By the time Bast was probably twelve, there was very little she was not able to turn her hand to. She could communicate conversationally in a multitude of languages; she was highly literate and numeric; she proved better than the majority of boys in archery whenever they attended a fair, and most importantly, she considered it the norm, not something for use in the power over another.
When a man pinched her bottom at age thirteen, the unlikely chap, upon waking, was to discover a broken nose he hadn’t had prior. He was also made aware that he now had a forearm sporting a poorly straightened extra elbow which he felt was highly inappropriate.
At fourteen the ultimate education began for Bast. It started one cold morning with Grandma Hazel holding a worn stick. Knowing better than to butt in and demand to what the stick was for, she waited. Grandma gently waved the odd little stick, and a thin vertical rip appeared in the air before her. Not a big rip, hardly more than 25 centimetres long; black edged, hanging there unmoving at eye level. Grandma Hazel extended a plumpish pink hand, pulled back the sleeve of her cardigan, and thrust her hand into the rip; her hand vanishing as she did so. The apple she pulled out of the tear was big, red, and quite shiny. She took a bite, and handed it to Bast, who in turn took a bite also. Still without saying a word, she raised her stick, and in a gentle downward motion she sealed the tear.
Bast slowly took another bite, and finally blinked.
Wings, whilst quite the delight, were not always as practical as Bast had hoped. This was specifically due to the need to remove her top whenever she chose to fly. It had not been a particularly big issue as a child, this like life, quickly transformed into being a rather large issue when she was about 12. Mammals have mammary glands. It is one of the defining components of being a mammal, even if you have avian, birdlike, appendages.
So, not knowing how to deal with it, she approached grandpa early one morning in between a flurry of kicks and punches.
“Grandpa?” punch, punch, kick, roll.
“Yes girl?” swish, swish, block, punch, feign scream.
“I’m getting too big to go flying without my top on.” stab, stab, somersault through the air, roll, punch, punch. “What should I do?” swing from rope, dangle from yard arm, shoulder throw. “I tried to make a vest thing, but it didn’t work,” headbutt, eye gouge, bite, bite “and Grandma Hazel will tell me to bugger orf and figure it out for m’self.” stab, parry, stab, garrotte. “I mean, do I look like I’m getting teets? I think I am.”
Grandpa’s lessons in psychopathic behaviour took an immediate and unexpected break, just in time for him to blush heavily, and stop two left jabs perfectly with his right eye.
After a certain amount of muffled swearing and deck inspecting, he said “Honestly girl I hadn’t looked or thought to have looked, but I don’t think I need to look, and I most definitely don’t want to look. Leave Grandma Hazel to me.” said Grandpa, “that’s it for today.” His nose dripping bright blood politely onto the deck between them.
Between Bast and Grandma Hazel, a number garments were designed and created, cutting long vertical slashes to run down and over Basts shoulder blades, ending just at her hip.
How she came to be born with wings was not something discussed by her family. Ever. To look at her exposed back, one would be in mind they were viewing the most beautiful of tattoos ever inked; looking for all the world like oversized duck wings. Gloriously coloured with light and dark browns filling the heavily detailed images, yet her skin was smooth. In size, her wings were proportionate to her body, starting at her shoulders, down her back, over buttocks and stopping on the backs of her legs on her thighs. Growing with her as she developed and matured, leaving a narrow white skinned strip of skin running the length of her spine, completely untouched.
When in use, the wings in their picture like state transformed themselves into living feathers, muscles, and bones. Exactly the same as those, of the ‘Eider Duck’. Her wings when fully extended were the length of her out stretched arms, and when in use created a noisy sound like that of a duck in flight.
Now with clothing to accommodate her extended wings, Bast was able to take to the air whenever she desired, which she did so regularly.
Life on the ‘Conditaneus Cepa’ for Bast was one without break or respite. She was part of everything occurring onboard. Whether it was her lessons; being part of shipboard life, seamanship, navigating by shoreline, rough chart, and star. Bast worked in the rigging, she worked the decks. Bast maintained, cleaned, and could eventually run the comfortable yet work worn vessel singled handedly; loading whatever cargo they were carrying from point to point as dictated by those footing the bill. By the age of 16, Bast was left in charge of the vessel for days at a time. Grandpa would fish down in the stern, leaving Grandma Hazel to her own devices.
An interesting fact about Grandpa and Grandma Hazel that Bast did not pick up on, all due to the familiarity of position and routine of daily exposure, was that Grandma Hazel and Grandpa did not age. They remained entirely unchanged, and oddly, so did the ‘Conditaneus Cepa’.
Grandma Hazel’s stick was a constant source of wonder for Bast. It was a light yellowish brown, and the length of Grandma Hazel’s elbow to middle fingertip. The stick was about as thick as Bast’s ring finger, and looked a bit like a stick someone had picked up walking through bush, snapping the lesser twigs from the sides of it, and peeling away the bark. Slightly tapered, the pointy end was mildly discoloured from poking things, and the handle end was incredibly smooth with wear from many years of handling. The type of stick was apparently from a tree in country yet to be discovered by people that wore more clothes than the current inhabitants. Therefore, undiscovered.
Unlike all other lessons Bast had received at the hands of Grandma Hazel and Grandpa, lessons involving the stick had to be conducted ashore. Initially Bast was somewhat perplexed by this, and it wasn’t until Grandma Hazel sneezed whilst holding it, did she fully appreciate the destructive power of the stick, which misfired, destroying roughly an acre of bush as a result. Bast secretly believed that this was a sneaky set up on the part of Grandma Hazel, done to impress her. And it most certainly did.
Once more, the lessons began.
The stick Grandma Hazel wielded was called “The Stick”, disappointing Bast somewhat as it was neither inventive, nor inspiring as far as name and drama were concerned. Grandma Hazel rarely had cause to carry it about her person whilst onboard the ‘Conditaneus Cepa’. For the most part it had been employed elsewhere. Propping windows open, removing spider webs, and on occasion Grandpa had used it to stir his tea. Being an object that had never once been hidden or taken as something to be wary of, and was always in plain sight, it was therefore, invisible.
The picture above needs clicking. I ain’t down here for your money, I ain’t down here for your love…………………
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