with most grammar, you’re better off learning the rules in your bones just by reading a lot of well-written prose. J. K. Rowling is excellent; Tolkien is too, although a bit archaic; the same is true of H. P. Lovecraft; Stephen King is good. And now you know what IK tend to read a lot of. (Oddly, “Eats Shoots and Leaves” makes a number of comma errors.)

Anyway, try your luck on the following, not all of which are even wrong. These are from a sheet I use in my ENG 100 class (which concentrates on H. P. Lovecraft) at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Comma Sense

Right, wrong or merely acceptable? Correct, if needed, the following sentences.

A. The way, H. P. Lovecraft writes, is very convoluted.

B. The way, according to Lao-tse, that can be told, is not the true way.

C. I told him, “That’s not what I paid for”, and he agreed to make good.

D. I want you to remember three things, I was never here, I never touched anything, and I’m not saying this.

E. Where do people who come all the way from wherever they came from go?

F. I left and went to work, there was no further point in talking it over with her.

G. At the tea party were Cthulhu, the God who waits sleeping in his palace of R’lyeh, Shub-Niggurath, the Goat with a Thousand Young, and He whose Name is Not Spoken, Azathoth. [Note: Shub-N is the Goat w/ 1000 Young]

H. Why are you here, she asked me?

I. No one; not even you; could possibly be that dense.

J. He came, he saw, and, he conquered.

K. He was lying, when he said I was lying. Because I wasn’t lying.

L. The U. S. budget deficit is “our gift to the grandkids” (Shaffer, 243).


That vs Which vs Who

The realm of Jacky Clothilde and her friends

Who vs. That vs. Which
(adapted from https://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/whoVwhVt.asp)

Rule 1: Who refers to people. That and which refer to groups or things.
More below on this…

Rule 2: That introduces essential clauses while which introduces nonessential clauses.
A clause is “essential” if taking it away seems to significantly change the meaning of the sentence—usually, taking out an essential clause leaves you wondering what the point was.

For example:
I want to find a job that allows me to exhibit my full range of weird imagination.
(Taking out the clause following “that” leaves: I want to find a job. Not the same sentence at all!)

On the other hand, nonessential clauses serve, basically, as adjectives:

I have a job already, which allows me to pay rent, but I don’t feel very fulfilled by it. And my current job does involve a bit more killing than I would prefer.

NOTE: Essential clauses…

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