I write something along the lines of cross-genre character-based multi-narrative introspective episodic flash fiction. That’s fancy mumbo-jumbo for “I write short fiction involving the same two characters, Tanim and Daren, in different settings and genres.” I just liked all the kooky words. Basically, I take the same two characters, make subtle tweaks to their story/history/personalities/etc, and see what happens. It’s sort of like shattering a mirror and then describing the minute variations in the thousands of fragmented reflections. Tanim and Daren have been mortal and immortal, gods and men, kings and criminals, friends and enemies, lovers and brothers, cowards and heroes and madmen, martyrs, murderers, countless different lives revolving around the same two ill-fated souls. Every story may end in tragedy, but each follows its own path to that inevitable end.
Trying to summarize Tanim and Daren is always a daunting task for me. This entry will hopefully provide a brief introduction. However, Tanim and Daren are involved in an almost limitless number of different story lines and worlds, so it’s hard to summarize their core attributes without adding every exception to the rule. That being said, I shall now attempt to do just that. My apologies in advance for the length.
Age: Mid-late 30s, sometimes early 40s
Height: ~ 5’11-6’0”, 2 inches taller than Daren
Body build: Lean, healthy weight, in shape but not overly muscular
Facial features: Strong jaw, straight nose, “aristocratic” features, smiles often
Eye color: Blue-gray, darker when angry or upset, often give away his emotions
Skin color: Normal warm Caucasian tone, flushes easily
Hair color/style: Black, thick and slightly wavy, length varies between several inches and slightly more than jaw length
Clothing style: Earth tones or muted colors, mostly slacks and sweaters/dress shirts, style is expensive yet understated
Astrological sign: Cancer – Devoted, loyal, nurturing, self-sacrificing, affectionate, loving, introverted, self-deprecating, fretful, emotional, possessive, obsessive, passive/passive-aggressive
Tanim is at heart a gentle, well-meaning man with an unfortunate martyr complex. He is loyal and honest to a fault, happiest when he has someone to care for and most miserable when he is alone. He hates confrontation or asserting himself to someone he loves, though he would do anything to protect that person from someone else without hesitation. However, his devotion to those he loves also leads him to sacrifice his own needs in order to fulfill the role he assumes is expected of him. Tanim truly is his own worst enemy. He loathes himself for any perceived weakness while remaining completely blind to the faults of others. These emotions are all internal, of course; the face Tanim presents to others is always upbeat, calm and kind. Only those who know his innermost fears understand the knife-edge on which Tanim balances, forever torn between his own misery and the need to ignore that pain and dedicate himself to another.
Although Tanim’s history may change depending on the story, the “main” storyline (though not by far the only!) finds him as a recusive, miserable man living alone in a lavish penthouse city apartment (a description of which can be found here.) He grew up as the oldest son of a wealthy businessman and trained from a young age to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, in his late teens Tanim began to struggle with feelings of emptiness, apathy, and a longing for personal submission which deeply disturbed him. He tried to ease the ache by any means necessary, turning even to alcohol and drugs, but nothing could either numb him enough or fill the emptiness and he sank further into depression. Then, while Tanim was in his late twenties, his father died and it was assumed Tanim would step into his father’s role. However, unable to stand the thought of living life under the scrutiny of the public eye when he could barely hold himself together, Tanim did the unthinkable. He sold his shares of the company, took his sudden wealth, and disappeared. He cut off all contact with his family, choosing the misery of self-imposed isolation to risking his loved ones discovering his double life and “perverted” desires. When Tanim and Daren meet, Tanim has been living alone for years, trapped in a hell of his own devising. It is only through Daren’s patient yet stern support that Tanim finally begins to accept himself and heal the years old wounds.
Tanim’s self-sacrificing personality is primarily a result of his longing to surrender himself in all ways to one he loves. He believes that submission to the beloved is the highest form of love and is happiest in a master/servant relationship. Alone, he feels incomplete; it is only through complete devotion to another that Tanim considers himself to have a purpose or meaning in life. The only value he sees in himself is the value placed on him by someone else. For Tanim, an important part of a master/servant relationship is submission of the body. In most fragments Tanim’s sexual orientation can be considered classically asexual, as he feels no sexual attraction toward either men or women. It is his love for Daren that sparks the desire for physical intimacy, not a desire for the man’s body itself. Because of this, no other man or woman inspires the same lust in Tanim. He seeks out sexual intimacy in an attempt to experience the complete vulnerability found in total submission to another. It isn’t about sexual release for him, only loss of control and free will to another, both of which are surrendered most fully during sex. Therefore, even though Tanim may come off as textbook homosexual in nature, that perception is actually the result of his desire for bodily submission and not an actual sexual attraction to men. In some fragments he embraces his need to submit, but in many others Tanim is disturbed by such longing and goes to great lengths to deny it, causing himself severe emotional damage.
Of course, this somewhat extreme approach to love manifests in many negative ways. Tanim is often obsessive, idolizing, and fanatical. His concept of love goes far beyond normal romantic attraction and into the realm of blind worship. He will go to great lengths to keep the object of his affections, making him a possibly manipulative and abusive lover. He is ruled completely by his emotions, which he has trouble controlling. He can be both a sadist and a masochist, though the latter is more common because of his longing for a master/servant relationship. So while Tanim can be a devoted and caring lover, the extremes of his personality make it difficult for him to have a healthy relationship. His love for Daren, though, should never be doubted, and he strives continually to be the kind of companion Daren needs most.
Age: Early to mid-30s
Height: ~ 5’9”-5’10”, 2 inches shorter than Tanim
Body build: Thin, underweight, often sickly in appearance, fine boned, long limbed
Facial features: Angular face, long jaw, straight nose, high cheek bones, thin lips, expressionless
Eye color: Dark brown (basically black), difficult to read, often accompanied by dark circles from illness and lack of sleep
Skin color: Very pale, flushed when feverish
Hair color/style: Prematurely white, straight and fine, length varies from very short to jaw length
Clothing style: Black or gray color palette, black jeans or slacks, sweaters/turtlenecks, doesn’t like to show skin above his wrists or below his neck
Astrological sign: Scorpio – Independent, calculating, logical, externally unemotional, blunt, unyielding, remote, mysterious, controlling, possessive, protective, manipulative, distrustful, destructive/self-destructive
Unlike Tanim, Daren is ruled more by apathy and cold logic than emotion. Daren does not long for love or completion; in fact, there is very little he desires and this often causes conflict between Tanim and him. Daren has little regard for the needs or feelings of others and goes to great lengths to avoid human interaction. He abhors vulnerability, both in himself and others, as well as most displays of emotion and any physical contact. He is slow to trust and refuses to offer personal information. A lifetime of hardships and health problems has left Daren jaded and introverted. He has difficulty understanding others’ emotions and rarely cares enough to try. Tanim is the only person he makes any effort to empathize with or treat with selfless kindness. Although Daren comes off as cold hearted to most who know him, though, to Tanim he can be quite loving, playful, and gentle. Tanim often defends Daren’s personality with the claim that others simply don’t understand what he’s been through, nor the kind of person he truly is. Daren must feel completely safe and in control before he can open up, but once he does he can prove to be just as strong and good a person as Tanim.
In the “main” storyline (once again, not the only one!), much of Daren’s past remains a mystery, as years of emotional trauma, nightmares, and fevered hallucinations have marred his ability to discern between real and false memories. He cannot recall much of his childhood beyond the abusive nature of his environment. In his late teens or early twenties Daren was found living on the street, severely underweight and deliriously sick. He was enrolled in a program for emotionally and/or physically impaired adults in which he received therapy and medication, as well as medical aid. When the program ended due to funding issues, however, he struggled to make ends meet, unable to keep a job due to his physical ailments. When he meets Tanim in his mid-thirties, he is living in a hell-hole of an apartment and down to his last funds. After Tanim finds him collapsed and deathly ill some time later, Daren moves into Tanim’s apartment and grudgingly allows the man to help him. The progress is agonizingly slow, hindered by Daren’s continually weakened body and emotional trauma, but he eventually begins to heal and embrace the life he leads with Tanim.
Daren’s sexual orientation is not as easily defined as Tanim’s. Daren fits the idea of asexuality in that he is not sexually attracted to either gender, nor does he have virtually any sex drive, but his nonexistent libido is not necessarily caused by classic asexuality. Daren is damaged both physically and emotionally. In any given fragment he may suffer from a variety of afflictions, including post traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and any number of debilitating illnesses, and every one of these has a negative impact on his libido. At his best Daren is comfortable with both giving and receiving physical touch but at his worst is repulsed by intimacy and detests the idea of submitting to another (which is also one reason why he always takes on a dominant role during sex). Therefore, it is hard to judge Daren’s true sexual orientation. His attachment to Tanim does suggest a certain lean toward homosexuality, but that cannot be concluded with any certitude since his love for Tanim isn’t sexual in nature and he has never entertained even the remotest affection for any other person.
As with Tanim, Daren’s flaws can manifest themselves negatively. He can be emotionally manipulative, sadistic, and cruel, with little regard for the pain he causes. He is often seen as a tempting figure leading Tanim down a dangerous or self-destructive path, especially by those that care for Tanim. His withholding of emotion often reaches abusive levels, while his need for secrecy causes him to hide any decline in his mental/physical status from Tanim. Despite Daren’s cold exterior, however, he loves Tanim with as fierce a passion as Tanim loves him. True to his nature, Daren has an extremely hard time acknowledging and displaying this love. His emotional disconnection makes it nearly impossible for him to provide the affection Tanim craves. He finds Tanim to be too clingy and needy, but struggles to accept these aspects in order to make his companion happy. Tanim’s combination of patient devotion and empathy eventually cracks Daren’s shell enough to earn the man’s trust, and once Daren accepts Tanim into his life he is quite possessive of him. Although Daren is uncomfortable with the concept of a master/servant relationship, he often assumes the dominant (sometimes even aggressive) role both to satisfy Tanim’s own submissive desires and retain the emotional detachment, independence, and secrecy he requires. Even so, he often surprises himself with the ferocity of his love for Tanim and the boundaries he did not think he would be willing to cross for the man.
Their relationship: As can probably be construed through the above descriptions, Tanim and Daren do not have a normal romantic/sexual relationship. To Tanim and Daren there is no difference between romantic and fraternal love, between considering themselves lovers or brothers. They are drawn together on a deeper level than mere affection or physical attraction, and this bond is often something which they can neither deny nor break. It manifests itself in many different forms, both healthy and unhealthy, which is why it is hard to provide a complete overview of their relationship. They love deeply and fully, sometimes to their ruin and other times to their salvation.
I should note that the emphasis placed on sexual intimacy in their relationship is currently undergoing a somewhat extreme evolution. For Tanim, sexual submission is a meaningful act which reinforces their master/servant relationship, and he is coming to crave this more as he loses his ability to deny that desire. While before Daren took little interest in sex, even with Tanim, his character is beginning to change on a fundamental level as well, becoming more sexually aggressive and dominant. I do not know where these changes will take Tanim and Daren, but that is one of the joys of being a writer. I have no control over what happens, so I may only sit back and watch it unfold.
The solstice: One of the “themes” that runs through many of the story lines involving Tanim and Daren is that of the solstice. This theme is based on a solstice myth in which the Moon murders his lover the Sun on the winter solstice (thus bringing the winter and darkness to the land) and on the summer solstice the Sun resurrects and likewise murders the Moon (returning the summer and light). This endless cycle of sacrifice and betrayal, life and death, is common in many stories about Tanim and Daren. Therefore, Daren is often represented by the Moon and Tanim by the Sun. I post an entry regarding the mythology and cycle every solstice; those entries can be found using the “solstice” journal tag.
The tale of the solstice – So you can make some sense of all this Sun and Moon talk.
Story format: Most of my work is very short, usually one or several paragraphs. There is no single story line for Tanim and Daren; the stories take place in different eras, worlds, genres, etc. Because of that, my writing “jumps” around and any single piece could be from a variety of story lines or from none at all. Much of my writing is from either Tanim or Daren’s point of view, and these monologue-esque pieces can be found using the “spoken – Daren” and “spoken – Tanim” tags. Any piece of writing pertaining to Tanim and Daren that is not from their specific point of view can be found using the “Tanim/Daren” tag. Also, Tanim’s speech is often noted using bold format and Daren’s italics.
So that’s the bare bones of what I consider to be my life’s work. I’ve been writing about Tanim and Daren for nine years (as of August 2011) and they still constantly surprise me, but hopefully this introduction will answer basic questions. Feel free to ask me anything!