Hero’s Journey Plot Point The Threshold and How I Used It in Tam Lin: A Modern, Queer Retelling


In all myths, the hero goes to distant lands Sometimes to several while on their quest. It’s when they venture out from their everyday life and into fantastical settings or into any unknown. It doesn’t have to be filled with monsters, but it has to be a place that challenges what they believe in the beginning of the story. Tom’s belief is that the only way to have a committed relationship is to be out and public about it. He believes a ceremony is what proves commitment and love. His way of thinking is about to be challenged.

This is when Tom arrives in Ireland. I’ve been to Ireland myself about a year ago (sigh. I miss travel). There’s a lot to take in as soon as you get off the plane at any international airport. I could have spent a long time on details of the setting.. So, I kept the details pertinent to what I noticed as a traveller and what would propel the plot, ie Tom’s story, forward.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter Three:

The signs in Irish on top then English at the bottom was the first noticeable difference when he debarked the plane into the airport. Tom scratched his head, staring at the rope maze leading to several glass encased stations and everyone else seemed to know where they were going. Non-EU would likely be his best bet as the right line to get in, but tightness in his chest wouldn’t let him move forward. 

“Um, excuse me.” He tapped a fellow passenger from his flight–a thin, petite woman likely in her early sixties with cropped hair and smile lines etched at the corners of her eyes. “I don’t speak Irish. What did she say?”  

“She was speaking English.” Laughter peeled from the woman’s mouth, rich and warm. “Sorry. I understand your predicament, I do. I couldn’t understand a word Tennessee folk said. I spent nearly two weeks, repeating myself, saying ‘Sorry?’ like that was all the English I knew, and I was apologizing for it.” She laughed at her own joke. 

Tom smiled at the woman’s attempt to lighten the mood, but his chest grew increasingly tighter as he waited for her to get to the point. “So–the announcement?” 

“She said that the luggage will be delayed twenty minutes. Typical of this airline, if you ask me. I got to get on to my queue.” She pointed out where he had been about to head before the announcement. “That’s your queue. Mind the fair folk while you’re here. They have an eye for the lonely and lost, especially a fine looking man as yourself.”

“Mind the who?” Tom asked, but he wasn’t really listening.  

“Nothing. Having a bit of fun.” The lines around the edges of her eyes deepened. “The Tuatha Dé Danann have long gone to Tír na nÓg. Ireland is just as modern as the states. No faeries will snatch you up.” 

His jet-lagged brain couldn’t interpret half the words in the last sentence. “Huh?”

“Never mind. Oh–Don’t kiss the Blarney Stone. It was a toilet, you know.” She patted his shoulder, offering a wry smile that twinkled in her eyes. “I best be off.” 

Still bemused, Tom waved at the cheerful, strange woman as she walked away, and he got in the growing line.


Written material ©Tammy Deschamps

Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash

Published by TJ Deschamps

Tammy loves to build worlds with words, exploring themes the effect of diaspora on the generations born elsewhere than their ancestors with the backdrop of tech or magic and dragons (sometimes both). These stories are inspired by her own family's immigrant experience. She's queer and many of her characters fall somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum (though that is not the focus of her work). She's married to an engineer who dances. Together they are raising three precocious teens in the Seattle suburbs. Two of her children are neurodiverse. Her experiences have taught her much about the world, its beauties and its injustices. All of this comes through in her fiction with a healthy dose of absurd humor.

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