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Author's Commentary on "Wayland and Susannah"

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The concept of Wayland (Tim Roth) and Susannah (Kelli Williams) is broad and fuzzy. It begins with the movie Deceiver, in which Roth plays a mysterious, conniving, disturbed man named Wayland who toys with a couple of detectives over the murder of a prostitute. I don’t know where the name Susannah came from; it just struck me as being appropriate.

In a way, the idea is merely a conceit to explore different characters that Tim Roth has played, or characters that I see him as, without having to think up a new romantic partner each time, without limiting him to the romantic partner he had in that role (if any), and without having to pretend that each romantic partner is different if she’s really based on Kelli Williams in Lie to Me every single time. Instead, we acknowledge that in whatever time and place—18th century England, modern New York City, 14th century Italy—it’s always these same two people, and here’s the reason behind it. Also, Roth tends to play so many villains or unsavory (yet charming, in a certain way) characters that it would get tiresome to say over and over again, “Here’s this horrible villain, yet he has a mysterious soft spot for this woman.” Instead we can say that he’s playing this horrible villain, in this incarnation, and he’s only nice to this one particular person because he knows and loves her from another existence. Likewise, instead of the woman having to be a disturbed person who would love a villain, she can be a fairly normal person who loves the being underneath the villain.

Wayland and Susannah are two supernatural beings of some undefined type. They seem to be almost from another dimension or plane of existence, and they find themselves on Earth in various times and places. They’re almost trapped on Earth; their existence here is not always unpleasant, but there’s a sense that they would rather be wherever they came from but can’t go back, or aren’t allowed back, at this time. Their souls or consciousness are born into the bodies of human infants and thus grow up under normal circumstances, with an awareness of being different starting to develop in early adolescence. By the time they reach the late teen years, generally, they completely understand who they “really” are and what abilities they have. They play out their existence in this particular time and place, “die” at some point, and start the cycle of rebirth over again. When their concept of their true identity returns, so do memories from all their previous existences as well as other knowledge they had before any of it began. They can be reborn in any time or place, even a time earlier than the one they died in, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be on Earth or in what we would think of as a “real” time period. For example, there are frequent references to an adventure they had inside the moon, with a colony of intelligent rabbits. Also, they frequently find themselves as this Princess or that Duke, whose name could never be found in one of our history books.

It’s almost like they’re trapped within a fully-immersive virtual reality game. They have supernatural abilities such as strength, stamina, health, healing, and even more dramatic powers to affect the people and objects around them, even the weather, but part of the “rules” is that they aren’t supposed to let people know they can do these things or that they aren’t the ordinary humans they pretend to be. Also, they might be born a great distance apart, and/or at different times (such that their lifetimes still overlap, but one is much younger than the other); in these cases one goal tends to be trying to find the other. Such a search may take years, but they also seem to have a vague sense of where the other one is and find themselves drawn there. Their relationship is generally romantic and sexual, although it would also be possible for one to end up as the parent or sibling of the other in a particular incarnation, and nothing unsavory to society would necessarily result; the important thing is that they’re together, not necessarily the exact nature of the relationship. They definitely seem to have had a close relationship in whatever plane of existence they really come from.

Their personalities can change somewhat from incarnation to incarnation, although there tends to be a core similarity. Given Roth’s penchant for playing villains, Wayland’s guises do tend to have a rebellious, mischievous, or even outright villainous streak; Susannah, though able to hold her own in tough situations, is generally portrayed as milder, passive, loving, and compassionate. The issue of morality comes up on occasion and seems to be an old debate between the two of them. Like someone playing Grand Theft Auto, Wayland often relishes the criminal acts he’s able to commit and doesn’t see the people who are harmed as a result as any more real than a collection of pixels in a video game. (And who knows, from their perspective, that may be true.) Susannah, on the other hand, frequently takes the role of his conscience and argues that the people they interact with do have lives outside of them, do feel pain and emotions keenly, and should be treated with more compassion.

Susannah especially seems to have a bit of melancholy about her and is frequently portrayed as someone who loves children, but can’t have any biologically herself; neither she nor Wayland can create biological children, in fact, either with each other or other people. She often ends up adopting children in whatever world she’s in. There is a undefined tragedy in their pasts involving a child named Sophie—on Lie to Me this was a little girl Gillian and her husband had adopted, who was taken away from them when the birth mother changed her mind, but I have kept the nature of Susannah’s Sophie purposefully vague. Was she the biological child of Susannah and Wayland? He doesn’t seem especially enamored of children himself. Perhaps she was just Susannah’s child in some way? And what happened to her—did she die, or is she merely temporarily gone? Does her disappearance have anything to do with the cycle of incarnations Wayland and Susannah endure?

Things can sometimes go wrong in an incarnation to make things more interesting, story-wise. Although Wayland and Susannah tend to be very healthy and durable even before they come into their own, they’re more vulnerable as very young children (say, under five years). A malicious head injury inflicted by another human during this time can confuse, delay, or possibly even block entirely their ability to realize their true identities. I’ve established that the injury can’t come from a mere accident but has to be the result of some kind of abuse or neglect, which could be fairly broadly defined. As a result, one might recognize the other one when found but not be recognized in turn. Thus you might have a scenario in which the villainous man has a mysterious soft spot for the sweet girl to the confusion of not just on-lookers, but also the girl herself.

Since many of the stories are based on roles Roth has played, his character in the story is often named whatever his character in the movie was. I do have a tendency to favor Cal- or at least K-type names when I have the freedom to choose, however; sometimes I also evoke Edgar, the name of Cal Orange Light’s brother (the one with the seven beautiful redheaded wives) in the Darkwood stories. Susannah often uses her real name, especially if she’s broken with her human-raised past; Susannah means “lily” in Hebrew and I often play with this idea, with her character’s human-given name frequently being Lily or variations/foreign versions thereof. Gillian, of course, is also fair game as a name for Susannah’s character.

The story “Deceiver” explores the idea of Wayland and Susannah, more or less as themselves—beings from another plane of existence with unusual powers—living in the real world. It’s played more for comedy, though, with Wayland paired with Chris Penn’s mediocre cop from Deceiver to help solve mysteries both earthly and supernatural. In this version Wayland can read minds and uses what he learns to manipulate people’s emotions; he literally feeds off strong emotions, especially negative ones. Susannah, who tends to be stand-offish, can change her shape into animals or other people, and also projects her emotions strongly onto other people. Largely these emotions are negative; if Wayland is nearby he merely absorbs them and they form a symbiotic pair. If, however, they’re separated, Susannah has to project her emotions onto other people, whose minds aren’t able to handle it, leading them to act in strange and dangerous ways. I think of them as being something like evil sprites in their own, more “fantasy”-centric land—an occasionally dangerous nuisance that people take precautions against, such as wearing certain amulets. Interestingly, though the pair are emotionally intertwined, they don’t have a sexual relationship (at least at first); their relationship goes beyond that, or perhaps their natural forms are incorporeal so a sexual relationship is not applicable. With her shape-shifting abilities, Susannah can appear as a beautiful woman, an animal (frequently a mouse in Wayland’s pocket), or a child who is treated as his daughter.

“Hoodlum” is based on the movie Hoodlum, in which Roth portrayed real-life 1930’s gangster Dutch Schultz. He plays this character here as well, as a gauche, eccentric, comedic, but utterly ruthless criminal boss in Depression-era New York City. Susannah plays against type as a feisty and foul-mouthed woman who mysteriously (to others) drops into his life one day and becomes his de facto wife. At first they enjoy pretending to fight both verbally and physically, giggling as they imagine what the people watching them are thinking; but then, Susannah finds a little orphaned girl—an African-American girl—and wants to start a family. Eventually this grows into an infamous collection of “exotic” little girls—Chinese, Persian, etc.—who all have rhyming names, with a certain amount of dark comedy resulting from the contrast between Dutch’s gangster activities and his role as a reluctant father figure.

As one of the first major Wayland and Susannah stories, the Dutch story sets up a number of their abilities (which don’t necessarily have to be consistent throughout each story). Their knowledge of the future is a great help in deciding which business propositions to pursue—hotels in Cuba, backing Billie Holiday’s singing career, etc.. Also, they have heightened senses, heal quickly from injuries (with the ability to turn off the pain as well), and can “fake” injuries such as black eyes on themselves. They also don’t need to sleep. In addition, Susannah is stated to be the more powerful of the pair, in terms of their supernatural talents. In one vignette, for example, Dutch and Susannah take revenge on a rival gangster who has kidnapped one of their children; alone and unarmed in a room full of hostile hoods, Susannah seems to morph into some kind of horrible creature, or perhaps inspires horror simply with her mental powers (the description is purposefully vague). In the morning the newspapers tell the tale of the mysterious, bloody mass slaughter, with no evidence indicating who or what all those gangsters were emptying their guns at. In one of the last vignettes, Wayland and Susannah choose to break the rules and come back from certain death in order to continue looking after their adopted children.

“Villian Courtier” is vaguely inspired by Roth’s Oscar-nominated role as a vile nobleman in Rob Roy; Wayland here plays a cold-hearted, wealthy villain (Calvin, Lord Cunningham, Duke of Westmoreland) who extorts sex in lieu of rent payments from his tenant’s pretty wives, feels no remorse when killing men in duels, and makes arrogant, disrespectful remarks to almost everyone he meets. Having rid himself of yet another wife he’s in no hurry to marry again—nor can anyone think of a woman who would want him—when he finds Susannah (Lady Lily), here the daughter of a minor landowner just put on the marriage market. Due to an injury as a child, she doesn’t recognize him, and thus no one can fathom why he’s so keen to marry her—nor can she understand the deep and otherworldly affection he holds for her, beneath the callous exterior he’s chosen to develop.

This story is interesting because it suggests that Wayland has purposefully adopted an unpleasant attitude as Lord Cunningham, perhaps due to the life he’s led or perhaps because he thinks it serves him best in this particular setting. It’s hard for him to try to be nice to Lady Lily, even though he recognizes her as Susannah and loves her for that, simply because he’s so used to being nasty. In one scene, he “sets aside” the persona of Lord Cunningham to “reveal” Wayland, in order to use his supernatural powers to heal Lily’s injured dog, which I thought was neat; it’s suggested that this temporary transformation is actually necessary to use this power, or perhaps to use it at a greater level, whereas other supernatural abilities like greater stamina can be effortlessly achieved even in the complete guise of Lord Cunningham.

“Vatel” is inspired by the movie Vatel, in which Roth plays another noble sleaze, the Marquis de Lauzun, in the court of the Sun King. As villains go, he’s not that bad—lecherous, scheming, manipulative, but more a blackmailer than anything else. The perfect toady in a royal court ruled by crushing decadence and impoverishing extravagance. In this story, Jean de Lauzun’s wife is Marie-Therese, aka Susannah, here playing somewhat giggly and sweetly dim, at least as her persona to the rest of the court. She was raised to the nobility when de Lauzun found her working in a bakery and I have a feeling she does any number of slightly embarrassing things that betray her ignorance of proper noble behavior. She doesn’t let that get her spirits down, though. For his part de Lauzun treats her with condescension thinly disguised as sweetness, at least in public—when she complains that she doesn’t want to go back into the hot, stuffy house, for example, he tells her, “But that is exactly where you belong, my little hothouse flower,” with a somewhat menacing tone that says she had better go back inside now. It’s the kind of play-acting that they enjoy putting on for the benefit of others, while all the time trying not to smirk at each other. Behind the scenes we learn that de Lauzun is bored—the King has outlawed him from dueling, as he loses too many generals that way—and behaves badly to get through the “dull” era.

“The Perfect Husband” is inspired by the movie The Perfect Husband, in which Roth plays a wealthy, musically-talented playboy named Milan with a habit of seducing other men’s wives and then fighting duels over them in Victorian-era Prague. In the movie, he travels to a spa run by the jovial Franz and, while pretending to be Franz’s buddy, falls hard for his exotic wife, Teresa. Teresa and Milan have an affair, but she sends him away when she gets pregnant, not wanting to hurt her husband. Unbeknownst to them, Franz has witnessed one of their trysts, and years later, after Teresa dies of an illness, Franz travels with his young, unhealthy daughter Elena to Prague to wage a little psychological warfare with Milan—to the extent of allowing Elena, whom he believes to be Milan’s daughter, to die of her condition in order to spite Milan. Cold-hearted stuff. Anyway, in this story, Susannah is Elsa… Milan’s sister (slightly older). In the movie he has a close and loving relationship with his sister and her sons, although I’m sure they weren’t thinking of “close and loving” like I am! It’s not that my Elsa and Milan actually are lovers, but one definitely gets the sense Milan would like them to be, and that his many dalliances with other women are just substitutes for the relationship Elsa refuses to give into. I think this is interesting because it shows that Wayland and Susannah don’t always have to be lovers—Milan says this himself, but he’s frustrated because they’re so close in age and always in each other’s company. It would be different if they were positioned as, say, a grandfather-granddaughter-type of relationship (one hopes)—but in this case they’re two young people who already have a perfect excuse for being alone with each other. Elsa/Susannah, as usual, is more of the conscience of the pair and pushes him towards a more conventional sibling relationship.

Instead, Milan finds his sister a suitable husband—someone wealthy but bland and willing to give in to her eccentricities, such as adopting little boys to replace the ones she can’t have biologically. We’re told that one of the boys actually dies in an accident, too quickly for his supernatural caregivers to act—and that Elsa is devastated by this. Naturally when Franz and Elena show up on Milan’s doorstep, Elsa is eager to take the girl in and heal her—and Milan is eager to get her out of Franz’s hands, once he realizes what the man is up to. Interestingly, when Milan reveals that neither he nor Elsa can have children, it’s blamed on something physical—the scarlet fever both of them contracted as children. Obviously this is just a convenient excuse, but presumably it’s one that a doctor of the time would concur with. I don’t think it’s stated at what age they caught scarlet fever; but since it does seem unlikely that they would really get sick, even as children, one wonders if they were faking it somehow to set up this excuse for the future.

“Victorian” isn’t based on any specific movie. Instead, it’s set in Victorian-era New York, among the wealthy Park Avenue set, and features Wayland as Colonel Henry Dupree, wealthy socialite and war hero. Susannah is Eleanor Thomason, the daughter of another, less wealthy family… and younger sister of the girl Henry first pursues. It’s not clear if he was pursuing the more age-appropriate Clara by “chance” and then realized that her younger sister was the girl he was really looking for, or if he (somewhat bone-headedly) thought that courting Clara would be a good “in” with the family. As the story begins, he’s broken with Clara (or rather, she’s broken with him, for another, less illustrious but presumably more interested man) and just started a rather delicate courtship of Eleanor instead. It’s not stated what age Eleanor is, but she’s obviously fairly young, still in the transition between playing with dolls and being a “young lady,” and sees the time until she reaches the marriageable age of sixteen as an eternity. But, she’s not so young as to be completely out of bounds for Henry’s G-rated attentions—and it’s possible she’s somewhat immature for her age, anyway. If it feels a little ooky sometimes while reading it, I think that’s actually okay and somewhat the point.

Henry tries to subtly introduce ideas about their true identities to Eleanor, kind of feeling her out about what she remembers—for example, she tells him she had a dream about being inside the moon, which was full of rabbits, and he lightly wonders if it was a dream or perhaps a memory. Interestingly, in the end he pushes to marry her even though she hasn’t come into her true identity yet, because he feels that he can’t coax more of her abilities and memories out while she’s still under her parents’ watchful gaze—one crazy thing that she repeats to them and he could find himself barred from the house. There’s also an interesting scene in which Eleanor’s mother tries to take away the dolls she loves, including her very favorite, Susie (an unintentional connection Eleanor has made)—Eleanor is so upset about this that the lights flicker, an ominous indication of the power she doesn’t know she possesses and thus can’t control.

“Muguet” also isn’t based on a specific movie. It’s a kind of medieval, vaguely European setup in which Wayland is a serious, ruthless “barbarian” conqueror who decides during treaty negotiations that he wants to marry the conquered king’s young daughter, Susannah. Here her name is Muguet (moo-gay), which is the French word for “lily.” I think it kind of grows on one after a while. So her family is all vaguely French, and Wayland/Kaspar’s people are all vaguely German, and there’s a vaguely Irish monk as their arbiter. A couple of interesting points: Princess Muguet is quite young, possibly even younger than Eleanor in "Victorian" in terms of age, but in this era that’s more mature both physically and emotionally. Thus, Muguet seems to be well aware of her true identity and powers when Eleanor wasn’t. I think the growing awareness is really tied more to maturity than to a specific physical age, which makes sense when you’re covering time periods with such vastly different expected life spans. Also, Muguet is still youthful and playful, to the point of seeming frivolous—when attention is turned to her during the treaty negotiations, she rather shallowly insists upon getting a peacock at her wedding feast, over any more nationally valuable concessions from Kaspar—although some of this may just be an “act,” or a way she enjoys behaving that she currently has a good excuse for. And some of it may be just to annoy Kaspar, since he’s so very serious all the time. There’s also a sense that he’s been looking for her, possibly even reshaping the map of the continent in his quest to find her—he says that he “conquered half the known world” to find her. Granted, he was probably already predisposed towards conquering anyway, but perhaps he’s been specifically moving in a direction in which he “sensed” her presence.

“The Last Sign” is based on the movie The Last Sign. I’m rather pleased that I managed to take such a terrible, wimpy, washed-out movie and make something interesting with it. In this story, Susannah—who goes by Susannah but also her given last name, Brown—walks into a tense situation between Wayland, here known as Dr. Jeremy Macfarlane, and his ex-wife Cathy. They have three kids (sperm donor) and were once perfectly happy, or at least satisfied, with life—Jeremy had the wife, the kids, his work at the local hospital which he really enjoyed, as his personality is more prone to responsibility this time around. Then, he sensed Susannah’s presence on the other side of the country as she came into her own around age eighteen—and suddenly he couldn’t be satisfied with his current life anymore. He became frustrated and angry, he started breaking things, he let his wife believe he was drinking too much—and eventually he even told her that there was “someone else” in the world for him. Finally they got a divorce; about a year afterward is when Susannah arrives in town looking for him, when he’s still living in an extended-stay hotel and working out the rules of conduct with his wary, conflicted ex.

I really like how this story turned out. First, it sets Wayland and Susannah in a modern world with realistic personalities and responsibilities. Jeremy, who is considerably older than Susannah, maybe fifteen years or more, says that he tried to wait until he could find her, but he was lonely, and he had a real connection with Cathy. Not that Susannah would have wanted him to wait—or wanted him to break up with his wife. There’s a kind of tragic inevitability about it, though—how could he not want to be with Susannah, after he knows she’s out there and available? But it’s not like he was forced to marry Cathy, or only married her for money or something—he did love her, in his way. In a sense it’s like those cheesy love songs that proclaim, “I thought I knew what love was, until I met you.” If Susannah had never appeared he would have gone on perfectly content with his family and his job. And it isn’t like she tempted him away—she was on the other side of the country, not even in direct communication with him. He just started sensing her presence, and he couldn’t stop thinking about it. And now they both have to deal with the fallout.

“The Musketeer” is based on the movie The Musketeer, in which Roth plays the deliciously evil man in black, Febre—he’s dressed head to toe in squeaky black leather, has a ridiculous hat with bobbing pheasant plumes and a patch over one eye, and he really enjoys killing people and causing mayhem. How could I not want to work with this guy? In this story he tells his nominal boss, Cardinal Richelieu, that he wants to get married—to a pious and innocent lady of no fortune who has become a favorite of the Queen and professed a desire to join the Church, Blanchefleur de Guillaume. Susannah knows her true identity by this point, but for whatever reason she’s not very confident about using her powers—Febre bullies and terrorizes her, while plotting ways to make Europe burn for his own enjoyment, then points out that she could stop him if she wanted to. In fact, he might enjoy such a confrontation of equals, rather than always battling puny humans. But so far she always gives way to him.

I think it’s interesting because it falls into that grey area which these stories allow, which is that she could stop him but chooses to be miserable instead, so although he’s taking advantage of her lack of confidence, he’s not really doing anything against her will. And he’s such a totally evil and chaotic character who doesn’t even have much of a political agenda or lust for money/power—he just likes to watch things blow up, burn, be destroyed. She could be a powerful opposition force for him, basically the only thing that could really stop him, but she has to find that within herself first.

“Captives” is based, loosely, on the movie Captives in which Roth plays a convicted murderer, who’s still basically a good guy, who falls for Julia Ormond’s prison dentist. In my version Charlie Chaney the prisoner is a much worse character, someone who’s been in the system for a long time—he’s almost the future version of the young hoodlum Roth played in Made in Britain, Trevor. Chaney is really Wayland but he doesn’t remember this; head trauma is implied as the reason. He doesn’t seem to have any overt powers other than heightened intelligence, but not much has been written yet. Susannah is talked about, but hasn’t yet appeared; she’s clearly Dr. Ross, a psychologist specializing in head traumas who wants permission to interview Chaney.

One interesting aspect is that apparently Chaney has had trouble with being accused of rape while a prisoner—that is, at least one female prison guard has accused him of raping her, but Chaney has always maintained it was a relationship of mutual consent until she got worried about getting caught and losing her job. Possibly this has even happened more than once. This is what I have in mind, anyway. Or some other situation where of course he wouldn’t be believed because he’s the big bad prisoner. I also had in mind that at one point he would have killed another prisoner, one that he was alleged to be friends with, but it would really be a situation where it was almost a mercy killing—like the friend was quite ill or miserable in prison or something like that. Together all these incidents point to the idea that he has some kind of internal standard of decency that is not necessarily apparent to those in authority around him—incidents that look like ugly crimes really have some logic and even kindness behind them, in a certain twisted sense.

“Mythology” is very interesting, somewhat inspired by Percy Jackson and the Olympians as well as classical mythology. Roth’s character is Chala, the trickster god of truth and lies, who has fallen in love with Kelli William’s character, Samudra, the goddess of the sea. The names are based on Sanskrit words (like the Darkwood language) but aren’t actual Sanskrit deities. It just seemed like a neat idea and it came together pretty well, I thought.

“Princess” is a newly-typed story with a more original plot. Explicitly Wayland & Susannah. Wayland is a roguish nobleman shepherding his two nieces through society, while Susannah is none other than the proper princess of the land, slightly amnesiac or just young. I think it’s kind of neat how we see things from his one niece’s point of view, and she’s mortified at her uncle’s behavior—not always in a comedic way, either. Wayland is playing games, pursuing Susannah but also being a bit cheeky about it and playing into his reputation as a rogue; he doesn’t much care, I suppose, that it’s humiliating for his niece—whom he placed in the Princess’s service!—to be associated with him, as he causes her mistress so much consternation and is the butt of jokes and gossip.

I wonder what time period this is supposed to be set in. Of course it’s not real history by any means, and the time is kept vague on purpose. But at first I was thinking Elizabethan, but the more I read the more modern it gets. Sometime when a rogue who dislikes church would be scandalous, but not criminal; when there were female stage actors; when a princess (the third daughter, anyway) could get away with being reclusive and devout all the way until her 18th birthday, and rarely be seen in public. It’s almost getting more Victorian or Edwardian. But, everyone seems to be Catholic, with no issues regarding religion, which would put it even farther back in time, like 1400s.

“Soothing music was not on the top of the list for most of those in the room, but that was just too bad; this wasn’t a democracy, after all.” That’s a funny line. It’s humorously anachronistic, but also literally true—it isn’t a democracy, she’s the freakin’ princess and they have to listen to the music that she wants, because her father is the head of the government. Well, I guess that does kind of depend on the time period—that seems to push it back a little farther in time, when the king was more in charge, but it could also be meant as an exaggeration.

The plot thickens! Elizabeth does remember who she is and what she can do, at least to some extent. It’s early days yet for her, though.

An interesting nuance here is that it seems like Wayland and Susannah actually have to see each other, to recognize the other by sight. In other pairings, maybe even other stories here, they’re drawn to each other from a greater distance, like a compass to a magnet, and could be certain the moment one walked into the room. Here, Wayland does not recognize Susannah until he finally sees the Princess in the church, and it seems as though Susannah will not recognize the Duke of Weston as Wayland even when they meet in person, if he’s literally wearing a mask.

Wayland’s two “sons” must have been born to his wife, but fathered by a lover—quite possibly with his own explicit consent, as long as he got to keep the kids and claim them as his own.

“Made in Britain” is based on Tim Roth’s first movie, 1982’s Made in Britain where he plays determined juvenile delinquent Trevor. This is a specific Wayland and Susannah story—I believe Susannah is the social worker that Wayland encounters, and though they recognize each other, she realizes that it would be wrong to pursue a relationship right now, given their positions, and also she wants him to clean up his act. They part, but he improves his life and seeks her out later on.

Again in this story, Susannah doesn’t sense Wayland’s presence until he actually speaks (before she sees him), and she recognizes his voice. And he’s just as surprised to see her. At just sixteen, it’s not surprising that Wayland is still confused about a lot of things. Interestingly, she deduces that something must be “wrong”—like an early head injury—because although Wayland remembers who he is to some extent, he’s being too overt about it, not playing along. I might’ve said that was just him being rebellious, as he often is.

I think Trevor’s such a dark and dangerous character now, and kind of sad, too.

I think the implication is that both Wayland and Susannah have made choices subconsciously to bring them together—Susannah to go into juvenile social work, Wayland to be a juvenile delinquent. Since Susannah’s quite a bit older, I suppose she made her choices first, and Wayland’s followed from that, though of course he could have met her in other ways, without breaking the law.

Also, Susannah is very concerned about following the script, being overheard, discovered. I think she’s just much more strict about that sort of thing, and probably so was I at the time; by the time I get to Roman and Xylos, they’re sealing the room against eavesdroppers and doing other magic things so they can talk freely with each other.

The childhood head injury theory: I use it so often now to explain why someone can’t remember their abilities, or remember them correctly; but here Susannah acts like she’s never encountered it before, and is just thinking of it for the first time. I wonder if this was the first time I thought of it?

“He’d seen her face and thought everything was suddenly okay, that the game was over and it was time to claim their reward. Forget what anyone else in the world thought or felt or needed.” I wonder how many other Cosmic Partner situations this could apply to?

I wrote most of the part with Trevor at 16; then, several months later, I wrote the scene in the café when Lily says they have to break off contact for a while. And then about six weeks after that, I wrote the follow-up scene, five years later. So I clearly had this story on my mind for a while.

I think I had just watched a Rick Steves travel documentary on Cinque Terre and the Italian Riviera, hence why Trevor suggests this as a destination.

“Virgin Territory” is based on the movie of the same name, which is an adaptation of Boccaccio’s Decameron, from 1353. The novel is a collection of stories told by/about several young people in a villa outside Florence, who have gone there to escape the Black Death in the cities. The movie, though remarkably keeping this setting, is basically a teen sex romp with an underlying star-crossed romance, which I gather is actually not far from the source material.

Tim Roth played Gerbino de la Ratta, a wealthy and ruthless nobleman with a passion for young Pampinea, who has given her heart to a different, younger rogue. In the movie Pampinea was played by Mischa Barton, but here I give the role to a young Susannah, with Wayland comfortably occupying the villain role.

The story is a bit dark; Pampinea halfway tries to kill herself out of despair, and Gerbino is so angry at her that at one point, she thinks he will rape her. She also seems to be in love with someone else (a young rogue who is enjoying the loose morals of some nuns at the convent where he’s sheltering), and Gerbino keeps threatening to kill him if Pampinea doesn’t do this or that. It ends on a slightly more hopeful note, as Pampinea approaches her husband with a conciliatory tone after he rescues her from kidnappers, but it’s hardly what I’d call joyful, and there’s no indication she’s actually remembered who she is yet.

It’s rather choppy, with some short scenes that don’t really go anywhere.

I don’t remember the movie very well, so all the twists and turns surprise me. A Russian count? What the heck, where did he come from? They get kidnapped? Okay, sure. What did Gerbino do, to get assigned 30 days’ abstinence from sex? I also don’t remember at what points I diverged from the original story.