The New Thing

The New Thing

As previously mentioned I’m working on a new book that’s not part of Sara’s adventures (although Jane, the main character, does appear very briefly in “Dream Student”).  Yesterday, I finally figured out how to open the story, something I hadn’t been able to manage.  So here it is: Jane’s a graduate student in archaeology at Oxford University, and she’s on the way to meet her advisor and be given the assignment that will comprise the main plot of the book.  But on her way to that meeting, she takes a detour into her memories:


Jane Barnaby made her way along Addison’s Walk, just as she’d done every day since she arrived at Oxford back in September.  The sky was gray and uninviting, but that was nothing new; Jane was used to not seeing the sun for days at a time.  She couldn’t honestly say that this December morning was noticeably different than that first morning three months ago.  Maybe it was a few degrees colder, but that was all.

The Walk was still beautiful; it made no difference whether it was sunny or cloudy or pouring rain.  In her right hand, Jane carried a small round stone that she’d picked up from the ground outside Holywell House.  This, too, she’d done every day since she arrived.

As she walked, Jane didn’t feel the wind, cutting through her coat and whipping her light brown hair in every direction.  She didn’t think about the meeting she was headed for, or what it might portend.  The only thing on her mind was, as always when she trod this path, her mother.  She carried on a conversation with her, telling her about everything and nothing.

Her mother had guided her here, not just to Oxford, but specifically to Magdalen College; Jane was certain of that.  She knew it that very first day, when she’d been given a brief tour and history lesson by Olivia, one of the two Social Secretaries of the College.  Olivia had led Jane along the beautiful Walk, explaining that it had been one of C.S. Lewis’ favorite places when he’d been a Fellow here.

The moment Jane heard that, she knew.  It hadn’t just been random chance that landed her in this particular College, but her mother’s hand.  Because “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” had been the very first “real” book that Jane’s mother had ever read to her and her brother.  Closing her eyes, Jane was transported back to her childhood bedroom, taking the book from her mother’s hands, and then slowly, haltingly, reading it back to her, her voice growing stronger and more confident with each word.  Jane remembered the pride shining from her mother’s eyes as she and then her brother in turn finished the last chapter and demanded to start on “Prince Caspian” immediately.



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