A woman crossed a great ocean to another continent. This was a long time ago, when anyone could cross to another continent and not face remonstrance. At least, that's what grandmother tells me. She was that woman, with a diplomat for a husband.
Grandmother had a plastic green box, one filled with old needles and thread. She used a needle shaped in a half circle. She would open it, take out a piece of fabric, and sew. When she bought a nicer wooden box, with a glazed finish, she gave me the green one. This was before the floods came, obviously, before the ants took over the crops and attacked anyone who dared pluck a corn ear.
My mother never learned, properly. But of course it was because Mother was shunted off to boarding school, to learn a trade that would feed her, a similarly educated man, and seven children. Mother had to buy clothes from the store and pass them on to her little ones when the older sisters had outgrown their frocks. Yet I longed for handmade clothes that were sewn under candlelight.
Time passed. Grandfather died, so Grandmother came to live with us. Mother had her job and savings but not many supplies, and my siblings had grown up and traveled to better parts. I would have left, but I was needed. Grandmother would tell stories about how her threads had kept children's schoolclothes safe from hawks that would steal their lunch. The king that had overseen the famine and ignored the ants sent a letter. It was addressed to my grandmother, and stamped with the royal crest.
Grandmother read the note. Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. There was no dye, so her eyebrows and hair were stark grey.
"He wants me to make him a new robe," she said. "He must be joking. I haven't sewn like a common tailor for years."
I took the letter. It had the royal seal, a ghastly gold and blue lion, and it had the weight of parchment. I wondered if it would fill my belly if I chewed it, and we were one of the lucky ones.
"Don't do it," I said. "The king never pays people when he wants something like this."
We remembered the wedding cake. Everyone remembered the wedding cake. Afterward, the baker had starved, and no one would bake cakes for the king unless they received handfuls of grain in advance.
I bit on the letter. It seemed the gold was edible. The rest of the seal came off easily, and I tossed the letter in the trash. Burning a letter was too dramatic and could cause a house-fire.
Another note came, a few days later. This time a messenger came, with a pike and dirty stockings. My grandmother was napping, and my mother was scrounging for food.
"The king won't accept a refusal," he said.
"My grandmother's too old to make the trip," I said. "I'll do it. She taught me how to sew."
The messenger gave me a haughty look. He was starving as well, but he had disdain as well.
"You? What makes you think you have her skill?"
"You either use me or you have my grandmother die en route," I snapped. "I made this top and I embroidered it."
I showed off the embroidery along the hem, and the image on the back. It was a blue dragon against black fabric, raging against a storm. The messenger eyed it. He ignored the icy fury in my eyes.
"If you fail, you won't be paid," he warned me.
"Just leave some supplies and let me write a note," I said. "You can at least offer that courtesy."
We did some shopping. Mother and grandmother had enough food to last them for another week. It would have to do. Then I packed my few belongings before we set off. I made sure the plastic sewing box was with me.
Another thing about my grandmother's thread: it has become brittle with age, and could snap easily. The magic in it has twisted and cruel. I could feel my rage entering the faded colors. So I sewed, took his measurements, and mussed up my hair so I wouldn't be seen as pretty.
When the king died later, they claimed his heart had given out. He had been trying on his new robe and showing it off to his mistress.
The embroidery around the neckline had snapped. The fraying threads gaped out out of the fine silk. It was golden, the color of his seal, and the color of my rage.
She had learned to fly before she had learned how to walk. There had once been two wings attached to her back. They were tiny and brown, with white flecks in the wings. Her mother had built a nest in a train station, and had fed her and her siblings. Eder and Desi had flown out of the station, to make their fortune as messengers in a nearby coal town.
Time had passed, however, and while Isa had flown many times, the wings had started to tear away. The muscles become soft and sinewy. Isa flew less, and she started going to a local school. The teacher made fun of her dialect, and of how she would shed feathers everywhere.
When she flew, strikes were going on. In the coal town where her brothers worked, the boys carried signs on their flailing wings. They had used copper wires and tape to keep flying, and speaking for their coworkers. Isa cupped her hands to greet them, but they'd wave her away. She soon saw why when the guns came out.
Years kept going. Isa found herself saddled with a scholarship. That meant she could leave the station, her nest. It also meant leaving her brothers behind, however, and her mother, who was balding around the neck. By some miracle her mother had kept her wings through all the years, but she hadn't flown since laying her eggs. Her mother insisted on burying Isa's wings when they finally tore off completely.
In the new city, Isa walked a lot, because her boarding house was stuffy. Several times, she passed a firm with strange letters. J.Y.A. Law, the office said. Isa walked past it, though she stopped and hesitated one day. Then she went inside, since it was about to rain.
"Hello," the secretary said. "How may I help you?"
"What do those letters mean?" Isa asked. "Why are they J, Y, and A?"
"Do you have an appointment?" the secretary asked.
"No," Isa said honestly. "I just have that question."
The secretary viewed her with curiosity. She seemed to notice the lumps on Isa's back where wings had once grown, and the ash gathered in her hair.
"Justice, Youth and Action," she said. "We're a firm that speaks for the unprivileged. But we are booked for the summer, and underfunded.”
"How do you help men with broken wings?" Isa asked. "Can it be done?"
"We try to mend them as best as we can and send them on their way."
"What can I do?" Isa asked. "For my brothers. They've been striking for several years."
"Mend them as best as you can," the secretary said. "We may be able to get to their case in the fall, if they can hold on. We'll take down your information, and please take ours."
Isa took the card. She studied the lettering. It filled her with hope, and a tinge of sadness.
“Justice, Youth and Action,” she said.
I draw comics to make people laugh, including myself. The world is an absurd place, filled with crazy kids, crazier adults, and the craziest current events. If we can't laugh at these absurdities, then we reinforce them as normal parts of life.
My webcomic A La Mode is about a bakery that sells talking pretzels to pay the rent. I post it at alamode.smackjeeves.com as well as here on Deviantart.
Open for commissions, by the way; just send me a private message with visual references. My rates are as follows:
Sketch - $10 for one character, +$8 for each additional character
Linework (Brush pen or quill) - $15 for one character, +10 for each additional.
Full watercolor- $25 for one character, +10 for each additional
Watercolor comic- $50 for single-size (three panel minimum), $60 for double-size (five-panel minimum)
Fiction (Fan or original):
Microfiction (under 100 words): $1, or 20 points.
Flash fiction (100-1000 words): $5-10, depending on subject matter, or 200 points.
Original fiction only, OCs included:
Short story (1000-10,000 words): $20-50, depending on subject matter, or 2000 points.
Novellete (10,000 to 20,000 words): $50-250, depending on subject matter
Send me a note about any longer work, or serials!
Current Residence: Miami
Favourite genre of music: Broadway. Science-fiction bluegrass, classical
Favourite style of art: Impressionist
Favourite cartoon character: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third
A week ago, I was having an emotional meltdown over the start of school, a disastrous job interview that messed up the family schedule for a day, and about being unable to write. The idea of watching more of Race to the Edge unnerved me, and still does, with fear that the new episodes would disappoint or yank at our chains. My attempts to douse my mood with chocolate and weeding a planter didn’t help.
Several of my friends recommended that I vent it on paper. So I did, writing a fanfiction of Hiccup suffering my mood swings based on the spoilers I had heard (and honestly I don’t care about RTTE spoilers), and I posted it after midnight last Sunday. I was worried that people would find it OOC of Hiccup, too angry mayhap.
That’s not what happened.
Instead, a week later, the deviation had six favorites and several lovely comments. My mood swing eventually passed, though I still felt emotional with a power outage on Wednesday, job updating and catching my younger brother’s cold. One person on deviantart asked how I was feeling, and the friends who read along said that I had done a good job.Thank you. It means a lot when something is born out of pain, and acknowledged.