Charlie shuffled through the flea-market. He looked up at the grey clouds and mused that a cliche novel would say "the sky echoed his sullen mood". He found himself in the far back of the damp field where the small-time vendors had set up shop. Some of the tents were already vacant. (more) It made him feel more welcome, at least until a voice tripped up his melancholy.
"You look troubled, darlin'"
Charlie looked up to see a fat woman in a faded blue dress sitting under a nondescript tent. She was lounging in a metal folding chair with her arm propped up on a card table. The only other items in the tent were a trashcan and the remnants of spent cigarettes scattered on the table. She was staring at him, half a smirk tugging the right side of her face, taking a big drag on the ash laden cigarette that was her current victim.
"Just wandering," Charlie said, "What are you supposed to be selling, anyway?".
The woman flicked her cigarette and pointed at the trash can. It had the words "Start Over" scrawled in sharpie across it's dull metal front.
Charlie looked at her, "what does that even mean?"
"Different for everybody. What would starting over mean for you?"
Charlie snorted. "It would mean no more dealing with other people's bullshit all the time."
"Well that's perfect, darlin'. You just toss them burdens in that can and you're all set."
"That doesn't make sense."
She grinned. "It will."
"How? Pretending to 'throw my burdens' in a can won't solve their problems."
She gave him a wry look. "Darlin', other people's problems ain't your burden, so why carry it for them?"
"Never thought of it that way."
"Most don't." She smiled. "Can's waiting for you. That'll be a nickel".(less)
The vet's injection took hold and my bird died in my hand. Her stillness changed from struggling-sick to gone-elsewhere. Her black eyes winced shut.
This was the exact thing I spent her whole life protecting her from, but now I had bought and paid for it. She had(more) grown thin and weak and there was nothing more to be done. Her life sparked out and she became her elements: bones and feathers.
She'd had free run of the apartment and in sunny weather I took her for walks along the street in the purse-sized travel cage. I had learned too late that a bird shouldn't be caged, should't be bought at all.
I was alone in the city except for the bird. The vet asked if I wanted the body. I had nowhere to put the body - the thought made me cry. Two years in the city and still nothing or no one. I knew coffee shops and the library. Bus stops, work, the concrete balcony of my tiny apartment. It overlooked Dumpsters.
The vet promised to bury her on her own property, an acreage where she grew apple trees and flowers. She put my bird in a velvet box that folded shut, like a jewelry case. I couldn't watch the lid catch. I left emptyhanded, 11pm at night. The vet's lighted windows a lone burning square on the darkened street. The sidewalk was blank concrete, unimpressionable but serviceable: it lead me home.
All this happened before I really knew the city like I do now. By bicycle, through love. No inch a mystery. Nowadays, I have places I could bury her. But all this was before I knew you could claim your streets. So what if it didn't belong to you. That tiny death. That loss, that gain.(less)
The remnants of lace kept piling up. No one would buy the last bits not after the rumors started making the rounds. The rumors about what was left behind. The rumors started by the cloth makers about what was left behind. Propagated by the senseless widowers that the remnants(more) caused ghosts.
The shawls the old women had worn had been made of remnants. They all showed up after death. Still sitting where they had sat in life. Still demanding the things they demanded in life. Vocally. And with the power of the afterlife. Those threads of unworldly magic that is only accessible by those who are between worlds. Those dead women who's shawls were made of remnants now controlled power far beyond that of the mortal men they once loved. Those ghosts now demanded the television channels. They demanded food they couldn't eat. Demands of air temperature they couldn't feel.
The old men complied. Willingly. At night the old men fell asleep looking at specters of the women they loved once. In the morning they conspired to get rid of remnants of lace.
In the evening the old men cooked the food the way the specters wanted. They turned the air to a temperature that was acceptable to the ghosts.
"The pens," he said.
"Pens? Why?" she asked, perplexed.
"Oh you are more stupid than I think if you thought an enchanter need a.... what was that? Oh, magic wand to make spells," he said, barely contained the disdain from his voice.
Im in a war. I am losing the war, I can only lose this war. When I lose this war I will lose myself. These thoughts consume me, they consume my soul, my heart, my actions, and my life. I am being eaten alive by my own mind. I(more) am killing myself just to prove that I am not strong and capable like everyone says. I strive to be different, and be cared for. I only know how to play the victim. Its me against me. Its me against my mind. Its me eating myself alive. Who wins? Who loses? How do you know when its finally done when there is no one left to crown the King? How can someone live this way?
"It's been haunting me," says Alexi, scribbling dark charcoal outlines down the side of the sketchpad. "For years. This dream." Her hands are shaking and her face is pale.
Her mother is bent over paperwork at her desk, and does not look up. "The one with the door?(more)"
"Yes," snaps Alexi. The charcoal snaps in half between her fingers, scattering black dust across the page. "THAT door. The one you want to find so unholy desperate." The dust smears; the paper turns grey.
This gets her mother's attention. The door always does. Holier is filthy hungry for wishes, the way a stray dog is hungry for meat without caring about its source. "In this dream," she asks, settling her chin in the cup of her hands, "what is behind that door?"
Alexi shrugs, scraping her heels absentmindedly against the floorboards. "I've tried to open it. Never works. Something always stops me." She remembers a thousand hands grabbing at her limbs, her clothes; dragging her down into the dark.
The hands are always very cold, skin the blinding blue of djinn. Like Donnie, thinks Alexi, bleeding primaries across her field of vision while smoke leaks haphazardly out of his mouths.
"I don't remember," she lies. "I've never seen it."
we died first in small ways: where the tramping of our boots morphed into a hollow sound, curling beneath our ribs, unlucky, undeserved, until the darkness came and the blood dried-- sprayed across faces and hands, mouths painted red --beneath our nails, beneath our eyes, underneath our very skin,(more) and in the howling wind of a German autumn, we'd try to sleep, our minds infinite echo chambers throwing back screams and the gutsy, toothache of a noise that the rattle of gunfire made.
we died quick. we died screaming and swearing and hoping to god we'd live to see morning.
i watched men get beat to death-- no mercy for nazis, no mercy for a man like that --faces smashed in like that of a rotting watermelon, pavement sprayed red and oozing like the pain, like the anger that seemed to simmer in all of us.
i watched boys of no more than seventeen get slaughtered out on the front lines, faces still shiny and new like they'd just seen the world for the first time, heart beating until pounded straight through with lead and curled into my lap crying for their mamas.
i died so many times in so many small ways. i died wishing for something i couldn't have and praying to a god i didn't believe in.
"Tell me what they mean," Oikawa asks, curled up against Iwaizumi in the bed. "The marks?"
Iwaizumi holds his left arm out, where the traces of his magic story-tattooing powers first begun. "See the stars?" he asked, wiggling his thumb where the black ink was disturbed only(more) by speckles of tan skin. "Yeah?" Oikawa presses, interested. "My mom used to take me outside to watch them when I cried."
Oikawa reached up, brushing his fingertip over the tattoo. "S'nice," he said. "Homey."
Iwaizumi tells him the stories of his childhood, beetles decorating his inner elbow, trees reaching from his shoulder to his collarbone. He tells Oikawa about the volleyball (Oikawa knows, though), the blurry confession letters hidden on his side, the butterflies that represent when he first found out his crush on Oikawa in a garden. He taps the huge sunset tattooed on his chest, and without a word Oikawa already knows what it is. It's when Iwaizumi first confessed. Iwaizumi sits up just a little to show Oikawa the crescent moon on his back-that was when Oikawa crawled into his room and admitted his returned feelings. He shows the river going around his hips, from when they'd gone on vacation by a stream for a week and did more than go on adventures. All the little moments between them are recorded on his legs, up and down-a spilled coffee cup, a thumbtack (they both laugh and wince at this), a banana peel on a yearbook. Most of them don't make sense, but Iwaizumi remembers. And Oikawa loves.
"What about your right arm, Iwa-chan?" Oikawa murmurs at last. "There's nothing on it."
"Not yet, silly," Iwaizumi mutters. It's too dark for Oikawa to see, but the tattooed ring is still there. "We'll just have to wait for it."
With a sword in my gut, I crawl up the mountain of life.
Breathing is forgotten when the crimson liquid of life leaks from my womb. I shall arise from the shadows and make my way towards the light. Prayers from pure hearts and a caring mind gather 'roun(more)d my soul. No more bruises from unsettled thoughts. No more heartless words pounding at my head. My eyes see truth, but the evil restrains my throat and shove me back into the murkiness of silence. Weary tears burst and my gaze is blurred. Who is there? Who can help me? To live is not freedom. To survive is torture and brimmed with grief. But the choice is ours. In order to survive, you must be certain you can die. (less)
the mixture, regurgitated,
swaying seas from a dying breeze
and the squelch and squish
of a desecrated frieze
(more) will give these words, Elise;
for you, I give my everything.(less)
keep trying to impress everyone with pretty lies
they'll eventually see beneath the manicured veneer
really what does it matter, marginalized mary...
you've never been reputable anyways
but you're great at first impressions
after a drink or a fleeting moment of confidence
at your best, everyone is astounded
for once you can feel like you are at home here
in this once in a blue moon for the colorblind
how can we distill this perfect state of being
even then, they can see you'll never be kid A
was I born to be hated?
to play the scapegoat to atone for past dharma,
so they can all feel better about themselves
at my seemingly worthless expense
the programmer must have been a rotten drunk...
I'm so sick of victim emblazoned trauma
searing 'give up, you are ruined' in my skull
why can't I outwit the dysfunction,
that's been staining my veins
and laughing at how weak I am
it's impossible to be vulnerable,
to an audience that sees you as Marla Singer
whose trust fund eyes have been shielded
from broken roots meditated in section 8 violence
and the current of public school 'shut up' pills
please try to invalidate my setbacks some more
with your fancy college degrees and money rainbows
I'm used to it, my family does it all the time
I know you are just dying to hear me say it
you're better than me, I'm a loser...
are you happy now, do you feel complete?
I'm sorry that it's come to this,
but this is bullshit straight from the bull's eye
even your silver spoon can miss the mark
fuck the little boxes,
and the manufactured veneer their selling
half priced for a facade of acceptance.
What the fuck are we? Why do we avoid each other so damn much? It's like, hey I like you, you don't like me. I get it. I actually get it. But don't waste my time. Just tell me fucking things. Things I don't need to hear. Things I(more) want to hear. Why are you such an ass? Why do I stoop to your level--play games, run away in fear. Be a fucking man. Deal with it. Deal with me.(less)