There's a whole Galaxy of stuff on the right, don't be scared to explore it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Family Matters

These are some characters I invented and know very, very well – Phoenix Shifter, the spunky sweet country girl who can spout fire at will, and Theodore Rosefelt, her grandfather the snarky farmer. He's also a vampire (Ted was converted after Phoenix was born, so she isn’t ‘part vampire’ or anything like that) who seems only 25 in appearance, so that leads to confusion. He's also rather childish in a bratty sort of way and half mad due to traumatic events. But oh well. I love them both to death and this is a quick glimpse into their family life before Phoenix grew up (which is when I normally write her). I probably won't ever make a real book about either character, but that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun, does it now? ;-)


It is a well known fact that animosity can kindle amongst even the happiest families – especially family by marriage (exempli gratia, the Red Headed Stepchild, the Wicked Stepmother, THE INLAWS(1)). However, when disaster strikes, even those who are less than cordially inclined with one another must band together – because, when it comes right down to it, they are family, and that’s all that really matters. Even when disaster is a lovesick firegirl who doesn’t know better.

“Theodore, I…” Emily curled her lips around her teeth, twisting her tongue and attempting to continue. The elder raised a brow at his daughter-in-law, sitting up on the counter of her(2) tiny kitchenette curiously. The family chef, mentally sighing in relief at the familiar ground and excuse to snap, fumed(3). “Get off the counters – what are you, six? Molly hasn’t been up there for years.”

Teddy – resisting temptation and avoiding conflict (only so he could get her to continue, of course) – slipped off the shelf. “Yes m’am. It’s sixty, actually. You were saying?” he answered flatly.

Sighing again – this time in anxiety – Emily continued. “I need your advice.”

The words hung in the air for a while.

“I’ll be glad to answer any questions of a parental nature,” Theo prodded. “I’ve dealt with three of the monstrous things, after all. Worse than vampires.”

“You’re telling me? Your children moved out years ago and made ones of their own. I’m the one dealing with the things. And by complaining about vampires you are complaining about yourself, aren’t you?”

“I can complain about myself if I want, can’t I? You wouldn’t believe how hard it is living with me.” Emily started to concede adamantly, but Ted interrupted. “You’re stalling.”

Another sigh. “Phoenix is…” she trailed off again, tugging angrily at her black locks in annoyance. “She’s…”

“Forgetting her chores?”

“Yes. But that’s not the causal issue. There’s more to it.”

“Do continue.”

“She’s also… singing, though that’s not the fact of the matter either.”

Teddy paled – as much as a vampire can pale, anyhow. He managed a purplish hue to his grayish skin. “Not singing. Not her.”

Right on cue, a loud, out of tune, more shout-like than musical chant reminiscent of a cat in a blender or nails on a chalk board echoed through the windows as fifteen year old Phoenix Shifter began skipping towards home from her father’s forge. Mother and grandfather flinched in the horrible racket.

“Go on,” he hissed through a scrunched face.

“It gets worse,” Emily assured. “She keeps Molly up all night talking.”

“That can’t really be avoided, can it?” Theodore put in. “They get on, they share a bed, Phoenix is a gabby young lady – of course they’ll talk. That’s not even close to as bad as her attempting to sing.”

“But she talks all night long. And that’s not the bad part – there’s a reason behind all of this. She only talks about – ”

“Carl!” Phoenix chimed, crashing through the front door with her arms spread wide and a foolish, loony grin plastered over her childish face. Being a teenager, having rounded features and small eyes didn’t really give the desired sense of maturity. The poor girl actually looked cute – a fact of which she was horribly aware. At least she had her fire. She would die if it weren’t for the dear flames Phoenix could somehow conjure at will – of that much she was certain.

“What now, girl?” Emily groaned.

“He smiled at me yesterday, Mommy! He smiled!” the young girl’s arms swept across her heart as she goggled at the thatched roof none too far above her grandfather’s head. Then she noticed her grandfather’s head. “Hi there, Gramps!”

Theodore, having the self restraint to keep his jaw up, gaped with the sheer incredulousness of his eyes alone. They flicked to Emily, who cocked her head in affirmation. Even if that weren’t so, Phoenix’s emotions sprang out in an obnoxiously clear fashion loud enough for the vampires in the next kingdom to hear –let alone the grandfather who had been there her entire life.

His granddaughter was in love. His Emily Ana “Phoenix” Shifter (should be Rosefelt, the damn stubborn mother’s-last-name-taking child) was attracted to and dreamy over some boy who made her feel fluttery enough to sing. Being overprotective even of his son, the idea of his granddaughter – who seemed just yesterday to have been a little babe cooing at flickering fire – romantically attached to someone was sickening.

So you want her to stop spending time with this Carl boy? he asked his daughter-in-law with a quick tilt of the head (tolerating one another for years had its benefits).

Of course. But I’d prefer it if the girl would only get back on top of her chores; Molly and I can’t take care of everything ourselves(4), Emily conveyed crabbily, folding her arms and sticking out a hip as she glared at her daughter.

Phoenix dimmed in confusion, wondering why everyone wasn’t as happy as she was.

Teddy barely kept form rolling his eyes at his daughter-in-law’s narrow-mindedness, but he had more important things to think about. Like his granddaughter being in love. I’ve got it covered, then.

I just want advice. I can take care of this myself, Emily sniffed.

I’ve got it covered, he repeated with a quick nod.

In a flash he snapped up his Phoenix’s long red braid and pulled hard. His granddaughter called out angrily as he started dragging her across what passed for a room (it was far too tiny to be a living room or a kitchen OR a dining room, but the Shifter-Rosefelts used it for all three) towards the rickety door.

Emily’s eyes widened. “Release my daughter this instant, Theodore! I will not stand for horseplay in my house!”

“Fine them, Emily.” He slipped out the front entry – a shrieking, irate, fiery Phoenix in tow.

“You bloody monster- let me go- what are you doing?!- LET GO OF MY HAIR!” she screeched.

Theodore was about to roll his eyes when she flamed up, making him leap back. “Emily!” he called out, glaring at the blisters forming where her fire had licked his skin.

“UUUGH!!” Phoenix stomped, fists clenched. “Don’t you ever, ever, ever touch my hair again!”

Theodore, shaking off how unsettled the fire made him feel, managed a shrug. “I just wanted to tell you that I completely support your possible relationship with this Edward and you are very welcome, in my opinion, to spend time with him whenever. Oh, and your mother’s bugging me. Please skip your chores to annoy her,” he added.

UUUGH!” Phoenix repeated, before stalking off angrily to weed her mother’s herbal garden. Before she made it, she whirled around: “And it’s Carl! The only Edward I know is stuck up and rude.” Reminds me of someone, she thought haughtily.

Teddy wiped off his hands in nervous satisfaction as she steamed away, wondering how many more times that trick would work before she (a) caught on or (b) burned him to a pile of ash. Because of this pondering, he missed the looming cloud of Emily until the hard slap hit his face, bringing him back to reality.

“I don’t know how you ran things in your family, but this is mine, Rosefelt, and I don’t care if you’re nineteen or a 102 - you will do as I say under my roof or with my children,” she snarled vehemently, glaring something terrible.

Theodore, one hand to his stinging cheek, wisely refrained from mentioning the two or three snide remarks bouncing around his head. Instead, he only pointed delicately to the literally fuming Phoenix doing her chores in the garden. Emily, not having the restraint of her father-in-law, dropped her jaw. She slapped him again before marching inside and slamming the door.

Ted found himself questioning his family’s taste in romantic partners, which eventually started him pondering whether or not Phoenix would ever forgive him if he scared this Carl out of town. Should be easy enough, with the teeth and all. That’s when, under the glint of lovely moonlight, quiet Christopher came out of his forge and started towards the garden.

“Hi, Dad,” he greeted softly.

“Our(5) Emily is in love.”

“I know. She was singing in the forge,” Christopher smiled. “You should listen to her talk about him. It sounds straight out of one of those romance novels my Emily always tells me about.”

“You’re all right with this atrocity?” Theodore blinked.

“Hell no. But it’s just a crush; it’ll pass.”

Teddy ran a hand through his scraggly red hair in annoyance. “Damn waiting. I hate waiting. They say you’re supposed to get patient with age. I just get this rushing feeling. Like I need to keep fighting because every second I have is something stolen, something I shouldn’t. Like I’m supposed to be dead and gone by now.”

“Lots of people live passed your age – immortal or not,” Chris assured gently, tinges of worry crossing his bearded face.

“I don’t want to die. I don’t plan on dying. Not ever, not if I can help it. Death is what I’m afraid of.”

Daaaaaaaaa-dddddddddddddy!” wailed a voice from a nearby tiny window in Christopher’s tiny, tiny cottage. A pretty face framed with short black hair and bangs peered through the shutters, slightly panicked. “Daddy there’s a spider! And a cobweb!”

Christopher shrugged at his father, who managed a weak smile, before jogging off to the window to rescue his little Molly. Ted, taking a deep breath, trudged over to Phoenix with his hands in his pockets, mindful of Emily’s herbs (if only to keep from being slapped again).

“Hi, Phoenix,” he said, calling her by her preferred name to get on her good side. She shot him a nasty look and stuck out her tongue before continuing her work. He rolled his eyes before remembering what he came here for and sitting down beside her. “I’m a might mad. Not mad mad. Crazy mad. Due to that, I act a little oddly.”

“I know,” Phoenix grumbled.

He coughed awkwardly before shoving out the words as fast as possible. They mixed up and tumbled incomprehensibly, but it was supposed to be along the lines of: “I’m sorry for pulling your hair.”

She ignored him, flicking her red, orange, and golden hair (tied up in a loose braid) over her shoulder crabbily. He ruffled haughtily before continuing.

“But you did get it from me, didn’t you? So technically it’s mine,” Theo added flatly.

Phoenix shot upright from her weeding, scandalized. “I inherited my hair from my father, Grandpa! Not you.”

Teddy shrugged. “And he got it from me before that.”

“But it’s on my head!

“Which you also got from me, judging by how stubborn you are.”

Phoenix rolled her eyes.

“And that, too,” Ted pointed out triumphantly. “I do that all the time.”

“I don’t go around pulling people’s hair.

“You don’t, eh? I said I was sorry.”

She huffed. “I wouldn’t ever forgive you if your anniversary(6) wasn’t coming up. You get horrible then.” Ted shut up, folding his long fingers together as his eyes shot down. Phoenix sighed. “I’m sorry. I won’t mention it again.”

“Rosefelt! Phoenix!” Emily’s loud voice called. “The tarts are ready!”

Heads flipping to one another with excited grins, grandfather and granddaughter raced into the house and nearly knocked over the rickety nightstand that passed as a table in their hurry to sit. Emily sighed and served up the family – including Theodore, Phoenix, Molly, Christopher, and herself. Mouths watered until the woman of the house sat and took her first bite, allowing everyone else to dig into the pure delicacies.

“I simply love it, Mommy,” Molly cooed. Emily gave her daughter a quick smile.

“I think it’d be a bit better with a tad less sugar; it’s not quite tart enough for a tart,” Phoenix put in. “But it’s definitely divine.”

Emily glared at her eldest, Teddy and Christopher being too busy eating to talk.

Of course, looking back on the opening paragraph, sometimes families just go to hell no matter what you do. But they manage. Because in the end they’re family, and they’re stuck loving one another


(1)No more need be said.

(2)Despite being built by Christopher’s own hands, there was absolutely zero doubt as to whether or not his wife was the soul wielder of anything with culinary uses – no matter how good Phoenix was getting.

(3)Not nearly so literally as her daughter could, however.

(4)Emily had an odd complex where she felt anything she didn’t see someone do was something they didn’t actually do (at least according to her subconscious). Christopher did all his work in the forge, Theodore did all his work in his fields, and Phoenix usually liked to help out the men of the household, while Molly did everything with her mother. Because of this, Emily came out thinking everyone besides herself and her youngest daughter were lazy do-nothings. This led to complications.

(5)Theodore had troubles with Phoenix’s nickname. Her name was Emily, even be it her mother’s as well. She should be called by it, gosh darnnit. So when he spoke possessively of an Emily, it was always his granddaughter, and whenever he spoke of the original Shifter – the one who had convinced his Emily to take on a foreign family name – it was 'your'.

(6)This would be another anniversary as a widower for Theodore. He was immortal, yes, but the one woman he ever loved hadn’t been.

No comments: