The Players

(Divided between my current and prior states of being, and then alphabetical by subsection.)

Afterlife: Ghostly Family and Friends

Immediate family…

E. Alexander Crawley: Our gracious alively host, Alex is a historian, writer, artist, imagination-specialist, and all around darling sir.  I owe a great many things to him, especially as he shares his home, mind, and time with Marcus and I.  But I would like to say an especial thank you to Alex for his unshakeable faith in me and my very existence.  When it would have been easy to turn tail and run, Alexander did not, and for that I am grateful beyond belief.

Jeremy Terwilliger Junius-Smith: My utterly darling son, adopted in April of 2012.  Jeremy, or J as we tend to call him, has the honour of being, without a doubt, the kindest soul I have ever met.  He spends every minute of his day being perfectly genuine and generous.  He does not receive a gift that he doesn’t think about to whom he can give it, nor does he accept praise without wondering to whom he owes thank for their help in his achievements.  He is frozen at age four, but after what we expect to be about a decade as a ghost, he has achieved something along the lines of seven year old processing abilities.  This means that he is often an unintentionally hilarious mix of gifted young man and lingering babyhood.  And, perhaps my favourite of all his personality traits, he is unabashedly prone to strapping faerie wings over whatever he elects to wear for the day.

Marcus Junius-Smith: My husband.  Marcus is…well, he’s a precocious imp (albeit a strapping Roman imp).  But he is also utterly fierce–both a lover and a fighter.  In his day a powerful statesman and general, he is now something akin to the unofficial patron saint of Roma itself.  He drills and rides daily, demands perfection from business associates, and has no time for those who cross him.  But he also has a smile that heals all, unending love for our family, and an unflappably joyful addiction to all things strange, particularly things zoological, ornithological, and paleolithic.  He is strong but ebullient, intellectual but ridiculous, tough but artistic.  He is the sort of man who pushes me out of my comfort zone while keeping a keen, watchful eye as I explore new territory.  He is, in a word, extraordinary.

Mirabelle Junius-Smith: My utterly riotous daughter, adopted in November of 2013.  Mira is seven going on approximately 110, and so her personality quirks are even more pronounced than J’s.  For instance, she insists on independent walk abouts at the end of the summer, swears like a sailor, and, much like her Popa, has no patience for those who waste her time.  But her lurking seven year old proclivities compel her to dress in the oddest assortment of clothing–often including tutus–cuddle her kitten, Cozy, and every once in a blue moon show a bit of weakness and a need for someone to hold her hand.  She manages to make friends without being overtly friendly, amaze people without intentionally trying for amazement, and do whatever she wants as often as she can get away with it.  She is also a very successful model, although we met Mira outside of that world we now share.

Extended family…

Aulus: Marc’s first husband, of whom I feel rather fond simply because he was so fond of Marcus.  As Marc tells it, Aulus was a crack shot with a sling and bullets and an utterly terrible soldier in all other respects, haha.  He was kind, circumspect, sweet, and in the end, brought down in battle.  But before that happened, he had the chance to impress upon Marcus the importance of occasional silliness and mercy for one’s enemies.  He also cut a fine, trim figure if Marc’s memories are to be believed…which he assures me, they are.  Tall, thin but not overly so, with dark curly hair and olive skin.

Rufius: Marc’s second husband, of whom I also feel rather fond, all told.  He was an artisan potter who tracked Marc down to his estate after Marc knocked over a vase in Rufius’s shop and left without paying for the damage.  Come to think of it…perhaps that’s why I like Rufius so much.  In any case, he and Marcus spent somewhere close to a decade together.  Marc would sneak into his shop half the time, to cook for Rufius and help raise his son, Little Ru.  And the other half had Rufius staying at Marc’s estate and occasionally attending him on vacation as his resident artist and, one would assume, his resident open secret.  Rufius impressed upon Marcus the importance of familial warmth, cultivated his state paganism into something more devout, and inspired a love for ferns…ferns everywhere in their homes and now in ours.  Everywhere.

Porcia Catonis: The woman herself.  Marc speaks of Porcia less as his wife–although they were legally wed–than as his intellectual other half, his best friend, his helpmate, and his challenger.  She was within all of his decisions, and if she did kill herself after Marc’s suicide, it wasn’t over some broken heart–it would have been the death of a soldier and co-conspirator.  I wish I could meet Porcia.  Once I found my tongue, I’m sure we’d get on.

Dear friends…

Andrew Voigt: Danny’s husband.  A lovely gent out of 18th century Germany who has traded thickly knit woolen tunics for thickly knit woolen sweaters.  He was apprenticed to an astronomer in his day, spent the majority of his time copying charts, and yet maintained his love of all things astronomical.  He works as a lab technician and astronomer in his own right now, and stargazes with Mira and J as often as possible, which immediately endeared him to me.  And despite being an obvious creature of habit, he nevertheless exudes patience, takes all of Danny’s projects in stride, and reads widely.

Benjamin Smithe: A liberal Puritan and John’s husband.  Once a rebel of the highest degree, Ben reconnected to his faith and its orderliness when he connected with John.  He is still a bit modern in dress, and occasionally reaches for that second glass of wine, but, overall, he’s turned his energies to charity. He works as an accountant for JS Charities, as he values children’s aid above all else.  I am not at all hyperbolising.  The man sacrificed himself rescuing his younger siblings from a house fire. He also recently became a board member with a group that seeks out young adult, LGBTQ ghosts who need help rationalising their traditionalist religion with their love/expression.

Charles Tetley: A jovial, Gilded Age New York, upper-middling sort of fellow with a droopy mustache and no end of love for his wife Rachel Rose.  He enjoys reading the newspaper at people, eating as many shrimp as he can get his hands on, and serving on the board of my charity where he gives away my money with great compassion and cheer.  He also calls me “Elliot, my boy!” like a grandda, and I have to admit, I adore it.

Claudius: One of Marc’s former soldiers and current groundskeeper.  Claudius is more Marcus’s mate than mine.  But I have such a soft spot for the man that I must mention him here.  In particular, I love his jovial kindness, his utterly mystifying skill with animals, plants, and earth, and his undying loyalty to Marcus and their Roma.  And I find it utterly tragic that we all thought him a bit of a lovable, clumsy dolt when he first found Marc in Ghost World, when in actuality he was just near blind.  He never saw the page to learn his letters, and he never saw the spear that brought him down as he tended the cavalry.  Now with spectacles, he’s as bright and graceful as any, and his military skills are proving formidable.

Daniel ‘Danny’ Regents: My personal assistant, dearest friend, and in some manners adopted son–I did walk him down the aisle after all.  Danny has no qualms about giving me what for, a mind for languages and schedules, and an implacability that all make him indispensable as an employee.  And he has interests and passions in spades–yoga, comics, cooking, wine–which make him too fun as a friend.  I admire him for both aspects of his person, and also for the fact that he recently entered into the process of applying as a ‘passing’ foster–someone who takes on the care of ghost children with the intention of resting them.  He’s hoping to work directly with children who lost battles to cancer, as his own end at 22 came via leukemia.  His strength and Andrew’s selfless co-commitment amaze me.  Saints both of them.

Edward ‘Ed’ Parent: A calm, cool, collected, esoteric gentleman.  Which makes his marriage to Jacques occasionally baffling.  Ed is a chess aficionado with a weakness for red wine and white sweaters–a dangerous combination.  He is also very much a homebody, introverted but animated once you get to know him, and I’ve become quite close to him over the years.  He is not a Victorian by any means, but of my new mates, he feels the most like one.  Unless he is screaming at Jacques in the midst of Mario Kart racing trials.

Fleur Tsarina: Marc’s personal assistant, dearest friend, and definitely not somewhat adopted daughter, but only because of her pride.  To be clear, her surname is not actually Tsarina; she only picked it for the absurdity.  Her real surname is something she keeps private, as it links her too much to her personal tragedies in Vichy France where she gave up ballet for resistance.  Her entire personality seems to hinge on that moment–the opening of her struggle between a craving for glittering beauty and a desire for good, real, safe earth.  It’s what led her to the world of fashion, and also what colours her interactions with whining designers, foppish models, and imagined dramas.  So, essentially, she is a perfect match for Marc.  And I find her less terrifying than I used to.

Jacques Abbott: A loud-mouthed, swill-drinking, hockey stick-wielding, broken-nosed crazy person.  If anyone ever needed proof that opposites attract, I would point them to Ed and Jacques without a second thought.  That said, Jacques is also kind, fiercely devoted to his friends, and willing to wear something other than a sports jersey when Ed gives him that look.  He is also the most gifted haunt I know, and recently quit his job at an engineering firm to work as a Ghost Club administrator.

John Smythe: Marc’s junior partner at JS Designs.  Also Ben’s husband, also a Puritan, also a Smy/ith/e.  John is an impressive bloke with a sincere nature, a talent for all fashion crafts, but leather work particularly, and a stalwart devotion to his faith.  But it’s a quite progressive faith that is strong in human understanding and free of the exclusions for which it was once known.  And as we’ve shared offices, I’ve come to appreciate his potent blend of simple-living, old fashioned syntax, and curiosity for the modern.  No one else in the world would ask, “Thou hast heard of Popping Tarts?” and expect a serious answer, and for that, I love him.

Konstantinos Adelphus, ‘Delphi’: The quintessential sweetheart, who can’t seem to catch a break.  Delphi hails originally from 300 C.E. on the Peloponnesus, where he was an artisan metalsmith.  His wife died tragically, and he followed shortly thereafter of something one part ague and one part broken heart.  His art has taken off in popularity again, which is lovely, but the heartache persists.  He and Marc have long conversations in very old Greek over very old wine about the benefits of moving on from very old thoughts, helping each other to navigate the new.

Matiu:  An ancient Maori ghost.  Matiu doesn’t know how old he is–at least as old as Marcus–and he detests talking about such things, or about ghostliness in general, on account of Maori tapu.  Thus, he’s one of my more difficult friends–I’ve never done well with the perfectly sombre.  And while I can respect his performance of earth rituals, which have conjoined him with folklore, and I can respect his love for his home and his family and his village, I find his honour-bound discipline a bit maddening at times.  And if I were his husband, I would gall rather a bit more than Teddy does at some of Matiu’s restrictions and expectations.

Rachel Rose Tetley:  Marion, had she lived to 75.  Alright, it’s partially the name that inspired my initial comparisons–Rachel Rose.  But they really are a lot alike.  For instance, Rachel Rose has a fondness for saying shocking things while wearing pearls, teasing anyone she meets, and putting her feet up on the furniture.  She also serves on my JS Charities board and provides the air of reason in the room.  When we emotional misters are all wrapped up in causes, she sighs and reminds us to look at financials.  She is also indispensable when decisions become difficult.  And she’s lovely–smitten with her husband of over a century, preferential to her aged appearance, and obsessed with tea.

Theodore ‘Teddy’ O’Connor: Matiu’s husband…of sorts.  Teddy was an Irish carpenter and colonial immigrant when he died of a bad fall at the end of the 19th century.  As he tells it, Matiu was there awaiting him at his manifestation as a ghost, and took him to his home to adapt, placed him in the village, and treated him as a Maori.  He developed a–certainly reciprocated–fondness for Matiu, which blossomed into love and attraction, and then he just never moved out.  The village treats Teddy as though he’s Matiu’s wife, with all the stereotypical expectations for obedience and service, thus testing my ability to allow each their own.  But at least Teddy stands up for himself–we met when he and Matiu were on a retreat in Hawaii and Teddy sneaked away from their campsite to a nearby hotel (where Marc and I were celebrating our honeymoon) to drink something wicked out of a coconut.

My Designers…

Georgie: A posh, flippant, hot-and-cold man who’s something between a dandy and a Corinthian.  He found me in my second year of modelling and snatched me up for his line Regencies before my contracts became…absurd.  I love walking for him, as he usually picks natural, wild, forlorn sorts of settings and encourages both Byronic attitude, as well as Byronic attendance–his audiences are overwrought, as are his opulent partners of both sexes.  It’s all rather brilliant.

Herschel Zehr:  An Edwardian gentleman…or the German comparative.  Herschel signed me for his line Zehr Anzuge based on my likewise gentlemanly manner, which holds until I open my mouth and attempt to say any word starting with an ‘h’.  He makes impeccably cut suits, and over the years I’ve come to front his line and print ads and make him rather more famous than he was to start.  He’s a dear heart who fancies walks in nature over walks with companions, hence we’ve never become terribly close.  But we very much value each other and enjoy the meeting of our talents.

Marie: A haute couture powerhouse.  Marie was once an assistant to Rose Bertin in the time of Marie Antoinette, and the skills and fashions she learned there have turned her into, arguably, the most famous designer in Ghost World.  Her gorgeous, ephemeral, posh-18th-century-line Mode du Marie was my second sign and rather something of a coup, although I didn’t realise it at the time.  I was simply desperate to wear her designs and charmed by her madness.  She calls her husband, a street sweeper and graffiti artist, ‘girafe’.  She asked me at my interview to describe myself as if I were a hot air balloon.  And she sent Marcus a lizard wearing a pink bow and a name tag marked “Barbu” with absolutely no explanation whatsoever.

Richard Teer: The man Errol Flynn wishes he could have been.  Richard is a temptation in highly-shined boots.  He’s tall, broad, and dark until he grins–which he does often–and he’s prone to acts of faux piracy.  We, as his models, act as his entourage more than anything else, accompanying him on pleasure cruises where we wear his clothes, throw parties, commandeer vessels, and make people fall in love with us and our look.  Makes Marc a bit nervous, poor thing, but it’s all in good fun.  Terribly operatic, actually, and I look rather fetching as a musketeer, I must say.

Ah, and the Junius-Smith pets…

Barbu: A ghost bearded dragon.  She lives in Marc’s office in Toronto.  I can’t even remember why Marie sent her to Marc, but she did, so there’s that.

Earl Pink: J’s ghost teacup pig.  He found him wandering in the forests and brought him home in tears, so…we have a pig now.

Globus: Shitty Kitty.  Marc’s tuxedo energy cat prefers to be less the gentleman and more the spawn of demonic cat overlords.  He’s out for himself…and for our ferns, belongings, curtains, pillows, and free time.  He also wears capes–mainly a red cape with his own black and white silhouette.  Yes, Marc perpetuates this ridiculousness.

Harlequin: My energy duck friend!  Quiny Quiny Qua Qua is the sweetest animal to ever grace the afterlife.  he cleans up all the Globus messes, arranges his own area in the house with a pleasing array of feathers and pebbles, and cuddles me when he’s not floating in the Roman bath.

Lady Cozy: Full name–Lady Costanza of Motherfuck Island.  Mira’s ghost cat who has a tendency to ignore Glo, much to his dismay.  Rather unrequited.

Nox: My number one frenemy.  Nox is–Marc is glaring at me while I write this–a stuck up little brat of a horse who likes to be coddled as much as he likes to go to war.  I have to hand it to him–he did help keep my husband safe in many perilous situations.  But he also rivals me for affection and time.  If a Disney godmother came along with a wand and turned that horse into a prince, I’d be concerned.  I’m being told I’m an idiot, but I would be concerned, I really would.  Nox also refuses to eat carrots if I’m the one holding them.

Pistrix: A pool shark.  Indeed.  Marc’s surly-sweet treasured little fishlet, all black, with a name that means ‘sea-monster’. Pistrix is a ghost rescue the children and I found for Marc for his 2150th birthday.  He cried upon receipt and immediately started training the ghost to heighten its personality.  They play pirates now.  It’s really too much.

Sam: Our ‘roll-poll’ hedgehog.  Sam is rather innocuous–one of those house pets who rather tootles along and occasionally pops up for snuggles.  He likes to get into Marc’s art supplies, so we’ve taken to leaving him a canvas and a few paints for his quill paintings.

Toothless: My energy dragon and boon companion. While Marc fashioned his first energy pet (Nox) out of a specific set of memories, my first foray was a vaguely penguin-shaped bubble creature I called ‘penguin’–brilliant–and later reshaped once I saw the Dreamworks film How to Train Your Dragon and became obsessed.  My version of Toothless is a bit smaller, but still too large to be a lap dragon.  Not that he abides by the ‘no furniture’ rule.

In Life: Victorian Family and Friends

Immediate family…

Jane ‘Janey’ Hobbes: My chosen kin.  Janey was like my sister and like the sun–fiery, golden, explosive, teasing, and prone to bringing lesser mortals into her orbit.  She and Marion made a terrifying pair; they were the women who taught me what wit I had.  She and Geoffrey also made a terrifying pair, but by the time they admitted love, and Geoff made a go of monogamy, she was too far gone to the factory spectre to make their chance together last.  She passed in the spring of 1837, just months before Marion and I wedded, and a great light went out in London.  I find myself thinking of her to inspire my more devilish moments.

J. Geoffrey Spriggs: My first precocious imp of a husband.  I have a type, you see.  Geoff was a surgeon by his father’s insistence, and a musician, linguist, lover, fashionisto, laboratory scientist, scholar, and scoundrel according to his own heart.  We met at University College London when we were youths of fifteen and sixteen (he, a year younger than I) and remained inseparable, to varying degrees of intimacy, our entire lives.  Being with Geoffrey was equal parts exhilarating and maddening, and our relationship was much more successful later in life after we’d both a chance to settle into our own skins.  Especially after Marion and I wove him into our marriage in what I now understand to be polyamorous manner.  But I was madly in love with him (and his cascading freckles) from the moment I him.

Jonathon Matthew Smith: My stunningly brilliant boy.  Where to even begin with Jon…  An affectionate child, but with a penchant for stubbornness, especially when chaffed by the rules of society, he was his mother’s son.  An ear for languages and an eye toward things with a tendency to leak from vials, but with a dramatic streak to offset his erudition, he was his Uncle Geoffrey’s nephew.  And what did I give him?  Unruly dark hair, quick smiles and quick seriousness in turn, and more love than I thought humanly possible.  He was beautiful, indefatigably curious, and frighteningly smart.  And he was gone too soon.  Twelve years old.  I miss him every day.

Marion Rose Smith:  My precocious imp of a wife, haha.  Marion was a lovely flutter of contradictions.  She was a radical bluestocking who was not above sneaking into parliament, but also a gifted seamstress with a great fondness for girlish colours and pleats.  She was an astonishing mother, who managed to set fire to three out of five meals.  She was sharp, beyond intelligent, well-read, and well-written, but also prone to silliness, which included a vast array of impersonations.  When I was with Marion I would laugh til I cried, blush at the slightest provocation (of which she provided many), and spend every day in admiration of something new.  She was also terribly progressive.  Upon discovering that my tastes run decidedly toward men, and that she was, in fact, the only woman by whom I was truly affected…she preened.

Extended family…

Anne ‘Annie’ Rose: Charlie’s match in every way.  Annie was the woman you wanted near when you were ill or sad or distressed–a mother to all.  We immediately liked each other–solidarity in the face of our mother-by-law–and she and Charlie made it a point to regularly visit Marion and I in the country after the loss of Jon took us out of London to heal.

Charles ‘Grandda’ Rose Sr.:  Marion’s grandfather.  A charmer, for true, and a gambler, horse racer, estate owner, and all around silver fox scalawag.  Marion stayed with him every summer, even in our marriage, when she would take Jon along (to learn terrible, wonderful habits.)  I was always welcome in his home, despite what his asinine daughter-by-law-she-who-shall-not-be-named said about me.

Charles Rose Jr.: My father-by-law.  Charles…not a bad man, but not a strong man, either.  He did love Jon, I’ll give him that.  He loved him fiercely.  And, to his credit, he made a rule that I was not to be ostracised or verbally assaulted in front of my son.  I liked him much better when he finally went looking for real love, decades into his marriage, and took up with a similarly married woman who broadened his world and brought him to his senses.

Charles ‘Charlie’ Rose III:  My brother-by-law.  Charlie was, somehow, the sweet, apolitical, optimistic, even a bit hapless son of the same marriage that produced Marion.  He doted upon her, and his wife, and his children, and even a little bit on me, sending me poems he thought I might like via post.  A dear man.

Francis Sylvester Mahoney, aka, Mr. Yorke:  The man who saved my life.  Mr. Yorke took me in off the streets when I was fourteen–a starving, ragged, angry, abused young man–and gave me a place to live, an apprenticed trade, a start with my letters, and a sense of dignity.  I sold papers for his mate down Fleet while I learned enough to run the press for the Journal and clerk for the juniors.  Then I slowly worked my way up the ranks, as a sort of son to the man, eventually buying into the ownership.  When Mr. Yorke retired in the 1840s, he left me his office and his scotch.

Dear friends…

Ambrose ‘Paul’ Anderson: A curmudgeon.  Politician, MP in the House of Lords, and overall Very Important Man, but also devoted husband, eventual protective father, and gracious host, Paul was both my nemesis and my good friend.  He flashed between close-minded asshole and progressive thinker, rich boy and philanthropist, and traditionalist and queer at the blink of an eye.  I think I always had such a love-hate relationship with him because I could never convince him to settle on Jekyll, nor could I be entirely unsympathetic to his Hyde.  Paul was so very much a product of his circumstance.  Always conflicted we were, but I do miss him now, in my own way.

Christopher ‘Chris’ Banks: The most complacent member of our campus crew consisting otherwise of Paul, Theo, Geoff, and me.  As long as Chris had a pint or a dram at hand, he was perfectly content–too content as the years wore on.  He could chat about anything, play any sport with any equipment you threw at him, figure any number in the blink of an (even drunk) eye, and judge your character before you knew he’d started surveying.  He was also a brilliant painter, although he only showed a handful, and an aggressive dresser, all plaid and muttonchops.  And while it’s a bit anachronistic to say so, Chris was the fiercest of LGBTQ allies.

Maxwell: A floppy, boyish, pleasantly-mad scientist with a penchant for curries and giant maps of bird-flight.  Maxwell…well if a man can need two husbands, it was Geoff, and Maxwell was the applicant to my parallel position. They were together about a year before Geoff mucked it up–he was so good at that–but they were coming back around, building out our polyamorous network, when I passed on.  Marion died in the same event, leaving Geoff alone in the world.  I desperately hope Maxwell tightened his hold on the man and never let go.  I’m a bit embarrassed to say, I cannot remember if Maxwell was his given or surname–details often escape me after all this time, but I know I never called him anything else.

Rebecca ‘Becky’ Anderson: Paul’s wife. And, therefore, a saint and soldier among women.  They were betrothed from birth–aristocratic cousins and whatnot–but both were rather convinced nothing would come of it.  Then scandal broke, and to restore the family name after Paul’s younger brother sought to destroy it, the two had to unite and spearhead the next generation and its heirs.  Neither were at all happy about it–but since it ended Paul’s marriage to Theo, he was especially, violently distraught.  Becky called him on his idiocy, forced his secrets to the front, and after the shock, molded their marriage into a remarkable friendship, complete with children…somehow.  She and Theo became very close in the process–an unlikely, but often hilarious duo, much to Paul’s consternation.

Roger Blackwell: The Gothic picture of a man–tall, dark, handsome, brooding–but with a laugh like summer.  Roger was the man Theo needed after Paul found himself married off amidst aristocratic scandal.  I argue he was the man Theo needed all along–an artist, curator of private collections, avid reader, and optimist.  He was as ‘out’ as a man in our time could be, with a father-in-the-know and an unapologetic but crafty way of life, and Theo benefited from his certainty and frankness.  He even convinced Theo to apply to his oldest sister for understanding, to great success.  Roger and Theo were still together when I passed on.

Theodore ‘Theo’ Keitzel: A darling, dear, sweet man with white-blonde hair, bedroom eyes, and legs that went on for days.  He wore Paul’s ring and remained with him for a decade before circumstances split them and Theo took up, after a time, with Roger.  But before all that, before Marion and I, Theo and I had one of those rose-gold spring dalliances. Remained a healthy bit of smitten our entire lives…obviously.  He was a financier by trade, but a violinist in his heart.  He also made the most delectable baked treats and when we begged him, and he could get a word in edgewise on Geoffrey, he read us poetry in his light German accent.

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