Negotiations under water

Gorgona

The schooner anchored not far from them was in danger, and several sailors had fallen into the sea. Marina, who was able to swim, jumped, together with a few others from her ship, to save them. She caught one of the sailors and after a while, the one she was towing didn’t struggle anymore. She was relieved to notice this, as she had started to get tired fighting with him. But suddenly both her one and the other’s ceased holding on their rescuers and tried to reach quickly the side of the boat… all at the same time. Couldn’t any of them use their common sense judgment?

The boat, as expected, was in danger of capsizing now, thing noticed by the two rowers. They looked one at the other for one moment, almost like reading each other’s mind in their glances, then it seemed they agreed instantly upon the best thing to do in such a situation. Each of them approached the sailor who was the closest to him and threw a good punch, knocking him out in order to save the boat from getting turned upside down. The unlucky boxing bags let the boat go and went, unconscious, to the bottom of the sea, while another man gave a hand to one of the sailors, helping him to get into the boat suddenly relieved of its additional load. The one who had gripped the fender was also helped to get inside.

“Now I’d really need Gorgona’s help!” Marina thought. “Or at least if I knew the secrets of sponge fishers!”

She had admired always the sailors of the Greek Islands who went for sponges and corals, to the depth of the sea. She could swim, but she wasn’t an expert in diving and swimming under water… and there were two of them to be caught quickly!

Her thoughts were focused on a prayer while she was looking for bubbles to indicate where those men could have sunk. She finally saw some bubbles and dove in that direction, catching a mass of curly hair, then she pushed back to the surface with her prey. The boat was, of course, still close, so once that stupid sailor caught, they took hold of him and she took a deep breath, diving again… not too sure if there were really bubbles what she had seen this time.

Marina was diving deeper than the first time, searching for the man she couldn’t find. The water made a sort of a semi – opaque curtain, unlike in the gulfs of the Aegean where she had tried, for fun, diving together with her brother, many years ago. She wasn’t sure what to do next, how and where to look for him, if what she had seen weren’t his bubbles… “God, if it is Your will… please let me find him!” she prayed.

God? No, somebody else she would have to pray for the sailor’s life… because she was bewildered to see a beautiful girl, with a lily-white face having the features so well known around Thessaloniki, waiting there for her, in a blue-green attire… and with a golden comb in one hand. Was it for good or for bad that she was seeing Gorgona, so far away from her native seas?

Diamandis had told them he had caught a glimpse of her after a storm, while she was sitting on a rock of the many scattered around Monemvassia, and that he hurried to answer to her question before she asked it. It was, no doubt, the wisest thing to do, as their ship had been spared then. Now Marina was going to do the same:

“Hail, my queen!” she thought, carefully choosing her words. “Your brother is ruling happily for much more years than I can count, sending you greetings!”

It was exactly what Gorgona wanted to hear, but she didn’t expect to hear somehow the mermaid’s answer.

“And your brother is happy in my arms. Little Dora is my lady-in-waiting. You are doing well where I sent you. Have you told my story to these foreign sailors?”

Marina was strangely happy to hear these. At least the ones she had lost were far from any regret and pain now. Maybe it was better for a family of sailors to be at Gorgona’s court than in that Paradise with milk and honey and angels. She answered immediately:

“Yes, my queen, I did, and they liked it. They have other mermaids in their legends. My queen, please give me this sailor’s life, if it is upon Your will to spare him like you did with me…”

“It might be, but what are you willing to offer me in exchange?”

It was a fair question; only… what could she offer to the mighty queen of the sea who had everything?

“You have already my life. You have marked me as your own six years ago, in the shipwreck. I am yours to serve! What else can I give you?”

“Your tears?” came the unexpected answer.

“I am not allowed to cry. I am supposed to be a tough sailor boy,” Marina protested, without understanding.

Gorgona laughed:

“You aren’t opening your mouth either… and still we are holding a conversation. I want your tears, the ones you will cry for a lost love, exactly like the tears I had shed some time ago!”

“You have them… and anything you want from me!” she said earnestly, thinking that any sacrifice was worth for saving a life.

Besides, what could the mermaid really want? Her tears for a lost love? Will she really fall in love some day, and will it be like in the knights’ stories the girls at the monastery were telling far from the nuns’ ears, a broken heart’s tears? Well, a broken heart might be a fair price… for somebody else’s life! And in some stories or songs… even a broken heart healed after a while.

“Well, we’ll see what else I might want from you in the future – because, indeed, you are mine to serve… and you’ll do it well from the deck of a vessel, for many years to come. I have a plan for you!” Gorgona said.

This was nothing new to Marina, who had always believed that it was a reason why only she had been chosen to live after that shipwreck. And the reassurance that she will be a sailor for many years, was more than she could wish to hear. It meant her dream would become true some day.

“Thank you very much, my queen, I’ll try to be worth of your favours!”

The mermaid motioned her to come closer. When she did, Marina received a strange embrace… Hers? Then she felt in her arms the texture of a sailor’s clothes. She had been granted her request! As she reached the bottom of the sea, with a firm push she hurried to rise back at the surface, still holding well that sailor. They would survive. Both of them! And now she had more than the confirmation she was seeking about her destiny… she had Gorgona’s blessing.

The long awaited portion of fresh air came just in time, and the boat was nearby.

All rescued sailors aboard the boat, Marina could gather her strength to follow them. She was tired, but happy. The rain on her face helped her to overcome the tiredness and become again her usual self still while on the boat. The satisfaction of having saved two lives superseded everything else. Well, almost everything. And the other happiness she was hiding deep in her soul made her forget the rain, the pain in her tired muscles. When she finally succeeded to get inside, she heard that there was another man missing. Strangely, but these news didn’t surprise her.

“He wasn’t here around”, she said with a small, epuised voice, “otherwise I would have found him when I dove. He might have gone down somewhere else.”

The ones who wanted to look for the missing guy might try, but she had the feeling that they wouldn’t find him. Not even the body!

“How was he like, the missing one?” she asked the sailor who was closest to her.

Before hearing his answer, she suspected what this will be: the officer was a handsome young man, exactly how Gorgona liked to choose her devoted guards. This was the reason why she had accepted to grant her the second sailor’s life: she had already taken her tribute, a young officer.

Marina returned to her ship with a large smile on her face. The officers had ordered to have blankets and tea ready for the brave rescuers.

“Thank you very much for allowing me to go with them, Sir! That was really my call!” she told briefly the first lieutenant.

Seeing him around gave her a new idea – something she wanted to know since her underwater adventure. She approached him and asked with an apologetic smile:

“Sir, do you happen to know how deep was the water where we had to dive? I mean I reached the bottom… finally… but it seemed… strange.”

Actually, something else seemed really strange to her, but she couldn’t say it: “how was it possible to meet Gorgona so far away from her native Aegean or Ionian waters? And so close to the harbour!”

“You dived to the sea floor?” the first lieutenant was surprised. “From memory I’d say around 30 feet or thereabout. Have you felt lack of air? This might be the strangeness you are telling about.”

Nobody would ever learn about the negotiation under water. It was her secret – and even if she was foolish enough to say anything, who would believe that she received the mermaid’s blessing?

– THE END –

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A mai trecut un Camp NaNoWriMo

Diploma Nano-s

A mai trecut un Camp NaNoWriMo. Și, după cum se vede, am câștigat.

Mă bucur că am fost (până acum – mai sunt câteva ore și cele care nu și-au actualizat la timp succesele o pot face încă) 6 căștigătoare în cabina românească a taberei. 3 se pare că ar fi câștigat numai experiența de a-și doza eforturile (cu rezerva unor răsturnări de situație de ultim moment, așa cum am menționat mai sus). Exact ce câștigasem eu anul trecut pe vremea aceasta, când nu reușisem decât vreo 6000 cuvinte toată luna. Și acest gen de câștig contează pentru viitor!

Pentru cei care încă nu știu ce înseamnă acronimul de mai sus, am dat link-ul. Iar pentru cei care știu, însă nu suficient, explic că numai în luna noiembrie participanții trebuie să scrie un număr fix de minimum 50.000 cuvinte. În perioada celor două tabere, Camp NaNo Aprilie și Camp NaNo Iulie, participanții își pot stabili singuri țelul, în număr de cuvinte, de pagini sau ore de documentare ori editare.

Atât anul trecut în iulie, cât și anul acesta în aprilie, am lucrat la editarea unor manuscrise mai vechi, iar acest lucru a funcționat, ajutându-mă să termin ce mi-am propus. Cel început anul trecut, PRIETENII DREPTĂȚII, a apărut anul acesta, fiind lansat de curând.

Pentru Camp NaNo Iulie de anul acesta, intenționez proză scurtă. O schimbare de ritm nu strică.

În avanpremieră, un citat din romanul ECHIPAJUL, care va apărea în toamna aceasta:

        În după-amiaza aceea, un băiat de vreo cincisprezece ani ne-a “depus” pe malul celălalt, cu promisiunea că la ora şase vine să ne ia. O vreme am stat la plajă, am jucat cărţi, am făcut baie, apoi soarele s-a supărat pe noi, ascunzându-se în spatele unui nor des. Noroc că nu era negru.

– Hai să facem o expediţie! am propus eu. Liziera de copaci e mică; să vedem ce este mai încolo.

            Umbra răcoroasă a copacilor ne făcea să visăm ţări îndepărtate. Ne credeam exploratorii unor ţinuturi necunoscute.

            – Uite un tigru prin jungla noastră! spuse Narcisa.

            Ce-o fi văzut la bietul pisoi flămând, rătăcit cine ştie cum pe insulă?

            Copacii ascundeau un lan de porumb, din care am cules câţiva ştiuleţi. Când ne-am întors pe plajă, nici urmă de barcă la locul stabilit. Pe nisip, cineva scrisese trei cuvinte “ciudate”, cu litere mari de tipar: “DRACUL DUPĂ VOI!”

            Mihaela, singura care avea ceas, constată:

            – E şase şi zece. Acum ce facem?

            – Dormim aici, mârâi eu supărată, în timp ce căutam în zadar o soluţie.

            – Izolaţi pe o insulă pustie! Ca în cărţile de aventuri ale lui Jules Verne!

            – Lasă glumele, Virgiluş! Or să se supere, or să se sperie toţi ai noştri.

            Lemoni începu să scâncească. Îi era frică.

            – Taci, miorlăito, că trebuie să găsim noi o idee! o repezi frate-său. Uită-te mai bine în larg, la moşul acela care pescuieşte. Strigă-l, Em, că tu eşti mai mare, şi expediția la porumb a fost ideea ta.

 

Another possible sight of Vikings

Another historical theory about Vikings having been a part of Latino-American history… This one is a bit Southwards than mine, and no Quetzalcoatl/ Kukulkan / Viracocha involved, but still an Ecuadorian legend which might have meant a lot…

How much of the history we are learning is science, and how much speculation, fertile soil for the pen of historical fiction (and sometimes historical fantasy) writers? How much of it is written by the victors?

We can’t even guess…

Un nou sezon NaNoWriMo

Se pare că la noi, în România,  NaNoWriMo este încă puţin cunoscută, puţin promovată şi, spre deosebire de alte ţări, aici instituţiile care ar trebui să sprijinească cultura – biblioteci, şcoli, muzee literare, etc. – nu se implică deloc. (Şi, pentru cei care cred cum credeam eu acum câţiva ani, nu este un concurs rezervat numai scriitorilor de limbă engleză. Poţi să scrii în orice limbă, în orice ţară, a devenit demult internaţional).

Dacă acum câţiva ani eram printre cei – nu puţini – împotriva acestui concurs şi convinsă că niciodată nu voi lua parte, anul trecut am făcut-o şi chiar am câştigat. Aceasta mă transformă într-o promotoare a NaNoWriMo, în totală opoziţie faţă de cum vedeam lucrurile cu doi, trei ani înainte. Transformarea scrisului din activitate solitară în activitate colectivă contează foarte mult în creşterea productivităţii fiecărui scriitor aspirant, a motivaţiei şi a succesului final. Experienţa socială NaNoWriMo, corelată cu mobilizarea de tip “sesiune”, duce la progrese importante.

Aş fi scris şi fără acest concurs? Desigur, însă într-un timp mai lung, îndoindu-mă de mine mai mult şi fără să am pe cine să întreb când mă blocam undeva sau nu eram sigură de un element anume. Mobilizarea aceasta colectivă mă ajută, la fel de mult ca termenul care mă ambiţionează. (Nu spune nimeni că la sfârşitul lunii va exista un roman finalizat şi perfect. Nu, doar o primă versiune, care va fi supusă unor editări succesive. Este un element pe care unii nu îl înţeleg, şi această neînţelegere este exploatată de cei care sunt împotriva concursului, fiindcă ar crea romane proaste şi pentru că presiunea unui termen şi a unui număr de cuvinte/zi nu este pentru oricine.)

Rezultatul activităţii de anul trecut este un început de roman numit Preţul libertăţii”, o trilogie din care am 70% din primul volum (“Îngerul cu sabie”) scris anul trecut. Acesta va fi continuat în timpul sesiunilor Camp NaNoWriMo din 2018. Volumele doi şi trei se vor intitula Fraţi de cruce şi, respectiv, Surori regăsite”. Am deja o parte din ideile pentru ele. Şi eu întotdeauna termin ceea ce încep.

Anul acesta voi continua Vieți în vâltoare”, cu un al treilea volum care va putea fi citit şi individual, intitulat Alte vâltori ale vieţii. Un roman western, situat în zona Saint Louis în perioada 1804-1830, o perioadă foarte darnică în vâltori ale istoriei.

Iar grupul NaNoWriMo din Bucureşti s-a întărit. La întâlnirea de debut, desfăşurată duminică, 29.10.2017, la Bohemia Tea House, am fost zece graţii dornice de a răspunde provocării productivităţii literare în diferite domenii, de la fantezie la fan-fiction şi până la poveşti pentru copii.

10 Nano cucuiete

Zece persoane de diferite vârste şi profesii, care nu s-ar fi întâlnit niciodată altfel, deşi au scrisul ca pasiune comună.  Unele dintre noi nu au avut în jurul lor până acum pe nimeni care să le înţeleagă pasiunea pentru scris, să le motiveze şi să le poată ajuta. Mă bucur că ne-am întâlnit, sub coordonarea Ralucăi, şi anul acesta!

Vă urez succes tuturor şi, anul acesta, sperăm să câştige mai mult de cinci din grup!

 

 

Călătorie prin Vlăhia mare – de azi, de ieri și de odinioară

Am descoperit pe multele cărări neexplorate ale internetului linkul către o arhivă a unei scrieri pe care o publicasem demult, la sfatul cuiva care nu mai este în viață, Dumnezeu   să-l odihnească, într-o revistă online intitulată NEAMUL ROMÂNESC.

Calatorie prin Vlahia mare

Povestea a fost scrisă în 1999, conținând amintiri din două călătorii în Grecia, din 1999 (AZI) și, respectiv, 1994 (IERI). ODINIOARĂ este istoria…

Și, bineînțeles, scriitoarea de astăzi nu mai crede tot ce credea cea de acum 18 ani. Timpul trece, oamenii învață și evoluează. Anumite realități, din păcate, nu se pot schimba în bine, în tot acest timp…

A March Amulet For You All

martisor_potcoava1_zpsa18d7635I am offering each of you a March amulet, according to the tradition in my country, to bring you good luck, happiness, love, good health and everything else you wish. Well, my wishes for you include inspired muses too.

The 1st of March is the traditional holiday of the March amulet, day when Romanians celebrate the coming of spring. In most parts of Romania, on this day girls and women receive “March amulets” from men. In some areas of Moldavia, there still exists the ancient custom that men receive also a “March amulet” from women. “March amulets” are bicolor (white and red) twisted braids to which various figurines are bound. They celebrate the rebirth of life after the hard winter.

The name ‘Martisor’ comes from the God Mars (Marte, in Romanian) which was celebrated in March (Martie). According to the Roman calendar, it was then when they celebrated the beginning of the year on those times. The amulet called Martisor became a traditional gift for the New Year’s Eve, which was supposed to bring luck and happiness. It has remained a March celebration even after the new calendar was adopted. Now it is a happy celebration of Spring which comes to brighten our days after so much snow and freeze.

“March amulets” bring happiness and luck and are worn at sight (pinned on the blouse or around the wrist) for one week, until the 9th of March. The March amulet is a Romanian tradition more than 8,000 years old, as the earliest proofs of this holiday discovered by archeologists showed.

martisoare_zps0f04a039

The pin-charm could only be made during the winter months and worn after March 1st. In earlier times, little silver coins were tied on a thin, twisted black and white or red and white wool rope. The coin charms were originally used to provide both luck for the future and protection from the environment to the wearer. The ropes stood for the advent of summer, warmth, and regeneration, while intertwined with the constant presence of winter, cold, and death. The amulets were also believed to enhance fertility, provide beauty and prevent sunburn in women. Young girls even threw the amulets toward the sun to prevent freckles. They were worn on the wrist or pinned over the heart. Many wore the pins until trees began to bloom, hanging the amulets in the tree branches after that point.

As in all traditional cultures, based on a dualist mentality, March was the time when the old and the new, the good and the evil confronted. For young people, it meant ritual games, gift-giving, and the well-known March amulets.These “tokens” of an old culture survived. We can find them in jewelry shops, sold by street vendors, everywhere, a sign of love, appreciation, respect, everybody is happy to receive.

In ancient times it was a silver or gold coin suspended on a white-and-red braided thread with a silk tassel. Red symbolizes love and white symbolizes purity. This tradition is also considered to welcome in Spring time – by uniting Winter (red) and Summer (white). Parents customarily tied around their children’s wrist, young men offered to young women, and young women used to exchange among themselves was believed to bring good luck, good health, “like pure silver, like the river stone, like the seashell”.

The March amulet is offered early morning on the first day of March; it used to be worn for 9-12 days, sometimes until the first tree would bloom when it was hung on a flowering branch to bring good luck to its bearer. The recipient used to wear it around his neck until he would see a blooming rose and the present was then placed on its branch; in this way Spring was poetically welcomed.

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This custom began as a magical gift meant for protection against evil spirits of the winter-ending. Even doors of homes and stables were knotted with white-red thread for protection! Now, family members, friends and sweethearts exchange symbolic pins – any jewelry or (more often) trinket, generally with symbols of spring (flowers, leafs, birds, ladybugs), good luck (four-leaf clover, horseshoe, chimney-sweeper), love (a couple kissing, a heart, etc.). Recipients wear the pins beginning March 1st for one to two weeks. If a person wears many March Amulets it shows they are held in very high esteem by friends and family. In this regard, the charms are also a status symbol.

In most places of Romania only females can receive amulets. (But I sent also to males abroad, when corresponding with them, to know how it is, and some liked them very much!)

In Moldavia (both the one still part of Romania and the Republic of Moldavia), all persons can receive a little March amulet – and mainly boys. In Bulgaria also everybody can receive a March amulet, but they have only the threads, without any trinkets. (The boy and girl made of red and white thread offered above is a Bulgarian [b][i]Martenitsa[/i][/b], as they call it!)

In Northern Greece, only children (both girls and boys) can receive it, and it remained a coin put at the wrist or at the neck by the thread.

I gave one to each of you! The ones who want to know the legends of March amulets please click on this link.

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In modern times, the pins lost their talisman properties and became symbols of love. The delicate silk or wool ropes are still a “cottage industry” among the country people today. They still comb out the wool, dye the floss, and twist it into thousands of tassels. But now students can make them too. Or some, unfortunately, are made in China the most recent years.

The March amulets can be made now of gold, silver, or any metal, but also of plastic, glass, cloth, shells or even feathers. Some have the form of an animal, bird, bug or cartoon characters, flowers etc. The most representative are the 4 leaf clover, the horseshoe and the chimney sweeper which are the symbols for luck. All the men and boys are giving these amulets to women and girls, not only the husbands or sons or lovers, but also bosses, colleagues from school or from work.