[personal profile] chanter_greenie
This is posted with the blessing of the lovely [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith, set in her Polychrome Heroics universe. The originating incidents, and very especially one particular situation and character, have stuck in my mind since age thirteen or so. Surprise, eh? Associated notes are at the end of this post.

TW for the events of 1692 in Massachusetts Bay Colony. These are not as graphic as they could be, but neither are they at all glossed over. Also TW for spare but vivid emotional details concerning a grieving spouse.


There's a family
three or four living generations and
a lengthy and carefully-kept family tree strong,
mostly residing in and around
Fredericton, New Brunswick.

They came north before the States were states
or even thirteen colonies,
before Canada was more than a single dominion,
even before New France had identified itself
let alone sang itself into the present.
And so they stayed.

Their surname is Corey.

That entire family has a history,
a long-diluted but honest connection
running straight back to survivors
of the old witch hunts and Puritanical trials
in Salem Town, back to three;
one who avoided accusation,
two who didn't,
and one-two-one who died.

Or maybe died,
or almost died,
or came kitten's-whisker-width close to dying--
no one's entirely sure.

The Salem records certainly can't satisfactorily settle things;
they can't settle much,
between the rafts of spectral evidence,
the further damnation a vanishing body provided
and the attendant gloating in pious clothing
splattered across their pages.
But it is fact,
and historical archives do bear this much out,
that Giles Corey's body was never buried.

Because, before exchanging under-stone for under-earth,
Giles Corey disappeared.

And his daughter disappeared,
and his son-in-law disappeared.

It's roundly agreed that this was not a case of
DIED died
as in all the way dead died,
Saint Peter opening the Pearly Gates died,
because that way lies both crises of faith
and a few terrifying Messianic assumptions
that someone is just bound to make,
and there's no evidence and even less grounds
for any of those, thankyouverymuch.
But just about-nearly-rang the deathly doorbell
and then had a swift change of heart--
yes.
At least, it sure looks that way.

Educated family speculation is, now,
that their ancestor regenerated just enough,
just enough,
between last exhortations to the court
and spill into a haphazard grave
that he could, somehow,
find it in himself to crawl away
while the righteous were blinking the logs from their eyes
and congratulating themselves
on an ill job well done.

Crawl away meaning phase away is the sometimes suggestion,
but that's never found quite as much purchase
as the first theory.
At least, not on its own,
not without a regenerative ability above or alongside it,
considering what the man went through before he escaped.

How he made that escape no one's sure;
there's a gap in the narrative almost, almost as wide
as the holes in the prosecution's cases.
It's a long-held friendly suspicion
that local natives--First Nations people, thank you--
assisted him north by west,
with his daughter, and his daughter's husband.

Leaving his wife
literally dangling behind,
but once a warlock? Twice a warlock?
Twice a warlock all but risen from the dead?
Pray forgive me, please, please.
What else could possibly be done?

There's a reason variations on the name
Martha
turn up in
every other generation or so
right down to the present day,
alongside other commemoratives -
Giles, Gilles, Jill, Gillian,
Del, Della, Margaret, Mary.
Elizabeth.

The ancient archives are full of
tales of Deliverance Corey's treachery,
of a corrupted woman turning her husband
from a righteous path and vice versa,
of fallen fruits and blackened trees
and blah, blah, blah,
but despite the zeal it's certain enough
that father vanished,
wife hanged,
daughter fled and husband went along,
all in swift succession in September of 1692.

How the old name came back
is barely clearer than the route taken
from Massachusetts Bay to Maine
and over the border to French-held territory.
Maybe, the idea is, it never went away.
That is, what patchy records
the many family geneology buffs can find
certainly make it look like
the younger couple took the older surname as their own.
After all, it's reasoned now,
no one would likely be looking
for a *young* head of house called Corey.
Never mind her aged father--
and he was there, two separate accounts
from two unconnected traders spell that out explicitly--
and his stoop-shouldered, silent resolve.
"Bah, dear elder, do ignore him."

The present-day Coreys
have a reputation in Fredericton:
Stubborn and honest, or sometimes
stubbornly honest is the way it's phrased,
hot as a handful of matches' ends when provoked,
honorable rough and tumble characters
just a little aside from the majority,
champions of the other and the othered,
sharp as aloe thorns and
clean as liquid gold.

They're tinted darker than their English ancestors now,
African and First Nations as well as Anglo,
green eyes and brown, black eyes and hazel,
straight hair or faint curls, wide noses,
roses and lilies,
lady's paintbrushes and tall grass and fiddleheads,
determined English ivy and crowns of leafy maple branches.

Once or so in every generation,
someone sprouts an ability.
It's something that happens, it's a family trait,
and they've long since both accepted and expected it.
If that puts them ahead of the game--well.
That's not so very new either.

That ability (not always, but usually)
shows straight down the centuries -
regeneration, or phasing, or toughness.
Grandma Gillian says her father the barrister
could tell when someone was being truthful.
Great-Uncle Marlow swears that, before the Great War,
he had a pain in the tush of a second cousin
who could drop dirt clods
down the back of your shirt just by thinking.

These days it's grey-haired Auntie Alice dropping quarters
through her open palm as a party trick;
the ability to phase came in useful on
the Fredericton police force to be sure,
even if she was stuck with seventy-five percent desk duty
for the first five years or so
of her three decades' service.
It was the sixties, Auntie Alice shrugs.
Lady cops were barely familiar,
never mind super ones.
People did finally figure out
that she was no easy mark or weakling, though
some got it quicker than others--ahem.

As for the youngest generation to date,
they're nary to the last but one, so far.
There's Gill,
wiry dynamo, dancer, proud theater geek
in black eyeliner, glittery gold fingernails and earrings
who wants to fight fires, or
roll with scrambling ambulances, or
anyway do *some* sort of emergency work for a living;
studious Tabbitha, who's headed for law school -
like beneficial bacteria, she says,
hack the system from the inside, for the better;
Martina, girlie girl on high heels
who's eyeing civil engineering programs
through grade eleven glasses framed in hot pink;
Lansdown, gamer and budding gizmologist,
casual sketch artist, broad-shouldered hockey defenseman
who plans to be a safe walk volunteer when he's old enough;
and Dell, one day femme, the next gently boyish,
confident in xyrself at thirteen,
who hasn't decided what xe wants to do yet
other than beat Gill at chess again--ha!

And there's the oldest, Khazella, in her early twenties,
steel-toed boots and heavy wool sweaters,
Sankofa leader, midnight runner and barely-dawn fisher,
trail's edge monitor and volunteer park ranger,
green heart pin on her lapel
and nine-patch heart on her coat sleeve
matching the emblems in the windows of
both her apartment and
her new little startup of a yarncraft store.

One morning on the way to grade seven,
Khazella tried to dodge
out of a U-turning taxi's way,
only she swerved three full meters more than the car.
All at once.
She said later
that the very scared and apologetic cab driver
was pretty definitely harder to handle
than the teleportation power kicking in--
wow!

In the latter half of grade eight, her range was two kilometers at a jump.
By the next summer into grade nine's autumn, it had almost doubled.
Now it's fifteen KM in one, more if she forces things
and is willing to risk greying out
or otherwise falling over in the aftermath
- sometimes, she asserts, you have to.
She's not a card-carrying superhera,
but she's good for emergency runs -
people hospital, animal hospital, police, safe person's house,
groceries for the lady with the broken hip -
whenever someone needs to call on her,
and local civilians and first responders know it.
"If all else fails," she says,
"get hold of any one of the other Coreys in town.
They'll either know how to reach me,
or probably know someone who does."

No one in that family forgets the legacy they've got going.
None of them deny the history they're carrying around.
Some people might resent a history like that,
a story dancing in their shadow,
a name at their feet,
a memory walking nightward graveyard vigil in their DNA.
Not these folks.
Theirs is a subtle pride of time,
an underlying element of river silt importance,
a brassy gold thread of connection as welcome
as a thousand tiny trailside ferns
or a loyal daughter and son-in-law.

Or an old man with a conscience.

Not that it's, say,
a family code of conduct
or a conscious aspect of personality
taken up like a mantle or a cause,
but the legacy does inform.
It does inspire.
It's not a destiny,
it's neither cloak nor cape insistent on being worn,
not an open-ended masochistic invite,
not a generational brass ring,
not a goad at the edge of tested limits. Instead,
it's a best-beloved nature hike-found pebble
packed carefully in the bottom reaches
of a camp suitcase down the years,
a memento amid the clothes and toiletries,
a reason for squared shoulders,
a hand torch like a palm-intended lance,
a name with significance,
a link through granite and steel.

Clean as liquid gold.
Determined as tall grass and ivy.
Strong as woven maple branches.

Or an old man with a protest.

If Khazella needs to give her contact information
to anyone from outside Fredericton
or the surrounding countryside,
she routinely tells them, "If you get mixed up
and you get someone else, you can always ask for
the Ms. Corey who runs the knitty store.
They'll know who you mean."

And she might be bemused over the idea
of a Ms. Corey who's not her mother or an auntie or Grandma...

But she does not flinch once.


Notes are here:

*In our universe, Giles Corey was executed at the Salem witch trials. That first link does go into more graphic detail, be warned. In Terramagne, his descendants' educated suspicions are correct; he had both a latent regenerative ability - average (0) - and a latent phase ability - average (0) - that activated to save his life, with the former allowing the latter. Whether either ability ever activated again, alone or in combination, is not known. Whether or not Giles knew the methods of his escape for what they were is also not known.

*There really was such a thing as admissable spectral evidence at that time and place in history.

*Dell Corey identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronoun xe. Dell is not bigender, though people sometimes think xe is due to xyr presentation.

*This is the nine-patch heart that Khazella Corey both wears on her coat sleeve and displays in her window. Thanks for the link, Ysabet. Khazella's making it plenty plain that she and her shop are both a safe adult/place and openly quiltbag friendly.

*Per Ysabet, the Green Heart program designates safe people, i.e. people children/adults/whoever can turn to in a sticky situation. Ysabet, correct me if I'm wrong here, but I imagine a kid saying "Oh man, I'm lost! I'm going to look for someone with a green heart pin." The minimum age to qualify as a Green Heart is eighteen, again per Ysabet, and younger members are initially supervised. In this particular poem, Gill Corey is just shy of eighteen.

*A safe walk program can be a number of things, from a program aimed at escorting college students through areas to make sure they remain unmolested, to a method of getting kids in rougher neighborhoods safely to school. Similar idea, different people in need.

*So far, Khazella Corey is the only soup in her generation, with average (0) teleportation as an ability. Her cousin Lansdown's gizmology is at average (0) for now, though chances are that will strengthen with time; he's roughly sixteen. A few family members were surprised (not displeased or dismayed, just a little surprised) Gill wasn't the one to soup up, but Gill himself is quite fine with the situation. the way he sees it, he's a nascent first responder with a teleporting cousin... he's good. :)

*To clarify the legacy of first name variations: Giles Corey was married three times. His first and second wives, Mary and Margaret, predeceased him. His mother's name was Elizabeth, and his daughter was named Deliverance. Gilles is the French variation, and one thread in the origin, of the name Giles. The original Latin of it would be Egidio, but that's never been used in this particular family.

*The image of logs in the eyes is paraphrased from the Bible.

Date: 2016-05-31 04:53 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Nice. And I see what you did there with the name Tabbitha showing up too...

Not the first French Canadian family to end up some sort of soup... dunno if you've read about Julian May's Remillard family (Pliocene and Galactic Milieu books)?

Thoughts

Date: 2016-06-01 12:53 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>> Nice. And I see what you did there with the name Tabbitha showing up too... <<

I loved that. <3

>>Not the first French Canadian family to end up some sort of soup... dunno if you've read about Julian May's Remillard family (Pliocene and Galactic Milieu books)? <<

Haven't read that, but Jackie Frost is French-Canadian. Her husband Fireheart is Aboriginal Canadian. Contretemps is French-Swiss-Scotch-Canadian.

Date: 2016-05-31 05:24 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Nice.

Wow...

Date: 2016-05-31 06:04 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
You made me tear up. Your imagery is beautiful and the subtly changing repetition of key motifs makes this piece sing as I read it. What a great addition to the Polychrome Heroics setting. And it really meets a need I have been feeling recently to reflect on families and legacies and the challenges we choose to pick up.

You are an amazing writer.

Re: Wow...

Date: 2016-06-01 12:56 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Polychrome Heroics is an ideal place to explore family legacies. There are a handful of folks looking into the history in search of people who might have been soups, and exploring what that means for modern soups. Granny Whammy is among those historians.

Feel free to prompt for this sort of thing, or if you prefer, try your hand at writing some.

Thoughts

Date: 2016-06-01 01:14 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>Or maybe died,
or almost died,
or came kitten's-whisker-width close to dying--
no one's entirely sure. <<

I like that phrasing.

>>There's a reason variations on the name
Martha
turn up in
every other generation or so
right down to the present day,
alongside other commemoratives -
Giles, Gilles, Jill, Gillian,
Del, Della, Margaret, Mary.
Elizabeth. <<

It's fun to see the variations on the names.

>>They're tinted darker than their English ancestors now,
African and First Nations as well as Anglo,
green eyes and brown, black eyes and hazel,
straight hair or faint curls, wide noses,
roses and lilies,
lady's paintbrushes and tall grass and fiddleheads,
determined English ivy and crowns of leafy maple branches. <<

I love the descriptions.

>>Great-Uncle Marlow swears that, before the Great War,
he had a pain in the tush of a second cousin
who could drop dirt clods
down the back of your shirt just by thinking. <<

LOL

>>There's Gill,
wiry dynamo, dancer, proud theater geek
in black eyeliner, glittery gold fingernails and earrings
who wants to fight fires, or
roll with scrambling ambulances, or
anyway do *some* sort of emergency work for a living; <<

I'd really enjoy seeing more of this because it dovetails with some other trends in T-America toward the creation of "First Responder" as a skillset unto itself.

>>And there's the oldest, Khazella, in her early twenties,
steel-toed boots and heavy wool sweaters,
Sankofa leader, midnight runner and barely-dawn fisher,
trail's edge monitor and volunteer park ranger,
green heart pin on her lapel
and nine-patch heart on her coat sleeve
matching the emblems in the windows of
both her apartment and
her new little startup of a yarncraft store. <<

Khazella is awesome too, and would make a great partner with Gill.

>> *Per Ysabet, the Green Heart program designates safe people, i.e. people children/adults/whoever can turn to in a sticky situation. Ysabet, correct me if I'm wrong here, but I imagine a kid saying "Oh man, I'm lost! I'm going to look for someone with a green heart pin." The minimum age to qualify as a Green Heart is eighteen, again per Ysabet, and younger members are initially supervised. In this particular poem, Gill Corey is just shy of eighteen. <<

Exactly. Toddlers on up are taught to look for a green heart if they get lost or scared, to find a safe person or safe house. It's in pretty much all the safety lessons alongside looking for the help desk in a store or uniformed staff at an event.

It would be interesting to watch Gill studying for the Green Heart.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-06-02 02:02 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>> Aha! Glad I got the green heart idea right.<<

:D

>> As for Khazella and Gill working together in a first responder-type situation, they do and will if the need arises; they're cousins in a fairly close family, they're utterly fine with it. Auntie Alice too. Gill's pretty happy working with most people, so long as they're not colossal jerks or deliberately dangerous or something.<<

That would be cool to develop.

>> I don't know for sure, but I get the sense that Khazella would like to long-term partner up with a woman or a couple of women, maybe professionally, maybe more than professionally. That's not super clear yet, though. <<

There are many types of connection that could work. <3

>> I confess, I had an almost inordinate amount of fun weaving physical descriptions with broadly northern North American, English and Canadian plantlife as symbolism. One of Chanter's tells, activate! :) <<

I love that sort of thing too. I am especially prone to use it for local color as a way of highlighting a specific location.

Date: 2016-06-01 01:45 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Now this is a wonderful addition to the polychrome 'verse!

and I wondered how the Salam witch trials played out in Terramagne.

Awesome!

Date: 2016-06-18 04:19 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
What a lovely family! I've reread this three times, and still can't sum things up any better.

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