Today, I have finally gotten to a Open Pen submission from Elsabet Scrivens, who has waited so patiently for me to post it! Elsabet would love to hear about if she “shows” instead of “telling,” and she would also love to hear tips about grammar (especially about when to begin new paragraphs.) Of course, she is open to hearing any type of criticism or opinions on her piece, but those are the topics that she is especially concerned about.
Thank you for reading the excerpt from Elsabet’s story, and if you would like to have your own story critiqued, you can check out the rules and submit here: Open Pen Critiques.
My Pen on Paper
Mace waited, basket on her hip, for her father to unlock the door. He always started with the shutters first. Finally, with the windows streaming early light; illuminating the tables and benches and glancing off the polished countertop; he used the largest key on the chatelaine to unlock the large, oaken double doors of the inn.
Today was Allesa’s-day, and that meant fish, and fish meant Allek’s wagon trundling down the cobbled streets and Allek’s sarcastic grin and his sardonic chuckle. Next to the folk in her family, Mace loved Allek best. She wouldn’t have admitted to loving him, of course–even if she had somehow realized that she did love him–but he was dear to her heart without his fully knowing it.
Of course she told everyone that he was ornery and cranky, difficult and disagreeable, contrary and cross and all-around cantankerous; that he drove too hard a bargain, that he charged twice what his wares were worth, that his wagon creaked and that his laugh grated on her nerves. But if anyone made the mistake of ridiculing him in her presence they would find that he had a staunch supporter who was always ready to come to his defense with a quick tongue and, if things ever came to a fight, her two bony fists.
She sat on the edge of the porch under the railing and swung her legs. Around her things were coming to life. Shutters were opening and people were drifting into the street. At the near corner she could hear the dull thud of wedges being driven into logs and knew the carpenters were hard at work. At the far corner she could just see smoke starting to curl from the blacksmith’s forge. At last, just as the smith began pound time with his hammer, she head the incessant creaking of Allek’s cart and the steady clip-clop of his nag’s hooves against the cobbles. The nag turned the corner and Mace jumped down into the street.
“You’re late.” She said as he pulled the rasping wagon to a halt.
“I beg your pardon my lady,” said Allek, sweeping his hat off and giving a mockingly exaggerated bow from the wagon seat, “but this flea-bitten hay-burner of mine was causin’ no end of trouble.” He tapped the horse’s back affectionately with the handle of his whip.
“Ghastly is a perfectly wonderful cart-horse you villain. If anyone’s to blame I’ve no doubt that it’s you. You probably stayed too long at the Bronze Nicklefin.” Mace rubbed Ghastly’s nose and slipped her a piece of dried apple from under her apron. shrugged.
“I won’t deny that I like a drink and a song, but nothing could keep me from the–” He paused to think up a suitable epithet, “–charms of your witty discourse and the warmth of your lovely smile.”
Mace fixed him with her most ferocious glare.
“Ah,” he said, pressing a hand to his heart as he swung his leg over the back of the wagon seat and stepped into the back of the wagon, “Such a glowing countenance.”
He gave his earmark half-smile and swept his hand over the barrels of his wares. “What will you have my lady?” “What have you got?” “Eel,” He said, pausing to gauge the effect this had on Mace.
She grimaced. “No.”
“It’s very cheap.”
Allek rolled his eyes. “Only for you would I make such a deal,” He said behind gritted teeth, “And only you would refuse it.”
“No one wants eel, not even for six-pep.” Mace pointed out.
He shrugged. “I also have nicklefin, silvergill, warry, wickskin and clipscale, the very first of the season.”
Mace handed up her basket. “Two nicklefin, ten silverfin and then wickskin.”
Allek filled the basket. “Now for the price,” he said, holding the basket just out of Mace’s reach, “A silver and twelve pep.”
“A half-sterling and thirty pep,” Mace countered.
“A silver and five pep.” “
A half sterling and forty pep.”
Allek shook his head., “I won’t be taking less than a full silver today, young-un.” He was grinning that infuriating half-grin of his, his eyes narrowed in silent humor. But he was, of course, serious. He was always serious. Even his jokes tended to be on the serious side.
Mace pursed her lips. She had a full silver in her pocket, but she also had a half sterling and forty seven pep.
“I’m willing to pay a half-sterling and forty-five pep for the basket and two pep for as many eels. No more. Take it or no, I’m not paying a whole silver.”
“Your mum won’t be pleased if you have no fish,” Allek observed, folding his arms.
“Be that as it may, but she won’t be pleased if I waste a whole silver either.”
Mace put her hands on her hips and willed herself not to smile. If Allek knew he could make her smile she would be his and she could kiss the fish goodbye.
“Eh,” Allek said at last. “It isn’t a bad deal.” He put four eels in the basket, their tails trailing over the sides.
“I only asked for two, I won’t pay for two more.”
“Take ’em and good riddance,” said Allek stepping into the wagon seat and then handing Mace her basket. “No one wants eel.”
He tapped Ghastly with his whip and they clattered off to wreak havoc on the next customer.