Weekly Photo Challenge: Family & Hidden

Going out of order with my photo challenge catch-ups, I know. 🙂 But it’s the holidays, and for me holidays means family, and one of my missed photo challenges over at DP was Family. At first I was browsing looking for your average family photo–not a posed one, because as nice as those can be, they aren’t the real everyday truth of a family. Those pictures are the unexpected ones, or the ones taken on any old weekday. But in my search, I found this photo by yi-ching lin tagged for the “Family” photo challenge and I kinda love it.(I’m unable to insert the image directly in this post, so I highly recommend you go there and check it out. Yi-Ching has a lot of great photos on his/her blog, in fact!)

It’s a more morose take on the idea, yes, but it instantly brought Ghostlight to mind. A big part of Bette’s life is that her brother is dead and she doesn’t know why, and her family has been falling apart ever since. I’ve been itching to write the next section, and after seeing this picture it struck me: this girl is seeing ghosts, new murders have striking similarities to Graham’s mysterious death, why hasn’t she gone to visit grave yet in this story exactly? Duh!

For added flavor, I’m throwing in some elements of this picture I mentioned a few weeks ago by three sticks of watusi.

Family & Hidden

Mist still hung heavy in the air; it hadn’t burned off with the morning, instead choosing to hang around for the whole day. But really, how much more fitting could it get? Halloween was a few days away, there were unsolved murders, I was seeing ghosts, and now I was standing in front of a cemetery gate. A chill mist that felt like it was sinking into my skin and weighing down my bones would’ve only been more appropriate if I were also in London.

I stepped closer, curling my fingers around the cold iron bars on the gate. I wanted to go in, to visit Graham’s grave…to answer the question I’d had in the back of my mind since this began. Would his ghost be there? I just wasn’t sure what answer I wanted. If he was there–and, presuming ghosts could also be seen in the daylight, another answer I didn’t yet have–it would mean getting the answers I’d wanted for three years. But if he wasn’t, then there was no telling what that meant. Maybe he was gone on to his afterlife. Or, more likely from how he’d died, his ghost, his soul, was somewhere else altogether.

Only one way to find out, Lauden. No more stalling.

Letting go of the iron gate, my last refuge, I stepped into the fog of the graveyard. The temperature dropped around me and I knew that even if ghosts weren’t visible, they were still here. The mist obscured what might be real, or imagined, or spectral at first, but a few feet further revealed the outlines of colorless people, lurking about their graves, watching my approach with sad confusion. I don’t think they knew I saw them, and that was fine with me. After trying to sort out so many ghosts at the tree the other night, the chill in the air as they clustered around me, I was happy to let these ones think I was just like any other mourner. But I did study them out of the corner of my eyes as I passed.

They were less clearly defined than the ghosts I’d seen at night, and most of them were sulking in a solitary fashion, even if they had neighbors. One set of graves, a trio of them in fact, provided a different tableau altogether. A husband, wife, and child, buried together and now haunting their plot together. The couple held hands while the child ghost talk excitedly to them about the other ghosts and people he’d seen visiting the cemetery.

What kept all of them here? Had they been murdered like the ghosts at the tree, and that was why they lingered? Was there some other family member they were waiting for? Or did they even know? Hell, there were enough things I’d done without really knowing the reasons, especially in the last few days. I hadn’t yet seen much reason why death should be any different; if anything, the ghosts I’d met were even more out of it than the living.

That thought brought me to a halt. What if Graham’s ghost was here–and what if he was as lost as the Lantern Man’s victims? Graham had been sharp in life, very intelligent and even craftier than any of us knew. I’d prepared myself for the thought of his ghost existing here, but not for the idea that if he was, he may be very different from the brother I had known. Three years is a long time, and what kind of company did ghosts make? Shreds and shadows of the living, cut off from what they knew, unable to move on. Unable to move at all past a certain point, depending on what anchored them here. What’s his mind, his memory, his fire–whatever you might call it for a ghost–was as much a shadow as the rest of him?

I didn’t try to peer through the mists at the ghosts around me as I turned and hurried out of the cemetery. Some answers I really wasn’t ready for.


What’s with all the dead family members?

I almost didn’t write something today! I’m getting in just under the wire here. Phew.

So, since I was just playing around with this “Fright Yourself” website to ‘turn a picture of myself into a vampire picture of myself, I got to thinking about the ‘vampire genre’ and why I enjoy it. But, I’m not entirely sure of why I like it so much, really. I’ll tackle that one another day. Instead, there’s another trait or background note I often use for characters I play in RPGs and that I write into stories.

I didn’t notice this for a while, but I have a tendency to create characters with missing or dead family members. Usually it’s someone in the nuclear family–a parent or sibling–and the loss of this person changed the character and their family in marked and very permanent ways.

My long-time Buffy RPG character was a Slayer named Taryn, who’s father died suddenly a year or two prior to the game’s opening. Of course, she didn’t know at the time that he had in fact been turned as a vampire, which lead to further complications as the first season progressed. But, his death marked her family fracturing.

For one of my 7th Sea characters, I choose a background that meant my character’s family had been very specifically hunted down by the sidhe. He believed them all to be dead, except maybe one (a younger sister was still alive, it later turned out), and had himself fled and taken on a new name and life to escape the same fate.

In Ghostlight, Bette’s brother died under strange and partially unexplainable circumstances three years prior to the story’s opening, an event that influences just about everything she does and who she is at this point. As well, it lead to her parents separating as they tried to deal with their grief, and like Taryn, the death in general marked the fracture of her family.

Finally, a character I’ve written a number of pieces about, but never quite a fully-realized story, is the shapeshifter Silver. When her family and home community learn about her true nature, even as she saves their lives, they reject her completely. I don’t entirely know how her story goes, but I know it focuses on trying to find something that finally feels like home again.

I’ve never lost anyone in my immediate family. I’ve never really lost anyone very close to me to death at all, in fact. My family is very close, however, and it scares me to contemplate losing one of them in that way, permanently. I can only imagine that this kind of loss has to be…well, scarring.

From what I can figure, I think I tend to choose that character quirk because of how much that scares me. I have a hard time seeing a family functioning the way it once did when one of their own is lost, dead, and taken unexpectedly. That feeling of the emotional rug being pulled out from under you, leaving you entirely at a loss for how to feel.

There’s more I’d like to say, and more eloquently, but now I’m falling asleep at the keyboard. That’s what I get for putting it off. Maybe late,y I can elaborate as desired.