I was absent-mindedly dusting the plethora of knick-knacks, curios, mementos and framed photos decorating our family room, while I pondered the topic for my next blog post.
“Who are the people in those pictures?” asked a voice at my elbow.
I nearly dropped the wood-framed photo I was holding. “Why do you always have to pop up like that and scare the living daylights out of me?” I scolded, as I finished dusting the photo and replaced it on the shelf.
“I am so sorry, Mistress! I did not mean to startle you!” my Cleric apologized, blushing deeply. Her serious blue eyes darted back to the photos on the shelf next to us. “They look very old. Er, I mean the pictures, not the people.”
“Some of them are very old,” I agreed. “Miles and I have a lot of vintage family photos on display here, going back several generations.”
“So, then, they are as shadows of the past?”
“That’s one way to describe them, I suppose,” I agreed. “The photos on this shelf are some of my immediate family.”
I picked up the photo I had just been dusting. “This one is me and my parents and sister. It was taken about (mumble mumble mumble) years ago.”
“You look so young!”
“I wasn’t born my current age, you know,” I retorted.
I returned the photo to the shelf, and picked up another one to dust.
“This is a picture of my parents taken about 15 years before the other photo.”
“They made a handsome couple.”
“How did they meet?”
“They both belonged to United Skaters, a roller skating club.”
That statement was met with a blank stare.
“Never mind, it would take too long to explain.” I went on to the next photo. “This is a photo of my father, when he was in the Army. I guess that was more than 80 years ago.”
My Cleric admired the photo. “He was very handsome.”
I smiled my agreement, and put the photo down. I picked up the one next to it. “Here he is, many years later, when he worked on the railroad. I don’t remember the exact year the photo was taken, but it is probably only about 50 years old.”
“He was a hard-working man?”
“Oh, yes! He sometimes worked two part-time jobs, in addition to his full-time position with the railroad, just to make ends meet.”
“You admired him. You got along well with him.” It was a statement, not a question.
I nodded. “My dad was a good man, a fine husband to my mom, and a great father. He set an excellent example for my sister and me. I not only admired him, I genuinely liked him. We were close. I got my quirky sense of humor from him.”
“And your short stature?” my Cleric suggested with a giggle.
I glared at her, and replaced the photo, but my Cleric could not take her eyes off the images of my father. After a few moments, she sighed wistfully. “I wish I had had a good relationship with my father,” she admitted. “The shadows of my past are much darker than those of your past.”
I chuckled. “Your father, the Ambassador, was difficult, wasn’t he?”
“He was much more than difficult, Mistress, as you well know! He was stern and demanding and unyielding and cruel!” my Cleric exclaimed, her face contorted with anger. She blushed at her own outburst, and quickly picked up another photo before I could respond.
“Is this your mother?” she asked. She picked up the first photo we had looked at, and held the two photos side by side. “She looks like the same lady.”
“Yes, that’s my mother,” I said.
“You say that with such pride! Tell me about her.”
“Mom was one of those amazing people who could do everything,” I replied. “She sewed, crocheted, knitted, and tatted; she cooked and baked; she had the most beautiful garden in the neighborhood and our home was filled with indoor plants she cultivated herself; she beat everyone at Scrabble; and she could complete the New York Times’ Sunday crossword puzzle in under an hour, in ink.” I sighed.
“You do not take after your mother, do you?”
“Me? No. I can’t sew a button or a hem, I’m all thumbs with crochet hooks and knitting needles, I can burn water, I can kill a plant just by being in the same room with it for too long.” I paused. “But I’m pretty good at Scrabble, and I’ve solved more than a few crossword puzzles in my day,” I concluded.
My cleric carefully placed the pictures back on the shelf. She had a faraway look as she spoke. “I wish I had known my mother. I do not know if I took after her or not.”
“Well, you know that she was a Cleric, like you. She served at the same temple at which you served.”
“Yes, that is doubtless the only thing I do know about her. She died in childbirth, delivering me, and in my entire life she was seldom spoken of in my presence.”
“Well, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you learn more of your mother now, as you return to your homeland in book three.”
My Cleric’s head shot up, and her eyes widened. “Really? I will learn of her during this adventure?”
My Cleric grabbed the feather duster I was holding, and dropped it haphazardly on the sofa. She took my hand and urgently tugged me toward the hallway.
“Whoa! Where are we going?”
“We are going to go write my story!” she replied, her face radiant, her blue eyes sparkling. “I want to learn about my mother. I want to discover more of the shadows of my past.”
I smiled, and allowed her to pull me toward my office.
If you’d like to learn more about my Cleric (and her mother) and all my other characters, feel free to stop back. I’ll keep the porch light on for you.