A picture is worth. . .

Temporary LogoD: Who is that in the bubble?

A: Not telling.

D: It’s supposed to be me, isn’t it?

A: Maybe.

D: I’m not sure how I feel about this. Hey, wait, why do you look so. . . I don’t know. . .

A: Unhinged, crazed, ready to tear out my hair?

D: No, that seems normal for you. I was actually going to ask what was in your hair.

A: Oh, that. That’s a pencil.

D: And it’s in your hair because. . .

A: Defense.

D: . . . Really?

A: Yup. I keep ‘em sharp, see. Sure, having one in my hair means I can hang up my hat as a pencil stealer, but D, they’re not just pencils. They’re mini implements of death.

D: . . .

A: I have the scars on the back of my head to prove it.

D: I’m surprised you’re allowed to leave the grounds of the asylum.

A: You and me both.

 . . .The clanging of metal on metal overwhelmed Dubhal’s words. Bingham, taking advantage of the distraction, struck Dubhal’s sword with his own. Dubhal growled wordlessly but managed to retain his grip on the claymore.

“That woman is afraid to fight me, eh?” Bingham sneered, dancing lightly around Dubhal, taunting him with his blade. “Well, how about I just cut through each man she throws my way until she’s ready to fight? How many of you can there be?”

“How many of us are willing to fight for Grania Uaile?” Dubhal’s tone was amused and he gave Bingham a jaunty bow. “You may have to go through the breadth of Ireland to find out, m’lord. . .”

Many thanks to the child (hereafter known as TC) for putting up with me and posing for an impromptu photo shoot. TC isn’t D, but he does a pretty good job looking like a moody Druid in a hood. Thanks, kiddo! For more pictures from the shoot, visit the D/A Facebook page.

Happy Anniversary

A: Happy Anniversary, D – join me in a toast!

D: Pardon?

A: We’ve been official for 30 days.

D: Official.

A: Yup, I even announced it on Facebook, which totally means it’s real.

D: A, your abuse of your language continues to hurt my sensibilities. Could you not speak in jargon for a moment, and put this into terms I can understand, please?

A: Pedant. Fine. I have been writing and posting our conversations on the internet for 30 days – it’s called blogging, D. A whole 30 days have passed since I announced to the world that I talk to you in my head while I’m writing.

D: Just when you’re writing, A?

A: Shut up.

D: Oh yes, this relationship is going so well. I can see why you want to celebrate.

A: I could just go back to ignoring you . . .

D: . . .

A: Alright then. Would you believe that people, who are in no way related to me, know me at all, or have any connection to me beyond the fact that we share the blog-o-sphere actually follow me? Do you know how incredible that is?**

D: I do – and I fear for our planet.

A: Cheers D . . . hey, are you going to drink that?

**I really would like to send out a big ol’ thank you to those who follow this blog. The fact that anyone clicks on that little button makes me ridiculously happy – giddy, actually. So, thank you. I hope that D and I will continue to amuse as we share our journey. Also, Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms (in whatever guise) out there.

I’ve posted this before, but it’s D’s words, the first germ of him that’s made me keep going: 

I sat in the grove of my own creation and stared out at a world and a people descended of mine own. As I watched, trees gave way to stone and the many lost their claim to the priests of the One.

Then the wheel turned. The sacred trees grew around this effigy of stone and the many came out of hiding. I sat in my grove and watched a world outside my imagination, willing it to see.

She saw. She, my kin only by remote design, saw me. She saw me with uncanny green eyes, the green eyes of my mother and her mother before her: witch’s eyes.

A joy rose in me. It was time; time to join the world after years of solitude, time to act after centuries of stillness.

I closed my eyes and reached across the barrier, to touch my future and my past.

Bring out your dead

“. . . Good evening to you,” Maureen began, her voice ringing out in the stone church, cool and authoritative. Grania had taught her well. “I trust you are well. Was that you in the graveyard?”

It took a few seconds for the newcomer – his dim outline all that they could see of him – to change tact and acknowledge Maureen’s question.

“That depends on who you are, and why you want to know.”

“I’ll take that as a yes, then,” Maureen countered. Together, she and Sean moved from behind the altar and gained the ground between the pews and its raised dais. 

“It isn’t that we care, particularly,” Sean put in, intuiting the direction of Maureen’s challenge. “It’s just that as you are likely not supposed to be out there, and we are obviously not supposed to be here, it would seem that your question is a bit presumptuous. Unless, of course, you want the authorities involved.”

The young man chuckled and started towards them. Sean stepped in front of Maureen, wary.

“I like how you think, but how do you know that I’m not one of these authorities you mention?”

Maureen snorted lightly. “Because you would have begun with that, Master Gravedigger . . .”

D: Master Gravedigger? Really, A?

A: What? She just came from the 16th century.

D: It’s not that, I like the name; I’m picking on your use of a gravedigger in general.

A: D, he’s a Fenian, and he’s digging up the guns he hid in the cemetery – which Sean and Maureen will discover soon enough.

D: Digging up guns in a cemetery – that’s macabre, even for you, A.

A: It’s not macabre, D, it’s sensible. Little-used cemetery = perfect hiding spot for decrepit guns that are just as likely to kill their wielder as the person said wielder is aiming at.

D: Sensible, huh?

A: Hey, I didn’t sink the Aud! I’m just telling a story, D.

D: I know, but it just seems to me that the female pirate was better equipped than these boys.

A: She was. But, despite that she defied the Crown by aiding a number of rebellions, she didn’t have annual parades held in her honor. Grania sparked imaginations, D, but these boys lit the fire – or rather, their deaths lit the fire. I understand they weren’t too popular during the Rising.

D: Causes are dangerous, A.

A: Depends on who is following and why, D. You of all people should know that. What cause were you fighting when–

D: Now, A – that was 1300 years ago.

A: And yet, we’re still finding reasons to kill each other.

D: With decrepit guns hid in a cemetery.

A: Exactly, D.

“. . . Runaways? Again, Sean?” Maureen ground out between her teeth. He shrugged. It was a useful lie.

“Enough,” she muttered under her breath. Sighing with a mix of exhaustion and frustration, Maureen stepped up to the young man.

“Seeing as none of us should be here, perhaps we should make this a bit more congenial. I’m Maureen O’Malley and this is Sean McAndrew. And you, Master Gravedigger, you are?”

“I’m Eoghan Ballard. Pleased to meet you, Miss Maureen, Sean.”

Maureen’s heart sank. She knew that name. . . .

Storm warning

. . . Sean put his hand out, staying Maureen when she made to rise, whether it was to flee or face the noise, he wasn’t sure. Maureen grabbed his arm and jerked her head towards the altar. Behind it, he knew, was the sacristy where Father Rathborne and Sean’s fellow servers prepared for the mass. From that room was a door to the outside, and freedom. . .

A: You know, I was an altar girl once.

D: You? Ha! (Howling laughter . . . minutes pass . . . still more laughter).

A: D. D, you can stop that now. . . Oi, D!

D: I’m sorry, A. I am. I needed that. Thank you. That felt good.

A: I’m so glad.

D: Wait, no, not done . . . (more laughter).

A: D? Come back, D.

D: Okay, okay, I’m better. I am. Or n–

A: Knock it off, D.

D: I’m sorry, A. It’s just . . . well . . . do they allow people like you up there?

A: . . .

D: You’re a heathen, A. I was at least born to apostates and a learned Druid, but you . . . well, I think there was a lightning risk allowing you up there.

A: But I was nine. I think that’s before you’re lightning-fodder.

D: Seven is the age of accountability, A.

A: Oh.

D: You put the entire congregation at risk from a conflagration of God’s wrath.

A: You’re at risk from a conflagration, Druid.

D: Oh, come on, A, laugh with me. You’ll have fun. I promise.

A: Sigh.

. . . Sean realized that once he would have been aghast at using the sacristy as a means of escape, just as he had been horrified when Maureen suggested they search the tabernacle. But, considering they were sprawled in front of the altar, having just careened through time using some sort of supernatural gateway, Sean’s notion of sanctified was experiencing a radical shift. . .

It's all in your head

“. . .You’re sure it’s tonight?”

“Aye. I’ve counted the nights, Maureen. It’s tonight.”

“Well, I guess it’s a good thing we’re in port, then.” Maureen looked at Sean and mustered a grin. She didn’t feel really glad. In fact, she had argued with the Dubh in the letter on countless occasions, citing this reason and that why they did belong in 1584 – 1585, now . . .

D: Is this a thing?

A: Pardon?

D: A thing, you know. . . a thing.

A: . . . .

D: Gods help me, I’ve been in your head too long, and I’m starting to express myself like you.

A: You say that like it’s a bad thing.

D: . . .

A: Fine, I’ll stop being me. I understand, but I don’t know what thing to which you are referring.

D: It’s Maureen. She’s arguing with me. In her head. Is this going to be a theme for you? Are you trying to spread the crazy around?

A: I would think you’d feel honored, having someone else chat with you in their head.

D: It’s not that, A – I’m just wondering if I’m going to have to start taking appointments.  How many more people are going to be requesting an audience? Shall I hire a PA to take the calls?

A: . . . If I have to stop being me, could you stop being you?

D: Ha!

A: And no, it’s not a theme, and I’m not feeling lonely for other crazy company (that’s what I have you for, after all). Maureen has little recourse but to argue with you in her head – you disappeared, remember? Remember how you left them with the pirate, in the 1580s, with just the one instruction to wait 4 months before they tried to get home? What is with you and leaving them to their own devices? What happens next is your own fault, D, just remember that.

D: Oh, I do, A. I do. . .

. . . Sean wasn’t eager to leave either, not eager to go back and be a grocer’s apprentice, his days ruled over by the sisters of St. Cormac’s parish. He did not want to leave Grania and her men; he did not want to miss the respect he saw in his fellows’ eyes. Yet, what he told Maureen was true. Dubhal – Dubh – had said to go back to 1958, had said that they did not belong in the sixteenth century. In Sean’s innermost heart, he believed Dubh. He knew it was true.

Sean rested a hand on Maureen’s arm, jostling her ever so slightly.

“It’s time, Maureen. It’s time to stop arguing with that letter. We have a life–”

You have a life.”

Sean snorted derisively. “Aye – shop boy.”

“That’s only until next year, Sean. Then you’re going to University, and I’m . . .”

The bunnies made me do it

A: I think I should go outside and write.

D: No. Bad idea. I think you should stay inside.

A: But it’s spring, D. The flowers are blooming, despite the fact that it was snowing just the other day, and the birds are chirping, and the bunnies . . .

D: Which is precisely why you need to stay inside, A.

A: Because of the bunnies?

D: I think you misunderstand me on purpose.

A: Maybe.

D: No A. No birds, no flowers, no springtime – you need to focus. Stay inside. You’ll also burn under the sun and I’m not going to have you writing under the pain of sunburn.

A: I’ll wear my big hat—

D: Besides, springtime means Beltane, bonfires, merrymaking—

A: D? Calm down, D. First of all, this is America. This is Puritan country; they don’t do bonfires and Beltane, or merrymaking. . . not until Memorial Day.

D: Not even little bonfires?

A: Well, we have fire pits for our backyards, and barbeques.

D: And the merrymaking?

A: Do yard games count?

D: . . . No wonder you need me in your head. Puritan country, indeed. I don’t even want to ask about Beltane.

A: I wouldn’t. You’ll just get depressed.

D: Fine. Go outside. But if you get a sunburn—

A: Yes, D. Whatever you say, D. See ya, D!!

“. . . Careful with that one, I nearly had to kill her to get her off the bloody ship; she bit me!”

“Oh, poor lad; what do you expect, cavorting with pirates and rabble? Do you need the surgeon to look at you? Is it likely to fall off?”

Maureen kept her eyes closed listened intently. Both men were speaking English, but only one was familiar. Galen had been aboard Grania’s flagship; she had avoided him every time she saw him, and luckily had never shared work duties with him. She didn’t like how he stared.

“Bugger off, Jamie,” Galen cursed, somewhat moodily. “Just make sure she’s bound before she comes to. I’ll not be the one responsible for her attacking the Governor of Connacht when he comes to inspect her.”

Jamie was gentle enough as he bound her arms and legs to the small stool where Galen had dumped her, and Maureen had a feeling he knew she was awake.

“That should hold her – don’t worry, Gale, you and Sir Bingham are safe from the wee lassie, now.”

“Galen O’Flaherty,” said a voice. Maureen held her breath. “Not only did you not warn us that Grania O’Malley’s flagship travelled with two galleys, thereby outnumbering us, you also saw fit to snatch a lass in Grania’s care, and expose yourself as a traitor in the process. That was not the plan, boy. . .”

The importance of blending in

“. . . My lady,” Dubhal intoned. Sean could hear the respect for their captain in his voice.

“Master Dubhal,” Grania returned. She turned her attention to Sean. “I’m sorry, Sean, Maureen was not on either ship. Both had been abandoned by the time we reached them, anyway – all vital crew had been evacuated and Maureen wasn’t among the survivors . . .”

D: Why are they calling me that?

A: What?

D: Dubhal. It’s not my name.

A: It’s an assumed name. You’re a time-traveler; blending in is important. I felt Dubhal was better suited for the 16th century than Dubh an Suile.

D: But–

A: And it means something close to “dark stranger. “ I thought, what with the lurking, and the general weirdness that is you, that it fit.

D: You are ridiculous.

A: Thank you.

D: Wait! Wait, wait . . . what are they going to call me in Part 2?

A: Commander Declan.

D: . . .

A: Blending in, D, you’re blending in.

D: You are still ridiculous.

A: Cheers, D.

 . . . Sean realized that Grania’s news only confirmed what he knew in his gut. “They took her with them,” he said, his voice low.

“Aye, that may be; she wasn’t among the dead, either.” Grania paused, and Sean could see she was trying to form her words as carefully as possible. “But we don’t know why; they may have misused her, or they—“

“By taking her, they’ve misused her,” Sean said hotly. He felt Dubhal’s restraining hand on his shoulder, forcing him back and Sean realized that he was nearly on his feet, his hands balled into fists . . .