Monday, February 04, 2008


An old woman wrapped in a shawl, red in colour, was rocking on her porch. She was enjoying the nice warm sun and slept. The woman was most commonly known as Kozani Shapash and while most knew who she was, nobody knew much about her otherwise. The townsfolk had learned that she was never either generous or stingy, but inbetween. She was not friendly and nor was she rude. Shapash, or Shapa as the little ones called her, remained neutral in everything.

That seemed very much impossible, and some of the town philosophers would contemplate this while sipping their coffee in the local shop in the morning. As far as anyone knew, she had never married nor had children. A very rare few people and a pinch more of other folk did actually know the answer to this question; however they would not be apt to discuss it, even if you could get a hold of them.

Now, one day a stranger came into town and the wind blew, as more than often times it does in these situations, and he entered the local coffee shop. He was a medium-sized man wearing a tan mud-splattered, with a few darker stains that gave a hint of long-splattered blood and even some other non-descript stains, trench coat and a dark moss coloured fedora. He was a traveller most certainly and not one of these touristy loudmouths that the town seemed to get too often these days. He was a brand of traveller that was well-welcomed because he would have stories to tell of worth and kept a certain amount of mystery on his person. What the townsfolk did not know that this was a special brand of traveller, one that was even more rare than usual.

The man, his name Thomas Shriver, ordered a small latté and sat down next to the early afternoon philosophers (who normally discussed how much film has fallen his Federico Fellini and how the producers should have left Orson Welles be or how publishers shouldn’t let 15 yr old boys publish their books and that nothing new is left to write). One of the men with a lime green tea mug leaned forward, “But what about this… You, Winston, can write about the mushrooms and Mark, you do the cats. I’ll write about the socks and-”

“-But I want to do the cats. And why are there cats in this anyways? WHAT are we doing?”

“What do you mean? We decided last time that in order for this to feel right, there needed to be cats.”

“But I don’t like cats, you like-”

“Alright, alright! No cats. How about envelopes?”

“Why envelopes? That doesn’t make anymore sense than cats OR socks OR mushrooms. I thought you said we were gonna do something normal.”

“Oh come on! When does writing EVER make sense?”

“So now what? We’re just going to do things that have no thought process then? We’re just going to end up just like those experimental film-makers - explaining the world by not making sense.”

“FINE. If you don’t want to do this book, then we’ll just call the entire group off. I’ll message Kat and Maddy; tell them that we can’t do it.”

“Look, I had to pick up my daughter 15 minutes ago, I’m sorry. I have to leave.”

There was a silence as one of the men stood up. As he left the shop, the one named Mark smiled and shrugged his shoulders. He gave a meek noise, Thomas didn’t catch it and he was fairly certain neither did the remaining man, and left. Thomas looked at the man with the lime green mug. The man with the lime green mug sighed and noticed Thomas staring at him.

“An anthology of stories about kitchen-related objects, I presume? Mushrooms ready to be cut and placed into a stew, an envelope ready to be sent to a sister’s birthday, a cat drifting in for her afternoon meal and socks - things that do not belong in a kitchen but yet they somehow found themselves there anyway?” said Thomas Shriver. The man with the lime green mug gave a puzzled look. He was about to say something, realized another and with an apology, left the shop in a hurry.

Thomas Shriver smiled and drained his cup. He stood and threw his cup away. While exiting, he paused and asked a woman, “Do you know of the old woman named Kozani Shapash?”

“Oh, well… I do not believe I would call her old, however she lives on Oak Road, I think. Dear, where does that woman live?” she said turning to her husband.

“That is fine. I just needed to know the road to travel by, thank you. Ah, and no, stealing the stray hundreds from your dying mother is not justified.” Thomas said and before the woman could recount against what the man said, he left the shop with a jingle of the bells on the door.

He paused at the roadway and breathed in. A car or two passed by. “Oak Road, eh?” he murmured. He stepped into the road, strong deliberate steps. A wind passed around him, unlike that which is normal. It did not, say, pass around a little girl with her balloon and mother or a town-cat that eats on the scraps freely given by various shop owners. As he took his steps, the place he was heading in across the street changed from an old trinkets shop and shoe store and a blackened out building that went out of business to a young tree and a yard and a porch and a house. It was not blip of instantaneous or melting into a thing to another, but more so as though Thomas walked several miles by crossing the street. It was a direct walk, as some say as the crow flies however here it may be more prudent to say ‘as the stork walks’. Thomas was always most fond of this ability, it certainly was less work than wandering the through the mazes that people had built. He had once heard a preacher say that the god’s path was not easily walked and yet all Thomas had to do was step onto a road with a destination in mind and there he was. Then again, he was quite certain that the man was not actually talking about the REAL god-path but some sort of thing some one once made up.

Thomas glanced over to the end of the street and the sign said ‘Oak Road’. Sure enough, he had indeed arrived at the right location. Even the house he stood in front of had an old woman covered in a red blanket. It was all too easy and as some say, too easy means something is wrong. Thomas shrugged at the thought and walked up the porch steps.

“Now I assume that you are under the guise of ‘Kozani Shapash?’” he asked the old woman.

She did not stir, but answer nonetheless, “Ah, I was wondering when my little Norn would come around for me.” Thomas cleared his throat and she opened a lazy eye at him.

“Yes, well I prefer Thomas now. I suppose you may call me at the present, Lee Thomas. I have been known on occasion to be Thomas Shriver. It’s these Americans and the New Ages. They just don’t know the old gods like they used to. A New World, A New Name, eh? My dearest Mati Syra Zemlya?”

“Toh! I always hated that one, Thoth. I prefer the Earthmother or Sun-Mother.”

“Hm. Yes well, now you’re the Sun-Mother. It’s mid-day, isn’t it?”

“You did not come to chat about the Americans and their names or the New World and the End of the Old Ways, did you? Odin, he calls himself Wednesday now, came around and mentioned it to me too. Get on with the business and leave this town be.”

“Yes,” Thoth said. “Well, let’s see here.” He rummaged through his pockets, bringing out a piece of parchment and a stork feather quill. “Crocus All-Mother, the Serpent-Mother to Knossos, the Death Goddess, the Warrior Goddess, the Aphrodisiac in Living Flesh, Earthmother, Kar the Wise, Mother of Athena, The Hound of Hades, One of the Three-Fold Face, Plague-Bringer, Sun-Mother, The Meadow and Lady of the Organs.” He paused for breath. “And you know I never understood that last one?”

“Oh, please do get on with it, Thoth. I do not have all day.”

“Ah, yes. I do suppose that you do not. Have all day that is. Usually my clients are less… ah… knowing of what to come. They tend to keep silent and are not in hurry. I haven’t judged a god for a while, you know. We just don’t die that easily. I suppose I’ll have to get used to it. People judge themselves these days.”

He hurriedly read through the last few lines to catch his place. “I, Thoth, the Judge, shall ah… judge your soul and heart against the Feather of Truth. If your soul and heart weigh more greatly than the Feather of Truth, then you shall be eaten. If the Feather weighs the same, you shall go to the Underworld, which Anubis, the Guide, shall show you.”

“Where is Anubis?” the Crocus All-Mother asked.

“Oh? Well, he is holding up our morgue we’ve put together. Have to make a living, of course. Now, where did I put that scale?” He again rummaged through his pockets, bringing out a normal-sized scale that looked, in the least, a little tired. He place a raggedly feather, again from his pocket, on one side of the scale. “Your heart please, Crocus All-Mother?”

“I haven’t had to take it out for ages, you know. I might have to dig around a bit. Probably in the back somewhere out of the way.” She took off her dress and stabbed her hand into her chest. She grimaced and after a moment of feeling around, she pulled it out. It was still, silent and looked as though it had not been used for a while. “Here you go.”

“Ah, thank you.” He placed it one the other side of the scale. They watched as the heart and Feather bounced from heavy to light and light to heavy. Finally the heart settled on being lighter. Thoth made a grunt and scribbled something down on his parchment ledger.

“Well, you shall be reborn, then. Of course, you ARE a god-being. That’s no surprise. The people will always need something to worship.” Thoth flipped the page. “Now it says here that you shall become Saffron. It’s not too readily worshipped around, so you might not get too high a rank. However you shall be, let’s see, patroness of spice, food, chefs, red dye… Still of crocuses and autumn crocuses, poison too.”

“Thoth, it’s been a good run, hasn’t it? I guess this Old Way is not needed anymore. Good luck in your own travels, Thomas.” Said the dying Crocus All-Mother.

There was a flash. It was not light, it was not dark. It was Change. It was Death and Birth. It was that of a goddess needed no more being reborn into one that was. It was an Old Way disappearing from the Human Lands and a New Way coming into. It smelled of red and was the colour of spice, of cooking and was as light as night and dark as day. It was a flower dying into existence. What was once an old woman with a red-coloured shawl was a young girl in a red-coloured spring dress.

“Hello,” said Thoth to the girl named Saffron.

She smiled back and asked, “Would you like some tea? Maybe some lunch?”

“Ah, no. I must decline. Work to do I am afraid.” Thoth responded and he left.

As he began to cross the street into a place over in California where his old partner Anubis was and his morgue resided, he thought that he might have curry for lunch. He knew a great, and expensive, Indian restaurant that served a special curry with saffron.


This is my newest piece. I was originally going to make it my first manuscript to send out to some fantasy magazine. HOWEVER, a few days later, I've decided the idea is a little too flimsy. It's sort of... based from TWO ideas that formed during the writing of it. One is about an old lady with a red shawl and she IS the Crocus All-Mother, the Lady of Spring and Autumn, of Sun and Moon, Life and Death, who dies and turns into Saffron. The other is about a medium-aged man named Thomas. He is the embodiment of Thoth in the new ages. Shriver comes from schreiben, German from 'to write'. Thoth IS a god of writing. He tells the writer in the coffee shop not the IDEA, for the writer came up with it himself, but more of the connection from dream-stuff to real-world ideas. Lee Thomas is the Judgement side of Thoth. Lee being a name in Korean that means 'judge' or 'plum'.

So instead, I think I'll send in a rewritten story about the Daily Life of Thoth and write one about Saffron for a series of illustrated books on spice.

Satu is a Scandinavian name meaning fable or fairytale.

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