#2018

Characters, Alter Egos, Or Unknowable Nameless Gods?

When someone asks me what I write about, I usually say something like, I have a couple characters I write about and then nothing more. At least, that’s how I answer if I want to sound like a not-crazy person. But if I want to be truthful, I have to say something more like:

I thought I had three characters I wrote about, but it turns out two of them are probably incredibly ancient gods (or ghosts? or angels? or something even older than the very concept of either?) and the other one is an alter ego who has somehow taken on way more agency than I thought possible and may sometimes be used as a mask by dark somethings I am too afraid to face.

Let’s take a closer look at that second one. See, when I was a wee eighth grader I simultaneously discovered Lord of the Rings and DeviantArt. Being obsessed with elves, I made my DA screenname “Darkelvenmage” and quickly developed the moniker into a character who was everything I wanted to be. The Darkelvenmage was tall and willowy, pale as snow with long hair as dark as ravens’ wings, eyes as green as emeralds, and sharp features that highlighted her royalty and mystery. She wore all black and rarely spoke, but heaven help you if you pissed her off; she was heir to ancient magic, a skilled warrior, and had nothing to lose. She had been stripped of her home and her name (hence the brilliant title “dark elven mage”) and therefore wandered the world alone, neither a force of good nor evil. For my chubby, geeky thirteen year old self, Mage became a mask I could put on when I needed to feel like a badass, an alter ego who was always calm and logical, who never let her emotions get the better of her or made a fool of herself. I carried her with me through high school like a sword held between myself and all the bad things I encountered, standing just a little taller and smiling just a little more coldly. She made me feel fierce and untouchable.

In college I had a falling out with a group of online friends I’d made in high school, friends who knew me best through Mage and the story I’d given her to fit into their fantasy world. Feeling hurt and vengeful, I decided to rebel and Mage became the ally turned enemy intent on destroying the world the “good guys” had built. I loved the shock it caused, the drama, and the sudden understanding that nothing bound me to act in a particular way. Why not be the villain? Wasn’t that more fun anyway? Certainly playing Mage as the Big Bad brought me a selfish kind of joy, a way to enact a little revenge for my slighted self. Eventually, of course, some of those friends and I parted ways for good, and others of us reconciled and grew closer. But Mage stayed the villain, one with flair, dark humor, and just a dash of madness. This version of her is different from the silent, haughty one of my high school years, yet they are both true to her form. She is still my alter ego, my champion, the mask I wear on days when I wake up feeling too small and scared.

Sometimes, though, it’s like I look at Mage in my mind’s eye and… it’s not her. Something else watches out her eyes. Something that is not me, nor anything I placed there. Sometimes she feels like I’m not the one in control, like she’s not an alter anything anymore. I feel Lovecraftian presences squirming beneath her skin and taste sour names like Charybdis, Morrigan, Kali at the back of my mouth. I wonder sometimes if I have crafted Mage too well, if I am not the only one who can wear her mask. She is still a character in the strictest sense – I write her story, she does not tell me what to write (as Tanim and Daren do) – but there are times when I meet her eyes and it’s not the better, cooler version of myself staring back. I don’t know what it is, but it feels timeless and very powerful.

mage-sketch.png

This sketch of Mage is by my bestest frienemy – check out her patreon for more!

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#2011

All the bullets you’ve fired remain yet within me. Perhaps this is why my body aches and works so poorly; their slow corrosion poisons me from the inside out, much like my love for you. I feel their locations as I move, little twinges of pain in my heart, my stomach, my lungs, but most especially in my right temple. I will continue to bear them all for you the way one might wear hard-earned scars. Each contains a story worth the telling, if the listener has the stomach for my tales. I will not censor the truth to make it palatable to a greater audience – but for those who will listen, for those who will understand, I have so many stories to tell. Come gaze on my scars.

#1912

I don’t try to get published. I know it would be useless – we aren’t publishable. No one would pay for the scripture of dead gods, or the hymns of phantoms, or the gospel of the insane. No one would read the poetry of a madwoman, would it cost them even a nickel. You have too few beginnings for biography and too many endings for non-fiction. I dedicate too many words to the sound of blood in your lungs for either horror or erotica; they will say it makes readers uncomfortable. We’re just not presentable and I can’t make us so, not when it’s blasphemy to edit or omit. I could not tell lies for money. I could not cut chunks of flesh from my side to earn their weight in coin. If they never believed Cassandra, why should they believe me? Publishers aren’t interested in crazy unless it’s marketable.

#1901

Do you allow the use of a divination technique only once? Is that why you allowed the cards to speak for you, then scrambled every subsequent message? Is that why you conjured one meaningful book quote, yet choose only the most useless and innocuous when I attempt it again? Is that why every time I think I have stumbled upon the one way you’ll let a connection be established between us, it only works once and then causes me nothing but confusion? Of course, you say. Why did it take me so long to catch on? (Did we really choose such a dense scribe?)

Would it be so terrible, that connection? Would it be so awful to give me more than the barest, vaguest hint of what you want me to know or do? I’m not trying to cheat or take the easy route; you know I’m always willing other face whatever you throw my way. I just want to be certain for once, instead of guessing at what important message I think you’re sending. Hell, I’m not even sure that you’re sending anything! All I can act on are my hunches, my feelings, my instincts, and how am I to ever know if they’re right? When you are everywhere and everything to me, everywhere and everything could be a message I’m missing, and I know you well enough to know you do not deign to repeat yourselves. I’m left, therefore, assuming I’m always five steps behind and forever rushing to catch up. And you wonder why my anxiety levels are so high?

#1884

To be honest, I, too, am an unreliable narrator. Not that the scribe lies, per se; but her truths are the truths of her subjects. I tell you what I am told. What I am not told, I do not tell. What falsehoods I suspect remain my own and are never uttered. It is not my place to make suppositions, to theorize, to bury certain claims or drag others into the light. We all have our own truths, our own realities; why should my subjects be less worthy in the keeping of theirs than anyone else? Besides, all good stories contain a certain amount of distortion. Where fact may slide into fiction is up to the reader to decide – and every reader has their own truths as well.

#1881

I am not your mother, but I have bled for you.
I am not your sister, but I have stood by you.
I am not your daughter, but I have preserved you.

I am very tired.

If you had hands, would you lift me and carry me to bed?
(Please lie. I don’t mind.)