The Fanfiction Tag

Efter at have læst Fangirl har jeg fået øjenene op for verden af fanfiction igen, og den forbindelse faldt jeg tilfældigvis over dette tag hos Jen på youtube, en booktuber som mange af jer sikkert kender, da hun også har skrevet Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, som jeg syntes kunne være sjovt selv at udfylde. Jeg vil ikke tagge nogen, for jeg er ikke sikker på fanfiction er så udbredt hos alle, men hvis du har lyst er du velkommen til selv at udfylde spørgsmålene.

Do you read or write fanfiction and why?

Jeg har læst en smule, og faktisk også selv skrevet en mindre smule, selvom det er mange år siden. Min motivation til at dykke ned i fanfiction verden dengang var desperationen for en slutning. Men jeg tror også det har noget at gøre med at man pludselig investerer så meget i en verden og de karakterer der følger med at man bare ikke på nogen måde er klar til at give slip på dem. Hvis man lider at bookhangovers er de også en let måde at vedligeholde sin trang til at få sit karakterfix på den måde. Det bliver et spørgsmål om at holde noget i live.

How and when did you discover fanfiction? How old were you?

Hmm, jeg kan faktisk ikke huske præcis hvor gammel jeg var. Det startede med tv-serien The Tribe som sluttede i 2003, med den mest brutale åbne slutning jeg kan komme i tanke om. På det tidspunkt var jeg 16-17 år, og i min desperate søgen efter at ville finde ud af hvad der så ville ske opdagede jeg fanfiction og dykkede hovedkulds ned i det.

How has fandom and fiction evolved since you found it?

Enormt! Med internettets påvirkning har fandom jo taget en helt vild drejning. Nu er man ikke længere bare fan, nej, man er FAN. Og det har i sin forstand også påvirket den fanfiction der efterfølger, alene bare mængden af hvad der findes nu til dags, fremfor 10 år siden. Og eksponeringen deraf er også meget, meget større. De forskellige store hjemmesider kun dedikeret til fanfiction er også blevet kæmpestore, men også nemmere for læsere at navigere i med forskellige tags.

Do you still engage with it in the way you used to?

Nej. Desværre, må jeg lidt sige. For taget i betragtning af hvor meget der findes derude, så er der jo uendelige muligheder for at vende tilbage til Hogwarts, Narnia eller hvor man nu har lyst til at rejse hen. Desværre, findes der også bare en del som er knap så godt. Men jeg håber at kunne dykke lidt ned i det hele igen i fremtiden.

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Which fandoms do you enjoy reading/writing?

Jeg tror som sådan ikke jeg har nogle bestemte favoritter. Det kommer meget an på hvor investeret jeg bliver i en historie. Jeg lider for eksempel stadig lidt af en bookhangover fra A Court of Mist and Fury, og er begyndt at følge en ugentlig udgivelse der forsætter hvor den bog slap. Det var netop en bog jeg forsvandt hovedkulds i, og har ikke lyst til at slippe. Det hele kommer meget an på karaktererne. Til gengæld er der også visse fandoms jeg næsten ikke har lyst til at dykke ned i fanficion. For eksempel Harry Potter. Det er nok en historie jeg vil være bange for at læse fra andre end Rowling. På den anden side er det også bare sjovt at se hvad folk finder på derfra.

Who are your OTP (One True Pairings)?

Det er slet ikke noget jeg har tænkt på før, som i overhovedet! Jeg ved slet ikke om jeg har nogen, igen fordi jeg ikke har tænkt på det før. Dem jeg har er nok nogle af de mere kedelige nogle, som allerede findes i bøgerne (Ron & Hermione fx) og ikke sådan nogle mere kreative sammensætninger, som så mange andre har fundet på. Jeg kan huske at jeg med The Tribe havde en stor forkærlighed for at Jack skulle finde sammen med Gel. Hun var bare så tomhjernet at hun kun kunne blive et bedre menneske af at finde sammen med Jack. Plus Ellie var bare en dum …….. af at stikke af med en anden. (Undskyld til folk der ikke er inde i The Tribe universet)

Have you told anyone that you write fanfiction?

Jeg bliver faktisk lidt i tvivl om Kæresten er klar over det. Måske ved han det. Ellers så tror jeg mine forældre har glemt det. Men nu ved I det.

What does fanfiction mean to you?

*pause* Det betyder måske ikke så meget som sådan. Det betyder en mulighed for kreativ udfoldelse, og se andres udfoldelse. Det betyder at bogen ikke slutter selvom den sidste side er vendt.

Do you prefer canon-based fanfiction (ff that takes place in the universe it was created in) or AU (the original story in an ’alternate’ universe, with a slightly different world)?

Det kommer an på hvad ideen med den er, og hvor godt den er skrevet. Jeg prøvede selv engang at skrive en historie med Jack og Gel (igen fra The Tribe), men sat i en helt almindelig hverdag i en normal verden. Min ide virkede til at starte med, men jeg gik i stå af en eller anden grund, som jeg på nuværende tidspunkt ikke kan huske. Men for mit vedkommende betyder det ikke så meget, det der betyder noget er om det giver mening og historien er god.

Tell us about a fanfiction you’ve either read or written?

Jeg ved faktisk ikke om dem jeg skrev stadig findes på nettet. Jeg kan huske jeg udgav i hvert fald tæt på det hele af en af de vist nok 3 fanfiction jeg skrev baseret på The Tribe. 2 af dem tog afsæt direkte i sæsonafslutningen på serien, og den sidste var som nævnt en realistisk setting med Jack og Gel som to fraskilte der i sidste ende ville finde kærligheden igen. Jeg mindes selv at den ene af mine ’efterfølgere’ var ganske gode, som hed (efter at rode mine gamle dokumenter igennem) Waiting for a Chance, men jeg kunne ikke finde den online, og efter at kigge nærmere igennem, så blev jeg heller aldrig helt færdig med den.

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Fairy Tales De-Bunked #Rapunzel

In connection to the Lunar Chronicles read-a-long where this month’s book was Cress, based on Rapunzel, I thought I would bring you a new Fairy Tales Debunked (you can read the first one here), this time about the fairy tale Rapunzel. I will explore the original version and some later historical alterations, but first let us look more closely at the tale (as old as time, as one might say). Fair warning, this rather a long text and I have tried to edit it shorter to the best of my ability but there is just so much to share with you. It is a part of my master thesis from my time at university I have edited down for you enjoyment, or so I hope.

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In contemporary literary culture it is widely acknowledged that the version of Rapunzel, by the Grimms, is the one most people are acquainted with. However, few people are aware that their version is the latest and most accumulated version, which due to circumstances of the fairy tale genre, led to the popularity and recognition of it to be the one read henceforth. However, there is much more to the tale than this. Regardless of which version of the fairy tale is discussed, it is important to remember that neither version can be credited as the original tale of Rapunzel. Arguably, as the Grimms titled the tale Rapunzel they coined the tale itself and any future versions of it. When the tale is historically traced it becomes clear, however, that there is a limited number of other fairy tales, which are possible to determine as the original forerunners of the version of the tale we know today. Most people know the overall story of Rapunzel; the maiden locked in a tower and then rescued by a prince to live happily ever after. These essential elements are what most people recognise and will retell from the tale.

 

The first version is traced back to Italy and one of the two fathers of fairy tales, Giambattista Basile. Basile’s tale Petrosinella from 1634 is accordingly the earliest literary tale of the maiden in the tower tale, which is later recognised as Rapunzel. The tale of Petrosinella resembles that of Rapunzel in many ways; however, there are certain details worth discussing.
Basile’s version begins in similar terms known from the tale; the mother is caught stealing and must promise her child as payment to the ogress. Compared to the Grimms’ version, in which the new born girl is taken after birth, Petrosinella, lives with her mother till the age of seven, at which time the ogress re-enters the story to claim her payment, as she also receives in the form of Petrosinella.
Interestingly, the characterisation of the owner of the parsley garden is an ogress, which in turn is arguably an old way of describing a witch. However, the effect the word ‘ogress’ has, is linguistically stronger in the manner of making the character more fearsome, as she is portrayed in the tale. Despite this, it is a less fearsome act that the girl is allowed to live with her mother for seven years before the ogress takes her away. Furthermore, the presence of magic is evident in this version, whereas in the Grimms’ version it is barely mentioned and if present, it is not referred to as magic directly. Basile explains different circumstances through the use of magic and the potential help, it can lend. Then the prince is introduced after an unknown amount of time after Petrosinella’s tower imprisonment. It is not said how much time has passed, nor how old Petrosinella is meant to be at this point in the story. This gives no indication to the proper age to marry at the time of writing, indicating to societies’ marital acceptance in Basile’s time. Nor is there any further comment on the mother in the tale in contrast to the French version, which we will get to in a moment.
Continuing this, the prince and Petrosinella fall in love, as the fairy tale genre deems it, and later decide to trick the ogress and flee from the tower. This action calls for magical assistance because instead of simply locking Petrosinella in the tower, the ogress has also cast a spell to keep her there. To escape the tower Petrosinella must find and use three magic acorns, which are hidden in the tower. After escaping the tower, Petrosinella and the prince are pursued by the ogress. The purpose of the three magic acorns is then revealed to help Petrosinella and her prince in their escape. The first acorn turns into a dog, which the ogress tames easily. The second turns into a lion, which the ogress tricks by dressing in a donkey’s skin. The third acorn turns into a wolf, which eats the ogress dressed as a donkey. The couple succeed in their escape and are left to live happily ever after.
The included details of the elaborate means of escape are all things, which have been altered, if not completely left out since. So at what point did for instance magic leave the tale completely, and why? Let us continue the search in the next place where we can trace the tale, which is France.

 

As you could read in my first Fairy Tales Debunked, the fairy tale genre flourished during the seventeenth century in France, so a version of Rapunzel is found there as well. This is the tale of Persinette by Charlotte-Rose De La Force (Mme La Force) from 1698.
At this point in history, the foundation of the family has a significant meaning as the tale begins with two young lovers, happy to be pregnant after a long period of courtship. It is further stressed, that it is their love that makes the husband steal the parsley, with the same results as in the other tales. Arguably, it could be suggested that the fairy (the evil characterisation has been broken down slightly, by the alteration of the ogress to a fairy, which linguistically sounds more positive) leads the husband into a trap via her garden. The wall-guarded garden leaves its doors open by fortune on two occasions; the second time the husband is caught. The fairy is still portrayed as mean-spirited and cunning through her capture of the husband.
In Mme La Force’s version, the infant girl is born with the fairy at the mother’s side and performing various ceremonies to ensure the beauty and fortune of the new-born. The girl is then taken away and named Persinette, raised by the fairy as her own. Notably, the child is taken away by force and not willingly handed over as in Petrosinella. The power and wishes of the parents are disregarded and the force of the fairy is enhanced when she takes the girl. Thereby her character description may have lessened in linguistic matters, but her characterisation is more evil compared to the ogress in Petrosinella, who waited to take the girl until her seventh year. The tale is further endowed with a reason for Persinette’s ‘imprisonment’ in her tower unlike Petrosinella; it is told that the fairy is aware of Persinette’s destiny (what precisely this destiny is, is unaccounted for), and therefore decides to try and shield her from it, by locking her in the tower. Similar to Petrosinella, the element of magic is present here as well when the tower is built and equipped with everything fit for Persinette, except company. The method of entering the tower by calling the famous sentence to Rapunzel as known in the Grimms’ version is actually present in this version as well, albeit not exactly the same.

Persinette let down your hair so I can climb up (Jack Zipes, The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm).

That is the original French version of the call to Rapunzel/Persinette, which has later been altered to the version we recognise from the Grimms’ version.

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The way the prince is introduced is generally similar in all three tales in various elements; he tricks his way into the tower the same way and persuades Persinette to marriage by use of pretty talk. The thing of most interest in this case is the description of her consent;

She consented without hardly knowing what she was doing. Even so she was able to complete the ceremony (Jack Zipes The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm).

The sexual indications are much more present in this case, compared to Petrosinella. The completion of the ceremony is referable in two ways. Firstly, the completion of the ceremony in its simplest understanding; they say their vows and are married, which in itself would be a big thing for Persinette who has no knowledge of such matters based on her secluded upbringing. Or secondly, the completion refers to the sexual consummation of the marriage, which is arguably a bigger unknown matter for Persinette. Given the tale’s following description of how Persinette became pregnant within a short time, the second interpretation appears most fitting.
Persinette’s secret is revealed when the fairy discovers her pregnant condition and realises her precautions were in vain – from this, it is gathered that the destiny the fairy foresaw had to do with Persinette’s pregnancy, which she attempted to prevent by locking her in the tower. The fairy then acts out her revenge (there is no direct reason why she wants this revenge, other than to ‘punish’ Persinette for having acted behind her back), which she carries out by cutting of Persinette’s hair before banishing her to a desolate seashore. The prince is then tricked by the fairy, who uses her magic to throw the prince from the tower, resulting in him turning blind from the fall. Some years pass before the prince, by chance, finds the seashore where Persinette lives with the twins she gave birth to in the meantime. The children find their father and recognise him as such at first sight. Persinette rushes to the scene and with tears of joy, she heals the prince’s sight. After one more attempt of revenge from the fairy, she suddenly sees remorse and magically transports Persinette and the rest to the prince’s kingdom where they live happily ever after.

 

During the sixty-four years passing between the tale of Petrosinella and the tale of Persinette a few things have changed, which are important in so far as hidden meanings in the tales. It is difficult to discuss hidden meanings in the Petrosinella version, because it is a version accumulated across any number of different oral tales. It is, however, easier to discuss potential hidden meanings when it comes to the French version of Persinette by Mme La Force.
When it comes to the changes and undertones of the tale of Persinette, some information of its author, Mme La Force, should be included. Born into an aristocratic family, Mme La Force was early accepted to the court of Louis XIV (for whom many other French fairy tale writers produced their tales), but quickly gained a scandalous reputation for being too friendly towards much younger men. After her attempted marriage to the young son of the president of parliament, she was sent to a convent by the king. It was during this time she wrote many of her fairy tales, including Persinette (Jack Zipes The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm). Taking into account that her “favourite plots involved crossed lovers, infidelity, and the power of love” (Jack Zipes The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm), it becomes easier to recognise her thematic style in the tale of Persinette. However, there is another aspect to take into consideration in regards to French fairy tales which is;

One issue of particular concern to women of the period was the common practice of arranged marriages, particularly among the upper classes. Women had no legal say in these arrangements, often conducted as business transactions between one aristocratic family and another. Daughters were used to cement alliances, to curry favor, and to settle debts. Sex was a husband’s legal right, and there was no possibility of divorce. Young girls could find themselves married off to men many years their senior or of vile temper and habits; disobedient daughters could be shut away in convents or locked up in mad–houses. Little wonder, then, that French fairy tales are filled with girls handed over to various wicked creatures by cruel or feckless parents, or locked up in enchanted towers where only true love can save them (Terri Windling, http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/rrRapunzel.html ).

Arguably, Mme La Force incorporated a part of her personal beliefs in regards to the matter of marriage. Given her own failed attempts at marriage, it is assumed she would write towards a happier end than her own. The dislike towards arranged marriages is evident in the notion of love at first sight, which eventually conquers the evil powers represented by the fairy. The fairy is then meant to represent the upper aristocratic classes, to which Mme La Force belonged for most of her life, which operated under such narrow and strict rules at court. Her belief in love and the freedom of choice in love is also evident in the happy ending for Persinette and the prince.
In continuation, it is entertaining to regard the slightly less-than-positive attitude towards sex in the tale.

 

I have already discussed the meaning of the ‘completion of the ceremony’; therefore I will continue with what happened following.

They [Persinette and the prince] saw each other every day, and in short time she became pregnant. Since she had no idea what this condition meant, she was upset. Although the prince knew, he did not want to explain it to her for fear of tormenting her (Jack Zipes The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm).

The attitude towards sex is evidently described as that of male desire; equally as it was the husband’s legal right to sex in any marriage as Winding discussed. Furthermore, due to Persinette’s lack of knowledge regarding her pregnancy, it is interpreted that only the male is permitted to have knowledge of sexual matters. He does not want to trouble Persinette for the ‘fear of tormenting her’; thereby indicating that her mind would neither understand what was happening or how to cope with the situation. Further, this indicates another male perspective believing the female to be fragile and in need of protection. Overall, this notion towards the female being of feeble actions, is much present in most fairy tales of the period, where many female characters are portrayed as passive maidens just waiting to be rescued (unless they are portrayed as wicked witches, which is another matter of discussion not in regards to this). Arguably, Mme La Force used the ending to compensate for the passive actions of Persinette by having her heal the prince with her tears. This form of ‘enchantment’ brings a certain amount of respect to the female character and also a purpose, opposed to just having to wait to be rescued; she can do some rescuing too.

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Before the Grimms published their version of Rapunzel, there another version was already published in Germany by Friedrich Schulz in 1790. It is from this version Rapunzel henceforth became the recognised name for the tale. As Schulz was a travel writer, it can only be assumed that he borrowed a great deal from Mme La Force’s version of Persinette to compose his version of Rapunzel. However, there is a (limited) number of details in the writing that have been altered from Mme La Force’s version.
These include (but are not limited to);

  • Instead of the wife being pregnant, she is described as “carrying something in her belly” (Jack Zipes The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm). This indicates a deviance in regards to the sexual matters of the tale. Furthermore, it relates to the institution of fairy tales and the fact that many fairy tales were polished and re-written in order to be more suitable for children. Arguably, the exclusion of sexual terminologies in the tale is an indicator that the tale has undergone a revision in such a manner.
  • The fairy’s reason for locking up Rapunzel is in this version credited to a bad reading of the stars at Rapunzel’s birth. The fairy’s abilities are demeaned in regard to magic, though magic is still present in the tale, similarly to the tale of Persinette. Though Rapunzel’s fate in this case is foretold through astrology, as in Persinette, and not through the fairy’s perhaps otherworldly knowledge the fairy’s precautions are in vain in both versions when the prince enters the plot.
  • The description of Rapunzel’s pregnancy is done without actually mentioning it; “But it was not long before her dresses no longer fit her. The prince realized that nothing good would come of this, but he did not want to say anything for the fear that she would become upset” (Jack Zipes, The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm). In this version it is up to the reader to interpret that Rapunzel is pregnant because her clothes no longer fit her. Arguably, a child would understand this hidden meaning and even more so if they are familiar with the older versions; this depends on the age of the child of course and his or her grasp of the birds and the bees. Either way the concept of a fairy tale prince and princess having children is not so uncommon that they would not recognise the signs.
    Furthermore, it is also interpreted that the prince is reluctant to move forward to be a parent and leave the position of newlywed lovers. The mention that ‘nothing good could come of it’ could also be interpreted as his fear of being found out by the fairy.
  • The prince is later portrayed in a more compassionate way; instead of the fairy throwing him from the tower by force of magic, he jumps from the tower stricken with grief, resulting in his blindness. From this the prince is arguably seen in a more valiant regard, and the fairy in a less evil regard; both benefitting characteristically from this version. It also supports how important the aspect of true love between characters became in the fairy tale genre.

Keeping these four alterations in mind, we know the tale of Rapunzel was not published again until the Grimms re-told the tale and by then, numerous other alterations occurred. Historians (more specifically Grimm historians) argue where the Grimms got their tales from, despite the brothers’ claim that they collected them from the people of Germany. Although, it has by now been established that the tales printed by the Grimms were not all (if any) collected from the people, it is more likely they were collected from the social class they belonged to, thereby meaning the upper, educated classes (Ruth Bottigheimer, Fairy Tales: A New History). Therefore, though the Grimms attributed their tales to a Germanic culture it was their ignorance that led them to make that mistake.

What the Grimms did not know at the point at which they were attributing folk sources to the stories the bourgeois Wild and Hassenpflug girls [who were the Grimm’s main sources for tales] were telling them was that these stories had long existed in Germany in print (Ruth Bottigheimer, Fairy Tales: A New History).

Their ignorance was a result of a strict home where books of this kind were not allowed. Therefore they had no knowledge of the previous prints of the very same fairy tales they were being told by the bourgeois upper class and took for granted as originals. Arguably, as both brothers had positions as librarians at one point or another in their lives, it seems unlikely they would not have come across these translated (from French or Italian) versions. Even if this came to pass, Wilhelm made it quite clear in the preface to their second edition of the tales that “since country folk hadn’t read Italian, French, or Oriental books, they could not have been privy to tales in those languages, and that the tales in the collection were therefore purely German and not borrowed from other cultures” (Ruth Bottigheimer, Fairy Tales: A New History). Though the first editions had contributing tellers, these were suddenly erased in the process of the second edition, where the tales were accounted as national German culture. This strong preference towards a national German culture derived from the French invasions at the time by Napoleon and it provides a bitter paradox that the Grimms’ attempt to create a national German culture based in fairy tales originated in France and Italy. This would be a reason for Wilhelm’s denial of their previous roots and future attribution to their solidification in German culture.
The fact that the Grimms during a period of approximately fifty years altered their tales themselves, indicates their personal attempt to make the tales more German, opposed to their potential multi-cultural background from various countries.

The collected fairy tales by the Grimms were first published in 1812-15 in two volumes with a total of 156 tales. This first edition “was not intended for children or a general audience” (Jack Zipes, The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm), which is why they are considered the closest literary versions of the originals. Following the first edition, Wilhelm was in charge of editing and adding tales to the collections and between the first edition in 1812 to the final edition in 1857 (which is continuously published today) it underwent seven revisions (and literary changes). Supposedly, the majority is familiar with the Grimms’ final version of Rapunzel and therefore it will not be discussed in details, however I will comment on the differences between the first version from 1812 and the final version in 1857 (which had also been appropriated for children and is the one distributed today).

At first glance there seems to be no apparent change in the story; there is only a change of words and inclusions of extra sentences to add depth to the story. The small changes reveal a great deal more than first meets the eye. Firstly the change in the way the woman’s pregnancy is described; in the 1812 edition there is little mention of it, except that the couple had long wished for a child and then suddenly they were in luck. In contrast, the 1857 edition has incorporated the religious aspects of the Good Lord granting them their wish. The alteration in the tale, in regards to religious terms, was something the Grimms were attentive to.

They [the Grimms] eliminated erotic and sexual elements that might be offensive to middle-class morality, added numerous Christian expressions and references, emphasized specific role models for male and female protagonists according to the dominant patriarchal code of that time (Jack Zipes, The Brothers Grimm: From Enchanted Forests to the Modern World).

Just as the French tales were primarily created at court for the King, and thereby appropriated for a certain audience, the Grimms’ Germanic interpretation of the tales were also altered to fit a specific audience; one fitted to a dominant patriarchal code. Based on the tale as the Grimms wrote it, this patriarchal code was connected, more so than previously visible, to Christianity and in relation thereof also the Church. As such, the behaviour (or opposite behaviour) of the characters in the tales were meant to function as instructions for children. In addition to being used in church, the Grimms’ collections were by the 1830s also “built into German elementary school curricula, with the result that by the end of nineteenth century, first-year pupils were memorizing the simplest tales and older pupils were explicating the longer and more complex ones” (Ruth Bottigheimer, Fairy Tales: A New History). This inclusion meant that had Grimms not already altered the tales it would by then have been necessary. With the third edition in 1837 and the next four editions up until 1857, it is what would be expected in the process of making the tales appropriate for children, which means eliminating any indications of sexual matters as a priority.

Aside from the changes in regard to sexual matters, the next change worth noticing is the transformation of the owner of the parsley garden. In 1812 this character had a lenient positive description as a fairy; despite that no-one dared enter the garden, the definition of a fairy does semantically have a closer leaning towards the positive than negative. Later, in the 1857 edition she has been re-written as a sorceress, feared by everyone. The fairy description was carried out with no means of attributives to her character, while the sorceress is made to appear evil from the very beginning. This alteration is done with little change in the rest of the tale; most part of the tale remains the same with the small exchange of words as seen here;

When the woman gave birth, the fairy/sorceress appeared, named the little girl Rapunzel, and took her away.

The method of Rapunzel’s handover is left neutral in either edition and there are no apparent changes in the story of her adolescent years or her life in the tower. It is not until the prince is introduced that changes are found in the text again.

 

In the 1812 edition the prince enters the scene and there is no description of how much time has elapsed since Rapunzel’s capture in the tower, thereby leaving the reader to assume as he/she pleases. One would think very little time has passed without any indication otherwise; perhaps this is why the 1857 edition has included an indication of a few years, thereby ensuring both the prince and Rapunzel would be of appropriate age in regards to the rest of the tale.
The manner in which he reaches Rapunzel in the tower remains the same and the sentence; Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair! is left undisturbed. Arguably, the popular phrase could not be disturbed due to its coinage in regards to previous versions of the story. Thus follows the (in 1812 edition) very short description of single two lines how the couple soon liked each other and spent a great happy time together. However, in 1857, there seemed to be a requirement for a more cautious Rapunzel, who would not be persuaded as easily by the prince. This indicates another religious precaution, included for girls to learn from. Yet, despite the somewhat longer description of the prince’s advances she still agrees to marry him and run away with him. Once again the presence of love at first sight – or by look or sound – is included as an almost standard feature in many other tales. At this point, the most significant change takes place in the literary form. The revelation of the prince’s visits and how Rapunzel accidentally lets it slips.

In the 1812 edition Rapunzel’s comment is thus:

Frau Gothel, tell me why it is that my clothes are all too tight. They no longer fit me.

The indication here is that Rapunzel is with child. However, the 1857 edition sounds thus;

Frau Gothel, tell me why it is that you are more difficult to pull up than is the young prince, who will be arriving any moment now?

The slip of her tongue is far more innocent in 1857. The indication that Rapunzel should be with child was arguably not well-seen in 1857, in relation to some of the other more religious aspects that had been incorporated. The notion of children outside wedlock would not correspond positively in this regard and had to be re-written in a more fitting manner. Furthermore, the revision also makes it suitable for children and because fairy tales were used as means of education it seems a given that a fairy tale would not allow sex and thereby children outside of matrimony. Instead, the twins that Rapunzel still has in the 1857 edition are simply mentioned close to the end, as if they appeared out of nowhere. Arguably, the idea of leaving out the ‘reality’ of any form of sexual insinuations is meant to leave the tale clean and suitable for children. The original hidden sentiments added by the French aristocratic women, who openly told these tales to adults and therefore sexual included intentions for adult reasons, were weeded out and in a way gave the tale another level of meaning (or removed a level of meaning).
Furthermore, the 1857 ending presents the usual happy-ever-after conclusion to the tale, while the 1812 edition indirectly presents this, however without the sentence famous at the end of any happy fairy tale. Arguably, this indicates to the short unhappy predicament told in the French version; that a happy ending does not come as easily as it did in their final version – where it has been further appropriated for children, who are educated to believe in a happy ever after in positive matters.

Bearing all of the above in mind, with the literary versions examined thus far, it shows how the tale has undergone even further changes since its transcend into different media in order to suit contemporary audiences. The tale of Rapunzel is not necessarily the most popular of fairy tales to adapt for contemporary media (mostly films) compared to other tales, such as Snow White or Cinderella. Despite this fact there are still a limited number of well-appropriated adapted versions of the tale, which portray the tale in a modern and contemporary social point of view as well.

Arguably, the most prominent and best known version to date of Rapunzel in feature films, is the 2010 version by Disney; Tangled. In this version the plot of Rapunzel is re-worked by Disney to create a contemporary and updated version of the tale that would appeal to children (and potentially adults as well) across nations with their title character; Rapunzel. In order to bring something new to a new audience, which consists of people with limited knowledge of the original versions (children), as well as people with moderate knowledge of the originals (adults/parents), Disney incorporated a number of changes to the tale. The first change the audience notice is the narrator introducing the tale, something not used in the original Grimm version. Tangled makes use of a narrator, who is in fact a character from the film, the ruffian thief Flynn Rider, who tells the story of his meeting and following adventures with Rapunzel. In short, Rapunzel’s story is actually told second-hand, and the reason behind her name is excluded, which creates another, perhaps more valid reason for imprisoning Rapunzel in the tower.
In contrast to the Grimm version, which has no real reason for Rapunzel being locked in the tower (other than a wish to prevent her from growing up); Disney offers this reason at the beginning of the story in their introduction of the evil sorceress, Mother Gothel. This specific reason of supposedly protecting Rapunzel’s magic hair provides a plausible reason for keeping Rapunzel locked up, which in comparison was rather lacking in the original tale. The background information and Mother Gothel’s plans present the inclusion of magic, which is almost essential in any Disney feature film. The element of magic returns to the fairy tale and provides another layer of understanding. The magic that was removed by the Grimms because of their favour of the Church is re-introduced in the 21st century as an element of wonder and entertainment to the masses, and particular to children. Arguably, the presence of magic, which can be traced back to the original fairy tales, has always been of interest though subdued, at given periods of time in history because of various influences.

In continuation, Rapunzel’s magic hair is the reason for her imprisonment by Mother Gothel, who wants to keep this power to herself in order to stay young forever, which gives cause for kidnapping Rapunzel as a baby. Rapunzel is less victimised in the Disney version compared to the Grimms’; she is locked in the tower, waiting for an escape, but it is by her actions and not a prince that she is able to escape the tower. Disney’s Rapunzel character is more resourceful and strong minded, opposed to the naive and passive Rapunzel in the Grimms’ tale. In fact, there is no prince to rescue Rapunzel in this version; she must do her own rescuing (though she is later helped by the group of ruffians who take a liking to her). Instead, Rapunzel is the lost princess who, unknowingly, finds her way home in order to have her happy ending, which according to fairy tale ‘rules’ should end in marriage. However, this is only hinted to, as Rapunzel and Flynn tell they are engaged to be married, thereby hinting at the happily-ever-after-ending.

Empowering and active actions in female character(s) is something Disney has done well, not just with Rapunzel but in many other of their feature films based on a fairy tale (The Princess and the Frog to name one). Furthermore, it supports a social change in views on gender in contemporary media opposed to the time of the Grimms, where “Wilhelm took dialogue away from good female characters and gave it to men or to evil female characters, perhaps to illustrate his personal (and society’s) view that silence in women was a virtue” (Steven Swann Jones, The Fairy Tale – The Magic Mirror of the Imagination). This belief has been refuted by modern culture since, while creating equality of the sexes, which enables the otherwise victimised character Rapunzel to be more counter-active and take control of her own destiny, as seen in Disney’s version.
The alteration of characters was therefore an almost necessary change in the tale in order to create contemporary characters that would simultaneously appeal to audiences and come across in more ‘realistic’ settings. However, the ending of the fairy tale and the film is in accordance with the original as well as contemporary beliefs; the girl can save the day too. In the original tale, after Rapunzel heals the prince with her tears, he continues to save her and their children by taking them to his kingdom thereby granting all of them their happily-ever-after ending. Although Disney re-uses the saviour of the ‘prince’ with Rapunzel’s tears, it is her who takes him to her kingdom in order for them to have their happy ending. The act of saving is not limited to male characters, but transferred more dramatically to the female character as well, in order to show that females are not automatically as delicate as they were during the time the Grimms published their versions. Societies’ view on gender roles has been altered since the Grimms’, therefore it is only natural to see this displayed in a modern version of Rapunzel as well.

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As said, the plot of Disney’s version of Rapunzel is only loosely based on the original, and if people were to see this version before reading the original, they would arguably be confused. Many people, even grown adults, still think of the Disney versions when they think of certain fairy tales.
To a certain extent, they know that most of their readers have been “Disneyfied”, that is, they have been subjected to the saccharine, sexist, and illusionary stereotypes of the Disney-culture industry (Jack Zipes, When Dreams Came True).

Arguably, Disney has polluted the original fairy tales by appropriating and adapting them to fit their family orientated ways. However, as Bottigheimer argues; literary fairy tales were in their own way a form of contamination of the original oral tales. Copying or writing down any fairy tale was an act of contamination and thereby also appropriation of the tale in question, which made them new in the eyes of fairy tale scholars. This is true in the sense that, as proven with the tale of Rapunzel, many alterations take place over time and a great deal of editing is also in practice when forwarding any fairy tale. It should therefore not come as a surprise that it happened when transferring Rapunzel to the big screen as well. This is not just the case with Rapunzel. It is possible to take any fairy tale inspired feature film by Disney and find multiple changes made, all a part of appropriating the tale for a specific audience, but also further to fit the ideology of Disney himself and his way of imagining fairy tales. It is further arguable that “his technical skills and ideological proclivities were so consummate that his signature has obfuscated the names of Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Collodi” (Jack Zipes, Fairy Tale as Myth – Myth as Fairy Tale). To a certain extent this is true and the originality of fairy tales tends to be obsolete once Disney pins its name to it. The original versions of the fairy tales are forgotten in favour of the Disney version, which persists due to its contemporary use of humour and entertaining characters. In the case of Rapunzel, Disney is not the only one who has attempted an adaptation of the tale, though they are arguably the best known (and most popular) version. What any adaptation of the tale includes, it is an updated version of what is considered important in contemporary society.

As I have now attempted to show a fairy tale can transcend borders and generation yet be able to remain true to its basic plot. However, this plot undergoes countless alterations in line with the changes of time and society in order for it to remain of interest to audiences. It shows that something intangible and oral transformed into several literary versions, each including elements of importance to their time. However many alterations were made for whatever reasons, they were all carried out with the purpose to adapt the fairy tale to contemporary times. This is further supported in the most recent appropriations of the fairy tale. I hope you found this very long story as interesting as I found it to write.

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Forfatterbesøg

I sidste uge havde jeg sammen med en kollega arrangeret fint besøg på skolen. I forbindelse med en Creative Writing Workshop vi har startet op på skolen (efter skoletid) syntes vi det kunne være godt at få besøg af en rigtig forfatter, i den forstand en forfatter der er blevet udgivet. Håbet var at eleverne ville få et godt indblik i hvordan forfatterlivet er, så de fik sig nogle ting at tænker over mens de ville have muligheden for at stille en masse spørgsmål om de ting de bare brændte for at vide.

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Efter lidt snak frem og tilbage var vi heldige at få besøg af lokalforfatter Sascha Christensen, som kom og fortalte lidt om sin skriveprocess og hvordan forfatterlivet har været for hende. Sascha kom til et meget intimt publikum, der dog alle sad med store øjne og slugte stort set alt hvad Sascha havde at fortælle.

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Jeg vil bare lade billederne tale for sig selv, for det vil være svært i sig selv at skulle gengive alt hvad Sascha fortalte om. Med alt hvad hun snakkede om kan man sige at hun belyste både de bedste og værste sider ved forfatterlivet. Forhåbentligt er nogle elever blevet bekræftet i deres karrieredrømme, for jeg håber ikke de er blevet skræmt væk fra det. Det var i hvert fald ikke meningen med besøget. Som Sascha sagde; hvis hun ikke skræmte dem væk fra branchen, så var det meningen de skulle være der.

Vi havde også været så begavede at Rosenkilde & Bahnhof havde sponsoreret to sæt af Saschas Humaran trilogi, til to heldige elever som kunne gå hjem med hver sit sæt.

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Fairy Tales De-Bunked #What’s In a Fairy Tale?

Dette er et både indlæg i forbindelse med The Daily Prophecy som afholder en Fairy Tale Retelling Reading Challenge. Jeg håber derfor også at I bærer over med mig i og med at indlægget vil blive på engelsk. Men det er til dels også det første i en række indlæg hvor jeg har i sinde at pille nogle af de klassiske eventyr vi kender, fra hinanden for at undersøge deres historie og hvorfor vi bliver ved med at elske dem.

Your first memory and why you love fairy tale retellings?

I don’t really think I have an actual first memory of fairy tales, I just know that I love them and have grown to love them even more over the years. I don’t think my parents read that much to me, at least not that I remember, which is definitely something I intend to do differently, when I eventually have kids. It wasn’t until my last year at Uni that I really began to love fairy tales and their retellings when I wrote my Master thesis about modernization of fairy tales.

It was during those months that my eyes were opened to the many wonderful retellings of fairy tale we can find in literature and everywhere else. Ever since I have loved nearly every retelling I could get my hands on, mostly because they are still the heart of the original stories we know and love, but also because they prove that the original stories can and will live on, albeit in various shapes and sizes.

Instead of rambling on and on about my work on my Master thesis I have chosen to share some of my work with you (in edited form, to shorten it for your pleasure), to inform and enlighten about some beginning love for fairy tales and their many renditions. It is a beginning new feature I have been thinking about posting on my blog for a while now, trying to decide when to do so, and with this challenge I thought it was a perfect opportunity. I call it;

Fairy Tales De-Bunked #What’s In a Fairy Tale?

We all know the opening line ‘Once Upon a Time’ and what we are in store for when a story begins this way, but then with the multiple renditions we are exposed to on a daily basis, how many can really say that they know the true fairy tales? My guess is not so many. Yet, we all know the basis of a good fairy tale with a hero setting out on the quest to free the princess and possibly rise to fame and glory, and in the process of doing so he defeats the evil villain; it is the premise that has been told across generations and has crossed borders. As a result it is difficult to come across any one person who does not own a form of fairy tale in his or her book collection, be it small or big. However, despite having the original sources at the ready on a nearby bookshelf, we are more frequent to turn to the easier adaptable version – most often or not those are predominantly re-told by Walt Disney and his animators. Even so, we are still able to distinguish the original fairy tale, in most cases that is. Unfortunately, some times the original fairy tale has been disguised behind too much glam and glitter to update the timeless story to befit a specific audience, which has a very specific taste – and sadly, this does not always go hand in hand.

To be able to say ‘This is a fairy tale’ is something most people think they are capable to say without the source of doubt, yet what most people do not know is that the genre of fairy tales is much older than we think and is impossible to set a time-stamped date to. Unlike the Gutenberg Bible which we can trace specifically to the 1450s we cannot do the same with fairy tales. This is because the genre started out orally as a means of entertainment between – and this is perhaps the most interesting part – adults. Yes, I must disappoint you to say that fairy tales were not meant for children. This did not happen until much later and for many different reasons, but I will get back to that.

Let’s return to the supposed beginning of fairy tales though, just for a time. As they started out orally it’s difficult to say if the literary originals we have are actually the real originals. However, this is the belief we have worked with for so long, so for the sake of argument let’s just stick with it. It is because of this we say the first fairy tales originated in Italy with the fathers of the fairy tale genre; Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile. What started as a publication in Latin soon became available to the masses and suddenly fairy tales were everywhere. The genre then progressed in France where the highly educated French aristocratic women took them to their bosom and soon perfected many of the stories we know to this day. They did this through entertaining parlour games, which meant all the tales were once again changed on a number of times. Because of their increased popularity they became available in cheap copies so soon every household had at least one copy of some sort of fairy tale.

The very name of the genre itself – fairy tale – originated during this time, for the French writers coined the term conte de fée during the seventeenth century, and it has stuck to the genre in Europe and North America ever since (When Dreams Come True, Jack Zipes).

The reason why many of us think of children when we think of fairy tales is because of the change they underwent during the following years. It took some years of revision for the original fairy tales to be appropriate for children. They were revised accordingly to gender roles and specific class codes to not only were the entertainment, they would also function as educational. Those who are perhaps the strongest editors in this sense are the Brothers Grimm.

“[T]he Grimms, in particular Wilhelm, began in 1819 to revise their collected tales, targeting them more for children than they had done in the beginning and cleansing their narratives of erotic, cruel, or bawdy passages” (When Dreams Come True, Jack Zipes).

It was through this revision that most of the morals we know today were incorporated, hence the educational part. New fairy tales came that were written with the sole purpose to educate children and the known fairy tales were edited, and edited, and edited. There was even a set of unspoken rules according to fairy tale researcher Jack Zipes, that these fairy tales had to follow;

(1) a didactic lesson that corresponds to society’s ways of behaviour, (2) short of length for children to be able to memorise and repeat it to friends, (3) it should pass adults’ approval to be broader circulated, (4) it should address contemporary social issues to appeal to potential publishers, (5) it must be suitable to be used with children in a school environment and (6) it should encourage a level of power among the upper classes and how to maintain this (Fairy Tale as Myth – Myth as Fairy Tale, Jack Zipes).

Thus the fairy tale genre expanded from a private collection among storytellers for personal amusement to a tool in education of children, and it was referred back to its original roots of being read out loud, as it had started. Despite this change it continued to be adults who paid the largest interest to the genre. Through centuries we can say with quite certainty that had it not been for the adults, the fairy tale genre would not have expanded as it has. I very much doubt any children coming up with adaptations for an Opera of Thumbelina or any of the sorts. Yet, the themes of each and every fairy tale is still universal and one we can all relate to. This can be related once again to the expansion of the genre to various other media.

By the beginning of the twentieth century the fairy tale as institution had expanded to include drama, poetry, ballet, music, and opera (When Dreams Come True, Jack Zipes).

Given these new outlets the fairy tale had new means of survival and new means to attract different audiences, and to grow further. As we know today the fairy tale is universal and can – and will – stretch across border and generations mainly because of their supposed innocence.

Today, the media we most often look to for fairy tales is the feature films. The list seems to go on and on for who know how long with continued adaptations of countless of the original fairy tales. The feature films have that special feature that they are able to show us exactly what our minds are not fully capable of. Suddenly the story is transported from the written page to the visual big screen and we see the fairy tale we thought we knew in a completely new light. It seems incredible that we never tire of these adaptations, yet it appears that every take on the same fairy tale creates a different story for us to enjoy. Another, perhaps less original, addition with all these feature films is all the merchandise that follows. Suddenly the fairy tale is no longer just a story to entertain; no it has turned into a profitable business with capital B. It has become an object of commodity for the masses. The biggest culprit is, and here I must point, Disney. Each fairy tale film they produce is followed by several lines of merchandise in various categories to reach various audience groups.

As the original fairy tale was adapted and revised to be appropriate for children, in our modern 20th and 21st century, Disney has done almost the opposite. They have taken the genre and changed it to their parameters and to the likes of the masses.

Arguably, this constant change is the price the fairy tale has to pay to survive. Fewer and fewer people actually read the original tales and many actually rely on the versions told by Disney as the real versions. It is precisely this notion that I hope to change. To make people see that there is more to a fairy tale than a pretty Disney princess.

(Just to clarify and don’t get me wrong, I still love Disney and the stories they tell. It is just nothing like the original fairy tales, and I think it is a shame that many people think so, when there is so much more to the original fairy tales.)

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A Feeling of Christmas

Do They Know it’s Christmas? I’m willing to bet countless of things, that come December 1st not one person can say they do not know it’s Christmas. By then, they will have had at least one or two weeks to prepare with countless of premature Christmas decorations all over the city and shops. Several weeks before it is even December, people will walk under the many fairy lights and wonder how It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. For days on end we walk around in a pre-Christmas haze with no real inkling of what to do for Christmas, other than to buy the innumerable number of presents for every member and non-member of the family. I wonder though, have we forgotten what Christmas is all about, or have we simply distorted it to fit our own modernized needs? Do we focus too much on what to get our loved ones instead of why to actually get them something? The Silver Bells we picked out because they looked pretty suddenly turn into a promise of a gift in return. All the while we jolly up and down the street browsing at all the windows looking for the perfect present all the while trying to figure out a perfect budget for the month. But we have forgotten the reason behind finding these presents for each other. Suddenly Santa Clause is Coming to Town here and there. He’s in every department store greeting every little child and giving them hopes of a Jolly Christmas where the parents won’t fight over the overcooked turkey or the spilled gravy, all because we can say Thank God it’s Christmas.

Because Christmas is also a time for families to gather and come together, it’s the time of the year where I’m able to say I’ll be Home for Christmas. There’s nothing else for me to do except be with my family and enjoy the day with the company, for one single day of the year, which for many becomes The Most Wonderful Day of the Year. Starting around noon with coffee and cake, followed with a beautiful sight we’re having tonight, Walking in a Winter Wonderland. We take this one day out of the year to just be happy together and not really think about the hectic workday (which we have to return to once the weekend is over). The days leading up to Christmas we go around and pray to Let it Snow to get the pretty white layer on Christmas Day, because without it can we really say it’s Christmas? And when the day approaches and we tell the Baby, It’s Cold Outside to go out and play, we gather around the fireplace before we open the perfectly handpicked Christmas present in the Silent Night.

Every year I bet every person will agree everything has been worth it and are already looking forward to next year. And this in spite of all the jokes about not doing Christmas next year because of all the hard work it takes and all the money that goes into it. But every year we do it again.

Not so much because of the presents, they are just a perk, but because of the feeling of Christmas that’s only there that one time of year.

It’s the one time a year we get to say; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

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Chapter Seven – Practice

Den sidste første fredag i måneden i år 2014 og jeg er klar med kapitel 7. Heri kommer Jennifer til at komme i lidt mere kontakt med hendes nye side af sin familie. Det er næsten synd at der ikke rigtig er noget julet over kapitlet, nu hvor vi er i December.

 

The last first Friday of the month in 2014 and I’m ready with chapter 7. In this Jennifer gets to be a bit more acquiented with her new side of her family. It’s almost a shame that there’s not more Christmas in the chapter, now that it is December.

 

Chapter Seven – Practice

“Jennifer?Can you hear me? Wake up honey.<< The voice sounded from far away. It was a familiar voice but Jennifer had a hard time recognising it. She felt like she was floating and it really was a wonderful feeling, but the voice in the distance kept calling to her, telling her to wake up. But if she went back it meant she would have to return to problems and things that made no sense at all. This place was much nicer and far less complicated. She slowly began to feel someone touching her arm. The voice also got clearer as it kept repeating her name.

>>Jennifer? Wake up! Jennifer?<< She started to recognize certain feelings going through her body and she reached the conclusion that she was lying on the floor with her head on a soft pillow. Her bed was not as hard as the place she was lying. She tried to move a bit but her muscles didn’t really want to listen and it didn’t amount to anymore than a tiny twitch of her left arm. This seemed to be enough for the voice though, because it softened after this twitch.

>>Sweetie, Jennifer. Can you hear me?<< Her desire to stay right where she was, was still strong although she wanted to answer. But her voice wouldn’t do what she wanted it to do either, leaving her only to grunt as a reply. Immediately after this, she felt a soft motion up and down her left arm. A warm hand was stroking her arm to make her come back to consciousness. Jennifer tried to move her head and she heard someone gasp close by her. It was a short while before she was able to look up into the worried face of her sister and see it clearly.

>>Thank God.<< Breathed Sam, still holding on to Jennifer’s arm, she kept stroking it. Jennifer’s other arm found its way to her neck at once. It was bare even when she went around the collarbone in her search.

>>Is this what you’re looking for?<< Jennifer turned her head far too fast craning her neck and saw Anna holding the necklace in one hand. Jennifer made to reach for it but Anna kept it out of her reach.

>>Wait one second.<< Sam’s grip on Jennifer’s arm tightened and Jennifer turned to her with a displeased look.

>>But it’s mine.<< She squeaked in an embarrassing tiny voice. Sam just nodded.

>>We realise that, but until we figure out what just happened you are not getting it back. You didn’t relax until we took it of you.<< Jennifer didn’t understand a word of what Sam said. The last thing she remembered was the door opening and she had been overpowered by emotions, which she now realized must have come from Sam as she entered the room. After that, everything had gone black.

>>You collapsed on the floor.<< Anna explained, and Jennifer noticed she still kept the necklace out of reach.

>>You kept pressing your hands to the sides of your head and screamed in pain. You were practically thriving on the floor screaming. It wasn’t until Jack held you down and we took the necklace of you, thatyou calmed down. You sort of went all limb and then you passed out. And now you’re here.<< Jennifer looked confused at Sam, who just nodded along to the explanation coming from Anna.

>>But…<< Jennifer tried to form a question to why it had happened in the first place, but all she seemed to be able to think about was how she was going to get the necklace back. She looked over at Anna again, but this time she couldn’t spot the necklace and she fell back on her pillow.

>>We don’t know anything about it either. Just that it has to do with the necklace. So until dad gets here tomorrow, we’ve decided to keep it away from you. It’s only what’s best for you.<< Sam placed a hand on Jennifer’s shoulder but Jennifer could see no good part about it. She couldn’t forget the feeling she’d had when she had the necklace on. She realized it was the primary reason for her lying on the floor, with no real powers left in her body. But it was impossible that had been her father’s intention when he gave it to her? Besides he’d wanted her to practice. Despite all this, it was clear from Sam’s expression Jennifer would get no further opportunity to test it. She sighed, which to Sam seemed to be her expression of agreement.

After this, Sam insisted on Jennifer staying in bed where she was brought breakfast in bed.

>>At least one good thing came out of your little accident, you managed to get some form of rest.<< Sam was clearly in a brighter mood when she was tucking the covers around Jennifer. Normally this was something she would have objected to, but she felt like Sam needed to do this more than Jennifer needed her to do it, so she let her. Strangely enough, Sam was right. The collapse had helped in that sense; she was no longer as exhausted as she had been. She didn’t know how long she’d been out of it and she didn’t feel like asking either but no matter how long it had been it had clearly helped her. She felt as fresh and awake as she’d had a good night’s rest, which only made her feel more irritable about being forced to stay in bed. She ate her food in silence, with Sam hovering over her, making sure she ate everything. When she finished she watched as Sam started to get out the vacuum cleaner.

>>Sam, why do you think he gave me that necklace?<< Sam stopped with one hand on the vacuum cleaner and turned to Jennifer.

>>I assumed he wanted to prepare you.<< She said with a slight shrug of the shoulders, as though a necklace opening to other people’s feeling was something you came across every day.

>>Prepare me for what?<< Sam wrinkled her nose and gave another slight shrug. >>You know more, don’t you? Why do you keep doing this? You knew the necklace was making me feel that way and you knew it would make it better the minute you took it of me, didn’t you?<< Sam bit her lip and Jennifer knew she was right. >>How much do you actually know?<< Jennifer crossed her arms and mustered the harshest look she could at Sam, who kept silent. Sam gave a heavy sigh before she adjusted her seat to get more comfortable.

>>You have to know Jennifer, what little I know I have been told and I have never experienced it first hand myself.<<

>>First hand? What are you talking about?<< Sam gave a vague smile.

>>You see, in Júzrïe some people have what they refer to as Gifts. I would simply call them enhanced senses or powers, or whatever. It was this you experienced earlier. Your senses were sharpened, in a way. I suppose it’s possible the pendant woke your Gift from its otherwise dormant position. Because it is your senses, they’ve always been there. Only when you get to Júzrïe they might be enhanced and that can be frightening. I assume that is the reason why dad gave you the pendant and asked you to practice, thereby making sure you wouldn’t be completely freaked out by it.<<

>>So what you’re saying is I have super-senses?<< Jennifer tried to feel for what she had felt earlier but she could feel nothing out of the ordinary.

>>In a way.<< Sam chuckled. >>But not everyone has these Gifts. Mum said it runs in families. Obviously we get it from dad’s side of the family.<<

>>Do you and Anna have it too?<< Again Jennifer felt surprised and just a tiny bit offended that they hadn’t told her this either.

>>Yes, but we can’t access ours the same way you can. My guess is, if we wore the pendant our senses would wake too but as I don’t intend on going anywhere I don’t plan on testing that theory. Because we get it from dad’s side of the family, mum didn’t have any of these senses, or Gifts, as you will have to start calling them. And not everybody in Júzrïe will have them either. From what dad’s told me, they descend from some of the oldest families. Other Gifts are more unusual and more rare and occur without any real explanation, and don’t ask me what these Gifts are,<< Sam quickly interjected because Jennifer was about to open her mouth. >>Because I don’t know. As I told you, I can only tell you what I remember dad or mum telling us and even that is limited. After dad returned to Júzrïe on his own, mum did her best to keep us from that world.<< Jennifer nodded.

At least now she knew a bit more than before. She knew she would have to get used to the slight buzzing she still had at the back of her head. It had been there ever since she woke up on the floor. It even seemed to have progressed, Jennifer felt like she could catch up on other people’s feelings when they were close by her. As Sam had said, it was like the pendant had awoken a sixth sense in her and now she couldn’t turn it off again. She cast a quick glance at Sam and faster than she expected she got the feeling yet again that Sam knew more than she let on. Jennifer kept quiet and tried to focus on the feeling she picked up from Sam. There was definitely doubt as the first thing she could clearly recognize, further than that she couldn’t tell, the feeling of doubt was too big.

>>What are you thinking?<< The sound of Jennifer’s voice seemed to alter Sam’s mood. At the moment her so-called Gift didn’t seem like such a bad thing. It helped her to understand her sister better.

>>There is one more thing but it’s a bit more family business than the rest. You know how our grandfather died making dad have to go back and leave us here? Well, there’s not much I know of our family on dad’s side beside that we still have a grandmother. Dad mentioned her one time.<<

>>Have you met her?<<

>>A couple of times. But I was just a child and I can’t really remember much of it. I think she got to see you right after you were born, before dad left. That was the last time I saw her. But as far as I understand from dad, she is very much alive and maybe too much at some times. I think her name is Beth, from what I remember.<< Sam couldn’t help but smile at the blissful look Jennifer suddenly got. Jennifer had relapsed back into her imagination, thinking about how her grandmother would be. She thought about what it would have been like if she had been there when Jennifer was a child. How they would have laughed and kept secrets together. She was so immersed in her daydreams she didn’t notice Sam leaving again.

Jennifer stayed in bed a few more hours daydreaming, but late in the afternoon she went downstairs and found the rest of the family in the middle of quite a heated argument. The minute Jennifer entered the room, silence swept across them.

>>Don’t hold back on my account.<< She said with a hand to the side of her head. She could feel the tension and excitement far away from everyone. Susan sat in Anna’s lap but crawled excitedly over to sit with Jennifer.

And Jennifer discovered how easy Susan was to be around, compared to the others. The only thing Jennifer read from Susan was pure joy of sitting and tucking on Jennifer’s hair. Jennifer did her best to retract her hair from Susan’s tiny fingers before she broke into the argument.

>>We were just discussing what we’re going to tell the neighbours and our friends of your sudden disappearance.<< Jack explained and glanced at Sam who scoffed.

>>There’s no way we can tell that our presumed dead father has returned from the dead and taken her to another world.<<

>>And telling people she went off to boarding school is just too mean. No one will believe that one anyway.<< Anna interjected and smiled at Jennifer. Jennifer kept quiet and let them continue the argument. Anna was the one who came with the most suggestions.

>>How about something about a distant relative? That’s partly true anyway.<<

>>Everyone we know knows the size of our tiny family. A distant relative is out of the question, they’d know it was a fake.<< The only thing they seemed to agree on was the truth was out of the question. Even if they simply explained Jennifer’s father had returned and surprised them all by still being alive, no one really had any spare feelings left for him.

Their mother had lived in the same neighbourhood for quite a while and had developed a close relationship to many of the neighbours and when Jennifer’s father had left; he simultaneously left all the positive feelings from all the neighbours. He was no longer popular with the neighbours and they all wanted what was best for Jennifer’s future. They were like a second separate family to Jennifer and her sisters. Especially the elderly Mrs. John next door had always been like the grandmother Jennifer never got the chance to know. When Jennifer’s father left he also departed from her kindness and every time he was brought up in conversations she would always start to mumble something sounding very much like the word ‘men’ in a rather brusque voice while she snorted and rolled her eyes. Jennifer couldn’t even start to imagine how she would react is she would have to greet Jennifer’s father today.

>>Well, what were you planning on telling people then?<< Sam snapped and looked from Anna to Jack to Jennifer, but neither of them answered her.

>>We could say she eloped with some strange guy?<< Anna suggested timidly and Jennifer was glad Sam could hear the joke in this suggestion as they all started to laugh.

>>Maybe. But let’s resort to that one as our last option.<<

>>How about, just till summer’s out I mean, you could just tell people I was off on some camp?<< Jennifer had suddenly remembered some of the kids from school talking about a summer camp where they were going to spend the summer. >>That sort of thing is for a number of weeks, right?<<

>>That would give us some time to come up with a better explanation for when summer’s out.<< Anna waited for a response from Sam. After all, it was Sam who would have to live in the house with the prying neighbours and would have to fight off all the questions.

>>It sounds like a decent plan. And it does give us more time. So I guess as of tomorrow you’ll be off to camp.<<

>>Right, now that’s taken care of, how does some tea sound?<< Jack headed for the kitchen without waiting for any possible objections and started preparing tea.

Afterwards, Jennifer got her jacket and went outside into the garden. She could hear Mrs. John working next door on one of her many flower beds. When she heard the door close behind Jennifer, she poked her head up over the hedge at once and sent Jennifer one of her usual wrinkled smiles. Mrs. John was the friendliest elderly lady, who had embraced Jennifer and her sisters as were they her true grandchildren. She and her husband never got around to having any children of their own, and when he died some years back her attention span for Jennifer and her sisters only grew that much bigger.

>>Jennifer, my dear.<< She exclaimed joyfully and Jennifer could hear the gardening tools clamber on the ground when Mrs. John dropped them and came to sit next to Jennifer. As always, she smelled slightly of roses and top soil from the many hours she spent in her garden. She was a rather short woman with an arching back from bending over her flower beds, which also resulted in the layer of dirt she had all over her.

>>You’re looking a wee bit sad deary.<< Jennifer couldn’t help notice how Mrs. John exhaled heavily as she sat down, but she pretended not to. >>Come; come tell me what could be this troubling? Nothing’s ever as bad as it seems, I always say.<< You could always count on the usual classic advice from Mrs. John. She placed a warm arm around Jennifer who appreciatively leaned in to her shoulder.

>>It’s nothing too serious, really. I’m just going away for summer camp tomorrow.<< Jennifer said it in the lowest key she could, but nothing got past Mrs. John.

>>Camp? But I’ve heard about no such thing.<<

>>Yes, it was decided just yesterday. And I leave tomorrow.<< As nonchalant as she could, Jennifer tried to shrug it off.

>>Well, now I see why you’re sulking like this. But it’s not that bad. Last I checked these camps don’t last more than a few weeks.<<

That they didn’t, thought Jennifer. It’s not so much that, but the fact that I won’t be coming home afterwards, she added mentally. She didn’t say this out loud for obvious reasons. At least she knew the plan about going away to camp would work.

>>Cheer up, I’m sure it’ll be some great weeks.<< Mrs. John squeezed Jennifer gently before offering her some work to clear her mind; working in the garden always helped Mrs. John in that way. Jennifer chuckled at the offer but accepted it nonetheless.

She would have liked to spend some more time with her sisters but whenever she was around them she was only so much more reminded of her coming departure, a thing she definitely didn’t want to think about. So she followed Mrs. John back to her garden with a heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach. It wasn’t until she was surrounded by the many flowers she remembered her experience with the plant in her window. Very quietly she backed up against the garden gate, which Mrs. John noticed immediately.

>>Come on deary, they won’t bite.<< Mrs. John chuckled at her remark and didn’t pay any further attention to Jennifer. Without even thinking about it, Jennifer had fiddled for her neck where her new necklace would have been. She took a few deep breaths and knelt down next to the rose bed. Her hand was still by her collarbone when she reached out for the tiny shovel. Rather forcefully, Jennifer reached out for the rose and when her fingers where mere inches away, she could feel it. It was the same sensation she had with the plant in the morning, although it wasn’t as powerful.

     The necklace, thought Jennifer and scratched her neck absently. It would have had to turn something on inside her, because no matter which rose she reached for she could feel it exactly like she had felt the plant in her window still. Although she couldn’t feel the roses as strongly, or hear them sigh. Whatever it was, the necklace seemed to have enhanced it. Jennifer put the shovel down and rather hesitantly placed a single finger on one of the rose petals and the instant she touched it she could feel the entire Energy of the rose coursing through her body. She sensed how it thrived in the dry earth but needed more space and it was thirsty. Jennifer couldn’t resist a tiny smile at herself. She let go of the rose and touched the one next to it and felt a similar Energy run through her again. It needed space, just like the first one. Jennifer turned to Mrs. John who was humming to herself while she was gardening. To be perfectly sure, Jennifer touched every single rose in the flower bed and she sensed the same; they all wanted more space.

>>Mrs. John? I think some of your roses are too cramped, and they could do with some water.<< She added as Mrs. John came over to look at the roses with a slight frowning of her nose.

>>Yes, they might be a bit cramped here but I simply don’t have the space to spread them out any further. The hose is over there darling, just give them all the water you feel they need.<<

With the hose in one hand and a finger on the nearest rose, Jennifer watered the entire flower bed and after about a minute she could feel the rose had had enough water. She let go of it and for the first time she tried to see if she could feel the rose without actually touching it. Strangely, she had an easier time feeling it at the tip of her fingers because that’s were she had last had contact with the rose. She rubbed her fingers together and very slowly she could feel the rose’s Energy in her hand. Again, she smiled at herself without Mrs. John noticing anything.

Very subtle Jennifer went through the other flower beds in the same way, with a finger to each flower, without Mrs. John noticing anything. With every time she touched a rose her contact with them grew stronger. After watering the first flower bed she could sense the flowers’ thirst without any direct contact with them. She just had to hold out a hand over the roses to catch their Energies. Jennifer couldn’t help but wonder at this new Gift she had discovered, it was both strange but comforting in a way she couldn’t explain. The feeling of helping the roses in such a simple way by giving them enough water was surprisingly satisfying.

When she’d watered the entire garden, she decided to try one more experiment. She knelt down to the first flower bed she’d chosen, closed her eyes and focused on the roses alone. She could hear Mrs. John in the background but ignored her the best she could. Instead, she tried to get a sense of the roses again. Their Energies were easily recognizable but she couldn’t figure out how to connect with them without touching them. Still with her eyes closed she held out a hand above the place she knew the roses were and at once their Energies felt stronger. She remained like this for some seconds to get the exact feel of the Energies. Then she very slowly retracted her hand, though keeping her attention on the roses. Incredibly enough, she could still feel the roses’ Energies while she moved further away, it was like their Energies flowed through her. It was a funny feeling. Jennifer relaxed again and opened her eyes. The roses looked no different than before, the only difference was to be found in Jennifer. It wasn’t physically visible but Jennifer could clearly feel it. The Energies of the roses ran through her as something completely natural. All of a sudden it was like the roses could recognize her too. Their wish to get more space suddenly changed to a demand. Jennifer shook her head but the demand from the roses only grew stronger, making it harder for her to ignore.

>>Mrs. John, I’m sure Sam wouldn’t mind if you moved some of the roses into our garden. That way they would all get more space.<< Jennifer turned to Mrs. John and as Mrs. John came closer, the Energies of the roses fainted away and Mrs. John’s presence grew stronger. The Energy from Mrs. John became so strong that Jennifer felt slightly dizzy and she was glad she was already sitting on the ground. She closed her eyes to shut out Mrs. John without much luck. Mrs. John’s worry for her roses rushed over Jennifer and when Mrs. John noticed how uncomfortable Jennifer looked, her worries shifted to her. She placed a hand on Jennifer’s shoulder and at once Jennifer was overwhelmed by Mrs. John’s worries. Without any real thought to it, she shook Mrs. John’s hand off and the worry diminished slightly. Mrs. John looked a bit offended, but Jennifer was too affected to pay any real attention to it. She was too focused on keeping Mrs. John’s emotions out and re-focus on the roses. The roses’ Energies weren’t as big as Mrs. John’s and was easier to keep at a distance. It was certainly not easy for Jennifer.

>>Deary, are you all right?<< Mrs. John hesitated to put her hand on Jennifer’s shoulder again, but she didn’t and Jennifer felt grateful for it. She shook her head in silence, bit her lip and didn’t say a word. It took a few long minutes before Jennifer felt capable of speaking again.

>>I’m sorry Mrs. John. I guess I got a bit dizzy for a moment.<< Jennifer tried to close of the Energy from Mrs. John, she didn’t succeed completely but it was significantly lesser and she was starting to feel the Energy from the roses again.

>>Perhaps you should go inside and lie down a bit. The heat must’ve gone to your head.<< Jennifer nodded, but she couldn’t ignore the roses easily. Not the way they were practically screaming at her for more space.

>>The roses?<< Mrs. John looked down at the roses and then to the garden next door.

>>Yes, it’s not like she has a lot of colours in there. If you think she wouldn’t mind you go ahead and move a few of them.<< The minute Mrs. John had given her consent a wave of hope emerged from the roses. Jennifer was flooded by it; each and every rose was now hoping to be moved. Without thinking of what she was doing she schussed the flowers.

>>What’s that deary?<< Mrs. John looked worrisome at Jennifer.

>>Nothing, I think there was a bee or something.<< Jennifer glanced around and hoped Mrs. John didn’t think more of it.

>>A bee? I see, well, just move a dozen or so of the roses to your sister’s garden. Can you manage on your own or do you want me to do it for you?<< Mrs. John was already preparing to dig up the roses but Jennifer stopped her.

>>I’ll do it. Thanks for the help Mrs. John but if it’s all right with you I think I’ll go lie down after I’ve moved the roses.<<

>>Of course. We can’t have you feeling ill before you leave for camp. Say hello to your sisters from me, I see Anna’s visiting these days.<<

>>I will.<< Mrs. John nodded in agreement; she smiled one last time before she turned her back on Jennifer once again. When she was just a few feet away Jennifer could feel Mrs. John’s Energy lessen and Jennifer felt much better. Again the roses felt stronger with her, and their desire to be moved had suddenly grown much bigger, so much that Jennifer felt a need to shush them again, but she refrained.

>>I can’t move all of you.<< She said instead, through clenched teeth as she started digging. She thanked Mrs. John before she went back to their garden to find a fitting spot for the roses. They helped guide her to a spot below the kitchen window. It went far easier than she had expected. The roses helped her more than she could imagine and after only a few minutes they all seemed happy in their new location. Jennifer sat down and felt for the Energies. It had started to diminish from the roses, as they had gotten what they wanted; they no longer felt the need to shout at Jennifer. Just as the Energy from the roses fell away, another more familiar one started to approach Jennifer. She moved away from the flowers and their Energy disappeared completely as she did so, but the new one kept growing. Jennifer recognized the source when Sam poked her head out the window. In the same way it had happened with Mrs. John, Jennifer was flooded with Sam’s emotions, but they weren’t as strong as the worry she had felt with Mrs. John, this was more of wonderment.

>>Jennifer, what are you doing?<< Sam looked down at Jennifer who was slowly creeping away from the newly planted rose bed.

>>Mrs. John gave you some roses, I was just planting them for you.<< Jennifer said with some trouble while she focused on keeping Sam’s Energy away. It was difficult, but she almost had it right until she sensed the skepsis with Sam over the new roses.

>>Remind me to thank her. Dinner’s almost ready, won’t you come in and wash up?<< Jennifer didn’t have to answer and she didn’t get a chance to either before Sam had disappeared inside again, letting Jennifer relax. She breathed heavily and looked first to the roses then to the window where Sam had just been. With a bit of strain she got to her feet, fearing how the rest of the evening would play out. With this Gift, it would be impossible for her not to seem absent the entire night and she didn’t need Sam to worry even more over her. She had already collapsed on the floor once that morning because of the necklace. The necklace she didn’t seem to need anyway.

With one hand on the door she took a deep breath and tried to find something simple to focus her Gift on for the rest of the night.

(Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg)

To be continued in Chapter 8 – New Beginning

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Chapter Six – New Senses

Den første fredag i måneden ankom lidt sent, men I skal ikke snydes af den grund. Så mens mange mennesker render rundt i København til Bogforum ser jeg mig nødsaget til en dag på sofaen med lidt sygdom, heldigvis på vej væk igen allerede, gudskelov det kun var en mindre 24 timers virus. Om alt andet, så er det nu blevet tid til sjette kapitel med Jennifer, og her sker der en hel del forandringer for hende.

 

The first Friday of the month arrived a wee bit late, but that’s no reason to leave you hanging. While many people are enjoying the many joys of Copenhagen’s Bogforum, I’ll just spend the day here on the sofa, nursing a small 24-hour bug while it leaves my system. However, it is time for chapter six with Jennifer, and this time she is in for a great deal of change.

Chapter Six – New Senses

As it turned out; Anna had taken the following days off work. Jennifer suspected Anna for realising her decision before she had realised it herself. Nonetheless she was pleased Anna had taken the time off work. This meant Jennifer could spend her last hours before leaving in the company of her entire family. After their father had left earlier that day, the three sisters had spent the afternoon together and, for a while, postponed the fact that Jennifer would be leaving in a matter of days. Jack had volunteered to look after Susan, so she wouldn’t spoil their sisterly fun. The only problem with this was that it was a deal Susan had not agreed to and she demanded to be with her mother after several crying fits. Jennifer didn’t mind this at all. All she wanted was to be with her family as much as possible before she would be leaving, which was why she was so grateful for Anna staying over the following days.

Jennifer had put the necklace her dad gave her back in the box it came in. She hadn’t given it more thought before she went to bed that night. Just like any other night, she had trouble sleeping, but it wasn’t until she was sure the rest of the house was asleep that she retrieved it from the drawer by her bed.

Lying in the palm of her hand, she hardly felt it, but she had a feeling it meant more than just as a simple necklace. She twirled it around her fingers and watched the moonlight’s reflection. It really was beautiful how it was able to reflect the light as blue then purple and red and the rest of the colours of the rainbow.

It spun around itself hanging right in front of her. She couldn’t say why but it was like the necklace was calling to her. As if it wanted her to wear it. Sometimes it even seemed like it lit up on its own, though Jennifer convinced herself it was just the moonlight hitting it a certain way making it do that. For a brief moment, she considered putting on the necklace but after a moment of thought she put it back in the drawer instead.

Jennifer thought back to what her father had said before he had left that same afternoon.

>>Practice.<<

What had he meant by that? What was she supposed to practice? It made no sense and especially not if she tried to fit the necklace into that equation. Tired from a long day she rolled over and as time went by and more and more mystical ideas popped into her head, sleep slowly overcame her.

 

Jennifer was in a clearing. It was the middle of the night and the only light shone from the moon. Everything seemed strange, yet she had a nagging feeling of having been here before. She walked a bit around the clearing to see if it would trigger her memory but without luck. The clearing was covered by a thick layer of moss, surrounded by large boulders around the edge. It wasn’t until then Jennifer spotted the old man that realisation hit her. He was practically hanging with his upper body over the large boulder as he heaved in air to gain his breath. Jennifer frowned as she suddenly got the sensation that this was much too familiar. The old man was extremely dirty and visibly exhausted. Very slowly Jennifer started to approach him, questioning herself what she should do.

>>Are you all right?<< She asked and bent down a bit to get a better look at him. There was no response and he didn’t seem to react to anything Jennifer did. She straightened up and looked around. Suddenly it started to come back to her. The clearing, the old man. She was in the middle of her nightmare. Jennifer glanced down at the old man’s left hand. Just as she had expected, she saw it was holding onto a small object from a shimmering silver chain. Jennifer heard branches being broken very roughly behind her and then she saw the redheaded woman enter the clearing. Instantly the grip in the old man’s hand tightened around the tiny object.

>>Hand it over!<< Jennifer heard the young woman shout curtly with her hand outstretched. Without further thought to what she was doing, Jennifer stepped between them, while the old man attempted to crawl away in what looked like fear.

>>Stop it.<< She sounded much braver than she actually felt. The woman didn’t react. She looked right through Jennifer and down at the old man.

>>Never.<< He coughed back and made the mosquitoes buzzing go silent for a second. Jennifer watched the scene in fear. She knew what was about to happen and she stared frantically from the young woman to the old man, incapable of stopping it. As she expected the light started to spread from the hand of the old man and blood started to trickle down his fingers. Jennifer looked over at the woman and saw the anger shining from her. The old man had collapsed down on the ground though still holding on to the object. She saw how the young woman took pleasure in seeing the old man in pain and Jennifer felt disgusted. She saw how the tiny object seemed to be burning its way through the old man’s hand, how the circular object shone brighter and brighter as seconds lulled by.

>>Is it worth it? Is it really worth the pain?<< The woman stood solid as a rock and stared despisingly at the pitiful sight the man had become. Jennifer was astounded when he replied in a firm and steady voice and stared right back at her green eyes:

>>Yes.<< In a split-second Jennifer saw how the woman simply by blinking woke the flames and they shot up from the ground encircling all three of them. Jennifer backed away from the many flames licking up her legs. She jumped several feet away and kept bashing her clothes down on her body trying to keep off the flames when suddenly she noticed incredibly enough that neither her clothes nor her long hair had caught fire. Jennifer looked around slightly confused. The flames were even higher now around the edge of the clearing and devoured everything they touched. Still, Jennifer wasn’t touched the tiniest bit by it. She looked back and saw the man lying on the ground shaking. Carefully she stepped closer and then she saw that the woman wasn’t touched by the flames either.

>>You can’t win Teron.<< She said hoarsely as she kneeled down beside him. Jennifer let out a scream of horror as the flames closed in around them. She could hear the man scream in pain but there was nothing she could do.

Her scream kept echoing in the clearing but when she opened her eyes she was back in her bed, in the arms of Sam. Jennifer gasped for breath, covered in sweat and tears.

>>It was just a nightmare Jennifer. Calm down. It’s over now.<< The soothing voice of Sam reached Jennifer very slowly and she started to calm down and her breathing slowed. She felt very grateful for Sam not releasing her hold on her that moment. Through her tear blurred vision, Jennifer noticed Anna and Jack standing by the door both looking very worried. Jennifer closed her eyes only to find herself right back in her nightmare, after which she did her best to keep her eyes open. She sat with her head resting in the arms of Sam, who kept stroking her hair softly. Despite her eyes being bright open, Jennifer didn’t register anything going on around her.

She didn’t see how Sam and Anna both looked sad and frightened for their sister’s condition. Or how Jack kept scratching his neck looking very upset over the fact that he didn’t know what to do or react in a situation like this. The only thing Jennifer could think about was her nightmare and how real it had been that time. She kept running her hands over her arms and legs in the constant fear the flames would engulf her again. She didn’t care about the many tears streaming down her face and soaking the sheets, she couldn’t stop crying. The sense of everything around her had abandoned her. Any other night, she would just have told herself it was a nightmare and tried to go back to sleep, but not this time. Every time she attempted to close her eyes, just to rest them from straining them she was back in the nightmare and the flames. Instantly she would open her eyes again and pull the sheets close to her body. Anna and Jack had gone back to bed but Sam stayed at the end of Jennifer’s bed. She refused to leave Jennifer alone.

>>Was it the same nightmare?<< There was no light in the room yet Jennifer could still see the sad look on Sam’s face in the small amount of moonlight that shone through the curtains. Without realizing that Sam might not be able to see it, Jennifer nodded. Sam moved closer, maybe the better to see Jennifer, she wasn’t really sure of anything at the time.

>>It was much worse this time.<< Jennifer muttered with the covers below her chin and her eyes stiffly on the centre of the bed. For some strange reason she didn’t want to look Sam in the eyes. Jennifer realised she was scared of the green eyes she’d been seeing, even in her own reflection, for so many years.

>>How worse?<<

>>I could feel the flames. The minute I close my eyes I’m right back there and the flames are burning me. I can’t stop it…<< Jennifer paused and pulled the covers further up. Sam didn’t reply, maybe because she didn’t know what to say. What could she say that would help, really? No matter what she could have said it wouldn’t change the fact that Jennifer wouldn’t get any more sleep that night. Sam couldn’t just make the nightmare stop and go away.

>>Why do I keep having this nightmare?<< She looked at Sam, though avoiding her eyes, who opened her mouth to answer but no sound came out. >>The other day when you showed me the locket and told me about dad, why did you do it? What I mean is, what does it have to do with my nightmares?<<

>>As I told you the other day that woman is from our family. She lived many years ago. Jennifer I don’t know much about the exact details, you’ll have to ask dad when he gets here. All I know is that woman is part of our family and that the dream isn’t just that but a depiction of an event that really happened many years ago.<<

>>I just don’t understand how she can be so ruthless to this Teron.<< Jennifer mumbled into her sheets.

>>Neither do I. That’s another thing you will have to discuss with dad when he gets here. Are you sure you won’t be able to get some more sleep?<< Sam placed a hand on Jennifer’s leg. Jennifer sighed. She wasn’t sure if she had the nerve to but she did it anyway. She bit her lip and closed just the one eye. Nothing. Then she closed her other eye and she found herself right back in the nightmare again. Instantly she popped her eyes open again and saw the sad look on Sam’s face.

>>All right. How about we spend the time productively instead of just sitting around staring into the air?<< Jennifer couldn’t help but smile. This was so typically Sam, she had never been the kind of girl to just sit around and relax. She always had to do something and it was clear that Jennifer had to do the same now. Sam turned on the lights and the rest of the night was spent cleaning up Jennifer’s room and dividing her stuff into what she would pack for storage and what she would bring to live with her father.

 

Jennifer sat and watched television absentmindedly, not really paying attention to what was on. Her head kept falling to her chest and her eyes became heavier and heavier by the minute. Ever since her nightmare that night she hadn’t been able to sleep at all. Her room had never looked as clean and tidy as it did these days. She and Sam had been at it practically the entire night. Most of the things Jennifer hadn’t used over the last year or so had been packed in boxes and moved to the ceiling. A few things had been packed for her to bring when she went to live with her father. After a while, she had finally convinced Sam to agree to wait to organize her clothes, because even Sam had begun to yawn as the morning came closer. Jennifer had too, but she kept forcing herself to stay awake in the constant fear of returning to her nightmare. So despite the many yawns she kept working and filled box after box until her room was almost empty. Packing up what felt like her life, and it was a weird feeling seeing everything, all her memories and such, stacked in boxes and wrapped in plastic bags. When Sam had yawned so much she nearly cracked her jaw, Jennifer had forced her to bed to get at least a few hours of sleep. Had it been up to Sam alone she would have kept Jennifer company on the sofa but Jennifer didn’t feel Sam had to suffer because she was having nightmares. After all, Sam had a daughter to look after when it came down to it. Jennifer could hear the clearing of plates from the kitchen but she didn’t have the energy to get up and see who it was. Without noticing a thing she changed the channel, just to get a different sound in the room. She felt the sofa give in and saw Anna next to her with a bowl of cereal.

>>I’m guessing you must be hungry?<< She handed Jennifer the bowl and she started eating the cereal eagerly, and almost too fast, spilling milk down her front. >>I guessed right.<< Anna chuckled as she watched Jennifer gulp down the breakfast. Jennifer just smiled through mouthfuls. >>So you haven’t slept at all?<< Jennifer shook her head, her mouth still full of cereal. >>What shall we do today then?<< Just as Jennifer swallowed her last mouthful, Jack entered the living room with a yawning Susan on his arm. She was rubbing her tiny eyes very hurriedly and hanging close over Jack’s shoulder.

>>Sam’s still asleep, which I would think you ought to be trying too I’d say.<< Jack handed Susan to Anna, whom she was reaching for eagerly.

>>Jack’s right, you can’t go on without sleep until dad gets here.<< Anna did her best to keep Susan away from her hair but Susan’s tiny fingers managed to get well tangled in it anyway.

>>I know, but I can’t. Every time I close my eyes, thinking about sleeping I’m right back in my dream.<< Jennifer put the bowl away and rubbed her eyes, much like Susan had done just before.

>>Jennifer, are you sure….<<

>>I’m fine. I just need to find something to do.<< Jennifer waived off Anna’s hand and got up. She walked up and down the living room, but in the end the looks she was getting from Jack and Anna became too much.

>>If you want anything, I’ll be in my room.<<

She turned on her heels and almost ran to her room. She slammed the door harder than she had intended and only remembered Sam was still sleeping after she’d done it. When she didn’t hear anything for the next couple of minutes, she assumed Sam was still sound asleep. Jennifer moved to sit on her now neatly made bed. She could feel her body was tired, but her eyes refused to give in for the constant fear of returning to her nightmare. She lay down on the bed, but kept her eyes open. Instead she found a spot on the ceiling to stare at, while thoughts whirled around in her mind.

The dream took up most of the space. In her mind, Jennifer kept returning to the old man, Teron. What could he possibly have done to deserve to burn alive like that? She couldn’t fathom that the woman was related to Jennifer in any way. It was hard to understand how anyone in her family could be that ruthless to another human being like that. She tried to remember every little detail from the dream, hoping it could help give an explanation to the many questions she couldn’t answer without her father. She realized even though she would go live with her father he wouldn’t be ready to tell her about it yet. He had made that clear last time he was there. Jennifer sighed and rolled over on her stomach as ideas started to take form in her head. It didn’t take her long to mould an idea of the man Teron. She reviewed every inch of his body and clothes in the search of something unusual. It surprised her how much she was able to remember, and how clearly it stood out in her mind, but logic told her it was only natural given she had had the dream countless of times over many nights.

She saw Teron in her mind, hunched over the large boulder heaving for breath. In her mind’s eye she ran up and down his limping body where she lingered on his left hand. Mentally, she froze the image and focused on his hand, which was unnaturally tightly squeezed around a very tiny object. Jennifer hurried to find pen and paper and she quickly started to draw it from memory. She put the pen down after a short time and studied her drawing. The outline of the object was clearly pressing its way through Teron’s hand but the moment Jennifer recognized the shape, she started to doubt her memory. After all, she had held the very same shape in her hand just before she went to sleep. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. She bit her lip. What if it wasn’t a coincidence? She’d had the nightmare long before her father gave her the necklace. Very doubtfully, she got out the necklace and held it up in the light. The two half-circles spun beautifully in the light reflected around the room. Jennifer looked from the necklace in her hand to the drawing she had just made. She reached up with her other hand and closed it around the pendant. Squeezing as hard as possible without breaking it, she could feel the outline of the pendant pressing against the palm of her hand but she kept squeezing. In a tight grip she moved her hand closer to the drawing to compare. She couldn’t see the outline in her hand as it had been in Teron’s but it was bulging very slightly. It was the exact same shape, if not the exact same pendant. In her dream, Teron had held on to it so tightly that blood had dripped from his hand. Jennifer loosened her grip and the pendant fluttered in the chain dangling from her wrist. She placed the pendant on the floor and rested her head in her hands. Now she had even more speculations to tend to. Her gaze returned to the pendant. Very fast, she pushed the drawing away determined not to think about it anymore. At least not for now. She made sure the drawing was all the way under her bed making it disappear. Instead, she held up the pendant again. She climbed to her bed with the pendant in one hand. It really was beautiful the way it reflected the light from bright to dark and shifted in colours too.

It was as if something forbidden surrounded the pendant. Although Jennifer couldn’t explain why she had this feeling. It was like something at the back of her head kept telling her not to put the necklace on whenever she did think about this. As if it would hurt her to put on a necklace. It was this little notion, which made her look around the room as a precaution before she pulled the chain over her head and around her neck.

The minute she let go of the chain and let it rest around her neck the entire room was in a daze. She closed her eyes at once and was glad that she was already sitting. For some minutes she kept still as she could feel the dizziness wear off. Very slowly, and blinking quite a lot, she opened her eyes only to see nothing had changed. Not the slightest. She sighed. For a brief moment she’d thought the reason for her dizziness had been the reason for some bigger change, on the surface everything looked the same. Jennifer looked down at the pendant around her neck, it seemed to be glowing even stronger now than when she first got it. She stayed on her bed and looked around. She cast another glance down at the pendant with a deep sigh. Years and years of books and films in science-fiction and the supernatural made her test what she knew was impossible. Even with a pendant like the one she had dangling around her neck.

She focused all her energy on the plant in the window and reached out her right hand. She held her left hand in a small ball-like shape, ready to catch the plant when she assumed it would be flying across the room to her. She gave it three tries before she started to giggle at what she was attempting and the plant was still standing in the window still. She turned around shaking her head smiling at her own silliness. It was at that moment she heard a deep sigh. Spinning around in her seat she saw… no one. She moved up close to the wall, giving her a complete view of the room. It only took a few seconds before she heard it again. Only this time, not only did she hear it, it was as she almost felt it too. She didn’t move a muscle but still the sigh went straight through her every time. It came every few seconds. Frowning, she crept of her bed and started to look for the source of the sigh. Even though she could feel the sigh it wasn’t coming from her, she knew that for sure. She moved around the room, almost in slow-motion, and ended up by the window still with the plant. A cool summer breeze blew through the open window as another sigh flooded Jennifer as the plant swayed in the wind. Crouching down, Jennifer kept her eyes on the plant. She could feel the sighs stronger now, which meant she must be close to the source of whatever was making it. It couldn’t be the plant? Could it?

She reached out and ran a finger down one of the leaves. As she did this, she felt as someone was standing behind her and stroking her back. Much startled by this she retrieved her hand quickly and slumped down on the floor. She reached up for the plant to look at. As it swayed in her hand Jennifer felt the dizziness going through the plant.

>>This is not normal.<< Whispered Jennifer. As though the plant had heard her and wanted to answer her, a sensation of understanding suddenly seemed to be going through Jennifer. Involuntarily she closed her eyes and in an instant she knew how every root and leaf on the plant looked and how it grew. Overwhelmed, and very confused, she put the plant down and crawled as far as possible away from it.

But the energy of the plant kept pulsating at the back of her head.

 

Jennifer stayed in her room the rest of the morning. Throughout that short time she always knew how the plant was doing, down to every root or when it moved in the wind. She had crawled as far away as possible, sitting with her back against the far wall but the Energy of the plant was just as strong as it would have been if she was sitting right next to it. She rested her chin on her knees and simply stared at the plant while she tried to come up with some sort of explanation. There didn’t come any answers with reason to her just then.

Towards noon she could hear Sam getting out of bed. As Jennifer looked to her door she could see the shadows below the door stop for a brief moment, only to continue again, most likely to go downstairs. She didn’t think more of it. Not that it wasn’t important; she just couldn’t handle anymore things that would confuse her at the time. She had enough to think about. It didn’t take long however, for the shadows to return under the door and this time they were followed by a knock. The handle turned, the door opened but Jennifer never saw who it was before a flood of emotions and worries washed over her. She knew it wasn’t her feelings but belonged to whoever had come through the door.

Jennifer yanked her hands to her ears, desperately trying to block it out but it didn’t help. She closed her eyes as hard as she could but little good it did. She exhaled a long sigh and a silent squeak before she fell over from exhaustion.

 (Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg)

To be continued in Chapter 7 – Practice

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Appreciation Post #02 Friends

As a new series of writing I will be writing what I have baptised Appreciation Posts. These will be what some people might call nerdy, geeky or just simply obsessed. Others might call it as I do; appreciation. What they have in common is their love for an item within the world of popular culture. This is also the reason why I have chosen to write this series in English – because most of it will be from International (English speaking mostly) spheres and it will be easier accepted across borders, and more people can appreciate the appreciation.

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Do you remember the year 1994? Or perhaps 2004 a bit better? In my case I was 7 years old in 1994 and 17 years in 2004, a decade in which many funny things took place in Manhattan when you followed the six quirky FRIENDS Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Joey and Chandler. I remember the early years, although I say early years, I only got hooked on the series in the late 90s as I was a bit young to begin with so all the jokes about being on a break were lost to me in the beginning. But as the years went on and my eyes were opened to the series I found my own way to catch up on everything FRIENDS.

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Some of the earliest memories I have about the show is every Wednesday night when the latest episode would air on TV here in Denmark and I would watch it with my mother. We both waited eagerly from week to week, but as we saw more and more I became a bit more eager than her. I remember being ready to tape each new episode so I could watch it over and over again and I even grew so impatient that I turned to foreign TV stations to watch newer episodes because they were quicker to air them than here in Denmark.

But what is it about this group of friends that is so appealing and makes us want to return to their lives over and over again? It’s difficult to come with a complete answer to that because depending on who you ask everyone will have each their own opinion. To me it is the timelessness of the show that is appealing. You can return to the show whenever you feel like because there are not many big time stamps on the show that labels it directly to being a all 90s show. Of course there’s the fashion that evolves throughout each season but that’s part of the charm about it. It’s fun to see how people went crazy for the ‘Rachel’ haircut or the particular dress that someone wore in that particular episode, or an object that was used in another episode.

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Then of course there is the humour about the show. Every episode has its ‘thing’ that it makes fun of and we will always laugh at whatever stupid thing Joey says, or snooze to Ross’s boring comments about dinosaurs, or laugh at Chandler’s closing joke, or giggle to a comment from Phoebe, or sympathize with Rachel as she finds her place in the real world or relate to Monica as she starts to clean the entire building from top to bottom. It doesn’t matter what kind of person YOU are, there will eventually be something about one of the friends that you can somehow relate to. Over the years you will most likely find something in each and every one of them, which makes the show that much better because the characters grow that more realistic.

Monica is the overreacting control freak with a desperate need to have a baby someday down the line. She is part of the glue that holds the group together because of her ability to play host to all sorts of events. Even when she is locked out and everything burns she can turn a piece of non-cleared new chocolate into something edible, at the very least. She grows from a neat-freak to a mother and her transformation is complete.

Monica

Rachel is the baby of the group who needs to find her place in the world. We follow her take her first baby steps as cuts all her credit cards and stops being dependent on daddy’s money. She uses her femininity to find a new boyfriend almost all the time and be able to bounce back from the ‘breaks’ despite other people’s opinions. She grows from being daddy’s spoiled rich girl to a strong self-sufficient mother with a powerful opinion and a big heart.

Rachel

Phoebe is the gentle one, but also the one who no one wants to mess with. She has her tough background to rely on and her nativity to get her trough the world. Her generosity allows her to help her brother with a difficult situation and she manages not to scare of most men when she mentions it. When she finally finds her right man, the strangest situations led them down the snow covered aisle and we see Phoebe mature to the nurturing woman she really is.

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Ross is another part of the glue to the group as he forms relationships in one way or another with each and everyone. He tries to lecture people with his knowledge and though he faces much of a wall-stopper in that area he carries on till eventually someone will listen. Despite three divorces he still manages to get women to ‘come here to him’, and sometimes also make them stay. With two children he was always the caretaker of the group and he took that responsibility rather serious, maybe too serious sometimes.

Ross

Joey is the guy in the group that will always make you smile. It is not always intentionally but he can always bring out the best in people. With a heart of gold we have seen him struggle with sleep issues to falling in love – perhaps the biggest deal to him, and over all just accept his friends the way they are. He always has some extra love for you, no matter ‘how you doing’. Despite 10 years, and constant pleas with God in hopes of not growing older, he has matured in his very own way.

Joey

Chandler brings the comedy to the group. With his desire to always have the last comment we can always count on him to lighten a dark day. Even when he makes mistakes he does his very best to come out on top so people will still like him. Struggling with a kind of personality problem we have seen him leave the WENUS and move on the more serious way of making people like new designs on Skids. He is perhaps the one person that has grown the most, from Mister Funny Man to a responsible father.

Chandler

No matter which of the characters you like the best – because we will always have our favorites – there is something for us all. We can laugh with them and we can cry with them. And hopefully we will continue to be able to do so for many more years to come.

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If you feel up for the challenge and consider yourself a true FRIENDS fanatic, I have found some test around the web that allows you to confirm this belief. I have tested some of these myself and was rather surprised by some of the results. The first one is perhaps the toughest one, it’s the FRIENDS SAT test and some of the questions are actually tough to decipher. The second one I found was still a bit difficult but I surprised myself and the boyfriend by getting them all right. It’s the Episode Title from a Single Screenshot. It should be interesting to see whether you’re just as big a fanatic as I proved to be.

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Chapter Five – Proof

Nu er hverdagen ved at vende tilbage og jeg håber til at jeg kan være lidt mere stabil i min udgivelse af kapitlerne her. Første fredag i september byder på 5 kapitel hvor Jennifer møder sin far for første gang og en del spørgsmål bliver opklaret mens andre opstår.

 

A normal everyday life is slowly returning and I hope to be much more consistent in my posts of these chapters. The first Friday in September offers chapter 5 in which Jennifer meets her father for the first time and some questions are answered, while others arise.

 

Chapter Five – Proof

When Jennifer came down for breakfast that morning it was for one more surprise. Anna was at the table, already having second helpings of scrambled eggs by the looks of her plate. She was joyfully chatting to Sam, who was trying to get Susan to eat her mashed bananas. Susan, on the other hand, was not in a mood for eating and every time Sam came near with the spoon, Susan struck out her hand in the hopes it would fall to the ground. It was Susan who spotted Jennifer first as she was trying to avoid another spoonful. As she saw Jennifer her face spread in a large grin and Sam saw the chance to sneak the spoon in her mouth, resulting in Susan spitting most of it out again.

>>Morning sis.<< Anna said with such spirit. She didn’t seem affected by anything at all, making Jennifer doubt whether she even knew what had been going on for the last few days. Jennifer joined the table without making a word and received a suspicious glare from Anna. She raised one eyebrow beneath her dark bangs and glanced over at Sam, who just shrugged.

>>By God, you two are acting as if someone’s died.<< She burst out and laughed loudly. After a minute or so, when neither had joined in her laughter, she shook her head making her short hair ruffle around her ears.

>>Do you even know what have happened these last days?<< Asked Jennifer tiredly as she leaned across the table in exhaustion.

>>’Course I do. D’you think I’ve only come to see your pyjamas?<< Anna gently poked Jennifer in the side. This was typical Anna. She had always been the positive of the three. Anna was the middle sister and had always been forced to adapt to situations a bit faster. This was partly the reason why she always saw the bright side of everything. Apparently this was no different than any other situation to her. >>Look, Sam called the other day and filled me in.<< Jennifer looked to Sam, who only shrugged innocently.

>>She was going to find out eventually. Anna has every right to know what’s happening as any of us.<<

>>Not like you were going to leave without saying goodbye either?<< Jennifer looked startled at Anna.

>>Who said anything about me going anywhere?<< Jennifer looked at the both of them. Jack was standing by the sink, barely glancing at the three sisters. Very silently he moved to pick up Susan and the two of them left the room.

Jennifer crossed her arms and leaned back in her seat. It seemed her sisters had already made the decision for her. Of course she had decided what to do, but now she wasn’t so sure she wanted to tell them before their father arrived later that day.

>>Come on Jennifer.<< Anna was still smiling. >>We both know you. Honestly, I’d be surprised if you didn’t go.<<

>>What do you mean?<<

>>What Anna mean, is that you’ve been given the opportunity to have some extraordinary experiences. You’ve always been the most adventurous of the three of us, which is why we feel this would be an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up on.<<

>>Have you decided yet?<< Anna interrupted abruptly and shoved her cutlery away. Jennifer kept looking at her sisters. She had no idea how she would tell them. Of course, she had made up her mind. The truth was, her sisters were right, they knew her too well, but that wasn’t something she was keen to admit. After her dream it had been much easier. She no longer felt like she would disappoint anyone no matter what she chose. In the end, it was her choice and whatever it would be, she was doing it for her and no one else.

>>Yeah, I’ve made up my mind.<<

>>So? What is it? Are we going to be stuck with you forever or are you leaving to bug our dad a bit for all the years he hasn’t been here?<<

>>Anna?<<

>>What? It’d do him some good, I figure.<< Anna rolled her eyes, but Jennifer kept focusing on Sam. Ever since their mother died, Sam had stepped in and taken care of Jennifer as a second mother. It was her she feared telling the most. She knew Sam was the one who would suffer most from the decision. She could see this already. Sam was almost holding her breath from pure nerves, bracing herself for what Jennifer would say.

>>Are you sure you wouldn’t want to wait till he gets here?<<

>>Heck no, spit it out!<<Jennifer moved uncomfortably in her seat and tried to avoid Sam’s eyes, but they seemed to have pierced their way through her. All she could do was look at the table as she said it.

>>I’m going.<< There, she’d said it. Anna put her hands together enthusiastically for being right. Sam on the other hand looked like someone had just slapped her across the face.

>>Well, I guess that’s that.<< Sighed Sam and got up. Without another word she left the kitchen and went outside in her bathrobe. Anna looked stunned. Sam had never acted anything like that. Jennifer’s choice had clearly shaken her.

>>Should we go get her?<< Anna went to look out the window for Sam.

>>I think she needs to be alone a bit.<< Jennifer was already heading upstairs when Anna stopped her halfway.

>>Think again you. You, go talk to her and that’s right now. Here, bring her a coat.<< Anna tossed both coats to Jennifer who, although reluctantly, went outside.

It was a cool summer morning; the sun still had some time to show. Sam sat on the large concrete bench in the middle of their little front garden; she had her bathrobe pulled close around her. The wind was still chilled from the night and Jennifer pulled on her coat before she moved to put Sam’s around her shoulders. She kept quiet when Jennifer sat next to her. Jennifer didn’t want to say anything, partly because she didn’t know what to say and partly because she was afraid to upset Sam even more. Instead, they stared at the road and the lone few who’d risen from bed early. Those few, who were up, looked questioningly at Sam and Jennifer as they stepped outside to gather their newspapers.

Sam reached out and took Jennifer’s hand to give it an affectionate squeeze. The minutes passed like this and the sun slowly moved across the sky, making all the flowers wake up from the night and bathing Jennifer and Sam in the sun light.

>>Deep down, I think I always knew that was what you’d choose. I guess, I was just hoping to prove myself wrong for once in my life.<< Jennifer gave a slight twitch at the sound of Sam breaking the silence. >>Even when we were children you stood apart from Anna and me.<< Sam Laughed. >>When mum told us about dad she also said it would change too much if you ever found out. Even when I realized what she meant, I hoped it wouldn’t happen. But I think mum must’ve known it would turn out like this, otherwise she wouldn’t have been so keen on us keeping it from you, unlike the rest of us. I remember when we were young and the stories you used to make up about dad. You were always desperately hoping he wasn’t dead and he would return one day. I remember dreaming that too the first years after mum explained he couldn’t come back. The only difference between Anna, me and you is that we slowly let go of the dream while you held on to it.<< Sam had tears in her eyes by now and Jennifer’s heart ached at the sight of it.

>>I do respect your choice Jennifer; don’t think any less of me. I just can’t believe you won’t be here anymore in a few days time.<< She caressed Jennifer’s cheek softly and Jennifer could feel her tears piling up too, but she forced them back. She would have plenty of time to cry later.

>>You make it sound like I’m never going to see you again.<<

>>Of course you are. It’ll just be really far in the future and not as often as we both would like. It will be strange not having you in the room across the hall. You, on the other hand, will have plenty of adventures and other wildly experiences you would never in a million years achieve here. You don’t have to worry about us, we’ll manage in do time.<< Jennifer leaned in to Sam’s embrace as she kissed her forehead. >>Mum would’ve been proud.<< She whispered and Jennifer had a sudden flashback to her dream.

>>You know, I think so too.<< Sam barely heard it but put an arm around her and Jennifer huddled up close to her sister. She ignored the little voice in her head telling her this might be the last time she would be able to do so, though it wasn’t easy and it made her hold on a bit longer than usual. It seemed Sam was thinking the same thing as she didn’t seem to want to let go either.

The thought of leaving the comfort she had felt for the last sixteen years suddenly seemed scarier than it had done a few days ago. The enthusiasm of leaving had evaporated during the morning, after she had voiced her choice and made it much more realistic. The prospect of her actually leaving was more real and the short time until she would leave appeared frightening.

>>When does he get here?<< Jennifer asked in a hushed voice, secretly hoping Sam hadn’t heard her.

>>Some time in the afternoon. You’re absolutely sure about this?<< Sam scrutinized at Jennifer, hoping she would shake her head and change her mind right there and then.

>>I don’t know.<< Before Jennifer had the chance to continue, Sam heaved a sigh of relief, under false pretences hoping she would get to keep her sister. >>I’ve never doubted anything more in my life, but on the other hand I’ve never been more sure of anything either. It might sound crazy, but I actually want to go. It’s scary but still exciting. I have no idea how to act around our father.<<

Jennifer could see Sam fall back a little when her last hope vanished, although she tried to hide her disappointment. She had said she respected Jennifer’s choice and was happy on her behalf despite how much she was going to miss her.

>>You’ll figure it out as time passes.<< Jennifer got the strange sensation that Sam was talking to herself more than to Jennifer.

Jennifer spent the day with her family. They argued what would happen to Jennifer, or they tried to guess what would happen as neither one had the faintest idea. Anna hadn’t been there the first time their father had visited and had as the first thing demanded a complete re-cap of it. She exploded with questions the minute Sam and Jennifer finished.

>>He said you were going to receive lessons? What kind of lessons d’you reckon they’d be?<< She started to chortle as she picked up the last cookie just before Sam returned the tray to the kitchen.

>>You couldn’t have left some for him.<< Sam returned with a full tray of cookies again and Anna looked at her reproachfully.

>>So, did you pack yet?<< This was Jack shattering the happy mood in the room. This one sentence forced everyone to face the reality of Jennifer’s decision. The fact that it would happen in a matter of hours made the laughter evaporate from the room at once. Jennifer fell back in her seat and lost her tongue. Before, it had seemed like it had been one big game and when those moments arrived and they had to face the reality of it the mood fell several degrees. It still seemed like a dream to Jennifer, one she would soon wake from and laugh about. However, as time progressed, the funny parts became lesser and more indistinguishable. She shook her head and Jack nodded in understanding. Silence followed this small exchange. No words were uttered, as they waited for him to arrive. As Jennifer remembered it, the time moved too slowly, opposed to the past days which had rushed by her. Absentmindedly, she was fiddling with some torn holes in the couch. She had entangled one finger tightly in a few strings when the room was suddenly lit up by a bright light. Instantly she squeezed her eyes tightly shut, blocking out the incredibly bright light. Just closing her eyes wasn’t enough though, and she held up her free hand to cover them too. When the light seemed to disappear she opened her eyes and saw her father standing in the middle of the room with a huge grin plastered across his face. He wore the same robe like clothing as he had the previous time and didn’t look like he had changed much. Though, there was one thing definitely the exact same thing; his green eyes. He had tiny wrinkles around his eyes which Jennifer took as his sign of nerves. Almost instantly, his green eyes scanned the room and settled on Jennifer. This made Jennifer feel most uncomfortable and once again doubt started to creep up on her.

>>Why, Anna?<< Neither Sam nor Jennifer had introduced Anna, not that there was any need for it. Their father had recognized his middle daughter right away. Anna awkwardly got to her feet and went to accept the hug he clearly had ready for her. All the while, Jennifer sat back and tried to blend in with her surroundings. She did whatever she could to prolong the upcoming conversation. Because once it had taken place, there was no turning back.

>>I didn’t expect to see you here. Then again, I hadn’t expected any of this.<< There was a sigh hidden in his voice though it was cheerful. When he spoke again, it had changed, he sounded nervous and full of expectations. >>Well, we all know why I am here.<< Everyone nodded. Sam reached for Jack’s hand for support. Jennifer kept her mouth shut, till the moment he turned to her.

>>Jennifer? Have you made your choice?<< But before Jennifer had the chance to tell him what she had decided, Sam interrupted.

>>If Jennifer should go with you, how would it take place?<<Sam made it sound like she didn’t know what Jennifer had told her earlier. But Jennifer wanted to know the answer to Sam’s question too so she waited for him to answer.

>>If Jennifer decides to come with me, she will as I told you last time, receive lessons in another form than what she is used to. Her education here will come to an end upon her first day in Júzrïe, as will everything else she had any part in here. Coming with me will mean a goodbye to her life here, and the beginning of a new one in Júzrïe. It will be a large transition, I agree not just for you but very much for Jennifer too. I realize people might start to ask questions regarding Jennifer’s whereabouts and I cannot interfere in what you tell your neighbours. Although I doubt anyone will believe the truth.<< He laughed briefly and it seemed to loosen the tension in the room slightly in the aftermath from his bad joke.

>>Should Jennifer choose to come with me, I would not take her with me today. I assume she has people here she wishes to say her goodbyes to and other affairs to sort out. I will do my best to avoid adding more pressure than necessary; I will respect your choice, whatever it might be. I’ve answered your question now Sam and it seems only fair I have mine answered by Jennifer.<< He turned his attention to Jennifer midsentence and she felt very vulnerable as his eyes pierced hers.

In that moment, she realized how much a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would change. She was well aware that she had already told her sisters she wanted to go but that meant nothing. They were her sisters; they couldn’t take her anywhere it was only her father who could do that. Jennifer had trouble breathing as she looked around the room. She knew why neither Sam nor Anna had said what Jennifer had already told them. They knew too that there was still the slight chance she could change her mind and stay where she was.

But it was impossible for Jennifer to return to her old life. Even if she said ‘no’ she had learned too much to go on pretending anything else. By now she was breathing in short fast intakes and she didn’t notice the nervous glances shared between her sisters. She couldn’t’ keep stalling. She took one more deep breath before she uttered the few words that would change her life forever.

>>I’ll come.<< She said it as fast as she could. Instead of looking for a reaction from her father she looked to Sam. Sam’s shoulders had dropped and she looked devastated. Anna on the other hand was smiling; it was a small smile but a smile non-the-less. Then she turned to look at her father. His sparkling eyes were positively shining with joy. He was so happy that the little wrinkles around his eyes seemed to be climbing over each other in pure excitement.

>>I cannot tell you how much it pleases my old heart.<< He reached out for Jennifer as if he wanted to hug her but by the look on Jennifer’s face she was glad he settled for a handshake. He then seemed to pay attention to the effect it had had on Sam. He let go of Jennifer’s hand, which he had held on to leaving Jennifer feeling awkward, and went over to embrace Sam. She sniffled into his shoulder, as she was a child again, but he didn’t look like he cared.

>>It’s fine. I’m okay.<< Sam sniffed after a moment or two and pulled away again.

>>I understand your sadness Samantha, but it’s not a permanent goodbye. Jennifer can always come visit.<<

>>It’s Sam. And yes, I know but that doesn’t mean I can’t miss her.<<

>>I’m sorry. Of course you can, but as I said earlier I won’t be taking her with me today, unless of course you would want to go today Jennifer?<< He turned to face Jennifer again who instantly shook her head vigorously. For a short moment he seemed let down by this but it had been such a short moment she couldn’t be sure. She really didn’t know him that well to tell for sure.

>>I thought so. I will return the day after tomorrow to pick you up Jennifer. Which leaves you with the rest of today and all of tomorrow to take care of what you need taken care of and say goodbye to your family and friends.<< He let go of Sam and went to hug Anna again after which he turned to Jennifer. She got up a bit too fast and stumbled slightly on her feet. He held out his arms to hug her as he had done with her sisters. But before he embraced her, he placed his heavy hands on her shoulders.

>>I realize the pressure I have placed on you the past days and I am sorry about that, it was necessary unfortunately. I’ve been under quite a lot of pressure myself these days and your choice helps to take some of it off me too. The High Council has been breathing down my neck lately but now I can finally let them know what has been bothering me.<<

>>What are you going to tell them?<< Jennifer looked troubled at her father. His lips turned to a smile.

>>Nothing too big. Only they won’t have to worry about me anymore. I intend to save the news of your return to the family for as long as I can.<< For some reason this calmed Jennifer. She still wasn’t completely certain how she felt about this council of old men who, apparently, were already judging her. >>Before I leave I have a small token for you Jennifer.<< He let go of her shoulders and reached inside his robe in one of many pockets from the looks of it. He had a bit of trouble finding what he looked for among the many pockets but when he did he held out a small golden package for Jennifer. >>Consider it a welcome home present.<< He said with a huge grin and held it out to Jennifer, who took it hesitantly. She didn’t have time to unwrap it before he had said goodbye and moved to the large mirror.

>>I’ll see you in a few days. Practice while I’m away.<< And just then the room was lit up by the bright light again and forced them all to look away.

Jennifer was left behind with plenty mixed emotions and the small golden package in her hand.

>>Open it!<< Anna encouraged almost instantly as the last beam of light vanished. She was hovering behind Jennifer looking over her shoulder. The package was no bigger than an apple and didn’t weigh much. Jennifer gently removed the golden paper knowing every eye in the room was on her.

It was a small wooden box with a gold necklace inside. The gold necklace had a pendant dangling from it, the size of an acorn. It was circular with a symbol in the middle which was twirling around it. The symbol was two half-circles barely connection to form the shape of an ‘s’. Both circles were twirling and glinting in the light.

Jennifer placed it in the palm of her hand and it gave her a strange sense of security as it rested there. It was a proof that everything had been true and was really happening.

Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg

To be continued in Chapter 6 – New Senses

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Chapter Four – Decisions

Den første fredag i sidste måned kom og gik uden at jeg fik lagt det næste kapitel ud af min roman. Lidt ferie kom i vejen og det er jeg bange for der også gør i næste måned. Det er derfor lidt med vilje jeg har gemt kapitel 4 til jer, så I kan få det her midt i mellem, og så håber jeg ikke at I sidder derude og føler jeg snydt. I må absolut ikke tro at jeg har glemt jer! Der er en mening med det hele. Nu får I kapitel 4 hvori Jennifer må træffe nogle svære valg, hvis I skal friskes lidt op kan i kigge tilbage på kapitel 3 i mellemtiden.

 

The first Friday of last month came and went without me getting around to posting the next chapter of my novel. A bit of vacation got in the way and I’m afraid it’s the same case for next month. I have therefor, on purpose, kept chapter 4 from you so it would be available to you here in between months. I sincerely hope you do not sit out there and feel cheated of chapters. Do not think that I have forgotten you, because there is a point to everything. Here is chapter 4, in which Jennifer must face some difficult decisions; if you need to refresh your memory a bit you can look to chapter 3 again in the meantime.

 

Chapter 4 – Decisions

  The next morning when Jennifer woke she thought, no she practically hoped, it had been a very long dream. The little amount of hope she had for that vanished when she came down for breakfast and saw the long faces.

>>It definitely wasn’t just a dream?<< Still rather tired she joined Sam and Jack, shaking their heads, for breakfast.

>>I can’t figure out if I want it to be a dream or not.<< Jennifer sighed and pushed her plate away. It was like her normally large appetite had vanished overnight.

Her respect for her mother’s choice, to keep it a secret, had on the other hand grown vastly. By this, her bitterness towards her so-called father had grown too, because he was dumping all this on her. A part of her wished she hadn’t been told and everything was as it always had been. At the same time she knew that was not an option. The bubble had burst. The ideas she had formed over the years about her father had been destroyed by the truth, a truth she apparently still didn’t know half of. Many small pieces of a grander puzzle still seemed to be missing despite all she had learned over the last few days.

>>I wish it was a dream.<< Said Sam and started clearing the table. Jennifer glanced her way with a frown.

>>Why? It’s not you who have to make this choice about giving up your entire life in exchange for a new one in a matter of three days.<< Jennifer banged her forehead against the table in pure despair.

>>This is exactly what mum meant.<< Sam let dishes be dishes and came to sit with Jennifer. Jennifer turned her head, still resting on the table. She didn’t see how she was going to make this decision in just three days.

>>Mum knew how much it would change your life if you found out the truth. I only realized yesterday that’s why she wanted us to continue to keep you in the dark.<<

>>You really think so?<<

>>You heard dad. Anna and I are too old. You’re the only one with the possibility of having a life in Júzrïe, and I think mum realised this before she died.<<

>>Yeah, that’s one thing I still don’t understand.<< Jennifer straightened up and rubbed her cheek gently after it had been stuck to the table. >>Why are you and Anna too old?<< Sam frowned and looked confused again. It was a look that seemed to have settled permanently among the house these days.

>>You have to understand Jennifer; even I don’t know everything about all this. I can only tell you what I know and understand. As dad said, Júzrïe isn’t on any of our maps because it’s not part of the world we know as such. Dad said it sort of belonged to our world. From what I remember it is because Júzrïe is an old country, older than I remember. The reason why it’s not on any map is because it’s hidden, don’t ask me how since I have no idea, dad never told me and I never asked. But it’s something to do with the Mirrors. That’s how you get there.<<

>>What? Through Mirrors?<< Sam nodded.

>>You saw how the living room lit up yesterday when he left. The light came from the Mirror when he left. I tried it once many years ago and it’s not the most pleasant way to travel. You feel dizzy for a long time after and need lots of rest.<< But it wasn’t the means of transportation that had caught Jennifer’s interest.

>>You’ve been to Júzrïe?<< Jennifer had moved further to the edge of her chair and her attention was fully devoted to Sam by now.

>>Once. I didn’t see a lot or anyone. I only went there for a day to sign some papers because I chose to live here with Jack. But Jennifer,<< Sam reached for Jennifer and she suddenly looked sad again. >>All this is not important. How to get there, or where it is, or why Anna and I are too old is insignificant. What matters now is you and the choice you have to make.<< Jennifer was speechless. >>If you choose to, you will learn much more about Júzrïe than I’m able to tell you.<<

>>Sam are you trying to get rid of me?<< Jennifer said indignantly and pulled away.

>>Of course not, not ever. I want you to stay here, but I know you Jennifer. I saw you yesterday, and how you lit up at the idea of a family.<<

>>Sam, you guys are my family.<<

>>Yes. But you have the chance to get to know the rest of our family. And not just meet our family. You would get to experience many things in Júzrïe you would never even get close to experience here.<<

>>So what you’re saying is, you want me to go but you also want me to stay here?<< Sam chuckled.

>>I know it sounds crazy. Jennifer, you know I dearly want to keep you here with us, but at the same time I can’t help to think of other people. I can’t be selfish and keep you forever. In Júzrïe there are many people who wish for you to take dad’s place when he is gone.<<

>>Sam is right Jennifer.<< It was the first time Jack had spoken all morning and Jennifer was surprised to find him still in the room. >>Your dad asked you for a reason. Because, he is counting on you. Not that I want to put any more pressure on you but that is something you have to take into consideration too. He chose to help his family many years ago and now it’s up to you if you want to do the same?<<

>>When I had the choice in front of me, it was all very appealing but not nearly as appealing as certain other things.<< Sam reached a hand across the table and a smile passed between her and Jack. >>All though, I didn’t have the extra burden put on me as the one you’re facing it was still very appealing, but my life here meant much more to me. Jennifer you’re young and as far as I know you have nothing keeping you here. Don’t worry about us. As you said yourself, we’re your family and families stick together no matter what.<<

>>Maybe.<< Jennifer got up. Her head was swimming.

>>My point is,<< Sam hurried to say before Jennifer left the kitchen. >>Don’t make your decision based on other people’s need and wishes. When it comes down to it, it is your choice and you’re the one who has to live with it. Listen to your heart and make the decision you want to. Then the rest of us have to deal with it, whatever it may be.<< Jennifer nodded and retreated to her room again.

She gently closed the door behind her and slid to the floor where she crouched. She sat like that for a long time, just thinking. She thought about the many things she had learned over the last days and what Sam had just told her. Most of all, she thought about her mother. She thought how hard it must have been for her too, to live her life knowing her husband was alive but they were unable to be together. On top of that she was forced to raise their three daughters alone. Jennifer tried to imagine the struggles her mother must have gone through.

She tried to think of her childhood but it was hard to remember anything specific. As far back as she could remember, it had only been her sisters and their mother. She had no memories of her father at all. For many years, she had thought him to be dead and she had always wondered why her mother never re-married. Every time Jennifer asked about her father her mother disregarded it and immediately talked about something else, as if she were too busy to talk about him or she was too tired or some other excuse she came up with. No matter how Jennifer sprang the question on her, she never got a straight answer. Her mother simply refused to talk about him, something Jennifer had never understood. Now she knew why and understood why her mother had never re-married. Because she was still very much in love with her husband and knew he was alive.

Jennifer looked around her room, hoping to find something to help her make her decision. She was afraid to admit it to herself that she had already made her choice almost the minute she’d heard of Júzrïe and therefore she did her best to try and find things to change her mind.

The idea of Júzrïe made her feel excited and happy. She didn’t think about her father, but the rest of the family she had been missing for so many years. The family she had been longing for, and was possibly waiting for her in Júzrïe. She didn’t think about her father, because every time she did so it made her angry. Granted he had explained things to her why he had left, but it didn’t change the fact that he had left. No matter how you chose to look at it, he had turned his back on his wife and children. And now he had placed Jennifer in a similar position. The small things which previously reminded her of a loving father now seemed to mock her about the lie it had been. She grabbed the photos of him, a jewellery box and a teddy bear from the bed and shoved it under the bed, so as not to remind her more than necessary. After this she sat down cross legged and looked around the room. There was no longer anything reminding her of her father. Though he was a large factor in the decision she didn’t want to be reminded of him constantly as she was about to make her choice. She was determined to make him have as little influence as possible.

 

Jennifer was standing on a hill top. The air was sweet with a touch of summer and flowers. Her eyes were closed and she embraced the silence. Beneath her bare feet she could feel the freshly cut grass. There was a familiar presence in the air. It seemed to be caressing her. If it weren’t for the fact that she knew it was a dream, she could have been standing there for a long time. But her sub-consciousness was telling her otherwise. The loving surroundings were merely an aid to her. To help her in the choice she was about to make. It made it seem much easier to her. But she could still feel the struggle inside her about what path to choose.

Behind her, in the southern direction, she had the view of a valley with a little cottage. A woman was walking around in the garden, carrying a child on her arm. A man joined them from the house. They looked very happy. Even from a distance, one as far as the one Jennifer was at; she could almost feel their happiness as her own. She realized the couple she was watching, was Sam and Jack and the child was Susan. She could still feel their happiness and the urge to join them was growing stronger. Yet, something held her back. There was something else tying her to her spot. She turned her back on her family and gazed at the horizon on the northern side.

It was a view more spectacular than anything she had ever seen. A vast ocean stretched beyond the horizon where the sun was reflected in the water as it shone over the country side. The fields and forests stretched for miles on both sides and she couldn’t see the end of them. The wind was in her back now, gently nudging her to go this way. Jennifer remained indecisively where she was.

Exotic birds flew from the forest and sang beautifully in the sky. People were walking around the fields and working, each and everyone one of them ignorant of the battle Jennifer was facing. Both sides were beautiful and alluring in their own way. The big question was, which side she would join in?

With a heavy heart she simply squatted down, not knowing which way to go. She kept looking from south to north, hoping the answer would come to her by chance, but no luck. Leaves blew up from both sides and slowly gathered in a shape in front of Jennifer. Very suspiciously Jennifer watched as her mother stepped up to her. Without knowing why, Jennifer suddenly started to cry. The memory of her mother was too great and overpowered her for several minutes where she just cried and cried. A feeling of someone holding her made her stop for long enough to make out that everyone, both on the southern and northern side were looking up at her expectantly. Jennifer turned in despair to her mother.

>>No matter what path I choose someone will be hurt.<< Stuttered Jennifer between the heavy flow of tears. Her mother kneeled down and smiled lovingly at her daughter.

>>The question you need to ask yourself darling, is which path would hurt you? This is a choice where you have to disregard everyone, but yourself. You are the one who have to live the rest of your life with it. It is all right for you to be selfish this one time. You just have to follow your heart and it will lead you down the right path.<< As the final word echoed, the form of Susan Paris evaporated and the many leaves rushed around Jennifer before they fell to the ground, as the leaves they were. Jennifer stared at the leaves for a long while before she looked one more time at each side of the hill. Determinedly she got up and wiped the dry tears from her face. She took a deep breath and thought about her mother’s words.

Facing west, she closed her eyes and started to feel for her mother’s presence again. She located it in a gentle breeze coming from east and rustled her dark hair around her face. Jennifer could feel a sense of calm finding her heart very slowly. A feeling she had searched for, for many years and had only now started to come about. A feeling that helped point her in the right direction. With that feeling  in her heart, Jennifer took the first step towards her future.

 

Jennifer woke with a heavy heart. The image of her mother lingered with her and seemed more real than it had been. She pulled the covers close and dried her wet eyes on the corner. The dream had left Jennifer with a pleasant memory of her mother and a calming feeling she had not experienced since her mother had died. Jennifer breathed slowly as she remembered the dream in the darkness. It was the night before the third day. The following day her father would arrive, expecting an answer. The only problem was, Jennifer still hadn’t admitted to herself what her choice was. She had spent the last few days in company with no one else but her thoughts. Her room was one big mess after Jennifer had rummaged through it, trying to find things to help her decide.

From the beginning, Sam had told her to make the choice based on Jennifer’s wishes alone. Just like their mother had told her in the dream, to follow her heart. The only problem was that at the moment, Jennifer’s heart was very confused and indecisive. Which was the reason why her brain and logic had taken over lately, not that it had helped remotely. Every time she found a reason not to go seconds later she would think of a reason why she should go. In the morning she would be determined to go but when evening came she would have decided to stay. She changed her mind like this constantly, though without telling anyone about it. Jennifer didn’t want to burden Sam with the worries and speculations she had. If Jennifer eventually chose to go she didn’t want to upset Sam more than necessary in advance. Because Sam seemed to be sad already, as if she expected Jennifer would leave and she was using the last days as her days of goodbye. She cooked all Jennifer’s favourite dishes, despite the fact that Jennifer’s appetite still hadn’t returned. She made sure Jennifer spent a good deal of time with baby Susan, making sure both of them got the best out of each other’s company. To Jennifer, Susan was a joy to be around. When she was with Susan, Jennifer didn’t think about her upcoming decision, or more specifically the lack of it. When she was with Susan, it was just the two of them and nothing else mattered. One element she kept returning to, which always made her change her mind from whatever choice she had made, was her father. For seventeen years she hadn’t had the least bit of connection to him or a memory of him. The idea of living with him brought a whole new amount of doubt to Jennifer. There were so many things she didn’t know but still wanted to find out. For her entire life, while she still believed him to be dead, she had like any other child losing a parent imagined what her father would be like. Now she had the chance to find out. This was scary too, because while she had been given the opportunity to learn who he really was, the chance of him disappointing her in relation to the many ideas she had developed during the years had risen as well. Jennifer rolled over and looked out at the moon shining brightly in the night sky. It was like Jennifer had isolated herself to decide what her future would be like.

Even if she decided to stay with her sister, her life had changed forever. The last seventeen years had been based on a lie and she couldn’t return to the ‘simple’ life she had had before. In the future, the knowledge of her father would be hovering over her. On top of that, she would be thinking of what could’ve happened if she chose to stay. But it would be the same if she chose to go, only backwards. Jennifer heaved a deep sigh and firmly closed her eyes, desperately hoping to go back to sleep; only her brain would not shut down. All her wonderings and speculations roamed around and wouldn’t let her rest. She glanced at the clock, 3.13 in the morning. In less than ten hours everyone expected her to have made a choice. The feeling of a looming dead-line didn’t exactly make things easier. Jennifer thought about her father again. Only the word father didn’t seem to suit him. Jennifer still didn’t feel like she had a father. Being without a father her entire life and having to call him dad now didn’t seem right. She was convinced it was her father though, his eyes proved that. It was more the feeling of having a father that was missing. It wasn’t until three days ago that she had met him for the first time and the fact that she suddenly had someone to call dad seemed unreal. Jennifer thought about all the children she had known and envied for having a father. And not just a father, a family. This was another thing Jennifer had the opportunity to get. Her father had said their family was the oldest where he came from, but he hadn’t mentioned anything about how many this family included. Scepticism rose in Jennifer. Though her family may have been the oldest didn’t mean it was the largest.

She rolled on to her back again and pressed the back of her hands against her eyes to shut out the moon light. Only it started to hurt after a short while and when she removed her hands the room was much brighter than before. With a heavy sigh she sat up. Going back to sleep seemed to be an impossible task. She gave up trying to go back to sleep and went to sit by her desk instead. The drawers were almost empty after she had cleared them out in her desperate search. She managed to find a pen and some paper and got comfortable as she turned on the desk lamp.

Slowly, and with a lot of care, she started writing down pros and cons for everything. She couldn’t think of anything better to do at the time, when sleep was so evasive of her. Twenty minutes later, she hadn’t gotten much down on the paper. The biggest con if she left was, having to say goodbye to Sam, Anna, Jack, Susan and the few friends from school she had, along with life as she knew it. This was primarily the only con, though it was only one, it counted as a very big one. On the pro side, one thing was listed in capital letters: DAD?

The rest didn’t really mean much to Jennifer. The big responsibility he had talked about; her taking over didn’t mean more than the chance she would get to know her father and the rest of her family. Though she was still very angry with him, despite the explanation he had given the other day. In pure frustration Jennifer crumbled up the paper and tossed it aside. Exhausted she rested her head on the table and reconsidered everything once more. As the many pros and cons ran through her head along with images of the people they represented, her head grew heavier and before she knew it, she was a sleep.

Had she known her life would change drastically over the next 24 hours, it is unlikely she would have fallen asleep.

 Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg

To be continued in Chapter Five – Proof

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