I’m going to spend my lunch break freewriting instead of reading about kitties because I’ve been really lazy with the whole writing thing lately which I like to blame on the boys being silent but really it’s my own fault for just not trying, or at least not trying hard enough, putting sweat and blood and tears into it, I used to but I don’t so much anymore, not sure why, maybe just more things to spread the crazy over so the writing doesn’t get hit with the full force of an anxious, depressed, obsessive compulsive mind like mine, though it doesn’t help either that I’ve been doubting, wondering just how much of my belief really is that crazy mind just wanting to cling to nice ideas, goddesses that care and gods who exist outside of the chambers of my mind that is so many hallways and so many doors and so many rooms, it’s easy to get lost, equally easy to turn a corner and think you see something, someone, but probably not, they’re probably not really there, you’re probably just lonely or scared or angry, yeah, I can do anger well when I need, though these days the spark isn’t so easy to coax into a roaring flame, it’s more like a pilot light you forget about or maybe a lighter with no liquid left so you’re just flick flick flicking the switchy thing to no result, I wish I could be angry at a world that might not be as magnificent as I hope, that might honestly just be what you see is what you get, no magic or mystery, I wish that could make me angry but instead it just makes me, I don’t know, afraid I guess, but that fear that comes from not wanting to admit something might be true, if you say it out loud you might make it real but if you never say it, if you carry that dead coal deep in your chest maybe it’s not really real, not quite, and maybe one day you’ll have that experience that proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that everything exists, everything at all, but let’s be honest, probably not, that’s just a little too good to be true, not everyone can be right about everything, and anyway I guess the mystery is the point of it all, the not knowing, the believing despite the lack of evidence, but that’s stupid, honestly, that’s bullshit, what’s so bad about evidence? what’s so good about blind faith? and when some say it’s good to doubt and others say it’s bad to doubt, who’s right when everything right or nothing’s right or whatever, I’m losing steam here, and my train of thought, and really it’s only been like fifteen minutes, how did I ever do this before, this roundabout whirlwind wordvomit that somehow made sense before, had a point, seemed maybe even a little fucking profound, at least to the me that was writing it at 2 AM, and maybe that’s the problem, maybe that sort of thing can’t be written at 12:09 PM on a lunch break but I’m asleep at 2 AM these days and I like it, I like the not pacing and weeping and tearing at my hair, though I guess I do miss the result, haven’t really written anything I could call good in who knows how long, even stuff like this feels like cheating, just strings of words connected by the occasional swear because I’m edgy, see?, but I remember how it was once upon a time, the urge, the compulsion, the flow, fierce river of words that didn’t suck so fucking much and didn’t need to be framed in a haiku because otherwise there aren’t enough to make anything of any value, and yes every time I write a haiku I know it’s a stopgap measure, water on one plant in a desert of dying vines, wow, getting real poetic here aren’t we, maybe 12:12 is the magic minute, though probably not, this lunch hour might have been better spent reading someone else’s words, especially since I’m really winding down, no anger or sorrow or indignation or other words that would sound nice here, no, I’m down to one maybe every twenty seconds, twenty five at the end of a thought, the what now? with no answer, I guess another few words, I forget what I wrote about up there but it was probably stupid, this is too so I probably won’t do anything with it, I’ll delete it all in a burst of another word that I can’t think of, maybe I should take up nope don’t backspace can’t backspace here that’s not how it works, there are rules, stupid rules but if we don’t have rules then everything’s chaos or whatever, though then again everything IS chaos right now, isn’t it? so maybe no one would even notice, and honestly no one’s going to read this anyway, not even me on some far future midnight because ugh, what’s the point, why walk the same old same old same old circles, it’s 12:17 now, can I be done? I can manage to eke out a few more words if you really want, banana combine harvester ecclesiastical wow I spelled that right on the first try, oughta get a sticker for that, and oh hey stickers! maybe those would help, though I doubt it, but at least it’s 12:18 now, see how the time flies, here are a few more words for you or maybe not, maybe my mind will go completely blank like a thing that’s really blank I guess, fuck off simile, which I guess I can’t spell, some grade level teacher would be disappointed in that but you know what Ms I can’t think of any teacher names well they can fuck off too, I’ll spell all the words wrong if I want, not trying to get published anyway, just yelling into the void and I guess taking up some precious storage data or something but hey it’s 12:20 so fuck this
A rare moment, the calm after one storm and before the next spent in weary and listless silence. Head to Tanim’s shoulder, Daren asks idly, “Which madness do you prefer? Which is the least of the evils?” but “I’m not sure I’m the best judge of evils,” the other answers with a wry nod to the bottle at his side, half empty or half full depending on the day. It earns him a jab in the ribs and, “I’m the only one who gets to dodge questions.”
“Fine,” Tanim stares down at the bottle, rocking it from side to side to make the amber contents dance. “I don’t prefer any of them,” his reply thoughtful, “but I think the quiet one scares me the most. When you’re not angry, not sneering or snarling, not fighting back or lashing out or anything. When you’re just still and blank…” His voice trails off and Daren laughs, or his rough version of the sound anyway, honest amusement with a one-sided smirk for accompaniment. “You prefer the times when I try to gut you to the peace and quiet? You really are a masochist.” Tanim ignores the last comment and shrugs, careful of Daren’s head leaned against his shoulder. “I suppose so, yes. The knife I can see, even if I can’t always dodge. It’s predictable. This… it’s like not being able to hear the ice cracking beneath your feet.”
“That’s fair,” The smirk twists, turns sour and oddly introspective. “I’m not sure even the ice knows when it’s about to shatter.” Tanim nods in acknowledgment and the silence expands once more until, “It’s never really peace,” he admits, unnecessary confession, “But I don’t want peace. Neither of us would be here if we wanted peace.”
I wonder what those grunge singers and goth kids would have done if they knew such gods as you existed, if they had been told their militant atheism could find a better home in your worship than in the denial of any worship at all. How might their songs have changed if they had sung to you instead? What fires might their rebellion have lit if they had rebelled for you? Death gods abound and always have, but there are none in any pantheon that light even a candle to your fierce and fantastic blaze. If things had been different, you might have had a following instead of a single scribe. You might have had an army clad in leather and safety pins, black painted nails and kohl lined eyes; an army fed on stolen cigarettes and hard liquor, energized by sorrow and hate. I just wonder what others may have accomplished with you to fuel their dark creativity – could someone like Kurt Cobain or Elliott Smith have handled you, or would your darkness have only fed on their own? Or perhaps you were there after all, in another iteration, another cycle, whispering the same wrenching dirges in their ears as you do now in mine?
Is this the winter you’ll finally tell me why the Moon killed the Sun?
Are you ever going to tell me?
Probably not. Besides, who knows why the gods do anything?
That’s a terrible answer.
Isn’t it better to get an honest “no” than be promised truths you’ll never receive?
I feel like you’re getting too into this trickster-death-god role.
I thought that’s what you wanted?
Yes, I mean, maybe, but… I’m getting Loki/Set vibes from you and it’s becoming a little alarming.
I’m well suited to the role, that’s all. Anyway, you already know the answer to your question. I don’t know why you keep bothering me about it.
I feel like every time I get an answer it just inspires ten more questions.
It’s been thirteen years and you’re just now catching on to that?
Muddled dreams; your fingers, the knife, the needle, fear and exhilaration; strange you’d choose these forms (yes, I know it’s you), suiting masks but so many meanings; lovers and enemies and one never without the other, by blood building a world to suit you both (or neither); so whose mask should I wear? the daughter, surrogate born in her own blood, so precious she should be sacrificed rather than set free (as if you allow a trinity); or the broken one reborn as avenging angel, she who managed to capture the Devil and would have held him until the end? (as if he can truly be held, ever); the dreams don’t tell me what role I should play; in them your masks are mine; in them the knife is dear to me, and I submit (you enjoy this, don’t you); but if I write about blood and feed you dark anthems the dreams recede for a time at least.
[ Writing prompt via my arch nemesis: “Mage admires a rival pirate ship’s pillaging before sinking it” ]
“Damn, that is nice form,” Mage clucked appreciatively as she leaned over the Jolly Roger’s rail, admiring the furious battle taking place a few hundred yards away. “Look, see the way they slip around the side like that, come up from behind for a round before she can even fire back? That’s how you take down a galleon of that size! Give me speed and agility over brute force any day.” When a shot from the rival ship sent one of the galleon’s masts crashing down she cackled and slapped her hands on the rail. “Yes! Nice one!”
“Um… Captain….” Behind her, Tanim cleared his throat awkwardly, trying to get his captain’s attention without also earning her irritation. She didn’t seem to notice his presence as she added approvingly, “Nice cannon on her, too. Bet that cost a pretty penny. Someone elses, of course.” The second mast collapsed in a shower of wood and canvas. “Ooh, good shot!” Mage exclaimed. He coughed again, louder this time. “Captain? Hello?”
“Huh?” Mage glanced over her shoulder, eyebrow raised as if she had forgotten entirely that she even had a crew. “What do you want?”
“Are we going to, well… attack?” Tanim gestured toward the pirate ship currently sacking the battered galleon of its riches. “You know, flay them alive for daring to enter our territory and hunt our prey? That sort of thing?” Mage sighed and turned her back on the triumphant ship. “Oh, I suppose… Seems a shame to waste such a nice ship, but at least the best of her will go to bolstering the Jolly Roger. Ooh, maybe they’ve got some of those pitch barrels you light on fire and throw at people. I love those.”
“We don’t have any more?” Tanim asked as he followed Mage to the wheel. With a gesture of her hand the sails unfolded and the ship lurched forward. “No,” she replied with a pout as she steered toward the other ship. “I used the last on that port town where I lost at dice.”
[ Writing prompt via my arch nemesis: “Daren becomes a regular at a coffee shop and a manic pixie dream girl falls for him so he has to shake her off” ]
The first week, Penelope played quirky and hard to get. She wore a floppy knitted cap over her long pink hair, despite the heat, and leaned against the coffee shop counter as if she owned the place. Her gaze roamed the room with calculated boredom, falling every few moments on the man in the far corner. She was prepared to glance away the moment he looked at her, thus securing her mysterious allure, but he never looked her way in the first place. After half an hour of this she gave up and slipped out the rear exit, hoping to gain mystery points by disappearing suddenly.
The second week, Penelope played quirky and outgoing. She wore her pink and purple hair in pigtails, chatted loudly with the barista as if they were old friends, and sat at the table directly next to the object of her affections. When his attention seemed to be aimed in her somewhat general direction, she pulled out a pack of tarot cards and asked if he wanted a reading. He slid flat black eyes her way, eyed her expressionlessly, then promptly returned to ignoring her. When she started doing a reading anyway, laying the cards out with great pomp and circumstance, he moved to a table on the other side of the room.
The third week, Penelope played quirky and soulful. She covered her pink, purple, and green hair with the hood of her oversized sweater, sat in a totally opposite corner from her quarry, and pretended to read a tattered paperback with some weird Russian title she had bought for a quarter. Sometimes she would pretend to jot something down on the small notebook in her pocket, gaze around the room as if in deep thought, then go back to the book. She ordered straight black coffee, the man’s apparent drink of choice, though she laced hers with copious amounts of sugar. Her obscure Russian novel didn’t seem to impress him; when she looked up from doodling a flower in the notebook he was gone.
The fourth week, Penelope played quirky and helpless. She wore her rainbow hair in a braid wrapped around her head held in place with mismatched chopsticks, and fumbled through her stuffed animal purse for change when it came time to pay for her fancy coffee. Despite the extended fumbling, the man did not come forward and offer to purchase the drink for her. When it started to rain and she gazed woefully out the window, wondering aloud how she would ever get home in such a storm with no one to accompany her, this seemed if anything to prompt him to leave completely. Penelope tried to ignore the idea that he would rather walk coatless into a rainstorm than suffer her presence; he was probably just deaf or something.
The fifth week, Penelope played quirky and edgy. She spiked up her black pixie cut, its fringe falling artfully over one eye, and took a table by herself where she could prop her legs up and glare at passersby. Like the man, she dressed in all black and spoke as little as possible. While she couldn’t smoke in the cafe, she did tuck an unlit cigarette behind her ear where it would at least be visible. Yet even this attempt earned her nothing more than a few weird glances from other patrons; the man didn’t look at her at all.
The sixth week, Penelope played quirky and geeky. She wore Tardis barrettes and Triforce earrings, a Gryffindor scarf and Avengers hoodie. She read a gaming magazine and rather loudly mentioned to the barista that the drink she had ordered was canonically Super Girl’s favorite. She even managed to accidentally drop a couple Marvel movie ticket stubs from her pockets on the floor beside the man, but not only did he not remark upon their titles, he didn’t even help her pick them up.
The seventh week, Penelope snapped. Hair unwashed, clothes hastily donned and still askew, she marched into the coffee shop and straight to the man’s customary table. “What is your problem?” she demanded. “How long does it take you to make a move? What are you waiting for?” When he blinked uncomprehendingly at her, a scowl pulling at his thin mouth, she sighed dramatically. “Fine. Fine, I’ll go out with you.”
“Pass,” The man’s reply was as terse and monotone as anything she had heard him say to the cafe employees. She spluttered with outrage as he signaled to the barista for a refill of his coffee, dismissing her completely. “Excuse me? That’s not how this goes! What are you, an idiot?” Faster than she would have given anyone credit for, the man stood, towering over Penelope’s petite frame. He scowled down at her as he leaned in and growled, “Get out of my face, kid. If I see you here again I swear you’ll regret it.”
It was at that moment Penelope realized two things: one, that there was a very thin and very sharp looking blade in the man’s hand, and two, that she didn’t really like coffee and anyway, it was about time for her to switch to women for a while. There was a lesbian bar on the other side of town where she could play the quirky, free-spirited bisexual who would win over the heart of some newly out teen, show her the ways of the world, and then leave her for an ex. She made a hasty exit from her former quarry, feeling his eyes burning holes into her back all the way out the door.