Should I quit writing?

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Reblogging from High Fantasy Addict who originally reblogged Josephine Moon. Such an important read about the state of Australian publishing and copyright.

Josephine Moon

I am distressed.

Right now I feel like never writing another book. And I’ll try to explain why as simply as I can, trying to untangle the messy political drama that is about to change the entire Australian publishing industry and how it affects me personally.

The government has proposed and recommended that Australia does two things:

  1. Introduce parallel importation
  2. Drastically reduce copyright protection to just 15 years.

(You can sign the petition to tell the government you don’t want this to happen right here.)

How does parallel importation affect me and you?

  • The first point I want to make sure you know is that our contemporaries, the USA and the UK do not have parallel importation. We would be going against them. (Which doesn’t make sense, right?)
  • The next point I want to make is that New Zealand lifted their parallel importation laws and rather than seeing cheaper…

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Marieke Hardy Was Right, Jennifer Byrne Was Wrong #bookclubABC

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The title says it all really. Jennifer Byrne was oh so very wrong and Marieke Hardy was brilliantly right. The end. Okay, I’ll elaborate. Last Thursday I was lucky enough to witness tonight’s episode of ABC’s The Book Club live. One of the highlights for me was the discussion of Wuthering Heights. A text that I have long found problematic yet women seem to love.

For those of you who haven’t read this much praised classic I’ll give a brief summary. The focus of most readers adoration is the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy. Heathcliff as a kid is taken in by a wealthy family who are awful to him. He suffers an abusive childhood and is viewed poorly by all except Cathy who actually becomes quite sweet on him. Heathcliff is a bit of a controlling a-hole. Yes he’s had an abusive childhood but that doesn’t make it fun to be on the receiving end of his shit. Anyway, Heathcliff goes off to make his fortune, because he doesn’t have one. He returns older and super sexy. Like, super, super, sexy. Your underpants are going to melt visualising him, sexy. Cathy has already shacked up with another dude. She wants social standing and a good marriage will do that, so off she goes. So she marries whatshisname… Edmund, Egbert, Ebenezer… Edgar, that’s the name I’m looking for, Edgar. I knew it was an unfortunate E name, just not which one. Edgar has the cash and respect so is a suitable husband. He’s also pretty docile. Heathcliff of course fucking hates him and feels betrayed that his teen crush has had the audacity to move on with her life. So Heathcliff reacts like any “nice guy” would, copious amounts of whinging, and banging Edgar’s sister. Both figuratively and literally. He marries her and beats her, even when she’s pregnant. And to top it all off he’s an utter arsehole to his own son. What a catch. But apparently we’re all supposed to forgive him for his domestic violence because he’s just sooooo sexy and in love with his darling Cathy. Cathy who is pretty obnoxious herself. She, like Heathcliff, is uber sexy, but is arrogant, obnoxious, spoilt and a social climber.

So essentially Cathy and Heathcliff epitomise the teenage years. Raging hormones, inability to sit down and think clearly, epic tantrums, tight bodies and glowing skin. The idea of if you’re suffering then you must be in love. And that if your crush is hot enough then he can be a controlling, abusive, a-hole… I’m waiting for Lisa Wilkinson to do an epic rant about how this is just domestic violence dressed up as romance and is dangerous for young women. Forget blaming Disney or 50 Shades for unrealistic expectations about love, we’ve got a whole canon of classics that have done that already.

But I digress, let’s get back to The Book Club on ABC and how Marieke Hardy was right and Jennifer Byrne was wrong. When Wuthering Heights was introduced Jennifer Byrne thanked Jeanette Winterson profusely for putting it forth to be discussed because it was her totes-mega-fav of all time. That’s possibly not an exact quote but it’s close enough. Marieke Hardy, bless her leopard print jumpsuit, pulled a suitably disgusted face. And when it was her time to talk she said so much of what has been on my mind for the past twenty years since I first read it that I nearly stood up and cheered. Marieke, my new soul sister, said that although there were some very amusing dog attacks sprinkled throughout the novel, that it wasn’t enough to get her tick of approval. Catherine was whiny, Heathcliff was sadistic. There weren’t  enough humorous dog attacks in the world to make these characters palatable. Virginia Gay bravely stood up and proclaimed that she too found Heathcliff a tad abusive. Jennifer Byrne tried to suppress an eye twitch and expressed her feelings of betrayal that Virginia Gay could turn on her thus. No visible tears were shed but you could tell her soul was weeping like a school girl who had just been dumped. Virginia Gay asked the shaken Jennifer Byrne if she could imagine being in a relationship with Heathcliff. And then Jennifer Byrne let her inner teenager out and wildly declared, “no, but can you imagine having sex with him?” Marieke threw up in her mouth a little but her lipstick remained in tact, and might I add, fabulous. An erotic montage of all the actors who have played Heathcliff over the years, appeared above Virginia’s head to the soundtrack of Kate Bush’s famous track. The cameras clouded over with the collective steam coming from the loins of the audience members. A fire alarm went off, a mass evacuation happened, liquid nitrogen was applied to everyone’s genital area, and then we all returned to the studio. Marieke was still sitting in there, stone cold. Filming continued on as if nothing happened. Part of this may have been untrue…

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I absolutely loved this exchange and had to physically restrain myself from running onto the stage and embracing Marieke to my flat, yet heaving, bossom, and declaring my undying love for her on the spot. For two decades now I have been poopooing the “love” element and declaring it toxic and not romantic. First when I was 17, then again in university. And it wasn’t pretty in university. I was already out of place being a dyslexic doing a literature degree, add to that my dislike of this classic, which I do admit is beautifully written and the mood intoxicating, and some of the other students were ready to tar and feather me. My decades of conflict over my opinion of Wuthering Heights actually inspire a section in What Happens in Book Club… 3. Full disclosure, it is not at all based on this TV show so if you think you’re getting secret info on Jennifer Byrne’s sexy past and how she met Denton then you will be bitterly disappointed. It has nothing to do with this show and is just chick lit focused around a regular book club, it isn’t Byrne’s night at all… Fuck it, download part 1 here anyway. It’s free. Help an author out and get my downloads increased. Anyway,  I’m cutting and pasting part of my fictional book club’s meeting on Wuthering Heights here, it’s the pre edit version, and then you will see exactly why I was so delighted by this exchange.

Chapter 4

“He’s just so passionate,” Catherine says. Bloody Catherine would love Catherine and Heathcliff. “So passionate and tragic. It’s like Heathcliff doesn’t know how to love properly because he never got it as a child, and so he tries so desperately to love his Cathy but he doesn’t truly know how.”

I stare at Catherine. She looks so perfect. Flawless skin, full rose petal lips, a fringe that you could use as a set square and hair so glossy that varnish companies are no doubt hounding her for its secrets, yet somehow she’s just so darn annoying.

“Oh I know,” Sharon oozes. “And he’s just so sexy. That dark skin, that powerful frame. He reminds me so much of my husband.”

“Isn’t your husband a bit on the short and pale side,” Kylie asks, screwing up her nose a little.

“I meant because of the intense sexual energy they both emit.”

”Heathcliff is the perfect Byronic hero,” Catherine quickly interjects bringing the discussion back on topic and blessedly far away from Sharon’s portly husband and a spray of horror an vomit erupting forth from my mouth.

It’s like Catherine has to let everyone know how academic she is. That her opinion is more valuable because she can use the technical terms. Anyone can read the crib notes, Catherine, it doesn’t make you smart. I’d prefer to hear your opinion than the blog post you swallowed.

“So dark, so intense, so passionate and willing to do anything for his love,” Catherine continues. “He’s the perfect man.”

“Good to see we’re glorifying domestic violence,” I flatten the conversation just in time to avoid ovaries exploding all over the place.

Mac hides a grin behind her hand. She loves it when the discussion picks up. I got to book club a few minutes late so haven’t asked her about her new job yet. Will have to find time to ask her. I haven’t been keeping up with our chats but she looks really happy, and I’m pretty sure she’s wearing genuine Jimmy Choo’s so she must be doing well. Selene, on the other hand, shoots me a look that could kill. She squints her eyes at me and it almost seems like she is trying to will me to shut up.

Something is up with her tonight. She has rushed the conversation a few times tonight. It is as if she wants to get the meeting over and done with quickly. Perhaps if I had kept in touch better I’d know what. But I’ve just been so depressed with this whole work thing that I haven’t been able to do much at all. Maureen drags me to the gym every other day but that’s about it.

“Domestic violence!” Catherine snorts. I always love it when she does that. I live to catch her slipping up from her image of perfection. “That’s a bit unfair.”

“Yeah, totes,” I mock, ignoring Selene deepening her frown at me. If she frowns any harder her forehead is going to drip over her chin. “Let’s see. He marries Isabella just to piss off Edgar. She loves him so much, yet he’s cruel and violent to her.”

“But that’s because of his childhood,” Catherine defends Heathcliff. “And he doesn’t love her, he loves Catherine.”

“Oh, of course,” I put every bit of contempt I can into my voice. “That makes it all okay. He doesn’t love her so he can beat her. He was beaten so he can beat others. Nobody has to take responsibility for their actions and change. And not only do they not have to change but they’re considered just so dreamy and passionate because of the lengths that they’ll go to. Sounds an awful lot like defending domestic violence to me.”

“But… but…” Catherine looks entirely sad and deflated, “He loves her…”

Silence falls and everybody looks down at their drinks. I’ve killed book club. If only Maureen was here tonight. She’d have the perfect funny thing to say that would defuse this horrible mess I’ve made.

“I didn’t finish the book,” Sharon’s confession rings out across the silence.

“Me neither,” Kylie starts to laugh. “I got fifty pages in and then watched the movie.”

“Ralph Fiennes is just so sexy,” Sharon looks a little embarrassed and apologetic, “I just love him in anything.”

“He is pretty hot,” I concede and give a smile to smooth things over. “I probably got a little intense.”

“A bit?” Selene raises an eyebrow, “How about a lot, don’t take your personal issues out on the rest of it.”

“Hey, I got the rapey vibe from Wuthering Heights too,” Sophie defends me.

“What personal issues?” Kylie is looking at me with her concerned mum face on.

“Nothing,” I mutter.

I wish Maureen was here. She even borrowed my copy of Wuthering Heights. She should be here… (There’s more to chapter 4 but we move away from Wuthering Heights at this point so I’ll stop here.)

So let me just wrap up this entry with a great big thank you to Marieke Hardy. You are my spirit animal and I adore yo

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u.

96th Down Under Feminists Carnival

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96th Down Under Feminists Carnival

Great collection of articles.

Hoyden About Town

Hello and welcome to the 96th Down Under Feminists Carnival. Thank you for joining me. I must thank Mary, Chally, Ju, Rebecca, and Thalia for sending through an amazing number of posts and apologise because I can’t possibly fit them all in one carnival. But I think this is a pretty good selection! Please feel free to add more links in comments.

The next Down Under Feminists Carnival is planned for 6 June will be hosted by Chally at Zero at the Bone.

I hope you enjoy the Carnival. If I have made any errors please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Political happenings in New Zealand are first up.

Stephanie at Bootstheory writes there are some scary solutions being suggested to deal with young people begging in Wellington and the Labour party has asked the Auditor General to look into a contract awarded to a National Party donor

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James Roberts and the Broncos Released a False Story About His Child’s Birth And There Was A Public Divide… And That’s Actually A Good Thing

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On Sunday morning James Roberts became a proud new parent. He and his wife had their first baby. An absolutely joyous occasion. But instead of simply releasing a statement saying – Mum and bub doing great – which would have been met with thousands of congratulations, Roberts and the Broncos decided to release a story about a desperate wife in labour being abandoned for the greater good, that is – the team. A story that Roberts’ wife has now denied.

“This is James Roberts wife and I’m currently watching your morning episode and segment on the mixed grill! I would like you to all know that it upsets me to see people talking about my husband in such a negative way. I told James to play that evening because i knew that our baby boy wouldn’t arrive until after the game as I was not in ‘early labour’ at that point in time. James is such a loving, caring and nurturing father who was by my side the whole way through the birth of our very first son and never left my side! While James was at the game, doing what he loves and does best, I was surrounded by my extended family from Sydney and mother in law while James was at the stadium. It was not until early hours of Sunday morning that I gave birth and James played football on the Friday night, which is nearly 48hours after playing. James delivered our son with the assistance of the awesome team of midwives at the Gold Coast hospital! James is an extremely supportive, loyal, loving and kind hearted man who would never be so selfish or selfless to leave me by myself to give birth!”

This was not the events that Roberts had detailed. Roberts had said that he left his wife in labour, that his coach hadn’t said he wanted him to play but he sensed he did, that he went and played and his coach had to avoid messages from his wife asking for Roberts to return. The Broncos called this act selfless. That’s the story that they chose to release. Nobody sculked around hospital hallways trying to get a scoop. Nobody bugged any phones. This was the story that Roberts and the Broncos willingly chose to put out.

Roberts received a roasting for this story. And I have to say, I actually think it shows progress that he did. This story was released because they assumed that footy culture would love that take. That a man put his wife’s desperate cries aside for the team. That mates came first. And I dare say a decade ago, this kind of thing would have been applauded. Forget the little woman, footy and your mates are more important. But today people didn’t just go along with the story. Sure there were people saying, good on him, heaps of people have to work, it’s his job. But his story specifically said he didn’t have to play but chose too despite his wife begging him to stay. So many people were unimpressed. They rightly said ignoring your wife during labour, for a football match that you didn’t have to play in, was not “selfless” and that it was in fact selfish.

Well done society we have progressed to the point that lots of people agree that women matter, that family matters, that you should have a stronger bond with your wife and child than your mates. Women matter. Yes! Fist pump.

I have to admit that I wish this feeling was so prevalent that either EVERYBODY condemned the story that Roberts and the Broncos put out OR that they never even considered putting it out in the first person. I wish that they didn’t assume that footy culture meant mates and footy first, women and kids don’t matter. But it’s still progress. I wish they’d just annouced the birth rather than this ridiculous story and then basked in all the congratulations. It’s a new baby. It’s exciting for them.

So let’s pop the cork and celebrate this little step. A few more people think women matter. Hooray.

And Broncos, in future, “Baby is here, Mum and Bub are doing great.” Leave it at that. Everyone will just say congratulations.

Happy Mothers Day, Here’s Your Damn Book Now Leave Me Alone

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Few occasions say buy a book like Mothers Day. Ladies love reading, amirightoramiright? So I’m here to help you chose a book that she’ll actually like rather than one she’ll pretend to like but secretly wonder why the hell you bought her something about pirates and heaving bossoms.

My number 1 recommendation is Kerri Sackville’s Little Book of Anxiety. Don’t pretend like you don’t know why I’d recommend this book, us mothers are anxious, nagging, beasties, and this is a humorous look at anxiety that the anxious mumma in your life will enjoy.

My 2nd recommendation is Primary School Confidential by Mrs Woog. A truly hilarious look at all things Primary School. It’ll make your mum laugh and cringe at all those memories.

My 3rd recommendation is Lisa Fleetwood’s Destination Dachshund. It’s a beautiful family travel memoir about three generations traveling the world together. You could get this one for mum or grandma… it might even inspire them to take you to Europe for a family vacation. Free trip! Woot!

My 4th recommendation is a bit of a change of pace from the first three. Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident. An Isolated Incident is a haunting thriller that explores everyday violence. It has real depth and covers some unsettling themes. This is something that your mum can sit down with and really engage with. A novel that will stay with her and really make her think. Perfect for the mum who loves to explore social issues.

Coming in at number 5 is The War Bride by Pamela Hart. A beautiful tale set in 1920s Australia. It is the story of
Margaret Dalton who comes to Australia from England and has to create a new life and form new friendships. There’s a touch of romance for the mums out there who like a bit of a love story.

Number 6 is Lisa Heidke’s Callahan Split. Love, sibling rivalry and tennis. What’s not to like. Get it for the mum who loves tennis or has a sister.

Number 7 is The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth. It’s Beauty and the Beast meets WWII. It’s evocative, it’s romantic, it’s beautiful. Your mother will love it.

At number 8 I have Fiona McArthur’s Aussie Midwives. A heartwarming look at those wonderful people who work around the birthing process. Your mum is sure to be touched by this gift, after all, she probably gave birth to you.

9 is Incredible Bakes That Just Happen to be Refined Sugar Free by Caroline Griffiths. The name says it all. Delicious recipes that everyone can enjoy. If your mum loves to cook then this is the gift for her… and you because she can make you delicious treats from it. Bonus.

And coming in at lucky number 10 is Rhonda RobertsGladiatrix. Perfect for the mum that loves Speculative Fiction. Despite Spec Fic having a rep for being a “boy’s” genre the majority of the readers are actually females. And we love to read about kick ass female leads. So grab your mum a copy and she’ll give you a big thanks. This is Science Fiction with an Australian character heading things up.

So, what are you waiting for? Go get that mother of yours the perfect book.

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Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Gastro and Antidepressants, Not a Winning Combination

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crazy pills

Recently I had a bad bout of gastro. I don’t just tell you this because I have a shameless love of sharing my bowel movements with people, I mean I do, but that’s not the reason I’m mentioning it this time. This bout of gastro meant that I couldn’t take my antidepressants. I simply couldn’t keep them down, not to mention the husband is not exactly a quality nurse. He found it quite odd that I’d need to be checked in on more than twice a day so dispensing medications was quite beyond him. So I went from Tuesday to Friday without any antidepressants. That’s four days without antidepressants. What could go wrong in four days? Surely that’s not that long. Wrong. The result of being off antidepressants were swift and brutal. On the Saturday I was well enough to get out of bed and keep some food and water down. I was feeling very odd, I’ve been in a down phase for over six months now but this was different, I took my antidepressant at about 8am for the first time in four days but it wasn’t soon enough to stop the effects that the withdrawal had on me.

 

At 9am I went back to bed. I still wasn’t very well from four days of exploding from both ends and not being able to eat. I proceeded to have vivid nightmares of memories that I prefer to keep buried. There are some people that are of a theory that you must confront and deal with every single memory and feeling but quite frankly there are some that I’m perfectly happy with keeping buried deep down under the concrete fog of suppression. They can stay buried as far as I’m concerned because there are some things in this life that I will never be strong enough to deal with and they get to stay in that box. Unfortunately they came running out of that box and dancing around in my head. I woke up. They continued to run around unfettered. Jumping about, opening other boxes. I desperately tried to close them. I began to shake, I began to cry, and I began to think I was losing my mind. I felt that my kids would be better off without a crazy mother and that I should kill myself rather than have them endure my endless psychological burden on them. I tried to contact my husband, he was busy. I tried calling the medical centre my GP works at, they were fully booked and nobody could see me. I then contacted my two best girlfriends, Helen and Lisa, they were probably busy, they’ve both got kids and commitments, Lisa was even in the process of publishing her book, but they pretended they didn’t. They sent me the number for a home doctor visit and asked if there was someone they could call for me, was there someone they could get to come see me. They immediately wanted to look after me and make sure I was cared for. At this point, 11am I sent the following message to my psychologist:

Hi _____. I’m really sorry to bother you on the weekend but I’m slightly concerned that I might be having a bit of a psychological episode. I can’t stop having nightmares even when I’m awake. I think it is because I’m so depleted from gastro, which thankfully stopped and I hadn’t been able to keep my medication down since Tuesday and because the pain in my leg is quite bad at the moment but I’m really struggling and just don’t quite know what I should do. I’d normally just duck in to see my GP but she doesn’t work on weekends and nobody else can see me and I was just unsure what I should do so was wondering if you had any advice. Sorry, Robin

She sent me a message saying that she would call me back in 15 minutes.

 

In four hours I had gone from feeling a vague sense of impending doom to feeling like I was losing my mind and wanting to kill myself. Such a short amount of time and I was ready to end it. That’s how intense sudden withdrawal from antidepressants can be. There was no lead up into this overwhelming despair it just hit full force within a matter of hours. I had started taking a new antidepressant a little over a month ago and had found it quite effective for me, it was like all that had been undone and I’d slid even further backwards. When my psychologist called she explained to me that I probably wasn’t losing my mind that I was probably suffering withdrawal symptoms. That the feelings that I was having were from the chemical imbalance rather than some sort of break in my mind. This was very comforting to me. She spoke to me for quite some time to make sure that I was okay, and told me to go to the emergency department if I needed too, and to not simply suffer through the symptoms if they were unbearable. That sudden withdrawal from medication was awful but it would be over in a few days but there were things that doctors could do for me in the interim, such as prescribe a drug like Xanax to keep me more settled whilst my regular medication kicked back in. Just knowing that I wasn’t crazy, that there was a reason that my brain seemed to be melting out of my ear provided me with great relief. It gave me a lens to view my thoughts through that let me know that it would pass, and that they would go away. The symptoms were still to server for me to cope with on my own so I took 25mg of Seroquel over the next few days whilst the worst side effects were present.

 

A week later and I’m back to normal and I actually feel really proud of myself. I know that probably sounds weird, proud of myself having a complete meltdown, but I am. 2 years ago when I went into Saint John of God Psychiatric Hospital I was having similar feelings. I went to my husband for support, he’s not good with the feelings, he was too busy. I continued to flounder and could not cope and felt like there was nothing I could do. This time round, in a matter of hours I had repeated the same process, reached out to my husband, he was too busy but I am hopeful that one day he will have made enough progress that he reaches back, on being rebuffed I tried my GP, on being unsuccessful I still didn’t give up and contacted my two wonderful friends Lisa and Helen and then my psychologist. In the last two years I have made three fantastic decisions that have made me a stronger and better person. I chose Lisa and I chose Helen to be my friends, without them my life would be so much less productive, and I picked the best psychologist that I have ever seen. Someone who understands me and how to treat me. Someone who is willing to take time out of their weekend to treat me. I am so proud of myself for making these healthy choices in my life. I am so proud that instead of spiraling out of control for months that I got onto it in a number of hours.

 

So I guess I write this blog entry to both warn people on antidepressants that if you get gastro or any other illness where you can’t keep your medication down then please go see your GP or a hospital immediately, because you’ll have effect beyond the illness and they are savage, but also, just because you fall it doesn’t mean you can’t get up. And just because you fall doesn’t mean you need to be ashamed. You can be damn proud of yourself for how quickly you got yourself back up.

Enter The Rani: Part 2 #DoctorWhoFanFic

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DOCTORLIES

Description: As just a baby the Rani and her parents are returned to Gallifrey from Earth in disgrace for becoming too entrenched in Human customs. The Rani’s parents are stripped of their regenerations as punishment and thus begins a life long quest on behalf of the Rani to find out how to restore regenerations without the approval of the High Council of the Time Lords. Along her studies the Rani meets such colourful characters as the Doctor and the Master and sets in motion lifelong friendships and feuds.

 

Find Part 1 HERE

 

Enter The Rani (Part 2)

On my first day at the Prydonian Academy I sat under a silver leafed candonwood tree on the orange grass of the grounds utterly alone. We had finished our inductions and had been cleared for a break before beginning our studies in earnest. I pulled at the stiff scarlet robes swamping my tiny frame and scratched absent mindedly at my neck which was itching due to the hot, stiff collar. The robes were utterly unsuitable for the weather, but that probably only made the Council love them more. Anything ghastly and unnecessary seemed to delight them. It meant that they could be held apart. That they were so above everyone else that they could ignore comfort and temperature. And from us, the young Time Lords at the Prydonian Academy, their successors would surely be chosen. We were the best and brightest that Gallifrey had to offer. Tradition dictated that leaders were to be chosen from our school, and there was nothing that the Council loved more than tradition… Except, perhaps, saving face.

I scowled out at the other children talking in groups. They all seemed so happy. They had it so easy. They gained access to this academy by virtue of their lineage. Me, I had to work for it. I had to excel in every aspect so that my entry couldn’t be denied no matter how great a disgrace my family was. I was miles ahead of those soft children yet they despised me. They thought me lesser. The irony burned me like a forge. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t there to make friends. I was there to gain access to the finest technology and instruction that Gallifrey had to offer. I had no interest in the rituals and traditions of the Council. I only wanted to save my mother. To give her life as she had me. I would play their games only to meet my own ends.

I was so intent on my glaring at the insipid children of the ruling class that I had failed to notice that a shaggy haired boy was sitting in the tree above me until he nearly came toppling down on top of me. He was a shocking sight. Legs flailing above his head, robe almost suffocating his head and all the while he squeaked,

“I’m alright, I’m alright.”

He awkwardly managed to get his head above his feet and his feet onto the ground and tried to sit nonchalantly next to me. I fixed the boy with a contemptuous glare. I wasn’t there to make friends.

“I’m Theta,” the clumsy boy said sticking out a lanky arm with long bony fingers that seemed to jut out oddly. Bits of candorwood twigs still clung to his disheveled robes and a few silver leaves protruded from his scruffy hair.

“I know who you are,” I responded coolly and stared straight ahead. I knew who all of these foolish Time Lords were. Although they treated me with contempt I made it my business to know who they were, who I had to beat, what their weaknesses were, and how I could use them to my advantage. But even had I not been so attentive I still would have known who this gawky boy was. Everybody knew who Theta was.

“You know me?” He stared at me with his deep brown eyes, like pools of curiosity. It was the closest thing I had ever seen to looking into the Untempered Schism.

“Everybody knows you,” I responded evenly. I began looking straight ahead again. I could see all I needed through my periphery vision. I didn’t need to give him the satisfaction of my attention. He had enough from the rest of the world. Our future commander.

“Ah,” he nodded and looked down at his neglected hand and then placed it awkwardly in his lap. “I guess they know of me in the same way everyone knows of you. “Ushas, the human.”

The insult to my birth right that he so casually delivered struck me like a blow. I turned on him in a fury and hissed,

“You’re the human. You’re the one from a tainted loom. I am of full Time Lord blood, born of a proud linage of Time Lords and Ladies. There is no contamination in my blood.”

I stood up and moved to stalk away but the weedy looking boy grabbed hold of my hand and held it with such intensity that I could not move away.

“I am sorry,” he finally said. “I didn’t mean it as an insult. More that the fame of your unusual birth experience proceeds you. You are unique here, an anomaly. As Am I. I thought that perhaps…” His voice trailed off.

“What?” I snapped looking down at him. Seeing at once how lonely and fragile this child was. That he too was an outcast.

“I thought we could be friends,” he stammered.

“I don’t need friends,” I said and shook his hand free of mine. I began walking away when his soft words halted me.

“I do.”

I turned and stared at him. This pathetic figure, covered in leaves, his Prydonian robes, that would have been worn for the first time today, already tattered, and wondered how is it that he could be prophesized to be the future leader of Gallifrey where as I was denied even being humoured with the thought of being on the Council at all. And his birth was just as scandalous as mine, yet he was destined for greatness and his family revered whilst mine was in ruins. I stared at him contemplating exactly how to respond. The best way to cut him down.

“Hey, human,” I heard a voice behind me sneer. I turned, ready to lash out at who had dared insult me. It was a chubby, older boy, with pink cheeks. He looked like the kind of child who sat about eating all day instead of attending to his studies. Even this disgusting behemoth thought to insult me.

“Cousin,” Theta’s voice rang out resigned, “If being human makes me less like you then I would be glad of it. Call me human all you like. I want to be nothing like you. You revolting Slitheen.”

The ginger boys face flushed redder than his hair and he dove on top of Theta, fists thrashing wildly. At this point it dawned on me that although Theta had been destined for greatness, his abnormal birthing journey made him just as much as an outcast as I was. And that a disenfranchised boy, destined for greatness, would be not only easy to manipulate but endlessly useful. So in that moment I made the worst and best decision of my life. To save the scrawny boy from his beating and to make him my ally.

In my training for joining the Academy I had undertaken much physical training. I could lift far heavier loads than my petite frame belied. I easily pick up the chubby ginger boy and tossed him unceremoniously down onto his rump. He groaned uncomfortably, rubbed at his back and shot a look of pure poison at me. I smiled back in return, as sweetly as a schlenk blossom.

“You’re just as big a freak as he is,” he roared at me. “Stupid humans. You shouldn’t even be allowed here. You’ll dilute our bloodlines. My dad says you’ll bring about our ruin, you will.”

“Well perhaps you better stay away than,” I murmured with irritating calm. “You never know what we barbarous humans might do. Why, we’re just as unstable as any dalek.”

“You’re mad,” the chubby boy yelled getting to his feet. “You pair belong together. They should put all of you freaks together then throw you into the Schism.”

“Enough, Cousin.” Theta had gotten to his feet. He spoke with such intensity that the whole Academy grounds stood still. All the children stopped to stare at him as his authority rang across the yard. I looked at him in awe. How could such a scruff suddenly become so commanding? I could see it now, why he was destined to lead. “Go about your business. I have no more time for you.”

Theta’s cousin fled, almost tripping in his haste to be away. I stared at the boy who had become a man in front of me and simply said,

“Friends?”

“I’d like that,” he responded with a warm smile and I could not help but smile back.

“Should we go to class now?” I asked.

“I think so,” Theta responded, “freaks like us can’t afford to be late.”

 

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