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the blossoming of anima ][ a nanowrimo excerpt

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the blossoming of anima ][ a nanowrimo excerpt

Post by Guest on Tue Nov 09, 2010 6:19 pm

(disclaimer: this is so not edited yet. beware the potential typos and sentence fragments!)

Preface

Home wasn’t north or south, east or west. To Anima, home was the center of the world. She would think home was the center of the universe, too, if she knew there was one. There was a lot that Anima didn’t know, and while she did know that, there was something else she knew too. And that something was currently the most important fact of her whole entire life:

Soon, she would know everything.

You see, that’s exactly what Blossoming was. It was the day – a sparkling, musical, and most of all sacred day – that for the last time a girl rose at dawn a silly thirteen-year-old goose, because by the end of the magical, mystical night she would lay her head down on her pillow a mature fourteen-year-old woman. Such was Legend of Blossoming: on the precious day, as the sun stretched out over the sky, it recognized another in its earthly garden that was ready to feel True Light on her petals. And it was said that those tightly budded petals, when warmed by the rush of the Illumination, for the first time opened up to reveal the full truth and beauty of another splendid female ready to join the entire world.

So followed that the truth and beauty of the entire world was also revealed in turn to the woman.

Anything more than the Legend, no girl who hadn’t blossomed yet knew. There were only certain small parts which a girl about to go through her blossoming was told, and even less was rehearsed with her and prepared, and these few and precious tidbits were revealed at very specific moments leading up to the sacred rite. Never was a secret revealed too early, and never was a girl instructed too late. To do anything out of order was considered tempting the Guardians of Ill-Fates to turn their stony eyes to a girl on the brink of becoming.

And as we all know, Ill-Fate is not very becoming. For any of us.

Chapter One
thirty days until Blossoming


But would that be enough to stop Anima? This was the question of summer that was now often murmured behind closed doors when the women were certain the audacious girl was well out of earshot. With Anima’s becoming only a moon cycle away, the girl’s increasing thirst to discover any snatch of secret about her coming day with the sun was becoming a never-ending headache for Mother, and Grandmother, and the other women of the town who all whispered about the shame it would be if a girl so vibrant as Anima should be cursed with a luckless life because she could not find the patience within herself to wait. Mother knew that being marked as a luckless girl would strip Anima of all the luster of the affectionately infamous reputation she currently upheld, and she hadn’t gotten a peaceful night’s rest in weeks because of it.

For Anima was Mother’s only girl, and being a woman herself Mother never imagined that rearing a daughter into maturity would be so…painfully difficult. “How much easier this was with Animus,” she groaned in a soft whisper to the next door neighbor over tea. It was nearly midnight as the light of the full moon streamed through the open kitchen window, and Anima had been sent to her room almost two hours ago. Despite the churning unease Mother felt inside of her that was becoming all too familiar these days, as she sipped from her cup she tried to steady her nerves with the silent assurance that she was worrying too much. Worry always lead to questioning, and Mother felt plagued by questions, more than she ever had in the whole of her life. One curled her lips in a frown now, as she lowered her cup back to its place on the saucer with a soft tink of china. “Or was it not easier at all, and it just seems so because it was Father’s burden to lead Animus through his tasks?”

“It’s always easier with boys,” came the calm, confident reply of the neighbor. She had no children herself, and since the early death of her husband she had lived out her years an old maid. But she prided herself on her shrewdly observant eyes, and was gifted thusly by the benefit of knowing most of the facts she deemed true in life by observance rather than experience. Observance, she found, was by far the most comfortable place to be. “Boys have no flights of fancy. One trip of a word into a girl’s ear and she’s off and dreaming about it for days…”

“Anima is a dreamer,” agreed Mother mournfully. Her fingers stroked the smooth side of her teacup, giving it the comfort of touch she wished for herself in this moment. “With a terrible lack of patience, an almost disgraceful lack and how it vexes her Father. I think that’s what I fear the most, Adelaide, is his wrath should her Blossoming not go perfectly to plan. He reminds me every day even before the cock has crowed that with his position in town he can’t afford to be the Father of an Ill-Fated girl.”

Adelaide the Observant fixed Mother with her steely blue eyes, her lips crooked in a bow of solemnity. She spied quite clearly that Anima’s Mother was currently seeking comfort and consolation. Dear friend to her though she may be after all Adelaide had seen of this life she knew that such things were frivolous when it came to serious matters. And how precariously Anima the Nearly Blossom held the fate not just herself, but also her loved ones and what’s more the security of this entire town’s faith in her little goose hands, well how could there be a matter more serious than that? “He’s absolutely right, Maggie. No one’s going to respect a man’s position at the pulpit when he’s got a child fallen under a bad star. If anyone should be able to ward off the Guardians of Ill-Fate from the people of this town, it’s a man of the cloth. So he best do it well for the family in his own dwelling.”

Her neighbor’s words made Mother’s heart wince, and her tired lips tried to keep steady so the weakness would remain internal, and unseen. And there it followed, sure as minutes will always become hours, she felt that painful churning of her stomach telling her what she already knew: this was not going to be the nice settling cup of tea she was after. How difficult it was for her now, knowing that there was still an entire moon cycle of these weighty cares ahead, to keep the wear and tear out of her voice. “Right as he may be, you and I both know that the rites of Blossoming are not to be handled or known intimately by any man, even the town’s Father. Already the part he must play is twofold and tenuous, since he is both the father of her birth and the Father of her Spirit, but other than that the burden of all of this…this is…but does Anima find herself tossing and turning every night wakeful with worries and woes? Of course not!”

“Of course not,” echoed the Observant one soberly, keen eyes watching the tremble of Mother’s teacup as she lifted it to drink. “The burden of this – nay, the duty of this – it’s yours, Maggie. Rearing a girl through her swaddling days is no great feat. How could it be, when their days need be nothing but light schooling and chores in between imagination and games? It’s mothering a girl into a well-formed womanhood that’s the true test.”

“…What if she’s failing?” came the plaintive question, asked by Mother in no more than a strained whisper.

“Then you’re failing. And you’ve got only twenty-nine days left to set her straight. Discipline your girl, Maggie. She’s not going to rightly Blossom without it.”

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Re: the blossoming of anima ][ a nanowrimo excerpt

Post by Guest on Tue Nov 09, 2010 6:22 pm

(Chapter 1, continued)
- -
Pressing her ear to the wall was just not working. Great-Grandfather had built this house,or was it Great-Great-Grandfather? She could never remember how many greats it was, but what this house never let her forget was how thick its walls were. Even with a nice long glass pressed to the painted surface, all she could hear were the distorted murmurs of two voices who honestly sounded like they were having their tea underwater. In fact, the only reason Anima knew they were having tea at all was that she heard the tell-tale blurt of the kettle whistle when Mother hadn’t been quick enough to snag it off the fire before it sounded.

While she couldn’t make out a single word they were saying, Anima could feel in her gut that they were talking about her Blossoming, and that made her aforementioned gut want to burst into an explosion of butterflies. She knew too well that she wasn’t supposed to know a thing about her upcoming day unless was instructed into knowing. Mother reminded her of this every chance she got, and whenever Father was around he tacked on his solemn refrain of, “Maturity is Sacred, Anima, and what is Sacred is always first Secret.”

But if you asked her, this town kept way too many secrets.

Because really, what were secrets for? What did they accomplish? Anima wanted her Blossoming to be perfect, and that was what she wanted more than anything in the world. How could she know for certain it would be, if she was barely allowed to know anything about the day at all? "Faith," is what Father had said to her when she'd so foolishly asked the question at breakfast earlier that day. "Patience," is what her Mother added with a tone that Anima disliked just as much as the look that came with it. But neither Faith nor Patience stilled the questions running rampant in her over-excited mind no matter how many times she called on the two virtues to do just that. It's what kept Anima from being able to focus on anything else but her day at the end of this next moon cycle, and what's more it's what drove her to abandon her tossing and turning on this so far sleepless night to take up post here in the hallway with her ear to the kitchen's wall.

But this mission wasn't turning out any better than her attempts to find sleep in her bed. Scraps of what she was certain were scrumptious secrets were slipping by uncomprehended, and Anima knew that there were only two courses of action in response to the matter at hand. One, she could give up, return to her room and cocoon herself back between her sheets were she'd force herself to think nothing of counting sheep until that tricked her to sleep. Or two, she could find another post, a far better post, where she'd be more likely to hear this newest conversation that was going on about her, but without her.

The latter, of course, was Anima's preferred choice. The question was, where to go? When she had to creep around the house quieter than a shadow her options were very limited. If only the kitchen door didn't swing on its hinges as soon as the smallest bit of pressure was applied to it, then she could risk listening at the crack between it and the wall. When one took in to account the additional risks (What if she tripped and fell inside the room for both of them to see? What if Mother or their neighbor decided to exit quite suddenly through this door?) the benefits of the dimly lit crack between the kitchen's door and its wall were not worth the trouble. If Anima got caught now, an entire moon cycle before her Blossoming, she knew her parents would watch her with a hawk's breed of care and she wouldn't be able to furrow her brow in thought without arousing their suspicions.

But the window! Anima was certain its glass was raised and the shutters open - during the heat of summer welcoming the Winds into their home was a necessity, abandoned only when there was an angry rain which sought to drench everything. So long as she kept herself low, and pressed herself against flat against the stone that fashioned the outer walls of her house, Mother could lark anywhere about the kitchen without Anima being in any danger of being seen. It was the perfect plan - and if it went well, it was a plan she could put to use whenever there was whispered talk going on without her.

Wasting no time, the girl hunched her already short frame even lower to the ground, rolling her gait up onto the very tips of her toes as she carefully extended her arms out to the sides for balance. Sucking in her breath, Anima set her sights on the front door. Normally it was a distance she didn't think twice about, bounding between it and the kitchen without care. But tonight, as she perched her wrists and fingers with elegance and imagined herself as graceful as a stork wading through shallow water, the daunting challenge of reaching it soundlessly made the door seem like it was a horizon away.

That wouldn't deter her. It couldn't. Not Anima, the once-upon-a-time infant who shocked the town when she took her first steps at barely seven months of age, the soonest any child within the compound in recent memory (and all because Animus had run off with a stick she'd been happily beating against the grass). So she slinked down the hallway bobbing her body in light undulations like a bird, sneaking towards the door five tiptoes at a time, not letting herself stay on one foot for more than a second lest the floorboards underneath were pushed to creek. It wasn't until her right hand snatched and held tightly onto the doorknob that she let herself sigh both the tension and the relief. "I can do this," she breathed quietly to herself as she rested, pressing her other palm flat against the cool metal slats which Great-Grandfather had fashioned into an ornate representation of the sun so many years ago. With this leverage, she could crane her neck around far enough to peek behind her without fear of causing creaks or slipping, and what she saw was the only cue she kneaded to slowly turn the knob and draw the door a few inches back.

The coast was clear. And she shot forward into the warm night air, bare feet tickled by the blades of grass as she scrambled around the side of the house before anyone who happened to be looking out their windows at this ungodly hour could see her. Even before she reached her new post, she could already hear the voices of the two women with so much more clarity than before. It was as if the open frame of the window she was sneaking towards served the same purpose as the glass she sometimes pressed to walls and doors - amplification. Inside of her, she could feel the flutter of those hordes of nervous butterflies ready to burst. Because finally - finally finally finally! - she would get to hear what secrets of her approaching sacred day were so important to talk about at this unseemly hour of the night when the rest of the town was tucked away.

Down Anima went, ducking under the sill of the window to sit on her knees just as she heard the lofty airs of their next door neighbor giving Mother advice…about her. "The more she has to do the better, Maggie. The girl can't fret about her Blossoming if she has a list of chores to do longer than the time she must do them in. You can't expect that a stern talking will serve as the sole cure for curiosity." If Anima wasn't so eager to hear Mother's reply to that sorry excuse for a solution, she would have released all the air in her lungs in an indignant scoff.

But as it turns out, she might as well have scoffed. For that night she wouldn't hear Mother's reply anyway.


(to be continued)

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Re: the blossoming of anima ][ a nanowrimo excerpt

Post by Guest on Thu Nov 11, 2010 1:39 pm

(Chapter 1, con.)

The hand that so suddenly had clapped over Anima's mouth covered her shriek, and the arm around her middle yanked her upwards and back before her fingers could slap the edge of the window sill to alert the women inside. What her Mother said in reply to their sanctimonious neighbor didn't register in Amina's mind, because it was too filled with a scramble of both confusion and fear. What is this, was the most frantic and dominant thought as she struggled against it. To be snatched, to be silenced, it was something she’d never experienced before. And having never experienced it, it was something that hadn’t even occurred to her as a possibility that could happen. Naturally, this meant that her most prominent secondary thought was, What do I do. The survival instinct within her that had remained so quiet and unneeded until this moment surged to life with an answer - as the mystery arms carried her away from the window around the back of her house, Anima shot her right foot forward in a wild attempt to kick at the wall to get the women to turn their ears to what was happening outside.

As it turns out, it was a very good thing that she missed. The one carrying her had felt her weight shifting ready to make the effort, and swung her in the opposite direction to ensure that her effort failed. When he hissed quietly into her ear, Anima knew why. "I don't know what you think you're doing out here, Ani. But I know that whatever they're talking about in there isn't something you're supposed to know. Now stop kicking."

As her brother carried her around to the back, Anima did do him the favor of no longer kicking. But when he shifted her in his arms to toss her over his shoulder, she dared to let slip the tiniest of shrieks as she pounded her fists lightly over his back. "What do you care, Animus?" she whispered hotly, making sure her repeated smacks were just hard enough that he'd know she wasn't happy with this little rescue mission of his. "You're a boy. My Blossoming has nothing to do with you."
"I'm a man," he was quick to correct. "Who's got two eyes and two ears."

"So?" Her voice was a shrill as she dared it to be. When her brother didn't answer, she eked up her pitch a few notches as she gave him a few fresh swats to his back and even a couple kicks for good measure. “So?!”

But Animus didn't answer. Not until the front door to his own modest house at the southernmost tip of the family property was opened, and quickly closed. He didn't turn on a single lantern, and instead marched his sister to the smaller of the two bedrooms. It featured a small bed with plain linens, a simple wooden chair made by his own hand, and that was all. Here he deposited her, flipping her over his shoulder and onto the unyielding mattress. Anima didn't know if he could see the glare of her gaze in the darkness of the room, but while didn't stop her from trying it also didn't seem to affect her older brother’s demeanor either.

"Before we say anything about what I caught you doing, let's get our story straight. You're staying here, Ani, till morning. When Mother asks at breakfast why she saw you to your own room but you ended up in this one, tell her you had a nightmare. About me, if you have to. You ran here, I gave you some tea, and we decided that you staying here for the night was best." Animus sounded like he meant business, and for her brother that was kind of unknown to her, and strange.

It made her smile. She almost laughed…out of discomfort, not joy. But she didn’t protest, and she wouldn’t argue. All Anima would do as she laid back on the bed was ask. “Why? You’re making it sound like sneaking out of bed is criminal.”

“Until you’re Blossomed, Ani, it is.”

That got her temper hot. She shot up onto her knees, balling her fists as she had trouble finding the will to be agreeable anymore. Everyone was treating her like this lately, as if every move she made was wrong but not a single person would tell her what she could do that would be right. Except keep out of the way, and don't think about the next full moon. But on that day she was going to become a woman - how could she possibly think of anything else?

And keep out of the way? Was she supposed to jail herself in solitude during the nicest month of the whole year? “I’m a girl, Animus," she retorted indignantly, "not some dirty yardbird.”

He shook his head. Sitting in the chair near the bedside, he watched his sister. Thinking about some of the things he’d heard tell around town about her behavior, he didn’t like having to consider that many of them – all of them, even – could be true. “Look, Ani. If it’s anything like Anchoring was for me I know it’s hard to be patient – "

It was the first time he’d ever mentioned his transition into manhood to her before. It immediately perked her up. “Yes! What was being Anchored like?” Following the question she relaxed into the bed, in hopes that it would make him more forthcoming. She knew she could count on Animus, she could always count on him to not be like all the rest. Out of all the people in the world, in Amina's eyes no one understood her like her big brother.

So why did he sigh? “That’s just it, Ani. You’re not supposed to know. What Anchoring is like is for a boy to know, only after he’s a man. Blossoming’s the same way. Even if that’s all I know about it, I know that much from the ones I’ve been to before.”

If Animus was hoping that his observation would sate her interest and cease her questions, boy was it the terribly wrong thing to say. For her eyes swelled up as wide as saucers, the bang of the butterflies in her stomach bursting from her mouth as a squealed exclamation, “There are boys at Blossoming?”

Internally, he groaned. “Men, Ani. No boys. Just as there are no girls there either.”

“Yes yes but don't you see what that means!" Anima looked and felt as if she was about to pop like a firecracker. "You can tell me! All about it, and then I'll know what to - "

"NO."

When her brother interrupted her, his voice was deeper and stronger than she ever remembered it. Was that what happened during Anchoring for boys? But that couldn't be, Animus was nearly twenty and had been a man for years and this was the first time she had ever noticed it. Still, however and whenever it happened, this new voice went too well with his look. It was as fierce as Father's when he was upset. Staring slack-jawed at Animus now, she could see the strong resemblance between the two men. Somehow, it almost made her feel left behind. At the very least, like she had a lot of catching up to do. And wasn't that what her Blossoming was all about? The was the last of her family to come into adulthood and that was exactly why it had to be perfect, Anima knew it just couldn't be anything else but. Her brother was showing this truth to her again right now, even if he didn't know it -

She could see the reality staring her in the face, that she had very big shoes to fill.

"But Animus," her doleful voice was as behaved as the tiny squeak of a mouse. "I just want to make sure I do everything perfectly, so I can be as good as - "

"If you want to be good, Ani, then quit spying on Mother and everyone else who's going through so much trouble to make sure you Blossom as you're supposed to. It's not just rude, it's selfish. If you catch the Guardians of Ill-Fate and turn their eyes on this family do you realize what you'll bring down on all of us?" Watching his sister a moment, he shook his head in disappointment as he rose from his chair. "If you want to be perfect, then try behaving like a grownup, instead of a thoughtless little girl. Now go to sleep."

What he said hurt her heart. She was suddenly very glad for the darkness, and glad Animus was leaving the room too. She didn't want him to see the wetness that was about to spill from the corners of her eyes, and even though there were so many angry, wounded thoughts stomping through her mind she was afraid to speak a single one for fear that he'd hear the wavering catch in her voice. Only after she heard the click of the door to the little bedroom closing did she turn her face into her pillow so it could muffle her frustrated sob. Thoughtless little girl, she grumbled to herself as she wiped her face in the blankets. I'll show him. I'll show all of them who's the smartest grownup around here. When my Blossoming is the best that ever was, then they'll see.

Once she quieted her tears and steadied her breath, that was the thought she took with her to the land of the Sandman that night.

Then they'll see.


(End of Chapter 1. Ta da! There is my sharing =D)

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Re: the blossoming of anima ][ a nanowrimo excerpt

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