my metaphors are ground up and mixed with bone meal and salt, a dash of graveyard dirt and a pinch of mausoleum dust, then left out overnight to bathe in the light of the absent moon, sit and think about what you’ve done, and in the morning i take whatever the fairies and scavengers left behind, wet it with water from the well, and smear a line over my forehead to mark me as the beast’s, you know they said he’d come for me at the end and yet here i am, all dressed up with nowhere to go, late to my own party, and i’m pretty sure the end is extremely fucking nigh so exactly how much longer do i have to wait, c’mon man
anyway i’m not that girl anymore, the one who could vomit up rosewater and butterfly wings, who got high on three part harmony and stayed up late to spill her soul out in ellipses and too much italics, she’s been gone for a while now and who knows what happened to her, drowned in the well i heard or maybe i’m just mixing too many metaphors but either way i guess i’m the thing she left behind that waited to be found again, come see me, invite me in so i may show you my corpse-smile, look at my broken fingers and splintered nails from trying to haul myself out, but even this is boring, good god, who cares, who gives a shit, i’m so done already, and i guess all i’m saying is i’m beginning to understand what floating in a well for seven days might do to a kid, you know?
my mind’s a house full of hallways full of doors, etcetera etcetera, blah blah blah, you’ve heard this all before and so you already know how sometimes i go flying through like a poltergeist, tearing off picture frames and shattering mirrors, banging on the walls with my fisted hands, and other times i pace up and down the halls wailing like a banshee, pulling at my hair and rattling my chains, but nothing stirs, no one answers, it’s all just echoes down the corridor or in the empty rooms whose doors stand open wide ’cause they’ve got nothing to hide, after all there’s no one here to keep out or in, just me, just me to haunt this abandoned body
there are some things i can only write about at very specific times, like when the moon is just a sliver in a sky the color of my freshmen year of college or the afternoon sun is slanting just like it did that day in eighth grade, when i’m driving the old back roads home from a theater that hasn’t changed at all in twenty-five years or listening to a song i wrung all the emotion from while i walked endless circles around campus late at night, but even then i must hurry to capture the fleeting, fickle moment before it passes and i am left too weary to write another word, too empty to perform another grand resurrection of my old ghosts and demons and long beloved spirits, and in the morning or the next day when i go back to reread those scribbles i’ll just be disappointed anyway by how impossible it is to capture such ephemeral experiences, so i’ll think why do i even try, why do i bother robbing graveyards, and then i’ll ctrl+alt+delete my way out of all memory but today’s
I suppose I should not expect the Devil to stay close to home, should I? He was a wanderer from the very beginning, proud and independent, and certainly I have pined a thousand nights over his absence in the past. Yet here I am ten years later having learned nothing, still hunched over the cavern in my chest, still seeking proof of divinity in languages I cannot even speak. Do I doubt because he leaves? Does he leave because I doubt? I am an old hand at this and yet still it feels like punishment, like purgatory, like an eternity spent scrabbling in the dust. I thought myself passed this particular trial and yet, and yet, and yet here I am smearing ash on my skin and tearing at my hair once more. What a surprise.
i’m toying with a half-dead metaphor, something about bodies as Ouija boards, dreams as planchettes, all these fragments of communication you toss me like scraps and expect me to weave into some magically divined whole, but it’s not coming out right and surely i must be one shitty fucking witch if i can’t even get the gods i bleed for and weep for to tell me where that stupid lighter is, let alone maybe not burn the house down while i’m gone, and yeah i know you don’t play by the rules and i know i’m an unconventional everything but sometimes i just want to be the regular kind of crazy, you know, crystals and tarot and shit, and not the legit crazy kind of crazy but i think i can’t have both, i gotta pick between you or the socially acceptable crazy and you know i will choose you every single time even if you burn my house down, but really please don’t
On Character Development, or: It’s (Apparently) Okay to Kill Assholes
I did a bad thing, folks… See, our DM and I contrived to have my current DnD character, Dhashi the bubbly magical girl of just sixteen years, die during the party’s quest to save the world from an evil god. She’s going to come back at some point, I promise! … but in the meantime, the other PCs are mourning her loss pretty hard and my wife (who plays one of them) will barely talk to me. All of this is technically fine – our DM loves torturing us and I love killing my characters, so we were both super stoked to launch this surprise on our friends. Over a 24-hour DnD slumber party extravaganza Dhashi died, her party members scrambled to resurrect her, and instead they got a totally different person (my psychopathic character Mage) back in her body. My wife was PIIIIIIISSED and it was great fun. 100% would do again.
Here’s what’s weird. I, like… feel bad? For Dhashi? True, it was absolutely evil of me to contrive to have the other PCs slowly come to love Dhashi and think of her as a daughter before we killed her, but that’s not what I feel bad about (sorry, guys). I… feel bad that I killed Dhashi. I feel bad that I’m making her suffer, that she has to watch from the underworld while her friends try to complete the quest without her. I feel bad that when she’s finally resurrected she’ll be at least a little messed up and never again her unfailingly positive self who believes in the essential good of every living thing. I feel bad that she’s going to forever after be burdened with the ability to predict the deaths of anyone she meets.
Admittedly, I don’t feel bad enough to retcon any of this – but the feeling is still there and I don’t know what to do with it. I never feel guilty about killing my characters. Never. I love killing my characters. Tanim and Daren have died so many times that I literally couldn’t count them all. Even Mage dies from time to time. It’s just what I do. I love causing pain. So why do I feel so sad about Dhashi? She was just supposed to be the silly magical girl character I used to irritate my friends’ characters for a single DnD campaign, not an entirely new character fleshed out with a backstory, complex experiences, and an uncertain future. That wasn’t the deal! She’s a cliche, a paper doll, she shouldn’t have the ability to give me such FEELS. But here we are.
I think what this partly comes down to is the fact that Dhashi is pure good. There isn’t a mean, selfish, vain, jealous, angry, or lazy bone in her body. She is the epitome of Lawful Good and always does whatever is in her power to help those in need. My other characters? Not so much. My other characters are assholes. Tanim is an asshole; Daren is an asshole; Mage is an asshole. I write assholes, and I guess on some level I feel like that makes it okay to kill them or otherwise cause them to suffer horribly. Not that they necessarily deserve every bad thing that happens to them, of course. They just… deserve it more than Dhashi does.
I knew from the beginning that Dhashi would learn some harsh lessons during the campaign; anyone as naive, hopeful, and trusting as her would, especially in a world where survival of the fittest seems the only law. She needs to learn those lessons, though, to face the ugly truth in her world, just like every anime magical girl must face the darkness of her own. I just didn’t realize that by having a character who was so good, so innocent, so ready to save the world despite all its sorrow and brutality, it would hurt like fuck to watch her learn those lessons the hard way. She’ll come out stronger for it, because that’s what magical girls do, but she won’t come out the same.
And I feel BAD about that.