he says he'll make me his martyr
if i beg him,
that he'll let me feel religion
if i let him turn the hem of my shirt inside-out,
kiss the cotton out of my mouth,
and spit fire.
he makes fists out of my fingers
until i am back alleys and barbed wire
ready to storm heaven
when his trumpet calls.
he says we were made to make god tremble,
to make kingdoms fall.
so i let his lips linger on my skin.
he tells me to give up
so i give in.
he says my kisses are penance
so i repent on silk sheets,
worshipping a faith
that's got me down on both knees.
and the churning in my stomach
tells me i should be asking for forgiveness,
but i've only been praying for keeps.
the blood in my palms
instead of washing them clean,
talks vices into psalms
and scriptures into blasphemy.
i feel sin in my ribs
and him on my lips,
trying to pull purgatory
out of my hips
until i am all fire and brimstone.
i don't know if i want to believe.
he says if i give more, i'll receive,
that even if my faith shakes and my back breaks
he won't leave me alone.
i hit dead ends
and thin walls
to drown out his voice.
i pour my veins into
vessels just to hear
he'll make us legends to believe in,
that we'll do too much evil to die in vain.
he abandons me once i am his.
he never tells me his name.
My Soul is Blue
I glance at her, all sunshine hair and sparkling eyes. Why does she have to be so beautiful? I glance away, color flooding my cheeks. But of course she can't see my soul rising up my chest when I look at her, of course she can't hear my heart pounding against my ribcage like a captured bird. She's clueless. She doesn't know.
I sit down and and open my chest and let my small, hopeless soul crawl out. It's blue.
She turns toward me, and her mouth turns down. "Are you okay?" She asks.
No, never. I'll never be okay until I can press my lips to hers. "I'm fine," I rasp, and push my soul back inside my chest. My heart starts beating again.
She kneels down and looks me in the eyes. She's so close I could have grabbed her hand, or touch her cheek, but I don't. "Are you sure?" She whispers. Her breath flutters against my cheek.
"Yes," I croak. My heart stops again. She gets to her feet and hold her hand out. Does she want me to take it? I don't, just stare at it. I want to take it. But I can't.
"Come on," she says.
"I want to stay here," I say, gritting my teeth. Why can't I just take her hand? She takes mine. My heart explodes and shrivels in my chest. She pulls me up, and I gaze into her eyes, trying to memorize how beautiful they are.
"Hi," I say, my breath catching in my throat.
"Hi," she says. She drops my hand. "Tell me what's wrong."
I look away from her pleading eyes, her pursed lips. "I'll never tell you what's wrong," I say. My fingers twitch. I can still feel the ghost of her hand in mine, and I don't remember what it's like for my heart to beat. When I bundle up the courage to glance at her again, her eyes are wide with sadness. "You can trust me," she says softly. "I trust you."
"That's the problem," I say. "That is the problem." I wonder what kissing her would be like, and quickly push the thought away. 'No, no, no...'
"You've been acting strange," she says.
Yeah, well, does she know what it's like to fall in love with your best friend? To dream of taking her hands in yours, to press your lips--no. I must not think of that... "I've always been strange," I say, and flash her a quick, awkward smile that makes me cringe.
Her eyes crinkle up as she smiles. My heart dies for the third time that day. "I know that," she says lightly, her voice sounding of sunshine and rain and the ocean. My voice just sounds like me. "But stranger than usual."
She's so clueless, so her, that I want to cry, to... "I guess..." My voice trails off. I'm caught mid sentence by her flawless beauty. I need to stop staring at her! I hide inside myself, look at the ground.
"Hey," she says.
"Hello," I say quietly. My blue soul has turned a deep shade of magenta. She steps to stand beside me. Our arms brush. I stop breathing.
"You," she says, "are funny." She laughs.
"Okay," I say. There is nothing funny about this. She is standing way too close to me. Oh--she's closer. Our cheeks brush. My cheeks are on fire, and I pray she can't tell.
"Hi," I breathe.
"Hello," she says, and my soul bursts out of my heart and crawls through my body. I am warm all over. I love her so much, way too much, but I can never have her. My soul crawls back into my heart, and I sigh. It's blue again.
| SOLLICITATIO VENDITATAE |
“Sollicitatio Venditatae” the vaunting of public taunting
flaunting convenience and appeasements for the wanting
a jaunting needs the seeds of deeds lecherously daunting
haunting wholesome someones into righteous bonding
responding to influence of the profiteers corresponding
absconding morals steered by the power of cleared checks
| SEX SELLS |
a carousel of corporate consideration for mass subjugation
adoration in the application of vivid subliminal presentation
affirmation simplified down to a catchy character animation
segmentation is strategized for optimal mental penetration
vindication with proclamation of change in local legislation
education deprivation filled by degradation dressed as honey
| MONEY IS POWER |
paid by the hour vastly under weighted minimum wages
stages to stick consumers into cultivated categorical cages
gauges for which everything is pitched on glossy front pages
all ages under siege with sounds and sights of the outrages
it engages self-preservation of individuality until it enrages
contagious conscription to societies glamorized ideals thereof
| PURE-LOVE CONQUERS |
going bonkers over clear rocks as the definition of desire
flier-wrapped walls willing preparation for a chance to retire
choir sung chorus chiming the time for a family sale on fire
buyer banter to bolster unique confidence under the wire
higher hype to stand in line waiting for it to transpire
acquire the taste of happiness with savory salacious-lies
| ADVERTISE HERE |
pseudo austere civilizations promote flirtation of every fixation
privation automation for specific proprietary spending allocation
vacation for less while sponsoring the solutions for starvation
gas station billboards mounted for location-location-location
quotation mutation of a good intention to evoke damnation
translation is in the effort to inspire a choice of one over the other
| another_proser |
Senseless Bitch, Tempted
With all my heart, my darkest part, I hate you. You called out, "I am Temptation and I have awaited my invitation, you took my bait, and now, I can take my bow. A bow to you my lab rat, my daughter of sin. I sacrifice the hearts of innocents, as pigs to their slaughtering.".....
I stand staring at this tree, with bloody knuckles I continue carving. After all, I'm the senseless bitch who laid out that Welcome mat. My sin drips, accumulating beneath my feet, it seeps into the soil, and long after I'm dead and gone, the trees will hear the ground cry "How could I?"
.....'Innocents to the slaughter', you sicken me. Remember all the times you fucked with me, grimacing behind every false smile. Evil Death, Sin thy ally, and you Temptation, are the ugly kin, bloodline of ruined innocents. You bought me a ticket to a sleepless grave, where gnashing teeth and the stench of carcasses awaits what is left of my flesh. I despise your smile when you see I lay in anguish. Cold and shaking, fearing and ashamed, while anxiety floods my veins. Disgrace now my name and disgust my bread and wine, sickening me even further of this endless choking shame.
Sincerely, Fuck You!
What happened?... I thought I was strong. I thought I prayed all the right things, over and over again I ask myself, where did I go wrong? Why did my prayers go unheard?
The Face of my Foundation, Forgive me. I'm timid to speak, so please hear my hearts plea. I asked to be a virtuous woman, to give high praise to the one I love. Instead, I fell from grace straight to the pit of Hell. A darkness only I have read, now, find myself in the midst of my own demise. I know. No redo. No undo. No delete. My sin is complete. My heart flawed to the most inner part. I gave you my heart and all the secrets within, hoping my hope was enough to get through. I pleaded for you, to mold me. Was I not on the potters wheel? I believed I was. So, my question is, am I still yours, am I forgiven? Will you spare the hearts from the sacrifice of my enemy? Even a woman charged, I will still stand. Hungry, dirty and broken. In excruciating pain I plea, please have mercy on me, void my transgressions, so I am no longer a daughter of sin. If not for me, then please, for them.
Sincerely, Forgive me
Carving and scraping now I'm done. My hands black, blue and bloody, shaking in endless shame. I stand back to see...
No rope, no riffle, no bottle nor blade
will take away my want to escape.
Sincerely, I'm Sorry
#true struggle #true emotions
#nonfiction with a twist of creativity
tempted to not make this the best piece I've ever made. It's insanely tempting. But I resist that temptation and subsequently succumb to the looming temptation that is to forget the temptation attributed to any antics or attitudes associated with so-called "greatness" and instead to recollect these scattered gratitudes as psychic elements and reforge the tapestry of "my" being (this being minus said ninth-to-last signifier (signifying ego)). And ego is afraid. And petty. And false and clingy and weak. And Mr. Ego don't wholly know the inner-Frodo that's free from the inner-Nero resisting the inner-Hero's inclination to welcome said temptation to make this the greatest and latest statement from Uranus just like A did say that in some previous time and placement. But fuck the fake tricks and embrace the matrix nonetheless making us rate that the One Taste is to be replaced by "temptation" and not something so seemingly associated with "hatred." Instead something super insanely supremely simple such as "meditation." Because karmic payment to One Heart and Original Face just may dictate the dictatorially inclined liars of our so violent and oppositely silent time in which we share these lives and in which you read each line and each rhyme that compromises "my" reply to this prompt that began like a harp with "temptation," while playing this part, and now ends like a base with
in the middle
of the road.
I think of the
of chicken wings.
Of how it must feel
to have feathers
Kept awake by
things are silver.
My leaves fall off
with the season.
I am hard,
and beating against
in the night.
Chewing the skin
from my lips.
I am dead swamp grass.
I am a husk.
the lack of moisture.
Frozen and slow.
I am overcome
by the noise.
Speech in my skull.
A slumgullion of
A clitoris chafing
against tight fabric.
When I look down,
I see my shirt
is a different color
than I imagined.
I've been too consumed
to look at myself.
The talons of anxiety
have exposed my innards.
A bloody inflection.
So much lost
that my limbs tingle.
Exposed to tiny terrors.
I can see the allure
of walking into a river.
The gentle splashing
as my feet
part the current.
Maybe, the Allegheny.
My pockets full of rocks.
Weights on my ankles.
Just seeking silence.
A need to be nothing.
the love of others
Like a bird eats seeds
and shits them
We are never isolated.
I dream of numb,
but in the morning
I just go to work.
Temptation Surrenders to Experience
Woke up naked, in an empty, pale blue shower-bath tub, covered with a blanket, and there were several things wrong with that. For one, I don’t usually sleep naked. Two, I certainly don’t sleep in strange bathtubs that double as showers. Three, I prefer a sheet to sleep under, not a blanket. This seemed even more surreal because it was a floral printed blanket, with watercolor roses of a soft blush pink. I hate floral prints. Not my blanket. Not my bathtub.
The thoughts were just a distraction, I didn’t want to think about the startling fact I didn’t know whose bathtub I was in, why, or how I’d gotten there. Worse, the shower curtain had been drawn across the opening in mock privacy that made the minimal light murky, and the source indistinguishable. Thankfully, it was a nice sunrise printed piece of plastic, and not floral, but that observation was just me avoiding (again) the glaring reality that I had no idea what was on the other side of that stupid splash guard, or why I was on the tub-side.
Obviously, I was tempted to just throw the curtain open, but there was my nakedness to think about. The blanket was clearly bulky and would probably cause clumsiness, but being totally naked would mean also totally exposed to the unknown. I didn’t even know if the bathroom threshold was open or closed. The light could have been coming from the door left ajar. I just wanted more time to think, but NOT about those nagging questions; how did I get like this in the first place… and Why?!
It was too late, in my desire for more time to think, I only triggered my mind to indulge in the required memory.
[“Just one more!” They’d laughed, offering me another shot of I-had-no-idea-what-I-was-drinking.
“No, no, not for me! I know my limit, and I’ve reached it.” I replied with a drunken chuckle in kind.]
Immediately, I groaned as I realized I shouldn’t have taken that last shot. There was a sound in the wake of my groan, and too, mental images flooded my brain, nagging me for my attention. In my mind, I had unceremoniously returned the alcohol to my friends almost as soon as I’d broken down and drank it; in the bathroom, something rustled in a whisper of what-I-swore-had-to-be movement. Maybe I wasn’t alone in the bathroom, maybe after my friend turned off the water and threw a blanket over the curtain rod, they’d made a bed in the floor too, I thought to myself. The only way to know, my consciousness countered, was to open the curtain and look.
No sooner did I sit up, with a soft bubble of air farting between my naked backside and the empty tub, the light flicked on and blinded me from above. In that moment, the startled part of my brain seized the floral blanket in hand, and prepared to use it as fluffy weapon of impromptu destruction. It was a net, a garrote, a wad of oxygen deprivation, anything I needed it to be if it came down to it. I was ready, if also still naked and seated in the bathtub.
I didn’t hear the footsteps, but I was very aware of the dark shadow cast on that sunrise I’d praised only a few minutes before. As if the intruder had any other logical intent in a bathroom, I was further surprised at the sound of the shadow passing morning water. That silly blanket went from weapon to shield, and I failed in my attempt to use it to hide my embarrassment. I also could not take my eyes off the obscure figure. When the bathroom got quiet again, I tensed to see the shadow move closer and become more refined. A hand reached for the edge of the curtain and I knew it would be opened.
It was just a peek, but our eyes met, and with a loud giggle, the peeper retreated; only I dropped the blanket to catch the curtain and follow the movement. I got an eye-full of naked butt leaving through the opened door.
Then, I heard from the other room, “hahaha, only my butt!”
If I hadn’t been tempted into that last drink, I wouldn’t have woken in a bathtub, and had this silly story to share as example that some bad temptations are worth the memories made through the indulgence.
(Authors Note: Purposefully written to obscure the identity and gender of the folks involved.)
Her fingers traced the the intertwined fibers of the soft, creamy gossamer-covered gown. The top was overlain with the delicate white lace that her mother had brought out from the heavy cedar chest. The faint smell of the rich, red wood clung lightly to the gradeful dress. It was such a fragile thing, all silk and lace and gossamer. It made Lara’s stomach lurch, as tears beagn to sting her bright blue eyes. It’ll be yours one day. The words played over and over again inside her head, like one of those show records on repeat. So much was changed now. Things could never as they once were; simple, innocent. Her fingers absent-mindedly traced the floral spiderwebs of the old, lace pattern. She looked around the small, wood paneled room.
Everything sat the same. Everywhere she looked, her memories stood, as if frozen in time. It was as if all of the horror had not been able to touch this room; it was the room that time forgot. The little white vanity still sat daintily in one corner, its surface covered with all the trimming and trappings of a respectable, southern lady. The glint of a silver comb caught her eye, and she moved slowly towards the little table.
There was thin layer of dust that covered the entire surface of the vanity like a blanket. All the little boxes still sat, just as she had left them. This one was full of rouge, that one full of the thick black pins that held back her blonde curls. Her little perfume bottle still perched proudly on top of a hand-carved silver box topped in a shining blue stonework. The little rubber pump that jutted from the curving glass bottle was covered in the remnants of a broken spider web. She reached for the bottle, dusting away the only signs of trauma. She pressed the bottle to her nose and breathed deeply, inhaling the delicate floral scents. It smelled of hope, of promise. It smelled of all the naivety and innocence of her youth.
A sudden step behind her broke her from her reverie.
“We’ll need to move on soon.” He said.
She kept her back to him, her hand still clutching the little dust-covered bottle. She dipped her head and took a breath. “I know. I was just…” her words trailed off. Skip looked at her sadly.
“I know this hurts," he responded quietly. She could feel his eyes as they crawled over her back-turned figure. That stupid, southern pride welled up in her again. She didn’t want his pity. Pity didn’t matter now, none of it did. She sat the little bottle back on the silver box and turned to face him, gathering her thoughts and her pretended indignation as she went. She drew herself up tall.
“This is nothing to me now. Nothing. What could this possibly mean now?”
His eyes never moved from her face as she spoke, their incessant green taking in every movement of her lips as they formed the words she spoke. It was like he was looking through her, seeing the painful memories that filled her head now. The rage swelled up in her again, but her face remained numb and icy. Her voice was already fading away into the deafening silence of the grim little room. The dust was suddenly a suffocating, dampening cloud, that shrouded her words and forced them down and back into the deadly memories.
“It is nothing…and it’s everything,” he said to her, looking down at the floor.
He always spoke to her this way, prophetically, shortly and full of riddles. He was like her eternal sphinx, the shadow of the past that haunted every second of her living, waking nightmare. He was always watching her with those green eyes of his, never missing anything. He presumed always to know her innermost thoughts, her innermost feelings. She would not let him have this. Not here. Not these memories; not these feelings.
“Don’t presume to know my feelings, dammit,” Lara snapped at him sharply, “this is nothing to me now. How could it it be? Just a little human sentiment. Nothing more. Remnants of a dying breed.” He smiled, but his eyes never left her own. It was unsettling He finally chuckled lightly and looked down, holding the weathered felt hat between his hands.
“All the same. We’ll have to leave soon. We can’t stay here.”
“I know,” she answered coldly, “I’m ready. I didn't find what I was looking for.”
His smile dropped and he continued to study her for only a moment more before turning his back to her and walking slowly out of the room. His boots made a heavy noise on the rough-hewn wooden floors, and a trail suddenly appeared in the heavy layer of dust that covered the floor. His steps now masked her own, she noticed. One set of footprints in a sea of memories.
She looked around the room once more, taking in the dirty, floral curtains and the thick, moth-eaten comforter that covered the bed. She had been so happy here once. But that had been in another time, in another life. There was nothing but the fire now, the hunger. She turned back to the vanity and traced her hand along the surface, a shining line of parted through the dust and grime. She looked up into the speckled dirty, silver mirror, grimacing as her reflection looked back faintly at her. The face was the same as that happy, hopeful girl that had once sat here. This was the same girl that had used these combs and trappings, that had once worn that dress. But the eyes. It was the eyes that told he truth. This girl was dead. Buried somewhere in a motel room outside of some forgotten town.
She could still hear Skip behind her, somewhere in the house, wondering through the other rooms filled with the trappings and trinkets of that former life. She heard a loud snap as the lid to something heavy fell, heard him as he continued to roam quietly further into the fathomless darkness. She looked into the pulsating blue eyes of her reflection. They were much sharper now, much bluer.
Her fingers bumped against something, and she looked down to see her hand resting on the shining silver of a little cigarette case. The top was covered in a thousand tiny colored stones, each one fixed closely to the other, to form the picture of the holy virgin, holding in her lap the plump little figure of the Christ child. She wanted to laugh suddenly, seeing the romantic picture of that holy family in the middle of all this death. If not for the thought of Skip’s return, she would have laughed.
It was too funny to think of those things now, after everything that had happened. Her hand closed around the case, and she pulled it from the dust and the grime of the vanity. Her eyes studied the calm face of the virgin. She turned it over in her hands, the cool metal sending a shiver through the warmth of her skin. She pressed the tiny clasp and case opened slowly in her hands.
Inside was the pretty, antique necklace her mother had given her the day of her wedding. It was as if time hadn’t touched it. It still sat, pristinely, amongst the soft red velvet of the cigarette case, the large ruby that hung from it throbbing in the delicate moonlight of the abandoned room. She pulled the necklace out, setting the quickly forgotten case back among the trappings and trimmings of her former life.
The necklace was set on a long, thin silver chain, and was clasped tightly in four silver bands. According to her mother, this necklace had once belonged to a great lady in England. Her mother had always liked to tell her stories. All the ones about how great their family had once been, all the great things they had done. Perhaps none had ever swayed Lara quite like the story of this necklace.
All the other stories her mother told her always seemed to be about the greatness of the men in their family, but this had been the first and only story her mother had ever told her that had been about the women. The story went that once, a long, long time ago, before their family had ever come over on the great, stinking wooden ships of the Old World, the Shipton family had enjoyed great wealth and prestige. They had been known as the epitome of culture and grace, and people had come far and wide to court their favor.
Where this family had lived had always seemed to change with her mother, and what they had done to achieve such status seemed to change with each telling of her mother’s long and laborious tales as well. But the story of Lady Claude had been different. Any time her mother had told this story, each telling had been the same. Lady Claude had been the most beautiful woman in all the land. At the age of eighteen, men had come from far and wide to court her. She was the sparkling jewel of all the realm, being able to speak seven languages, play several musical instruments, dance and hunt, and even paint and draw as well as the masters of her time.
On her eighteenth birthday, her father, a famous Duke, had hosted a great ball, inviting all of the greatest and most noble men from across the kingdom to join them. He had hoped, and indeed expected, that his beautiful Claude would meet a handsome suitor there, who would ask for her hand, and unite their families in wealth, power and splendor. But that night, something had gone wrong.
The suitors had all shown up to the ball, just has the Duke had planned, and Claude had dazzled them all, showing up sparkling and resplendent in her gown of ivory. She had danced with them, toasted them, listened to their every joke and story with rapt attention and timely giggles. They had all been charmed with her, some swearing they would give their very lives for just the opportunity for one dance more. Everything was going according to plan, but when the clock struck twelve o’clock, and all the suitors had left, Claude had remained behind, alone. When the Duke had asked her who she would take as a husband, she had declared that none of the suitors was worthy of her hand, and that she would not wed.
Her father, suddenly forced to accept the failure of his plan, became enraged. He railed at Claude angrily, telling her that she would choose one of the suitors and would make a match suitable for the family. He had told Claude that if she did not heed him in this, she would be cast out, into the cold and the wilds of the kingdom, and that he would never set sights on her again. She would be poor, broken and penniless. She would be laughed at and mocked from every corner of the kingdom. No more would she be the daughter of the Duke, but a beggar on the roadside.
According to the tale Lara's mother told, Claude had wept at her father’s sudden wrath. She had been the much loved daughter of a gentle and loving Duke. Never before had she seen this dark and angry side of him. In tears, Claude had fled to her room in the East Wing of the home. The Duke had retired to his rooms in sullen silence, sure that, in the morning, all would be set to rights and Claude would see the error of her ways.
In the morning, the Duke’s favorite servant had shown up at the usual time, his face looking stricken and pale. Without delay, with the lord still in his bed, he had disclosed all to the Duke. Claude was gone. Runaway with one of the handsome groomsmen that had tended the horses of their stables. His name was Renaud. She had left a letter behind describing all. She was in love with Renaud, and had been for a lifetime. Had they now grown up together? She could not marry any of her father’s choice suitors, because her heart belonged to another.
It broke her heart, she wrote, to leave him in such a manner, but she could not be the regal daughter of a Duke if her heart could not be free, if she could not be truly happy. The Duke had wept as the valet told him of the account, his tears soaking the front of his dressing gown. When the servant was done reading the letter, he had stepped forward slowly, presenting the Duke with the delicate ruby necklace Claude had left beside her detailed letter. It was the necklace she had worn to the ball.
Claude was never seen again. The Duke had died penniless and alone, spending the last of his wealth trying to find his dear little daughter, trying to apologise to her for the wrong he had done her. He had searched all across the kingdom and the world for his daughter, even sending ships to chase rumors in the New World, but she was never seen or heard from again.
Lara stood, clutching the little silver and ruby necklace. Her mother’s voice was ringing in her head, recounting the tales over and over again. It had only ever been a story to Lara, her favorite story, but the day her mother had placed this necklace in her hand, it had become a reality. Follow your heart, she had whispered into her daughter’s ear that day. Follow your heart and watch all of your dreams come true. No one can touch you when you are on the road of the heart.
She let the heavy ruby pendant fall from her hand, dangling on the silver chain. She looked in the mirror as she lifted the necklace and fastened it around her own neck. It was cold against the creamy white skin of her chest. A ray of moonlight caught the ruby and it glinted violently in the grime of the speckled mirror. She heard Skip’s footsteps behind her once again.
“We have to go now, there’s no more time, lovely.” His husky voice seemed to desecrate the silence of her memories. His voice seemed almost sacrilegious here, among all these off-cast and abandoned pieces of her former life. It was as if he, the centerpiece of her new existence in this terrifying new world, had been hurled headlong into the past, his very presence an affront to the sacredness of her mother, and the life that had once been. The sudden revulsion made her skin crawl. She turned and faced him, the anger gone out of her now.
“Yes, it’s time to go.” She moved towards him and felt his eyes move to the ruby pendant around her neck. “That’s nice,” he smiled, “family heirloom?”
Her stomach fell, and she suddenly felt ashamed.
“Yes,” she whispered, “it was my mother’s.”
“Ah,” Skip responded quietly, “well…we all need something to get us through, right?” His smile was still there. She had the sudden urge to smack it off of his face. He had no business here. He had no right to her memories, no right to judge her. This was more than he would ever be able to understand.
“Can we just go?” She could feel the rage contained just below her question, and knew that he could too. The muscles in his neck tensed, and she thought he was about to respond, when he suddenly turned and walked out of the room, not making a sound.
She breathed an audible sigh of relief when they emerged from the dark doom and gloom of the house onto the wide, covered front porch. The scent of magnolias and dogwoods was overwhelming, though their shape could just be made out of the gloom on the distant edge of the yard. Swarms of lightening bugs danced and flashed all around the porch, the gentle chirp of crickets and cicadas accompanying their wild dance. As they descended the creaking front steps into the cool night air, he stopped and looked at her again.
“You know, there is nothing to be ashamed of. I was serious, what I said back there. We all need something to get us through. Especially now. It’s okay to be sentimental every now and then.” His green eyes studied her, glowing in the darkness. Her bright blue eyes looked back at him, blinking, but revealing nothing of the tumulting emotions that battled inside of her.
“Thank you for your astute observations, Skip. Let’s just leave this as what it is, a necklace. It’s a nice necklace. My mother gave it to me. Can we just get back into town?”
His hands were on his hips now, and she knew she was about to receive another lecture. The smell of the heady night air was becoming almost overwhelming, but a sudden noise on the edge of the darkness snapped them both from their confrontational reverie. Skip turned from her suddenly in the darkness, turning towards the noise. A shape shuffled out slowly from the gloom.
Skip turned back, grabbing her arm. “We have to go. Now.”
He didn’t need to tell her twice. They were running wildly through the darkness now, back towards the car that was parked in the heavy shadow of the woods to the back of the house. Lara’s heart was racing as she willed her body to stay close to Skip. She could feel his hand digging into her flesh like the grip of a steel jaw. Branches and twigs grabbed at their faces and their hair, gnarled roots rising up to grab them and pull them down to their doom. Her lungs were screaming for breath, her pulse racing faster than it ever had before. Every cell in her body was screaming, danger, danger. It was just behind them. They had to make it to the car. They must.
Suddenly, they could see the glinting, hulking shape of the old Plymouth just beyond the tree line in the dark. Lara nearly screamed in happiness at the sight of the old, beat up hunk of metal. Her elation was suddenly ripped from her as her brain reminded her of what moved just behind them. Her eyes flew to Skip, whose own eyes looked ahead in utter fear and concentration on the car. She knew he could feel it too, the presence behind them, the emanating hatred. The stink. If it caught them, all would be lost. Everything would be over for them both. The most horrible death imaginable was within reach of them now.
Suddenly, they were next to the old, beat-up Plymouth, and Skip was wrenching open the door, throwing her inside. There was a slam, then the snarls, growls as the creature fought ferociously to get in. They were flying away from the edge of the treeline now, the darkness fading all around them as they pulled into the brilliant white light of the moon-soaked fields that surrounded the house. There was one last sound of shattering glass, and screaming as something was ripped away from the rear window, then nothing but the loud, excited roar of the old Plymouth’s engine. Lara could not bring herself to look back, but she could smell the blood and corruption.
She looked over at Skip, his face focused forwards, his white knuckles clutching the worn leather steering wheel. She could hear his heart racing from here, she could hear his blood pumping frantically through the tiny veins and arteries that laced and traced their way across and under his skin. She suddenly felt guilty for the way she had spoken to him, for the way she had acted back in the house. This was all her fault. She should never have asked him to bring her all the way out here. She had known the risks. What if they had been captured? Or worse? She placed her hand on his arm.
Skip looked over at her, a sudden and visible look of relief spreading across his face. He smiled that wide, dazzling smile. He felt suddenly ashamed too, she knew. Her mind flew to the tales he had told her. She knew the memories that must be tracing through his mind, the horrors he must be reliving even now. Her stomach dropped, and she scooted across the wide leather seat and nestled her body against him.
The soft leather of his jacket cool against her face. She put her arms around his shoulders and heard the engine swoon as he lowered the gear. He brought an arm up and wrapped it around her, one arm still on the steering wheel, the telling white of the knuckles still there. Skip leaned his head to the side, the weight coming down gently on her own. She felt a wave of peace wash through her.
They kept driving into the night that way, neither one of them willing to look back at the busted rear window. Nothing needed to be said right now. This was a broken time for broken people. They continued to drive on through the darkness, eventually finding their way back to the long, abandoned stretch of highway that divided the valley. They drove on and on through the night, back towards the tiny, derelict town they had passed on the way in. Every now and then, they saw a car on the side of the road. Most of them were old and busted up, having long ago been foraged for whatever working parts they had. No one really had cars now. The survivors didn’t really need them.
Lara could feel the dawn approaching as their Plymouth rounded a corner and the little town splayed out in front of them, blooming up from the dark bark of the forest that surrounded it like some magical and forgotten kingdom. Her arms were no longer around Skip, but her head still rested on his shoulder. He had both arms back on the steering wheel now, and was looking forward at the town with some kind of grim determination that she could not make-out.
It was these moments that made her love him the most. These moments when he rose like the heroic savior, and she knew that, as long as they stayed together, everything would be okay; they would make it out of this somehow.
It was this love that had brought her here, that had let her through that final temptation.
It would be dawn soon. In perhaps just an hour or so. Already, she could see the snaking tendrils of light making their way over the tops of the trees and the tiny town on the horizon. They would have to get into the town and get settled down quickly. Lara knew that Skip could feel it too, but there was no sign from him, as their car moved on at the same speed. She broke their silent reverie suddenly with the obvious.
“We’re going to have to get underground soon, Skip. The sun is coming up.” Her voice seemed to jolt him, like his soul had been in another place, in another time, and her voice was the electric surge that brought him back to their grim reality. He frowned. “I know,” he responded quietly, “we just need to figure out where.” She looked up at him. She had to say it now. Who knew what tomorrow would bring?
"Skip," she started, questioningly. He turned his head towards her, taking his eyes off the road for only a few seconds.
"Skip, I just need to tell you...if we don't make it out of this. If tomorrow..." he cut her off.
"No, Lara. Not now. We aren't having this talk now. We're going to make it. We'll get out of here. It's almost over."
She cut him off before he had a chance to take the courage out of her.
"No, Skip. Just let me say this, I need to say this." He slowed the car down, and pulled one hand off the wheel, placing it calmly in his lap. "Okay, Lara. Spill it."
She looked at him earnestly, collecting her toughts carefully in her mind.
"I just want to say thank you," he gave her that smile once again, and rolled his eyes. She sat up as tall as she could.
"No, Skip. I mean it. Thank you. If you hadn't been there that night, if you hadn't taken me...I, I wouldn't be here. I have my life because of you." It was his turn to cut her off.
"You have a life because of me, Lara. I don't know that I would call it..." She carried on before she lost the nerve to say it.
"Skip, if you hadn't taken me that night, if you hadn't shown me what could be, I would dead and gone. Burned up and eaten up with all the others. That night, in your arms, in the heat of it all, I knew I loved you. I knew that you would take care of me, that I could trust you," he made a clucking noise, but she carried on, "If you hadn't pulled that crazy, scared little girl into that hotel room that night, I wouldn't be here. I owe you everything, Skip."
The engine of the car whirred as he slowed it again, and he turned to look her full in the face.
"Lara, there's something that you need to know." He pulled the car to the shoulder of the abandoned road, and the engine roiled to a stop. Her mind was a wave of confusion. There was no time.
"Skip, we don't have time for this, the sun is coming up. We have to go to ground."
"No, Lara," he cut her off, "I have to tell you this."
He looked down at the worn denim of his jeans, and took a deep breath. Something inside of Lara plummeted. He took a deep breath, and sighed loudly before he began again.
"I didn't take you that night because I loved you, or I needed you."
The world around her suddenly went silent, except for a sudden, over-whelming roaring her brain. Her heart began to thump wildly again in her chest. The fear was coming back, the smell of the blood. She thought she would vomit.
"I took you because I wanted you. You were scared, alone. I could smell it. I smelled your heart, smelled the blood." He looked at her, his bright green eyes full of regret. "I took you because I was hungry. I was moving on, leaving. I needed it. I was going to leave you. I was going to leave you in that room. To die, to be consumed, to bleed out. I don't know." A rage broke out in he chest like the swarm of a thousand hornets. Hatred began to rise in her stomach now, replacing the fear.
"I didn't know you then. I was new. I didn't know how to control myself or how to handle the cravings. I...It was a mistake, Lara. I'm so sorry."
She slapped him, the loud smack reverberating through the endless silence that now stood between them.
Her world was crashing down on her, again. This new life was a lie, a shambles. He should have left her there, to die in the dirt and the darkness. She wanted his words to stop, she wanted to disappear. She wanted him to disappear. He wouldn't stop.
"I didn't know then, Lara. I didn't know who or what you were. I had no idea. It was too strong. The urge. You know now. You know how it is," he was searching her face for any sign of forgiveness. He met with her silent, cold obstinancy and rage.
The worst part of it, was that she did.
She knew what it was like, the temptation, the constant hunger. And what was worse, was that she knew that this is what their lives were now. For better, or for worse.Lara scooted away from him, across the wide leather seat of the old car, and turned her face to the window. It was getting lighter and lighter out.
They had to move on.
The Beast of Kallygryn
A warning lest ye who travel this way,
are apt to forget things day by day.
Take heed my friend from the message herein,
watch close as you walk for the beast of Kallygryn.
Its breath hot and foul from the bowels of the earth,
its teeth razor sharp, it's jaws a man's girth.
Its cunning; much more than any man's match,
its hunger will let it your life away snatch.
The Kallygryn forest it's home and its lair,
its appetite strong for the pure and the fair.
The sad and forgotten are all just and fair game,
none are protected, not even the crippled or lame.
Through the Kallygryn Shire every human will pass;
Surrounding the forest lie meadows and grass,
but all paths to the beauty are a canopy stride,
and from the beast in the forest there is nowhere to hide.
The dense growth of trees keeps out the light from above.
The only sounds are sudden flight from the pigeon and dove.
But there in the dark you'll feel the heat from its eye,
your legs will be leaden, your throat will be dry.
The beasts victims aren't slaughtered, killed or ate,
they still wander the forest, never to find the gate.
The beast must be faced by all man's kith and kin,
for the beast is in all of us; The beast is pure sin.
So to complete the dark journey through the Kallygryn wood,
stay true the path that you're heart says is good.
For deep in the forest it's never too late,
for the beast to be faced and to walk through the gate.
But once in the meadow amongst sunlight and laughter,
where the pure of this world remain ever after.
Never forget the forest and never the doubt,
for the beast is still watching and the beast can reach out.
Crisp, off-white sheets illuminated by bright sunlight hurt his eyes as they fluttered open.
For a split second, he wondered where he was.
Squinting, he could make out the silhouette of a body. Down past the edge of the bed, it sat in a chair with its elbows resting on its legs. There was a small television stuffed into the top left corner of the room, playing some kind of game show. Beside it, there was a window with curtains colored the same off-white as the sheets.
At the sight of him awakening, the shadow rose off the chair and moved quickly toward him.
He mumbled an almost incoherent reply. It was mostly a grunt but the shadow broke down into tears.
Memories came flooding back like a boiling torrent of seawater. And it tasted just as bitter.
Him- curled up in a bathtub, knees to chest. A bloody blade and slit wrists- swallowing pills, then some more, then some more.
As if to confirm his thoughts, he looked down at his arms and saw them wrapped in bandages. Tubes were slipping in and out from under them.
Beside Elijah, the crying shadow took his hand. He could tell now that it was his husband.
"Listen honey. We don't have to talk about this right now. I'm just happy you're here." He paused, his thumb caressing his hand. "I'm just happy you're here."
Elijah sat at the kitchen table, watching the dust particles dancing in the sun rays shining in through the window. He could smell the bananas that they had bought on their way home from the hospital and remembered how they had once been ripe. Now, they were brown and beginning to rot, needing to be thrown out.
With a clink, Cameron sat a plate of breakfast in front of him and an empty glass.
"What'd you like to drink?"
Elijah twirled his fried potatoes around with his fork but didn't reply.
"You have to eat sometime," Cameron said as he put his hands on his hips, letting the fridge door swing shut.
"I'm not hungry."
"Then drink something."
"I don't want to."
"I just cooked you breakfast."
"And I appreciate it."
He sat down and began to eat his food. "You have a funny way of showing it." After a while, he spoke up again. "You have to try."
"I don't think you do."
"God dammit, Cameron. It hasn't even been a month."
He stayed silent after that.
"I think we should go to the park today." His husband said, rolling over and putting his hand on his chest. "It'd do you some good to get out of the house."
"I don't know, maybe."
He sat up. "We're going."
An hour later, Elijah crawled into the passenger seat of their car. Cameron popped the keys into the ignition and reversed out the driveway.
"It looks like a nice day." He acknowledged.
"Just you wait and see. I bet you'll enjoy the sun on your skin."
Elijah picked at a string hanging from his athletic shorts. "Maybe."
They drove in silence.
He didn't even notice when they pulled into the parking lot. "Let's go." Cameron said once they were parked.
"I don't want to."
"Get out of the car."
"I said I don't want to."
Cameron jumped out of the car and stomped over to Elijah's door, flinging it open. "Get. Out."
"God dammit Cameron."
Cameron grabbed his arm and pulled, making him fall out onto the ground. A young couple stared as they walked by.
Elijah picked himself up. "Cameron, stop it."
"No! We're going."
"I just fucking said I didn't want to."
"I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU JUST SAID."
Cameron shoved him into the car door. "Don't you dare turn this back on me!"
Elijah stared at him in confusion. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"What am I talking about? I'm talking about all those looks you give me- all those times you act like I don't care about you, because I do. And you acting like I don't is a terrible feeling."
"Excuse me? I never said you didn't care about me!"
"Oh yeah?" He chuckled coolly. "Then why did you try to kill yourself?"
Elijah opened the car door. "We're not talking about this."
Cameron rushed forward and slammed the door shut again then pinned him against the car. "Like shit we aren't." He narrowed his eyes. "Why would you?"
"Why would I what?"
"Don't you dare play stupid."
Elijah paused. "I'm not happy."
"Okay, besides the obvious."
"I'M NOT FUCKING HAPPY." He pushed Cameron in the chest. "DON'T YOU GET IT? OR ARE YOU TOO SELFISH TO SEE PAST YOUR OWN PROBLEMS? I HAVEN'T BEEN HAPPY FOR A LONG TIME. AND I SURE DIDN'T TRY TO DIE BECAUSE OF YOU. Don't give yourself that satisfaction- you don't deserve it."
"How dare you call me selfish when you're acting like you're the only one that hurts? There are more things going on than just you and maybe if you would have realized that you wouldn't have tried to commit suicide!" A flock of birds flew off from the surrounding trees. "And don't tell me that I was happy to see you suffer."
"You don't think I realize there are things bigger than me? More important than me? Ever since-"
"Ever since what? Ever since Derek? I'm so tired of hearing about Derek. Derek seems to be the only one you care about in this relationship."
Elijah stared, horrified. "Are you kidding me? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? He hit me, Cameron. He hit me! Excuse me for not forgetting about all of that."
"I don't expect you to forget about him. God, I don't even expect you to ever get over it. But I did expect you to care about us more and to move out of the past."
"If it was that easy don't you think I would have done it? Come on, don't tell me you actually thought I would stay in that mindset anymore than I'd have to? You must be pretty damn stupid if you think otherwise." It was Elijah's turn to chuckle in frustration. "But of course I should have just gotten past it, right? So that you," he jabbed a finger into Cameron's chest, "could be at peace with yourself. As long as you had someone to fuck at night, you were fine. Happy even. But I wasn't. Instead, I was left alone with the nightmares you had promised to fight off. I couldn't stand living in my own skin and the entire time you only wanted me for sex."
Elijah cut him off. "No, Cameron. I'm done, I'm done." He took the keys from Cameron's hand and went to the drivers seat. "I'm leaving."
"Where are you going?"
He shut the car door and started the car. "I don't know- maybe to Derek's, since you seem to think I'm so infatuated with him."
Elijah didn't even feel the blood running from his knees as he drove away.