by Serena W. Sorrell
Winston Hannigan was a terrible bore. His colleagues knew it and avoided sharing lunch with him.; his students at the university knew it and left as soon as the chime rang. His young wife had once known it when they married thirty years ago, until she died twenty-nine years ago of boredom. Even Winston Hannigan knew he was a bore, and it made him irritable–the worst kind of bore to be.
He was mean and he was harsh. He had a complaint for everything and everyone, each one utterly mundane. Even his whining was boring. But as it happened, very little in the world did Winston Hannigan find so interesting as the world itself. What a grand thing it was, all out there, beyond the university windows, beyond the seas and skies. If anyone had cared to ask what made Winston Hannigan excited–Oh, he could have told them such fantastic, impossibly true things. But no one ever did. And so Professor Hannigan remained ever boring and mean.
Until one day, just as he’d come through his office door, a great raven took off. Its wings flapping, and clutched in its claws an ancient scroll he’d half-finished translating. Why, he was furious! He was flabbergasted! He was outraged and mad! That scroll was priceless, one of a kind, hundreds–if not thousands of years old. And swiped by a vermin-ridden bird. He lamented the scroll, for it was surely gone, closed the window and went home all alone.
The aging professor cooked his dinner of liver and onions, alone and upset. He shoveled it into his mouth, perturbed and irate. He sipped on red wine that was staining his teeth, unhappy and bored. It wasn’t bad enough that just a month prior his best book had been snatched by some grubby student or jealous colleague, no doubt. Yet when he reported the crime to the dean of the school he’d only received an unsatisfactory, “Have you looked for it yet?” Of course he had blasted looked for the thing! It had cost him half a year’s salary, so rare it was, and very bespelled.
The book–Oh, that precious book had been his window to the outside world. Any page inside held some wonder or another; any place or item he read about would float above the page, a mirage of splendor. Each looked so real one felt they could practically reach inside. And (he admitted with some shame) he had tried several times, but no, what the books showed––artifacts and places, people and times––were not to be touched. Nonetheless, it was a fabulous book and his only link to the world beyond. Many had been the times when the book showed him some trinket or bauble and before the sun rose the next morning he had contacted some person to retrieve it from those faraway, distant outside lands. And now, his paper-and-magic-made window was gone. Oh, Winston Hannigan still had his collected trinkets of course. But what were teeth and masks and other such things compared to seeing it all move, to seeing it live.
The snatched scroll, taken that very afternoon, had been procured after he’d seen such a thing being studied by scholars in some undersea room. Fishes and squids swam past their bubble-shaped room, but the monks went on scrawling. Such youthful curiosity had taken hold of the professor when he saw the place under the waves that he had longed to see what they read, what they wrote, and had heavily paid for a scroll from that place. Already four hundred years old it had been a challenge to decipher their markings and read what they wrote. He’d half-finished the thing––a wonderful recollection of a coronation and wedding at the time––now he’d never know how it ended. He slumped down in his favorite chair and cried heavy tears into his empty wine glass. Unaware, through the window a raven watched.
A week shuffled past, his lectures monotone and his chats always droned. Professor Winston Hannigan was just about the most boring man alive, just barely living at all, was the popular consensus among those who had to listen. Just that very afternoon, he’d been lecturing on the first colony built on the moon, a riveting topic anyone would agree. Yet, half his class had quietly snuck out while his back was turned from the board, and each time he looked up students had spirited off. He had just drawn a diagram of the housing pods the moon explorers designed, a most ingenious design, and even brought in the original miniature model, authentic and expensive. Yet, none of them cared so much as a wink, in fact those who hadn’t snuck off were mostly asleep.
The professor, saddened and sullen for the moon pioneers to be deemed so utterly boring, slunk back to his office and set the moon model upon his desk. A rude squawk behind him made him jump with a shout, he spun round and there again was that blasted raven. Oh, he’d get that bird for taking his scroll! So, he thought, instead it hopped onto his desk, wrapped claws around the old model and flew off before Winston had a chance to stumble forward. Another pricey artifact lost to the clutches of a corvid! Who had given themselves permission to open his window!? He fumed and his face swelled like a toad’s, but red rather than green. He slammed the window shut and locked it tight for good measure, then scrawled with black pen on the sill ‘DO NOT OPEN!’. That, he thought, ought to protect further attack and cease anymore theft.
Still, the moon model had been a personal favorite. Imagining what those brave explorers might have felt, leaving the only planet they knew, making a home on some distant rock while they looked down on the one they’d left. Winston Hannigan stared up at his collected oddities and rarities, they stared back at him with no reply. The shelf where he’d taken the moon model from seemed unbearably bare. What could be done though to retrieve such a thing from such a winged, black-hearted thief. No doubt his model and scroll now decorated some nest and covered with feathers and goop. The thought made him melancholy and colicky, too.
Unlike his usual routine, the next morn the professor woke at dawn. Quite a waste really, since there were no classes that day. Still, it was nice, he supposed, to hear dawn birds singing. There came a loud squawk, familiar and most definitely not songbird. The professor rushed to his den whence the offending noise had croaked from. He was just in time to catch the back of black wings beating, sunlight highlighting them blue, and held in its talons a mask which had taken a full year to locate. Not the mask, of all things, the bat priestesses of three centuries earlier had worn. They’d used them in dances to bring bats to eat up the bugs that plagued their crops, and some magic had lingered which had kept Winston’s house roach free. He expected an infestation any second with the mask gone.
Ah, how he wept. His breakfast tasted like sand. His juice bland as water. His house was cold and he shivered. His office was one thing, he could close the door and the window. But his house? Could he board every window and lock every door, could he grate up his chimney and nail down the letter slot? How could he protect his dearest collection from the thieving raven who seemed more cunning than natural. Cunning! That was the answer! Surely he, a professor with many lauded achievements and difficult degrees who had written many theses could outsmart a simple raven. He’d laid a trap. Winston Hannigan would have to think up something great.
He pondered it all day, certain the thief would come again soon. Perhaps that very night. At the latest he had until the next morning. The day after tomorrow he’d return to lecturing, and so would be absent to protect his precious artifacts so carefully, and expensively, procured. It had to be enticing, something a raven could carry with ease. He looked over the items in their neatly labeled cubby holes. Ah, there was the answer! The loom of the dream spiders. The elaborate, colorful tapestry of dream spider thread gave any who touched it their most pleasant dream. It was small, light, irreplaceable, and best of it was genius. From the tapestry’s finish there was a small fray, who could blame it really being as old as it was. From the fray the professor found his grandmother’s old spools of silk thread, not identical, but they would suffice to a raven he imagined. It was good luck indeed the finish was a fray of red thread. It would be easy to track.
Winston Hannigan spent all afternoon rolling a long, thin spool of red thread with at least five miles. This he then tested by waving it around, looking quite silly, to ensure the wind would unravel the thread while the raven flew with his loot. Satisfied at last, with great care, he attached the spool and its spinners to the longest edge of the loom. He dirtied it up, just a bit, so it’d match the tapestry’s age in color at least. Then with terrible labor he put all of his artifacts away in the basement where no window was found, he locked them all up, and didn’t look forward to lugging them back should his plan fail to bear fruit. It would, he assured himself, it had to, for his collection’s sake, and his wallet’s. He placed the loom on the table in the center of his receiving room, opened the window just before supper. He ate a quick bite, too nervous he coughed more than he swallowed. And then, finally, Winston Hannigan hid.
It was rather exciting for someone others considered so dull, even Winston himself did. Yet, here he was now playing detective, inventor, and trapper all in one day. With any fortune on his side he’d play tracker before the day’s end. There was a sound! Flapping at the window and a questioning caw. The raven had arrived, but Winston stayed still. He became a statue in hiding lest he alert the robber of his presence, and the set-up that waited. Talons clacked on the windowsill. Winston heard the tip tip tapping as the bird hopped ‘cross the floor. A quick flap and the fiend landed on the table. From the professor’s vantage he watched the raven look around. The walls were all bare, only the loom lay in sight. For a dreadful moment the bird seemed to sigh, unhappy this was to be its only loot of the night, but with careful claws the raven picked up the top of the loom with its foot.
And away into the sunset it flew with a triumphant squawk. The trap was already at work, for a thin, red silk thread lay thrown on the sill. Winston at last chanced to move, and looked to the sky. Yes, there behind his foe flew the string. The professor pulled on his coat, his gloves and a hat, and hoped with great fear he’d not stay out too much past dark. Or that the bird might fly farther than five miles, or through tall trees where Winston would have no hope. Yet the raven not so terribly high. It weaved along corners, unaware of its second and third tail. It followed a cobbled road out of town. Here the cover was scarce. Winston had to be daring and take a chance his enemy’d not spot him.
At last the raven swooped low, wings spread to slow its landing. It stopped in the open first floor window of a clean house, trimmed with rose bushes, and a name on the door: Fence. The raven had been trained in crime then! This Fence fellow would pay dearly in jail time for every item his dratted had lifted. Sure the raven was staying inside Winston Hannigan snuck nearer and nearer to that first floor open window. Along his way he had raveled up the red thread, and there leaning against the house, behind the window’s eaves he snapped the tail with a pair of gold scissors he’d brought in his pocket. Hidden from sight, Winston listened for what Fence had planned so he could report it to the proper authorities. After all, Winston was brave enough to follow a raven, but not enough to confront a dangerous, smuggling criminal. No, best leave that last bit to the professionals.
“Compass,” a young voice exclaimed from inside, “what an extraordinary thing you’ve brought me!”
Here the professor was somewhat taken off guard for he had expected Fence to sound quite different indeed, and instead it was just the voice of a boy. Using a mirror, as he’d often read of in books, Winston Hannigan peeked inside that room the raven had flown into. The thief sat upon a brass bedknob, preening its feathers and looking very smug. In the bed, covered in quilts, sitting up sat a boy with hair as dark as the raven’s, though his eyes were wearier than the face that held them. The boy held the dream spider loom gently in one hand, while in his other he turned the pages of Winston Hannigan’s magic world window book. This was the thief! The criminal mastermind! A boy and his pet raven!? Winston fumed with blinding white rage! He’d been robbed by a whelp, and he’d soon box his ears, and cage his damn bird.
“Why, listen to this Compass,” the boy carried on, “it says here this is a dream spider loom, and the tapestry’s even in tact! This particular weave brings good dreams. Why isn’t that amazing? And their race vanished without a trace some thousand years ago. How utterly astounding they left this beautiful trace.”
The book was opened to a page which had entranced Winston long before, too. Dream spiders at work in their underground lairs or high in tree branches, crafting their looms from their spittle that hardened, and then wefting and weaving tapestries from spinnerets. All of this floated like a cloud of golden dust taken form over the open pages of the book. And, how the boy marveled. The look in his eyes undeniably awestruck by the splendor of the dream spiders. After several, long minutes he turned the page with a sigh for as the words were touched by the light a new mirage took form. This one of caves, glowing with crystals lit from within. The caverns of the shine elves, one of Winston’s personal favorites. Their soft music played, just a whisper from the book, while the shine elves did their daily chores inside that glittering, glowing chambers of azure stones. Again the boy sighed.
“Aren’t the magnificent, Compass?” At this the raven glanced up from its preening, “They lived like this thousands of years ago, using the light of those stones. They thought the stones were gods placed there to make their lives easy. Of course, their ancestors these days have come to the surface and live completely different lives, but oh, I’d do most anything for a chance to see the glow of those stones.”
Compass, the raven’s name Winston presumed, clucked at this statement; at once the professor knew the raven had come that day to his house looking for such stones, which he had carefully tucked in his basement. Robbed of his prey the raven had stolen the only thing there, the loom, which had been the accomplice’s undoing. Winston Hannigan stood in the thorns of the rose bushes, contemplating how best to have this young mastermind pay for his crimes when a door from inside opened and a woman pushed a silver cart in.
“Darnell Fence!” The woman exclaimed, “What have I told you about having the raven in here?”
“Oh, but mother, she is quite tame and so very good. Aren’t you now, Compass? Curtsy to mother, please.”
At the young Darnell’s entreaty Compass bobbed up and down with her wings spread out like skirts, she looked much a court lady dressed all in black. At the sight Darnell’s mother stifled a laugh, and parking the cart turned toward the bed. She felt the lad’s forehead and had him open his mouth for a look. Her face was still youthful, but pinched with worry and fear, noted the spying professor in his reversed mirror world. She opened several bottles and prepared spoon after spoon. Darnell for his part swallowed each without even a wince. A proud accomplishment, thought Winston, for a boy of his age. After the spoonfuls of medicine came an onslaught of capsules and powders Darnell had to swallow down as well. After the last he let out a small cough which sent his mother into a near fit, until he explained it was only some oblate caught in his throat.
“Mother, when do you reckon I’ll be allowed to go to school again?”
“Oh, Darnell, you know you aren’t well. Besides, most boys your age would love to skip classes and stay home every day I would think.”
“Oh, yes,” Darnell admitted as he closed the magic book, “perhaps one day or a week, but five years seems excessive. I have so many things I must learn if I’m to become a great archaeologist, even aside from the adventuring and exploring there’s so much to study. I won’t get far if I’m stuck in this bed. You’ll ask the doctor to come and check on my progress, won’t you please?”
“Of course, my sweet.”
She kissed the top of his head and patted Compass as well. She wheeled the cart out and closed the bedroom door. Her steps faded further and further away, until they stopped, but Darnell went on chatting of wonders to his raven. The professor himself had become quite intrigued. He scuttled along the outside of the house, being pricked and poked by rose thorns with each step. Until he passed several windows and came to what could only be a man’s study. Here young Fence’s mother wept in the arms of Mister Fence, though she kept her tears silent and her husband rubbed long strokes along her back in order to soothe her.
“He’s worse every day,” her voice quivered, “is there no way to save him?”
Well, Winston Hannigan was not one for such private sadness, it made his cheeks flush. Instead he extricated himself from the thorns and the roses which so clung to the tweed of his coat that he stumbled more than once. Winston made his way to their front door and rung the bell like a proper guest would. It took a few minutes, he had anticipated it might, until the door opened and Professor Winston Hannigan of many achievements introduced himself to Mister Fence, the third. He made an offer to the man, bade him nevermind how he knew, and was then led to Darnell’s room. The professor had removed his hat, gloves, and coat at the door. He looked much more professor-ish in this way when he bowed to the boy, though Compass gave out a nervous squawk. The professor could imagine well why!
“If you don’t mind, Mister Fence, I’d make my offer to the boy alone,” the professor received a stern nod and the door shut with a click. Darnell Fence stared up at this roundish, not quite fat, but somewhat toad of a man dressed all in brown tweed and laced with an initial embroidered cravat.
“Hello, young master Fence, may I call you Darnell?” At this the boy nodded and the professor sat in a chair by the door, quite far from the lad, “You see, Darnell, I am in a terrible pickle. For some time now I have had my things go missing. Among them were: a magic book, a half-translated scroll, a model of the first moon colony, a mask of the bat priestesses, and a dream spider loom.”
“I’m so sorry, Professor Hannigan,” Darrell Fence paled and glanced to Compass, “I hadn’t known she was taking them. I only thought she found them some place or that she searched them out for me.”
Winston waved away the boy’s apology, for he was certain he meant it, “Nevermind that, all in the past. Now, Darnell Fence, I am a man of science and history, of learning and knowledge, and I am willing to trade all I can teach about archaeology, exploring, and adventuring in return for those five items I just mentioned. That is, so long, as no others go missing.”
“Really?” Darnell’s dull eyes brightened for a moment, they sparked as if to life. “Do you mean it? And you won’t punish Compass? She only wanted to make me happy.”
“I won’t punish the raven if we have an agreement. You’ll be my student and I’m a strict teacher, and word is I’m a terrible bore. Still, will you agree to my deal?”
“Oh, yes, please!”
The deal was struck and its points laid out plain. Professor Winston Hannigan recollected his missing artifacts, though Darnell had a tough time letting go of the book and Winston could hardly blame him. The magic book of history past had been just as much a window for this poor, little lad as it had been for the old, boring professor. At last Winston’s reclaimed items were safe in a padded basket. He asked Darnell if Compass might not meet him back at his home, for this time he would give the boy an artifact of his own. His first to becoming a real archaeologist.
Compass it seemed, understood the request at once. For she flew from the bedknob and out into the dusk. It took the professor much longer on just his two stubby legs. By the time he reached his porch and made his way into the den the raven was already waiting, perched on his mantle as if the house were hers, vexed bird. Nevertheless, past feelings pushed back, Winston unlocked his basement and shuffled downstairs. In a few moments he reemerged and tied a small parcel tight with some twine. He set the box in front of Compass, she pecked at it in question.
“Just take it back to the boy,” Winston felt quite mad asking a favor of a raven. “Lessons begin tomorrow after my classes at the university.”
At this, Compass seemed to have no misunderstanding. She took the twined knot in her hand and flew out the window just as she’d done that late afternoon. And not for the first time Winston Hannigan wondered at the cognizance of the boy’s thieving raven. Well, thief no more, as that had been a gift. He supposed them enemies no longer. He hoped Darnell enjoyed a glowing crystal from the shine elves caverns. It had been quite easy to break his cluster apart and choose the largest fragment to wrap up for the boy. The raven now gone and Winston alone. He opened the book and unrolled the scroll. There was still much translating to be done.
The next day, after his final class of the day the students were shocked when Professor Hannigan was the first to rush out the door. He was quick to the Fence’s house and let in the front door, led to the room where Darnell was still bedridden. Their lessons began immediately and without introduction, although a thorough thank you from the boy for such a beautiful specimen of crystal. The professor waved his thanks away, though he was very pleased with himself for bringing the boy some small joy. Darnell had missed five years of simple school. The professor meant to cover the half decade by dinner. An archeologist proper couldn’t start without a basic foundation, he lectured, and Darnell laughed at the joke. Winston Hannigan smiled, for maybe the first time in years, someone had understood his rock foundation humor and found it funny as he did. After the lesson ended, just before supper, Winston Hannigan whispered a few sentences to Compass and took leave, unnoticed.
By the end of the second day Darnell had graduated from junior school classes. Although it took a week and a half to get through the senior school lessons. All the same, Hannigan was extremely pleased, and impressed, with the boy’s quick-witted progress. Each and every day after teaching Darnell some new theorem, formula, or about a time period the professor would, without notice, take some from the raven and whisper something in her ear. In this way time went on, as time tends to go, as Darnell’s lessons became more difficult in matter time stretched longer by. Unfortunately, as time stretched longer Darnell’s affliction worsened and worsened. The boy became paler, more still, and there were days the professor had to be sent him without giving a lesson at all.
On those days Compass flew to his house, in through the window, and landed upon his mantle. She would leave some some, berry, twig, or a beetle, and each time he thanked her and whispered another. When, on the days he could not teach Darnell after work, the professor made calls far and wide to dealers of rarities and even some smugglers. He spent more coin than many considered his purse could contain, and indeed they’d be correct if he hadn’t sold off most of his collection. The packages he received now were rare, it was true, but not of the historical sort of artifact he’d had a taste for up until then. All his orders these days were for strange oils and smelly creams, expensive metals and amber encased insects.
As far as his students were concerned, the faster Professor Hannigan left the better. As far as his colleagues were concerned, the less they had to hear him ramble the happier. Why some days he forgot to go into work at all. Even the dean hardly cared, for attendance to the professor’s classes increased without the bloke there. As far as the sellers from whom he bought from, they didn’t much care one way or another, so long as they got paid.
Months crawled by and Darnell had struggled through sickness to finish first year courses at a university level. Though Mister and Mistress Fence said their boy ought to stop there, his strength was failing and fading and after each class he almost looked like a boy made of glass, but Darnell would not hear of it. He insisted Professor Hannigan continue teaching him all that he could. It was true when Darnell was learning his eyes shone with such fire, be when the lesson ended he was utterly sapped of all strength. The end came with the close of their first year. Darnell Fence had just finished the class load of a triple major sophomore and was not yet fifteen. His professor could not be more proud, a student who loved every word he had to teach and a friend, somewhat, who understood the need to learn. So, it was with palpitating heart and shaking fingers as he donned his coat and pulled on his mittens, Winston turned to Darnell, who was stroking Compass between her black eyes.
“Well, I think that’s quite enough. I won’t visit again.”
The words slapped Darnell and ripped out his heart, tears poured from his eyes as though he was a faucet instead of a boy. Just this once, in this pitiful way, Darnell Fence finally looked his age.
“Oh, Professor Hannigan, please!” Darnell began in protest, “I know I’m a lost cause. I know I’ll never leave this bed. I know ‘fore this time next year I’ll likely be dead. But, please, until the last moment, please, let me dream. Please don’t take that from me.”
“What good are dreams, young man? Everything you’ve just said is truth, and are we not men who strive for the truth? Even if you could get up and go live, you’d just keep on dreaming. I did the same once. I dreamed and I dreamed of exploring and traveling, finding old civilizations, unearthing their treasures, and what came of it, Darnell? Nothing. Just dreams. What would you, could you, do different?”
“I’d go out there! I would! If I could get up and walk out of this bed!” Darnell practically shouted over his own coughing, “I’d study more and more until I knew all I could. I’d get strong and learn how to live away from home, away from towns, and how to survive. I’d do it. I’d go see the world!”
“You swear you would?”
“I swear I’d do everything you didn’t.”
“Then you’d better make good on your word.” The professor tossed a black glass bottle with a rubber stopper in the top, the liquid inside bubbled and sloshed, “Drink that, every last drop. I don’t care how it tastes or how it stinks, and be grateful to your raven who collected most of the ingredients, though I did my fair share, too.”
Darnell Fence took the black bottle in hand. He looked from Winston Hannigan, the professor, to Compass, the raven. Although he knew his disease no modern science could cure these two dear friends were anything but conventional. So, Darnell unstoppered the draught and got hit by the stench. He steadied his stomach and hand for what was soon to follow. Over the lips and down his throat slithered the concoction which had taken a professor and a raven a year to create, all gone in seconds. Darnell’s face turned a curious shade of orange and then pink and was followed by green, but the professor had expected that much. Then the boy flopped down on the bed and spasmed like a fish thrown on a dock, the raven had known that much would happen. But what came next, that’s what really mattered. Both the professor and the raven leaned in toward the boy who flinched and then stopped, seemingly dead and drained of all life. Professor Winston Hannigan held his breath. Compass the raven shuffled on the bedknob and clacked her beak open and shut.
As though waking from a long sleep, Darnell’s eyes fluttered open at last. They were no longer old, but bright and unwearied. His complexion became lively, even rosy some would say. The door to his room was opened from outside for their agreed upon lesson had gone far overtime. Darnell’s mother gasped with a sigh when she laid eyes on her child. His father fell silent and his pipe dropped to the floor. Darnell himself smiled. He felt swell. He pulled back the blankets and quilts that had trapped him so long, and one after the other put his naked feet to the floor. He felt the cool wood under his toes where before he’d felt nothing at all below his neck. His nightshirt fell to his ankles as he stood. He tottered, and the professor caught his elbow while Compass grabbed the shoulder of his sick gown.
The room quieted. Everyone stilled. The professor let go of the elbow he held. The raven released the cotton beakful of nightshirt she bit. Winston took a step back and Compass landed on the nearest bedknob. Then Darnell Fence took a step forward. His mother’s words caught in her throat though tears streamed down her face without shame. His father stared, blinking over and over again, as though witnessing some miracle. It was really just a three millennia old recipe for a cure-all panacea. Darnell shuffled to his bedroom door, where he’d lived for six years. He lifted his toes and stepped onto the hall carpet. He stumbled and fumbled right to the front door. His hands busy and flying as he unlocked every lock. He almost tripped down the two steps that lead up to their front door, but caught himself.
In the fading sunset Darnell stood on the cobbled walk that lead from his fence to his house. He stepped off the stones and into the grass. He leaned down to pet the bristling turf. He walked to a tree and rubbed his hands over the bark. Then he jumped, not very high, to catch a falling leaf. He spun back to the open door he had left where his mother and father stood crying and laughing. He looked to his raven perched on the professor’s shoulder, both seemed to be beaming with love and with joy. Professor Winston Hannigan tipped the front of hat to the parents Fence, and turned to Darnell, he waved and said only.
“See you Monday in class.”
“Professor!” Darnell shouted after the man who hobbled away from their house, “Can Compass come?”
The professor only replied, “I never said she couldn’t.”
After that Monday, no one dared called Winston Hannigan boring or mean. The man had a become spirited in every one of his lectures, and brimming with facts that astounded all who heard. After that Monday, no one dared ask why a young boy and a raven attended each class, and how the child knew the answer to nearly every question. And in the years that followed Darnell and Compass became famous friends of Professor Hannigan. Until one day, without any warning, a decade to the day since the first day they’d met, the young man and his raven vanished without any trace. It was only the old professor who’d smiled as he’d watched them leave town in the darkness of night. It was the first night in over forty years the professor didn’t need to open that magic book in order to dream of adventure, for he dreamed with his pupil and raven and hoped they’d write soon.