bride of the tornado cover dare to know cover order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish


My protégée Freya

May 17, 2009

Here I am with my niece Freya (back in 2004). Everyone thinks their own niece is brilliant, but there was something terrifying about Freya from an early age.

At eighteen months old, at a visit to the pediatrician, she looked up to the doctor and politely inquired, “May I see your stethoscope?”

At four years old, she was asked her say three words that began with “S.” Freya replied, “Sugar. Silly. Suffragette.” Four years old. I don’t think I really knew what “suffragette” meant until my twenties. When asked for three words that began with “J,” she said, “Judas. Jerusalem. Jackass.” Huh?

Her manner reminded me of Paul Atreides’ little sister Alia from Dune:

Freya is a writer as well. We used to meet every week at Humboldt Pie, a now-defunct coffeehouse around the corner from my house, to talk about our works-in-progress. It’s as close as I’ve ever come to a writing group.

Freya is working on a novel called The Cosmic Key. The last time I checked, it was over 100 pages long. Every week at Humboldt Pie I’d sit, listen to her, and diligently scribble down everything she said as she described The Cosmic Key’s plot and characters. Trust me: if Freya ever gets around to finishing the insane, heartbreaking, terrifying story, it will be epic.

The situation reminded me of Dr. Wilde taking dictation from “Precious,” the horror-film writing girl in Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron:

Freya read my novel The Order of Odd-Fish when she was in second grade, and was my first fan. I’ve gotten great Odd-Fish art from her over the years, including her gingerbread ruby palace, and more:

Now, as you probably know, two weeks ago my wife Heather gave birth to our first child, Lucy Momo Kennedy. As I mentioned in that post, Heather and I were in the middle of Scrabble when her water broke. I speculated: might the words of that interrupted Scrabble game, rearranged into story form, provide some clue to Lucy’s future?

Freya rose to the challenge, and wrote that very story!

She kindly gave me permission to post it here on the blog. The words from the Scrabble board are underlined. It sounds like a pretty good future for Lucy—thanks for another great story, Freya! (Though I confess I’m curious as to why she had to pawn all those boas . . . )

If you want to keep up with Freya’s other writing, she has her own blog here.

And now: Lucy’s life, predicted using the words from Heather’s and my abandoned Scrabble game, written by Freya, age 11:

AGE 13, 2022

“Aha!” Lucy pulled the can opener out from the drawer. “There you are, you little bugger.”

She crossed the kitchen to the opposite counter, where the can of pears that she needed the opener for sat, almost smugly, as though it was saying, Nyah nyah, Lucy, you’ll never get my delicious pears. Go ahead and break your nails on my lid! Sure, it’s supposed to be “hand-open–able,” but you and I both know that’s not true, don’t we?

“Stupid can,” mumbled the thirteen-year-old girl. “Why can’t Dad get jars instead?”

Lucy put opener to lid, and in her mind the can cried, No! No, anything but that! Not the can opener! Nooooo! My lid is hand-open-ablllllleeeeee . . . Lucy had a sudden funny vision of a can of pears being chased by a rabid can opener. She giggled.

“Mom’s right,” she thought as she spooned the pears into a bowl. “I do have a morbid side.”

Her dark-blond bangs falling in her eyes, Lucy walked to the dining room table, snagging a fork on the way. As she sat down to eat her pears, she thought about her life.

She had been born on May 4th, 2009. Now it was 2022, and 2009 seemed so long ago. Her full name was Lucy Momo Kennedy, “momo” meaning “peach” in Japanese. Her parents were Heather Norborg and James Kennedy. Also in her family were Aunt Jennifer, her mother’s older sister, and Jennifer’s husband, Max. Their children were Theo, age 21, and Freya, age 24. Freya was the only one besides her parents who called her “Momo” on a regular basis.

Lucy sighed and got up from the table. She opened her backpack and took out her homework, an assignment on tax. Sitting down again, she set herself to the task of completing it.

Once that was done, Lucy started her other homework, an activity on Farsi. She was attempting to learn many different languages from around the world. Lucy was aspiring to be a great traveler when she was old enough, and wanted to be able to speak to people everywhere she went. So far she was pretty good in Spanish and French, but she felt she needed more Middle Eastern languages.

Eventually, the worksheet on Farsi was finished, and Lucy only had one other assignment. This was to find as many words as she possibly could out of the word PHOSPHATIDYLETHANOLAMINE, which they were studying in science class.

Lucy started with the obvious, the word HAT. She then stared at her paper, feeling her brain go blank. Oh well, the homework wasn’t due till Monday. Lucy picked up her fork and went to work on her pears again.

Just then, her father came in. His wild hair stuck up on all sides of his head like a scrub brush, albeit one that had dyed its bristles blond and gone punk. Lucy looked up, said, “Hi, Daddy,” and went back to her pears.

“WHAT?!” bellowed James Kennedy in fake outrage, acting to the best of his ability. “I, the great DADDY, MASTER OF THIS DWELLING, am not IMMEDIATELY REGALED AT THE DOORSTEP?!”

“Da-ad!” cried Lucy, laughing. She ran to him. Her father accepted her with outstretched arms, and mussed her hair. “Man, your hair’s getting long. What do you think, is it time to bring out the scissors and snip an inch or two?”

“Dad, if anyone needs a haircut around here, it’s you.”

James fingered his own hair. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Suddenly, he swung his daughter up onto his hip. “Jeez! You’re getting big!” he groaned, and set her down again. “Remind me not to do that anymore. You’ll break my back!”

Lucy giggled, and her father tickled her, and she tickled him back, and then they were romping around in a fabulous game of Can-You-Tickle-Me, which was something they had invented together.

After about an hour, Lucy’s mother, Heather Norborg, came home. She laughingly broke up the game of Can-You-Tickle-Me, sent Lucy and James off to set the table, and herself set about picking up all the things that had been knocked over while they had been playing.

Once dinner was on the table and everyone was seated, Lucy scanned the food. She had a habit of making strange, interesting observations about things at supper that pretty much carried the conversation until everything had been eaten. Tonight, her comment was, “There are five things to eat tonight. Potatoes, meat, green beans, bread, and soup. There also was, 25 years ago, a British band named Five. I wonder, are there any resemblances, physical or personality-wise, between the members of that band and the five dishes here?” the girl then proceeded to encrust the surface of her meat with a thin layer of mashed potatoes.

This amazing observation worked quite well, and the rest of the meal was spent discussing Lucy’s topic.

Perhaps here would be a good opportunity to describe Miss Lucy Momo Kennedy. I shall begin.

Lucy was thin and pretty, her darkish blond hair falling to her shoulders. Her eyes were hazelly-blue, a strangely beautiful combination. She was polite when it was needed, but could deliver cutting insults. Lucy was a good girl at home, always helping her parents. She had a wonderful sense of humor and creativity, inherited from her father, and a sensible, sweet side, inherited from her mother. She was unpredictable, sometimes leaping up in the middle of a quiet board game and yelling, “CROON! CROON! IT’S THE MOST INTERESTING WORD I’VE EVER HEARD!” Sometimes the shout-out was different, but it was always the same situation. Once, she was playing Scrabble with James, and had just leaned forward to make a move when she suddenly had the burning desire to jump to her feet and dash around the apartment, shouting “CHICKEN TENDERS! CHICKEN TENDERS! THEY ARE SO DELICIOUS, OH!” When this kind of thing happened, James and Heather always took it with a laugh and a tendency to join in.

In Lucy’s room, there was a closet full of old clothes, for the times when Lucy had the whim to put on a little one-person play, which she did often. In this closet there was a drawer full of ugly boas, and Lucy was frequently selling these and buying more. Once she had pawned seventeen of them at one time! Also in the closet was a model river, built by Lucy and her mother. On one bank of the river was a very realistic levee, which Lucy had crafted all by herself with no help from Heather. Lucy prized the model above all of her other possessions, and she kept high in the closet, where “it would never be touched, not in its whole life.”

Truly, Lucy is an astoundingly wonderful personality, and if you have never met her, I hope you will someday.

Note: The words “qi” and “eloi” were not used in this story, owing to the fact that the writer has no idea what they mean.

Thanks, Freya! I’m looking forward to many more great stories. (Now get cracking on The Cosmic Key!)