Sitting high above for the best view, shop
Crow sat watching, information pills
waiting for the next performance. There was never a doubt that there would be a next performance, either. Crow needed only to have patience, something that came easier with each passing year. It was comforting in a rather sordid way to count on such things.With a glint in her ebony eye, Crow preened and carefully, patiently, arranged each of her feathers on one wing. The woods in which she perched belonged to Crow. Others would contend this, but those who did simply didn’t understand that belonging wasn’t the same as ownership. The woods belonged to all who claimed them. Her contemplation of the essence of sharing was broken when she heard footsteps approaching, heralding the beginning of today’s drama.
Crimson and claret streams billowed as Phoenix approached, fiery tendrils caressing her form. With feigned courage and resolve she approached her chosen spot. Crow saw through her glamour of beauty and proffered sex covering fear and a stark heart. She was here again to cast her spells to soothe her insecurities. Ever questing for the next bit of occulted knowledge to bring her the satisfaction she blindly, madly, craved.
Crow felt her heart hurt for Phoenix, for she knew that her path led to destruction. A single caw was cast from Crow. Whether in greeting or warning, it wasn’t clear. The call went unheeded. Crow nodded her acceptance of the snub, her eyes twinkling again with renewed resolve and clarity.
Phoenix invoked her gods and goddesses, demanding their attention. Crow eagerly awaited the company, and watched intently for their arrival. Images began to manifest around Phoenix. Crow tried but could not feel the presence of the divine in this, instead seeing only distorted and confused phantoms, people dear to Phoenix through the manipulation of their collective Wills. Phoenix bound and conjured and bedazzled these souls.
Phoenix was there today to bind another, to eliminate a thorn. Try as she might, each cast missed its mark. Phoenix was not centered and her fears made her unsteady. She never comprehended that she was wasting her energy enmeshed in anxieties for a phantom reflection. Phoenix crossed the final boundary acceptable to Crow.
Ruffling her freshly preened feathers, Crow called down to Phoenix. “I know I am the object of your fear and insecurities. While you shout at the moon, I have simply kept my own counsel. I have never used magick against you because you cannot touch me. I have simply watched you. I have been here far longer than you, learning my lessons while you struggle against yours. You cast your spells and never know a true heart. You fear that without your spells they will all leave and what you do is a crime.”
Phoenix raged at Crow’s revealing. With each denial, her fire grew hotter. With each deluding claim, the flames intensified, until she allowed her frustrations to consume her. Crow watched until there was nothing left of Phoenix but ashes smoldering around a new hatchling, blinking bewildered into the sky. A fresh breeze cleared the debris and left the creature shivering and exposed.
Crow took to flight, circling close and whispered to Phoenix, “I never used magick on you because I am magick. Try to remember this time.” Crow cawed from her depths and the sky exploded with her kith and kin as they took to the skies, voices raised in exaltation. Phoenix looked up as Crow left and made a new vow to the heavens.
All Rights Reserved
Michael planted the sword firmly in the ground before him, sale
sending a tremor under my feet. “You are done with Gabriel for now, order
attend to me.” His eyes flashed, not in anger, but with power.
“Put away your romantic fantasies and rule with me for a time. Your moment in the glow of the moon is at an end, step back into the sun where you were born.”
I stepped out of the embrace of Gabriel’s wings, our hands still touching until only our fingertips kept the connection in tact. I turned to look up into that beautiful face, seeing eyes alive with future promises. With courage I did know I possessed, I kissed Gabriel quickly and turned to Michael without further hesitation.
He stood there with both hands on the hilt of the sword planted in the earth before him. It’s hard to see anything about Michael without first seeing his wings, which are the largest of all the Archangels. The sleek, shiny feathers are the deepest emerald green. Any breeze amplifies their radiance and with a magnificent trick of the light, they flare a brilliant scarlet.
He moves them slowly, sensually, to their full width and I can see how deep the gem tones grow in the shadows under his wings. He shrugs them back to an arch and I notice that the bottom edges are a different type of feather. I walk around him to see the back of the wings and find a much different color array. Still sparkling emerald and scarlet up at their tops, they melt into the deepest sapphire near the ends. But the most magnificent surprise is that the edges are several rows of peacock feathers. The eyes swirl emerald and sapphire and violet, the delicate tendrils alive with motion.
He flicks his wings and I’m caught off guard. Coming back to face him, he takes my hand firmly in his and he pulls me to him. His wings come around us both, sheltering us from any outside distraction. I flinched, realizing for the first time that I was a bit afraid of Michael. His normally aloof nature fostered no comfort. I closed my eyes tight until I felt him relax his grip on my wrists. I expected it to be dark when I finally looked up at this face, but there was a golden glow inside of this embrace.
I’m tall, at 5’11”, and Michael is only a few inches taller than me, although his wings tower higher. His eyes are magnificent, as dark as the deepest green at the upper edges of his wings. The most incredible part of his eyes, other than the long, golden lashes, is that his irises look alive with electricity. You don’t see this from a distance, and I suspect that it’s his current intensity that is making them active. Tiny threads of electric blue flash like a lightning storm. I make a small noise at the incredible site and it fades. I blink and look again, and see that it’s still there, just so faint that it’s no longer very noticeable.
His face is angular and severe, yet still very handsome. Sun-kissed skin, and deep golden brown hair. The cut is shaggy, and full, and falls to his shoulders. His skin holds no specific age, and yet the gentle creases in his skin can be tracked to every smile and every pain he’s ever felt. Two modes for Michael, Triumphant and Resolved. The look that he has for me now is the latter. It holds the stories of all the things he’s been asked to do and the pain of it seems to battle and nearly win. Nearly, but not totally.
Michael pulls the sword straight up out of the earth. The edges are alight with tiny flames that put off no heat. The metal is polished to an unearthly shine. He holds the broad blade up for me to see. I am mesmerized and I press up against him for comfort, but am met with only the cold brass of the armor he wears.
As I look deeper at the metal of his blade, scenes start to play. Bloody battles pass by quickly. I don’t know enough of his history to understand what I am seeing, but I can tell that it wasn’t just one battle, but many. Those scenes clear and I see a garden that brings tears to my eyes. I fight the urge to climb through the metal to be in the place that I see, but it fades too quickly and I look up at him to plead.
“I am the guard for that garden. If you stay in the sun and learn from me, I can describe it to you so that you will feel that you are there. It’s as close as I will let anyone get. You will take these stories back with you as your own.”
“I know that this isn’t a gift, Michael. If I accept, what is your price?”
“I’ve told you already the price. You will take these stories back with you as your own.”
My mind fills with voices full of questions and warnings and cries of desires. Each yammering faster and louder than the next until I slump against his cold armor once again. Michael shoves his sword into the earth once more and puts his arm around my waist to hold me. He releases my other hand and puts the cool palm of his hand on my forehead, quieting the ruckus inside.
“Why do you fear me?”
“Because you ask the question “Who is as God” and I fear my answer.”
“Make your decision.”
“I have. This is now your time and I stand willing to witness.”
“I guard Eden, I defend and protect those that ask, I command the skies. These are things you will need to do for those under your care. It’s time to train your voice.”
Michael brought his wings back, letting the natural sunlight in. The world looks crisper and in finer focus than I remember. I look back at Michael and his face has changed from Resolved and I can’t help but smile.
All Rights Reserved
My meditation was finished. Gabriel put her hand on my shoulder, order
startling me. In all the years that I’ve called upon her to guard and protect me, cost
she’s never truly acknowledged me, only performed the tasks as is her duty. Tonight, she reached out.
“I want you to tell my story.”
“But I don’t know your story.”
“Start by telling what you do know about me, all of your observations. This is a journey and you will tell my story as you know it.”
I feel like I know so very little about this angel. I always thought that the angels were male, but Gabriel is the androgynous one. She sports short, tousled hair, reflecting the golds and reds of the setting sun. Her robes cover any real hint of her figure. Her limbs are long and slender.
Looking at her sweet face, one understands Angelic Beauty. Her eyes are the color of the seas, ever changing with her moods. They brew a stormy grey of the sea at turmoil when she’s angry; a tranquil Caribbean blue when she’s at peace.
Her skin is perfection, and I long to run a finger along her chiseled jawline. I want to trace her features with my hand to burn them into my mind. I see her eyes look at my hands, then return slowly to meet mine. She silently gives me her permission.
Tentatively, I reach out and place just my fingertips on her cheek. I am surprised to find her face chilled. She reaches up and puts her cool hand over mind, pressing her face against my hand. Her eyes close and a gentle smile spread over her lips. She’s drawing my warmth into her and in return I am feeling her divine beauty coursing through my entire soul.
She opens her eyes and I take my hand away. Her smile fades just slightly as she sees that I am nearly overwhelmed. She nods for me to continue her story.
Gabriel’s robes are also the color of the ocean. A brilliant blue that calls to mind photos of the earth from space. The fabric reflects flame colored highlights from the setting sun. Every movement of the azure cloth catches an orange shimmer.
She shows me the clear blue chalice she is bound to hold in her duties. I realize it’s not glass, but a cup carved from aquamarine. It’s partially filled with the waters from every ocean. Miniature waves crash and tumble in the crystal chalice.
Gabriel flexes her wings and my attention is abruptly brought to her most amazing feature. High above her head they arch and flutter. Enormous wings of pristine snow white feathers. Her wings are tipped with a fire that does not consume. The bottom edges of both wins are edged with crimson and copper flames that spark and drip, giving the impression that she has just walked out of the fiery sun to be with me.
I am standing so close to Gabriel as I breathe in the scent of her. Night blooming jasmine, woodsy sandalwood and a hint of sweet lemon mingle and tantalize. I step closer to her, putting my head on her shoulder. Her wings rise up and forward and encompass us both as she whispers more of her story to me, one hand gently stroking my hair and keeping me still.
Copyright 2003 Debra Chaffins
All Rights Reserved
May glared at the stereo, shop
demonstrating the look that earned those lyrics. Even music wasn’t placating her today. She cursed softly and tugged at her black leather corset. Nothing felt right today. Usually the tightness of the lacing and steel bone structure gave her a feeling of regal posture and impossible control. Today it just chafed. Her feet felt cramped in the pointed toes of her high laced boots. Even the carefully crafted holes in her fishnets hit all the wrong parts of her long legs, dosage
the threads cutting into the soft spots between her toes. She gathered her long, herpes
straight hair into a loose bunch and carelessly shoved a fabric band to hold it out of her face. She stood still and wild eyed for a brief moment before she screamed.
May falls to a dramatic heap on the bed. When she catches her breath, she lunges forward and begins to tear at her boots, the corset biting into her waist as she struggles to unlace the painful offenders. Her hair slips loose from the binding and hangs around her like webbing, getting caught in the metal hooks freshly free of laces. Once removed, May throws the boots across the room, taking dark pleasure in the sound of destruction as they hit a curio shelf. She shrieks again despite the rawness beginning in her throat. The look on her face approaches madness, but the gleam in her golden eyes shows that she is lucid and lethal.
Panting, May surveys the room which is now in shambles. Books lay askew from a short bookshelf that she swept bare with her arm. An armchair lies on it side after being kicked. A pile of tissues in one corner just makes her eyes flare in contempt for her display of weakness. She rises from the bed and starts to prowl through the littered floor, kicking things that dare to be in her path with the flat of her foot.
May stops in front of a large vanity mirror on the wall. She stares at her reddened face and running makeup and sneers. The mirror explodes into a myriad of shards, but not one touches her. She holds her hand out and a tissue appears. Roughly blowing her nose, she flings the sodden mess into a mounting pile, of which less than half are contained in a waste basket.
Still beyond the ability to form her frustrations into words, her attention is drawn again to the music which has changed from cheerful fluff to the angrier strains of German industrial. She begins to rapidly spin on the balls of her stocking feet, losing herself in something that sounds as fierce as she feels, flinging her arms to catch fingertips on a shelf that crashes to the ground in a most satisfying way. A feral smile finally crosses May’s lips.
“Lavender, catnip … ah, and a pinch of Valerian.” Mona softly lists names of the herbs in the glass jars as she takes them down. She fills the metal tea kettle and puts it on the gas stove to start to heat. Rummaging through a drawer she finds the wooden scoop she favors for measuring herbs.
“Valerian my sweet ass, she needs something stronger than that. Did those jello shots I made with Everclear ever firm up? Now that will take care of things for her and calm her down. Nothing less is going to work today, you damn priss.” Crow continues to mutter as she paws her way through the top shelf on the pantry.
“Oh please! I have no desire to get her drunk. I just want her to go to sleep and let her rest. Damn, I’m nearly out of California poppy.” Mona makes a pinched face at Crow and suddenly looks three times her age.
“You need the opium poppies to do her any herbal good tonight and you know it.”
“Nonsense, what she needs, along with the tea, is a good old fashioned paddling.” Mona grits her teeth and both women stop, hearing the explosion and then the tinkling of falling glass. “Fine. Put one of your infernal jello shots on the tray, old woman.”
Crow cackles and hands two of the jello shots to Mona. As Mona turns back to the stove, Crow downs a jello shot still held in her hand. “I’m not so old that I’ve forgotten the kind of pain she’s harboring, harpy. I’ll take the tray in to her when it’s ready.”
“But I really should have a talk with her about the out of control behavior and get her to start putting her room back in order.”
“Bother with that, Mona. This isn’t the time. Right now she needs to purge and then we’ll help her get her perspective back.”
“Perspective? I’ll give her her perspective back! That ‘purge’ of hers isn’t going to clean itself up, and I’ll be damned if anyone expects me to give her a hand getting it done!”
“And that, you shrew, is why I’m going in and you are going to find something else to do for an hour or two.”
“How dare you…”
The shrill whistle from the tea kettle overpowered her objection which prompted a look of utter contempt from Mona, and one of mischievous amusement from Crow. “The acorn is the spitting image of the tree, Mona.”
“Just knock it off, old woman.”
“Pinch-faced harpy.” Crow continues to rummage through the cabinet, finding treats and putting them on the tray. Cooing over a still soft piece of fruit-shaped marzipan and couple of pieces of wrapped white chocolate, she arranges the treats on the tray. From the icebox she gets some sweet plums and ripe strawberries and slices them up.
“Why are you rewarding this behavior, Crow?” demands Mona with pursed lips, hands on her hips in defiance.
“This isn’t a reward. This is comfort food. Remember Comfort? Remember how I would do this for you until the storms in your mind had quieted? It’s no different for her. We calm, then we fix. It’s the proper order of things. Why are you being so hard on her?”
Mona closes her eyes tight, her forehead deeply furrowed. “I don’t like thinking about the hurts she has. I want to ignore them as if they never existed. If I don’t give them energy, if I refuse to name them, then they can’t do damage. Can’t you see that?”
“Can I see nonsense? I’m pretty sure I can smell it. And right now, I smell a whopping stank. What good did turning away from your pain ever do? What got solved by burying your problems? Ulcers, panic attacks, headaches, and bad skin. Oh, and let’s not even talk about eating to forget, shall we? Let her have her scars, Mona, she’s earned them. They are nothing to be ashamed about.”
Mona turned back to the stove and finished preparing the tea. Before placing the cup on the tray, and with a contemptuous look at Crow, she reaches into her window garden and picks a half dozen bright orange nasturtiums and strews them amongst the other treats on the tray.
Crow smiles benevolently and glances at May’s closed door. Crow and Mona wait together for several minutes until nothing but the sound of muffled music comes from May’s room. Mona picks up the tray and they stand outside May’s door. Crow knocks gently and then taking the tray from Mona, opens the door and enters.
Crow twitchs a smile as she looks at May, who is now theatrically draped across her bed. One leg is bent at the knee and hanging down the side of the bed. The other foot is perched on the edge, her tulle skirt carefully arranged for modesty. One wrist firmly placed on her forehead, palm up. The other hand clutching a ratty pillow that looks damp. Her eyeliner extends from her eyelashes to mid cheek in watery streaks.
“You could be a poster child for gothic birth control, Miss Thing. Now move over, it’s time for a tea party.”
“No and knock off the dramatics, child. Move your arse.”
May opens an eye and casts a watery yet defiant look at Crow, but immediately realized that arguing would take more energy than she had left. She flops over and lays on her stomach, burying her face in the pillow. Crow undoes the lacing of the corset to hear May sigh in relief. After locating a brush on the nightstand, Crow gathers May’s hair and begins to brush it. May whimpers gently and one hand ventures out to rest on Crow’s knee.
“My sweet doll, is all this fuss really necessary? It’s awfully extreme, don’t you think? You haven’t lost him and, after all, it’s just a small change in plans.”
“But he said…”
“Yes, he said one thing but circumstances changed and that just isn’t going to happen this time. Now tell me why this is all so dire and do not tell me it’s because of anything anyone else is doing to you.”
May starts to speak, several times. Each thought dissipating as she considered the justification. With a heavy sigh, she begins to speak in earnest.
“Everyone eventually disappoints me. They tell me what I want to hear. Or they speak too soon of plans and when I begin to believe in those plans, they stop or change and I am always expected to just deal with it. And because I love them, I smile when I don’t feel like smiling and assure them that it’s all ok, rather than cause them to feel worse than they already do.
“And here was someone who has always been so open and honest with me. He tells me the hard things to hear because it’s the right thing. He never promises anything frivolous because a promise is a solemn bond to him. And I began to believe that there was someone out there that knew what pain I’ve swallowed for so many years and would not get my hopes…my hope…” May pauses at that word, hope, and the seed of a realization takes hold. “I am protecting my hopes from being smashed by not letting myself trust, Crow. I want to hope. I want to believe that it’s still ok to hope.”
“My darling little love. All you can do is hope. Hope for the best and hope for the divine. Hope with every fiber of your being. Your spark, your gift to the rest of us, is your insatiable pursuit of things in which to have hope! Don’t ever stop.”
“That’s selfish, Crow. I don’t want to have to hope for your sake.”
“Oh get a clue, you brat. It’s not something you can really stop doing, it’s something you are. You are a creature of hope. You lay there and cry at the pain of disappointment, but we both know that you are addicted to the highs and the lows. You do not know how to exist in the middle. And why should you settle for something so grey? You are a passionate creature. Be a passionate creature. Just, quit breaking so much stuff.”
May sat up and looked at Crow, then at the tray. She pours two cups of tea, handing one to Crow, who makes a face at the warm liquid and looks longingly at the jello shots. The two sat for a long time, picking through the treats on the tray and talking softly for a long time.
A few hours later, Crow wandered back into the kitchen with the skeletal remains of the tray. Mona sat at the small wooden table, obviously fretting. Crow grabs two more jello shots from the icebox and sits in sit at the table. She pushes one to Mona, who begins to protest, and then takes the jiggly treat and downs it with a grimace.
“So, how long do I remain on the outside of this issue?”
“I wouldn’t wait too long before going in there and giving her a hand. She’s doing ok now, but there’s a lot on her mind. She’s going to need you.”
“Me? I thought you had all the answers here. I figured it’d be all sorted out. What can I add?”
“Wow, when this family wants to cop an attitude, there’s no hedging around, is there?”
“What do you want from me, Crow? You go in there and calm her down and feed her treats and then you want me to go in there and just clean up?”
“I…We…want you to do what you do best…be reasonable. And by the way, that is what you do best, not the harpy thing.”
Mona chewed on the side of her thumb, giving Crow shooting glares. Crow gets up and finds a catalog of adult toys. Sitting back down, Mona makes a noise of disgust and turns sideways in her chair. “What on earth are you doing with that, old woman?”
“I am thinking of buying May a new toy, something to help her through the long nights where her mind won’t let up. She created her own reality and it’s not a good one. She needs something other than her overactive imagination and I think this pretty silver thing here will do just the job.”
“Crow, that’s inappropriate. And besides, she has plenty of toys. Why can’t she just use what she has already. It’s a waste of money, you old bat.”
“I think I should get one of these for you while I’m at it, Mona.”
Mona gasped, her eyes going wide. “You will do no such thing, Crow. I have my dignity!”
“Dignity my ass, give me a couple of c-cells and I’ll show you dignity.” Crow stood up abruptly and stomped out of the room. Mona made a dismissive noise and looked for several long moments at May’s door.
Mona rapped on May’s door as she entered. She had a roll of garbage bags tucked under her arm and a bucket of cleaning supplies. May was laying on her back on the bed, now in loose shorts and a baggy black shirt. Her face was wiped clean of all traces of make up, but her eyes were still puffy from tears. She starts a bit when she sees Mona and tries to get up quickly, but Mona stopps her. “Wait, I’m not going to fuss. I just came in to lend a hand.” She looks around the room, surveying the damage. “Looks like we could get it back in shape in an hour if we both work at it.”
May bit her lip and looks at Mona with a little bit of wonder and a healthy dose of suspicion. “You’re going to help?”
“Yes. I talked to Crow for a bit, she sent me in under instructions to be helpful. The most effective help I know how to offer is in the clean up and repair category. If you want to sit and sulk, sorry, I mean, if you aren’t ready to start yet, I can come back.” Mona stands and looks at May, expecting to be asked to leave.
May sighs “Now’s as good a time as any. Laying here in a disaster certainly isn’t making things better.”
Mona starts by gathering the broken items and disposing of the tissue mound. May works on uprighting the furniture and putting back in place all of the non broken items. In less than an hour, the room looks composed once again, although a little more sparse in bric-a-brak.
May flopps in the overstuffed chair in the corner and Mona sits beside her in the ancient rocking chair. “Thank you, Mona.” She wants to say more, but the years of battles between the two of them stand in the way.
Mona looks down at her competent, manicured hands. She doesn’t know what the do with them next, so she lets them lay in her lap. She has the nagging thought that she should hug May, or at the very least, take her hand, but she doesn’t feel like risking being wrong.
“So, how did…”
“I wish that…”
They both stop and look at each other, laughing. “So, Mona, you go first.”
“I wish that it wasn’t so difficult for us to talk. That’s all. I’d like to find some common ground between us.”
May nods, lost in thoughts of what could be common ground between them. “Well, we both love herbs. Of course, my focus has been in taking them and yours has been giving them. Perhaps we could start there.”
“Well, I am the harvest, you are the growth. We know that Crow is the preparation. I think we need to include Crow, I know I should spend more time getting used to her. She’s just so crude.”
“She just doesn’t feel that she has the need for airs any more, Mona. Her time for being the ‘perfect this’, or ‘ideal that’ is past. Now she’s just who she is. She has little patience for pretending any more.”
“Oh, so I pretend, do I?”
“Well, yeah. I don’t know that I’ve ever really seen you relax. You’re always ‘about’ something. We see your accomplishments, but what do we know of you?”
“I am my accomplishments. I am what you see. I don’t exist outside of my projects. I push to keep learning because when I stop, I’m through. I don’t know anything else.”
May leans forward, her elbows on her knees, her face intent. “No wonder you and I are are such polar opposites, Mona. All I seem to do is feel. I have hopes and dreams. Wild, fantastic dreams, Mona! And I believe in the possibilities. I always believe that there is going to be something incredible next, if only I do the right things now.” May stops and wipes away a tear. “The problem is that I don’t know what the right thing is, Mona. I guess and my guesses aren’t always the best. And sometimes, well, sometimes it takes me a lot longer to get back to the hoping and the believing. It’s those times that I wish I were more like you, focused and working.”
“And hollow and empty. You didn’t finish your thought. It’s not true, May. I am completely full and content when I am immersed in a project. The project becomes a living, viable entity. I just don’t have the time or the patience for people when I’m working.”
“I never said that, you know. You assume that’s how I think of you, but I can see the fire in you. That’s when I think that I could eventually become you. Because of that fire. Mona? Do I have to give up who I am to be like you?”
Mona looked hard at May, trying to understand. “Why on earth would you give up anything you are to be like me?”
“One day, I’m going to be you. Your tasks and duties will be mine. And I was wondering, if I needed to become you.”
“I am Mona. I am Mother. I do not believe that I am anything like Crow was when Crow was Mother. We each transition to the next stage bringing into it all of who we were. Part of me will always be Mother, even as Crone.”
“I’m not sure that you’re going to make a very sweet Crone, Mona. I think you’re going to be a taskmaster to the end. Do you even remember now what it was like to be Maiden?” May hangs her head down, refusing to look at Mona.
All Rights Reserved
Getting a log in to join the discussion
Today, a number of volunteers along with the owner Jim Kinsler, are involved in preserving and developing the McMath-Hulbert Observatory into what is hoped to be a self-sustaining institution. We are always seeking talented, interested, and passionate individuals to get involved with this exciting historic observatory project!!!
For more information, please contact Tom Hagen