In the year of our Lord, fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus set sail searching for a quicker route to India.  That same year the Lady Alexander Whesly was born in England.  her father, the Duke of Freemont, was devastated.  First, because his beloved wife of five years had died giving birth and second the boy he had so wished for had been born a girl.

He had decided to give the babe to his sister, who had married beneath her status.  But with one look at the baby with beautiful blue eyes and blonde hair as soft as corn silk, he could not part with her.  She looked too much like his beloved Alania.  So, he left the boisterous city of London to raise his daughter quietly and peacefully in the country.

Alexandra was not raised like any other girl of her status.  She could ride a horse by the time she was five, could shoot a bow and arrow by seven, learned to falcon at eight, and fence by ten.  Often times the work hands would see the young lady with her long braids flying in the wind practicing her fencing while her old father would watch shouting instructions.  After every practice, the reward was always a kiss and a hug.  His gray beard always tickled her rosy cheeks.

But of course, not all good things will last.  The small castle of Freemont was attached by northern raiders who wanted more land to make a bigger empire.  After twelve hours in the wine cellar, Alex came out to find only death.  She found her father lying next to his chair in the dining hall.  Sobbing Alexandra saw there was no hope for her father.

“Don’t cry for me Alex”, he said hoarsely.  Lord Whesly began coughing.  When he was done a fine line of blood ran down his stubbled chin.  “I fought bravely as any soldier would, at last”, he took a long breath that seemed to turn into a wheeze.  “At last, I will see her again.”  He looked closely at Alexandra and fiercely muttered “You are on your own now.  Remember, remember to keep the lads checked,” she laughed at the old hunting adage while tears streamed down her face.

“I will father.  I will”

“Never forget Alex.  You, are a Whesly”, and the Duke of Freemont died in her arms, and so the real story begins…

One month later, at sea, the old wooden ship creaked and groaned with every wave that hit it.  The strong wind blew the white sails full, making it look like a bright pillow against the black night.  On board, the weary crew fought the raging storm with every ounce of strength.

“Batten down the hatches” yelled the tall sea captain against the wind.

“Aye captain”, screamed the scrawny thirteen-year-old cabin boy.  After doing his job the boy fought his way towards the towering figure.  “How much longer sir?”

“I don’t know Alex” he sounded sad and dejected.  “I’ve been at sea all my life and this is the worst storm I’ve ever seen.”  The sea captain shivered into his coat as he seemed to look inward to something only he could see.

“Well sir, I have the utmost faith in you,” he said sincerely, shouting as loudly as he could into the wind.

At that moment, the ship dropped twenty feet and as the frigate met the water a large crack could be heard.  The ship gave way to the wind, rain, and sea.  After ten years of service, the vessel was no more.  Men and lumber were tossed by the sea like pebbles of sand.

Young Alex clung to the main mast fighting for her every breath.  She wondered what her mother had been thinking so near to the end of her life.  Did she know she was going to die? Alex asked herself.  Were her father and mother reunited?  She hoped so.  She gave a small prayer to them, wherever they were.  She hoped to be spared.  After all, she felt she had much more living to do.  She desperately hoped that she could hold onto the massive piece of wood and that she would be saved.  As the waves battered her back and forth in the inky blackness she began to grow tired.  She feared she had reached the end when she began to no longer care if she held on or not.

After what seemed several hours Alex was washed up on shore, unconscious. She awoke a bit later to the cry of a seagull and the warmth of the sun on her face.  She felt sticky from the salt water and sand.  She was badly bruised and battered.  Slowly, ever slowly, Alex moved from a prone position to a kneeling position to a standing position.  She thanked God and her parents for her life.  Then she looked up into a bright blue sky. Not a cloud could be seen.  As she looked out into the glassy water she could not quite see where the ocean and the sky met.  They both looked the same.

The laughter bubbled up from Alex’s chest and startled her.  She was alive! She was alive and looking at probably one of the most beautiful scenes ever placed before her.  She moved her wet short hair away from her face.  As she looked at her ripped boy clothes she could see ugly bruises all over her body.  On hindsight, pretending to be a boy and traveling by ship may not have been the best idea.  The work had been ridiculously hard, the food terrible, and the other sailors, in a  word, were disgusting.

Alex continued to laugh.  This time she took a deep breath to embrace the laugh so that it could come from deep in her chest.  She laughed so hard, her sides ached.  She laughed so hard, her eyes began to cry uncontrollably.  She laughed until it hurt and still she laughed and cried.  And still, she laughed on.


December 23, 1987

I have just finished watching Beauty and the Beast.  Victor, the beast, is quoting poetry. I wish I could quote poetry.

This vacation I will read as much as I can.  Our cat Max died today.  She died of poison.  We had our house tented for termites because we are moving to the other side of town.  It made me think about the gas chamber.  How would a person sit there and know they were going to die?  I would do it as bravely as possible.  When Mata Hari was executed she was very brave about it and the guards really admired her.  They were going to tie her up, she said that wouldn’t be necessary. At first, the guards didn’t even want to tie her up.  Like the Indian in The Grapes of Wrath, he is standing tall and proud with the sun behind him and no one wants to shoot him because he has magic. I am not sure I would call it magic.  Maybe majestic?  I wonder if that is the same thing?  Anyway, wouldn’t that be a great painting?

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and we still don’t have a tree up. It hasn’t felt very Christmassy.  I was so busy with finals and school, I have not had time to think of Christmas. My dad hasn’t even called yet.  Someday, he will altogether quit calling.  Usually, it doesn’t bother me but every once in a while when I think about it I get upset.  However, I won’t worry about it until another time.  I can do that.  I can push things out of my mind and pretend they simply do not exist.  Sometimes, it costs a lot.  What I mean is I forget things and I become “blonde” but it is worth it.

I remember when I used to dream about a man who came to me and he loved me. He would only come to me when I was asleep. He would always be a different guy. I mean I would change the guy, once it was M.

Once, we were in a beautiful house and I was wearing black. I had a white horse and he had a black horse.  We would ride at night in a forest lit by moonlight riding past fairies running to catch us.

Then there was the guy from the Civil War and B., he was from the 1100s, England.  Like at the Irish Festival.  Have I told you the one about P.?  I am married in a Southern Belle costume in white wouldn’t that be pretty?  My dreams are so long and complex.  It is hard to write them all down.  So I write snippets here and there.  I probably won’t remember them next week.  Just silly thoughts from a silly girl. The end of 1987 is near, how could it have gone so quickly?

I must confess, I am afraid of the future. I know the past. I wish I could be plopped down in the 1900s, I would know what to expect.  Did I tell you the dream where  I  was part of the Black Sheep squadron? My eyelids are growing heavy my love.