I have a Destiny, doncha know? With a capital D. Really! I’ve got a
prophecy and superpowers and everything.
Yeah, I know, you wouldn’t think it to look at me. I mean, my dad was a
pencil pusher in the bookkeeping division of Somerville Pickle, and my mum
was a writer of fairy tales…when she wasn’t convalescing.
Despite my unassuming parents, I come from a long line of…well, let’s just
call ’em weird women: the Ashbys. It started way back in the 16th century
in England with Alys Asheby, who bewitched a lord’s son to fall in love
with her, then lived to almost 200. She passed her strange gifts down to
her daughter, whose speaking with ghosts saved her family from a flood.
The legacy moved through the generations, endowing each Ashby woman with
some sense of the supernatural. Sometimes it was a magical skill, like
Dame Alys’. Sometimes it manifested itself as an eldritch sort of art,
like my mom’s revisions of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I always lay awake after
her bedtime stories, waiting, electrified, for a transformation as if
waiting for a storm.
The Ashbys were always supernatural, always women. Ashbys just didn’t have
sons…unless you count my great-aunt’s miscarriages or that two-headed
thing that my grandmother tossed out in the midden three years before
giving birth to my mom.
There were no Ashby boys…until I was born.
When my mom finally got pregnant, she and my dad consulted my great-aunt.
You see – my mom had a delicate constitution – I think they call it brain
palsy, cerebral palsy, nowadays – and she wanted to make sure that her
childbed would be healthy. So she asked my great-aunt – whose Ashby legacy
was second sight – to predict my future.
“Don’t worry, Leonora,” she said to my mom. “Your lying in will be quick
and painless. Your child will be healthy, longer-lived even than Dame
Alys, and it shall have power over love and death.”
Feeling reassured, my mother then went on a search for a suitable name for
her daughter. Of course, she turned to the Metamorphoses.
There she found the story of Philomel. In brief, Philomel’s brother-in-law
Tereus rapes her, then cuts out her tongue so she can’t tell. But she does
tell, by weaving the story in a tapestry. When her sister, Tereus’ wife,
finds out, vengeance, murder, child-eating and transformation ensue – all
par for the course in Greek mythology.
Naturally, my mom thought that Philomel was a perfectly appropriate name
for her child. I was to be Philomel Ashby Cox, after a woman with no voice
and excruciating powers of shapeshifting.
If she had wanted something truly suitable, she would have chosen a name
like Iphis, who was all confused because she felt like one gender
inwardly, but looked like another outwardly…or Protea, Erisichthon’s
daughter, who assumed the shape of a man.
Anyway, I was born, premature and painless, just as my great-aunt said,
and everything was great, except that my parents had no idea what to call
me. For three days, I actually went by Philomel until my dad took pity on
me and stuck his name – William – before the rest of mine.
I was supposed to be a superhero.
I was supposed to be an artist.
I was supposed to be my mother’s daughter.
Instead I’m an amoral vampire fag boy with 110 years of writer’s block.
I mean, how can I have a Destiny? I don’t even have a job, unless you
count lesbovamps.com, the porn site I run.