What Almost Was

We came so close to doom. So close, and if we hadn’t turned it around through compromise, work, and loss, I wouldn’t be sitting here scolding my grandchildren about playing in the garden. They look to me with bright, curious eyes, barely abashed. I can’t make myself scold them too strongly — they were raised with confidence, not fear. I’d rather rip out my own heart than break that sunny surety.

My grandparents lived in a time of such great fear. Even I don’t know how to feel that afraid, that certain that the future would be so much worse than the present. They feared disease, the rising tides, poverty, and each other. They closed their ears and eyes until they could only hear their own panicked heartbeats. I feel so sorry for them. Then, after sorrow, immense gratitude.

Why? Because it changed. They changed. I don’t know what turned it around. I don’t know what made them open their senses to each other, to see how interconnected we all are. The bravery, the sheer vulnerability — there’s a reason we treat Founders’ Day with such awe. It’s deserved. Every rite and song, deserved and far too little.

Now we don’t fear, we plan. We learn and implement. My son fixes solar panels on our neighbor’s farm, and for that, we receive vegetables and milk. My daughter trades her woven rugs for seeds. Her wife maintains our water stores and hatchery. We sell medicinal flowers at the Gathering Place, and my grandchildren don’t know where work ends and play begins.

Today’s a sunny day. I rock in my chair after waving the children back to their games. Later, I’ll can tomato sauce and spicy peppers, and preserve some lemons so we can taste that salty brightness all the year through. For now I think I’ll take a little nap, though. We can do that now. I know I am cared for as I sleep.

That Pesky Little Name Thing

In the world of the Deadly Sins, consequence is king.

Randy Chase Goth (Lust) and his daughter Jazmin (Envy) burned every bridge with their family of origin because of betrayals and lies. Lust’s mother Grebetta (Pride) played a long, tough game, but in the end, the truth came out. She died alone and de-vampirized, a weakling, pride-free.

Jazmin played her own long game — stealing from acquaintances and businesses and smiling prettily while she lined her pockets in Selvadorada. She robbed tombs and museums, plucked relics from their sacred ground, and kept it all for prestige, power and the sheer joy of owning something no one else could have.

Unfortunately, she became a little TOO brazen shipping artifacts home from Selvadorada. Arrest followed, then a short trial followed by a brief jail sentence. ‘Jazmin Goth’ was placed on every no-fly list, and her likeness is posted over the bar in Selvadorada’s main square. Do not trust this woman. Solid advice.

But Jazmin isn’t the embodiment of Giving Up. Envy will always drive her, which means showing off her few remaining ill-gotten gains in the museum she’s always dreamed of opening. It’s ready. It’s good to go. But ‘Jazmin Goth’ would never be able to open the museum to visitors, not with the sort of scrutiny that would be aimed her way.

Someone else might have different luck…

Her great-grandmother Kori (Sloth) made her fortune as the lazy, but loving mistress of powerful men. Jazmin decided to up the stakes. She tracked down the last single scion of the powerful Landgraab family — Marshall Landgraab.

Marshall wasn’t ready for Hurricane Jazmin to enter his life. Despite their ten-year age difference (her 40 to his 30), she brought a joyous, youthful energy to his routine, dull days. She quickly found her way into his bed, his every thought, and then his house, courtesy of a quickie engagement and elopement.

Jazmin Goth can’t open a museum or travel to Selvadorada. But perhaps Jazz Landgraab can.

Marshall demanded an heir — he got one. She brought her teenage twin hellions into his life, for better or for worse. And now, she’s getting ready to dye her hair, pop in some brown contacts, and head to Selvadorada again — tombs are still waiting for her special Envious touch.