Tuesday, 29 December 2009

My Arbitrary Numbering System is Better than Yours

(I actually wrote this on Boxing Day, but didn't have access to the Internet to post it today...)

Jeff VanderMeer and his wife Ann are putting together an anthology of Steampunk short stories called Steampunk Reloaded. The catch is that all the stories have to have been previously published, which is kind of handy for me: The only 'Steampunk' story I have presentable is Of Mice and Journeymen. So, I sent it off for consideration. It'd be nice to be accepted, but my hopes aren't high. They say they want things outside of the of normal Victorian Gentlemen in steam-powered spaceships thing, but I think Journeymen is a bit too far out.

It's not long now before it's exactly a year before the decade of the noughties closes. Apart from three major terrorist attacks in the West, two wars, a world banking crises and a global recession, what the hell has happened this decade?

When I was growing up, my family didn't talk much about the past, about who they were or where they'd come from. There was this set of rules that our extended family worked within, which they never really explained and I never really picked up. (My brother managed to pick them up perfectly though, so I must have been doing something wrong.) Now we're all older, they're a bit more open and I'm a bit more emotionally sensitive.

I spent Christmas Day with my parents, my brother and his finance, and my aunt and uncle. Everyone apart from me, my mother and my aunt (her sister) went to see where my dad works (I'd seen it already), and my aunt started talking.

When they were young, both my maternal grandparents worked. Their children--my mum, my aunt and my uncle--were looked after by a friend a few doors down who had four kids of about the same ages. I'm reliably informed that chaos--and in a few cases, bloodshed--ensued. The children grew up, my mum became a party girl, my aunt became the party girl's older sister and my uncle got into cars. The kids down the road grew up, one joining the army at fifteen, one moving to Australia, the others going their own way too.

The one who joined the army had six weeks leave, and came to see his childhood playmates. Knowing what was what, my aunt kept making excuses and leaving the strapping young lad and my mother the party girl in the room, alone together. Boys, you see, always came around to see her.

It wasn't until my mother cornered her sister in the kitchen and told her that the strapping young army lad hadn't come all this way to be left in the room with the sister of the girl he was in love with that something clicked.

And the best part is that they were married and lived happily ever after, the army lad and my aunt.

Childhood playmates becoming life-long partners. Isn't that the kind of wonderful thing you don't expect to see outside of cheap TV shows? Apparently it happens in my family, too.

(My uncle's career in the army was far from life-long and happy. It's a bit of a shame I can't talk in depth with him about it because it could be a real light on my opinions on armed forces, but I'm not going to poke old, open wounds.)

I'm not going to use that story in anything I write, because I don't want to write cheap TV shows. It's a lovely story, though, perhaps all the better because I'm not going to annex it. It can just stay as it is, a little slice of my family history.

No comments: