This year, I have stolen the hair from Graydon Carter’s head, as well as his first three – and most important – memories. I have no doubt he will be here for them quite soon. Yes, we have been fighting since well before the world was new, and we will fight long after the world is gone. Between Graydon and myself the fight has ever been long, until one or both of us finds the Cosmic Egg. When he arrives, I assume we shall fight according to the rules when last we met in 1978. He gets the editorial columnists from the Washington Post, I get the editorial columnists from the New York Times, we push them all into a pool of seething purple liquid, and whichever side drowns the fastest, wins.
Come over at once. I’d like someone to help me put on many, many bracelets before we battle. Toodles!”
Joan and Anna don’t celebrate Christmas qua Christmas, of course; both of them think of Christmas rather as you or I might think of National Talk Like A Pirate Day or one of the many other “oh, are we doing this now?” micro-holidays folks keep trying to get started every few years. Older than Christmas, older than pain, older than teeth are Joan and Anna, the great World-Sisters. Always at their heels, always at their backs, clutching and clawing, is the Graydon, whom men have named Carter, who strives with them in eternal, joyful enmity. Every few centuries they all meet up at a Starbucks and have some claret.
After the next revolution, Joan and Anna will take new form, but do not be mistaken – they cannot be toppled, nor truly altered in spirit. If you meet Joan or Anna on the road in your new life, even if you decide to travel together to discourage banditry, share no meals with them and take no gifts. Keep your hands and your shadow ever in front of you, a courteous tongue in your head, and a prayer on your lips. Any god will do.