In the bright mornings, we need to stay strong with the fear of our shadows, since they continue to follow us, attached as they are to our feet, and those feet can run as fast as they can, but the shadows will still be with us, like projections of our darkness within, which doesn’t leave either.
While some women run with the wolves, other women are wolves—in this case: assassins, the main one (Sam, short for Samantha) having followed her mom into the business and is joined by a young girl through a quirk of fate and the young girl shows interest in assassin as a career choice, but thankfully Sam strongly discourages that, and we’re left to wonder (maybe just me) that if Sam’s mom owned a craft foods market, would Sam have followed in that business—but then, they don’t make movies about craft foods markets (or maybe they do, and I’ve missed them), yet that’s a detour I’ve unfortunately taken, which is kinda like Sam’s career, because through her choices, the male-run organization that used to employ her shifts to putting a bounty on Sam’s head, turning her into John Wick with lipstick, which is a nice little rhyme but is unfair because Sam is her own person, not John Wick or Jane Wick or Candle Wick—she’s Sam, short for Samantha, and she’s a wolf you don’t want to mess with.
(Speaking of wolves, the fierce anthology We Are Wolves contains horror short stories by female writers. My review of the book is here.)
You say bees spent much effort to make this honey, so we need to respect it: bud growing to blossom to blossom’s joyful weeping over the wonder of being alive to bee’s delicate drinking of the flower’s tears while the bee humming-whispers, “I’ll treat this with love, my friend” to sharing nectar with another bee at the hive to placing it in the comb and whipping their bee wings to create a gentle whirlwind that removes moisture and thickens the nectar into honey. So we should whisper “thanks” to the bees while drizzling honey on toast or whatever else suits your fancy.
I don’t typically write about politics on my blog, but I wanted to say it’s powerful to listen today to the testimony by four police officers about the riot at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. Videos from that day were mind-blowing in the violence toward officers. The testimony from the four officers feels more detailed, as they relay their experiences of being attacked and injured.
The officers who are testifying: Harry Dunn, Aquilino Gonell, Michael Fanone, and Daniel Hodges. The first two are from the U.S. Capitol Police, and the second two are from the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department.
I’m listening on NPR, and they have an article about it here.
Quoby the question mark hopped off his bike and locked it to the bike rack. (Please don’t ask me how the question mark rode the bike, as I don’t know.) Then Quoby, with a large towel hanging from his shoulder, walked the short path over a grass-pocked dune to the beach.
The beach opened wide. The ocean stretched to the far horizon. The waves sang their rumbling song. The salt air smelled delicious.
As Quoby walked on the beach, heading toward the ocean, a group of ampersands met him. The ampersands formed a wall blocking Quoby’s way.
“Hey, bud,” an ampersand said, “I don’t know what you’re thinkin’, comin’ here. You got to know this beach is only for us ampersands.”
“Yeah, mac,” another ampersand said. “Ain’t there a beach just for you guys?”
“There is,” Quoby said. “I’ve been there lots of times. But I wanted to try something different today. What’s the harm in me sitting on your beach?”
“What’s the harm? Ha.” An ampersand flexed his downward slope. “We can’t go mixing ampersands and question marks. That ain’t right.”
“What’s not right about it?” Quoby asked.
“Because it ain’t, that’s why,” the ampersand said.
“Yeah, it’s been this way for years, and it’s working just fine,” another ampersand said.
“But what if we mix it up?” Quoby asked. “What if some of you guys come to our beach, and some of us go to your beach? Wouldn’t that be neat to try something different?”
“Ain’t nothing neat about that.” The ampersand flexed his slope again, this time with a sneer on his face.
“I’ve never seen a question mark this close!”
The grownups looked down at the owner of the new voice. A small ampersand with a light-blue floaty encircling her middle. Water dripped from her, making dark spots on the sand.
“Go back to your family,” an adult ampersand said to the little ampersand.
“But I want to see the question mark!” the young ampersand said. “It’s so funny looking! Hey mister, aren’t you uncomfortable with that big curve on top and that little dot at the bottom?”
“Not at all,” Quoby said. “It’s who I am. I can’t control that, and I like it.”
“I like being an ampersand!” she said.
“Good,” Quoby said. “You should be proud of that. And there’s nothing wrong with being a question mark either.”
“That’s not what Mom and Dad say. They say you people are weird. But not as weird as the dollar signs.”
“You might think we’re weird because we’re different than you,” Quoby said. “There’s nothing wrong with looking different and having different purposes than other people.”
“That’s enough out of you,” an adult ampersand said. “Get back where you came from. You’re causin’ trouble, and we don’t need no trouble in front of the children.”
Quoby scanned the faces of the adult ampersands lined up before him. Also, he noticed the many other ampersands were looking from their places on beach towels and chairs. As if he and the nearby ampersands were on a stage, and an audience watched with keen interest. Quoby figured nothing good would’ve come from him pressing his wish to spend the day on this beach. The nearby ampersands probably would’ve beaten him up. He would’ve limped back to his bike. He would’ve struggled home. The bruises would’ve taken a while to heal.
“I don’t want to trouble you on this fine day,” Quoby said. Then he looked at the young ampersand and said, “You had courage to come over here. I hope you have the courage to ask questions. It’s very good to ask questions about the things around you.”
The young ampersand nodded her head.
As Quoby walked back over the grass-pocked dune, he worried that the ampersands would jump him and beat him up. Thankfully, they didn’t. He unlocked his bike, got on, and pedaled toward the beach populated by question marks. Quoby was disappointed, but he was glad for going to Ampersandy Beach today.
Two story tellers are in this book, as the overall story is told by Barak, who has survived a war. He is haunted by watching his friends die in that war.
In his PTSD, Barak isolates himself in the small village and doesn’t spend much time with the other villagers. He prefers fishing on the river alone and creating wooden carvings alone in his hut. Barak weaves a bitter story in his opinion of the villagers, as he judges them for moving on from the war and putting the memory behind them.
The object of Barak’s harshest judgement is Almaz, the story teller who has come to the village. Stories can have the ability to draw us into their worlds, and Barak dislikes Almaz for doing that to the villagers. Yet Almaz offers to help Barak try to find peace from his war memories.
Sara Kjeldsen has crafted a powerful voice in Barak, and that makes for an interesting story. Because Barak is not a one-speed character. Along with his haunted memories, he enjoys looking at beauty in the natural world around him. And he’s conflicted about what decisions to make.
“All of us are little more than stories ourselves,” Almaz says. And the kind of stories we tell ourselves is important, shaping how we see ourselves and the world. This book is a great example of that.
Go ahead and show me any vampire from TV, movies, books, whatever. show me any coiffed, charming, well-dressed, teenage heartthrob vampire with clean, non-blemished pale skin and incisors so sharp they gleam and make those little ting! sounds like swords.
Show me any of those vampires.
None of them repeat none can hold a candle to the pure, maniacal evil of the blood-sucking fiends known as mosquitoes.