Category: Tojet

New revision and buy links for my book Tojet

After April’s fiasco on the Lulu website–after a disastrous “upgrade” which screwed up thousands of people’s projects–I’m in the process of moving my books over to Draft2Digital.  You will still see links for the Lulu version of Tojet around the Net, but I retired the Lulu project, so they should disappear soon.  The link you need to find Tojet is here.  It leads you to different vendors.  Not Amazon yet, because my old links have to disappear first so Amazon doesn’t blacklist my new links.  Amazon’s rules are draconian….. But you can find a MOBI formatted book for your Kindle here.

It’s taking so long to move my books over because the files are 12-15 years old and need extensive formatting fixes to work with modern ebooks.  The days of using your print book’s PDF as an ebook are long over.  Not only that, but I’ve also been skimming through looking for stuff I want to change.

So Tojet has been revised for 2020, and I’m about to start the process with The Lighthouse.  I really look forward to updating Lighthouse because–even though it seems like everybody else prefers Tojet–The Lighthouse is my favorite of the two, with its Gothic themes and–I think–superior writing.  Yet everybody likes Tojet better.  Go figure.  😉

Fairy Romance: Tojet

Fairy Romance: Tojet 1

Tojet, novel available as e-book here and here.

Cover art by Kimberly Steele.

Tojet is a fairy tale for adults.  A mysterious girl named Tojet appears in a convent-run school one day.  Two teachers, Sister Elizabeth and oddly-named Merkit Terjit, take her under their care.

But is she a lost, imaginative orphan or a time traveler with fairy powers?  How does she know who Merkit is and how he was named?

Tragedy drives her away, but she returns as a young, beautiful woman, far more mature than she should be.  She shows Merkit a world of obsession and dark fairies.

He can’t help falling in love with her, but what about the monastic vows he’s about to take?  Can he fight the temptations that surround him?

[Longer, alternate summary, from old website:]

Written by Nyssa (penname Nerissa McCanmore), this novel is a combination of the fantasy, time travel, and Celtic genres.  It combines the author’s imagination and European fairy lore to create the world of fairies in the novel.  This is not a child’s fairy tale.

A nine-year-old girl appears at a convent-run school in the 1990s, saying her name is Tojet and she, a Celt, was born on a fairy mound in England in 566.

Merkit, a lay teacher, takes her into his home when asked to do so by Sister Elizabeth, a good friend of his.

Tojet says that the fairies of the mound have always favored her.  They gave her the ability to transcend time, chose Merkit as her husband (knowing, unbeknownst to Tojet, that his wife would soon die), and named him so Tojet would recognize him.

Tojet now gives Merkit what she calls dream visions: interactive and sometimes dangerous dreams of her world of good and evil fairies, mixed with sixth-century Anglo-Saxon life.  The longest dream vision takes him underneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, where he encounters mermaids, mermen, and undines.

When Merkit’s wife dies in a car accident, Tojet feels guilty because, for a moment, she wished his wife would leave.  She disappears, taking all her belongings with her.

After two and a half years, Tojet returns­–aged by nine years, mostly spent in other centuries.  Now beautiful, brilliant, and well-educated, she wants to claim Merkit as her husband.

However, he has entered a monastery, and does not wish to leave it.  Tojet does not give up on Merkit, and resumes showing him dream visions.

Without meaning to, she also leads him into dangerous experiences with fairies­–and into temptation.  Two prominent figures in the dream visions and real life are the fairy queen and the goblin king, who are their ambivalent allies.

Read Preview here: TojetPreview

Buy e-book here and here.

—So far, this book has been given the highest rating by four readers.  Also see professional reviews here and here[Update: Last link was to Wayback Machine, but doesn’t work anymore for some reason.]  Excerpts:

Ms. McCanmore does an amazing job of bringing fantasy and reality together. Tojet grabs you and brings you happily into her world. I found myself waiting on the edge of my chair for a new story to emerge. The story is wonderful and the characters of Merkit and Tojet are endearing; I also found Sister Elizabeth to be an inspiring character.– Fallen Angel Reviews

 

TOJET is a fantasy inspired inspirational story brought to life by author Nerissa McCanmore. . . . TOJET is a story that mixes many elements which on the surface would seem mutually exclusive. Strict Christian faith from both Tojet and Merkit and faerie opulence. Faith in one’s God and devotion to Him, or secular love. Is it a sin to lust after Tojet after devoting his life to the church, or would God want him to love this woman? Are the faeries pushing him to love Tojet or God or is it his own free will? . . . Interesting and unusual, TOJET is a good book if you are looking for something different.– Romance Readers Connection

Since whenever I revise the book, my reviews go away, I put them here for you:

A Modern Fairy Tale for the Modern Reader [6 stars] 19 Feb 2005 (updated 19 Feb 2005) by Thom Strizek:

A modern fairy tale, Tojet really brings the realm of fantasy to life. Nerissa McCanmore really knows how to paint a picture. Here’s a quick synopsis:

A little nine-year-old girl named Tojet appears at a Catholic school, where an orphan named Merkit Terjit teaches fourth grade with Sister Elizabeth. Tojet is an imaginative little orphan herself that talks of living with fairies, traveling through time and about how she and Merkit are betrothed.

A few months later, tragedy happens, and Tojet disappears for three years, only to reappear as a beautiful eighteen-year-old maiden to a very bereaved Merkit, who has decided to become a monk, and is about to end his time as a novice and take his first vows to actually become a monk. Now, he must choose either Tojet or the monastic vows he is about to take.

Throughout the book, Tojet takes Merkit on dream-visions (a power taught to her by pixies) where he experiences a world that most of us only dream about: fairy hills, exotic creatures, and European life in the 6th century. He experiences feelings and desires that we can only imagine; lusts that we can barely comprehend. He is abducted by a mermaid, entranced by a fairy queen and is disgusted by goblins. When she returns to him as a maiden, hoping he will accept her as a bride, her dream-visions become more sexually explicit.

McCanmore deserves props for her attention to detail; not only her definitive descriptions of dress and surroundings, but also to historical detail, citing the evolution of language and time measurement.

Throughout the book, I felt as though I was being pulled into one of Tojet’s dream visions. Every time I opened it, I felt as though I was instantly transported to another realm, and when I was forced to close it, the current scene I was in lingered in my mind, making me feel almost as though in limbo between her world and the real world.

The only part about this book that isn’t in every way perfect is the end. I felt as though almost robbed of the climax by too much happening within the last couple pages. That aside, Tojet is a wonderful piece of work; a perfect introduction of an author into the fantasy genre. I give it a big 3 thumbs up. fairies and pixies and all things fantastic . . .

[6 stars] 17 Feb 2005 (updated 17 Feb 2005) by aurorawolf Beautiful writing! Scenes such as this one stirred up my old childhood fantasies and made me smile: “The fairy child flew up to his shoulder and kissed his ear. “You’re friendly,” she said. “We like you.’ Merkit tumbled down to the floor and sat there, laughing. He had wet pixies in his hair, a fairy on his shoulder, fairies in his sink, and a Celtic medallion in his hand. What more did a person truly need?” (This is one fairy tale worth reading!)

Where did this story come from?

Tojet was based on a dream I had in 1996.  The dream itself was caused by a story in Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine, in which Alice Liddell (of Alice in Wonderland) was a child vampire trying to tempt Lewis Carroll.  My dream took on a life of its own after I wrote it down and began plotting out a story.

My Books: two published and my work-in-progress described

My Books: two published and my work-in-progress described 3My Books: two published and my work-in-progress described 5

Tojet is a fairy love story; The Lighthouse is a Gothic story collection.  To learn more, click on the above pictures.

What I’m Working on Now:

Typing An Unwilling Time-Traveler, a novella I wrote in high school, onto my main website, revived my old passion for that story.  Ever since October 2015, I have been working on a full revision.  The original was about a teenage girl abducted to Nazi Germany by a time-traveler; the new version has become far more complex.  Now woven in are various themes such as narcissism, authoritarian religion, and falling for a Svengali figure.  You can read about my revisions in my writing blog.

I’ve updated the covers of all my “Tojet” versions

I now have an eye-popping cover on all my versions of Tojet.  The artwork is by Kimberly Steele.  For years I haven’t changed the cover because of, well, fear of changing anything in my book: Revisions could make something go goofy.  😛  Here is the new cover:

I've updated the covers of all my "Tojet" versions 7

Also, while working on the revisions, I had to update my pricing as well.  The last time I did this, I could set my own royalty at a reasonable rate to keep the book prices as low as possible for the reader.  But now, Lulu is making me set minimum prices higher than I wanted–and I discovered that retailers such as Amazon would then take away most of that royalty!  If I want anything above 70 cents from an Amazon royalty, I’ll have to jack up the print prices so high that no one will buy it.  >:(

So I don’t think I’ll be selling my print books through retailers anymore, except for any copies they may have in inventory.  But now that I’ve made both of my books available as e-books in the versatile epub format, those should soon be available through retailers.  Print versions, however, will have to go through Lulu.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with the cover of The Lighthouse.  It’s a Lulu-provided cover, but I haven’t had the opportunity to get a better one.  I could make one, but I don’t do full-color paintings, so I hesitate.  Paying someone costs $$$.  Public domain images just don’t look right for the book.  So for now it’s staying as it is, unless I come up with a better one.

Tojet and The Lighthouse: Now available in Epub Format for E-books

For years I’ve wanted a Kindle, but didn’t have the $$$.  But I recently discovered that Amazon offers payment plans for Kindles, and I had a birthday coming up.  So now I have one–

and discovered how sucky my old e-books look on a Kindle.

In the early days of e-books, offering your book as a PDF was enough because most people probably would just open it on their computers anyway, and PDFs looked good and professional.  PDFs were also good if you wanted to print the book.

As technology began to pass me by, I had no idea that my PDF offerings were now tough to use on the fancy e-book readers.  Since I didn’t have one, I didn’t know how they worked.

Well, now that I have my own Kindle, I see clearly that the old PDFs just aren’t good enough.  So now–

after a lot of frustration because of formatting issues and the tendency of both Word and WordPerfect to use punctuation that turns to garbledygook in HTML  >:(  —

I am offering both Tojet and The Lighthouse as epub-format e-books.  At the moment, they’re available from Lulu, but they should soon be available from more stores, including Amazon’s Kindle store.  I use Calibre to convert my epubs to use on my Kindle.

So come check them out if you have an e-book reader.  As before, I offer them for $3 each: Tojet here and here  [Lighthouse is being redone; TBA]

 

 

Celtic Class: Knotwork, Tin Whistles, SCA–and Drinking from a Skull–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–January 1995, Part 2

Sharon wrote in the Journal,

Nyssa, answering your inquiry about how I used to see you.  For a long time you were very quiet and never said anything.  You sat with all of us at meals but you never joined in the conversations.  We didn’t really know you.  You were a part of the group, but you were a stranger for a long time. 

I asked you to room with me this year for a reason.  I didn’t know you and I could tell there was an extremely interesting person in that shy, reserved exterior.  And I was right.

You talk so much more than you used to.  You are a completely different person than I had once thought.  I love the ‘you’ that I have gotten to know this past year.  Meeting the real ‘you’ has been one of the highlights of my year 🙂 .

I wrote,

I’m surprised you say you didn’t really know me before and that I didn’t talk much. It seemed different to me. I had long talks with you and Pearl and others, and I felt closer to you all than I did to almost everyone else. Like here were people that actually knew me. Now I’m a bit confused about the whole thing.

Sharon replied,

I didn’t mean to make you doubt yourself or the way you see yourself now or in the past. You really didn’t talk to me as much as you talked to Pearl (and Cindy when you lived in Krueger).

You did talk a lot when you were with one person, but I usually saw you with the “group” and you really didn’t say much. But that’s not bad. Usually I don’t say much in the midst of a large conversation. I just can’t keep up and my mind goes blank.

****

I was the only one in the apartment with a Winterim class.  Sharon and Pearl were probably working at their work-study jobs, giving them an excuse to stay in the apartment during Winterim.  Tara had an internship, and also stayed in the apartment.

For me, the studying wasn’t at all bad, though, because I enjoyed the Celtic Roots class.  I think I often read the chapters at work in the morning.  In the afternoon, I practiced playing the tin whistle while my friends were out of the room.

Yes, studying the tin whistle was part of the class, since Dr. Bard, the teacher, played French folk music with his wife.  They even played at the campus Open Mike and at gigs around the area.

Dr. Bard, a 30ish, social science teacher with glasses, had red hair and a beard, and combed his hair down over a bald spot to look like bangs.

We had two textbooks, little paperbacks.  The Celts by Nora Chadwick was one.  The class and even the teacher agreed that this, though informative, was very dry.  Still, I found it useful when writing my novel Tojet.

We liked The Elements of The Celtic Tradition by Caitlin Matthews a lot better.  It was a fun book, going into the religion of the Celts, from pagan days to after they converted to Christianity.

She, a Druid, included exercises in the back of the book for such things as finding your totem or your destiny through meditations.  But in the rest of the book I noticed no bias for or against any religion.

Helene and Catherine had Celtic class along with me, and I would usually sit between them.  The class was held in the Honors classroom, room number 24 in Old Main.  We had a lot of fun in that class, and would talk about it afterwards.  It seemed everyone in the class had a good time.

I believe we all had to pay for our tin whistles, but once we did and Dr. Bard gave them to us, we’d practice simple songs for the first fifteen minutes of each class.  The tin whistle played like a recorder, with very little wind, which was good for me because I didn’t have enough wind in me to play anything more strenuous.  (It’s hard enough for me just to talk loud.)

When the course ended, Dr. Bard asked how many of us would continue to play our tin whistles.  Most of us raised our hands, including me.  However, though I still have the music sheets we used, along with sheets showing examples of knotwork, I haven’t played my tin whistle since 1998.

This class helped me get over Phil by giving me something fun to do that wouldn’t remind me of him, and by proving I didn’t need him to have a good life.

One day, in fact, Catherine and I and maybe Helene went to check mail in the Campus Center, as we did every day (though I, of course, couldn’t check mine there anymore).  We took out our tin whistles and practiced a particularly challenging and beautiful tune, which we learned in class that day.

The door to the Pub was across from the mailboxes, so I happened to see that Phil was in the Pub.  I hoped he’d see and hear us, that he’d realize I moved on and was now doing new and interesting things.  I wanted him surprised to see me standing there playing a tin whistle.  I wanted him to think he’d lost a talented, imaginative, and intelligent person, and would never get her back again.

We were supposed to practice our tin whistles outside of class.  One day soon after we started playing them in class, Brigitte said she was practicing hers in her dorm room one day when a girl went out into the hall and cried, “What is that?”

On probably the 18th or 19th of January, Dr. Bard taught us how to draw Celtic knotwork.  Mine wasn’t very good, but during class I began to practice.  During the lectures and while we listened to various types of modern Celtic music, I drew knotwork all over my plain Roanoke folder (which was my Winterim folder) and colored it with my yellow highlighter.

At night, I filled in the knotwork with other colors as well, using a set of markers.  I drew spirals, knotwork, snakes and torques, and I even filled in various letters and other things with the highlighter.  In the end, it was a folder to be proud of.  Of course, by then I was probably done with the course, so I used it for other things.

We sometimes listened to old- or new-fashioned Celtic music in class.  When we did, there was little else for us to do except listen.  Helene said to me once, “Dr. Bard should notice how uncomfortable people get during the music, and maybe play it in the background while we’re doing other things.”  We liked the music, but it would be more pleasant to listen to it that way.

At least several people in the class were Christians like us.  One girl, however, was vehemently anti-Christian.  She was bad-tempered and seemed to like nothing better than to sit there and rip on Christians.

She spoke of a Christian couple who used to live next door to her when she was a child, and treated her awfully.  We Christians wondered what they had done to her, and wished she’d realize that one couple did not represent all Christians or Christianity.

When a group of Wiccans spoke to the class, she was intrigued and asked many questions.  But religion should not be about running away from or rebelling against another religion.  It should be about true beliefs.

We learned about the head-cult of the Celts, that they displayed the heads of defeated enemies and sometimes even drank out of their skulls.  Dr. Bard also told us that the one who came late to a revel (or meeting?) got his head chopped off.

I looked at Catherine, and we joked that if we lived back then, we would be dead before we reached age 21.  I drew a stick-figure cartoon about this: First there were the feasters, then some guy came late and got his head chopped off, and then the feasters went back to their revel.  I wish I could find it now.

On the 16th, three speakers explained to us the modern-day Wiccan religion as it relates to the Celtic nature religions.  I wasn’t sure what to think about them at first because at least one of them wore a black T-shirt and an upright pentacle on a chain around his neck.  This one also had long, dark hair, and looked to be no older than his 20s or 30s.

(I knew nothing about the pentacle other than its supposed “Satanist” associations.)  The other two were a married couple, not yet middle-aged, who were Christian Wiccan.  Dr. Bard had invited them.  (I have no idea what Dr. Bard’s religious beliefs were, by the way.)

(For the truth about the pentacle and pentagram, click here.)

They gave fascinating information about Neo-Pagans and their beliefs, and how Celtic nature religions fit into the Middle Ages.  The class took notes.  The speakers said the Church Christianized certain holidays to help keep new, formerly pagan converts from turning back to their old ways.

Now, since then, I’ve heard various theories about why holidays and pagan deities were Christianized.  This is one; another is that the pagans-turned-Christians themselves made deities into saints and pagan holidays into Christian ones because they didn’t want to give up their beliefs.

Another view is that the Christian missionaries were wise and adaptable in incorporating the local festivals rather than just forbidding them.  And, of course, a view you commonly hear is that the Christian church just wanted to steal everybody else’s religious practices.  I reject that view wholeheartedly.  See here for more information.

The speakers said some Wiccans, like them, actually believe in both Christianity and Wicca, and are called Christian Wiccans.

They also explained some of the magic they use, that it’s a science, that it isn’t always so much casting a spell as it is positive thinking and changing yourself to get what you want, just as a businessperson might wear power suits to be more successful.

They also explained other kinds of magic that actually used spells and the powers of creation.  They said love spells weren’t charms, but learning how to change yourself and your traits to be more attractive to the person you love, so he/she will want to date you.

One of the traditional students, a girl, her religion unknown to me, said, “But if you have to change yourself to be more attractive to this person, aren’t you better off finding someone else who appreciates you the way you are?”  She was right, of course, though I don’t remember what, if anything, the speakers said in reply.

One day, on Catherine’s request, a friend of hers from the SCA, Ayesha, came to speak to the class.  (I can use her name because she has long since passed away.)  She was about 35, with short, dark hair.

I’d just heard about the SCA, or Society for Creative Anachronisms, a medieval re-creation group, over Christmas.  A couple met in the South Bend SCA group, then the Shire of White Waters, and had an SCA wedding ceremony.  The South Bend Tribune ran an article about it.  I thought the SCA sounded neat.

Though my friends apparently knew all along, I had no idea that Catherine used to go to SCA meetings when we were freshmen.  Ayesha was a member of the Catherine’s group, which I later discovered was a certain shire, based in S– and M–.

After Ayesha spoke to the class, I went with Catherine as she helped Ayesha take her speech props back to her car in the Jubilee parking lot.  They tried to talk me into joining the SCA, and I thought about giving it a shot.

Catherine told me there were “hot guys in the SCA, and they love to flirt with you.”  This attracted me: Now that several months had passed since the breakup, the Vampire train had derailed, and neither of my crushes were interested, I felt ready to find a new man or two.

She said the meetings would suit me because they were always late and laid-back.  They’d go on for hours, constantly getting sidetracked, and then someone would say, “Hey, isn’t Star Trek:TNG on?” and turn it on.

(She hadn’t been to a meeting for some time, so neither of us knew they’d become more businesslike and boring.)

These SCA people were also like Catherine and loved to hug.

I wrote a story for my presentation, which was in place of a final.  I sat down with paper and my Iona (Christian Celtic) tapes, made a list of Celtic names I found, and wrote a story about a girl named Gwyn Duncan.  I thought Gwyn was a girl’s name, but later found out it was probably male.

The story was short and simple, with a few sets of lyrics and a typically Celtic, unhappy ending.  It was about a girl taken by the sidhe, or fairies.  It took a few hours to finish, and once started and put into a Celtic mood by Iona, I didn’t want to break the spell for anything.

Here it is, including my pictures.

I later revised the story, typed it up, and decorated it with various Celtic-style pictures.  I read it in class on the 27th.  As I read, I tried to forget myself and just read, because if I remembered I was reading in front of a classroom full of students I’d get nervous and self-conscious.

When I finished I passed it around before giving it to the teacher, so everyone could see the pictures.  I didn’t know what people would think of my story, and feared they’d think it was stupid, but this wasn’t the case at all.

Dr. Bard liked it and gave me 50 points out of 50, along with this note: “A good story integrating much Celtic terminology and imagery.  I enjoyed reading it.  Good work!”

Helene complimented me on it and its simplicity, though she didn’t like Brì marrying Elva at the end.  I think one reason for the sad ending was my own cynicism about love at the time.  Another reason was to make it seem more Celtic, since Celtic stories were typically depressing.

I’ve made a few minor changes: Gwyn Duncan became Goewin daughter of Duncan, the tin whistle became a flute–basically, grammar fixes and things which fit better historically.  I also added short definitions, since the story was originally written for a class familiar with the Celtic terms.

One of the non-trad women in the class made a variety of Celtic foods for her presentation.  She feared she hadn’t made them right, but I told her they were delicious.  There were different types of breads, including one that was called barmbrak or something like that, and there may have been other kinds of food as well.

Remember the girl who detested Christians?  She did a Celtic pre-battle ritual.  She even passed around a real, human skull full of sparkling grape juice.  She said it was clean, but I passed it on without drinking from it.  Ewww!  Catherine and Helene also took a pass.  But Dr. Bard took a big swig.

Brigitte did her presentation on her clan’s history (she had a Scottish last name).  She discovered that it was related to Kenneth MacAlpine.  After class I told her we were probably related, because my own ancestry goes back to MacAlpine through Duncan I.

Some people said Brigitte had a crush on James, whom she knew from Circle K.  James was sure popular that year!  He wasn’t a handsome stud, either, so you can’t blame it on that.  Some men don’t have to be handsome to be desirable.

I heard that she was amusingly obvious about her crush, and asked James to take her places all the time.  She succeeded, and the latest Roanoke alumni book shows that James married her and moved to Green Bay.

Dr. Bard showed us beautiful medallions his mother made, which were painted with figures of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John from the Book of Kells.  They had metal loops at the back so they could be strung onto necklaces.  He told us we could buy them for about $3 (if I remember correctly).

I couldn’t get mine until at least Wednesday, February 15, after Winterim was already over, and he was afraid I would never buy it, but I was just in time to get the St. John.  I chose that one because I liked the eagle, and it was the prettiest.  Catherine bought the St. Mark.  (Anyone who knows us personally knows why this is ironic and funny.)

I strung the medallion on a spare chain.  Maybe it belonged to one of my old watches, or maybe it was a chain my Irish penpal sent me for Christmas 1991.  Later, Cugan cut me a leather thong for it instead, making it more “period” for SCA events.  (More about him later.)

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

My husband Phil, Dave and Pearl call me a party pooper for getting a Grade II concussion–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 2

Here is the inspiration for a couple of scenes in my novel Tojet.

Sunday, September 4.  Phil wanted to do nothing but play with Dave’s new sci-fi football game on the Nintendo.  It was a weird, funny and interesting game, but I didn’t want to sit around all day watching Phil play it.

I had nothing else to do, not with everything still packed and in the van.  My projects Undine and Jerisland and probably all my books were still in the van.

As for the game, it had all these different types of alien creatures, from which you chose for your team.  I believe the field was in the air, and the sides were either fire pits or nothing but air.  When you called up a picture of a player, some alien announcer spoke in gibberish, saying, “Bleh-BLAHH!  Bleh-bleh-BLAHH!”

Then Dave and his Pearl asked if we wanted to go to the S– County Fair.

Soon after we got to the fair, Phil and I walked by a booth with posters you could win.  Phil kept saying he wanted me to win him one of the babe-posters.  Fed up by this and his ogling of girls all summer, I pointed to a beefcake poster and said, “I want you to win me that.”

He, of course, said no, and shooed me away, good-naturedly.  Finally!  I found a way to get back at him instead of just getting mad at him.

I thought the fair would be fun, and bought enough tickets for twenty rides.  The first ride was Phil’s favorite, some sort of box that spins around as the big wheel goes around.

Sometime during the ride, not only did the stuff in my pockets fly out into the box, but the side of the box hit my forehead.  Or my forehead hit the side of the box.  I had no way of knowing what happened or how it happened.  I’m almost certain I had my hands on the bar at the time.

The box moved so fast that the G-force and the speed kept me from crying out.  I hated the ride and couldn’t wait for it to stop.  Endlessly, the box kept spinning and moving around.  Finally, it ended.  I picked up the things that fell out of my pockets, and stepped out.

Phil saw the bruise on my forehead, and said a bump was rising.

Though I felt okay at first, a few minutes later my head started aching worse and worse.  I turned lightheaded and queasy.  Phil got me a cup of water from a vendor, and sat me down at a picnic table under the vendor’s big awning.  At first, he seemed attentive and sweet.

I said I needed to rest for a while.

“Should we go home?” Phil said.

“I want to wait a while before deciding that, to see if I feel better,” I said.

Dave and Pearl soon knew about my injury.

I kept feeling worse and worse–more painful headache, more powerful nausea.  Finally, I said I wanted to go home.  I had to get away from the fairgrounds and into some quiet, comfortable place where I could be tended to.

On the way out, we passed a parked ambulance.  I asked to go there, but we didn’t.  Phil even smiled and said,

“Are you sure you need to go to an ambulance?”

I wanted to find a first-aid station, but all I saw was the ambulance.  Phil and the others thought there was no need for either.

If I’d known just how serious a concussion can be, I probably would’ve insisted they take me more seriously and get help or take me to a doctor.  Of course, a person with a concussion is in no condition to be forceful.  Just check out this article from the Mayo Clinic.

This page recommends emergency medical attention if the bump results in a worsening headache and other symptoms I experienced.

According to a doctor I consulted by e-mail in 1999, I had the symptoms of a Grade II concussion!  Cugan also said it sounded like a secondary concussion.

My headache got worse and lasted at least until the next day, possibly longer; I should have been closely watched and, because of my severe headache, taken to a doctor immediately.  But none of the people with me took me seriously, not even Phil, my own husband!  They actually called me a party pooper:

We left the park and went to Dairy Queen for dinner.

During dinner, Phil told them about Undine, that I had been translating it, and how big it was and how difficult.  Dave said, “You’re nuts!”  Contrast that to a person from a German-speaking country who said to me in 1998, “I tip my hat to you.”  Apparently Dave didn’t understand the value of taking on a difficult project just to challenge yourself.

They began to talk about going dancing that night, and asked if we wanted to go.  I said I’d better stay home: I thought I had a concussion.  Phil said he would go.

What?  Here I was, injured with a Grade II concussion, needing someone to watch over me and take me to a doctor, and he wanted to go dancing?  Not only did he refuse to take me to a doctor, but he showed no sign of concern for my condition!

Through my pain, I was upset.  I turned very quiet.  Phil tried to say something to me once, but got no response.

Back at his house, I confronted him about this, but he insisted he wanted to go out dancing.

“My parents will be here, and you can lie on my couch, watch cable on my TV, and relax.”

I don’t think anyone told his parents about my concussion, because they never came into the room to check up on me.  With my nausea and overpowering headache, I was in no condition to go walking around telling people I was hurt; Phil should have told them himself.

Phil went on, “You can find things to do, as you always do.”

Yeah, like I could do anything but sleep or watch TV with my head pounding.  But that wasn’t the point.

I would’ve gone dancing, if I were feeling better.  It sounded like fun.  I hadn’t gone to a dance in a long time.  We later planned to go to the Friday dance at Roanoke so I could finally see Phil’s dancing.

It was such a major and odd part of Phil’s personality that Pearl, on the way to the fair, said she was surprised I hadn’t seen him dance yet.  She said you have to see him dance to really know him.  I hadn’t had the chance because the junior year dances had no good music.

Phil whined, “Other people always say, ‘Oh, you go ahead and have your fun.  Don’t mind me.'”

Oh, yeah, I wanted him home with me because I was a selfish twit.

I was miserable.  Phil was my husband: He wasn’t supposed to go out and enjoy himself while I lay on his couch, suffering from an untreated injury.  He was supposed to take me to a doctor!

His parents had just gotten two new puppies, little black and white ones, and kept them in a cage when they were inside.  I sat beside them.  Their names were something-Dave and something-Phil.  They loved the attention and wanted my petting.  I tried to comfort myself with them, and tried to hide my tears.

After Phil left, I watched some true-life TV movie about sharks attacking servicemen whose plane went down in the ocean.  In one scene, a man seemed to be asleep while floating in the water in a life preserver; it turned out his lower half had been bitten off.  The whole movie horrified me, especially since it really happened.  Watching this all alone sure didn’t help.  I tried to rest, but couldn’t with my awful headache.

This movie was probably Mission of the Shark, about the USS Indianapolis in WWII.

Phil later told me that Dave and Pearl thought I was a party pooper for wanting to leave the fair early!  They didn’t know how I could have gotten hurt.  They blamed me for getting hurt!

But it was a traveling fair, getting taken down and put up all the time, and people do get hurt on amusement park rides, especially in traveling fairs.  This fact was given on an episode of the Sally Jessy Raphael show in 1998.

Also, the September 13, 1999 edition of US News and World Report stated on page 59, “[G]etting banged on fingers or head by a safety bar are common.”  The article Fatal Attractions described the risk of injury at amusement parks, especially at traveling carnivals, which “are constantly dismantled and reassembled” (p. 58).

A few weeks after the incident, my friend Pearl said their remarks were uncalled for.  She and my other friends would have respected that I was injured.

I did ask that Phil not drink while dancing, at least.  If he came back with alcohol on his breath, that would finish me.  I was already upset enough.  I didn’t want him getting drunk while I ached both inside and out.  Besides, as I’d joked before with him and Dave, he was still underage.

He recently told me that he drank or smoked whatever people passed around at parties (never mind his health or if it was illegal).  I would never do that.  He called me a pooper.  I lost more respect for him.

After Phil came back from dancing, I told him I needed to talk.  But instead of staying with me in his room, he left again and disappeared for a long time.  I finally went looking for him, and found him talking alone with Pearl in the computer room.  I asked if he’d come back soon so I could finish talking with him.  Then I turned and left.

He soon came back, a smile on his face, and said, “Jealous?  She’s a nice person, but Dave’s fiancée.”

I knew he liked her back before he dated me, but I thought this was over now.  Still, seeing him there with her made me uneasy.  Besides, how is it “jealousy” to want to finish a discussion about how he’d been treating me?

That night or maybe the next day, Phil said, “I would love to be allowed to have three wives instead of just one.  You’d be one, Dave’s Pearl would be another, and that high schooler who likes me and keeps calling me at the wrong time–she’d be the third.”

Did he think I’d find this funny?  It only made me feel worse.  So he did still want Dave’s Pearl!  And I wasn’t enough for him!

Just like all summer long, he’d tell me he lusted after this or that girl, and when I got upset, say that other people’s girlfriends just laugh when their men do this.  He’d see a young woman and say he wouldn’t mind taking her in the back of his minivan.  A big-breasted and blonde high-school girl would hand him Dairy Queen sundaes through the drive-up window, and he’d tell me how much he loved the sight.  I’d say my breasts were big enough, and he’d say he saw bigger on previous girlfriends.

How dare I object?  As some drunken guys later told him, I was so “possessive”!

Phil also told me, “Dave and Pearl think you’re a party pooper for not wanting to go dancing tonight.  They think you’re a pooper because you never want to go dancing with me.  They remembered a time last semester when they asked us to go dancing, and you didn’t want to go!”

HUH?  What time was that?  I didn’t even remember it.  If it even happened, I probably just wanted to spend a quiet evening alone with Phil.  Or maybe I wasn’t feeling well or had a lot of homework.

Phil went on, “I used to go dancing every weekend, but I gave that up for you.”

This was news to me!   He never mentioned going dancing every weekend.  He never asked me more than once or twice–if at all–to go dancing on the weekend.  We went to Roanoke dances whenever possible, but they never had good music.

But then, abusers will make up things you’ve done or said that you never actually did or said, to make you the bad guy.  The gaslighting from this guy was unbelievable!  Did he really think I would fall for it when I knew it was a lie?

When I wrote the first draft of this account of the S– County Fair in 1995 or 1996, I showed it to my future husband Cugan and asked if I was being unreasonable.  He said,

“No.  Yes, people do often say, ‘Go ahead and have your fun,’ but they’re rarely taken at their word.  Usually they don’t really mean it.  Tell me something: What did you really see in this guy?  He didn’t seem to take this marriage seriously.”

Not only that, but I had a Grade II concussion and they were calling me a party pooper because I needed to go to a doctor, not dancing!

All during our relationship, Dave, obviously influenced by what Peter had told him about me, said nasty things about me to Phil.  When Phil said he wanted to date me, Dave said, “Don’t date her.  We don’t get along.”

Don’t get along?  But I didn’t even know the guy!  We’d never met before Pearl’s party, and got along quite well, flirting all evening!

Dave also kept telling tales about me to his parents.  This started way back in the spring.  His Pearl did it sometimes, too.

They accused me of all sorts of things: calling Indiana on the O’Hara dime (I always used a phone card), telling Phil not to take a one-day job (Phil decided not to and I supported his decision because of a major history test the next day), and probably other things I’ve forgotten now.

Dave’s parents seemed to listen to them far too much, because I began to get the feeling that they didn’t like me as much anymore.  For example, one day during the spring, as Pearl and I both sat in the living room, Maura called Pearl her favorite future daughter-in-law.  Was Maura trying to make me feel like dirt?

Phil thought Pearl was nice, but I considered her just as mean as Dave.  Not only did she go along with Dave’s smear campaign, but she did something else nasty as well:

I don’t remember when this was, May or September, but probably May.  It was a Saturday, no classes, nobody with work.  It was the middle of the afternoon, and long after I heard Dave take his shower.  I found a deserted bathroom, so I took a shower.  Because it was the middle of the afternoon and everyone else had already showered (including Dave), and because there were two bathrooms, I saw no reason to hurry.

I did the various things I always needed to do after a shower, such as shaving, moisturizing, putting cover-up on my face, combing my hair.  I didn’t dilly-dally around in the bathroom: I only took as long as I needed to do what I needed to do, and then I got out.  I was just about done.

All of a sudden, Pearl banged on the door and yelled meanly, “Hurry up and get out of there!  Dave needs to take a shower!”  No, she did not politely knock and ask if I could please hurry up.  She screamed as if I were deliberately holding up Dave.

How could I possibly have known that he needed to take another shower for soccer practice or whatever it was, in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, when nobody else was around when I started my shower?

I’m so glad to be out of that family: too many nasty people with absolutely no respect or consideration for others.  And I was being bullied by everybody together, a mob bullying!

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Excerpt from “Tojet”

A fairy tale for adults.  A mysterious girl named Tojet appears in a convent-run school one day.  Two teachers, Sister Elizabeth and oddly-named Merkit Terjit, take her under their care.

But is she a lost, imaginative orphan or a time traveler with fairy powers?  How does she know who Merkit is and how he was named?

Tragedy drives her away, but she returns as a young, beautiful woman, far more mature than she should be.  She shows Merkit a world of obsession and dark fairies.

He can’t help falling in love with her, but what about the monastic vows he’s about to take?  Can he fight the temptations that surround him?

Available for e-book purchase here.  An excerpt:

 

The next morning, a Saturday, Merkit sat with Tojet in the kitchen after breakfast as Barb ran some light errands.  He talked with Tojet about school, but she kept yawning.

“Didn’t you get enough sleep last night?” he said with a grimace that was supposed to be a smile.

“Well, no,” she said.  “I came back too late in the night to get all my ten hours.  I came back when the fairies woke me up.  They said I’d fallen asleep, and should go to bed.”

“Fairies? You saw fairies?”  Merkit crossed his arms to block a sudden chill.

“I want you to be my friend, so I want you to know everything about me,” she said.  Her tone was matter-of-fact as she explained, as if every other child went to visit fairies across the ocean in another time every night.  Yet as he listened to her story, Merkit felt as if he himself had been there, had gone to dance with the fairies, had gone to a fairy ring on a hill in the forest around Silva at midnight, had seen a full moon. . . .

There, a full moon shone through the treetops.  Mushrooms sprouted up in the meadow in a ring large enough to fit a few human-sized fairies, if there were any.  Tojet looked like a fairy herself in her white lace dress, the same she’d worn at their first meeting, so yes, there was one.  Merkit leaned his arm against a tree trunk to watch.  His cloak billowed down from his arm and around his shoulders in the evening breeze.

The moonlight couldn’t penetrate the trees of the surrounding wood, and lit only the little ring.  Deer, squirrels, mice, and other animals crept up to the ring to watch the strange creatures, but moved no closer.  Powder-scented, naked elves and pixies of both sexes danced inside the ring on the mild, May night.  Their nakedness was no surprise: drawings and paintings often showed them that way.  The fairies were of various sizes, some tiny and with butterfly wings, some larger and without wings.  Fairy musicians with fairy flutes, lutes, panpipes, fiddles, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and jaw harps played reels and softer, sweeter melodies. Merkit wanted to join the leaping, spinning fairies, but Tojet called to him,

“Don’t come in the ring.  You’ll have to join in if you do, and then you’ll get a wasting sickness, like consumption, or you’ll find out a century has gone by the time you get out again.  Only I can join in, until you marry me–then you can, too.”

Some fairies left the dancing to find private spots in the darkness of the treetops and bushes.  Tojet saw them go, but looked away again, ignoring them. When Merkit cried out in surprise, she looked at him.

“They’re fairies,” she said, shrugging, “not humans.  I don’t think they keep that stuff between a man and his wife.  They have totally different rules for what’s a sin and what’s not.  For example, if you step in the ring, they think it’s right to make you dance till you get sick, because you broke the rules.”  After unfastening and unbraiding her pigtails, she continued dancing.

Two blue cat-eyes appeared by a tree outside the ring, then the full-sized woman they belonged to.  She was several inches taller than Merkit.  Her middle-parted, blonde hair fell in both curls and tiny plaits to her knees.  Two braids circled her head below a wreath made of leaves and lilies of the valley.  Her slanted eyebrows, tiny nose, pointy ears, butterfly wings, and enchanting beauty showed her to be a fairy, probably the queen or princess of the fairies.  She was also the only fairy wearing clothing.  She wore a sleeveless, knee-length dress woven of gauzy, green spider silk, and only a small shift underneath.  Queen Anne’s lace circled her wrists.  She wore no shoes on her three-toed feet.  She smelled like violets.

A fog filled Merkit’s mind until he forgot his own name.  He forgot he was a married and God-fearing man.  Who was he?  What had he done, what had he been before this night?  He shook his head, but couldn’t clear it.  All he saw was the fairy queen.  He wanted her with a primitive, nature-worshiping lust.

He forgot all his objections to the fairy behavior.  The queen’s slight and perfect, small-breasted, curved figure beckoned to him.  He forgot he’d ever even had a wife.

He forgot he’d ever been anywhere else but there in the forest.  He forgot who Tojet was.  The fairy queen’s red, Cupid’s bow mouth curled up in a seductive grin.  He imagined taking her to the side of the ring and lying on the ground with her.  He forgot Tojet’s warning.  In his mind, he kissed every inch of her heart-shaped face and pointy chin, holding her tightly, but careful not to tear her delicate wings.

He shook off his fantasy.  He stepped around the ring and toward her to kiss her and act it out.  She put her arms around him, letting him kiss her and press his body against her.

“No!” blasted across the ring.

They both turned to Tojet.  She glared at them with her cat-eyes.  Her own childish beauty showed despite her frown, and perhaps because of it.  The fairy queen obeyed the human child and gently pushed Merkit away.  Merkit looked at her again, disappointed.  He saw the lust in her own eyes.

“It must not be,” she said in a voice like the tinkling of a dripping faucet, or a dewdrop splashing on the tin roof of a garden gnome’s house.  “You are to stay pure, and I am not the one who belongs to you.”

The fog cleared a little; the memory of his wife and Tojet now returned to him.  At first he thought the fairy queen meant his wife, but somehow he knew she meant Tojet.

“But Tojet’s only a child,” he said.

“Of course she’s not yours now, but she will not be a child forever.  She’s half grown-up already, and once she’s fully grown, she’s yours.”

“Don’t make him a slave with your kisses, please, Your Majesty,” Tojet said.  “He’s not meant to be your boyfriend.  You and your fairies promised him to me.”

Merkit blinked.  He now remembered where he came from.  “Why me?” he said. “Why not someone in her own time?”

The queen said, “Because you’re more likely to treat her as an equal, and be good enough for our favorite.  Tojet should never be treated as second best.  We sent scouts throughout the twentieth century and beyond to find a husband for her.  Your parents loved fairies, so we soon focused on you and decided to see what kind of man you’d be when you grew up.  We looked, and had the local fairies check on you.  We liked what we saw, and thought you’d make an excellent match for Tojet.  You’re kind, you’re passionate, and you treat women properly; you two also have similar interests.”

“Similar interests?  But she’s only nine.  I like classic novels and she likes Winnie the Pooh books, for example.”

“We know how she’ll turn out, what she’ll be interested in as she grows up.”

“But I have a wife.”

“We also know your future.”

The last traces of fog dissipated.  Unease jabbed his stomach.  What was in his future?  Why did she say this when he mentioned his wife?

Merkit turned and saw Tojet, who was curled up on the side of the ring, asleep.  He felt more like a father who must get his sleeping child to bed than a predestined husband of a fairy child.

“What did you do to me?  Why did I forget everything about myself?  Who will you do this to next?”

The fairy queen only smiled.  “I’ll turn to the king of the goblins.  Of all the local kings, he is the handsomest.  After the dance, I will go to meet him; he needs no spells.  Your heart is so loyal that trying to charm you has given me a headache.  Now go, take your betrothed maiden home.”

Merkit picked Tojet up, but she disappeared, along with everything else.  He jerked his head back and forward again.  There she sat at the kitchen table in front of him.  She finished her tale.  He must have imagined the scene with the fairy ring, but it had seemed so real.  Even his lustful fantasy seemed real, and now it shamed him.

What business did he, a married man and a Christian, have fantasizing about a fairy queen?  He had to find something else to do to chase the fantasy from his mind.  Why would he even want to fantasize about a fairy queen?  Barb was everything he’d ever wanted in a wife; they had many of the same thoughts and liked many of the same things.  When they met in a Christian group at college as sophomores, they fell for each other right away.  After a few months of obsessing, Merkit worked up the courage to ask her out, only to find that she had also been obsessing.  The Christian group was new, and Merkit and Barb worked together to help make it more visible on campus.  They worked side by side for the group to make and put up posters around the campus, plan parties and trips to see Christian rock bands, and lead (Barb) or go to (Merkit) small groups.  They fought hard against many temptations to sleep together, their biggest struggle of all.  Their friends called them the perfect couple.

When they got engaged in their senior year, no one was surprised.  He had no reason to want a stranger, even a fairy queen, instead.

“A nice little tale, Tojet,” he said, “but we can’t spend all our time dancing with fairies.  I have to go grade some papers now.”  He jumped up and trotted off to find his briefcase.  He later hurried off to the church for Saturday morning confessions, to purge himself of the fairy queen fantasy.