Tags: capricious, julie cox, serialized fiction
Welcome to Fox Pass, Texas, a small community where the people are friendly and the mythical creatures aren’t so mythical after all. Capricious by Julie Cox follows the adventures of satyr Luke and his fellow myth-folk in a town that borders a whole lot more than Mexico. (Do you need to start at chapter 1?)
If it hadn’t been for the horns, she wouldn’t have recognized him as a satyr at all. The only thing Greek she could tell about the young man was his Roman nose. The rest of him was generic European—blond hair, gray eyes, and pale skin. His hooves were not visible, clad as he was in loose cargos and hiking boots. Her hair was dark; like his nose, it was the last vestige of her myth’s native people, the dying notes of the Navajo in her blood. He sat a little ways apart from the other myth-folk, arms around his knees, practically screaming “introvert.” Trish stopped a few feet away from him, waiting to be noticed. Her bare toes dug into the sand, and she kicked a little at him.
“Hey,” she said.
He looked down at the sand, then up at her. A little wrinkle appeared between his eyes as he studied her, wary. “Yes? Can I help you?”
“You’re a satyr.”
“I knew a satyr in a past life.”
“Lots of people knew a satyr in a past life.”
She made a face at him, waiting out his bullshit. Finally he huffed, “All right, how long ago was it, and what was your satyr like. I’ll tell you if it was me. To my knowledge there isn’t a warrant out for any of my past lives’ deeds.”
She plopped down beside him in the sand. Here, near the bonfire, it was still warm. Farther down the beach, the sun-drenched sand was cooling rapidly. Her hands were chilled, and she dug them into the warm grit.
“His name was Luke Shepherdson. He lived in the early twenty-first century, married to a Thunderbird named Sally.”
“Sounds familiar,” he said. “Had five kids, lived in Texas? Carved pan pipes and other flutes, and his wife sold them online?”
She grinned. “Yes, that’s him!”
He smiled back at last and offered her his hand. “That was me. My name’s Elliot. You, ah… you look a little avian.” He squinted at her.
She gripped his hand. He had nice hands. “Trish. And yeah—I’m a thunderbird, I was Sally. Man, I’ve been hoping to run into you since that life! I’ve had four since then, on my fifth now.” She grinned, wide and goofy.
“I’m on my fourth,” Elliot said. “Two of mine were really short, and the last I was up on Mars.”
“Well how awesome to finally find Luke’s reincarnated soul again! Not that we’re the same folk by any means,” she added.
“No, of course not, but that was a really nice life,” Elliot said. “I agree, it’s great to find someone who remembers that time.”
They eyed each other, their thoughts mirrored in the other’s eyes. But it was too early, their association too new. They spent the rest of the evening talking. The bonfire blazed into the night, and the other myth-folk all around them hardly seemed to even exist. Trish’s sisters tried to pull her away to join the dancing, but to no avail. The more they talked, the more they remembered—about the lives Luke and Sally had lived, about the myth-folk they had known, about their children and grandchildren, and the vast lineage that followed.
“Shame Charlie died so young.”
“Fuck cancer,” Trish answered. “I ran into him last life.”
“How was he?”
“A she. And much better adjusted. Especially since she had the full benefit of myth-folk magic, unlike Charlie.”
“Shame what happened to August.”
Trish shook her head, sobering. “The sucky part was that they never found the body.”
“I guess he knew what kind of dangers he was getting into, being a field operative for the New York Council. I just wish Cormick hadn’t been with him at the time.”
“True that. Allison wasn’t the same after, and since last life she was a confirmed bachelor, I’d say the shadows of the loss are still with her.” Trish raised the beer in her hand, which was beginning to turn warm. “To old friends, long recycled.”
Elliot raised his plastic water bottle and tapped it against her beer bottle. “To old friends.”
“So,” Trish said, “whatcha got going this time around?”
“I’m moving to Australia in a few months. I have an opportunity to work in a research lab, where I won’t have to deal with people much. It will be better for me than dealing with the general public.”
“Get out!” Trish said. “My mom lives in Australia!”
“Big country. Where at?”
“Now that is a coincidence. The research lab is in the Murray region. Your mom wouldn’t happen to raise sheep, does she?”
Trish nodded vigorously. “One of the only big Merino flocks left, after synthetic protein fiber production displaced the wool industry. There’s still a niche market for people who want the real thing.” She narrowed her eyes. “What are you doing in that area? It’s almost all rural now. Not weapons testing, right? You don’t strike me as an animal person.”
“Oh ho,” Elliot said. “I’m not an animal person, she says. Birdie, you’re going to be hearing about that one for ages.”
Trish couldn’t help but smile at the implied promise that they would know each other long enough to have history, and that this was the start of it. “Did I just step in it? What?”
He grinned wide. “I’m a veterinarian.”
“Well shit. But hey, I bet my mom will like you.”
“As I recall, sheep were integral to your background in Luke and Sally’s life too.”
“Sheep is life. That’s a Navajo saying. They’re important.”
“But the Merino flocks aren’t Churros,” Elliot pointed out.
“Meh,” Trish said, “we’re all mutts now. It’s a fuzzy heritage.”
“Especially with sheep.”
Trish snorted and elbowed him. “Go get me another beer, satyr-boy. Get yourself one too. You’re letting me talk too much.”
Elliot fetched beers. As he handed her one, he said, “You’re really more like Allison, you know. Sally was never so forward. She was cautious, almost suspicious. Allison was the one to go after what she wanted.”
Trish smirked. “And Luke would have made at least three passes already,” she said. “Maybe it’s because after Luke died, Allison moved in with Sally and they had a lovely eight years living as cranky widows, chasing chickens and grandchildren. She had a big influence, especially there at the end.”
“Is that what happened? Nice. Allison and Sally were hot together, once Sally loosened up some.”
“See? The beer’s working already. So, Mr. Satyr Veterinarian. Luke had Sally, and a trio of other long-term lovers to feed off of. What do you do to keep charged up?”
Elliot cleared his throat. “I don’t do a whole lot of magic.”
“Seriously?” She felt a little disappointed.
“You don’t have to tell me now,” she said. She slipped her hand into his. “We’re old souls. We can take our time.”
Elliot and Trish were not Luke and Sally. But somewhere in their souls, a shadow of their former selves remained, with enough love between them to know that no matter what troubles arose, they would be on the same side, for each other’s sake, in this life and in many lives to come.
This marks the end of Capricious. Thank you all for joining Luke, Sally, and the gang on their adventures! Can’t bear to leave Fox Pass just yet? Why not revisit earlier installments?
Julie Cox lives in Texas with her husband, children, and ever-expanding menagerie of animals on their farm. She runs a small online yarn business and teaches yarn spinning. She has numerous stories published with Circlet Press and elsewhere. For her full list of published works, see her website at www.lazypifarm.com.