Having kids is like tearing yourself open and taking out your heart as it beats, your guts as they filter and push and breathe, then stepping your muscled skeleton out of your skin.
Maybe some other things are like this. I don't know.
Your raw muscles with nerves flaring toss the heart which still beats the blood through your body (this part is magic), your guts which still push and breathe, your skin rumpled and saggy -- your muscles your very own hands toss these out as far as they can.
You can't reach that stuff now. Not really.
Your most precious tender things are out there, under the hot sun glistening and looking beautiful when the crows land.
And did I mention you've stepped in concrete? The kind that gets hard quick (this was all voluntary). You can bend over and lay prostrate on the ground, you can stretch and beg. In short, you can pray.
Another man would ask for food, a burger with avocado, steak, pizza -- I don't know -- something SOMETHING. But this. I don't know.
Another man would ask for pictures of his family, his kids. Everyone smiling. Rubbing at the memories like there used to be a sca(more)b but now there is just a scar white and going to purple at the edges. Knotted. Twisted.
Another man would sneak us a message, information about how many men are on the West side and the East and whether or not they are armed, a code, an S.O.S., a plea.
Another man would ask for a priest.
But this list:
A blanket for the cold (OK, that one makes sense)
A pencil with no tip
Paper clips, one pack
A bouquet of daisies
A DVD of the fourth season of Sesame Street
Toe nail clippers
Index cards, 4x6
Are you joking? Have you lost it? Did your captors put you up to this? You get a chance like this once, maybe once, if the hostage-takers are exceptionally bad or exceptionally confident. You'll likely be dead by morning -- we aren't coming in. No negotiations, you know.
the dinner is cooking the dishes are burning the castle
is rising up over the water
the water is churning and I am running
running as fast as I can and no one is
(more) chasing me, I looked, no one is chasing me
and there were sixteen men and
each had sixteen fingers and
each had twenty tongues with which to lash
but I looked
and no one is chasing me
is it because I'm not pretty or that my hair isn't right
I looked for sixteen fingered men
according to prophecy
I looked for twenty tongues
according to tales
but no one is chasing me
the castle rises above the water
the sea is churning whipping frothing
the ships are sailing the ports are fallen into disarray
and now it's just me only me alone is
me woe is me up on the rock
above the waves above the ships where they sailed
above the port all in disarray
and only me
with my unkempt hair blowing in the gusts
my dress in tatters
my legs tired
oh so very tired and
no one was chasing me (less)
The truth is, you see, well, the truth is that I am not me. Nope. Not one little cell not a long blond hair not a flashing brilliant smile of me is really truly and actually me.
No, I am not a clone. Don't be silly. If I(more) was a clone, I would still be me. There would just be two of me. But even that I doubt, because what makes a me? DNA? Some combination of measurable attributes? Is that really what you think? Foolish man.
Don't look at me like that, you know you're being an idiot. I am just and simply and absolutely not me. This is not a matter of possession - alien or demonic, not a matter of split or multiple personalities...
No, not zombification. Now you're just being a dumb-ass.
I don't see why this is so hard for you to understand. Yesterday I was me. I wore pretty things, my shoes were an expensive brand bought at discount (I had connections, but that was yesterday), my hair - oh, my hair. It was luxurious, wasn't it? I would cry if I was still me, at the loss of such luxurious hair. But I'm not me, so it doesn't bother me. Much.
Your mouth is hanging open, and no my hair is not just like it was yesterday. And don't eat all of those oysters - move your hand. Now see there...they're delicious and, regardless of the shoes, I am so lucky because I am no longer the me that is allergic to shellfi...
Three cars had groceries in the trunk (1 held melting popsicles that would later be the cause of heartbreak for a 4-year-old boy, 1 held a pound of apples, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of the Balvenie, 1(more) held a pint of Ben and Jerry's, a Thinking-Of-You card, and a 12-pack of multi-colored gel pens).
One car was completely empty, devoid even of floor mats, the seat belt on the front passenger seat had been cut out.
Four cars were scratched and dented (the female owner of 1 grumbled that she should hang a sign on the door: "Don't blame me, my husband did it.", 2 carried the pock-marks of neighborly door dings, and if you looked closely at 1, you could see where the owner missed a spot of rusty-looking blood leftover from a hit-and-run a week ago).
Two cars were pristine. They were parked next to each other, but far away - at least 15 spaces - from all of the other cars. They glistened and shone in the streetlights. People gave them wide berth.
Six cars were of that color that is not a color - not white or cream, silver or beige - invented solely for it's ability to hide the most road-dirt, water-spots, and salt. A color for people both fearful and lazy.
Two cars stood running and empty. The back door of one hung open, the interior light on, heater blowing air over the earth. The other was locked tight and dark. It rumbled gently, but was still and if you leaned close you could hear a faint thumping from the trunk.
1. Four shillings (he smiled as he laid them out, although they are of no use to us).
2. The contract, inked in the blood of four of the township's finest men and three of our women.
3. Good families full(more) of holes as moth-eaten wool.
4. Corn that thrives and thrives and thrives. We must harvest not only bent and damp in the heat of the sun, but by cracking ice with sledge-hammers. Life can be a curse.
5. Hunger: rotten teeth, bellies that swell like ticks, a new graveyard for the still-born. We fear to name them, because the things we name are the things he wants most.
6. Fat cattle. All with names.
7. Long lives for those who dare or are desperate enough to eat of the corn. Life can be excessive.
8. The slaughter. We prepare for the festival, pretending merriment as best we can, though we are not actors. He knows we are liars, but says nothing. I make mops for the blood.
9. Purpose. We were a township shrinking as our young stole away. We had enough, no less no more. We neither fought nor dreamed. We worked, we ate, we slept. Now we scheme against him and the contract he allows them to hold over the township. We dream of freedom and work towards it as one. I make mops for the blood. (less)
Knock knock, he giggled and whispered, knock knock shock. He giggled again, bent and skinny, pushing through the undergrowth. And knock knock they did, in the bag he dragged. It caught, here and there, on sticks and stones.
(more) Break your bones, he snickered again, then froze and looked around, ears perked like a dogs, eyes slitted and suspicious. He bent to his task again, the bag thumping along as it hit roots that popped up through the wet dirt. Every now and then he had to give it a tug, extra hard, and the bag would catch up on something then break free and its contents bumped against his bony legs.
When this happened, he double-stepped, so his progress seen from afar looked jerky as he pulled against the heavy load then hopped in a hurry to escape it.
He needn't fear, though I wasn't about to tell him this. The contents of the bag were long dead. So dead that there was nothing left to hurt him. No karma jinx or juju to smear or stick or tattoo his scrawny leg with some curse or power.
I don't leave my power in such unreliable hands. I don't leave my power in any hands but my own. But these are strange days, and my suspicious friend has his uses. (less)
There was a great depression in the back of her hand, between the index and middle fingers and just back from the knuckle-line.
It was dark in there.
(more) Not the dark of blood in low light -- though she knew that was very dark indeed. Not the dark of a hole in the ground, or a hole in a log, or a hole in a heart. This wasn't a lurking dark, or the dark left by something once here but now there. This wasn't even the dark of a thing unfortunately present, blotting out the light that would, on a better more ordered day, reach into the hole.
She watched it. Maybe it would spread. It didn't.
Then -- she thought -- it wasn't getting worse, so maybe it would shrink. It didn't.
And she continued to watch it, and the season began to change from this to that. The clouds were thinner, even sparse on some days. Her hand tingled and warmed. She watched and waited, feeling an excitement that she stomped viciously back into her stomach lest it bring a jinx.
Her hand went from tingle to thrum and from thrum to itch. She curled her fingers, made a fist and squeezed until her knuckles poked white and the itch stung and burned and then...and then she heard the faintest of sounds. Like a pen through paper, like pus through skin.
And where there had been a dent, dark at the bottom and thick with mystery, there was green. Bright at the tip and wet with mystery. But this mystery was a different one.
domination promenade peach prom dress frothy and sweet as apple pie, cream, whipped little girls twirling in ballerina tutus (ballet class required) required for daintiness and grace - always learning grace
(which really means polite silence, the running of insults off one's back, movement(more)s that betray no emotion, which really means control)
domination in a prom dress she's grown now or she thinks, though looking back from 30 she'll roll her eyes outwardly and feel shame inwardly, and while she's walking the dog she'll remember this dress this day this dance and in her embarrassment
(even though it's just thoughts in her own head and no audience but her and the Almighty)
she'll giggle out loud a nervous titter and the dog will ignore her because dogs are perfect like that, not caring about how ugly one's perfect dress was or what one did to whom and how
but it's a sure thing that poor boy bled
(which the dog would care about most certainly at least somewhere deep deep deep in his wolf pack bones)
and at the time she was sure he deserved it but she'll wonder while she's walking and looking back she'll wonder just who was on top of whom and where the manipulation occurred and when exactly does grace become cold posturing revenge. (less)
Decide to try the Neil Diamond -- I was already considering it (the melodrama, the swelling to near bursting) when I read it in someone's blog. But the words are distracting (what's he singing about...lovers again but what exciting(more) lovers. Running on beaches and such, I can see them tackle playfully. I've never chased a lover down a beach, but then again I'm more of a lie-in-wait kind of girl.) the words distract and I can't type anything.
Back to my film score Pandora station -- uneven but I'm working on it, adding the Morricone helped -- I'll have to run through the Diamond a few times in regular-time before I can do anything useful with it, before it sits well-behaved in the background without knocking me around. It will be just about perfect, that horror-writer-guy has something here, the emotion welling to overflowing like what you find in a good film score. So back to the Pandora and that's that.
The sun is crawling out of the lakes and pulling itself up over the housetops, which means I shouldn't be up. It's taken me four years off-and-on of trying to get up and grab time before the house stirs and the day starts and everyone needs something. Energy shots are key. An expensive habit and today I downed the whole thing instead of rationing half. An extravagant experiment, especially since I turned off the alarm in my sleep and have little time.
I'll get nothing done on the story that is sitting on my chest, an evil cat stealing my air. This is how it goes badly. Every time I sit down to work it's like trudging through mud. On a treadmill. A mud treadmill.
The town was dry and gritty, powdery, some color between tan and grey like someone ground sand under a heel until it was even smaller, finer, until a gust of wind would puff it up into a woman's face til she couldn't breathe, couldn't see, couldn't speak. The town(more) and it's dirt were hobbles.
It smelled faintly, a tang and scratch at the back of the nose, like there were forest fires in the distance, just over the hills, and if she left her dishes in the sink and came out into the yard wiping her hands on the tattered dish towel and looked up in the East she would see the orange steady glow painted along the ridge like a sunset that didn't quite know it's proper place or color, and didn't know that it was supposed to shift and slide and then fade.
But there were no fires, not for a long time and not for miles, but the desert was to the West and the desert was a collector of ash which made it's way into town, stubbornly crawling back to familiar surroundings - homes and yards and office buildings.
The town was both stark and bright, scoured by sand and having developed dyes that could combat the constant efforts of dust to quell their colors. The finest dyes in the country, in the world, boasted the keepers in the stalls that lined the road. It was no empty boast. The colors flashed as the wind nipped at their fabrics. The keepers chatted up the travelers, trading coin for protection against the dust, caps and veils and shawls and capes. The dye, the dust, the merchants in a symbiosis that preyed upon the visitor. (less)
[Lonely heart homely heart last part home run dart play the part lovely heart lovely heat trip the beat lonely beat drum thrum lonely heart beat thrum bum crumb crumby heart play the part liar heart crumby]
Start the game with a lonely heart play the part with(more) a crumby start crumbly cranking start the wanking spanking
walk the planking monkeys cheering pirates parrots clerics jeering mirroring fearing leering
steering the boat through the waters to the loot at the sandbar where we'll beg for a drink of rum -- we'd prefer water but it's salty and bitter and hasn't flowed properly in ages
someone's forgotten to keep the wheel spinning -- pirates are known for their laziness and doggone uppity plain ornery natures so maybe forgotten was really refusal, the stubborn watching of the water collecting and stagnating, they probably stood over it with salt shakers and giggled and cackled like teenage girls about to set someone on fire but these are just pirates, crazy and greedy and mean, but harmless really unless one is dying of thirst or needing gold coin to ply the wooden heart of a handsome prince who spends his days watching the bottom line until his eyes and his stomach bulge.
This guy useful only for his title because that's important still in a salty-water world. You could go to him begging with an offer of rum and it might do if he's in the mood but gold is the language of love and a lonely heart needs all the help she can twist from the prankster coyote pirates who are romantics anyway, deep down that is, with hearts of cake and thick frosting that is so sweet no one actually eats it, but it looks pretty on the table, on display lonely alone. (less)
There are the ten toes...count 'em...one two three four five six. Ya, OK then. And the fingers - they're all there. Wiggle wiggle. Got 'em and flaunt 'em.
The nose. (Something stinks. We'll have to deal with that later.) Neck cracking, knees creaking but everything bending the wa(more)y it's supposed to. Far as I can remember.
Everything is a little bit foggy. Ok. A lot foggy. Like I can't really remember much except I know I'm human. Or supposed to be human, or act human...something. It will come back to me. (I hope.)
The legs (my legs MY legs) are wobbly. My head (the head it's mine) is confused - not in the emotional or intellectual way in which I have been laying here confused for several moments now, but in a physical way. As in, I'm having trouble determining which way is up and keep finding myself falling down. Extremely disconcerting and it will make the mission difficult to accomplish.
Mission? There's a mission? (Damn.)
But I know I'm sure I remember I'm supposed to act human here. So in times of confusion one must go through the checklist. There are criteria that must be met for successful integration: Bodily appearance (hence the toe-count). Predictable reaction to stimuli (hence the confusion the all-out existential what-the-fuckness. Right?). Smile (when in doubt, smile).
Check, check, and now...(show them pearlies) check.
Feet down, hair up.
Find the light switch...OK, that's where the stink is coming from...just scoot that out of the way...and that's better then. (Hope he didn't feel that.)
Good this is progress.
And there (right over there how could I have missed it before?) is the door. And behind it I hear voices and the tramping of feet so many feet.
I stopped chewing and looked at my host. He continued to slice his ham, as if those words were of the most normal, everyday sort.
(more) The carrots, which had started out mealy and bland, became a thick wad in my mouth. I tried to work up some spit, failed, and reached for the wine. This was only the second glass. Or maybe the third. The clock was on the wall in front of me, above and behind my host's head, but I couldn't remember when we'd started dinner. Perhaps I hadn't noticed the time.
I had been extremely hungry.
"I'm sorry, sir, I thought you said 'bones'."
"Yes, son. Bones. Of course they're very old. Some have become brittle. Wholly untrustworthy, the entire damned machine. But the grandkids..." he shrugged at the whims of children and smiled.
I managed to swallow the gluey vegetables and gulped the remainder of my wine.
"It will have to be repaired. And materials are so hard to find these days." He tutted quietly and set into the potatoes.
"And you have hired me to..." I was afraid to finish. I was short. Very short. My bones would hardly be appropriately sized for the gigantic wheel I'd seen looming behind the manor.
He looked at me, surprised. "Son, it has been told me that you are the finest machinist in these civilized states. If that isn't true, then please show yourself to the door."
It had been so long since I'd eaten better than rats and rotten cafe toss. And it was warm in the dining room. Dry.
I sat straighter. "Absolutely, sir. The best. I rebuilt Mr. Van Bubon's flyer not three years ago."
My host nodded. "That was fine work. Later, I'll show you the dungeon." (less)