REPORT A PROBLEM
One hundred words is an adventure. It's possibilities. It's potential. A simple moment, captured forever. In perfect brevity, it's infinite. When it comes down to it, we are all hundred-word stories, are we not? Sum up yourself. What makes you you? In a summation of your life, would your essence, your core, make up more than those hundred words? Can you truly say that? As the year dies, many of us come to a place of understanding. We shed the old. We are reborn. So, friend, I ask you...tell me about yourself. And please, choose your words carefully.
According to certain individuals (who may have given birth to me), my younger brother is rightly distraught over the thought of his girlfriend chopping her hair in half (lengthwise),
because men like women with long hair.
My "boyishly" short hair and love of oversized band t-shirts, earned from blood shed in pits at punk shows, have long since been viewed as open rebellion. She desperately wishes that I were more traditionally feminine. Maybe then, I'd "settle down with a respectable young man" and produce the requisite 2.5 grandchildren.
I'd rather be comfortable looking in the mirror.
It's July. Fireworks, smuggled over state lines to be set off on this particular patch of coast, drown out our voices. We huddle close, trying to block the wind. You smile, cupping the flame in my hands.
The bottle rocket is lit.
Friends and strangers are slur-singing patriotic songs. Grinning, and giddy on our proximity, I linger too long near the launch point. You pull me back, but my left foot gets somewhat singed.
It will scar. The kisses that come later make up for that.
It's December. The scar remains, but you're no longer mine to kiss.
Some days break you down and make you long for nothing more than a reset button for the whole damn thing. Some days shake your very foundation, and make you wonder if the path you've chosen has been the right one. Some days are just so devastating that you wonder why you even bother anymore if it's going to hurt this much.
On days such as these, you grit and grin wide and sharp and (sometimes) bloody, because you are
than these days. You are
than these days. And when you aren't...well, there's always tomorrow. Rest up.
Her ribs are adorned with one of those ships, the kind not seen in recent centuries--a museum piece if there ever was one. It's under full sail, slicing through the waves at its bow. The line work is delicate, intricate, and incredibly realistic. The way the ship moves with her breaths does nothing to dispel the illusion of it being rocked by the sea beneath it.
Starting at her thigh, a tentacled creature (perhaps an octopus?) snakes its delicate limbs towards the ship.
After, when I ask her what it means, she shrugs and says, "It helps me remember."
We're in the back of a cab, somewhere in the city, surreptitiously sipping beers. The driver keeps sneaking glances, but says nothing.
We're at the venue, surrounded by strangers singing the same songs, none of which I know the words to. The band is decent, in a trying-so-hard-to-make-it-seem-effortless kind of way.
We're at the hotel. The sounds of my friends snoring softly surround me as I read words by Bradbury late into the night.
There's a message on my phone that I'm ignoring. It's from you--I'm worried what I'll say in response.
She sits in her tower, waiting, watching the world go by beneath. Absently, she moves a hand over her stomach. Time moves differently here, but this...this has helped her keep track. It won't be long now.
Sometimes, she has visitors. Her prince, whose visits are perfunctory and disinterested, now that their aim has been achieved. His mother, who assures her freedom once her purpose has been served.
She knows exactly the freedom the harpy speaks of, and revels in the thought. Once the child is born, she is redundant. Everyone knows this.
She smiles. This is happily ever after.
He's practically manic with all the preparations that he's been making for her arrival. It's funny, since they haven't talked all that much in recent months. She caught feelings. He didn't respond in kind.
She's traveling, and wanting to be a good friend (because that's what they've been for years), he offers to put her up for a night--show her around town.
The first thing he notices when she arrives is that she doesn't hug him, which is strange, as she even hugged him goodbye after their last parting.
He finds it hurts a bit.
"You can't be serious."
"What do you mean? I've never been more serious. This is going to be great!"
"But...this is for kids. It's a thing that kids do."
"And your point is what, exactly? That after we reach a certain age, we are disallowed such activities? Stuff and nonsense!"
"Well, when you put it like that..."
"Glad to hear that you're on board! Gather the materials; I'll meet you downstairs."
Twenty minutes later:
"See, this is what being an adult is all about--building excellent and elaborate blanket forts without fear of consequence. Get in here; there's cookies."
There are three of us on my roof, passing a bottle of what will later be referred to as "skeleton tequila" between us. With each swig, we relax; old wounds heal, good times are remembered, and we each wind up asking the others why it's taken this long to reconnect. None of us have an answer.
At one point, we're down to two. Fueled by impulse and alcohol (because, who knows, this may be my only chance), I turn his face towards mine and steal a kiss.
Back up to three, we don't mention it again.
In July, he answers.
Every time it snows, I'm six years old again. I catch the snowflakes on my tongue--mouth open wide, arms out, usually spinning, sometimes giggling. Surely, it's quite the spectacle.
Most people sidestep me, sending sidelong glances that seem to say "something's not right about that one." Some comment; others pause, point, and snigger.
But on rare occasions, I meet a similar six-year-old soul. Tonight is one of those nights.
"Fuck 'em. Poor bastards have lost their sense of whimsy. Pity, that." He winks at me, and joins me in my spinning.
Tonight, I make a new friend.
Heading out, once again to navigate an unfamiliar city. Maybe one day I'll learn to read the bustle of these streets, but now I'm just more focused on getting where I need to go.
Doors are at 8, and it's quite a drive. I'll be bleary-eyed on the way back, but it's worth it for the time I'll get to spend dancing, cavorting, and generally carrying on.
Who knows, maybe I'll meet some new people who also like to go out and do things, as opposed to waste away alone inside of their own homes. One can only hope.
Cities are difficult
, she muses as she pushes her way through the oppressive crush of humanity that surrounds her.
She's always been a bit claustrophobic, and her present surroundings aren't helping assuage that old fear.
Unlike her seaside hometown, the city is cluttered, perpetually noisy, and offers no escape from the people. However, this is where the work is. She'll cope.
As much as she hates them, crowds provide the perfect cover. Here, she is one in a sea of many--easily overlooked. Her knife is in his chest and she's on her way before anyone realizes what has occurred.
Making masks is kind of a therapeutic exercise in aesthetics. Each one that takes shape represents something--a fear, a concern, a hope, a wish. They can be beautiful or terrifying, and are sometimes a combination of both, when the occasion warrants such subtlety.
My work allows me to make the intangible tangible. My clients are often those who don't realize the implications behind what they hold and affix to their faces. They recognize my skill; in return, I learn about them from the choices they make while in my shop.
We all wear masks. Sometimes, we get to choose.
Each note he whistles rings clear, strengthened by the magic of the leyline that flows beneath his feet.
There is blood on his lips, but fortunately, he doesn't need his tongue to complete this portion of the binding spell. With exceeding care not to mar the surface with blood, he places the silver bottle containing
inside the hole.
In ink, he traces the final sigils onto his palm, slamming it into the earth above the bottle. They sink into the ground, accepted; the binding is complete.
He prays to every god he knows of that it will be enough.
These are the facts: it's six PM, and they're at it again.
Well, scratch that. They've been at it all day--screams echoing throughout the house, doors slamming, the works.
Sometimes, he wonders if other families are like this. Are dinners a constant minefield, spent either in stony silence, or tiptoeing around subjects unlikely to awaken agitation?
Can they spontaneously have friends over, without fear of what they might be walking into? Of what may be impossible to explain away?
Do they have contingency plans for when things get violent?
Most importantly: Are there families that
It's the most wonderful time of the year (for being covered in the various bodily excretions of the kids that I work with)! Everyone is sick. There's vomit everywhere. It seems like at least twice a day, the janitors are paged to handle such incidents.
All of the adults are scrubbing their hands raw and sanitizing all visible surfaces as often as reasonable, as little hands tend to leave germs
. We're all determined to make it through the three and a half (work) days that remain before winter break.
Here's hoping that we're successful!
(Hazmat suits would be nice.)
The calendar on the wall reads October, as it has for the past two months. It will continue to for another several, when someone (finally) comes to check on her.
Besides the outdated calendar, the appointed Watcher finds some scattered notebooks, blots of ink, and three candle stubs, arranged in an off-center triangle in the center of the room.
There is a scent in the air--metallic; reminiscent of old blood. However, she finds no evidence of such...until she looks at the ceiling.
"Fool! Thrice-damned amateur magician!"
Whatever creature Zed was studying is out now.
In the Library, everything is quiet. Everything is always quiet in the Library. The books are quiet. The shelves are quiet. The things that used to be patrons of the the Library are quiet.
In the Library, nothing stirs--not even the things one might expect to be stirring in a place such as this. This could be due to the Library existing deep in the void of space. It could also be attributed to the lack of oxygen found in space (deep or not).
Libraries should be quiet. This Library is the best example of that virtue.
There are days when my traveling starts to feel more like running than recreation. I've spent the last twelve hours in four different states, bouncing between friends, sleeping bag under my arm and rucksack over my shoulder.
I thought this would be easier by now.
The bags under my eyes are starting to hurt a bit. Sleep has never come easy, especially in new places. I often wake in the pre-dawn hours, heart racing, desperately trying to reorient myself.
At least I've broken the habit of screaming upon waking. Baby steps.
Nobody likes to host someone with night terrors.
On the darkest day of the year, we gather to reflect on the past and look to the future. As the sun is reborn, so are we.
It's been a long journey, and sometimes it's difficult to reconcile the me of last year with my present self. There have been many things that could've gone better, but I find that I honestly regret none of it. These were lessons that needed to be learned, and though some of it has certainly been difficult, if not outright painful, I feel wiser for these experiences.
I'll celebrate by watching the sun rise.
Conversation, while baking:
"'Oh come all ye Old Ones, fearsome and repulsive...'"
"What are you listening to?"
"This sounds godawful. What is it?"
"Holiday songs produced by the H.P. Lovecraft Society. You know, about Cthulhu and the Old Ones."
"...You're saying words again that mean nothing to me."
"At the Mountains of Madness? The Shadow Over Innsmouth? The Necronomicon? Dagon? Any of this ringing a bell?"
"Nope, you've lost me completely."
"Oh. I guess just listen and enjoy, then."
I went on to continue singing songs of horror and madness while joyfully baking cupcakes for work tomorrow.
Sometimes a conversation started in anger can actually be productive.
I discovered this last night, while trying to help two friends get their heads out of their asses. They had a falling out years back, but have both made remarks about wanting to patch things up. Somewhere along the way, I became intermediary for messages between them, since one is appallingly bad at keeping in touch, and the other is incapable of reaching out due to depression.
So, tearing into both of them a bit about not being a fucking messenger pigeon, the two are actually conversing and making plans.
Although things at home may be rocky (the holidays are always difficult; I'm tired of playing 'happy family'), it's days like this when I'm incredibly grateful for the ramshackle group of bastards I'm lucky enough to call friends.
These guys have been there for me through everything, good times and bad, and have always provided me with a safe space to crash and a kind word when I need it most.
So, here's to each and every one of you. I love you more than you can imagine, and am proud to think of you as my true family. Cheers.
It's Christmas evening. Across town, there is a young man in his room, listening to the merriment from downstairs seep through the ceiling. He bites back a scream of frustration.
All he wanted was to spend the remainder of the night with a sad girl who, each Christmas, wishes for a family to love her. It's been a decade-long tradition. They always end this night curled around each other, healing the day's hurts. This night, though, there are mitigating circumstances; he is unable to make it.
The girl falls asleep alone, wondering if she will ever get her wish.
On the road again, escaping in the wake of post-holiday madness. Everyone is out and about, so it won't be noted.
When I return, I hope to clean out a bunch of unnecessary things from my room and my life. My friends and I have been talking a lot about getting land and building tiny houses on it, growing food and whatnot. Living simply.
The thought of doing so has been quite appealing in recent months, as it's been just me, my rucksack, and sleeping bag for awhile now. Having a safe spot to call home would be nice.
There are days when she's in love with the idea of love, of falling in it, being consumed by it, and all that other romantic crap.
And then there are days when she's happily unattached, grinning wickedly at strangers, flitting and flirting about, deigning to notice the people that she catches noticing her (or not).
On those days, she's fire and passion and
, wanting nothing more than to press her jagged edges into another to see just how deep they're willing to be cut before pulling away.
Don't fall for me; I'll eat you up, I love you so.
Sometimes the drinking is a way to forget. Other times, it causes a flood of memories so powerful and vivid that they tumble him over until he no longer knows which way is up.
On those nights, he tries to grip tight to anything that can steady him in the flood of feelings. This time, it's a person.
She stumbles across him, facedown on the floor in a pool of tears, gasping for breath after a bout of silent screaming so powerful it threatened to tear out his throat.
He reaches out, desperate. She comforts him until the dawn comes.
She starts scratching, that one spot right beneath her shoulder blade, difficult to reach if she's not positioned just right. When she pulls her hand away, a piece of her skin follows.
One by one, she peels the pieces of herself off, letting them fall where they may. It's for the best; lately, this skin has felt too tight, chafing her in all the wrong places.
It's time for a change.
Hours pass before she's satisfied that all of the old has been shed. She emerges, bright, and shiny, and
. She smiles.
A new skin for a new year.
After much reflection, I've come up with a few goals for the new year that I believe are worthwhile and will contribute to my overall mental health and personal stability.
-Make more time for myself and my hobbies
-Learn something new (skill-based)
-Spend more time with friends, and keep in touch regularly
-Travel to at least 5 new places (that require significant travel time)
-Move into my own safe space
-Take a self-defense class
-Don't dwell on the past; focus on the future (and the positive!)
-Only kiss people who are worth my time and effort
We rang out the year as we rang it in--by making questionable decisions with friends, old and new.
Come midnight, after much (but not all) of the drinking and singing had been done, people desperate for kisses moved on down the line and eventually found someone who felt similarly.
(Or, were rejected outright with good-natured giggles, 'cause hey, we're all friends here.)
Fireworks were shot off from the barrel of a rifle (who knew!), people fell asleep under the Christmas tree like presents, and the cuddliest dog in existence did what he does best--help us fall asleep.
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