I Hope You Don’t Mind: Archem

For you readers that have followed my author page on Facebook, this post comes as no surprise to you. But for everyone else out there, let me bring you up to date. Due to my increasing urge to talk about my characters on this blog, but an inability to because no one knows who they are yet, I have decided to start posting short descriptions of various characters on a regular basis. I’ve intended to do this for some time now, and was re-inspired by my friend Mirriam Neal last week. (Check out her blog, she’s awesome! http://shieldmaidenthoughts.wordpress.com/) Occasionally, like this week, I will have a picture of what I imagine these characters would look like. I would also like to thank Mirriam for selecting Archem to go first.

Archem, or Archie, is from my short story “Ashes, Ashes”. It was published in my high school’s creative writing club anthology last year, and has been my most successful story so far. Thanks to the nature of the story, I don’t know very much about him… he was a bit of a phantasm. One of those wisps of a character, that graces your pen and conscience for a brief moment, and then fades back into the inky mist from whence he came. But in that brief moment, I gained a glimpse of a deeply beautiful person, and I suppose Mirriam must have caught that sliver of humanity and seen it in the same light I did. Today, perhaps I’ll get to learn a bit more about him, if he reveals himself once more.

Archem is a special character. Like many of my others, he has a dark past, a history better off forgotten. But instead of blocking it from his mind, he is haunted – or, better yet, hunted – by it. If he were to let himself forget, he would put his family, his life, and his little sister in danger. This gives him a very mysterious, foreboding, even brooding appearance, one that his sister doesn’t notice, but others are wary of. To most, he is Archem – the strange widow’s boy who does odd jobs around town, but is else wise avoided.

But, to his little sister Tristis, he is Archie, the best big brother anyone could ask for. (Except for maybe Ben… but choosing between the two would be worse than trying to decide who I wanted Katniss to be with more: Gale or Peeta.) Where all others take his dark appearance in a bad light, Tristis sees it as nothing but the hollowness of constant hunger and the sharp eye of an overprotective sibling. He would move mountains for her if he could, and is more protective of her than a momma bear. If it came down to it, he’d take a bullet for her. (And in a more dramatic and metaphorical way, he kind of does.)

His skin is pale, not a transparent pale, but the pale of someone who’s never had a good, hearty meal in his life. His hair is dirty-blonde, more dirty than blonde, and his eyes are a light shade of brown. He has a sturdy build, but moves in an almost fragile way, as though treading on glass. This, also, makes strangers uneasy around him, giving him a sneaky likeness. A likeness learned from tiptoeing around an unpredictable father.

When Archem was young, around eight years old, his father, Saevus, changed. He was no longer the caring man his mother had fallen in love with, but a man obsessed with a world of a dark nature. The selfsame nature that overtook him, that became him, and that threatened to destroy anyone close by him. It was into this ticking time bomb that Tristis was born, and hidden by both her mother and Archem in an attempt to keep her safe. When Saevus finally found her, he locked all her and her mother in the basement, shouting in rage and threatening to burn the place down. Archie tells me that his eyes were actually shooting sparks, which I suppose could be true in this mystical, intriguing land of fiction, but I’m not entirely convinced. Archem never told his mother, but he had interceded for them, telling Saevus that it was him that had hidden the “orphan child” and his mother had nothing to do with it. He was severely beaten, leaving permanent scars on his back and face, and thrown into the cold outside. Saevus assumed him to be too weak to run, especially on a winter night like that one, and set about preparing to burn the house down. Most children Archem’s age wouldn’t have made the night.

But, like I said, Archem is a special character. He’s special because he is so intrinsically good. For him to have done anything but pick himself up and crawl to town for help would have been so completely and utterly against his nature, his father would have had to poison him with his darkness to bring it about. He did manage to make it to town, and Saevus was arrested. The very next day, Archem was looking for a job to care for his family. Between he and his mother, they brought in enough to live somewhat comfortably, and kept Tristis from bearing the weight of life.

Archem swore that Tristis would never find out about her father. He refused to let her live with the same burden as he had, and chose instead to tell her that he’d left before she was born and disappeared. At night, he would take her to a meadow outside of town, and they would hide in the limbs of a weeping willow tree, laughing, story telling, and secret swapping, hidden from all eyes. He cared for her with a burning passion, ever watchful for danger. Danger he knew was out there. Danger that shook him to his core and intoxicated his every dream with fear. The danger that his father, who escaped during transport to prison, would one day return with his promise to burn them down.

Archem was a stronghold. A steady rock for his family to build its foundation upon. A solid place to stand. He was a broken soul, with a good heart. And he will forever hold a space in mine.

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