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Subject: Crystal Amethyst Rose Newsgroups: alt.callahans From: Steve Savitzky (steve@Advansoft.COM) Date: 1990-08-07 00:23:11 PST Organization Grand Central Starport It is dark night; the wild wind blows over the place where the barbecue was held the day before. Perhaps there are voices in the wind. Steve and Colleen Savitzky come in, without their usual preliminary play of teddybear and cheshire cat, and order Scotch. Steve wears a black turtleneck; Colleen a black dress, and a necklace with an amethyst pendant, with a tiny rose on it. They stand at the chalkline, drink, and hurl their glasses. "To Crystal Amethyst Rose!" they say together, then walk off to a table in a dark corner where, perhaps, some other grieving people await them. Under their two dollar bills on the bar they have left a small card, edged in black. Mike holds it up and says, "I think this explains it." It says, CRYSTAL AMETHYST ROSE We'd have called her Amy if she'd lived: Amethyst Rose. She might have been like her sister, tall, with wavy hair, Perhaps she would have had her mother's eyes. She slipped away from us before she was born. In the cold hours after midnight her mother bore her. In the old days they would have said the Fair Folk Had stolen our child and left a cold stone in her place. We told them her name was Crystal Amethyst. We had no child to hold, so we held each other. We cried for her, for she would never cry. She left us only memories, and the echo of her name; Left us before we could say goodby. In the fields of the Fair Folk, somewhere outside of time, A girl who was never our child laughs and plays. From a tree with obsidian thorns and leaves of jade, She breaks a blooming crystal amethyst rose. ********************************** * In loving memory of * * Crystal Amethyst Rose Savitzky * * born: August 4, 1990 * * died: sometime in July * ********************************** Copyright 1990 Stephen Savitzky. All rights reserved.
Subject: Life and Death and Amethyst Rose Newsgroups: alt.callahans From: Steve Savitzky (steve@Advansoft.COM) Date: 1991-08-05 02:06:32 PST The Mandelbear is sitting on a bench next to an X-window. In what passes for his lap, a large reddish-brown Cheshire cat lies sleeping. A little kitten, like a ball of fluff, is curled up on the floor between his feet. As he sits and strokes the cat, he gradually changes from ursine fractal to ursine human, and as Steve Savitzky he says "We took our six-year-old pet monster Katy to the county fair today; Colleen's all tired out. I'm going to make the happy announcement first: she's pregnant again. We just found out about a week ago, and we won't hear about the lab work until Thursday. We have our fingers crossed-- Colleen's almost forty, and it's pretty iffy. At least her blood pressure is under control now." He looks back at the X-window. Outside is a landscape rich and strange: a forest clearing seemingly sculpted in stone. There are trees with bark of reddish sandstone, others of dark quartz with burls of calcedony. A few jade leaves, green fading to brown, lie on sand as black as night and almost as fine as moondust. Ferns with fronds of malachite grow in profusion. Back at the edge of the clearing, under the shadow of a huge tree, is a bush with leaves of the purest dark-green jade, and thorns of black obsidian, needle-sharp. On it grows an amethyst rose, shining not with the flat sheen of something carved and polished, but the the cool, hard glitter of a myriad crystal facets. For a long time nothing moves. The glade rests in the stillness of a place where time has no meaning, where a year of seasons and sorrows can be cast aside as if it had never been. By the rose bush stands a girl. She is hard to see; sometimes she has the features of a baby, only one year old; other times she might be six or seven, or perhaps as old as twelve. Her hair--is it dark brown?--has been tossed by a wind that now is still. Her eyes--you cannot see them, but her eyes are grey, with flecks of pure gold, and wise beyond her years. Without seeming to move, without disturbing the stillness of the stone, she breaks the stem that holds the crystaline rose and offers it through the window to the grey-haired man who sits there watching her through a blur of tears. She takes a tear from his eye and brings it back with her to the place of stone and silence, where it glitters, gem-like, in her hand for a moment as she turns back toward the rose that still blooms, unbroken, at the edge of the glade. Gradually the scene in the window fades; it seems an ordinary window now, and in the distance you can see a grove of trees at the top of a grassy hill, at the edge of a forest. There is a rosebush growing there, planted a year ago tonight. The man sits by the window, holding the amethyst rose as if it were a newborn child. There is blood on his sleeve where the thorns have pierced his arm. Someone has put a glass in his hand; he drinks it, something warm and smooth, dark wine the color of blood. "I have three children now: one six years old, one as yet unborn and perhaps never to be, and one who was born a year ago tonight, already dead." He raises his empty glass. "To Crystal Amethyst Rose." The glass shatters with a sound like the echo of a child's laughter; blue fire licks at the wine upon the shards. Steve gathers his small, sleeping family in his arms: a cat, a kitten, and a crystal flower; and goes out into the darkness to sit for a while on a grassy hill where a single rose bush blooms. ... Come away, Oh human child, To the waters and the wild, With a fairy hand in hand, From a world more full of weeping Than you can understand. W. B. Yeats (from "The Stolen Child")
(There was no post in 1992; the following explains why)
Subject: Re: The Golden Gryphon Speaks Newsgroups: alt.callahans From: Steve Savitzky (steve@Advansoft.COM) Date: 1992-07-25 09:22:46 PST "Glad you liked my music," says the Mandelbear. "Unfortunately we'll be out of the SF Bay Area between July 26 and Aug. 10 (visiting parents in CT), so any party plans will have to be made on somewhat short notice. In any case you ought to be able to drive over the hill to San Jose on Wednesday, which is Grand Central Starport's weekly open house, and well-attended by Callahans folk. See you!"
(... followed shortly by the following:)
Subject: The Mandelbear resumes (pun intended) Newsgroups: alt.callahans From: Steve Savitzky (steve@Advansoft.COM) Date: 1992-08-31 12:47:54 PST There is a popping sound near the bar as the Mandelbear appears in his usual configuration as a vaguely ursine, three-dimensional cross- section of a four-dimensional fractal. He looks even fuzzier than usual, being rather tired and about a month behind on the Net. He puts a dollar on the bar. "Genever, Mike; make it a double." Mike pours some greenish liquid from a red ceramic bottle and adds a twist of lemon. "How was the vacation?" "Great--went to Connecticut and New York and Maine and ate lots of lobster. Then we came back and I got *very* busy trying to start a new Computing Resources group. And today we found out that our jobs go away on October 15. Actually, they say they *might* keep a few people around to do 'research', but anyone who would stay and take a 25% pay cut instead of their severence package would have to be pretty desperate. I get the feeling they're hoping everyone will leave, which is exactly what I expect to happen. "So I'm job hunting. I'm looking for something in the SF Bay Area, preferably CS research or advanced development, object-oriented, all that good stuff. Wish me luck." He goes over to the bulletin board and posts three sheets of paper. "The last page is sort of optional--it lists my current research interests and informal publications, like the net. "Oh, yes--my email address will stay good for a month and a half unless I find a new job sooner, but I'll be getting an account on some public access system pretty soon." He goes over to table 28X, picks up Snuggles (his guitar), and starts noodling. People who have heard it before quickly recognize a song called "Mushrooms". ----------------------------- cut here ---------------------------------- R E S U M E STEPHEN R. SAVITZKY [snipped]
Subject: A Rose for Amethyst From: Stephen R. Savitzky (firstname.lastname@example.org.COM) Newsgroups: alt.callahans Date: 1993-08-04 18:34:44 PST A middle-aged man who would be called the Mandelbear if he were in VR is sitting in front of a computer screen, typing. A large part of his mind, though, is someplace far away--in a silent glade where green crystals take the place of grass, in what seems a petrified forest, where a small stone rosebush is always blooming. It has leaves of dark-green jade, and thorns of obsidian sharper than needles, and a single tiny flower of purest amethyst. "Can you see me, Amy?" he asks. "Can you see my tears? It's been three years since you were born, and I miss you still." There is no reply; there never was. There is only the absolute silence of the stones. An X-window opens briefly into Callahans. Snuggles, at table 28X, is softly singing her friend's setting of Yeats's poem, _The Stolen Child_. Some people sing it up-tempo; this setting is in a minor key, haunting, disturbing, with an edge of pain and sorrow in it. "Around this time of year," the Mandelbear says, "I sometimes have trouble knowing what to say when people ask me how many children I have. I have two now--Kathryn and Emerald; they're wonderful. Amethyst Rose was stillborn--did I ever have her? Sometimes she seems like a big part of my life, even though all I will ever have of her is the memory of someone I never met." He quietly orders a glass of dark-red wine, and sips it in silence. When he throws the glass into the fireplace, the dark dregs burn with a flame the color of amethyst. "Farewell again, Amethyst Rose! I love you." He steps back into the shadows, into the X-window, into the silence of the stones. The man wipes away a tear and rises to go back home to his family and friends. Is someone watching from under the eaves of the forest? He will never know.
This ASCII rose came in a reply from The Didi-Sprite:
.-~~-.--. : ) .~ ~ -.\ /.- ~~ . > `. .' < ( .- -. ) `- -.-~ `- -' ~-.- -' ( : ) ~--. : .--~ .-~ .-~ } ~-.-^-.-~ \_ .~ .-~ .~ \ \' \ '_ _ -~ `.`. // . - ~ ~-.__`.`-.// .-~ . - ~ }~ ~ ~-.~-. .' .-~ .-~ :/~-.~-./: /_~_ _ . - ~ ~-.~-._ ~-.<
Subject: Amethyst Rose, August 4, 1990 Newsgroups: alt.callahans From: steve@starport.COM (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: 05 Aug 1994 06:27:54 GMT The light of reality shines dimly on a corner table. Steve and Colleen Savitzky are sitting in a cluttered room lined with books, typing. There is a large flower arrangement on the counter to Steve's right--purple iris and monks-hood, pink roses and carnations, a pink and white stargazer, snapdragons the color of blood. Colleen hates calla lilies. The light flickers; the Mandelbear and Flowercat sit at their table in Callahan's Bar, drinking wine the color of snapdragons. They sit facing the corner, and three X windows. The window on the left shows a beautiful nine-year-old girl with short dark hair, asleep in a hotel room with her grandparents. Katy is three thousand miles away from the cluttered room in California, on her way to Prince Edward Island; she'll be back next Friday. On the right, a two-year-old girl with curly, light brown hair lies sleeping in her bed, head pillowed on a soft brown teddybear almost as big as herself. Emerald is snuggled under a dark blue blanket, clutching a well-loved rabbit; "Ears" was white when he came out of the wash two days ago. The scene in the middle window shimmers, as if seen through a telescope on a warm summer night. Everything in the scene is perfectly still. It shows a grassy clearing in deep forest; the grass glitters slightly; it might be made of peridot, or tourmaline crystals. The trees, too, are of stone; their dark trunks gleam in what might be moonlight. A little to one side in the clearing is a rose-bush. Its dark green leaves appear to be carved of nephrite; obsidian thorns glint dangerously in the half-light. Its single bloom is a delicate purple color, a bud just starting to open, an amethyst rose. The windows darken; the warm night wraps them all in stars. On the table the glasses are empty, and a book lies open to a poem by Yeats--The Stolen Child. Come away, O human child To the waters and the wild With a faery hand in hand, For the world's more full of weeping Than you can understand. If she had lived, Amy would have been four years old today. A man with greying hair and a salt-and-pepper beard walks with his wife to the chalk line. "In late July and early August sometimes when people ask me how many children we have, it's hard to answer precisely. We'll be all right, though, really. Thank you for listening." "Amethyst Rose", they say togther, and their glasses shatter in the fireplace, wreathed in violet flames. They walk out hand in hand into the gentle night.
That year I also posted in alt.pub.coffeehouse.amethyst, prompted by an earlier post:
Subject: Amethyst Rose, August 4, 1990 Newsgroups: alt.pub.coffeehouse.amethyst From: steve@starport.COM (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: 05 Aug 1994 07:26:13 GMT Steve Savitzky is sitting alone at a table, sipping a cafe mocha royale and reading a well-thumbed copy of the collected poems of W. B. Yeats. He puts it down on the table. You sense that he wants to talk. "Ambrosia was asking, about a week ago, about the name of this place," he says to nobody in particular. "Four years ago today, our daughter Amethyst Rose was stillborn. She would have been our second child. "Every year since then I've posted a wistful little memorial of some sort in alt.callahans; you can go read this year's, if you like. It's not as though I'm still grieving, exactly. We only ever wanted two kids, and the ones we have are healthy, happy, and driving us nuts. But it's good to remember. "Little Emerald was two last March; is she our second child or our third? It's hard to say, on a night like this. She's asleep now. Katy, our oldest, is off on a two-week excursion with my parents. Even late at night when she's usually asleep the house feels a little emptier, just knowing she's not here. That's sort of what I feel about Amy. "It's odd. All during the end of July I *look forward* to writing that memorial post. I enjoy doing it. Maybe it's just a good excuse for writing a prose poem, which is something I guess I don't do often enough. Well, it's late, and I'm getting sleepy. Good night, all."
Subject: But not yet quite forgotten... Amethyst Rose Newsgroups: alt.kalbo From: steve@starport.COM (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: Sat, 5 Aug 1995 15:54:19 GMT The Mandelbear crawls out of his tent, blinks at the early morning light, and stretches. He looks much more like a human today than a fractal; the veils between the worlds are wearing thin. In the nomads' desert the campfires all have faded; only a thin stream of smoke rises from a pile of cooling ash. A lizard makes its morning rounds, moving slowly in the still-cool air. The sky is the color of some baby's eyes. In California the morning air is also cool, and the sky is the exact shade of bluish off-white that Steve Savitzky uses for window backgrounds on his computer screen. Thin indeed. He sips his coffee and looks out the window at the fading yellow paint on the house next door. Five minutes ago, more or less, he puts his copy of Yeats' poem _The Stolen Child_ back on the shelf. Fifty years ago, a single bomber takes off for Hiroshima; it will arrive the following morning about this time. Five years, one day, and about six hours ago a baby is stillborn, killed several days before by the effects of untreated high blood pressure in her mother. It will be a few days before her father sets the Yeats poem to music. Five years later, yesterday, he only remembers once or twice that it was August 4th. In the desert, he scoops up a pebble from the sand. An amethyst, of course. Deep within its translucence can be faintly seen another world again; a child of no discernable age walks briefly through a clearing among a stone forest. She looks neither left nor right, and after she is gone there is nothing at all that moves amid the stones. Near one of the trees is a bush with leaves of jade and thorns of black obsidian; it bears a single amethyst rose. He puts the pebble in his pocket, where it will vanish as he goes once more between the worlds. "It's been five years" he says to the desert, and the few now awake in the still-cool morning. The warm winds will take his words to those who come after. "Maybe I won't do this again next year. I looked in the Bar and the Coffeehouse, and no-one seems to have remembered. Just as well; I haven't been to either place in months." He lifts a little cup of Arabic coffee to his lips; it is dark-brown, sweet, and scalding hot, the consistancy of sludge. He raises the empty cup in a little salute before he sets it down. In another world he does the same with a black mug of ordinary coffee, and turns back to the screen where black letters fill a page exactly the color of the sky. A car goes by; the kids will be waking soon. As he fades from the desert he whispers her name again; "Amethyst Rose." The veils between the worlds and times swirl back in place.
A few months earlier there had been a posting to which I had to reply:
Subject: Re: TOAST: TO Cheri Newsgroups: alt.callahans From: steve@starport.COM (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 08:55:44 GMT In-Reply-To: email@example.com's message of 9 Feb 1995 21:31:37 GMT In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com (R. Krum) writes: Ugly <71170.563@CompuServe.COM> says: **deletia*** >So now I tell all of you, remember this: If your heart aches when they're >not there, if it soars when they are, if you see a special smile in your >sleep, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Tell them. Take a chance. Live." >He raises his glass and repeats his toast, this time worded more clearly. >"To Cheri, to the time we never had." Da Boss troll wanders out from under the table, gets a glass from the bar...... "I hear you. I learned a similar lesson many years ago...." He raises the glass high; "To Tracy Michelle......and her little sister, Megan...." "One is gone, and not forgotten, the other is here and may never know her..." "And let us gently remember Amethyst Rose, as well......" "To missed opportunities, sadness in the midst of joy, and to the memories we hold most dear!" <<Crash!>> "I've quoted too much," the Mandelbear says, "but a toast that mentions Amethyst Rose can't go without a reply. I hear you. As you go through life I guess it's inevitable that you accumulate a lot of might-have-been's." He looks out an X-window to where a rose bush blooms in a forest of stone. "Well, it's late, and on the whole I can't complain too much. Here's to our might-have-been's." < * C R A S H * > His glass shatters in the fireplace, and flames the color of amethyst play among the shards.
Subject: Petrified Forest--Amy at six. Newsgroups: alt.kalbo From: steve@starport.COM (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: Mon, 5 Aug 1996 04:10:51 GMT A traveler sits down by the campfire; he is wearing a t-shirt, black pants, and sandals under his worn green cloak, and seems to have been walking for some time. Pinned to his cloak is a broach of amethysts, held in the shape of a rose by a filligree of silver. The thorns are made of obsidian, sharp as memory. At his back a petrified forest fades into gathering twilight. In another part of the net he's been known for years as the Mandelbear, but he is not feeling much like a four-dimensional fractal tonight. ``On the whole, things are going well,'' he says. ``Work is more fascinating than ever--I can say no more for now. My kids are growing up: Katy's starting middle school this year, and Emmy at four is as bright and energetic as ever...'' His voice trails off, and the silence around him deepens. A bird calls outside the window where he is typing; the house across the driveway has acquired a new coat of paint in the passing year. He reviews a year-old file, and one from 1990. ``...sorry; I'm feeling a trifle more mortal than usual tonight. An old friend--my age--is in the hospital recovering from a heart attack and a stroke, and I'm sitting here remembering Amethyst Rose. She'd be starting first grade in the fall, if she had lived.'' A cold breeze blows sparks and smoke from the campfire in his direction; the sparks drift like fireflies among the stone trees at his back, now nearly invisible in the gloom. To those who can see such things they seem taller, whole perhaps, but still to be made of stone. A child's face peers out from behind a bush where a single rose is blooming. It is hard to see in the darkness; night falls swiftly here in the desert, and colors fade to black. The blossom might have been the color of amethyst; the child is gone once more, if indeed she had ever been. Stars come out in the black night; their pale light reveals the stumps of trees that died, smothered in volcanic ash, a million years ago. Sand swirls at their roots. A meteor pierces the stars' veil, fading so fast one hardly has time to greet it before it, too, passes away into memory. Memory, sharp as a carved obsidian thorn on a purple rose. A morbid habit, perhaps? Call it a tradition. He sits staring into the fire the rest of the long, cold night; what he sees in the dark red coals perhaps even he himself will never know. In another world, he shrugs and puts his file away; it's hard to be morbid when your four-year-old daughter has come in and smiled at you, then dashed off to play again. He shakes his head, and sends a post into the waiting darkness of the Net.
Subject: TOAST/return: Amy at 7 Newsgroups: alt.callahans From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: 04 Aug 1997 01:48:15 -0700 For about the last week a shadowy figure has come into the bar unseen, to sit briefly in a dark and cob-webbed corner and listen to the conversation. It nodded from time to time, chuckled occasionally, but said nothing. Sometimes it glanced through an X-window at a distant desert encampment, now empty and windswept. Finally it gets up, and walks toward the bar. It has been -- what, perhaps two years? since this figure has been seen hereabouts; a few old-timers recognize the vaguely ursine, infinitely fuzzy form of the MandelBear. As a three-dimensional cross-section of a four- dimensional fractal, it is naturally somewhat difficult to describe, but those who have plugged z^3 into the formula for the Mandelbrot set instead of z^2 will have noticed the shape, remarkably like a teddybear with a heart-shaped face and two branched antenae, that appears in the positively imaginary half-plane. It seemed appropriate at the time. Passing under the Light of Reality, the MandelBear becomes a slightly tubby, still vaguely ursine man of fifty, with grey hair, a longish beard, black-rimmed glasses, a slightly abstracted expression, and a black T-shirt depicting a large, scowling bald eagle under the words ``I am smiling.'' He does not appear to be. In this form he walks up to the bar and deposits a wrinkled US dollar on it. Mike has already poured a glass of greenish genever gin. He plops a couple of Greek olives into it. ``Been a long time, Steve. How are things?'' ``Well, I've been throwing lots of money at my home computers -- had to have the printer serviced and lost two monitors and a disk. Not to mention the cars. And of course you know what day this is... But the job is fun -- maybe too much fun -- the kids are growing, and Colleen's doing well, so I'm not complaining.'' He quietly sips his genever and eats the olives. After a while he tilts the glass to peer at the fluid level -- it's about a quarter full, which is about right. He walks up to the chalk line and raises the glass. ``Amethyst Rose!'' he says, and launches the glass at the fireplace, where the remaining gin makes a satisfying burst of blue flame around the fragments. ``We have three children, all girls,'' he says in explanation. ``The oldest is 12, the youngest 5. Amy was stillborn, seven years ago today. We're not grieving anymore, but it seems right to honor her somehow, and the August 4th post has become a sort of tradition with me. I still think about her, at odd moments, and wonder what she would have been like.'' He walks back to his corner and brushes away the cobwebs from an X-window. Outside it is twilight; in a glade in a petrified forest a rosebush stands. Its leaves are jade; its thorns are made of obsidian, sharp as knives. It bears seven flowers this year, the pure translucent purple color of amethyst. They glitter like crystal in the waning light. The girl is hard to see. Her hair is dark brown, perhaps, her skin tanned; her face is mostly in shadow. One cannot tell the color of her eyes. She looks over her shoulder as if someone were calling, then reaches out and snaps off the topmost rose. She puts it in her hair with a swift gesture, and sucks her finger where a thorn has pricked it. Then she is gone. In the glade all things are still again; the twilight deepens and the forest sleeps the silent sleep of stone. Where a drop of blood has fallen, a tiny crystal of amethyst has begun to form. As he turns away from the window he hears a guitar played softly, a tune that he wrote seven years ago as a setting for Yeats' poem, ``The Stolen Child.'' He sits, staring into the fire and sings alone, a murmer so quiet that no-one hears at all. Most likely he'll be back.
Subject: TOAST: Amethyst Rose: 8 Newsgroups: alt.callahans From: email@example.com (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: 04 Aug 1998 23:16:13 -0700 ``Hardly seems like any time at all, does it?'' The Mandelbear is at the bar on one of his rare appearances, talking to Mike. ``Do you mean last year, or the last time you were in?'' Mike asks in return. He hesitates a little, reaching for a red ceramic bottle. ``I'm not sure. Genever is fine, Mike; it's a tradition.'' The veil between the worlds is almost gone, now. He looks into the crowded bar, the old fractal persona little more than a name, used only once in all of the last year. Since last August 4th. Mike Callahan pours the pale-green liquid into a glass, and takes a crumpled dollar in exchange. ``I guess with two kids at home and a job that's fun, I don't take the time to keep up with the old Place anymore.'' He takes a few sips, and tips his glass at the barkeep in salute. An aging hacker walks to the chalk line, takes a final sip of gin, and swirls the remainder in the bottom of the glass. He raises it in the general direction of a dusty X-window. ``Our middle daughter was stillborn, eight years ago tonight,'' he says quietly. Then, loudly, ``To Amethyst Rose!'' A little clumsily, he throws the glass into the fireplace. The flames that burst around it are pale lavender, the color of amethyst. ``I'll look in tomorrow,'' he says to Mike in passing. ``I'll be OK; I just need to go someplace where it's quiet. And I promised Colleen a song, though she may be asleep by now.'' He goes over to his usual corner, and stands in front of a pair of dusty X-windows. On his left is a petrified forest, in twilight. A rosebush stands in a little clearing: jade, obsidian thorns, amethyst blossoms. The girl, always difficult to see, is facing away from the window. She seems to be watching something small and white among the trees; it might be a sock puppet. In a moment she will run to see it. The window on the right shows a desert at night-time. A campfire burns in the middle distance; the stars are as bright as gems and cold as ice. The Mandelbear picks up his old guitar, says something inaudible to it, and heads out through the window toward the campfire.
This year there were separate posts in alt.callahans and alt.kalbo:
Subject: From the Petrified Forest: Amethyst Rose: 8 Newsgroups: alt.kalbo From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: 04 Aug 1998 23:59:21 -0700 The Mandelbear comes over a low dune toward the welcoming light of the campfire. For some reason it's always night when he comes to this place. He makes his way by starlight, carrying a small guitar. At his back the hint of a bar-room window fades to blackness; to his left behind him the tall stone trunks of a petrified forest loom in what might have been twilight. Something shimmers there, like starlight reflecting from a crystal petal. Perhaps a trick of the light. Is a pale face watching among the trees? Too dark to tell. He sits down on a rounded stone, pausing briefly to brush aside a dried-out piece of the scum that seems to collect in little-used newsgroups nowadays. ``It's crowded back there,'' he says. ``I made my annual toast to Amethyst Rose just now; she would have been eight years old today, if she had lived.'' He shrugs, makes a vague gesture at the shadows beyond the camp. ``Well, two kids are plenty, and I wouldn't trade our little Emmy for the world -- she turned six this year; cuter and smarter than the rest of us put together. Going to be dangerous in a couple of years.'' He strokes the guitar absently, and adjusts the capo on the second fret. ``I hope nobody minds a couple of songs...''
(There was no post for Amethyst in 1999: the following may perhaps explain it.)
Subject: A bad month for parents Newsgroups: alt.kalbo From: email@example.com (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: 05 Feb 1999 22:23:41 -0800 A weary-looking man walks into the camp; he is wearing a backpack and seems to be dressed for a journey. ``I just wanted to stop by and look at the fire for a bit; I'm off to Florida in the morning to be with my Mom. My father died this afternoon. He'd been seriously ill for about the last year. ``On top of that, it's only a week and a half since my wife's mother died of breast cancer (on Jan. 20). At least Colleen was there when she passed on; I wasn't so fortunate. ``I'm working on memorial web pages, you can find preliminary versions at: http://www.starport.com/suites/Starport/Family/Dad/ http://www.starport.com/suites/Starport/Family/Shirley/ ``I'd been putting off going into that bar over the hill to make a toast for Colleen's Mom; now I guess I have two to make. Maybe when I get back; I probably ought to finish packing.'' Before moving off, he stares into the fire for a long time. He seems to be looking through it; maybe he sees a petrified forest there. Or maybe not.
Subject: Toast. Amethyst. Ten. Newsgroups: alt.callahans,alt.kalbo From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: 04 Aug 2000 23:39:28 -0700 ``...a couple of years, hasn't it?'' Mike asks. The ageing hacker hands him a dollar and reaches for the glass of Genever that he didn't have to ask for. ``Yeah. Colleen's mother died last year, and my father only a month later, so when August 4th came around, well, I guess subconsciously I'd had enough grieving for the year. ``But this is different. Ten years. Ten...'' He takes a long sip from the glass. He's at the chalk line by now -- it's only a couple of steps from the bar. ``Ten years ago a little girl was born -- stillborn. She would have been our second child. Amethyst Rose.'' He stands for a long time, glass held in front of his eyes in silent salute. He seems to be looking someplace beyond it. After what seems a long time he raises the glass a little more, then hurls it into the fireplace. The yellow flames play around the glass. Alcohol burns blue; it's the sodium in the glass that turns the flames bright yellow. The fire dances. The walls between the worlds are very thin by now: the merest cobwebs. It becomes difficult to distinguish the fireplace in the bar from the campfire in the desert; he will go there soon. He picks up the guitar from the chair in the corner where it has waited patiently for his touch; blows away the dust that has gathered under the strings. ``I wrote this setting for Yeats' poem `The Stolen Child' ten years ago,'' he says. ``I thought for sure I'd have recorded it by now; all the sad songs, and the fantasies, and the love songs. Well, I'm sorry, Amy. Maybe by this time next year.'' He plays that song, and another, and the sorrow slowly starts to drain away. Over his right shoulder, not quite out of his line of vision, an X window has opened onto a glade in a petrified forest. It might have been there forever. The leaves of the rosebush, on the edge of the little clearing, are the intense green of nephrite; its open petals are purple. The girl is there, silent, in the shadow. Listening. The color of her cloak cannot be discerned in the dim light; her face is invisible in the hood's darkness. That's as it should be. But her eyes gleam -- or are they stars? The forest recedes; the next window over shows a desert, calm and quiet under the gleaming stars. The campfire in its ring of stones has burned almost to embers: heat shimmers over the bed of red coals. A log settles, and a little swirl of bright sparks rises briefly above it. Someone is playing a wistful tune on the harmonica; the old hacker gathers his cloak about him and joins the circle. Those are stars that were her eyes.
Subject: TOAST: Amethyst Rose -- 11 Newsgroups: alt.callahans,alt.kalbo From: steve@theStarport.org (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: 05 Aug 2001 00:00:34 -0700 "The usual?" Mike asks. He doesn't even wait for the answering nod, just pours a glass of genever and takes a dollar from the Mandelbear. It's late evening on August 4th. The bear takes a few large sips and walks to the chalk line, to stand there with a half-empty glass in his hand. He takes another sip. "Eleven years ago. Iraq had just invaded Kuwait, and the US and its allies set off down the path that would lead, a few months later, to the brief bright bloody violence of the Gulf War. Poul Anderson, Gordy Dickson, MZB, and many others were still alive, my father and my mother-in-law among them. Nobody outside a research lab had heard of the World Wide Web. Linus Torvalds was an obscure grad student, and his announcement of what later became Linux was still a year away. Phrases like 'dot-com' and 'Y2K' were yet to be coined. "And in the cold, dark hours before dawn on August 4th, 1990, our second daughter, Amethyst Rose, was stillborn. I came here; I dreamed a grove of petrified trees, where a rosebush of stone with leaves of jade and obsidian thorns bore blooms of purple amethyst. They're still there, for those with the eyes and memory to see them." He gestures vaguely at a little X window in a dusty corner. "Many of the things I meant to do since then I haven't done. Little of the writing, none of the recordings I meant to make. The end of the 1900's and the start of the Third Millennium have come and gone, and the world's no better for it. The stock that looked for sure like it would put both my kids through college is worth a quarter of what it was two years ago. A Russian grad student is in jail right now, away from his two little kids, because of what he dared to publish. He's in _San Jose_, damnit, not five miles down the road from here, for writing a program that breaks the pitiful encryption on Adobe eBooks. "I wrote a song around the end of last year; part of it goes ...So here's to an age that's departed, And to pictures we drew in the sand; All the dreams that I had when we started Have crumbled to dust in my hand... "Sorry, I'm just feeling a little down right now. Oh." He looks at the glass, seeming slightly befuddled to see it still there in his hand. He licks a little spilled gin off his thumb, and raises the glass. "Amethyst Rose!" He hurls the glass into the fire where it shatters with a satisfying crash; blue flame flickers around the shards. "Um, ah, maybe I should go now." He turns and walks through a small door that opens onto a starlit desert; past the stumps of a petrified forest, cold and shattered in the sand. Faint in the distance, a swirl of gypsy music comes to him on the wind. At length he comes to a campfire in the shelter of a dune; there are music here, and stories, and pale green tea in a wood-fired clay cup. He looks up at the stars that glitter, hard and uncaring in the depths of the desert night. The Milky Way is a white pathway slanting across the black dome of the sky; it's easy to imagine the Egyptian goddess Nut with her dark wings gliding along it, peace and forgetfulness dropping like dew from her feathers. The night is a good place; sand and stone, the moon and the pale stars, the red glow of the fire and the cold wind's quiet whisper along the crest of the dune. The Earth is a small place, after all, and all our troubles smaller still, under the Night's vast velvet tent. It's nearly midnight now; tomorrow is a new day -- good food and joyful music, the noise and bustle of life going on regardless. Ah, well; time to bid the desert goodnight. The Mandelbear wraps himself in an old, green woolen blanket and goes to sleep under the stars and the swirl of the Milky Way. Steve Savitzky bids his teenaged older daughter goodnight, and lumbers off to bed.
Subject: TOAST: Amethyst Rose: 12 Newsgroups: alt.callahans,alt.kalbo From: steve@theStarport.org (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: 03 Aug 2002 23:48:11 -0700 "The usual, Mike," says the Mandelbear, and puts a dollar on the bar. Mike puts a glass of genever in his hand; he takes a sip. His fractal guise falls slowly away, leaving a grey-haired man dressed all in black. "Doing OK this year?" "Better, thanks. I've been a little depressed lately, but tonight -- I guess that every year gets better. The sorrow never goes away, you know, and I wouldn't want it to, but the pain recedes. I'm comfortable with it now; comfortable with the part it plays in my life. I have a place I can go now, when things get really bad." He gestures vaguely; an X-window opens out on a long-familiar scene: a little glade in a forest made of stone. In it stands a bush with leaves of dark- green jade; on it grows a single, crystalline, purple rose. A smaller window briefly shows a woman, her eyes the color of the grey dawn sky, with a touch of sunlit gold. On her breast she wears a little amethyst carved in the shape of a rose, set on a stem of silver. He drinks down most of the gin, and steps to the chalk line. "Twelve years ago I was in the hospital with Colleen, waiting for our second child to be born -- stillborn. She was born in the early morning of August 4th; I've come here every year since then, to raise a glass in her memory: Amethyst Rose." He drains the glass and hurls it into the fire. Blue flames play about the shards. He walks past table 28-X, where the AI's and inanimates hang out. Dust lies heavy on the battered guitar case there; it's been long since the Bear did much singing in the Place. But the little mahogany Martin is light in his hand, and whispers a happy chord in welcome. He adjusts a side-door and walks out, leaving it open for those who wish to hear. Outside is a desert and the stumps of a petrified forest; the night is cool and filled with glittering stars. "I wrote this today; the tune is a little unsettled, I'm afraid. It will have to do." For Amy Copyright 2002 Stephen Savitzky. All rights reserved. For Amethyst Rose (1990) I sometimes have spoken about you But I never did write you a song; It's not that I ever forgot you, Though between us the years have grown long, But now after all that I've been through, the heartache, the laughter, the tears, I'm singing a song for my Amethyst Rose Who's waited for so many years. The flowers of summer are shattered Their stems wrapped in shadow and frost, Their leaves and their petals wind-scattered, Reminders of all we have lost; But one stands alone and unbroken, No matter what bitter wind blows, Of love and remembrance a token, Forever, for Amethyst Rose. Though you never were more than a shadow Stillborn before you could live Still I've always been drawn to your darkness--- Even shadows have something to give. And whenever my dreams have been shattered, And sift through my fingers like sand It's then I remember my Amethyst Rose And dream you are holding my hand. I dream of a petrified forest And gaze at a stone, silent glade Where one crystal flower stands blooming, Her stems and her leaves of green jade; Obsidian thorns sharp as sorrow, And when I've been forgotten for years, Still there in the twilight my Amethyst Rose Will be blooming, untarnished by tears. Most recent version: http://thestarport.org/people/steve/Doc/Songs/for-amy.html [audio] He returns the guitar to its case, pats it gently, and walks back out through the forest. Far in the distance, sheltered by the dunes, a gypsy camp beckons with music and laughter; perhaps by the time he arrives he'll be ready to share. More likely, though, he will stay in the shadows, gazing into a forest glade that only he can see.
Twelve years ago tonight our second daughter was stillborn. Her name is Amethyst Rose. Today I finally wrote a song for her (lyrics) -- somehow I never could do it before. I don't think it's a song I would have -- or could have -- written a dozen years ago.
It's based on my series of annual posts on alt.callahans; you can find them by searching on Google for "amethyst rose". (Maybe this year I'll finally put them on my website.) [as indeed I did]
It's strange... somehow, even the first year after, I've always pictured her as a girl of twelve: dark hair, tall, a sprinkle of freckles on her face. What will become of that image, now that her age has come to match it? I can't tell. But it's a comfortable place now, that fantasy. I imagine I'll be back.( Livejournal 2002-08-04 00:06:00)
Subject: Amethyst Rose: Thirteen Newsgroups: alt.callahans,alt.kalbo From: steve@theStarport.org (Stephen R. Savitzky) Date: 04 Aug 2003 21:40:49 -0700 The Mandelbear threads his way carefully through the crowd at Callahan's Place, and puts a Susie on the bar. The earlier one-dollar coins have never been popular, but the stamp machines in the Post Office give them as change. "Been a while," Mike says as he pours the gin. "How's it going this year?" "I can't complain too much, Mike," the fractal replies. "I'm still employed, still married, and I still have two beautiful kids. The older one just turned 18 this year." He sips his gin. "Time passes. I get depressed sometimes; probably more to do with brain chemistry than what's going on in my life. It's not too bad this year." He takes a few more sips. "I finally got Amy's memorial web page set up last year. Haven't had to do much than touch-up work since then." The gin is nearly gone when he steps up to the chalk line and raises the glass. "Today we would have celebrated our Amy's thirteenth birthday, if she had lived. Amethyst Rose!" He takes a final sip and flings it into the fire. The last bit of alcohol flares blue until the flames pick up sodium yellow from the broken glass. As he stands staring at the fire, someone hands him a guitar. He shrugs, and sings. _For Amy_, the song he wrote last year; then his setting of Yeats' _The Stolen Child_. _Rainbow's Edge_ and _The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of_ for his father. _Keep the Dream Alive_ for the crews of the Challenger and Columbia. So far nobody has told him to stop. "This last one is by Stan Rogers -- sing along if you know it." He launches into _The Mary Ellen Carter_ ... Rise again, rise again; Though your heart it be broken, and life about to end, No matter what you've lost, Be it a home, a love, a friend, Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again!" He puts the guitar back into its case, on its chair at table 28-X. His hand resting gently on its case, he looks out a dusty X window at the forest of stone trees. In the little clearing it is always twilight, and a single amethyst rose glistens in the half-light. Its thorns are obsidian, sharp as grief and cold as the silent space between the stars. A girl, wrapped in a hooded cloak the color of a clear evening sky in the moment before the stars come out, stands at the edge of the clearing. She has always been hard to see. She seems both wise and fey, as if she knows a secret too deep and old for a child to have learned. But no person living has ever heard her speak, and she does not meet his gaze. The Mandelbear shakes his head as if to clear the cobwebs from his brain, and walks out to the desert camp where firelight and dancing, and the quiet hospitality of the nomads are waiting. He will join them soon.
From: steve@theStarport.org (Stephen R. Savitzky) Subject: TOAST: Amethyst Rose: Fourteen Newsgroups: alt.callahans,alt.kalbo Date: 04 Aug 2004 23:20:01 -0700 In the Mandelbear's little home office, his older daughter types furiously to the sound of the little CD the EFF was giving out earlier in the afternoon at their mid-LinuxWorld party to "celebrate the F word" (which is what it said on the front of the flier -- on the back it said simply, "Freedom"). In Callahan's, the vaguely ursine fractal puts a dollar on the bar. "You haven't been back for a long time, have you?" Mike asks. "Going OK?" He hands over a glass of greenish Genever before being asked. "Pretty well." The Mandelbear sips his gin thoughtfully. "Very well, considering the alternatives. Might even get some recording done before the end of the summer. Budget's still tight, but at least I'm happily employed. And I'm not even depressed this year. Maybe it's because I just got back from having a good time at LinuxWorld Expo, we have our usual house full of Wednesday folk, and I just haven't had _time_ to be depressed." "If it works, don't complain." "I don't." He looks at the glass, now mostly empty. "Well, I guess it's time to feed the fire the last of my gin," and steps up to the chalk line. The Light of Reality, along the path, illuminates a middle-aged hacker (you can tell from the FSF "Happy Hacking" T shirt) only slightly greyer than last year. Standing on the chalk line, he says, "Our second daughter, if she hadn't been stillborn, would have been fourteen years old tonight. Her name was Amethyst Rose!" He lobs the glass into the fireplace, where the few remaining drops flare briefly among the yellow flames. Later he sits at a little-used table, alternately sipping another gin and noodling on an old guitar. An X-window, dusty and faded almost to monochrome, shows a clearing in a petrified forest. It is, as always, twilight, under a pearly-grey sky. The girl, always hard to see, seems almost translucent this time. Her eyes are hidden behind the hood of her cloak, but her expression might almost be one of quiet amusement -- or perhaps it is satisfaction. She nods almost imperceptably, then turns away and places her hand on the back of some white creature that might be a unicorn; together they slip silently into the wood. The aging hacker walks, almost unnoticed, out a back door into the starlit sand of a desert, where the Nomads' camp is waiting. The air is chilly under the cloudless sky, and the white band of the Milky Way glows amid the cold stars. He gazes into the fire for a long time under those stars, his back against a stone.
I was busy enough yesterday not to remember that it was an anniversary. That's probably a good thing, on the whole. I may post something on alt.callahans later today; I've sort of gotten out of the usenet habit since the server crashed a few months ago. For now, things are still busy; I'm sitting in the main ballroom at OSCon listening to a keynote on "open source biology" and thinking, in one corner of my mind, about Amethyst Rose.
Possibly painful stuff.
Every once in a while, amid all the horror and tragedy of a world full of war, natural disaster, and human cruelty, you run across something totally unrelated that touches you in a way a half a million homeless refugees and their shattered lives cannot.
This afternoon I read an article in the Health section of the New York Times with the title "A Lost Baby, and the Pain of Endless Reminders in the Mail".
By ALISON GARDY
Published: September 20, 2005
My daughter died in my womb at 31 weeks. It was a freak accident. Her umbilical cord twisted around itself too tightly.
"A lightning strike," my doctor said, "to an otherwise perfectly healthy baby." She had kicked to her heart's delight, developed an intuitive dialogue with her ecstatic mother, and then, suddenly, died.
Six weeks later, my husband, Ira, and I were opening our mailboxes in the vestibule of our building. To my surprise, I pulled out a handful of advertisements for baby products. "The mailman must be on vacation," Ira grumbled.
The indignant author goes on to recount a few more instances of insensitive advertising and product promotions; she will boycott the companies responsible, and I don't blame her a bit. I wish she'd named names in the article. But that's not what I'm here to talk about.
Because I've been there. I am there. Even after fifteen years, I remember what it's like to go from happily bringing baby things down from the attic one weekend, to wondering whether you'll find the strength to put them back the next. I know how a flyer in the mail, a newspaper article, or even the name of a flower can unleash a gale of memories. Not all of them painful, even.
There's no message here. Unlike the Times author, I don't have a point to my ramblings. Just a sudden rush of nostalgia, tinged with a feeling I still, after all this time, can't find the words for. But I can put a name to it: Amethyst Rose.
I'm OK, really. Thanks for listening. Or not, if you skipped the cut tag.
It's been more than a year and a half since I had a news server at home,
and I haven't been reading
alt.callahans much for even longer
-- the traffic just got to be too much, and my writing has moved onto LJ
and the web for the most part. But I still try to make a post on August
4th. It's odd: I don't make a memorial post for my father, or Colleen's
mother, or any of my friends who have passed away. But I make one for
Amethyst Rose, who was never part of my life at all. Maybe that's
Subject: Amethyst Rose: Sweet Sixteen Newsgroups: alt.callahans Date: 04 Aug 2006 22:24:30 -0700 An older, greyer Mandelbear walks into the bar and puts down a dollar. "Been a while", Mike remarks, as he pours the ageing fractal a glass of Boomsma Oude. It's a strange gold-orange, the color of Black Hills gold, or perhaps of the sun about to set, seen across some tropical ocean. The vaguely ursine shape sips his gin and smiles ruefully (we leave the question of how the positively-imaginary half of a four- dimensional fractal manages this feat as an exercise for the reader). "Two years, at least", he says. "I was at OSCON last year, and didn't have a Usenet feed in any case. I should be able to set one up soon, now that my ISP has opened it up to the Net. Might never have found out if I hadn't ssh'ed in to make this post." He sips with a bemused but comfortable air, until the glass is nearly empty. "Well, it's time." He walks to the chalk line; the light of Reality briefly illuminates a middle-aged hacker with grey hair and black wire-rimmed glasses; his long white beard is nearly as fuzzy as his fractal equivalent. "Amethyst Rose!" he says loudly, then lobs the glass into the fireplace with the well-practiced aim of a long-time customer. Yellow and blue flames play among the shards. "Sixteen years ago, in the early hours of the morning, our second daughter was stillborn. We would be celebrating her Sweet Sixteen party right now, if she'd lived. Right now I can't even imagine what that would have been like. But sometimes I wonder... "All the agony has worn off by now, and most of the grief -- there's little left but odd memories and strangely-comforting ghosts. I thought for sure I'd have accomplished more by now, but I guess that's all under the bridge, too. I don't need to dwell on it. "I'm OK," he says, "Thanks for listening." He walks over to Table 28X, where the AIs and robots hang out, and heaves a dusty guitar case out of an equally dusty chair. He pulls out a small-bodied mahogany Martin and picks out a mournful melody that winds around A minor, G, D minor, and C without getting very far. The AI in the guitar synthesizes a quiet, wordless vocal line and just a hint of bass flute. Through an old X Window you can make out a forest clearing. It is always twilight there, and always silent. The trees are of stone; their fallen leaves the colors of feldspar and black flint. The rose bush is still there, its jade leaves dark and glistening in the half-light. Its thorns are obsidian, sharp as the memory of pain. The single amethyst flower seems to glow like a dying fire's final embers. It blooms there, untouched by frost or withering sunlight or careless hand, and will still be blooming long after the forest is forgotten. The girl is very hard to see. Back among the trees at the far side of the clearing is the gleam of eyes, an arm perhaps, the swirl of what might be a party dress; or perhaps it is only a shadow and the memory of a gust of wind. She laughs, silently, and disappears into the darkness. "Time to go, I guess. Wonder whether there are any nomads still hanging around in alt.kalbo. Seemed pretty lonely the last time I looked, but I think I'll drop in and see if the campfire's still there. And if not, it's a good night for gazing at the stars."
Why does a wispy trace of cadhla's "Pretty Little Dead Girl" flit through my mind at this point? Or was that "Mary O'Meara"? There's much to be said for not taking oneself too seriously. I'm sure Amethyst would agree, if she were here. If she were anything like her sisters, she'd no doubt be telling me to shut up and go to bed.
I need to re-record that song, I think. But not tonight.
Talk about a long, strange trip. In about a month I'll be starting work on my next album, which hopefully won't take nearly as long as the first one has. It will be called Amethyst Rose.
Here's why, and what I've been thinking about most of the day."
Subject: TOAST: Amethyst Rose: 17 Newsgroups: alt.callahans Date: 04 Aug 2007 23:30:24 -0700 The Mandelbear, a creature seldom seen in the Place these days, slowly fades into view near the bar. "Been a while, Mike; this is about the only day I come in here nowadays." "Hear you have a CD due out soon," Mike says as he reaches for the dusty bottle of Bols genever. "Aren't you a little old to be starting a career in music?" "When did I first start thinking about an album of computer songs? Twenty years or so ago? Well, they'll be on a UPS truck about this time on August 8th." The fractal shakes its vaguely ursine head, and sips the gin with a slightly befuddled air. "Besides, 60 isn't that old. I didn't notice any hill... "Yeah, *Coffee, Computers, and Song* is done, and I can turn my attention to the next one." He walks up to the chalk line with a nearly-empty glass in his hand, flickering between a strangely bear-shaped fractal and an ageing, white-bearded hacker. He drains the glass and hurls it into the fireplace, where it shatters with a satisfying crash. "Amethyst Rose!" "Seventeen years ago tonight our second daughter was stillborn. For about the last ten years, I've been figuring that my second album would be in her memory. There's going to be about a month of craziness mailing out pre-orders, but about the middle of September I'll be able to get started." He walks over to table 28X, in the corner where the AIs and robots hang out, and opens a dusty guitar case. The guitar blurs a little, uncertain whether to manifest itself as his old Martin O-15, or as a dreadnought packed with circuitry still about 20 years in the future. She settles on the latter, and hums a wordless greeting as he eases her into a drop-D tuning and fingers a D5 chord. "You have your own sorrows, don't you, my Lady? I hope you liked what Callie and I did with your song on the CD." As he plays, the X window in the corner shifts to show a forest clearing. It's always twilight there, always still and silent; the trees are made of stone. A bush with obsidian thorns and leaves of green jade stands, as it always has, near the clearing's left-hand edge. It bears a single amethyst blossom. The girl who seems to live there is always hard to see; tonight she seems to be laughing, though whether in joy or mockery is impossible to tell. She flits among the shadows of the wood, her laughing eyes a crystalline glimmer in the twilight.
The album after that will be called Hacker's Heaven, and will be mostly a mix of computer and space songs.
Subject: TOAST: Amethyst Rose: 18 Newsgroups: alt.callahans Date: 04 Aug 2008 23:07:35 -0700 "Hello, Bear," Mike says, reacheing for the dusty ceramic bottle of Dutch gin. "Haven't seen you in the Place since last year." The Mandelbear nods as he puts a dollar on the counter. "Been a busy year, and fixing my news spool hasn't really been a high priority. Neither has starting the next CD, I'm afraid." "But you got your older daughter married off, I hear. That's something. Congratulations!" "That and a couple of new songs, and new projects. You can congratulate me again if I ever figure out how to pay for the wedding. Ouch! And yet..." The ageing fractal slowly shakes what passes for its head, and sighs deeply. "Our middle daughter would have turned 18 today. Getting ready for college in the fall. I can't help wondering, you know..." He sips his gin quietly, and walks up to the chalk line; the Light of Reality reveals an ageing hacker; his beard still neatly trimmed five months after the wedding. "To Amethyst Rose!" he says, punctuating the words with the crash of the glass in the fireplace. At table 28X, where the AIs and robots like to sit, he opens a battered guitar case that seems to have acquired a few extra stickers since the previous year. "Hi, Lady! So you've decided to stick with the AI persona?" A sparkle of soprano laughter. "Been getting out and around a little, too. You should try it. Now sit down and teach me all your new stuff. Sounds like you've been writing more this year." "Been trying a few new things." As he sings, a rarely-used X window opens on a little clearing in a forest of stone trees. The rosebush, unchanged since the year before, stands on the left-hand side, its obsidian thorns and single deep-purple blossom gleaming softly in the perpetual twilight. The girl who seems to live there, hard to see as always, gazes in silence from where she stands among the trees. At last she nods as if in satisfaction, and turns away, her cloak the color of twilight and shadow swirling around her. Or was it the wind stirring the fallen leaves? "I don't think I'm up for setting this one to music," the Bear says on his way out, "but it's been on my mind of late." He leaves a sheet of paper on the bar. He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. William Butler Yeats, 1899
It says something, I suppose, that for the second year in a row I've let August 4th slip by almost unnoticed. If Moira hadn't mentioned something last night, I probably would have.
Our stillborn middle daughter, Amethyst Rose, would have turned 20 yesterday. You'll find the full collection of annual posts here.
To answer your questions: Yes, I'm really OK. No, I don't mind talking about her. I don't think a child I loved should ever be forgotten, even if I never got to touch her. My next CD will be called Amethyst Rose, and I hope to get back to putting down scratch tracks this weekend.
Thanks for listening.
A man walks into a bar; a bearded, bespectacled geek in his mid-60s; and puts a pair of dollar coins on the bar. This being Callahan's, he is shadowed by a blueish aura, a fractal that looks vaguely like an alien bear with a heart-shaped head and branching antennae. It suits him.
"The usual Genever for me, Mike, and..." he glances at the young woman beside him, her arm around his waist. "Cranberry martini for you, I think?" She nods shyly. "A little light on the gin".
She is an inch or so taller, but clearly his daughter, with dark, slightly wavy hair like his must have been forty years ago, the same nose and face... She has her mother's eyes, though: grey like the sky just before sunrise, with golden highlights. Her skin, also, is like her mother's, pale with a sprinkle of freckles. Very pale.
"I don't have to ask, do I?" the bartender says gently. "And I'm pretty sure they don't have ID where you come from. But I know you turned 21 today -- your drinks are on the house." The man smiles and leaves the coin on the bar -- he knows he'll be wanting another drink tonight.
She is slightly transparent, and vanishes like the Bear's aura when they pass briefly under the light that shows only reality. He deftly takes her glass and hands it back on the other side. They sit for a while, sip their drinks, and chat; more like old friends with years of catching up to do than a father and daughter.
Finally she nods, and they walk over to the chalk line in front of the fireplace, where they stand with her left hand on his shoulder, his arm around her waist.
"Friends," the Bear says, "Allow me to introduce my daughter, Amethyst Rose. She was stillborn twenty-one years ago today, and we've only recently started to get re-acquainted. She prefers to be called Ame now."
He looks at her with what he hopes is an encouraging smile. She laughs lightly. "Silly Daddy. I don't know how often I'll get here; it's a long trip. But I'm glad I'm here."
They raise their mostly-empty glasses. "To coming out!" she says, and looks sternly at him. "Don't say it!"
"To Ame!" They throw their glasses into the fireplace, where they crash and mingle their shards in a cascade of blue flame.
They hug tightly, until she finally lets go and says, "I guess I'd better be going."
"Keep in touch?"
"Of course, silly! You know how to reach me." She turns and walks toward an X-window on the wall.
It shows a twilit clearing among tall trees made of stone; a single rosebush with jade leaves, obsidian thorns, and a single purple blossom stands near the far left edge. She walks through it and the surface ripples like water. The blossom opens as she walks past it into the darkness.
The man stares after her for a moment, blinks, and goes back to the bar. "I think I could use that second drink now," he says.
(DW, callahanians, LJ 2011-08-04)