Wittier Word Weavers

Writers' Club of Whittier

Inside the Castle’s Third Floor

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WCW fiction and nonfiction writers meet in the daytime on the first and third Friday of the month. The poets, they meet when they feel like it, although officially they should convene at night on the first Monday of the month. So you see, we have two groups with two schedules and vastly different group personalities. But we co-exist under the WCW umbrella, and we work inside a castle.

Yes, you heard that right. We are chatelaines and castellans, folks! We are people with titles. In fact, each of us has so many titles we cannot remember them all. Our titles are what set us apart from the general populace, are what sells—book titles, short story titles, poetry titles, and article and byline titles. We choose them very carefully, playfully, skillfully. Our titles work magic and wonder. Clumsily chosen, and they work the other way around. They repel, go unnoticed, shut off. Test my title yourself. Is this why you read my blog? You say to yourself: Hmm, inside a castle’s third floor. It intrigues you. It entices you to push through the drawbridge to the castle’s heavy portcullis. Since it is wide open you wander in, eyeing wildly and excitedly around, heart pounding. “The third floor, that has to be explored first, the third floor,” say you to yourself. What’s up there? You run up the tower, jumping two, three steps at a time up the cool, dark winding stairs, your blood raging inside you. The third floor, you say, I want to know what happens there.

So let me take you.

But first I have to lead you back in time. You must be patient. The third floor can wait.

We used to meet in a garden. Back then we were smaller in size–not waist size my dear, but group size. So the cozy Country Store room in Merrill Gardens served us just fine. We already had titles to our names, back then, but we didn’t think it was necessary to put on any airs. Suddenly, as I said in my last blog post, we grew fast. No, dear, we didn’t grow fat, we gained members fast, and the little garden and its tiny room became things of the past, lest we want to pile high on double-decked chairs. That won’t do, dear, although we’d put up with wobbly tables and unpadded chairs.

So one day, out of the blue, our leaders announced, “We’re going to move into a castle. And we’re going to make love, and mystery, and memory, poetry too…on its third floor.”

One Friday, an onlooker saw our lady president pacing the length of the castle floor–Emeritus at Chateau Whittier , it is called–looking anxious. A gentleman hurried in, searching discreetly about for something, or someone. The onlooker noticed the transformation on the lady’s face, the twinkle in her eyes, and in fact, guessing was unnecessary for she waved to him happily, then with her finger pointing to some place deep inside the castle, some place beyond sight, she mouthed to him, “The third floor,” silently indicating the way. He nodded, bypassing her quickly, as if they had agreed to the rendezvous beforehand. No further words were exchanged but both acted smoothly, in one accord, the man seeming to say, “I get it, the third floor. I’ll see you later,” although he needn’t say it out loud for the whole world to hear; the matter was one that was between them, not anybody else’s business.

What happened next?

So let me take your hand and lead you there, back to the third floor, where through a door you will see, in a two-ring circle, the inner one forming a whole loop, the second one still shaping, WCW members in session, among them, the man we talked about earlier and our lady president, as deeply involved in critiquing the work of their peers as anybody else, not a glance exchanged between them, no clandestine, amorous behavior.

Someone has read their story wrong, that’s all, intrigued, most probably, by a hot headline.

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Author: Hong-My Basrai

Memoirist and author of Behind the Red Curtain, blogger, engineer, manager, mother of three and wife of one, etc. I am a bit of everything.

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