Sunday, July 29, 2007
The summer days grow shorter
The brilliant sun grows dim
The summer dreams we nourished
Reveal their fates within.
The evergreen shed their needles
While still remaining green
The winter dreams that nourish us
When light and hope are dim
Some lose their leaves like wishes
Falling like flurries in the wind
Made while blowing out the candles
Those dreams create the wishes that we make
And in the turning of our wishes
We witness a beautiful end
The youthful green they grew on
Revealing our autumn end.
The brilliant yellows and oranges
The fiery red and gold
Tell of the passing seasons
Of dreams we cannot hold.
Our dreams die, turning in the fall
Blanketing our roots from the icy blasts and snow
While on the bare limbs of our soul
Our newformed buds await the chance to grow.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
“Now what do I do?” I asked the seemingly empty room, not expecting a reply.
“We’re going back to Dr. John’s and Laura’s house.” Owen answered calmly, taking my hand in both of his and holding it. “The curse shouldn’t affect anyone we meet there, so we should be safe. They’ve convinced Caitlin to stay here, though she wasn’t happy about it. Dr. John and Laura are going to help us research how to break the spell, and we can work on it in the city. And Bronwyn and Brychan are not without resources. They’ve promised to help as well.”
“We?” That word gave me more hope than any two letters have the right to, and I was probably an idiot for feeling so hopeful, but I did so there we were.
“You don’t think I’d leave you to face this alone, did you?” Owen smiled sadly, “That would be a miserly thank you for saving my life, don’t you think? Besides, I promised Cormac I’d take care of you, and I don’t think there was an expiration date on that promise.”
“When should we leave?” Now that I had a plan, I was anxious to get going, even if it did amount to running away. Staying here, at Bronwyn’s farm was just too painful; with everyone that I loved in London out of reach to me.
“I’d like to take a quickie shower and borrow some of Caerwyn’s things and then I’ll be ready.” Owen’s serious, sad eyes grounded me somehow, made me able to think and not fall apart.
Not wanting to be alone, I followed Owen back upstairs and into Caerwyn and Caitlin’s suite. The room that had been their playroom was set up as part exercise room and part study: half was filled with mats for Tai Chi and Yoga and the other had two desks, each with its own laptop and rows of shelves with a variety of books. Browsing their books, I was amazed at the breath and depth of their reading material, in several different languages: English, Irish, Welsh, French, German, Finnish, and even Latin and Greek. Pulling several books from the shelves, I added them to the growing pile of things I was taking back with me, made myself comfortable and started to read while I waited for Owen.
I suspected that his shower had more of the quickie about it than quickie shower, but who was I to argue when he was leaving this comfortable place, and the charming young man he’d just met, to go with me and help me with the difficult path I faced.
And we had been apart for so long that I was no longer sure what we were to each other. Or what we could be. I didn’t know what I felt for Owen, I didn’t know where Caitlin and I fit, I didn’t understand how I could feel what I did feel for Owen and yet not feel jealous of what Owen obviously felt for Caerwyn. I quickly realized that thinking too much of people I couldn’t be with would have me sobbing, but I also realized I would have to tread carefully with three other hearts and souls somehow so bound up with my own.
“I’ll have to do some shopping when we get into the city, but this should hold me for a while.” Owen’s voice startled me; I had felt like I was waiting in an empty house, to think otherwise would have had me crying my heart out.
“Caitlin has set up an email account for you. She and Caerwyn have their own web page, their own blogs, and everything. She has even set up an email for herself that only you’ll have the address for, so that the only emails she’ll get on it will be from you. The addresses are sweet enough to choke a cat, but they are certainly hard to forget.” He smiled at that, looking better than he had, even at breakfast. Love can do that for you, I guess.
“Yours is Caitlinsgracie@yaddayadda.net, and that’s the actual address, I’m not kidding. Only those two would register for such a domain name. Hers is the opposite, so you two can get around the curse that way, we think.”
“I hope it does work. Thank you, Owen, I don’t know if I could do this by myself.”
“I’m sure you could, I’m just here to make it a little easier if I can.” He assured me, nodding at the desks that were sitting back to back, “The laptop in the case is for you. Dr. John and Laura knew you had to leave your computer back in the States, so they got you one. It was supposed to be your birthday present, and they’d left it here so you wouldn’t accidentally find it while taking care of the house, but they figured you need it now.”
“I wish I could thank them. I’d also like to tell Caitlin and Caerwyn that I’m borrowing some of their books.”
“Write a note, they should be able to read it, at least once we’ve left the house.” Owen was full of good ideas, which meant at least one of us was able to think. “There are some books in Bronwyn and Brychan’s library that might help you with the projects that Laura has set for you. Dr. John left them stacked on the desk. We can grab those on the way out.”
The backpack he handed me was a LL Bean Turbo Transit Pack, in Rustic Purple, my favorite color. “Dr. John said that Laura bought this for you,” he explained, “What he couldn’t explain was why Laura bought two.” He chuckled showing me the other backpack, this one in mountain red. “He’s accusing her of developing gifts and not telling him. She’s accusing him of mental laziness, that she’s not getting new gifts just working on the ones she’s always had.”
Splitting up the books into both bags, we were quickly packed and ready to leave when a small bundle of fur threw herself at me. “Angharad?” I asked as she climbed up my jacket and pressed her small body to me, wrapping her paws around my neck. I didn’t even mind that she was cutting off the blood flow to my brain, I was so happy to see her.
And then four more cats emerged from the fog, two mid-sized cats, one of them my own Shadow and the other a spotted calico that must have been Caerwyn, and two larger cats: Bronwyn, who did indeed have a large white spot on her breast as her name suggested, and Brychan, who like his name, was speckled, or rather spotted. Sitting down on the rush mat in their entry I opened my arms and hugged them all, feeling the soft fur on Brychan’s neck as Bronwyn and Caitlin licked the tears from my cheeks.
And then I did the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I said goodbye to this beautiful family, and left their house which now felt like home. Turning my back, so they wouldn’t see me crying, I shouldered my pack and walked down the drive for the road into town and the bus stop that would lead me back into London. Neither of us spoke as we left the farm for an uncertain future, but then again there was nothing to say.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
The Stone Gods
Tani clutched at the tree’s sturdy trunk, hidden from view by its leaves and branches, her attention focuses wholly on the young man about to ride unsuspecting into a trap. The target was a well dressed young man, slumped in the saddle. The palfrey he was riding, though tired and sweaty, was obviously well-bred and well cared for. The young man’s purse, the tired thief thought with a grin, should be ripe for the taking.
The young man sat on the horse easily, using only the lightest of touches on the reins to control his mount. His cloak was of thickly woven wool and his hat of crushed velvet. Looking warily at the gathering clouds, Tani thought enviously that both would go a long way toward fighting the cold and damp this winter.
Silently unsheathing the sword, Tani crouched on the branch and cursing the Stone Gods for making this necessary, jumped down on the young man as he passed beneath her. Unseated, they both fell off the palfrey’s back as it bolted in fear.
Even surprised, the young man reacted quickly. Drawing his sword, he turned and faced Tani, easily blocking the young thief’s thrusts with his own parries, making Tani twist and turn to avoid his blade. “Well boy,” the young man teased, “Now that you have my attention, what are you going to do with it?”
Tani grinned, outward arrogance masking profound relief that the thief’s disguise had passed. Her life would be forfeit if she were caught dressed as a boy, and Tani had no desire to be stoned to death.
“I may have your attention, Sir, but I would gladly return it in exchange for your wallet.” The smile Tani pasted on was the same one that had been worn by the soldiers as they held her mother’s arms for the King’s pleasure. The young man looked to be the same age as those soldiers. Too bad he wasn’t one of them, Tani thought, if she had to kill someone, she wanted it to be one of them.
“I’m terribly sorry, boy. I don’t have my wallet on me. I do have a piece of some of the finest steel in the land. Shall I give it you?”
“It is a fine sword indeed,” Tani agreed, circling the young man warily, trying to keep the sun in his eyes or keep him off balance in the rising wind. The young man’s grip on the sword was casual, almost negligent, but Tani knew that his fighting skills and his reactions were both finely honed. But still, adding to goad the young man, “Such beautiful steel would be a fitting ransom for your attention.”
The young man laughed, and for the first time, Tani doubted her own purpose. This young man’s laugh was divine, being equal parts joy and a delighted amusement. The young man was enthusiastically enjoying both the sword play and the verbal jousting. But Tani knew that for all its intricacy, their sword play was just that: play. Which would end the second her opponent found out Tani was a girl.
The two combatants were so focused on their dueling that a crash of thunder caught them by surprise. The young man had frozen in a two-handed attack position, scanning the sky to try and guess how soon the storm would strike. Tani also froze to look for the storm, crouched in a resting position but ready to defend herself.
The wind, which had been blowing fitfully, gusted suddenly, snatching the hat from the man’s head, revealing a regal mane of flame-colored curls. Tani’s impression of her opponent was shattered on the evidence before her eyes and then crystallized into a terrifying whole. Tani bowed her head, sinking to one knee in a gesture of profound obeisance.
The Queen stood motionless before her opponent, stunned by the sight of a boy child showing respect to any woman especially one dressed as a man, unaware that she had caught the attention of a greater foe.
Tani felt the change in the air and reacted without thinking: throwing herself at the Queen. The impact knocked the sword from the queen’s hand and carried them both out of the clearing. Tani covered the queen’s body with her own just as the lightning bolt sliced through the air, through the finely forged steel, and into the ground at the precise spot on which the queen had been standing. Momentarily blinded and deafened by the thunder that had followed, Tani could only lie there stunned.
Alizarin the Queen lay stunned as well by the events that had unfolded. This brave child who had sought to rob her, thinking her a man, had shown her respect and even saved her life once the truth had been revealed. But in doing so, the child had revealed her own secret. For the body resting in a state of shock atop hers was clearly female, from the small breasts pressing into the queen’s ribs to the leg nestled familiarly between the queen’s own.
Tani came to, feeling a hand tenderly stroking her hair, brushing it off her forehead and away from her face, “What is you name, child?” The whispered voice was neither regal nor commanding, giving Tani hope that she might actually survive the day.
“Tani,” she answered breathlessly.
“Well, Tani, dear child. We must find shelter and get out of this rain. I owe you my life, it would hardly be fitting payment if I let you get soaked and catch your death now would it?” It was as if the Queen had read her mind, and looking into her eyes, Tani knew that she had understood Tani’s fear and sought to reassure her.
At that moment, the clouds burst and the rain, which had been easing up, became a pounding deluge that put out the smoldering fire the lightning had started and turned everything else into a sea of mud. Grabbing the Queen’s hand, Tani pulled both of them off the wet ground and began dashing through the rain.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
The smells of breakfast drew us in as nothing else would have: French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, biscuits drenched in butter and honey, hot tea and coffee, the smells were enough to make me drool in anticipation. We all filled our plates like we were trying out for the local rugby team, and started eating with enthusiasm.
Halfway through breakfast, Laura and Dr. John walked in, both smiling, pink cheeked from the cold air outside. Laura made a point of greeting each of us, even Owen, as she walked about puttering: emptying her jacket pockets onto the sideboard, handing Bronwyn a flower she’d found during there walk, and hanging her jacket in the hall closet before going into the kitchen for a mug of coffee.
“I found this on my walk,” Laura greeted me with a smile, and a stick.
A long straight stick.
“This is a stick from the holly tree that took such damage this winter. It will make a great wand for you. It’s already dried out, just sand it and shape it some, and it’ll be perfect.”
Dr. John knelt between Owen and Caerwyn’s chairs, looking across the table at Caitlin and me with a wink. “How are you boys feeling today? Feeling a bit stiff, I’d bet, but hopefully that’s about it?” Dr. John asked, looking into Owen’s eyes as he turned to answer. Dr. John had clasped one of Owen’s wrists, and I could tell that he was unobtrusively taking his pulse, counting his breaths, and even checking for signs of fever and possible concussion.
“I’m okay, I guess,” Owen shrugged, unused, I think, to people being concerned about him and his welfare. “I took a hot bath last night, and it really helped me relax. Thank you, sir.”
“Oh, please,” Brychan snorted, “You’re not in one of his classes, call him John. Dr. John, if you must. You should have let one of us know you wanted to take a bath, you were in no shape to get out of bed alone last night.”
“Don’t worry da,” Caerwyn replied, blushing slightly, “I was getting some stuff out of my room, so I helped him into and out of his bath.”
“And helped yourself to one as well, I don’t doubt.” Dr. John teased, catching the muffin that Caerwyn threw at him and lathering it with butter before eating it with a grin.
“He has room to talk,” Caitlin defended her brother with a grin, adding, “You realize they went out early for a walk because they just wanted a little privacy to make out.”
“You know it, kid,” Laura replied with a wink, patting my back as I tried to keep my coffee from spewing out my nose, before handing Dr. John a mug of coffee. Taking the seat next to him, Laura sipped her coffee while staring at me thoughtfully.
“I’ve got a couple of other projects for you, Gracie,” Laura began, waiting for the four of us to finish our breakfast and clear the table for Bronwyn. “You don’t have to start on them today, but you might want to start thinking about them.” As she said this, she laid on the table a bag of rocks and a deck of cards, and explained.
“I think we might start with these. The rocks are rune stones, or will be when you’re done. You can buy rune stones, but they work better when they are made by the person who is going use them. And this is a deck of Tarot cards, this deck is mine, but back at the house I left a package in your room of heavy paper cut to size so you can make a deck of your own, I want you to research some of the various decks available and then design your own. I don’t think that divination per se is one of your talents; I do think that these will make excellent meditation tools for you. Even back in college you seemed to be able to make intuitive leaps that followed you own internal logic, and I think these will help you.”
“Design my own deck? How?”
“There are four suites in the minor arcana and then the major cards. Take a look at how the other decks use different symbolism, and find a symbolism that is meaningful to you.” And she tossed the deck to me, setting off a chain of events that would change all our lives.
I caught the deck before it hit the table, and felt a small jab as something sticking out from the box pierced the tip of my ring finger. Opening the box, I pulled a small thin needle from the business end of the box. For some reason, it reminded me of a spindle. My brain was working as fast as it could, but my thoughts were coming very slowly and is if from a great distance. My stream of consciousness had become a string of random non sequiturs.
A strange lassitude washed over me. I watched silently, almost idly, as three drops of blood dripped from my finger to the table top. Those three innocent drops triggered the curse that had been sprung the night before, when Bronwyn had said those fateful words: Sleeping Beauty.
The world was suddenly out of focus, like my contacts had fallen out. And though I could tell that they were shouting at me, I couldn’t hear the words and then I couldn’t hear their voices. The most frightening thing of all was that through it all, Owen was sitting beside me looking so sad.
“It’s called the Sleeping Beauty curse,” he explained, and somehow I knew that they could hear him as well. “It’s a nasty piece of work. The Sleeping part is actually your powers, as long as they were dormant, or sleeping, the curse couldn’t be triggered. In this case, it was triggered by being pricked by the small spindle that one must have slipped into the box, and then the three drops of blood. It’s not really a curse, but more of a trap. It takes your own powers, pours them into your shields, and uses your own shields to isolate you. The shielding being erected around her is so complete that you won’t be able to hear her or see her or speak to her.”
“How do we break the curse?” Caitlin asked, fighting back tears.
“I don’t know,” He admitted. “Until I saw the blood, I didn’t even know it had been set, let alone triggered.”
Looking over at Caitlin, it was suddenly too much and I had to try and reach her.
Pressing against the shield, I reached out and hugged her for all I was worth, stretching until I could rest my forehead against hers. The pain that ran through my head was worse than anything I’d ever felt before, but I ignored it as long as I could to hold onto Caitlin and let her know that I loved her and that I would find a way to break this curse.
“Is this harming Gracie?” Laura asked, looking at me shocked, “She’s bleeding!”
Sitting back, I wiped my face with my napkin to find that my nose was bleeding and I was somehow crying blood.
“Only because she was fighting the shield, if she lets it surround her it won’t damage her. She’s lucky, she may be isolated but at least this curse does little actual physical damage: there are others that can do a great deal of harm.”
“Based on the name of this curse, I can think of several off hand,” Laura began, and afraid she’d name them and give the curse any ideas, or trigger any other curse already laid, I stopped her speech laying my fingers across her lips.
She looked up at me, staring into my eyes and saw the fear and determination in them, the fear winning as I lost the ability to see them. Wanting to reach me, Laura took her hand in mine, rested her cheek in my hand and slowly kissed my palm until I could no longer feel her lips caress my skin.
Knowing what I know now, I feel that the eyes I should have been staring into as the world changed before me were not Laura’s but Bronwyn’s. But foresight is evidently not one of my talents.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
I found this poem in a book I was reading before the trip called Climbing Brandon by Chet Raymo (Brandon is on the Dingle Penninsula, and we drove past it, but didn't get close enough to climb-sigh). It's called the Song of Amergin, and is believed to be the first poem written in Irish.
"I am the wind on the sea.
I am the ocean wave.
I am the sound of the billows.
I am the seven-horned stag.
I am the hawk on the cliff.
I am the dewdrop in sunlight.
I am the fairest of flowers.
I am the raging boar.
I am the salmon in the deep pool.
I am the lake on the plain.
I am the meaning of the poem.
I am the point of the spear.
I am the god that makes fire in the head.
Who levels the mountain?
Who speaks the age of the moon?
Who has been where the sun sleeps?
Who, if not I?"
Have a good Monday.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
|You Are Jean Grey|
Although your fate is often unknown, you always seem to survive (even after death).
Your mind is your greatest weapon, literally!
Powers: telepathy and telekinesis, the ability to project thoughts into the mind of others, communication with animals
Gloating first. I not only got to see Harry Potter last night, but Joely emailed me an ARC of her ebook soon to be released (do you feel jealous now? you should). Both were great entertainment. Y'all know Harry, the movie was awesome, the good guys good, the story suspeceful, the bad guys deliciously evil (the woman who played Professor Umbridge was incredible- as was Emma Thompson as ProfessorTrewlaney and the whole cast really). So go see it, and come back and let me know what you thought (otherwise I'd be giving it all away and I don't want to do that).
The 70 days of sweating were going great until yesterday, when I had to work and after work I went out to dinner (I had a lovely cup of crab soup and a Cobb salad) with friends and then went to see Harry Potter (and after which i was tired and wordless and went to bed), but i will make up the missing words this weekend, sometime. Maybe after I talk Jenn into going out to lunch so i can go grocery shopping and not want to buy out the store, besides I have to make my weekly pilgimage to B&N. Have a great weekend.
|Your Power Element is Wood|
Your power colors: green and brown
Your energy: generative
Your season: spring
Like a tree, you are always growing and changing.
And while your life is dynamic, you are firmly grounded.
You have high morals and great confidence in yourself and others.
You have a wide set of interests, and you make for intersting company.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The sound of voices woke me, just enough to know that Laura and Bronwyn were giving me the once over, looking for signs of shock, and for any bruises from fainting headfirst onto a limestone pathway. If I’d had the strength, I’d have rolled my eyes at myself, but I didn’t so I just lay there listening to them asking questions and Caitlin and someone I didn’t know answering.
A little voice whispered his name in my ear, “Caerwyn”.
I lost track of their conversation, heard the words “lunch,” “tea,” and “keep her warm,” and then heard Laura and Bronwyn leave.
“They’re gone,” Caitlin whispered, leaning over me and brushing the hair off my face. “And I know you’re awake. I want you to meet someone.”
I opened my eyes, looked up into Caitlin’s worried eyes, and giggled, whispering back to her, “We’ve definitely got to stop meeting like this. What will your parents think?”
What can I say, shock does that to me.
We giggled until we ran out of breath, and then lay in a big pile on the bed, waiting. For what? I don’t know. I looked at Caitlin and then over at the thin freckled face of this boy who meant so much to Caitlin, looked into those open, honest blue eyes seeing the same startling intelligence and fierce protective tenderness that I’d seen in Caitlin’s eyes, and in Bronwyn’s when she watched Caitlin and Angharad.
“Her twin.” He smiled at me, watching my embarrassment. “And you’re her Gracie, and woe be to anyone who tries to get in her way when she thinks you’re in trouble.” He glanced back at his twin and laughed to see her blushing as she stuck out her tongue at him.
“Are you feeling better?” he asked, as Caitlin crawled up and leaned against his side, resting her chin on her hands.
I had to think about that for a minute, but was surprised when I realized that I was. “Yes, I am. A little anyway. At least I’m back in my body.” Somehow, I was surrounded by a pocket of warm air that felt really, really good; as if my body had been dangerously cold and no longer was, but still carried the memory of having been that way.
“How did you do that?” Caitlin asked, reaching over her brother and taking one of my hands and holding it.
“I don’t know. I remember lying there holding you and feeling torn; between staying with you and trying to make you feel safe, and going after those bloody hounds and actually making sure that you were safe. And then I wasn’t torn. I was beside myself.”
“How did it feel?” Caerwyn asked that one, looking for a split second like he knew more about this than me.
“Cold,” I answered. “I was outside in January in a cold snap with no clothes on and with no body on.”
“And it’s a miracle you didn’t get hypothermia, young lady,” the voice in the doorway sounded equally vexed and relieved. Bronwyn came in and smiled down at me. “I’m glad to see you’re awake, John and Laura are worried about you. Now, if you would all like to get dressed, supper is ready.” And she turned and walked back out, winking at me as she did so.
That was when I realized that we’d been lying in bed all of this time, and not one of us had a stitch on. Oops?
It took us a while to get dressed. Okay, it took me a long while to get dressed; I kept having to stop and catch my breath and sit down or be dizzy. Eventually, though we were ready to face the others. We entered the great room with Caerwyn walking beside me and Caitlin leading, holding my other hand, as neither of them trusted me not to fall on my face.
Dr. John was helping Bronwyn put the food on the table while Laura was talking to Angharad and holding her on her lap. “Here, we’ve got bowls of soup and mugs of hot tea for all of you,” Dr. John explained as he came over and took my arm, leading me to the chair next to Laura and Angharad. “Lots of good hot soup and hot tea to warm you up.”
“How do you feel?” Laura asked, coming up and feeling my forehead. Angharad for her part wrapped her twiggy thin arms around my neck, kissing my cheek. “You sure gave us a shock, spirit walking like that.”
“You? How do you think I felt?” Sitting down, I looked down at the soup with little interest; my stomach had definite ideas about what it would and would not accept. “Is Owen okay?” I’d been thinking about him, ever since I woke up, and while part of me hadn’t expected him to be able to come to dinner, the part of me that had was worried.
“He’s in rather bad shape,” Brychan answered, looking over at Laura with a look I didn’t understand and didn’t want to try to decipher. “But he’s resting as comfortably as we can make him, and I don’t think he needs to go to hospital.”
“And we can talk about all of this. After dinner.” Bronwyn insisted, and looking over the table at the delicious meal she’d prepared for us, no one argued.
The soup turned out to be chicken and dumplings, full of little pillows of dumplings and lots of vegetables and pieces of chicken. Taking a cautious bite, I had to stop and savor the miracle in my mouth that was Bronwyn’s chicken and dumplings. Somehow she had taken comfort food, made it elegant, savory and seasoned while still being comfort food. What talk there was centered around everyday things: school, work, books, movies, and old friends, all friendly talk while we all sat and enjoyed Bronwyn’s feast.
“If we’re going to talk of uncomfortable things, why don’t we move to a more comfortable location,” Bronwyn suggested, clearing the table and taking the now sleeping Angharad from Laura. “There are fresh pots of coffee and of tea, help yourselves and we can start when I get back from putting sleeping beauty here to bed.” Sleeping Beauty, she said: from such innocent words would come such pain and heartbreak that even now the irony of it all almost sickens me. And I’m going through enough nausea as it is, thank you very much.
“I’m sure you must have questions.” Laura began once we were all seated. “We can only promise to tell you all that we know. It will be up to you to decide to trust us.”
I had to think for a few minutes, not because I didn’t have any questions, but paradoxically because I had too many: too many questions. There were too many questions which wouldn’t, or couldn’t, be answered, or whose answers would require more explanation that I was up for. What I needed was something simple and concrete, which led me to a question.
“So, how is Owen?” I asked, looking over at Caerwyn. Somehow I knew that he would know. “Will he be okay?”
“Physically, I think he’ll be okay.” Dr. John quickly reassured me, while at the same time giving me a hint that not all of the news would be peachy. “Psychologically? I think we’ll have some work ahead of us. But we’re all willing to help him. I must confess, I called your mum and Cormac, let them know what has been going on. Cormac told me quite a bit about Owen’s time with your family.”
“You know him?” Laura asked, and I had a brief moment’s thought about if she had told Dr. John about our talk before lunch.
“He’s the boy I told you about before lunch,” I turned to face her as I said this. I don’t know what I expected to see, pity perhaps, but I saw only understanding, and as always, acceptance. “I can only wonder how he ended up with them.”
“He hasn’t been in much shape to talk yet.” Brychan answered, sitting on the arm of Bronwyn’s chair, having seen that everyone had something to drink.
“So what is he? Is he a shifter? A were-hound?” Some stray thought or fear made me ask. “He wasn’t one when I knew him. I mean, I know that great thing was torn from him, but is he going to turn into a Hound whenever he gets pissed, like the Hulk or something?” For some reason, the Hulk comment cracked them all up and it was several minutes before someone could answer.
“Well, we know he didn’t start out as a shifter,” Caerwyn began.
I was sitting back with his arms around my shoulders, as one of his hands idly played with Caitlin’s hair as she leaned against me. We had all three sat down in one love seat without even thinking about it. But it was a roomy love seat and I felt comforted surrounded by them.
“I think he is one now, though,” he continued. “Once he heals up some, I’ll start helping him learn how to control when he changes, and into what. He’ll probably always change into a hound; I’ll teach him how to make sure it never again is that kind of hound.”
“You don’t blame Owen for what happened?” Bronwyn asked calmly. Too calmly, but I was starting to feel the exhaustion threatening to overwhelm me, so I answered without thinking or worrying about what it all meant.
“Why would I blame him? Owen had less control over what happened to him or what the others did and ordered him to do than Angharad.”
“I’m just surprised that you picked that up, knowing as little about shifters as you do.”
“How did you know how to talk so we could hear you?” Dr. John asked from the chair and a half that he and Laura had taken. The epitome of professionalism at school, away from work they tended to act like teenagers- sitting close together, holding hands, with his hand always straying to her waist or resting on her leg.
“What do you mean? I was just talking. Wasn’t I?”
“You were talking to us, but you’d left your body, and thus your vocal chords back with Caitlin. Who didn’t hear a sound.”
“Including at times, your breathing,” Caitlin added, and I heard again how much it had frightened her.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, giving her a hug. “I didn’t mean to scare you; I just wanted to make sure you were safe.”
“I think we’ve done enough talking for now,” Laura interrupted. She’d been watching me very carefully and I’m not sure what she saw but somehow she knew I’d reached my limit.
No sooner had she said that than I started shivering, a great shuddering trembling that shook my whole body.
“Caitlin, Caerwyn.” Their mum began, but got no further.
“Don’t worry, mum, we’ll take care of her,” Caerwyn assured her.
Slipping out from behind me, he stood and held out his hand to me. I thought he was helping me stand, but instead he pulled me up and then swept me off my feet. Walking out of the great room, he carried me down the hall, and up the stairs to their rooms: a grand suite with a large sunny playroom and a bathroom between the two bedrooms.
“Caitlin, kitty, run a bath please,” Caerwyn asked when Caitlin caught up with us. “Make it warm, but not too hot.” She filled the tub while he held me as if I weighed nothing, and then they both helped me out of my clothes.
If I hadn’t been shivering so hard I was afraid I’d bite my tongue, I might have been embarrassed, especially when they both started undressing. But soon I was sitting in a tub of hot water, the shuddering, shivering had stopped, and frankly Scarlet, I didn’t give a damn.
And again nothing happened.
“I’m so tired,” I whined, once the shivering and shuddering had stopped enough for me to talk,
“Why am I so tired, Caitlin?”
“Don’t worry about it, sweet girl,” she murmured to me, brushing my wet hair out of my eyes, “Just relax. Sleep if that’s what you need, we’ve got you. We’ll put you to bed when we’re done with our bath.”
I might have liked to argue, I even tried. But exhaustion had me firmly in its jaws, and I was still arguing about it when I fell asleep.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Here is another snippet. I've signed up for Alison Kent's 70 Days of Sweat Writing Challenge, which started today. I had three days off this week, and got a lot done, just no writing. Oh well. Here it is:
You'll find me in the mountains
Among the aspen and the pine
Where the waters flow so silently
In a place untouched by time
I live now in the forest
In a sunlight dappled glade
Where the evergreens tower o'er us
Harboring the small ones in their shade.
Aren't I cute?
Thursday, July 05, 2007
We were stretched out on that very comfortable comforter-covered mattress, and had just settled down for some serious snogging, when I heard dogs growling. And they sounded very, very close. Now at this point I didn’t know much about shifters but I figured that if you’re other form is a cat, you’re not going to keep big dogs as pets.
Just a hunch.
These dogs sounded huge, like the kind we’d run into in the park huge. And they sounded pissed, royally. Something about being here, in this special place, and hearing them just outside made me see red. I wanted to get up and give them a piece of my mind, preferably with a big stick.
Caitlin, however, had other ideas and had wrapped her arms around me and held on like I was a life preserver and she was sinking fast. She was so afraid for me she was shaking.
Part of me wanted to stay and make her feel safe and part of me wanted to go kick their butts and make sure she was safe. I was feeling more and more torn. And then I wasn’t torn: I was standing beside myself, looking down at my body with Caitlin in my arms trembling with fear.
Well, if I couldn’t do anything for her fear, I could do something about what was causing it. Walking around inside the walled garden, I heard the two hounds growling just outside, looking for a way in.
Making my way through the wall and the hedge, which is not something I would recommend for the weak of stomach, because it nearly caused me to hurl and I didn’t actually have a stomach at that point; anyway, I came out of the garden in time to see the alpha take a swipe at the other hound.
I’m not sure how what happened next happened. All I can say is I realized that 1) I had no body, and 2) I had somehow walked though a hedge, and 3) if I had no body and could walk through things without affecting them, then I might not be much good in a fight. Silently swearing in frustration, I tried to think of how I could hurt the Hounds enough to chase them off. Fire would certainly hurt, if I could think of a way to make fire, or maybe pulling his tail. Thinking this, I reached out with both hands and yanked as hard as I could.
To be honest, I hadn’t really expected the tail pulling to work, so I was pleasantly surprised when he yelped in pain and pulled his tail between his legs. Before my scattered wits could make anything of this, the alpha grabbed the other hound by the scruff of the neck and shook him. I thought at first the alpha was trying to snap the other’s neck, but as I tried to figure out what to do, they vanished like puffs of smoke.
I sighed in relief thinking we were safe and was just about to go back to Caitlin when I heard someone bellow like an enraged bull. Walking to the end of the garden wall, I came to a small area bordered by the walled garden on one side and the bordering creek on the other. It was here that I spotted the two young men fighting in the dirt.
I knew that these two were responsible for the …the hounds, and that they had been projections and not physical dogs. But these two men were real, and physical, and trying to beat the shit out of each other.
Or rather the alpha was trying to beat the other, who I know realized was not the beta of this particular pack, but the omega: the ultimate low man on the totem pole. The alpha kept punching him in the ribs and trying to pin him. Wrestling him to the ground, the alpha tore the other’s pants off, opened his own and started raping him.
I was stunned for a second, and then I got pissed. I ran over to where they were, and somehow I could still see the alpha’s tail even though the hound had been destroyed. Not bothering to wonder how or why, I grabbed that tail and pulled him off and away from his pack mate, squeezing and pulling as hard as I could.
The alpha certainly felt it, though. Giving a yelp of pain, the alpha twisted free and ran for the woods and as far away from us as he could get: leaving his pack mate behind, wounded and helpless.
The young man was lying on his stomach with his arms over his head. His back and sides were covered in bruises and he was clearly in no shape to go anywhere. I had no way to help him and I knew that I had to get help somehow.
I tried to think of a way that I might be able to get the attention of someone in the house. Being rather new to all of this, I couldn’t think of any other way than to go to the kitchen and tell them, so that’s what I did, being very careful to not run through things. I reached the kitchen and managed to tell Laura what I needed.
She was shocked when she saw me and stunned when I told her what had happened. She said that Dr. John and Brychan would come, and soon I heard them following me as I made my way back around the walled garden.
Dr. John looked surprised to see me. I’m not sure if it was because I wasn’t wearing my body, or because my spirit walking self wasn’t wearing any clothes.
I don’t know, I didn’t ask.
I just led them behind the garden and stood back as the two men examined his injuries before rolling him over.
“Owen!” I gasped, stunned. “What are you doing here?”
“Hi Gracie,” he whispered weakly, “We were sent to get you… I didn’t hurt your cat too badly, did I? We didn’t know about her. Could you tell her I’m sorry?”
“Why were you sent?”
“Our alpha wants you taken care of in the worst way.”
“That wasn’t the alpha with you?” Just shows what I knew about hounds.
My sweet boy, now a beautiful young man, shook his head, his whole body shaking with shock, and fear. “Oh no. He would have gotten you, if he were here. No one can escape him.”
“How did you set loose the hounds?” Dr. John asked. We couldn’t really answer his fear, so we just went on with our questions. “Are they projections of you?”
“Yes, the first night they were us, but those today were projections. Our alpha releases them,” the answer seemed to involve equal parts fear and shame until he explained. “He drives us into a mindless rage and then he rips them from us, like ripping out a soul.”
“How does he drive you into rages,” Brychan asked, almost as if he were afraid of the answer.
“He beats us, humiliates us, and then he rapes us. He uses our shame and humiliation to fuel the rage. And he lets that one do those things to me.”
That was the answer I’d been expecting, having seen what that one had done to him here. And it was one horror too many. Asking Dr. John to take care of him, and receiving his answer, I somehow found myself back in my body.
Throwing myself off of the mattress and out of the pagoda, I knelt in front of the nearest patch of dirt and started throwing up: the tea that Bronwyn had made for us, breakfast, dinner from the night before, the lunch I’d had before that, my toenails, and possibly even a rib or two.
All things must end and after a very long time, this did as well. I became aware that Caitlin was kneeling behind me, holding my hair out of the way and whispering soothing words at me, and then that Laura was also there, wrapping me in a blanket and handing me a glass of water to wash out my mouth and a warm, wet cloth to wash my face.
“Gracie, can you stand?” Laura sounded rather insistent, like she’d been saying this for a while.
So I tried to pay attention. I sat up and handed her back the empty cup and the washcloth, leaning into Caitlin’s arms. “I don’t know.” I answered, after trying to take stock and realized I was feeling as bad and as shaky as the last time I’d had bronchitis, oh joy. “I’ll try.”
“Good girl, come on let’s get you up.”
She continued the running stream of encouragement as I got to my feet and pulled the blanket around me, slowly making my way to the walled garden’s entrance. Looking up, I saw a young man standing in the doorway.
He was tall and thin with bright red hair, light blue eyes and a face full of freckles. Spotting Caitlin, he smiled like she was the best thing he’d seen in ages.
Caitlin saw him, gave a little cry, running up to him and jumping into his arms to be swung around, hugging him close. Jumping back down, Caitlin took his hand and led him back to where Laura and I had made it up the path.
“You must be Gracie,” he began, looking at Caitlin with such love in his eyes that my heart wilted and my strength left. “My name is Caerwyn, and I’m Caitlin’s…”
Well, I admit it, I didn’t have the courage or the nerve to hear what he was of Caitlin’s so when my body wanted out, the rest of me said “okay” and I fainted: fell like a downed tree. Kerplunk.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Monday, July 02, 2007
There it is and in a blink
it is gone.
Did you see it? Do you know?
What shall we call it;
this light that shines, sweeping
past us and is gone. This
planetary lighthouse guiding us,
to reach the stars. Shall we call it
Reason? Culture? God?
Will the memory of its light
sustain us through the coming
for its return?
Constant as the star whose death
gave it life, like a beating heart.
An echo of the galactic pulse
whose rhythms are beyond us,
as the civilizations rise and fall
in the stillness between one heartbeat
and the next.
Is it a gift? Is it a sign?
This fractal rhythm
in the cosmic symphony,
this one small certainty
that gives depth and scope
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Events- a pretty mixed bag
1472 - Orkney and Shetland are left by Norway to Scotland, due to a dowry payment.
1547 - Edward VI of England crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey.
1872 - In New York City the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens.
1873 - The University of California opens its first medical school in San Francisco, California.
1943 - The Parícutin volcano begins to form in Paricutín, México.
1947 - State of Prussia ceases to exist
Births- Who can stop at just two
1902 - Ansel Adams, American photographer (d. 1984)
1966 - Cindy Crawford, American model
1967 - Kurt Cobain, American musician (Nirvana) (d. 1994)
Holidays- Wikipedia wimped out on me- it gave a link to Eastern Orthodox Liturgics- which when you follow the link says that all of these are celebrated on March 5th (which wouldn't count). But then I remembered that I seem to recall that three of my four birthdays during college all fell on Ash Wednesday (note to self-do not give up chocolate when your b-day falls on Ash Wednesday- no cake).
So that's it, now I'm supposed to tag five other people. So I tag Rhian, Raine, Joely, Gabriele , and Meryl.