It's your comfiest shirt. Your girlfriend steals it when when she wants to be reminded of you. Years old, woven with memories of warm summer afternoons, days in bed sick, and movie nights with friends. That shirt is your home, more than the dingy apartment you're in now. Home(more) is where your heart is, as the saying goes, and your heart's in your chest, which is in that shirt more often than not. It's such a part of you it'll deserve its own funeral when it finally becomes too perforated to be called a shirt.
But for now, it's underneath your softest hoodie, warming you just as much as the coffee in your hands is. Spring can't come fast enough.(less)
When I was young my father had a peculiar philosophy about travelers and anyone who popped into his life. He treated them well and even took care of them when he could. It wasn't that he had a bleeding heart or a soft, caring nature (in fact he was(more) usually quite stern, from what I remember of him). His kindness came from a kind of suspicion: these people were tests, somehow, and he had to pass.
It was by way of this philosophy that Martin came to us, dirty and bleeding on this already ratty clothing. My father had found him lying in the parking lot near his car, which somehow fit perfectly into his philosophy. He brought him home and cleaned him and gave him clothes. He had a dark, age-worn face and grey hair that turned out to be white when washed. He should have frightened me as a child, but his slumped form and sympathetic eyes left me merely curious. My father decreed that Martin would sleep on a cot in the garage for a few days. My mother, brother, and I accepted it, understanding without understanding.
A few days turned into weeks, during which Martin cleaned the garage and the yard. Summer started and Martin could be found working in the garden with my father. After a month my father announced that Martin would be staying the spare bedroom, and not to bother him. For his part, Martin rarely spoke to us. He only ever spoke to my father in the garden.
Martin took his meals separately and existed as a silent member of the household. One morning, almost a year exactly after he came to us, Martin didn't wake up. Instead he lie still in his bed, his old threadbare shirt clutched in his hand.(less)
It was a select gathering, as all feasts were with the Secret King. In ones or twos, the nobles emerged from hidden passages to eat, drink and plot in the King's hall.
It had been this way since the Breaking. The crown was the key to the Kingdom;(more) its powers locked treasuries, led men, and sailed ships. Without a King to wear it, the great houses were powerless, the people free. And so they tried to kill their King.
It was two years since the Kingmaker had held the crown above my head and declared me its heir. I was not the King's kinsman, but the crown did not care. Now, at the feast, I sat with the King, and we discussed many things.
An assassin stood in the rafters. His aim was true; the King was dead.
I fled, vanished into the city. I lived as commoners did, saw their fears, joys, and sorrows. I saw that the people suffered under their monarchs. The guilds' assassins were never far. But as I became a commoner, I began to fear another more.
The Kingmaker walked the streets. Only I could wear the crown, but as my shirt became threadbare, I found I did not want to.
He found me in a tavern. I turned, and he was there, holding the crown between his hands.
"Why cause more suffering?" I asked. "I will not wear your broken crown."
But it was not my choice. The Kingmaker placed it on my head and robed me in black. I became King, owned by the crown.
I have not ruled long, but I swear I will not forget. I refuse to let my people suffer. They despise me and seek my death, as does my crown, but still I wear a threadbare shirt.
It was hot. So hot. Way, way too hot. Usually the weather didn't really bother him--especially considering his default attire for his job--, but today the stars aligned and the weather gods were being petty, humidity being added into the already hotter than normal summer highs.
It was(more) the weekend, so at least he didn't even have to fathom donning his suit in this heat, but if he wanted to go out at any point, he'd need to be decent. Frankenstein had instilled the 'must wear a shirt' normalcy from jump. Tao was still encouraging then to go with the kids to an amusement park, his shoulderless black top and skinny jeans on as usual. He hadn't seen Takeo all morning but still hear the shower running when he was coming down for a late breakfast, fastening one button fewer than usual on his shirt.
It was something he bought early after his arrival in the house--and then subsequent substantial paycheck--but immediately regretted not trying in-store because of the somewhat sheer quality it had when actually worn. Stuffed at the bottom of his drawer and forgotten, M-21 was glad he didn't immediately return it now. Whatever he thought Tao was going to say about it, he skipped it in favor of convincing the grey to brave the heat with them for amusement park funtime adventures.
"Takeo's coming, right?" M-21 didn't want to damage control by himself.
"Yep, just as soon as he figures out a way to put his hair up that won't cause him to pass out after ten minutes, haha."
The mere though of having to carry that much extra weight made him momentarily warmer. He rubbed the back of his neck reflexively.
The shirt hangs from her body like seaweed over a rock. Strips of cotton alternating with flesh, a sleek urban zebra. She walks with a confidence that cannot be faked. The shirt swaying back and forth and slipping from the shoulder. She glances casually from side to side when cro(more)ssing the street, not so much to check for traffic, but rather to better ascertain the meaning of her surroundings and integrate them into her constantly forming, imaginative worldview.
People notice when she walks by. They stop to turn around and watch her passage through the streets, subconscious of their desire to experience even a fraction of the enlightenment pulsing from her body through the threadbare shirt.(less)