Tuesday 7 June 2022

One Quirk Later #14 || also the story for #13 oops


And here we go! a tad late but who's counting! 

(me. I am counting. I am stressing and that's not what I'm here for, why do I do this to myself, I keep promising myself I am going to be organised and I never am?? treachery. treachery from within the ranks. the betrayal, how can I go on. *dramatically swoons* *into a nap*)

One Quirk Later: Prompt #14

*waves hands vaguely at my Pinterest* clicky clicky, yeah?
also why does Blogger insist on making my images fuzzy, rude, much stabbing

To join in with this madness:

  1. Write whatever this picture prompt inspires you to! 
  2. Post it on your blog! 
  3. Link back to this post—there's the image up the top of the post, too, if you'd like to use that. 
  4. Comment on one of my posts so I can come and read your amazing writing!
  5. And I'll drop links to everyone's stories in the next post. (:

On the last Saturday of June (or, you know... sometime around then??) I will post my Quirk in response to this prompt. But you can use any Quirk prompt (<= look, there's a bunch there!) at any time! Just let me know if you do, so I can come and read it and squeal. 💛


...also! Some of you may have noticed that no Quirk appeared here at the end of May! I would like to say I had a good reason but uhhh not really? The muse just. wasn't feeling it. So I was pushing through a story that was confusing even to me. Then on the day the post should have been up I thought "...what if I change the setting to some kind of semi-AU gold rush" and that worked better but also I still had no post ahahaa. 

ANyways it's here now! You saw nothing out of the ordinary. *frazzled jedi wave*

QUIRK #12 

White dresses aren’t common in Kalgeerli, and for good reason. The men and oxen and horses plodding shoulder-to-shoulder from the goldfields to the town and back out, day by day, kick up a thick and constant red dust. Jasmine’s mother has staff cleaning her hotel in permanent rotating shifts to keep the place at its intimidating standard; no one else in the town has a hope.

White dresses aren’t common in Kalgeerli. But her mother ensures Jasmine can wear one every day. Today’s has layers of cotton in the skirt, just hitting the toes of her buttoned black boots, with lace draping across her wrists and collarbones. The effect is one of innocence—at least to newcomers to the town.

The men who tip their dusty hats without making eye contact as they pass her in the street, they’ve been here long enough to see the power of her mother’s hand.

Jasmine pushes open the door of the pub, knocking her boots sharply against the scraper since it’s good manners to pretend that will make a difference to the state of this floor, and the warm rumble of noise inside drops to just a mutter above silence.

At the counter, Stumpy Daniels turns, and his face wrinkles up in consternation. “Miss, you saw Mister George just last week—there’s nothing for your ma to come after us about, he’s been very careful—”

“He hasn’t been careful enough,” Jasmine says pleasantly, folding her arms on the counter and leaning forward. “Might I speak with him?”

The man’s face twists, and a hush goes around the room, the kind that occurs immediately before intense yakking among working men. “…If you insist, miss. He’s out back, I’ll have him fetched in. Tom, go and tell—”

“Tell him I’ll be waiting upstairs.” And she’s gone, whisking light-footed up the crooked stairs to the upper floor, which feels somewhat as though it was plonked on top of the downstairs and would be just as willing to leave again if given the opportunity.

There are eight doors, which is more rooms than should be allowed to fit into such a space, and Jasmine knows the one at the end is George Waltman’s. But she doesn’t even get close to letting herself inside, because as soon as she turns at the top of the stairs, there’s someone else in the hallway who has all her attention.

His clothes are neat, but they’re stained with the red dust which takes so much effort to get out. That’s the first thing she notices. Mother would never allow that.

He looks bemused. That’s the second thing she notices. And it’s odd, because he shouldn’t be bemused, because he’s her brother. He knows what their family is like, what they do.


Behind him, a door opens, and the outsider, the man who ultimately sparked the need for this visit, steps out. He leans around Jasper’s shoulders and peers through battered thick spectacles at her. She gives a little wave. The other hand she tucks behind her back, wishing she hadn’t taken her pistol out of her satchel so prematurely.

“Why are you here?” her brother asks.

The silence draws out for a few seconds. What can she say, while they’re standing in front of the other man? She goes with a version of the truth that sounds the least brutal. “You should have told him to stay in the hotel.”

Jasper’s eyes widen, then narrow, and he plants himself solidly between Jasmine and his companion. “Professor, would you mind giving me a moment with my sister?”

As soon as the door clicks, he steps closer and drops his voice. “Tell Mother she can find someone else to make an example of.”

Well. It didn’t take him long to cut to the centre of the situation.

The plan is—was?—this: Deal with George Waltman for breaking his agreement and raising his establishment past its position in the town order. Find the identity of the outsider who Waltman poached, and firmly impress on witnesses the importance of fitting into the town’s established structure. Ensure the consequences for both men are passed around Kalgeerli and the outskirts, so everyone is warned once again not to undercut Mother’s authority. It’s not as though every mining town around here doesn’t run the same way; they should understand how things work.

But now she has the outsider just one door away, with her brother’s scowl and wide shoulders between her and it.

She sighs and lets herself go loose. Her brother’s face doesn’t change as her arms fall to her sides, revealing her pistol, not that she expects him to react. “I’ve been given a job, Jasper, you know what that’s like.”

“She can find someone else,” he repeats stubbornly. “I’m sure there’s someone on her list who she can make an example of. Someone who’s not the foremost expert on freshwater fauna this side of the Dividing Range and the only other person who has realised the importance of studying dwarf moon lilies. Someone boring.”

“…Dwarf moon lilies.”

“Yes. They grow incredibly well in creeks around the mines. It’s fascinating and science doesn’t know why. So tell mother she can’t have Professor Higgory.”

This isn’t Jasmine’s problem. It isn’t. It’s these two fools’ problem, but heavily weighted towards Jasper's side, and it could have been avoided if her brother had just chosen the right place for them to stay. She doesn’t swallow any words in telling him so.

“You’re not wrong,” he flares back. “But I couldn’t go to Mother’s hotel, not after how I left. And it wasn't just me, the Professor didn’t want to go either because it’s just so expensive!”

“Your professor has plenty of money!” she hisses. The boy who’d seen him pay for the room when he arrived in Kalgeerli had been quite specific on that point. In fact, he’d focused on it so much that Jasmine almost felt the need to warn her brother that his employee might want to look out for small and greedy-eyed pickpockets.

“Yes, he has money, and we need it all for studying aquatic flame weed!”

“You said you were studying moon lilies.”

“Aquatic flame weed is next, and the National Science Institution refused to give us any funding for that or this because they’re just a bunch of political grafts and don’t care that actual scientists are permanently scraping up funds to do their research. So we’re left here, in the miners’ shack lodgings, with Mother after us for no better reason than that she wants this town’s throat in her hands!”

His voice has gotten louder, as though he’s forgotten himself, and Jasmine blinks. He was never the kind of person to shout. He also has his left hand in a fist, she realises, and is rubbing his thumb aggressively across the old burn scars on the side of his first finger. How long has he been doing that?

Probably, she decides, since he first realised why she was here.

And that makes her reconsider, more than anything else that’s happened so far. She knows this much: the scar is from when Jasper was fourteen and a rival hotel burned down on its opening night. There were fifteen deaths and Mother took Jasper to the memorial ceremony, formally dressed, his hand bandaged and his face painfully blank. When they came back to the hotel, Mother had a meeting to buy the land from the widow, and Jasper turned away when Jasmine asked him about the memorial.

Two years later, he left.

And she looks at him now and sees worn clothes, yes, old and dusty; hair longer than she’s ever seen it and hanging across his ears. He’s a little thinner in the face, with a pair of lines between his brows and another set in the corners of his eyes.

But he has a light in his eyes which she thought died when he was fourteen, and she decides.

“Moon lilies. Flame weed. Whatever you do, you’re still my brother, you know that?” She falters, unused to vocalising such emotions. “You’re still my brother. I’ll deal with this. Go do—whatever you have to do.”

He hesitates in turn. “Mother—she won’t be happy. Will you—”

He’s not wrong. She might decide it’s the principle of the thing that matters, and demand obedience. In which case, Jasmine will need to use the information that Jasper is involved to try and throw her off balance. If she can stall long enough she might be able to send word to Jasper that his mentor needs to leave town, lilies or no lilies. Alternatively—“If I do a sufficiently good job with Waltman, she might decide that’s enough.”

He tips his head, thumb still rubbing circles over his scar, but slower, contemplative. “I didn’t want this role,” he says slowly, “but it seems like you’ve taken to it. Enough, at least.”

She blinks, aware he’s seeing her differently but unsure where her own perspective of herself might be flawed. “It’s family.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s good for you.” But he sees her face, and apparently decides to leave it at that. His stance softens. “I’ll stop by the hotel. I don’t want to see her, but I’ll leave word at the desk that I interfered here. It might cut off her getting upset with you.”

Family. Mother. Brother. She’s never made a conscious choice, but one day, she realises, she might.

I feel like these siblings are older than the ones I normally write, and a little... greyer? Like, it's not her fault she's like that, but Jasmine's an adult, and she's still not entirely... solid? on the "This Behaviour Is Not Right" thing.

Also! Thanks to my mother for beta-reading my Quirks (today's feature: Waltman's name changing immediately upon his introduction; Jasmine carrying a pistol in her delicate dress's pocket). Although apparently she didn't realise what I was doing with these "...kind of disturbing?" stories I kept bringing to her—she was surprised to hear a) that I created the prompts; b) that I'm posting the stories online every month; and c) that other people are also?? writing stories based on these odd picture prompts??

Then she asked if you were homeschooled. Because you're writing stories about siblings. xD

  • • • • • • •

And with that lovely transition, here's the shout-out to the marvelous Quirk-writers! all of these good folk got their Quirks written in May and I did not, so I am very proud of them. Lamingtons for you all!

What have you been up to? I've had a week which just... doesn't feel like much got done. The Vibe just wasn't there. Hopefully your week wasn't the same! This week, though, I have plans to kick myself into Productive Mode and I have to-do lists and I am going to Do All The Things.  

...oh hush, that is definitely happening. I have lists, how could that not work out??

How's the writing going? Do you have a project you're working on or not at the moment? Have you ever changed the setting of a story and found it pulled the whole thing together better? 

Have a marvelous day, dear friends, and don't forget to see the joy in the small blessings in life!


  1. Cool story. I'd be interested to hear more about these two if you ever felt like it. Good luck with doing all the things!

    1. (This is Sarah P, by the way; for some reason, my browser will only let me comment anonymously.)

    2. Thanks, Sarah! (Also you are so frequently the first one here, it's cool xD)
      Yes, something seems to maybe have been happening with comment logins? oop

  2. YAY, it's up at last! And worth the wait, I might add. Jasmine needs to go study moon lilies with Jasper. It sounds much more healthy that murder. I love them both (as in, Jasmine and Jasper...not moon lilies and murder, obviously I don't love murder...).

    Haha, that's great about your mom not knowing what all this quirk business is about! Do only homeschoolers write about siblings?? Because if so, that's just sad. I guess I forget that not everyone is sibling-focused and when you are in public school it's not as common to be close to your siblings which SADDENS me. I was homeschooled up until college, so the whole school scene is a bit of a mystery to me. My mom went to public school for a while, but sometimes I have trouble believing certain things she tells me about it.

    I've never changed the setting of a story drastically (that I can remember, anyway), but there is one that needs that to happen to it...I just don't know how to do it. I love the idea of that, though. Things just coming together is so satisfying. And just not happening with anything that I'm writing right now...eh.

    I'm supposedly working on the clockmaker/alchemist story right now (the one that started as a quirk), but it's just...not...happening. Lucas is a very difficult main character, I am finding. Ugh.

    I am excited for the next prompt! I have no clue what I'm going to write for it, but you now. Still excited. :)

    1. nnno, of course you don't love murder, Professor! don't worry we wouldn't think that! *throws sheet over your blog just in case* Nothing to see here! no angst and no murder!

      Definitely what you said about being sibling-focused is true. In my experience homeschooled families seem to generally be more that way - whether that's because they've just spent so much time hanging out, or because the biggest families I know (who are obviously more sibling-focused) are homeschooled, I'm not sure xD It is sad to think that it's not considered common, or "normal", even, to be close to your siblings!

      (And public school is one big mystery to me too... my idea of it is made up of MG and YA novels and a bunch of movies, so someone could completely troll me and I wouldn't have a clue xD)

      Ugh, sometimes our stories are just not doing that amazing coming-together thing... I'm sure yours will eventually pull together, though! Sometimes they need to sit and stew for a bit (in the naughty corner. for not behaving. bad child.)

      THE CLOCKMAKER/ALCHEMIST STORY?? MUCH EXCITE YESSS!! eheHE that's so cool! (Lucas, behave for the Professor xD)

  3. Oh my word, I LOVE this story! Murder-family, with a brother who just. wants. to. study. the. freaking. ecology. Brilliant! (And also...these poor children. Seriously.)

    1. I mayyy have slightly based Jasper's stubborn "but the pLANTS" on my brother ehehe (the murdery-ness is, of course, not based on us... 👀)

      Thank you, Sam! <3

  4. And here is the next disaster- er, I mean Quirk.


  5. For some reason Technology isn't working and I'm having a devilish time trying to comment on the post, but my quirk is up! https://allthingstrivialandinsignificant.wordpress.com/2022/06/25/one-quirk-later-14-the-island/

    1. Thank youuu, Erik! And yeah oop there seems to be a couple of people had trouble with being kicked to anonymous for commenting. Stab the technology, will that help (it will help us feel better, anyway xD)

  6. Will find a way to post the rest of the comment later (in which I flail over Jasmine and Jasper--THESE CHILDREN)

    1. Oh, 'tis GOOD. Jasmine and Jasper both get hugs. And sweaters. And cookies. ( Oh, and some therapy wouldn't hurt).

    2. I just...love complicated sibling relationships. *chef's kiss* and semi-AU gold rush town?? What a jam?? I would read a book in this setting (and with these siblings. Mustn't forget the siblings).
      By the way, your intro had me grinning uncontrollably "treachery. treachery from within the ranks" XD
      these "kind of disturbing?" stories XD HAHAHAHAHA Also I love that your mom is like, "Writing about siblings? Must be homeschoolers." *throws on super cool shades* You bet we're homeschoolers.
      In terms of writing projects, I am currently engaged in reminding myself that "we just FINISHED a big project--and you were ready to be done, remember? Remember how it ate up all your time and how burnt out you were and how you wanted to be done and take a break? This is your break now. So--NO PUT THE NEW BOOK DOWN. PUT IT DOWN. We're not ready for that OKAY? It's--are you even LISTENING TO ME??"
      The new book idea being my Victorian mafia quirk. So it's all YOUR fault, really.
      Best of luck Doing All the Things. May your lists not fail you!

    3. Complicated sibling relationships, yessss. (Actually, ALL the complicated relationships. Except for YA love geometry ones, ew no.)

      OoooOOoOOH? Victorian mafia quirk... book? ...I'm torn between telling you to take your break, you deserve it, and cackling maniacally because EHEHE.


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