I am what I am!

For her July Challenge, Ambermist over at Tastes like Battle Chicken wants to know something about us, the people behind the characters.

Now when I envisioned this post originally, it was going to be rather brief. I’m not great at talking about me, my Priests on the other hand, I can go on about forever and you should hear me on various literary periods I’m passionate about (oh, wait…you already have), but me… well that’s an area where I’m not 100 percent comfortable. I’ve tried in the past with a couple of blog posts and they were perhaps the hardest things I’ve ever written.

1# I like hats which is slightly strange because the vast majority of my characters never ever show helms.

Perhaps if I had awesome green Gnomish hair I’d like hats less outside Azeroth. Although you can’t tell in this picture, my  hair is a rather boring shade of very dark brown.

2# I find throwing things away a trifle hard. One day I might need those shocking orange buttons, my stress doll in the shape of a dairy cow or my giant cat mug with the chip in the rim, it might be unlikely but you never can tell.

3# Out of all the bits and bobs I’ve collected over the years there are a few things that I could never part with. These include Foxie, a rather battered toy fox who was presented to me when I was less than an hour old and my Grandfather’s books. I also have two coins, their patina is faded and you can barely make out their markings any more. To an outside observer they are worthless, just two more little objects to gather dust but to me they are irreplaceable. This is their story:

My great grandam–She was a witch.

Long though the shroud, it grows stitch by stitch
My great grandam — She was a witch.
Walter De La Mare

My Great Grandmother had a bit of a reputation in the village where she lived. People would go to her for love potions and when they were sick more often than not, it was her door they went to rather than going into town to see a Doctor. She used to laugh about she’d seen them all birth’d into the world and she’d see them wrapped in their shrouds too. In her eyes birth and death was women’s work, men were too weak to deal with all that blood.

She had this big glass jar in her sitting room and it used to fascinate us as children, packed as it was with coins. We’d never seen anyone put anything in but the number always seemed to be increasing. It was as if they were multiplying of their own accord. Now this particular summer, we (our happy band of wayward cousins) had been abandoned by our respective parents who were all off having a spa weekend at Baden Baden and left to fend for ourselves under the watchful eye of our Great Grandmother. The village children never wanted to play with us and would often stand at safe distance yelling things like “witch spawn” and “the devil’s gonna get you” whilst we climbed trees, fell in rivers and generally had a ball.

When we wandered back home, tired and hot that afternoon, my eldest cousin, our ringleader and chief decided that we all needed ice cream but there was one small snag. A quick rustle through our pockets didn’t produce anywhere close to enough money for us all to have one. His eyes then lit on the jar and it’s amazing replicating coins. Quashing our doubts as he was the eldest and clearly knew best, he opened the lid and poured a handful of money into his hand. As the light caught those coins, for a brief second they looked molten and I almost expected him to yelp in pain. Shaking my head, trying to suppress my fears, I followed them outside because even though I was scared, I still wanted an ice cream. One step, two steps and my eldest cousin tripped and fell, cutting his leg rather badly on the side of the path. As the blood poured down his leg we panicked. Now it might be coincidence, we were definitely clumsy children but to our superstitious minds back then it was definitely cause and effect. The jar was clearly cursed in some way and the village children were obviously right and our Great Grandmother was a witch.

We never got those ice creams. In fact we went as far as to block out that jar from our collective consciousnesses. We never told anyone what happened, we said he fell out of  a tree, something which happened so often as to be believable. We’d avoid being in the same room as the jar and if we had to, we’d fight over chairs which didn’t have a direct line of sight to it. Then one day, it was winter and there was snow everywhere, we were summoned. All of us, the whole bloodline ordered to my Great Grandmother’s house. We were outside building snow monsters and throwing snowballs with stones in them at the locals (I know, I know.. but they threw my second best doll on a garden bonfire and said that one day they’d burn me too) when my Mother popped her head around the door and said we had to come in. Fear flashed amongst us and with the self absorption of youth, we wondered if she knew we taken the coins, whether putting them back wasn’t enough. I thought my heart was going to explode when we saw that jar, not in it’s usual place but sitting on the table.

There was silence, which was unusual in any family gathering and then my Great Grandmother spoke. She talked of death, of dying and of the ferryman who carries the dead safely over the river. She talked of coins, of payment and debts that must be honoured. She told us that whatever we chose to believe as adults, that we should always remember where we came from. Then she told us to put our hand in the jar and pick two coins, two coins to keep safe so that when death comes as he always does, our fare is paid. I remember looking at my father, an engineer, a man who made his career in the military, thinking he’d be laughing, that I wouldn’t have to do it but his face was as a stone. I was so sure that something would grab me, that a broken mess of bone and sinew would reach for me as I grabbed the first two coins I could. It didn’t but I still have those coins and I’ll have them until the day I die.

I’m not sure what I believe these days, the rational side, the side I inherited from my father along with his eyes fights regularly with the other side, the part of me which sees things in shadows, which still trusts a little in her Great Grandmother’s Gods but I suppose that’s just a part of being human.

4# This is my favourite colour.

That beautiful sea green shade which always makes me think of margaritas, long hot days and the taste of salt on your lips.