Developing Characters and Story, Part 3


My Friends & Neighbors on Myers Ridge (So Far), by Vree Erickson

Leonard “Lenny” Stevens

Lenny is my age—15, born July 5, a day that was known as Margga’s Curse because of a witch’s spirit that tried to kill his family on that day every year. Lenny works helping my maternal grandfather Jack Lybrook fix up the old farmhouse that Grandpa bought from Lenny’s dad. The house used to belong to Margga when she was alive. Lenny’s paternal grandparents bought it after she was killed by the Council of Magic.

Lenny is handsome, with dreamy dark brown (chocolate) eyes, thick, burnt sienna hair, & is 5’ 7” tall & says he weighs 130 pounds. He lives up the road with his dad & 2 of his 3 sisters.

He has toys & childhood treasures hidden beneath the floorboards of the attic that is now the bedroom I share with Amy. Also hidden in the floor was a large book with a dusty black, hard leather cover & pages askew that I call Margga’s Book of Spells & Other Magic. It’s an old, oversized log book that has no title & is filled with numbers & strange figures, like secret code, which are predictions written as poems, spells written as songs, & some strange recipes that I’m sure no one would want to eat. I’m the only one who can read the book, when it reveals itself to me. When it doesn’t, the pages are blank.

Lenny knows a lot about the weird history here, like the white crow Enit Huw who can speak to us. Lenny’s paternal grandmother told him that Enit Huw is the soul of time—past, present, & future, & brings hope for healing & new beginnings in life. Lenny used one of Enit Huw’s tail feathers for its magic power to release me from Margga’s imprisonment spell when she tried to steal my psychic energy. He also wears around his neck a good luck pendant of a gold cross that his grandmother gave him. He believes in all kinds of good luck charms—he gave my family & me flint arrowheads as protection from evil spirits the day Margga tried to kill him.

Lenny & I are spiritually close to each other by a psychic connection. Once, he touched my forehead & connected to my dreams. When Margga killed him, I brought him back, which strengthened our connection & gave him some of my psychic abilities, albeit weaker than mine. The connection remains & allows him to psychically communicate with me—he often visits me in my dreams without physically touching me like he did before. Now, if we touch or we’re in close proximity for more than 5 minutes, our bodies glow with white light. The longer we’re together, the stronger the light becomes & we feel heat envelop us until it gets too hot to bear. We usually have to distance ourselves by 10 feet or more after 20 minutes.

Howard Stevens

Howard is Lenny’s 45-year-old widowed father. Howard is 5’ 10” tall, has dark brown hair graying around the temples, & brown, almost hazel eyes.

He is a wildlife artist & the high school art teacher @ Ridgewood High. His spouse Rebecca “Becca” Stevens née Crawford of New Cambridge is deceased. Besides Lenny, his children are Lynelle, 20; Lindsey, 9; & Leanne, 7. Lynelle owns & runs Becca’s Diner (once owned by Howard’s wife) located @ Alice Lake—his youngest daughters & Lenny bus tables & wash dishes there on weeknights & weekends; he & Lynelle prepare the food @ the restaurant.

Howard & his three youngest children live up the road from us @ the next house across the road. His parents once owned the house my maternal grandfather bought from him. Howard still owns his family’s property next door to us where I fought Margga & where she imprisoned my father’s spirit. That creepy property belonged to Howard’s maternal grandparents Reginald & Cathleen Myers & gives me the chills when I get near it, probably because of its bloody history. According to what I’ve been told, Howard’s grandfather accidentally shot & killed Margga’s father while hunting in the woods behind the house. Then she killed him & his wife & spellbound their spirits to Myers Ridge. She was sentenced by the Council of Magic @ Myers Ridge to a 1,000-year incarceration, but she escaped, stole a valuable spell book from the Council (the one I now have), & used a powerful spell from its pages to create a plague that drained 90% of magic from all creatures within a thousand-mile radius of Myers Ridge—including members of the Council. A protection spell she put on herself saved her from the plague. The Council called for & obtained enough magic to capture her. They stripped her of her protection spell & added to her incarceration, but were unable to lift the spell on Howard’s grandparents. She was killed during another escape attempt. Her spirit, under the powers of spirit law, was bound to serve imprisonment in Tartarus (an abyss reserved for evildoers below the underworld Hades where the Greek mythology Titans were imprisoned), & sentenced to return annually to the scene of her crime until forgiven by Howard’s grandparents. She refused & haunted Howard’s family for years. The Council never recovered the spell book hidden inside her house where a young Lenny Stevens found it after Howard’s mother bought the house. He relocated the book to another hiding place (beneath the attic floor) & later gave the book to me the day I moved in. Having it has been a blessing & a curse.

Rebecca “Becca” Stevens

Becca is Lenny’s deceased mother; she was 36 when she died 5 years ago. She owned & operated Becca’s, a restaurant located @ Alice Lake. Her oldest daughter Lynelle owns & runs the restaurant now. Besides a fondness for cooking & baking, Becca was an avid hunter who enjoyed the outdoors. Her parents own a hunting camp in the northeast woods of New Cambridge, not far from where she was born & raised.

From the photographs I have seen of her, she was a plump woman similar in size to my maternal grandmother Evelyn Lybrook. Becca had intense ice blue eyes & brown hair. In some pictures her hair is long & straight like mine, & in others it’s short like Grandma’s & Mom’s hair.

Although I’ve never told anyone, I think I met her ghost.

According to Lenny & his family, Becca was killed 5 years ago on July 5 (Margga’s curse & Lenny’s birthday) between 9 & 9:30pm, right @ sunset when a car struck her along the road she lived on while she changed a flat tire on her car. I had a psychic vision of the event. Becca heard dogs howling & saw a Rottweiler (probably one of Margga’s hell hounds) in the road before she died. In the vision, she wore a yellow blouse, navy blue skirt, & black hose & high heels for a birthday party planned for Lenny.

Not long after I had the vision, I met a woman like her who wore the same clothes. She was @ a pond I went to when I ran away from my grandparents’ place; she was extremely excited about finding a hunting knife on the ground there, & she warned me to stay away from Margga.

Lindsey & Leanne Stevens

Lindsey is 9 & Leanne is 7; they have straight & shoulder-length brown hair. Lindsey has brown eyes & likes to hunt & fish with Lenny; Leanne has bright blue eyes & likes drawing & painting, like her dad & Lenny … & me. That’s all I know so far.

Lynelle Stevens

Lynelle is 20; she has blue eyes, long auburn hair that is always tied in a ponytail when I see her, & is slim with a nice figure, & stands around 5’ 9” or 5’ 10” tall. Her boyfriend Henry James is adjunct history professor @ New Cambridge University who, according to Lenny, receives lower pay than tenured professors & no health benefits, which makes him attractive to Lynelle’s caring personality—“All her life, she has taken in unfortunate stray animals … & Henry is no exception.”

Lynelle owns & runs her mom’s restaurant called Becca’s, located @ 79 East Main Street, Alice Lake. Her brother Lenny & her two younger sisters Lindsey & Leanne often bus tables & wash dishes while she & their dad prepare the food. Months before her death, Becca turned the restaurant’s foyer into a gift shop where Howard Stevens sells some of his artwork, which are mostly wildlife & landscape paintings. Double doors behind the counter & cash register in the foyer/gift shop lead to the kitchen where Lynelle & Howard & a 40-year-old cook named Juanita Richards do a lot of the food preparation. During business hours of 6-9am, 11am-2pm, & 5-9pm, Lynelle greets customers in the foyer/gift shop & takes them to their tables in the dining room. An unmarked wooden door between the restrooms in the gift shop leads to oak stairs & Lynelle’s apartment upstairs. This is Lenny’s favorite place to go to, so we’ve spent plenty of time watching TV here. The first room inside the entrance is the living room where white shag carpet matches most of the furniture there, including a plush cream sofa. A glass coffee table sits in front of the sofa that faces a giant flat screen TV attached to the wall. A bookcase sits across the room next to the door that enters the kitchen; a clay urn made by Henry sits on the bookcase. A computer desk with Lynelle’s laptop sits in the corner. A cream-yellow kitchen sits off the living room (the entrance is next to the bookcase); lots of glassware & a glass table are in the kitchen—glass figurines sit atop a five-foot tall refrigerator. Plush cream carpets, plush furniture, cream-colored drapes, animal & pastoral prints & paintings on white walls make up the rest of the apartment’s décor. Lynelle’s 2 boxy bedrooms & narrow bathroom with bathtub & shower are behind the living room. The place is in a residential business community—small stores & shops, a tiny post office, a bank & a savings & loan, & a small fire station. Law enforcement is maintained by Ridgewood’s small police department. East Main Street is a quintessential picturesque street of small, independent, family-owned business & stores that still thrive in America. The long, wide street is lined with Hawthorne, Linden, & Flowering Cherry trees in plots along wide sidewalks on both sides of the street, which is near Alice Lake & runs north & south along the lake’s east side. I love visiting the lake & seeing the neighborhoods of quaint houses & cottages every chance I get. I think this would be a nice place to live at—much nicer than creepy Myers Ridge & its scary sinkholes.

Henry James

Henry is 30, an adjunct history professor @ New Cambridge University, & Lynelle Stevens’s on-again off-again potbellied (beer gut?) boyfriend who has a whiskered face—the beginnings of a goatee. He is shorter than Lynelle @ around 5’ 7” in bare feet, though he always wears cowboy boots with big heels. He has short, dark brown hair, brown eyes, & wears blue jeans & T-shirts a lot, & pointed-toe cowboy boots with heels that clomp on wood floors & stairs—heels that add nearly two inches of height but still keep him shorter than Lynelle. He drives a silver, turbocharged Ford F-150 full size pickup truck he calls Mama, & he knows a lot about Ridgewood’s history & folklore, especially supernatural stuff.

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