Tag Archive | character: ruan

“…and Thou,” a story of the Aunt Family for the Giraffe Call.

For [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt.

The Aunt Family has a landing page here.

“Where, exactly, is it that you are taking me?” Ruan was trying not to be short with Johias. He had really been being a dear lately, helping her weed out a cousin’s estate, working with her on the automatic tarot machine, and helping her with that blasted demon that had been stuck in one of Tansy’s messier pigeonholes (her late Aunt had, if nothing else, developed some impressive pigeonhole technology. They would be studying the science behind that for the rest of their lives, and, likely, their heirs would be doing so, too).

“Somewhere.” Johias was, despite his recent darling behavior, making it very hard to not snap at him. Very, very difficult. “You’ll enjoy it when we get there.”

“Sir, you are acting in a fashion I do not find in the least appealing. Bundling me into your automobile without as much as a hellow-how-are-you, and then refusing to tell me what we are doing, and, I will note, you appear to have finally tuned your aetheric dampers properly and I am very displeased with you right now!”

And now she’d done it. He was going to snap back at her and they’d have a fight, and there’d been a few of those, with the pigeonhole project, and they were awful, especially with both their families hanging on every sign of discontent.

Ruan tensed, but Johias, instead of yelling back at her, laughed. “Ah, Ruan,” he chuckled, “I deserved that. But if you will bear with me just one more minute, I promise it will all be clear.”

“One more minute,” she allowed, attempting not to sulk at him. Sulking was, in the very least, unattractive, undignified, and not at all ladylike.

“And there. Than you, my darling woman.” He stopped the car and got out, offering her a hand out. His other hand, she noted, was carrying a basket. She bit her lip, refusing to ask any more questions.

“It is such a lovely day,” he explained, leading her in the dimming sunlight to the top of the hill, “and we’ve been cooped up inside all spring and into the summer. So, what is it the poet said…? ‘A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread-and Thou?'” He pulled a blanket from the basket, and lay it out over the grass. “Would you sit with me, Ruan, and watch the sun sink low over the reservist?”

“Oh, Johias,” she began, even as, a twinkle in his eye, he added, “I hear there’s a phenomenon that only occurs at sunset here. I think we’ve enough time to study it over our wine.”

“Oh, Johias!” she repeated, as they both, laughing, sank down onto the blanket to watch the water.

The line is from “From Omar Khayyam, Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Persian Poet‘s verses.

I originally learned it out of context, and use it here, again, out of context.

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(Aunt) Ruan, for an Icon

Ruan, in her lab, holding a pair of tongs (in the conservatory with the candlestick?)

Hair is like the bob on the left, red.

What we can see of her dress is something like this on the left, though I think she prefers colors to neutrals.

She is wearing over the dress, however, an apron. Must be tidy.

And, of course,

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Aetheric Cleansing

For JanetMiles‘s commissioned prompt.

After Estate (LJ) and Lost Spirits (LJ)

and in the same setting as Heirlooms and Old lace (Lj)

“Three liters of water, boiling, with four cc of salt and one cc of rue. Testing with item one-seven-seven, ivory and brass dip pen.”

“Got it,” Johias nodded, and then, a moment later, “no. The aetheric resonances are still off the scale. What was your aunt up to, Ruan?”

“Wish I knew,” she sighed, pulling the pen out of the boiling water. “What’s next, salt, angel’s-tears, and holy water?”

“That’s after the holy water with rue. Here.” He handed her a towel, which she used to carefully wipe down the pen. There was no ghost inhabiting this one, yet, and if they were successful, there never would be. “Talking to the ghosts, they don’t even all seem to have known the woman. I suppose they still could have wronged her, if she was the sort to take offense at small things…”

“She was the sort to bind spirits into torment for her pleasure – well, for whatever purpose she had. I’m glad I didn’t ever get to know her. Holy water with rue, three liters boiling, one cc fresh.”

“You know,” he pondered, as he readied the aetheric detector, “it’s possible she had one of these set up for herself, as well.”

Ruan froze. “You think my father’s sister is in one of the ghost traps?” It still felt wrong to call Tansy an aunt.

“Well, it’s a possibility, at least. We haven’t checked for non-vocal ghosts because the ones we found were so very vocal.”

“I…” She dunked the pen very aggressively into the water and counted down seconds. “Ten.”

“Less aetheric resonance, we’re down to a measurable number. Nine point seven five.”

“That’s at least an improvement. Johais – I don’t like this woman very much.”

“I can’t say I fault you. Well, we could, perhaps, get some answers out of her if we did find her.”

“We could,” she admitted slowly, taking a towel and drying off the pen again. “All right, let’s try the salted holy water.”

“You don’t like the idea?” He aimed the detector at the third pot of water.

“Everything about the woman makes my skin crawl. She was evil, Johais, and that is not a word I use lightly. Evil, nasty, impolite… and I worry that she could, in some way, rub off on me. I don’t want to wake up evil.”

Johais kissed her forehead, just over the goggles, carefully. “Very unlikely.”

“Thank you.” They were alone, so she let the giddy smile she was feeling come out, just for a moment. “But you don’t know my family.”

“I have, to date, met thirty-five members of your family, counting the men, and that’s all your mother’s side. I’ve met four members of your father’s family, one of whom was, at the time, a ghost. I have a pretty good idea what your kin are like, my beloved. And I can easily see which family members you take after, and which you do not – and this one, this evil witch, if I may be so bold, is nothing like you.”

“You say the sweetest things. Holy water, three liters from St. James on East and Main, with three cc’s of salt and one drop of angel’s-tears, which, I will note, we’re almost out of.”


She dipped the pen into the concoction, not, by this point, expecting much result. They had tried every suggestion from every aunt, cousin, grandmother, friend, quack, and even a couple from her father and uncles, and, to date, holy or not, water or vodka, nothing had given them the results they’d been looking for (although the blessed vodka had burst into flames, carrying with it a beautiful mother-of-pearl cigarette case said to belong to a former burlesque dancer).

“And… oh, my. That did it, Ruan. The aetheric reading just dropped to zero. Ruan, I think we found the solution… pardon the pun.” Johais was smiling from ear to ear as he set down the aetheric detector and hugged her tightly and rather inappropriately.

She didn’t mind. She pulled the pen out of the water and set it aside to hug him back properly, and, even less appropriately, kiss him very firmly on the lips. “You,” she murmured, “you wonderful man. I could not have done it without you.”

“I wouldn’t have had it to help with without you. This is a brilliant project, Ruan, a concrete application of research. And we succeeded!” The man’s glasses were fogging up, he was so happy.

“Once,” she pointed out. “Once, and with a very rare and difficult-to-obtain component. And we won’t know if we succeeded, in truth, until poor Mr. Anthony passes away.”

“Well, we have achieved something, at least! That’s… Ruan, did you kiss me?”

“I did. And you kissed me back.” Her own goggles were fogging as well; it had been a nice kiss, but not, she thought, quite that nice. “It was very pleasant.” She pulled the goggles off to clean them on the hem of her apron.

“It… what would your father say?”

“At this point, I believe ‘thank goodness you’ve managed to do something at all about Tansy’s mess.’ He’s quite embarrassed about the whole thing.” It wasn’t her goggles, she realized; the salted holy water was steaming over. She turned off the stove and moved it from the burner, then, to be safe, moved all the other vessels as well. The holy components had, after all, reacted very strangely to Tansy’s possibly-damned-artifacts. “Could you point the aetheric meter at the water, please?”

“That wasn’t quite what… well. Yes. But then I’d like to discuss this kiss again, if you don’t mind.” He stepped back away from her to point the boxy machine at the steaming water. “Ah… one moment, my glasses… hrm. Do did we simply transfer the aetheric connection into the water?”

She peered at the meter. “I don’t think so. There’s not nearly enough resonance left for that. It does make me wonder, though – and worry about pouring the water down the drain. Perhaps if we let it sit? As long as it doesn’t evaporate – I’d hate someone to die and then be bound to individual water particles throughout the world.”

“But it would be awfully convenient to know when he died.” Johais set down the meter and wiped his glasses off again. “Ruan, you kissed me.”

“Would you like me to do so again? To compare the results, of course, purely scientifically.”

“I do not believe there is anything at all scientific about what I am feeling, unless one wants to delve into biology. Quite messy.” The steam was curling his hair – and hers – and both goggles and glasses were fogged again.

“Johais, I’m fairly certain that whatever happens between us, it is going to be both biologic and messy.”

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Lost Spirits – for the Giraffe Call (AuntVerse)

For an anonymous prompt.

In the same setting, 2 “generations” earlier, as Heirlooms and Old lace (Lj), and directly after Estate (LJ) – The Aunt’Verse.

Commenters: 4

It started with her late Aunt Tansy’s attic of mysteries.

The ghosts couldn’t, it seemed, be released from the objects Tansy had bound them into. What the woman had done, Ruan still didn’t know, but the ghosts were trapped. The best that could be done was to give them a one-mile “leash,” so that they could wander from their prison.

That led to an uncomfortable house full of disconsolate ghosts, however, and, with Ruan still trying to figure out the traps laid in the un-ghosted objects, they were a distraction she really didn’t need.

She called on her Aunt Elenora, who was willing to take one of the tethered ghosts – Imogene the mouthy, who settled in happily to a life as Auntie El’s hat. Elenora spoke to some of her friends, managing to contact a friend’s sister’s second daughter, who took the cranky banker in a tie tack off of Ruan’s hands.

The daughter knew of a guy who worked well with the otherworld, and he (Johias) was more than willing to help Ruan work on the mystery of her Aunt’s trapped objects. He was also willing to take Willard-the-cigarette-holder off her hands, and, she noted, was also very handsome, and not without his own charm.

Resolving not to introduce Johias to her sisters, Ruan arranged a number of “safe” meetings with him where they could discuss the matter of Tansy’s collection. He had some innovative ideas about the traps, and they worked on testing them and putting them into practice, but, now and then, another object in the attic would start screaming angrily, as, somewhere, someone died and was sucked into their own personalized ghost trap.

That meant more ghosts to place, or more ghosts wandering around the house throwing things and tantrums and refusing to admit that sulking did nothing to help the situation. Ruan spoke to her aunts, and her aunts’s friends, Johais spoke to his family and friends, both of them to former teachers and former associates.

Finally, having exhausted aunts, cousins, and three-times-removed relations, Ruan and Johias began advertising discreetly in certain publications that catered to a certain audience: Free to a good home: Lost spirits.

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Estate – for the Giraffe Call

For rix_scaedu‘s prompt.

In the same setting, 2 “generations” earlier, as Heirlooms and Old lace (Lj) – The Aunt’Verse.

Commenters: 7

“What have we here?”

Ruan wasn’t so much talking to herself as she was talking to the hodgepodge she was looking through. Her Aunt Tansy hadn’t been, as they say, The Aunt – she was a paternal aunt, for one thing, totally not the right sort, and Ruan’s Aunt Elenora was still alive and well – but the family tradition seemed to hold anyway. Her father’s sister had taken a long walk into the ocean, and it was left to Ruan to clean up her mess.

To be fair, the woman’s attic wasn’t actually messy. Aunt Tansy had had, like Ruan’s father did, a very tidy mind. Everything was on its own shelf or in its own cubbyhole, labeled tidily in a left-leaning cursive that was probably Tansy’s. (she had been told, by her father’s other sister, that nobody had been allowed past Tansy’s sitting room in twenty years. The sister had seemed offended that Ruan had gotten the job.) There was even, in the same leggy script, a catalogue.

That was what intrigued Ruan. Her mother’s family was known to collect some strange things, although not nearly as tidily as Tansy had. But the descriptions here were less descriptions and more names.

Imogene Octavia Workman – red cloche hat with blue ribbon – June 7th, 1905
Cleo Bond – broken bootlace (in manila envelope) – July 15th, 1905
Olivia Twila Saunders – Left shoe, black leather with buckle – October 12th, 1912
Duncan Levy – 3 red buttons, metal (in cigar box) – December 25th, 1914
Willard Ellison – cigarette holder, ivory with ebony inlays (in silk purse) – March 2nd, 1916
Rhoda Burks – three beads from a fringe, glass, peacock blue (in wine glass) – October 27th, 1929

There were well over three hundred entries, each corresponding to a place on a shelf and an object to match. The three beads from the fringe were the last entry, the day before Black Tuesday.

Several entries had check marks next to them – perhaps five, out of the entire book. Ruan picked one of those – the red cloche hat with the blue ribbon, high on a shelf between an ice skate and a primer, and pulled it down, using Tansy’s surprisingly-sturdy stepladder to reach.

The hat nearly jumped at her, pushing her off the ladder and landing her on a rack of winter jackets. The ribbon seemed electric, sending shocks through her fingers, while it tried at the same time to twist around her wrists. Faintly, as if from very far away, she heard: “I’ll get you, I’ll get you, you nasty old harridan, can’t stand to see others having fun! Let me out! Let me OUT of here!”

“Peace, peace,” Ruan said hastily. “This isn’t Tansy. Peace.”

“I’ll give you peace, you… what? Not Tansy? Who?”

“Her niece. Tansy… is gone. Hrmm. Imogene? Imogene Workman?”

“Yes?” Now the voice sounded cautious.

“All right, Imogene. I’m going to work on getting you out of there.”

Three Glass Beads, Peacock Blue

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