Digital Care Package

A while back, I came up with the idea for what I called a “digital care package.”

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a care package, it is this: “a parcel of food, money, or luxury items sent to a loved one who is away.” ( Often these are associated with the military, with families sending things to soldiers fighting overseas. Apparently, it gets its name from an organization known as CARE, Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere. I didn’t know that until I did a search to find an explanation of one. I’ve just always sort of known about them, probably from television.

Care packages are also sent to students off at school away from home and relatives that live far away.

When I came up with this concept, I used the idea of sending it to a sick person, and took as my basis a list I found here.

I didn’t use all of these prompts, but I did use several.

A digital care package is a great thing for a writer (especially a broke one, as I frequently am) because it’s a way of showing one’s care without spending money. It’s about time, about taking the time to think of each prompt for the right fic and characters and song and quote/picture for each one and the recipient.

When I did this, I compiled some unconnected short fics with the prompts, a song, and a picture/quote, but later I started a second one that was just one story and set of characters.

As an example, part of the second digital care package I did is this song and this fic and picture for blanket.

The idea of doing a digital care package with most of us in quarantine or under stay at home orders and unable to see people and even send some of these items in the care package seems rather apropos, so I decided to post the information again.

I can’t say as I had any success with it, not really, but maybe someone else will.

Life’s a Dance

So… I’m not a big fan of country music. I’ve even said I hate it in the past.

I have a few exceptions, though, and this song is one of them. When I was a kid, my older sister and I really liked it, and so did Mom, and we had the tape and listened to this song and one other on it. It was kind of funny.

When I had the idea of Dillon and Larina dancing in the barn that I wanted to do for today, I thought of this song again (I thought of a couple others but circled back to this one.)

The video had horses and barns and things that Dillon and Larina would be up to, and I think the chorus kind of fits with the overall story, so I went with it.

Life’s a dance, you learn as you go.
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.
Don’t worry ’bout what you don’t know,
life’s a dance, you learn as you go.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Life’s Own Music

Author’s Note: So today I had one thought in my head: Dillon and Larina dancing in the barn. It had to be them as teenagers, before they split, and it didn’t come out quite like I planned, but it ended up okay, I think.

This is a thin interpretation of the idea of music, but I couldn’t resist the idea of the dance, and I remembered a song from childhood that fit, John Micheal Montgomery’s “Life’s a Dance.” So… Dillon and Larina. Dancing. In a barn. 🙂

dancing quote

Life’s Own Music

“I am going to look like an idiot at this wedding. I’d say Thyda hates me, but I know that’s not true. It’s just that her other bridesmaids do. Well, her maid of honor does. I swear she picked the dress that would look the worst on me—it’s the wrong color, too—just to make me look bad because Thyda was going to have me be the maid of honor until she found out I couldn’t sign the license because I’m not old enough yet,” Larina said, leaning over the side of the stall, kicking at the wood. The horses were out so she could do it without disturbing them, and she was mad enough to want to even though she knew they couldn’t afford to fix the stall if she broke it. “I’m too young to be a bridesmaid, so we have to get me something that looks appropriate for my age.”

“You will look better than her no matter what you wear,” Dillon said, not looking up from the stall he was cleaning. “Just ignore them, Larina. The girl wants this part in Thyda’s wedding because she will never get her own. At least—not one as nice as Thyda’s. She’ll have to get her guy drunk in Vegas.”

Larina giggled, almost falling over. “I cannot believe you just said that.”

He shrugged. “I don’t like her. Never have. When she came around here, she’d bother me on purpose. No, I pity any guy stupid enough to fall for her tricks, and I hope you won’t let her get to you because you are so much better than her—and prettier, too.”

“You think I’m pretty?”



He stopped, setting aside his pitchfork. “Truth is, Larina, while I… I have noticed the way you look since you got older and started… filling in places, I’m not… I’m not comfortable with it. Dad always blamed the thing with my mom on her being—she was pretty ’til she had me, then he couldn’t stand the sight of her, and all he ever wanted from her was some… warm body in his bed. He hated that she gave him a kid, and he hated me for being that kid, and I’d rather not think anyone was pretty because if that’s all he cared about and I start to think about it—”

“You’re not your father.”

“I know, but I worry about it. Now that I’m older, ever since I started thinking about girls—”

“You think about other girls?”

“No.” Annoyed, he got in her face. “I only like you, and that’s because you’re… you. You were my friend first, and I liked that. I think I would have kept that forever except… We both grew up and changed, and there’s this other part to us now. This… attraction.”

She smiled, kissing his cheek. “I love you.”

He rubbed at where she’d kissed him, getting a bit tense. “Larina, I’m busy working. I’m sweaty, gross, tired, and not in the mood to discuss Thyda’s friends.”

“Fine. Tell me the dress isn’t as hideous as I think it is, and I’ll leave you alone,” she said, stepping around the stall gate so he could get a good look at it. “Well?”

“I think if she was doing this to be mean to you, she picked the wrong dress,” he answered after a moment, and Larina blinked, confused. The color was wrong—she looked all stupid in this kind of pink—and it was all dressy and dumb and so unlike her.

“You don’t mean that.”

“Yes, I do,” he insisted, taking hold of her and pulling her close. “I think you look like something out of one of Sorina’s fairytales.”

Larina winced, trying not to cry. “She should be here for the wedding. It’s so wrong that she’s not. She was our mom. She loved this sort of thing. Thyda needs her.”

“Don’t you dare blame yourself for what happened. It was a freak accident, Larina. No one could have known what that cow would do,” Dillon said, wrapping his arms even tighter around her. She closed her eyes, letting his arms soothe her as he rocked her gently around the barn. She’d almost say they were dancing, but they weren’t. They didn’t have music.

“Don’t ever stop,” she whispered, wanting this moment to last forever, wanting to take away the sting of losing her aunt, wanting to feel safe and loved by the boy she’d spent most of her life with, the one who gave so much even after having had all that he had taken from him.

“If I don’t, I’ll ruin your dress, and Thyda will never forgive me.”

“’Course she will. She’ll forgive everyone when her head comes out of the wedding fog. It’s what she does,” Larina said. “If we ever get married, don’t let me do that. I don’t want to lose all sense because of a big nonsense fuss like this.”

“You’ll need the big nonsense fuss. Burditt won’t believe it’s real if you don’t have it.”

Larina snorted. “Yeah, right. Not with us. Everyone keeps saying we’ll run off and elope the day I turn eighteen—the only reason we’re not married now is because I’d need Burditt’s consent and he won’t give it.”

“That’s not true.”

She stopped, looking up at him. “Dillon, you do… love me, don’t you? I mean, the first time we kissed you said maybe we’d get married someday and—”

“The idea of marriage scares me,” he admitted, his voice quiet. “It’s not that I don’t… I don’t know that I could ever feel anything more for someone else than I do for you, but I don’t… My father became such a monster after he had a kid—”

“He was a monster before you were there. He had to be. Think about what he said about your mother,” Larina insisted. “No, Dillon, you won’t become him. I don’t believe that. Though… I know you’re scared you will, so we don’t have to rush into anything. Like I said, it’s not like Burditt will give permission. He’s still being dumb about it, and so we’ll have to wait at least until I’m eighteen. You can relax.”

Dillon let his head rest against hers. She tilted her head up so that she could kiss him, and he kissed her back, gentle as ever, and she let herself slid back into his arms, not caring one bit if he was dirty. He was Dillon. None of that mattered.

“We can keep dancing, though.”

“Dancing? We don’t have any music.”

“We don’t need music,” she told him, having just decided that. “We make our own.”

Home Again

Author’s Note: Today I got a late start on writing a piece for the digital care package. Having a spider turn up at lunch kind of threw off the day a bit.

I hate spiders. Really, really hate spiders.

Anyway, I was late, so this is a bit late, and I did the song post first, which could be considered spoilers, I suppose, though this piece has plenty (*sigh*) and so it’s all a big bit of mess, but it does come after yesterdays’ bit with the coffee. That’s something.

The song with this piece is “Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk. It’s kind of easy to see why.

chicken soup small

Home Again

“Chicken soup?”

“Don’t knock it. It might be canned, but at least I can make it,” Larina said, opening one up and dumping its contents into the pan. She knew it wasn’t any kind of breakfast, but then Dillon didn’t eat breakfast most days anyway, not unless Burditt made him—since her uncle died, she didn’t think she’d seen Dillon eat in the morning, not once—and so her pathetic can opening skills would have to be enough for now. “You shouldn’t let yourself get back in the habit of not eating breakfast.”

“I don’t—you know that I have my reasons for not liking breakfast, and it’s not like I don’t eat at all. Burditt kept trying to make that assumption, but he was wrong. I do eat. I’m just never going to be a fan of cereal and not much of one for pancakes or waffles, either. The whole near cardboard taste of some of them—it reminds me of that same bad day, and I can’t do it. If the cereal hadn’t tasted like cardboard, I wouldn’t have asked him for milk, and if I hadn’t…”

Dillon shuddered, and she crossed over to his side, touching his arm. She hated this, hated seeing him in pain, still so hurt after all these years, unable to forget the trauma and even blaming himself for it because he’d done something innocent like ask for milk.

“He’s not here,” she said, keeping her voice low. She wanted it to be soothing, not jarring, not something that would set him off more. “He hasn’t touched you in over fifteen years, and he won’t start now. None of us would ever let him close, and you know that. You have Thunder who would break down his gate and come running to save you, and there’s Mettle, too, who’d be there for you, but even if the animals weren’t, there’s Kay and Jesse and Jacob and Thyda and Bonnie and maybe even Will, if we’re crazy enough to let him stay on.”

“You didn’t list yourself,” Dillon said, looking at her with that intensity that she found unsettling because it saw all the way through her, the way he did more often than she wanted to think about, more often than she thought he should. “You’re still planning on leaving again, aren’t you?”

She let out a breath. “I don’t know what I’m doing, honestly. I can’t say that I feel right staying. This… I still don’t feel like I belong, and I don’t know how to fix that. I don’t know where I went wrong in all of this, but somewhere in it all, I got lost, and I can’t find any kind of… direction.”

He opened his mouth, shut it, and turned away. Leaning over the sink, he shook his head. “I never figured on you ever leaving this place for good. Briarwood was your home, and I still don’t see how anyone believed it wasn’t. Yes, you went to college, and yes, you had other friends to spend time with and other places to be, but you didn’t ever forget where you came from. This is it. This has always been home. I know when we fought I said it wasn’t, but as soon as I was back, I knew… it wasn’t Briarwood you were rejecting. It was me, and it hurt, but I was wrong to say that you didn’t want to come back. I knew you did. You just… didn’t want to be there with me.”

She swallowed. That was hard to hear, harder too accept, but if she denied it—that would create another mess she wasn’t ready to deal with. She put her hand over his. “Thyda told me about your idea of making Briarwood into a non-profit organization.”

“I suppose you hate it.”

She shook her head. “I don’t, actually. It’s not that bad an idea, though I think it’s not really Briarwood. Thyda said we’d have to look into doing fundraising and I remember how hard that was in school, how stupid and scammy it felt when we brought home those catalogs—I suppose you don’t know that feeling, but I doubt you’d want to be the one that was doing much of it, and I know I’d hate it. I wouldn’t want to feel like… like we needed handouts to survive.”

Dillon grimaced. She knew he hated charity even more than she did, hated pity because he got it too much after what he’d suffered at the hands of his father. “That’s—well, you’re right. We’d all hate it. It just… It was the only way I could think of that would keep my ex-wife from any part of Briarwood. I won’t let Meghan get to it. I won’t let her wreck this place. She’s done enough damage. She can’t take this place, not one piece of it.”

“And she won’t,” Larina agreed. She drew in a breath and let it out. “I have a counter offer, Dillon. I don’t know how easy this will be, and I know right now I can’t afford anything because I’ve got debts to pay off and I messed things up between us good again thinking I was doing the right thing, but I have to throw it out, have to say it at least once, have to—”

“Spit it out already,” he said, and she looked down to find his hand on her arm this time. She could barely think at the moment, nervous as she was, but she nodded, swallowing and forcing the words out.


He frowned. “What?”

She licked her lips, trying to make herself coherent. “Yes, partners. I want to buy half of Briarwood from you. I’d have to do it with my services as a vet first because as I said, I don’t have any money and I’ve got loans to pay off from school, but if you were willing to work out an arrangement with me, I’d buy in and get half, and it would be…”

“It would be what, Larina?”

“Home again,” she whispered, feeling stupid. She didn’t know why it felt like she needed to own it to belong here, but she needed something to hold onto, something to keep her from floundering the way she was, and she knew if she had half of Briarwood, there was no way that Meghan could get hold of it. This was the right solution.

Wasn’t it?

“You’re such an idiot,” Dillon said, and she frowned again, not liking his ability to say that to her now when he never would have dared before, not him, not that sweetheart of a boy. That must have been Meghan’s doing—or was it Larina’s? “You don’t have to buy it for it to be home.”

“Yes, I do,” she said, looking up at him, and then he was a blur because of her unshed tears. She pursed her lips, trying not to let them fall because she refused to be an idiot.

“No,” he insisted. “You don’t.”

And his arms were around her, and she was crying, couldn’t stop it, but this was the first time since she came back, first time since Burditt died and that awful will was read that she felt safe again, grounded and whole—home.

“This isn’t right. I was supposed to be making things up to you, not getting comfort from you.”

“You shouldn’t have to buy your way back home,” Dillon said, stepping back and lifting her chin so she’d look at him. “I mean that. I don’t know why this got so complicated—the will, I guess, but it shouldn’t be because I would never force you from your home. You know that.”

She nodded. “I do.”

“So you don’t have to buy in.”

She sniffled, trying to calm herself. “And if I want to?”

“We’ll discuss that later. First we have to deal with the soup you just burned.”

Feels Like Home

So I’m going with a song I’ve known for a while, one that could go for any number of things, but when I contemplated what I was doing with the scene I started for today’s piece of the digital care package, I was a bit stymied. The whole “chicken soup” idea was only bringing up silly old songs like “Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder.” (Don’t ask.)

Then I remembered this song, and it helped me find an end to the scene.

It’s very true for Larina, because this is all about her finding her way back home, belonging to the place she grew up in, having a spot in her home and her family, and that’s the story, so yes… this:

It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I’m all the way back where I come from
It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I’m all the way back where I belong

Not happy with the video I found for this (I hate lyric videos, I’m weird that way,) but I don’t feel like uploading my own, so… here, with lyrics on screen, much to my annoyance.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop

I kind of figure sometimes, with as much as I love and live on coffee, that I’d fall in love in a coffee shop.

Then I remember that I’m very likely to remain single, and I try to be at peace with that instead.

Still, it’s a pretty song, and I like the sentiments in it all the same.

I think that possibly, maybe I’m falling for you
Yes, there’s a chance that I’ve fallen quite hard over you.

Just a sweet thought there.

This is the part that is Dillon and Larina and made it okay to use it with the fic today.

No one understands me quite like you do
Through all of the shadowy corners of me

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Coffee and Willpower

Author’s Note: So I suppose it’s not quite right/fair to use coffee to fill in a comfort food, but it is a comfort food for me, and the idea of it went well with a favorite song as well as led me into something that could help with the part where I currently am in Dillon and Larina’s story instead of just being a random moment from their past.

So I used coffee. I also used Landon Pigg’s “Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop,” even though the coffee shop only gets mentioned. It still works.

coffee important meal of day

Coffee and Willpower

“I think I’ll start with a peace offering.”

Dillon tensed, not wanting to look behind him. “Larina, we don’t have anything to—”

“Don’t say we don’t have anything to discuss, because we do,” she interrupted, and then she stepped around the gate, forcing herself in between him and the wall of Benedict’s stall. “I know you probably don’t want anything from me, not after how badly my last gift backfired, but this… this is a lot bigger than one misunderstanding, and we have to start somewhere, right?”

“Exactly how much did you and your sister have to drink?”

“That is so not important, and I’m not drunk now. I might have a slight headache and possible hangover, but I’m not under any kind of influence at the moment. I came back early so that we could talk before the others got here. And we do need to talk.”

Dillon shook his head. “I don’t know that we do. I think maybe we were wrong to think we could settle this mess without lawyers. Go get one, sue for it, and have done. I’m not—I can’t do this with you. I think the worst part of it was thinking that we could work it out this time.”

She shook her head, placing a hand on his arm. “No, it wasn’t. It was that we let the past get in the way again. We don’t need lawyers. We want them because this hurts and it is so many old wounds and scars and things we don’t want to face, but it’s not impossible to surmount. It’s us, Dillon. How much have we already overcome to be where we are? You came back from a horror no child should have to face, and while I was never in that position, I did screw a lot of things up and yet somehow managed to muddle through somehow.”

He swallowed. She made it sound easy, but it wasn’t. “We fell into old patterns again for a bit, and it—it doesn’t work like that anymore. We aren’t those kids we used to be. Hell, we’re not even friends.”

“Not even if I got you coffee?”

He stared at her for a moment, and finally, he gave in and laughed because her expression and the moment didn’t allow for much else. She slipped out under his arm and came back with a cup. He gave her a look, but she smiled that same old smile of hers, the one so sincere it was dangerous, and he found himself taking the cup from her.

“That looks like Thunder.”

“It is. I printed the picture off Thyda’s computer, put it in a personalizable mug, and there you have it—a present not even my last screw up could make you refuse. Or at least that’s what I was hoping.”

Dillon looked at her, hesitating, and then he sighed, silently cursing himself for the weakness he would always have to her. If she’d stayed away, maybe he could have found a way to break that pattern, or maybe he could just have fooled himself because she was never there, but she was here. He couldn’t avoid her, and he would never win against her.

“Coffee is just the beginning of the truce, though,” she said, and he frowned. “Well, you know, I would offer to make breakfast, but I can’t cook, so I can’t offer that, but I know how much you like coffee, and so… I started there and figured the rest would come with maybe cleaning out the back barn or something like that.”

“Made Will do that yesterday.”

“Like it doesn’t need it every day.” Larina met his gaze and held it. “Please, Dillon. At least hear me out. You know it doesn’t work if you don’t let me at least say I’m sorry.”

He didn’t know how to handle her begging. He was about to cave, and he knew it. That expression, the tone of her voice, it took him back to other times, to other moments, and he was starting to think he’d ruin everything, throw his willpower away, and do far more than forgive her.

“Please,” Larina said, tugging on his shirt. “I know you have a lot to do today with the extra horses, and I’ve got to go to school in a few minutes, but you never eat breakfast with us anymore—not that I blame you; the environment in there is almost intolerable these days—so if you drive me in to town, we both get breakfast and we get a few more minutes together.”

Dillon shook his head. “If you’re so aware that we’re busy here, you know that I can’t leave. I have too much to do to go have a big breakfast—and I don’t need one.”

“Coffee, then? We could go to that little shop and—”

He kissed her, cutting off her words, knowing he’d give in if he let her keep talking, and while he’d never been very good at standing up to her, he’d found he was very good at distracting her like this.

“—get coffee—”

Another kiss and she was holding onto his shirt for a different reason, and when he stopped she moaned, her eyes mostly shut, and he had to smile at the sight because there were few things that left Larina Payne speechless.

“You were saying?”

“Don’t know. Don’t care. Do that again.”

“You’re going to miss your bus.”

“One more,” she said, and he rolled his eyes even as he did as she asked, always so weak to her. She pulled back with a smile. “You’re right. Who needs coffee when we have that?”

He shook his head, laughing as he pushed her out of the barn and toward her bus stop.

Dillon grimaced, wishing his mind hadn’t gone there. She was watching him, and he knew there was some mercy in her inability to know which memory had just replayed in his head, even if she did know him well enough to know that one had been in his head. He swallowed, shaking his head and shaking it off, unwilling to think about it anymore.

“Fine. We can talk.”

All the White Horses

Author’s Note: I wanted to use the song I chose for this piece a while now, but I didn’t really have an appropriate pair of father and daughter. I still thought of it when I worked on things for Dillon and Larina, and part of the lyrics fit with the relationship that they share. She always saw more in him than he saw in himself, and that part of the song seemed to fit.

So did everything with Burditt, as he was the father figure for them both, and he really was the one to show everyone how much they matter, how much he loved them and wanted them to love themselves.

I took scarf as the prompt/item from the digital package. The song and this concept could be extended into a longer arc or fic, and I kind of thought prefacing it with something from the present, and maybe I will if I work it into the novel. I’ll see.

It does follow Keeping Warm, as Dillon is still recovering in this one, but I liked the idea of connecting it a little. The main influence, though, has got to be Tori Amos’ “Winter.”


All the White Horses

“I thought you said hot cereal was fine as long as there was no milk in it,” Thyda said, peering over into Dillon’s bowl. Larina almost swatted her away. He didn’t need a lecture, and he was still kind of sick, so Thyda had to leave him alone.

“Is that too much?” Sorina asked Dillon, and he looked up at her, eyes full of guilt for pushing around his cereal instead of eating it. Larina wouldn’t have minded so much if he didn’t look like he was afraid of being punished for it, too. “Sweetheart, you’re still getting better. You don’t have to eat it all if it’s too much for you.”

He nodded, his head still low, and Larina reached over to take his hand just as the back door opened. Dillon jumped, and Burditt winced, but then a wide smile overtook his face, his excitement carrying him over to Sorina. “They’re back.”

“The road graders?”

“No,” he said, laughing. “Why would I care about that? We’ve got us a cozy home here where we all can stay nice and warm, and it’s done all right in getting our boy back to good health again, so we’re fine all cuddled up good here.”

Dillon frowned a bit, coughing as he reached for his cocoa. Larina bit her lip, hoping he wasn’t getting sick again. He was supposed to be better, not worse. Burditt gave him a look, a bit concerned, but that faded when he looked at Sorina. Larina didn’t think anyone could love someone as much as Burditt loved her.

“The horses, Briar Rose. They’re back.”

She smiled, reaching over to turn off the stove. “Everyone bundle up nice and warm. We’re going outside.”

“Why?” Thyda asked. She looked over at Dillon. “He shouldn’t—and it’s cold. I know that we have to do chores, and the animals need care, but we’re not done with breakfast yet—”

“This is something you won’t want to miss,” Burditt said, reaching over to grab coats off the rack and pass them around. “We’ll bundle you up extra warm, just in case, but I want you to see this, too. Come on, little bit. I would have thought you’d be jumping at the chance.”

She grinned back at him, pulling on her own coat and zipping it up. She took out her mittens and then shoved them back in her pocket when she saw that Dillon wasn’t moving. He drew his legs up against his chest and coughed again.

“Maybe you should go without me.”

“I’ll carry you if I need to,” Burditt told him. “I don’t want any of you to miss this. I don’t know when we’ll see it again—it’s been years since Sorina and I saw them the last time, and you won’t want to miss it. I promise. Come on.”

Larina held up Dillon’s coat. “I’ll help you.”

“Don’t need,” Dillon coughed, “help.”

He pulled on the coat and buttoned it up, and Burditt took the ugly wool hat and covered Dillon’s head with it, handing him an oversized pair of mittens, too. The ones they found when Sorina dug out an old coat of Burditt’s for Dillon had unraveled, and so they didn’t have any that fit Dillon right—he wouldn’t wear hers or Thyda’s because they were pink—but Larina figured he could curl his hands inside the big ones and be plenty warm. She went to the rack and took down Burditt’s scarf, winding it around Dillon’s neck until she could hardly see his face.

“Hey,” he protested, trying to push the scarf away. “I’ll trip over this thing. It’s too big.”

“If it had more colors, I’d be reminded of a television show,” Burditt said with a slight smile. “Don’t worry. We’ll manage. Everyone ready?”

Larina nodded, and Burditt grinned. “Let’s go see them, then. Careful now so as not to spook them, but come out into the yard.”

She followed him out the door, almost falling into the drift right beside it—they needed to shovel a wider path again—and she stopped when she saw what Burditt meant by them. Horses. Dozens of them. A whole wild herd, more than half of them as white as the snow surrounding them.


“When I first saw them, I knew I wanted to raise horses here,” Sorina said, taking Thyda’s hand and smiling at the sight even as her breath fogged in front of her. “I wanted something just as wonderful and majestic.”

“They’re beautiful,” Thyda whispered. “Almost like a dream.”

Larina nodded, reaching for Dillon’s hand, but he wasn’t next to her. She frowned, turning around and hoping he wasn’t lost in the snow, and her mouth dropped open when she saw one of the horses had come up on the other side of them, sniffing at Dillon’s hat like it wanted to eat it. He laughed, and the others started to stare as well, watching him pull off his mitten and offer his hand to the horse, who sniffed it and licked at his palm.

“I guess we got two miracles this morning,” Burditt said. Sorina nodded, leaning against him and pulling Thyda with her as they all watched. Larina put her hand in her pocket, smiling herself when she found the oats in there.

She walked over to Dillon, trying not to spook his new friend, but she did. He looked back at her with a frown, and she held out the oats, hoping he could lure that beautiful mare back to them. He took the oats. The mare snorted, and he waited.

After a few moments, the horse stepped closer, nudging his hand and eating all of the oats in it. Larina wished she had more, but when she checked her pockets, the mare spooked for good, running away from them and starting the rest of the herd off as well.

She sighed. Burditt put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, little bit. They stayed longer this time than they ever had before.”

“But I scared them away. All of them.” Larina sighed. “Dillon was able to feed one. That’s special. It was wonderful. I just frightened them.”

“No,” Burditt said. “Dillon has a gift with animals, he does, but you do, too, and you’re all very special, wonderful children. Don’t forget that he wouldn’t have been able to feed the horse if you hadn’t carried the oats with you in your pocket.”

“Little matched pair you two are,” Thyda said, snorting. Sorina shook her head, leaning down to touch her face.

“Don’t think we don’t need you just because those two are good with animals. All us silly dreamers need someone around us whose practical, and that, my dear girl, is you,” Sorina told her. “We love all of you for who you are, and you’re all special to us.”

Dillon dropped the mitten he was trying to put back on. “You don’t love me. No one does. No one could. It…”

“That’s what your father said. He was lying,” Burditt insisted, and Larina thought Dillon was going to cry. He was already coughing again, loud and almost as bad as he had been when he first got sick. Burditt reached for him, but Dillon whimpered and ducked away.

“You might be Larina’s friend, but that doesn’t mean none of the rest of us care about you,” Thyda said, shaking her head as she left Sorina’s side to go to him. “Everyone loves you, Dillon. I don’t know why you don’t see it.”

He shuddered, and Larina wrapped her arms around him, holding on tight as he did. She knew it would take a long time for him to believe that they loved him, but she’d prove it. She’d prove it every day. That was what they saw in him, so much that was sweet and kind and good and special, and he’d know it someday. They’d show him that.

Just like Burditt had showed her and Thyda already.

Keeping Warm

Author’s Note: So I am starting out a new test version of the digital care package. I’m going to do a set that’s all for Dillon and Larina’s story, since I have been trying to get past where I keep ending up blocked and finish their saga. I have a lot of stuff from their past, and it felt right to go there with this one, though I admit it made it difficult to find a song that went with it.

In the end, I cheated a bit and used one I used before, but I think it still fits if I look at the overall arc of the friendship Dillon and Larina share, so… I’m going with “Keep Warm” by Ingrid Michaelson. I chose a soft blanket as the prompt/item in the care package.

I know this isn’t necessarily the happiest of little fics, but I couldn’t resist this image, either.


Keeping Warm

“He started coughing at breakfast,” Sorina said, shaking her head. “By this afternoon, he was hacking. That poor boy. I’ve never seen anyone get sick quite so fast.”

Burditt grunted, going to the window and looking out at the night. It wasn’t as dark as it should have been, not when the snow was making the ground outside bright, but Larina thought he figured it was still too dark. “Sometimes I think Morely doesn’t have the sense God gave a mule. Letting that boy run around at all hours without proper clothes in this weather all because he’s too scatterbrained to remember that a little kid needs care—”

“Burditt,” Sorina said, her word a warning. Larina knew that tone. That was the one she used whenever he was talking about something he shouldn’t in front of her or her sister. Or Dillon. This time it was both of them, though she didn’t know how much Dillon could hear when he was coughing like that and shuddering—his eyes hadn’t opened in hours.

She reached over to pull the blanket up over him again. “How sick is Dillon?”

Sorina sighed, touching her hand to Dillon’s head with a grimace. “If the weather were better, I think I’d take him into the doctor. Right now, though…”

“I don’t think even the truck will make it to the end of the driveway. I haven’t hooked up the snowplow yet, but I will,” Burditt said, folding his arms over his chest. “First thing in the morning, if his fever hasn’t broken, we’ll take him in to the hospital. Right now, we’re just going to have to wait.”

Larina bit her lip, looking back at her aunt and uncle. She was afraid they were going to make her go back to her own room—it was late—but she wanted to stay here until she was sure Dillon was going to get better.

“Come on, Larina. Time you were in bed.”

She pushed the hand off her shoulder. “Dillon is so sick, though. Please—don’t make me leave him when he’s like this. He’s—I don’t think he should be alone while he’s so sick.”

“You can’t watch over him all the time.”

“Yes, I can,” Larina insisted stubbornly, knowing that she always would. She’d always try, at least. “And tonight, I’m staying here with him. Someone should be there. When he was with his dad and his dad was hurting him and he was in pain or sick, he had to be alone. He’s not alone here. We promised him that. I’m going to stay.”

Burditt put a hand on Sorina’s back. “Little bit’s right. We did promise him he’d be safe and looked after here.”

“He’s not alone when Moxie’s with him.”

“That’s not the same,” Burditt and Larina objected at the same time. He laughed, and Sorina rolled her eyes. “You can’t fight both of us, and you know you have a soft spot for him, too.”

“It’s hard not to,” Sorina said, brushing back some of Dillon’s hair. “He’s such a sweet little boy, and I don’t—I don’t know how anyone could have done what his father did to him because hurts just seeing him like this—and I know no one did it, it was an accident, and he’ll get better, but this poor thing. First his father, now this…”

“He’s going to get better. And he’s here where he’s safe,” Burditt reminded her. “We’ll take good care of him no matter how long he’s sick.”

Larina nodded, adjusting Dillon’s blanket before crawling up next to him and taking his hand even as he coughed. He didn’t open his eyes, wasn’t aware of what she’d done, but she didn’t care. She was going to be right here when he woke up feeling better. She wasn’t leaving his side.

Retesting the Digital Care Package

I think I can rate my first attempt at this as… a failure.

However, I still think that a digital care package is a neat idea, and I think with practice I could make it something with more appeal, something more enjoyable than my first effort. To that end, then I am trying to put together another care package, this time with perhaps more specialized approach.

I was thinking of doing a specific world or pairing for each item/prompt this time.

Here is the idea behind the digital care package: it’s like the sort of package you’d send a sick friend if you were helping them through an illness or long recovery. I found this list of items to put in a care package for one that is sick, and I used the items as a sort of basis for short fics, and then I found cute or funny pictures to go with the items or the stories. I also selected a song to go with each fic.

Then I put it all together, tried to package as well as I could with a minor cover art and threw in a coupon for more fic, and I sent it off in a .zip file.

To test things here, I’d put the written pieces in Kabobble’s Choice, with the pictures as a part of the entry, and then add the songs to Kabobbles Sing Along. Ideally, this would be a downloadable file that could be sent to a sick friend one isn’t close to and doesn’t have the address of, but since I need to write again and I want to see if this is a viable idea or not, I’ll try posting it here.

If not, I’ll find some other means to keep me writing.