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First Light

  • Posted on October 17, 2014 at 12:29 am

Memory is a fickle thing, inherently wrong, yet personal in the greatest of ways. All of our memories are biased, based upon information our mind stores and corrupts. Stories we tell ourselves become memories, despite never happening. Things that happened turn out a different way when we think back on them.

Most personal to us all, and most telling of whom we will become, is our very first memory. The first bit of light our mind stores away for us in the world. These memories hide from us, little snippets of time. And then, like magic, a scent, or a sound, the touch of a familiar fabric, or the hum of a certain frequency reminds us, and it comes crashing back like nothing was ever missing at all.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The prickly poking of hay. The scent of his mother, soft and creamy like milk just warmed up, and the sound of his father’s quiet voice. Later, Dirk would learn that the conversation was their first discussion about whether they should go back home to Thosfig, back to their tribe. His nose itched, and he rubbed his little fingers against it to make it go away.Noticing how sharp his little fingernails were, he curled them into his palms. Crickets chirped somewhere, and he could hear crackling, like fire. His eyes felt heavy, and he didn’t want to sleep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pain. Yumil remembered pain first. A too-tight grip of an adult hand around a small wrist. The red of lines cut into child-soft skin by fingernails dyed with pigment from berries.  Yumil remembers looking up at her, her tawny hair shining in the sunlight. She is beautiful, and frightful. She calls him a bad boy,voice hissing. Yumil feels his stomach twist and clench, fear climbing inside. She is angry, and to Yumil it’s as if she has always been angry and will always be angry. He finds anger burning inside himself to match, hot and terrifyingly close to tears.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She can’t remember the words anymore, but Eamon remembers the soft feeling of her mother’s chest. Her cheek fits against it perfectly. She remembers the hard push of her sister’s knee against her own leg, and the laugh in her mother’s voice. She recalls the lines of her sister’s hand and how it felt to rub her thumb along them until Lette shrieked with laughter, like it had tickled her. Eamon remembers how warm she felt, wrapped up in the two of them. A mix of flowers and cool water always brings this memory to her mind, and she smiles.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Grass tickling her nose, and a small round bug crawling along between the blades. Red like string scattering across her vision, as she was lifted from the earth. Her hand still reaching out for the little black bug, bigger hands tight against her ribs They squeezed a little painfully, but only enough to make her whine in the back of her throat. A murmur of her name, and Lette looks up. Her father’s green eyes smile down at her like the water of a murky lake. She smiles back, and giggles. His hand, scratchy with callouses, brushes back her hair.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Blurs moving past him, dark things swimming around the edges of his vision. Espin remembers crying, crying so loud and so long that he was sure no one heard him. He remembers unpleasant smells, something he later knows is the smell of sickness and waste. He remembers the crying making it worse, stopping his nose and how panicked he felt. A cool hand on his forehead was all that kept him awake, and he cried, and cried. Sleep would be kinder. His stomach lurched, and he felt hotness sear his throat and splash out his lips. Nothing eases his pain.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Her big brother’s back, warm and strong. Anelace was tied to it, she could feel the soft cloth against the back of her neck, feel the bounce of his step as he walked. He talked to her, telling her stories, and she burbled back to him. Her fingers found his coarse woven dreads, tugging for attention. She remembers how he smelt like sunshine and camels. He was so big, and strong, he carried her like she was smaller than an ant, and it made her feel small and she thought he must be the most powerful thing in the world.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She was always angry. So angry. His mother was angry at him, yelling and screaming, and Jorgan hated yelling. He wanted to hide and forget. It made him cry, which made her so much angrier. She called him hurtful things he can’t remember later, things that might be true. Her palm struck his cheek, and his world went spinning. Pain blossomed in his jaw, his teeth rattling, as he toppled over. His cries came louder. The snap of a belt made his chest squeeze, and fear silenced him. His father’s footsteps, shaky and unstable, curled him into a tight ball.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

What glimpse does this first light give?

photo courtesy of flickr.com

Darling Mother Dearest

  • Posted on April 4, 2014 at 12:30 pm

We know the type. The Mother, The Magdelene, She Who Nurtures, and she is the singular woman who defines who we are, who we become, and what we’re going to do with the world around us. Developmental theory often refers to her as the Female Rolemodel. In Fairytales, her title might be Step-Mother, or Queen, or any number of other things. But in the end, she is that one discerning force that brings us out into the world.

Now, this is where we draw the line. There are many types of Mothers.  Good ones, bad ones, evil ones, abusive ones, caring ones, obtuse ones, demanding ones, mothers run the whole spectrum, because they are, in fact, people. And no matter what your experience with them, or lack thereof, they still define parts of you to this day. Often, it isn’t until we grow up and get our own jobs and move on, that we realise our mothers, good bad or missing, are part of what motivates us in the world.

Three very good examples of mothers include Mother Gothel from Tangled, Eudora, Tiana’s mother from Princess and the Frog, and finally, one we all know very, very well, Wendy from Peter Pan. Now, you may be wondering where Wendy comes into this. Just hold on, and let me get to my point.  All of these fine ladies exemplify motherhood one way or another. Each different kinds, each with their own flaws, each with their own strengths. But beneath it all, they’re all women, down to the bones of it. Beneath the veil of “Mother” lies a woman, and it is that woman who determines how her children will turn out.

To start with, we’ll give you a good example. Eudora, the mother from Princess and the Frog, is a good woman. Married to her husband of many years, she works hard in New Orleans in the 20s. Which, for a woman of color, could NOT have been a good time for her. But she made the best of what she had, and because of that, she raised a resourceful, kind, and determined daughter. Because beneath the Mother, there was a resourceful, kind, and determined woman.

Now, Mother Gothel, as you well know, if you watched the movie for even half of its length, was abusive. Emotionally, and at the end, physically. She constantly belittled Rapunzel under the guise of motherly help. She put her down, and if you watch her most minute actions, all of her affection was aimed towards her daughter’s HAIR. The magic, not the girl. No wonder Rapunzel wanted out so desperately! But, if there was anything she did do right, is that she provided for her daughter. Rapunzel never wanted for anything, not food, not a roof, other than entertainment of course. And she encouraged her hobbies, baking and reading and painting. Even the worst mother can have a FEW redeeming qualities, I suppose.

Wendy, however, is a very special case. She actually wasn’t really a Mother. Not to begin with anyway. But the boys adopted her, and unwilling, she ended up a mother. This is the important part. She didn’t WANT to be a mother to those boys. Peter forced it on her, much the way single mothers are forced to take up both parental roles. However, unlike either of the mothers above, Wendy falls under the pressure. She caves. And in the end, she leaves. This too, has an impact upon her ‘children’. The boys once again only have Peter for guidance, and instead of growing up, they languish in Neverland, playing games forever with their child king.

So you see, no matter who she is, absent, missing, there, loving, nurturing, evil, selfish, cold, the mother has a big influence on her children. And before you get into it, fathers do too, but this is about mothers, so hush.  Mothers are what teach us how to emotionally handle the world. They prepare us, one way or another, for what we’ll find when we leave the nest. Some are good at this duty. Some are terrible. But no matter what, even if you loathe your mother and her actions, there is always something that will bring your mind back to them, something that makes you remember her, absent or not. And that, my friends, is why women become Mothers. That is our immortality.

Beauty and her Beast

  • Posted on April 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Beauty and the Beast Vs. Taming of the Shrew

Both iconic tales, although for very different reasons. Long, well-known, articulate, and fascinating, both tales are considered love stories, usually of the romantic variety, with sweet connotations, underneath everything else. The humor in Taming of the Shrew is considered a finer point of William Shakespeare’s works. The “song as old as time” of Beauty and the Beast is famous for it’s sweet romance, persisting through the ages as a love story to be emulated.

However, both stories have deeply troubling issues within them that few enjoy looking at. Truthfully, I don’t enjoy looking at it. Like any little girl, I absolutely adored Beauty and the Beast, wanting nothing more than to find that kind of adventure and love so easily. And my teenage self really enjoyed Ten Things I Hate About You, which is roughly based off of Taming of the Shrew. Both were funny, quirky, beautiful stories that made me think that maybe, just maybe, love was out there for everyone.

Now, break it down, by role. Let’s start with the women of each example.

Beauty, whose name literally describes her both inside and out, is a sweet, dutiful girl, who is obedient, intelligent, and (in the original tale) respectful. The disney version added a firey backbone, which was quite nice, actually. Her role in the story was to meet and be enslaved/captured by the beast, and then, despite being cruelly abused, verbally, and physically (he occasionally throws her around even in the disney movie) is supposed to fall in love with the Beast, once he exposes his true, good heart.

Katherina, the infamous Shrew, is an obstinant, firey woman with a temper. She is determined to have her way, and will not be told what to do. She chooses not to marry. During the course of her play, she is psychologically tortured by her soon-to-be-husband, through various methods such as removing her clothing and food, by saying it isn’t good enough for her, and deliberately misinterpreting what she says. She, in the end, also falls in love with a rude, obstinant man, whom has proven to be a rather cruel fellow.

Both women seem to be intelligent, well-thought out women, for all that they’re a little… one dimensional. Beauty is beautiful in all that she is, and Kate is well… a shrew.  But both women are forced, quite against their will, to be in the company of a man who is downright brutish.

The Beast is just that, a monstrous beast both outside and in, with claws that have rended the entire castle. Belle must have lived in fear, for I know I would, were I surrounded by stone gauged by such talons. Not only that, but he treats her as though she were a servant, a slave. He yells, demeans her, and as illustrated before, throws her a few times. He is brutish, boorish, angry, frightening, and supposedly, deep down, has a heart of gold. Belle just has to endure until it begins to show itself. Meanwhile, Beast is just waiting for the right woman to come along and teach him proper manners. How demeaning is that, as an allegory for the male gender? Hear that guys? You have no choice but to be an ass until the right woman comes along and *FIXES* you.

Petruchio, meanwhile, had the benefit of being raised in Italy. Meaning he’s an ass too. Also, he’s psychologically manipulative, and uncaring of Katherina in a personal sense. All he wants, as is stated in the play, is to marry a bride. He too is cruel, wooing a woman who obviously doesn’t want marriage, and basically talking her into marriage with the most backwards sweettalk in existance. He knowingly enters the relationship set to break down Katherina’s spirit and make her docile, accepting, and obedient.

Both men are the worst sort of examples of mankind one can think of. I personally am embarrassed to even call them men, for I’ve MET good men, and they do not act this way.

Now, you ask, at what point do these two stories even coincide with each other? Well, think about it. Beauty and the beast is a story about a woman taming a man. Taming of the shrew is about a man taming a woman. They’re the same story, only with the genders reversed.

What’s worse is, instead of the man showing the woman kindness, as Beauty showed Beast, and finally revealing the heart of gold inside, in Taming of the Shrew, Katherina is instead browbeaten, psychologically tortured, and in general treated as a problem, something to be beaten down and changed.

Both stories have problematic elements, Beauty with her stockholm syndrome and Perchutio with his cruelty, however, when looked at, it is clear what the commonality is. In both stories, women are clearly a means-to-an-end. Nothing more. Katherina is refused her personality, changed by the man in order for him to gain a bride and her sister to be eligible for marriage. Beauty exists for her father to trade off, for the Beast to gain back his humanity. Nothing more.

THIS is the problem with these two stories. When you are writing, consider the women in your story. Consider what they do, who they are, WHY they are in the story. If they are nothing more than a means-to-an-end, then you are doing them, and yourself, a disservice. After all, Misogyny is often internalized, and it’s time that women became women, and not just a catalyst.

Thinking About His Companions – A deleted scene from The Sorcerer and the Swordsman

  • Posted on March 21, 2014 at 2:51 am

((This scene was deleted due to it’s repetitive nature when combined with other scenes in the book. However, it was a unique perspective and look at the characters from Yumil, the Sorcerer’s, point of view. Have a look!))

That night, Yumil did not join the large group for dinner, sitting apart instead, and eating a summoned apple. The silver haired princess clearly disliked his separating himself, as she stormed over to him pretty quickly. Looking up, he realized she had a bowl of food in her hand. Raising an eyebrow, he muttered a quick spell, freezing the food solid. She made an indescribable sound, glowered at him, and huffed her way back to the group.

Good riddance. Yumil didn’t exactly want to deal with her anyway. The smell of the sausage and hastily cooked rice was making his stomach queasy. He wasn’t sure if it was hunger or sickness, and he wasn’t taking a chance. His summoned food was more than enough for him.

Watches were established, and luckily, they had enough people for three per watch, two if Dirk excluded Jorgan, Lette and Yumil. Nights were dangerous on the plains, if one was unaware. Usually, dangerous beasts avoided fires and the sounds people made. But at night, when the fire is banked, and no one is moving about too much, some get curious at the smell of food, and come closer.

They never did have that problem. Yumil knew it was because of the creatures sleeping inside him. No self respecting animal would attack something more dangerous than itself unless it had to. And in this case, everything under the sun could tell that he was far more powerful than he appeared.

For his part, Yumil was attempting to avoid as many of the group as possible. Large groups made his skin crawl, almost as much as being alone with someone. He much preferred solitude, and this was not the place to get it. Luckily, few of the warriors they’d brought wanted to speak to him, his atrocities too near in their memories. That didn’t stop the child from staring at him, during the long trudging walk the horses took them on. Yumil raised a raven eyebrow at the male, and the child ducked his head. He couldn’t be more than twelve. Perhaps younger, even. His eyes though…. Something about them was familiar.

Taking another deep breath, Yumil turned away from the green eyed child, and towards his book. He had taken up reading again. During his apprenticeship, his master had instilled in him a love of books and all things to be read. Yumil had always had a natural sort of curiosity, something that made his horrid existence worse and better at the same time. Knowledge truly was power.

He couldn’t help but notice the princesses looking at him as well. The priestess obviously shared her mother’s view on his personality, since she kept sending him pitiful looks, and attempting to feed him of all things. Princess Lette was beginning to become a sore in his side, and he was attempting to think up ways to make her life hell without actually harming her. A bit of honey on her skin was good for her, and it would also attract ants like nothing else. Perhaps a few layers applied to her skin while she slept. Yes, that would work.

Princess Eamon was a whole different story. She was dangerous. Warrior through and through, Eamon would not hesitate to kill him. The only reason she had not killed him yet was because he was useful. God how he hated that word. But for now, it was his armor, his shield. They would not kill him, and that would give him time to break this damnable binding. He would foil that God one way or another, and have his revenge.

The voices in his blood spoke whispers of tearing him from his throne and rending his godly limbs into dust. Another hissed that he should do the same with these pitiful mortals. A third reminded him that he was immortal, infallible. He would be doing them justice.

He quieted the voices, the demons he’d taken into his heart, and settled them with whispered promises for the end of the world, the destruction of all those wicked souls they craved so much. He remembered his master whispering so to the darkness that was darker than his skin, the shadow shapes that swirled across his thin limbs like wraiths. Yumil was too vain for that, so he kept them in his heart, his blood, instead of his skin. Master hadn’t liked that. But he was dead, so what did his opinion matter?

Catching Dirk looking at him however, that was unsettling. The large man held his fate in his hands, and honestly, Yumil wasn’t sure whether he should cozy up to the man, or if he should make him more of an enemy. One way, he could end up worse even than he was as a child. The other, he might end up losing every ounce of freedom he currently claimed. Either option was enough to send chills down his spine and make him retreat into books rather than think on it any more.

The only point in Dirk’s favor was that he was clearly still the innocent that Yumil remembered. He sighed, letting the breath out with a long sigh. He didn’t care that the man had grown up. He didn’t care that Dirk might have had bad experiences because of what he’d done. The male was an innocent, the same as the children that Yumil had spared. Yumil would never regret sparing him. Although for a moment, on the battlefield, he’d felt a sting of betrayal that Dirk would turn against him so.

He remembered the look of abject hatred that had lived in Dirk’s eyes, and realized that perhaps that wasn’t the case any longer. How could he feel betrayed when it was clear that Yumil hadn’t wanted to save HIM, but rather, had simply wanted something or someone to champion. He felt that realization become a heavy weight on his heart, and pushed it away as firmly as he pushed away memories and thoughts of anything but his future revenge.

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