Now the old dog yearns
For slow time experience
As a child would learn
Dreams of color
Of moonlight bliss
A recolored world
And dreams remade.
suppressed grief crawls up
destined to bubble and pop
like a champagne cork
the only way i can continue to live
is to suck the life out of others
it's a lonely existence
but it's mine
I remember, as a child staring at the closet door
Afraid that if it was open, just a crack
Some sort of darkness would pour out-
I'd run into Mom's arms, feeling the softness of her embrace
And sleep on the floor in my parent's room
Thinking, somehow, their presence could ward off
I think it was never a fear of the dark,
It stemmed from my fear of being alone
It was the same feeling as when I was standing alone in the playground
Swinging in high arches with no one on the swing next to me
Climbing that tall tree in front of the school and feeling like I was the only person
It was those opposite feelings of freedom and dread:
Green and ebony, mixing together and forming the same knot in my stomach
That made me think
Maybe I'll die here, tonight
Maybe no one will hear me scream
All I am is a tree falling alone in a forest
But there is no forest
There is only me
And it's cold
and it's dark
50 or fewer
In fifty words or fewer, I am asked to disturb. To horrify. To scare.
In fifty or fewer, you're expecting fear to widen your eyes and weaken your heart.
In fifty or fewer, I am supposed to frighten.
But I only need two:
My suitcase rattles
I walk fast
Filled with bones and metal
Gold and Cowry shells
My heels grip
Hair to brush soft
the back of my ass
Moving with me
Momentum of fate
To the playground
Bend my knee and swing higher
Point my toes to cut the wind
Anticipating the jump
Face first into the sandbox
Black hair tangles the wire
Lips locked in iron
Memories shift to the taste
of blood and sand
Cubes of ice in hot tea
melting, molding, moving
ballerinas of uncertain motion
toes twirling in passion
sluggish thunder of words
Cubes of ice in hot tea
molten, shaped by imagination
manufactured souls with no control
reflections heaved and hurled
gentle petals of words propelled
Cubes of ice in hot tea
no stillness here, musings flow
shadows deepen, explosion ignites
wind inhaled and poetry expelled
earth moving in spiritual ways
Cubes of ice in hot tea
epiphanies leaping under drunken skies
stripped thoughts bared and stroked
magenta wine flowing adrift in words
door of creativity opens, I enter in.
Bruises heal. Scars don't.
She still wears the scars from her previous relationship.
She is broken, and I am just picking up the pieces.
I love her and she knows that.
However she can't help her anxiety.
She can't help that she gets jealous.
She been hurt too many times
Her trust been broken too many times
She been cheated on too many times
She been hit too many times to count.
When I tell her I love her,
She doubts it, she can't help it.
When I tell her that she beautiful,
She thinks that I have an agenda.
She wonders why I am still here.
Why I look at her darkness and don't run away.
She wonders why I hold her tight,
Even though she crying for the umpteenth time.
Oh but I love her, with all her flaws and imperfection.
I don't see her past, I see a future with her.
When I speak sweetly, these words are foreign to her.
When we make love, she is surprised by my gentle touch, it is during these moments when she holds on to me tightly. What had once been a loveless act, in a loveless marriage, is now an enflamed act of passion.
But then she becomes scared, for she not accustom to a good thing, so she runs away.
However I catch her every time. For regardless of all her presumed imperfection, she is mine, and only mine.
Mana + The Devil (I’m On a Highway to Hell)
Her parents sold her to the Devil when she was fifteen.
The backwater town where she (formerly) resided was peopled with a highly superstitious lot that kept the spirit of sacrifice alive in order to appease the supernatural beings that populated the place. Recently, spiritual activity had risen exponentially; what broke the elephant’s back was the death of a child.
Spirits were violent, and their gods were vengeful. But never in memory had they ever taken that out on a child.
Now, normally the town stuck to animal sacrifices (it was convenient, and they could use the corpses in the totally sober revels held afterward in the honor of so-and-so). It was clear this time that only human blood would suffice. The question remained, who would step up to the plate? (Read: who could they afford to lose?)
So, left on a crossroads with nothing but the clothes on her back and trapped in a satanic circle, the girl waited. It was to this bronze child — all tan skin, yellow eyes and copper curls — the Devil came.
The Devil was not pleased.
Usually he would devour whoever had the gall to summon him to this godforsaken plane, but the people responsible didn’t even have the courage to spell out their demands. The Devil groaned irritably before turning to the girl, asking, “Why am I here?”
The girl didn’t hesitate. “To kill me.”
“And I am doing this why?”
She shrugged. “To appease you. Someone died in — — -.”
The Devil considered this and concluded that he wanted no part in it, if only because he missed out on a free meal. And so he asked for her input on what she thought he should do.
“Don’t kill me.”
The Devil scoffed. “You’re willing to let all those people suffer from whomever or whatever’s doing their thing?”
The girl leveled him with a blank stare; it asked, Are you dull? “I don’t particularly feel like dying today. Please and thank you.”
He looked heavenward in contemplation and came to a decision. “Suit yourself.” Reaching into one of his numerous pockets, he took out a rusty penknife (Hell had shit benefits) and began to scrape off the sigils that made up the circle, freeing her. “But since you asked so prettily, I require compensation — “ he held up a hand to stay her impending protest — “because I’m neither an idiot nor a starchild who grants wishes.”
She watched him as he worked. She didn’t expect the Devil to be such a gentleman about this. “Name your price.”
“The people who did this — summon me, I mean — are shit at sigil-work, because now I am bound to this mortal coil for about…six months? A year? I can’t give you a definite answer because this is chicken scratch.”
“Lovely. Your point?”
Finished, he wiped his brow with the back of his hand. Such a back-breaking task, the girl thought uncharitably. “You will be the entertainment. This is the first vacation I’ve had in gods damned how long, and paperwork’s going to pile up a bitch. I’m going to enjoy it. Tell me, what are you good for?”
The Devil hummed. “You’ll answer to me by day, be my storyteller at night. It’ll be fun. You start now.” Choosing a direction at random, he started walking. The girl looked after him, briefly considered whether it’d be less painful to be eaten instead, then hurried to catch up to him. In the distance, a clock struck twelve, as these things do. Without preamble, the adventure began.
’A baker’s dozen: that’s how many times the warlock tried to kill himself before giving it up for good.
His latest venture to reach those unknown shores landed him squarely at the bottom of the ocean to watch fish glow. He wasn’t bitter about it — he’d passed that stage around attempt 42. Instead, he decided to meditate seeing as he now had until the apocalypse to think things over. That was during the new moon of the new year.
By the time the starlight poured into the cup of the moon, filling it up again, the warlock reached his conclusion. He took out his heart, crystallized it and broke it up into thirteen shards. Summarily, he spelled the shards across time and space to whatever destination, so long as they were far away from him. His task complete, he settled back onto the ocean floor and quietly waited to see what would happen as history unraveled around him.’
“Why, may I ask, did the warlock wish to die?”
“He was — “
“Depressed? Alone? Unloved?”
Nodding decisively, she answered, “Yes. The warlock — Liam, once upon a time — had been cursed by a petty god to be invulnerable against all the forces of nature, including death itself.”
The Devil didn’t miss a beat. “A thing many have died for, ironically.”
“Mm. And it was fine for a while. He got to see many wondrous things, palaces built of sapphire, worlds where rain was glitter, the sun turn soft shades of pink. But there is only so much you do, so much yourself you have to hide. Peace soon eluded him. The people he loved grew old and died, and he could not join them; so he learned not to love. Hate followed, then sadness, then anger, until he was no longer anyone at all.”
“What did the shards of his heart do?”
She thought for a bit. “Hearts vary; there wasn’t much left of his at that point, a much diminished shell of what it once was. The shards, the different facets of himself that remained, they would infect whatever poor sod cam across them. History is defined by its people. The warlock didn’t much care whether it would change for better or worse. He was bored.”
“So he still had care.”
“Sort of. Not much.” The girl let the silence stretch between them after that – slow and heavy like honey, not unpleasant.
After scrambling up a hill that must have been a mountain in a previous life, the odd pair arrived at the threshold of a metropolis the likes of which the girl never allowed herself to dream of. The Devil brandished his arms with unnecessary flourish.
“Welcome to Viridian.”
Wren: And so ends the first installment of Mana + The Devil. Inspired by creation mythology, folklore and Scheherazade, this is the story of a literal road trip from Hell. Mana's not exactly sure what she's signed away, but no matter. The Devil will have his due.