Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

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Tattoo Book 4.7

Posted by harmony0stars on June 14, 2009

Carys seemed to fall back into herself, lost in her recollections. She lay still in her mound of pillows and blankets as her eyes drifted closed. Her labored breathing was the only sign that she was still alive. Glory had just decided that the old woman had fallen asleep when she began talking again. Tears trickled from her closed eyes.

“It’s all my fault,” she whispered. Glory remained silent, waiting as Carys struggled to get the words out. Her gnarled hands feebly clutched her ragged quilts as she relived her past.

“I should have been with them, but I had slipped away to meet with my husband. My family did not approve of Jacob, and… they were right. All he cared about was the money. We had secretly been married only days before. We were planning how best to tell them about our elopement over dinner.”

She sobbed, momentarily overcome with her memories. “I waited at the restaurant where we were to meet for hours but he never came. I thought th-that my family, and my brother, had found out about us and finally scared him away. My brother had always been very protective of me. We were twins, you see.’

Glory swallowed down a tightness in her throat and took a deep breath. Twins, no… she had no experience at all with over protective twins.

“It was our birthday, but Jacob had convinced me to skip the party. He said the family money was just one more way they tried to control me, so not going to the party would be a way for me to show I didn’t need their support. I didn’t really understand how that would work, but I trusted him. He was so smart and handsome. I felt sure that my family would love him once they got to know him. He could go to work in daddy’s company and prove he was hardworking and reliable.”

“I waited until the very last minute before leaving for the ferry. All I could think of as I told the cabdriver to hurry was that my brother would be crushed that I wasn’t there to share our special day. We’d never been apart on our birthdays. It was a family tradition. Everyone gathered for the party. But when I got to the dock… there were police and- and ambulances. I knew. I knew something horrible had happened to my brother. I didn’t… I didn’t know at first how bad it was.”

“And then, there was Jacob. He put his arms around me and led me away. I kept asking what had happened. Who were the ambulances for? Jacob didn’t tell me anything until he had us set up in a hotel. And then, then he told me. There’d been an explosion, and the ferry had capsized. My family, everyone, had been on the ship. He told me, they’d come looking for me, all of them. I was devastated.”

“It came about that the police blamed the same saboteurs responsible for the Black Tom Explosion. They were convinced that my family’s support of the war had made them a target. Someone had sent my parents a note that I had been in an accident and wasn’t expected to live. Everyone at the party was on the ferry.” Carys broke down in tears and could not continue for several minutes.

“Wh-when I finally remember to ask Jacob where he’d been, he said some men had jumped him and stolen his wallet. They’d hit him in the head, and he hadn’t been conscious long before hearing about the ferry disaster. He figured as late as it was by then, I might have been on the ferry when it went down. He was beside himself until he saw me on the dock.”

“We… didn’t have to hide our marriage after that. Anyone who might have objected was gone.” Fat tears welled from her closed lids as she pressed her face into her hands. When she had recovered, she opened her eyes and looked directly at Glory. Not sad, so much as angry now.

“We fought over everything after that. It was always money. I wanted the Nazis to pay for the deaths of my family and put every cent I could into the war effort. He said that would just make us targets as well. I called him a coward. He told me to stop living in the past.”

“He wanted to renovate the house, and I finally let him. He was right. I wasn’t living. I was dwelling on the dead. My grandfather always said that the dead should be remembered and respected, but mourning them too long would only call them to you.” She made a sound half way between a sob and a laugh.

“There’d been a big to-do over some piece of architecture brought over from Wales when our great grandparents emigrated. It’d been covered up in my grandfather’s time, and my father had often expressed a wistful interest in finding it and restoring it, even though my grandfather expressly forbade it on his death bed. Jacob had heard rumors about it though, and I was curious as well. The project became a way for us to make peace.”

“When the door was finally revealed though, neither of us thought much of it. Why would anyone place a stained glass window against a wall? And it was quite ugly, all gray tones. Jacob figured that’s why it’d been covered over in the first place. We began to make plans for removing it and putting a real window in its place.”

“One night I woke and found Jacob missing. When I came to the top of the stairs, I heard his voice, though I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Before I could call out to ask him what he was doing up so late, I heard someone respond… in German. I stood at the top of the stairs for what seemed like hours as Jacob and the stranger spoke. Though Jacob tried to keep his voice low, his guest did not and several times Jacob raised his voice loud enough for me to hear. I knew then that Jacob was one of the saboteurs. He had killed my family.”

Carys closed her eyes as she recounted the events that had caused her so much pain. “I confronted him when he finally finished with his friend and came up to bed. I waited for him at the top of the stairs, and when I told him I knew… he laughed! He laughed at me and said he was glad I’d found out… that it had always been a plot, and he- he had never loved me.”

“I-I hit him. It wasn’t hard enough to hurt him, but he stumbled and then lost his balance. It all happened so fast, and then he was lying at the foot of the stairs. I ran down to check… the see if… but he wasn’t hurt. He waited until I bent down and then lashed out at me. There was this big ring he wore on his right hand, and it cut my cheek.” She gestured to her face, but if there was a scar, it was lost long ago in the many fine lines which covered her face. “My hand was covered with blood from the cut, and when I backed away, I reached out to steady myself. W-when the blood on my hand touched the glass of the door, it… came alive.”

“Jacob was hurt, but not badly. He was limping towards me, and I could see murder in his eyes. But when my blood touched the glass, it… there were colors, so bright. It lit the room. He stopped and just stared at the door for a long time, then he started talking in German. I th-think he was talking to his parents. He had told me they were dead, and maybe they were… because I think he saw them in the glass. Jacob walked right past me and into the door as if it wasn’t even there. And then, there was Cadfael as if he’d never died.”

Glory grimaced and hoped her mother wasn’t in the glass. She doubted that would be a happy reunion.

“I was so happy to have my brother back,” Carys continued, oblivious to Glory’s mood swings. “It was his idea to bring the others back too. At first… I didn’t object. I hope you d-don’t think ill of me for it. If not for me, my family might not have died. I felt so guilty, I let my brother talk me into trading others to get them back. Only those who didn’t have anything to lose, people who wanted to die… but it was just chance that brought Cadfael back first. Some of our family that’s come through since have been dead for centuries. Some like Dilys… well, they don’t age. They don’t even need to eat, though they get hungry. They can’t die, and the door won’t have them back. Dilys has tried a dozen or more times to go back… and it’s only family that comes through, no friends, no spouses.”

As Carys lapsed into silence, Glory mulled over her story. “I heard you and your brother talking. He said something about an ‘esteemed ancestor’.”

Carys looked mildly embarrassed and shrugged her bony shoulders. “It’s just an old family legend. We’re supposedly descendants of Arawn. He is lord of the dead in Welsh legend, and it’s his kingdom that my family has been fleeing. They don’t remember much of being dead, but they do remember the name of the Otherworld, Annwn. If there’s anyone who might object to their leaving, it would be him.”

“The door… it’s… it’s Caer Wydr, the fortress of glass,” Glory said in awe.

Carys gave a start in surprise. “Y-yes… I’d never thought of it, but it must be.”

“And your family isn’t affected by the glass?”

“We see colors, swirling, twisting, but never a face, never someone we’ve lost. It‘s beautiful to look at, but it doesn‘t call to us.”

“Huh…” Glory said thoughtfully. “That’s all I saw too.” Carys peered at Glory curiously as if she thought Glory might be related, but Glory shrugged. “It could just be there’s no one there for me to see.”

to Book 4, page 8

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6 Responses to “Tattoo Book 4.7”

  1. here2read said

    Sadest thought in this series so far to me (and I was bummed when Aaron died, didnt see that coming!) is that Glory has no loved one to see.

    “We see colors, swirling, twisting, but never a face, never someone we’ve lost. It‘s beautiful to look at, but it doesn‘t call to us.”

    “Huh…” Glory said thoughtfully. “That’s all I saw too.” Carys peered at Glory curiously as if she thought Glory might be related, but Glory shrugged. “It could just be there’s no one there for me to see.”

    • harmony0stars said

      If I had let Aaron live, things might have gone in a completely different direction. He basically would have been a distraction from telling Glory’s story.

      Of course, no one saw him die… there’s no body. We only have the lawyer’s documents to prove he’s dead, of old age, and cremated. I’m not saying he’ll be back. But I’m not saying he won’t be.

      I’m just saying. ;-D

      And of course, Glory’s apt to feel sorry for herself. Why wouldn’t she see her mother or grandparents or great grandparents appear? Just because she’s never met them is no reason for her entire family tree to snub her. That there’s no one there for her to see is just a convenient assumption on her part. If she assumed the sword was messing up the door’s reception, she’d be stuck with explaining a phenomena she doesn’t even properly understand herself.

  2. here2read said

    Thats so wrong… making hope bloom in my heart! LOL, although maybe the realistic sadist in me, hopes the story keeps it sad but true feel, that it is all about her.

    I really do like the way you have woven such a rich, sorrowful tale of self discovery and belief in oneself… all the while packing in the adventure and action.

    • harmony0stars said

      What can I say? I am an evil, evil writer. ;-D (But really, that’s the best kind, right? lol) Besides, if you had all the answers, you wouldn’t need to keep reading.

      Thanks for the compliments. 🙂 I’m really glad you like the story so far. It makes me wish I had the time for more updates.

  3. Fiona said

    Is it just me, or is chapter 6.6. missing?

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