[X-men: Legacy] The Time Has Come


Stale cigar smoke. Bitter beer. Earth. The coppery tang of blood that soap can’t touch.

She inhales deeply as iron strong arms wrap around her and hug her. Not too tightly but close. She can hear a heart beating alongside hers; strong, maybe a little slower than in the past, but still there. Tired. But still there.

When he releases her, she gives a small smile. barely there. “I’ll keep an eye on them,” she promises, not needing to state just who “they” are.

He doesn’t say anything in return, doesn’t have to. It’s been long enough that they understand each other without having to say much at all. Time will do that to you. Time marches on but, eventually, it takes you with it.

He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t even say goodbye. Just utters a grunted huff, the edges of a rueful smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. No…not just rueful.

Proud. Sad. Determined.

Reaching out he puts a hard, rough, calloused hand against Betsy’s cheek for a moment before letting it drop to her shoulder and giving it a squeeze that would crack the bones of a less hardy person.

Then the old bastard shoulders his pack and heads off down the drive. He hops into the old ’68 mustang, roars it to life, and is gone.

It’s hard to say goodbye. Maybe that’s why they don’t say it. For them, can it ever really be goodbye, though? Or will they just end up side-by-side again when the world has turned enough times?

Who knows? In either case, goodbyes are hard. That’s why they don’t say them. Time will do that to you.

Time marches on and, eventually, it takes you with it.

(Graphic credit: Imgur, by ManWhoLovesSuperheroes)

[X-men: Legacy] The Feline and the Charmer: Mardi Gras Moon


Betsy giggles as she pulls the pink plastic baby from its cakey cocoon. 

“Well! Look at dat, chere,” Julien chuckles to the feral girl as she pulls the treasure from her slice of king cake.  “And wit’ your firs’ King Cake, too.”

She sets the baby down on the side of her plate and licks her fingers.

“Now you know dat findin’ de bebe comes wit’ a whole host of responsibilities as well as the luck, righ’?”

“Oh, like what?” Betsy ripostes smilingly. 

“Ohhh, well!” The Guild Prince sidles up to his feline-esque companion, close but not touching her yet. “Some people say dat whoever finds it will end up with a little’un by end o’ year, especially if you a woman.”

Betsy fairly screws up her face at that. “Yeahhhh….no litters for this feral, thanks. Even if they would turn out as beautiful as you.”

“Oh, Lor’, no!” Jules agrees, still smiling, and those ebony and ruby eyes glimmer in the lights that glimmer off the French Quarter. “There are other responsibilities, tho’.”

Betsy looks up at him, her own eyes melding to a shimmery gold. “Tell me.”

“In our househol’, the finder owes the baker a kiss,” he says with a completely straight face.

“Oh, so I should go find Henri then?” the feral girl quips mischievously.

“He would be righ’ surprised at you, I’d say. Especially since he didn’ make dis one,” Jules assures her with that self-confident smile. “I did.”

Betsy arches an eyebrow in surprise. “You?”

“Well, I couldn’ let my lovely Elizabet’s first Mardi Gras be anytin’ but the most’ special, could I?” Julien Boudreaux smiles fit to be tied at his girlfriend’s surprise.

Betsy’s cheeks pinken deeply at that and her eyes become molten, like gold heated in a forge. Stepping towards the tall Cajun, she rises up on her tiptoes, even in six-inch heels, slender hands reaching up to draw his face down towards hers. “It’s been amazing, Nawlins,” she purrs through wine-dark lips. “The parties, the parades, the food…but you…you are by far the best thing about tonight.”

Julien meets Betsy more than willingly, hands reaching out to grasp her waist and pull her close to him, lips meeting lips and a contented (and simultaneously hungry) sigh rumbling in his strong chest. That rumble lights a warmth in Betsy’s belly that sits low and heavy, her form flushing in his grasp in the warm New Orleans evening.

The music and ruckus of the French Quarter float up to meet them, the party going strong down in the streets. But here on this little rooftop oasis that Julien has concocted, they are as alone as they could possibly wish to be. Betsy has felt no silent, hidden presence watching them; Belladonna has in fact warned her people off the two teenagers for the night. Let them have their fun. Tomorrow the streets will be quiet, the church bells ringing in Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. But, for now…

Leaving the cake behind, Betsy draws Julien under an ivy, flower, and curtain strewn bower, letting the gossamer and heady scents envelope and hide them from the world for a while. After all, why go into Lent with no “sins” to confess?

From Golden Eye to Emerald Orb


For my dear friend Kat at TheKatWrites:

Dear Emerald,

Hi!  I know! A snail mail letter, right? I thought it would be a chance to practice my penmanship. I know it’s awful.

Thank you, Emerald, for always being what’s needed, for always being so strong, so hopeful. I mean, it’s what you are now even. Literally! The living embodiment of Hope! So appropriate! ^_^ I am ridiculously proud of you, Emerald.

How are your Mom & Dad? I hope you’re getting time with them now after everything. You deserve lots of lovely family time! And I’ll boot any big-headed little space elf who says otherwise. Things are okay here. Jon and I spent a week with Ryand’r after everything but I don’t really think he was doing any better when we left him and I don’t know when he’s coming home.

I miss my friends. I miss our friends. I miss the way things were, to be brutally honest. Even if we didn’t agree all the time–which obviously we didn’t–I miss just being friends. Being together. Life feels too much like a set of checks and balances anymore with my people.

Sorry, I didn’t meant to be all depressing. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate you and I miss you. I love you, Emerald. All the time. You know that, right? I hope so. Hit me up when you’re back on campus and I’ll make us entirely fattening chocolate chip cookies and then you can watch me eat them while I whine at you to eat just one. Cuz that’s how it always goes, right? ^_^

Love you, Emerald. Shine on!

Bets

Betsy/Christine - Three Doors Down

BloPoMo Day 8, Post 2: “From One Stray to Another”


Dear Chance,

I hope this letter finds you okay, and that your family is doing well.

I found the fox. He’s sitting safe and sound on my shelf, waiting and ready, if you ever want him back. Just let me know and I’ll send him home to you. I miss you. A lot. I feel like we haven’t spoken in months, and I worry about you all the time. I wish well for you every day, lots of car windows and frosty eyelashes. I still catch myself making coffee for you early in the morning before training sometimes because I expect you to be burning the midnight oil upstairs.

I’m sorry for everything that happened during the war. I know that it was hard for you. Are you okay? It was weird when all the lantern power went away. I still feel…different, not entirely sure how but I do a bit. I hope you’re okay, really-really. And thank you for being there for me when I was shaky and holding me fast; as usual, you were right on time.

I’m so glad that I got to see you before Christmas. I know it was a coincidence but still! It was one of the best presents I could have gotten. I’m so glad you were there and that I got to share a snowy park with you. Thanks for coming to say hi.

You are wonderful, Chance. You know it. You can do this. All of this. And it’ll be great. Be safe and be brave, hon. I’ll keep an ear out for you. And don’t forget: you promised me a surprise from a young man in a tux in an art gallery someday.

Love,

Betsy

From One Stray to Another

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A Broken Beauty


This was my final piece of fiction written for my very first MES (Mind’s Eye Society) character before her retirement. She is still near and dear to my heart, a prettily manic, doll-obsessed Mekhet by the name of Dovasary Meredith Windemere.

= = = =

She felt a profound emptiness consume her as she gazed around their home. Leaving. After 107 years. Leaving. After she had sworn never to do so.

“It is the only way. It is better if they think us dead and gone. It is the only way to have peace.” Sebastian had spoken with a touch of sadness and resigned fervor.

The only way. They had tried so very hard to build this city, to do right by her. Yet they were threatened constantly for doing what was best for Muncie, for their home. Perhaps he was right and it was the only way.

But it did not making leaving any less painful.

“My home…my city…I am so sorry,” she whispered brokenly to the silent halls, “Forgive me.”

“There is nothing to forgive,” the manse seemed to reply, in an all-too-familiar voice, “My love, my turtle-dove.”

If she wasn’t already dead, the words would have felled her cold. But, all of a sudden, she felt him. In her, around her, cold yet soft at the same time.

“Lucien? Impossible…” Dove’s lips trembled.

“Yes, Liebchen. I am here. I have found you again at last.”

She almost sobbed aloud. “Forgive me, Lucien. Please! We cannot stay; we have to leave.”

“I know, darling. And I shall go with you. I shall not leave you again.”

Then, she could see him before her, beautifully crystalline and translucent. Reaching out, his left hand enveloped her right and she could positively felt the soft lambskin of his grip–-supple and dark.

He smiled then and its beauty broke Dove’s heart.

“Dove,” Vincent’s voice sliced into the moment. He was standing ready with Dolly near him, clutching her Teddy. “It’s time to go.”

She nodded quietly, the barest hint of a smile tugging at her lips at the sight of her son and his likeness to her Lucien. “Yes, dearest ones. I am coming.”

One last look around and then, still holding his hand, she turned away forever. Vincent took hold of her left arm gently, guiding his sire away from the manse. Glancing down, he saw that, in her right hand, was clutched a worn lambskin leather glove; and her eyes shone with a faint glow, not unlike that of one has seen the face of their god and lived.

 

 

 

NaBloPoMo Day 20: Missing Like Wishing


I’m sure I have mentioned this in varying forms over the past few weeks, months, what have you, but I miss gaming. I mean, live gaming. Physically being in a room with people, either sitting around a table or moving between spaces, engaged in our characters, laughing at antics, putting on our acting hats, and slipping beneath the skin of someone else. I miss the interaction, I miss the theatrics, I miss it all! I miss planning my costume/outfits for game, tapping into what my character is thinking or feeling that time and how that would influence what they choose to wear. I miss my closet full of gowns, the flowers for my hair that were chosen specifically for their meanings. I miss the “letters” full of flowery language, figurative (and sometimes proverbial) bear traps hidden beneath seemingly harmless nosegays.

I miss walking into a room full of friends and, for a moment, feeling that rush and thrill of nervousness as if I were walking into a room of strangers (especially if there were new people there). That feeling that has me either wanting to hide in a corner or run away. I would get over it eventually and be caught up in the fun and flurry of activity from soft rp to the rampaging plot bus to wrapping up rp at the end of game before nominations. At any game I have ever attended, we have always done some form of nominations at the end of game, acknowledging those who surprised us, delighted us, put themselves out there for plot, or whose characters royally screwed up and thus made lots of story and to-do for the rest of us.

I miss late-night “afters”. I miss gathering to eat with friends in the small hours of the morning, still gleeful and charged up from roleplay. I miss sharing conversation and good food and laughs while even on the verge of sleep.I miss slipping into the skin of someone else and living their life for a while. I miss feeling their heart beat and expand and drop and break within me. I miss being with others, with friends, with people who make me laugh, cry, hate, and love all in the space of a six-hour game. I miss feeling the energy of others pulsing all around me, even if it left me drained and weary at the end of the night. That was a cost I could live with most of the time. I miss my playtime.  I honestly can’t help but wish to have it again and thrill and be elated when I do get chances to indulge in one of my favorite hobbies.

NaBloPoMo Day 17: The Fiction of Relationships


Author’s Note: Edited, revised, and updated on 11-18-2015. That first draft was quite rough. Thank you for wading through this all with me.

I am an avid roleplayer. I have been roleplaying — tabletop and larp — for the past ten years. Nowadays, my gaming is largely restricted to online forum games but that is still fun as it affords me a writing outlet. There is one that I have been in for the past almost-five years: a Hero System-based X-men rpg entitled “Legacy” where the children of superheroes from both the Marvel and DC universes come together at Xavier’s School for the Gifted to learn to manage their abilities, use them wisely, and, yes, become heroes. I play a young “muggle-born” (in other words, her parents aren’t named superheroes) mutant named Elizabeth Martin and I have played her from an in-character age of fourteen to almost seventeen. And, yes, Zoe Saldana is my character model. Over the past few days, I have found myself reading back through the first scenes, the beginnings of her story years ago. There are 32 pages of bookmarked scenes on my account, ones I have participated in as well as others that concerned her or characters to whom she was tightly bound. And one thing that has always struck me about her is her relationships with other characters, friendly and otherwise.

Betsy has perhaps had the most romantic entanglements of any female character in the game, each of them unique in their own situations and ways. Roleplay like this is an incredibly organic form of writing for me, where my character can change, grow, and surprise me based on her interactions with other characters, plot, and situations within the game. I am able to be startled, surprised, horrified, elated by the things that Betsy does and chooses, how she falls and grows. I have been re-reading and, therefore re-living, some of her romantic relationships and I have happened upon some key differences between them that have struck and clarified some things for me as her writer.

Continue reading

NaBloPoMo Day 4, Part 2: The Little Candlemaker


This is based on a roleplay character that I played for a total of five hours. I still feel like I could have lived her up a little more and, apparently, she agrees, because she has stuck around, poking her head out of her room in my imagination and whispering to me.

= = =

“Little Candlemaker”. She didn’t mind the title. It was usually said pleasantly, with the smile of one happy to see her. A few times it had been murmured in soft tones, a hint of pleading and want layered beneath. It really hadn’t even bothered her when the gruff old barber had called  her “little match girl”, which she knew was purposefully meant to be annoying; it was just his way. She had usually repaid it with an affected roll of her shoulder as if piqued, to satisfy his attempt.

On average, however, she did not mind the byname “little candlemaker”. It amused her on most days and she rarely distributed another thought about it.

But when one man said it, when one man called her “little candlemaker”, she found herself taking pause. Her entire form’s reaction was different when the words rolled from his lips. Skin warmed, heart thudded, gooseflesh popped up on her arms. But why was that? She had known him all her life and he had never glanced her way a second time.

But now…now things were different. Secrets were out in the open, the threads of the village drawn tighter, stronger. All were considered as family, all considered protected. Now, everyone knew.

She worked the magic of the flame without fear of reprisal and assured of protection. She filled the village homes with light and peace and faith. In the flickering blue hearts of the flames set to her candles, people breathed in calm and amity. She worked the little magic in her blood for the good of her fellows and not just herself, turning her own fortune around.

And she repaid the charity shown her in the only way she had at her disposal. Their home, their livelihood, the seat of their power was filled with her candles, burning brightly into the night, the wicks never burning down, the fat, intricately-carved tapers growing shorter far more slowly than one should expect. She never requested anything. They had saved her life, saved all their lives. She had had nothing, been in fear for her life, and their family, his family, had saved her. He had promised her that nothing would happen, that what she feared wouldn’t come to pass. And it hadn’t. She would repay them, repay him in his lady’s stead, as best she could for the rest of the days that her nimble hands could dip, form, and carve wax into light.

And she wouldn’t admit to herself how her gaze lingered on him. Not at first. How she found herself more and more often at the tavern, spending time with others with the hope of passing words with him. She gave him smiles, though she was unable to hide the color that would spread delicately over her cheeks. She knew his loyalty to his family, to his kin, the prevalence of their family line. She harbored no hope in that vein.

And yet she nursed the little spark within. Held it in her hands and brought it close to warm her like the first kiss of sunlight to appear on the horizon.

"Girl with a candle. Self portrait" by Zinaida Serebriakova (1911)

“Girl with a candle. Self portrait” by Zinaida Serebriakova (1911) . http://www.wikiart.org/en/zinaida-serebriakova/girl-with-a-candle-self-portrait-1911

A Lady’s Pretend Time


My newest article posted on The Well Written Woman today:

In my bio blurb below, it notes that I am a wife, mother, writer, and reader, and this is all true. However, I am also a cosplayer, a belly dancer, and a LARPer. Yep, you read that correctly: I LARP. Though it has been more in the news and mainstream culture in recent years, there may still be some of you who are not aware of this hobbiest/gamer phenomenon. So allow me: LARP stands for “live action role play.”  What this means, in short, is character acting and improvisational storytelling.

As the annual GenCon gaming convention (Indianapolis) draws upon us, so too do I draw near to one of my few times of escape during the year. But this year’s GenCon convention will be slightly different. This GenCon weekend, for the first time in about three years, I will walk into a brand new (to me) LARP game, full of people I do not know, with a system unfamiliar to me. And that is a simultaneously exciting, sobering, and terrifying thought. In 2005, when I started LARPing, I found myself shaking with nervousness at interacting with people I did not know, in an activity that I had never engaged in before. But it ended up being one of the most enjoyable times I had ever had. I am an introvert with a love for drama and theater, but I didn’t get the chance to participate in it much during grade school and only a little bit in college. So LARP has afforded me the wonderful opportunity to indulge in the thespian part of my personality.

I adore what my mother-in-law calls our “pretend time.”

I enjoy letting myself fall away and occupying the skin and life of someone else for a while, someone who may be similar to or vastly different from me. There is a sense of freedom to inhabiting the mind of another person, however made-up they may be, to letting their confidences or fears wrap around me and acting accordingly. I once played a character that had been in an accident and the fear center of her brain destroyed because of it. Now that was fun as well as challenging. I think like my characters, move like they do, speak like they do. Oh, Mel is still here, of course, but she is sitting back and enjoying “pretend time.” And pretend time is lots of fun when you can do it with other people. My mother-in-law teases my husband and me that we apparently didn’t get enough pretend time as children. We assure her that we most certainly did but we enjoy it so why give it up?

As a woman, I can only speak to LARP from my perspective. I would assume that my experience is different from that of most of my male fellow LARPers, but only they can tell you that for certain. For me, being a woman in LARP, there weren’t any ground-breaking revelations or anything of the like. When I started LARPing, half of the game was female (some of whom would become some of my closest friends) and it has never felt out of place to me. Women like *Ellora and *Iris have commanding presences and immense creativity – in character and out – that I have always admired, as well as having very warm hearts that were welcoming, kind, caring, and encouraging, something I dearly needed at that time in my life.

I understand that, for a long time, gaming, comics, fantasy, etc., were considered to be the domain of males, with the odd woman here and there as an aberration. If you have ever seen the show “The Big Bang Theory”, one of my favorite episodes is when Penny, Amy, and Bernadette venture to the local comic shop to find out why their boyfriends are so into comics. Every male in the shop turns around and stares as they enter, the owner eventually telling them,“They are just girls, nothing you haven’t seen before in movies or drawings,” and then later threatens, “I swear I will turn a hose on you!” when they cease to stare.

Now, I’ve been there, walked into a game store before and heard all conversation cease, as I was the only female in the establishment at the time. I didn’t understand it then and I don’t really now, but I didn’t let it bother me. I knew exactly what I wanted, found it on the shelf, bought it, and then hurried home to read my new treasure (for those who want to know, it was White Wolf’s Invictus sourcebook for their Vampire: The Requiem game). In all seriousness, though, I’ve never considered myself to be making forays into a males-only domain.

Again, when I began LARPing almost ten years ago (yes, my dears, it’s been that long), there were almost more females than males in the troupe game where I started and that continues today. More and more we are hearing of the harassment issues that women are facing in geek culture, particularly in cosplay (costume play), but I don’t want those negatives to completely overshadow the large positives that I have experienced in activities like cosplay and, especially, LARP.

Through this hobby, I have gained confidence, broadened my creativity, had stories published, challenged myself to meet some personality goals, and had the wonderful opportunity to meet score upon score of amazing, talented people.

I like to make friends. It’s fun to meet new people, laugh with them, and get to know them. I find that I’m very enthusiastic about new friends as, often, they are the people who reach out to me. For someone who is largely introverted, this is a huge gesture to me and I am grateful for it. Eventually, folks find my deeper sides and often seem pleasantly surprised by them. At least I hope they are. But I have made some of my best friends in recent years through gaming and LARP, found some of the most powerful sides of myself – courage, wrath, passion, etc. – and found the means to be able to express all of these sides, all of these characters, safely. And, really, all I can do is thank all of those who have made it possible for me over the past nine years.

Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for interacting with me. Thank you for the compliments. Thank you for helping me to shore and build up a shaky self-esteem over the years. Thank you for listening when I need an ear. Thank you for kicking my butt when I need it. Thank you for the inspiration and shared creativity. Thank you for the guidance. Thank you for answering my myriads of questions. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your community.

Thank you for welcoming me.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

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Changeling Ladies

Photo by Tyson Cook

Photo by Tyson Cook

 

The Daeva Meeting