Bunnies & Leprechauns & Reindeer… oh my!

With Easter around the corner, I wanted to dive into some fiction… not fan fiction or one of my novels, but the origins of the fictional characters related to holidays.

I grew up, and still believe, Easter should be celebrated as the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, but many don’t and as a curious person I wanted to know where the other origins came from.

Easter Sunday –  Easter Bunny 

EB for BlogThe Easter Bunny seems to have been started in Germany, during the 17th century in reference to the Germanic goddess named Ēostre. Before Christianity, the time of Easter was a celebration of Spring. The goddess was associated with new growth, fertility, and dawn. There were feasts in celebration of her until Christians started using this time to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ.

In 1835, Jakob Grimm (yes, one of the Grimm Brothers authors famous for fairy tales), wrote a tale about sacred animal of Ostara or Ēostre. A hare was the goddess’ companion of choice who carried eggs to children. Why eggs? Eggs, of course, being a symbol of new beginning and fertility as well.

So, why do we paint or dye hard boiled eggs and hide them? One origin comes from the Orthodox churches giving up eggs for Lent. In order to keep them from being wasted, they were boiled or roasted and hiding them away until it was time to finally eat them. They were painted or dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ.

St. Patrick’s Day – Leprechauns

leprechaunWhat is St. Patrick’s Day without the image of a little man with a fluffy red beard, dressed in green? Leprechaun’s typically didn’t have anything to do with St. Patrick or his rid of snakes from Ireland which evoked St. Patrick’s Day in the first place, but because those little impish fairies are from Celtic lore and ancient Ireland, the line between St. Patrick’s Day and Leprechaun’s faded.

The word leprechaun comes from the 8th century Celtic word Lú Chorpain or luchorpán meaning little body. It was further corrupted to the word lubrican in 1604, where it was first written into an English play entitled The Honest Whore by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker. The line from the play states: “as for your Irish lubrican, that spirit who by preposterous charms thy lust hath raised in a wrong circle.”

Leprechauns are thought to have been one of the many types of inhabitants in the fairy forts or fairy rings in ancient Ireland. The merry tricksters may have been a modern incarnation of the Euro-Celtic god Lugh (pronounced as Luck), the god of patron arts and crafts.

Valentine’s Day – Cupid

cupidCupid – the winged baby who carries a golden bow and arrow and shoots unsuspecting people in need of love – is from Roman mythology. Cupid is the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. He is known as the god of affection and those arrows of his are magical, golden tipped arrows that have the ability to pierce the hearts of individuals who he deems ready to fall in love. In the original lore, Cupid actually has two types of arrows, the sharp ones to “inject” love, and a blunt tipped one to make two people fall out of love.

But how did Cupid become associated with the lovey-dovey holiday? Well, Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry thanks to a Roman edict decreeing married soldiers did not make good warriors. Priest Valentine wore a ring with a Cupid on it as a symbol of love so soldiers recognize him. And, in a precursor to greeting cards, he handed out paper hearts to remind Christians of their love for God.

Christmas – Santa Claus and his reindeer

St. NickBring on the big guy. Of course, many of us know Santa Claus stems to a monk named St. Nicholas all the way back to 280 A.D. St. Nick was originally from modern-day Turkey and known for his kindness, as he had given away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.  One of his best known stories of giving was how he saved three destitute sisters from being sold into slavery/prostitution by their father by giving the girls  enough of a dowry so they could be married instead. As his popularity spread there were feasts giving in his honor on the anniversary of his death, December 6th.

How did St. Nick’s name turn into Santa Claus though? Well, fast forward to the 18th century in New York. A newspaper reported there were a group of Dutch families who gathered to celebrated the December 6th anniversary of St. Nicholas’ death, but they, of course, used the name Sinter Klaas which is Dutch for Saint Nicholas. In 1804 a man from the New York Historical Society named, John Pintard, distributed woodcuts of Sinter Klaas  or Santa Claus (now Americanized) wearing a blue three-corned hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings, and included Santa filling stockings with toys and fruit hanging over a fireplace. It wasn’t until 1822 with the publication of The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore (though written by Henry Livingston – a huge story for another day), where Santa is known as the jolly old elf, both rosy and rotund, became the image of the Santa Claus we know today.

names-santa-claus-reindeer_de8347f8c5b7bfd9And how does Santa Claus get around? By reindeer, of course! In 1812, American author, Washington Irving  referred to Santa Claus as “riding over the tops of trees in that self-same wagon wherein he brings his yearly presents to children,” but he never mentioned what propelled that wagon. It wasn’t until 1821, with the publication of a sixteen-page booklet entitled, A New Year’s Present to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve Number III” The Children’s Friend (phew, long title!) by an anonymous author, printed by William Gilley, did it mention reindeer: Old Santeclaus with much delight, His reindeer drives this frosty night, O’er chimney tops, and tracks of snow, To bring his yearly gifts to you. 

In 1822, Mr. Gilley was questioned by New York’s Troy Sentinel about why reindeer, and his response was: “Dear Sir, the idea of Santeclaus was not mine, nor was the idea of a reindeer. The author of the tale but submitted the piece with little added information. However, it should be noted that he did mention the reindeer in subsequent correspondence. He stated that far in the north near the Arctic lands, a series of animals exist. These Hoover and antlered animals resemble the reindeer and are both feared and honored by those around.”

An Honorable Mention – Not Associated with a Holiday

The Tooth Fairy

MouseWithTooth-copy-279x300Like most of the mascots mentioned, the origins of the tooth fairy come from some ancient folklore. The tooth fairy is no different. Early Norse and European traditions practiced that when a child lost a baby tooth, it was buried to spare the child from hardships in the next life. The idea of using these teeth for payment stemmed from Vikings using a tand-fe or a tooth fee before leaving for battle. Baby teeth and other items from their children were said to bring them good luck.

The more general tradition of a good fairy coming for children’s teeth was created out of fairy tales and popular literature as the centuries went on. The most popular version of a ‘tooth deity’ is the image of a mouse, who would enter children’s rooms and remove baby teeth. These traditions are more often seen in Russia, Spain and many Asian countries like China. More recently, when the 6th tooth fell out, the child was rewarded with a gift in many northern European countries. The reason for the mouse being synonymous with so many culture’s tooth fairy tradition is the fact that rodents continue to grow their teeth their entire lives. Anthropologists consider a type of ‘sympathetic magic’ a way for believers to transfer good luck or traits to the child who lost the tooth.

 

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Well, I don’t know about you, but I learned a thing or two researching this article today. I hope it was as interesting to me as it was to you. I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend whether it be celebrating the resurrection of Christ, the joy of the vernal equinox, or just a beautiful Sunday with your family.

 

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The Past Isn’t Now

Lately, I’ve been noticing how people on the internet have been “shaming” entertainment works that weren’t made recently and taking offense with things in those shows, songs, and movies. Now, normally I wouldn’t say anything about this thing because people are going to think what they think, but when one of my all-time favorite movies ever, Gone with the Wind, was criticized, I had to say something.

To begin, though, I need to say that I think of myself as a proud, strong woman. I delight in women’s right, and love seeing how women are finally punching back to things that have been wrong in the past. I’ve been a victim of men’s superiority and have been pushed around and not taken seriously for being a woman. I’ve been grabbed, squeezed, kissed when I didn’t want to be kissed and it’s not fun. But here’s the thing… you can’t change the past, you can only learn from it. And this is where I take a stand on history.

So, this thought process started when I was reading an article in the New York Times where it mentioned how movies in the past romanticized women being taken advantage of. No consent was given before the men in the movies simply grabbed them and kissed them. Some of the movies that were mentioned were Gone with the Wind, The Quiet Man, Blade Runner, and surprisingly, Baby Boom. I get it, I do – Rhett kisses Scarlett arrogantly, she struggles against him, but gives into the kiss after a moment, draping her arms around his neck and holding him tight. He was an ass… it was even mentioned it in the movie:

Scarlett: Kathleen, who’s that?
Kathleen: Who?
Scarlett: That man looking at us and smiling. That nasty dog.
Kathleen: Why, dear, that’s Rhett Butler. He’s from Charleston. He has the most terrible reputation.
Scarlett: He looks like… like… he knows what I look like without my shimmy [clothing – a slip].
Kathleen: Scarlett, my dear, he isn’t received. He’s had to spend most of his time up north because his folks in Charleston won’t speak to him. He was expelled from West Point, and then there’s that business about that girl he wouldn’t marry.
Scarlett: Did he… (The girls whisper)
Kathleen: No, but she was ruined just the same.

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With that all, have we forgotten this movie was made in 1938-39? Not only that, it’s based in the 1860s. Yeah, it’s going to have forceful, superior, egotistical white men. It’s going to have slavery. It’s going to have men taking advantage of women. We were just as much property as slaves were and mistreated similarly. Slaves, of course, were treated worse. Gone with the Wind is a glimpse into the past. We have come a very long way since then. Even still, the women that worked on this movie, Vivien Leigh, Butterfly McQueen, Hattie McDaniels, all of these fantastic women were so strong and so beyond their years. Vivien – Scarlett O’Hara, hated kissing Clark Gable. She didn’t hang out with him in between takes, she refused to do many a scene because she plain and simple didn’t want to. Ms. Leigh had a huge voice on set. Butterfly and Hattie did too.

In a time, when civil rights were still in their infancy, both women, who played slaves, refused several scenes such as being hit, certain lines, and other demeaning things they would not do on principle alone. Hattie McDaniel went on to be the first African American person to win an Academy Award ever! She won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress over fellow GWTW actress Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Wilkes).

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Hattie McDaniel, Best Supporting Actress 1940

Back to my point, yeah there are some crappy ways women were portrayed on film, but that’s what happened back then. We can’t judge the movie and television on today’s standards. I also have read in some comments about shows like Seinfeld, Friends, and M*A*S*H, being racist, sexist, agist…etc so on and so forth. Good Lord, what would they say about Leave it to Beaver, Bewitched, All in the Family or Three’s Company? Back in the 60s through the 90s, entertainment was based on those things being funny. No one was sensitive to jokes in those decades, people just laughed. Yeah, they were crass, racist and definitely sexist, and today it wouldn’t be tolerated. But my point is still – you can’t change those shows now, so in that sense you can’t complain about them now either.

It’s the same with songs. Over Christmas this past year there was a lot of hubbub about the song Baby, It’s Cold Outside. People wanted it banned and have it taken off the radio because it romanticized rape culture. This is where I first started shaking my head about the comments I had heard in the public. People, the song was written in 1944! It’s a song about a couple being coy. The woman in the song wanted to stay but knew she would get in trouble with her parents or her public reputation would be ruined if a woman stayed out past curfew with her boyfriend. Listen to the words, she wanted to stay. The man was giving her reasons to stay. Society back then would’ve pegged her as an easy woman if she had stayed. She was not her own woman and yet she wanted to be independent and say, ‘hey yeah, I’ll stay with you’. This is picked up by the line, I ought to say no, no, no, siree, but at least I’m going to say that I tried. She was limited by her family, by her neighborhood, by society. If anything, be upset about that, not about the fact that the guy was giving her reasons to stay if she wanted to.

Oh and the line, “Uhh what’s in this drink?” She wasn’t getting roofied. The way Bette Midler sang this song in For the Boys, accurately depicts what that phrase meant back in the day… the guy had skimped on the alcohol and she wanted more. You can hear in the inflection in her voice that she was doubting there was much alcohol in the drink she’d just asked for.  Remember, it had only been recently in 1944 that the Prohibition had been repealed. People wanted strength in their drink. It was sarcastic. Kind of like, ‘have some coffee with your milk’, to people who like really light coffee – it’s barely coffee. Take a listen:

And speaking of Prohibition, imagine what the old Victorians thought about the flappers in the 1920s?

 

They went from high collared, long skirted fashion to thigh high skirts, frayed up to the waist, and low cut, spaghetti-strapped dresses. Those flappers’ parents must’ve been outraged, but there was nothing they could do about it. Times had changed.

It’s the same way now, but in reverse. Instead of not being able to control the future, we can’t control the past. Please don’t take offense over things in the past that we can’t change. What you can do is learn from it. Take what people did wrong then and make it better from here on out. No more racist jokes, no more pushing women aside in the work place, no more grabbing and kissing us without permission. This is where we teach our children that stuff like this isn’t done anymore and we need to fix it.

 

With Illness Comes Understanding

Over the last two weeks, thanks to a trip a waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells, I’ve been suffering with a severe and aggressive case of viral conjunctivitis. My right eye was scarlet red, leaky, painful, and swollen. I looked like the losing side of a boxing match and it wasn’t pretty.

Besides looking like a mess, I felt like a mess. The virus set off my lymph nodes all down the right side of my head which made me ache everywhere in my head and neck. I could barely sleep. I was treated, and treated myself like a leper, washing constantly so not to pass in this illness to anyone else. Goodness, I even had a system for tissues and which hand touched which eye, so I didn’t cross-contaminate myself. And even though I was super careful, it crossed to my good eye (though not as severely) and both eyes were blurry even with my glasses on. I felt like a walking bomb of germs with a hair trigger setting. To say I was miserable, was a mild description… I was downright awful!

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From the first day to today                       A 13 day span

 

Though the whole time I had to keep going for my family’s sake. My son was recovering from a tonsillectomy and his well being always comes before mine. Once he was settled, then I could take care of myself. But while all this was going on, no matter how pathetic I felt about myself, I tried to pick myself up by saying, “This is nothing compared to what some people have.”

I was brought to a place of humbling understanding thinking about how many people out there have illnesses completely worse? How many people are born with complication and deformities they won’t get rid of in two weeks? These people suffer ten times more than I did and for far greater a time. My stupid eye virus is nothing in the scheme of things.

I felt a sympathy for those with a live-life need for medical attention. If my eye was as miserable as it was, imagine what it’s like to live with Apert Syndrome. The little girl I raised money for this past summer, Hannah “the Warrior Princess” Donnelly, had this affliction. She’s disfigured, breathes with the help of a ventilator, and is constantly in the hospital. If she gets so much as a cold, she’s in a life or death situation. Yet, this is her life, she makes the best of it the best she knows how, and she has a smile in every photo I see of her. Her outlook is so beautiful and yet, here I was sobbing because I looked like (and felt) Rocky Balboa for a couple weeks.

Thinking this way put things into perspective for me. It helped me cope and get through this hiccup, because illness has a way of making one feel pathetic and weak. What I was able to do instead of continuing that downward-spiral thinking was pray for those who have illnesses and disabilities worse than I did. I prayed for their peace, for their mental and physical state, and made sure to check in on them. Even if you, the reader, aren’t religious, by simply reaching out to those with critical needs you’re giving them support and acknowledgement. Perhaps they had been in a bad place mentally and your words hit at the right time. No matter what the situation, hearing from a friend is always a good thing.

Coming Soon in Eryn’s World

Good morning readers, I thought I’d give you a little update on some of the projects I have planned this spring and in the year to come. Writing… writing… writing…. that’s the biggest activity going. My plate is super full of new work. Currently, I’m writing the sixth book in the Falling for Heroes series entitled Falling for Strength. In this book will take place between the end of Falling for Sacrifice and its epilogue. It’s both Miguel and Rowan, Isabel and Alexander’s brothers, stories. Being that both guys were minor characters in Falling for Hope and Falling for Sacrifice, I had an idea to go with dual protagonists for Strength and combine their stories. My lovely story editor, Liam Cross, worked with me over Christmas perfecting the two storylines so they worked fluidly together, and I’m happy to report that this one is going to be AWESOME! I can’t wait to really get into it now that I can handle myself better.

Second and third big project coming later this year: I am very happy to say that I have received the publishing rights to my first two books, Beneath the Wall and The Blue Lute, back! At the start of my career, I was signed with a small publishing company. They gave me the break I needed to get started to where I finally came into my own through independent publishing. But as the years went on so did the interest in those books. They are still amazing stories and excellent books. Beneath the Wall reached #7 on Amazon’s paid list (which at the time was higher ranked than The Hunger Games 1st book – can I get a woohoo!). Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 7.51.47 AM (1)
The Blue Lute didn’t do as well, but I don’t believe it was from the story, but the lack of promotion. Well, we’re going to give those two a new lease on life later on this year with a full revamp – including top-notch editing, extra scenes, and new covers. They babies are going to shine like a bright, new diamond by the time I’m finished with them.

Lastly, hopefully by Christmas I’d like to release a novella prequel story to the Falling for Heroes series. I have a great outline and popping ideas for a story but I’m not sure if it will be a full novel or a collection of short stories catching up on the Hannels and their family and what started them all – the knight and lady who began the whole clan. I still have a ways to go on that one but my idea is to have it out by Christmas.

I hope you’ll stayed and follow me on here and all my social media outlets (just click on any of the icons or links on the side) there’s always so much to explore in the world of Eryn. Thanks for all your support and interest all over you have given me through out these years as being an author!

Closure… and New Beginnings

The end of 2018 was a very tough time for me. I lost my sweet, little dog Marley to a tragic hit-and-run car accident that both my son and I saw happen right in front of us. His death caused a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, and more sadness than I have ever felt in my life. I’ve lost people I’ve loved; I’ve lost other pets, but none like Marley. This fluffy Pomeranian was my heart.

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Marley The Pom 4/10/10 – 10/10/18

He followed me wherever I went. I knew what each bark meant. I knew when he was nervous, tired, hungry, had to pee… we were quite a pair. Then came October 10th, and he was taken from my life in a blink of an eye.

For days and weeks, I was depressed and searching for the answer of why did this happen? What could I have done differently? Nothing came to mind. Nothing was revealed. I went so far as to post a note on several telephone poles and trees in the neighborhood around us saying, “If you are the woman with the beagle or the man in the car that witnessed the car accident involving my sweet Pomeranian, please call me,” and I left my number. (PS, if you don’t know Marley chased after a beagle being walked across the road just before he was hit, and only one gentleman helped by blocking the road with his car and retrieved poor Mar after the hit).

Weeks passed after posting, and no one had answered. I pressed on, praying, focusing on my family, doing my best to write, but the recovery was slow. Writing was difficult and simply just not happening.

 

I had to do something though, I couldn’t keep crumbling. So little by little I let my heart started heal.

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Penny

We adopted two new babies: one female Pomeranian – Penny who is 8 years old, just like Marley was; and a male tried-colored Corgi puppy – Merlin

Merlin

like the other dogs we had several years ago. I came love them both to pieces, but Marley still remained in my mind and soul – as well he should.

 

 

 

Now here we are the first week of 2019 and the ache to cry everyday has stopped, and the will to move on has finally come thanks to one simple phone call I received on Monday night.

A local number popped up on my phone and I answered it with a hesitant hello, since no name was attached. The voice on the other line said, “Eryn? Hi, this is the woman with beagle.”

I jumped from my seat with a gasp and immediately left for the quiet of my bedroom. The woman told me she hadn’t seen the sign before that day because she hadn’t walked that road since the day she witnessed the accident. She, too, was traumatized. She said she thought of me often and was quite shaken up for a few days afterwards.

She and I cried together, remembering that day and putting to rest the events that took Marley’s life. Hearing from her enabled me to close that final door by allowing me to ask the few questions that had yet to be answered.

After hearing from this woman, I feel like I can truly move on now. The only questions I have left hanging are ones I know can’t be answered like, giving the hit-and-run driver a piece of my mind, and what was the ultimate purpose in this happening in my life? One day that driver will be judged and one day, I’ll be able to ask God the meaning of why. And I’m okay with not having those answers for now. Until then, I will regain my focus and move on with my new babies.

 

Reading People

As an author one of the most important things that we do is read people. It’s how we build characters; how we bring them to life. We watch and listen to how people around us act and react to situations. We look for clues in body movements, in eye movements, in the tone of their skin; we see the wrinkles around their lips, their cheeks, by their forehead or bridge of their nose, around their eyes.  We watch for the placement of hands and arms, to the way they are facing, to the strain or relaxation of their chest and shoulders, or the point in which their feet are directed. We listen to the words they use, the inflections of voice, and the volume in which they speak to determine how they are feeling. All these clues reveal what is going on inside a person.

Many times, as humans, we pick up on these clues without thinking about it. For instance, we know someone is uncomfortable if they are fidgeting or flushing a shade of darker pink in their face. People can sense the uneasiness without picking apart all the details, but what happens if that person is not in front of them, like in a book? That’s where paying attention to those details is crucial.

There’s a big rule in writing that says, don’t tell me, show me.  It’s a tough art to master, but when an author can see the difference that’s where a story really pops. And to the point, that’s where reading people comes into play for the author. If we write something like: Jessie went to the store and was frustrated about her favorite ice cream being out of stock. That gets the words across in the scene and tells you what’s going on, but does it convey an image in the readers’ head? Not really.

But what if we wrote: Jessie walked to the store, sweating the entire way. Smacking her dry lips together, she yearned for something cold and sweet and made her way to the freezer full of Ben and Jerry’s. She scanned the shelf, Cherry Garcia was no where to be found. Her already racing heart, pounded through her hand holding the glass door. With a grunt, she slammed the door, and stomped away. That shows the reader so much more without actually saying Jessie was frustrated. It’s telling them through bodily clues that Jessie was  sweating from a walk and smacking her lips together, drawing attention to the fact that she was hot and parched. Scanning the shelf shows the reader she’s looking for her flavor in particular. And when she couldn’t find it, she had a surge of adrenaline and noradrenaline that created anger, which made her throw the door closed and stomp away. The reader feels her frustration of not finding her favorite flavor of ice cream and why she became angry without the author saying she was frustrated and angry. Describing what was happening to the character brings the readers into the story even further, making them part of the character instead of just being an outsider watching a two-dimensional scene.

Beyond writing, I’ve personally found this trait of being able to read people’s body language, tone, and look in their eyes to assess who they are, what’s going on, and can I trust them? As many of you know, I tend to use actors as my inspiration for my characters. I study their movements and words, not just on their roles, but in interviews and social media.

While writing Falling for Sacrifice, I used This is Us actor, Justin Hartley, as my inspiration for Evan Corbett. On the show, Justin plays actor Kevin Pearson who has dealt with being a pawn for his Hollywood series, The Manny. I was able to tap into that for Evan and his role in the dating reality show, Love At Last. Mind you, I wrote my book during the first season of This is Us where not too much was revealed about Kevin. The second season is when they really got into the meat of his character, which is very odd because I was still able to pick things up about him for my character. Like how his focus was on how he looked rather than what his talent was. I wrote this passage in Falling for Sacrifice specifically :

And where he might be in shape, the only thing he ever did with his muscles was show them off on screen. He barely used them for backbreaking work, except for today.

 

Now, as the third season of This is Us has gotten going, I came across this little gem of a quote:

Let’s just say, I was floored and called my editor right away, shrieking about how I wrote something extremely similar and here was Kevin saying it in the actual show many months after I wrote it.

Watching this scene and hearing the quote made me feel so proud. I read this character correctly. I watched how he slept with just anyone at the beginning of the series, how apprehensive he was when his producer made him do a scene shirtless rather than clothed, and how he made sure specific tiny muscles could be seen before filming a crucial scene for a movie. All of that told me that he was unsure of himself, but obsessive at the same time, so therefore he worked out for the looks rather than the ability to lift three boxes at a time. Those clues from the show told me how Kevin was feeling without saying this specific quote until now.  (So Mr. Hartley, if you are reading this… how awesome are you that you had insight into you character that you could portray that feeling three years ago and keep it going all this time. Congratulations, sir. Thank you for your talent, that triggered my own.)

In conclusion, if we as authors do our job right, study people, study their body language, hear their tone, see their personality through their actions, then our characters will be that much better off in the long run. A well-rounded character can make or break a book,  despite the plot and what flowery words we use. If we have a flat character, we have a crappy book, and no one will buy it.

 

 

Fan Fiction Friday: Silly Traditions

Submitted by Christina Gist

Town legend says on Halloween, if you carve the initials of your crush into a pumpkin and leave it on the pedestrian bridge in the park, if it’s meant to be, the pumpkin will mysteriously disappear by morning. Killian does the carving. Emma makes sure he believes the legend is true, and steals away the ES pumpkin she watched him leave there.
PS: this is based on an alternative universe with the Once Upon a Time characters.

Emma laughed as she watched Killian struggle to carry his pumpkin purchase across town. It wasn’t a huge pumpkin, but it was large enough that carrying it home was a rather awkward feat.

“Are you really going to give in to that ridiculous tradition?” she asked.

They’d already carved their own pumpkins for tonight’s festivities, (something they did every year since they’d met back in middle school.) so this was an extra that he’d tacked onto his list of things to do before Halloween was over. “You know that’s just a silly legend, right?”

Killian chuckled. “Legends come from somewhere, Swan.”

“Yeah,” she rolled her eyes. “They’re fun things to tell the kids. There’s no real magic about it, Killian. I thought you were twenty five… not twelve.”

“You’ll see,” he told her, as they walked up to his house. He set the pumpkin on the front porch, then pulled her into a bear hug.

Emma hated it when he did that. It always reminded her of what she could never have. Truth be told, she’d tried the whole pumpkin thing when she was about fourteen. (Not that she’d ever admit it to anyone.)  It was a local legend, that you were to carve your crush’s initials into the pumpkin, then leave it on the pedestrian bridge in the park on Halloween. If it disappeared by morning, it was meant to be.

Her KJ pumpkin had sat untouched.

Now, he was probably going to be equally heartbroken, when his MG pumpkin suffered the same fate.

Killian was head over heels for Milah Gold back in high school, and just three months ago, she’d returned to Storybrooke after her divorce. Emma couldn’t help but notice all the extra time her friend had been spending with Milah since her return, and now, he was carving a pumpkin for her.

It hurt on so many different levels.

“I’ll see you around, Swan.”

“Yeah,” she gave him one last squeeze before pulling away, and making the trek to her own home, three doors down. Ready for the first wave of trick or treaters to bombard the street.

She was sitting on her own porch just a few hours later, the last costumed child long since packed up, and taken home, when she saw him come out of his house, pumpkin in his arms. He loaded it in the back of his truck, then looked over at her house. He gave her a sheepish smile, followed by a wave, almost as if he wasn’t expecting to see her there.

He wasn’t gone long, and upon his return, he quickly made his way over to her place. “You look excited,” she said.

“Perhaps a bit nervous,” he commented. “Should I go out first thing tomorrow, or wait until a little later in the morning?”

Her heart stung a little, but she smiled anyway, “I doubt you’ll get any sleep. You’d better go at sunrise.”

“Would you like to come with me?” he asked.

How could she say no? He looked so happy. She had to be there for her best friend. After all, he’d dealt with all her disastrous relationships. The least she could do was help him find his true love. “Sure.”

His grin was a mile wide when he thanked her. After a quick goodbye, he took off towards his house.

Then, her heart dropped. What if the pumpkin was still there tomorrow morning? He’d be crushed!

Not wanting to see her friend’s morning ruined, she decided giving him a little something to believe in was better than the alternative. She waited until all his lights were out, then made her way down to the park.

There was only one, lone pumpkin on the bridge, and Emma thanked her lucky stars that fate hadn’t decided to have her looking through a sea of them. She took a quick glance to make sure no one was watching, then approached the pumpkin with the big ES initialed on it.

Wait. ES?

Her heart skipped a beat as she stared dumbly at the pumpkin, lit up with a little electronic tea light. This was impossible…Killian Jones was her best friend, and had absolutely zero interest in anything more. He was in love with Milah…right? But clearly, the initials said “ES.” Maybe Edith Smith from the post office? She was cute, sweet, and adored by everyone. Why wouldn’t Killian fancy her?

Deciding she really didn’t have much time (or heart) to mull it over, Emma grabbed the pumpkin, and made her way home.

“Swan!” Killian pounded on her door the next morning -bright and early- as promised. Emma made her way to the incessant knocking, and glanced at the pumpkin, sitting proudly on the kitchen table. She wanted to smile, to believe that the ES was truly for her, but there was a sinking feeling in her stomach that it was probably meant for someone else. Plenty of people had those initials.

“Come on, Swan!” Killian shouted again. Emma sighed, and greeted him at the door.

“Morning,” she smiled, hoping it looked genuine.

“I got you coffee, love,” he held up a large tumbler. “I’m afraid it isn’t that pumpkin spice you seem to enjoy. My coffee maker isn’t exactly fancy.”

“Thank you.” She took the tumbler, and for the first time since last night, she began to feel at ease.

Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last long. When they reached the bridge in the park, and Killian noticed his pumpkin was gone, he wasn’t able to contain his excitement. “I told you!” he exclaimed, running over to the spot where he’d placed the pumpkin. “I told you there was always something to the legend, didn’t I?” He looked over at her, and frowned, “what’s wrong?”

Emma hadn’t realized she’d started crying. Quickly, she wiped her tears away, and shook her head. “Nothing. I’m happy for you, Killian,” she said and started crying again when he rushed back to her. The part of her that wanted to congratulate him was silenced by the part of her that was ridiculously in love with him.

“Don’t cry,” he said as he pulled her into a hug. “I’m sure it isn’t that terrible.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” she asked, a little laugh escaping through her soft sobs.

“I mean, we’ve known each other for most of our lives,” he said, still not making much sense. “Nothing has to change-”

“Killian,” she interrupted. “One of us has no idea what you’re trying to get at.” His efforts at comforting her were only making things worse. What did he mean ‘nothing had to change?’ Everything was going to change!

“The pumpkin.” He let go of her, and pointed to the empty spot. She frowned, remembering the strange initials, and realizing all over again that she was probably losing her best friend to some girl named Edith Smith. Now he was trying to assure Emma that they could still be friends even though he’d found his true love. Killian looked back at her, and started talking again, “I left the pumpkin, and it’s gone…and…” He frowned when he noticed she was anything but happy. “Emma-”

“I’m happy for you,” she lied. Edith was damn lucky.

“Bloody hell,” Killian laughed. “You’ve no idea who’s initials I carved…and you’re upset because…you think it’s someone else.”

“What?”

“Don’t you know, Emma?” He hugged her again, and held her so tight, she thought she might not ever catch her breath. “It’s you.”

“ES?” she guessed, hoping it didn’t give away the fact that she was the pumpkin thief.

“Emma Swan,” he confirmed.

“But…I saw you hanging out with Milah-”

“Milah started working at the restaurant that my office manages,” he said. “So, yes, I see her quite a bit, but it’s strictly business. Like I said, I carved ES into that pumpkin.”

“Not Edith Smith?”

“Dammit, Emma.” He was laughing, so his words didn’t have any bite. “I’ve been in love with you since the day we met.”

“But,” she sniffled, “when I carved my pumpkin… it never disappeared.” She told him about how much faith she’d placed in the legend when she was fourteen. Old enough to know better, young enough to still have hope.

“That’s why you believed this tradition to be silly.”

She nodded, and he held her even tighter.

“Emma… if I’d have known, I would have grabbed that pumpkin the second you placed it.”

She froze, and pulled away. “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” he smiled. “That you aren’t as sneaky as you think you are, deputy. I knew you’d be curious if I mentioned my plans, and I knew if I really laid it on thick, that you’d steal my pumpkin just to make me happy.”

“That’s a complicated way to tell someone you like them,” she said.

“Aye,” he shrugged. “But… we’ve been friends for so long, and I wasn’t quite sure… so I figured if you didn’t feel the same way, I could claim the ES stood for Edith Smith.”

Emma wasn’t sure what to say. For years, she could only think about how much she wished Killian would share her feelings, and now, he was basically telling her they’d both been idiots the entire time. “Do…” her voice cracked as she tried to find it. “…do you think…”

“It’s meant to be?” he asked.

“Yeah.” Her answer was barely above a whisper. What if things didn’t work out, and she lost the one person she loved more than anything?

“I think you worry too much,” he said.

“So… now what?”

“Perhaps we can just take it a day at a time?” He looked down at his shoes. “I mean… if… that’s what you want…”

Emma tried not to giggle when he scratched nervously behind his ear. It was adorable how shy he could get sometimes. Even now, when they were both confessing their feelings for one another, he was unsure. “I think that sounds perfect.”

She couldn’t help but smile when he gave her the same sheepish grin he’d given her the night before. He shuffled his feet a bit, and chuckled. “I suppose we could start with breakfast?”

“How about we start with something I’ve been wanting to do for years?”

It didn’t take him long to figure it out. That morning they shared their first kiss, and when they exchanged their vows the next autumn, neither questioned whether or not it was meant to be.

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As always, if you have a fan fiction you’d like to submit, please visit my CONTACT ME page and send me a note. It doesn’t matter what group you fan over, just send them over. 

And just because I love these characters, here’s a little insight into the world of Jennifer Morrison, Colin O’Donoghue and pumpkins.