Black and white lines under your agile hands
Your violent piano, your turbulent song
I pretend that when you shut your eyes
You play for no one
Black and white lines under your agile hands
Your violent piano, your turbulent song
I pretend that when you shut your eyes
You play for no one
Your presence is of the suffocating variety.
I wish I could say that I mean that in a metaphorical, poetic way, but I don’t. You literally make it difficult to get air into my lungs. Across the room, a single stare, a soft laugh. One tiny smile, and I can’t breathe.
It’s almost funny. How pathetic I am, I mean. I could be on my knees with my hands bound, my head bowed beneath the guillotine, and I still would be better off speaking like that than knowing you are in the vicinity. I could address the masses in the nude on national television more easily than I can respond to your witty banter or knowing smirk.
And it is knowing, isn’t it? You know all too well that your presence turns me into a hot mess, and I bet you get off on that.
No, I know you get off on that.
It shouldn’t be allowed, for such egotistical people to be so beautiful or so charming. You are the proof that if God does exist, he’s not a kind, loving God, but an asshole, because why else would he create someone as dangerous as you? Someone so efficiently destructive and persuasive, so unforgivably attractive and cunning? I bet you could make murder seem deeply romantic.
No, I know you could.
…I don’t agree with anything you believe in.
I don’t support a single thing you want to change in this world.
You’re a menace and a threat; you’re the most bigoted, irrational, infuriating person I have ever come across… and I have come across a lot of bigoted, irrational, infuriating people.
…But none who were suffocating.
Across the room, a single stare, a soft laugh. One tiny smile, and my breath is stolen as quickly as though the blade’s been dropped and cut clean through my neck – your laughter, the executioner.
At least my murder will be deeply romantic.
You are the rainbow after the storm.
You are a reality and a fantasy, you are the result of water and logic and a child’s wistful imagination. You inspire dreams and fiction, you cause people to stop and stare – to forget the torrid winds and lightning strikes that just tore their worlds apart.
I do everything for you.
I chase your spectrum for a gilded promise, only for you to vanish before I ever come close. I hunt storms and stand in the rain, waiting for the moment when the clouds will clear and you might expose yourself again.
Sometimes, you do.
Sometimes, you don’t.
I still chase, I still hunt.
I still stand in the rain.
The first time I dreamed of my father, none of us spoke to him.
My mother, my sister and I were in our kitchen – in our old house, our first house. The yellow one where most of my happiest memories were made, where I found a dying butterfly in the snapdragons and we’d get our stuffed animals caught on the power lines; the house that was knocked down and made into a parking lot after we sold it to a car dealership.
It was that house, and dad kept trying to talk to us, but we ignored him.
My mom and sister wanted to respond, but I stopped them every time. ‘You can’t, mom,’ I’d say. ‘Don’t, Katie. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know he’s dead, and if you talk to him, he’ll go away.’
He got so pissed when none of us spoke to him, because it was so obvious we could hear him. My dad was yelling at me in my dream, and I ignored him then just like I did in real life. I wasn’t sad in the dream, but I woke up crying.
The second time I dreamed of my father, we were eating dinner.
The four of us, again. This time, we were in our second house, before it caught on fire. Dad had made us dinner and was serving it to us while we sat, which made me immediately aware that it was a dream, because that simply never happened. I think it was fish. I hate fish, but I don’t remember being disappointed.
My dad was being so uncharacteristically nice, offering to clean up some of the dishes before we’d even eaten. ‘No,’ we all said. ‘Don’t be silly. Sit, eat with us.’
And he did, and we actually had a normal conversation. Also strange, because in reality, my dad ate like a vacuum and would be finished before my mom had even gotten her tea and joined us at the table. This time he ate slowly, and we had a family dinner.
But we all knew he was dead.
There was this sort of unspoken acknowledgement that as long as we didn’t bring it up, as long as we didn’t say it, he wouldn’t go away. I was crying in my dream while we talked, forcing a smile like it was all okay, and crying when I woke up.
The third time I dreamed of my father, it was just me. We were in the family room sitting on the couch, and he was yelling at me for something I hadn’t done yet. A far more typical interaction.
‘Don’t name him that,’ he kept saying. ‘Give him a normal name, for God’s sake.’
‘Dad,’ I snapped, ‘I’m not naming anyone anything. I’m not pregnant.’
‘Not yet, but you will be. Don’t give my grandson a stupid name.’
I yelled at him for assuming I would have a child – a son, to be precise – and he yelled at me for a name I hadn’t even chosen yet, because clearly whatever I would decide on would be dumb. I told him it didn’t matter, it wasn’t happening, and he couldn’t send me passive-aggressive texts about babies, anymore. He said ‘Watch me’, which was as funny as it was horrifying.
I woke up panicked, checking my phone with my heart in my throat. There were no new texts, but I took a screen shot of the last conversation that we had like that because it suddenly seemed important that I always have it. Then I cried.
You have to understand, too, that I’m not much of a crier. I didn’t cry at the visitation, I didn’t cry at the funeral. I had one good cry on the night he died, by myself, holding the comb we used to fix his hair. I’ve been pretty statuesque since then. The fact that I sometimes wake up crying is fucked up and I hate it, and I’m not sure if I want to keep having these dreams or not.
Either way, I continue to have them pretty frequently. We sometimes fight, but more often than not, we just talk. I usually don’t remember what about, but it’s all so bizarre, because I have now officially talked more to my father in dreams than I did when he was alive. I suppose one could argue that I’m really just talking to myself, technically, but I like to think it might be something more than that. Maybe.
There’s no resolution to this rambling bit of writing. Sorry.
Happy birthday, Dad.
The history of Ostium was ancient, fascinating, and full of bloodshed.
Hadrian had been told the tale time and time again as a child born into the elite. The great Ostinite empire, its reach greater than any kingdom to ever hold power…
It all began with a chasm.
This is a snippet from the second chapter of a story which I am posting here:
“Don’t tell me I’m lost at sea, good man! Don’t tell me I’m lost at sea! For the water’s my wife, my home and my life…”
A dramatic pause in which all the singers closed their eyes, their stringed instruments still in their hands. The small crowd of people, tightly packed into the bar, cat-called and cheered. Hadrian whistled loudly amongst them.
The performers looked up and raised their hands. The audience sang the last line with them, loud and mirthful.
“I’m right where I’m meant to be!”
They strummed out a final tune and everyone applauded. The performers bowed graciously.
“Thank you!” the lead singer called, holding his lyre above his head. “Thank you, lovely citizens of Latria! There’s a reason you’re our favorite city!”
Everyone cheered more emphatically at that. “But don’t tell those arrogant Ostinites we’ve said as much!” another different musician called, and the crowd laughed.
Hadrian laughed louder than them all, as he technically was an Ostinite—but he’d left Ostium behind for many reasons, and he didn’t exactly tell people where he was from.
He hated the capital. He despised the suffocating stone structures which absorbed the heat of the sun, the ridiculous amounts of people, and, most of all, the politics. If Hadrian could go the rest of his life without hearing about another scandal of some lewd patrician slandering his opponent, then he might just die happy.
Latria was the antithesis of Ostium. The city on the water was cool and open, a place where music, culture, and art thrived…
Hadrian had only lived in Latvia for two years, but he knew at once that he belonged in the city dedicated to the water Goddess. Unlike in Ostium, where Hadrian had been ridiculed as a child by his elitist peers for his… peculiarities, here, such uniqueness was celebrated. Latvia was progressive where the rest of the country was conservative, tolerant rather than oppressive.
Hadrian had joined an artist’s guild upon arrival. He had learned how to paint with pigments made of oil on wood, and he had even dabbled in poetry and music. His painting was progressing decently enough, but he had nowhere near the skills of the musicians who had been playing their entire lives.
“Hadrian!” One of those skilled musicians called to him now, pushing past a few people in the crowd and offering him a ceramic mug. He was a member of the band which had just performed—a cithara player, and one of Hadrian’s good friends. “Another ale, since you bought the last round.”
Hadrian smiled as he accepted it. He probably didn’t need another beer—he felt unsteady as it was—but then again, such knowledge had never stopped him before. “To your fine future.”
“To your fine future,” Simon parroted back, clinking his cup to Hadrian’s before they both drank. Hadrian was amazed at how much he’d grown to like the taste of ale—in Ostium, the elites considered it a barbaric beverage, only for the common people. Wine was the drink of choice, there.
Hadrian would admit that he didn’t care for it at first. Now, however, the ale tasted almost sweet on his tongue. Refreshing, even.
The two were nearly shoved into each other, the crowd suddenly rowdy and clamoring for the bar now that the music had stopped. Hadrian adored it all. The ale, his eccentric and artistic friends, the atmosphere of this public place where the middle class gathered—a place which any of the elite in the capital would cringe at the mere notion of.
Especially if they knew he, Hadrian Horatius, was partaking. He could sense his parents’ displeased eyes and resigned sighs even now. Hadrian’s father had given him his blessing to travel once he’d turned sixteen, on the assumption that Hadrian would come back home quite quickly on his own.
‘Some traveling shall do you well. You shall realize how great the splendor of the capital really is, once you no longer have it.’
This had not been the case.
Hadrian laughed as Simon began belting out another well-known song, corralling the rest of the merry drunks into singing back to him as though the performance had not yet ended. “She is the fairest maiden of the land!” he called, and the crowd, as well as Hadrian, responded at once:
“But she’s not of the land, you brute!”
“Aye, too true, she’s of the sea!” Simon answered, and they all finished together:
“My Goddess, the glorious Mystute!”
Everyone clapped again. Hadrian took another drink of his ale, feeling cheerful and wondering if he should buy another round soon. He probably shouldn’t. He probably would.
Someone from the far side of the bar was called out to him. Hadrian frowned, wondering if, perhaps he had misheard the shrill cry of his name from the entryway.
He hadn’t. “Hadrian! Hadrian Horatius!”
Hadrian dropped his cup. Simon looked at him questionably, but Hadrian ignored both him and the broken porcelain, quickly moving towards the source of stranger shouting his name—his full name!—in this place. He swore under his breath as he forced his way through the crowd, eager to prevent whoever it was from shouting it to the world again.
He found him easily enough. A man in a grey tunic, the garments of a messenger. He blinked at Hadrian for a second before saying, “Are you—?”
“Yes,” Hadrian hissed, grabbing the man by the shoulder and dragging him outside, away from the people. “What is it?”
The man paused, taking a long moment to examine Hadrian’s face and look into his eyes as though for confirmation—first one, then the other. Hadrian had to resist the urge to close one eye out of spite. He hated when people did that.
Though he supposed it was a simple way to identify him. “I have a letter for you,” the messenger finally answered, looking appeased. He withdrew a small, sealed scroll. The Horatius family’s insignia of a serpent was engraved into the wax, long and undulating.
“It’s from your mother.”
Hadrian’s first reaction was annoyance. His mother wrote him all the time, long messages informing him of every little thing that was happening in the capital, and, with increasing tones of concern, beseeching him to come home. Hadrian took the letter and shoved it in his pocket. “Thanks,” he muttered. “I’ll read it later. Now, if you don’t mind—”
“Sir, she instructed me to make sure you read this letter right away, and that I leave with a response.”
The glower slid from Hadrian’s face. It only just now occurred to him how odd of an incidence this was: a letter delivered to him by an individual who must have hunted him down to this precise location, rather than by regular delivery.
And to require a direct response? Right away?
Hadrian’s mouth went suddenly dry. The sounds of laughter and raucous shouting from within the bar seemed to fade away. Hadrian pulled the scroll back out and broke the wax seal, anxiety pooling in his stomach.
The letter was short.
Your father has died.
Please come home at once.
Hadrian stared at the second line in complete shock. He felt like his mind was floating somewhere outside of his body, suspended in a state of disbelief.
The messenger’s voice startled him so badly that Hadrian dropped the scroll. He fumbled when he bent to pick it up, lightheaded, dizzy, nauseous.
“Your response?” he prompted, looking expectant. “A verbal answer will suffice, I’m to return straight to her…”
Hadrian answered with a sense of surreal detachment. There was only one answer.
“Tell her I’m coming,” he said with a voice that sounded like someone else’s. Hadrian placed the creased letter back in his pocket.
“Tell her I’m coming home.”
So this is a new (long) story I’m starting, with this as the summary:
They were adored by the masses, they were famous, they were glorified… but gladiators were still slaves. He knew nothing good could come from falling in love with a killer, least of all one with a silver smile constrained by golden shackles. Shame that Hadrian never was very rational.
It’s a fictional, ancient society based on Rome. So if you feel like reading more, I may keep posting it on here, but I’m definitely writing it on fictionpress, if you’d like to follow it.
There once was a tree that grew in the cold.
In the middle of a field of ice and snow, adjacent to a small town, a sapling emerged. None of the people native to the land of eternal winter could explain why or how such a vibrant snippet of foliage would surface there, where other plant life was so scarce and there was such little sunlight.
Yet the tree blossomed and grew. It not only survived the harsh weather of the cold lands, it thrived. The people watched in astonishment as, over the span of just days, the tree became taller than a woodland pine. It was covered in leaves that were the shapes of stars, and they were not green, but a deep, saturated blue.
One day, the tree bore fruit.
Small, fleshy fruit which resembled a peach, only the skin was violet and and smoother than silk. When the people first saw this foreign food, they thought it a miracle. They were able to grow such little produce on their own, and paid a great price to have it brought to them from far away lands where summer reigned.
Bitter because of this, they decided to keep the fruit for themselves. They ate it whole and laughed when the juices ran down their faces. They delighted in its sugary sweetness. They called the purple fruits, ‘Blessings’.
That night, they gathered as many Blessings as they could, and decided to have a great festival to celebrate their good fortune. Every man, woman, and child was gathered into the town square, and Blessings were passed out to all. Everyone danced long into the night, drunk off of sugar and sweetness.
When midnight came, the leaves fell from the tree.
The snow covered plane became littered in deep blue stars. But the townspeople, celebrating happily, never saw it happen. They didn’t notice, either, as the temperature warmed to a degree which it never had in the cold lands before.
It wasn’t until the sun began to rise and the fruit ran out that they realized something was amiss.
No one had grown tired. Despite all of the dancing and merriment, not a single person, young or old, had become tired throughout the night.
Why had no one grown weary?
The music stopped. The townspeople murmured to each other in tones of deepest confusion.
A voice like a violin note caused them all to fall silent.
A striking woman with blue skin and violet eyes entered into the clearing where they were gathered. She came from where the tree once was, only they all now could see that the tree was gone.
The snow melted at the cerulean woman’s feet. The night sky began to turn red.