Sunday, March 11, 2012

Edith and Ben - Catching up with Jackie

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[This picks up directly from where the last one left off.]

“I've been good,” but I was feeling like I had to move a bit, so I asked, “want to walk and talk?”


So we started walking across the beach. I asked, how she's been and then added, “How's your mom?”

“She's good.”

“I heard that...” and I wasn't sure how to finish. I heard that she was confined to a wheelchair now and that made me worry about her a lot and how does one say that?

“She's good. She really is. At first I thought she was just putting on a brave face – keeping it in and not showing how bad it was, but that's not it. She really is doing just fine. She's the same as she always was.” Jacqueline paused for a moment, then said, “Actually, she's been elected to the tribal council,” brightly.

“I know I should remember, but I don't. That's a... two year term?”

“Three years.”

I had kind of run out of things to say. And for a bit it seemed like she had too, then she asked, “So what have you actually been doing?”


“You said you've been good, but you didn't say what you've been doing.”

“Uh... what do you want me to say?”

“Specifics.” I didn't know what to say, she offered, “I've been building a car.”

“Well, I haven't been here that long.”

“Ok, why'd you come?”

So I explained that my dad had met someone, and keeping the house just for me was a pretty big burden, and he got conflicted because he wanted to stick around her but felt bad leaving me alone, and it just seemed easier for everyone if I moved in with my mother. “So I've been here since then, I've met some people, I almost got run over by a van, and that's about it.” Jacqueline had stopped walking.

“You almost got run over?”

Maybe that hadn't been the best thing to throw in offhand. I explained, “So I got up in the morning and the roads were all black ice. School wasn't canceled. Turned out that the person who was supposed to cancel it got hurt and everyone else just assumed it had already been canceled. She's fine, by the way. Anyway, after driving slow as can be I make it into school ok, and I'm barely out of the truck for a minute when an out of control van comes spinning my way across the ice rink that used to be a parking lot.

“I thought I was going to die, I panicked, I started to fall down. At which point I was convinced I was going to die, and then Edith saved me by knocking me out the way. Or tackling me out of the way. Or somethinging me out of the way. The way was in one place and I was in another, is the point.”

Jacqueline was silent and wide eyed for a moment then said, “See, you should open with that.”

“Hi, my name is Ben, I was almost killed by a van?”

“Yes. It's much more exciting than, 'I've been good.'”

“I'll keep that in mind.”

“Who's Edith?”

“Edith Cullen.” Jacqueline seemed to recognize the name. “I invited her to come out here, but she didn't.”

“It's probably for the best. Some of the people around here think some pretty weird things about the Cullens.”

“How so, weird?” As soon as I said it I thought I was wrong to say it that way, it should have been, 'Weird? How so?' but Jacqueline didn't say anything about how I phrased the question.

“As in, 'I am having serious doubts about the veracity of your claim to have spent then entirety of the 1960s on tribal land,' weird.”

“You definitely need to explain that.”

“They try to pass it off as our legends but I know our legends, I've been hearing them my entire life, and they do not include werewolves.”

“They think the Cullens are werewolves?”

“No. No, no, no. That would be too easy. They think my great-grandmother was a werewolf.”

“That's... different.”

“Yes. It is. And it came out of nowhere. Our stories do say that our ancestors were created from wolves transformed into human beings, but there is absolutely nothing in our stories about being able to change back into wolves. The wolves didn't even change into humans on their own, they were transformed someone else. There's absolutely nothing even the least bit werewolfy about the story.”

“And yet, werewolves?”

“Exactly. How do you get from, 'Created from wolves' to 'Can turn into wolves at will'? It makes no sense.”

“I have two questions.”


“First, did the moon somehow get downgraded?”

“Apparently, because there's nothing about the moon in the totally ancient” her sarcasm dripped, “werewolf stories that no one ever told before the Cullens moved here.”

“Second, you were created from wolves?”

“Yeah. Our ancestors were.”

“That's so much cooler than my ancestors.”

“Why, what were you made out of?”

“Well the only origin story I ever got was the one the Christians took from the Jews which means that I'm descended from someone made from dust, and someone made from a rib taken from that someone made from dust.”

“There's nothing wrong with dust,” she said as if she were trying to comfort me.

“It's not as cool as wolves.”

She laughed, “No, it's not.”

After a silence she said, “I just don't get why they felt the need to invent werewolves. We've got plenty of perfectly good monsters. Even to the point of having some pretty specific ones. We have an evil one with kelp for hair that cooks and eats children, and a nice one that teaches basket weaving, and elk the size of bunnies, and Tistilal, and many more. Why would you want werewolves when you consider what we've already got?”

“No idea. What's a Tistilal?”

“Tistilal is a giant bird that caries off whales for snacks.”

“Like a roc?”


“It's a giant bird that-”

“Carries off elephants for snacks, AC: 4 and 18 hitdice, I know what a roc is. I guess Tistilal is like one, though I never really of him that way. I thought you said rock with a k, and was confused.”

I was confused. Or, I suppose, not confused so much as surprised. “Can we go back for a moment? What did you just say?”

“I know what a roc is?”

“Before that.”

“They carry off elephants?”

“After that.”

“Armor class 4 and 18 hitdice?”

“Yeah, that was it. Since when do you...”

“About a year and a half now. I've got a whole stack of manuals. They're scattered across several different editions so it can be pretty hard to make them mesh, but it's still the best used book buy I ever made.”

“A lot of people play?”

“I've got a decent sized group, I think. It's good fun, you should join us some time.”

And so she told me about her gaming group, and I told her about the kids at school, and at some point we circled back around.

Which was just in time for Michelle to show up.


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