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It's amazing what poetry can do for the soul. Depends on the author and how well they can inspire emotions in their readers, just from images in words; but, that's the exact object of the game of it, isn't it? It's a story that speaks about how it affects the writer, or what it means in the cosmos of one's mind or heart, bespeckled with electrical impulses that relay the message of what they're seeing and sensing . . . and then it all comes back to experience. Sex, love, children, the elements - just tuning yourself in with life.
One can't imagine what it's like to lose a loved one – to miles and time zones. They're days away from you, times and daylight are now longer shared, and so that "place over there" has swallowed them up. Not to mention it's a toll call when you used to speak to them ten times a day. Even when they call, their voice sounds so far away, because they have new worries and are hardly hearing you at all, or concentrating on your life that hasn't changed at all. You have nothing to say. You have nothing in common any more.
I listen in my foreign language class and I remember there once was a day when their words and meanings were glossy and filtered through their tongues and accents. Their sentences were like listening through a thin wall; you can hear something being said, but the exact words are just beyond your reach. I felt almost as if when they spoke, I was looking at them through a pane of class and their language streaked across it like oil – but never seeped through.
But now I hear them, like a water flow. I just cannot pay them pack in kind.
Growing up – wow, what a loaded concept. When you're little, there are things your parents say over your head and all they tell you is "I'll tell you when you're older." It is infuriating. For days after you ask if you're older yet. And then you're in the in between stage where you want to have the car, you can't wait to find a job, and your desperately searching for that boyfriend or girlfriend. You want to grow up even faster. Then one day you look in the mirror, and you realize you're not growing up anymore. You're growing older.
I hate drinking coffee. It's one of THE most less than desirable tastes. Tea is more my bag, but it doesn't that that "get-up-and-go" kick in the rear I need sometimes. When I start bogging down a little after lunch, I really feel less than pleased to HAVE TO make coffee to get me sprinting again. But the thing is, sometimes it doesn't even work. I'm even put right to sleep, so the taste wasn't even worth the effort. There are mornings I can only stand to take a few sips, then I leave it in the fridge for later.
I'm twenty-one. I'm honestly beginning to realize I'm not a kid anymore. People look at me expecting that I work for a living, but instead I'm only a college-going leech and I honestly hate it. But RI has crap for available jobs, and I hate retail/food. And for my career choice, there's not much to do either than sit at home and try to finish a few short stories and publish them. Ah, the idiocy of choosing to be a writer. And a lot of my friends are workaholics, and one's graduated and is now a career woman. But me?
What is it about the color blue that attracts me so? Is it just soothing, soft, deep? Associated with dreams, maybe? Or with sleep, as is my favorite pastime? I so often laughed that David Selby was always in blue (the same suit, no less) for his character of Quentin on
and in grey as Grant Douglas. I laughed. Who wears blue all the time, I asked? I never anticipated I'd be the one. It's everywhere. My shirt today, computer desk, the lamp upon it, my backpack . . . Why blue? It reminds me of the sky.
His road-worn eyes itched with a weary red. Sweat ran down his chest and from his hairline down into his eyes as he turned onto the tire-beaten dirt shoulder. The truck cab shuddered to a stop and Ronnie was left to stare into a poker-hot sunset over the southern mountains. His hands ached from clamping the wheel all afternoon. He removed his hat, wiped away the sweat from his dark Mexican-American brow, and placed it back onto his greasy head.
He called Nani three hours ago from a payphone. Click. She really didn't understand she would never see him again.
She woke with a start. Weak shards of dawn passed through the half-open shutters of the room. Murmurs of rowdy gamblers and early morning (or very late morning) bar patrons swerved in and out of her semi-conscious awareness. She shook her head to give herself a little more wakeful spunk.
Her memory was a little muddled. Why was she sleeping in the great room of the Inn? Something didn't feel right. She was situated in an inconspicuous corner, seven pints of ale with varying levels of liquid around her at a two-person table. Had she been drinking with someone?
She pulled the nearest one a little closer. Remnants of someone's pipe powder was floating in it. Beinora grimaced and slid it across the table in disgust. Well, whatever had occurred the night before, she certainly couldn't spend the rest of the day feeling like she did. She had to get to her room.
Her body felt like it was a fuzzy mirage to her own self. Nothing felt real. What had happened that could possibly make her feel so out of sorts? It didn't feel like a hangover. "That must be some damn strange ale," she muttered to herself.
But she at least remembered which room she was in. As she entered, a wave of strangeness blew through her, like a brisk breeze through a ship's sail. Blood stains – dry ones – dotted the bed sheets. A strange musty smell pervaded the air, despite the open shutters. A bloodied tunic was sprawled out in front of the bed's footboard. Beinora stared at it. And suddenly she remembered.
Rhion! She had seen Rhion again! She dashed to the tunic and took it up in her hands to examine it. Or had I, she thought despondently. Was that all just a dream?
She tried thinking back, but her mind shut out her attempts. The castle, the note from the Acadamie P'Elej – she habitually checked her pockets for the compass and parchment. They were still there. And the elves. Was that all just a dream, just a disturbing side effect of whatever she seemed to have imbibed last night? But it didn't make sense. None of this made sense.
Beinora pulled the stained sheets and rolled it all together with the tunic. She had to find out if she had imagined it all. She swathed her body over quickly with a wet cloth.
She changed her clothes, and combed through her hair and fit it into her sock cap. She still had the message to deliver. She had seen Rhion there. Maybe he would be there now. Maybe it was all her imagination. Maybe she was going crazy. Glancing into the mirror, Beinora saw her face poorly reflected back at her with a fierce frown overwhelming her features. But suddenly a change slid across the glass. Her wide face began to thin a little, her hair lightened, her eyes thin out and curve more femininely. She backed up frantically away from the mirror.
She forgot the bed was right behind her and fell onto it, staring at the reflection. It wasn't a trick of the light, as she thought at first. Her shape had actually changed. It was no wonder she had had no problem passing herself off as a young man. How had she never seen it? How had she never realized, never FELT . . . she was a shape changer!
That was usually something that came in one's bloodline, not something you just learned. Was she the only one? Did her brother or sisters know? Could they do it too?
Or was she the only one?! Where did it COME from?? Could she do it again?
Beinora stared hard into the poor reflective surface. She concentrated intently on her image, but couldn't help thinking about the strange happenings this past night. Rhion face passed through her thoughts. She felt a fearful sadness, but pushed the feelings away. What good did it do to wonder? She would find out soon enough if it was true. Preparing to look again at her reflection, she saw Rhion. She cried out, dashing up from the bed, only for the reflection to do the same.
"No –" she cried out. "No, it can't be-"
Rhion's face melted back into her own familiar features. Her icy hands covered her mouth, holding back the wave of sickness welling up inside her. Was it real? Was it all an illusion? Beinora squeezed her eyes tight. When she finally opened them again, the room seemed brighter. The sun was starting to rise higher into the day. She was shaking. Taking a few deep breaths, Beinora straightened out her spine and stood defiantly in front of the mirror. "I don't care what you tell me. I don't!" Yet, she did.
She would deal with that later.
Putting the rest of herself back together, the scimitar on her hip, her hair braided, she stepped out the door without one more time glancing into the glass. She was off to the Palace of Gwyn to deliver her urgent message to the monarch. Whatever the wizard had given her weighed even more heavily on her conscience. It had been too long already in her hands. She left by the back way of the worker's quarters, forgetting that the elves had had a room just a few doors down from hers . . .
I set down the sweating glass of blue kool-aid on the plastic flour-stained table and sighed. The roaring heat of the day was dissipating with the light, leaving behind the distinct traces of the invisible cloud of humidity it had brought. By day the humidity felt like a hot blanket, or a mouth of a vengeful God roasting your damned soul. But by night – ah, it was a completely different world. The nights felt cold and clammy, but at the same time still asking you sweat. Even the clogged air seemed to choke the stars in the cloudless night sky.
But it was beautiful. I used to think of these kind of nights like an invisible fog—clean and still, hanging in the air like solid mist drops that would subtly leave its dew on grass blades over the night.
The melting ice made a sharp clinking against the glass as the liquid warmed up. We were surrounded by trees and secretive paths. Just one sole house across the way, boarded up for some 7 years or so, were our neighbors. That I liked. Peace and quiet for 8 weeks. Somewhere off in the woods an owl made itself known.
"Another country heard from."
I turned. Cassie opened the badly battered screen door (white but peeling, and desperately in need of new paint) with a wan and tiredly satisfied smile on her face.
"I think it called your name," I teased. "They all know your name out here."
She let the door slam behind her. She brought her right foot up to her left calf and scratched with her toenails. "Aren't you getting eaten up alive?" she asked, swiping half-heartedly at what I suspected was a mosquito in front of her face. The dull yellow light behind outlined her body.
It cast a shadow over her face but formed a halo around her light brown hair.
"Nah." I got up from the makeshift lawn chair. The tired porch boards groaned under my weight as I stretched and yawned. "You want to go for a walk? Maybe take Razz down the trail?"
Cassie laughed sarcastically. "Oh no, no. You're not talking me into that ever again. He'll only end up in the water again and I'll be up half the night blow drying him."
I chuckled and leaned against the railing. "Water's good for dogs once in a while, you know?"
"Trust me," I continued, "I don't think you need to do that to him again. He's rather be wet for a night."
"And have him stay outside all night, all alone in the dark? With mosquitoes and not to mention ticks rampant this year? Don't think so." She swiped something again in front of her face. "Why don't you have any lights on? So dark out here."
"Moths," I said simply and sat back down. Obviously she didn't want to go. I picked the glass up and cradled its cool, wet surface to my forehead.
"Need a refill?" she asked.
Her voice was sounded mousy, less energetic.
I waved my fingers. "Nah, I'm fine. Why don't you get to bed, huh? You've been working like a champ all afternoon in that garden."
"Yeah," she said dreamily and sauntered over to the back of my chair. She put her arms around me neck and rested her chin on my shoulder. "It was a beautiful day for it. Finished raking and most of the planting. And silly you," she said sounding more like herself, her straying fingers tickling my neck, "stayed inside all day and missed it all." She kissed my cheek.
She smelled of rich soil, cut grass and a little perspiration: earthy.
I took her hand. "I know. But I told you this wasn't going to be a pleasure trip. Not totally."
"I know, I know," she answered and pulled back. "It's just I thought maybe . . ."
I turned in the dark. I couldn't see her face. I could only make out the outline of her lips, her lashes. "Maybe what?" I asked.
Her hands rubbed my shoulders in a circular motion. She looked out past the lawn at the still, dark bungalow across the street from us.
The melody of crickets singing filled in the silent space. Finally she shook her head, the rough ends of her hair brushing my neck. "Never mind. I'm going to go in and take a shower, okay? I'm filthy."
I nodded and kissed her wrist. "Okay, Cass. Be careful in there, huh?"
She gave a playful ‘humph' and the whine of the porch door sang through the coils as she entered the house. A rogue breeze shot through the green boughs of the pine at the end of the porch. I caught a scent of the sappy smell of the bark.
All I could remember was Christmas time, and my stepmother's house. She never had the heart to buy a live tree, so she would buy "pine tree" scented candles and light them up all over the house. She would have them for months afterward and everything we wore, tasted or sat on held that smell nearly year-round.
I heard the phone ring inside. Cassie answered it, even though I couldn't make out the exact words. A moment passed before she walked to the door, without opening it, and said lazily, "Phone, Philip." I thanked her without asking who it was.
The familiar sound of her pink bath slippers scuffed unconcernedly away the door.
I took one last look out at the quiet rural street, and at the silent, dark blue bungalow across the way before I stepped inside. I found the phone receiver left on the step stool in front of the sink. The coil itself was stretched out so much from Cassie traveling around the house with it over the past year few months that you couldn't even tell it had once held a tight curl. . I picked up the receiver, cradled it between my cheek and shoulder.
I fiddled around with the idea of washing the dinner dishes. Cassie hadn't wanted to after spending the whole day in the garden. I didn't want to ‘just because.'
"Yeah," I greeted the caller.
"You didn't call me, Phil," said a mocking, raw voice. "I knew you'd forget."
I gritted my teeth, threw up my hands, bent my knees into the ‘Oh shit!' position. He was right. I had. "Aw, no – no, Andy, I didn't forget," I said, trying to sound completely on the level. I wasn't very good at it. Even I heard the uncomfortable squeak in my voice.
"I just, uh, the dog, and –"
"Uh, yeah, uh, uh, uh," he stuttered back at me in a deep sarcastic tone. "You can't talk yourself out of this one. Look, I just want to know when I can come pick up the equipment. Is that so hard?"
I searched around the kitchen for something to offer up an excuse to get off the phone. Nothing but empty walls and a frosted glass tiffany lamp (that I hadn't gotten around to hanging up yet that was still sitting on the kitchen table) answered. Even Razz wasn't anywhere to be found.
The shower was on upstairs, so Cassie was out of commission. "Well – Andy, to tell you the truth, we are a bit busy. I told you, with the move and then taking this trip, everything's a bit, well—everywhere at the moment."
"I told you if you needed a hand, I'd gladly drive out there and help you unpack. What do you got, seriously? A bunch of cereal boxes, and a typewriter? Please," he bemoaned. "You always make this trip out to be like a big travesty every year."
I didn't want to admit he was right on the money.
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