Notebook Mythology

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sing no sad songs for me

I'm afraid this little endeavor of mine is not working. It gives me great sorrow to say that, though I have greatly enjoyed my little, ingeniously-titled story blog, others rarely have. As this is the case, unless there is some almighty uproar, I plan to discontinue it. My writing will continue in a more private manner; if there is something that any former patrons of this blog wish to see, they may ask, and I may email it to them.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Requiem: Prologue

A/N: Okay. I am, at least, temporarily, without a beta, so I'd like somebody to read this and give some constructive feedback. It's the prologue to a series I'm working on. This section is somewhat in the style of the ROTS novel.


This is the death of Padmé Amidala:

White lights glare down from the ceiling of the Polis Massan medical center, a glowing frame around the face of Obi-Wan Kenobi. She knows that he has been there for some time, but only occasionally is Padmé aware of him.

She is dying. She knows that, now. She fought it at first, but not anymore.

I'm not afraid to die. I've been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life.

He has killed her. Anakin, her Anakin, her love… has killed her. And it's strange how little that matters to her now. Around her neck is the japor snippet he'd carved for her so long ago so you'll remember me.

It's beautiful. But I don't need this to remember you. Many things will change when we reach the capital, Ani. My caring for you will remain.

Pain grips her spine and wracks her entire body. Mesa wonder sometimes why da Gods invent pain. To motivate us, I imagine. She cannot help it, she screams.

"Anakin! Anakin, help me! Please!"

She has to have the baby now— her baby, and Anakin's. The baby she's wanted for so long, the baby she loves. You die in childbirth. And the baby?

"Obi-Wan…" She looks up at him. "Save the baby." She remembers what he has told her. "The babies. The twins. Look after them. Please." He doesn't understand. She has to force him to listen. "Obi-Wan, please, promise me…"

He does. Obi-Wan is a great mentor—as wise as Master Yoda and as powerful as Master Windu. And he loves Anakin. That is enough.

Padmé closes her eyes and, in between bursts of pain, lets her mind drift. She is watching her whole life, helpless, powerless to touch it as it slips away from her. She is in the lake country of Naboo when there was nothing but our love. She and Anakin are lying side by side in the meadow, they are safe, they are home, and the pain comes again and I want to have our baby back home on Naboo. We can go to the Lake Country where no one will know. Where we can be safe…

"I want to go home." She is crying. Suddenly I'm afraid. She feels so small, not strong enough, and like a lost little girl she sobs, "I want to go home…"

She should be home. Home, on Naboo, with her family. They worry about her so. Have you even wondered what it might be like for you to settle down and concern yourself with those things that will make your own life fuller? They don't know where she is. They don't even know about the babies; they may never know, now. She wants to hear her mother's voice, so badly. "Mom…"

You've done your service, Padmé.

"I want my mom."

"I know, Padmé." That is Bail Organa's voice. When did Bail come in? He sounds so sad. She opens her eyes and tries to smile at him.

"I'm sorry, Bail."

"Padmé…" She can see in his eyes that he wants to ask her questions she cannot answer.

"Remember, be a good little Senator. Save the Republic. You promised."

He nods, and makes his own attempt at a smile. "I remember. But…"

"How is your wife, Bail?" He looks confused at the question. "You told me once you wanted a baby girl." Her eyes start to close, her voice fades. "Anakin thinks it's a girl…"


Anakin has turned to the dark side.

But Anakin is just a little boy, a pilot, you know. Someday, I'm gonna fly away from this place. No, that was a long time ago; he is a Jedi. I know I'm better than this and she kneels beside him and holds him as he cries that he's killed them all, they're dead, every single one of them. At the Temple— the younglings— the Jedi Temple is burning you could see the smoke from here, and everything is burning you're breaking my heart you're going down a path I can't follow and there is fire in his eyes and pain…

She screams again.

It would destroy us.

"Anakin… I love you…"

Don't be afraid.

"Save your energy," Obi-Wan's voice speaks out of somewhere.


"Don't give up, Padmé."

She has survived multiple assassination attempts and two fullscale battles truly deeply love you but this is harder… much harder.

"Is it… It's a girl. Anakin thinks it's a girl."

"We don't know yet. In a minute… you have to stay with us."

Have faith, my love. Everything will soon be set right.

Soon. The baby is coming.

"If it's… a girl—" She loses herself in the pain until Obi-Wan's voice calls her back.

"Padmé, you have to hold on." The lights are so bright Obi-Wan's face seems in shadow, she can't focus, but she has to have the baby. She has to.

"If it's a girl… name her Leia…" Her hand grips Obi-Wan's, she closes her eyes, and then a cry breaks forth.

"It's a boy."

The lights aren't harsh anymore. They glow. Her baby is surrounded by soft light. "Luke…"

Obi-Wan holds him close to her; she cannot hold him, but she reaches out and gently strokes his cheek. There is not time or strength to say all she wants to: you're beautiful, you're perfect, I'm so sorry my little son, but know that I love you and I always have and always will love you… So she tries to capture it all in that one gesture and the words, "Oh, Luke…"

His eyes briefly blink open and she sees in their brilliant blue depths the eyes of another boy, so long ago. Are you sure about this? Trusting our fate to a boy we hardly know? He's so small, so helpless. He can help you. He was meant to help you.

Then there is more pain and more screaming, taking more of her strength away. And another infant cry.

"It's a girl."

She looks up into wide, solemn brown eyes, looking straight back into hers, and so like her own that she wants to laugh, but can only manage a smile. Are you an Angel? "Leia…"

Obi-Wan begs her to hold on, he tells her that her twins need her, but he doesn't understand. She has not the strength to explain it to him, what is so clear… and yet harder than anything she has ever done.

The twins need her to let go. It is that simple, and it is that complex. It is the only way to protect them. With her they would be chased and hunted down without cease, without fail, but these are good people. You'll be safe here. She does not know what tells her this, whether it is the Force, or her own heart, or both, but she knows it is right.

And that is why she can let go, even though it hurts her worse than any pain she's ever known, even though she's only twenty-seven and she doesn't want to die. Even after all she has been, after she has done so much and you've done your service, Padmé, and all she wants to do is hold her babies and love them and take them home to Naboo where there is nothing but our love and watch them grow up.

She can let go because she is Padmé Amidala, and she will do what she must. That's what every mother needs for her child—to know that he, that you, have been given a chance at a better life. She will let go for her children. And for Anakin.

And no one will ever know. This is Padmé Amidala's sacrifice.

It's very cold.

She wishes that just once they could all be together, that Anakin could see the babies.


The Force had brought her and Anakin together for a destiny greater than either of them, and these children would save him. They're our only hope.

"Anakin… isn't here, Padmé," Obi-Wan's voice speaks gently.

But he is alive. And she loves him. She doesn't want to leave him. She loves him and hopes for him still.

"Anakin, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry… Anakin, please, I love you…"

Her fingers still clutch the snippet of japor he gave her as a little boy. So that she'd never forget him. And she never would.

Before we die, I want you to know…

She presses the japor snippet into Obi-Wan's hand, hoping he will understand.

I truly, deeply love...

She takes one more look at the beautiful babies she and Anakin have created, and sees how they shine in the dark. How could she not love the man who has given her these gifts, even if she only has them for a moment? How could she not love the man who changed her life, brought her to life, simply by loving her?

I'm glad to have met you, Anakin.

The Polis Massan medical center fades slowly into darkness. She focuses on the faces of Obi-Wan and the children.

"Obi-Wan…" she struggles for breath, "There is good in him. I know… there is… still…"

And then Padmé lets go.

And there is nothing but light.

Star Wars belongs to George Lucas and Lucasfilm. Please do not copy or republish Erin's work without her express written permission. Thank you!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


A/N: An original piece. It's set in the same literariverse as my NaNoWriMo novel, but it's sort of a prequel, so it's okay if you didn't read that. This was written for a challenge issued by one of my friends to write a story that included "for they were not creatures of beauty. They were creatures of substance and not of the ephemeral. They possessed little of the ethereal quality that had for so long captured the minds and imaginations of men. They were imperfect and somehow this made the watcher want them all the more."

How far is it to the other side of a mirror?
No more than a breath, says logic. No more than an thin sliver of reflecting glass.
But how far is it from the Kingdom to the land of the Gods and fairies?
Much farther, says logic. Muct farther, if those places exist at all.
But the watcher knew the truth. He knew that the two distances were one and the same. The watcher alone knew that if one stood before this mirror, just so, one could see…
A garden, full of flowers. A tall tree in bloom. Silver lights flashing by in the sky. Things indescribable to anyone in the Kingdom who had never seen them. And one could see people.
By their dress they could have been fairies; by their surroundings they could have been Gods in their paradise beyond the borders. Most people, looking into this mirror, would have instantly recognized these enchanting visions as one of the two. Mesmerized, they would have reached into the vision and found that it could be entered into completely, and there they would likely have been lost forever, never to return.
The watcher was not like most people. He looked twice. He looked closely. And he knew that these people playing beneath the tree were people, and not Gods or fairies, for they were not creatures of beauty. They were creatures of substance and not of the ephemeral. They possessed little of the ethereal quality that had for so long captured the minds and imaginations of men. They were imperfect and somehow this made the watcher want them all the more.
Selfishness was his defining characterstic, if he had one. He rarely desired someone sexually; what he desired was control. His only lust was lust for power, power over people. He nearly had the Kingdom already. Here, before his eyes, was a challenge-- another land, another people, to make his. And they would be his, because he wanted them.
He did not know whether the imperfections of the people he saw made him want them, whether his need to possess them and control them came from some unconscious need to fix them somehow. But he did know that he was beautiful, and these people were not so, and this made them inferior to him. Gods, now—Gods would have been perfect. He would have known a God, had he seen one, by the utter perfection of its form, for why would an omnipotent being choose to be less than perfect? These people were not Gods. And if they were not Gods, he could control them. It would be a challenge, yes, but not impossible.
The interesting point here—and he rarely used an adjective more favorable than “interesting”—was that, should he show what he saw to the people of the Kingdom, they would believe that they were seeing the land of the Gods. If he used this knowledge now, it would be of little benefit to him. But if he waited… Who could stand in the way of the man who controlled the Gods themselves? What power would such a man wield? Who would dare oppose him in anything?
The senior priest Maddeg was not like most people. He took all of this in within the space of an hour, scarcely pausing to linger over the demise of his religion.
That night he wept, and he hardly knew why.

Maddeg was wrong, though, in thinking himself alone in this perception of mirrors. The great wizard Talwyr knew, and one other. This other was a young woman who lived in a border village just like any other. Her name was Mella. Nothing very much distinguished her from any other village girl except that once, when she was but a girl, she had been granted an audience with the wizard Talwyr all by herself.
It had been very kind of the wizard to take the time to humor the child, everyone said, if a little bit silly. After all, no one else in the town, not even the elders, had ever had a private audience with a wizard. Surely he had more important things to attend to than a little girl who claimed that she had seen a fairy. And wasn’t she too old for such fantasies anyway?
No one had ever thought of believing her. Her mother briefly wondered aloud whether Mella should be sent to the Temple, but Talwyr assured her that was not necessary. No one knew what had passed between the girl and the wizard during their meeting, and few truly wondered. Neither did anyone notice the way she would linger over the long mirror fixed in the border wall each morning.
Mella was glad of this; she would not have liked to say that she had promised to be there each day, in case the fairy girl came again.
No one noticed the necklace she now wore, either.
The fairy girl had given it to her. If she hadn’t had it, even she might have begun to suspect that her meeting with the fairy in the mirror had not really happened. As it was, she had only to touch the necklace and remember.
The story, when she told Talwyr, went like this:
It had always seemed strange to her that a mirror should be fixed in the plain stone wall of the border, far out in the forest. Mella had looked into the strange mirror and had seen, instead of her own reflection, the little dark-haired girl. She had tilted her head, and the other little girl had not. She had raised her right hand, and the other girl had raised her right hand. Mella had been standing in the forest and the other in a lavish room.
Fairyland, Mella had thought immediately. And so this girl must have been a fairy.
Suspecting some sort of magic, Mella had reached out to touch the mirror's silver surface; the little fairy girl had done the same.
And, where Mella had expected to touch glass, her hand had touched the fairy hand...
After an hour spent on the other side of the mirror, she had returned to the village to find that a whole day had passed and that people were looking for her everywhere, thinking that she had run away into the forest where it was dangerous and she could be eaten by wolves or dragons. No one had listened when she’d told them that she’d been in a palace.
Mella had been ten years old then.
Now she was a woman grown, and while it was remembered that she had spoken privately with Talwyr, it was forgotten what precisely she had spoken with him about. Only Mella remembered, and she still went to the mirror every day, in spite of Talwyr informing her that she would likely never meet her friend there again. Because she had promised. Just in case.

Veren and Maddeg were in many ways very dissimilar. They came near, in fact, to being opposites. Yet the two men shared a certain vital quality in common, and that was lust for power. When Maddeg had at last stepped through the mirror, he’d known how essential it was that he find an ally immediately, one he could trust and who trusted him—in short, an ambitious opportunist.
He had found just the man in Veren, an up and coming politician in the Queen’s service on Dybera. He had less intelligence than would be needed to make his ambition a reality, yet just enough to follow the orders of an intelligence greater than his own to make it seem that he had. And his ambition was a great one—nothing less than to rule the Queen and, thus, the entire world. It had not been Veren’s idea to kill the current Queen and turn her only child into the figurehead of a government ruled only by the councilors. But he had seized upon it with a determination and vigor which might soon turn this plan into a reality. If so, Veren would be the head of this cabal of councilors. And Maddeg would control Veren.
It was all too perfect.
Aside from one thing.
Maddeg had, naturally, had to show Veren the mirror to convince the man of his sanity. What they had seen through the mirror had been the forested outskirts of one of the Kingdom’s many simple borderland villages. Before the mirror had been a simple young woman. The only thing remarkable about her, to Maddeg, was that she continued to be at the mirror every day. He was convinced that she could not see them, so far back did they stand from the mirror, yet every day she came. And Veren had fallen in love with her.
Veren and Maddeg were in many ways very dissimilar. Lust had no place in Maddeg’s world, yet was a very large part of Veren’s. And Maddeg never made decisions rashly. He weighed everything out, every cold detail of a matter, before any course of action was decided upon. Veren’s mind did not work in this way; he saw something that he wanted, and he made it his.
Maddeg had, he reflected later, not known enough about the workings of this type of mind. If he had, he would almost certainly have been able to predict and then prevent what later occurred. It was an event which would haunt him for a long time.

The appearance of the man in the mirror had shocked Mella badly. Attempting to recall it later, she was unable to decide whether it was more accurate to say that he had appeared all at once or faded into being out of shadows. It was no matter; there had been something menacing about it, regardless, and she had gasped and scurried backwards on her hands and knees. But when she looked again, any menace she might have detected was gone, and there was only a handsome, tall, shining man.
He was unlike the little girl she had seen in this very mirror years ago just as day was unlike night. Even Mella, who knew the truth about the mirrors, wondered briefly if he was indeed a God from the other side of the border. She stared at him in open awe. After a time, he faded away again.
Mella hurried her step somewhat back to the village that morning, but she also hurried more than usual in her return to the mirror the next day. Sure enough, the man was there again. Again they sat a long time gazing at one another. Mella thought that she could see, in his eyes, the same admiration that was in her own. His mouth moved as though he was speaking, but she could not hear the words.
Mella did not tell anyone about the mysterious man. They hadn’t believed her last time; why should they now?
More days passed in this way. Every day Mella went to the mirror and met in silence with the man; in her heart, she began to adore him, even to think that she might love him. She longed to touch him and to hear him speak. And at last, one day, just as she had done all those years ago, she put her hand up to the mirror. The man hesitated, then did the same.
His fingers wrapped around hers, and before she could think, he was through the mirror, standing in the forest with her, and his lips were on hers and, half by force, he took her, there in the shadow of the border wall.
He held her afterward, and told he that he loved her, and a long time passed before he went back to the mirror. But he never came again. For many weeks Mella went back to the mirror hoping that he would appear, but she waited in vain.
People asked questions, but since she did not know how to answer them, she remained silent.
The baby was a girl, and she was named Maia, after Mella’s fairy friend from so long ago. Far away in the Kingdom’s Temple, whispered voices were already calling her the Child of the Gods.

Please do not copy or republish Erin's work without her express written permission. Thank you!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Never An Absolution

A/N: I truly appreciate all of your positive comments about my last entry and how you like that style. And now for something completely different.
This is another "Titanic" vignette (not a drabble this time). In short, it's about the main character Rose's mother finally taking her daughter's advice and shutting up.

"Fifteen hundred people went into the sea when Titanic sank from under us. There were twenty boats floating nearby, and only one came back. One. Six were saved from the water, myself included. Six out of fifteen hundred. Afterward, the seven hundred people in the boats had nothing to do but wait. Wait to die... wait to live... wait for an absolution that would never come."

Never an Absolution

On the longest night of her life, Ruth DeWitt Bukater said nothing. This was not a conscious choice. She had not set out in lifeboat six with the intention that the last words she spoke would be a frantic plea for her daughter to come into the boat with her, the desperate crying of her daughter's name. But on this night, when her daughter ignored her voice and turned away from her and as she watched the unthinkable becoming real, Ruth could say nothing more. Floating on the vast and icy ocean in a minuscule wooden boat rowing away from the wreck of the grandest ship in the world, Ruth found that her mind could simply not take it in, and so it turned…
On the second-longest night of her life, Ruth DeWitt Bukater had said plenty. Granted, little of it had been intelligible, and even less appropriate to be repeated in polite company. That had been the night the night that Rose was born. Her Rose—her first and only child.
Ruth hadn't wanted a baby, not so soon after being married. She'd been 23 then, and the day she'd found that she was with child, she'd thrown jewelry and perfume bottles across the room. Then, too, the birth had not been an easy one. The labor had lasted through the endless hours of that night until Ruth no longer had the strength to hold back her screams. Oh, God, oh God… let it be over soon, please make it be over soon…
Rose had come but reluctantly into the world, but once she was there, she had made her presence known. Ruth, weak with exhaustion, had started as the baby the doctor had begun to say might not live let out a great cry of protest at being dragged into this miserable world.
All agony was swept away in an instant. How could she not love this absurdly small girl with the strong spirit of a fighter? How could she not laugh with delight as the baby flailed her tiny fists around, striking at the dust that floated through the air? How could her heart fail to melt completely as they'd placed her precious daughter in her arms and she'd held her tiny, delicate body and gazed into her deep, ocean eyes and given her a name? Rose. The perfect name for such a perfect child. And Ruth remembered the moment when, holding Rose for the first time, she'd thought, She is mine.
Rose was the only thing in the world that had ever been completely and totally hers, that she had made herself. Her baby was the first thing she could ever remember having that hadn't been bought for her with someone else's money. Rose was hers.
Her husband had given her an expensive brooch to celebrate the occasion, and she treasured that, too, as a sort of commemorative medal to honor her accomplishment of giving birth to Rose. She'd wanted to go back for it tonight, but they hadn't let her. Cal had held her back, and she had let him. It dawned on her now that she was going to lose it, she would never see it again, for in the morning it would be at the bottom of the ocean. So many fine things lost—almost everything she owned. The fine things she had only the day before been trying to convince Rose were so important. The only comfort in that was that most of it was insured. But the fine ship, so beautiful… it was really such a shame. Of all of it, though, she thought she would miss that brooch the most. She sighed in helpless frustration. Ruth DeWitt Bukater was unused to not getting what she wanted. She very nearly complained aloud.
Yet Ruth DeWitt Bukater said nothing, for a tiny voice in the back of her mind was whispering, the water is freezing and there aren't enough boats not enough by half, half of the people on this ship are going to die. She would not think that. She would not let herself think that. She knew that if she let herself have those thoughts, the next thought that would come would be that she didn't care about losing the brooch. The brooch was not what mattered—it was just a keepsake, a symbol. Just another thing that did not really belong to her.
The horrible crewman at the rudder of the boat wouldn't stop yelling, and that detestable Brown woman shoved an oar into her hands and instructed her to help row. Ruth did not protest; she was too dazed and, in any case, perhaps the activity would keep her mind occupied. She watched the distress rockets flare from the slowly submerging ship in the near distance. They looked like the fireworks in the park on the Fourth of July. Rose had always loved the fireworks when she was a little girl. She had been such a good child then, all any mother could ask for. And Ruth had been a very good mother. How could she not be, when her daughter was so often all she had? She had kept Rose close to her, tended to her from the first day in all but the most unpleasant tasks of childrearing. She had gone out with her almost daily, sent her to the best schools, seen that she'd had the best of everything. What more could have been asked of her? And yet… somehow things had gone wrong, somewhere. Rose had once been so eager to please… she wished she could say there had always been something different about the girl, but that would not have been true. She had been a little too clever, perhaps, and her father had only encouraged her. But until recently she had always behaved like the privileged girl she was, with more money, more connections, a better name than Ruth had had at her age, and the chance to be what Ruth had never been. Ruth did not understand what Rose wanted from her. She was just beginning to realize she didn't understand Rose at all.
"Come back to the ship! Boat Six, come back to the ship!" The captain was calling to them from the deck. Molly Brown immediately stopped them to obey the order—when had Molly Brown taken charge of this boat? But the horrible man wouldn't let them.
"It's our lives now, not theirs," he said. The words rang in her ears—so ominous, they sounded. There were so many people still on board. Nonsensical though it might be, she would not be completely easy until Rose was at her side again.
Yet Ruth DeWitt Bukater said nothing. Because Rose would have gotten onto a boat by now. She must have gotten onto a boat by now. She was not stupid—she knew about the situation with the lifeboats. Of course she would not so recklessly risk her life.
No, Ruth should be worrying about Caledon Hockley. The rule was that women and children were to leave the ship before the men, and if there were not enough boats… Their whole hope, their whole future rested with Caledon Hockley and his millions. Hockley was their savior from ruin, and they were so close now to rescue. If he went down with the ship, the time that it would take to find Rose another husband—and they wouldn't easily find one so wealthy and obliging as Caledon Hockley—might be time they didn't have.
And, of course, Rose wouldn’t understand that. She had never understood the urgency of their situation. Ruth had explained it again and again, and yet just as often, Rose would say to her, "Mother, I don't love him. Mother, he doesn't love me, he doesn't listen to me. Mother, I don't like it when he touches me."
To the last, Ruth had only replied, "Darling, please try to appease him. Do not give him cause to be displeased with you." They were too desperate to take the risk that Hockley would break it off on a whim. If Rose had taken that advice a bit farther than Ruth had intended, she very deliberately looked the other way. The wedding was so soon now, the date set for just after Rose's eighteenth birthday. The fewer the complications, the better, she'd thought. Everything had been going so smoothly until they'd boarded the Titanic.
Then had come flirtation with that steerage boy—Hockley was understandably displeased about that. Running off with that boy, leading the valet on a merry chase all over the ship. The theft of a priceless necklace. And now this: an iceberg.
This definitely qualified as a complication.
But no, Hockley would certainly be let onto a lifeboat. All of his wealth and influence would more than assure him a place. He would take Rose with him, of course. Despite all that had come to pass, up to and including her cavorting with that boy, Hockley was a gentleman. He would not leave a lady who was under his care on board a sinking ship. All the rest could be sorted out later. Everything would be all right.
But things would never be the same. Faces flashed through her mind—faces of people she’d seen and known and spoken with for so many years in so many places. John Thayer, Ben Guggenheim, J.J. Astor… The luxury they’d all known everywhere they went, had taken for granted… She felt as though her world was crumbling all about her.
Why was the ship which was supposed to be the largest, the grandest, the safest in all the world plunging ever deeper into the water because it had hit an iceberg and was sinking before her eyes? Why were all of the lifeboats gone leaving so many people running screaming up the deck? Why wasn't her daughter here by her side in this lifeboat as it bobbed through the night and the cold and the endless ocean? Why was Molly Brown, of all people, there instead-- the woman she'd always so scorned, staring at the ship’s lights and no longer coaxing her to row? In a world where the Titanic could sink, this sort of seating arrangement no longer seemed so absurd. As the great bulk of the liner raised itself ever higher, it didn't even seem to matter.
Why wasn't she safe and warm in her bed, awakening at last from this nightmare?
How could this happen? How could this be real?
Ruth DeWitt Bukater said nothing, because she was afraid that if she tried to speak, she would fall into hysteria. Even the shouting man was silent now. Of them all, it was Molly Brown who found the only words that could be said at such a time. Ruth marveled at the woman's calm as she murmured, "God Almighty."
Horrible, groaning noises filled the night. The lights went out. As the ship plunged beneath the surface, she was unable to tear her eyes away. In her mind, the face of every person onboard because Rose's face, all of the noise resolved into, the water is freezing and goodbye mother it's so unfair and there aren't enough boats oh mother don't you understand…
Ruth said nothing, but the air was filled with screaming. Hundreds of voices, maybe thousands. The voices of people dying. Every now and then a single cry would become distinguishable from the distant roar, and Ruth could not stop the cold thought that it might be the voice of someone she knew. It was a horrible sound. She wanted to cover her ears to shut it out, but she knew that the sound would never leave her as long as she lived.
Ruth said nothing.
There were no words for this.
Molly Brown said that they should go back and save people from the water. The horrible man said, "You don't understand." But he wasn't really shouting anymore. "If we go back, they'll swamp the boat, they'll pull us right down, I'm tellin' ya!"
Molly called for the women to grab oars. No one moved. "I don't understand a one of you!" she cried. "It's your men out there! There's plenty of room for more!"
The horrible man threatened to throw her overboard, and the argument was over.
Ruth DeWitt Bukater said nothing. She put her hands over her ears, and it was as much to shut out Molly's voice as those of the dying people. Not just men. Women, too. Maybe even children. The voices seemed like they would go on forever. Oh, God, oh God, let it be over soon, please make it be over soon…
Her eyes closed, Ruth was not even conscious of Molly Brown sitting back down next to her. She had not prayed in years and years, but without willing it she found herself praying now. Alone in the dark, the truth at last washed over her.
She did not know where Rose was. She would have sworn that she must have gotten onto a boat, but she could not be sure. And if she hadn't? Ruth could not be sure of anything now. Yesterday she would have sworn to the heavens that the Titanic could not sink. Yesterday she would have sworn with absolute certainty that she knew her daughter. Yesterday she had been Ruth DeWitt Bukater of Philadelphia, traveling back to the States with her daughter's wedding party, with no greater concern than her daughter being too fond of the company of a charming young artist from the streets. Today the world was different. Today she was nothing and she had nothing. In this world, in a world where the Titanic could sink, she could lose Rose.
And try as she might she could not force from her mind the look on Rose's face as Ruth had told her to come into the lifeboat. It was the look of a stranger. Rose had stared down at Ruth as though she had never seen her before. And Ruth, in that moment, had scarcely known her own child.
"Oh, Mother. Shut up!"
Rose had never spoken to her like that before. It had been a shock. But Ruth had not truly been frightened until she'd looked up from her place in the lifeboat to see Rose still standing on the ship's deck with that strange expression on her face.
"Rose! Get into the boat!"
There had been a light in Rose's eyes that had never been there before. Or perhaps it had been there, and Ruth had simply never noticed it. Her voice, when she spoke, had been chillingly detached. Polite.
"Goodbye, Mother."
Anyone else might have interpreted the words as "Until we meet again." But to Ruth, they rang with a dreadful finality. In Rose's eyes, she had seen determination. Rose had turned her back with Ruth still calling her name, panic stealing into her voice. She had watched Hockley grab Rose and shake her, though she was too far away to hear what was said. And as the lifeboat gave a horrible jerk, she had watched Rose, the daughter she had raised, spit in the man's face, tear herself away, and run. The last she had seen of Rose had been her coat disappearing into the crowd.
As the lifeboat had begun to lower, Ruth had tried to cling to the ship, aware that she was making a scene. She hadn't cared.
She had lost her.
Whatever happened that night, she had lost her daughter already. She was not sure when it had happened, but it had been before Rose had fallen for that third-class boy. Before they'd boarded the ship. Maybe even before the engagement to Caledon Hockley.
She knew now with a sickening certainty that she did not know Rose. That Rose did not belong to her, and never had. That girl who had spit in Caledon Hockley's face was a wild creature breaking free. Ruth did not know that girl.
But she wanted to. She wanted to now, so desperately.
She was praying that she might have that chance. She was praying to God to let Rose live. Even though she knew that it might be too late. If Rose was saved…
If Rose was saved she would hold her so tightly and tell her that she loved her. If Rose was returned to her safely, it would not matter if she lost everything else. The moment a ship picked them up, she would ask Rose to forgive her and everything would be all right. If Rose was saved… she would not make her marry Caledon Hockley. Yes, even that. I won't make her do it if she doesn't want to, just please let her live. Don't let that awful "Goodbye, Mother," on the deck be the last thing I hear her say, don't let it end with her so angry with me. Please, please, please…not like this. Let her be all right.
Of course she'll be all right.

She repeated it over and over again, like a litany in the depths of her mind, in the cold silence of the North Atlantic Ocean. The hours wore on, and Molly Brown held her close as though she were a crying child, and Ruth DeWitt Bukater said nothing, but prayed and waited for the night to be over.
The longest night of her life ended with a gorgeous dawn like something out of one of Rose's paintings and the sight of the Cunarder Carpathia on the horizon. Some cheered, but Ruth did not. The decks were already crowded when their boat was unloaded, and Ruth gazed around at a sea of somber white faces. She knew that one of them must be her daughter, must be, and with her eyes she searched…
Suddenly there was a hand on her elbow and a voice calling, "Ruth!" It was Hockley. Ruth's heart leapt, for if Hockley was here then Rose was all right. Her eyes flew to either side of him, looking. For the first time in hours, Ruth spoke.
"Where is Rose?" She did not see her there; Hockley must have arranged for a room already and left her there to rest. For the first time, she looked him in the face.
He looked like a little lost child. "I don't know, Ruth."
The words didn't register at first, so she asked him again. "Where is she? Where is my daughter?"
"I…" He would not look at her. "I tried to get her into a boat, Ruth, I tried, but she…"
He was holding firmly to both her shoulders, or she thought she would have fallen. A numbness beyond that already left by the cold was setting in, and a rushing noise filled her ears.
"You left her?"
"I lost her, she jumped from a boat and ran into the ship and I couldn't find her—"
"You left her? You got into a boat and you left my daughter—"
He made no answer. Ruth pulled away. She would not let him touch her. She could not. She saw him now, for the first time, for what he was. Rose had pulled away from him like this. Rose had known. Rose…
"Rose!" She sobbed the name, unable to stop herself. Then, "Find her!" she shouted at him. "There are still boats—she's on one of them. Find her!"
It was not possible that her little baby who had flailed her tiny fists at the world, who had spit in that man's face, was dead in the cold ocean. Rose was too strong for that, she always had been. So she was able to force herself to be somewhat calm as all of the proper inquiries were made, to no avail, and Molly Brown guided her into the room she had acquired.
But when Hockley came to her with a stricken, broken expression, she knew it was true.
"Ruth… I'm so sorry…"
Her first reaction surprised even her. It was anger.
"How dare you? How dare you?" she railed at him. "How could you let this happen?"
"I didn't know where she was! What was I to do, Ruth? I tried to find her—I put her into a boat, even, but she jumped out. She wanted to be with him—" A sob escaped him. "She wanted to die with him. Was I to not even attempt to save myself because…" He turned from her. "Oh, God, I was up to my waist in water for hours thinking of her…"
Ruth could almost have pitied him, but now she saw only a rich boy being denied what he wanted for the first time. Only days ago she had adored Caledon Hockley, pinned all of her hopes on him, certain he would be the perfect son-in-law. She hated him now.
Right now, he was not even worth her consideration.
"Get out," she hissed. Exhaustion came over her all at once, with the bleak realization that on the second-longest night of her life, she had heard her daughter's first cries, and on the longest night of her life she had heard her last. "My daughter is dead. I listened to her die. Leave me alone."
And he did. Later he would come back, offering her money, compensation, anything, in an attempt to soothe his troubled conscience. In New York he offered her a significant part of the insurance claim for the Heart of the Ocean and, even with the rest of the insurance collected from what she's lost, she was in no position to refuse. It provided her with enough to live off of.
She would never see Hockley again. She knew he sought her forgiveness, but that he would never have. He had lived, and Rose had died. It was as simple as that. A gentleman gave his seat to a lady; a gentleman went down with the ship. John Jacob Astor had done so, and Benjamin Guggenheim, and John Thayer. Though he told his story to the papers and at the inquest in such a way that it garnered sympathy, in the eyes of many Caledon Hockley would never quite be cleared of the crime of having survived the Titanic.
Ruth would never forgive him.
Nor would she ever forgive herself.
She remarried later, and she rarely spoke of Rose, but every so often she could be seen staring into space with a distant, broken expression.
On the longest night of her life, Ruth DeWitt Bukater had seen her daughter for the first and last time. She had said nothing.
For that, no one but Rose could offer her forgiveness.
And so it would never come.


The movie Titanic belongs to James Cameron. Please do not copy or republish Erin's work without her express written permission. Thank you!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cutthroat Badminton

A/N: A silly story Whitney and I came up with at dinner one night.

Pirates of the Caribbean 3: Cutthroat Badminton

It was the pastime of a pirate. On isolated, deserted islands across the farthest reaches of the treacherous sea, after the treasure was buried, the call went up: "You, there! Fetch the nets and rackets! Mates, it's time to play… cutthroat badminton!"
Three players per game. No other rules. More like… guidelines. Unnecessary grievous bodily harm, for example, was somewhat frowned upon (though not unheard-of). A true pirates' game.
Every great pirate tale included the game of cutthroat badminton. Beginning as an open secret only among those who pillaged and plundered, it was now common knowledge on every street of every pirate-plagued society. And every pirate could play.
Every pirate… except Captain Jack Sparrow.
That was the reason his crew had mutinied. That was the reason he'd lost the Black Pearl. And that was the reason he'd been stranded on a tiny bloody island with a compass that didn't point north and a pistol with one shot.
"We can't be followin' a captain," they'd said, "who can't play cutthroat badminton."
"Ye really expect us to go to Isla de Muerta," they'd asked, "with a captain who can't play cutthroat badminton?"
They'd made Barbossa their new captain. He was the regional cutthroat badminton champion. They'd replaced Jack with a monkey.
The monkey could play cutthroat badminton.
No one could ever know about this. Ever. If it ever because known that the legendary Captain Jack Sparrow couldn't play cutthroat badminton, his career would be over. No more adventures. No more Black Pearl. No more fun times in Tortuga.
Fortunately, now that the Black Pearl's damned former crew was not only damned but quite thoroughly dead, it seemed that Jack's secret had died with them. For some time now he'd gone about his business with no trouble—at least, no badminton-related trouble—and he had begun to think that he was safe.
Alas, this was not so.
For, the recent adventures concerning the black mark and the dead man's chest and so on being concluded, cutthroat badminton had been called for. And now he was staring down the incredulous, fiery glare of one Miss Elizabeth Swann.
"You don't know how to play cutthroat badminton?"
Jack Sparrow winced. "Now, I didn't say that. What I said, was that I didn't want to play cutthroat badminton."
"But Jack, why wouldn't you want to play, if you know how?" Will Turner asked him.
Will was looking at him with his puppy-dog eyes and Elizabeth was doing that thing with her eyebrow. He hated it when she did that thing with her eyebrow. It made it so hard to think.
After a moment of silence, said strumpet exclaimed, "Ah-HA! You can't! You can't play!" She stepped back, shaking her head. "I don't believe it. The famous Jack Sparrow—"
"Captain Jack Sparrow—"
"Does not know how to play cutthroat badminton!" Elizabeth was not the only one reacting with disbelief. There was a general muttering amongst the crew, and even Mr. Gibbs was looking at him with a stranger's eye. "What kind of pirate does this make you?" Elizabeth continued. "I can play cutthroat badminton! In a corset!"
Jack waved his arms to silence her. "Shhhhh! All right, all right—" he stopped, distracted. "Only a corset?" She made to slap him, and he waved his arms again. "All right, all right, fine. I can't…" he sighed heavily, and continued in a confidential tone of voice. "I never learned how to play cutthroat badminton."
Will frowned. "You mean… no one ever taught you?"
"Not… exactly, no." This was going to be mutiny all over again, he could tell. And all because that blasted girl had insisted he play. She was far more trouble than she was worth, he'd always said so.
"So…" Mr. Gibbs was trying to work it all out. "All those times… you said you couldn't play… Ye'd got too much sun or ye'd gotten cramps from swimming after eating…"
Jack shrugged, a defeated man. "What can I say, mate? Can't play a game if no one's told you which rules you can and can't break, savvy?"
A bright, feminine voice broke through his curtain of self-pity. "We can teach you!" proclaimed Miss Elizabeth Swann. "We can, can't we, lads? Come on!"
But, just as Jack had known they would, the crew only muttered and shuffled their feet.
"Oh, come on!" Elizabeth turned her glare on the men. "What's the matter with you? Your friend and your captain needs to learn how to play cutthroat badminton!"
"You see, Miss," Gibbs stepped forward timidly. "It's terrible bad luck to teach yer own captain to play the game. He ought to know already. It's sort of against the Code, Miss."
"Those who fall behind stay behind?" Gibbs nodded, and she sighed in exasperation. "Fine. I'll teach you, Jack."
But now it was Jack who had the objection. There were only so many things a man's dignity would allow.
"Begging your pardon, Miss Elizabeth, but I'd just as soon you… didn't."
"Why not?"
Jack could not help but wince again. "It's a tad embarrassing, d'you see?"
Elizabeth did the eyebrow thing again. "Do you mean because I'm a woman?"
"That… would be the truth of it, yes." He braced himself for the inevitable verbal onslaught.
"So you'd rather embarrass yourself and sully your good name for all eternity than lower yourself to be taught the game of cutthroat badminton by a woman?"
He hesitated. It seemed like a trick question. "Yes?"
"It's your choice, of course, Jack, but I don't see why. After all, I taught Will."
All eyes shifted to young Mr. Turner, who kicked the dust sheepishly. "Well… I… um," Will spoke in his defense.
"Will!" Elizabeth exclaimed suddenly. "Will and I can both teach you, would that suit you better?"
Before any reply could be made, a shadow fell across the sun and every pirate tongue went mute at the approach of the stern figure of Commodore Norrington.
"What," spoke the Commodore, "is all of this, then?"
"Nothing, sir," Mr. Gibbs answered. "Nothing important, just some cutthroat badminton."
"Indeed." Norrington, as if by some sinister intuition, approached Jack Sparrow. "And you will no doubt head the team, Captain Sparrow."
"No doubt," Jack replied with a simper.
"Well, you had best get on with it, then."
At this, Jack was at a loss. "And you will be watching, will you?"
"Is that a problem, Captain?" Norrington asked with undisguised disdain.
Jack stuttered, and at last Elizabeth was obliged to speak. "As a matter of fact," she said with a false brightness, "Will and I were just about to give Captain Sparrow a… little lesson." She gave the Commodore what she hoped was a fetching smile. But it was to no avail.
Commodore Norrington snorted. "You don't know how to play cutthroat badminton?" He looked on Jack in mocking amusement. "Captain Jack Sparrow? I am scourge of piracy in the Eastern Caribbean and I can play cutthroat badminton! In this stupid wig and brocade!"
"Now, hold on, hold on just a minute." Jack waved him into silence. "That is completely incorrect. I can play cutthroat badminton. I play cutthroat badminton very well, in fact, Commodore."
"Excellent." Norrington did not change his expression. "In that case, you will play a game against me and my men."
Jack did not miss a beat. "Of course I will. Tomorrow." Jack gestured to the assembled pirates. "You wouldn't grudge a man a game with his mates, would you now?"
Norrington glanced at the men. "Of course not. Tomorrow, then, Captain Sparrow." With that, Norrington turned and walked off.
Jack spun about, slapping his hands together. "About this cutthroat badminton, then."
Elizabeth smiled and picked up a racket.


POTC belongs to Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney. Please do not copy or republish Erin's work without her express written permission. Thank you!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Drabble: The Twelfth of April

A/N: This is the very first drabble I've ever written. It's based in the movie "Titanic," even though I don't name any names. The idea is the main character, Rose, meeting up with a friend of hers on Friday April 12, 1912 on board the ship. That person is technically supposed to be Jack Thayer, a real person. As he was in fact a real passenger, I feel kind of bad about doing this, but both the character of Rose and Jack Thayer were seventeen and members of Philadelphia high society in 1912. It's impossible to imagine they wouldn't have known each other pretty well, but he doesn't show up in the movie at all. This takes place before dinner on the night she meets the other Jack. The fictional one. This note is probably longer than the story itself at this point. Word count: 100, not counting title.

The Twelfth of April

He probably wouldn't have thought about it again if it hadn't been one of their last conversations. They'd known each other their whole lives. If he'd been older, she probably would have been marrying him. On Friday, they'd met on the deck before dinner. She hadn't wanted to talk about the weather or her wedding.
"Do you remember," she'd asked, "when we used to pretend to be pirates?"
He supposed so; it seemed a silly thing to bring up.
"We've been friends so long." He would always remember the profound sadness in her eyes. "When did you stop seeing me?"

Characters from Titanic belong to James Cameron. Please do not copy or republish Erin's work without her express written permission. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Star Wars Line Tales Prologue

This was my final project for medieval lit this year. The assignment was to write a Canterbury Tales-style prologue in a modern setting. I wracked my brain trying to think of a modern pilgrimage. This is what came to mind. I don't know what I got on it yet, but I post it now in celebration of StarWarsRelatedChicaneryCon. All characters are based on people I either actually did encounter in the Star Wars line or at Celebration. Some, of course, with a certain amount of elaboration and exaggeration.

When in May begins the movie season
Of summer blockbusters, for just this reason:
The school year for the children has its end
And every boy and girl their way may wend
By daytime to the theaters to see
More blood and gore and sex than on TV
The network censors ever will allow,
And, too, a bit of humor with a cow,
When also film producers hope to earn
Enough to get a fairly large return
And use that money first to pay their cast
And then the crew, but probably not last
Themselves, and with that cash they then may buy
A boat or plane or house six stories high,
Then each three years since 1999
The Star Wars fans begin to form their line
Around their local movie house to see
The latest of the prequel trilogy
Which Lucasfilm and ILM and George
Have used the best in CGI to forge.
It happened on the eighteenth night of May
That I got in a car and made my way,
With excitement filled from head to toe,
To the final Star Wars midnight show
And got there near the time the clock struck nine,
The better to secure my place in line.
I found myself among a lively crowd
Some dozen people, festive, fun, and loud
Who with me on the sidewalk stood and spoke
And soon I felt quite friendly with these folk
A truly good thing, as you well may guess;
I’d be with them three hours, more or less.
And so we stood in happy company
Waiting, as I said, for Star Wars III.
Before I go on, since I have the time
I will describe them each for you, in rhyme,
Their dress and speech and manner, as it seemed--
The largest part of these were Star Wars-themed,
To fit the time and place, you may recall,
So with a Knight I’ll begin first of all.
There was a Knight, a goodly man and bold
Who from the day when he was ten years old
And first saw A New Hope had been a fan,
And over time he’d grown into a man
Keeping in his mind each day, of course,
Old Ben and Yoda’s teachings on the Force.
He’d often quote these ancient Masters, too:
“There is no try, only ‘do not’ or ‘do;’”
“Size matters not,” and “Darth, you cannot win.”
He also quite enjoyed Qui-Gon Jinn.
Serenity and patience were his mode;
He kept in all things to the Jedi Code
And wore his homemade Jedi robes with pride.
He knew well to beware of the dark side.
This whole day he had taken as vacation
From work, for his more Earthly occupation
Was by day insurance underwriter,
Though at his desk he kept a small TIE fighter.
He’d been to every prequel film premiere,
And gone to the convention each third year.
He told us as a child he’d been meek
And beaten up for being such a geek,
But he had persevered for, come what might
He was a true and perfect Jedi Knight.
He had his son with him, his Padawan,
A fine young lad, not one to frown upon.
He also in his Jedi robes was dressed;
He was perhaps nine years of age, I guessed.
He ran and pranced and jumped about the scene
As one who’s had much sugar or caffeine,
And though the father tried to calm his son,
The boy was simply having too much fun.
He’d never been out quite this late before
And, in excitement, Father would ignore.
There also was a Newbie sort of girl
Who’d never had a lightsaber to twirl,
Nor one desired; with her friends she’d come
Poor thing, she thought the whole ordeal was dumb.
She looked upon the long line with disdain
And spoke to us as if we were insane,
And when someone drove past, she’d hide her face,
Embarrassed to be seen in such a place.
Her friends were two Fangirls, I’d guarantee
For in the cutest way they’d exclaim, “Squee!”
When looking on the posters, and they’d grin;
They’d come there to watch Ewan and Hayden.
Off to the side two Boys fought a duel;
Each battled with a fierceness almost cruel.
They fought with great technique and finest art
And lightsabers they’d purchased at Wal-Mart.
One lightsaber was red and one was blue,
Traditional Jedi and Sith lord hues,
And certain members of the waiting throng
Began to hum that awesome dueling song.
The line was stunned by all their acrobatics,
The result of lots of time and practice,
And though they’d fallen far behind in school,
No one could say their fighting wasn’t cool.
There was nearby a portly Dark Sith Lord
Who also had a crimson laser sword—
The more expensive type of fiberglass
Though his suit was too cumbersome, alas,
To wield his dark side weapon properly,
But a more fearsome figure could not be,
Save that he weighed more than Vader should,
But his costuming was very good.
He spoke about the lesser quality
Of the Star Wars prequel trilogy,
And how the newer films could not compare
To Luke and Han and Leia’s headphone-hair,
And said that CG creatures hurt his eyes,
So perhaps he meant with his disguise
To make himself unable these to see,
Or fancy Carrie’s hair on Natalie.
Standing near to him, only by chance,
There stood an Amidala, and one glance
At her served Vader’s argument to bury;
Star Wars hairstyles are hereditary.
Not one word did she say to the Sith,
But instead spoke of influential myth
On prequel themes—a pro-prequel crusader
Quite different from the Lord was Lady Vader.
Further back, and standing by herself,
There was a single Tolkien-style Elf.
In her costume, too, she had shown care,
And a certain true dramatic flair.
It made her look quite fair and elegant,
Though where she’d wear it after this event
I could not even guess, perhaps to some
Event relating to her own fandom.
Her hair was long, and stuck upon each ear
A small pointy attachment did appear.
The dress was like to one Galadriel
Had worn in Lorien beside her well.
She scowled a bit but, as she made no fuss,
We tolerated her as one of us.
Another Boy was there of late-teen age,
No youngling and yet not an ancient sage,
Yet when engaged in pleasant conversation,
He proved himself as full of information
Relating to the films as anyone.
He knew the name of each Tatooine sun
And the planet Dooku was count of
And the make of Anakin’s black glove
And the captain of the Tantive IV
And what the heck is in a power core,
Yet he did not boast nor did he tease,
Not even in the language of Huttese.
He was a pleasant dork, I do believe,
And nice to stand next to on Star Wars eve.
A Trekkie there was near us with a sign;
He’d come to anger people in the line
And raise the old debate of Wars and Trek
And which is excellent and which a wreck.
He, too, had pointy ears, for he was Spock,
A character the Wars fans like to mock.
His sign read, “Star Wars sucks!” which made us boo,
And say, “Go home! There’s only one of you!”
Our Vader, in his anger nearly blind,
Then tried to choke the Trekkie with his mind.
To see what all this ruckus was about,
The Manager of the theater came out.
He had not had this job for very long,
And really didn’t want to do things wrong,
But with the midnight hour drawing nigh
The fans outside were starting up a cry
To be let in, but with so little room,
Opening the doors was certain doom.
He said as follows: “Everybody, please!
Quiet down, I beg you on my knees!
I cannot let you in yet, understand
That other films are playing now as planned!
I’m sorry, but you have to wait out here
Or chaos will ensue for us, I fear.
Can’t you think of some amusing way
To stave off all your boredom and dismay?
Oh, this is worse than Return of the King!
Tell each other stories or something!
Then the listeners may each attest
As to which of your tales is the best.”
He looked at us in such a sorry way,
We told him his idea was okay.
We’d do it if he stayed with us to judge,
Impartial as he was from fandom grudge.
Relieved, the panicked manager agreed
And urged us to begin with greatest speed.
The Jedi Knight we voted then would start
And this is the tale he did impart.

Please do not copy or republish Erin's work without her express written permission. Thank you!