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Paper Jane
The Dime
Paper Jane didn’t want much; not in the sense that meant heartache and a high-stretching sigh. She wanted to be safe, of course. And she wanted a book to eat and a small glass of fountain ink now and then. She wanted her siblings back from the fire, but what was lost was lost, what remained was being fixed, and the paper dolls of the old stone house weren’t drawn much for regrets anyway. But of that ‘want’ that means hope and the taste of citrus, she had one.

Paper Jane wanted a story of her very own.

Once a stranger named Carmine came calling on the gray house in the middle of the One Thousand Hills Without Names. She came calling for the old mistress, the first mistress, the one who had woken up the paper dolls and the paper garden and had shaken the umbrellas to flight from their stolen roosts in the attic. Coppertop they had called her. Paper Jane had seen the stranger named Carmine approaching fast from the corner of sunrise and ocean. That woman had been possessed with a curious bent in her eyes, and Paper Jane had been tempted to call her cousin, if not for being completely ignored by the caller. Coppertop turned to her, told her to go hush the flowers in the garden for being too loud. Likewise all her siblings had been dismissed to other chores as the two shades of red talked in the granite kitchen.

Paper Jane heard a little bit. The flowers all tittered about the strange place Carmine had come from, the House of the Spoken Crane, and how they crafted stories there. They made stories that were swords and crowns and buttons and doors. It all made Paper Jane long for a story of her own, though she never told anyone that, not even Coppertop.

Stories happened to her once in a while. Like the great Flame that had consumed her mistress, four of her siblings, parts of two others, and half the paper garden. The one that had left Paper Jane’s hair scorch brown and crisped the fringes of her outline. There was next the story of the silence, the emptiness that wasn’t there before Coppertop had come, because they were too awake now, cinders still floating in the air. There was the coming of Newly Katherine, who took it upon herself to sweep away the ashes and redraw what she could of the Paper Ones. (Newly Katherine was like Carmine, Paper Jane always thought, except she didn’t ignore her. Though ‘cousin’ was always dancing on her tongue, Newly Katherine was mistress, as Coppertop had been)

These stories happened around Paper Jane. And sometimes to Paper Jane. But none of them were hers to hold and cherish and brandish like a sparkler beneath the gypsy moon. That is what she wanted, thin creature, white with black and brown.

It was Paper Jane who was sent to the Street Clock on the Four-hundred Seventy-sixth Hill Without a Name. She was the only one left with legs, for Newly Katherine was no artist, and toiled over each redrawn part of the two other paper dolls. It was Paper Jane’s duty to wind the clock each day at the gloaming. As such, it was Paper Jane who saw it all.

Two people met at the bottom of the Street Clock, one coming from the Ocean, one coming from the Gate. A girl, with a wicked sharp bird on her shoulder, and something papery to her skin. Gray gold curls. A man with a patch of missing sky in his wake and a face that Paper Jane knew so well. It made her paper heart tear a little to see him now, so long after Coppertop had burned away. But if Henri had returned, he had found that in which he had gone searching.

And soon there would be so many stories, Paper Jane could have her pick.

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These are not small things.

Gah! This is fantastic! I love it. You should publish your writings, become famous, and introduce me to your agent.

Wow, I, uh, thank you... but, um, aren't you sure it isn't going to happen the other way around?

Just covering all the bases.

Besides, we each have different strengths and weaknesses as writers. I think you write more beautifully--more lyrically, if you will--than I do, but I'm more obsessive about grammer-type details and general editing and also more dogged about finishing projects.

I will definately agree that you have a most generous upper hand when it comes to commitment to structure, more complicated stories, and getting it out there. So much of what's in my brain never happens because I flightfully move onto the next shiny thing.

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