sequel to The Only Gift




chapter 46 ~ By the Surprise of Its Own Unfolding

I would love to live
Like a river flows.
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.


Someone …

He knew … awareness … without recognition, the moment of even that cut short by the silver fracture of the black-mirrored water. The gravity of his commitment pulled him deep … away … not so much below as … within.  Whoever skirted the gypsum shore would come upon a buckled pack, might bend to inspect the muddle of his cast-off clothes, but whoever waited, whoever watched for him would see nothing more than the stir and spume of the lake’s cleaving.

A creature of air and dry land, he was surprised anew by what he, in his most private thoughts, imagined as the water’s Acceptance. At the basin of the falls, at the Mirror Pool … here … as he slipped through the cool silk, curling fingers of warmth dabbled at his skin, luring him deeper where the stroke of murmured palms mapped the hardscape of his body, held him close with welcome … with desire. The science of it he understood, but the drab explanation – hot springs and vents, the measure of atmosphere and pressure – only clouded the truth: that with his half-opened eye he saw crystalline stars, that at his temple came the sibilate welcome, Yessss … That in this place of wave-rhythmed harmonies, he was free. 


Once that last boyish summer – a vision he’d never shared – first in from the chute, arrowing in the same long trajectory, he saw, emerged from the shadowy edge, a being so diaphanous, so immaterial … He stopped the scissor of his legs and drifted, borne by the current furrowed far beneath the surface. Surely only light, he thought. An impossible dance of light. Her pale hair and paler dress a rippling veil; her parted lips, her coal eyes beckoning … she was so sadly, desolately rare.1 The need to touch her burned in his chest, but before he could find her dim hand, he was buffeted by an underwater gust, and when he looked again, she was gone. Seconds later clammy fingers closed around his ankle. His lungs emptied, their desperation rocketing him upward. He gulped the sweet air of his world, whipped the hair from his eyes. Noah bobbed up nearby, spluttery with laughter, pointing at him. Stuart’s shout and splash ricocheted off the cavern walls.


Now he kicked twice for ascent, breaking the still plane with a quiet gasp. With his arms and cupped hands, he fanned the water.

“You!” a voice exclaimed and he swirled toward the sound. 

If she hadn’t spoken, she’d have been invisible against the rock formations, her clothes shadow-colored gray, her thick rope of hair braided strands of ivory and tea-stained lace. Wren scrambled down from an overlook in the swell of flowstone – The Mirador, they’d christened it – and paced the chiseled shoreline. 

“You didn’t come up and you didn’t come up! I heard a splash and saw some bubbles, but then … nothing. I was about to dive in after … whoever! If I’d known it was you …”  She bent and braced her hands on her knees, her shoulders heaving, her discharging adrenaline like the sparklers Noah’s grandfather passed out every summer. Another pull of air, a long whoosh out … and she raised her head and grinned. “Stuart told me you could do the length on one breath. I didn’t believe him though. He says you have the best power phase of anybody he’s ever raced, a great high elbow catch, and I should really study your form.”

He paddled backward, into a sliver of shade and a cooler stream. Years had passed since their last competition, an unplanned match at the triple falls. Before Catherine, he realized. Just before. When Stuart found him, challenged him, he’d already swum an hour of fueled laps, unable to lose himself, a vague ambition burning, unquenchable … and this time, this one time at least, he held nothing back. He won … easily … much to his opponent’s vociferous frustration. 

Chuckled words bubbled out before him now. “Stuart says a lot of things.” 

She snorted. “He does, doesn’t he.” Already barefoot, Wren snapped the drawstring at her waist. “That crazy current, the warm one that snakes around. Are you in it?”

“It’s there. In the middle.” 

 A wisp of steam fog hovered between them, a drifting trail nearly the length of the tapered pool. Across the lake from her, he scrubbed up against a wall of crystal spars and spread his arms along the ledge. The air chilled his skin. He let himself sink chin-level in the water.  


“I’m here,” he called, his voice louder than necessary.

Her thumbs hooked in the band of her sweats, she peered in his direction. “Oh,” she said after a silent beat. Her hands moved to the zipper of her jacket, but she tugged it higher instead of open. “I don’t, ummm, have to get in. Now. But just so you know …” She laughed, a soft trill. “I’m wearing a suit.”

“And I’m …” He glanced toward the entry.

Wren followed his gaze. “Pretty far from your clothes?” 

“That … and without a towel.”

“Well, you’re at my mercy then. I’ve stashed a couple extra, but I should make you show me your ‘fly first.” She started at her own words. “I mean your stroke! I’d like to see it.” She groaned. “No, no! Your butterfly! Oh, dear God, Vincent! Help me out!”  

Help you out!? I’m– He expected a wash of embarrassment, perhaps the brush of her wariness against his own, but it was impossible to mistake her enjoyment of their situation, her ease with him. He liked her, though he’d expect to like anyone Stuart loved. Why would it – he – be different for Wren? For others chosen by the hearts of any of his friends? He shivered, not from the cool cove waters, but from the realization that perhaps … it wasn’t. 

Wren’s laugh, her deep rumbly notes, resounded in the chamber. Just for a moment, he considered gliding into the channel, building speed for a somersault at the wall of the lake to return, to oblige at full capacity … imagined the in- and outsweep of his arms, the undulating drive of his body, first his shoulders, then his hips rising …

Hey! he’d swear he heard – and it was Stuart’s rumble, close, as if he hunkered just behind him on the granite shore, his laugh an octave lower but so like Wren’s – You’re stone-buck nekkid, pal, and that’s my wife. 

From boyhood experience, he thought to clamp a protective arm to his ribs, to expect even a phantom jab. 

“I don’t think, given its … mechanics … I’m prepared to demonstrate.”

“Oh my God,” she repeated. “Stuart will love this. I won’t hear the end of it. You wait. He’ll tell it at Thanksgiving dinner. At Winterfest!” She shook her head. “All this … freedom down here. Really, it’s a lot to get used to. Please, Vincent, finish your swim.  Were you headed back to camp? I’ll go with you, carry something.”

“I was. But you …”

“I can come back later or in the morning. I don’t have court ‘til ten tomorrow. Use my towels. I’ll wait for you. Outside.” 

A half-lap to the end of the pool warmed his muscles and the length, taken at full crawl, was a rejuvenating meditation. The last vestiges of his headache shimmered away; the rock dust cleared from his lungs. Long repressed to a dull, red ache, the gash across his cheek kindled to fire, but in the sluice of healing minerals, the sting soon ebbed. A last jackknife into the deep stirred the sand, but he arched away from the swirl of glitter and silt, lured by the velvet caress … Catherine. Only Catherine.

Three thick towels were stacked with his clothes and he used them all, after he dressed, wringing each one in his grip, spreading them on the rocks to dry. When he hoisted his pack and the crate, the tools clinked and clattered together, their purpose and his duties sharpening into focus, nearly a surprise.  

His torch was righted in a holder at the top of the stairs, and – still there – the Arrow Rock pointed left. He ducked through the Needle’s Eye, wove the short maze of The Knees into Wall Street. The wedge-shaped cavern was just as magnificent as when they’d discovered it, its ceiling just as soaring, but a string of electric lights burned there now, a pick-off he knew from the main corridor’s line, a corridor not one hundred feet away through an inconspicuous pass, their secret lands – had they ever truly been – no longer so. 

He snuffed his flare in a sand trough, stowing it with a cache of others in a tall urn.

Wren lounged in The Hammock, a smooth scoop of stone opposite The Stacks. The niche was brightened by yellow tapers studded in an awkward copper candelabra, one he’d made himself from scavenged pipe fittings and plumbing parts.

“I sat in that very place,” he began.

“And read by this very light,” Wren finished, closing her book. He tipped his head to read the title and she flashed its cover – What to Expect When You’re Expecting – before she scooted to the edge of the recess.

It was only polite, no less than he’d been taught, and instinct – he held out his hand to her aid. So new she was to their family, her home with Stuart so far from his daily occupations, he hardly knew her. Certainly he’d never touched her, not even in welcome or congratulations or to dance at Winterfest, and there was an instant when he thought to withdraw his offer, to retreat before she could recoil. And she did hesitate; after curling her fingers with his, she did frown … before she leveraged against his weight and popped to her feet. 

He released her and stepped back, that warm sheen of confidence, of … normalcy … drying on his skin, dulling him.

Four tiered ledges were jammed with books and she wedged hers in at one’s end, a shaky smile on her face. “I have three copies,” she said. “No, four. One here, one in our chamber, one in my briefcase to read at work, one in the apartment. What happened to your cheek?”

“A scrape, a … nothingness. How are you feeling?” he remembered to ask.

“Iffy, sometimes,” she said. “When I get up too fast, like, uh, umm, like a second ago, out of The Hammock.” Her face paled and she swallowed hard. “Ergh.”

It wasn’t me. 

Immediately chagrinned that her discomfort granted him salving, he assigned himself an evening session of self-examination. A longing flared … and, though it died back, was not snuffed out – a necessitude, to admit his diffidence, to explore his nature, learned and inborn, with someone, someone … not Father. Not … not even Catherine.

But not Wren either. “Should you sit?” he asked, at the same time letting down his gear,  grabbing up his cloak, folding it to a cushion. He reached for her again, took both her hands and steadied her to the hastily-made, padded seat atop his pack on the floor. “Water … shall I get some for you?”

Ehhhh,” Wren muttered, her head bowed. 

“Crackers? Do you have …” He searched the pigeonholes and crannies of the chamber’s walls for emergency rations, wishing he could blink back into existence their once well-stocked, if not particularly nutritious stash. “I don’t …”

Mmmmm–mmmm.”  She held up one finger, then rocked forward, her elbows on her knees, her forehead in her palms. 

Helpless to do anything else, he watched her. Watched over her.

Minutes passed. Crouched at her side, he offered what he hoped was a reassuring touch. “Shall I send for Stuart?” 

She shook her head – barely. “Ginger root?” she mumbled. “Peppermint?” 

Is she teasing me? Now? He wasn’t sure, but as if the possession were possible, he patted his pockets. 

Mmrruummphh.” She flapped her hand … relieving … him, but when he didn’t rise, she opened one eye. “I’m all right,” she said, showing him a cautious smile. “Really, I’m fine. Or I will be. It’s … it’s passing. One minute, okay?” She caught her breath. “Maybe five.”

He nodded and pushed to his feet. If she were Catherine … what would he do? 


He slammed into the surprise of the question, his hands flat, his cheek turned against the cold stone wall of it. No picture materialized through the haze suddenly clouding his vision or past the queasiness that made him breathe so shallowly and through his mouth. Something fluttered … though he couldn’t touch the place …


I could … read to her, he decided, crossing to the library shelves. Yes. A reassuring passage from her manual. But as he plucked at the volume, he cast a last look over his shoulder. Wren sat tucked around her distress, alone with it. No, not alone, he realized. Private with it. Protective, determined. Willing. He pushed the book flush and waited, empty-handed, careful not to pace, mentally mapping the shortest route to camp.

With Stuart’s the deciding vote, they’d once debated the name of the passage just beyond The Hammock. The Bellows, he’d suggested; Wall Street, Noah had proposed. He’d never seen the Financial District except in pictures, but the analogy fit. From where Wren now rested, the narrow path toward home through the high, slotted crevice rose and fell, switchbacked and flattened as did many a topsider’s fortune. Noah’s was a good choice, the best … his friends perplexed by his allusion. And likely only he could feel it, hear it. At times, a rush of air like an indrawn breath breezed past, spiraling to the far reaches of the ceiling, held there … its release a warm purr. He imagined it the carrier of the singing wind through these northern tunnels, the powered source of the Whispering Bridge of home. He could hear it now, its voice just separate from shadow, from silence, a voice neither Wren’s nor Catherine’s, nor his own. 

Be here. Be still. 

And in time, Wren blew out a long and grateful “Ooooooosh. 

“Better now?” he asked. 

“Weird,” she said, looking at her shoes. She tapped one toe, then the other. “It comes; it goes. It’s supposed to be a good sign, morning sickness. Though maybe Below … mornings and evenings … get mixed up. The book says it’ll likely be gone altogether soon, but I hear some awful stories– OH!” She gulped and bent over crossed arms.

Leaping to her, whisking her up he knew was ill-advised, and yet …

“No, no. I’m good,” she said, as if he’d spoken aloud. She straightened, her gaze soft, inward, on intimate landmarks known only to her. “Yep. Almost good to go.”

“Until then … how might I … ”

“Talk to me. That helps. Tell me a story, one about you and Stuart and Noah.” She touched the back of her hand to one cheek, to the other. “All those books. Were they your favorites?”

He studied the tattered spines – browned, brittle paperbacks, tooled cloth and leather bindings.The Riddle of the Sands, Captain Blood, The Man Who Would Be King. Verne and Burroughs and Sir H. Rider Haggard. “Our imaginations knew no bounds.”

“The truth, now. The Odyssey? Moby Dick? Did you really, really like those? I mean, Robert Howard, all his Conans? I get that, but the Aeneid? Beowulf?

“Father sent those along.”

“Did you read them? Wait … was there a test?”

He shrugged and nodded. “The others, we, umm, collected.”

“Sounds like a story in itself,” she said and they both grinned. She pointed to the shelves. “The Decameron. Remember that one? Jacob’s idea … or yours?”

“It’s here?” He scanned the rows again. He remembered – of course he did – the book purloined from Father’s library, secreted in his frayed carpetbag until he arrived at Noah’s, their passing of it hand to hand behind his mother’s back into the knapsack of treats she’d readied. Bawdy, they’d heard it described. Banned. Finding it, when they settled around the campfire, the covers opened at last to the first page, seriously disappointing. They’d stuffed it in among other, more accessible stories on the shelf, and when he walked home at summer’s end, he left it behind, altogether forgotten. But Father had noticed the absence – the copy from the turn of the century, gilt lettering on still-supple burgundy cowhide and, in Father’s final word, valuable. He’d been sent back, but after searching everywhere, even here, it was not to be found. Neither Stuart nor Noah confessed to its whereabouts, though Noah asserted that it belonged in the abyss.

Wren laughed at his tale and he was thankful color petaled her cheeks again. “I was assigned a month of extra Latin translation,” he continued. “Plus an essay on the two-fold character of borrowing – the take and the return.”

“Imagine Jacob’s delight to have it in-hand again.” 

“But I paid for it, long ago. And I shouldn’t wish to provoke an old … exasperation. It’s best to leave it here, I think. It’s been safe enough.”

Wren rose and reached back for his cloak. She shook the creases free. “Uh-oh,” she said. “You’ve got a big rip. See? Want me to mend it? Stu’s mom gave us her old treadle machine. I could use the practice.” 

He took it from her, refolding it into the crate, brushing at the shadow of a stain on the leather inset, on the satin trim of the hood. “It’s an old one,” he said, quick to sidestep the curiosity he saw in her eyes. “Are you, as you described, good to go?”

If we go right now.” Her playful spark had returned, and not for the first time, Vincent thought her an exclamation point to Stuart’s solid squareness. “I’ll get the pack,” she said, bending to it. 

“It’s heavy. Wren, please …” He hooked a strap with a fast hand and shifted into the harness. 

“I can mange,” she protested. “I’ve carried heavier things before.”

“I’m sure you have … and will again. But not this. Not today.” The crate settled again on his hip, he stepped back, letting her pass in front. Single-file they climbed the spiraled steps, rounding the last turn, Wren reaching up, brushing two fingers to a groove worn in the stone before slipping through The Slice with ease. He maneuvered the tools and his shoulders past crags lower and rougher than he recalled and touched the same smooth, familiar place.


“We had good news today, from Kanin,” he said, once matched with her in the wider corridor. “The … situation … is containable. We know the priority of work now, where we should concentrate our resources.”

“Stuart did seem relieved. I’d just gotten in, and he’d come home to change clothes, but he gave me the condensed version on his way out again. He wants to get as much done as he can before he has to go back to work next week.”

“We won’t leave until you’re secure. This concern – the uncertainty, the disruption – has surely colored your impression of our world. I’m sorry for that.”

“No, Vincent. Don’t be. The commitment, the efforts … remind me of home.”


“You’ve heard of barn raisings, haven’t you? Harvest suppers? Those things really happen where I’m from. Anytime there’s an emergency, an illness in the family, you name it … neighbors pitch in. Us farm kids even had storm families, a home in town we’d go to if a blizzard closed school. We’d stay until our folks came for us, days, sometimes a week or more.”

“People looking out for each other,” he said and she nodded. “Is it beautiful, where you’re from?” he asked.

“The buttes and spires, the canyons – it’s a lot like here without the roof. But at night, you can’t believe the stars. And on the prairies … the wisp-grass and flowers in the wind, the eagles dark against the sun … I wish you could see it.” Her sigh, wistful at first, choked to awkwardness. With steepled fingers, she tapped her lips. “I’m sorry, Vincent.”

“Don’t apologize. Please.” He stopped and called her name and though she turned to him, her head was bowed, her fists tucked under her chin. “You must believe me,” he said. “I go west on your words, Wren. Without them …” He spread his arms, erasing the thought. “With them I am … unbound.” His head tipped in invitation, he beckoned her to follow. “Our friendship is just begun,” he said. “You need not watch what you say. And you must stop biting your lip. Truly, you must stop.”

They walked in silence to the next junction, where Wren, without a stuttered step, chose the corridor not to her chambers but toward camp. “You’re learning your way,” he said and the last tensions eased at the corners of her eyes, from the curve of her posture.

“When this is all over, you and Catherine will visit, won’t you?”

“We will. You two have much in common. You’ll be fast friends.” 

“I hope so. Stuart misses you, Vincent. He told me the upside of all this worry is having you around again. Sounds like you had some really good times together.”

Good times. Yes. After Devin left, he’d not expected to smile again and that first summer, when he realized he was enjoying himself, he’d felt almost guilty. He’d been free here, his hours unscripted, his quiet spells unchallenged. Expected to do little beyond make up his own bunk, wash the dishes after breakfast or supper, and once a week to make the rounds of the farthest dwellers’ chambers with bread and oranges and candles. Be polite and be careful were Stuart’s and Noah’s mothers’ only admonitions. Keep it to a dull roar after midnight, either father would demand. Stay together, Levya would remind them every morning. Be grateful. Laugh out loud.

“You know, there are guest chambers,” Wren was saying. “Nice ones and never used, not far from ours. You could make one a holiday house.” 

“I’d like that.” And he would. He crossed the threshold of a room yet unseen, unclaimed, where nevertheless candle flame danced to a scrap of fluted melody and friends old and new crowded a laden table. “But when your baby comes, won’t you be moving Above?”

“What? Why? Why would you think such a thing?”

“Your friends, your work. Your family, Wren. How will you explain your … absence?”

They were nearing camp and since Kanin’s return, a portion of vigilance had relaxed. A burst of laughter echoed from a side corridor; footsteps sounded nearby. On the closest circle of pipes, short messages were softly tapping again. To hear her answer, to have it uninterrupted, he’d take an unnecessary detour, the longer round-about if necessary. His paced slowed, as did hers.

“Remember, I haven’t been in the city long,” she said. “Just a couple years. People come and go; no big deal. Not like at home, where they let school out to watch somebody move in from out of town. And Mom’s not likely to surprise me with a visit. It’s not an easy thing to get from Sage Creek, South Dakota to the Bronx without a phone call or two, not to mention how hard it is for Dad or my brother to leave the ranch. When Mom comes, we’ll use the shared apartment over Dix’s place. That’s where she thinks we live. I’ve sent pictures. She thinks it’s too little for her to stay over.” Wren chuckled. “She says we’re crazy to live there. If she knew the truth, she’d be happier for us, dollars to doughnuts. Anyway,” she continued, “a friend from work lives pretty close, and she volunteered to put her up. After that, well, I don’t know. Since it looks like the entrances are saved, maybe we’ll pretend to move to Sal’s building. If we have to, we’ll find a little place of our own, with access. Woodlawn’s nice. Or maybe Bedford Park or Belmont. There’s Stu’s job to think about.”

“And yours”

“Oh, I’m taking a leave. A long one. I haven’t officially told anyone at work, just a few close friends there, Eimear and Zivah. Maybe Catherine knows someone, someone with child advocacy experience, because we’ll have to start looking for my replacement soon. I’m raising this baby Below.”

Eimear. At her name, he lost the rhythm of his stride and the crate banged against his thigh. Then what is all this? 2 Once he’d countered Catherine’s disbelief in magic with the question, but there was no denying this confluence.

… and it is possible a great energy is moving near me. 3

The circumstance that had drawn them north had been urgent, its remedy necessary, and they would seal a dozen doors at the perimeter before the boundary was declared safe. Had not as many doors opened?

I dwell in possibility …4

Yours, Catherine. Mine. 

And so … what dreams may come …5

His astonishment was supplanted with a sighing sense of certitude. He would not stumble on the path now, so near the center. What steps were his, he would make.

“You’re surprised!” 

She misunderstood, and yet she didn’t. 

“You shouldn’t be,” she went on. “This place … made Stuart who he is. My baby will have grandparents just under Riverdale. Liz and Noah’s kids will be like cousins. They’ll shoot the chute together, Vincent. Scheme in The Mirador, lounge in The Hammock. I want her to have the education you have, even if it might mean reading Virgil on summer vacation. I want her to run these tunnels, to take for granted all the freedoms Below offers that Above cannot, to be touched by the marvel of here.” She reached out, closing on the taut strap of the toolbox, turning him with a pull. “I want my children to know you, Vincent.”

He met her unwavering gaze. The corridors were lantern-lit and in their glow, Wren’s eyes were amber, the color of ripe wheat. Once, blushing, his voice husky with wonder, Stuart had called her his Black Hills gold, describing her fine mettle belied by her pale delicacy, painting her warm like the the sun on a Badlands mesa, as open as the Great Plains. Now, he sensed no fear in her. No fears dismissed or overcome or whittled away by propinquity. Simply none.

The realization emboldened him. 

“I must ask you something,” he began. “Something I’ve never asked anyone outright. And Wren, you should … feel free … to be truthful. Tell me. How did Stuart prepare you … for me?”




Chapter Title and Opening Quotation: John O’Donohue. Fluent. From  Conamara Blues. 2001.


  1. Edgar Fawcett. To T.S.S. from Fantasy and Passion. 1878.
  2. When the Blue Bird Sings. Season 2. Dialogue: Vincent
  3. Rainer Maria Rilke. You, Darkness.
  4. Emily Dickinson. I Dwell in Possibility.
  5. William Shakespeare. Hamlet. Act 3, scene 1. 1600.




  1. At first, thank you that we can enjoy the next chapter so quickly, I calmed my nerves a bit when it turned out that someone I knew was approaching Vincent, I like Wren, her acceptance of life in tunnels, coming from sites where people also help each other she has something in common with Catherine too….I’m looking forward to Catherine and Vincent’s talk about children, because it’s a topic postponed, but it intrigues me like other issues..I think soon Vincent will take off his hood and show himself to Martin , Eimear, Flynn, Rose ….. new doors are actually opening, new possibilities …. I really like the way you write, it affects me, it’s so good that I go back to words,’s something beautiful🙂.

    • Paula, I have printed out your message here and tacked it to my bulletin board. I will read it again and again. You’ve done wonders for my spirits. You are so kind and so encouraging. It means everything that you’re reading this story and that you enjoy it. You’ve seen Wren exactly as I hoped you would, and your hopes for Vincent are mine as well! (I don’t want to give away too much of the story!!) Thank you so very much.


      • …..and I thank you for your words, I appreciate what you do and I think I’m not alone in this… you also do wonders for others with your writing.

  2. AAAAAHHhhhhhhh, the sweetness and tartness and JOY of Wren! And the inadvertent lessons she has to teach Vincent: (1) Stop automatically assuming that every perceived negative reaction has to do with YOU, Vincent. Wren wasn’t troubled by your appearance or touch — she had morning sickness. (2) Stop assuming that Above is preferable to Below, and that every Topsider who comes Below will inevitably return Above. Wren wants to live and raise her child Below. (3) Stop assuming that a life Below is restrictive. Wren has found FREEDOM in it, and she wants that for her child.

    Here’s my favorite passage from this chapter:

    “Once he’d countered Catherine’s disbelief in magic with the question, but there was no denying this confluence.

    … and it is possible a great energy is moving near me. 3

    The circumstance that had drawn them north had been urgent, its remedy necessary, and they would seal a dozen doors at the perimeter before the boundary was declared safe. Had not as many doors opened?

    I dwell in possibility …4

    Yours, Catherine. Mine.

    And so … what dreams may come …5

    His astonishment was supplanted with a sighing sense of certitude. He would not stumble on the path now, so near the center. What steps were his, he would make.”

    This venture North has brought Vincent from thinking he might be ready to take Catherine’s hand and be introduced to ANYONE she might choose to finding himself more and more certain that doing so will be inevitable — and that he is indeed READY.

    MORE, please!



    • Lindariel, how I am smiling at your message. I’m so grateful, as always, and thrilled by your assessments. Spot on! So encouraging! Thank you!!!!!

  3. How wonderful to have another chapter so soon! Thank you!

    Wren is a great character — as a person unto herself and as a mirror wherein Vincent will — I trust — come a little closer to seeing himself as so many others see him, instead of the image and product of his deepest fears.

    As always, I’m really enjoying the vision of this extension of the tunnel world and, of course, the ways you’ve made it all so believable and possible. I know this takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. Please know that it all is appreciated and valued.

    Linda SB

    • Linda, you are so good for my writer’s soul and spirits. Your Wren-reading is exactly what I hoped you’d find in her character – Herself, a mirror. You know I enjoy bringing more characters to this, my tunnel world, and that you find her and this community believable means everything! And that you always take the time to comment, to let me know you’ve visited, means everything-plus!

      Thank you for so many, many things,


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