Woman At Wake
by Briar

i. I'm the Girl

He's very sad. He doesn't watch cartoons anymore. Watching him makes this burning ache, right on the chest. Whenever something, well this has never happened before, and especially-

One supposes that, because of the nature of things, digressions are a most common occurrence. Disruptions of daily rituals, habits to be more precise. Not to mention all the spontaniety.

It leaves one time for reflection.

Before the --bad thing happened to Buffy's mom, the others were either overly amused (at somebody's expense) or disgusted by the healthy exercising of sugar and bodies and all things nummy.

Jealousy has been ruled out, because "sharing" about the goodness just tipped the scale over completely to the disgusted end. Which makes no sense.

So, research.

Libido: the desire to live. That is the definition. It's only because the media, primarily the private-sector interests of the hungry and flesh-touting entertainment industry, has bent it so badly that of the definition nothing comes out but the sex hype. At least, outside of books.

Greece is a dim memory. Even so, one can still recall that there was a lot of libido going on.

I think there was sun. Yes.

Wishes. Too many to count. And that's saying a lot. Let's see, memorable ones. Almost all of them. Always points for originality. So many stories to tell.

In the Victorian Era, there was once a young woman. A shipbuilder's daughter, whose widowed father was remarkably endowed with enough discernment to acknowledge the astute talents and skills of his only child, such that his affection and respect for her equaled that sentiment of his peers for their eldest sons. The young woman took a goodly hand in the family matters of finance.

For one reason or another the holdings of the family enterprise were plunged into quick danger; and it was most unfortunate that simultaneous to this grave turn of events, the young woman's father suddenly took ill. A well-dressed, unknown stranger professing honorable intentions entered the scene; upon visiting the offices of the shipbuilding company, he offered his services and resources on the promise to the shipbuilder that the stranger, in turn, might own stock of the company as a partner of sorts. Here, predictability of the stranger's true intentions leaves one in no state of shock.

In the course of months, the stranger had wormed his way into the shipbuilder's utmost confidence; as a frequent guest at their home, he nevertheless faced the palpable distrust and suspicion of the young woman. Exactly nine months after their initial meeting, the shipbuilder took ill again. Filled with resolve that his daughter might live a happy and contented life, knowing "truest love" as he had known with her mother, he asked on his deathbed that she marry the stranger, and she said yes.

Her reserve melting in lieu of his ardent desires, and her own thoughts of her departed father thus gave way to the path of least resistance; they were married.

It was of great surprise to her to find that as a newly-made bride, her husband expected her to partake no more in the man's world of finances. The offices she'd known and managed so well now became a world with doors hinged closed. According to the will, the husband was sole proprietor of said offices, etcetera, etcetera.

It was an even greater shock to learn from her husband that her father's death had been foreseeable, and conclusively inescapable. Her father had been poisoned. By her pond scum husband.

But the greatest shock of all was to find that she loved him. A tiny spark, though no match had been struck, had somehow ... crept- in, wriggled its way into the crevices reserved solely for the wonderful old man that had been her father. She loved him. Which made the pain of betrayal all the more acute.

A very resourceful young woman, she refused adamantly -well, to herself and in her thoughts- to become the passive, breeding cow her beloved would have her be. She realized that the marriage altar had been built by lies when she'd sealed the bargain with the man her father had chosen and accepted.

Breaking a deal not made in good faith could not be reprehensible. And she had fulfilled her blood-oath promise.

A different altar was built, to call upon the forces of the powerful Anyanka, Patroness of the Righteous. Judgment and Vengeance to the callous, murdering brute whose mistress had been the coin.

There would be no honeymoon.

She smiled at the fish, medium sized and strange, as it flopped miserably on the banks of the Thames. Fish mouth opening, closing, gills expanding, tail and body flapping in a whiplash dance of hurt and terror. It was pretty entertaining, actually. And the young woman whose newly-made groom had run off with a load of legal-tender notes smiled at the sad, dead fish while a tear crept low and silent on her cheek.

In modern times, especially of late, it seems a decline in the belief of the mystical hasn't really hurt business that much. Modern women are more apt to take things into their own hands nowadays, it's true. But for the not faint of heart, who opt for the wish and the hands-on fun, it makes for really interesting combinations.

The fish, for example. Flame-broiled. Or there's a kind of sushi where upon exerting pressure on a few nerves so that only the tip of the tail swishes ever so slightly, one really can taste and get the freshest slice available. A very expensive delicacy in many hot restaurants.

All this done in the name of vengeance, love unrequited,undeserved and scorned. So many ways, so many faces, stories and methods. Oh, various pustules, boils and the like. A mall gets fed up gettin' slapped around every time the bootlegged gin never gets to its intended destination. Snap, The Boss toins into a skoit, see, helpless gorgeous young thing. One Sicilian lady literally turned her nefarious husband's appendage into a limp noodle.

It's a scene played many, many times through the ages, on countless stages. Hence the forthcoming supply to the entreaties and pleas. A thousand years answering the call of demand.

I mote it be.

Demotions are painful in the sense that because one has moved on beyond the sphere of experience from that which could only be called "before" it is thus impossible to regain that sense of tunnel vision, when one has gotten quite well-acquainted, and comfortable with being privy to the panoramic wide screen.

All the more so if the experience goes beyond the 3-D to step into a multiplicity of dimensions, all in need of the avenging revenger.

A column of white marble, some rocks, just the faintest smell of...something, and sun. There was sun. Or perhaps it was sandstone. And the smell could have been olives. Or fish. Rocks are a certainty.

There was sun.

To be the instrument, then to be poke-able. It does not follow a sequential order of progress. It's not right. The bet has not panned out. The bubble has burst. The fish has jumped- well, been hurled, really, -out of the pan and into the fire, a scorchy, burning conflagration of...humanity. And one is left quite clueless.

This goes without saying, the lack of clue, but to speak uninterrupted for a day, or a week, or a year would still not even touch this- Or rather, perhaps there are no words enough for the touch, and the feel, inside and out.

Progeny. Joyce has progeny. Two. To carry her... memory. Essence. That which is good, and remains.


There's more to this than dust.


ii. Fuzzy

Doo, doop-da doo, la la la-

Billy Feldman's mom in second grade. It was all wierd and nobody much knew what happened, just that her head exploded one day. In disbelief, the kids at school thought it was cool. And even Billy said so, when he came back three weeks later, and you mean like really exploded? Yeah, REALLY exploded, like a microwaved hotdog -makes me think of this lady, normal lady, who accidently cooked her miniture hotdog-type pooch-dog, or her brother did it or- or when you pop the popcorn. Pop. Boom. Probably a Hellmouth thing, but we thought it was cool, in a really freaky, perverse way. Well, all the boys did. But we didn't even know what perverse meant in the second grade. Beyond perv, 'cause you know, even then everyone knew. But, like, perverse, no, that wasn't understood. Though I probably did. Knew the definition, but didn't understand. Not really. Ostara's coming.

What should we do?

Ostara, of rebirth, and it'll be fresh and new but it won't. It can't. No cute bunnies. No happy. Just, Idon'tknowKnowNOidon'tknowdon't.i don't.

It's kinda part of the job. In a Scoobie kind of way. Every day. After day, after- wait. Night. It all goes down at night.

Sitting and wondering. There are so many things to fix in the world. If we just kept everything on one dimension, no other worlds or hells. Just this one. There are so many things to fix- But really there's not. There's just- - what's there, and the good and the monsters. And all the good is the warm and the safe and the love, and it's so easy, ohgoddess so easy to forget that everything changes, in bad, bad ways, everything is so easily lost...There's water lapping at my knees, milk water because milk baths are very calming, and I'm taking one because I wanted to give Joyce one. Buffy, let me give your Mom a ritual bath, it'd be so much better than staying in the morgue, and she deserves it, there'll be incense and fire and water and herbs and oils...she'll feel so much better, don't it just takes away all the aches and pains she might like it so much ohIdon'tknow, all that positive energy, maybe she'll come back and it'll be, oh, hey Joyce, (hug) Buffy's mom, thanks for all the "hon" and hugs and here's a towel, gonna go now, bye. Winter Solstice, winter, winter

The winter moon is fading. And it's not so cold anymore, everywhere. Excepting it's not the lack of the winter moon, but the fact the moon exists at all. Why does the moon exist at all, and the winter is going, but without the winter moon, there'll be a spring moon, but to invoke it seems just-

Some blessings to share. By calling to the moon. Drawing down the moon, lots of astral forces there, lots of oh, you know, little aural channels leading to places haven't really ever, they're like rabbit holes, and maybe one will, but haven't read anything about how that could be a source- for reaching,

Drawing down the moon...something to be tried? Combine all that power to do- something. Change something, tweak, tweak, tweak for a purpose.

Lots of oils I'd give for Joyce, Carnation to clean, and Honeysuckle to communicate (maybe I can reach her) and Jasmine, for good luck with the closing the communication gap, lots of Verbena 'cause it's strong, resilient stuff for the far-seeing I wanna be seeing, the real far okay.

Frankincense, maybe, to just add that little kick, and am I thinking this might not work-

It's not flamey pain. It's not a something pain. It's a nothing pain. that just sucks. And it won't stop. Like, like a frozen computer. But reboot is not an option.

Dawnie must feel like she's been pumelled and tenderized-

Get some marigold flowers, and rosemary, juniper berries and orange peel, oh Tara used up all the chamomile oil for her hair the other day, but there's saffron still, and we can make it. This'll be the incense. For Saturn. Planet of the- well, sourcepoint for change, but also- 'cuz everyone knows that Saturn's like the planet we need for this one. It's here, dark and gray and solemn. Oh, well at least it's not all the yuck-smelling herbs. That smell really bad. Hey, it could've been nightshade and henbane and hemlock and sicksicksick mullein and comfrey, mandrake, shitshit-

The Chaste Moon, the Seed Moon, and it brings pain. Oh, why does it seem like the days are all blending, lately, and everything's wrong. Everything's wrong. I wonder where Joyce is now. How is she doing. Buffy's mom, Joyce. When I heard, I went kabloey spaz, and now I'm wondering where you've gone. How are you doing, Joyce? Is it warm? Is it cold? Maybe you'll be a red fern in your next life.

Bleeding together, all fuzzy, do the days just go down the drain like dirty water down the porcelain bowl?


iii. Blue Roses

My mother liked to read a lot. She always loved to read. She was an English major before she dropped out of college. When she was little she acted in plays. Mom liked being in skits. She was a pear in one play, and in another one she was Mary. With the little lamb. She did Little-Bo-Peep, too, and I think she also did the Mary that asks how the garden grows. Mom was a candy-striper in high school. Volunteered summers cheering up sick patients. And she was an artist. She'd make drawings. Really good ones. Fruit, and trees. Flowers. Grass and sky, but I never saw her do any of people. She didn't do it much.

When I left, I went through all her stuff. All of it was put away in the attic. And I found the only one I've ever seen, my mother's sketch of someone. It was me. Chubby little girl. I don't remember.


She'd withered on the vine. There was no other way to describe it. Yes, the cancer had been in remission, of course it had been. Without insurance it was hard to tell for sure. If there was something that could've been done- but according to Dr. Aimsley, who had delivered Tara himself, an old family friend of the mother's side of the family, and according to some of the tests at the Free Clinic, the blood seemed okay, then all right, the marrow of her mother's bones were proof-positive that yes, she was fine.

The ash-gray pallor of skin, and her eyes...so tired- that spoke uncomplainingly of some unspoken pain told Tara otherwise. And her father had told Donny in no uncertain terms to lay off on being the living couch-spud for a while, and stop ordering his mother around. Why, he himself had given up the rightful pleasures between a man and a wife, and wouldn't lay nary a hand on her, when it became apparently clear that she just wan't feelin' too well these days. Aww, c'mon sweetheart, you'll get over it in a couple. You'll see.

In an Hispanic Culture lecture the professor had talked about El Dia de los Muertos. The Day of the Dead. And to Tara it hadn't seemed morbid at all. A celebration of the dead, by the living, for the dead. And for the living, too, probably. Mostly. They bring flowers, and mementos, and food. It's kind of like a picnic in the park. All day long, and all night long. Excepting it's in the cemetery. Jamie Greer, who sat to the left of Tara, had exclaimed quite loudly about how...well, weird that was. They'd broken up in groups of three, and the third person in the group was some guy whose first and last name Tara couldn't pronounce. Romanian. "Tz" and "xch" stuck in, she's sure. But he wore glasses, had a funny way of tilting his head at an angle, and every time he went to class he always wore the same thing: Birkenstocks, dark-blue jeans, and a blue-gray turtleneck. Tara noticed that he had gotten new frames.

"I like your frames," she had said.

He'd nodded his head in assent. They looked at pictures, flowers, and candles, and pretty, colored paper flags, decorations and the like, and all kinds of food. There were little calaveras, tiny little cookies shaped just so, and covered in frosting, or dye to look like so many tiny, little skulls.

"Eww," Jamie had said. Birkenstock had just ignored her.

"Overkill of the morbid persuasion."

Tara thought about getting booties for Miss Kitty.


Earlier that day, they'd played in the attic. Donny was asleep and Da wasn't around, Momma's voice, warm arms, lips kissing the top of little girl's head says something about the fields. Momma sings about morning. Streams of dusty sunlight made its way to the floor, and it was all cobwebby. Among the dust and bits of battered, broken furniture, was the scent of something old and precious. Baby Tara looked with wonder at the big, wooden chest. Lots of treasures. Her mother's voice singing.

All day they played in the grass. Then it was dark, and they went home, and by the barn was a bonfire. Hot and crackly, tongues of fire hungry for yards of old material that would never make a dress, and a quilt, and such a lovely pile of books. The scent of something old and precious gone to ash. Little girl presses her face into her mother's skirt, her mother whose knuckles have gone white in the firelight, clutching at fabric, and something else. Flame refracted, such a pretty pretty jewel.

"What's that?"


"Burning the trash. I'm burning the trash. Lemme see. Give it here."

He turns the scrap of paper over in his hand.

"It's just a little poem."

Bonfire flames still hungry barely notice. Blessings burning on a pyre. Little girl watching as flames ate away the castle of her great-grandmother's books, a whirling dervish of ashy snow, leaves flapping to a crispy dark black of char, memories devoured by fire.


Now Tara looked up at the blue, blue sky. It was funny. Her mother's favorite theme had always been the tragedy. Maybe because she knew she couldn't escape it. All the books and her favorite movies, and all these plays where women...died. But her favorite play had been this play whose name Tara couldn't quite remember. She knew she used to know, but at this precise moment she couldn't for the life of her remember...but there had been this girl. And no she hadn't died. She had lived, and she was a cripple, and she couldn't run away.

But she hadn't thrown herself under a train, or drank arsenic, or drowned herself in the sea. No, she had stayed, and stuck around, and God help her, she had lived.

Once, when Tara was young and small, and her mother young and beautiful, she had looked at her daugher with something vaguely disturbing in her eyes, something Tara couldn't discern, like a thorn, or the pinprick of a thorn, (a small thorn?) where you feel it slightly, but still show a kind of quick surprise when you look - and there it is. Little bud, a ball of ruby, birthed by marrow on the tip of skin. (Scarlet warm, not ruby-cold. Tomato soup.)

(but an ill-kind of feeling acquainted the heat, such was this strangeness when met within the familiar)

Her mother, with foreign look, had said "And the wicked shall be crushed underfoot."

Her face was pain. (the eyes) And then she'd shrugged off the strange mood, and hugged Baby Tara, so everything was warm (in that safe, good way) and sweet and safe; all was right. It was just the two of them, playing in a field. Laughing, playing outside. She smelled like sunlight, and apples and love.

Now Tara reached out her hand to gently tug on her lover's own. Slight ache of Tender Wistful, like warm arms drawing a small child into a safe lap. And their fingers entwined, and the sky did not pour, and Tara -very briefly- bit her lip, and made sure that her lover did not tremble.

Joyce had liked blue. So had Tara's mother.

Blue Roses, blue roses- something about blue roses...


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Updates / Silverlake Remix