Archive | January 2018

When Tis Done – Part 30

When Tis Done coverWhile listening to a recording that Cliff made of Evageline Cayce’s writings, they discover something interesting. Opal Cayce wasn’t the girl’s birth mother. They find a portrait of the Cayce family, which shows all of them, except Olivander, who wasn’t yet born.

“Evangeline was the eldest. She was fourteen when this was painted,” Jordan said.

“How do you know that?” Chase asked.

“Says on the wall,” she pointed to a plaque. “This was painted the summer a few months before the big Halloween battle. Boy, Opal looks like a bitch, doesn’t she? What a scowl!”

The dark haired woman did look sour. She was a pretty woman, but something had warped her personality until she was mean and twisted.

“That’s Evangeline,” Marissa said, pointing to a pretty blonde who stood right next to her father.

The brooding Opal was dark of complexion and her hair was nearly ebony in color. It was doubtful, given what they knew of genetics, that she was Evangeline’s mother. Besides, there were no shared features between the teenager and the woman. Several of the younger children looked more like their mother than their father, except for the eldest son. He looked more mulatto than white.

“Look at these kids,” Brian said. “They can’t all be Opal’s. They don’t look a thing like her, but look a hell of a lot like their dad.”

“Well, he had kids on both sides of the sheets,” Marissa said primly. “Men and their dalliances….”

“I think Luminous can be excused a little bit,” Jordan said. “If you were married to someone like Opal, how would you like it? I think he showed restraint not choking the woman in her sleep.”

“She was still the mother of his children,” Brian said solemnly. “That may not seem like a big deal to some, but to a man like Luminous, that would mean everything. He might not have loved her, but he honored the fact that she’d nurtured his seed.”

It was a strangely archaic way to say it, but those were the words he chose. He’d had Luminous in his head. He knew, although the other man had tried, he hadn’t loved his wife for several years. Because she was his wife, he had children with her, but he found love in other places. Acknowledging his children from his mistresses, had infuriated Opal. She felt that her children, those of the lawful union, were the only ones that were important. She didn’t like the fact that his other women were allowed to be part of the household and did her best to undermine them. She drugged and seduced her husband in order to conceive Olivander, the baby who was born after her death.

“She bore my fruit six times,” Brian said.

“Hm, what?” Jordan shook her head, glaring at him. “Your fruit?”

“Sorry. I still get flashbacks of Luminous from time to time. His fruit. I haven’t had any fruit,” he complained.

“Nope, only nuts,” Chase joked, nudging his friend.

“Oh, ha ha. Thanks for that reminder.”

“I understand, Brian. I shared with Opal, remember? Sometimes, I still can sense her. It makes me feel dirty inside and I want to do IV Clorox. Fortunately, I wasn’t with her as long as you were with Luminous.”

“She had him under some sort of compulsion spell,” Brian said. “She used sex to do it.”

“Sex would do it for most men,” Chase remarked.

Marissa punched him.

“What? She’s hot, in a completely psychotic bitch sort of way. She’s totally do-able. Wouldn’t you say, Brian?”

His friend was too smart to reply, but he secretly agreed. When he’d had Luminous inside him, and Jordan had been possessed by Opal, he’d lusted after her even more than usual. Some of that desire lingered, as if he hadn’t completely dispelled Luminous. He certainly hoped Opal was gone, because she was the kind of crazy that they didn’t need. And he couldn’t even imagine hurting Jordan again. The idea made him a little sick.

“So,” he forced himself to speak. His voice sounded loud in the echoing room. “We know that Evangeline had to have gotten her Dreamer blood from her dad.”

“Could have been from her mom,” Marissa interjected.

“Unlikely. Her mom wasn’t of the Circle— Or maybe she was. Hell, he could have been doing them all and we wouldn’t know,” Chase said.

The girls each punched an arm.

“Ow! Yeah, hit me for being honest! Not everyone’s Puritanical.”

“Stop,” Brian said. “Okay? To a lesser or greater degree, we all feel it. Us probably more than the girls…. But honest to God, Chase, if you don’t stop talking about how Marissa’s a prude and you want to get laid, I might have to hit you myself. You don’t want that.”

Chase examined his friend. He hadn’t really paid attention to how much Brian had grown. Not only was he taller, he’d filled out as well. His muscles were well toned from working out with Jordan and her father. Where two years ago he’d looked like a big, gawky kid, now he looked like a man in his prime. The glower on his face made him quite fierce.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 29

When Tis Done coverBrian and Jordan arrive at the archives building and catch Chase and Marissa in a personal moment – just kissing, but surely more than they had shared the day before. Jordan is glad to see then are making progress, but knows they still have a long way to go.

Chase jabbed his ribs. “What do you want to look at today?”

“Do we have any records from the last local Dreamer?”

“Yeah. We have recordings out the ass. Dad read through all the hand written stuff and recorded it. It took him years. He has the papers here and he also made copies, because the originals were getting too brittle to handle. Why?”

“I’ve got something I need to look for. Is it indexed where I can search it, or do I have to search each file?”

“I don’t know. Let’s look. Tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll see what I can find.”

Brian told him about the Shakespeare quote. To his surprise, his friend’s face lit up.

“Holy wow, I was just listening to something about that yesterday. Or the day before. Edgar Cayce wasn’t the only Dreamer, as you know. You’re kin to him, but there have been others. Dad found records of someone else. Apparently, they aren’t quite as uncommon and isolated as we thought. The really talented, prophetic Dreamers, like Edgar Cayce, and you, those are extremely rare. But there are some who also got Dreams, theirs were just more open to interpretation. However, one lady was really accurate. And Dad had just finished recording her papers right before….”

Brian sensed his friend’s mood and interrupted to save him embarrassment. “Really? Who?”

Chase pulled a CD case from a shelf, handing it to his friend.

“Evangeline Cayce? Luminous’ daughter? She was a Dreamer?”

“A damn good one, too. I’ve listened to some of this stuff while I’ve been working in here. Dad was listening to this CD before he was killed. I found it when we cleaned up.”

“And you think that’s significant.”

Chase nodded. “Because, on this CD, she talks about that quote. She had a similar dream.”

“What happened afterward?”

“The battle with Opal and Luminous and the infamous Mr. D.”

“She foretold that?”

“Not exactly. She wasn’t able to interpret the dream, she was only a kid about our age. But she knew something bad was on the horizon. Listen to this one.”

“Let’s put it in while we clean up and put things away.”

His friend hesitated a moment. “It’s just—the only time I listen to these, I’m alone. Hearing his voice….”

“I know, Chase. But if you can’t get weepy in front of the three of us, who can you? Besides, if I know Jordan, she’ll be right there with you.”

Chase forced a laugh. Turning on the CD player that was hooked into half a dozen speakers, he started the player.

“Diary of Evangeline Cayce. Twenty-fifth September, 1713,” Cliff’s calm baritone filled the building. “Last night, I had a dream. It was most vivid and perplexing. I told Father about it and he was quite vexed, though not with me. Words floated before my eyes, a voice speaking them in a low tone. I heard it as distinctly as if it were in the room with me. If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly. Father says it was written by a man called William Shakespeare nearly a century ago. I don’t know what it means, but it has played in my dreams for seven nights running. I wake with disquietude deep within my soul. I know something bad is coming.

“Father tells me I mustn’t worry and Mama tells me I mustn’t speak to anyone about it, most especially Father. But he seems to understand more of what is happening to me than she. Mama has a bitter spirit at the best of times, but as she increases, her temper flares like fire and oil. Father says we must excuse her behavior. She isn’t feeling well in this unseasonable heat. But I think it’s simply that Mama is a wretched person. She doesn’t like me, she’s made that abundant clear. I think this is because she knows she has no real control over me, as she is not the one who gave me birth.”

“What?” Jordan screeched. “Hold up. Go back!”

Chase pressed the pause button.

“What?”

“Didn’t you catch that? Opal Cayce wasn’t Evangeline’s mother. Curiouser and curiouser….”

“Do we have any pictures of Luminous and his family?”

“We do. It’s back here.” Chase led the way to the back room.

It was somewhat spooky back there and the girls didn’t really want to go. Chase wasn’t crazy about it either, but Brian walked in without a care. His attitude made the rest of them a bit more bold—or it might have been that they didn’t want to appear cowardly in face of his bravery. The portrait hung high on the far wall. It showed Luminous, Opal and eleven of their twelve children. Though the artist hadn’t shown it, given the apparent ages of the others, Opal may have been pregnant with Olivander when it was painted.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Chaos in a Teacup – Part 7

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dellani photo dark redA favorite question asked by chat show hosts, like me, is “Where does your inspiration come from?” Or, we might ask, more specifically, where the inspiration for a specific book came from. Why do we do this? Well, because it’s a good question, and it drives authors crazy.

Inspiration can come from anything, anywhere. Quite often, we can’t pinpoint it to a specific moment. The idea wasn’t there, then it was. It can be a word in conversation, something we see on TV, a traffic snarl, a mud puddle. (This last one is mine, I confess.)

It was a wonderful idea for a short story, back when I was in college. I was walking from the Fine Arts building, across a narrow driveway to he McDonald’s, and a car splashed through a mud puddle. It swirled in a dreamy, hypnotic fashion, making me think of cream swirling in a cup…

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When Tis Done – Part 28

When Tis Done coverAs they are heading to meet Chase and Marissa, Brian and Jordan have a very frank talk about their relationship.

Brian nodded, biting his thumb. “That’s one reason—I know I sound like a total asshole, okay? But that’s one reason I feel so compelled….”

“To make love? Because you don’t want to die a virgin? Get a grip, Casey!”

“Not that, Jordan. To show you how much I love you. One or the other of us could die, and we haven’t shared that yet. I know that our dads were with other girls, but I don’t want anyone but you. I can’t imagine my life without you, and I can’t even think of taking that step with any other girl.”

Jordan stifled a sob. She’d thought all this time that it was just the typical teenage guy desire, but it was much more than that. She could feel it in his words.

“I’m worried about what’s coming, Jordan. This is more than we’ve ever faced before. The dreams are getting more real, but they’re still vague. I don’t have many details. I just know that there is a very real possibility that one of us could die. I listened to my dreams this morning, and I kept saying the same thing over and over. I looked it up, it’s a quote from Macbeth. If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly.

“What does it mean?”

“It’s during one of Macbeth’s big speeches. He’s talking about killing Duncan and the right and wrong of it. He’s trying to justify killing a man who doesn’t really deserve to die. His wife wants him to. She’s an ambitious bitch. Macbeth is happy with his position and likes his king. I have no idea why it’s important to us. I don’t think that particular aspect is the thing. I think it’s the quote itself. It’s telling us to make a quick end of the evil—at least, I think so. Every night, for three nights, I’ve said that at least three times. Freaky, because I don’t do that. I might have the same quote, or the same dream, but never like this. Never this emphatic.”

“Have you told your folks?”

Brian shook his head. “I can’t yet. I have to know more.”

“You should tell them.”

“If I say something now, they’ll freak. Not that this doesn’t deserve a freak-out moment. But something compels me to keep it quiet.”

“You told me.”

Brian glanced at her as he drove. “Yeah. You’re my mate, Jordan. I don’t have secrets from you.”

“You didn’t tell me about jangle balls,” she teased.

Brian blushed. “Not exactly something I feel comfortable sharing with you when we aren’t having sex yet. Kind of keep those details to myself.”

Jordan giggled as they pulled into the parking lot of the historical society building. Though the building had been damaged during last year’s freak storm, the city had rebuilt the historic site. Now, the files that Cliff had so painstakingly collected and copied, were housed here once more.

Chase and Marissa were already there. Brian parked next to Chase’s car. The door stood open, but they didn’t hear anything as they walked in.

“Hello?” Brian called.

They heard noises in the office, sort of scuttling and a thump. Brian held up his hand, signalling Jordan. Moving silently, they made their way toward the office together, flanking the door. Brian turned the knob slowly, easing the door open. It swung silently inward. Suddenly, it crashed back and Chase stood in the doorway with a huge book, raised to swing. His shirt was untucked and unbuttoned. Lipstick smeared his face and his hair was in disarray. When he recognized Brian and Jordan, he looked relieved, but embarrassed. Jordan punched him, making him yelp.

“What’s that for?”

“Having some girl here just to get your rocks off!”

“It’s not what you think!”

“How do you know what I think?”

“You think I’m cheating on Marissa.”

“Because you are!”

“No, he’s not,” Marissa said, coming up behind him. She was dressed, but her hair was a mess and her lipstick was smeared.

“Oh, my God! Did we? Were you?” Jordan blushed, turning away.

“Just kissing,” Marissa said. “I swear. “Well, maybe a little more than kissing, but nothing bad. It’s just, we finally came to an understanding….” She smiled at Jordan, taking her hands, hopping excitedly. “I didn’t know it was so much fun!” She took Jordan aside, babbling excitedly about her relationship with Chase.

Strangely, Jordan didn’t mind. She was glad to see that they had resolved some of their differences. Marissa was still not her most favorite person, but at least she was less of a stick. When the girls had gone, Brian held out his knuckles to Chase. They exchanged a secretive tap.

“It’s not everything,” Chase murmured. “But it’s more than I had yesterday.”

“Just give her time, dude. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Red River Radio Presents What’s Write for Me with Christy, Gary and William

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Wednesday, January 24 from 4-6 PM Eastern on Blog Talk Radio

Can you believe that January is almost over? It doesn’t seem possible. It’s actually chilly in Florida, and they had snow, up north of here, for the first time in about 20 years. Yes, I know it’s way colder in other parts of the country. Why do you think I don’t live there? To help us keep our minds off our troubles, we have some wonderful guests to chat with. So, have a cuppa, grab a mug of joe, or sip a hot toddy and listen in!

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Our first guest is the lovely and talented Christy Nicholas, author of Call of the Morrigú, The Enchanted Swans, The Druid’s Brooch series, Better To Have Loved, and more. Welcome back, Christy! 

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Our next guest is the handsome and talented Gary D. Henry is the author of In the Manor of Heather Black, Witchwoods, Groundsmen of Sleepy Hollow and many more. Welcome Back, Gary! 

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Last, but not least, is the handsome and talented William Beck, author of The Judas Coin, Crosscurrents, Solemn Vow, Red 7 among others. Welcome back, William!

We’ve got quite a selection of genres here, with some truly wonderful guests. This will be quite a show, so be sure to tune in.

 

When Tis Done – Part 27

When Tis Done coverBrian and Jordan help Neil and Cynthia center themselves, helping Neil relax.

Neil burst out laughing. “I knew some Nam vets who used to talk about hopping out of helicopters with their helmets over their nuts. They said they’d rather get shot in the head than lose their testicles. I’m here to tell you, ladies, I completely agree.”

“You’d rather be dead than lose your balls?” Cynthia said with frown.

“Yes. If I couldn’t make love to you, I’d feel like dying,” he replied, forgetting the teenagers.

Wisely, Jordan said nothing, though she was terribly embarrassed by the conversation. She knew instinctively that Brian felt the same way about it. Her heightened awareness of him also told her that he desired her more than ever. She wasn’t ready to give up that part of herself, though. She had plans and goals. Getting married right out of high school wasn’t included in those plans. Though she felt herself drawn to Brian in ways she couldn’t explain, she still put the brakes on when it came to making that commitment.

Brian’s phone rang. Frowning at it, he accepted the call. “Yeah, hi, Mom.” He listened intently, nodding and making non-verbal responses. “Okay. Yes. Will do.” He hung up. “I thought I’d turned that off. It’s weird, though. Even when my phone is off, if Mom calls, it’s on.” He shrugged, putting it in his pocket. “Mom said to tell you that dinner is at seven and you’re both expected. It’s just her, Dad and Jordan’s parents. Everyone else went home. I guess they finally realized that you needed some space. I think Jackie had a lot to do with that.” He smiled at Jordan. “We’re expected to dine with Chase and them. So, we’re gonna go….” He smiled at Neil and Cynthia. “There is one thing that helps the jangle,” he teased, raising an eyebrow. “But I expect you know that better than I do.” Winking, he picked up Lester, slung the bag over his shoulder and headed down the ladder.

Neil’s laugh followed them down. Jordan fussed and scolded all the way back to Brian’s car. He pushed her back against the door and loomed over her, one hand on either side of her head. Without a word, he captured her mouth with his, giving her a powerful, emphatic kiss that lasted several minutes. When he stopped, she held her breath for a few seconds before opening her eyes. Brian’s bright blue eyes met hers, pupils dilated. His breath came rapidly and she could see his pulse throbbing in his throat.

“Don’t make me wait forever, Jordan. I’m not kidding, this is misery. I don’t know if the other guys feel like I do…. Every minute I’m with you is divine torture.”

Jordan touched Brian’s cheek. He kissed her palm, rubbing his cheek against it. The slight rasp of his burgeoning beard tickled her skin.

“A little while longer. I promise, I won’t make you wait much more. Can we be eighteen first? Please?”

He sighed, not wanting to agree, but accepting her decision. She held all the cards. He couldn’t do anything but wait for her. It was awful not having power over this one aspect of his life. Based on what his father, Cliff and Heath had told him, that wasn’t unusual in any relationship. The woman was in control.

“I love you, Jordan. More than I ever thought possible. And I like to think that even if we didn’t have this whole Destiny thing going for us, that we would still be together.”

She patted his cheek. “Keep thinking that, Big Bri. You’re kind of a goof.”

He sighed, shaking his head. “Can you just take me seriously for one second?”

Standing on her tiptoes, she kissed him gently. “I do take you seriously. I love you, too. But you are kind of a goof.”

Laughing, he opened the car door. He lifted her, setting her on the seat before closing the door for her. Brian leaned through the window, giving her another kiss. It wasn’t as powerful as the first one, but it was certainly compelling.

“Don’t forget that I’m your goof and you’re stuck with me until the end of time.”

“Cool.”

“We’re going to Chase’s house for supper. Mom said.”

“Okay. I’m not arguing. What are we doing until then? It’s only four.”

“I can think of a thing or two.” He gave her a slow, seductive smile.

“Brian!”

“I meant the archives. Sheesh, Jordan. Dirty mind! Chase asked if we could meet up and help him and Marissa organize things.”

“Isn’t that Cynthia’s job now?”

“Yeah, but he’ll take over from her eventually. Besides, it helps him feel closer to his dad.” Biting the inside of his cheek, his eyes watered. “I can only imagine how bad he feels. I mean, I thought my dad was dead for awhile, but a part of me knew he wasn’t. But knowing he’s gone and never coming back….”

“Would be horrible,” Jordan whispered. Her eyes filled with tears. “We face the real possibility of losing our parents, or each other.”

Brian nodded, biting his thumb. “That’s one reason—I know I sound like a total asshole, okay? But that’s one reason I feel so compelled….”

“To make love? Because you don’t want to die a virgin? Get a grip, Casey!”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Chaos in a Teacup – Part 6

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dellani photo dark redAs was mentioned in Part 5, characters occasionally go on a rampage, or at least run wild. They don’t heel and they sure as hell aren’t going to apply their own brakes. The first time they do this (or the second, or the twentieth) it can be disconcerting, if not terrifying.

My historical romance, Indian Summer, is a prime example of this. I had, in my foolish naivete, expected the characters to do what I wanted. My intention, when I began the story, was to have Gabriella unhappily married to Manuel, who was to be a drunken gambler who beat her. She would run away, meet Sailfish, and live happily ever after.

Well. That didn’t happen. For starters, Gabriella refused to fall in love with anyone but Manuel. Although he was a bit of a bad boy, he reined himself in, stopped drinking, quit gambling, and became a model…

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When Tis Done – Part 26

When Tis Done coverThe other Circle members arrive, but it’s too much for Neil. He heads to the treehouse in the backyard, where Heath joins him. A short time later, Brian and Jordan arrive, sending the others away, while they help Neil relax.

“Apt way to put it. Yes, and yes.” He shrugged when Cynthia glared at him. “Babe, he’s right. I feel strange inside and out. My hair tingles and my teeth itch.”

Brian’s turn to nod. “Yeah. Not to mention the soles of your feet—pins and needles?”

“Yeah. You felt all that, too?”

“The stories I could tell. But that’s not the important thing. What helped, was Lester.” He pointed to the skull. “If I hadn’t had him, I think I would have gone out of my mind. I know that he’s not going to have the same effect on you, because he’s tuned to me, but he will help. When we get you calmed down a little, Jackie said she’ll help you find a skull of your own. She’s worked with me and Lester a lot the last couple of years. She’s the best teacher I know, next to—to Cliff.” He gulped, swatting tears away with the back of his hand. “I’m not as good a teacher as he was, but one thing I learned was to find the calmness within. That’s what you need, Neil. You need that circle of peace, because right now, there is a huge, gaping, jagged hole right there.” He pointed to Neil’s chest, just under his left pectoral muscle.

“I feel it,” Neil admitted. “That’s where Cliff used to be.”

“And we’re going to bring part of him back—to both of you. He’s still with us, we just can’t see him. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to feel him.”

“You can do that?” Jordan was stunned. “How did you learn that?”

“It came to me in a dream. We ready?” He grinned, nervous energy flowing from him.

Neil straightened his shoulders. “Strangely, I am.”

They joined hands once more, going through their relaxation and meditation routine. When he felt they were ready, Brian put their hands on the skull. A tingling started in their fingertips, running up their arms. It burst from them, meeting at the skull before twining together, spiralling upward. A dark green came from Neil, rosy pink from Jordan, amber yellow from Cynthia and a deep indigo from Brian. The strands wove together, creating a multicolored spectrum which built a cage-like lattice work that wove in with the wood of the tree house.

“This house is made of oak, ash and thorn,” Brian said. “The boards were soaked in rowan berry juice, giving it this distinctive color. It was built as a refuge, to protect and nurture us. This tree is an ancient oak, which has been alive for over three hundred years. It was a sapling when Luminous Cayce deeded this land to Henrietta and Aldus Finley after their battle with Opal.”

“How do you know this?” Neil asked.

“I remember reading it in some of Cliff’s documents. You wouldn’t believe the wealth of information in those archives. Even if I’m not archivist, I’m learning what I can. Everything we know will help us in the next battle.”

“So, you believe it’s coming soon?” Neil asked.

“Yes. And it’s going to be a storm unlike any other. I’m glad we have you, Neil. You’re a warrior. You know how to think in battle strategy. We will need you more than you can possibly imagine. But you need to find your center. Much of what you’ve learned will come back to you when you find it. Right now, you’re in a flat spin.”

That was exactly how Neil felt. A flat spin, spiralling rapidly downward. Closing their eyes once more, the four of them concentrated on finding their spiritual centers. It was a worthy exercise for the others as well. Brian talked quietly and calmly, guiding them through the most basic of rituals. What seemed to be minor to the members of the center circle, something they did daily, was a behavior that Neil had never learned. When it was over, they opened their eyes. Neil smiled, his eyes meeting Cynthia’s across the circle.

“Better,” he whispered. “Thank you, Brian. That’s exactly what I needed.”

The young man grinned, nodding. “Lester is pretty freaking cool. He’s gotten me through some difficult times. How’s the itching, tingling and jangling?”

“Bearable. The tap dance is down to a soft shoe and the jangling’s more like a jingle. Still there, though.”

“Yeah, it comes and goes. If it’s any consolation, it does get better. Or maybe you get used to it.”

“Do you feel that?” Cynthia asked Jordan.

“Not what Brian’s describing. Except for the tap dance on the spine.”

“Girls wouldn’t get the ball thing,” Cynthia teased.

“Do not make fun,” Brian said seriously. “You have no idea how disconcerting it is.”

“Not having testicles, no,” Jordan said stiffly. “Can we change the subject. Talking about—those—is a bit weird and uncomfortable for me.”

Brian squeezed her fingers. “Sorry, babe. You have to realize that, for a man, that’s the most important thing. The protective cup was invented at least a decade before the football helmet, remember.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Slightly Sarcastic…. by Dellani

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Sassy Sarcastic

Last month, Rachel Rueben shared a post which stated, in part, that children can understand sarcasm by age six. It also said that people with frontotemporal dementialack the ability to understand it. I wasn’t terribly surprised about the comment about children. My granddaughter, who turned 9 in September, is possibly the most sarcastic child on Earth. I can’t confirm this scientifically, because I don’t know every child on Earth. However, I do know my granddaughter, and she’s extremely sarcastic. (You see my line of reasoning, it’s sound—ish) Considering that she comes from a long line of sarcastic people: her parents, their parents and their parents, it’s really not surprising. It will be interesting to see how her little sister fares in this sarcastic environment. I lay bets that the younger one will be even more scathing and sarcastic than her older sister. But give her time, okay? She’s only…

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When Tis Done – Part 25

When Tis Done coverThe morning after the ritual, the other members of the Circle arrive after breakfast. Cynthia knew they were coming, but had forgotten to tell Neil. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to bother him as much.

Neil and Cynthia cleaned up their breakfast and Neil made another pot of coffee. They gathered in the family room, largely devoid of furniture, sitting on the floor like teenagers. All of them were casually, comfortably dressed and were barefoot. Jackie unwrapped a ten inch crystal, putting it in the center of their circle. She set it on a purple cloth and scattered flowers around the base. She gave each of them a small, crystal skull to hold. It seemed to be random, but Neil knew it was anything but that. The bits and pieces he remembered of their powers, and the properties of stones, he made the connections. Cynthia, who controlled earth and air like her brother, had one made of hematite. His own, as a wielder of fire and water, was made from fire agate. The others also had stones which were compatible with their elements.

Adele handed out bundles of wood chips and herbs tied in neat little bags. These were charms of some kind, though, in his ignorance, he couldn’t identify them. He had no idea how to use any of these things, so it hardly mattered what they were. He knew he’d be told soon enough. Jackie, who often lectured on such things, spent time going over the items with him. Neil did his best to concentrate, but it was difficult. She was going so fast, his head started to ache, his vision swimming before his eyes.

Standing suddenly, he swayed unsteadily. “Sorry. I’m—totally lost. This is—it’s too much. Twenty years is a long time to be away and you’re assuming that I remember anything. I’m sorry.” He dashed from the house, out the backdoor and gone.

Cynthia intended to pursue him, but Heath stopped her. He didn’t run or rush, merely strolled out. He knew where Neil was going. There was a well built tree house on the edge of the backyard. It was a place where he and Cliff had spent a lot of time as teens. They smoked their first joint there, got their first sip of whiskey and each of them had had a woman up there from time to time, though not the women they eventually married.

As he expected, Heath found Neil crouching in the center of the tree house. It had weathered the years fairly well. Heath suspected that Cliff, or maybe Chase, had kept it up. He sat across from his friend, folding his hands in his lap.

“We make assumptions,” he said quietly. “We forget that you haven’t been around this for a long, long time. We think that because it’s easy to us, that it’s easy to you. What is common place and every day in our minds, is completely foreign to others—including you. Even Cynthia has been around it more than you have, these past two decades. For that, I apologize.”

“I put it aside,” Neil said so softly, Heath could barely hear. “I never thought it would be mine and it—hurt—so much. Jackie might as well have been speaking Farsi, it made about as much sense.”

“You’re fluent in Farsi.”

Neil made a face and flipped his friend off.

“But yes, I understand what you mean. And yes, I get it. What would work better? A group setting or just you and me and a bottle of single malt?”

“I don’t like people,” Neil replied. “I mean….”

“Crowds. There’s danger in crowds. I get it. I haven’t experienced anything that you have, but I’m still uncomfortable in a press of people. I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through and I’m sorry that we’re asking you to put yourself in harm’s way again.”

“I went to serve my country because I was needed. I’m taking on this job because I’m needed here even more. But I can’t handle this approach. I need…. Hell, I don’t know what I need.”

Someone was climbing the ladder. Heath was a little surprised to see his daughter. She hadn’t come with them. Jordan smiled at Neil, nudging her father aside so she could sit down.

“I had a feeling that I was needed. Brian brought me over. He’s down there.” She nodded to the ground below them. “He said that he knows how to help. So do I. We’ll need Cynthia and everyone else needs to go,” she told her father.

He nodded, accepting the statement. Climbing down the ladder, he sent Brian up. Cynthia came out a few minutes later and the four of them sat on the floor while the others departed. Brian had a bag over his shoulder. Inside was a purple stone skull about the size of a softball. Its name was Lester and it was the first one he’d had contact with two years ago. Jackie had given it to him as a present for his sixteenth birthday. He set it out on a piece of white cotton cloth. He instructed them to sit at the four points of the compass, with Neil at north and Cynthia at south. He took east, leaving Jordan to the west. They sat close enough for their knees to touch and lightly clasped hands.

“You’re in full freak-out mode,” Brian explained. “We’ve all been there at one point or another. Unlike your folks, ours didn’t tell us anything about who we were or what to expect. I really wish mine had, because let me tell you, it was funky as shit when all these things started to happen.” Realizing that he was babbling about things Neil didn’t know, he stopped, taking a deep breath. “But you’re entitled to your freak out time. Our folks have forgotten what that was like. To them, this is as normal as breathing. To the rest of us, it’s a lot to take in. Your body feels like something’s doing a tap dance on your spine and dude, your balls are jangling, am I right?”

The women looked annoyed and uncomfortable, but Neil grinned.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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