On Confronting Your Inner Demons

You think you’re the scariest skeleton in my closet? You’re not. Real fear is the lights going out followed by the sound of a deadbolt locking. Real fear is wondering why, why, why as your hollow stomach groans. Real fear is being alone.

I knew fear before I even knew your name.

You? You’re nothing.

(…as well as other demons.)

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Pthalo

A story.

Once, on a glorious, Saturday afternoon, where the sun was steaming and there was not a cloud in the sky, a boy named Malik was walking along the seaside, gathering shells. He was so excited. He had never been to the sea before.

Malik was so excited, in fact, that he walked far away from his mother, who he assumed was still just behind him. He didn’t notice when she was no longer there, and he hardly noticed that he had wandered far from most of the crowd. Malik’s whole world existed of these seashell treasures (they were more numerous further down the beach, he noted, which was probably why no one was walking here) and he had just happened upon a particularly large one. It was curved in on itself, huge, pink and white with pointed spindly bits on one end. He’d never seen anything so magnificent.

“Amazing. Do you know what you’ve found?”

Malik turned at the sound of not his mother’s voice, but a man’s. He was wearing a white t-shirt and shorts, his hair tousled in the seaside breeze. He smiled. He looked friendly.

“…A shell,” Malik answered shyly. “A big one.”

“Yes,” the man answered, leaning down on his knees so that he was eye-level with Malik, “but do you know what kind of shell? It’s called a conch. And they’re the best and rarest kind. They’re magical.”

Malik’s eyes widened. “Really?”

“Really. Put it up to your ear. You’ll hear something beautiful.”

Malik did. He held his breath, listening hard. “I don’t hear anything,” he said after a moment.

“Keep listening. Close your eyes, that may help.”

The man suddenly looked very serious, so Malik decided that he too should take this seriously. Grown-ups knew what they were talking about. He closed his eyes and held his breath. The sun beat against his eyelids, making the world a blur of red and orange. The breeze was loud in his other ear so he covered it, giving the magical conch all of his attention.

He thought he heard something.

“Keep listening,” the man said when Malik threatened to peek. “Keep your eyes closed.“

He thought he heard… something…

pthalo

(a sort of snippet from ‘Pthalo’, the story I am working on this month for NaNoWriMo)

Fuchsia Kisses

I am the night sky. Stars burn themselves into my skin; the moon is a fickle mouth upon my chest. Opening, closing. Smiling, frowning.

I am black and white.

But you are the day time, and you are constantly covered in color, color, color. Radiant reds, pastel pinks, violent violets. Brilliant oranges and soft yellows, subtle shifts from hue to hue to hue. And blues, so many blues. Blues like a robin’s egg’s shell, like the eyes of a child, like a sapphire gemstone.

You are my beginning and my end.

You welcome me with fuchsia kisses; you send me off with a crimson caress.

 

 

Paths

“Why not?”

I can’t believe you’ve asked me to do this.

“Are you scared? Are you afraid of me?”

…I can.

“It’s not that I’m afraid of you,” I say. “It’s that I’m afraid of where you’re going. I see the path you’re headed down and I see that it’s in the exact opposite direction as mine. That’s what terrifies me.”

“How do you know which way I’m headed, let alone yourself?” Your voice is like velvet even when you’re angry. Smooth and just slightly condescending. It’s too rich for me. “You say yourself that you have no idea what you’re doing with your life most days.”

You smile, all white teeth and full lips, but it fails to sway me. Not this time. “I don’t. Not really. But I know what I’m not doing, and I can’t do that. I can’t follow you.” I shake my head and for the first time I turn away from you. A different path, the opposite direction.

“…I guess I was wrong about you. You’re nothing but a coward.” Your voice has become sharper at my rejection, losing its saccharine smoothness. Your words cut into my back as I walk away. “You’re just afraid!”

And you’re right. I am afraid, but not of you.

I’m afraid of what you’re becoming.

Starlight Satiation

You satiate me.

You are the heavens in these skeletal arms, you are the cosmos in these shaking hands. You are saccharine starlight, so sweet, so divine, so good. I could pull the true skies apart – leave you unscathed and instead reach my talons upwards, tear open those celestial bodies and make the heavens themselves weep… but those crystalline tears would be flavorless compared to you: mere water to your liquid gold.

Everything you are consumes me… and it seems only fitting as I consume you, too.

When you’re here.

When you’re not.

Your radiant luster clings to my palms long after you’ve gone, your seductive sheen gets stuck under my nails – evidence that I’ve clawed just a bit too deeply, that I’ve taken just a bit too much.

It’s never too much.

I dip my own fingers in my mouth and taste the lingering notes of rapture.

I lick my palms clean and drink every remaining morsel of paradise.

Soon, too soon, achingly soon… my palette is cleansed, my tongue, dry.

I’m left thirsty again.

Only Power, Chapter 7: The Games

The games were sure to be extraordinary.

Even Hadrian could attest to this—determined as he was to think otherwise. He had never attended the games and had never wanted to, but now that he had arrived in the arena, making his way to the Emperor’s box with a guard at his side, he quickly found himself getting caught up in the drama of it all. The tangible excitement, the bristling energy of the crowd, the imminent violence…

And Hadrian had a front row seat.


Full chapter here

 

Conversations: II

“I have a theory – ”

“Here we go.”

She smiled. He glared.

She could tell exactly what was going through his mind. An internal battle about what was more important: yelling at her, or making his point.

The latter usually won out. “I have a theory,” he went on, speaking as though he had not been so rudely interrupted, “that when we die, our… soul, for lack of a better word, disperses into an infinite number of particles. Energy that bursts apart, each tiny fragment then somehow reconnecting with something else.”

“Like reincarnation?”

“No, no, no.” He shook his head, looking exasperated already. “That would mean your soul stayed intact, and just woke up again as something else. What I think happens is that when we die, our souls essentially explode, that we are all our own ‘big bang’. That when I die, maybe some part of me will find its way into another human, but maybe some of me will end up in a cat, or a frog, or a dandelion.”

“So… do you believe that is the case now, then?” she asked. “That right now, at this very moment, we’re all just… pieces of recycled souls, basically?”

“I do.”

She hummed thoughtfully, imagining human souls as patchwork quilts.  “Maybe some part of me will end up in a spider, next time around. I’ve always thought I would make a nice spider.”

“But not all of you would,” he instantly pointed out, like his bizarre theory was already proven true. “Some of you might be an arachnid, but maybe some of you could also end up as the fly.”

“You think it possible to be the predator and the prey, you mean?”

“Yes, exactly.” He nodded fervently. He always got so excited about his abstract ideas, it was almost easy to start believing them herself. “We are all things. The beauties and the beasts, the villains and the heroes… the weavers of the webs, and the very fools who get caught in them.”