Break The Chain

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 10:52 am
bairnsidhe: (Default)
I'm gonna break the chain
Free my body and my brain

I'm gonna rail and rant and rage
Tell the world I'm outta my cage

I'm gonna break the chain
Escape the fear and the pain

I'm gonna howl like the North Wind
My freedom is mine to defend

I'm gonna break the chain

No more holding back, or playing safe
No more smiling past rules that chafe

I'm gonna break the chain
Wash it away like falling rain

Now I'm free and I can see why
We break free, we try, or we die

I'm gonna break the chains!

Bad Girl Blues

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 03:03 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)
Slinking into the room
Heads turn to stare
Before they look away
Knowing only fools do what angels don't dare.

Sliding up to the bar
Ordering a drink
Nobody offers to buy
I pay my way and they know what I'd think.

It's a lonely life
Being the hard one
The Fatale is recalled
Long after the Femme has been forgotten.

I'm not drawn bad,
I just am that way.
The Dame, the Queen
The Bombshell and I'm here to stay.

The New Hypatia

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 11:47 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)
It is easy to say "We have not learned."
It is easy to point to Ignorance
Portrayed as Faith,
Opinion held equal with Fact,
And say "See Alexandria still burn."

It is easy to rail and blame.
It is easy to call out human frailty,
And the weakness of our memory,
Our repeated mistakes,
And say "This is all the same."

But be not disingenuous of mind.
Do not fall for simplistic Despair
Masked as Wisdom,
Or you do what you despise
In the doubting of our kind.

Hypatia did not die in vain!
Her spirit rose like a phoenix
On the wings of words
Her life had been devoted to,
Lighting the dark with flame

Even now, our libraries burn
With the thousand life-bright soul-fires
Of each moment, each movement.
Nestling knowledge in heaven's fire,
Hidden archives await their turn

So say not that we have not grown.
Say not that human hearts will fail
To the madness of illiterate fools.
For we have always guarded,
And guided, and learned, and known.

I say "Let the new Hypatia prove!
Let her stride forth on the digital field,
And wield a staff-lever of memory.
Give her a fulcrum and a place to stand...

For she has a world to move."

Aconite and Datura

Friday, April 21st, 2017 12:45 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)
 It wasn’t at all uncommon in the modern era of acceptance for people to contract to witches for various services, and most of them now accepted payment in the forms of baked goods, knitwear, and a 50% cut of gains from any prosperity spell lasting longer than one month.  There were traditionalist hold-outs however, and some of the more difficult spells actually required a promise of a vitally important payment.  Which is how Richard and Elspeth Garin wound up both owing first-borns.  This isn’t their story.

Because they both owed first-borns to witches, Richard and Elspeth Garin are the first note in a new love song of the history of witch-kind.  Because they did not, as would have been neat and easy, owe the same witch.

The first to arrive on the scene was Datura Williams.  Nicely plump and pale blue, she resembled nothing so much as a yew-berry, and she dressed the part, in fashionably tattered garments between robe and dress, both bewitching and bewildering.  A real traditional witch, with three cats and a raven at home, all of whom shed on her.  Richard cowered appropriately when she arrived at the Garin’s little apartment in a billowing fog to take her payment.  Elspeth was not impressed, and why was proven when Aconite (no last name) the rising star of witch counter-culture arrived.

Aconite was the opposite of Datura Williams in every visible way, being tall and conventionally proportioned, her skin dark as the moonless velvet sky, and her clothing impeccably dapper.  It was said she once cut a man with her winged gold eyeliner.  The two experienced a thing rumored in witch circles, the impossibly rare True Loathing at First Sight, over the bassinet of the newest Garin.  Never the less, they did both have a claim under law, and had enough pride that they settled on a shared living situation.

“But my penthouse is in the Upper East Side!” shrieked Aconite.  “Do you know how many witches I had to hex to get it?”

“My bog-house has been in the family for millennia!” retorted Datura.

“It’s in a bog,” replied Aconite dryly.  “My penthouse can be child-proofed.”

“That’s… actually a very fair point, but we are not giving the child a normal human name like Mary or something.  I won’t use it if you try.”

“I’m thinking she looks like a Hellene, after that woman with the beauty curse.”  The baby gurgled and slapped a meaty, pink-splotched hand on her pillow before screwing up muddy greenish-brown eyes and howling until her face matched the wisps of red starting to come in.  "Or maybe not," Aconite relented.

“Rapunzel is traditional,” Datura insisted, trying to soothe the screaming infant.

“What about Zelda?” offered Aconite, as she wiggled flashing bejeweled talons at the baby, who became fascinated, but more importantly quiet.

“I can live with that.”

So the two settled down to raise baby Zelda, although they had many different ideas about child-rearing.  Datura, always the traditionalist, insisted on seclusion to draw out appropriate Prince types.  If she was going to move to a penthouse, she could at least take advantage of the tower effect.  Aconite called her a sell-out and snuck spell primer board books into the crib.  Aconite brought in seamstresses to make baby clothing, and Datura ran them off before tea.  Instead, she made all the clothes by hand, which Aconite begrudgingly admitted were very chic, and completely unique.  Datura had a nice eye for colors.  Datura eventually admitted Aconite had a point in wanting to give Zelda an education, especially after looking over the available Princes.  They weren’t worthy of Zelda’s hand at all.  No, not ever.  One tabloid in particular led to Datura sweeping in on a five-year-old Zelda’s home potions class to level a summary grounding that banned Zelda from ever interacting with the royal family of Lichtenstein.  Zelda took that with more grace than Aconite, who laughed so hard the mandrake root almost escaped its gag and Datura had to take over.

Years passed, and many family adventures were had.  Datura relaxed enough to suggest a trip to the zoo, and Aconite learned much of the odd traditions had practical roots.  Which became very useful when Zelda demanded they free the polar bears, who were not doing at all well in the zoo.  She would never have thought to modify a mirror spell to create a better replacement snow.

Zelda went through the first brushes of puberty and confusion, but her mothers were always there to help her.  She learned charms for clear skin from Aconite, and when that failed, how to embrace skin blemishes as a part of witchy beauty from Datura.  Neither was wrong, exactly, and both helped her feel more comfortable in her own skin.  She went to Aconite when the magnetism spell she used out of Datura’s spell book turned out to be a mistake of hand-written accounting and turned her too literally magnetic, with paperclips stuck to her face.  That could have gone better for her, but really, she was at fault for trying something like that without supervision.  At least she didn’t erase any of her mother’s credit cards.

As tends to happen, when two people raise a child together, Aconite and Datura started to see less and less of their differences, and more and more of the things they had in common.  They introduced their friends to each other. When Aconite’s friends didn’t fully appreciate the hard work Datura put into her cooking, Aconite stopped speaking to the worst snobs, and made it up to her child-rearing partner with a new (if used, because Datura said those were best) cauldron and fie upon the Condo Board who said they couldn’t brew on the deck.  She liked not having to do the tedious parts of potion making.  She’d rather just step in to cackle at the right moments.  Datura also revised her opinion of a few friends as well, who couldn’t see how smart Aconite was to digitize her grimoire and load all her books onto an e-reader.  Traditions were well and good, and dear to Datura, but it was Aconite’s quick access to a vast, annotated library that saved the day in the toy store fiasco when Zelda was 7.

Years later, Zelda sat her parents down for a talk.

“Mom, Mother.  I think you need to know something, and while I normally trust you to figure things out, I really think this is something I should tell you.”

“Of course, dear,” Aconite said reassuringly.

“Well, I’ve been doing reading on the ways people can love, partly because I’m not sure I will want to marry a prince I meet when he breaks in.  I’m sorry, Mother, I know you wanted me to be traditional, but tower princess just isn’t me.”

“Oh, well, I did figure when you started rooting for the dragons on your picture shows, instead of the knights,” Datura sighed.  “That’s all right, as long as you’re happy.”

“I am.  I’m actually very happy with who I am.  You were both wonderful to me, and I’m really happy you agreed to send me to Salem University, my roommate in the dorms and I are chatting online.  But when I’m off at school, I want you two to be happy, and it occurs to me… well I don’t think you considered what will happen when I leave.”

“What do you mean?” Aconite asked.  “We can be happy.”

“Yes, I believe you can.  But are you going to stay together?  I don’t want you thinking I’m the only reason the other has stayed with you.  You’re my parents, for all intents and purposes, and it seems obvious to anyone who isn’t you two that you’re daffy in love with each other.  And yet, you put on this weird pretend game of being the Odd Couple.  It’s just worrying.”

“Oh,” Dartura said in shock.  In her typically atypical fashion, cyanotic blue lips formed a neat, pursed circle of surprise.  “I… but we’re witches, we don’t really… well, there’s a reason we go about kidnapping, trading for, or adopting infants, you know.  I thought you’ve had the where babies come from talk.  Aconite, you did give her the Talk, yes?”

“Did I... of course I did!  She’s going to college next fall.  A normal human college with normal human social clubs, and normal human parties with normal human boys, and you know what people say about those!  I don’t want her getting in trouble because she didn’t know what did what when and such.  She’s been learning anatomy for boil placement curses since she was a child, anyway.  It’s not that different to understand where the babies come from.”

Zelda sighed.  “You know you don’t have to do baby-making things to be in love, right?  You two buy each other flowers, make each other’s favorite foods on days when things are hard, and if it weren’t my birthday, I’m pretty sure you’d still make a deal over the day you two met.  You both clean up nicely if you’re having visitors, even if they’re here for one of you.  I’ve seen you dance around the deck fire together.  You have joint business cards, and I’ve had three different tutors ask when you two will tie the knot officially.  You should at least think about if you want to, all the good binding ceremony locations book out years in advance.”

Aconite and Datura looked at each other, suddenly struck dumb by how obvious it was.  They’d slowly, without noticing, fallen in love.  Datura had gotten used to having Aconite’s delivery man bringing her ingredients before she ever realized that Aconite never used half of those and had just added Datura’s things to her own list.  She’d only ever seen it as a gesture of truce, but the look on the more modern witch’s face told the truth.  That had been one of those tiny, everyday things that can make the difference between love, and True Love.

Aconite for herself, couldn’t imagine a world without Datura’s red velvet sin-cakes baking in the oven, household books being mysteriously balanced after a hard day drove her to bed without doing them, or the recording of swamp noises that filled the halls at night when Datura couldn’t sleep.  The plump little traditionalist made her life so much better, just by being in it.

“Right,” Zelda said awkwardly.  “I’m going to go pack more, you two have talking to do.”

As she sprinted from the room before her parents could be kissy at each other, Datura straightened her artful tatters.  “Do you… agree, that Zelda has a point about us?” she asked hesitantly.

“I do.  We both knew something happened back when we met.  I thought it was True Loathing, but maybe I was wrong.  I don’t know enough of the history.”

“Well, it’s never been mentioned.  Ordinarily, we’re supposed to be repulsive.  Sometimes confusingly so, like Cerci of legend with her unnatural charms, but on some level repellent.  We weren’t made for the love of a man, is how the books put it.”

“I don’t know about you, but I know I’m not a man,” Aconite said.  “You know, I wonder… True Love's Kiss often breaks curses….”

“Being a witch isn’t a curse,” Datura said primly.  “And true or not, I don’t love you enough to want my powers gone in exchange.  Also, I'm not at all sure I even want to try kissing.  It seems rather more passionate than I really care for.”

“Oh, I know that, I wasn’t wondering about that, I like my powers.  And kissing seems like there's enough of a range of types we can find something calm enough not to upset you.  I was wondering can we use what we have… to make a curse remover usable by other people?  Maybe there are people who feel about love like you feel about kisses.  We could afford that Raven Aviary you want with the money a True Love curse-be-gone would bring in.”

And so they lived happily, if oddly, ever after.  Datura and Aconite did some experimenting and patented a True Love powered curse lifting elixir for people without enough time to spend in a coma or turned into a frog and no desire to find a True Love to kiss them.  Zelda grew up and became a dragon rights activist on the forefront of the Speak Truth to Tower movement.  Richard and Elspeth Garin did quite well in obscurity, and the tale was reduced to a simple theme…

Witch meets Witch.

(no subject)

Friday, April 14th, 2017 11:24 am
bairnsidhe: (Default)
 They call her the Fair Lady.  I don’t know if she’s supposed to be a ghost or a Fae creature, with a name like that.

They say she likes parties, music and drink, but she’ll play merry hell if you show up hungover.  I knew a boy with sunlight hair and moonlight eyes who swears she can be downright evil.

They say she was sad once, and that the sadness burrowed deep in her bones.  That the sadness killed her, trapped her in her old home.  But I know a girl with tally-mark scars who was saved by a neighbor who swears she saw the Fair Lady screaming in silence by the door.

They say she was hurt once, by someone who should have loved her.  And a girl who wasn’t even a student walked in to Epperson Hall and somehow sideways from the sun, never to be seen again.  Her boyfriend would later confess to several crimes, in trade for jail far away from Death in a White Dress.

They say the Fair Lady of Epperson Hall watches us all, every day.   They say she weighs and judges and punishes at will.

I find I don’t mind.

bairnsidhe: (Default)
 When I was a child, my family went to France.

The reasons behind this trip are their own story, but what is important to know is, no matter what Texas tells you about European size comparisons, France is big.  France is big enough that when you land in Paris at noon with plans to be in Provance that evening, you will end up at your hotel tired, hungry, and nursing leg cramps from the inevitably too-small sub compact you rented at the airport.  You will also be nursing an elevated heart rate if you ask my father to drive said car from Paris to your small town destination in the south of France where everything is a one way or a roundabout and speed limits are for the weak.  And when you do arrive to your hotel, it will be late enough that the only restaurant in town that is open doesn’t cater to tourists, particularly American ones who speak a minimum of actual French.

Which is a part of how my mother established herself as a vegetable.

Partly it was the exhaustion, but also some blame falls on my Nana.  Because, you see, my Great Aunt Anne, whom I call Nana, had very proudly told my mother not to worry about ordering, because Nana had learned the French word for ‘vegetarian’ and would order for her.  Everyone, my mother, my father, and myself, all looked dubious about this, as finding good, culturally specific food that contains no animal bits in it is notoriously hard when traveling and we all knew it.  Most of the places we’d gone as a family lived by the motto “what do you eat when you don’t eat meat?”  Mom has been a vegetarian for my whole life, and usually deals with foreign cuisine by making an exception.  She ate things with meat in Mexico and Scotland as a part of understanding the culture.  But not there, not in that tiny upscale diner of a French restaurant. 

Maybe calling it a diner is uncharitable, but I know of no other type of restaurant where subway tiles are the standard wall covering, menus are written on a chalkboard and it is assumed that by the time you sit you will know what you are ordering, and rust on the table is part of the charm.  At any rate, the advertised options were Menu One with Beef, and Menu Two with Fish.  The French, I later learned, did not do individual item ordering, you chose your main dish and assumed the chef knew what he was doing well enough to pair the right sides and salads and such.  For the same reason, there were no salt or pepper shakers on the table.  We sat at our table with all the grace of flour sacks dumped into a mill’s storehouse, our bodies aching and our bellies rumbling.  Our waitress arrived moments later, blonde, smiling, and with the subtle fear in her eyes I learned to translate as “please, merciful lord, let them not be Americans” years prior when visiting Mexico.  Nana, armed with her new knowledge of French dietary vocabulary, insisted on ordering for my mother first.

What seemed to the pre-teen mind to be a short eternity later, Nana was still trying to convey “nothing that was once an animal” to the waitress, who was a great sport about the whole thing.  There were hand gestures more appropriate to orchestral conducting being used.  Over and over the repetition of the same word that had not made sense to the waitress the first forty times.

“Veg-ee-tar-IAN,” Nana tried, no different inflection aside from a growing frustration.

“Anne, it’s fine, I’ll ask for a side plate, or get Menu Two and just eat around the fish, it’s not a big deal,” my mother told her, trying desperately to speed the proceedings so that her daughter didn’t start chewing the artfully distressed vinyl seats.  It might be worth noting that my mother is fluent in French, and if there were a word for “doesn’t eat meat” in the language that wasn’t the English word with a Pepe Le Pew accent, she would have known it most likely.

“Linda, it’s a matter of principal,” my Nana returned.  Obviously, she had no idea what damage could be wrought by a tired, hungry, cranky ten-year-old who just underwent a transatlantic flight and eight-hour drive in a clown-sized car.  She also was a bit too invested in making herself fully understood when we all would have been fine with pidgin French and charades.  “She needs to know you don’t eat meat!”

Suddenly, the light descended from the heavens, the angelic chorus began singing, and an old-fashioned European lightbulb spontaneously materialized and lit up in absence of electric power over our waitress’ head.  I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and in my hunger weakened state, did not particularly care that it was an oncoming train of awkwardness.  I could tell that the truth had been revealed unto the gatekeeper of food in some fundamental way, and soon actually edible things would be placed on the table and I could fill the gnawing void of my gut.

“OH!” she exclaimed, delighted beyond measure.  I can only assume that like in America, waitresses in France do not actually like spending large chunks of their late shift standing beside tables where older ladies in cashmere turtlenecks and chignon hairdo’s shout the same unintelligible word at them over and over again.  Her relief was palpable.  I waited for the great wisdom she had received from the universe to be laid out before us, hopefully accompanying the bread basket or an appetizer plate.

“Madame is a vegetable!” she announced, so proud to have finally understood the puzzle laid out by my Nana’s insistence that languages she doesn’t speak and that have existed for thousands of years conform to her expectations and standards.

“Yes,” my mother, the exhausted vegetarian in question agreed.  “Madame is a vegetable.”

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