The next Patreon short story — “Diverged in a Wood” — is proceeding apace and on pace. This wasn’t a story I expected to be writing, at least not now, but then it got loud in my head — louder than “Being the Steve,” which honestly surprises me. It’s a long short story but a short story instead of a novella or the like.
As you’d imagine, the title comes from Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken:”
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The poem is often held up as a paean to living an unconventional life, which is oddly ironic – the actual poem makes it clear that though it felt like a momentous decision to take ‘the road less taken,’ as it works out both paths were pretty much equally well travelled and there really wasn’t anything superior from one path to the next.
The story’s genesis comes from the original “Interviewing Leather,” when Leather herself is telling Chapman about her personal history:
“Of course.” I frowned. “What’s your real name, anyway?”
“You had it changed?”
“No, I just don’t care.” She fell onto her bed. “I like Leather. I like the name. If you go and look up my arrest record you’ll find the civilian name, but so what? I never use it. Hell, the last time I did use a civilian name was as the secret identity. The one who waited tables while I wore red lycra and fought purse snatchers. But even then I felt more like Dynamo Girl.”
“So you have no attachment to that name? What about to your family? Or your past?”
“No family to speak of — a sister out in Wyoming, but we haven’t spoken in years. She’s norm, anyhow. S’far as I know, anyway. Folks were nice enough but they’re dead.
Said sister gets referenced in the beta of “Cannon” as well. Deej has a ‘norm’ sister, but they never talk.
So. It’s about three weeks after the Amplifer issue comes out. And Lora Layton, businesswoman, mother of twins, wife to a successful lawyer and very mundane person… figures out that her long lost sister is apparently on the cover of a music magazine….
The book proper is subtitled An Anthology of Perspective, and this is no exception. Leather’s sister has a very different perspective on things than Leather herself does. And Leather herself has read the article as Chapman wrote and published it now… and finds that things aren’t quite what she expected.
All this, birth names, and “just how did Leather react to Chapman’s last bit of ‘unfinished business’ at the end of that article.”
Also? A few easter eggs for long time readers.
I hope you like Lora. I hope you like seeing Leather as Leather again. And there even are woods and paths in the story, because why be obtuse? Hopefully this’ll go up tomorrow.