The Miscellanarium Society #BlogBattle March 2023

BlogBattle Word Prompt for March 2023: Miscellanarian

Definition: a writer of miscellanies. (obsolete)

The Miscellanarium Society

by Rachael Ritchey

June stood in line rocking from tip toe to heel and back again. She cradled her notebook in its usual place when not in use, between arm and side, tucked close. Her long hair, a twisted ball of curls, looked more like a pin cushion for pencils, but she preferred it that way.

Leaning out of the tidy line, she peered toward the front where a woman adorned in cat-eye glasses and a prim frown took down names and other miscellaneous details in a ledger.

The woman in front of June cleared her throat, and June looked up with a ready smile that melted off her face at the sight of the disapproving glare the other woman wore. “You’ll have your turn soon enough.” After a pause, she asked, “Are you even old enough to apply to the Miscellanarium Society’s lead miscellanarian position?

The condescending tone in the woman’s voice made June bristle. She popped up to stand straight, shoulders back and square, and ran her free hand down the front of her forest green sweater vest. “Yes, ma’am, I just turned 25 two days ago.”

June knew she barely made the cutoff in minimum age, but she’d been waiting what felt like her whole life for this opportunity. When she’d heard that the old—and she meant old—miscellanarian had passed away, at his very desk of miscellany no less, she had mourned him and at the same time celebrated her good fortune that he waited until just before her birthday to do it.

Poor old chap dropped dead with a feather pen all inked up in his hand, and word spread that it hadn’t dried on the paper before he slumped dead away. When they removed him to a more comfortable resting position, the ink had left an indelible mark on his face. The word ‘spoon’ written backward forever.

From behind June, the graying lady tapped her shoulder. She turned and put on a smile, not sure if this was a friendly tap or more criticism. But to her relief, the little woman in a funny flowered cap smiled up at her, a tooth missing in the front.

“A happy birthday to you, dear! I remember that year of mine.” She looked off into the distance, a wistful expression slowly melting into a frown. “That was the year Miscellanarian Nelson was considering retirement.” She looked back at June who winced as the little woman glared at her in such a way to make her blood run cold. “My dreams were dashed when it was reported it was only a bit of indigestion and he would continue on with his work. You’d best not get in my way, young woman.”

June, unsure how to respond, closed her mouth that had fallen open in the brief exchange and turned at a turtle’s pace to face forward in the line again. Not wanting to disturb anyone else in line, with great delicacy, she pulled her notebook from under her arm and snatched a pencil from her hair. After placing the tip of it against her lips she pressed it to paper, adding the encounter to her miscellaneous list of strange things in the world. Flipping to the next page she smiled at the collection of odd ways to describe smells in the air around her home, neighborhood, and the local sports field…a place that smelled not much better than the chicken coops down at Valencia Glen Farms. From her notes, though, the cows were worse on rainy days.

The line moved like the surface of hardening lava. She was sure it was actually going quite fast under the surface, but what she could see dragged by. The sun had almost fully risen to, checking the time, yes, nearly 10:30 AM. A quick peek around to the front showed they’d moved half the distance of when she’d last looked. That was good.

“Excuse me, ma’am, may I see what you’re writing there?”

The soft tones of the low, masculine voice surprised June when she looked up to see who stood next to her. She heard Bitter Biddy (that’s what she randomly decided to call the woman behind her in line in her head) give a little harrumph of displeasure but ignored it as best she could. It wasn’t too hard in the circumstance.

“Uh, ah, y-yes, sir.” June handed over her notebook and worked to remove the sudden blush from her cheeks. “I—it, well, this is my newer book. I have…” She paused to count in her head even though she knew exactly how many books she had filled. Still, she had to be sure. “I have thirty-two more like it at home, all full of the miscellany of the world.” June chanced a glance at the man’s face and saw him looking at her over the book. The heat of a blush crept back up over her cheeks before she looked away again at the tops of his shiny black dress shoes.

He snapped her notebook closed and held out his hand to her. “I’m Jason Halbrush, Director of Personnel at the Miscellanarium.”

She stared at his hand and realized how sweaty her palms had become. As surreptitiously as possible, she wiped her right hand along her skirt, but he must have thought she wouldn’t shake hands because he pulled back and instead held out her notebook. Disappointed and relieved at the same time, June took her notebook back and glanced at his face with a shy smile planted on her lips. “Yes, sir, Mr.Halbrush; I know who you are.”

The lady behind her harrumphed again.

He didn’t seem to notice the negative waves coming from behind and in front of her, and his smile was so genuine, June couldn’t help smiling back. She wanted to say something smart, something that would make her stand out, but what miscellaneous tidbit would be enough to impress this man? He’d risen in the ranks at the Miscellanarium faster than anyone, even her distant great, great uncle who’d been the youngest financial officer on the board of directors back in his heyday.

“And you are?”

“Oh! Oh. I’m, I, uh, I’m Miss June Lenderfrith.”

Mr. Halbrush’s grin seemed to widen. “Well, Miss June Lenderfrith, the pictures along with the stories and words in your book there are a testament to your love of miscellany. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to speaking with you in the next round of interviews.” He seemed to reach toward her again but must have thought better of it—no one likes to have their handshake rejected twice in a row—and instead placed his palm against his chest before giving a slight bow. He looked to the ladies on either side of June and said a “good day” to them before striding toward the front of the line.

June, unable to form thoughts let alone words watched him lean over and whisper to Grim Lady Librarian taking down names and other details. She raised one brow so high it appeared over the rim of her glasses, then looked down the row and nodded once. Jason—Mr. Halbrush—stood tall and smiled once more at June. She closed her mouth again and gave a wobbly wave as if in a dream. Time stood still. It was like being six years old all over again and meeting whom she thought was Santa Claus for the first time. Would all her dreams come true?

When her head came back down out of the clouds it was to see not just her two closest biddy’s glaring but everyone within ten feet on either side staring death needles from their eyes. Oh, I should write that down, she thought then thought better of it. There was no way she was not keeping her wits about her when surrounded by a pack of jealous wannabe miscellanarians!

25 responses to “The Miscellanarium Society #BlogBattle March 2023”

  1. This was a delightful read, Rachael! I had to pop over and read this one so that I understood pt. II. I loved the quirky, offbeat nature of this world. June reminds me of my wife—she’s always using pencils to hold her hair up! Off to read the next instalment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Joshua! haha! Your wife and I have that in common, holding the hair up with pencils. Handy little things! I’m so happy to hear you like this world. It’s something different, and I am excited to explore it more. 🙂


  2. […] is a continuation from last month’s miscellanarian word prompt. June stood in a long line of hopefuls who wanted the job of the now deceased […]


  3. What a great first paragraph – we already get the sense of who our character is!
    The word spoon forever tattooed on the cheek of the deceased made me chuckle.
    The entire story was so amusing – making the miscellanarian a coveted job with strict application requirements.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 Thanks, Goldie! I gotta say, that spoon was inspired. 😉 Now I find myself, as the writer, curious what he was writing down. Might there be more to that? Ehhh…probably not, but it did make me laugh in my head.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I, too, was wondering what he was writing. Was it a table etiquette manual? Should you eat spaghetti with a spoon or just a fork?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “Noodles and spoons” sounds more like mild swearing than a good way to eat. haha It would be fun if it did have some bearing on future events, tho. I’ll have to mull it over. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Rachael.
    What fun to read.
    This clever narrative is filled with humour of different sorts. The image of previous Miscellanarian now deceased simply being propped up in his chair was priceless and as Abe pointed out, with ‘Noops’ on his features.
    You crafted June very astutely as a shrewd alert young lady, jotting down miscellaneous information even while standing in line, her having pencils handy fixed into her hair; another arresting image.
    I bumped into this accidentally early on and scuttled out, it being my rule not to read anything until my own is posted up, just in case some inadvertent plagiarism takes place – just as well I didn’t read beyond the first couple of lines, it would have left an impression somewhere
    Will we be reading any more of June’s endeavours?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Roger! I find myself more and more wishing to write amusing details into stories, tongue-in-cheek moments and the like, but I definitely struggle against my love of many tropes. I hope to just use them in my own voice and have them feel not overused. I hope I did that here, but I do love the bones of this story already, and I have so many ideas brewing! I’ll definitely be revisiting June and the mysteries within the Miscellanarium Society’s dark halls. Thank you so much for your positive feedback! It’s so good to know what stood out and kept attention. ❤ Now, I'm looking forward to my reads this week!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. On scrolling through the latest offerings of audio books (lazy reader but avid listener🙂) I keep a look out for amusement or tongue-in-cheek. We could always do with those elements in our reading.
        The balance seemed just right here Rachael, melded with intrigue at the arrival of Mr Halbrush and the disapproval of the others in line.
        It does look as if June will be in for an adventure in her quest for that job and I look forward to reading more.😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. […] “The Miscellanarium Society” by Rachael Ritchey […]


  6. An amusing take Rachael. Junior miscellanarian trying to break into the domain of the old crew stuck in their ways. No youngsters allowed in to rock the boat as it were. Can’t say I found her odd mind… but what does that say about me haha.

    Love the queue banter allusion too. Waiting in line for your turn and assessing those around you. Very typical these days, queues that is, and no doubt judging a few folk to while away the time.

    Its almost Monty Phyonesque in terms of the Society. My first word association was The Ministry of Funny Walks !!

    As Abe says, this seems to be a forward to much more. Very well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much thanks, Gary! I do appreciate the support. I was at a literary festival this weekend where they hosted an anonymous pitch war. We submitted pitches, the audience voted and an agent gave feedback (not knowing which belonged to who) along with a professional pitch writer/former editor. I submitted three, all of which got a “yes” from the agent and editor. I actually pitched this story (forming in my head) as a bit of a cozy mystery where out miscellanarian would-be candidates start dropping dead and June has to solve the mystery before she’s next! 🙂 It was fun. I also pitched The Beauty Thief just to see how everyone would react to that one. It got mostly yeses from the audience, too, and a yes from both judges. Then I pitched my beloved Grecca story that’s been brewing for years in my head. I have learned I can write a good hook of a pitch now, but will that translate into well-written books is the next question! No doubt, I’ll be pursuing more from June and her vie for lead Miscellanarian! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Awesome Rachael. Not bad going with all three pitches for sure. Re email I think it quite funny we caught an editor out with a new word to them 😂

        Could you send me one of the pitches as that’s an area I need to strengthen. I’m due a hernia op sometime soon so I’m going to have several weeks where all I can do is write! In fact that time scale probably fits in with what we were discussing re my own project 😳

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I hope your surgery goes well! Keep us posted on that! I’m glad that’ll work out timeframe-wise for you too!

          It’s an OLD word made new, so there is that. haha

          I’ll certainly send that to you, Gary. I’ll do that later tonight and break it down a bit into an outline format, if that’ll help at all.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks Rachael, I’ve received it and will add it to a file. Might try it on Pitch Wars when the next one comes round. The preop is 12 April. Only taken 2 years to get that far so I’ll know more after that 😯

            Liked by 2 people

      2. Wow, that’s awesome! CongratZ! Must serve as some great motivation!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, and intimidation. lol 🙂 Thank you!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think the first step (that you already took) was intimidating. Now it can only get better.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thank you.<3 I needed to hear that.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s said ‘Leave them wanting more’ and you certainly succeeded! Your vivid description made it easy to envision the events, and one of my favorite details was how the late miscellanarian had ‘noops’ left forever on his face. The nickname of Bitter Bitty was as hilarious as it was fitting. I was left hoping you’ll decide to follow up on what happens to June in a future BB event!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww, thanks AE! 😀 It might have been a little morbid to talk about ‘noops’ (haha, I like how you did that), but it struck me as rather amusing. I don’t think I assign people nicknames like that in my own head, so it’s fun to discover how my newly thought-up characters behave. I like June. She’s a little odd (I think you have to be to be a dedicated miscellanarian!), but she’s got a big heart and a lot of determination. I’m with you and hoping she’ll be back for more hijinks! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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