"They are my children. Our children, now. Look, you can see their hearts beating!"
I swallowed my revulsion and looked more closely. There was indeed a pulsing at the core of each transparent chrysalis, burning blue and white in an embrace of molten gold. Really the things should have been beautiful, but they filled me with dread. They were just... wrong.
"They... they don't... look... like you..." I offered. It was true. Monstrous he might be in habit, but in form he was perfectly human- and an attractive human, at that. Or would have been, if there hadn't been something vaguely uncanny about those perfect, deep blue eyes. But these things... honestly they didn't even look like mammals- they were more like... computers... strange, organic computers...
"Of course they do," he said evenly. Then he turned to me, smiling. "Oh, you mean they don't look like my current shell! Well no, they don't- I constructed this because I thought it would be more pleasing to you than my natural state. But once they've finished their incubation period I'll let you design bodies for our children, and then they can look as much like me or like yourself as you please- although I hope you'll chose a mixture of the two."
The implications of this short speech made my vision go gray- I involuntarily sagged against him. He held me up with a firm arm.
"Yes, the miracle of birth is rather overwhelming, isn't it? I'm only sad no one was around to witness mine."
I wanted to comment on yesterday's post, actually. You maybe have noticed that it was somewhat ultra-sad. You may even have been concerned that it was a reflection of something going on in my life (well, up until you hit the part where the narrator identifies himself as a man). Well rest assured, Gentle Readers- it's just not so.
Let me back up a bit. First of all, unless you're also following Nate and Meredith's 365 Project (which, by the by, you really should be) you may not be aware that they have a different theme for each day of the week (which is why they call their project "52x7"). It goes like this:
Being the creative people they are, they do occasionally play with the themes, and it was just such an urge that prompted Nathan to label yesterday's shot "Man Unmade". Well I heard that title and saw the picture and said to myself, "This is like the ruins of someone's relationship," so I set out to write a poem about it.
Most of the time my poetry starts with a seed-phrase. It pops up outta' nowhere in my head and it grows from there. Until this point my poetry has always been very of-the-moment-autobiographical, which makes it- not easy to write, per se, but easier. Yesterday was a whole new challenge, tho'- to write about someone else's experience (using poetry rather than prose) and moreover make that experience one I'm not currently in the middle of.
It was a little daunting.
But I'm nothing if not resourceful! My first step was to turn to my music library- specifically to a play list I call "I Need to Cry" (oh come on- you know you have an album/play list like that. No? Never mind then...). I used it to manufacture myself some False Sadness. And then I sat there and thought horrible, depressing thoughts about the man who was sitting in that rubble, and I slowly, painstakingly, began to translate it from prose to poetry. Nathan was somewhat appalled by the entire process (it distresses him to see me depressed), although he was somewhat mollified when I explained that I was creating it rather than genuinely experiencing it. He read the poem when I finished and looked me and said in a subdued voice, "That's really sad," and although part of me felt guilty for depressing my husband, part of me just felt really victorious for having completed a successful experiment.
I may try it again some time (the non-of-the-moment-autobiographical poetry rather than the husband-depressing). We'll see.
(Also yes, I did work on Blue Menagerie today, but it needs more tweaking to get it where I want it to be before I can post it. It may interest you to know I've got over twenty pages written now- it interested me, anyway...)
not even a shell
blackened and abandoned
you have not even left me
(not even that)
where will they go
the undying ghosts
of our too-young-to-die love?
what is there left for them (for us)
i sift the sand of this twisted ruin
watch it stream through my fingers
back into the pile.
was it Time that did this?
who devoured his own
was it Time
bearing down on my head
(wearing away at your heart)
by my maker
(by my destroyer)
i sit in the lonely remnants
of what was once a man
(who loved you)
as i wait for the one
who will bury me
(and our ghosts)
Super Power: sound-wave dampening aura- as a result she moves in complete silence. The downside to this? She's pretty much deaf. The upside to this downside? Super-compensation in her other sense, like sight (including night vision!) touch (she can detect minute changes in air currents!) and smell (like villainous fear!)! Furthermore, she is unnaturally quick and light, due to unnaturally thin bones- bones which are all-too easily broken by things like crow-bars and baseball bats. Because of this she has developed a ranged fighting style of awesome.
Not So-Super Powers But Still Pretty Awesome: Gymnast/martial artist (because of course), aerialist, super-freaky smart like IQ of 180 at least. Also bakes a mean spaghetti squash.
Accessories: a utility belt with two pouches. The pouch on the right is for weapons and other offensive needs, the pouch on the left is for healing and defensive needs. Both are linked to an alternate dimension, making their capacity UNLIMITED- although they (each) appear no larger than a brick. No one knows how she always pulls out what she needs... Also super-stilleto boots. With a feathery fringe. For piercing stuff? Maybe? Sure...
Weapons: talon-whip! Good for swinging about and grabbing stuff! Like bad guys and/or their illicit loot! Also (wait for it...) pellets! She throws them down and they have smoke for escape/blinding, or paralyzing gas (which her state-of-the-art mask filters). Possibly little darts with feathers! I'm still thinking on this one!
The Exception to Her Super Powers That Will Not Be Discovered Until Later But We Have Ret-conned It In Advance: there is one sound-wave frequency that eludes her silence-aura, and it is at this frequency she will learn to unleash her deadly Super Sonic Screech! Villains beware!
Is Totally Against: bad guys. Especially ones with any sort of rodent-theme.
So yeah, that's what came out of two girls being silly today. Maybe there will be Adventures later. Probably. With drawings. All of the above did come out of an initial doodle, after all...
They had been there for close to an hour when Sarah began to gently suggest that they might start for home.
“Let’s face it, girlfriend, you’re not really looking at the animals, anyway.”
“Er,” said Sallie, realizing that maybe she should have been a tad more subtle. She was fumbling for a good excuse to stay just a little bit longer when she heard a familiar low laugh.
It made her skin crawl.
But she turned towards it, because it was her laugh- the Horrible Woman. And there she was, dark gold hair shining in the sunlight, looking far more beautiful than Sallie would ever have imagined such a terrible person could be. She was standing next to an exhibit of slender white birds (egrets, a nerdy-sounding part of Sallie’s brain supplied) engaged in conversation with a young couple and their little girl. Sallie was willing to bet a million, trillion dollars that little girl had blue eyes. She felt sick.
“Could you just wait here a minute?” Sallie said, and then without waiting to hear an answer she marched over to the little group.
“Hi!” she said in her friendliest voice, fully aware that she was being rude by interrupting their talk. But people expected kids to be rude, didn’t they? The couple looked bemused, the Horrible Woman irritated. The little girl (Sallie was not great with ages, but she figured the kid was probably in kindergarten) dimpled.
“Hi!” she responded, clearly pleased with the attention. “Did you know that birds have hollow bones!”
“I did know that,” said Sallie, momentarily taken aback. She hadn’t planned on engaging the child, but realized it was probably not a bad idea. “But you’re very smart to know it, too!”
“I love birds!” the little girl continued. “My name is Elise! I’m four-and-a-half!”
“Wow, you’re very grown up,” Sallie slid her eyes over to the Horrible Woman, who continued to look annoyed at the interruption. It was probably too much to hope… “What’s your favorite bird?”
“Hummingbirds!” There! The Horrible Woman was wearing a bright blue jewel on a chain: it looked like a piece of cloudless summer sky, and Sallie thought she could see carvings on it and on the gold setting- carvings that looked like eyes! She couldn’t believe her luck! “I like them because they hover! And they hummmmmm!” Elise did a strange, rapid dance with her feet as she stretched her arms out and hummed. Sallie could only assume it was her version of hovering.
“That’s very good,” she said. How was she going to get that stupid amulet?
“They also move! Real! Quick!” Elsie continued, and darted between Sallie, her parents, and the Horrible Woman. Her parents laughed, and Sallie forced a smile.
“So, um,” Sallie wondered, if she grabbed the amulet- would she be fast enough to run? Probably not. “Do you like the menagerie?”
“Oh yes! Mommy said we can come back every day forever!”
“Not every day forever, sweetie,” Elise’s mother had dark, shining hair and almond-shaped eyes the color of coffee. Elise must have gotten her eyes from her Daddy- just like Zeb had. “Just every day until they leave town. If you’re good.”
“Oh?” Sallie felt her heart jump, but she tried to keep her voice casual. “When do they leave town?”
“We’ll be leaving next Sunday,” the Horrible Woman said in a dismissive tone. “A week from tomorrow.”
“Oh, um, do you work here?”
“In a manner of speaking, I do- I’m the owner.”
“Auntie Strega?” The Horrible Woman gave a tight smile.
“No, that’s just… a little joke. I’m Mrs. Canarina; this menagerie has been in my family for… many years. Some might say generations.”
Sallie felt a strange buzzing sensation in her head, but she ignored it and decided to take a gamble.
“Wow that’s- that’s pretty cool. So, um, if you work here, maybe you can answer my question?” The irritation flashed again.
“Perhaps. What’s your question?”
“You used to have a lemur here- he had a stripy tail. But now he’s gone, and… I was just wondering… where did he go?” The woman’s eyes (the exact same shade as the amulet) narrowed fractionally, but Sallie kept hers wide and didn’t break contact. Her mother had always told her that if you’re in a position where you have to lie, look the person in the eye while you do it. And then she’d told her not to bother trying it on her because she had special Mommy senses that alerted her to fabrications. Which was, at least in light of Sallie’s experiences, probably true. Mrs. Canarina glanced to the left before answering, which surprised Sallie exactly not one bit.
“He’s sick, and being treated by our vet. It doesn’t look very good, I’m afraid.”
“Oh no!” It didn’t take much for Sallie’s eyes to fill with tears- her adrenaline was singing almost as strongly as it had been when she’d rescued Zeb. Sick indeed! She gave a little sniffle for effect. “That’s so sad- he just… I don’t know why but he seemed so nice to me.”
“Don’t be sad, don’t be sad!” Elise was patting her arm. “Vets make animals better! He’ll be okay! And then I can see him when I come back because I didn’t see him today because I was looking at all the pretty birds!” Sallie looked down at the little girl, but not before she caught a little sneer from the Horrible Woman.
“Well perhaps he will get better,” Mrs. Canarina allowed, sounding not at all convinced. She gave another of her low laughs. “So many of our visiting children seem to form special bonds with our animals- that’s why I keep doing this, I suppose. To see the love and wonder on their little faces.”
Yeah, it has nothing to do with kidnapping their siblings, Sallie thought, trying not to gag. Instead she gave Mrs. Canarina a trembling smile.
“Gee I hope so!” She tried not to cringe. ‘Gee’? No one said ‘gee’! Well, except for Daddy, but only when he was being sarcastic. Fortunately no one seemed to think it strange, but she thought it might be best to end the conversation before she started saying things like ‘far out’ or ‘groovy’. “Well it was nice to meet all of you, but I guess I’d better get going now. Goodbye, Elise!”
“Goodbye! I’ll see you soon!”
Sallie wandered back over to Sarah, who was watching her with a bemused expression.
“People you know?”
“Not at all."
i contemplate the morning-
a breeze lifts my hair
leaves like soft embers
(a preview of autumn flames)
dance with solemn grace
she has asked me this-
is such contentment enough
to build a life on?
the answer is here
at the bottom of my cup-
mother, i need more
Of course, I never did.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I had something of a life crisis. Part of picking up the pieces involved me spending a lot of time alone- and a lot of time deeply depressed. One of the things I discovered that could help ease the depression was to sit on my own back porch and blow bubbles. Of course I had learned that they couldn't take me away from anything- but I would still watch them drift off, imagining their journeys and who would see them as they went. Somehow I always felt better afterward.
I've since come back to my original conclusion that bubbles are, in fact, a means of transportation- but not for my physical self. Instead of my body they carry my worries, taking them far, far away- maybe even over the rainbow- where they magically transform themselves into joy, and come back to me again through my dreams.
Not that they want coin- which may or may not be fortunate for we starving artists who worship them. No, there is only one currency those creatures are interested in, only one currency which holds any sway-
You see, mortal emotions burn so much more brightly than those of the immortal beings, because they are compressed into such short life spans. Everything we feel- joy, anger, sadness- in comparison to how the immortals experience things, they are emotional concentrate. More pure than purity itself.
You might think that the muses would be satisfied with any emotion, so long as it was mortal, but the truth is, things like tragedy and despair hold no interest for them. They are too familiar by far with those experiences (hence the tragedy inherent in so much of great art). And love, what some mortals would think to be the most divine of all mortal experiences- that holds even less interest for them. After all, they have too often seen the results of this most destructive of emotions. Thus they content themselves with joy, with happiness, even with serenity and contentment. These are the emotions they are hungry for, and these are the sacrifices they demand of their supplicants.
How do I know these things? How could I not? Have I not noticed, time and again, that my highest art emerges only when I am sunk in the depths of despair? They say you must suffer for your art, and I know it to be true- because unless I surrender what is joyful and good in my mind, in my heart, in my very soul- how shall the muse be fed? And if the muse is not fed, whence my inspiration? So I welcome gray depression with open arms, because I know the muse must have her due- and soon I will create again.
The alarm goes off at 0705- I hit snooze. I will get up the next time the alarm goes off.
Nathan's alarm goes off. I bolt upright because I know that Nathan's first alarm goes off at 0745. I start work at 0800.
(Not today, apparently.)
I'm already late, so there's no point in getting frantic- I eat breakfast at a normal rate, and even bother to apply makeup (not always a given, for me) so that I'm at least professional looking. I tell myself that as long as I'm there before 0900 (when we open) I'll be fine.
I clean up cat vomit. Sigh.
I get to work well before opening, well before my (also late) boss.
The day drags.
And it's not the sort of I-have-nothing-to-do drag. It's the I-just-finished-six-separate-projects-how-is-it-only-1028?! drag. I chalk it up to karma- the universe is making me feel as though I am working the time I missed.
I deal with clients- bad, good, and indifferent. I eat too many stuffed shells for lunch. I regret it. I text my best friend for sympathy, which she withholds, but then gives. I feel better.
I pay off medical bills- I find it soothing to erase my "debt" one statement at a time. I chat with best friend for over an hour- it's good. I go home and discover that everything in the mailbox is for me. I open them in order of perceived excitement: bill, package from Magellan's, letter from my brother. I deal with the bill and feed the cats, then open the package- travel laundry kit attained! Then I change into long shorts and a tank-top and take the letter from my brother outside, to read in the sunshine. I also bring a notepad and pen, so I can write him back immediately.
The letter is good- written on water-resistant paper, which always makes me smile. I scribble back seven pages about how there isn't a lot going on in my life (but apparently quite a bit in my head). I end it with a satisfying drawing of Dr. Temperance Brennan and Agent Seeley Booth. I miss my brother. I yearn for a new tattoo. I decide to go for a walk.
I call my mom while walking to the dog park. We chat about Pride and Prejudice (gearing up for our Discussion this weekend). I get to the park and we keep talking until she has to go eat dinner. I sit and watch dogs play, comparing them to their perceived owners. I marvel at the social interaction amongst the canines, so much like children. I make up narratives for them, and wonder if I'd rather have a baby or a puppy. I compare and contrast the two. They both seem to be quite a bit of bother, and I wonder if I'd rather not have either. Or any animal, for that matter. I wonder if the dog-owners think I'm creepy for sitting on a bench and watching other people's dogs play.
I walk home. I am barked at by two (of five) dogs, and hailed by one (of three) kid. I ponder the fact that so few people ever say "Hello," to strangers anymore. I call Nathan to see if he's home yet.
And then I'm home, too, and I start an episode of Bones while he prepares our dining-in date: grilled pork chops, asparagus, and pineapple. We watch another episode while we eat- it's very good. I settle in to write a blog.
I think with satisfaction that I have a good life.
Except it ain't nighttime now.
We walk in through the front gate like any other people on a weekend excursion. It's weird, because for a minute I can't remember where the entrance is- but he knows. Who knows- maybe he comes here sometimes during the day, without me, when I'm stuck in that stupid, snooty school. I don't like that thought, but hell- he does a lot of stuff I don't like. He's doin' one of 'em right now, lightin' up a cigarette. Damn cancer-sticks reek worse than anything.
I don't say nothin', tho'. It's bad enough we're here in the daylight, without me adding to things by bein' a whiny little bitch about it.
"It looks better at night, don't it?" He lets out a lungful of smoke, eyes narrow and scanning the now too-visible garbage blown into various corners.
"Yeah, you can see a lot more detritus-" I start, and immediately want to bite my stupid, snooty tongue off. Most guys around here get pissed off when I flaunt my vocabulary- but he just laughs.
"You and your big words, kid. But check me out, usin' context and shit- your detritus is like trash, right? So now I can sound like a St. Francie's kid, too, eh?" I give him a weak grin and he punches my shoulder. "C'mon," he says. "Let's take a little walk and pick up some of this detritus."
So we do, 'cos we always do what he suggests. We follow the ol' ore cart tracks as we go, and I can't help but stare at him, wondering what's goin' on inside his close-cropped head, why he's brought me here to this place- our place- when it's been robbed of all the best of its magic by an unforgiving sun. Why he's made us trespassers in our own kingdom. I'm feelin' sick to my stomach, and I don't think it has much to do with the damn cancer stick.
He flashes me a grin that's too white in the harsh noon light, and I try to smile back.
You'd think, after three years, I'd be more sure of him. But I ain't.
"Wow, you sure can fit a lot of stuff in there, can't you?"
"Yup," I say, relieved that he sounds more genuinely amused than annoyed. "I sure can!"
"The colors in your dress are just perfect for you," he continues, motioning to my swingin' 60's-revival. (he is totally right, by the way)
"Thanks," I say with a bright smile. "I thought it was nice and spring-y. I just got it the other day, so I thought I would wear it in honor of the season- except then it wasn't as warm as I was hoping... so I paired it with tights and called it good!" (It's possible I tend to over-share with strangers.)(And everyone.)
"Well it looks fantastic!"
"Glad to hear it," It's possible I am a bit dismissive in my tone- I have an ill husband at home, and no time for the flirtations of middle-aged men. We stand in semi-awkward silence as the man in front of us fumbles for approximately five coupons for every two items. The cashier then must file said coupons before she can move on to the next customer. I find myself singing along with the overhead music,
"Love don't come easy... it's a game of give and take..."
"Well, at least we have good music while we wait," he ventures. I notice the wedding band on his finger and tell myself to quit being so conceited about his intentions. Instead I give him a bigger smile.
"Happy spring music!" I consider the lyrics for a split second before adding, "Well, it sounds happy, anyway, even tho' the subject kind of isn't..." He laughs, and the cashier finally begins to scan my items.
"It'd dancing music!" he announces. "I bet Dawnie will dance with me!" I glance at the cashier's name-tag (and, I must add, take a moment to admire her perfect ringlet-fro held back by a wide gold scarf) and sure enough- her name is Dawn. Everything tumbles into place for me as she grins and says,
"Any time, any place!"
Oh, he's one of those people- people like my mom who make friends readily, everywhere and anywhere. He wasn't hitting on me in the slightest- he was just being friendly, like Mom always taught us to be.
"Isn't her dress beautiful?" He asks Dawn.
"Sure is," she says- "Real vibrant!" Our chatter continues until I pay and wish them both a good afternoon.
I walk out to the car and I'm wondering at what point, exactly, I became so suspicious of everyone around me. I didn't used to be- in fact, I was regularly accused of being naive to the point of stupid regarding the intentions of men. So how did I go from that to this woman who can't hear a compliment to her outfit without narrowing her eyes and thinking, "Predator"?
I don't know- but I resolve to myself to remember the fellow in line, to remember my Mom- and to try to get back to that girl who is open and friendly and expects only the best.
You see, when the lorelei sing men to their deaths, oftentimes the man's mate will come looking for him. And, of course, these women are prone to crying, sometimes into the river itself. It is a well known fact that the lorelei are fascinate by these tears, since they themselves are incapable of shedding any, and are lured to the surface by their fall just as the men were lured to the rocks.
If the woman of a drowned man can somehow capture one of her tears as it hits the lorelei's waters, if she can somehow transform it into a bauble to barter with the the lorelei, they may use their magic to give her back her mate.
Or so it is said...
(Greater than Rubies)
No sooner had she had this whimsical thought than a small, glittering movement in the corner of her vision caught her eye. She was too warm and comfortable to move, but she let her gaze slide ever so slowly to the left, to see what it was.
I've fallen asleep in the sunshine, she thought dreamily as the fairy fussed over the pale pink petals of the tallest flower, its face a mask of irritation. I've fallen asleep, and now I'm dreaming of the wee folk. How lovely! She wanted to giggle, but it didn't quite manage to manifest.
The fairy muttered something under her breath, and it took a moment for the girl to realize that the tinkling sound of its voice was actually a rather filthy string of expletives. Again, she wanted to giggle, but again she did not.
"Thistledown!" the fairy shrieked, stamping its tiny foot. "Thistledown you promised my dress would be done in time for the ball tonight, but look, just look at this!" A second fairy appeared.
"My lady, it will..."
"It will not! Look at the color on this! I specifically told you I wanted baby pink, and these are obviously cherry blossom pink!"
"Technically speaking," the girl offered, "I believe they're tulip pink." The fairies turned towards her, faces horrified.
"And white," she added as an afterthought.
(Tulips in the Sun )
We went clothes shopping today, which is always an excruciating experience for each of us alone, let alone together. Nathan (as we were leaving the apartment) that we should just go ahead and get our inevitably snippiness out of the way early... Fortunately it did not actually get to that point, but I think that's because we've learned to sort of separate once we hit a store. We managed a decent haul- new khakis and three shirts for him, as well as two shirts and two dresses for me (it was a work-clothes related spree). Both of us are still in dire need of new jeans, but by the time we finished at Belk's (where we found nothing, by the way) we were crabby and done. So we rewarded ourselves by going to Barnes and Noble (I got a moleskine for England- woo!) and then Mountain High Outfitters.
I love MHO. First of all, it's full of stuff that I totally want. Second of all, it's peopled by some particularly great employees. It's almost enough to make me miss working retail- almost. Anyway, I did have an actual purpose (beyond drooling) for going there- I wanted to get fitted for an Osprey pack. I specifically have my eye on an Aura 65, but they didn't have that capacity or my size, so I ended up trying on the next size up, which was still about a billion times more comfortable than my current bag (which is probably literally twenty years old, and definitely over ten). The other bag I'm leaning towards is an Ariel (65 or 75) but they didn't even have any of those in, because they just released a new generation this year. But they're going to call me when they get some in (hopefully next week).
Have I mentioned yet how gleeful I am that this whole trip to England thing is giving me the perfect excuse to buy fabulous new gear? Because I am. So very gleeful. ^_^
Oh, speaking of glee- my brother got his new tattoo today (another of my designs)- I am jealous. I want new ink... but speaking of my designs, here's Nate's photo for today, which is of me personalizing my new purse (stage one, anyway). I did a variation on my tree-tattoo for it, and I'm quite proud... I may put up a picture of the finished product once it's... you know, finished...
Yeah, I think we're done here.
(And I will admit, there were certain scenes which caused me to cringe, because I saw younger versions of myself- and not in the flattering way.)
But anyway, it got me thinking about the importance of bringing pieces of your own life experience into your writing, and to what extent I do and do not do that with my stuff. It's a good thing because it brings that level of (as I already mentioned) genuineness to your work- but you have to be careful not to over-rely on it, because once you've written away all the little anecdotes of your personal story- what's left? So yeah, fine line and all that.
And on that note, I'm for bed. I did write a bit on Blue Menagerie today, but it needs some plumping up before I put it up here. Maybe tomorrow. Also? Go look at today's photo: Nate revisited his Smokesperiment.
One of the very best things about Sallie’s bedroom was that one of her windows opened up into the branches of a tree. She loved being able to watch the turning of the seasons as manifested by its leaves and blossoms, loved how the birds would wake her in the mornings with their songs- and the added shade in the summer wasn’t to be scoffed at, either. The limbs were much too slender for her to dream of using to enter or exit her bedroom, but they were perfect for Zeb to play on. Thus it was that she took her books (including her brainstorming notebook) outside to “study” in the sunshine like a dutiful daughter- and didn’t have to worry one bit about how to sneak Zeb out.
She settled down into the roots and opened the notebook to a fresh page.
“What… we… know…” she muttered as she wrote it out across the top.
“Amulet,” she put a big star next to this. Judging from what she’d overheard the horrible woman saying to Zebbie, the so-called amulet was the key to everything. Underneath it she wrote,
Horrible Woman- who is she?
Sallie stared at her list. So far it was less of a “What We Know” list and more of a “What We Need to Know More About” list. She sighed. Really it didn’t matter who the Horrible Woman was, or what her motivation was- but it was essential that Sallie figure out her weaknesses, so she could somehow get a hold of the mysterious amulet. And then what? She made a few more notations,
Sallie was tempted to repeat her head-banging experiment- this was going nowhere. Before she could get too irritated, however, a cheerful sort of hmmm noise floated down to her. Sallie glanced up and waved at Zeb, who was doing a mad little dash up, around, and through the upper-most branches. She still couldn’t believe how swift and graceful his movements were as he moved from limb to limb, occasionally using his tail for anchorage. It just didn’t fit with her memories of him as a two-year-old, rocketing into any and every available corner. Not a day had gone by that he hadn’t added to his collection of cuts, bruises, and fore-head goose eggs. Sallie smiled at the memory and turned her attention back to the notebook.
“I got him home,” she said to the list, “and I’ll get him transformed, too. One bite at a time. It doesn’t matter what I need to do with the amulet until I have the amulet, so I’d better focus on that.”
Most of the time Sallie resented being left with baby-sitters. It wasn’t that she had anything against them, personally- in fact she quite liked Sarah, the dark-haired girl who was watching her this afternoon while Mommy and Daddy attended some sort of seminar thing- it was that she resented the idea of them. She was ten years old! She was very responsible! Everyone said so! Surely she could be left on her own once in a while.
Mommy and Daddy did not agree.
Still, it suited her plans far better to be left with Sarah than to be dragged along to some boring grown-up thing. First of all, didn’t have to suffer through said boring grown-up thing while she could be working on her Plans. Second of all, she didn’t have to leave Zeb unsupervised for hours on end- who knew what mischief his new body would let him get into if he got bored? But best of all for Sallie’s plans, her parents hadn’t mentioned the menagerie to Sarah- which meant Sarah didn’t know that they didn’t want Sallie going there again. Which meant Sarah, who was a big fan of doing things that didn’t involve watching television, was quite easy to talk into a little field-trip.
They rode their bikes (Sarah was also distressingly fond of cycling rather than driving whenever she could) and Sallie discovered that she had been correct- it took far less time to get there during daylight, when you didn’t feel compelled to hide in the bushes all the time.
When they got there she was almost surprised to see that there was no sort of fuss going on- she had expected the proprieters to be more up in arms about their ring-tailed lemur being gone for (now) over twenty-four hours. But the menagerie seemed to be exactly the same as it had been during her other (non-nocturnal) visits.
Hmph, she thought. Maybe the Horrible Woman was being serious when she told Zeb he was more trouble than he was worth.
She let Sarah take the lead for their wanderings- Sallie was too busy looking for women who might be the Horrible Woman to pay attention to the exhibits. She wished she had at least seen the woman’s back, so she would at least know what color hair to search for…
Also, to tell the truth, now that she knew that each of the animals had started as a little boy or girl, it made it impossible to meet their blue eyes without wanting to cry. She remembered her parents’ grief over Zeb, remembered her own terrible feelings of guilt and loneliness- she couldn’t bear to imagine all the many parents and brothers and sisters who had no idea their loved ones were here, locked behind bars, locked in fur or feathers or scales. And there were so many of them…
I will free them all, she vowed.
It had been a long time since he’s thought of himself as a little boy. Truth be told, he didn’t know that he’d ever really thought of himself as “little boy”. He’d just been Zeb. It wasn’t until after the change that it had occurred to him that “little boy” was part of what Zeb was. And for a while he did think of himself as little boy, in spite of the fact that he had fur, and fangs, and a (admittedly cool) tail. He would repeat it to himself, thinking that surely someone would look at him and recognize him for what he was, take him away from this horrible place and back to his family. But time passed, and no one else saw “little boy” when they looked at him- they saw “lemur”, and treated him as such. Even she tended to call him “creature” rather than “boy”… and in time he just… forgot.
Well, maybe not forgot- but didn’t think about it anymore. It was hard to hold the idea of “little boy” in his head, even harder to hold the name “Zeb”. It was exhausting, and made his head ache. It was a relief to just… give in. He stopped trying to make human-sounds and gave in to the twits, purrs, yaps and trills that came so naturally. He surrendered to what he was, and in time what he had been became a sort of a dream-of-a-memory-of-a-dream. Every once in while he would remember, but it always made him so sad, so angry… better to let it go. Better to stay in the unconcerned waking slumber of an animal’s eternal now.
But then he heard that sound, that sound that had tickled him back to awareness that went beyond the moment.
That sound had a special meaning. He knew that sound. And he knew the girl who had made it. Knew she was family-troop, even tho’ she was human. He reached out a hand and tried to tell her, “I’m here!”
The girl had gone away. But she had woken “Zeb” up again- and he did not intend to go back to sleep.
As it happened, Mommy took one look at her and declared that she was staying home. Sallie didn’t argue- just rolled over and went back to sleep once Mommy had finished taking her temperature.
She woke again closer to noon, to a strangely quite house. This most likely meant that Mommy was working on her art down in the basement.
Sallie hopped out of bed and padded over to the closet, where she discovered that sometimes wishes really do come true; Zeb was still sleeping, curled up under an old skirt of hers. She wasn’t sure how much longer that would last, but considering how hungry she was, Sallie figured he would be ravenous when he finally awoke. She shut the door on him again and ventured downstairs to try to figure out what a ring tailed lemur might eat.
Normally she’d have just looked I up on the internet, but she knew perfectly well that her parents checked her browsing history, and she didn’t think it would be wise to show a sudden interest in the eating habits of lemurs the day after one went missing from the menagerie (for surely there would be an outcry) especially in light of the “dream” they thought she’d had. So- no internet, and no getting to the school library today, either. Sallie chewed her cereal and thought.
Mommy had said lemurs were primates, like monkeys- and like humans. It stood to reason that Zeb’s diet couldn’t be that different from hers. Then she remembered his sharp fangs- animals with sharp fangs ate meat, she knew. And probably the sharper the fangs, the more meat they ate- after all, Sallie’s fangs were pretty blunt, and her family only had meat once or twice a week. In fact, there were some leftover hamburger patties in the fridge right now… Just then something rubbed up against her leg and let out a piteous mew!
Sallie looked down- it was Miss Underfoot, their calico cat. She let out a gigantic yawn, displaying her rows of needle-teeth, before nuzzling her head against Sallie’s knee. Sallie frowned. Miss Underfoot should be a meat-eater, too- and she did in fact bring home many small animals she’d killed- but for the most part she ate dry cat food. Which, come to think of it, didn’t seem to be all that different from the cereal Sallie was eating now. Hmmm…
In the end she brought two bowls back up to her room- one with dry cereal in it, and one with crumbled up hamburger patty- plus a banana for good measure. She also brought a sports bottle full of water, because she couldn’t imagine that lemurs drank anything else.
Zeb was still asleep, so she left the food inside the closet with him, and headed into the bathroom for a shower. While she was in there she had another thought- where did lemurs go to the bathroom? Zeb had still been in diapers when he disappeared- Mommy and Daddy had only just started potty training him, so who knew if he’d remember about toilets.
Sallie wanted to bang her forehead against the blue-and-white tile wall. No one ever mentioned all the inane details of adventures in the books she read- how was a girl supposed to be prepared for potty-training a lemur?! She gave her head a little bang, just to see if it might help.
She felt much better after the shower, and the scratches on her arms didn’t look nearly so dreadful. Mommy would probably assume she got them the normal way, climbing trees rather than breaking and entering. Sallie changed into a fresh pair of pajamas (shorts and a tank-top, this time), grabbed a pen and a notebook, and climbed back into bed.
Time to start brainstorming.
A light knock on the door brought any brewing storms to a screeching halt, and Sallie quickly tossed the notebook to the floor and reached for a book on her night table. Mommy’s head poked through the door.
“Oh good, you’re awake!” she said, and came in. Sallie pretended she was putting down the book she hadn’t picked up. “How you feelin’, sweetie?”
“Better,” Sallie said. “Maybe a little weird, still. But I took a shower and that helped a lot.”
“And ate some lunch, I saw. You forgot to put your dishes in the dishwasher.”
“Yeah, whoops,” Mommy teased, and kissed her on the forehead. “But I forgive you because you’re just so pitiful. Hmm, you don’t feel as clammy as you did this morning, either. Maybe it was just a twelve-hour bug.”
“Maybe. I don’t suppose…” Sallie hesitated, knowing that it would be utterly unlike her not to ask the next question, but wanting very, very badly for the answer to be no. “I mean, do you think I ought to go to school now, since I’m feeling better?” Sallie held her breath, but relaxed when she saw Mommy making that face she made when she didn’t want Sallie to know she was trying not to laugh. Really it wasn’t very subtle at all.
“Oh, I don’t think you look that much better. I think you’d probably better stay home, just to play it safe. We wouldn’t want to start a plague in your class, now would we?”
“Definitely not!” agreed Sallie, relieved. “But I think that, if I’m staying home from school and all, I’d better stay mostly in my room, and study.”
“You’re such a good girl, sweetie. So responsible,” Mommy kissed her on the head again, and Sallie couldn’t help but feel guilty that the kind of responsible she was being wasn’t necessarily the kind of responsible her mother meant. “I’ll be down in the studio, if you need anything, okay?”
“Oh, and Sallie?”
“Maybe you should study outside a little bit, too. Get some vitamin D to help stave off those plague bugs.”
A clattering sort of noise drew her attention back to the closet. When she opened the door there was Zeb, sitting in a pile of spilled cereal and ripping the banana to shreds. He gave her what she assumed was a lemur grin, let out a satisfied purr, and devoured the rest of the fruit. Next he picked up a bit of hamburger, smelled it with apparent suspicion, and put a bit in his mouth. His eyes closed in bliss and he grabbed for more.
“Yeah, I thought you might like the hamburger. I’m sure it’s not natural lemur food, but you’re still my little brother, after all.” Sallie crouched down and started picking up the cereal before he could grind it into the carpet. Zeb watched her for a moment, then began to help with his clever little hands, carefully picking up a single piece at a time before depositing it back into the bowl, glancing up at her every so often for approval, which Sallie smiled at him. For some dumb reason the entire process made her want to cry. She scrubbed angrily at her eyes and took a steadying breath.
“Okay Zebbie, we have to figure out how to get you back to human-shaped. Mommy and Daddy are just too grown up to see beyond your fur, you know?”
Zeb made a sad sound and clutched worriedly at his stripy tail, much as he had once clung to his blue blanket for comfort. Sallie couldn’t help but reach out and gather him into her arms; he sighed and snuggled close her.
“It’s okay, Zeb. We’ll turn you back, and then everything will be okay.”
Sooo... here is a weird bit of knowledge for you. I'm not sure if it's true of all people with tattoos, or just sensitive-types like me, but I can always tell when there are allergens about by the way that my ink suddenly transforms into a creepy version of Pat-the-Bunny- you know, all texture-y and such. It's especially noticeably on my tree-tattoo, because of all the thin lines.
It's unsettling and cool all at the same time, and it's all I can do not to constantly run my fingers over the raised parts of my skin, like a blind person reading and re-reading their favorite passages...
stain my fingers
with traces of you
So there's your imagery/poetry for the day. Now I'm going to go attack a sweet potato, and then try to learn another track for BodyFlow. Woo!
Borderline blase , to say the least.
Oh, but now it is April, and now is the time when Jenny O starts to Have Opinions. Why? Because now the trip is only a month away, and now I can afford the time and energy to be Anal Retentive. Which means that I've been spending the past several hours on such activities as Purchasing Oyster Passes, Compiling Information (like confirmation numbers, etc), and Trying to Find the Best Deal on Travel Underwear (as I draft our strict Packing List) (and if any of you out there have any insider info on that particular topic, please share. $16/pop is an awful lot for a little scrap of unmentionables...). Later I fully expect to be refining our personal itinerary (because we're not going to be with the group the whole time, because nothing spoils a nice family trip quite like homicide) to reflect our personal interests (such as the aforementioned Stonehenge, and of course Portsmouth and cruising down the Thames). Also on the agenda? Curling up with my guide to Great Britain, which I did start reading when I initially bought it, but got sidetracked from in the meantime, and making notes (plus adding the highlights my darling friend Anna recommended to us).
Glee glee- I do so love to travel. ^_^
Normally she was not a forward girl. Normally, in fact, she was very, very shy. In fact, it had taken all her nerve to come to this debate tonight, even to be an anonymous student amongst a gathering several hundred strong. She had deliberately sat in a poorly-lit segment, far enough back that she couldn’t really make out the features of the speakers. Even so, she had known which one was Dr. Barram, if only because he was the one who wasn’t her professor. As the two had debated, the girl had felt a stirring in her chest- a sort of opening feeling, a blossoming that centered around her heart. The things that Dr. Barram had said- they were borderline heretical, but they’d spoken to her in a way all her studies of other people’s interpretation of the Word never had. She had suddenly realized maybe she wasn’t as much a Believer as she’d always thought she’d been- but that she wanted to be.
It was this feeling that had her waiting in a darkened hallway, watching Dr. Barram’s back as he bade a warm farewell to the group of students who had come up to compliment him on the debate. Most didn’t agree with him, of course, but they had a lot of admiration for the points he’d made. She wasn’t sure what she would say to him- but for the first time in her life she felt she might die if she didn’t let a person pass by without greeting.
As though he was expecting her, the man turned and walked over to her quasi-hiding place.
“Hello,” he said. “I’m John Barram.”
“I know,” she whispered. “My name is Mirriam.”
“I thought it might be,” he smiled.
“You look much younger than I thought you were,” she flushed as soon as she said it, mortified he might think she was a star-struck student hitting on him. The burning lightness in her chest did feel like she had always imagines love would feel, but it was for the Message- not the messenger.
“I get that a lot,” he said, his smile broadening, “And it’s only because it’s true. You would never credit me with my actual age.”
“I’m so sorry, that was rude of me,”
“Not at all; it was not said with malice. Come, Mirriam, walk with me.”
For a long time neither of them said anything, as they made their way down the winding paths of campus, into the deepening twilight. Normally Mirriam would have felt uneasy to be alone with a strange man in the dark, but now all she felt was peace- and anticipation.
“Would you like to hear a story, Mirriam?” He paused at a bench beneath a lamp, gestured for her to sit down. She liked how he kept saying her name- it made it sound almost sacred.
“Yes please, Dr. Barram.”
“You may call me John, if you’d like.”
“Yes please, John.”
“It’s a love story- although not a romance.”
“That’s alright. I like love stories.”
“I thought you might.” He hooked his hands behind his head and tilted his head skyward, as though to stare at the stars. His eyes were closed, however, and Mirriam wondered what he was seeing that gave such a wistful curve to his lips.
“Once upon a time, so very, very long ago, there was a man who was more than a man, and he was called, amongst other things, Joshua. Joshua had a great message to deliver, and to aid him in his endeavor he gathered about him many disciples. One of these disciples was a young man who had loved Joshua for as long as he could remember, and do you know what? His, too, was called John…”
For thousands of years, this was the way of things- moths gathering up the fallen stars and carefully ushering back to their appointed path- until gradually the stars began to be able to fend for themselves. To be certain, the stars were not perfect; no, at least once a night one or more would get distracted and fall again, and the moths would go and find that one (or five) who had strayed, and return it (or them) to their proper positions. Still more time passed, however, and eventually weeks might pass without a star falling: but the moths did not forget their purpose, and remained ever vigilant for their wayward charges. This is why, when man appeared with his false stars- his captured flames and his strange cold lights- the moths continually attempt to gather them up and return them to their distant, dancing brethren.
Moth to Flame
Beginning the First
Alone. I am alone, now, my earthly brothers and sisters long since gone back to Him. By all rights I should be an old, old man, living out my final days here in this sunlit land, surrounded by seas the color of Heaven’s shadow, waiting for that time when I close my eyes for a nap, and never again open them. But I am not an old man. And I never shall be.
I thought when I Fell that I would become a man as He did, able to die as He was destined to. In retrospect, such an assumption was foolish- after all, Lucifer didn’t become a man, nor did his followers. But I thought that since my Fall was voluntary (more akin to a Jump) and my circumstances different, the results would be different as well. And they were- but not in the way I thought they would be.
Oh, I appear to be mortal to any who might see me- I inhabit a body of all-too-human flesh, without wings, without celestial fire. But I do not age, and I will not die. I may hunger or thirst, but these things will not kill me. You may beat me, or even crucify me, but I will not bruise or bleed, and my bones will not break from any force you can apply. I do not need the air in my lungs for anything more than speech- and even that I may do mind-to-mind, if I so desire.
Of course, there are so few worth talking to since He left.
Begining the Second
It is funny how none of the books mentioned bedraggled young man who showed up in the stable a few days after the child’s birth. Of course, he was neither shepherd nor king, which made him difficult to fit into the narrative, so maybe that explains it. No one really knew what to make of him- he didn’t ask for anything, just seemed to like being around the baby, caring for him and for Mary, and Joseph too when he’d let him. All Mary knew was that she liked him immensely.
“He reminds me of someone,” she told her husband, who was quite frankly growing irritated with the curiosity their child was arousing. “And I feel better when he’s around. Don’t be so rude.”
So Joseph tried to curb his rudeness, but he could not help but feel strange about the young man who- when pressed- called himself Johnael. The truth was, Johnael reminded Joseph of someone, too- but the thought didn’t comfort him the way it did his wife.
Johnael disappeared the day they headed back to Nazareth. Mary was concerned about him, but Joseph pointed out that the young man had obviously survived over two decades just fine without Mary mothering him, and doubtless he would continue to get along just fine from here on out.
“Besides which,” he added, “Don’t you have more than enough to worry about with little Joshua, there?” Mary conceded her husband’s point: this was her first time as a mother, and as shockingly easy to handle as Joshua was, she did find her hands full (sometimes literally) keeping away all the small animals that seemed to want to curl up with him.
“The angles never said anything about this,” she muttered as she removed two sparrows and a hare from her son’s makeshift cradle.
Before long they were settled back into their lives in Nazareth, and they forgot all about the strange, quiet young man. Joshua matured swiftly, and it seemed as though hardly any time at all had passed before he had left home to strike out on his own. But Mary knew that time had passed- all she had to do was look at her once-smooth hands, now somewhat gnarled, and beginning to stiffen with age as she entered the middle of her fourth decade.
She found herself glancing down at her hands the day her son brought home a group of his friends- for there amongst the young men was one who appeared younger than them all- but who looked just exactly the same as he had when she’d last seen him, thirty some-odd years ago.
Johnael was back.
Beginning the Third
What do you do when the love of your life- of your very existence- decides to split Himself away from Himself, and send that part to become a mortal, destined to suffer and eventually die? Do you stay with the immortal part in heaven, and observe the unfolding of time as you have done for millennia? Or do you cast off your own semi-divinity to follow the mortal part to earth- to Fall?
At least my Fall did not hurt, as Lucifer’s is said to. I think that is because it was done to him against his will, whereas I gave up my wings and took on flesh of my own free will.
Free will- some mortals say we do not have it, but we do. We just have a better insight into the consequences of our choice- and such knowledge usually leads to better choices.
But not always.
So there you have it- three potentials. And I might not even go any of those routes. What do you think?
My brain is a little bit all over the place tonight- I've been in a rather Industrious mood, which means things are getting checked off my To Do list with abandon, but the fact of the matter is that I just spent about four hours working on a stupid play list for my H2O Bootcamp tomorrow night, and I'm really starting to question my sanity. Don't get me wrong- I like making play lists (never would have lasted so long as a DJ, otherwise) but it does bring a certain level of irritation to it when I also have to figure out choreography for the darn thing. And this is the third one I've made since January. And I only get paid like $15 a class (if that- I haven't seen a paycheck in few weeks, and I'm about to bring it up with the Powers That Be). What is wrong with me??
Anyway, putting so much time and effort into that thing means that I didn't get to the spate of other things on the To Do list for the evening (although Nathan sweetly did a few for me) which makes me feel a bit grumpy. And I'm supposed to have read the first ten chapters of Moby Dick by tomorrow, and I haven't even finished the first five.
Also, I haven't been drawing lately, so when I tried to render Sallie the other day it came out embarrassingly awful. Why do we have to practice our skills? Why can't they just stay sharp always, ready to come out and play whenever I want them?
Whine whine whine.
I think I'm done for now. Hopefully we'll return to our regularly scheduled program of useful writing tomorrow... (also, I like Nate's picture today so I shall link to it, in spite of lacking the energy to write it the short story it deserves...)
“What’s got you so worked up now, you wretched thing?”
Zeb let out a strange twitter that Sallie was pretty sure would have gotten him in trouble with any adult lemur within hearing range. The woman, however, let out a low laugh. It wasn’t a pleasant sound.
“Such language! You’ve been all but impossible ever since we got back to this town. I suppose it’s in the blood- that was your family that made such a fuss on Sunday, wasn’t it? And they did the last time we were here, too, as I recall… how I wish I had met your father at a younger age! It’s just too bad your hysterical sister has hazel eyes… of course, if you’re feeling lonely, I’m sure we could find a way to bend the rules… I have been thinking of taking on someone new to clean the cages.”
Zeb barked, and Sallie had a sudden vision of his sharp little lemur fangs. She didn’t know that she would taunt him in this form, intervening bars or not. The woman laughed again.
“Rage all you want, you ring-tailed brat. The fact remains that as long as I hold the amulet, you and all the others stay in your animal forms, which means you’re in no position to dictate who else I may or may not bring into our little family. Although you’ve been so very troublesome… if you didn’t hold such potent viv, I’d have let you escape long ago. Wouldn’t do you any good, you know. The first person to find you would either shoot you or put you in a real zoo. Or maybe even try to keep you as a pet. How would you like that, boy? To be someone’s exotic pet?”
By this point Sallie was biting her lip so hard she could taste blood. It was all she could do not to hurl herself over the edge of the cage and start pummeling the horrible woman- but a memory of her father stopped her;
You remember this, Sallie-girl, he had said as they watched a movie about a little boy who defeated the bad guy by being clever. You’re like that kid- you’ve got heart but you’ll probably always be too much smaller than anyone else to go in with your fists flying, hoping for the best. You need to know your enemy, know their weak spots- and then develop your weapons to take advantage of that. Find that weak spot- and it won’t always be physical- and then you can hit ‘em with all you’ve got!
At the time Sallie hadn’t thought the advice particularly useful- after all, who would she ever fight with? She was a good girl who stayed out of trouble, and she got along pretty well with almost everyone. But now, as she sat frozen in the darkness, she realized that she really, really wanted to fight the horrible woman- but that she was definitely too little to stand a chance. She’d have to find the weak spot.
Trouble was, she couldn’t even see the woman from her current position, let alone any weak spots- and she didn’t dare move to remedy the situation.
“Anyway I’m bored with your chatter now, and since you’re obviously not going to go to sleep on your own…” the woman trailed off, and Sallie heard a faint clinking noise. Zeb let out a sort of whimper that ended in a sigh, and then was silent. Sallie squeezed her eyes shut and held her breath as she listened to the fading footsteps of the woman. Only when her head was beginning to spin from lack of oxygen did she breathe again, open her eyes, and ever-so-carefully peer over the roof to see if the horrible woman was really gone.
Sallie’s heart had decided to renew its attack on her rib-cage, but Sallie ignored it as she groped her way to the trap-door. Fortunately it was not locked- just double-bolted. Her hands shook as she eased them open, every moment expecting to hear the woman’s voice again, this time full of angry accusation. One of the bolts let out a little groan, and Sallie cursed herself for not thinking to bring any sort of oil.
Slowly, slowly she lifted the heavy wood panel of the door, easing it over until it lay flat against the roof of the cage. She had expected Zeb to spring immediately out, but he did not. Sallie poked her head into the opening, afraid of what she might see.
There he was, not visibly harmed, but collapsed in a little heap at the base of the tree branch.
“Zeb,” she whispered. His head stirred and she watched with alarm as he tried to sit up, only to fall back over. Tears of fear and fury stung at her eyes as she tried to calculate if the platform beneath the opening would hold her weight.
“Nothing for it,” she muttered, and slipped into the opening. Fortunately the platform did hold her weight, and she was able to use it to (albeit awkwardly) make her way down to where her little brother was still struggling to get upright. Somehow his behavior reminded her of the way their grandfather had acted when Sallie had visited him in the hospital after an operation- kind of wobbly and unfocused. It made her even more afraid for him.
“Shhh, it’s okay, Zebbie. Come here,” she picked him up and transferred him to the backpack, where he curled up with a tiny, pathetic trill. He was big enough that she was just barely able to zip it closed around him, and she knew the tools in the bag had to be digging into his flesh- but she couldn’t risk leaving them behind.
The new weight on her back made the reverse climb near impossible, but by this point Sallie had so much adrenaline pumping through her system that she thought she might be able to lift a train if she had to, and she eventually made it out. Her journey back across the fairgrounds to the opening in the fence was as quick as she could make it, although she did manage to slice open the other arm when she passed back through.
The bicycle ride expanded her concept of torture- she was slower with Zeb on her back, and each pair of headlights that approached brought with them the queasy realization of their vulnerability, the certainty of discovery and capture. What if it was the horrible woman? It was one thing to end up in jail, but Sallie couldn’t stand the idea of what it would do to her parents if she just disappeared the way Zeb had. The whole night became a hideous, unending nightmare, the kind where you can’t go as fast as you know you should be able to, the kind where you know the monster is breathing down your neck, even if you can’t see it. Can’t see her. In her sleep-deprived delirium, Sallie felt certain she would never find daylight again, let alone make it home.
She did make it, however, and even managed to do so before Daddy got up. Trembling with exhaustion and the after-effects of too much adrenaline (she’d had to pull over twice to vomit) Sallie carefully shut her now-sleeping brother into her closet, wished as hard as she could that he would stay asleep, stripped back down to just her night-gown, and collapsed into her own bed. Her digital clock said it was 0427. Mommy would be in to wake her for school in about two hours- but Sallie was pretty sure she could convince her she was too sick to go.
Her sleep was dreamless.
upon coming face to face
(itself composed of nothing
but the endless passing of time)
i have come to realize
that said passage of time
has somewhat lost
because in the ever-changing
face of forever
(in your face)
all time is one-
all time is now
(an endless repetition
and how can i be expected to notice
whether this now
holds one hour
or one thousand?
and how can i help but be surprised
that this moment
is not the same moment
as when i breathed my first breath
as your wife
(is not the same moment
as when I will breathe my last)?
syllables of amber:
i am my beloved's
and my beloved is mine
those are the words we spoke
the words we speak
the words we will be speaking
(One Year Later)
It was a pretty good sermon, focusing on (no surprise here) the resurrection of Christ. The preacher could have used some work on some of the secular view-points he was trying to refute (and I am always willing to provide such points for the faithful to practice on) but all in all, not bad. Anyway, I mentioned as much to Nathan, which got us into a conversation regarding Christian apologetics, and the fact that one of the better arguments for Jesus being who he said he was, was the martyrdom of all the apostles (who saw him after his death). All, that is, except for Beloved John.
Apparently Beloved John died alone on an island in the Mediterranean, and when Nate told me as much the whole Storyteller aspect of my Being began to quiver like an excited hound on a particularly delicious scent.
“Or so you think!” I announced. “In reality, John was a vampire who just pretended to die, and has spent the intervening centuries doing what he could to further the faith!” Nathan made one of his Pained Expressions, but I continued- “No, think about it! It’s the only thing that makes sense! How else could Christianity have survived without an immortal element propelling it along, popping up every once in a while to manipulate history! I totally need to write that story…”
“Please don’t write that story,” he said (automatically, I think). Then, a heartbeat later, he grinned and admitted, “Actually that would be kind of good.”
And it totally, totally will.
(Of course, this story with directly contradict the one I wrote in which Jesus was the vampire, but hey- that’s what the Multiverse is for, right?)
Tonight we watched our wedding video, which was a very weird experience, indeed. It brought back good memories, and made me smile and laugh and keep up a running commentary on the behind-the-scenes action (we were watching with Nathan's sister and her husband, because they had not been able to attend the wedding, being as they were rather busy with having a baby). But it also was vaguely uncomfortable having the vows telegraphed into the ether once more. Part of me couldn't help but feel it was a very private thing we were revealing- which of course is ridiculous since the whole point of the vows was to stand up in public and exchange them in front of witnesses who could then feel free to yell, "No take backs!" So I'm not sure what was up with that, but there it was...
Another weird part was seeing a certain guest appear in the video- at the time I thought this person was going to be a permanent part of my life, and I daresay I loved them. But that is not how things worked out, and what I feel for that person at this point... well, let's not get into that. We'll leave it at the fact that it's not pleasant, and it was kind of jarring to see them pop up in my wedding video- I think part of me had repressed the fact that they were there (which is ridiculous, since they appear in several shots in all the versions of my wedding album, as well...). Afterward I turned to Nathan and said, "I just have to divorce who [that person] was then from who [that person] is now, because they're not even remotely the same." And it's true- they're not. And it makes me really sad.
But not too sad, because it's not worth dwelling on when there are so many wonderful things in this world that are worth dwelling on, like being almost a full year into a fantastic marriage, and getting to spend quality time with family, and getting to hike a little on the AT while wearing my totally freaking sweet new shoes. That was good for two reasons- one, it was nice to be on the same trail my dear friend JoeSeph hiked about this time last year (not to mention it made me feel all bonded with my brother, who did the PCT about two years back). Two because (as mentioned) my new shoes are totally freaking sweet. They're designed to let you feel like you're barefoot, and they do just that- only without the pesky sensitivity to thinks like tiny rocks or pine needles jabbing at your arches. The way they allowed me to scramble up rocks- heavenly. I can't wait to do a longer hike in them (our hike today being cut short by large quantities of snow, which the shoes emphatically do not have the traction for). And I must say, hiking up here makes me really long for the Gorge. Birmingham area hiking just doesn't compare...