Talking with Clouds: Vodnik Chapter 11 (and a Deleted Scene)

It really feels like chapter 11 should have something to do with going bankrupt . . . but it doesn’t. Oh well. For those of you keeping track, this is the chapter where Lesana comes to actually talk to Tomas and plead for his help. Not a long one this time. It was pretty much created from the ground up during the revision process. Lesana in draft 1 didn’t have a whole lot to do in the here and now. She couldn’t speak (there’s a scene I cut where she speaks by using clouds. Let me see if I can find that, actually–it was a fun little bit that got revised into oblivion). (Why couldn’t she speak? Because she’s made out of water. I can’t remember the reason, honestly. It made sense at the time, but then during revision, it stopped being logical, so I ditched it.)

Anyway, with so little “screen time,” it was hard for audiences (and Tomas) to really connect to her. And I had this whole subplot with her trying to escape the Vodnik, and without her actually showing up to explain that . . . it didn’t work. So this scene came up.

Anyway–not much to add about this chapter, so I’ll just leave you with the deleted scene for this week. After reading it over, it reminded me of several changes that the book went through beyond what I had recalled. Lesana originally had no real connection to the Vodnik. Not that she was aware of, at least. She’d been dead for so long that she’d forgotten. She had a much more detached personality, too. (The underlined parts, in case you were wondering, were how I used to denote that it should be italicized. Kind of a dated notation method that I no longer use, actually.

Hope you enjoy it!


[Just to put this in context, this originally took place right after Tomas went on the tour of the castle with his uncle. He’s at the top of the tower, and his uncle and Katka just left, giving him some alone time.]

I sighed and stared out over the city and up at the clouds.  It was a sunny day–I don’t think it could have been as hot as it was if it weren’t–and the clouds that managed to endure the heat were fluffy cotton balls, the kind of clouds that probably got beat up in high school because they were too scrawny.  The funny thing was that usually fluffy clouds like that appeared high up in the sky, but if possible, they seemed closer than they had a few minutes ago.

I focused on one in particular.  It looked almost like a woman walking toward me, with her hair blowing in the wind and separating out into cloud trails.  The more I studied it, the more I could picture it.  That little bump on the head was the nose, and there were even two puffs where her feet would appear from under her dress.

The cloud seemed to get smaller the closer it got to me, making it so that it stayed the same relative size.  I probably would have been freaked out, if it weren’t for one thing: as it got closer, I could make out two dots where the woman’s eyes would be–looking almost like holes where the sky broke through the cloud, except the color inside them was too dark for the sky.  It was sea blue.  And the nose was unmistakable.


I took a moment to look around me.  No one was near, and I didn’t hear any sign of the tour coming up.  This was about as alone as I was going to get at the castle.  I looked back at the girl.  “Hello?” I said.

The clouds swirled and moved, seeming in one way just to be buffeted by a stray patch of wind, but at the same time making it look like the girl raised her hand and held out a finger in the universal “wait one minute” pose.  When she was even closer, I looked down into the courtyard.  What would people think if they looked up and saw . . . a cloud.  Come to think of it, they probably wouldn’t think much; she wouldn’t look like a girl from below–just a close cloud.  It might be worth a “huh, look at that,” but not much more.  As long as it didn’t look like I was talking to it.

When I looked back up, Lesana was close enough to touch.  She stood there in the air, hovering.  She lacked any details, besides the eyes.  It was as if someone had taken cloud and molded it like clay into the shape of a person.  She was like an unpainted white model, just a bit puffier.

“Lesana?” I asked.

She seemed confused, although it was hard to tell the emotions of a cloud.  She opened her mouth to speak, but instead of sound coming out, little written words emerged, each one delicately etched in wisps of cloud.  It was the strangest way of talking I’d ever seen.  What did you call me?

I had to squint to read it before the breeze snatched it away.  Her speech–handwriting–seemed flowery and archaic, with flourishes at the ends of the letters.  I cleared my throat.  “Lesana.  That’s your name, right?” 

She frowned and thought for a moment, then nodded and said/wrote, “I think it might be.  Yes.  Lesana.  How did you know?

That stumped me.  “You mean you haven’t been sending those vision things to me?”  It was the only thing that had made sense.

She shook her head.  “What visions?

I glanced behind me back the way I had come up.  Katka and Lubos had said I wouldn’t have much time, and I wanted some answers.  I turned back to Lesana.  “Never mind that.  Why did you decide to talk to me now?”

I’ve been wanting to talk to you ever since I saw you–the wind blurred a few words before I could catch them–night, down by the canal.

So that was her, too.  “Oh,” I said.

You saw me then, yes?

I nodded, and she nodded back.  I thought so.  I’d never seen anyone notice me before.  And you see others, too?

I nodded again.  I was talking to a cloud.  And worse yet, I was attracted to her.

I remember hearing about people like you, back before.

“Before what?”

Before I died.

Dumb question.  “What happened to you, then?  How did you get to be this way?”

Lesana shrugged.  I don’t remember.  It’s been too long.  She turned and pointed down to the city.  I remember I used to live there, though it didn’t look like that then, of course.  It was more like this.  She breathed out a large amount of cloud, and once it left her lips, it assembled itself into a perfect diorama of a small city house, sort of what you’d expect Sleeping Beauty to stay in when she was slumming it as a peasant.  If that’s what the fashionable architecture had been like when she died, Lesana had been dead for a while, but that’s what I had thought anyway.

Once I’d had a chance to look at the house, she blew it away and continued.  Something must have killed me.  Maybe it was a witch, or a Rusalka, or a Vodnik.  She shrugged again.  I think it had something to do with water, though.

“Why?” I asked.

She gestured down at herself.  It’s what I am now.  Water.  Most of the time I don’t even bother to make it so I can see who I am, but when I want to, I can appear as long as there’s water near.  The canal’s the easiest–I can–the wind caught at her words again–water there and make almost a real body.  Other times, this is all I can do.

Lesana looked around for a moment, down at the ground, out at the city, then back to me.  I have to go.  Will I see you again?

“Of course,” I found myself saying without even thinking.

She smiled.  Good.  Anywhere there’s water.  The canal would be nice.  And without so much as a goodbye, she broke apart into a thousand shards of cloud that quickly vanished in the breeze.

“That was something, wasn’t it?”

I looked over, startled to see a man standing next to me.  “What?” I said.

“That cloud.  Never seen one so close before, and break up like that.”  He shook his head.  “It was something.”

I looked back to where Lesana had been standing and nodded agreement.  “It sure was.”

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