When she wakes up, her mother is screaming at her again.
When she wakes up, the house is quiet.
When she wakes up, the world is ending.
When she wakes up, the world has ended with fire and tears.
When she wakes up, there's a boy whose desperation is(more) frightening.
When she wakes up, she's alone. (less)
There are moving men in the house across the street, bringing in couches and the dirt on their boots. Mama says there's a new family moving in; it's only proper manners to say hello. With the way the neighborhood property value has been degrading, Mama wonders why anyone would(more) want to move here.
The temperature has gone up again, and with the AC broken, I have nothing better to do.
I pity the poor moving men, forced to do work in the summer.
Mama only purses her lips at the trails of dried mud all over the place, and nudges me toward the door. The plate of cookies in my hands slowly grows slippery with my sweat. I hope they don't notice.
The lady who opens the door doesn't seem to see it- my ruddy cheeks, damp t-shirt, clammy hands- and she gives us with a wide smile and hello! She hadn't expected us to come and greet her. Everything is a mess still, but thanks us for the cookies.
I say hello back.
Mama purses her lips at the mud. (less)
Booming, obscene, all-consuming; the walls of this room are too thin.
Some stray glowing light keeps you from sleep, even though you know that the windows are too cluttered with dust and graffiti, that all the door cracks have been stuffed with rags, that the light fixtures hav(more)e been dead for weeks.
They say when you block out one sense, your other four senses work over-time to fill up the void. Phantom lights? Vague hallucinations brought on by late-night pop music seeping through. Are you dreaming?
It bothers you, still. Under the too-hot-and-itchy blankets you are squirming, but irrational child-hood fears keep you from kicking them off. A stubborn kind of punishment- but for a reason you can't seem to recall.
Ah, right. Yes. Sleep.
The shores splash at your toes there are chocolate dancers waiting where is the president a female voice sings. (less)
Madgar wondered if cotton actually absorbed odors like Mila always claimed they did. Probably not, since ze could still smell that awful stench, clinging to zir skin and hair and everything oh no. Ze whimpered.
Mila's hut was an entire two spheres away, which was honestly two sphere(more)s too many. The Sniffers were going to jump zir as soon as ze stepped out of zir's hiding spot; ze wasn't the quickest kid in his year, but ze wasn't stupid. Well, maybe past-Madgar was, since ze obviously hadn't thought it through about how ze was going to get back home smelling like- like-
"Holy shiiit- What /is/ that?"
"I can't breathe-! ack-! Poison- We're being raided!"
Madgar cringed, tried to breathe deeply, and promptly gagged. Ze opted to just squeezing zir eyes shut instead. This wasn't going to work; already people were starting to gather uncomfortably close to zir little hole in the wall, and they weren't going away. It wasn't even a question anymore; ze was going to get caught, and they were going to take zir away forever and ever and they'd stone zir and exile zir and what if ze never saw Mila again oh no oh no
"Hey! It's not safe to sleep here."
Ze opened one eye, and then shifted further into the hole, trying to bundle the cotton shift around zir tighter. The stranger, strangely, doesn't say anything, and Madgar can't really see what they're doing, but it sounds like sniffing.
"You...You smell like..." there's a pause, and then-
"You went outside...?" the stranger says, their voice dripping with everything Madgar expected from a reaction and if this is a dream he wants to wake up wake up wake upppp-
Ze's pretty sure that, compared to other people's experience, ze's got it pretty easy. Hir parents sort of understand the gender spectrum, distant relatives haven't called in to express their disapproval, and hir brother isn't making a big deal out of it.
(more) So, yeah. Ze's pretty lucky. They could've disowned hir, or gone and thrown out all hir carefully collected assortment of make-up products, but they didn't (and thank god for that, it took hir forever to get hir latest nail polish color).
Ze doesn't really have any reason to complain- except that ze does. Something isn't right.
The subtle way hir father looks at other families.
The quiet way hir mother smiles when ze brings up hir gender.
The doubtful way hir brother mentions "transtrenders" while they talk.
And how they /don't/ talk when they go outside (less)
What little the rain didn't completely ruin, the wind has taken care to spread as far as possible.
"It's not funny!" he hisses at her, scrambling after what is either a page from his notes or a chinese take-out menu. She obliges his request, but the smile o(more)n her face still lingers as she steps around a lamp-post to grab another lost paper.
"It is, a little." she says. "Only you would think you actually need these notes to get a good grade in class. You barely looked at them before!"
He refuses to respond to her taunts, using his energy toward chasing after another fly-away before it lands in a deep puddle. For a moment, he thinks he won't get there in time, but then a hand swoops in at the last moment to save it and he breathes.
"Don't be so worried, alright?" she says, looking up at him while tucking the saved paper into the already growing stack in his arms.
Superboy tells him, one night, that it's difficult to step foot into Gotham, now that Batman is gone. It feels almost sacrilegious.
Batman is still here.
Just not the Batman-who-was-the-night-and-justice.
(more) He doesn't need Superboy's clarification to understand. How could he not? Too often has the boundary between Robin and Batman been challenged for him to feign innocence. But he clings to it anyway, or what's left of it. The city seems almost unbearably bleak, some days; What's to stop it from taking another of their family? What is there left to save that's worth saving here? What help could he even give to make an actual difference?
He asks Superboy, one night, if it's so difficult, why do you come?
It wasn't as if the only place they could meet was Gotham; he isn't the same young boy from a year ago, unable to go anywhere without watching eyes- he grew up and left the nest and shed the uniform.
Superboy answers, why do /you/ come?
The bat-signal lights up in the distance, muffled against dark clouds, still believing a hero can save them.
Batman-who-isn't and Robin(-who-also-isn't) fly by, following it, flashes of light in the dark.
He and Superboy follow suit. (less)
It's not the burn of the absinthe going down that makes it alluring, he says. As if anyone needed clarification on that point.
(But those sad eyes had asked him to listen- so he finds it somewhere in his 'marble' heart to hold back the sharp reprimands.(more) If he would only try, if he'd put down that bottle, if he'd stop pitying his own existance, reduced to whether his hand holds a drink or not, and look outside-!)
Even if his own words are seering a blackened path across his lungs, he holds it back, and he listens.
("Iss... Iths not th'fire, Apollo. It's th'wave of nothing, tha' follows and seduces.") (less)
"It's easier than you'd think," he slurs, and Jehan turns to give Grantaire a good stare. He's always saying something strange, admist the spitting criticisms of life and their purpose. This takes the cake though, and the little poet can't help but think there might be something intriguing behind this(more) line of thought. Something worth writing about.
"Combeferre says it's all a matter of control and precise mathematics." he says, to entice more from the drunk, and Grantaire takes the bait.
"It's- It's more than that, you have to- to put your feelings-"
"Show me." (less)
The clouds have been brewing for some time now; on land and in the sky there is no peace. For the high king to sit upon his stallion and think that his encampment is the strongest- the bravest- the best, is but ordinary king-think, full of lofty goals and nothing(more) to ground those silly things.
The soldiers though, the little droplets that make up those bushy crowds, they sit by their fires, in the mud, and they think thoughts. Lengthy thoughts, sad thoughts, thoughts that force one to look up and click their tongue: That cloud brings no good to the mind. Better find a red-haired to pinch for luck, they laugh. Yet soon, they will all be red-haired. And faced. And bodied.
A storm comes, and they all know who will win, even if the high king doesn't. (Death) (less)