Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Our Lady of the Broken Wings

Oberammergau Bavaria 1880

"Your shoulders here!" Wolfgang's horse hair beard was beginning to slip its stage paste under the lights. He shrugged his shoulder to straighten it as he stepped in to hoist an end of the heavy timbered cross from Dieter, the barber’s son. The young man dressed in muslin Biblical robes let out a sigh which showed as a puff of steam under the stage lights of the unheated theater.

"Out of love for you will I carry!" cried Wolfgang, in the voice he had rehearsed with his father in back of the butcher's shop. "If only I could be of more use to you." He took the other end of the timbered cross bar and lifted it. Dieter staggered and sighed and straightened his back.

A girl dressed in black, her hair hidden by a bright scarlet kerchief was jostled by a sweating Roman soldier armored in leather and brass and holding a bright spear. She felt him put his hand on her ass and hold it there, hidden in the crowd. Behind her she heard boy’s snickers. Another hand landed on her thigh and squeezed. She squirmed but her line was coming and there was nothing she could do. The hand moved between her thighs and she twisted away.

"Now you can move around more freely!" said Agrippa, lately the mayor of Oberammergau.

The soldier let go of her asscheek and stepped forward into the light and swatted Dieter in the face. "And something still holds you back? Even though the cross has been taken from you?"

Another man in ancient robes waved his arms. "Are you still in further need?"

The soldier, on most days the bar keep of the local tavern and brewery, waved his spear threateningly. "Let him be. We will rest for a time, so that he will have time to recover before he climbs the hill of death - to Calvary!"

The crowd parted and the girl in black stepped forward, away from the men and their hands. The soldier glanced over at her and stepped aside. Dieter fell to his knees, the crown of thorns sliding forward on his head. The girl looked out past the lights seeing the faces only as far as the second row. The rest of the spielhaus was in shadows. They were whispering and watching. She felt their eyes on her and hesitated. For a moment she could not remember her line. She glanced down at her right hand to see if the golden glow had begun there. If the angels came to her now, to take her in front of these people at this moment, it would be glorious and terrible.

A small group of robed women stepped forward with her into the light. A man in a bristly beard and a black skull cap looked severe and waved his fists at the soldier. "Another delay! Whenever shall we make our way to Calvary? Make haste!"

She put her hands to the ends of her kerchief and tugged. She looked into Dieter's eyes and felt an odd contempt.

Those are not his eyes, she thought. There are no eyes in all the world like my lover's and none of you know his fierce passion as I do.

"Oh how your face is covered in sweat." She realized her voice was shaking and soft. She took a breath and tried to make it louder. "Will you not take my kerchief and wipe it dry?" She tugged at the ends of the kerchief and lifted it away. A thick mane of bright silver hair tumbled out over her shoulders like a cascade of moonlight. She pressed the cloth to Dieter's face and lifted it away.

"Compassionate soul!" he cried. She reached out and gently straightened his crown of thorns. In spite of himself he smiled at her touch.

The girl in black looked at his face. Looked at the crowd, thought of the men on stage who had secretly touched her.


You’re all such pigs.

So begins my off again on again story of Nixie’s origin. I don’t know why it’s so hard to finish especially since most of the story is written in my head. I think there is something in me that doesn’t want to finish it, maybe doesn’t want to say goodbye to my little vampire girl.

Our best characters are made of something in ourselves. I suspect she comes from that place deep within, past where words reach. It’s a place I’m aware of on some morning’s, like today’s, when I wake up with a mysterious longing for passion and intimacy, the psychic residue of some forgotten dream. This is the soul of Nixie. It might be a longing for God or it might be a longing for union. I’m aware more and more that erotic longings and spiritual longings are aspects of the same energy. We are awareness; awareness longing for union, waves of individual expression on a vast ocean of being.

I think it must be hard to be a supernatural creature like a jinn or a vampire. Human beings are not made for immortality, it would exhaust us to bear the weight of our longings without hope for an end. To be immortal must require a form of consciousness, even a kind of callousness, that would be foreign to our human experience. Most theistic religions have a vision of the afterlife I can’t share. A belief in heaven as a paradise of unending pleasure and comfort shared with flawed human souls like our own. Or a hell of unending punishment for a life that is all too brief and would go on and on when entropy has turned all the stars to cold cosmic dust.

Nixie’s journey is essentially a spiritual one, an outsider who feels connected to God in a special way and then loses her way. This is very much my own story as well. The telling of her story is struggle, and I don’t know why, maybe because I’ve never found my way again.


  1. I love this character of yours. I think you shouldn't thing about publishing at all. Just tell her, while you are falling asleep, or when you wake in the middle of the night to change positions, that you want to know all that she has to tell you. Then when you wake up, sit and write. Garbage, garbled, etc. Just write. I think you might be right about her being an inner voice of some kind, but I don't think you have forgiven yourself for "losing your way"...Just give her lee-way to tell you what she has to say, through your fingertips. She will. Don't even think about grammatical, or what anyone else will think. The very best writing happens when it's only between you and the character struggling for life, living only in your mind.

    Good luck!

  2. Hello, Garce,

    I think Fiona may be right. You're struggling to write this story on a conscious level, to figure it out like a puzzle. Every time I read a snippet, it morphs, as if you're attacking it from one side and then another - like the fighter in The Peanut Butter Shot, evaluating, weighing tactics, pondering which ideas and images to use and which ones to leave out.

    Why not let Nixie tell her own story, without your intervention? Maybe you could try writing the tale in the first person. Let us see the beginning of her odyssey through her own eyes.

    Also - there's no reason that this story has to be goodbye to Nixie. She is a sufficiently rich vision - and she has lived long enough! - that she could feature in half a dozen more tales.

  3. Hi Fiona! Thanks, I appreciate it. I know she's in there somewhere, and when I begin work on the story I always enjoy it, I just need to get the steam going again.


  4. Hi Lisabet!

    I think what it is about the story i have in my head is that it has images that are compelling to me and it could potentially be a good story. I would like to write more stories about her though. I don;t want it to end.


  5. I'm late reading this . I love this character and mostly how you describe her interior relationship to you. I have something like this going on in my head too, with a cast of characters and I understand the angst you are expressing about the conflict of getting her story out vs. keeping her close to you.

    I love Fiona's wise words. Great advice.

    One more comment about the afterlife. I notice you describe heaven and hell as the two options and in dismissing them, you seem to be dismissing any kind of afterlife at all. I entertain the notion that there is another form of existence after death, not like what any of our current religions may proclaim, but something. Something about nature abhorring a vacuum, makes it hard for me to believe in nothing but a void after death. Everything moves in cycles, in circular fashions. Also, the fact that I have been happily haunted after the recent deaths of my three family members, well, that has something to do with it. I don't imagine any of them in heaven, nor in hell, but I still feel them.

  6. Hi renee!

    Actually as I crawl towards geezerdom i have pretty complex thoughts about death.

    Do you listen to Fresh Air on NPR? There was a very interesting interview a couple days ago with the author of "Erasing Death". He is a doctor who specilizes in resusitation medicene, bringing people back successfully and more or less intact after their heart has stopped beating and flat lined. He makes the point that even after they're clinically dead there are some people, roughly 1 in a 1000, who keep on experiemcing consciousness independently of brain activity. Consequently there must be something that still goes on.

    It's interesting that you still feel the prescence of your family members (I know who). You must tell me about that.



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