Babel-Jean Tea Hymn
Posted in: Biographicals
Babel-Jean Tea Hymn was born in 1912, just a few days after the new year and the birth of the Republic of China. She was the second delivery in a series of two, her mother, Josephine Tea, having given birth to two underweight but healthy fraternal twins. She named the little boy Jonathon Paul Tea Hymn, and the little girl Geraldine Marie Tea Hymn. Their father was never identified, though Josephine always claimed his last name was Hymn and added it to her own last name for her children. As the story goes, the twins began their attempts at speaking at a very young age. Josephine claimed her two children seemed to babel at one another in a language only the two of them could understand. This prompted their mother to adopt nicknames for them. Babel-John for the boy, and Babel-Jean for the girl. Babel-Jean always embraced this name over her birth name.
Babel-Jean and her brother lived a very hard life with their single mother. Originally Josephine lived in a sparse fishing community on the New England coast. This was the type of community were superstition and gossip ruled the common folk rather than hard logic and reason. Because Josephine was well liked in the community, and the Tea family well respected, gossip about the young unwed mother did not delve into the area of promiscuous behavior or an affair that ended in the birth of the twins. Instead many of the townsfolk whispered about Josephine’s unhealthy fascination with the sea and the myths associated with it. Many of the older townsfolk remembered a very young Josephine who liked to tell sea based faerie tales and who wanted to convince everyone she was actually a selkie instead of a little girl. The preposterous idea was spread that Josephine had spent too much time looking into the salty waters and finally garnered the attention of the creatures all the fishermen knew lurked out there. So instead of Josephine finding herself the talk of rude whispers and back room conversations, the foul tales focused more on her strange, babbling twins. Josephine was seen as a woman to be pitied for so foolishly trusting the sea when fishermen knew the sea was not to be trusted. The result of her foolishness and her punishment was the two fatherless children that never seemed to weigh enough or look anything but pale.
Josephine Tea eventually tired of this type of talk and the cruel attention many of the townsfolk directed at her children. Before her twins were old enough to enter school, she packed up and quietly left town in the middle of the night. She found her way inland, finding sweatshop like work at a factory deep within the town of Boston.
Babel-Jean’s young life in Boston is not very well known to her fellow Archive staff. She has a memoir she penned, but has entrusted it to an unknown staff member with instructions that it only be published after her death. Her fussy nature and severe need to follow rules has prompted many of the Archive staff to conclude that Babel-Jean is quite a bore and probably spent much of her life in the rigid environment of the sweatshops like her mother. They reason that her lack of a true childhood before being thrust into the stressful academic world played a big part in her evolution into strict old maid. But contrary to this opinion (and the assertion by most younger Archive staff that she is old as dirt and acts it) Babel-Jean led a very colorful life in Boston that saw her privilege to very unusual things that would come to dominate her academic choices of study.
Only one intern was ever privilege to a Babel-Jean less guarded. On a very nice spring evening, after helping Babel-Jean complete a full sweep of a series of rare books on ancient diseases, said intern managed to goad his elder into a glass of wine. That was followed by another, and then just one more, till the young intern found himself on the roof of the east wing of the Archive toasting the bright spring moon with a very drunk Babel-Jean. The intern claims that this spirits filled old woman lost all control of her tongue and told him a great many tales. She spoke of her father who was indeed some sort of creature that came from the sea. She spoke of the attic she went into that belonged to an old doctor. In there she found vial after vial labeled with names of ailments she’d never heard of. And she shed tears when she told him the story of her dead twin brother. She spoke of a phantom radio broadcast he was obsessed with and shortly after he claimed to have found it, he disappeared.
The following day no one believed the stories the intern told. This group of scholars could believe in the elder gods and creatures that would put your brain in a special canister and sweep it away to Pluto, but they couldn’t believe that Babel-Jean Tea Hymn had ever been young or exciting. Sadly said intern was killed in a freak library accident a few days later. The gossip died with him.
In her everyday role at the Archive, Babel-Jean heads the Rare Diseases and Archaic Germs Department, using much of her time to study bugs and ailments that no one has ever heard of. She’s currently working on her first book, a complete collection of these diseases. She is one of the Elder Staff members and takes her responsibilities as such very seriously. She is an obsessive memo writer, using them as a means to crack the whip and always remind her fellow Archive staff of what is and isn’t appropriate.
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