In this sample, Aunt Libby, Loach (a mermayd), and Muriel have been exiled into the desert from the land known as the Eel. Muriel has been almost in shock. As she recovers from that, she becomes cruel.
Why Muriel is Mean
excerpt from THE WOLVES OF PORT NOVO
by Marian Allen
We gave our backs to the Eel. For the moment, at least, I was glad to be shut of it. I felt like someone who’s been washed overboard in her sleep, caught in opposing currents, then miraculously beached.
The desert. Any priest of Micah who hasn’t followed him into the desert, at least for a few days’ sojurn, is missing a key piece of understanding. Not to mention an experience of unparalleled beauty.
The sun, behind us, cast indigo shadows beyond the sand-ripples and succulents. Paloverde shrubs made long puddles of shade.
“See those?” I nodded to the canary-blossomed plants. “They mean water, just a few feet down. We can dig for it, if we have to. They draw bees, which can mean honey, and they draw grazing animals, which can mean meat.”
“And meat-eaters,” said Muriel.
“They’ll be shy of three of us,” I said.
“Then we’ll freeze,” said Muriel, sounding as if she was losing interest again.
“Freeze?” Loach laughed. “In the desert? I’m frying in my own oil, here.” He was, indeed, dripping with sweat, oily with protective salve.
“It gets cold in the desert at night,” Muriel said.
I don’t think he believed her then, but he soon did. As the sun sank behind us, the heat became noticeably less harsh.
We decided to make camp under the thorny branches of a blue-gray smoke tree.
“It is getting cold,” said Loach. “What’ll we do?”
“Freeze,” Muriel said flatly.
Poor Loach. Muriel had known him, she’d said, since his childhood, but she seemed to forget his childhood hadn’t been very long ago.
“We’ll be all right,” I assured him. “I have a blanket and an extra cassock in my bindle; we can huddle under them and keep one another warm. It won’t get colder than an overcast day in late fall. That won’t freeze you, will it, dear?”
“No,” he said, cautiously.
Muriel put her arms around our pony’s neck and began to cry. The pony turned its head and snuffed at Muriel’s hair, as black and coarse as its own thick mane.
When she spoke, her voice was muffled by mane and tears. “That was my place. I lived there. It was everything; all I had. And I’m frightened.”
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A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: How does your main character react to being afraid? How do you?