In a relationship
Country: United States
July 05, 2014
[ This blog post is private ]
06/09/2019 09:57 PM
Marie went to bed on the thirteenth of July tired, anxious and hungry. Her aunt was sick, had been sick for years, they could not buy bread and pay the next week's rent so they had done without bread—what choice did they have?
Recently Marie had resorted to stealing bread where she could, but she hated doing that. Firstly, because the Gardes Francaises would kill her if they could, arrest her if they couldn't, with a more lingering death to follow. Second, because did not the priest tell her that it was wrong to steal? She had not dared to steal bread for days, afraid of the rioting and the troops.
As she lay on her pile of ragged blankets on the floor, in the room her family shared, she drifted off to sleep listening to the musket cracks in the street and Claudette crying weakly with hunger; afraid that the baby, Jacques, was dying; hoping only that the riots would end soon, that she would not be arrested; that she would be able to buy bread soon; the Government would take pity on them.
That night was like many other nights that July, as Paris simmered in the summer heat, riots more desperate, more and more troops, anger crackling in waves from the warehouses to the customs post, to Saint-Lazare.
The next morning she woke early and left the house to beg, borrow or steal what she could.
Claudette cried after her. "I'm hungry. Marie, I'm hungry!" Jacques simply lay on his rag, barely breathing. Her aunt tossed and turned feverishly, her hands trembling on the thin blanket.
"I'll try to get some food," said Marie. "I'll try…"
She clambered down the stair-case, stepping over the bodies of homeless, starving people who camped there, barely moving beneath their rags.
The streets were much as usual. Starving, desperate people drifted from shop to shuttered, looted shop. Gangs with scythes, pitch-forks and pinched, nervous faces lingered on the corners. And at every corner, on every street, glaring behind muskets, pistols, gleaming swords, were the troopers. A few were drunk. Most were silent. Those were the ones who scared her. Marie could feel their eyes on her. Look at that peasant. Look at her run. Filthy brat.
Tears pricked her eyes.
The crowds in the centre of Paris were greater than she had ever seen them before. Great. Competition for the limited bread available. The crowds in the centre of Paris were much greater than she had ever seen them before.
And they were purposeful. Not grabbing what they could and running before the troopers. Armed, confident, heading into town. Where could they possibly be going? To a rich man's house, to seize his grain store? To demonstrate about something? Marie went with them. The bigger the crowd, the better their chance against the troopers. The more likely she was to get bread.
But it seemed they were not going to get bread. The crowd, dozens, hundreds, clutching weapons ranging from kitchen knives to guns, gathered in the square before the Bastille.
"What are you doing?" Marie asked the gentleman in front of her, clearly a sans-coulotte, clutching a musket.
"Taking the Bastille."
Someone at the front of the crowd was saying something. Everyone swayed forward to listen, the sans-coulotte, a group of wine merchants, an elderly lady clutching a basket of eggs, which she told anyone who would listen she had stolen from a priest.
"Who cares if it's illegal?"
"More of us than there are of them."
"Yes." Marie looked at the huge, black fortress lowering above them, guns poking above the battlements. "I suppose there are."
She had no weapons. Some people had gone to the Hotel des Invalides to get hold of muskets, but she had nothing.
Nothing but two days' of hunger and the fact that there were more of Us than there were of Them.
Marie wanted very badly to go. Go before the troopers came, before she got into trouble, before she was killed. She so nearly went. But she didn't.
She sat through the negotiations, arguments, fights. No one seemed quite sure what they had come for, or who was supposed to be in charge. The official demand seemed to be for the surrender of the prison and the removal of cannon, but a group or people next to Marie were shouting "We want the vote!", a man with a wheelbarrow seemed more interested in selling his onions than taking the Bastille, there were a few people who still thought it was a bread riot and were shouting "Where's the bread, then?", a vision-seeing man who thought they were evangelising, someone trying to take a roll call and a few people who seemed to have come along for fun.
And on the battlements, soldiers with guns watched and prowled.
And it was hotter and hotter and Marie was getting hungrier and hungrier. Rumours flew through the crowd. They had broken down the wall. The Royal Army had arrived. They were all being massacred. They were not all being massacred. The surrender of the Bastille was imminent.
When the fighting did begin it was horribly sudden. Someone broke a door down and Marie felt herself pushed into the outer court-yard.
The people around her were screaming. In fear or pain or anger Marie could not tell. Someone climbed up onto the roof. The sans-coulotte, who was, she had now learned, called Antoine, shouted, "They're breaking in, they're breaking in!". A small group of people were climbing onto a roof, the people behind them were pushing. Screams grew louder, became words. "Down with the Bastille! Down with the Bastille!"
"What the Hell-" gasped Marie, fighting to breathe in the crush.
"They cut the draw-bridge down!" called a wine-merchant in front of her.
"The draw-bridge-" began Marie, but before she could continue, something whizzed through the air and crashed into the throat of the man behind her.
They were shooting. The troops in the Bastille were shooting.
Her heart lurched, her gut heaved. She stretched out her arms, helpless, to the people crumpling and falling around her, and for a moment was sure she would either faint or be sick.
But as she watched a young woman curl up on the ground, blood streaming from her stomach and mouth, a new feeling washed over her, hot, strange. Burning through her chest and stomach, strong, strange. Not fear but anger. Anger at the people who left babies in basements to starve, who killed who spat at the workers as they passed them in the street, who stood behind their walls and slaughtered those who came to demand freedom.
It spread through the crowd like a wave. She felt it. The sans-coulottes didn't turn and run, didn't scatter before the strong arm of the law. They turned towards the battlements, seized their weapons and attacked. And Marie was one of them. This time, today, now, the fortress would fall. No fortress is impregnable. And no tyrant is untouchable.
There was yet another draw-bridge. Marie charged it, again and again, clutching a knife someone had pressed into her hand, dodging the bullets which rained down on them. When they failed to take the bridge, she dragged burning carts of straw in front of it, to give them a smoke-screen.
A delegation from the Permanent Committee arrived to negotiate with the Governor. The Governor was more interested in killing sans-coulottes. Ethis de Corny arrived to negotiate the surrender of the prison. More wild rumours. Surrender was imminent. The Governor was dead…
Marie was dazed, exhausted, her hands and feet ran with blood, but she trembled with exhilaration, because she was here. Because she was fighting. Because even if she died today, she had shown the Governor what the poor united were capable of.
They had a cannon of their own, now, and were waving it around, occasionally getting a few shots in at the wall.
"Bring it to the draw-bridge!" Marie shouted over the rattle of muskets.
There was no way the gun-men would hear her. But Antoine heard her and shouted too. "Bring it to the draw-bridge!"
The crowd joined in. "To the draw-bridge! To the draw-bridge!"
They hauled the cannon over, trained it on the gate and Marie loaded it, burning her fingers on the hot barrels. Now the powder… And now the Governor surrendered.
"Disappointing much?" choked Marie through the smoke and dust.
Antoine grinned at her. "Well, at least we won."
But they had not quite won. The Governor, according to the note which Marie snatched from a woman's hands and glanced over before a boy snatched it from hers, which those who could read explained for the illiterate, said merely that the Governor would agree on a capitulation. Or he would blow up the Bastille.
"Never!" a woman shouted.
"Never!" More and more people joined in.
"Never!" Marie shouted along with them. "No capitulation! The tyrant surrenders or the tyrant dies!" For a moment she laughed at herself. What was she saying? Who would listen to her? The unbelievable arrogance of her, or all of them… But she could taste victory, she could taste it on her tongue.
They all shouted. "Death to the Governor! No capitulation!"
Marie seized her knife, held it so tight that it cut into her fingers and she noted dispassionately that they bled. Those who had muskets slapped bullets into the breech, the men with the cannon adjusted the aim.
And the Governor really did surrender. The draw-bridge came down. The sans-coulottes rushed into the Bastille.
Marie rushed with them. Hot, dusty, blood-stained, now, through the high of victory, she felt the pain, in her head, in her feet. The Governor was killed—not so fine as his blood couldn't mingle with the commoners' in the dirt. The smoke of fires, the commoners' fires, destroying the tyrants, mingled with the gun-smoke.
Marie closed her eyes, tipped her head back so the ash tickled it, felt the heat on her face. She ignored the burning ash in her lungs, the blood dripping from her face. She let the fire burn away the vestiges of slavery, poverty and misery. As the sun set in the Western sky, the flames leapt high in a new dawn. For this was no ordinary revolt. No, sire. This was a Revolution.
06/09/2019 09:53 PM
Deshret en Met (Desert of Death)
Midnight had fallen and silence reigned in the grand temple, the lavishly decorated stone corridors were empty and devoid of all signs of life. The absence of activity only served to amplify every sound in the empty corridors, making every step rebound in the stillness. Ankhenset bit her lip, halting her movements when she heard murmuring nearby. She wasn't meant to be in the temple at this hour and priestess or not, it would be difficult to talk herself out of trouble, should she be caught.
Peaking round the corner of the doorway, the petite teenager was greeted by the sight of two guards, stood just outside the temple. As she pulled back, she caught sight of movement and as she was certain it was not just her long black locks, carefully poked her head back around the opening. A cobra was behind one of the guards, reared up and ready to strike at the slightest agitation. Now came the dilemma, did she continue on and hope they either noticed the snake, or moved on with their rounds, or, did she warn them of the snake's presence and deal with what consequences that brought her?
Just as her decision was made to speak, the men walked away and the cobra relaxed its pose, slithering away in the opposite direction. Sighing softly, tension released from her shoulders and they dropped back down to their normal position. Feeling calmer, and a little safer now she knew where the watchmen were, she continued on her way. Clutching her bag of precious scrolls, she let the calmness of the night wash over her, soothing her worries and any remaining tension.
She found a sense of peace and serenity in the cold embrace of the dark hours. One could achieve a connection to the divinity of the temple that could not be found during the heat and bustle of the day. Of course, many feared the night and what could be hidden within the impenetrable black. For such people, every flicker of a shadow or the slightest of noises instilled a sense of fear, their imagination creating horrors that simply did not exist.
Finally reaching the entrance to her destination, her lips upturned naturally. There was solace in the inner sanctum, the presence of a force greater than humanity that was always there. The others in the temple feared that their divine protection left them at night to ensure the sun rose again but she knew better. Even if he was protecting the Golden Sun Boat, he never left them entirely, one need only come to this most sacred of places to know that, his presence was undeniable.
Stepping inside, she shut the door softly behind her. Lighting more lamps to allow her to see clearly, she then knelt in front of the dais and set more incense to burn. Making offerings to the god in his own sanctum was simply a necessity and given she was invading his space to study, it was certainly only the polite thing to do.
Once her oblations and prayers were completed, she took one lasting look at the golden statue of Seth. It was yet another thing she wasn't allowed to do but the rules that people made didn't matter to her, it was about what he thought. The pure feeling of love, support and affection that swelled within her every time she looked upon him made it clear enough to her that he did not disapprove of her presence. Placing a hand over her heart, she smiled again. This was home, here, with him. Like an invisible embrace, she was wrapped in his protection and it was a comfort without words.
Shaking her head at her distracted thoughts, she settled down and removed the scrolls and her writing tablet. Khanudjhuti had spent much time when she was younger teaching her to read and write hieroglyphics and still the librarian watched over her as a parent would. Though giving her access to the scrolls and turning a blind eye to her coming to the sanctuary and even lying for her, would perhaps not be considered quite so much parental.
She had been so very anxious when she arrived at the temple and had fled when a ruckus had started between some soldiers. They found her hours later, curled up asleep in this very sanctuary, below Seth's statue. She had not gotten into trouble for it that time, as she had been too young to know better, though the High Priest had been quite firm with his insistence that she was not to enter the sanctum again. Khanudjhuti had told her the story years later, adding that they had never figured out how she had found her way in there. Some of those working there, himself included, believed it was the will of Seth and that was, of course, his justification for aiding her so.
Smiling at the memory, a gentle warmth spread from her heart outwards. She turned her attention back to the scrolls, knowing her time with them was limited and that she needed to study them thoroughly and take what notes she wanted. Khanudjhuti would be in a lot of trouble if it was discovered he was giving her access to them and would likely be removed from the temple, which was not something she wished to be responsible for.
Hours drifted by unnoticed as she poured over the materials in front of her, eventually the passage of time became impossible to ignore as the effects of lethargy set in. Stifling a yawn, Ankhenset stood up and stretched her arms above her head, shaking her limbs before settling again. Her mind wandered incessantly, reminding her she should be in bed. Her eyes stung and she closed the heavy-feeling lids briefly before stubbornly refocusing on the scroll in front of her.
Running her fingers along the not-quite-smooth surface of the papyrus, she found her place and continued reading, using her fingers to keep track of her progress. She pushed through the fatigue, knowing she had to return the scrolls to Khanudjhuti that coming dawn. Repeating the mantra that "the sooner she finished, the sooner she could retire" to keep her going.
Eventually, she had made note of various spells and incantations, things she could practice another time, when the scrolls were back safely where they belonged. Returning everything to her bag, she double-checked that nothing was out of place. Anything moved or left in the room that shouldn't be there would cause problems, so no matter how tired she was, she needed to be thorough.
Glancing again at the statue, her mind wandered back to her initial arrival at the temple. She could understand the belief that her arrival was ordained and that Seth had chosen her, given what happened. Some of it she remembered, other parts, she knew only from what others had told her. What no one knew was how she had come to be at the temple in the first place, or where she had come from.
She was only around the age of five when she wandered into the temple grounds. She remembered being tired and thirsty but she could recall nothing of her parents or home, or how she had come to be there. Unfortunately, there had been a group of 'undesirables' in the area at the time and they had been quick to notice her arrival. What came next was blurry but she had been told that the group had approached her and were not gentle. The priests had noticed the laughing and cajoling but it wasn't until they heard her scream that they realised something was wrong.
Before anyone could act, lightning suddenly struck the ground nearby, startling the men. Those present swore that the sky had been clear and the weather calm only moments before. Swiftly after this, a sandstorm appeared, causing the ruffians to flee. Through it all, she felt calm and despite the wind driven grains being so close by, she remained completely untouched. That was her main memory of that day, the sensation of protection and that she did not need to be afraid because she was watched over.
Soon after, calm returned and the priests hurried over to her, bringing her within the temple. Khanudjhuti had told her of the murmurings of her being chosen by Seth, especially at the sight of her birthmark. The inch-long mark on her inner left wrist did admittedly resemble the Was sceptre, the symbol of power that was very much associated with him, that was undeniable. Between that and the incident, her arrival had made a big impression on those who witnessed it.
When the High Priest of the temple had questioned her on who she was and where she had come from, they realised quickly that she recalled nothing of her past. Apparently, she hadn't even remembered her own name, so the decision was made to take her in. In need of something to call her and considering what had occurred, they named her Ankhenset, 'life of Seth'.
Smiling wistfully, Ankhenset yawned again and after bowing her head to the idol, turned to leave. As soon as her hand reached the door, she was hit by a surge of power that made her hair rise from the sheer electrical charge. The presence was one she knew well, though far stronger than she could ever recall feeling it before. Her heart told her she was in the presence of her god but her mind told her the idea was ludicrous, one of the divine would surely never appear in person, let alone to her.
Toying with the idea that her exhaustion was playing tricks on her mind, she pushed forward to leave when she felt fingers run through her silken hair and she could ignore it no longer. Even so, she paused before turning, not sure what to expect. When she finally looked back, she fell to her knees, bowing lowly before the temple's god. Reeling, her thoughts left her mind and in the blankness, all she could do was follow the protocol that had been drilled into her since her arrival.
The form the god had taken was etched in her mind, despite the brief glance she had had before prostrating herself. It was the appearance of the golden statue upon the altar, that of a man, strong and lithe, clothed in a gold-dressed linen kilt and a blue shirt. Golden sandals adorned his feet, while bracelets, armlets and a collar necklace decorated his bronze skin. The only thing that visually set him apart from any royal or noble was his head and neck, the form of the god was unmistakable. The 'Seth animal' was nothing that existed in the world, it was an image unique to him alone.
A hand was placed on each of her shoulders and a gentle pressure encouraged her to rise, she offered no resistance, though kept her eyes lowered. Her mind still swam, unable to conceive that her beloved divinity could possibly be before her. Part of her knew it was all real but the unfathomability of it made her more inclined to believe that she had fallen asleep and this was nothing more than a bizarre dream.
"Look at me, little one." The voice was audible and yet seemed to resonate inside her head, sounding human and yet not, there was something about it that seemed not quite of this world.
Doing as she was told, she met his gaze. Her breath caught in her throat as she looked into his depthless pools and the endless knowledge they held within them. While his inhuman features made reading his face impossible, his eyes spoke volumes. She was loved and accepted, there was no doubt of that but he was not there for that, something weighed heavily upon him and he had come to her about it.
"Yes, my Lord?" She asked softly, once finally she remembered to breathe.
"You are an intelligent girl, well versed in reading others and circumstance, you know why I am here."
"There is something I am to do for you."
"Not for me, for all. I know you need rest but we must discuss this now, there is not the time to waste."
"Yes, my Lord."
She shifted her position from sitting on her lower legs to crossed-legs, knowing that the conversation was not going to be brief. Seth settled in front of her, taking her hands in his own. They were rough and hardened, the hands of a warrior, yet they were warm and gentle at the same time. It showed him as the protector she knew him to be, even if too many others would never believe that to be true. Despite that, she waited on bated breath, knowing that the show of comfort and support heralded the coming of a task of high stakes and immense pressure. A knot was forming in her stomach as the dread built and her shoulder and back muscles tensed. Whatever this was about, she knew in her heart that she was not going to like it.
By the time the discussion ended it was nearing three in the morning and despite her need to rest, the fear coursing through her made her forget her weariness. Indeed, her instincts had proven true and the situation was rife with dreadful possibilities. The tightness in her throat felt almost like she was being strangled as the true weight of everything fell upon her. As the crushing pressure bore upon her, strong but gentle hands took hold of her and the next thing she knew she was held securely in the warm embrace of Seth. Finally she could breathe again, as all the negative thoughts and feelings simply drained away in the safety of his hold.
"Hush, little one. Do not be afraid, for I would not come to you were I not certain of your success and you shall not be tasked with this alone. Release yourself of the darkness threatening to consume you and use that agile mind of yours, you will know the answer. I will be watching over you also, always."
Ankhenset nodded, snuggling into her beloved god. She knew that despairing would do her no good but she could not help her fear, there was so very much at stake and she did not hold the same faith in herself that he apparently held in her. There was too much to think about, to make sense of and while her adrenaline was far too high for her body to recognise its need to rest, her mind was struggling to grasp all it had been told.
Seth repositioned her, gently running the back of his fingers down her cheek. "You should leave now, it will not be long before others come and you have the need to return those scrolls while opportunity allows. State you are unwell and get what rest you need and make your plans, by tomorrow night, you must be gone if you are to ensure you are there in time."
"Yes, my Lord."
As soon as the words left her mouth, her exhaustion returned and she yawned. When her eyes reopened Seth was gone and the ambience of the room returned to normal. Bowing once again to his visage, she picked up her bag and stood, exiting the shrine and walking briskly through the temple's halls. She knew at this hour the sentries would not be close enough for them to hear her echoing steps, it was more important for her to get back to the living quarters as soon as possible.
Slipping silently across the open courtyard, she kept her senses on alert for any patrols and entered Khanudjhuti's residence. Removing the scrolls from her bag, she placed them on the low table. As she stood, a hand was placed on her shoulder and she jumped before turning round, her heart thundering in her chest.
Khanudjhuti smiled apologetically at her, though it was with a reprimanding tone that he spoke to her. "You look exhausted Ankhenset, have you really only just returned? If you don't rest you'll make yourself ill and anyone could have seen you leave in this light. You need to be more careful."
Smiling softly, she knew his tone was only from concern. "Something occurred, though I cannot explain to you what. Could you tell them I am unwell and have my duties covered? Rest aside, there are things I must do today."
"Are you okay An'?"
"Yes, I simply have much on my mind. I am sorry to ask and for whatever might come. Will you do this for me? Will you trust me?"
"I know you well enough to know this is serious. As long as you promise me you'll take care of yourself, yes, of course I'll trust and support you, as always."
"Thank you. I should go to bed, thank you Khanudjhuti. If I have not made it clear enough, I do so very much appreciate all you do for me."
With that, she swiftly left him, not wanting to wait for what words might come. Her mind was in no state for such a conversation and she knew she must not repeat what Seth had told her. As much as she trusted him, it would be unfair to place such a burden on him. Either way, he would worry of the consequences and knowing he was powerless to change anything would only serve to hurt him.
Returning to her own room, she bolted the door behind her. Resisting the urge to simply slide down the door and feel sorry for herself, she crawled into bed after slipping out of her sandals, all of the normal rituals ignored. She knew Seth would be more interested in her resting than anything else, so what did it matter?
As the thoughts twirled around her mind, she wished for them to disperse and leave her in peace. She so desperately needed sleep but that was unlikely to come while her mind was so active. Leaving the temple could lose her all she valued, it could cost her life and perhaps that of others and there was nothing to say she would not fail regardless and simply make things worse. Ignoring Seth however, could lose her and everyone else far more. She would disappoint him at the very least and perhaps lose her connection to him entirely and if everything was really so dire and she was born to stop it, ignoring the call could… In the end, for all that was said, it came down to two options. Did she give into her fears, or did she do as she was bade? Either way, she risked everything.
06/09/2019 09:44 PM
Far From Home
She sang to him a lilting lullaby filled with far off places and ancient kings, rolling green hills and crumbling stone walls, faerie rings and crashing waves, patchwork fields and skies of blue. She sang to him of times long past and kin long lost. Cradling his stillness to her warm, hollow chest, she swayed in time with his slowing heart, rocking him as she had so many years ago. She wept and she called him home.
He lay as many others laid - bleeding and still. His ears rang, his body ached, his eyes stung. He saw only grey skies and scorched earth, a landscape blasted and burning, scattered with wasted lives and fruitless dreams. The light of day hid from him behind a veil of drifting smoke, but the veil could not conceal the shadows. They flew overhead on great metal wings, soaring away to drop their horrors onto other sons who were also far from home. Home. He wanted to go home. Tears slid down his dirtied cheeks while his broken voice cried out for home.
It was then he heard her singing. He heard her lilting lullaby filled with far off places and ancient kings, rolling green hills and crumbling stone walls, faerie rings and crashing waves, patchwork fields and skies of blue. He heard her singing of times long past and kin long lost. His eyes dimmed and the world around him faded until he saw only her, standing as she always had, waiting on the garden path and calling him home. He felt her warmth, inhaled her scent, and drifted away into slumber cradled in her arms as had so long ago.
They found her down the garden path, kneeling in the mud. Her empty arms were wrapped around her middle, her shoulders slumped and shaking as she wept. She cried out his name, calling him to come home until finally they coaxed her back inside. But she waited for him, returning every day to the garden path his feet would never tread again. A brown envelope came in his stead, filled with black words and empty apologies, a few scattered mementoes and worthless medals, and his last words scribbled hastily on stained paper - the only thing of true value within the hated envelope. But her son, he would forever remain far from home.
draws me into
stick my steps
to reach no chest
unburied pledges of
at the cemetery gate
death dance of
you are so far
an ever shone
while karmic kismet
oriental sandstorms …
draws me onto
Sweet chirping flying colors
copy cat talks woodland dwellers
tip tap toe bob bob bow boe
eating corn on the cob
singing high n' low
whew-oo-oo whistling whew-oo-oo
bathing in bowls singing cuckoo-koo
trick n' treat for a sunflower seed
give'em a pot they'd happily breed
colorful wings and beautiful beaks
vibrant nature some bold some meek
tip tap toe tip tip tap toe
bob bow boe bob bob bow boe
joyous parrots and little sparrows.
Sweet chirping flying colors
copy cat talks woodland dwellers
tip tap toe bob bob bow boe
eating corn on the cob
singing high n' low
whew-oo-oo whistling whew-oo-oo
bathing in bowls singing cuckoo-koo
trick n' treat for a sunflower seed
give'em a pot they'd happily breed
colorful wings and beautiful beaks
vibrant nature some bold some meek
tip tap toe tip tip tap toe
bob bow boe bob bob bow boe
joyous parrots and little sparrows.
The buffeting currents of life
have shattered me over
and over again.
Fragments of me should lie
s c a t t e r e d
across the years,
but the universe in its magnanimity
has repaired me over
and over again,
skilled hands piecing me back together,
even when I seemed bro-
ken beyond repair,
smoothing over my chips and cracks
with veins of gold.
Under the radiance of mercy,
I gleam with beauty
as if I were always meant
to look this way.
Prompt: kintsugi (or kintsukuroi);
The art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.
Within the heart of Heaven's home
A special tribute shines
In honor of your "child-nurse" role;
On solid crystal, edged in gold
A field of gardens grow
With flowers that astound the eye;
All Angels love to show
For on this earth you'll never find
A sight of such display
That even Angels stand in awe
Speechless and in dismay
You see, with tender care you touch
Each child in your command
And something magical takes root
Just like at Disneyland
A gala show gets on the way
The Angels all adore
As blossoms form in shape of hearts
Up from this garden floor
And as each blossom does erupt
A tune begins to play
That causes every flower above
To light up and to sway
And human eyes have never seen
A velvet heart of red
Nestled within a stem of gold
Upon a crystal bed
But where the magic truly lies
Is more amazing yet,
Each time your love touches a child
A sight you can't forget
Like perfect melodies of love
Each flower speaks a name
Of every child in your career
Who's known your nursing fame
So high above this earthly plain
Majestic flowers grow
In honor of your TLC
And all the love you sow .
06/03/2019 05:06 PM
Fear Not, My Love
I d r i f t e d
amongst the willow trees in the breeze-
swaying the barren branches into love’s fascination.
sitting along the p e b b l e d shore
assembling sandcastles and counting stardust
plummeting down onto the ebon eventide so gently.
we tremble not at what lies ahead,
for we are but a lifeline to the sunburst of dreams,
our love travels beneath the ocean floor.
FEAR NOT, my love-
I have been enraptured by the effluence of
your unyielding devotion,
encompassing me in all the metaphors and syllables
one woman can withstand.
I never needed a soul to wash away my sins,
but a man to tarry me into lands b e y o n d heaven’s gate.
for you are my redemption and more-
my truce in a war, my salvation in life’s atonement.
you e a s e my aggrievances,
remedy all things that have brought me plague.
There are angels who bathe in colors
Painting hues of sadness and drops of courage
Upon a blank canvas waiting to be explored
Marked by the handprints of babies learning to crawl
Marked with the blood of those learning to forget
Marked by those who were happy and those who were not
And waiting to be found by someone who can see it all
Such a girl grew with her hands reaching for scarlet skies
Believing the tales her mother told her, about superpowers
She had her own power, one to see colors manifest
Oceans when her mother played the jazzy radio station
Honeycrisp apples in the back of her throat
When the word “luminescence” slipped past her lips
She heard and saw color and tasted words when no one else did
When she was six, the colors twisted for the first time
She met a boy who grasped for the universe
Stars of blue twinkled in the depths of his curious eyes
He didn’t last too long, guilt and greed tugged him down
He left with a note but no goodbye
Yet, despite his absence, the girl somehow survived
Seeing hues of the blue starlight when she thought of him
When she grew older, she had a fear of the dark
Of shifting chasms and merciless storms
A tired mother and father tried to keep her happy
But they only drew their strength from her
And so she found lilac purple in every stormy cloud
Coiling around every curvature of her frame
Something she resented became something wondrous
As the nights grew longer, sleep stopped coming
She lied wide away, glaring at stars
Questioning how the world could peer at her so calmly
When it had stolen her courage and replaced it with cowardice
In the midst of hostile black nights filled with anger
She found the orange of sunrises and sunsets
A comfort that steadied her pulse that kept her sane
Others drew out smiles etched on her face for hours
Her ashen complexion learned to radiate warmth
They were more than just unbound friendships
The color enveloping them meant family
Hands and arms linked together under watchful gazes
Nothing and no one could tear them apart
The laughter in the air was as pink as her cheeks
Color now does not just come to her with words
The melodies entice her in an unfamiliar trance
She tries to recreate the effect in her mind
A low hum, like the thrum of rain, slithers off her tongue
She is paralyzed by the smooth rhythm she creates
Every sound, every pulse in her chest, plants a melody
A symphony of colors explodes behind closed eyes
As she walks every lonely step, music murmuring in her ears,
Shades of all different kinds dance around her
Keeping her company while she takes her own path
Remaining there as she navigates the world
No footsteps nip at her heels in the halls
No friends wear sheepish smiles and flushed cheeks
No blue eyed boy maps the constellations in her freckles
And yet she is content with just colors by her side
For once, she knows that she can truly be okay
In The Moment
I have tasted the sweet scents of spiritual oneness with, universal mind.
Their succulent jeweled fingers reached out to me;
rocked me like a baby in a crib and I became them.
Billions of particles danced me into ecstasy; I was loved.
It must’ve been like that for Jesus Christ and Buddha;
electrifying and intoxicating.
They call it the, “universal” or “Christ Consciousness”; this euphoric journey.
Within it, I feel the change;
electrical impulses that, relieve me of my body for,
just a little while.
My preference is to stay but,
I have not finished my work so,
I reluctantly return to my mortality;
my prison of pain.
Death is sweet but, you have to earn it.
At least, I can taste the delicacies of the other side, once in awhile.
Using Just Your Bare Soul
sometimes owning a mistake
is like digging up a deeply planted tree
using just your bare soul, fully awake
though craving mostly to to be, butterfly free
the leaves, dry and crumbly
the roots are grounded and deep
and no amount of pulling
will lift your need to further weep
over words you never meant to spray
thoughts you never intended to convey
sometimes saying 'i'm sorry' is
like raking up dead brown leaves
on unforgiving frozen ground
resisting gifting a peace that relieves
an apology is fueling oneself to again
have balance and a shift in the wind
the brittle foliage -- now a manageable pile--
prays regret helps melt some of the icy guile
i never wanted it to rain on you, my friend
this storm was always meant for me to amend
Love Me Tender
She has summer written on her face
Theres nothing to keep her
From moving year to year
And when she's finished here
I died eleven times
The first from so many disappointments
The second - held back rage
The third from unfulfillment
The fourth, a photo fade
From unrequited love
And From a love returned
From death disease and hunger
From a longing I let burn
But what killed me most of all
Was not any strong or pent up fear
But the tenderness I choked on
When you needed me near.
Lake of Clouds
I sigh upon this luscious sky,
Of sleeping clouds that aimless flow;
In dream, they drift, where dreamers go,
To fly the sky, and weightless, know:
We drift, we lift, toward the sky,
We sigh, we fly, so by and by.
And here I stand before the eaves,
In the arms of peace; the mountain tops
Lay quiet with their tips of frost,
The air is brisk and does accost
My skin is as the bristled leaves,
Upon the mountain, awake, at ease.
Below me lies the virgin lake;
Her crisp, clear eye beholds each cloud,
She hears my soul call far, aloud,
To come and take; my soul is proud.
With arms outstretched, the sky to sake,
To fly, I fall, into the lake.
Pounce on the fleetest of hearts
Hospital frights of prematurity
of EMS sirens
HIV trembling tests
Breathless Worry atop cloud kissed Trees
Sleepless Nights of bully battles
Struggles with Education’s foes
Mad Escapes from Fathers of Violence
The teary wave good bye for fledgling endeavors
Day night day night day night…unending
Slight Imperfections and Imagined Slights
Shortage of Cash
06/02/2019 10:13 PM
"Tanabata (七夕?, meaning "Evening of the seventh") is a Japanese star festival, originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar. The date of Tanabata varies by region of the country, but the first festivities begin on July 7 of the Gregorian calendar. The celebration is held at various days between July and August."
When Orihime found out that she could not be with her husband Hikoboshi, she "cried so much that a flock of magpies came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river. It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies cannot come and the two lovers must wait until another year to meet."
"What are you so pissed about?"
Karin kept her neck craned upwards, not turning towards the nasal drawl she knew to be Suigetsu's, keeping her mouth set in a firm line.
"I hate this holiday."
"It's in vain, and therefore pointless. It can only serve to raise hopes that have no basis in reality."
"Aw, come on, Karin. It's just a bit of fun."
"But it's hardly harmless. It's a belief in nothing more than a shadow of a desire, a desire not strong enough to be actualized with one's own hands."
Suigetsu was silent a moment, quirking a skeptical brow. "Sounds like you're overthinking it a bit. Let people believe what they want. It's not your problem."
Still, Karin stood, glaring upwards at the bamboo above her hung with tanzaku, papers inscribed with the wishes of hundreds of people. A foolish notion, she thought to herself.
"Okay…whatever. I'm gonna go back to the inn. Stay here and sulk if you want." Karin ignored him. "Tch, be that way then…" He left her there, standing on the bridge over the river and imagining how the people who had strung up these wishes would all come out to take them down, toss them in the river at midnight, and hope.
She sunk her nails into the soft, pale stone of the bridge railing she leant against at the thought. It had been four years since she had last set a wish afloat on the river, four years since her family and friends had been slain. Every wish for happiness during the festivals of years past had been nullified in that moment, so every future wish would be delusion.
Karin wanted to go back to the inn, get something to eat, help Sasuke plan their future movements, if she could. But she could not get herself to leave, so she stood there, sulking, just as Suigetsu said she would. Letting the vitriol of her disbelief sink deeper into her marrow and ossify further.
Among the bamboo shoots, high above in the branches hung with tanzaku, a crow perched, watching.
She did not go back to the inn that night. She wanted to see them come and set their wishes afloat. It was masochistic, really. She anticipated an acute, feral sort of anger to pour forth and command her attention then, like deep red blood from an inward wound.
The riverbank was soft and moist, the grass bedewed on the cool summer night. Karin looked up at the clear sky above. No rain to hamper the magpies in their yearly sojourn. She pushed this thought away. Nothing but a childish story.
She sensed Sasuke's chakra approaching, and she turned to face him as he walked towards her, down the riverbank. "What are you doing out here?"
"Oh, Sasuke, I was just getting some air. It's a nice night." He stopped and stood at her side, while she remained sitting, arms curled around her legs, hands cupping knees. "Take a seat beside me, the riverbank's very comfortable." She edged towards him and tugged at his hand, but he brushed her off and backed away. Oh, well. It had been worth a shot.
"Why did you follow me out here if you don't even want to sit with me?" Karin snapped at him.
"Just wanted to make sure you weren't doing anything stupid."
"Since when have I been in the habit of doing stupid things?" She jutted her chin out, as she often did when indignant. Sasuke made no reply, just stared down at her, without affect.
She turned away and wondered at his reaction. Did it mean that he thought she wasn't in the habit of doing stupid things? Or was he just not bothering to respond in the affirmative? Karin had always been possessed of impeccable analytical skills, but they often failed her when it came to Sasuke. She let the matter rest.
The dreamers were here, as midnight approached. The liars. Delusion. They crouched on the riverbank, leaned stupidly over the bridge's railings, watching their hopes float downstream to no avail.
"What do you think of this holiday, Sasuke?" She looked up at him, but he did not look down at her; he gazed down the river to where the tanzaku vanished into the horizon.
"My thoughts exactly! I wish someone would put a stop to it, just nix the whole damn thing! Show people that dreams don't come true except through random coincidence! Coincidence is not spiteful, but it certainly does not reward the dreamer." Sasuke finally looked down at her, thoughtfully. On some level, that was how he thought about things, too. What he had was not a dream, because he would make it a reality. But there was another aspect to his ideology – that of a steely determination that would force coincidence to bend to his will.
"Of course, those who can overcome quirks of fate with their own strength needn't worry about coincidence. It bows before them. I have always believed that you are such a person, Sasuke." Somehow, it seemed, Karin had read his partial disagreement in his face. It was the slight twinge of dissent in his chakra that had caught her attention. And she was being sincere. "But you will have to be careful as we approach the fulfillment of your dream. Coincidence does not always bow so easily, nor will your strength endure unwavering."
His eyes slipped away from hers again, as she expected them to. He rarely held her gaze. But he did not disagree. He let her assertion linger in the cool, still air between them, and she could tell he was not ignoring her. She had spent much of her life being ignored, so she was perceptive enough to tell when someone was actually paying her attention.
They stayed like that until the last tanzaku had drifted beyond their sight. Karin, ever alert, had done something totally out of character. She had become lost in thought, and continued to stare off down the river until Sasuke spoke.
"Karin, we should go." Snapping to attention, she brushed herself off and stood up, embarrassed that she had lost track of herself.
"Right. Yes, the festivities are over."
They headed home, Karin taking advantage of the moment to walk as close as she could to him without touching him. It was then that she was able to enjoy the cool glow of his chakra the most, to bathe in a part of him, since he would not let her any closer. As usual, he let her. He tolerated it.
Once back at the inn, they went to their separate rooms. Karin sat up on her sleeping pallet, unable to sleep. This whole Tanabata business was really getting to her. The full, pale moon shone directly down on her, and she didn't bother pulling her curtains down. Instead she looked up and into its light and wondered at it. Such a beautiful thing, this world. For the most part. It would be flawless were the ugliness of humanity not inherent to it. Somewhere outside, over the roof eaves, a crow cawed harshly.
She sat there gazing at the moon for what seemed like an age, when suddenly, she sensed a cluster of new chakra signatures approaching rapidly. Shinobi were on their way into the village, not a lot, but no small amount. Their chakra did not register as hostile, however. Should she wake the others? No, they might needlessly attack. Not that she was against taking a life if it meant saving the lives of those in Hebi, but these shinobi were not on the offensive. Their chakra ran clear, as devoid of the impurity of malice as a mountain stream. This was something she could do on her own, and what better to do to occupy her mind when she was clearly not going to be able to sleep? She would seem harmless to them, as she always did – physically weak and therefore unthreatening. And she posed no threat to them, in any case, because she meant them no harm.
Karin left the inn as quietly as she could, and once out in the street, stepped into an alley between the inn and the restaurant on its right. She breathed in deeply and carefully, so as to not make any noise, put two fingers to her lips, and felt for the shinobis' presence with Kagura Shingan.
There were dozens of them, but not hundreds. They seemed to be gathering in a central location. There were a few strong chakra signatures among them, but not many. Nothing to worry overmuch about, but Hebi should definitely take their presence into account.
Suddenly, she felt him.
"Karin." Karin froze, her jutsu disrupted by the shock, and turned to face Sasuke. He stood in the alley behind her. How had he gotten there so quickly? As good as she was at sensing, he must have been fast enough to arrive in the alley as quickly as she was able to sense him. He was a truly powerful shinobi.
"Sasuke, I was just doing some reconnaissance on my own. I sensed a group of shinobi—"
"Don't do that."
"Do what? Take the initiative? I thought that's why you recruited me – because I have a good head on my shoulders. I don't need you looking out for me all the time, I thought you knew that. I ran that damn Southern Base on my own for two years, and I managed just fine, thank you very much," she snapped.
"There aren't any jail cells here Karin. And if there were, you wouldn't be the one holding the keys." There was no edge to his voice, as usual. It was bizarre, hearing him express concern in a voice so lacking in any kind of emotion.
"Alright, alright. I just figured if I woke you all, you might do something rash. No need to go after these guys; we are not their objective at present."
"Why would I do something rash? Suigetsu, yeah, he probably would, and it would be troublesome to stop him. But you know I'd do it. And Jugo only takes orders from me."
"Well, yes, but—"
"Do you not trust my ability to keep them under control?"
"I do, but…" Neither of them said anything for a moment, Sasuke merely staring at her, meeting her eyes as he so seldom did. "I guess I just wanted to be useful and do something on my own. I'm never able to do anything without some kind of backup or protection, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do without all that." He was still staring at her, as if she ought to explain herself further. "I just don't want to be a burden to you, Sasuke. Ever." Karin couldn't believe she was saying this. It was a good thing the others weren't around. She couldn't stand to let her insecurities be known to anyone; doing so made her feel powerless. And she never wanted to feel that way again. She'd spent too much of her life feeling that way.
"Karin, the mission always comes first. That's the only reason you're here. Forget about your own insecurities; they don't matter. Just focus on the mission. I'll deal with the variables."
"Alright, fine then. Whatever you say," she retorted.
He started walking back to the inn and she followed after, grudgingly.
"Well, what did you sense?" he asked.
"A few dozen shinobi, no hostile intent, very few strong chakra signatures for now. They're all gathered in a central place – the village meeting hall, I believe. They're probably there for some kind of summit. In my opinion, we should stay here until they leave. Any sudden movement might make us appear suspicious."
"Very well, that's what we'll do then." She couldn't help flushing at this. Every time he took her advice without even questioning it made her very proud, even though she often thought she was generally in the right, whether he took her advice or not.
They headed back to the inn, went back to bed, and Karin was finally able to fall asleep, no longer mulling over her misanthropy, but instead thinking fondly of her contribution to Sasuke's mission and how readily it had been accepted.
Karin felt safe in this village, as it was quite isolated in the middle of a vast, dense forest. She was relieved that they would be staying put for a time. As much as she had wanted to travel and never stop traveling after getting off that isolated base, surrounded by water for miles, Karin had tired of their nomadic lifestyle. Staying in an inn for the next three weeks, until the ending of the summit to which so many shinobi had flocked, was a welcome delay.
During the two years she had spent almost entirely alone as a prison warden, Karin had become an excellent cook, and given the fine produce the village market afforded, she was able to make elegant meals for her less than refined companions. Even though he never went anywhere since they had to lie low until the summit was over, Karin made a beautiful bento for Sasuke every day. Jugo never complained when his share was less elaborate, but Suigetsu always had a provocative remark at the ready.
"Going out of your way for Sasuke again today?"
"Shut up, Suigetsu."
"Not willing to directly address my question, I see."
"I don't have time for your smartass remarks. Just eat your damn food and be grateful that someone around here knows how to cook."
"Suigetsu, she does get you fresh yogurt every day. Be satisfied with that," Jugo said coolly, with customary sternness.
"Tch, can't get a laugh out of any of you sticks-in-the-mud…" muttered Suigetsu, lazily stirring his yogurt.
Karin felt a strange lightness of step and calmness of heart during those quiet weeks after Tanabata. It was a bizarre feeling that she could hardly remember having before, and it took her about a week to realize what it was, and even then, it took someone else pointing out the change in her demeanor for her to realize it.
"Thank you, Karin," Jugo said when she handed him his plate for dinner.
"You remembered to get me beef this time. You know I hate chicken, because I don't like to eat birds. That would be…immoral."
"Yes, well, it wasn't any trouble."
"All the same, I must thank you."
"You're welcome, but really it wasn't any trouble." Karin could feel her face getting hot. Why was she so flustered? Sasuke regarded her levelly across the table, and Suigetsu smirked.
"What are you all looking at?"
"Karin, you've become such a sweetheart since we started staying here," Suigetsu observed with a wry grin. "I didn't know you had it in you."
"It's not a big deal! All I do is go to a different vendor for the beef! Geez!" She couldn't stand the knowing glance exchanged by Jugo and Suigetsu, and Sasuke's blank stare always annoyed her, now even more so. With an angry toss of her voluminous red hair over her shoulder, she stalked off.
She walked through the village streets until she came to her favorite haunt – the white stone bridge over the river. Karin liked to stand here, not just because it was the center of the village and therefore the best point at which to monitor the chakra fluctuations at the shinobi summit, but also because she loved to watch people pass through here. Normal people living their normal lives, as she had many years ago in Kusagakure, in a similarly isolated village without any talented shinobi to speak of. It hurt her heart, but she felt it giving her faint hope with every passing day. If these people could go through this world unscathed, then someday, perhaps she too would be able to do the same, though she knew she would always have her scars to think of.
She sensed Jugo approaching. What was he doing? He rarely went out when people were around, for fear that he might have one of his episodes and accidentally kill innocent bystanders.
Karin turned to face him, arms crossed as she leaned against the railing.
"What are you doing out here? You shouldn't be out here. It's dangerous, with all these people around."
"Karin, I wouldn't be out here if I didn't think I had things under control," Jugo said gently. "I wanted to talk to you about something."
"Have you thought that maybe…you are making it difficult for yourself to accept that for the first time in a long time, you are happy?"
"Like hell," she said immediately, waving her hand dismissively. "You're a ticking time bomb, Suigetsu's a homicidal maniac, and Sasuke won't take my advice. How could I be happy?" She actually felt a twinge in her conscience as she noticed the acrimony in her own words. Since when had she ever regretted a thing she said? What was wrong with her?
But Jugo was impassive as ever. Her jibes never seemed to faze him; he put such confidence in Sasuke's ability to rein him in and valued his opinion alone. "You don't have to believe me. Just consider it. And thank you, again, for the beef."
"Bah, whatever," she snapped testily. "That's my job, feeding you dopes. Can't even make your own meals."
Jugo smiled at her, that gentle, serene expression she had only ever seen him make when talking to birds.
"Karin, you will come to accept it. We are like fish in water, so close we can't do without one another. We are nakama."
Normally Karin would've had something to say to that. Something like That's f***ing stupid. Our rag-tag gang of Orochimaru's former toadies could never be called something so touchy-feely as "nakama." But the fact that he had said it at all left her shocked and speechless. Of course, he was the only gentle soul among them; he would be the one to say that. But how could he be so deluded as to think that about the four of them? That they were nakama, comrades. Yet she could not deny what he had said, because the more she thought about it, the more she realized that she had begun to think it was true without even realizing it.
"Come back with me to the inn, Karin. Your food will be getting cold." She nodded and walked with him in silence.
"What was that all about?" Suigetsu asked the minute she set foot in the door of their quarters. She looked up at him testily, but before she could speak, Jugo spoke up for her.
"Leave her be Suigetsu. It's none of your concern." She looked up at him, eyes wide with gratitude, and he knew that even though she was not smiling, that she was thankful for everything, for fending off Suigetsu, for coming out to get her, for his own gratitude for her hospitality. And he smiled that smile again, the one he usually reserved for birds alone.
Suigetsu frowned, but he said no more. Karin caught Sasuke looking at her out of the corner of his eye, but when their eyes met, he did not look away. It was too direct, too confrontational, that glare. All sharp edges. She cast her eyes downward.
The other two had finished dinner, but they stayed in the room while Jugo finished and Karin began her meal. There was an awkward silence. Why did Sasuke and Suigetsu stay? They didn't have to, there had never been any formality between the four of them. They could've gone to bed already, should they have wanted to. Yet here they all were, Jugo eating slowly and deliberately, Karin wolfing down her okonomiyaki as fast as she could in order to cut the whole thing short as quickly possible. She expected a rude comment from Suigetsu about how unladylike her eating habits were, but he was quiet, polishing his sword sullenly. Sasuke sat with his eyes closed, thinking about who knew what. And Jugo continued to eat slowly and look out the window, probably listening to the birds above the eaves.
The silence was uncomfortable, so Karin decided to attempt the unthinkable – table talk. She wiped the grease from her mouth with the back of her hand.
"So…" she began with difficulty, "What did everyone do today?"
"Mah, just polished my Kimikiribocho. Nothin' else to do," Suigetsu said boredly.
Sasuke opened his eyes slightly and gave her a half-lidded stare. "Nothing of importance."
Jugo turned away from the window to face the others. "I took a walk in the forest."
Sasuke opened his eyes completely now and looked at him with interest. "And?"
"The birds had nothing to say. There were more crows for some reason, which I thought was strange. There normally aren't so many in one place. And they refused to talk with me, which I also found strange. But not all birds take kindly to humans, and crows aren't very friendly to begin with." Sasuke nodded, closing his eyes again.
Having finished her dinner, Karin stood up and picked up her plate. She reached for Suigetsu's, since he was always too lazy to put his away, but to her surprise, he had already picked it up. Wordlessly, they all took their dishes to the main hall, where an attendant took them to the main kitchen. Once in their quarters once more, they headed for their separate rooms for the night, but Karin could tell something was different between the four of them. And she didn't dare believe it, but it definitely seemed that Jugo was right. She was happy.
The next day was July 23rd, Sasuke's birthday. Karin knew this from the files Orochimaru had given her access to as a prison guard with basic information on all of his subordinates. She had always wanted to do something special for his birthday, but she had never had the chance. They had spent half a year together in Otogakure, and that was all, before she had been deemed capable of running the Southern Base on her own, and so was sent off and secluded while he continued his training. Their fifteenth birthdays had passed, as had her sixteenth birthday in June, and now it was his sixteenth. Karin had something planned, and though it was modest, she had hopes he would appreciate it.
She had taken great care to prepare what she thought would be the perfect meal for him: omusubi with the best okaka she could get, and fresh tomatoes, diced and lightly salted. Omusubi with okaka was what he had always asked attendants to make for him in Otogakure, and she remembered that he had asked for tomatoes to be grown in the garden at the hideout in which the two of them had kept each other company for a time. These were most definitely his favorite foods.
Now, to get him away from the others. She couldn't let them witness her preferential treatment of him any more than they already had at this point. If they couldn't tell she was keen on him already, then they would definitely be able to if they saw that she'd made him a birthday meal.
Karin was an actress, and a good one. The tough, no-nonsense persona she had assumed in Otogakure had been no more than a façade at first, but she had gradually come to fit the mold so well over the years that it was no longer a façade but her true nature. As there are for any normal human, there were things that frightened her, but she'd become so good at feigning fearlessness that she could even fool Orochimaru. Surely, then, she could trick Sasuke into joining her for a birthday meal.
He always went out for a walk this time of the day, very early morning, just before dawn. He rose with the chorus of birds that sang in the half-light, anticipating a not yet risen sun. She followed him out, sliding the door shut behind her.
"Karin, I've told you before," he began, turning to face her. "I like to go for walks alone."
"Yes, I know, but I sensed a strange chakra in the night. Nothing to be too alarmed about since it wasn't malicious, so I decided to let you sleep. I figured we could go after it first thing in the morning, when our movements would appear less suspicious."
"So…you've been up all night then, tracking it?"
"Yes, of course! And I can pinpoint its exact location."
"Very well, then, take me there."
"Right, this way." Karin lead him, his meal safe within the knapsack she always kept belted at her waist, to a forest clearing beyond earshot of the waking village, but close enough that she could still monitor the chakra signatures of Suigetsu and Jugo in case anything were to happen to them. She wasn't being completely irresponsible.
"Well, what is it that you sensed, Karin?"
Karin smiled coyly and took out the bento in which she had packed Sasuke's birthday meal. "I have a confession to make. It is your birthday, Sasuke, so I made you this. I wanted you to have it here, with me. Please, sit with me and eat."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow. "Karin…"
"I picked this spot specifically because it was far enough from the village that we could eat in silence, and close enough that I could still sense Suigetsu and Jugo's chakra. So if anything were to happen to them, I would immediately know. You can relax." She walked towards him, proffering the bento, smiling eagerly. "It's omusubi with okaka and tomatoes, your favorite."
"Well…alright." Sasuke took the bento from Karin and sat down with it on a smooth rock that bordered the clearing. She sat down on the rock, too, but not too close to him, he noticed. Not trying to press her luck, he supposed.
They sat like that as the sun came up, Karin watching the first rays of the sun turn the pale silver of the grassy clearing to a deep green. A crow cawed somewhere, rather unusual for this time of day. Karin didn't have to look at him, sitting there, she just had to sit there, near enough to feel the outer edge of the aura his chakra threw off mingling with her own.
She could hear him finishing up, closing the lacquered lid of the beautiful bento box she had bought on the market, dark wood etched with flowering tree branches. He stood up and walked over to her, holding out the box. "Here, Karin." She took it from him, looking at him expectantly.
He turned from her and started walking out of the clearing, and as he did so, he said, "Thank you." Levelly and clearly. Without affection, but with gratitude, and that was enough. She walked behind him, letting him have his space, since he'd let her close enough for one day.
And then she sensed it. "Sasuke!" she cried. "There's a powerful chakra over th—" A stream of blood shot across Karin's field of vision, and it took her a moment to realize that it was her own. She dropped to the ground, clutching her bleeding arm. She had raised it to point in the direction of the immensely powerful chakra she had just sensed, and a shuriken had slipped beneath it, slicing into her axillary artery. For a normal individual, this would have caused death by primary hemorrhage in about five minutes, but Karin knew she had remarkable stamina, if little other physical talent to speak of. She'd last a bit longer than that. Dizzy with shock, she shook her head and regained her focus, pointing again, this time with her other arm, in the direction of the chakra. "Over there!"
"Karin! We need to get out of here, your arm will bleed out—" Sasuke yelled with uncharacteristic heat.
"Don't worry about that, worry about the f***er who threw that shuriken!"
Sasuke looked in the direction she had pointed, and there he was. Itachi, face etched with that infuriatingly impassive disdain, hand tucked languidly into the fold of his cloak, eyes scarlet and black with the jagged pinwheel of the Mangekyou Sharingan.
"Now what will you do, Sasuke?" Itachi said evenly in that voice Sasuke had long since grown to hate – calm and dry as the air before a storm.
"What the f*** was the point of that?" He hadn't imagined things like this – it was supposed to be just the two of them, no one else, finishing what he had started. He'd avenge the Uchiha, and there would be an end to it. No one else would share in the victory, for it would be a victory when the day came.
But today was not that day. No one else was supposed to be involved.
He ran to Karin, who was on her hands and knees, but she waved him off with her good arm. "Go on, get a move on! This is your revenge, right? I can make it back; you know a little scrape like this isn't enough to do me in. Jugo will take care of it." He hesitated.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, damnit, now go!" So he turned to Itachi and left her there. She picked herself up and started running out of the clearing. She knew better than to make eye contact with Itachi; he'd explained this to her before in the event that they crossed paths.
But in an instant, none of that mattered – Itachi lifted his cloak in a single, smooth motion and from its seeming lack of depth emerged a murder of crows in a shrieking, seething mass.
"This genjutsu does not require eye contact," Itachi said coolly.
The earth fell away, and Sasuke and Karin hovered high above the crowns of trees pink and heavy with cherry blossom. The colors of the ground were inverted somehow, the deep green of mid-morning grass interchanged with the pale blue of the sky above in patches. Sasuke had never seen or heard of this jutsu before. Why should he have? It was probably another of Itachi's own creations. The crows shrieked and flurried over and under them, pulsing and shifting as a single, living thing, finally converging on a singularity and partially condensing into a humanoid mass, blurred at the edges where the crows still fluttered and shifted.
"F***ing genjutsu," Karin cursed under her breath. She didn't need her skills as a sensor to tell her that this was not reality. But the blood seeping from her artery was very real, and it was not slowing.
"What will you do, Sasuke?" Itachi, or rather, the semi-human mass of crows that hovered in front of them, asked. "Her time is running out."
Neither he nor Karin could move. Had he still not advanced enough even to break Itachi's genjutsu? Would this be it?
He cried out in agony. The Cursed Seal of Heaven! This was the first time in years that it had involuntarily activated, and such activations were always painful.
And then, the genjutsu was over. They were on the ground, Karin was bleeding profusely, and Sasuke's transformation to Level 2 of the Cursed Seal continued to advance, his skin darkening several shades, his sclera blackening, amphibious wings bursting from spine.
Itachi stood before them, solid and real once more, not a crow in sight. "I understand now," he said, and holding his index and ring finger to his chest, dissipated into a flock of crows once more, which tore away into the forest as quickly as they had appeared.
"A clone…of crows?" Karin gasped. "Well, anyway, he's gone now, let's get out of here…" Sasuke took a moment to get his bearings; he had not felt such agony since he had first received the seal. It was as if something had been pressing against the mitsudome branded black into his skin, something struggling to get out. The pain finally subsided. He turned to Karin, arms out, and she gratefully collapsed into them, speaking not another word.
Even now, he noticed, she did not flinch. How many Cursed Seal recipients had torn into her flesh as part of Orochimaru's experiments? How many test subjects who bore an uncanny resemblance to himself had feasted on her chakra, and at how young an age? She had seen him transformed this way on a few occasions before and never once had she expressed fear, disgust, or even shock. Karin always looked at him as if nothing had changed.
Sasuke carried her back to the inn as quickly as he could, making good use of the increased speed the Cursed Seal granted him. He slipped into the inn without anyone noticing the state of his appearance, and found Jugo and Suigetsu there, confused, but ready to do whatever needed to be done to resolve the situation. Karin was still conscious and capable of telling them what to do to treat the wound, using the healing balms and sutures she kept on hand for the four of them. Soon enough, she was breathing steadily and sitting up, though she was still shaky.
"That's over and done with then," Karin said weakly, try as she might to speak loud and clear as she usually did. "I'm fine, Sasuke's fine." She looked over at him, standing with his shirt in tatters, but otherwise intact. "Sasuke…why haven't you deactivated the Cursed Seal?"
He looked away from the three of them and glared at the hardwood floor in silence.
"Can you…not deactivate it?"
"Not right now."
"Has this ever happened before?"
Again, he said nothing, but then, "No."
Karin looked at him in shock, and the others shifted uneasily in their places.
"Surely it's just a passing phase…" Karin said encouragingly, but tailed off without anything further to add. She stood up and walked over to him.
"Well, come on then."
"Now where are you taking me?"
"Away. We can't have anyone seeing you here. Don't you have any sense? Now make use of your speed boost again and get us into the woods."
"What about us?" Suigetsu said testily. "Just going to ditch us again?"
"Yes, for the time being," Karin said matter-of-factly. "I have a plan. Please trust me. We're nakama, right?"
Suigetsu looked put out and further confused by the use of this term, but her eyes met Jugo's and he nodded in silent, grim consent.
Sasuke carried her deep into the quiet emerald heart of the forest, and the silence between the two of them began to open up like a chasm of the sort that had rarely existed between them; a cleft in their steady, wordless trust. It was hard to read the look in Sasuke's eyes when the Sharingan was activated, as his expression rarely changed then, given his perpetual focus. But in his chakra she could sense a deep black undercurrent of resentment.
"It's not my fault, you know." He said nothing. "You'd really have to be an idiot if you think it's my fault. I don't know much about your brother, but one thing I do know is that if he wanted to get you alone, he'd get you alone. It was only a matter of time." Still, not a word.
Karin looked directly up at him, jutting her chin out and speaking again. "It'd be easier for you to return to normal if you'd just focus on the task at hand rather than on where the blame lies."
They stopped inside of a cool cave, damp on the bottom with a small stream that had overrun its bed.
"First things first, Sasuke. I'll go outside, give you some time to calm yourself down, and if you aren't able, I have a plan that will put an end to this mess."
That was just like her, he thought. Trying to place blame on and attribute weakness to someone else, even when it was her fault.
"And don't you dare assume I'm blaming you or calling you weak. I've done neither. Circumstances simply dictated that things should be this way, but we can fix them, one way or another."
Karin left the cave in a huff, but once alone by the side of the cave, she carefully leaned herself back against the curve of the rock and began to worry her hair, a habit she had not lost from her pre-Otogakure days. She never let anyone see her doing it anymore.
Inside the cave, Sasuke sat cross-legged, closed his eyes, and began to concentrate. The cool, sweet smell of the cavern spring and the lingering scent of honeysuckle – Karin's perfume – faded away with the trickle of the stream and the distant morning chorus of birds. This was how he had first learned to control the spread of the Cursed Seal's infusion – through a separation of body and spirit. Gradually, the transformation had come to be entirely voluntary and his mastery of the process had extended to partial transformation as events demanded.
But nothing was happening. The darkness in his skin didn't smolder and burn backwards, receding into the Seal as it should. Nothing was different. He was doing everything exactly as he had done in the past. Why, then, was it so difficult?
He tried for hours, deep into the night, and eventually woke up to realize he had drifted off sitting up. Karin had finally come back into the cave and lay on its cold floor, a bed of leaves beneath her. She had made one for him, too, on the other side of the cave.
She slept fitfully, shivering in the cold, her back facing him. Suddenly she turned toward him, eyes wide open.
"You haven't slept," Sasuke observed.
"No." He couldn't help but glare at her. She was at fault here. "Don't look at me like that. You think your brother wouldn't have found a way to get you alone?" She paused and sat up, wrapping her arms around her knees and looking straight at him in the semi-darkness, alleviated by the faint moonlight that filtered through the fissures in the cavern's ceiling.
He continued to glare. Karin laughed coldly. "Why would Itachi attack me like that? What would be the point? I haven't deluded myself into thinking I am actually your comrade. My wound should have been the least of your priorities in that battle."
"As expected. You recruited me by saying you 'need me,' not want me. I am a tool, and once I have served my purpose or failed in its pursuit, I am no longer necessary. " His glare didn't soften, though her own gaze did. "But I think I know the cause of your condition. I conducted research on Cursed Seal recipients for Orochimaru, as you know. On occasion there were recipients who became capable of exercising a large degree of control over their transformations, like you. And like you, some of them ended up being unable to turn back." Here, his eyes widened with shock, ruby-red sclera mixing with the milky white of the moonlight. "Becoming stuck in this way was usually the result of enduring an event that terrified them – that induced a flow of adrenaline, a pumping of the heart, and a psychosis of the mind unlike anything they'd experienced before. None of them were able to undo this transformation, but I do think that it is possible."
She stood up and walked over to Sasuke, standing just in front of him and looking down at him. "If you take in enough of my chakra, I believe I can undo it. I have laid here, running through calculations, and I have determined that if you bite me here for five minutes—" she pointed to the area around her right clavicle "—the chakra released from the corresponding tenketsu will be enough to return you to your normal state. I chose this particular tenketsu because of the potency of the chakra that flows from it - it is close enough to the center of my chakra flow to be extremely effective for our purposes, and far enough that you can draw chakra from it long enough to undo your transformation and leave me alive. But you have to time it perfectly, or I will die." He continued to look up at her, awestruck, eyes wide.
"Do you want to do this or not? I've thought it over, and I can't come up with a single way you'll undo this otherwise. Staying like this leaves you vulnerable to a takeover by Orochimaru's genes, not to mention makes it impossible for you to travel in the open. So what'll it be?"
"Alright then," he assented. So she sat down beside him and unzipped her jacket. There was a black tank top beneath, and she slipped the right sleeve down, so that her clavicle was visible. Unlike her shoulder and arm, it was unblemished by the grayish purple stipple of old bite wounds.
"Go ahead," Karin said, closing her eyes tightly and gritting her teeth.
So he sunk his fangs into it (for in this state, he had fangs), and though she managed to stifle it a bit, Karin still let out a strangled yelp. It had to be painful, since he was biting into bone, with so little tissue between the clavicle and the surface of her skin. He immediately began counting, focusing with all his might on the passage of each second to the next, which was nearly impossible given the sensory flooding invoked by the sheer vitality of Karin's chakra.
And it was during that five minute outpouring of her essence that Sasuke realized her hold on him. A flow of adrenaline, a pumping of the heart, a psychosis of the mind. This was what induced a permanent shift to the Cursed Seal state, and for him, it had been her endangerment by Itachi. Karin could not have been more wrong when she said his need for her was simple necessity – it had always been desire. He had not understood that until this moment; it had been buried under layers of obsessive self-righteousness and raw malcontent. But a twitch of a limb and the scrape of a shuriken against an uplifted arm were all it had taken to strip him of these fixations and lay him bare.
Still, he focused on counting, and he began to panic as she went limp in his arms. Had he miscounted? Had she miscalculated? He started to pull back, but Karin immediately gripped his arm like a vise. He would trust her. She had never been wrong before. Never.
Finally, it was over. He lay her down on her bed of leaves and sat beside her. She was unconscious, but still breathing. And the cursed seal was receding, wings balling into fists and crumpling into his back, flames glowing and retreating into the spiral of mitsudome. She would be fine; she just needed time to rest. He knew how her Heal Bite worked.
Karin would wake up sometime the next day. They would go back to the inn and leave once the summit in town had disbanded in seven days' time. And neither of them would ever speak of this again. He'd never bring it up, and she respected his privacy enough to refrain from mentioning it. But Sasuke didn't even think she realized the implications of what happened here – she didn't think he considered Hebi nakama, much less that he thought of her as anything more than a means to an end. He thought of her as far more, and was thankful for her ignorance of that fact.
Itachi looked at the tanzaku again, a shadow of a smile passing over his face. He had seen the girl scribble it furiously and toss it over the edge of the pale stone bridge. One of his crows had swooped down to catch it before it could hit the water, and she hadn't noticed. She'd already turned away from the railing, as if ashamed of having participated in the ritual and unwilling to acknowledge that she had, in fact, tossed her wish into the river like so many others on that night.
The crow had flown into the forest where he had been waiting for word of his brother's companions, high in the branches of a maple tree, back against its trunk. It landed on his outstretched hand, and he stroked its glossy black head as he considered the waning Tanabata moon above. What were they like, these broken, lost souls, of which his brother was the most broken, and the most lost? Two had allied themselves with Orochimaru, one in the wake of a massacre of which she was the survivor, the other in the wake of a massacre of which he was the perpetrator. One had grown up in Kirigakure, the Bloody Fog, lost the brother he loved, and lived in captivity in an amphibious form for years. Each had been drawn to Sasuke, for one reason or another.
His brother was hard to read, and even the girl, whose observational skills were the best he had ever seen, could not understand him. But Itachi could tell, after testing things out to ascertain his theory, that she meant a great deal to him, and that Sasuke was extremely disconcerted by this.
He would have to use the Sword of Totsuka to extract Orochimaru, he knew that for sure now. Itachi's endangerment of Karin had been a means by which to measure the degree of Orochimaru's infiltration of Sasuke's soul, and that degree was dangerously high. His brother's hatred ran too deep for any weaker method to suffice, so now was the time to prepare the circumstances for Sasuke's victory over his depraved older brother, Konoha's Uchiha Itachi.
Itachi smoothed out the tanzaku, which had become crumpled in the pocket of his cloak. It read, "I wish to see Sasuke smile." The wish was so dear to her heart that against her judgment that Tanabata was a pointless holiday that cruelly encouraged the desperate to believe in magic, she had thrown it over her shoulder and into the river in a fit of passion nonetheless. This was the kind of love Itachi wanted for his brother.
He was not sure how long it would take, what the two of them would have to go through, and how Sasuke would finally come to terms with his feelings and express them to her. But he cared for her, that much was evident.
Itachi laughed quietly to himself. So much had happened on Sasuke's birthday. He could not have received a better present than the devotion expressed on this scrap of paper, and he would never even know about it, not explicitly, anyway.
"Happy birthday, brother. It is as that young man said. You are like fish in water, so close you can't do without one another."
06/02/2019 09:36 PM
Gathered they were, on my forlorn shore
Shadows of men they were before
To stand and wait their final ride
To be ferried to the other side
And pay the price for life
Many there were and many more
Men who died in peace and war
But all come to this loathsome place
To meet a man you all must face
And take life’s final journey
And now I come, in cloaks of black
A mist rolls round and off my back
And darkness follows my little ship
Right to the shore I let it slip
To gather up my load
Astride my deck, I ply my trade
Many trips this boatman’s made
A raft of souls have paid my fare
To ferry them from here to there
And that is what I did
With coins in hand the shadows board
The coins were mine and mine to hoard
You pay a price to ride my barge
A fee that only I can charge
To help you cross the void
The River Styx runs less than wide
But a gulf it is to those inside
A gulf no living man may cross
But only shadows who feel the loss
Of life they once did have
And so they came to another shore
Farther from life than ever before
To forever dwell in a distant place
But not the last to see my face
No, there would be many more
Any pain I feel I do not show
I take them where you all must go
But as for me there would not be
An end to sailing that narrow sea
And watching life’s last struggle
WARNING! Some of the following images contain graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised.
A local cop was driving his jeep drunk with the doors off and him and his passenger weren't wearing their seat belts. He didn't crash but his friend fell out and died. It's crazy to me that these guys see the consequence of not wearing a seat belt but decide not to wear one themselves.
#er #ed #emergency #med #medical #wear your seatbelts
Often times at dinner with my family I’ll get going on (what I think is) a great story . . . only to have my family start screaming . . “Stop! We’re eating”.
Call it desensitization.
Call it a morbid curiosity.
Call it . . . just being a nurse.
But I seem to thrive and enjoy seeing or hearing morbid pictures/stories. As an Emergency Registered Nurse I love seeing the pictures . . . my mind automatically switches into Trauma Mode. I start thinking about how I would treat the patient, what meds, bandages, etc is this patient going to need to improve.
I just thrive in the Trauma setting, the business, the life or death situations.
06/02/2019 06:54 PM
I met Mi Tesoro in the back of a taxi cab, and we fell in love. I spoke the Italian phrases my Papa sang to me as a child into his ear, my teeth grazing his cheek and his neck still.
But stolen Italian lullabies led to stolen kisses under bridges, and Mi Tesoro became more than my treasure, he became distruzione in my eyes. An unstoppable path of rosso and arancia, growing taller and taller, lapping at the trees.
My treasure was lost to the seas of hatred and forced love under stormy clouds in the pitch black of night. The lullabies I was gifted once upon an aging knee vanished.
I forgot my Italian words where I misplaced my innocence, somewhere among the broken records and shipwrecks of a disastrous relationship.
My second lover was a girl who wore smiles like they were free; she turned my cheek to the side whenever I thought she would place her lips upon mine. I was thoroughly enamored by the grace of her, by the pure wonder in every glance of pure vert.
Her hands held pencils and pens meant for crafting worlds you found in storybooks, and she wouldn't stop until she had written the beauté of life into existence.
So I kissed her fingertips and wrote Mon Cœur on her collarbone in red sharpie, and God did she look good wearing my color, dancing along to a song she didn't know.
But unchecked amour crumbles as only it can do and I am left without my heart pulsing in my chest; I stare after her as she folds her hand over my beating life source and slowly drains the resistance out of it.
I do not mourn my missing organ that was pulled forcibly from my ribs, only the girl who stole it when I wasn't looking.
I didn't fall in love the third time, but I used my Babcia's language out of trust. I wrote things of the Polish language inside her mouth, offering her the cool refreshment of poetry when it was too difficult to gulp down.
I gave her a name my Babcia called me once, while looking up at the sky. Raj. She became as so; my light in eternal darkness twinkling upon the barren earth. I looked to her for guidance. I poured my heart and soul into who she was.
But there is a reason Polish is not a love language, and she redefined that the day she pulled from my friendly embrace and left me in the shadows.
Znaczysz dla mnie tak wiele.
Sleepless nights follow, and a feeling of blame is constructed by us alone. We thought we were being careful. You were blind. I was intrusive.
But we had been przyjaciele, not lovers.
Nothing changes because life refuses to wait; it is a fixed set of courses we overcome to truly breathe in fresh air. So I face my past head on.
I meet mi tesoro in a coffee shop and buy his girlfriend a drink. We talk of handsome boys and girls with winning smiles while he sneaks furtive glances her way. I do not see the angry love I had grown in his garden; I see the soft cariad of summer nights and smelling of each other.
I reconcile with raj with an apology following hers. We take turns speaking on misguided footsteps and all the places we should've trusted and we should've listened. Our souls are filled with a cariad I am not so used to; one between friends that I wish to last a life time. And oh goodness when I see I've amused her again, I wear gwenu of satisfaction.
And the girl who has stolen mon cœur arrived back into my life with a plate full of options. I chose her; I chose biting into the apple of forgiveness, of new beginnings, and she kisses the juice off my chin. It will take forever to convince her that we are truly éternel, but the exhilaration of loving her is all I need. I speak my words to her upon the midnight hour, always filled with cariad.
Je t'aime mon cœur.
Yet something has changed within my own self, something extraordinary. So I adopt a name to call myself in honor of the trials and tribulation I see on the palms of my bloodied hands.
My native tongue envelops me as it has always done, and my nature, my affection, and my love is all carried through on one term. So I become what I beheld in my languages of love.
italian ; meaning "my darling" or "my treasure"
italian ; destruction
italian ; red
italian ; orange
french ; green
french ; beauty
french ; meaning "my heart"
french ; love
polish ; means "grandma" but can also mean "great grandma" as it does in this case
polish ; meaning "heaven"
Znaczysz dla mnie tak wiele
polish ; "you mean so much to me"
polish ; friends
welsh ; smile
french ; eternal
Je t'aime mon cœur
french ; "I love you, my heart"
welsh ; means "love" or "lover"
04/09/2019 01:45 PM
The god of all the oceans and seas left her in a puddle of water on the harsh sand of the beach. She saw, through burning eyes, as he turned into water and merged with the ocean. She lay on the wet sand, cold and shaking and her wrists ached from where he had bound them together with an ice-cold whip made of the water he ruled over. Her legs bore marks after his hands and teeth. Her once untouched cave burned, and yet it was a cold burn. The god had left no place unused, the back had not been spared, nor had her mouth.
Her dress hung in torn stripes down her body as she slowly, painfully, got to her feet. The world spun, and she almost fell back down. She had to get to the temple. The goddess would help her. She had to-
They came out of nowhere. The men from the village. Five pair of eyes, hard and of ill-meaning, gazed on her. She froze. Inside, she was screaming as they pushed her down.
Hands groped her aching body, hard members bruised her, mouths licked her. She wanted to scream, but she was still and unmoving as stone.
She lost all account of time. They left her on the beach, dress all but gone and with more bruises and more hurt.
It was the soft hooting of an owl that made her sit up. The animal sat on the sand, a few steps away and looked at her, yellow eyes unblinking. The goddess's companion, the link between her and the humans. Slowly, trembling, she crawled towards the grey and white bird.
"Goddess… mighty and wise Athena… please… please help me."
The owl called out, spread its wings. The light blinded her. Blinking, she watched the shimmering silhouette of the goddess take form, clothed in a toga, long red hair loose and bright down her back.
"Medusa… my priestess… your pain is mine, little sister. What help can I give to ease it?" the goddess spoke softly, and still the power in her very being overthrew Medusa.
"Mighty goddess… one god and five human men have all violated me because they find me beautiful. If this is the price to pay for beauty, I do not want it! If beauty renders me still as stone when in ill times, I cast it away. Please goddess, I'll serve you with even more of my heart than before, help me!"
The shimmering goddess bowed her head. "You already serve me with all of your heart, sister. I will gladly offer my help to you. Men will no longer find you tempting, and you will never again be still as stone in ill times. Look in the water of the well in my temple, little sister, and you shall see my wonder on you."
The reflection that stared back at her was, if not hideous, then not appealing. Medusa saw nothing but perfection.
Her hair, once golden as wheat, was now a nest of snakes, small and thin ones, long and thick ones, in all the colours that existed. They slithered around her shoulders and hissed happily in her ear.
Once brown, her eyes blinked back at her, yellow and with vertical black pupils, much like the eyes of the snakes that accompanied her.
Her nose had shrunken back and flattened out in her face, and now all that was were two slits, also much like the snout of a snake.
"Thank you, goddess, thank you," she whispered and bowed low. Her snakes hissed in happy agreement, a few licked her cheek, others slithered around her shoulders and neck, happy to be with her.
The first time she discovered what the goddess had meant by you will never again be still as stone in ill time was when of the men who had violated her on the beach, came to her when she was at the market place, looking for an urn to bring to the temple.
He pushed her up into a little alley and held her wrists together. Rage, ice cold and unyielding, filled her and she looked straight into his dark eyes. He stilled, froze and, in the blink of an eye, turned to a grey statue of stone before her eyes.
She returned to the temple with an urn for the altar, and an olive branch for the goddess, which she laid upon the altar together with a prayer of thanks.
The high priestess came to see her on the evening of the full moon, holding the scroll and the olive branch. Medusa felt honoured and glad, and bowed low to the ground. The snakes hissed happily. She took the scroll and the olive branch, walked into the deepest part of the temple and unlocked the heavy double doors.
The room was round and small. Nothing adorned it, but a fire that burned eternal in the middle, surrounded by stones. Medusa sat down, unrolled the scroll and began to read.
The last prayer left her lips just as the full moon took its place exactly above the rounded opening of the roof. Medusa put the scroll directly in the fire, watched as the fire roared and the smoke turned black. When the scroll was no more, she lifted the olive branch, kissed it and put it into the fire. The smoke was balm to her nose, sweet smelling and white.
"My love, goddess, to you," the priestess whispered and bowed her head. Her snakes hissed softly. An owl screeched in the night. Medusa smiled.
The temple of the goddess lay in ruins. Humans had lost fate. Medusa made the ruins her home, put together stones and broken pieces of wood to form a little spot for herself.
To shield her home, she put out the statues of the men she had turned to stone all over the room that had once been the centre of the palace. She pulled fallen tree trunks from the riverside and placed them out as well, adding to the look of abandonment and danger.
For many years, she lived in the ruins. She turned more men to stone, foolish men who thought they could dispose of her.
She prayed to the goddess and her kind, never once lost her fate, for she had seen first-hand the magic of belief.
The woman was poor, hurt and alone. Medusa watched her for many days, put out food for her, kept her safe, before she showed herself. She was as always prepared to turn and flee if need be.
The woman smiled, and something fell into place. Her name was Kassandra, and she turned out to be a companion fit for a gorgon; witty and caring and sharp as stone.
They lived in the ruins for many years. Kassandra grew old. Medusa did not. Still, they shared companionship that warmed the gorgon's heart.
When Kassandra went on to join the spirits, Medusa turned her body into stone, cherishing the statue; she never once let the stone wither.
The other companion the gorgon found was also a woman, a shy but sweet darling who called herself Felicity.
They went on long walks and Medusa taught the young human about the old ways of the goddesses, only mentioning the gods in passing – they were all men and had wronged so many.
Felicity offered her most prized possession to Athena one night when the moon was a full silver orb in the clear night sky; a medallion given to the human by her mother.
Medusa never knew what prayer Felicity hade offered the goddess, and it did not matter, because Felicity was happy.
But, as with every human, Felicity had a limit to her time. Medusa waited and cared for her lover as she had with Kassandra.
She lived alone with the two statues for many years afterwards, her heart too fragile to take in another in its room.
When Medusa met the third human that spoke to her heart, the world had changed even more, and her home in the ruins were since long covered in greenery and stone dust.
Diana did not seem to mind, although she was at first mildly taken aback by Medusa's story. Nonetheless, they lived happily, until Diana confessed to wanting children.
Medusa, remembering an old tale from her time, offered one of her snakes – one of her oldest pet snakes, not her hair snakes – to the goddess, after having asked the old animal if it would help her, asking for Diana's wish to be fulfilled.
That night, when they shared a bed once again, Medusa felt the old magic of the goddess shroud them.
Many moons later, Diana bore a child. The little one had her human mother's eyes but bore the same snake-hair as Medusa. The three of them lived happily for many years. Little Kyla grew, and Medusa taught the child the power of the Stonestare, as well how to speak with the snakes that guarded her.
Diana taught the child the ways of the humans, simple and kind and with a patience as old as the statues in Medusa's garden.
When Diana, old and tired but happy, passed away, Medusa did not turn her to stone, for the human had begged her not to.
Instead, Medusa and her daughter buried their lover and mother together under the old oak that stood guard just by the entrance to the cave they lived in.
Years passed, and around the oak, buttercup flowers grew in a circle; the flower that Diana had so loved, protecting the cave.
Medusa set her daughter free into the world but chose to stay in her ruin home.
The gorgon took many lovers as more years passed. Most were women, for she did not trust men. The few men that she did take to her bed, ended up in her garden when she was done, for they all tried to banish her from the world.
Only one man escaped this fate. A kind and generous soul, Gaius. He was blind and saw her fully through touch. He spent some time with her, and when he left, he gave her his walking stick to remember him by.
Medusa later learned that Gaius had fallen in a quarrel with other men who wanted to know her hiding place. Gaius had never spoken a word.
Moons passed, and Medusa bore a child, a girl whom she named Gaia.
Gaia, for reasons unknown to her gorgon mother, did not inherit Medusa's powers. Still, they shared a strong love, and once Gaia left to join a woman in a village, Medusa felt content.
Years later, Gaia came to her, and she brought a child whom she had with the woman in the village. The child was of the Stoneblood, and Medusa decided that it must be a blessing from the goddess; a female descendant from her could bear a child with a woman, and only then would the Stoneblood live on.
Medusa no longer remembered how many eons she had walked the earth, but she had seen the world change, die and be reborn many, many times. She never thought it got better.
She was tired but felt no desire to perish. She felt a need to stay if her descendants should need her.
Through her many children, she spread small clues about how to find her cave, and then, one full moon, she sat down by the statues of Kassandra and Felicity, and sank into herself, calling on the powers of Stone, asking to be confined in sleep, undisturbed and unbreakable, until a descendant woke her up.
It was october twenty second of 1982, and Clayton had come home late. He burst in through the front door of his home in Los Feliz, his suit was a bit disheveled and his tie was wrinkled, but otherwise he looked fine. He ran his fingers through his now grey hair, chuckling to himself at how thick it was even at the age of seventy three. The simplest things amused him since he retired, he realized this every time he would smile at things he would have ignored in his youth. Those were good days.
He put down the briefcase he was holding on an oak table, an old thing that was covered in scratches and faded, but he brought it everywhere. Opening it, he took a look at the contents, a wallet, some loose change, and a bottle of pills. He took out the bottle and opened it, taking one of the chalky white tablets. He was surprised how well they worked, he hated that he needed them to survive, but he wasn't going to let his bad kidney get the better of him. A loud squawk came from the kitchen, making him smile and walk towards it. The kitchen was very large, it was painted a light shade of orange that Clayton had always thought was ugly, but never bothered with changing it. In to corner of the room was a birdcage, inside was a cockatoo.
"Hello Rose!" The old man greeted, the bird crowed and bobbed her head while he fumbled with the door. It opened with a click and Rose hurried out, climbing up Clayton's arm, he chuckled as she made her way up to his shoulder and pecked at his ear. The man then turned and made his way to the fridge, he reached inside to grab a bottle of beer. Rose flew off of him when he moved over to the counter where he had left a bottle opener to previous night. He always sang quietly to himself when preparing something, in his head today was an song an old friend had taught him.
Sunday is gloomy,
My hours are slumberless,
Dearest the shadows I live with are numberless.
He stopped singing when the bottle was open, and he went to take a drink. It was his second beer that day, but it was refreshing. The old man walked back into the livingroom, on his way, he passed the table with his briefcase. He saw the wallet poking out and reached for it. He flipped through the dollar bills and receipts until he found what he was looking for, a few old photographs. He took them with him to his arm chair. The bird was standing on one of the arm rests, pulling at a loose string. When he sat down he took another drink and the cockatoo looked at the photos in his hand, the first was of him, young and prideful, wearing a brown suit and tie, beside him was a tall black haired man who smiled faintly.
"You remember 'em? He asked the bird who only turned and preened her feathers. "I'd reckon you don't, even I was so young then, in fact, I'm not sure you knew him. A good man he was, good man." The alcohol seemed to be getting to him, because he laughed and pet the cockatoo's long head feathers.
"You know? The man was like a father, never met mine. Wish I hadn't known my mother though, an awful woman. Do you know I grew up in new york city? They say it's a lovely, hopeful place, but it's filthy and so are the people who say those things, it may have changed since i've been gone, but that's what I know." Rose waddled forward and pecked at Clayton's arm when he stopped to take a drink.
"I was born in, when, nineteen ten. God I'm old! The city was a damn hellhole, I sold papers when I was only eleven, I was lucky though, some of them kids couldn't read. Guess I was just born with that luck, learned to read early. Ha! I hate to admit it but I stole my fair share from shops, got caught once and learned never touch what wasn't mine again." The man held up his left hand to reveal a permanently bent ring finger with a gold ring around it.
"Didn't know how I got through those awful years, but one thing I know for sure, it wasn't with the help of my mother. Her name was Marian Green, she worked as a waitress when she wasn't drinking. Didn't give a damn if I came home late or at all for that matter, the only good thing I ever got from her was her hair, her bright red hair." He laughed and took another drink.
"Well, I don't have that anymore. Some other didn't care for it, they thought I was an irishman, they didn't take kindly to anyone lookin' slightly foreign. By the time I was sixteen I found a real job, I worked at a lovely theater. I did whatever job was needed, cleanin', sellin' tickets, sometimes dealin' with customers. I tell you Rose, those rich folks sure look down on the workers. Some nights they'd show movies, others they'd show plays. One day they were showin' a play, and the boss told me to take care of our actor's needs, I was mighty nervous to meet them, but it was a good payin' job." He took another drink from his bottle, Rose fluttered around the room before settling on a bookshelf.
"I walked to the backstage, it was full of sets and costumes and props, I wondered what the play was about but that would have to wait, I couldn't get fired. When I got to the dressin' rooms I knocked, coulda' sworn my hands were shakin'. That man opened the door," he held up the first photo again. "Wilson Minglewood his name was, a producer, he was tall, his hair was dark, and he was impeccably dressed, asked me what my business was and I told him I was there to take his requests." Before he continued, he looked at the next photograph, it was of him and a skinny man with, black hair flecked with white. The man was smiling, dressed in casual clothes and had his hand on Clayton's shoulders. They were at a bar, both happy and drinking.
"Ah, he was there too! Wilson took me into the room and introduced me to him, his name was Maynard McKellar. He was a jovial man, he knew I was only a worker but treated me kindly, joking and not pushing me around like most people who lived such a lavish lifestyle. I got them what they needed and made sure they knew when they were to go onstage, and even though Wilson was quiet and stoic and didn't really talk much, he must of thought I was a good employee, he tipped me twenty dollars, more than I'd make in a month. When they came back from their performance, Maynard asked me for my name, so I told 'im, then he asked for a whisky and left.
The very next day the two were back, they were showing the play all week. I got to know them a bit, Maynard came from from California, San francisco to be precise, came from a nice family, not poor but not rich. He was a natural actor and started in his twenties. Minglewood didn't talk much, but Maynard had known him since he was a boy, he lived in the apartment across from them when his family moved to New York, the man worked his way to the top patiently." Rose flew out of the living room into the kitchen, so the old man took another drink, emptying the bottle, then laughed.
"You've got the right idea miss!" He said as he followed his pet into the kitchen. Rose was standing on the rim of a basket of fruit on the counter, picking at the grapes while her owner reached back into the fridge and continued singing where he had left off.
Little white flowers will never awaken you,
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you.
He struggled to get the bottle open in his intoxicated haze, but when he did he picked up a bunch of grapes and the bottle before returning to his armchair, the bird followed the grapes. When he plopped back down he sighed and took a drink.
"Y'know, Maynard loved a good drink, after every show he'd ask for one, second to last night, he asked me to join 'em. I went along we drank ourselves stupid together as if we were old friends. An' on the last day old Wilson sat down with me and asked if I wanted to work for him, seems some theater employees ain't too helpful. 'Course I said yes, he an' Will took me with them to their next play, it was in Queens, it was my first time ridin' in a car." He took a drink.
"Will had a lot of workers, there was an assistant, her name was Misty Sullivan, she had brown hair, brownish skin, and was the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen. The most outspoken women too, she didn't like me and let me know about it. One the boss asked her to bring lunch for everyone, she handed me a brown bag with a live snake in it, to this day I don't know how she got it. There was Gideon, her brother, a short blond man who acted like he owned the place, often saw him stealin' unattended bags, but someone in heaven must not have taken kindly to that. One week after I joined he fell ill with the typhoid fever, died not long after." Clayton started chugging the bottle, when it was nearly empty, he looked through the photos and smiled, showing the bird one of Maynard backstage with a skinny man with greased grey hair.
"That was Steven Bruno, another actor and a close friend of Maynard. It's funny how we met, Maynard and I were at a bar orderin' drinks, once they bartender placed them in front of us, Steve took one of them, and drank the whole thing. Y' know what happened next? They got into a fist fight! May broke a rib and the skinny bastard was bleedin' out of his nose, then they two laughed about it and sat down. He was italian, came to New York when he was twenty two, word about him spread like wildfire, he had the most beautiful voice, his accent made it sound better as well." When the old man finished off his beer, he stood up again, his vision growing blurry as he wobbled into the kitchen for another beer, singing his song.
Angels have no thought of ever returning you,
Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?
He danced back to his chair to the sad song that he was singing with a jazzy beat. When he sat down it took him a moment to remember where he had left off.
"So, Steve, Misty, oh yeah! This one time we went to Hollywood to shoot a movie, a brand new thing came out, the talkies. Who knew that pictures could have voices as well as move? It was gonna' be great, the talent of Maynard McKellar, the voice of Steve Bruno. I came along as always, and it was great, I saw so many people I've only heard about from the rich folks at the theater. While on a lunch break during one of the filmin's, Maynard had a bit much to drink and got in a shouting match with director. He told 'em how he hated one of the co stars, making a scene, sayin' he refused to work with the likes of him. To piss him off a bit more, he told him that anyone was a better actor then that bastard actor." He laughed and drank.
"Just to prove a point he ran off stage to where I was sitting quietly, tryin' not to be seen, then grabbed my hand and dragged me in front of them. I was terrified, but that drunk friend of mine shoved a script into my hands and told me to read, didn't know what to do, so I did as he said. Seems someone must have told Minglewood, because he walked in looking angry as the devil. He grabbed McKellar by the collar and punched him right in the belly. I was terrified when he looked up at me, but I'll always remember what he said. 'I never told you to stop reading." The old man began laughing uncontrollably, starling Rose who flew up onto the windowsill.
"Clayton." She squawked. She had been taught to say his name, but she only tended to speak when she was concerned.
"Aw, be quiet, I'm still talkin' here birdy. I kept readin' while everyone stared, but when I was done he helped Maynard up and told me to take him outside and wait with him. I was scared somthin' fierce, we sat outside for hours, I only went back inside to grab a cigar for my friend. When we were called back in, I was expectin' to get fired, but instead Willson handed me a script and told me, 'We need Maynard to work with us, and it seems he's right that'… that… oh I forget his name. Anyway he told me that I would be playing so and so's part. I couldn't believe my ears, and neither could Misty when Will told her." Clayton stopped for a whole minute to drink and watch his bird as she ate a few grapes, but when he started up again, the old man sounded so happy.
"Usually I'd stay at a cheap motel, but this time Wilson had us stay at Maynard's house since we were so close, it was amazing. He had so many spare rooms, never knew why he needed a house so big when he had no wife of kids, but I wasn't going to complain. It was nice having such a large room. Once I started actin' the next day, word got out about a redheaded city boy performin' in a Hollywood talkie. People from the papers started comin' around to ask questions, it was a strange thing. I used to be sellin' the papers, now I would be in 'em.
By the time the filmin' was done, Will decided to take his actors out for drinks, never thought of him as a man who drank, boy was I wrong. In our celebration, I learned four things about him. One, he likes whisky on the rocks. Two, he envied charlie chaplin's acting skill. Three, the best way to disorient an angry policeman is to kiss him and run. Four, he could be loud. Among the four of us, I would never have suspected that he would be the worst at handling his drinks, perhaps that is why he tended to stay sober. Steve and I carried him home while he babbled about how he thought the film would be a great success, before passing out halfway through a sentence." Clayton held up his bottle. "To Will!" He shouted before taking a drink.
"Drunk Wilson was right, it was quite a success, everyone with was quick to snatch up tickets. Maynard, Steve and I turned a rather large profit, Misty too, bein' the assistant to the producer and all. Guess' the crowds liked me, because I kept gettin' called back for roles, I soon took out a mortgage on a nice house near Maynard's and I took a liking to this life. Misty and I started gettin' along after awhile, I learned more about her. She grew up workin in her father's deli before meetin' Will durin' a film, she joined the same way I did. Once she and I got along, I could only think about how lovely she was.
Life was great, we kept makin films, I got to work with Maynard a lot, and I never had to worry about my next meal. Willson invited us over for a drink one day at his house, we say he had a pair of cockatoos, Jay and Dawn he called 'em. They were good birds, and Dawn was sittin' on an egg. Misty and I talked that night, I told her that I thought her pretty and turns out she felt the same 'bout me." Clayton sighed and took a drink. "In two years, we were married. Will gave us his parrot's chick as a weddin' gift, that's you!" He pointed at the bird, which startled her.
"You know, In those good times we forgot how old Will was, he got pretty frail and his hair always looked dirty. He started to get a cough, at first we thought it was nothin' but he started walkin' slow and sayin' his legs were hurtin, pretty soon his legs stopped workin' all too well. Nowadays, doctors have fancy needles that could stop that from happinin' to anyone else, but ol' Will didn't live to see it. He told us that he'd never die from the polio, and he didn't, but that was because he left one night. We never saw him again, but he left a note, just said he was makin' sure he kept his promise. We got a letter a few days after that some poor fool found him in a lake, at his funeral I almost laughed, he did keep his promise, he was too proud to let that awful thing take him." Clayton felt tears trying to creep out of his eyes, he was fine with that, you was the only one there, and you wasn't going to tell anyone. He chugged his drink, then got up to get another, singing as he went along.
Gloomy is sunday,
With shadows I spent it all,
My heart and I have decided to end it all.
Soon there'll be candles and prayers that are said, I know,
Let them not weep, let them know that I'm glad to go.
He took and drink and hobbled back to the chair, Rose greeting him by saying his name.
"Bad luck just wouldn't stop comin' after that. Germany started attackin' other countries, trying to commit genocide, the evil bastards. Awful things were happinin' to those people over there, soon it happened to us to. America got into it after the president tried stayin' out of it, and every man feared for his life. Maynard asked me to come to his house one day, when I went there he poured us some champagne and showed me his draft letter, he wanted to celebrate before he went off to fight. He was a good man, and how could I let a good man go off to war alone? I joined as well, if he had to go, I did too. We shipped off two weeks later, at least I knew Misty would be okay, she became producer after William died, so she and Steve would still be able to work.
Let me tell you Rose, war is awful. So many young men runnin' off to their graves when they can do so much more that shoot bullets 'till one kills 'em. Maynard and I were shipped off to poland, the things I saw there were unspeakable. I always know that men were capable of truly awful things, but this was much worse, the things these men did was unforgivable. I was a good enough shot so they had me an' Maynard fightin' with some powerful guns. I tell you, if people spent half as much time makin' medicine as they do makin' weapons, I think William would been fine. We did some good things an' some bad things while we were there, saved some people and killed some others, there were some we tried to save but ended up gettin' killed.
One day we got unlucky, I took a bullet in the stomach and we couldn't see anyone who could help us. Some enemy soldiers found us, they were either nazi or italian troops, I don't remember now. Either way they wanted us dead. McKellar picked up his gun and charged 'em, they weren't expectin' that. He took out most of 'em, there were only eight at the start, he killed six, two got away, but one of the ones he got shot 'im in the left leg. He and I sat together after, we thought we were dead, so all we did was talk. We talked all 'bout the little things we missed so much, you, my wife, our homes, coffee that wasn't full o' weevils, a town where we didn't have to fear what was around every corner. We missed work, actin' was our passion. We missed our favorite bar where they always knew our orders right when we walked in, whisky on the rocks for Maynard and a simple beer for me. We missed Steven's humor lightening the mood of even the saddest days, cigars, I even missed my worthless mother. We sang our favorite songs, forgetting most of the lyrics, that was when I learned Gloomy Sunday. We reminisced about the good times we had, actin', dancin', singin', I even missed workin' at the theater.
We must 'ave lost a lot of blood, 'cause pretty soon we were laughin' and jokin'. Must've been quite a sight for the guys that saved us, they were british troops, nice men, they didn't have to save us but they did. They took us with 'em to their base an' had a few nurses to treat us. The bullet got my right kidney, they didn't think I'd live much longer. Hah! I outlived them all! I was alright, but worryin' about McKellar, pretty soon they wheeled him out, smilin' and flirtin' with the nurse, ignorin' the bloody stump where his left leg used t' be. They sent us home with purple hearts seein' how we couldn't fight no more. Maynard had to walk with a crutch, but he didn't seem to upset, I'll never forget what he told me." The old man cleared his throat and talked in a strange voice.
"Clay, I can sing, I can dance, I can hear, walk, talk and live my life jus' fine. I got my arms and a head on my shoulders. I don't give a damn if I lose one leg, at least I have both my kidneys." He then laughed, Rose flew onto his lap and sat down. "When we got back I almost ran to my house, and the first thing I thought when I got inside and saw my wife at seven in the morin', hair unbrushed and wearin' old pajamas, was that she had never looked more lovely. We lived a good nine more years together before our bad luck came back. Maynard and I kept actin' I was a bit slower gettin' better, but lucky for McKellar that he could still sing like an angel. You were growin', soon ya learned how to say my name." Rose squaked.
"Right. But after all those years Misty felt a bit sickly, she said her stomach hurt. I didn't think much of it at first but the hurt didn't go away, so we brought 'er into the hospital and let the doctors get a look at her. I thought it must've been some undercooked chicken she ate, maybe some other bad food, but the doctor came out lookin' real sorry for her, and I knew somethin' was wrong. She had to stay at that place, she had somethin' wrong with her kidneys. I was so very worried, couldn't eat for days. The doctors were tryin' yet she only got sicker. I brought flowers to her everyday and I took you with me to cheer her up, and lookin' back she wasn't as sad as I was.
There was one night I got a call from the hospital, when I picked up they told me to come quick, Misty wasn't doin' well. I drove as fast as I could to get there to find her layin' down with a bunch of doctors arguin' over what t' do. I sat down with her, she asked me about work and how you were doin' just like any other day, she looked so happy to see me. She told me that there was nothin' medicine could do for her anymore, so I just sat there and held her hand 'till she left. I tell you Rose, in the movies it looks like people are just sleepin' when their dead, but you can tell, you can tell when the life's left someone. Even then, she looked so sweet, smilin' at death, braver than any o' the men I fought with." The old man wiped away a tear and took another sip of his drink, it was still half full, yet he started singing for a moment anyway.
Death is no dream 'cause in death I'm caressin' you,
With the last breath of my soul I'll be blessin' you,
"The next day at work I told 'em all what happened to her, we decided to skip work that day. Maynard sat with me for awhile, we didn't speak for a few minutes, but he broke the silence when he told me that I should go to the doctor's myself. He knew that I have bad kidneys and didn't want the same thing to happen' to me. I took 'is advice and went in, they told me that I would be fine if I jus' took some pills and went in every once an awhile. I still feel awful, if she 'ad gone in sooner maybe she wouldn't have died. We all went back to work the day after to start workin' on a new movie, it was supposed to be a good one, turns out it was gon' be in color. I was glad to start actin' again, needed somthin' to take my mind off my wife." He took a sip of beer and looked through the photographs he hed left on the arm of the chair, there was one of him and Misty at their wedding, Misty had on a white dress that flowed behind her, Clayton wore a classic black tux with a white rose pinned over his heart.
The next was of Steven and Maynard, they were acting out a scene where Steve was dancing with a woman that the man didn't recognize, and Maynard sat on a barrel, singing and playing the fiddle with his one leg hanging down.
"Maynard started to make plans like Misty used to, did a good job. We got some good gigs around that time, the economy was gettin' better an' more people could afford to see our shows. Movies got bigger so we got to it, people liked westerns back then so we did a lot o' 'em.
We was filmin' one once out in Kanab, Utah, hell of a hot place, Steven played the main guy, a cowboy. Ended up fallin' for the lady playin' his wife, Katie, funny how a part plays tricks on ya'. The two ran out and eloped the minute they could, Katie took 'is last name, and started actin'. The man always knew what he wanted, so did the lady, they were perfect. Pretty soon they went up to New York for a gig, leavin' jus' me and McKellar. Soon they decided to stay in the city for some reason and got a house up there. He lived there for many years 'afore he 'n Kate passed, same disease, what are the chances? Now it was jus' you, me, and Maynard, we started hangin' out more, it was as if we were brothers. On sundays while them religious folk went to church, we walk to our favorite diner and brought you with us. You remember those days? The waitresses loved you, thought it was cute how you could copy words." As if in response, Rose lifted her feathery crest and squawked out Clayton's name. The old man laughed and pet her wing.
"Good ol' times!" he shouted, he stopped when he felt a sharp pain in his stomach. This pain had been bad for a few days, he thought it was just his kidney acting up again, so he didn't think much of it. "One day we was walkin' to that diner for breakfast an' there were people celebratin' in the streets, newsies were paradin' around, makin' good money sellin' their story. War had finally ended. We celebrated too, Maynard could dance pretty good for a man with one leg. We talked 'bout our time in the war, we wondered if any o' the boys survived, but didn't have no way of findin' 'em. Was funny, McKellar was talkin 'bout it as if we was still fightin'. 'Always had a good mem'ry that one, well, till he was older. Started forgettin' things, often thought I was Will, called 'most every young man at work by my name at some point"
Clayton pet his bird's head, leaning back into his chair, he sighed.
"He was old Rose, started losin' his mind, after a few years, he just wasn't the same. By then I was, what, sixty somethin'? He was Seventy two!" The man shouted, startling his bird, the pain in his stomach was getting worse, he took a swig of beer and ignored it.
"Thought i my as well retire, I talked Maynard into it too, it took 'im awhile to remember that he was old." He chuckled. "Funny thing, he kept forgettin' he lost a leg, sometimes he fell or panicked when he saw his leg wasn't there. When we retired we stayed in his house for awhile, I couldn't just leave him alone, poor bastard would prob'ly fall down stairs or somethin'. We only lived together for two years though, one morning he hadn't gotten up for coffee, i went to check on him and he was just... gone. Died in his sleep. He had a small funeral, lotsa' folks knew his work, but not many people knew him though. I left the moment they put him in the ground, he was the last one, I was the last one. Just me an' you now." He didn't notice the tear that trailed down his face, he was in too much pain. It was getting worse, it was spreading.
Clayton let out a gasp, Rose puffed up, started crowing and flapping her wings. In his hand he still held the pictures, him with McKellar and Minglewood in a bar, him and Maynard dressed as knights on a stage, him and Misty kissing in a photobooth. The last one was of him holding Rose, she was a chick and he was so young. He pressed his head back into the chair, unable to do much else as his bird made her was over to him and climbed into his lap, she said his name. He was still drunk, he didn't know what to do, so he kept singing.
Dreaming, I was only dreaming,
I wake and I find you asleep,
In the deep of my heart here.
His heart was racing, his vision was blurred. It was as if he was back poland, only now it wasn't germans he was fighting. There was nothing to point a gun at. Maynard was gone. He had no wife to come home to, there was no one coming to save him. Strangely, he felt his fear fade. He had no gun, so why would he need a target. Maynard is safe where he is. Misty would be glad to see him. There was nothing soldiers could do to help him, but there was also nothing in danger. The war had been won, his friends had been by his side all those years, his marriage had been happy, so what was there to save but memories? He would take those with him. What would it be like to meet them again? Will would be able to walk, Misty would embrace and kiss him again, Maynard would have both legs and be able to remember clearly again.
Rose looked panicked, she knew something was wrong. "Clayton," she called. "Clayton?"
"It's alright sweetheart, I left a window open, you'll be okay. But I gotta go, I'm late."
Yes that would be nice.
Darlin' I hope that my dream never haunted you,
My heart is tellin' you how much I wanted you,
"Hello Mr. Green."
"Honey! You're home!"
"Finally! Never woulda' thought you'd outlive me you old bastard, now, how about a drink?"
Not many people attended his funeral. The ones who did were old, the people who remembered his name, the people who admired him when he was famous. Many once saw themselves in him, their ambition and joy, they still see themselves in him now. They see an old man that few remember, a man who will soon be completely forgotten. But not by all. As he was lowered into the ground, a bird flew down from a tree and perched on top of his gravestone.
The bird sat silent and watched.
It has been nineteen years since then, no one who had seen him buried is left, only people visiting graves and teenagers smoking. Yet they've all seen it. They've all seen the white bird. It is a friendly bird that many would feed and pick up, but when they tried to leave with it, it would fly back. It would stand on one particular grave, and sometimes would repeat a name, they all wondered who this "Clayton" was.
Weep ye Angels,
All ye frown.
For tonight a hero,
Wears a thorny crown.
First a story,
Of a little girl,
Who fought for what she believed in,
And single handedly changed the world.
She loved her country,
And worshiped her lord.
She pursued her dream,
With cross and sword.
Despite her remarks,
No one would believe,
That she had saw what she saw,
And had seen what she seen.
Weep ye Angels,
It's almost time to wake.
For tonight a hero,
Burns at the stake.
If you wish to hear more,
Then all gather around,
And I'll tell you a story.
The story of John Brown.
He was raised in a family,
That accepted all men.
Despite their race,
Or color of their skin.
He marched unarmed,
Into Virginia one day,
And without any guns,
He held the entire confederacy at bay.
Weep ye angels,
For you'll feel much woe.
For tonight a hero,
Sways to and fro.
And listen to me.
I'll tell you of a Scottish man,
Who longed to be free.
He lost his love,
And in spirit his life,
He did everything he could,
To be reunited with his wife.
He fought for his people,
He fought for his fellow man.
So that one fine day,
They could rule their own land.
Weep ye angels,
Go quickly to bed,
For tonight a hero,
Has lost his head.
I'll tell you a story,
Of a man who fought,
For his race's glory.
He thought that all men,
Should be treated the same.
He didn't fight for riches,
And he didn't fight for fame.
He fought with compassion,
From deep in his heart.
And even though he didn't see his dream,
At least he lit the spark.
Weep ye angels,
For tonight a hero,
Lays on the ground.
I'll tell you a tale,
Of a man who thought peace,
Would surely prevail.
He never fought,
He never lifted a hand in anger.
He loved everyone,
Even total strangers.
He lived to a ripe old age,
And on the bed he died,
He felt sorrow for the world,
And for their sins he cried.
Weep ye angels,
For ye must be brave.
For tonight a hero,
Sleeps in his grave.
Gather around children,
I'll tell you a story surreal.
About a woman who taught people to live,
And a world to feel.
Her love for peace was strong,
Her love for God was stronger.
She watched her people suffer,
Until she could take it no longer.
She taught them how to read and write,
She taught them how to live.
She taught them about the precious gifts,
Unto them God did give.
Weep ye angels,
All must endeavor.
For tonight a hero,
I'll tell you the greatest story ever told.
The story of a man,
Who was more than just behold.
He was the son of God,
And he spread his message everywhere.
He taught people how to love,
He taught people how to care.
Despite his message,
Despite his grace.
They ridiculed and mocked him.
They spat in his face.
Weep ye angels,
Never cry again,
For tonight a savior,
Has died for your sins.
Never weep ye angels,
Instead always smile,
For God loves you so much,
He gave you his only child.
My boat is a floating coffin,
thrown about by the sea.
The sights of flesh or solid earth -
beyond the horizon they flee.
I am a fallen leaf,
thrown about by invisible hands,
but when I cast myself to the tussling streams,
I land on boiling sands.
Shade! and swollen fruit
that whisper on my tongue.
These sticky joys are dancing strings
upon which I am hung,
but in the buzzing heat
the fruit is quickly rotten.
I lie before the roaring light
and beg to be forgotten.
That night I throw my gaze to the sea;
I find that I am wading
through starless seas and churning skies
to a horizon that is fading.
When the sun burns the sky
and the clouds begin to soften,
I push off of the rocks
in my sea-weary coffin.
Grey armies gather and blot out the sky
and before me stretches a foaming jaw.
Its silver teeth may rend my skin,
but my hands hold tight to my battered oar.
This is a metaphorical exploration of how one comes to understand who they are.
she's a hillbilly in a plaid button-down cowgirl shirt
and from far away i see her slam a screen door
twisting overpasses, in the shape of a human digestive track
you cant invent real tourist traps like these.
didnt stay long, i keep driving
america knows that
anyone can see that
happened to a mcdonalds
I was a hyacinth with a serpent under it.
I was a willow tree by a lake
Straining for moonlight.
I was a rosebud, without scent or thorn.
I was a field ripe for sowing,
A pallid mouse when you came crowing.
You harvested me for a paltry fee.
Now I am a desert:
May there be cacti born!
Only a Fool in April
wrestling with my greasy roots
as daffodils are
stoned in the smoke,
monastic, yellow habits.
"I'd better not.
My dad's a cop"
replied the kid
to offered pot.
"Damn" I whispered
as the hard momentum
of the growing grass
forced me to my feet.
Withdrawing the vial
from my caurdory vest,
I place patchoulie oil
behind my ears,
on my wrists.
I walk inside to
where the streaming
light is dark and still.
tarot cards, still
spread upon the table,
becoming of the fool,
made me a fool in April.
For the Attic
There are days it is best to simply lie on the wooden floor
and watch the roof
watch the little spider scuttle across her thread
the specks of dust bump in and out the air conditioned currents
the worn red bow tied through the windowsill
Some days it is best to taste the air
and nothing more-
to let the summer heat run down your throat
like the warm iced-tea we left on the afternoon step
to let humidity splash along on your cheeks
the way we played in the sprinklers last week
Or was it ten years-
We've been lying here for longer than planned
and yet the sun has hardly moved
and the summer is nearly gone
Lion of Leeuwenkloof takes a stroll. [ Vignette]
Dust eddies as I plod
this path, long and straight
no, not my gait
My flip flop feet detect the washed potholes
in avid avoidance
holes deeply stoned in baked mud
tread in years
of cold motor indifference.
Uphill I walk
passing Patrick’s hanging tree
this suicidal stinkwood
spared from the chopping block
by un-Godly intervention.
Even here the Queen of the Night
growing with white stinkwood and red ivory
point to separate development
a reminder of that day,
Entangled in barbed strands
travellers joy greets
as I walk by
her dusky blooms clinging
looking like Isaiah’s grimm grey beard stuck in thorns
her beauty apathetic
to the unacquainted.
her bare bladder purse
mockingly rattling seed
at this passing poison monarch lover.
The invasive beefwood tall and slender
parade here, as I walk
they too, uncomfortable colonialists
only those cunning enough
to have survived the winter fires remaining now
on this neighbourly division
of the divisive past
though still male and she-male apart
Sexual segregation a genetic apartheid relic too,
still Sharia law would be pleased.
Gathering cumulus promise
the settling of dusty old scores
wind wisps cirrus nimbly
whipping the nodding heads
of Tamboekie thatch grass
in this veld circus
giving an African salutation.
On the horizon
Mykonos, so un-orthodox
this Mission to Nectarius
he having immigrated
in Aegean blue and white
so ungodly and ungately austere
propitiously out of place
hill topping it
here in dry highveld.
behind palisade gate
the seven barking guards
of humble home.
Home coated in blistering terra-cotta
in an oasis of green
here in peace
I will wash Africa from weary feet.
This Street = Leeuwenkloof road.
Go out. Pick a street. Walk it from one end to the other (don't pick a street too long to walk).
What did you see? What was going on? Signs, symbols, sights, people, phenomena. What does it tell of its character, its place in time and space?
Leeuwenkloof = suburb translated from Afrikaans as Lions vale
Patrick’s hanging tree =
Queen of the Night= Cereus jamacaru an invasive night blooming cactus
travellers joy = Clematis Brachiates known for soothing of the tired muscles,
grimm = a grim pun on Grimm’s tales and the Jews beard caught in thorns.
Sharia law = religious laws based on the Koran that Muslims follow.
Mission to Nectarius = Greek orthodox mission behind my home.
veld and highveld = savannah grassland
03/09/2019 04:36 PM
//Well, guys I feel like it’s been a long time coming. I’ve hardly had time to be here lately with so much career opportunities going on in life. So, I’m officially calling it. I'm putting this account on a semi-permanent hiatus. I’ve considered it carefully and came to the conclusion that, despite how much I love writing Sasuke, I can’t dedicate enough time here. And when I do get the occasional moment to come online, I know there’s something else I should be focusing on. I know many of you hate Sasuke, but It's disturbing and Ignorant. Dealing with the likes of judgmental, cyberbullies, and don't judge behind the character that's going by Sasuke at times, if you do, it's damn right Ignorant. I have parents that served as commissioned officers and family members on my father's side that are serving/retired, and they lost friends, and I know how much it means to them. It’s shameful to see members on this site demonize our Armed Forces members and their families or those who are in the public service field like myself. While I was growing up, my experience with the Armed Forces was pretty humbling and heartfelt experience.
But over the last few years I have been lucky enough to work closely with the Armed Forces members and their families in a series of different capacities, and I have learned a great deal about what love and sacrifice truly means.
The people I work with are primarily severely wounded. They have lost limbs and suffered traumatic combat-related injuries such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and etc. At first, I’ll admit, that was what I noticed about them. I noticed their wheelchairs. I noticed their prosthetics. I noticed their spouses and their children and thought, “Wow, it is so horribly sad that this family has to go through this knowing this could be me or my parents or anyone in my family.”
Again, much has changed since. While I do still wish these families, many of whom I have come to consider family of my own, had never gone through all they have, I realize there is so much more to notice than the physical.
These men and women and their families have taught me it isn’t the circumstances in your life that define you; it is how you react to those circumstances that makes you the person you are which I already know too much about. It is no secret that the men and women, and spouses, and staff I have worked with have been through horrible circumstances. Not every day is a triumph, and no days are particularly “easy,” but they continue on. Yes, they deal with these injuries and yes, they will have to do so every day for the rest of their lives, but that is just one aspect of who they are. And I get that everyone can do whatever they want. But there’s a time and a place. Show some respect, and that’s just how I feel.
I’ll still be around, checking in every once in a while, answering messages. The friends I’ve made here are and always will be wonderful. I’ll continue to talk to you guys. And if anyone wants to message me, feel free. But there won’t be anymore posts. I answered everything I had left in my inbox. I must apologize dearly to all those I can no longer write stories with and those friend request I never got the chance to accept.
Now there’s too many of you to thank individually, and I’m certain I’ll forget people, but what can I say, you guys are the best ;)
I’ve learned so much from you all. My writing has improved greatly over the course of these amazing years by merely interacting with everyone.
I’ve gained friendships that went beyond Aniroleplay and some as old as the moment I stumbled my way through day one.
I’ve enjoyed writing Sauske so very much ♥ And I’m overwhelmed with all the positive feedback and praise I’ve received for my portrayal. It’s been a wild journey throughout the series for Sasuke and I’ve loved every part of it.
I’ll definitely miss being here! My experience of role-playing has been one I’ll never forget!! I just feel it’s time I give my undivided attention to my story and moving forward with all my future endeavors. I had just recently completed my undergraduate degree in nursing and although I am working in the emergency department I had a lot less time that I couldn't dedicate myself to role-play. I’m glad to have this opportunity to share my work. I feel so young in my career, especially when I see other people’s work and how much they have done and I couldn’t ask for a better experience and opportunity to·serve my community. I am not only thankful but also honored to be starting a higher education program this month which I will be finishing up this year thanks to the Montgomery GI Bill. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that my family, friends and my workplace strongly supports and encourages me to advance my career and knowledge. It’s been a blessing. I’ll still check into this account from time to time and check messages, etc., and thank you all for reading and being such great people on here. I’ve really enjoyed my time role-playing with a lot of you, and hope to do so in the near future. For now, farewell~♥ ||
'It ain't over till the fat lady sings'! (ง'̀-'́)ง
I'll be back ♥
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