I had a post planned for today, but I can’t find it so we’re improving. Why am I improvising? Because one of my goals for this quarter is to get back to regular T/Th postings with an additional Sunday links post. I’d rather improvise than miss a day after having done that schedule last week and gotten Sunday this week.
One of my influences is Austin Kleon. His book Steal Like an Artist got me off my duff and making music nearly a decade ago. I got to see him speak the same day I got the call to come home as my father was dying. He spoke, signed my book, and the next morning I re-read it flying from Atlanta to El Paso. The book is about accepting that nothing is original in art and that art is created by melding the influences you have and reflecting them though the lens that is you.
His follow-up book is Show Your Work. Where as the first book was about the influences that came before you, the second is about embedding yourself in current influences, what he calls a scenius, as opposed to the idea of solitary genius. It expands on an idea from Steal Like an Artist that the way to get known is to share works in process. In theory, this blog and my newsletter are part of my sharing.
Today, I’d like to share one of those days. This is a raw first draft. Will it be part of a story? It has tickled a couple of brain cells, enough to get its own plot garden. What will bloom in that garden? I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out.
One other note, if you have been subscribed to my newsletter for a while you might remember a flash story about an alchemist using a copy shop near a university as a front business and using alchemy to channel a woman’s studies paper. That alchemist over time has evolved into Frannie, or more properly Francine Saint James. She is a several century own alchemist with a print and copy shop near Atlanta State University and a fixture, but not leader, in the Atlanta magical community.
Walking into any antique or curio shop is a strange experience for an alchemist. I suspect it is so for any practicioner whose art extends life. You are walking into a versin of you labratory that has exploded at the same moment as ten others with the results mixed into discrete locals.
You are also walking into your memory made manifest, with fragments of lives mostly forgotten except for standout fragments. It’s just the stand out fragments are wrong; they are not the ones you choose to keep. The Rootless Coffin did not engender those feelings, at least not in a normal way. I assumed the name was an attempt to be, as the kids who wander into the Underground call it, gaf. I find those kids amusing, as most seem unaware that they are playing out a game now close to 200 years old.
Some of the items in The Rootless Coffin probably predated those orignal goths who call them selves the Romantics. But from last decade or from the decade I first left Georgia for Europe, they were all the wrong fragments, but someone else’s wrong fragments. I had been wandering around drinking in the sensations given off by the items. I felt as though I was intruding on the private lives of their prior owners.
I reached an apothocary’s bag. That such an item would draw an alchemist’s attention is not a surprise. In other times I had carried one as a doctor, even selling a patent medicine or two in my day out of a bag just like this one.
I could feel the energy of both memory and separation on the bag. It was still attached to the lives they had been part of, but that attachment was dying.
I knew the sensation from the Forgettings I had done. Forgettings are a must for an alchemist. You have room for only so many memories before the mix and start to still your sanity. Any alchemist who finds the Stone or the Exilir has to learn rituals of forgetting.
Why did this bag feel like a Forgetting?
“Miss Parker’s bag is quite unusual.” The voice behind me was male. “She was one of the few women who sold patent medicines without a male partner. She and a woman named Francis $LASTNAME were selling medicines all over from Chattanoga to Savanah to Birmingham in the years after the war.”
Wait, Francis $LASTNAME? Did this bag have the sensation of a Forgotting because it was something I had intentionally forgotten.
I was not sure of the expression I had when he said my name. It must have been an odd one because he stared at me intently than looked off in the distance for a moment.
The man’s brown eyes had grown darker, almost black, and he looked me square in the eye.
“$DOREEN says you have barely changed in over one hundred years. She guesses she should have believed you when you claimed you were an alchemist.”
And that is how I meant the necromancer.