Saturday, February 23, 2013

Thoughtful Work

When an acquaintance compares me to a goddess
They name me the sharp silver of a freshly whetted blade:
Artemis, Athena, the proud women-who-are-warriors
And I am a creature of such edges

When they know me a bit better
They name me trickster:
Hermes, of robbers and merchants
Loki, shapeshifter by species and sex and role
Coyote, who dies often but always comes back at dawn
For I am a creature of edges

When I name virtues great
I point to tricksters and storytellers
Loki, Coyote, and Hermes of shifting shades
Iris of communication and novelty and ways between
I admire creatures of edges

But what echoes in my bones is something else

I hope for Persephone’s stoicism,
Moved to tears only once, though torn from her home every year
I hope for Sigyn’s loyalty,
Her strength to follow through on it, even in the darkest of places
I hope for Hestia’s pragmatism
Sitting by the fire, her throne willingly given
For I love those who work where work is needed

I hope to be guardian
For those who need me
For those who wish for help
For those who have forgotten to wish

For I am a creature of edges, yes
And also a creature of needles

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Echo (Echo)

When I was a little girl, I wanted to save the world.

A lot of us do, in one way or another. Almost no one has the same definition of 'world', though, and a lot of people don't think 'save' means the same thing. A lot of people fight about whether 'save' means 'preserve' or 'ameliorate'--or which it means more.

I wanted to do it in the really simple way. I wanted to be a superhero, with strength and speed and intelligence and a bunch of other stuff, plus the heart to do the right thing. (Intelligence and powers could cover the possibility of doing so, but I also needed to consistently want to.)

When I was a little girl, I got to save the world.

There isn't much point to explaining that. Whether you've heard my story or not, you know it. I was a magical little girl who fought people who were beyond saving, and redeemed people who seemed beyond saving. I took the nickname Echo. I say it's because I wanted something that's easy to understand, so I went with something from the NATO alphabet. My name is Emma, so people don't ask much past that.

There's more to my name's story, of course. I didn't pick a name for the longest time, and no one who was telling my story was particularly interested in giving me a good one. (I was, I understand, given a number by some organizations, but news stations kept missing me. Or ignoring me.) One day, I was reading Echo's story, how she met someone she admired but could not add anything, only repeat the ends of things back. I save the world, and it's good I do, but I'm the next identical link in a very long chain.

Saving the world is necessary; I rarely found it interesting.

By the rules, my story should not still be going at this point. But I think I'm owed a little something, even if the only person who owes me is myself. I owe something to the little girl who dreamed, perhaps; more importantly I owe it to the woman I'm starting to be.

Echo was a good name. Echo is necessary, showing things back almost as they are, and that's how I've redeemed the supposedly irredeemable on more than one occasion. Now...

I am a good person. But that is, I think, not quite the same thing as being a good girl. Not in the way my once-superiors mean it. "You're such a good little girl." I think... I think I need to think of myself a little, too. Maybe be a little selfish. Not hold myself above others, but hold myself as important.

The simplest way of finding where my happy place is is to go beyond it in several directions. I've been Echo. Someday I may settle on a permanent name: not a magical girl's name, not a child's name. Maybe I'll even be Emma, someday.

Today, I am Narcissus.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Is your flight on-time? Andrea texted.

Yeah, Em texted back. Yours? Though she wasn't asking whether it was late so much as how late, given that Andrea should have boarded already.

Twenty minutes late. Then, after a pause, Sorry.

Not your fault. Em sighed, shifting her legs behind the counter, poking at the remaining bit of her pulled pork sandwich. Both of them had three-hour layovers here, but they hadn't been able to schedule their flights to overlap completely. She should be waiting an hour and a half, though now she'd be waiting closer to two.

Em threw her trash away and picked up her bags. I'll be at Gate 18, okay?

See you there.

Napping was out of the question, and Em had already finished the book she'd brought for the trip--which she'd seen coming, but she'd only had room for one book and she wanted to finish it--so she unzipped her laptop bag and opened her computer. There wasn't any free wifi, but she could work on her resumé and a few applications that she'd downloaded. There were lines she should be running, but she'd hit the point where the script wasn't looking like words anymore, which definitely meant she needed a break.

A few minutes later, her phone vibrated in her pocket. Boarding!

Yay! Em replied without any particular change in expression. It was still an hour and a half away, assuming no complications; Em's excitement tended to spike the day before and when Andrea first came in sight.

Em swapped to her script. She figured the words would probably look like words again.


Andrea shifted, nearly bouncing in her seat. She'd gotten a row to herself, which was good, because even on the flights where she was stuck in a middle seat between two people she had trouble keeping completely still when she got to see Em so soon. She knew Em would not be so excited right now, but she never got excited about things just before them.

Andrea took out her phone and fiddled with it. A few more hours, and they would be next to each other again. She grinned.

Friday, February 1, 2013


The trick to winning is recognizing that you get to define what "winning" means.

For example, if you see a little dog bites a big dog's ear, and then the dogs proceed to fight until the little one limps off, bloody and with quite a few new marks that are going to scar up, you might say that the big dog won. After all, the big dog is barely hurt, if hurt at all, and the little dog is going to be hurting for quite some time.

What you don't know is the history. You don't know that the big dog has been picking on the little dog for weeks, months, years now. Nothing major, but something painful, every day, at unexpected times. And the little dog took it, because the little guy could not possibly win against the bigger dog. The fight would end up exactly as you saw it end up--one is beaten bloody; one walks off with barely any annoyance.

So the big dog picks on the little dog, wins every day, until the day the little dog thinks, Screw this. And the little dog turns around, all teeth and claws. Still small, still hurt, and knowing exactly how this is going to go.

After the fight, the big dog walks off thinking, What a weird little dog, and never hurts the little dog again.

The little dog accomplished a goal. Who's to say who won or lost?
© 2009-2013 Taylor Hobart