Guardian Angel

angel-pin-do-essay

A little over two weeks ago, I wore this pin to the Women’s March on New York.

It wasn’t just a fancier variation on the iconic safety pin, though it was also that.

When I went to the Women’s March, I was worried there might be trouble: police crackdowns, counter protesters, provocateurs…who knows?  So I wore this pin for…luck isn’t the right word.  Not nearly strong enough.  This pin is the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to magic.

I bought this pin back in college when my then-girlfriend passed out for no reason we could discover while we were walking across one of the lawns.  I gave it to her to watch over her in my stead while she was in the hospital being examined.  Nothing was found, and she never had the problem again.

Some time later, we loaned the angel to a girl in our dorm whose brother back in Romania had been in a car accident, and all she could do was worry and weep.  We gave her the angel and told her that it was good luck.  A few days later, she gave it back, no longer worried and weeping.  Her brother would be all right.

Some time after that, a girl from our dorm was raped at a frat party.  We loaned her the pin, and…she slept a little better.  She said it felt like we were watching over her and it kept some of the nightmares away.  Sometimes even magic can only do so much.

There have been others.  And it always seemed to work.  So when I say that pin is magic, I mean that it’s a ward.  It’s protection.  And if this angel is a guardian angel, as it seems to be, then it seems to watch over women.

It worked again on the day of the March, though of course we were never in actual danger that I know of.  There are logical explanations for all of the other good things that happened, too.  I’m still going to wear this pin to every future protest I attend.  May the angel protect the women around me; their enemy is in power.

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The Minor Annoyance That Destroys Other People’s Lives

I got a bit of a shock when I opened the mail yesterday: I was being charged a little over $1,000 for some tests that my doctor had ordered during my yearly physical a few weeks ago.

I didn’t panic.  For one thing, I knew it had to be a mistake.  I’ve never been charged for tests associated with my yearly physical before.  For another, well, if it turned out that my insurance coverage really had changed that much when I the company re-negotiated this year, I could cover it.

Fortunately, that turned out to not be the case.  I made a few phone calls, and it turned out that the doctor’s office had made an ever-so-tiny mistake with the billing.  A box not checked, a form not filed, something like that.  The insurance company got in touch, the situation got resolved, and no more thousand dollar bill.

It was an enormous relief, but in my relief, I got to thinking: what about the people who don’t know how to navigate the system, even to the rudimentary degree I did?  What about people who aren’t taken seriously, or who can’t speak the language well enough to make their problem understood?  Why, they’d be stuck with the thousand dollar bill.  This is how the poor get poorer.

And of course, that’s leaving out the people who don’t have insurance at all.  Chances are good that they wouldn’t have gone to the doctor in the first place.  That’s how the poor get dead.

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Orbit. Emily Horner.

An intriguing short story by my dear friend Emily Horner. The wolf-girls live in the wilderness of a post-apocalyptic future, doing what they can to resist the satellites that killed the old world. But there’s trouble in the pack…

pea river journal

Orbit

All that winter me and the other girls in the pack tried to tell ourselves that nothing was wrong. It was just because Lynette had left; it was just because of that blizzard we had to dig ourselves out of. And then Jamie, who’d come up from the village a few months ago, fifteen years old, still enamored of hot baths and pretty shoes, complained about our watercress and our boiled bark; and Stella snapped, “I haven’t seen you out hunting.”
Jamie walked out into the snow. I followed, running, with a coat and a lantern. Angry that Stella had said it and angry at the fifty times I’d thought the same thing.
“I should go back home,” she said when I caught up with her. She wiped at her nose with a mitten crusted in frozen snot. “She’s right. All I do is complain. All those stories they…

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Field Hospital is Available for Free Now Through Thursday!

field-hospital-cover

A brand new story, this one in honor of my sister Meaghan, is up for sale on Amazon, and free to download now through Thursday 12/15! Here is the Amazon blurb:

On an Air Force base in the middle of the desert, Captain Eileen Brennan waits to treat the casualties of a war that everyone back home thinks is over. But today, she will treat the wounded of a war far greater than the one she thought she was fighting.

Check out Field Hospital’s home page, or just go straight to Amazon and download yourself a free copy! And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library!

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Heroines of Hometown: Vicki Powers

angelina-and-vicki

Victoria Powers (the redhead on the right) is the only child of Brenda Powers, a single mother who lives in a trailer park on the edge of Belford (the town where Hometown is set).  In 1994, at the time Hometown begins, Vicki is just shy of eighteen years old.  Brenda is thirty-five.

In stark contrast to Angelina, Vicki is one of Belford’s Bad Girls.  Not that she’s ever hurt anybody (okay, there have been a few brawls, but they totally started it, and she only ever fights people who can fight back) or stolen anything, or done anything unduly destructive (at least by the standards of a bored small-town teenager).  She does like to drink and smoke (smoke what?  What’ve you got?) and screw (more on that later), but those things are incidental, really.  She’s the daughter of a drunken trailer park slut and an unknown or run-off father.  She was always going to be one of the Bad Girls.  People (mostly her classmates, but they’re certainly not alone) have been calling her a whore since she was in seventh grade.  Authority figures from teachers to police officers consider her a troublemaker who needs to be put in her place.
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Heroines of Hometown: Angelina Santos-de la Cruz

angelina-and-vicki

Angelina Santos-De La Cruz (seen on the left above, with the leg injury) was born in late February of 1977, nine months to the day after her parents’ June wedding. At the time the Hometown begins, in the fall of 1994, she is seventeen.

Angelina is just a Good Kid in pretty much every dimension: she’s a shoo-in for valedictorian, she’s an athlete (captain of the field hockey team), she’s in the school choir, and she’s in all the school plays. The eldest of seven children, she got used to taking on responsibility early on, and she helps out a lot at home – once all those school activities are done, of course. She’s also an active participant at her family’s church, though she’s maybe not quite as devout a Catholic as they are (more on that later).

What’s more, she doesn’t fall into the trap of many a Good Kid and become self-righteous. She has friends among all strata of Belford High School society, and she doesn’t judge people for having a different life than she does. Many of the school’s bad girls – including Vicki – have waited for quite some time for the slut-shaming to begin before they realized it wasn’t going to.

And for those who do become her friend, there are certain benefits. She is fiercely loyal and fiercely protective, and while she’s not unusually large, her physical strength as an athlete and the self-defense techniques she was taught by her father – Belford’s chief of police – make her an effective protector indeed. Yes, this becomes an issue during the course of Hometown.
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Tears of the Joyous Mare

It’s been too long since I’ve reblogged a story by Jason Abbot.

This bit of heartwarming fantasy/romance deals with a very current topic. It makes me wish that this kind of magic existed in our world, to help the people in this situation, and it reminds us that adventurers, as the ultimate outsiders, would probably be very open-minded.

Aethereal Engines

The stars had begun to take their places above the riders, and they approached the weathered sign of the Joyous Mare as it swayed in the twilight. The raucous noise from the tavern within drifted into the growing blanket of night, greeting the pair as they slowed their horses to a walk.

Atop a grey spotted gelding, a thin man regarded the sign and muffled revelry beyond it with a weary smile. “Well, this is it. Are you ready for the introductions, Izraeya?”

TotJM_2_PicThe stronger strut of his companion’s bay-colored stallion brought her alongside him, and Izraeya gave an eager nod. “I’m nervous and ready, Dirgten.”

Dirgten returned her nod before they stopped at the hitching posts. Dismounting, he looked to the warm light within the building of wattle and daub. His eyes surveyed its two stories of timbered framework before scrutinizing the old man sitting by the door, confirming…

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