The Plague

On November 2, 2015, I wrote this fast fiction entry for a contest sponsored by Janet Reid, agent extraordinaire and Queen of the Known Universe. Ever since I can remember, starting with my earliest memories of childhood, the coming of plague has been on my mind.

They have happened always. I remember a teacher telling me that nature was a big, bad bitch and took care of culling the human population when it got out of hand by three measures: war, famine, and plague. There was nothing we could do about it but try and survive.

My flash fiction entry – Nov 2, 2015

The morning news is plague in Middle East.
“Take out the garbage,” I tell my son.
“Yes, father.”
“Did you do your lessons?”
“Yes, dad.”
Exit is backed up. We’re late.
By lunch plague creeps into Europe.
“Want to give blood for plague victims?” I ask.
“Sure, dad. Whatever you want.”
My son smiles at needle and nurse. 
He shares his snack.
Night falls. Plague is everywhere.
“His blood is the cure,” the doctor claims.
Relief.
“We need all of it.”
My son or the world? Oblivious, the world rejoices.
All that remains is a cross marking my son’s sacrifice.

We all die. We would all rather it not be today. In the end, that is not something any of us get much of a say in. Mortality, at least embedded in this particular flesh, is an absolute.

If a savior arises, we will have no idea. It’s not like in books and fairy tales. Humanity is not a wise creature in the collective. We murder our saviors. And before that, we hate on them. A lot. While praising those who shackle us.

Anyhow, I knew the plague was coming.

And so did you.

And now it is time for another nap.

If I die before I wake, somebody please take care of my dog.

Frankie, unimpressed by the Plague

Mind the Gap

London 057Last night I dreamed I returned to the United Kingdom. I always meant to go back there, to live there for a time once more as I did when I was at University.

The last time I visited, I took my  fourteen year old daughter. That was thirteen years ago. We enjoyed such an adventure. There was no plan. We traipsed around England, mostly staying in London, exploring freely.

London had changed a bit since my school days, but not so much as to lose that ambience of long endurance and that incredible air of fable. Time still seemed in long supply, and I believed I would return again. I did not factor in the world going quite so utterly mad.

london night lights bridge

My dream revealed a withered and dying United Kingdom, a divided and broken land, its culture and people utterly vanquished.  South Kensington, the place I had lived as a student, was lined with crucified bodies, heads on spikes. Masked men wearing  black robes patrolled the streets, heavily armed. In my dream, they turned to carrion birds to feed on the ashes of the land they conquered. It was horrifying. Perhaps, a symptom of playing too many video games and reading too much dystopian fantasy.

I woke up weeping for its demise more than I would for my country of birth. I rolled out of bed in the night’s darkest hours before dawn and immediately took to my computer to seek plane reservations that I might return there before my visions could come to fruition.

I believed I was awake in a bright morning to find my reservations well in place. I packed and gathered my passport and arrived in London. No, I had not awaken from my nightmare. The UK was still there, but it felt dead, like a movie set more than the real place.  I told myself it was the hour of the day, and entered the tube station at Piccadilly Circus.

People packed into the platform and that gave me comfort. Here they all were, citizens of London, waiting for their train. The train came and true to nature, the people queued up to enter as a mechanized and polite voice reminded them.

“Mind the gap.”

No one did. By the time I boarded the train, all of those people disappeared into the gap which for me was a simple step and for them, an unscalable chasm. Then I awoke to my life once more, and I wrote this blog post. Let this only be a nightmare. Please, world, mind the gap.

December – Knight of Wands

img_0155The last card for the drawing of 2019 is the Knight of Wands. This heralds creative success. But my, if that is so, November’s Strength put a high price on it.

 

A Difficult November

I worked tirelessly on cleaning up my book for querying as my mother lie dying. She will not live to see it published so I read it to her out loud, not knowing if she even heard it. November really tested faith and hope dealing out despair in pairs.  I have never seen my father look so defeated. Or my brother so angry.

Mental illness and addiction are demonic. That awful cry of how do you save someone from themselves? The story of how my mother brushed up to death (again) is not one I am ready to tell at this time. She has survived a major surgery but remains hospitalized unable to walk or even sit up on her own. She has weeks, possibly months, of PT and rehab to pass through with a body that is so weak that she faces long odds. I know she won’t live much longer but I hope she can find some light before the end so it is not the darkness that takes her.

I cling to the things that make life feel bearable. The routine of work. My writing. Liverpool FC. Time with family and friends. But all feels weighted. Looking for good news in the New Year on the other side of a long and dark road back to the light.

 

October 2019 – Queen of Cups

img_1446October is my favorite month of the year. I love Autumn and in the South, the fall tends to come late, usually around mid-October. I love the crisp autumn air. Nothing makes me feel more alive than the dying year.

For this month, the card I drew on New Year’s Eve 2018 was the Queen of Cups. This is signifies nurturing, caring, and warmth. I guess that works out as my daughter is living with me for a couple of months, working on a project here before returning to her beloved New York.

qlHUWq1xQzKHGoNBT4DPxwIn September, I had thought briefly she might want to keep working here in the South. The cost of living is cheaper. She can make quite a good living here, but she misses New York already. So I am going to appreciate the bit of extra time we get together. I know Frankie has appreciated having two humans to boss around.  I can’t believe there are only two months remaining in this year. I thought I would be further along with things.  I really did.

 

June 2019 – The Emperor

img_1442

Well, we are six months into 2019. The 6th card I drew for the year is The Emperor. This is a card that portends guidance, protection, and advice from a father figure.

A Little Non-Feminist Feminist Rant

I have been thinking about men in society a lot given my background and the current political climate where awful phrases like “toxic masculinity” are tossed about.

I am an independent woman who has worked in a male-dominated field (software engineering) my entire adult life. I raised a daughter on my own. I have no male partner in my life. I don’t want one. That has nothing to do with my gender. I am happy being single and was miserable married.

I remember being told to shut-up as a young girl because the men were talking. I was told I was not given a middle name because I could use my surname as a middle name when I got married. When I was coming up, the society around me screamed that as a woman, I literally had ZERO value if I did not get married.

So I get why so many women are pissed off at the “patriarchy”. It is an unhealthy environment that casts women as property for the sole purpose of sex and reproduction. For thousands of years of history, in all corners of the world, women have been less-valued than men. That must stop.

IMG_1489

People matter. We all do. Regardless of gender, race, ideology. We matter, each and every one of us. We all make choices that lighten or darken the world. Some make no choices at all which allows the status quo to continue for good or ill.  So I have no problem with the male in general. I even welcome the support, guidance, and protection of men. It is when they become tyrants we have a problem, but June brought the Emperor upright and not in reverse.

Moving On

I look forward to June. I have made great progress on the book. With the Champions League and the EPL on hiatus until August, I have less distractions from my final push to put this book to rest and get on with the next eleven. Yes, I started writing eleven other books during the last three years while writing this one. Another reason, this is taking so long.

The end of an Era

images-2Game of Thrones came to an end in May 2019. Lots of fans were disappointed. The final season felt rushed to a conclusion that satisfied few. However, for myself, I think that it came to an end was what tore me up.  Game of Thrones is undoubtable the greatest television show so far. It drew in millions of viewers, invested them in the complex and difficult characters that spoke so loudly to our humanity. While I will miss the show, miss trying to figure out what happens next, I so look forward the George RR Martin finishing his books. Let’s see which one of us gets there first. Shall we?

Miracles in May

A unseasonably hot May has ended after a series of triumph and a miracle.  I wake to June with Liverpool as European Champions. Miracles do happen. Recall that when I entered May, Liverpool had a 3-0 deficit to cover in order to get to the Champions League final. They did so with a miracle at Anfield. I took a great deal of inspiration from that night.

May 7, 2019 is one of those days I will remember forever. Yes, I am obsessed with Liverpool and really the English Premier League. There is something there that men from literally every corner of the globe can come together, united by purpose, put their differences aside and create emotion like this. Note at the end of the evening, when Liverpool has done the impossible, the crowd singing to them and the players singing back to the crowd “You Will Never Walk Alone”. This is the stuff of hope and dreams.