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Your Stories Await Telling

AoI in the 21st Century

Catriona MacGregor

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Inside the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Cat stood transfixed, staring at the gorgeous sapphire and diamond necklace known as the Hall Sapphire Necklace.  The Harry Winston designed necklace sparkled brilliantly against the dark velvet background with the lights set up to perfectly reflect in the gems.  She had just come from a meeting with her daughter’s father, the President.  She had been barely 18 to his 48 when they had their affair.  He never denied Nessie as his daughter and for some reason, the public loved him for that.  His wife, not so much.  


Dressed in her “I’m visiting the White House, so I have to look respectable” dress of sapphire blue silk and white lace, matching 3 inch Louboutins on her feet, she looked like one of the ladies who lunch.  She was much more comfortable training men in a bustier and leather pants.  She’d had a text from the manager of the tea shop that a reorder of the chai mix had to be made.  No texts from her sisters’ school, so yeah on that.  She had time before she had to return home.


“Sparkles,” Nessie said as she laid her head on Cat’s shoulder.  She always enjoyed her visits with her Papa, but was tired afterwards.  But, as a two year old, she refused all attempts at a nap.  Cat had found that the gem room in the Natural History museum was perfect for getting her to rest.  Her girl loved her sparklies.  Now, to get her back in the stroller without a fuss…

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Destiny Fulfilled

The Peacocks had reigned supreme at Saxony House for many years but the times eventually changed. With the death of the first Marquis their purpose of being was removed, Saxony house was eventually sold and the Peacocks passed out of ownership of the Blount family eventually settling at Holland House. Yet they continued on generation after generation with corporal memory of their purpose in life.

The years went by and Holland House, bombed in the Blitz, no longer served as a residence the Peacocks forgotten to become mere ornamentation for the public park the estate was to become. Still the peacocks lived on knowing that they still had a part to play. Another century came and went yet one evening a performance was to be held. A public charity concert that was not unusual until over the sound system the voice of the announcer was heard to say. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome… singer and songwriter… James Blunt!’

The little beady eyes of the Peacocks came to life. After centuries of dormancy their destiny had been restored. As the singer began his newest hit, they, in unison, let out a deafening cry full of purpose and determination “KA-WAAA.’

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The click of Cat’s heels on the tile was matched by the rapid click of her nails on the phone screen as she coordinated with her New York City store manager concerning ingredients and staffing allowance.  Multitasking was a word she was very familiar with.  Unfortunately, this particular errand was not on her schedule but was something she couldn’t ignore.  


Stepping into the outer reception area, she walked up to the secretary.  “Good afternoon, Barbara.  I take it one of my horde is in his office?”  


The secretary gave a chuckle.  Cat was a familiar face in the principal’s off at the private school her younger sisters attended.  It was either Fiona got in trouble, Shona won a scholastic aware or Aileen freed all the hamsters in the kindergarten classrooms.  “Rebel, scholar or activist?”


“Believe it or not, Scholar acting like Rebel.”  It was a shock to the secretary too.  


Cat was stunned.  What?  Huh?  A mental 404 error page flashed in her brain.  While her mind was failing to compute that particular idea, Barbara called into the principal’s office, notifying him of Cat’s arrival.  “You can go right in,” she said after hanging up the phone.  Familiar with the office layout, Cat made her way into the office.


Shona sat a bit slumped in one of the two main chairs in front of Dr. Baptist May, who looked up at Cat’s entrance.  “Ms. MacBain, thank you for coming in.  Please, have a seat.”  It was the same song and dance every time, but it had to be played.


Cat took the seat next to her quiet, shy little sister and crossed her legs.  The skirt of the suit she was wearing rode up her thighs, but she wasn’t thinking about that.  “What is she in for?,” she asked, one brow raised.


“Stealing books from the banned book pile.”  That caused Cat to roll her eyes.


“Seriously?  Banned books?  What is this, the 17th century?  Can’t have children having ideas of thinking outside the box.”  Cat’s stance on this was very firm and if she hadn’t been out sick at the last PTA meeting, she would have shot this stupid ban down quick.  “I swear, I will find a way to get that stupid measure taken down.  You mark my words.”  There was a growl in her voice and her eyes flashed.  A hint of the Scottish accent that had been mostly wiped out with the family’s move to the US when Cat was 8 slipped in as well.  Yes, Dr. May was absolutely certain this fiery young woman would do it, too.


“Indeed.  And while you know I agree with you, what young Shona did was against the rules.  That’s why her punishment will be a week’s ban from the library.”  That caused an outraged gasp from the younger MacBain.  “That’s…”


“Do you want to make it two weeks, young lady?,” Cat asked in the calm voice that meant trouble to her younger sisters.  Since their parents’ deaths when Cat was 17, who had already had herself emancipated when it came out her parents were embezzling her modeling money, had been legal guardian of her younger siblings, making her Mother, Father, Sister and anything in between.  Today was Mother day.  “I’m disappointed.  Dr. May, may I have a word with you?”


“Of course, Ms. MacBain.  Fiona, you can wait in the main office.”  The sullen girl, who was turning out to be even more beautiful than Cat, shuffled out the door, shutting it behind her.  Before he could speak, she held up a finger, walked over to the door, and slapped it with her hand right where Fiona was crouching with her ear against it.  A muffled ‘ow’ could be heard then the downtrodden slap of shoes against the floor, moving away.  “I take it this isn’t the first time she’s tried to listen in to a conversation?”


“All three of them are nosy.  I’ve had to learn quickly.”  She sat back down and let out a hearty sigh.  “Do I need to worry this will be on a permanent record and affect her college dreams?”


Dr. May chuckled.  “Of course not.  I was, in fact, rather proud of her.  She takes after her big sister in many ways.”  Cat had attended the school until she was 14 and her modeling career took off.   Then it was tutors, tutors and more tutors.  But that was 6 years ago and a lot had changed.  “Since I have you here, can we discuss…”

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It was an easy enough patrol. The big white bike cruised past the buildings in the city centre, all clean and pretty for the upcoming Festival, keeping pace with it's twin and his colleague. Dorky white bike, dorky white helmet; but the blue uniform he liked. The uniform commanded respect. Still, Corporal FitzJames was in a foul mood. He always preferred the night shift. There were fewer people, less smiling and public relations, more dealing with actual criminals. They were all supposed to do a standard rotation but he usually managed to swap his day shifts for nights, which suited everyone, until the station commander put his foot down and insisted he had to do a minimum number of days to stay relevant. Corporal Hale on the other bike was wisely keeping his thoughts to himself. Douglas was just hoping that Gillis would radio through something interesting on dispatch soon, so they had something to do other than just cruise around and look pretty. 

At was a job, and it was one that he did well. Despite his grudging presence on day shift, he was the one who had made it. His older brother Adam was in jail - older half brother, none of them had the same father - and his mother and younger brother were both dead. Mum of a beating from either a lover or a client, he was never certain, Sean from an overdose. Douglas still remembered the night he'd died. The police raid. Sean, always the smallest of the three and always trying to keep up with his big brothers, had started fitting right in the middle of it. Several cops had immediately run to him and Adam, off his nut, had decided they were killing him, and attacked them. Douglas, not quite so out of it, had gone for Adam, to get him off them. He was the biggest off the three, and loved fighting. The cops had dragged him away in cuffs and Douglas had stood there, unable to do anything, as the ambulance arrived. But Sean never came home. Neither did Adam. It turned out he had outstanding warrants even Douglas hadn't known about. He still remembered sitting there, stones, exhausted, bruised and bleeding from a cut lip, as the policewoman took the cuffs off him that he'd been wearing since they'd separated the three brothers and dragged Adam off. "I saw what you did laddie." She'd said. "Think of this as a turning point. If you keep going, you'll end up like those two. Or you can get out, make a new start. It's up to you." 

It hadn't been easy. The drug washout which of course he'd done cold turkey out of stubborness. The bridging courses to complete the schooling he'd never finished. The months of not knowing where to go from there, starting to fall back into old ways, then making a decision. The application to the police academy, the initial rejection. He'd walking into the local police station out of desperation and asked what he needed to do to get in. One of the officers on duty had been the woman who'd taken the cuffs off him, and she recognised both him and the change. I've come as far as I can, I need help. He couldn't say that though, but she'd seemed to recognise the silent request. They'd worked on the application together, and he suspected she might have sent some sort of word internally. The second time he got in.

Now he had a job, a nice black bike which was currently in the station parking lot, and a dingy little flat that was all his own. He was a grumpy bastard who lived primarily on coffee and cigarettes and had a reputation for barging into dangerous situations and getting away with it, but he wasn't in jail or in a gutter somewhere. He'd got out. 

Knowing his partner's standard diet, Hale turned his bike in the direction of a kebab shop the pair favoured when they were on night shift, and Douglas followed. It was odd, the idea that someone was actually looking out for him. 

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