Racism

Yes, I know – this kneeling thing is getting crazy, right? Now people are burning their Nikes because they think that white people are the only ones who get to protest peacefully.  No, seriously. Why else are they frothing at the mouth? I don’t see any other color skinned people saying it’s a crime, and they should be fired. But the most hurtful thing is for the families of those boys and young men who were shot by policemen because the cops were scared and fired guns at their unarmed bodies. Some of those victims were mentally ill, some were doing something illegal, and some were just in the wrong place at the wrong time – but none posed a threat to the officers who killed them – except in the officers’s heads – because they were scared and reacted with their guns instead of their brains. But their brains had already been wired to equate black men = crime = gun s= shooting = death.  Or maybe they didn’t even see these people as human, because real racists don’t even consider that these men were sons-brothers-fathers-husbands. They were black. So they fired. And one man knew he had the eyes of the nation on him for some instants; so he knelt. He didn’t shout, he didn’t break anything, he didn’t even try to organize anything — he just kneeled down and refused to stand for a national anthem that didn’t sing for him anymore. The music only played for a certain type of person – the white, affluent, healthy person.

There is racism all around me. Some of the most virulent I ever heard came from a family member. He said, and I quote, “I won’t watch TV shows with black people in them.” This person is dead. I don’t like to speak ill of the dead – he was a loving father, a good husband – and a rabid racist. I didn’t like him. I didn’t like talking  to him. When he died, I found it hard to make my voice sound sad. But his family carries on the flame of his rascim. It’s hard cutting family out – like trees, families have branches and roots that twine and intertwine. So today, when one of my family members posted a FB meme that was clearly racist, I had to comment. I said my piece. I won’t be quiet just because it’s part of my family tree. I don’t think cutting the branches off is a solution. I am hoping to heal that worm-eaten wood if possible.

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Dreams and too much news

I was sitting in a pub. Next to me sat a girl of about twelve, who had Down’s syndrome. She had an electronic notebook and was playing a video game. She and I were best mates –  I was an adult – but it’s true I was so fond of her, she could have been my own daughter. We’d been on a hike with a group of friends, then we’d gotten tired and thirsty and decided to stop at a roadside pub. The pub was packed, each seat was taken, people were crowded at the bar, a large group was playing darts in one corner, and the serving girl had to push her way through the crowd with the drinks. In a lull of conversation, someone said loudly, “Eh, that Brexit – we should re-vote that barmy thing!”  There was an explosion of “What? No! Yes! Who said that? F*cking Farage, It’s too late, we wanted out didn’t we? Europe is killing us!” from all sides. I sat and sipped my beer, my best mate busy slaying dragons, and the conversation aroud us started to become angry. People were shoving each other, and the serving girl dropped her tray. That quieted things down. In the lull, some imp pricked me and I stood and shouted, “Well, why don’t we hold a vote right here? All those in favor of Brexit, raise your hands!” A few arms shot up, one or two hesitated, then lifted, but most stayed down. “Now, all those against, raise your arms,” I said. The vast majority raised their arms. “Well, there you have it,” I said. “If it gets re-voted, it will bet knocked down, so those who mean to profit from it, won’t let you vote again.” Then one man said to me, “What’s it to you? You’re not even British?” I agreed. “I shouldn’t care – after all – you didn’t want in, you insisted on special deals, you refused European quotas, laws, and all the benefits went your way. With the UK out, believe me, Europe won’t be worse off, and you’ll lost the fishing rights you wanted, the trade, and the travel.” I shrugged. Nothing in it for me, but I thought Farage was an ass, and he was sitting near the dart board, glaring at me.

I woke up, and thought to myself, I really have to stop reading the Guardian just before I fall asleep…

Chants to Persephone

SALE (1)

Chants to Persephone

by Jennifer Macaire

The Thief of Souls has stolen Alexander’s soul, and the druids have foretold the end of their world and have raised an army to kidnap Paul. They mean to stop Rome from invading Gaul and thus change the course of time. Meanwhile, an oracle tells Alexander and Ashley they must go to the Land of the Eaters of the Dead.

Paul has stowed away on their ship, and Nearchus has decided that now is the time to profess his love to Alexander. To further complicate things, Charidmus, an old foe of Alexander’s, recognizes him and realizes he hasn’t died. Ashley knows she must stop the druids, find the Thief of Souls, keep Charidemus quiet, somehow get Nearchus out of their bed, and time back on track – or the Time Senders are going to have a fit. There’s also a small matter of a human sacrifice with Alexander as the chosen victim. What’s a time traveller to do?

EXCERPT:  I remembered the first time I’d seen Darius, king of all Persia. He’d been sitting on his throne, and when he stood, he’d taken my breath away. Tall, with black hair, smooth skin, and golden eyes like a lion. He had been naked except for a gold chain around his neck.
It had been in Persepolis, the sacred city Alexander had destroyed in a fit of rage. I could recall the day the city fell. The spring breeze had been soft as a kiss. Bright sunlight sparkled on the white marble, dazzling me. A dead slave sat in Darius’s throne with his throat cut, while two of his generals hung above him, their skin flayed. The only colours had been the sparkling white of the marble, the empty blue of the sky, and the scarlet blood as it ran across the hot stone.
All that, because Paul had been kidnapped by Darius. Now Anoramix had Paul, the Harbinger of Destruction.
I wondered if Anoramix realized just what the Harbinger of Destruction’s father was capable of when he got angry.

Links to buy:   getbook.at/Persephone

author _photoAbout the Author: Jennifer Macaire lives with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

Blog: https://jennifermacaire.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TimeforAlexander/

 

 

Faramir’s Daughter ~ Chapter 7

We arrived at the gates of the southern lands, and the king had sent an escort for us. There was still another week of travel, across a desert, so the escort was welcome. They had brought their traditional tents and food, and music. At night, when we camped, the torches were lit and the musicians played. The first night I didn’t pay much attention. I was numbed by the fact that we’d reached the last part of the voyage and my fate was rushing up towards me like a hurricane. I fell asleep in one of the new tents, on the softest mattress I’d ever laid upon, and my dreams were colored by the strange music.

The next day, I felt better. The king had sent horses, and one of them was a gift to me. Nothing pleased me as much as a good horse, and this one was equal to the very best my mother’s tribe bred. Smaller and narrower than the mountain horses, it was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen. At first, I’d taken it for a white deer as it pranced up to me, led by a groom. It had huge eyes, its muzzle was so small it could drink from my bowl, and its ears were curved in, giving it an inquisitive look. Its neck was arched like a swan, and its tail was held high as a streaming flag.

What is her name?” I asked the groom.

She is yours, so you must give her a name,” he replied in his language. A translator stood by my side at all times now, so I could communicate.

What is your word for gift?” I asked.

Ladi.”

And for precious?”

Keem.”

I’ll call her Keemladi,” I said, stroking her velvety nose.

The people around me looked pleased. I had chosen a good name. That day I rode my new horse. My father ride beside me. I hadn’t spent time alone with him in ages. I was still angry with him though – for taking my mother’s side, for not trusting me. He knew though, and his first words to me were an apology. My heart was not hard enough to resist my father’s regret. I cried and hugged him, and told him I was sorry. For what, I didn’t know, but it made him smile.

The birthday girl

She was born on the 28th of August, though she was scheduled for the 15th of September. She was another emergency caesarean, I arrived at the clinic at ten pm, with contractions every four or five minutes and at 11:59, she was born. I first saw her through a fog of waking up after anaesthesia. It was sometime in the early morning – still dark out, but the sky was turning gray around the edges. I turned over on my side so I could see her. She was in a clear plastic bassinette. I looked, and there she was, a tiny little baby with a round head, thick, back hair, and a crumpled, red face. My little tomato-face, I remember thinking. My little girl.

She was, to me, the most beautiful baby. Of course she was, and she was good natured. She ate and slept, and didn’t cry except for a tremulous “maaa” when she needed to be fed or changed. She stopped breathing once and turned gray. The nurse was in the room at that moment, and flicked her on the soles on her feet. “Do that if she does it again,” she told me. I couldn’t stop shaking. My twins had been preemies and we’d nearly lost them. I didn’t realize how traumatized I was. I cried for three days. “Baby blues”, everyone said, and maybe it was. But I kept her with me, in my bed, and slept with her for nearly a year. She was like my second skin, we breathed together, slept together, and when she cried, we cried together. I had a little kangaroo baby carrier, and hardly ever put her down.

The twins were, predictably, terribly jealous. But she won them over by being sweet. She was the sweetest baby. She smiled often – her mouth would curve into a smile – but her eyes were always deeply serious. Her favorite time of day was bathtime. She had the famous three month colic, and I bounced her gently on my knees while reading aloud to the twins every night. We lived in a tiny house that had an outdoor staircase. There were three rooms downstairs, and three rooms upstairs. The boys were in school, my husband worked in Paris. I was at home with Julia, my tiny girl, my dog Fudge, and our cat Felix.

We walked the boys to school each day, and at lunchtime walked to the school to get them. Two other children lunched with us – their mother worked and I offered to take them. We had microwave hotdogs most days – the kids loved them, and the French children told their parents, who were amazed. Microwave hotdogs, a yogurt, a fruit, and some veggie or salad. And Julia, in her little baby seat at the table. I don’t remember being lonely or bored. The house was tiny but the garden vast, and the neighbors were friendly and often dropped in. I had a vegetable garden, and grew most of our salad and tomatos, our corn, pumkins, and our zucchini. I also loved flowers, and planted blue borage and pansies around the rose bushes.

A year passed. We moved from the tiny house with the outdoor staircase to a drafty old converted barn in a nearby village. The boys were in elementary school, but I had to drive them now. Julia slept well, and some mornings I would leave her in her crib while I dropped the twins at school. In my purse, was a note and the house key in case I got in an accident. Fudge, our dog, lay in front of Julia’s room. She stood guard. We took walks every day – often with Fudge pulling Julia’s stroller like a sled dog. Julia loved blackberries and as we walked by the hedges, she’d reach up and pull down the little berries, popping them in her mouth. Those are the images I have of her as a baby. A sweet, serious girl who called her brothers “Ada and Ada”, and bread was “Yumgunga”.

The years go by too fast. When she was five, Fudge passed away and we got Rusty, who was always Julia’s dog. She made Halloween costumes for Rusty, wove crowns of flowers for her to wear, and trained her to do circus tricks. When Auguste came along, seven years later, he joined the dog circus. She loved to train them, so it came as no surprise when she taught her horse to bow for treats. The years fly by. So much to remember – the good and the scary – the horse shows, the broken toe, the heart surgery (four – but thankfully minor surgeries each time, though horribly painful). Walks in the forest, Christmas shopping in Paris, spending summers in New York and in Spain, making snowmen, her pink bike and yellow boots, her never-ending cheerfulness.

More years fly by. Highschool, and graduation, and college – where did time go? She had successes and failures, but success never went to her head, and failure never defeated her. Last year she completed her studies, passed her last teaching exam, and this year she has three classes of her own – 7th and 8th grades for English, and she’s planning a Harry Potter themed “students arriving at Hogwarts” course, to get them in the mood! It’s her birthday, and I wish her all the bright and shiny things in life. But looking back, I realize it’s also the small, sweet things that make me smile. The blackberries crushed her her fist, the egg she tried to hatch, going to a park with her wearing a plastic tiara, walking in the fields with the dogs, the look on her face when he realized Kalin was hers to keep, and her amazing record of catching 123 fish in a day at the lake- never beaten!

21371300_1511128158948779_7682788313925698158_nHappy birthday, beautiful woman. I love you way past the moon and back – way past Jupiter, Pluto, and the Milky Way Galaxy.  I can’t wait to read your books, and see what you make of your life. I will always admire you, I am so very proud of you.

 

 

Faramir’s Daughter ~ Chapter 6

The Wedding.

My father and mother accompanied me to the Southern Lands. Neither had ever been there. Also with us were the King and his Queen. Only then did I realize the importance of my marriage. The King and Queen had one son. He was five years old, and already whispers had it that he was betrothed to the King Under the Mountain’s daughter.

Royal marriages were made to strengthen bonds between people so that wars never happened again, explained my father. The King and Queen had no daughter, but I, as the daughter of the highest noble of the kingdom, would represent her. In fact, they would give me away at my wedding, not my own parents.

I knew the King and Queen well enough. He was often away, but when he came home, he loved nothing more than the peace and quiet of his own garden. His wife, an elf princess, was the most lovely woman I knew. She was kind, empathetic, loved by all. During our voyage south, as we sailed on barges down the river towards the great desert, she tried to comfort me the best she could. Her sympathy for my fate was evident, but she never once told me she felt sorry for me.

You are doing a great deed for your home and family,” she told me. “Forever have men from the South fought men from the North. Your brother married a princess who left her home and family. You will marry a warrior prince and bring honor to us all. I am sure you can. Otherwise, we would not have chosen you.”

I was young. I was heartbroken. I wished I had not been chosen. I was also wise, and kept my thoughts to myself. I think I hid my sobs at night. In the morning, I was careful to bathe my swollen eyes with cucumber water before breakfast. I still had some pride.

Faramir’s Daughter ~ Chapter Five

There was nothing wrong with love from my point of view. And he was smitten as well. Both of us trembled at each others touch. A single glance, and my heart pounded madly. We lost ourselves in chaste kisses. Beneath the table, our feet found each other and entwined. If there was a dark corner, we would find it and embrace. I was delirious with joy, my parents would be so happy, I thought, to welcome Halthro into our family. We would live at the mountain hall – we would raise horses and children.

I was fifteen. I had never considered myself beautiful, but Halthro made me feel beautiful. And for me, Halthro was the most handsome of men. As he rode off on his stallion to bring in the herds, my heart was full to bursting when he turned to wave at me.

My brother’s wife had just borne her fourth child, a daughter at last. The pregnancy and birth had been difficult. My brother was tired and not as attentive as he should have been. I was allowed to run wild that summer – but suddenly Janne was there – my mother had decided that Fraya could use some help, and so sent her maid to tend to her.

Janne knew me well. Just one glance, and she took me by the chin. “Who is it, child?” she asked, keeping her voice light.

She fooled me. I thought she was on my side. “Halthro,” I said, a deep blush staining my cheeks. “He’s wonderful, don’t you think?”

The next day, I was packed up and sent home. My bewilderment was complete. I had no idea why. No one told me anything beyond, “You’re going home, today.”

It wasn’t until I was on my horse, heading home, that it hit me. I wouldn’t see Halthro when he came back with the herds. I stopped, turned my horse, and a guard caught my reins.

No.” He said nothing else, but his grip was firm and I dared not protest.

When I arrived home, my mother cloistered me in my room. I stayed there for a month. Again, I was so naive I didn’t realize why. When my menses came, my mother called me to her room and then I learned everything. How I was never to return to the Mountain Hall. How I’d never see Halthro again. How I was leaving at first frost to the Southern Lands. I was to start organizing my household now. She would help me. Everything had to be ready. Linens, clothes, jewelry, candles…I heard it all through a sort of fog. My head ached and ached. I thought perhaps I’d die. My heart had been broken. I don’t know what broke it more – leaving Halthro or finding out my parents didn’t trust me. I was a virgin. All they had to do was ask me, not lock me up like a criminal. The hurt I felt ran deep, and I started to hate my parents. Perhaps it was a good thing. Part of me was anxious to get away from them. It made getting ready to leave almost easy.

I had four months to prepare. I was sixteen. I felt ancient.

Faramir’s Daughter ~ Chapter Four

Faramir’s Daughter

The next four years passed quickly. Boromir and Lorell had three charming girls, and Sam and Fraya had three boisterous boys. I was an aunt, and I spent a great deal of time with Lorell and her daughters. Lorell was a pure product of the city’s old ways. Her parents were nobles, and Lorell had been raised as a noblewoman. In some ways, she didn’t approve of me. There was always an invisible wall between us. I liked Lorell, I loved my neices, but I thought Lorell’s life was limited and boring. She thought I hadn’t been raised correctly and was always trying to teach me to behave.

In the city, I was member of an old and rigid society. There were rules for everything. For visits, for the ceremonies, for socializing. I was expected to stitch needlepoint, to grow an herb garden, and to make the proper prayers to the proper gods at the proper time of year. I could visit my brother and Lorell, but I had to be accompanied by a servant when I left our house. Usually it was my mother’s maid who went with me – Janne. She was an older woman who was always careful to whom I spoke and who spoke to me. In our society, boys were not allowed to approach girls on the streets and chat with them. We were expected to meet at a properly chaperoned house – perhaps at a party or a dance. And we stayed within our social rank. I was a Lady, my mother had been a princess, so I was not expected to befriend commoners.

My father thought it was all nonsense. After the war, there was such a lack of people that it made no sense to divide society into  small groups. My mother agreed. So on the whole, I was freer than most of my friends. But old traditions die hard, and my friends lived sheltered from anyone outside their station in life. I often felt I was astride two worlds – my father’s world, which he both loved and despaired of – and my mother’s world, where everyone was equal and women were freer.

I was always happy to visit Fraya and Sam – I loved the mountain hall so much. And so I begged and pleaded to spend summers there. When I was fifteen, I spent my last summer in the mountain hall. It was the best and worst time of my life. I was young, full of romantic dreams, and I fell headlong in love with one of the horse master’s sons.

Halthro was seventeen, he was tall and blond, and his eyes were as green as the clover in the meadows. I was swept away in a rush of emotions. We met in the stables, behind the king’s graves, by the river, in the valley, on the hillside…whenever we could. We slipped notes to each other, poems and love songs, promising the sun, the stars – the moon.

 

Faramir’s Daughter ~ Chapter Three

Faramir’s Daughter

Chapter Three

My brothers married all the same year. It was a joyful time at our house. Boromir was marrying a daughter of the city, and would return to live here! Sam married a girl from my mother’s clan. Lucky Sam! He would live in the mountain hall and his children would be raised on sweet mare’s milk and wildflower honey. Frodo’s wedding was last. He would marry here, then take his bride to the northern kingdom where he’d made his life. His bride came from the southern lands. She was a princess, and she arrived early in the summer with all her retinue.

I was twelve now, and old enough to believe in romance. Everything about that year was romantic. Boromir, with his dark-haired, solemn wife was now living close by, so that I saw him nearly every day. His wife, Lorell, spoiled me and seemed happy to have me visit. Sam was there too, with his red-haired Fraya. Fraya bought me a pony and a jar of honey, and she and Sam laughed and smiled so much that everyone looked at them, sighed, and said, “what a lovely couple!”

Frodo’s princess bride came in a curtained palanquin. We didn’t see her until the day of the marriage, and even then, throughout the ceremony, she wore a red veil that covered her from head to foot, even her face. Her arms, when she reached to take the ceremonial golden chain, were brown as cinnamon, and slender. Her hands were decorated with henna. When the vows were finally spoken, she slid her veil off, and stood before my brother, naked.

I hadn’t been expecting that, and gave a little gasp. Everyone else must have known, because there wasn’t a sound from the crowd. My brother bent, picked up her veil, and draped it over her shoulders, covering her nakedness. Then he lifted her hand and kissed it, sealing their marriage.

The princess stared over his shoulder. Her eyes were fixed on something only she could see. I couldn’t tell if she was happy or sad. Then she turned her head and looked straight at me.

I thought she was beautiful. Her skin was like caramel, her hair black as jet and wildly curly. Her lips were full and yet firm, like the rest of her body. Slender and strong. But her eyes were her best feature. Long, heavy-lidded and as dark as night. She had curly lashes, and her brows arched high on her pure forehead. She looked at me for what seemed a long while, and then the corners of her mouth lifted ever so slightly in a tiny smile.

That week there were parties and festivities – torches burned in the streets until dawn, and there was singing – strange tunes sung to strange instruments – as the Southern people bid farewell to their princess.

She and my brother went north to live in the city by the sea. I never saw her again. I wish I had. I wish I had had time to speak to her when she was with me, but I was shy, I was young, and anyway, we didn’t speak the same language. Then, the next week, everyone was gone. The princess and Frodo to the north, her people, the singers, the instruments, the fire jugglers and performers gone back to the Southern lands.

Faramir’s Daughter ~ Chapter Two

Faramir’s Daughter

Chapter Two

I didn’t know when I was to be sent away, but I’d always expected it. When I was two, my brothers, all three of them, were sent away to be pages. That is my first memory. We rode down to the river together as a family, and waved goodbye to a ship that bore my brothers away. I can clearly recall the sound of seagulls and the smell of fish and tar, the sound of wood creaking and water splashing against the hull of the ship. I can see my three brothers, lined up on the deck, wind in their hair, waving. We waved back. My mother cried. She was a warrior princess, but she’d tied her heart to her sons.

My father held me on his lap and said, “you’ll have to help your mother now.” Those are the first words I can remember him saying to me.

I was two, and my brothers were eight, nine and nine. Boromir, the youngest, was going to Rohan, to be a page for my uncle. Frodo and Sam, the twins, were going to a city in the far north, near the sea, to be pages for a mighty king. Boromir was named after my father’s brother, a great warrior. Frodo and Sam had been named for two Hobbit heroes who had won the war, carrying a magic ring to the dead lands of Mordor. The dead lands were still dead, but they were no longer wicked. There were no more wizards, no more goblins or trolls, and no more necromancer kings. The volcano in the middle of Mordor had ceased to smoke and belch fire and lava, and there were signs of life. Small bushes, tough grass, fern and vine had started to cover the sharp, volcanic rock. In a hundred years, there would be a forest there. The ents watched over the land, and our people guarded its border.

When I was old enough to ride, I’d accompany my father on his trips to the gates of Mordor. Behind them, we could see bare cliffs, the dust devils whirling along their tops.

My father said, “It used to be a different land. Mostly scrub, unfit for farming but good for raising sheep and goats. The farmers left when the wizard built his tower, and things went from bad to worse. We, in the city, saw what was happening, and we did nothing. We believed it was none of our business.” My father stopped, and we let our horses graze on a patch of grass. After a while, he said, “and on the other side of Mordor are the great Southern Plains.”

He looked at me sadly as he said this, but I didn’t realize that he was trying to tell me something.

To be continued….(Chapters posted every 2 days or so)