April 13th, 2007

aresmist

A tribute to Tham

A mutual friend emailed me with very sad news.  There is a great void in the Herc/Xenaverse now - a great writer and long-time friend has died after a battle with breast cancer.  Those who have been in the fandom for many years will remember her as Thamiris: founder of the KSmithAres list, gifted writer and story-teller.  She left us way too soon - at 42- with so many stories left unwritten.  I choose to remember her as "Tham" - mutual Ares lover, occasional debater, arbitor of differences, and most of all, friend.

Tham and I go way, way back,  to the beginnings of the Herc/Xena fandom.  We had our occasional differences and debates about slash fanfic vs gen/het fan fic, but we genuinely liked and admired each other as friends first.  All those differences in taste and style became unimportant over time and we let them drift away to revel in our shared rememberances of the laughter and fun that brought us together as friends in the first place.  Tham always had my back in the old days and even when we weren't on the best of terms, I admired her for being willing to speak up for what she believed in.

We met once in person,  at a con in NYC, and we kept in touch over the years, mostly on each other's birthdays.  Every year, we sent each other some XXX rated, Ares-inspired birthday email.  We'd catch up for a few days chatting by email, and neither of us ever missed a birthday.  I always knew that there would be a birthday email from Tham in my inbox on Nov. 10th.  This year, when I sent my usual birthday email to her on March 27th, and I didn't get a response, I knew something was wrong.  I hoped that maybe she had run off to some exotic vacation spot with a new man, or was busy researching material for another story.  But my gut told me it was more than that.  This is her obituary:

http://www.legacy.com/CAN-Montreal/Obituaries.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonID=87076590

Tham was a dedicated slash writer.  She was one of the few who could get me to read slash, simply because of her superb writing.  She could tell a story with the finest of the fanfic writers.  She was simply one of the best writers of any genre to ever take the characters so loved by the Herc/Xenaverse Nation and weave them into stories.  Period.  

Tham knew that I rarely read any slash and was (and am) a dedicated het/ gen lover.  But she also knew that I read hers for the superb writing and admired her work immensely.  We joked many times that she knew that I skimmed through the explicit slash sex scenes in her stories with a grimmace on my face when they involved Ares!  One of our favorite long-standing jokes was Iphicles's orange hair in "War Wounds".

Even though she wrote very little het in her later years, she knew how much I had always loved the het she wrote early on, particularly her wonderful "Songs My Grandmother Taught Me", which I nominated in a fanfic contest as one of the best Herc/Xena gen stories ever written.  As a special birthday present to me one year, she sent me a story she had written especially for me, after a discussion we had about whay would have happened if just once, Xena had given in to Ares.  It was originally written as a private gift from a special friend, but it was so wonderful that I encouraged her to submit it to several fan fic archives and has since become one of the best loved of her stories.  There can be no greater tribute to a writer like Tham than to be remembered for her work - the work that gave so many readers so much pleasure and so much inspiration.  As my lasting tribute to my friend Tham, I am posting the story link here.

Rest well, my friend.  Your battle is over now and you've won the peace you deserve.  I am a better person and a better writer for having known you and your work.  You will be very missed in your many fandoms, but you will always be with me when I read your stories and remember you as a superb storyteller and as a friend who always had my back.

Clink below to read "Vibrations of a Bell" - Thamiris

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aresmist

Songs My Grandmother Taught Me - Thamiris

This is one of my all-time favorite Thamiris stories.  This was written many years ago, right after Ten Little Warlords originally aired, and she knew it was the one of hers I loved best.  She was totally convinced that she didn't write het very well, but as you can see, she was wrong about that!  ;-)

I love the tone and the layers of texture in this story.  When she first posted it, I had to read it a couple of times to "get" the whole story.  She packs so many images and nuances of sub-plot into so few words.  It 's a textbook example of crisp, clear writing where no word is wasted.  This story still stays with me today as one of Tham's best.

Rest well, old friend.




Songs My Grandmother Taught Me - Thamiris

My grandmother spends hours in the pale blue kitchen, rolling dough between her delicate fingers, stirring in cardamom with a long wooden spoon, measuring the milk with her still- sharp blue eyes.  Singing quietly, while she mixes the ingredients for her famous honey cake, her trim figure under the crisp white apron sways to the rhythm.

He watches her from the doorway, dark eyes on her undulating hips.  At seventy, he's still handsome, black hair now liberally streaked with grey, back still straight despite the years of heavy work on the farm, body still hard and lean.  Half of the village women are in love with him, and not a few of the men.  Age hasn't dimmed his desirability, and when my grandmother sees him watching her, she flashes her husband a secret smile, and her hands begin to move in a slower, more sensuous fashion over the heavy, honey-swirled dough.

They've forgotten me, sitting in a corner under a latticed window, the sun shining on the fair hair they tell me I've inherited from her, my mother's mother.  Before her song, she'd been telling me a story about my grandfather, how she'd known he liked her even before he did.  Lost in the memory, her song had begun.

I can't make out the words, but I recognize the haunting tune. It's a ballad, about a young  girl who falls in love with a dark, violent god.  They sleep together one night under the stars in a silent forest grove.  When the rain wakes her the next morning, he's gone.

Saddened, confused, she returns to the village.  When her belly swells, the villagers are cruel, scorning the girl for giving herself so easily to a fickle god.  Her friends, disapproving of her lover,  move on.

Alone, she waits for the dark god's return, as the child grows inside her. But he never appears.  Finally, believing he despises her, the girl walks into a cool, deep stream.  She doesn't come out.

When her body washes up on the sandy banks, face pale, hair tangled and muddy, the villagers realize their guilt.  They carry the dead girl to the dark god's temple atop a green hill, placing her carefully on the altar, while the candlelight flickers over her ghostly pale skin.

Then the god appears.  At first, he doesn't notice the girl, hidden by the mourning crowd, but when they part at his approach, he sees her lifeless body.  Heat floods the room, and the dark god begins to howl.  He pulls the girl into his arms, stroking her hair, kissing her cold, blue lips.  Suddenly, he vanishes, his lover clutched against his broad chest.

He takes her to the king of the gods.  The grey-haired Zeus promises to restore the life of mother and child only if his handsome son sacrifices his divinity, if he becomes mortal.  The dark god, desperate without the girl, agrees.  In a flash, the lovers are back in the forest grove.  Her blue eyes open, and when she sees the beautiful man, she cries.  He kisses away her tears, and they make love under the green canopy.  Later, when she discovers his sacrifice, the girl demands that he beg Zeus to restore his divinity.

The song ends with his refusal.

My tall grandfather loves that song.  Even now, even after all of these years, he can't resist my grandmother.  He is kissing her now, in the warm kitchen, then picks her up in his strong arms, and they disappear up the stairs.  The familiar creak of the bedsprings echoes through the cottage, and I smile, taking the sweet dough in my hands, rolling it.

Despite their beauty, my grandparents are quite ordinary.  She bakes, tells stories, cares for her grandchildren. He works in the field, tends the animals, and watches my grandmother.

I hope someday that I'll find someone who loves me the way he loves her, the way the dark god loved the innocent girl.

I hope someday I'll stand in a pale blue kitchen, kneading dough, singing a song to my granddaughter about romance and passion, life and death.

I hope someday I'll find my own dark god.

The End

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