12 March 2007

Mary Jackson 1885--??

On your right you see the one who looked most like how I imagined Mary Jackson, aka Parvati the Elastic Lady, formerly known as Elizabeth Batchelor to look like. I was first drawn to her eyes. She's cuter than she's beautiful, and I didn't imagine Mary to be a "hottie" per se, but to look as if she never aged a day over 17 (the age she was when she was almost lynched in New Orleans for Edmund's crimes.) I had mentioned earlier that I wanted to have fun with the idea that she could "pass" (she was caught impersonating a white woman), but unless she was shapeshifting, she wouldn't. This woman could probably pass if she wanted to. Judging from her clothes (and her wedding dress in the other picture), she came from a middle class black family, which was Mary's background. She joined the circus when her parents sent her to away to school. I think she knew she had a gift and wanted to see how she could use it. And she wanted to go on an adventure. The more she understood the gift, the more she liked the money and fun of grifting, and she realized she could not go back home. Then she got in trouble and really couldn't go home. Elizabeth Batchelor was dead. She was Mary Jackson.
And there's that ruffle. At first is was distracting, but did fit her, and stylishly concealed the noose scar.

So now that I have fabricated a history for this young lady, and our game is over, I'm really curious as to who she really is. Unfortunately, most of the portraits from the collection are of unknown men and women. Oh well. Elizebeth (with an "e") Batchelor (1873-1935) is actually a relative of mine, and she is buried in the family cemetary in Brownsville, TN.

In the spirit of this wonderful post by Meg on the Forge from our Sorcerer game, here is a letter that Mary wrote to her sister after all was said and done.

Summer 1911
Dear Sarah,
I enclose this old picture so that you know that Elizebeth batchlor wrote this letter. You'll remember it was taken just before your wedding in '01. I've not been called Elizabeth in many years, and most who know me outside of Savannah call me Mary Jackson. I'm sure it is a surprise to know that I had been alive all these years. Even more surprising, I mostly live in Paris, France. Remember how much I hated our French tutor? Well, I was listening.

I returned home once in April '02, but you all thought I had been lynched in New Orleans, and that was essentially the truth, but I did not die. I did not let you all know I was home because after attending my own memorial service, where I heard the testimony of how much pain I had caused you all by running away, I could not cause more by having to explain what happened to me. When I returned to my wandering I did not contact you or our parents as I fell in and out of trouble. Trouble follows me everywhere, and I did not want that trouble to reach you all. Yet, not a day passed since I ran away from home that you all have haunted my thoughts.

A year into my travels I discovered the name for my chameleon talent. Here's a funny word for you: I am a 'Shapeshifter.' There are many of us throughout the world. We tend to live on the fringes of polite society (much to mother's chagrin, so don't tell her that), blending in when we want to, retreating to the shadows when we have to. There are all types, like races, I suppose. I was recently formerly accepted into a sorority of shapeshifting contortionists who specialize in theft of identity in Paris, my new home. I have travelled through Europe and America, as a performer, and I have made a name for myself as a gifted contortionist and acrobat. If you must tell Mother and Daddy about this letter, please don't tell them I am a thief. Tell them I am a stage performer, and you won't be a liar.

This past year I toured with an interesting group of performers throughout Europe. I will only say that I have made good use of my acrobatic and stage talents, as well as my more nefarious gifts. I have three main companions: Ozcan, the handsomest white man I've ever seen. He has been like an older brother to me. He has a sister in Ireland, and bacause of some things he has done, he is not able to send for her. I still have no interest in political issues, and I think his family problems are tied up in English politics. I don't pretend to understand them. Our troupe has disbanded, and I have not heard from him since. I read an English newspaper that said he had died, but Ozcan is difficult to kill. The newspaper showed a photograph of his body riddled with bullets. I know all those bullets couldn't kill him that easily.

Then there's Chintzer, who eats things like live chickens! He looks like he should live under a bridge, but you'll never meet a more refined human being. I've never been one to judge by appearance alone (given I can change mine at will), I am not one to marry or settle, and I don't enjoy men's company, but if the stars were aligned differently, and I was more amenable to marriage, settling, and men, I think Chintzer (Arthur is his real name) would be a suitable candidate for a mate. I will keep my eye on him, in the unlikely event that I change my mind.

And lastly there is Edmund, an odious animal who was the root of all my trouble in New Orleans. He was the killer who should have hanged in my stead, and I suspect he did terrible things before and after that. And when I say "animal", I mean he is a werewolf--a cursed cousin of shapeshifters. I have only met two before him, and they were decent fellows. But not Edmund. Edmund is covered top to tail in tattoos which I believe he had applied to hide the shame of his deeds in life. He is a truly frightful thing to see. I saw him cut a piece of a man's arm, cook it, and eat it. Perhaps he didn't know that a 17 year old colored girl would never see fair justice. There is a naive part of me that wants to believe that.

At any rate, Edmund is in the past tense. I had the pleasure of killing him several months ago, and it was worth the trouble that followed. I write this letter en route to England to finish off his sister. I know I sound cold and brutal. Being brutalized and hanged by a lynch mob will do that to a person.

I have missed having a sister and a family all these years. I close with the request you be the sensible sister that you always were, and if you tell our parents anything tell them that I take care of myself as best I can, but that my path in life leads me through down some dark roads. It is up to you to tell them when I actually died, either in New Orleans in 1902 (because so much of me did it would not be a lie), tell them I am alive and well and living in Paris. I hope you will take the trouble to write me back and tell me how everyone at home is. But if not, I will understnad. Just know that I remain your wayward but loving sister.

All my love,

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