A word I’m sure exists in German
What do you say
when you suddenly miss
a person who
hasn't been there in years
Someone who, somehow,
until a sudden memory sparked...
It isn't so hard in this day and age to have that feeling
We are constantly reminded of "memories"
old photos and videos that seem almost archaic now
I don't know why- the picture wasn't even of you
Felix, you were tucked away in the corner
Your hair slicked back and in a suit
That was all you could see- your back- in that photograph
April 10, 2015
...about a year later, we stopped speaking
and I hated it
I learned a lot about myself
I continued to learn about myself
I felt naive and small and vulnerable and unloved
by my best friend who shared in all my
and stood by me anyway
Did I not notice because I was autistic?
Did you know that I was autistic, then? I didn't.
Did I not notice because I was taught
by a pedophile
to ignore the atrocities of manipulation?
Did you know I was groomed?
I think I told you that night-
how much men had hurt me.
The painful things I had seen
and the forceful things I endured
but in your loving me
You still chose to hurt me
and break your promises.
Is it because I loved you?
Perhaps I did not love you
the way you had wanted
but you were my best friend
A role you created and casted yourself in
Of your own accord...
If you had asked, I would have given,
a different thing.
Was it because I was asexual?
I didn't know that until a few years later.
You, I'm sure, never knew and could've never guessed.
Well, I'm out: I'm demisexual.
I'm queer and here and have been since 2017.
I want to get married.
It makes me think of dancing.
That day way back in 2015 changed my life
and another day in 2016 changed it more
Why was high school so hard?
I stopped dancing, Felix. I missed you and it made me think of you.
I stopped being a good friend to people.
I still can't fully trust a person to love me
and all my strangeness,
especially as a friend.
I have 2.
An ex boyfriend and a kindred soul.
He, she, and I have not spoken in some time
for no particular reason
other than I am no longer a very good friend.
Yoz and Jas
I say your name
and I know your face
and I am sorry
for never being truly better.
That boy that I was with
The one who told me to block you
out of my life
for you were manipulating me
in ways I would have never seen...
He and I were partners for 7 years
and then he left one Mother's Day
for someone else
Yet I am writing about you, who I knew for far less time
I want to be married.
My partner lays across from me now
and he is beautiful.
not very well, yet,
but we practice.
He cooks, and cleans, and sings
Although he is far better at listening
he is too much for me
and I am too much for him
but we share
the same weirdness
I still live with my parents.
You saved my life once,
did I ever tell you?
I hope you know that
when it gets very bad
(or got very bad,
I have not cried over a knife in the shower
in a very long time)
...I suppose therein lies the awkwardness
of the oversharing
the info and trauma dumping
the mental disease...
When it got very bad
I'd remember your voice
Why is the sky blue?
Did you know? What I was doing, then?
I missed you so much
I adopted a bit of your laugh
I can't change it now, the wheezing, smoker's cough like laugh
It's not quite yours and not quite mine
but it is there sometimes
However, it is there
less and less
I loved you so much.
Why did you hide?
Why did you lie?
How could you have not known...
I would have been happy
to have been your friend
and listened to your woes
and your worries
your fears were my own
but you hid them
and hurt me instead.
I justified our separation
that I was clingy
and you did not love me
as I had;
you did not hold me in your heart
as I had;
you did not see my face in the space between the stars
where I saw you
that talk on my porch
you made and broke that promise
to stop hurting me.
I guess I was never a very good friend
but I know how to love someone.
I want to get married
and my partner knows me, all.
He knows of you, for he knows of all who have hurt me
He knows of my pain as well as my transgressions
He knows my fears and flaws
He wants me to be happy
but every time I think of a real wedding
One where he and I share our love
With "family and friends"
I think of that day
April 10th, 2015
and think I should perhaps elope
and run away
before any meddling hands can get in the mix
I did not eat that day, not well
I did not eat well any day after
not until I was 19.
Do you know what happened then?
I could have left home
I was on the right track
I was perfection
until I wasn't
and My Hands began.
they're a whole thing.
Doctors still don't know what happened
but I was bedridden- not hospitalized- for a year
I lost it
I lost me
I had more time to think about why the sky was blue
I loved you, so I looked for you.
I found you on Facebook tonight.
Did you know I kept your phone number?
I missed you. And I don't delete numbers.
You are not the only person I missed, dear,
but the first I had dared to love as closely as family
Darla... she was a good friend. I still write because of her.
Aure, in my yearbook and choir and dance and others who don't know why I cannot face them.
I am sorry my friends, you may never know.
My partner and I,
we are planning a nerd wedding.
We want to allow our guests to join in a huge themed DnD campaign
We want to theme the tables after our favorite fandoms
We want to dress the part and play the role
he may sing and cook and clean
but I dance and write and, well, I also sing and cook and clean
Where was I going with this?
Our wedding plans,
they are fantastical
so it is easy to see them in a fantasy
but now, tonight, I have seen-
I have relived-
of the 15th
The 15th year of this absurd life. Not to be dramatic but holy shit that party was a hot mess
I want to be married
but my wedding...
should not ever be like the 15th
It is a source of great fear for me.
I no longer enjoy celebrations of myself. I try, but that birthday stays in my mind, all the time.
It is easier
to be afraid
and to be
a not very good friend
a distant autistic
a hidden voice
a closeted fear
rather than let my wedding become
a repeat of the 15th
on April 10th, 2015
I am so afraid and I miss you and why did you do it?
Did you know? Did you?
How could you have known that this is something that I would think about
for the rest of time?
From then on, I never forgot.
I always wait for the next shoe to drop.
But I've finally found the one person
who makes those kinds of thoughts stop.
I want to get married and it makes me think of dancing
and that makes me think of you.
What do you say
when you suddenly miss
a person who
hasn't been there in years
Someone who, somehow,
until a sudden memory sparked...
where reality can never satisfy the expectations of the mind?
the feeling of being alone in the woods?
longing for that which may or may not exist?
God, is it just nostalgia?
I don't know...
I just miss my friend.
Have you ever had the feeling
that the world is too loud
So you scream
in an effort to counter it out
But it doesn't work, it can't
and your knees buckle, you fall down
Ears bleeding, eyes wet, heart torn,
as your body shuts down...
Then, finally, the world is not loud
Sure, they gawk and gaze
as you curl into yourself
Folding and falling and feeling numb
Suffocating from the lack of air in your lungs
Going from too loud to silence in a snap, all at once
takes a toll the more it happens,
because it always happens more than --
It just happens, and happens, and happens again
in a circular pattern, like this, with no real end
Until one morning, you wake up, and hear all the sounds
Of the world around you... but there's no need to drown it out
You hear the hum of electricity hidden behind your walls
The crows cawing and birds tweeting
and, damn it all, you hear everything
In the rise and fall
of the breath in the chest of who matters most of all
The Family Business
“I’m so disappointed!”
Vali sighed loudly as he put down his fork. The news reporter droned on:
“Police say the killer, now being dubbed ‘Coyote’ after the animalistic injuries left on the victims’ bodies, is still at large.”
Vali begins talking, seemingly to his food, “Do you hear what they’re saying? Coyote? What kind of name is that?” He groans, “It’s ridiculous; it sounds lame!”
He scoffs to himself and continues eating. Soon enough, his alarm goes off. He reaches for his phone as he takes his last bite of food. He turns off the alarm and television, packs up his leftovers for dinner, and goes about his day, fulfilling his normal routine.
He meets up with his brother and sister for lunch. His older sister, Molly, sits with their orders already at their usual table.
“Hey, kid,” she checks the watches on the inside of her wrist. “Punctual, as always.”
Vali pulls a chair away from the table, and sits, uncomfortably, waiting. Finally, he hears his brother, Dan, running up behind him. Molly had her snarky comment ready.
“Riddle me this, Dan, you were born first, yet you’re always late.”
Dan smiles charmingly and Molly scoffs, “Cut the shit, you know it doesn’t work on me.”
“I haven’t even started yet, Molly,” Dan retorts.
Meanwhile, Vali stuffs his face with salad. It’s really just supposed to be a light snack between meals but he can’t help the harrowing anxiousness that makes his belly feel empty.
“Hey, kid, slow down,” Molly leans forward and rubs Vali’s arm.
“Yeah, don’t want you making yourself sick,” Dan adds on as he eats his own salad.
Vali laughs awkwardly, “Sorry, I just-”
Molly smiles warmly, “It’s alright.” She sighs. “It’s been sometime coming now. It’s only natural to be somewhat… nervous.”
Dan gives Vali a clumsy side-hug, “Yeah, dude. You’re finally getting a promotion!”
A man catches their attention; he’s loud and drunk at one in the afternoon. “Did you hear that shit? Stupid Coyote! Just a pathetic worm with mommy issues,” he laughs. The rest of his table laughs with him. Probably in fear- of not fitting in, of being cast out... of losing their jobs, maybe.
That night, it rains.
Heavy footfall resounds in an abandoned warehouse. It’s a shame that no one is there to enjoy how their pace increases in sheer desperation. The feet stumble and the body falls. The voice comes now, a deep groan, so unlike the loud, drunken laughter from this afternoon. How sad... he should’ve been more careful.
A new sound echoes throughout the room- soft, light steps, slowly approaching. The man, their target, still lays on the floor, and begins to think to himself: the Coyote. He admonishes himself for disregarding it- them. He’d just seen them on the news and thought the name was terrible, but he sees now how perfect it is. He wonders what the killer thinks of it. He wonders why, why do they do this? And why him? “Why me?”
Oh, and yet another mistake! That pitifully sobbed question led the Coyote straight to him. He crouches down to meet him and says, “You know, they always ask that?”
The man stares at him in shock and fear.
The Coyote clears his throat and elaborates, “They always ask, ‘Why me?’, which I think is quite a vain question. However, I suppose I can’t expect people like you to be all that smart.”
The man’s brain has finally processed what’s happening and his body pumps full of adrenaline as he tries to scramble away.
The Coyote shifts in their crouching position, unperturbed, “You know something else? You see, I find this quite interesting, but villains don’t think they’re the villains! None of you think you’ve done anything wrong!” He begins laughing, almost hysterically, throwing his head back. The man can see his sharpened canines from where he lays.
Again, he tries to get up, crawl away, anything!
Coyote simply pushes his head into the ground below them, “Now, now, I’m no doctor… well, not yet, but I don’t think you should be moving!” The target grits his teeth against the increasing pressure Coyote applies. “You were quite injured from our little game earlier,” he says.
He feels the man struggling beneath him, “So, you’re not going to take my advice then.” Coyote sighs and smoothly grabs the man’s head with both hands, harshly turning it. Then, he repositions himself into somewhat of a kneeling stance. He rests his target’s head on his right calf and keeps his left leg along the side of the man’s body, foot flat on the floor. He takes the man’s right arm in his hands and anchors himself, relying on his core and low center of gravity for balance and support. He slowly extends his left leg, snaking it under his target’s arm, forming an odd human crucifix. He can hear his target gag with every movement as his thigh presses against his neck.
“Ah,” he exhales. “Besides,” he continues speaking as he adjusts his grip and gets comfortable, “you control the head, you control the body.” As if to punctuate his statement, Coyote leans back slowly. They smile to themselves as they feel the man flail, knowing that his breath is rapidly leaving his body.
The Coyote looks down at the man, “Delicious isn’t it? The head rush? And, see- if I turn your arm this way,” the man kicks and blubbers, trying to get away or scream for help, all to no avail. “Exactly,” Coyote breathes out. “Here, I’ll ease up. Isn’t it glorious? Tell me! I’ll be patient, so take your time with your answer,” he says, almost gently. He moves forward, off of the man’s windpipe. He hugs the man’s arm with one of his to reach down and run his fingers through his target’s hair.
The man trembles. “Fuck off!” he screams. Immediately, he feels the Coyote grasping, pulling his hair. The tears begin to blur his vision.
He hears the Coyote sigh. “My, that’s not a very good answer!” The Coyote smirks, then snarls, releasing his hair. He feels the pressure on his throat again as they take a firmer grasp of his hand.
“Let me tell you something,” the Coyote says. “Hopefully, you can understand. The evil never repent until they are met face to face with the consequences of their actions.” Coyote turns to better see the man’s face, and the man looks away, struggling to breathe. The Coyote decides to take a break and make sure his point gets across. He squeezes the man’s face and turns it to his own. “Look at me,” he whispers. His eyes bore into the man’s, seeing into the depths of his soul, and says, “I. Am. That. Consequence.”
They release the man, resume their position, and without hesitation, chomp down on the man’s pinky. “Heh, not bad,” they say, ignoring the screeching, breathless wails reverberating throughout the warehouse.
The sound of a door being shut echoes in the man’s ears. He cries, fruitless, salty tears. He’s going to be eaten alive by the Coyote and his pack.
“Dalli, bring the extension cord through here!” The female of the pack. If he didn’t know better, he’d think she was the leader. No, the real Coyote was the one ripping off his fingers.
“I know, I know. Jeez, V, you could’ve waited till the sedative kicked in! The screaming is so-”
The Coyote turns back and smiles, “We decided not to give this one a sedative, remember?”
“Wait, which one is this one?” Dalli asks. He peeks around the Coyote and nods in understanding. “I remember now. Ugh, goddam pedophile icks me out,” he says, visibly shivering at the thought.
“Did you bring the stuff, Malice?” the Coyote turns to the female, easing up on tha man beneath him. The man mourns the loss of his three fingers. Soon enough, he’ll realize he’ll be saying goodbye to so much more than that.
“Mali will do just fine, you know Mom always liked the rhyme,” she says. Upon the mention of the loved one passed, the trio all complete a hand sign, an open plam with their thum tucked in, held in front of their chest. She hands the Coyote a phallus made of polished wood, “Here. You made the plan, you reap the harvest.”
The Coyote smiles, toothy and bloodstained with a glimmer of excitement in his eyes.
The next morning, the police found the man’s remains. The Coyote was true to their pattern- no organs were left. The body had been ripped open, hollowed out, and cleaned. It was always clean.
Even the area where the body was found hanging upside down… not even a trace of blood. It wouldn’t even look like a crime scene, if it weren’t for the body in the middle of the room, of course. At least it was helpful to the clean-up crew. Unfortunately, that’s where the Coyote’s generosity ended.
The bodies were almost always unidentifiable- eyes removed, cranium opened, teeth extracted, and fingers gone.
“Here, look, can someone say ‘signs of forced entry’,” an analyst asks.
“That’s not funny, get back to work!”
The analyst nods and looks away. Someone else says, “Well, we wanted this guy for child porn anyway. We just… never found enough hard evidence. The pun was unintentional.”
“And you think this is the way it should’ve been handled?”
“Well, he got what was coming to him. Sorry, again, unintentional.”
“You watch your mouth or I’ll write-”
The screens turns off. Vali leaves the police to stand around and scratch their heads, satisfied with what he’s seen from Dan’s homemade spy cams. He decides to make his way to his sub-level garage. Sipping a blood-red beet smoothie nonchalantly, he opens his deep freezer, looking for something to thaw for dinner.
He reaches into the freezer, “Hm, Mom always said a warm heart at night does a body good. A classic.”
Weekly Challenge- Week 1 ofAugust 2021
I flinch harshly at the sound. He clenches his jaw and holds me closer in the tub.
“It’s just the fire, love,” he sighs into my neck.
I hold back the tears and lean back into him. He is careful with me; he gingerly takes my forearms in his hands, rubbing lightly, trying to alleviate the pain and release the tension. I know it’s useless.
I chuckle, “I’m the worst at relaxing, I’m sorry.”
He shushes me and strokes my hair. I know he wishes that he knew how to help me, or fix me. Then again, there’s that nagging voice in the back of my head saying that I’m being greedy, and selfish, and that this is all for attention.
I don’t know how he knows, I never know. “It’s just… me being stupid. I mean, I know you love me but I like to convince myself that you don’t.”
He turns me around and cradles me in his lap. He is so careful, “Are your hands-”
“I’m fine, I promise.”
I wrap my arms around his neck and snuggle into his chest. He’s always had the most interesting heartbeat. I feel him rubbing my back, occasionally cupping warm water from the tub and letting the water run down my shoulders and spine. He’s too careful; holding me, loving me, kissing the pain away. Sometimes, it’s almost too much to bear.
Another Two Years Past-
And I have returned, yet again. I look at my past work and smile
for what little I knew, I knew well
and what I did not know... does not matter for I have come to reconcile
I live by the rythm of the backbeat
by the flow of the word and the mercy of hell.
This is no minor feat and for a sorrowful year, I lived in full defeat...
unaware, uncaring, of my heart's wealth.
I longed for the return of my dragon- dark and fierce
I felt a desperate need for power in a form that I deemed powerless
During this time, my gentle unicorn held me close-
My pain was his and he carried it well.
He found me when I was hidden, allowed tears to flow.
He fed me when I was weak and lame, nuturing my soul.
He ran his fingers through my freshly cut hair- short and easier to manage-
and asked if there was any way for him to repair my damage.
When the hair grew, he took his gentle hands and a bristly brush
and slowly eased the knots away.
When my body died, he took me and bathed me, clothed me, loved me back to life.
When I cried, he cried. When I hurt, he hurt. When I fell...
He kneeled by me, waiting to lift me up when I was ready.
Slowly, I returned to rest, releasing the need for
a fierce protector that would bar me from my emotions and the world
Instead, I gained so much more.
From the fear of never being able to write again to the constant pain of trying
from the sensitivity to the wounds to the ever present ache of healing
I gained a newfound respect and confidence, and insight to self-love
And I have returned- with a wider smile
for what I thought I knew, I knew naught
and the life I now know... I would be grateful for it to last more of a while
regardless of my pain.
I no longer live on the edge of my seat (expecting a calamity)
nor with my happiness as a simple afterthought.
This is no minor feat and for a sorrowful year, I lived in full defeat...
and I was taught the truth of my heart's wealth.
So, thank you.
“I Have To Get Out”
I sit here
before the screen
struggling to silence my screams
that are bursting from a lifetime of fear
I drown out the noise
and try to drown out the sorrow
I feel my body beginning to numb
I hope I can go on until Tomorrow
I just have to reach Tomorrow
then it will be all right
I just have to keep my future in sight
and remember that Today will just become a Yesterday
Today will transform into a distant memory. I won't have to live it again, until Today happens again. Today happened the first time I realize my dad was an alcoholic, the first time I was hit by a man, the first time I learned about mysogyny, and this time that my dad's peaceful facade has given way. He held it for a good tweleve years.
And so, I called upon my gentle man, the one who allows my dragon to sleep, the one who grants me peace. I cry and splutter and even now as I type I stutter but, just like me, these stutters are something you will never see. As ironic as it may be, for all the wordsmith I am, words do not always come easy. All I can say is all I can think, so I tell him, "I need to get out."
Here... I'm just so scared. (With him, it is safe to be vulnerable)
I just have to get to Tomorrow
If I get to Tomorrow, he will be waiting for me with strong arms and an open heart, ready to protect me until I can protect myself from the very real demons of my past.
Chapter 3- cont.
“So, you made it!”
Aya had just emerged from between the trees. She was drenched, soaked to the bone. As it was, it did rain in the village. She was just glad she had woken up before the storm to muck out the Queen's horses. The Captain, John, knew she had been watching him for a while, and although he had an overwhelming urge to make a quip about her matted down hair, saying that if she was going to be late, she might as well have cleaned herself up a bit, he understood that it was important for her to gain confidence before he could tease her. She was so broken, and yet, she was only a child. He needed to find out what happened behind those cold, stone walls, what happened to make her like this.
He’d been stretching for a while, and Aya noticed he was more flexible than anyone she’d ever seen before. He was very limber, even with his armor on. It was almost enchanting.
“Well?” John’s voice shocked her, “Are you going to stretch or just stand there?”
Aya blushed and sat down next to him, trying to mimic his body. Involuntarily, John began to chuckle. Aya’s face was now a burning tomato red and tears had begun to form and prick the corners of her eye.
John noticed, “Aya, there’s no need to be embarrassed here, not with me, anyway.”
Aya looked up as John continued speaking, “Here, you can be free. In this place, the outside world doesn’t exist. It’s just you and me. I’m going to teach you as well as I can, but ultimately, it’s up to you to take advantage. Let me show you.” John bent his right leg in, stretching out his left, “Make a mountain, then climb it. See, this here,” he gestured to the bend of his knee, “is your obstacle, your mountain. But it’s also a part of you, meaning only you can overcome it, so, push it down with all your might.” Aya watched, enthralled, as John grabbed his left thigh, his hands ‘climbing’ their way toward his foot. As he got closer to his ankle, the mountain slowly fell. Then, John grabbed the middle of his foot, his forehead to his left knee and his right knee entirely flat on the ground.
Aya gaped at John, “Is it really that easy to move mountains?”
John smiled, slowly rising with perfect posture, “With enough practice and training, yes. It’s all about knowing yourself and pushing your limits. You have to just,” John paused, musing to himself. “You just have to keep pushing forward.”
Aya nodded enthusiastically, then copied John’s stretch, “Make a mountain, then move it. I can do it,” she mumbled to herself.
“Aya, you can open your eyes...you did it!”
And so, the first day of practice went on as such. John taught Aya about the anatomy of the human body, its limits, and its miracles. He gave her a strict diet, a list of morning, afternoon, and evening stretches, and hope. He added a light in her otherwise dim life. She had something to look forward to each day in that clearing, something even her grandmother couldn’t take away. After all, she was the one who had mandated it.
Chater 3- The brittle wood rushed through the air, woosh.
In the clearing stood two humans. The voice had belonged to a man. He was speaking to a girl, who was flailing about with a staff that was easily double her height.
The two were surrounded by trees. The towering beauties were close together, intertwining roots and branches in an eternal embrace, creating a domed canopy of emerald green above the pair. The sun had long since begun its descent. The light shafting through the canopy leaves was a delicate mixture of airy, bubbly red-orange hues. The air surrounding them was warm yet, outside the forest, villagers and vendors rushed to their homes as the temperature steadily declined. They might see rain tomorrow morning. Mist had already begun rolling in by the shore.
Animals had gathered in the clearing, intrigued by these newcomers, they didn't get many visitors in this part of the forest. Among the regular rodents one could typically expect to find in the woods were curious animals that the villagers had never seen before, an entirely purposeful fact. These creatures were shapeshifters, disguised among the group to witness the spectacle firsthand: the prophecy had arrived.
There she stood, taking her place at the center of the sacred clearing, below the canopy the gods so cleverly and painstakingly crafted. Yet, at the same time, she was not the prophecy, and this was not the same sacred area as it once was. Perhaps, as she grew, things would change.
Although the arrival of the girl was said to be a grand and spectacular event, the forest was entirely silent. The animals that inhabited the wood were hidden away in the foliage, watching, waiting for a signal from the young girl.
They didn't know her, but they were fully capable of recognizing that the great aura within her held a certain sway over all of their futures. This was especially so if her presence had brought the shifters away from their dwellings. However, they were afraid for her, sensing that the many heavy burdens she carried on her young shoulders were already taking their toll. They knew that she would one day need their strength, their guidance, and for that, they waited in a heavy, solemn silence.
“Again, young one,” the man's voice was gentle, encouraging the girl. The animals turned their attention to the man. He was fair and slightly stocky, pacing before his partner. The man was well on into life, though not yet close to its end. In fact, he was spry and jovial with a wise, experienced look about him.
He was muscular, yet very graceful and limber, with light skin upon a beautiful, angular face that had been enhanced by freckles and battle scars. The animals saw him as the rare truth he was: a reliable man with strong virtues and a painful past. The shifters, however, were not as trusting, aware that the men of the past were not as simple as they seemed.
And the young girl? She was perhaps about the age of seven or eight. She was standing before him, drenched in sweat and panting heavily. Her entire body trembled and was wheezing with every intake of breath. The shifters watched worriedly as her body began hollowing, shrinking, with her every exhale. She was shaking from the mere effort of standing.
She had been forced, no, chosen to begin training with the Queen’s Captain of the Guard. She would become her grandmother's, again, no, the Queen’s, new personal right hand.
If the procedure was done properly, then she would become the ideal servant. She would become versatile and fulfill the Queen's every want and need.
She was to be trained in stealth, learning to become a shadow. She would become a master of all forms of combat. She would be efficient, educated in all eastern languages and cultures, and conditioned to blend in anywhere, seamlessly. She would be a spy, an assassin, a slave to the art. A slave, though, she already was.
The girl had been training with the Captain for several weeks now, but today was the most rigorous session they’ve had. Mainly because everything before had been precursory, it had all been stretches and breathing and footwork to prepare her for the full process. Movements and exercises to control her body. Meditation and telekinesis to concentrate and fortify her mind. Why was it so hard now? It was absolutely infuriating.
She grit her teeth, face flushed and muscles quivering, attempting to draw back her staff. The forward force she generated this time was not so impressive; she had not even able to draw the slightest woosh. Holding back a resigned sigh, the shifters left. They sensed that she had potential, but if this was her best, maybe she was not the prophecy at all.
Almost as though she had sensed their disappointment, she bit back the guttural wail and the searing tears of frustration, of failure. After all, she'd have to get used to it sometime. That's all she was... A failure. She'd never have the right to be anything more.
“Hm,” the Captain mused as he squatted down to the girl’s level. He could see her pain, clear as the crystal tears adorning her eyelashes,“It seems that you are not understanding the concept.” Perhaps a demonstration would be best, he thought to himself.
After a moment of looking into the Captain's leaf green eyes, Aya followed them as he stood. Then came the familiar slow scraping of metal on metal: a sword being removed from its sheath.
The girl looked up in horror, her body rigid. All too quickly, her life flashed before her eyes: the fire that began it all, the burns that marked her, the crack of the whip that haunted her, and the scars that followed, degrading her.
Noting her fear, the Captain squatted down once more, patting her head with his light, gloved hand. His armor wasn’t as bulky as the others; he had mentioned that it was made of an alloy to increase mobility. At the time, she mentioned that he’d be more susceptible to elements because of the alloy. Now, remembering that, she feels it would’ve been best to just keep her big mouth shut and stay on his good side.
He chuckled, turning her chin to look her in the eye, “Don’t be afraid, you already know I’m not like the others. Now, watch.” He gestured, telling her to not even blink. He turned to his right, stepped forward, slashed his sword downward, spinning back around, following his force, slashing the same spot in the opposite direction and resheathing his sword. He had created a small wind pocket with his first movements, and it burst open the second time he swung his sword. The pressurized air pummeled into the ground, turning up the grass and burrowing a hole into the ground like a drill.
“I learned how to do this with the very same staff you’re holding now. I used to work on a plantation as a child. This,” he pointed at the ground, “is a smaller scale example. After mastering the technique, it’s possible to plow entire forests, drill into mines, et cetera.”
“It’s like a dance.”
The blonde warrior staggered, taken aback by the girl’s sudden sound. She had barely spoken to him at all, but now her voice was strong, he recognized an authoritative tone. Unfortunately, all he could muster up was, “What?”
Afraid she’d done something wrong, the girl cowered, “I said it's like a,” she bit her lip, “what I mean is that it’s very s-similar to a..a...a-”
“A dance,” the Captain crouched down once more. “Do you like dancing, Aya?”
The little girl nodded, smiling exuberantly.
The Captain chuckled again, “Then dance with me, Aya!” He swooped down and scooped her up, a bundle of giggling, girlish joy.
“This is how she should look all the time... If she were my child, I’d make sure she would. What is that woman thinking, training her to become a bodyguard, a killer, at such a young age,” the Captain thought to himself.
Aya smiled up at him, secure in his warm, fatherly embrace, “Don’t worry, I can handle it. It wasn’t her idea anyway,” she paused, “I want to protect my Nana!”
The Captain’s face was stern for a bit, he put Aya back down, gently, and turned away, as though he were consulting someone on what to say next. He turned back and he broke out into the most genuine smile Aya had ever seen, and it was contagious. With it, she was a fit of giggles again- it was a moment she would forever hold close to her heart.
“Very well, my lady,” the Captain responded, bowing. “I shall tutor you in the ways of dance!” The Captain struck an odd, angular pose and continued, pacing and wagging his finger in the air, “First, you will learn the waltz,” he spun on his heels, “then we will move on to ballet from all over the world,” he pirouetted as a demonstration for Aya, who approved, collapsing on the grassy floor, holding her sides as laughter erupted from her chest. The Captain smiled, then resumed his pacing, “Then, tango and flamenco,” he thrust his leg out and lunged, Aya thought that, while he was quite silly, he was also graceful and poised, in his own strange way. The Captain turned to her, and she cocked her head up to him as he beamed down at her, “You will learn them all, I promise!”
Aya’s eyes widened, “Really? You mean it?”
The Captain swooped down once more, lifting the child and spun, arms in the air.“Aya, you will grow so much, and you can only continue to grow through learning,” he held her close. “Always remember, those who learn are those who fight, those who don’t will lose their sight. For now, we’ll take a break, but I’d better see you here at dawn tomorrow,” he said, as he placed her down and sent her on her way.
With that, Aya nodded and left, picking up the abandoned staff. She ran to the castle, knowing that if she wanted to be on time tomorrow, she'd need to get the majority of her chores finished that night. She would have to muck the stables, set up the feed, and do the laundry tomorrow. Tonight, the pots and kettles in the palace kitchen call her. Giggling with excitement, she ran through the town towards the castle, arms extended and flowing with the wind.
Aya dozed off early the next morning, a ladle in one hand and a scrubber in another.
Chapter Two- cont.
His father patted him on the head and smiled magnanimously. After all, they were in public. The show had ended and a new one had begun. During this show, the prince was still the center of attention; however, he had a contender, an opponent: his father. The catch? If one outdid the other, the show would fall to ruin and punishment was sure to follow for the young lad.
The prince was the only child bestowed upon the King of the East and was considered a national treasure, any subject of the East would die for him, some would even kill for him, but they would all protect him in the name of the King. Ah, and there’s the rub, the unfortunate condition.
Even if the prince was always the center of attention in a room or crowd, the King had the power to disperse the crowd. The King could take all of that away and lock the Prince in his room for eternity. The King was the epitome of truth and virtue in his people’s eyes. He was absolute. That was the thought that scared the prince the most: the King is absolute.
The King and a collection of nobles from smaller, inferior nations had been chatting away, talking without really saying anything, as per usual.
A gold dressed fat man, most presumably from the moderated Egyptian reserve, asked, “How’s the wife?”
“Still ill, I’m afraid,” his father would reply.
Another man, seeming to be from the French-Portugese reserve asked, “Your mines seem to never run out of resources! How do you do it?”
The prince knew the answer to this. He knew exactly what his father would say, “I’ll tell you, friend! I tell you, it’s all about location, location, location!”
“Did you hear about the heretic?”
Oh, this would be interesting.
“What an idiot. He must’ve known that the King’s law is absolute!”
Great, a bootlicker. Dad’s gonna love that.
“What did you do to him?”
Hm, his father would joke about the execution to assert his power.
“I beheaded him, of course!” Yup. And, of course, they all had a jolly good laughing fit at that.
The prince took his seat on the carpet and begin eating, he was late. He was also disgusted. These men were all silently competing, trying to shame the other in front of his father and trying to claim that each was more prosperous and respected than the other. It was entirely futile. Just by being present, his father had beat them all. There was just something about his demeanor and, the prince thought, it was not to be admired.
They’d never see the King’s true colors.
That ate away at the prince. His mother was not ill, she was dead. The mines were not limitless, they were stolen and the miners enslaved. The people were poor from the King’s taxes, they were starving and suffering, yet they would do anything in the name of the King. The prince began to sneer at his plate, anger rising from the pit in his stomach. It wasn’t a heretic that was murdered by his father. It was a man, a living being, who was standing up for his family. His father had laughed at that, scoffing at the poor man’s enthusiasm for family, as though such deep, unconditional love could exist. As if love itself didn’t exist.
The prince knew that it wouldn’t for him, ever, because of his place in life, beside his ruthless King. He thought back to a time when his father wasn’t so ruthless. Back to when his mother was a live, to when they would talk walks in the garden and father would play his flute, to when they would visit the peasants and bring them gifts. Back to before, when conquest wasn’t the goal and mother was alive. When mother was alive. When he felt loved.
He couldn’t take it anymore, the jibes, the lies, the forced laughter. His palms slammed on the table as he stood, more to release his anger than to make a statement.
Unfortunately, however, it didn’t go unnoticed. His eyes widened. The prince realized he’d made a fatal mistake.
His father turned to him, feigned concern, tenderly ruffled his hair, and asked the prince, “Son, are you alright?” His father gripped his arm tightly, most likely leaving a bruise. The gesture seemed to be a way for his father to say, “You’d better answer appropriately if you value your life.”
“Of course, father. I suppose I just need some air,” he acted meek and politely blushed, dissembling deference and reservation. Hopefully, the nobles would think the outburst was just exhaustion seeping through.
The prince exited the tent, fearing the night he had loved just moments before.
Chapter Two- Applause echoed throughout the tent.
Marxis was waiting in the wings for his charge. He was lanky and fair, almost the exact opposite of the prince in appearance. He was older by a few years, so he was naturally taller with a more defined face. The King had mentioned that Markis was growing into the kind of face that women admire. While it was one that the prince envied, it was not for the attention Markis got. No, not at all. It was the astonishing fact that no ladies would pinch his cheeks, but they would gladly abuse those belonging to their prince. It was a dreadful experience that Markis was unwittingly exempt from. In retrospect, Markis was oblivious to many things.
However, he did not miss the fact that the prince was absolutely exhausted. Markis knew the prince had drained almost his entire reserve of energy doing that incredibly reckless, idiotic, breathtaking barrel spin. Nonetheless, the prince thought to himself, it had all been worth it.
The simple exhilaration of being in the air, defying gravity for even just a few seconds was reward enough. It was as close as man could be to flying. It was a feeling frozen in time, he felt that, in that single move, he was being lifted by the gods himself, being taken away from the earth below. It was reward enough. How could any man say it wasn't?
By the way his knees were wobbling, the prince knew that his flight was an advanced magic. Marxis's lessons were paying off, then. In fact, the prince had been so absorbed in the idea of having escaped gravity that he had only just noticed that Markis had been waiting for him.
Upon seeing his highness, Markis dealt him a swift smack on the back of his head, "Really? Displaying your gift as if this were a common freakshow or some childish magic trick? What if one of the diplomats caught on? You already know what would happen! They think magic is dead!"
"Oh, come off it Marxis," the young prince responded. "It's not like these ingrates would ever question my father, or, much less, actually be smart enough to figure out that I had used a bit of magic," he smirked.
Marxis scoffed, "Please, a bit of magic? Admit it, you're absolutely drained, I can see it in your face, idiot. Suspending yourself in mid-air is no small feat, but of course, your wise Highness already knew this."
The prince gave him a childish smirk, then giggling and ignoring his tiredness, he took off into the night, relishing the breeze. He called out to Marxis, "Come! Father will meet the diplomats soon. I want to enjoy my time out before I have to entertain the idiots for another night!"
He smiled brilliantly, tilting his head to one side and extended his right arm to the prince. “Very well,” he chuckled.
Although he was a complete, royal pain, Markis thoroughly enjoyed the prince’s company. He was so bright and soothing. His very aura was earthy and natural, and although he was as volatile as a tropical storm, he had the capability to also be as calming as a summer breeze. When Markis thought of him in this way, he felt the prince’s warmth, reminding him of the mossy-brown earth of home.