“Five minutes, Mr. Carroll…”
Sean looked up from his phone and nodded. He had been conducting a video conversation with Mary, who was in Reykjavík with their daughter Mareka and their friend Jo. In the four years since Mareka’s birth, the ‘Old Religion’ which had been reestablished in Iceland had grown tremendously. Sean’s grandmother’s spells and charms which Mary had contributed to the organization became the basis for a wildly successful web app as well as becoming a best-selling self-help book. Mary, Jo, and Mareka were staying with Hilmar and his niece, Þora and Þora and Sean’s son, Vilhjálmur Stefán. Sean and Mary and Mareka had been spending a lot of time in Iceland, creating a ‘blended’ family. It also gave Mareka a chance to learn Icelandic from her half-brother.
Sean was in New York City, scheduled to give a television interview. His grandmother Emily’s paintings were currently on display in the Museum of Modern Art and the book Sean had produced about her and her work was on the best seller lists as well. Sean signed off with Mary and a few minutes later was ushered into the studio where the interview was about to take place.
“Welcome to Art World Today, I’m your host, Kevin Hormian. Today our guest is Sean Carroll, who some of you may remember from a political affair from several years ago, commonly referred to as Billygate. We’re not here to discuss that today, however, but to talk to Sean about his efforts to bring the life and work of his grandmother, Emily Carroll, to a wider audience.”As Sean performed the ‘official version’, his memories—of the grandmother he never knew, then found, then lost—floated just beneath the surface of his recitation. The true story was preposterous, so much so that Sean didn’t worry about any of it becoming known. No one would believe it. Outside of Sean and Mary, only his Aunt Tina and her friend Edwin Duddle knew of Emily’s resurrection, they had both died in the previous year. Emily’s work had captured the imagination of the art world and was also making inroads into popular culture: the book about Emily, based on her diaries as well as the recollections of her contemporaries, had just been optioned for a movie. Sean’s biggest remaining problem was the inheritance taxes which would come due when any of the paintings were sold. Sean’s lawyers had worked out a plan involving donations and other asset swaps. While not eliminating the taxes they would minimize them. There was no shortage of prospective buyers.
“Pleased to be here, Kevin, it’s nice to be able to talk about someone other than myself.”
“It’s been a long and strange trip, this story of an unheralded Modernist master, whose work had been hidden for over seventy years—why don’t you give us the short history behind this fantastic exhibition, currently playing to sold-out crowds at MOMA.”
“Will you be showing any more of Emily’s work in the future?”As if they could show more! Sean well knew that Emily’s ‘spirit drawings’ had a powerful potential as objects of veneration. And the erotic drawings! There might never be a time for their release. The drawings could wait.
“The canvases are her only finished pieces. Sketches and studies may be released for historical and scholarly use in the future. Nothing is planned at this time.”
“As we leave today, we’ll be showing a selection of photographs of Emily taken from your book—images you found when you made an extensive search of the archives of her contemporaries. The world can finally see this hitherto unknown artist as she was, in her element. A truly remarkable woman.”
In Seattle, Marcel DuPage had been idly watching an interview concerning a recently discovered Modernist painter. The man being interviewed seemed familiar to Marcel so he started to watch the program. When photos of a woman, dressed in fashionable clothes from the twenties and thirties, appeared his attention was riveted to the screen. He suddenly realized exactly who she was and where he had seen her—Carol, the mystery woman at the dance, the woman he had been searching for, the man on TV had been with her that night. What was his name? Carroll—Carol? And the man’s name—Sean, that’s what Carol had called him that night. The final image was a close-up, with her name superimposed: Emily Carroll, wearing that dress, that fabulous dress, the one that he had once so carefully removed.
“Mareka, tell me, what did you learn today?” said Hilmar, who was looking after the children while their mothers and Jo were out shopping.
“Villí and I were by the ocean,” said the girl, “Villí said that the big stone there could speak.”
“Did you listen? Could you hear it speak?”
“Yes! I heard it!”
“What did it say?”
“It told me that my real name is Inanna, and it told me that I am the Goddess incarnate.”
Hilmar was taken aback. He was used to hearing unusual things from the children, but this was in a whole different category. As he sat, speechless, he became acutely aware of the penetrating stare from the girl. He had to respond, but how?
“Mareka, the stones say many things,” he began, “Tell your mother what you heard, she is wiser than I am in their ways. Tell her, and only her. She will tell you what the message from the stones means.”
“Já, já. I’m going out to play with Villí, but I won’t tell him.”
Hilmar pondered this. He knew all about Mareka's birth—the earthquakes, the seven volcanoes by the seven seas, the supernova. He knew how these things had been considered signs, not just by Hilmar and his group, by other sects as well. But this, this was something that the child discovered on her own: it was her awakening.
“Things are about to get very interesting,” he thought.