When I was 14, I became Wiccan. I think that’s also the year I became vegetarian. There are a lot of stories that stem from those two turning points in my life, but this is the one I want to tell you now:
Maybe it was my willingness to believe in magick and foresight, or maybe it was something else. But I remember knowing with certainty after I became Wiccan for sure, but maybe even since before then, that I wasn’t going to live past 18.
I knew it deeper than I’ve ever known anything in my life. And I knew how I was going to die, too. A car accident. I didn’t know if I would cause it or if it would be out of my control, I only knew that was what would happen. I felt the vibrations of the violence of it in my dreams at night; not as nightmares but as a dread conviction.
I knew it so completely that I came to simply accept it. I woke up in the morning, I breathed, I knew my time was limited. It became something that was comforting, in a way.
And because I knew I would die by the time I was 18, I knew I had to write at least one of the stories that wouldn’t leave my mind. So I started what is now Incarnations, but back then was called Calling of the Onyx. I started it when I was around 12/13, around there, and wrote about 150 pages before I had to stop and start over because it wasn’t right. It wasn’t right. And this was my only chance, really, to write the right story before I would die.
Time passed, high school continued, my attempts to write my story marched on.
I don’t remember how old I was on that day. I was in high school still, definitely younger than 18. Was I 16? 17? I hadn’t yet had my 18th birthday, I’m sure.
Back then, my older brother drove us to and from school, and he also picked up or dropped off friends of mine along the way when it was convenient. This day would have been like any other day, except it wasn’t.
When school was out, my brother said he’d drop my friend Tara off at her house. The plan was to drop her off and then I’d go home with my brother. But for some reason that day, Tara asked me last minute as she was stepping out of the car if I wanted to come inside and hang out–study for a math test that was coming up the next day.
Was it a surprise test we’d only just learned of that day? I don’t remember.
What I remember is there was a moment where I hesitated, sitting in the passenger seat. I kind of didn’t want to go to her house, because I wanted to go home and watch TV and roleplay online and just chill. And in that hesitation she urged me to come inside, it’d be fun, and I said I wasn’t sure, and she said come on just come in, so I asked my brother if that’d be okay and he said he didn’t care.
I went inside and my brother drove off.
Tara and I spent the next hour half studying, half goofing off. Until her phone rang and she picked it up, and said it was for me. I answered the phone, heard my mom’s voice and figured she was about to ask when I wanted to be picked up, but that wasn’t at all what she was calling to say.
My brother had been in a really bad car accident, she told me. His car was totaled, she said.
Within blocks of Tara’s house, he had gone through an intersection properly but an SUV hadn’t paid attention to the stop sign and had sped through the intersection. It slammed into the passenger side of the car, T-boned it. Destroyed the car.
My brother was okay.
But if I had been in that passenger seat like I was supposed to be, I wouldn’t have been.
I felt that that was the car accident I had felt all these years. That was what had been weighing on me for years, knowing it was coming, thinking I had no choice. But at the same time I thought, surely that can’t be the accident I expected? Because I somehow missed it, by pure luck and Tara’s insistence.
I think that happened around the time I was 16, because I think I remember there being years after that where I still anticipated that vehicular death even as I no longer felt the certainty as I had before that day at Tara’s.
I wondered for a long time after that why I hadn’t died like I’d expected. When I turned 18, and then 19, and then beyond, I didn’t know what to do with this life I’d never expected to have. I didn’t understand why I had been spared something that had been written in stone for so long.
When I got into fanfic writing and saw the community that came from fandoms, when I had to come up with a reason for why I was alive, I thought that a dream for this unexpected time I had on Earth was for there to someday be something I could write that could be meaningful in whatever way possible to even just one other person. I thought that if I could have anything, if I could find meaning in a dream, then my dream was for something I was involved in writing to have a fandom, no matter how small it may be.
Just one fanfic, one fanart, one anything, would be incredible. Anything beyond that would be astounding, and would fulfill that dream I didn’t dare breathe aloud.
ICoS ended up accidentally fulfilling that dream of mine, which left me feeling free to go back to that story I started all those years ago. Back when I thought I’d have only a few years before I was gone. Now I named it Incarnations, and now I’m trying to finish writing it this year.
Because of ICoS, because of the amazing readers for that story, because at least one person found it meaningful, because at least one person made fanfic or fanart or anything else, because of that community, I’ve been able to dare to have another dream.
This one may never happen, and if it doesn’t I’m honestly completely okay with it. The fact that my first dream was met is more than enough for me. I hardly dare hope for more. But if I could have it, it would be this:
I would love, someday, to be able to quit my job and write a book that gets published. I would like to make just enough money to be able to scrape by as a writer (I don’t expect to ever be rich or well-known). But mostly, even if I can’t do those things, what I would really love is to even just change jobs so I could do what I’ve really wanted to do for years:
I would love to be able to meet people in person. I would love to be able to go to a convention. I would feel incredibly lucky if I could ever be on a panel in a convention, or be a main speaker or the only speaker in one of those panels. I would love to be able to do a book signing sometime in my life. I would love to be able to sit in an Artist’s Alley with books and draw little Ais’ Terrible Art cartoons for anyone who is interested and who was kind enough to stop by. And I would love, someday, to be able to somehow incorporate charities into what I do, like somehow make just a bit more than enough money to scrape by so that extra bit could go to one of my favorite charities, so the people who want to donate know it’s going to a good cause.
I would love any and all of these things, but I also know it’s entirely likely none of this will happen. And I know that even if I were lucky enough to be able to go to a convention as Ais, no one would probably know who I am or care. If I were ever on a panel, particularly if I were the only speaker, or if I ever did some book signing, I would worry that no one would care and no one would show up.
I would have to convince some friends to come so I wouldn’t be sitting there alone in silence. But at least with friends we could hang out and talk, so it’d still be great.
But as much as I would love for any or all of that to happen, I also know it doesn’t have to happen because I was lucky enough for one dream to already have been met, and that alone is more than enough. That alone is more than I’d ever hoped to have.
For every person who ever wrote to us about ICoS, who ever cared about the series or a character, who ever drew anything or made an edit or wrote anything or made music or anything else–to each and every one of you, I can never thank you enough because I don’t have the words to explain to you how incredible and important that is to me.
I wondered why it was that day after school Tara was so insistent, and why I went against my nature to unexpectedly stay at her house. I wondered why I lived when I was set to die.
A few years ago I realized, was it so ICoS could happen? That life-changing event that also wasn’t planned, that also happened accidentally, but that also had positive repercussions in my life going forward? Was ICoS important to someone who needed it at that moment in their life, for whatever reason? Was that why I was spared, so that accidental event could happen for them?
I don’t know, really. Maybe I was also spared so I could rescue my dog. Maybe there’s something I don’t know of yet. I don’t believe in fate, exactly, nor do I think everything has to happen for a reason. I think a lot of things just sort of happen and we roll with them and it’s our reactions to them that affects our options in the future.
That’s how I generally feel, but I can’t feel that way about that accident, because that accident was something I felt the repercussions of years before it happened. That accident was something I knew would happen. That accident is something that so very nearly did happen to me. So the fact that it didn’t is what makes me curious the reason why.
And most days, lately, I feel like the existence of ICoS maybe is that reason.
There are some true stories I’ve considered sharing, or things I struggle with sometimes, in the event they are helpful for anyone else or even just interesting to read.
In particular that’s been on my mind the most has been my struggles over the years with anorexia and ways I’ve dealt with it or tried to get over it, as much as can be done. For example, lately I’ve been struggling with how a person loses weight when they don’t know if they should be losing that weight and are afraid of triggering right back to where they started on anorexia.
Would that be useful and/or of interest for anyone? Let me know if so.