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The Problem of Penelope

Disclaimer: There are minor spoilers in the following tale, so if you have not read my first book, Keeping Secrets, beware!

Since May is National Pet Month, I thought it would be a good time to interview some of the animals in my books. When I mentioned such to my furry and feathery characters, Penelope, a Pilgrim goose in my Children of the Light Series, pushed her way through the crowd and insisted she be first.

“After all,” she lay her hand across her breast, “I am introduced before the others.”

“Actually, Blossom the Cow is introduced first.” I opened my laptop and pressed the on button.

“Is she?” Penelope squawked. “Well, you should have fixed that while you had the chance. At any rate, I will be the first interviewed, for I was the most important.”

The other animals grumbled and stepped back.

“Are you sure about that?” I had no intention of letting any goose, particularly this one, get the upper hand. After all, more than one reader has remarked to me how Penelope, for the better or the worse, stole the scenes she was in. I said, “I mean, after all, the cow dies and that is why Mary McKechnie and Amon Cayle get back together again.”

Blossom the cow stepped forward.

Penelope slung her wing to the right and slapped the cow in the nose. “No matter, darling, I am holding onto a very important secret that comes out at the end.”

She pulled the wing back to her side.

Blossom sneezed.

Penelope waddled forward, jumped to a patio chair, and settled into the cushion like a mother goose to an egg. "Besides, I live longer. You know why?”

I shook my head.

“I don’t eat poisonous clover.” She threw a pointed glare at Blossom.

The milking devon lowered her head in shame.

I bothered not with a correction. My computer, now fired up, was ready with an open file

for the interview. “Very well, if you insist, Penelope, we will start our interviews with you. Now, as you said, you did live longer than Blossom the cow. Tell me, were you upset by your character’s demise in Breaking Promises?

“Hardly, darling.” She scowled. “The real tragedy was my mistresses’ passing. Now THAT was upsetting.” The goose’s long neck snaked forward. “I hear you cried a great deal at my passing though.”

“Well, yes,” I mumbled. “I cry a lot while I write, but this interview is not about me. So let’s move on, shall we?”

“As you wish, darling.”

“Now, what was your favorite scene in The Children of the Light Trilogy?

“That’s easy. My death scene. Now that was a fine piece of acting." She threw her wing over her heart. "Although," she sighed. "I must admit, laying my wing at a misshapen angle from the rest of my body did hurt me for some time afterwards.”

“I’m sorry about that,” I mumbled again. “But don’t forget, that fine acting came with some fine writing.”

“Oh please, my dear. You know well enough I never did what I was supposed to do but pretty much took over every scene I was in.”

I cleared my throat. I tightened my fingers above the keyboard. Who was running this interview? “You did take some creative license with your character I will admit. Now, by the time you are introduced in the story, you were already an aging duck.”

“And whose fault is that?”

“How did you come to live with the Langdons?”

The sigh swelled her neck. “My mum died when I was a youngling, and one day I saw Master William walking across the fields. He smiled at me, and as my mistress was want to say his smile held the hope of the world and me in it. See here. Mistress thought that smile was meant for her, but really, it was for me.”

“Uh, Penelope, Huldah and William were not married at the time he said that, so just how old are you? Or, perhaps you are a bit mixed up about just when things happened?”

She splayed her wings and reared to her webbed feet. “Me? Mixed up.” Her neck jutted

across the keyboard. “Watch those fingers, missy, and I never get mixed up.” She settled back to her seat. “And for your in

formation, a Pilgrim Goose, such as I, can live up to 25 years, especially if they keep slim and trim as did I.”

“I am aware of how long a Pilgrim goose can live. I did the research, remember? And, by the time you are in the story, Huldah and William had been married nearly 50 years.”

“No matter.” She flung a wing to one hip and lifted her beak in the air. “I just hold my age well. Next question. Please.”

“Hmmm…alright. Speaking of slim and trim, how do you keep your figure? You had a nicer bed than most geese dream of and you enjoyed sleeping in it.”

“Master William made that bed for me. He did it in order to get me out of his bed. After all, threes a crowd, even if one is a beloved goose. At first, I had no intention of using it, but then, he kicked me out of the room and locked the door! So, in the end, I decided my own bed nearby was a far better place to be.”

“You seem to be awfully partial to Master William. Were you upset when he passed on?”

“Oh my. I cried for days, darling. But, in the end, Mistress Huldah needed me, so I could no longer afford my pity. You see, she was more distraught than I. They had a hard beginning and a harder end. I often heard stories of those early times.”

“Uh, Penelope, you just said you were around during those early times. So, you would not have had to hear stories. You would have lived them.”

“Well, I never. Is this an interview or an inquisition?”

“I am merely pointing out--”

“And I am merely finished.” She swirled around. She splayed her wings ouward. "Blossom!” she shrieked. "Your turn . . . "

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