How We Write – Vitandus
Orion was selling her jewelry at a small belly-dancing event in Tacoma, WA. While the dancing competition was going on, there wasn’t much to do, so she started writing. This story was the result.
The character of Brigid came out of nowhere and Orion just wrote down what she saw in her head. Bright, Brigid’s twin brother, coming out of the shadows was a complete surprise. Anyway, this is how and why the twins, around 14-15 years old, came to be living on their own in Port Town. When Orion first started working on this, it was sort of a Firefly fanfic, but as the stories kept coming and the characters took on lives of their own, with worlds and backstory that didn’t match up with Firefly, she realized her people and stories were in their very own universe.
Thus was born the Farseeker Chronicles. This work-in-progress, including stories, character sketches, and planetary system notes, now amounts to over 300,000 words!
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mcbeth/
“Brigid! Come with me! Now!”
A shape like a great bear filled the tent’s opening. Bright, in the shadows, heard the man’s roar proceed him as he strode towards his sister. The crowd parted before him like startled birds.
Brigid, lost in the heavy beats of dumbeks and djembes, and the melodies of the flutes, electronic keyboards, and fiddles, continued dancing.
The man came to a halt at the edge of the dance circle. He glared at Brigid, taking in her small slender body, from her bare feet up across her blue work denims. His gaze ended on her red hair, bound at the nape of her neck where a few escaped curls swung about her freckled face like children freed from school.
*Brigid, it’s Father,* the familiar voice of her twin, Bright, spoke in her head, insinuating itself into her reverie. She slowed to a stop, facing her father where he stood arms crossed, anger clouding his face.
The whole tent fell silent, staring at the red-faced, somberly clad farmer batting dancers aside like swatting flies, making a beeline for his wayward daughter.
“How dare you! No daughter of mine will bring such shame upon me by dancing in this den of iniquity.”
*Not this time. He’s ruled our lives for fifteen years, but no more! He’s ordered us around, he’s belittled us, he’s whupped us for the last time! Bright? You hear? It’s time we made a stand. Here. Now,* she raged. *Stay back, Bright. Right now, this’s between me and him.* She felt her twin’s agreement and wordless support. He sent her his strength, helping to stiffen her spine.
As her father approached, her mind went back to the early days when she’d first come to Port City. The gangs of boys had picked on her at first whenever Bright wasn’t around, but after she’d laid into them one day and earned their respect, they’d taught her how to handle herself when someone bigger tried to hurt her.
Her father grabbed her arm. She planted her feet on the red and blue carpet, becoming a rock, immobile.
Joseph Stone was jerked to a halt by her immobility. He spun heavily, with lowered brow, demanding, “You will come with me now!” His rough bass voice easily carried through the entire tent, maybe even to passersby outside.
“No.” Her reply was low and even, devoid of emotion, years of experience telling her any emotion only inflamed him more.
She stood relaxed, waiting, offering no resistance now, but clearly disobedient to her father. Everyone, dancers and musicians alike, backed away, leaving the pair in the center of the tent.
“What did you say, girl?”
“No,” she repeated, jutting her chin out just a bit, her green eyes snapping.
“I own you, child of mine, and I rule. You will obey me!”
Closing the short distance between them, the man grabbed both of her shoulders with his large work-worn hands.
She moved fast, using her father’s momentum against him.
The man found himself on the carpet staring up at his youngest daughter in shock.
The crowd murmured and shifted nervously.
The pair in the center paid them no mind, their gazes locked.
“I belong to no one, Father. Especially not you,” she said, carefully enunciating each word, lest he misunderstand her. “I belong only to myself.”
A shiver skittered down her spine.
*I’m finally doing it, Bright! Standing up to him!* She felt her twin’s supportive presence somewhere behind her.
Enraged beyond reason, their father surged upward, reaching for her. She whirled, thrusting her arm against his shoulder blades. He landed, splayed across the carpet, face down.
*Father’s got a really good view of all the colorful woven carpets, now,* Bright sent with a mental smile. *Maybe he’ll get one for the prayer hall.*
As he made to roll over, Brigid put her foot on his upper back.
“Just stay down, Father. Till you cool off.”
The tension flowed away from him in a long sigh. His shoulders slumped and his great head fell wearily to the carpet.
“Daughter, let me up.” His voice was as quiet as hers. His jaw clenched before he spoke one last word, one he seldom used with the other members of their small religious community and especially not with her. “Please.”
She stepped lightly back, wary, unsure of his intentions, but willing to allow him a chance.
Lumbering to his feet, the man stood, unconsciously adjusting his black vest.
*Always thinking about his precious image,* came Bright’s ironic thought. She nodded in agreement.
“So, daughter, this is your choice? To defy me? And the church? And God Almighty? With these heathens?” He spat the last word, filling it with all the hatred he had for things he couldn’t control.
“I was only dancing, father, nothing more,” she replied softly.
Please be reasonable, she thought, desperation breathing through her mind. Dancing isn’t technically forbidden. Sure, it’s frowned upon, but defying my father, that, that’s definitely a sin.
*And we both know what’ll happen if we go back home.*
She shuddered at Bright’s words in her head. *He’s a deacon. He can do anything he wants and no one will say a word.*
“Your choice then.” His hands made a low cutting motion, his voice so quiet, with so little emotion, that she gasped. “You are no longer a daughter of mine. Vitandus! I shun thee!” Brigid knew that many of the listening crowd were locals and knew the import of those formula words.
Turning on his heel, Joseph Stone stalked toward the door, dancers and musicians backing out of his way, forming an aisle to the tent flap. He thrust the curtains aside with much more force than necessary and disappeared.
Brigid’s face crumpled for just an instant, then she straightened, acutely aware of the pitying eyes upon her. Looking toward the musicians, she motioned for them to play.
Slowly at first, raggedly, the drummers began to beat out a familiar rhythm, the baladi. One by one, the rest of the musicians joined in.
Dancers shaken from their stasis, moved to the dictates of the music, hips, hands, and heads, swaying, shimmying, and shaking in the ancient moves of the belly dance.
Brigid felt her brother move out of the shadows that had hidden him from their father’s eyes. He quietly wrapped his arms around her, adding his strength to hers. Turning, she buried her face in his muscular chest, and cried, shoulders shaking, in his tight embrace.
*What have I done?* she cried into his mind, as dancers swirled around them, stranding the pair in an oasis in the center of the dance floor.
Still amazed that his chin now brushed the top of her head, he murmured, “You knew this was gonna happen someday. He just needed a good excuse, after he caught you half-naked with the preacher’s daughter.”
She nodded, hiccuping. Raising her tear-streaked face to his, she asked, “What’ll I do now?”
“You mean, what’ll we do,” he corrected.
She pulled back, staring up at him, jaw gaping.
“He didn’t…he wouldn’t…disown you. He’d never…. You’re his only son.”
“Don’t care. We’re together, forever, Brigid. Always will be.”
She gulped. “What’ll we do? How will we live?”
“We’ll find work here in town. We’ll save our money. We get enough, we’ll leave this narrow-minded planet. We’ll find where we belong in the universe.” The determination in his voice cheered her, filling her with determination.
“Shiny,” she quavered. She knew that, as a team, they’d be unbeatable. Their future might be clouded, but she knew that together, they’d be okay.
In case you wondered, here’s what VITANDUS means.