Where I’m Meant to Be
A bubble of warmth envelops my body under the blankets. It’s freezing outside, and I can see the hail and snow dance with the frenzy of a couple that have one night left to live and love. I snuggle in closer to her, feel her curves fit along me like a key in its lock. This is where I’m meant to be.
We had spent the morning sledding down roads covered in slush, alone in the endless hilly suburbs, the snow blindingly bright in the rising sun. All our neighbors had made the more intelligent decision of staying inside, but we live the day like there won’t be another. We’re snug out here as well, tightly packed into a cheap red sled. She’s basically sitting on my lap, which does both wonders and problems for me depending on the bumps. We fly down, snow spraying up and blasting our faces as we try to keep our eyes open, with water trickling down underneath our clothes. We giggled every time at the bottom without fail like the toddlers we are, she proceeded to push me into several snow banks to get a headstart in the races back up top (leaving me with the sled). I consistently caught up to her and “slipped”, ending in her inevitable victory, and back down we would go. She was permanently aware of how close we were, and took undo pleasure in my heated face as she squirmed into her nook in my lap. Finally, once she had exhausted both of us, we went back inside to warm our icy extremities and her hands found their way under my shirt, much to the complaint of my skin.
“Well I guess the snow means I can’t go get that gift that I definitely didn’t forget at the store.” I say with a sad face. I watch her face fall for just a second and my face opens up in a wide smile.
“Jerk!” She says as she pouts at me and punches my shoulder.
“Sorry, sorry, but really I wish we could go out for our plans. This storm’s the worst for Valentine’s Day.”
“That’s okay,” she comes in for a hug and she continues with a whisper in my ear, “this is where I’m meant to be.” Her sweet voice sends chills down my spine, and I start attack-kissing her, little pecks all over her face and neck until she’s forced to run away laughing.
We cook my choice for lunch: Indian style curry that warms me up almost as much as she does. A knobby snowman named Olaf, (big Disney fans), and many snowballs follow after we’re done eating. A shower together, “We’ll huddle together like penguins for warmth,” she says with a small grin that tugs at the corners of her mouth. Dinner’s amazing, her choice of spaghetti and meatballs, and she covers for my abysmal taste for spicing and I get the grunt work done. There’s a unique satisfaction to eating a meal that you have made with your own hands and with a loved one.
Gifts are given to many hugs and only a little crying. Hot Cocoa with mini marshmallows is the chaser as we watch Hercules and sing the songs too loud and off key. I find myself interlocked with her under the blankets watching the storm living in its own moment. I give her a quick kiss on the back of her head, and wonder at how this is real life. This is actually happening, this is my life. What have I done to deserve such a perfect day?
She starts to do the worm against me and I laugh, jolted slightly from my comfortable position. The blanket shifts as well, and some fresh air drafts in.
“Now I’m cold,” I pout at her.
She flips over and looks me in the eyes, “Well I have a remedy for that…”
This is where I’m meant to be.
In a nut shell
Some call it neat. Some call it straight. Like his daddy before him, Samuel Cowell didn’t call it but it called him, straight out of the bottle. The cheap stuff, Old Crow bourbon with the strangulated black bird looking to fly away each time he released his dirty palm off the label. He liked to save the empties, laying them flat, stacking them up into a glass fortress behind the shed with a foolish sense of accomplishment, half expecting a letter of appreciation for his abject depravity. It was his wife’s job to clean up after him, but she knew better than to cross the line. It was drawn around the extended perimeter of the shed behind the house where Samuel engaged in rituals unfit for neighboring civil eyes.
It was just the four of them rehearsing their unique family daily song and dance routine. Samuel, his wife Eleanor, and their offspring, Louise and Ted all ate the lies, all lived the nightmare as one flawed fractured nucleus. Neighborhood woody station wagons passed to and fro right by their front door clueless, traveling safely under the speed limit carrying well rested happy children. Ordinary unsuspecting people walked up and down the sidewalk arm in arm right outside their curtained windows missing every crack. Once a week, their front door would open to the paperboy and as he waited for his fifty cents he would peek inside, all the way through to the back storm door with a clear view of the shed in the background. How could he know? He took his money. He smiled. He said “thank you″ and left to collect the next coin.
On a Saturday afternoon, pointing towards the detached structure out back, eight year old Ted said to the man known as his father, “Hey Daddy, whatcha doin out there all that time in the shed?”
In reality, Ted knew exactly what his father was doing in the shed out back, intentionally poking the bear with his question. He’d been beaten before for less provocation and he wasn’t about to hold his breath waiting on the first blow. Upright as Douglas MacArthur, he stood in stoic defiance before his abuser, ready. He not only expected an onslaught, he craved an onslaught the way Jason next door craved vanilla ice cream. If given a choice, he preferred a belt to the back versus a punch in the face. Black eyes messed up his pretty face. Either way he was looking forward to the fight.
“Boy we’ve been over this already. If I told you once I told you a thousand times. None of your goddamn business! When I’m out there just busy yourself in here with the women. Be more like them. Your mother and sister know better than to ask me what I’m doing in there. This is my house, god damn it and as the man of the house I’m entitled to my own personal space. The shed is off limits to you is all. The sooner you learn up to mind your tongue the better.”
Surprised that his father kept speaking instead of making use of his demonic fists, Ted continued poking, enjoying enacting his version of Russian roulette. For Ted making others feel uncomfortable was becoming an art form. As a problem child and as a source of pain for the detached family from day one, he exercised his skill relentlessly. His much older sister spent most of her time away from the house and his mother spent all of her time either doing household chores or lying down somewhat unresponsive after taking her nerve medication.
As his father walked away stepping outside of the house, Ted followed
stalking his prey speaking antagonistically to the back of his head. “Why do I see Jason and his Gramps next door going in and out, in and out of their shed all the time with tools. What are you doing in there that I can’t see? I see them next door with tools. Big ones and little ones. They look cool. Screwdrivers. Hammers. And saws too. I think it would be really cool to learn how to fix stuff and build stuff with tools. Isn’t that what sheds are for? To store tools and work on stuff? Are you working with tools out there? I don’t recall hearing any hammering or sawing coming from the shed. Don’t we have some branches out back that need cutting? We got a saw in there I could learn to use?”
Ted’s father was getting older. Tired. He stopped walking and turned abruptly to face his maddening son. He knew there would come a point in time when his son would fight back. He needed to start distancing himself from perpetrating the physical abuse.
“Listen up boy. Keep out. Ya hear me. Case closed. If I see you messing around out here or even asking me about the shed again I’m gonna give it to you. What for. You know I mean it. So just shut your nosy ass pie hole boy and go back inside. Don’t you got some books need reading up there in your room? Or why don’t you go and find some friends to play with in the street. Stick ball. Kick the can. Whatever. Just keep away from me and my shed and stop asking so many damn questions.”
Ted felt deflated when his father uncharacteristically turned away from retaliation and continued to walk away. Failure was not an option. Life was just too boring without the familiar feel of a leather belt against his back, knuckles against his flesh. As he watched his father enter the shed, before he could lock the door, Ted staged a breach he was sure would get him over the finish line.
“I know what you do out here. Sometimes you forget to lock the window when you go to work and I’ve climbed in through the window. Most people don’t keep pictures of naked women wearing ropes and chains in tool boxes meant for tools, do they? Don’t worry. I won’t tell. I like the pictures too.” Ted did not admit just how many times he had snuck in the shed. He had been living on a steady diet of pornographic bondage and erotic mutilation from the time he was three or four, while little Jason next door was being read mother goose nursery rhymes rocked on their porch by his mother.
“Officer. It was an accident. I told the boy to never touch my guns. I keep my guns locked up all the time. Honest. I was just cleaning this here one out back and when I went to take a piss, I guess Ted got curious and wandered in the shed and picked up my gun. He’s always been a mischievous little fellow. When I walked in on him I guess he got scared he was gonna get in trouble and I was just trying to wrestle the gun away from him and that’s when it went off.”
After the cops left, believing every word, Samuel Cowell put the murder weapon away in the gun case, locked it, and got to thinking on the events of the day and how he was satisfied that what never should have happened in the first place was now a problem solved. He was finally off the hook. Deciding it was best to destroy the history of what no one living in his house wanted to remember anyway he reached into his safe and pulled out Ted’s birth certificate. Before he lit a match to it, his wormy eye caught the word unknown written inside the box marked “Father’s name”.
Ted’s father wasn’t the only one in the house glad that it was over. No. He was sure of it. His wife and daughter were just as relieved. They would not question Ted’s demise, since Samuel was not just Ted’s father, he was also his grandfather, having raped his own daughter one night when he was black out drunk.
When Louise, the young woman known as Ted’s sister, who was really his mother finally got up the courage to leave the house for good the following year to marry Johnny Culpepper Bundy, she rarely thought about Ted.
She thought about him as much as she thought about the stray dog that once bit her on the leg, ultimately euthanized by the pound, and only when and if she noticed the fading scar.
adults gave them to me
when i was small.
too small to understand.
and so i thought they were mine.
i deserved this gift,
asked for it,
they belonged to me
and I to them.
i must feed,
shelter and obey.
not of my making.
who adopted me.
followed me into the world.
their puppet on strings.
i cut them
In bitter ink
It came down to a letter of apology in her mailbox, a plea; I didn’t usually beg for anything, or feel much beyond fog, but this was going to be bad. It ended while I browsed through dresses at the local thrift store we both loved.
I thought about your apology, and I don’t accept it.
The horror of wedding dress shopping: I had stared her other bridesmaids in the face and only spoke to them in deadpan, clipped sentences. They were sheer perfection; if I could make them objects, they would be Marie Antoinette’s petit fours, exquisite in every layer. Their engagement rings glistened in the sunlight of the boutique like savage little smiles. I hated them, all of them.
There’s of course Isabella and her perfect life, who made my fall from grace possible. My smiles at her were darts. I didn’t speak to her at the bachelorette party I was supposed to have planned; instead of planning it, as the maid of honor, I had simply let my burn-out from work guide the lead-up to it, doing nothing to make it memorable. I pushed cake around my plate; my feelings of inferiority making me arrogant with petty blinders.
These women had everything I would never, ever have: fiances, husbands, shared apartments in the city, dream jobs that took effort to achieve and discipline to maintain.
Really, how could they? Honestly, their makeup even probably washed itself off after dark. Or, perhaps darkness is beyond them. One of them is is a therapist, helping the sad and dejected while never having experienced that herself. Before my sister loved her as a sister-in-law, we agonized over how little she must really understand her clients: her completely normal brain chemistry had never left her lying on the street corner, drop dead drunk and dirty. Dirty: another word that wouldn’t have crossed their lipstick stained, supple lips.
This is, of course, to say, I wish it had gone differently. Of course I wish I had thrown a fun, good bachelorette party. But it was beyond me to want to be anywhere near these women, and if we’re still to be honest, it’s torture just thinking about them.
Perhaps I am a terrible person, and I have certainly spent my fair share of nights wondering if I’m hopelessly, hopelessly awful.
After my sister told me she wouldn’t forgive me, I checked myself into a psychiatric facility to both cure my work burnout and hope she would see my sadness, my helplessness. She didn’t. When I checked out of the facility to go home, she didn’t return my texts that I had made it out. Neither did her fiance. They both ignored it all; everything from me was unwanted and toxic, a reminder of my selfishness.
My sister will, it’s obvious, never forgive me. I wish so badly I didn’t suffer from burnout, but that would be me pitying myself.
This sad tirade ends with Isabella requesting to follow me on social media; her likes on my pictures either just a reflection of her normal brain chemistry or forgiveness, or just sheer niceness.
I wish it had gone differently; my jealousy is a blood stain we won’t see washed off easily, a reminder that it wasn’t about me at all, it was just red and unfortunate.
This piece doesn’t make me feel good about myself, and hitting ‘publish’ makes me think of what this can contribute, but it feels good sometimes to vent; perhaps this can be a letting-go, if no one else benefits from it.
River’s End ch 78: To Transfer a Heart
I confess, with that misunderstanding out of the way, these interludes happened somewhat often. Neither of us knew how permanent this thing between us could be. My sister’s vedia actively counseled me against letting it continue. Valon ignored it, and Fredo stood somewhere in the middle, questions never expressed but definitely there.
Not that I didn’t have plenty of other activities to fill my days. Education was important, and Valon made an interesting teacher. If Fredo and I were going to live on Grenswa, there wasn’t a thing about its history and nature we wouldn’t know—or at least have read about and done a report on. Despite the vastness of the ship and its many environs, no secret berry romps escaped his notice. He didn’t mind that they happened, but he wanted a detailed analysis on each one.
On top of that, he said it would be a waste not to study the workings of this ark, both mechanically and culturally. My interrogations of the pilots were a good start, but his assignments took me to every corner of the ship.
The first day of a week spent observing their education system, I stood in front of a class of Shlykrii-na teens, introducing myself and Hent.
“[We’re here as quiet spectators,]” I explained. “[Please go on as normal and pretend we aren’t here.]”
That lasted less than the amount of time it took us to walk to the back of the room. One student stood from the bench she shared with four others and bowed. When the teacher gave her permission to speak, she swiveled toward us. “[Why does he have scales?]”
My mouth opened, but before my detailed and very scientific answer could emerge, Hent responded, “[Why do you possess a nose?]”
I had a scientific explanation for that, too, but the girl simply covered the feature in question. “[Because we’d look funny without one.]”
Hent lifted his hands, showing off their speckling of brilliant azure. “[Same reason.]”
That brought out several guffaws, a few grumbles, and a slew of further questions. The teacher wisely changed the topic of the day’s lesson to Grenswa, and with us there, the students received more accurate information than they would have from their sparse and biased archives.
Pride filled me as Hent conversed and debated with these youth of a people he had so recently viewed as enemies. He wasn’t too well-versed in the language yet and several times had to ask me to translate, but not once did a threat spoil the peaceful ambiance. In this interaction, I watched the first moments of a new era for Shlykrii and Grenswa.
After class, I wrapped my arms around him from behind and whispered in his ear, “Bojai.”
“Menyaze?” he guessed correctly.
“Mm-hm. It means I love you.”
“Technically,” a grated voice called from above, “it means to transfer a heart.”
We both looked up.
“Togdy? Are you in the air duct?”
“I think that deserves a why?”
“Togdy likes the breeze, and Togdy likes to overhear things.”
After that, I was very paranoid every time I passed a vent cover, sure someone watched from behind it.
On another occasion, we wrangled livestock and tilled fields for hands-on experience in an agricultural sector. As expected, mud covered me from head to toe when we broke for lunch, reposing beneath the trees of the same orchard where I had first met Nyen.
There were no vents here, so when a judgmental, metallic voice rang from behind me, I spilled my high electrolyte drink all down my front, adding a sticky coat of orange to my patina.
“Jumping candysticks, you are barely recognizable, Rose. How dreadful you look!”
With a hand to my chest to assure myself my heart hadn’t shot through my ribcage, I whirled toward the outdated war machine. “Paqo, isn’t it rude to tell someone they don’t look good?”
“That depends on the circumstances,” it elaborated with its customary circuitous gestures. “Had we been in a crowd, yes, my actions would have been highly inappropriate. However, beneath this lovely tree, we are alone. Here, it is considerate of me as a helpful friend and advisor to tell you I would not be seen in public like that.”
“You don’t like my makeover? It’s the latest fashion among these modern Shlykrii-nas.” I gestured to the other workers scattered very much in earshot of this conversation. True, none of them understood Sishgil except for Hent, who laughed so hard, he was about to tumble off his high branch, and Fredo, who sat down his roasted cereal, left ear tilted in our direction.
“I shall have to look into this,” the machine stated with a stiff nod. “As I leave you to embark upon this investigation, I must request you keep silent should any ask if I came this way.”
“Wait, someone’s chasing you?” I scanned the trees in the direction it had come from—easily deduced by the trail of torn grass from its clawed feet.
“The museum curators do take such pride in having as valuable a specimen as myself in their collection, but they insist on displaying me in an inert state. I have on multiple occasions now declined their offers, and though they continue to pursue me, it appears I have lost them for now.”
I didn’t see how. Paqo wasn’t fast, and even if it had been, the trail was rather conspicuous.
I put on my most worried frown. “But isn’t it rude to lose somebody and just leave them lost? Maybe you should go find them.”
Paqo paused, circle gestures and all, then burst into motion back the way it had come. “Hello, pursuers! Here I am. We must find each other as demanded by the laws of etiquette. This would be easier if you still followed me!”
I watched it disappear back through the trees, holding in my snickers with a hand.
Fredo stood. “Was that a machine that talked?”
“Yes.” Composing myself, I tried to figure out what I should wipe my face and hand on. Every part of me was dirty, and my attempt to conceal my laugh had only smeared the mud. “It’s an old Shlykrii-na war machine.”
“Is it insane?”
“Most definitely.” Hent dropped between us with a grace I would never have my fill of watching. “I like seein’ him wreak harmless havoc around here, though. It’s why I keep powerin’ him on every time those curators catch him.”
A little later, I asked Hent if he would bring Paqo with us when we landed on Grenswa.
After several minutes of calculation, lime, lavender, and silver washing over his scales, he shook his head. “He’s a Shlykrii-na creation.”
“Originally, that was true. Paqo’s body was constructed by Shlykrii-nas, but its mind and personality were shaped by however Blu put those pieces back together, by the data he fed it, and the times you all fried its processors. There is probably more of Grenswa in that machine than Shlykrii now.”
Hent grunted. “I’ve never liked him, and he knows that. At best, he annoys people, and at worst, he walks down the street and incites mass panic. I’lln’t ask him to come back, and he’lln’t ask to accompany us because here he can actually belong.”
“Shut down in a museum?”
He didn’t answer. There wasn’t a perfect solution, and I tried not to let that gnaw away at me, especially when in Paqo’s presence. It never brought up the subject, even when it learned Togdy would be disembarking with us. Sjaealam would take the Dossie to Seallaii with him.
“He wants to meet the River Guardians,” Valon explained, “and that is within his rights. The Abaeyoi took his ancestors from their world to see what would happen to a race of Dossies raised entirely in space. When the clan was betrayed, he appears to have been the only one who survived.”
I narrowed my eyes. “This isn’t as much about his rights as it is about collecting the result of that experiment.”
Valon had a way of grinning that defied his modest veil. “Why throw two stones when one is sufficient?”
After an examination, he proclaimed Togdy’s body would be able to handle Seallaii’s gravity with some training, and the Dossie dutifully followed the prescribed exercise regimen.
Fredo and I kept a similar routine—loaded with weights as we ran laps through the agricultural halls. Much to our consternation, Paqo named itself our coach. Sometimes Fredo threw the machine, and it was best when Paqo landed in the lake. It took the longest to get back from there, time we often spent sparring.
With days spent in each other’s company again, our strange bond regained strength, but we both had learned so much. No longer was I pulled into his nightmares, and we could hide what we didn’t want to share. I gave him every memory I had of Ishiyae, though, and as more snippets of his early childhood resurfaced, he showed me the things he wanted me to see.
There was more, I could tell, but I wouldn’t pry. He never took off those communication rings, though, and more often than not, his attention was divided between his surroundings and a conversation with Uncle Sjaealam or Dollii. I tried to make light of the fact that I wasn’t the one he chose to share everything with, yet it was a tiny knife sticking between my lowest ribs, prodding at my lung with every breath.
As we ran our laps the day before we would arrive at Grenswa, Fredo slowed. Sensing his unease, I did likewise, allowing Togdy to pull ahead in pursuit of Nyen and Hent. The Dossie barked at them that the race Hent had challenged him to was entirely unfair as neither of the Grenswa-nas were weighted. Hent told him he shouldn’t have been bragging, then.
I waited for Fredo to speak first, and just when I doubted he would say anything at all, he spoke one line, voice low and near breaking. “Show me what they look like.”
Some part of me shrunk at the request. My hearing had yet to return to what it once was, but at least it had come back. He still couldn’t see.
Fixing my gaze on our companions, I painted the scene within our mindscape. Togdy had collapsed on the lakeshore, orange fur billowing as he panted. Nyen, neon hues striking even from this distance, poked at the Dossie’s head. Hent dove in the lake and out of my sight.
‘I still see him though,’ Fredo said, ‘like this.’
As if summoned by the flick of a switch, darkness engulfed our inner world, black velvet dappled with pinpricks of light. I flinched, arms flinging to either side—arms that were also formed of stars.
‘This is how I see now. It’s how the Lorsknu see, and they share their view with me, or what I can handle of it.’
‘I’ve seen it before, briefly, when you brought me to that tree on Rablah and I saw your sister’s memories.’ Awe was a relative of helium—it made my voice squeaky and promised weightlessness. My stomach swirled, unsure which way was up. He had claimed he could still see Hent, and while I assumed he, too, would appear as a constellation, I didn’t know which one of the millions of spinning groups of specks he was. ‘It’s beautiful but at the same time disorienting.’
Fredo caught me, warm chest against my back providing some semblance of an anchor. Everything still spun within, but at least I could feel where my feet were.
‘It was hard enough on the small Nadinshé’s Peace. On a ship this size, I can try to avoid meeting too many, but if I can’t handle the population here, how am I supposed to live on a planet?’
‘We don’t have to go to Grenswa,’ I assured him, the tiniest prick of disappointment in my heart. ‘Valon will let us stay aboard. It might even make it easier on him for there to be three of us. We could help your cousins, give them a way to claim their Sojourner heritage if they want.’
‘If I went back to Napix, you would really follow me?’
‘Of course, Fredo.’
Eternity unfurled amid these stars, basking in their light as he considered the prospect.
Finally, he stepped away, and the darkness faded into the gray fog of my inner sea.
‘No, Rosa. We can’t ever go there again. We got away once. We wouldn’t a second time.’
At last, the time arrived to pile aboard Valon’s ship and descend. Nalquii, now respected among many of the Shlykrii-na warriors but definitely on my to-be-avoided list, would remain aboard the River’s Vow to ensure it waited for Valon’s return.
Though there were other rooms, we all crowded behind the controls as Grenswa’s atmosphere burned brilliant colors across the viewport. Valon piloted the craft, and Hent perched on the back of his chair, watching every command. With instructions not to touch anything, I sat in the only other seat, Nyen behind me, eerily silent in a position that mirrored Hent’s. Fredo leaned against the wall, holding Togdy so the Dossie could see out.
As before, vague notions of shapes grew into clouds and landmasses, but a different set of emotions filled me this time. When we had first landed on Grenswa, I had been excited to see the reality of things I had only read about. I had been eager to become a hero and worried everything would go wrong.
This time, I wouldn’t be met by strangers. I would face those my actions and inaction had hurt, and I would see that damage first hand. I would also do all I could to fix it.
I thought I was ready for the door to open, beyond ready even. If it took just one second longer to fold away, I’d have clawed through it. Yet, the moment Grenswa’s humid air hit my face, my knees threatened to give, and I stumbled forward.
As we followed Valon down the ramp, evening’s light danced over an unfamiliar clearing. Clouds lapped at the edges of the land as they had at the Harvest Festival, inviting me to frolic through their soft colors. Nearly a year had passed since that event, yet a part of me believed that we might have stepped back in time to just before the light left us on that fateful day.
If the me of this moment could inhabit my ignorant past self, how much heartache could I prevent?
Excited chattering milled through the small crowd waiting a few paces from the bottom of the ramp, mixing with the random trill of a flute and quick refrain on a horn. The mutters grew louder as Nyen came into their view. He had donned a new scarf of the deepest red, but nothing concealed the rainbow of his hair and scales. Head down, he dashed behind me.
Their attention left him quickly as Hent appeared. Cheering drowned out all other sound.
At the front of the group, six familiar forms stat astride leempree—Timqé, Niiq, Queen Jianthy, Uncle Sjaealam, Dollii, and most surprisingly, Ambassador Lafdo. Face scrunched, I tried to figure out how I could ask what in the world he was doing here but not have it sound rude.
The queen slid off her equine and raced past us to embrace her son. Holding him tightly, she spoke through sobs in a voice too low for me to hear.
“Welcome back, Honored Guests,” Timqé called, gaze sliding to his brother, “and family. Words can’t express our joy at your safe return, but hopefully we’ll be able to make you feel it.”
They beckoned us to ride with them, and though the most egregious member of this group offered me a hand, I opted to ride with Niiq. Hent helped his mother back onto her mount, then joined her. Togdy chose to go with Lafdo, extending reassurances to the nervous leempree as he curled up on its rump. Timqé pulled Fredo up behind him.
As all the leempree rounded, leaving Valon to prepare the ship for its next launch, Dollii leaned over the neck of a certain black-and-orange equine. “You with all the colors, what’s your name?”
Nyen froze, cowering as best he could behind my leg but peeking at her.
“We call him Nyen, but he doesn’t speak,” I answered.
She smiled a signature Dollii smile. “Nyen, would you like to ride with me?”
He nodded, and as he climbed onto Lan’s flank, Niiq gave him a smile just as bright as Dollii’s. “Welcome home.”
He looked at her, head tilted.
One mount at a time, we traversed a questionable rope bridge and followed a jungle path that grew ever more familiar. This was the capital island, and the moment the palace came into view, so did the crowd. Their roar shook the ground, and I felt it in my kidneys. Capturing the fervor, our leempree sped into gallops. I laughed at the freedom in the moment, easily caught up in the celebration all around—dancing, music, food.
Togdy hooked his forepaws over Lafdo’s shoulders. “[Togdy wants to try one of everything. Let’s go.]”
At least the ambassador was wise enough to keep them with the rest of the group, however.
As we reached the front steps and dismounted, the Lady of Sapphire and her family met us. Her eyes aligned with Hent’s, and he stiffened. I reached for his hand, but he pulled away.
“Auntie,” he whispered, embracing her, “I’m so sorry. I couldn’t…I couldn’t…” Dark gray chased all color from his scales, glistening silver in patches.
Lips trembling, she pushed out the words, “When I heard there’re only two survivors returnin’, I daren’t hope. I knew it’dn’t be, but I very much hoped.”
Retreating, he pulled Blu’s necklace from over his head and held it out to his family. “It’s all I’s able to hold onto.”
Blu’s mother folded the cord back into his hand and pushed it against his chest. “Keep it, Hent.” When he started to object, she added, “At least until you can ask the instrument master what to do with it. A whee pendant must be earned, I know, but I think this’s a special circumstance.”
Tears in my eyes and iron in my gut, I turned to Timqé. “Can we really have a celebration when so many didn’t come back?”
“We’ve been in mournin’ for nearly a year.” He swallowed, grin sharp around the edges and eyes glossy. “Let us be grateful for what we do possess.”
I saw the sense in that. Biting my lip, I turned to Niiq. “So, where’s the baby?”
Continued in chapter 79: The Beat of Now
Thank you for reading!
A Conversation With my Therapist
"Why isn't it okay to be lonely? she asked me.
"Well it is, I just don't like the feeling very much."
"Why isn't it okay to be lonely, Chloe?" she asks again. And it really feels like my brain doesn't know. It's just a feeling after all. How come this is so hard?
"I don't know. When I sit there I just think of all the people that are thriving right now while this is is so hard for me, and I wonder why I'm so broken. It feels compulsive, like I can't sit with it." The words kind of flow out of my mouth. I haven't really throught this far into this feeling before.
"Thriving? You think people are thriving right now? she asks in disbelief.
"Yeah, they're doing all these things, working from home, spending every day at home with the person they love, doing everything together. Stuff like that."
"Chloe, that doesn't sound like thriving to me. That sounds like desparation, surviving. Cramming as much in as you can in order not to feel. Would people be working from home if it wasn't a pandemic? People are scrambling right now, desparate to cling onto any sense of control that they can. Why won't you let yourself be lonely?"
If you're lonely too, don't worry. Being lonely doesn't have to be a bad thing.
the shortest distance between two points
is often unbearable
― Charles Bukowski
The door opens slowly, and I stare at her heavy expression, green sparks like small flames crackling somewhere on the edges, concern mixed with agitation. She gazes at me, noticing the tired face and the strain of my muscles, the vibrations that seem to almost sweat out through my skin and pores. You can pretty much taste the saltiness of the calm fierceness sticking to my veins.
“Ah, I see that Ramsey delivered my message. There was no reason to rush, though. I still have some left.”
She shakes her head slowly, eyes narrowing, making it quite clear that my surface answers don’t faze her much as she swiftly moves right past them, throwing away all the unwanted layers I cover myself with so well. Usually, that is. With her, it’s a bit harder. But maybe it’s another reason, why I gravitate towards her so much. It was a relief at times for someone to see past your elegantly sculptured deceit, covering all the filth and mayhem that you choose not to show for the public view. I valued and respected the way how her penetrating eyes challenged me. And on a few rare occasions, causing me to actually care about something other than reaching my goals and satisfying the delightful selfish needs.
“You didn’t take it again. Did you?”
I gaze at her, something in me crackling low like burning wood in the dead of winter. Flames licking the logs and consuming them slowly, for now just tasting and showing their playful tongues.
I both sign and mouth it to her in a thick, almost syrupy whisper, my energy all over the place. Mind a bit confused as to why my body seems to be on fire, and not from the harm inflicted on my hands but something deep within me that wants to get out. My hands - a dark smile covers my face as a tiny flicker of madness colors my blood in such a pleasing way - those I hardly felt, if anything, they were a motivation to keep going, to break whatever was damaged in my wiring. I watch her staring at me, eyebrows furrowed as her irritation seems to blend with my unstable energy. It’s a risk for her to even be here, and she knows it, yet it doesn’t stop her or make her back away. She steps closer to me, and I try not to move everything in me so heightened.
“You think I don’t know, but I feel you.”
Her energy both sinks into me and bounces off invisible walls as I answer with a calm that could make buildings collapse.
“This time, I was almost sure that I could beat it on my own. I was getting close.”
She sends me an intense stare that says I have glided over her words. Something breaks through my blazing mind and brings unexpected softness to my voice. Her presence alone seeming to soothe the things lingering under my skin. As if bursts of dark holes on the surface of the sun. Exploding every second, yet invisible to the mortal eye. Too far away to touch.
“Yes, I know that you feel me, as I sense you, deeply.”
“And still, you would risk my anger.”
She signs slowly, an intense, heavy stern feel to it. And still, her words almost painting themselves like a little masterpiece as her fingers dance before my eyes. Such elegant motions, even when her soul blazes with fierceness. My state softens some more as I smile and gaze at her delicate features. The long blond hair that resembles silk and lays like a curtain against her back, this time not twisted into a braid but instead hanging loosely and pinned at the sides so they won’t fall to her face. She’s wearing a pair of pale green pants that end above her ankles, and a creamy shirt without any sleeves, a strip of soft skin showing between the bottom of it and the line of her trousers, a pair of white simple ballerinas, hugging her feet softly. The entire outfit kept in the 1950s, girl next door kind of style, though I know that she doesn’t plan it that way, just everything about her seeming to belong to a different era. Everything on her seems old-fashioned, even the worn-out brown leather bag that hangs across the slender shoulder.
“Your anger, my dear?”
“Don’t be so amused, I had more than once stoked your fires.”
My eyes follow hers, feeling the intensity of her energy. Like a baby tiger roaring, its claws sharper than you could ever expect. Never underestimate the stripes on a beast, no matter how innocent they might seem. I think and my hand automatically reaches out and lays on the side of her waist as I pull her into me, breath tickling her skin as I lean in, whispering, my eyes on her.
That was a different kind of thrill.
My hands are busy, but I know that she can read the words from my lips, a smile spreading as I see her reaction. She blushes from the sudden closeness, yet is determined to make me listen first, a nearing lecture already written all over her face - a stubborn creature not fooled by my gentle distractions. Well, maybe not so gentle - I think as she frees herself from my hold, putting my hands sternly by my sides. She was the only one that I let do such a thing. If it had been anyone else, I would have pounced at her, finding many more pleasing ways to spend time with her than a conversation.
She points to the sofa, and I obey very slowly, as it wasn’t in my nature to do so. Yet, I made just a few rare exceptions. She was one of them. I sit down, observing as she busies herself in the kitchen, preparing everything needed for the brew. The smell of rich herbs soon filling the air as she brings me a tall glass that I usually use for coffee. She catches my stare as I take it from her and shrugs, lifting her hands impatiently.
“It doesn’t matter what it is in or how I serve it to you, just as long as you drink it.”
I nod gently, sipping the warm liquid.
She frees herself slowly from her leather bag and lets it slip to the ground while her eyes never leave mine, and then sits on the sofa, making herself comfortable. Lifting her legs and sitting crosslegged towards me, all the while watching me thoughtfully as our eyes fight some unspoken battle. Her stare is calm yet intense in a way, with beautiful orbs filled with a mixture of blue waters and emerald fields, as if some of her energy was always drifting out. I know that she has a lot of thoughts roaming around in her mind, but I’m also aware that she will only speak of some.
“Do you feel better now?”
“I thought you sensed me just fine on your own.”
She grabs my elbow firmly until a sigh leaves my lips. I finish drinking and put the glass down. We stare at each other for a moment until I release her hold from me and put that hand to my cheek. This does not faze her as she is familiar with this gesture. I have known her for years, and we have been through a lot together. My eyes follow her as I sign with assurance.
“Yes, I feel better. Thanks to you.”
She smiles gently but then lets out an unstable rustle of air, the expression on her face changing to sternness as she removes her hand from my cheek, a strange kind of longing appearing in me from the lack of that touch. I hurriedly shake it off just before she communicates.
“You have to take those herbs so you can be safe. I need you to be safe.”
“I am safe.”
She takes my slightly burned hand and lifts it, sending me a look.
You call that safe?
She mouths, and I shake my head, suddenly annoyed again.
“I can handle myself and have been doing it for years without any help, a few scratches and bruises won’t stop me or make any difference.”
Instantly, I can see that I have said the wrong thing as her stare becomes concerned, almost hearing her heart flutter in a pained way as she signs gently.
Very slowly, I inhale, trying to keep myself calm.
“It’s nothing. Just some of my energy bounced off the wall and decided to make me as
My hands freeze in midair, uncertain for a moment, but then I continue, too tired to beat around the bush.
“W h e r e ?”
Her stare becomes even more concerned as she tries to inspect my body, all the bare surface she can see. I’m wearing a pair of white, skinny jeans and a dark blue top that holds itself only on two thin double straps, a delicate cotton bra peeking out from under it, the color of it matching my jeans. She touches my forearms, shoulders, then checks my elbows, her stare slightly frantic. I wait until she looks up at me and shake my head, trying not to concentrate on how her fingers feel on my blazing skin, and lift my shirt slowly, exposing my right side. Her quiet, almost silent gasp seems to fill the entire room as she reaches out her hand, gently touching the dark, nearly black bruises mixed with a deep blue shade that matches my shirt - an inside joke that I amused myself with today after examining myself in the mirror this morning. I hiss through my teeth as her touch both causes me pain and unexplainable soft pleasure. She looks up at me carefully.
“I can help you heal.”
Once again she touches the skin against my ribs and side, eyes glowing delicately as green flashes around the center of her pupils. I stop her just before the energy begins to move out of her, putting my hand over hers firmly.
No. Don’t. It motivates me. I need that if I want to fight.
She nods slowly, knowing how my nature worked and that there was no point in fighting against it. Instead, she puts my hand down on her thigh and strokes the bruised skin with her thumb and fingertips. God, the feeling of that - my eyes close, senses both calmer and swimming in irregular flames, restrains gradually snapping one by one. My eyes flash with light that reflects in her surprised stare. No hesitation, just the dark matter I breathe you in with. My body shifts, taking the most desirable position to what I want to do with her. Grabbing her hips by the sides, I pull her into me, spreading her legs and wrapping them around my back, hearing her silent gasp.
This is not a good idea.
She mouths slowly, putting her hands, palms down on the sofa, leaning backward, and trying to find some balance in the sudden chaos that I was causing.
The question leaves my lips, and she trembles slightly, feeling the vibrations from my voice.
Because we put our past behind us.
No. We just silently moved on as my life and destination, were chosen for me.
And nothing has changed since then.
She puts her legs down without any sound and shifts back. I stay in place, even though every part of me is burning alive, raging for her. But I am strong in many ways and can be still even as the world stands in flames. My chest expands and moves inwards as I watch her. Even in my darkest hour, I would never do anything that she wouldn’t want to be done to her, even if I constantly yearn.
Some things have. Something in me, it calls for you again.
She gazes at me, not scared or put off by my actions or words, just carefully processing everything that’s going on, including my touch on her, a blend of energies moving inside of her. I can feel it. It’s this deep rich flavor, so pleasing in its base. She shifts even further to speak with me with her hands and gestures. To be louder, more in control as she wants to be understood with clarity, leaving a mark in other people’s minds. She wants to mark her voice in my thoughts.
“And I heard you, that’s why I’m here.”
I lean forward against her, inhaling the smell of her skin, my hair tickling her arms. And then gaze at her as her hands once again rest on the sofa.
To help me with the situation.
Her lungs start to move a bit faster just before she mouths to me.
But that’s not all.
Of course, it isn’t.
My hand glides past her thigh slowly, moving from her knee, blue light sipping through my fingertips, leaving soft electric currents playing with her skin, with a craving body. Her back arches slightly as my hand slides up, teasing her, sending new waves to penetrate her fibers, the other hand sinking into the sofa by her side, head leaning against her chest as I listen, waiting for a familiar sound. New sparks leave the fingers that slide excruciatingly slow to the inside lines of her curves. Hunger growing with each small fraction that I move forward, deeper into her structure. Just one more tender touch and suddenly, I hear it, a subtle noise erupting from the lungs, moving up and escaping her mouth... an eco of a moan. I feel the bottom of my spine start to tingle, shooting static to my aching core. Like multicolored fireworks. Mmm, she could not hear her own wails of pleasure, but she could definitely feel them as they stirred the air around us. My hand drifts from the inside of her thigh to the waist, sinking my thumb by her stomach. Slowly, moving my energy in circles around the skin. She starts to purr without even knowing it, the sounds coming from her throat and seeming to swell in her cells as I feel those low vibrations surrounding me. Jumping from my fingertips, catching every nerve in my system, and very lazily devouring my soul.
I lean down by her neck, tasting the pulse under my starving lips, hips itching forward as I take my time, fingertips touching her stomach again. Writing on its surface in cursive, one letter after another, separating each word with a small caress. “Tell me to stop.” Very slowly, I move back and gaze into those dazed eyes; her pupils dilated, green lights flickering like tiny pieces of glass put against the sun. This time I mouth the words, both challenging her and wanting to hear permission. And if she won’t let me... then I will just move away as if nothing ever happened, even if my whole body ached for her. In the sweetest, most torturous kind of way.
Tell me to stop.
I whisper the words so low and in with a strange kind of heavy softness, that even I’m not fully sure if they left my mouth. Carefully, she lifts trembling fingers up my wrists, elbows, and then with surprising strength that I would never accuse her of, she grabs my arms and pulls me on top of her, letting out an almost primal sound. It vibrates as if a growl but is much lower, powered not that much by her voice, but by all of her body. Her lips part slightly and form just one word.
She mouths as her eyes whisper to me; don’t ever stop. My skin erupts both in waves of flames, and burning cold matter as if the entire ice on the planet started to crack. To the sound of our bodies. Our raging souls. The last bit of my restrain fades away from me and I grab her by the thighs, nails digging into the material of her pants and then deeper into her flesh, my hands pulling her hips even closer to me, the need to feel her throbbing core against me, clouding everything else.
You’re mine now. And no one else’s.
I whisper into her mouth slowly, knowing that she feels every word, her body shaking with a need that I want to satisfy, no matter how many times she asks. Even if eternity catches us unannounced. For now, there was just this moment and no black feathers in my lungs, just her breath giving me life.
Back at the cafe. The same day.
Mel’s urgent whisper brings me back to reality, as I look to the side just in time to notice a teacup swirling gently in the air just above the table, a small metal spoon gliding in the air next to it as if swimming on the surface of the water. As if swimming in endless space. I think just as the whole meaning of the situation hits me, anxiety levels kicking in. Sudden panic suffocates me and sucks the air out of my lungs, eyes widening with horror as the cup drops down to the table with a loud, attention-grabbing sound, while the spoon bounces off the wooden surface and falls right next to a customer’s feet. An older lady with white, short, and perfectly made curls looks down surprised, her expression quickly turning to displeased as she notices me. She carefully dusts away some crumbs from the corners of her lips while at the same time boring a hole into my forehead with her narrowed eyes. I mouth out “sorry” and quickly pick up the little loss and wipe the table from the spilled tea, a scarlet color with the speed of light covering my cheeks, neck, and cleavage. It’s always been that way whenever I got nervous, and nothing has changed in the last 22 years since I’ve been here. Unfortunately.
I sigh and quickly take everything back to the kitchen, glad that at least the beautiful china didn’t break, somehow I had a sentiment to that particular set and the little forget-me-nots that painted the fragile porcelain, their soft blue, purple, and pink colors always lifting my mood. Plus, my wallet already hurt at the thought of having to repay Mel for the damages. I owed her tons of cash - even if she didn’t want to hear about it. Either way, she’s going to find incoming money in her cookie jar soon. If she likes it or not. I smile and fill the washing machine with a new load methodically and then straighten my back, feeling it pop in protest.
What was that little show by the table? And with Miss Grant as an eye witness, may I add.
I jump and then sigh again.
I didn’t mean that to happen, you know that.
My arms cross as if I was a scorned child, and Mel rolls her eyes to the ceiling.
Don’t give me that attitude, we are not playing house here.
I groan a bit but then my mood deflates just as fast as it appeared.
Ray, I know perfectly well that you don’t have much control over your new... abilities. But my question was actually about something else.
My stare turns half curious, half cautious.
Why then? What caused it?
I don’t know.
Think about it.
Her voice is soft, yet still, my hands start to tremble just before I throw them in the air, frustrated.
I don’t know. I just don’t know. Why won’t everybody just leave me alone?! I did not sign up for this.
I grab the sides of the counter, bending over it and trying to breathe in a way that wouldn’t make me look like I’m going through an asthma attack of some sort. After a moment I feel a warm hand on my back and turn around slowly, staring at Mel’s gentle eyes. And suddenly I calm down, peace filling my body as if someone just turned off the stress button. Just like that.
I’m sorry, again. I’m acting like some spoiled brat. I know, I overreacted big time, but you know I didn’t mean it. It’s just that...
A very stressful time for all of us, it’s alright, hon. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere, okay?
I nod with assurance and relax some more.
My eyes follow hers and I shake my head.
I’m not sure... everything was normal, nothing out of the ordinary, I was just clearing the tables like I always do.
Her stare encouraging me to continue and I smile a little, so happy that I have such a good person in my life, I don’t know what I would have done without her. Okay, actually I do know. Most likely, I would end up an even bigger mess than I already am. Isn’t life just great? I gaze up at Mel, feeling deflated again.
Well, like I said, normal stuff.
I see something sparkle in her eyes, like an unexpected flash of white light, and quickly shake my head, annoyed that on top of everything, my mind is playing tricks on me.
I struggle to answer but then close my eyes, trying to find whatever it was that made something in me shift at that moment, focusing on what I was doing then step by step, concentrating on each little detail. Which honestly, surprises me a lot, since I have always been a very distracted and clumsy creature, unless I was cooking, only then did I manage to find the tiniest spack of grace in my messed up system. The rest of the time I was just a risk to society, annoying people with my clumsy sorry ass. I smile at the thought but then focus again, trying to touch something that constantly slips from my hands like something wet, sticky, and very alive.
What do you see?
Her soft voice reaches me, even if it seems somehow so far away. My mind drifts to all the things I normally do without even thinking; cleaning the tables, refilling coffee for the customers, making sure everyone has napkins, sweeping the floor, gathering the dirty dishes... my brain freezes for a second. That was the time when something changed. Mmm, I felt warmth. I swallow and shift uncomfortably. Not just warmth; fires. Slow flames consuming the room. Excitement, joy, tension. I felt... I look up at her and of course, feel my skin heat up, the deep pink color covering my skin without any mercy - I felt turned on. I think and stare awkwardly at my hands.
It’s as if the room was on fire.
Her eyebrows furrow together and her gaze turns concerned.
Did you feel any pain or discomfort?
No, uhm... definitely not. Mmm, the opposite, actually.
She looks a bit confused at me.
Uhm, pleasure. A LOT of it.
Her eyebrows lift almost to the ceiling.
Well then. I did not expect that, that’s for sure.
She sits down and looks to the side, lost in thought for a while. I pick a dishcloth and hold onto it tight, moving it in different directions, trying not to get lost in that energy.
I didn’t realize what I was feeling back then, it just... took over me, completely.
How did it feel?
She asks, this time sounding curious, and I roll my eyes at that.
Oh, where do I start?? Mel, I was practically swimming in it. It crushed me to the point that I couldn’t even move. It was crazy, out of this world, mind exploding, a ball over the park kind of moment! I never felt anything like that! Ever!
Yes, I can tell.
Her eyes follow mine as her stare becomes more intense.
You couldn’t move at that moment, Ray. But your energy sure could. If you would have stayed in it...
Then a lot more stuff would be flowing around.
Yes, including Miss Grant.
And her heavy attitude.
We look at each other for a tense moment but then burst out laughing without any warming, bending, and holding our stomachs.
That’s not funny, Ray. These are serious matters of...
She doesn’t even finish, as she starts to laugh again.
There you go, Mel. We gotta chill sometimes or this or we might go insane one day. I mean you, I’m already one foot in crazy land.
She nods and tries to steady her breath.
You’re right, but still, we have to work on your focus when something like that happens. We are going to start slow and concentrate on some...
I try to hold back a smile, knowing that meditation, yoga, and the spiritual side of things was her thing.
Don’t mock, you know it works. Knowing how to handle your energy and chakras can make all the difference.
Does Ben know what a fruitloop you are, or do you just only show yourself to him in red lingerie so he doesn’t notice?
She throws a dry dishcloth at me and I grab it without effort, grinning at her.
Well, do you?
I just tell him only the “need to know” option, and then I put a lot of lace and silk on.
She winks at me mischievously and steps out of the kitchen with a much lighter walk than before, as I smile at the door that closes behind her. Yet, despite the joking mood, I grow serious. What was that back then? And how can I possibly feel it again? I bite my lower lip and inhale deeper, my breath catching a few times. The energy on that, god, that was some powerful stuff. I will take a dose of that any day, just tell me where to sign up. My hands twitch a bit, as if yearning to touch something, to grab it, something calling me with an intensity that I have a hard time grasping. What’s calling me in such an amazing way? I need to find out, no matter how long it’s going to take. I need to consume it. The thought hits me like an earthquake, eyelids blinking like crazy. It was as if it wasn’t even me saying that. But it was me. What the hell? Why did I...? I breath faster but then throw the feeling away, afraid to sink in it, like everything else I seem to drown in since I met her. The realization hits me over the head and I slip to the floor, sitting down with a low thud, feeling the world spin. Finally, after some time I look up and notice Mel’s concerned eyes on me as she stands over me. I quickly shake my head and give her a tired stare.
Nothing. Sometimes, I’m it’s all just a bit too much, you know? That’s all.
I stand up and dust off the back of my skirt and grab a tray, getting back to myself again.
Are you sure?
Yes, now let’s get back to the real world.
I square my shoulders and give her a proper smile.
Weird shit or not, bills won’t pay themselves, right?
She smiles back and lets me leave without any further questions, and I couldn’t be more grateful for her at that moment.
chapter 14. https://theprose.com/post/408550/those-blazing-threads
The entire story:
I love your cancer, it’s my favourite thing.
It’s harsh to say but alas it’s true. There’s something so fascinating about watching you struggle and paddle and wriggle and worm. Accept it my friend, let it take you with grace. It is fate after all. You should feel lucky, to be hand picked by the black. A delicious meal to be eaten. Do not be spiteful and do not be sad. What wonderful things were you to achieve hmm, oh a great many I suppose. It’s better for you and better for me, I’ll take your dust as your form fades. For I am decay. You may spit in my face but I’ll wipe it away with a grin. Enjoy your black babe that builds in ur blood, which smothers you slow and boils your breath. Remember my friend you may hate it but there is no cruelty behind chance actions.
I met you online.
We talked for weeks. Texts and DMs, I'm not a phone kind of girl.
But for you I was.
I showed you my face, you showed me yours.
Truly, it was love at first sight. At least on my part.
Probably for you too, I'm quite cute.
We speak of our hopes and dreams. Our future goals and wishes.
It's easier to speak to you, so far away. No real or immediate threat of intimacy.
I'm wary of how open I am with you. I'm not versed in romantic dalliances.
Relationships, I don't know that I keep them well.
How would we be in person, proximate? That weighs on me.
We've done the watch party dates, we're mutual on all our socials.
You know me, but you don't.
I don't know how you did it, but you did.
Maybe you reached my roommate and plotted? Some hidden scheme?
Does she see my smile? How happy I am just to share words with your essence?
I think I've fallen in love.
Because you went and did it. I never thought anyone would.
I came home and there it was. The Valentine's Day gift package to shame all others.
You'd be working so we wouldn't videochat until the next day, you'd relayed in the velveteen card that came with it.
The detail, the specificity. Am I deserving of this attention? This care?
One Ficus elastica, burgundy.
A Snow Queen pothos.
Some pellionia I didn't recognize. Some peperomia I didn't recognize.
Three bags of a quality-looking potting soil and some ceramic pot that was thematically appropriate for the holiday.
Lastly a bar of chocolate.
How is it you know me, already, and from a distance, so well?
I don't think, I know.
I love you.
He is part of me
though he's not here
separated by distance
separated by fear
of what could happen
if he crosses the border into my heart
if he crosses the border into my town
in these days
of appropriate distancing
of what must be
of what should never be
but he already has me
his voice is in my head
his hand is in mine
leading me to the sublime
the day devoted to
those with hearts and
those who love