Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

In Progress...

(I hope to get back to this sometime. I figure, if I post it here, I may feel more compelled)

Glinting in the moonlight, rain sweated from bricks and along the pavement. Slick streaks of oil left incandescent traces in the sodium light as errant drops sent ripples across previously calm surfaces. Occasional gusts of wind set signs swinging, a tin can rattled along an alleyway and further down the street, runoff burbled down a drainpipe and flowed out into the trash soaked gutters.

Yet, for all the sounds echoing in through the misty Los Angeles streets, more sounds were absent. Cars stood silent. Abandoned metal husks, doors wide in supplication. Hoods raised. Headlights long gone dark. Innards scavenged and strewn about. Near the front tire of a once well loved '86 Camaro, a hula girl bobbled in time with the wind, forever standing, forever dancing, even as her grass skirt moldered.

The rain fell harder, plinking metallically and singing off-key harmonies along the automotive orchestra. It was, for an appreciative observer, quite lovely.

But the observer had no time to appreciate the accidental symphony in the streets below. Not tonight. Not when there was work to do. And so, with one last look down the street and a more than casual sweep of the terrain beyond, Caitlin turned away from the fourth floor window and walked walked back towards the small altar set against the wall of the apartment.

In the Bright Days, before The Fall, this had been the home of another girl. She knew by the clothing she found in closets. By pictures she had found in shattered frames along the hallways. A girl with shining hair and smooth skin. And hop. So much hope in those pictures. As she waved. As she posed. Each one taken in day light.

Daylight.

Caitlin felt the sting in her eyes as she tried to imagine how it had been. Even as she tried, her vision seemed to darken Pulled inward and shading with the effort. She had tried. Staring at the streetlights, on those nights the automatic systems on the power grids were working, she sat for hours looking into them as if staring long enough would burn light into her brain. As if looking intently enough would show her what she had never seen.

The. Sun.

Absently, she rubbed her foot against her calf to relieve and itch and felt the puckered flesh of her toe, soft and slightly loose. She had been standing in puddles again. Barefoot. No time for daydreaming, she hissed to herself. Foot rot was the first sigh of the Dulling. The Rot, then the 'Grene and then the dirty blood. Once you had the DB, only fire would save you and precious few would spare fire and medicine for a girl not even able to bear.

The flutter in her hands pulled her attention and she felt her heart start to beat faster as he fingers tightened instinctively. She had almost let go. Tired, she was tired. No. Wake up.

Taking the bird in one hand, she cradles id to her chest and felt the wing flutter again as she knelt carefully down. Cooing, she imitated the birdsong, her throat absently recreating sounds she had only heard in dreams.

A crow.

It had flown through the window and onto the altar just an hour ago as if it had known. Even as she reached for it, the bird gave no resistance. Once she shared a few of the insects she had saved for an emergency protein, the bird had settled into her palm and had even dozed off as she considered it's arrival.

It wasn't until she had looked at the altar and thr spot where the bird had landed. The burnished bronze deep in the wood of the chest. A Bronze circle, rays pointed outward in a dozen points.

A crow. Sent to the light of the Sun.

To Bring the light of the Sun.

Setting the crow ever so gently down, she wrapped both hands around the warm, living thing. So long since she had felt anything this...alive. She wanted to keep it. To hold it. Until the Dulling came, as it did for them all. Eventually.

Outside the rain fell. Harder than before. Pelting against the windows and dripping through leaks and crevices in plaster throughout the building. Pipes ached. The plinking rose. The harmonies losing sweetness. Chorus dissonance. The screaming would come next, as the torrent descended and she would be left alone with the wails.

Not another night. She prayed. Her face rose and her small body shook as she felt plaster dust from the ceiling above. And the drip of water, falling, coming, encroaching. A plink as it hit the bronze. A window shattered inwards as the wind came and she prayed.

From her birth, Caitlin had never known faith. Only dark. Only survival. Only Now.

When she had found this room, this haven, this shelter with its clothing her size and cans of food and blankets and locks, safety locks and so manyothergoodthingstokeephersafe...she had found the box. The bx of the Sun. With the books within. Picture books. And words that her mind could barely make out, but somehow she knew. Understood them. She read and learned and...

...believed.

With every fiber of her being. With every cell. from a place in her soul never touched by the sun but burning for light all the same, she prayed. Dear god of Light. Dear god Apollo. Please. Take this offering. Bring light to dark, set back the dark.

Shrieking in time with the wind and the rain, Caitlin prayed.

With a twist of her hands, she snapped the raven's neck, her scream and the sharp caw merging as she prayed.

Apollo, I pray. Please God. Make it Stop!

She felt the life leave the bird. The breath leave her lungs. The strength leave her arms. Heard the harshness of her breathing. The sound of her tears. The thudding of her heart. She felt the blood in her ears. Heard the rush of it as she leaned forward gasping.

The sound of the gasping seemed to fill the room as she knelt there and, finally exhausted, slept.

As the room, and the world beyond, felt silent

And the rain. Stopped.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Window Seat

I’ve found the perfect position. Indian style on the hardwood floor, I can face the window and scoot forward till my knees touch the plaster and my elbows reach the sill. From there, it’s an easy melt of arms into the crossed position and my head rested to my right upper arm.

Remember the first time you saw me this way? When we came here together the first time? You did your man thing and walked with the contractor discussing the repairs that would be needed and whether the copper pipes were free of rust. While I, still raw with the pain of my father’s loss, retreated to the living room and to this spot between the custom double hung windows and the fireplace.

Do you remember what you did when you walked in? How you found me there, my fingers against the screen drawing in the dust there? How you slipped up behind me and, with a kiss to my temple, simply sat and held me as we watched the the rain fall and sunlight slant across the roses in the yard?

The smell helps in the melancholy. I know this and I know you’ll understand. This was the place I came when Dad was sick, when Mama left, when Jezebel got run over after I forgot to lock the back gate and she got out into traffic.

It helps now, as I wait, watching the sky and praying for the rain to fall. So you can come sit with me and say what you said to me all of those years ago. The first time you saw me crying here.

So you can tell me that the rain will wash away the tears and the pain. So you can tell me that everything will be okay.

I’ve found the perfect position. I can listen to the rain fall and wait for you to come home. So you can tell me that the test being negative is really a silver lining, that you’re not sad and that it just means we’ll have to keep doing it until we get it right.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Modern Day Faery Tale.

Honestly. I didn't even know.

You have to believe me. I've already told you how it happened.

A walk by the water's edge on an overcast September day. I had taken to walking that stretch of coastline after Johnny died. Something about being close to the water during the fall made him feel less far away.

Still, that morning, while I can't say if it was the haze or the tears that sometimes fell as I wandered along, my eyes were slow to focus on the bottle laying just on the edge of the lapping waves, left to rest there as the tides drew outwards.

As I neared, I saw a flutter within and the bottle rocked slightly. At first, I wiped my eyes, sure that I had imagined it, or that my vision was blurred as it sometimes was when I walked along. But then it moved again and I saw the flutter. Blue wings flapping behind the white of the logo for some pop I'd never seen before.

Walking closer, I slowed and then stopped, anger welling up at the thought of someone trapping a butterfly and then so carelessly tossing the bottle into the surf. Children were cruel things, careless with their pranks, I thought. Even as I felt the stab across my abdomen and the ache within.

Johnny would say...soon, love, just be patient. We have time. We're young yet. Just one more trip and we'll have enough money saved to start trying...

...No, best not to consider that.

I found myself on my knees, bottle in my hands. Turning it gently to look within.

Almost dropping it when the tiny face looked up at me.

Dreaming, I had to be dreaming, I told myself. I was still in bed, having overslept. I never took this walk. I was not here. This was not possible.

And yet, there I knelt, holding a bottle with a faery within. A faery with cobalt blue wings and looking decidedly indignant, whether at me or her present circumstances I had no real time to ponder as her lips moved soundlessly. Shaking my head, I stared, comprehension failing.

Again, her lips moved. Again, I heard nothing.

Tiny fists balling, she took flight in that small space, battering her poor body along the glass in a fury and I almost dropped the bottle even as I felt it shake in my hands. What did she want, what was I supposed to do? Panic flooded my body as I watched her small body beat itself against that emblazoned prison and I think I shouted, cried for her to stop even as I watched her, her helpless anger radiating and the clatter of her wings muffled but audible.

Trapped, she was trapped, like Johnny had been, locked away as the waves came in, unable to get free, unable to fly, dying.

My hands twisted at the bottle top, came away slick from the water still beading it, from the foam coating the edges and my second attempt was thwarted much the same.

Frantic, I turned, my hand snatching up a rock that had washed up not far away. Even as I put the bottle down, I saw her, saw her eyes widen and for a moment, her wings beat even faster as she flew more violently. I felt the tears spill, hot and thick as I cried out my pain and fury. I smashed the rock down on the bottle neck and the top fell away.

All was silent then, as shock cut the tears as surely as the glass. Lifting my hand free of the remains of the bottle, I watched the top roll away, saw the rock fall from my hand, saw the opening, the tiny form still trembling within.

Then crimson flowed into the empty space and onto the sand, coating the rock, pooling under the glass -- and as the blood flowed out, I felt calmness slide in. I looked into her tiny face and let my hands fall into my lap as I looked towards the water. As the sun broke through the clouds.

Johnny. I don't have to be alone any more, I thought. As I felt my body turn numb, as I felt myself grow still.

As I fell to the side and smiled at that tiny form still marveling at her freedom and unsure as to whether she truly was able to take that step.

The last thing I remember, as my eyes closed, was telling her she was free. That we both were.

Free to fly...

...and then I woke up in the hospital. Here. Just like we are now.

You told me you found me out by the water. Asleep. And when I woke up, once you had done all your tests, once you declared me healthy, and assured me I hadn't hurt myself, that I must have dreamed all of it. I went home.

But I see now, by your face, that you know I wasn't dreaming. That she was real. That she did this.

Yes, you can check your silly test again, Doctor. Make sure. Do whatever you need to do. I can wait.

I only wish I had asked her name.

So I would know what to name the baby.

Lady (another writing project)

She stood quietly, gazing upwards. The tilt of her head had caused the hood of the cloak to fall free and her hair, normally bound and intricately woven, had cascaded down with it. The breeze lifted errant strands across those sharp green eyes and the delicate curve of a smile that any who knew her now would not be likely to recognize.

She doubted they would recognize her at all. In fact, she was sure of it as she turned to look behind her at the craftsmen and tinkers camped not far away. Any passersby would likely think her an apprentice stealing a moment away while firing clay in a kiln or one of the house maids gathering wildflowers for the Manor. No one expected her to be off wandering barefoot and without an escort. Why would they?

After all, she was Lady Desralyn. She was the Mistress of the Manor and certain activities were certainly below her station.

Light, but she was bored with being the Lady Desralyn.

For an instant, she thought she saw a shimmer through the clouds, a flash of silver perhaps?

Then it was gone. A trick of the light and a passing waterbird instead of what she had begun hoping to see each time she looked towards the heavens.

It was Mala who had suggested the walk and the necessary disguise. Mala who had told her about the foot bridge along the meadow to the south of the Manor, with the copse of dormant trees beyond. Mala who had offered her clothing with profuse apologies about the roughness of the material. As helpful and mischievous as she was, Mala was still a maid and very aware of the rule concerning pleasantries and protocol. However, Mala had also known the Lady Desralyn since they were both children and friendship did demand some override of decorum upon occasion. She also knew why the Lady looked skyward and she knew that, while it would not solve the problem, a change of scene might help for a time.

And so, thanks to Mala, a change of clothes and a strong working knowledge of the manor tunnel system, she was not Mistress of the Manor for the afternoon. She was not the Lady Desralyn.

She was just a girl, wrapped in simple traveling clothes, watching the sky and day dreaming. She was simply Desi. Half hidden in the tall grass and murmuring a song she'd heard in a very different place.

The mist of May is in the gloamin', and all the clouds are holdin' still.
So take my hand and let's go roamin' through the heather on the hill.

Desi, who had gone seeking adventure and then run away once she had found it. Desi, a simple winemaker's daughter, who had been in search of something new and exciting and had crashed headlong into a reckless young pilot who made her breath stop. Desi, who had been shown the heavens from a totally new and exciting perspective in the arms of a man who she never would have met otherwise…

There may be other days as rich and rare.
There may be other springs as full and fair.

…and would never see again.

Because she was Lady Desralyn. She had been destined for it when they had met and she had come back to take her rightful place as Mistress of the Manor. She had come back to be married. Bound into an agreement and a man she had known since she could barely walk. A man who she loved and who loved her. There was no pain or shame in the decision. He was a good man and they had been happy.

But they won't be the same–they'll come and go,
For this I know:

Would he hate her for looking to the sky now? Or would he understand as he saw her from the spirit world, taken by a fever only a year and a half into their marriage. He had known the reality and, even knowing that her heart was not fully his, he had loved and cherished her with every part of his being. Would he understand that, while his death may have freed her of certain guilt and ties, she was just as bound now as she had been when he was alive?

Even if she wanted to run back to him. Even if she wanted to pelt down the bridge and along the path beyond it until she reached a place where no one knew who she was, she could not find her way back to that one man she had run away from.

She could admit it now. In this place and in this moment, she could admit that she left, not because of duty or responsibility.

Much as she wanted to run through the meadow and fling her arms wide. Much as she wanted to feel free and wild, she had run away out of fear and fear was not something Seth Saverem would ever have tolerated.

Better to put him out of her mind. Better to go back and change before dinner. They would notice she was gone before too long. She was being silly again. Sentimental and girlish. The walk through the grass not so interesting a thought as her feet grew cold.


That when the mist is in the gloamin', and all the clouds are holdin' still,
If you're not there I won't go roamin' through the heather on the hill.

Besides, the Lady Desralyn had things to attend to. She had responsibilities.

Desi would just have to deal with that.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Try looking into that place where you dare not look. You'll find me there, staring back at you.

It’s easy to deny me, isn’t it. If you try hard enough, you will turn your eyes. Turn the page. Turn the tide. Focus elsewhere. Somewhere. Anywhere but into the reality of what we both know.

We are not so different, you and I.

You crave. You need. You want. You must have. In every fiber of your being, you are as drawn as I am. You can feel it, in every cell. Every inch of you. Growing. Swelling. Hungering.

Look me in the face and tell me it isn’t true.

I thought you were supposed to be good. Aren't you the "good" man?.

You want it as badly as I do. You’re shaking with the effort of holding back. I see it. Nails dug into palms as you shake your head and murmur the negatives, but you’re so very close to the edge.

This isn’t about the now, you say. It’s about the future. We have to think about the consequences of our actions. About what it means for the future.

Yeah well…

Everyday I wake up and it's still the present. The same, boring present.

What have you got to lose, anyway? Your pride? Your honor? Your immortal soul? Do you truly believe you can go back now? Do you honestly believe that, by closing yourself off to the facts of what we already are will make it any less true?

I’ll tell you the truth. I wish that were possible. I wish we could both go back to the place and time before we started this dance.

But the music is playing now, love.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Je poss├ęderai votre coeur

One more flight. 15 more steps, the door just beyond.

You got to spend some time, love

How hard was it really? To walk those last fifteen steps? After 3 flights, a few more could hardly be considered a trial. And yet, there she stood, her hand on the railing, nothing but her breathing and the occasional shift of her sneakered toe on that first step echoing off the concrete walls.

You got to spend some time with me

Why the hell was she out of breath, anyway? It’s not like this was work and her body was well used to the exercise. Still, there is was. That inability to get the rhythm right. She could almost hear Demian chiding her about her pack a day habit and suggesting that the carcinogens were finally taking hold. She could almost hear the wry chuckle and his half sigh as he bemoaned the loss of a phenomenal rack to something as avoidable as cancer.

And I know that you'll find, love

Almost. Except for the fact that he couldn’t say any of that right now. Speaking wasn’t something he was doing much of at all in fact and, if he did, the words came in barely audible snatches of his native language and it wasn’t as if she understood a whole hell of a lot.

I will possess your heart

So, she waited there. Gripping the rail. That door seeming further away than before. Because she’d been beyond it once already and once had been more than enough, thankyouverymuch. She was once bitten, to say the least.

“Deux fois timide, Chaton” she murmured, offering her voice for his as she took a deep breath and straightened up.

After all, it was only one more flight. Only 15 steps.