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Special Hell

All hail the ruler of Special Hell!

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LJ Idol - Week 10: Take a hike!
Special Hell
This is an entry for the therealljidol. If you'd like to read any of the other entries added during this Week and vote for any of them, you can do so here!

Disclaimer: This is fiction! Thank you for the well wishes and sympathies, but this is fiction.

When my father first introduced me to Paulina, all those months ago, I had an immediate sense of dislike. It wasn't that strong, but it was there, like the after-taste of something bitter on my tongue, and the more I got to know her the more the dislike grew, until that unpleasant tang was a permanent feature in her presence.

My father, of course, was charmed, because Paulina was young and Nordic and pretty and blonde, pretty much the opposite of what my plain, mousy, British mother had stood for.

I had long ago abandoned hope of my parents ever getting back together – divorce is truly the best thing that has ever happened to them – but I still didn't like it.

I did wonder for a while if I disliked her so much because she was the first woman he had introduced me to since the divorce – which could have been possible, because he's my father and I do get a little bit possessive, especially when the women have nails long and pointy enough to stab you – but I had been the one to encourage him to go out and make “friends”, so I don't think that's the reason.

I think it was just her.

She made my skin crawl and the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I feel a bit silly comparing myself to a dog, but if you've ever seen them raise their hackles and bare their teeth – that's how I felt. Except I had enough manners to smile instead of growl.

It was a violent physical reaction.

My father adored her.

I didn't want to upset him, so I said nothing. I thought it would be a casual fling until she saw that he wasn't a rich man and left to go and dig for gold somewhere else.

And then she moved in.

In the middle of my exam week, no less.

But I smiled and helped, I carried suitcases in and gave up biscuits and brownies because – quote – “processed sugar makes everyone fat”.

I could tell that she and I were not going to get along very well.

She was so obnoxious, asking Dad to do every little thing she could think of and making him take her out to fancy restaurants every week. She made him change cleaning lady, though Gloria had been with us since I was tiny, because – and here is another ridiculous quote – her skin colour clashed with the walls and it disturbed her delicate sensibilities.

I mean really. Really?

Sunday nights pre-Paulina used to be family time for me and Dad, where we would share the highlights of our week and watch a DVD together and eat popcorn (before she banned popcorn for being too salted), but one Sunday she kicked me out of the living room because she was going to introduce him to her best friend through Skype and seeing me would make her friend think the worst.

My dislike grew to hate, and my hackles could be raised just by hearing her move around the house.

It got so bad that I couldn't be in the same room as her. I tended to hide in my bedroom.

On the plus side, I had never got better marks in my life.

Dad decided one day, that mealtimes should be spent together, and I quickly ran out of excuses to not be present. He made me sit down with them then pushed and pushed, and when I eventually gave in and told him that I simply didn't like her, he told me I was just being rude, young lady, and I should apologise immediately. That upset me.

I had lived in that house my entire life, I was his daughter for crying out loud, but no. He took Paulina's side over mine. Beautiful, fake, unpleasant Paulina. And that stung.

It also made me bitter, which meant that I was even ruder.

Good going Dad, with the upsetting a teenage girl.

I called Mum and stayed on the phone with her for hours. I didn't want to leave Dad, but if he kept on with Paulina I was sure that I was eventually going to be kicked out.

Mum told me I was welcome to go to her, but that the reason I stayed with Dad were her out-of-control hours. She's a surgeon and she gets called in at every time of day and night. So Dad was considered the stable option. It was true, life with him had been more traditional, in that sense.

I only see Mum on her weekends off, but that is actually ok. I know she does it to save lives.

One day, while I was in my room studying, she called me down. It was odd, because Dad wasn't home yet and she didn't do any cooking, so it couldn't be time for dinner. Hell, the woman never even put the kettle on.

It was suspicious to say the least.

But I went downstairs because I had not yet reached the point where manners evaded me.

She was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs, arms crossed, looking infuriatingly like a model, the shiny heels of her dizzyingly high shoes gleaming in the hall light as she tapped her foot impatiently.


She blew up at me. It was really quite intense for coming from such a thin woman. I hadn't thought she had enough room to fit all that anger in.

“You stole my Chanel handbag, you little creature!”

I hadn't stolen anything in my life, let alone her damned designer handbag. I told her so.

“It was in my room this morning and it isn't there now! You stole it!”

“I didn't! Why would I steal your stupid handbag? I don't even use them!”

Her manicured fingers dug into my chest as she poked me to punctuate her sentence.

“Yes you did, it is this season's must have and you stole it!”

I pushed her hand away.

Things got heated. She called me a stealing bitch, I called her a gold digging whore.

To be fair, I only spoke the truth.

She then accused me of deliberately making the food I cooked more fattening (which I had) and trying to make my father fall out of love with her (which I had) because I was jealous of the attention he was giving her, because she was beautiful and sexy and after that I stopped listening.

I told her she was a lying bitch who only wanted whatever money my father had saved over the years, I told her she was a bottle-blonde, skinny, delusional slut.

I wanted to wring her neck, harm her in some way, any way, but she got there first.

She slapped me. Hard.

In retrospect, I should have expected it.

But at the time it shocked me. She was so skinny, but she packed a mean punch.

Dad, naturally, with his excellent sense of timing, walked in just as I pounced on her to wreak my revenge.

I got sent upstairs without a chance to explain myself.

He took her side first again. So I did what every angry teenage girl does. I slammed my door shut, locked it, turned on some loud angry music and danced around my room until I collapsed, exhausted, onto my bed.

Anger is tiring.

When he eventually came upstairs to “talk to me about the situation with Paulina”, I showed him the bright read, five-fingered mark that had blossomed on my cheek like a lawyer exposing the damning evidence before a jury.

He couldn't believe. I could understand the reluctance to believe your girlfriend hit your child, but he ranted for a few minutes.

Thankfully for him, if he wanted me to stay in his life, he stopped just short of accusing me of lying.

He apologised and left.

He tried to hug me before he walked out, but I didn't let him. She was his mistake and he would have to deal with it.

The next morning, I got up long before her Royal Heinous-ness woke up and went to school early.

I told my best friend what had happened and enjoyed a long day of bemoaning the step-girlfriend. The slap on my face had left a faint pink mark – not enough to be a bruise, but enough for people to notice it.

That was another reason I had got up early. If Dad had seen it, he would have tried to make me stay home for the very British reasons of “keeping up appearances” and “not airing our dirty laundry in public”. But I did. Because it was laundry he had thrown out the window.

When I got back from school, Dad was in the kitchen.

He was making scones.

Dad only made scones when he was apologising for something.

When Mum and Dad got divorced, he baked for a week and a half. The most delicious week and a half of my life.

But he was apologising for something he had not yet done, because I could also see the Thai take-away menu next to the phone, which only appeared when he was trying to cheer me up.

“Paulina is waiting for you in the sitting room.”

I dropped my school bag onto the floor.

“What are you doing – giving her permission to go a second round? Because if she hits me again, there won't be much left of that bitch.”

Dad frowned, “Language!”

“Dad, she is a bitch. A whore. A slut. I am not going to tone my language down for her.”

“And for me?”

I shrugged, “I suppose.”

I got the fruit-juice out the fridge and poured myself a glass of it, trying to calm myself down enough that I would be able to walk into the sitting room without trying to kill her.

“Just try. Please. For me.”

I didn't want to. But he's my Dad, so I finished my juice and went into the sitting room.

She didn't know he was in the kitchen, clearly, because she turned the television off – she was watching some inane MTV show – and called up the stairs, “She's here.”

Dad didn't reply.

Paulina smiled her fake, too-wide, too-white smile at me and told me she was sorry she slapped me.

She didn't apologise for calling me a thief, though, or a liar.

She then shooed me upstairs and turned the television back on, telling me that there would be a surprise at dinner.

I was already dreading it.

I went to my room. I heard Dad go into the sitting room and talk to her, but his voice was too low and her tone was cheery and high-pitched for me to hear what they were talking about.

When I came back down for dinner at seven thirty, she was lovely. I could see how she charmed Dad, but it wasn't going to work with me.

Whenever she simpered in my direction, my cheek hurt.

There was Thai take-away for supper, as I had predicted, and she had bought my favourite fizzy drink – the closest she ever got to making food, I think – and even let me have ice-cream for dessert.

After the meal, we went into the sitting room and she let me choose the program.

She sat next to me on the sofa as Dad sat on the armchair on her other side.

When my program was finished, she turned to me and told me she wanted to bury the hatchet, because “as the girls of the family, we had to stick together.”

The sweetness left in my mouth from the ice-cream turned into acid. She was not family. She never would be.

She wanted to build bridges. Wanted water to run underneath.

This was a river I was never going to be willing to cross. She could take a hike in the opposite direction, fall in the river and paddle her way to hell.

I told her as much.

She slapped me again.

Snap, I thought, as her feeble attempt at a bridge shattered into pieces. You brought this onto yourself.

Snap, I thought, when Dad told her that he couldn't be with a woman who abused his daughter. See you never.

Snap, I thought, as she moved out the next day. You can take a fucking hike.

Snap, snap, snap, as all the things that could have reminded Dad of her were removed, as Gloria came back to us, as we went back to our routine.

I could tell he missed having someone around, but I was sure he wasn't going to fall into a trap like Paulina's again.

We were both stronger now.

LJ Idol - Write Off
Special Hell
This is an entry for the therealljidol's Write Off. If you'd like to read any of the other entries added and vote for any of them, you can do so here. Voting will only be live until 2am UK time.

She looked like she had washed up on the shore, seaweed clinging to an ankle, shells in her tangled hair.
He found her drying out in the sun, naked, and promptly tripped over his own feet.
He gave her his shirt, which was long enough to reach her thighs, when he realised she didn't have any clothes, nor did she seem to think she should.
He helped her up once she was covered. She was shaky on her feet but eventually found her footing.
He babbled at her and she just smiled. No one ever thought it was endearing, but she didn't seem to have a problem with it until he asked her where she was going and she just sort of shrugged.
"Sorry, that was rude, we don't even know each other, but I mean, you are wearing my shirt..."
Deep breaths. Hand on heart.
"I'm Danny. Nice to meet you."
He stuck his hand out, immediately feeling awkward when she just stared at it.
She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She tried again, but just coughed. She made a few confusing gestures, then gave up, frustrated, when he stared back.
She pointed out to sea and let out a frustrated hum when he still looked confused.
"Losing your voice happens sometimes when you've had a chill," he says, for lack of anything else, "Maybe it will come back?"
He smiled hesitantly, and she beamed back. Took his hand. He had to change her grip for the handshake to move from awkward to smooth.

So as it turns out, people think it's weird and off when you walk into your own house with a stranger, especially if you're a prince.
"Daniel, we have talked about picking up strays. Close your jacket."
His mother pinched the bridge of her nose, already counting breaths.
"Her voice is gone," he defended, "I don't think she's from around here."
"What if she's a member of another country's secret army? Or a journalist, for goodness' sake?"
Danny blushed from hairline to toes, "She definitely wasn't carrying anything when I found her."
Maman glared, "I am not going to ask how you know that."
The woman stepped forward, smiling again, and held her hand out proudly.
His mother took it, shook it shortly, obviously looking her up and down.
The woman looked between them. She booped his nose excitedly then looked at his mother, who took a step back as if to ward off any unwanted advanced into her personal space. She had caught the family resemblance, then.
"Dear, what's your name?"
The woman looked expectantly at Danny.
"I don't think she understands us. She hasn't said anything so far, I'm not sure if she can."
Maman put on her Serious Queen face, "Daniel."
"Look, Maman," he caught the woman's attention, then placed his hand on his chest, "Danny."
He pointed at his mother, "Thérèse," then at her, and waited.
She had obviously caught on, but got that frustrated look again. She hummed, and let out a breath, but couldn't seem to make a word come out.
Danny's first instinct is to say a dentist-type "Aaaah" at her, so he does.
She manages something back, but it's not as easy for her.
The Queen sighed, then gestures at one of the housekeepers.
"Fine. Fetch a doctor, then get someone who can clothe her, for goodness' sake."

They called her Silk, because she was fascinated by it when they tried give her a choice of shirts.
It stuck when the international agency searches turned up empty.

They were sitting on the beach, cross-legged, facing each other, trying to communicate.
She raised an eyebrow at him and rubbed her hands together, before doing it to her shirt.
"Come on, you can do it. You know how to click. K-k-k-k-k!"
She giggled at him, but duly repeated the clicking noise, then made noise like a dolphin.
Danny laughed back, trying to copy her. She laughed herself off-balance at the result.
"K-k-k," he tried again, "Come on, Silk."
She pulled herself together and Danny held his breath.
"K. Sill-k. Silk."
She looked delighted with herself.
"Silk. Silk!"
She launched herself at him.
That hug made it into the newspapers.

Maman - "No. It's Her Highness Queen Thérèse Victoria Laetitia Eléonore Marguerite, Chair of the Crown Council and Countess of the Seas, and your Sovereign until this is resolved, young man." - was not best pleased.

The Crown Court made the decision to have a press conference followed by a ball and introduce her to high society-slash-the press that way.
Danny was very much against. Silk wasn't able to make that decision because they wouldn't be able to explain the whole issue to her.
Silk was super excited that she got fitted for a flowy silky dress, and Maman - "Her Highness The Queen, Daniel," - took that as consent.
"Look at her, Mme Maman Her Highness Queen
Silk was reading. She was learning, she could associate sound with letters, had basic reading skills down, mathermatics happened, even if not following the logic Danny was used to, she made herself understood even though she couldn't speak.
"She's smart. She just isn't PR ready."
Maman raised an eyebrow.

"Silk, come here."
She did, closing her Early Readers book.

"We're going to have a party. You will meet new people. We won't ask you to do anything you are uncomfortable with, but you will have to pose for photographs, smile and wave at a room full of writers. Is that alright?"
Silk smiled, gave her a big thumbs up, and then waved.
She was better at it than Danny had ever been.
His mother waved with her, mocking him with her eyes.

"I'll give her another two weeks."

Maybe Danny should have spent more of those two weeks coaching her, instead of introducing her to musical theatre DVDs.

The public took to her remarkably well, considering she had no background and was therefore entirely suspicious.
Silk's waving was perfect. The reporters called her charming to her face.
Danny hated press conferences.

He also hated balls. They boiled down to about four hours of aristocrats being announced and then another two hours of avoiding dances and awkward conversation by consuming flimsy hors d'oeuvres and champagne.

"I don't understand why we can't just have prosecco," he said, through gritted yet still smiling teeth, "It's just better."
"Darling," his mother's serene expression didn't betray her exasperated tone, nodding at the Marquis, "Do shut up."
Silk elbowed Danny as if in agreement.

"Oh, quit it," he said, "You don't like champagne either."
She made a face at that.

"You should be on my side. You only like juice."
Her eyebrows said, Juice is delicious, dude, deal with it, but her mouth let out a scoff.
When the Marquis finally let go of his mother's hand, signalling the end of the interminable introductions, Danny dragged Silk over to the table of tiny bites, looking for goat's cheese.
Silk is left behind.
When he turned around, he saw her squealing at a little girl (Duke Philippe's daughter, maybe?), pointing at her hairband. It was decorated with sea shells.
The little girl giggled at her, then flapped a hand at her sister (yes, definitely Philippe's little girls), who comes over to help.
Martine (Mirabelle? No, definitely Martine) was born deaf, her oldest sister Léanne spent a lot of her time interpreting for her.
When Léanne finally arrived, her boyfriend's elbow in one hand and an éclair which Danny was only briefly distracted by in the other, Martine started signing at her.
Silk gasped.
She flailed her arms up and down.
Then she signed back.
Wait, what?
Danny took the girls, Silk, and a plate of éclairs, to the furthest table, and convinced one of the waiters to bring them a carafe of orange juice. They were going to need it.

"She says she's a fish."
The sign language Silk used was different from the one Léanne knew, but younger kids are most creative, and between Martine and Léanne, they were able to hold an almost flowing conversation with Silk.

"A fish?"
Silk smacked his arm, eyes bright, so excited.
Martine fingerspelled something, also excited. Danny could sign the alphabet, his own name, the sign for prince, do the quick "Hello, nice to meet you" that was required of him, but slowly. He recognised the fingerspelling, but Martine was only seven and far too quick for him.

"Tail like a fish," Léanne rolled her eyes at her sister, "That's what I said."
Martine fingerspelled slowly, rolling her eyes right back.
A - R - I - E - L
Wait. Wait.

"She's a mermaid?"
Silk clapped. Moved her hand forward in a wavy pattern, then rubbed her thumbs against her fingers on both hands, grinning.
Léanne snorted.

"Silk fish."

Maman hired them a tutor, which meant Danny was back to studying something even having left academia behind. He thought he would resent being made to go back into the school setting, but he actually enjoyed it a lot now that he wasn't being graded, enjoyed learning, relished the look on Silk's face when they managed stilted conversations.
They learned together. Danny managed to teach her more about his culture, and while she stayed mostly tight-lipped (ha!) about her own, she did occasionally confide in him.
Martine visited regularly, always trying to coax promises out of them to come and visit her school. She and Silk chatted happily while Léanne, chaperone and babysitter, caught Danny up on gossip. Léanne's boyfriend was Archduke Simon's youngest son, and his older brother was both gorgeous and scandalous.

A reporter came out with the mermaid story and was laughed away.
Probably for the best.

Silk never did speak anything other than her own name in public, but Danny would sometimes catch her practising soft, smooth words in the mirror.
At breakfast, on mornings when Danny looked sad, she would stick her hand out, wait for a shake, and say, slowly and clearly, "Hello. I'm Silk."
She would then use his sign-nickname to catch his attention to pass the juice, because he could never stay unhappy at being called velvet sunshine. She was awesome.
He never asked if she wanted to go back, and she never hinted at it.
He did sometimes wonder how she got there, but always decided it didn't matter how.
Thanks, Silk Fish. You're lovely.
She would grin, wink, and wiggle her head in the fish movement to make him laugh.
If she didn't want to go, who was he to object? He liked living with his best friend.

I appear to have a lot more of this than initially anticipated, and more than I can add or feel comfortable writing in an Idol entry.
Silk can't talk properly because her vocal cords aren't like ours, not meant for air. Her gills disappeared (along with her tail and gas cavities) when she was given legs, but her vocal cords remain the same.
She's also far more dense than normal humans and stronger, which means every hug she gives Danny is far too tight. I just like the image of this silly prince being squeezed off his feet.
I went with mostly BSL, as that's what I'm most familiar with, and the sign I've given her for
silk is actually for the more generic fabric, but I liked it with the image of her touching her shirts and deciding that she wanted the ones that felt almost water-like.
Let me know if you think Danny and Silk would end up together, or if they would be BFFs only. I know which one I'm leaning toward, but would love to hear an opinion!

LJ Idol - Week 9: Trolley Problem
Special Hell
This is an entry for the therealljidol. If you'd like to read any of the other entries added during this Week and vote for any of them, you can do so here!

Once again, be careful with yourselves and only read if you're ok with the subject matter.
This is an almost inside-the-character's-head piece about pregnancy and difficulty conceiving and a lot of talk about not being good enough because of that. Mentions of miscarriages and abortion.

Kathryn corrects the form again, changes her name to have a YN at the end instead of the autocorrect version nurses always use and updates her mobile number with a flourish.

The nurse peeks over the top of her clipboard, "Mrs Edwards. Are you ready?"Collapse )

LJ Idol - Week 7: Where I'm From
Special Hell
This is an entry for the therealljidol. If you'd like to read any of the other entries added during this Week and vote for any of them, you can do so here!

I'm also sorry for the formatting issues, LJ isn't being super cooperative today.

I went back and forth with this one as to whether I should write fiction or a journal entry.
But I'm complex and have lots of emotions about people being who they are and not just where they're from, more than the sum of their parts, and it's personal.
I am an international city girl who sees herself as a little more small town - I mean, from the hospital where I was born you can see my school, and one of the houses I grew up in. Small town feelings in a capital city.
But I live in London, and it doesn't get very much more big city than that. And I'm too international for my own good.

We're our own breed, international kids, easy to find in large crowds.

Simple guide:
International kids start sentences with, "When I was in [city, country]" rather than [school year]. Or interrupt themselves to convert their school system into yours, for your convenience.
International kids find it odd that you don't speak more than one language and don't know the grammar rules of your own. Nationality and where you're from aren't the same thing.
International kids are not able to process points of view that don't consider others. How could you possibly cooperate if you can't put yourself in someone else's shoes?
International kids think celebrating only one religion's holidays is weird, even if they disagree on which days they should get off. Most people agree we should get all of them off - just to be fair of course.
Third culture kids are worse.

Third culture kids are super interesting. But it's rare to hear the possibility of a fourth culture. Kids born to parents of two separate cultures to a third country that doesn't include their parents'.
For example, me: English father, Italian mother, Belgium born.
Or my bff: Greek, Belgian, Canada.

Second and third culture kids have a few shared pet peeves, such as people mispronouncing words originating from their mothertongue, or overly cliché stereotype.

My pet peeve is people telling me they could hear I'm foreign, but only once I've told them where I'm from.

"Oh, you're Italian? Yeah, I could totally hear that when you were talking. Not much, but I've got like, a really good ear, you know?"


Let's get this straight right now. My accent is not something you can deconstruct to hear where I am from, my heritage and nationality are not contained within my speech. Yes. I am British. But I am so much more.

All of the people I grew up with carry their countries and their habits in their voices, I remember meeting parents through songs mumbled under their breath, feeling the sun on my face when I spoke to my grandparents on the phone, discovering worlds as we shared lunches at school, or rides home on buses that took forever to arrive.

And now I miss public transport that is not as efficient as TFL as I Skype my friend whose English is better than your twisted attempt at French will ever be.

Never use the word “fromaggio” in front of someone who will correct you, because it doesn't matter if you're thinking of Italian or French, you're just wrong.

So no. You cannot tell I'm Italian, and Belgian, and European, from my voice, no matter how arrogant and self-important you are. My Rs do not roll unless I command them to, my As glide until they come to a stop in English, I use letters and sounds that are unfamiliar to you when I pronounce the words you mangle correctly.

I change language twice in the same text message to someone you'll never meet. I speak to my friends and you can't understand every third word – but my passport was issued by the same authority yours was, and while I wasn't born here, it feels to you like I was, and it confuses you so much that I had to label myself foreign because you cannot understand that not everything is as simple as “here” or “there”.

I am European. And I am British. And I am proud of my complications, sono fiera delle mie radici et je suis fière d'ou je suis maintenant.

My accent is a crown. My accent is a ray of sun. My accent is indeed as sweet and savoury as chips and mayonnaise that you reject in favour of ketchup and my accent is not something you can attempt to deconstruct in an effort to make yourself feel better.

I'm done, sorry!

I got a bit shouty and pointed there, but the bottom line stands. Don't talk down to a third culture kid about accents or their countries. Don't tell international kids who they can be. We're all people, and we're trying to be one people even through our differences.

I have too many feelings and not enough coherence to render them all, but it makes me think. I need to go back to Brussels and catch up with my people.

Week 6: Heel Turn
Special Hell
This is an entry for the therealljidol. If you'd like to read any of the other entries added during this Week and vote for any of them, you can do so here!

Apologies to Kymon and my other Call of Chtulu RPG buddies for using and abusing one of our adventures.

I will never get over this. How even dare you.Collapse )

LJ Idol - Week 5: Fear is the heart of love
Special Hell

This is an entry for the therealljidol. If you'd like to read any of the other entries added during this Week and vote for any of them, you can do so here!

Journal entry.

These days I have a "real" corporate job, but my first love was translation and editing, and I started as a freelancer.
In the last few years, I have noticed I am better at editing/proofreading, but I hold my languages very dear.
One of my previous jobs was that of a project manager/coordinator. I was the person who contacts translators with jobs and makes sure they happen on time, the go-between for clients and translators.
The client's wishes are important, but I protect my translators first and foremost - and yes. They are my translators.

At a friend's bachelorette party weekend (or "hen do" as they're known here), I was introduced to a woman whose husband wanted to make board games for a living and had one he wanted to translate and sell.
At the wedding, I identified myself to them quckly, gave them my e-mail, and expected to hear nothing from them.


The husband contacted me about a board game. I contacted my translators and we produced three different language translations. He did not pay on time, but it was fine, we weren't in a rush. I remember there being issues, but cannot find anything damning in my e-mails now.
He also went behind my back and tried to contract one of my translators directly. Luckily, she's very loyal (and a little bit lazy), so she told him that she would only do work through me.

In October, he contacted me about another one. I was doubtful, remembering that there were issues, even if I could not remember what they were.
I should have said no.
We produced four different language versions of the game rules, and sent them along with an invoice (payable within 30 days) at the beginning of December.
He says he copy/pasted the translations into image files, which were sent to us for a quick once-over after he recieved the invoice. These files contained errors, changed names, ommitted accents and wrong endings - none of which appeared in the files I had sent him.
I let him know there would be an extra fee (but discounted, in good faith), and we fixed the mistakes. He took the corrections, but never mentioned anything about the extra fee.
32 days after we sent the invoice, he paid. But only the original fee.
So I politely let him know that we did extra work and should be payed for it.

You would have thought I had driven over both his puppy and his wife. He accused us of adding in errors on purpose, and not letting him know about the extra fee, and after all that, concluded his e-mail with my favourite patronising statement:
"I consider this matter closed."

That's lovely, dear, but I really do not. You owe my people money. Not me, which I could forgive, but my translators.

"I have taken advice on this and consider the matter over."

I have also taken advice, and I am in the right. He owes me my money and I can go through the Small Claims court to get it.

Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurence. Being any sort of freelancer should come with insurance and an army of lawyers.
People quite frequently try to rip you off, as if you haven't worked hard just because you didn't write the (error-riddled and frequently changed) original, given up your own time to argue with brick walls and bad deadlines, sometimes on top of a day-job. I feel like it might be even worse if it is your day-job, because you must spend an awful lot of time arguing with idiots.
The fear of not getting paid is definitely at the heart of freelancing in any capacity.
This is why collection agencies exist, why we have things like "payable within 30 days" written into our invoices, and why we all have people to ask for advice.

Fortunately, these days I have a "real" corporate job for a global economic powerhouse of a corporation, and can be backed by friends and clients who are corporate lawyers. Come Monday, we'll see how this works.

And, you know, I would feed bad for writing about his stupidity on LJ, but since he just released a statement on Facebook which includes blaming his personal delays, amongst other excuses, on "an array of massively unhelpful translators", I really don't.
If writing me lie-filled e-mails causes your entire operation to be delayed, you probaly should not be "running" a company.

LJ Idol - Week 4: “I don't skate to where the puck is. I skate to where the puck is going to be. "
Special Hell

This is an entry for the therealljidol. If you'd like to read any of the other entries added during this Week, you can do so here!

Leverage speed fanfiction challenge
My friend challenged me to write a con/mystery/police procedural as I am a massive fan of the genre, and because I am ill and stupidly busy, the challenged morphed into doing it quickly...
My condition: I got to use pre-existing characters.

Terms agreed, here we go.

The woman, Claire Cohen, is still crying as she waves Nate off. Her grandparents had been killed in gross negligence by their care home. She doesn't want compensation, just justice.

"Yeah, these guys are bad." Hardison scrolls down as the list of incidents on-site, hospital reports and ignored complaints.
Hardison clicks off the screen as Nate rubs his hands together, "Ok. Let's go steal a retirement home."

Sophie smiles winningly at the director of the conglomerate of retirement homes, rapping her nails smartly on the manila file on his desk with the names, and adding the bug under his desk.
"This could save you a lot of money, Mr Drover. When I heard of Rosey Hills I knew I had to come up and tell you in person."
He smiles at her, rakes his eyes up and down.
"How long have you worked here, Kate?"
Back at base, Hardison rolls his eyes so hard he thinks he's going to sprain something.
"Christmas party is all employees but this fat cat missed the July company picnic, tell him after January."
"About eight months, sir. Spring hire."
"You're truly something spectacular, you know that? A great find. I'll look into it."
Dismissed, Sophie stands and leaves, as seductively as she can.
Drover flicks through the file and gets stuck on a page, reading with interest.

Eliot huffs, follows Drover's lackeys as they chase down Sophie's fake lead.
"They're ex-Navy."
"Yeah, yeah," says Parker from the retirement home she's pretending to be the receptionist for, "Very distinctive walk, blah blah."
"I'm sorry, Parker, am I boring you?"
"Shut up both of you, and let them in."
Parker smiles her biggest fake smile at the men pretending to be unarmed, and becomes Liz the receptionist, "Hi! Welcome to Rosey Hills, how may I help you today?"
"We're here to see the director. We have an offer for him."

Hardison as the Director Raymond escorts them out, fake accent grating on Sophie's nerves.
As soon as they're out she brings it up, "I still think that accent is insulting, and frankly you're better than that."
"Yeah well, you can complain at me when they've signed the deal, ok?"

Three days of this, and Parker collapses on the sofa.
"I can't deal with all of that stupid," cue the high pitched voice, "Hi Mr Drover, oh my Mr Drover, how nice, oh sure," and back to her own, "I can't be this nice all the time!"
Eliot chuckles loud enough to be heard from the kitchen.
Nate nods, "It's fine. Now we move onto part three: the take-down."

Sophie and Parker shake hands, and separate to two different buildings.
Drover hesitates, but follows Sophie into the trap. Eliot shakes his head. Nate always knows.

Liz-the-receptionist signs her end of the deal, Director Raymond signs his, and Drover pulls out Nate's ace in the hole.
"See, I know you've been meeting with my employee. So now you're going to tell me what exactly is going on here."
Hardison-as-Raymond sighs.
"Ok. Thing is, we need the money first, though. This deal needs to go through before we can afford the next investment."
Drover doesn't even hesitate when Parker-as-Liz smiles.

Drover flinches at the sight of Nate standing with Sophie and Eliot outside the warehouse.
Nate explains, slowly, using short words and a minimum of sarcasm, to allow the mark to follow.
"How," says Ted Drover, "How could you possibly have known I would follow Kate and not Liz?"
And Nathan Ford smirks his smarmiest smirk, shares a look with Sophie.
"The trouble with you, Drover, is that you're always two steps behind. Me? I deal with three steps ahead."

Half an hour, which is short for me!

LJ Idol - Break Week: Kummerspeck
Special Hell

This is an entry for the therealljidol. If you'd like to read any of the other entries added during this Break Week, you can do so here!

Being the sort of person I am, I was writing something for this prompt directly in the LJ posting window.
Bad idea.
The Internet crashed and my laptop restarted and I watched the window containing the story close with the sort of high-pitched dying groan a bagpipe might emit.
Now my lovely little spy-slash-con artists-on-holiday story is somewhere in the ether, never to be recreated equally again, and I am sitting with the laptop in front of the television, half-watching an episode of NCIS, drinking a comforting cup of ginger tea and contemplating a slice of panettone.
It was going to be a good story too.
There was an Italian grifter lady who only cooked her nostalgic comfort food once a year, while remembering and paying her respects to the teammates she had lost in the journey so far. She's completely transformed from the usual ruthlessly competent closer she is into something softer and warmer and more homely. She spends the day eating pandoro and cappuccino, sausages and lentils (traditional New Year's day fare - lentils are lucky, the more you eat the richer you'll be in the coming year), ice cream, cake... It's her kitchen in a way it isn't for the rest of the year.

Then there's her maybe-husband, who was Anglophone but not regional, and observed this once-a-year quirk with fondness and a bittersweet smile, also reflecting upon the year they had had, and the people they had met, and sometimes lost, along the way. But his job is mainly to make sure she can keep going.

They have afternoon visitors, a small revolving cast of Italian people based not-too-loosely on my own family members and people in my village. Wide smiles, compliments, grandmothers who bring you 20 eggs ( du ovi, "just a few, just a couple") or a whole frozen chicken or a box of biscuits (che com'i nostri nun li trovi su!, "because you won't find any like ours up there [in  London]").

It was going to be a lovely little day in the life, interspersed with slices of cons and spy stories.

Ah well.

Comfort food indeed. I need a plate of pasta.

LJ Idol - Break Week: Jantelagen
Special Hell

This is an entry for the therealljidol. If you'd like to read any of the other entries added during this Break Week, you can do so here!

Quick warning: This has been a particularly miserable period for me, so skip this one if you're not feeling quite as you should. Stay as happy and healthy as you can make yourself.

I debated not posting this, and so far it's out just as a fictionalised diary attempt. Still debating sharing it with the competition.


LJ Idol - Week 3: Brushback Pitch
Special Hell
This is an entry for the therealljidol. If you'd like to read any of the other entries or vote for mine, you can come back tomorrow and the link will be here!

Quick warnings: violence, bullying. You know what will upset you, so keep yourself happy and healthy!

A story in 6 parts.Collapse )