A Note on New York Comic Con’s Anti-Harassment Policy


Originally posted on Whatever:

First, you literally cannot miss it — it’s on several human-sized signs right at the entrances to Javits Center (the other side of these signs say “Cosplay is not consent.” Second, the examples are clear and obvious and the policy is not constrained to only the examples — but enough’s there that you get the idea that NYCC is serious about this stuff. Third, it’s clear from the sign that NYCC also has a commitment to implementation and execution of the policy, with a harassment reporting button baked right into its phone app. This is, pretty much, how an anti-harassment policy should be implemented.

And as a result, did the floor of the Javits Center become a politically correct dystopia upon which the blood of innocent The True (and Therefore Male) Geeks was spilled by legions of Social Justice Warriors, who hooted their feminist victory to the rafters? Well, no…

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The Importance of Being Honest with Myself: Motherhood


People lie constantly. It’s true! They lie about how long it takes them to get to work or get something done so they don’t look like slackers. They lie about where they’ve been so mom and/or dad don’t yell at them. They lie to law enforcement. “I swear I only had one beer, ossifer!” And they lie to the clergy. “I go to (church, temple, etc..) every day!”

We lie so much that we have different flavors of lies!

  • bold face
  • white
  • exaggerations
  • fabrications (made up shit)
  • deception
  • slander
  • gossip
  • omission

I feel like this last one is bullshit. If you don’t ask the right question you’re not going to get an answer. That’s for another blog post.

The person we probably lie most often to is the one we really shouldn’t – ourselves. I try not to lie to myself as much as possible and that can really suck, but most times it keeps me safe and prevents me from making choices that would upset the balance I’m trying to achieve in my life. So when people challenge the beliefs and truths that I hold close, I tend to get a little ruffled. It can range from mild annoyance to “I will cut you” depending on how close-held the belief is and how insistent the opposing party gets.

Which brings me to my point and why the title is what it is.

Those of you who are child-free may stop reading, unless you really want to keep yelling, “Preach on, sister!” You’re not my intended audience. You already get me. -internet fist bump-

Those of you who love to promote the joy of motherhood, grab a chair and sit with me for a moment.

I totally get it. Some of you have wanted to be a mom since you got your first doll while some of you came to the notion after you found your significant other and wanted that type of family. And that’s awesome! A lot of dads have the same life journey, and that’s great too. Planned, unplanned, accidental, or convinced, parents come in more than just 31 flavors and you’ll find most of them love or come to love the job.

I’m not part of that group. I never will be, and yet -mostly with the older crowd- I still get a reaction when the subject of whether I have kids comes up. The first follow-up question is usually, “why not?” Fair enough, but when I answer, no matter which of the dozens upon dozens of reasons I call on in the moment, I notice that the opposite party finds counter arguments to an otherwise closed discussion.

For example:

I said, “The timing wasn’t right for me.”

I was told, “It’s never right. You just have to lean in and go for it.”

Reality Check: At the time I heard this I had no job, no prospects, no savings and I was living with my mother. Yes, there is a right and a wrong time to make major life changing decisions and THAT WAS NOT THE TIME.

Another one:

I said, “We don’t have the money.”

I was told, “You’ll find it.”

Reality Check: My husband and I were in debt up to our ears and had little concept of how to work within a budget. Tossing a baby into the mix would have been financial nightmare fuel.

The most dismissive and patronizing example:

I said, “I don’t want kids.”

I was told, “You’ll change your mind.” “You’re still young.” “You don’t know what you want yet.” “Who is going to take care of you when you’re old?” “You’ll be lonely.”

Reality Check: I thought having kids was supposed to be a selfless thing? 15 years later I’m still happy with my choice.

Having and raising children is promoted, aggressively even, in our entertainment. I’m not surprised since the wedding and baby/child industries are multi-billion dollar affairs. There are a ton of comedies about sudden parents, incompetent parents, anxious to the point of silliness parents and so on and so forth; in the drama genre you’ll meet the devoted parents, in-crisis parents, single parents, and dealing with the death of a parent. Romantic comedies start with a wedding and having kids is always implied or discussed right then and there. It’s rare that media will produce romance stories of women or couples who choose to be child-free, which ignores an entire growing demographic of young people who are choosing not to have children.

In How I Met Your Mother, Robin Scherbatsky went through a hell of a time over that, the Ted Mosby obsession not withstanding. Kevin, the character she was engaged to, left her because having kids was that important to him. The writers could have gone a different route with that and explored a couple who was child-free, because even though Robin couldn’t have kids, she still didn’t want to raise any.

Women who are child-free or childless seem to be portrayed in the media as having a problem that needs to be fixed instead of being accepted the way they are. There is nothing wrong with these women. Those who are childless have their own challenges, but because -to my knowledge- I don’t have this life experience I don’t feel qualified talking about that part of womanhood. I’ll stick to what I know.

I get that people are well meaning, and that’s fine! Kindhearted people are always in short supply, but when the response to the “do you have kids” question sounds a lot like “I didn’t want them” the conversion should probably stop. If you are curious as to why someone would make that choice even if nature hadn’t interfered, ask to understand and not to respond. Child-free couples have talked about this far longer than the ten minute conversation you’re having with them. My husband and I had the talk for 10 years, going back and forth on pros, cons, and reality checks. We decided we wanted to be together as a family without children.

Notice I didn’t use the word family until right now. I believe that my husband and my two cats are my family. So are my brother, mother, in-laws, and extended family. I don’t classify a family as two adults and 2.5 children because it takes meaning away from those of us who are committed to building a life together but don’t want or can’t have children. Some states will still block gay couples from adopting children, but that doesn’t make them any less of a family.

I was honest with myself when I got engaged, which let me be honest with my husband about how I wanted my life to be. By doing so it prevented a lot of resentment and regret, because once those kids are on planet Earth it’s your duty to look after them and do whats best by them. They never asked to be here, so if you’re not sure you’re ready, it’s going to be an uphill battle and it’ll be the kids that lose in that game.

I was honest with myself when I weighed my limitations. I didn’t want that responsibility. It was just too much for me to face. I’ve also had many nights, even since being a little girl, where I was angry at not having a choice to be alive because it’s really hard sometimes! As awesome as it can be, life can be vicious, dangerous, and completely unfair. I looked at the world around me, at the people around me, at the challenges that my children would face and I decided against it.

I was honest with myself when I looked at my fears. The physical undertaking that is pregnancy is one of the most horrifying things I have ever seen and that’s not even taking into account the cultural bullshit that pregnant women put up with. Going to the doctor terrifies me beyond normal jitters or discomfort, to the point of fainting in the waiting room, in the exam room, getting blood drawn, and shaking with fear the few days before having to show for an appointment. Even with the most amazing problem free pregnancy, that baby has to get out of your body some way. I saw Alien. Fuck that shit.

Choosing to have children or not is a very personal choice, especially if it’s going to grow inside your body. Trying to talk someone into something like that is extremely invasive and none of anyone’s business except the person or couple. So here’s a chance to be honest with yourself, if you are a promoter of having children.

Why is it so important to you for someone else to have children?

An Anti-Feminist Walks Into a Bar: A Play in Five Acts


Originally posted on Whatever:

PROLOGUE

ACT I

ACT II

ACT III

ACT IV

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Charlotte’s Cross: Prologue


Prologue

 

The deity of Tersus are both human and immortal. From greater to lesser, all gods live through the human experience and reincarnation cycle, but it wasn’t always so.

Long ago the Goddess of Life and the God of Death argued over who was the stronger essence. Life claimed she was the strongest because of all the beasts, plants, and insects that covered Tersus all thriving and growing side by side. Even the water, air, sun and earth helped them to dominate the planet. It was obvious that she was the dominate power since creation was self propagating. Death, however, pointed out that everything that lives needs to take something from a living thing. Animals ate other animals or plants. Plants feasted on the decay of the fallen and some even devoured bugs. Bugs ravaged both animal and plant in return. Then there was the humans. It seemed that for some nothing would stem their blood lust as they pillaged and murdered across the lands or killed each other one by one from the self defending to the truly depraved. This proved Death the victor since he could not be escaped.

The argument escalated quickly and before reason could catch up with them, the deity were at war. Not satisfied with their own strength or battlegrounds the fight spilled over into the realms of the other gods and goddesses, using these deity as weapons in their war and bathing Tersus in blood and savagery. The God of the Skies lost control of his realm as Death took over the power of storm and rained down fire and lightning felling many creatures. Life boosted the power of creation by stealing vitality from the Earth to sustain her vast armies, using far more of her water and nutrient than could be sustained. The God of Shadows lost his followers as his once comforting night that cradled his people was used to cloak Death’s many assassins, man, creature and plant alike. The Goddess of Love saw her children once joyful in their romances turned into mindless breeding beasts, taking what they wanted when they wanted and abandoning their children if it suited them. Earth, Sky, Shadow, Love and all the lesser deity derived from them were angered by the way they were being used but the first to fight back was Earth. It was on her body that the war was being waged and she could no longer stand to be buried under the weight of her dead children.

Older than the deity of Life and Death were the Fates, but to get to them the Goddess of Earth needed help. Shadow kept her hidden from those that would stop her. Sky guided her feet along the roads. Love gave her the courage to see her task through to the end. Finally Earth reached the Fates and told them of the War of Life and Death that had claimed so many lives in quantity and quality and the deity who were being used as pawns to further their cause. Though the Fates were powerful they could not utterly control the whims of Life and Death, but they could enforce consequences for their thoughtless actions, however the bargain came with a price which all the deity must pay.

The Fates promised the Earth Goddess that Life and Death would be cast into mortal bodies and be reborn again and again through human lives to earn back their god powers. Once regained, their deity form would have a finite amount of time in existence before being reborn in the body of humans to start the cycle over again, thus burdening them empathy for the lives they had such sway over and experiencing the struggle of those the played with as pawns. If they died in human form their essence would be transferred to another human fetus and the cycle would start again. This would hold true for every god and goddess no matter their power or place in the hierarchy. On behalf of all the deity the Goddess of Earth agreed to the terms. Though far from a perfect solution, the bargain brought a rhythm to Tersus that was tolerable to both deity and mortal alike and stemmed the chaos caused by the war. Life and Death, though immensely powerful, were locked into a dance rather than battle and their balancing act holds to this day.

But stalemates do not last forever.

Depression & Suicide: Its not that simple


Robin Williams has been on everyone’s mind for the past couple of days. It’s fresh and raw and the media is running copy about his death and depression. He touched the lives of people all over the world. His performance in Disney’s Aladdin was what inspired me to become an artist, storyteller, and animator, even though the animation part didn’t get off the ground. I performed the first spoken word track off the Good Morning Vietnam soundtrack for talent night when I was a freshman in high school. How I got away with that in a parochial school is beyond me, but the kids, parents, teachers and even the priests were laughing so hard they couldn’t catch their breath. That’s the Jesuits for you.

Along with the outpouring of grief and love and contemplation, I’ve also seen posts and tweets about getting help for suicidal feelings, encouragement to talk it out, and incomprehension about why someone would commit suicide. None of this is surprising, but the incomprehension is wrongheaded at best and harmful at worst, and I’ll explain why. Along with all these social media posts commiserating with victims of depression, sharing their experiences, and collectively mourning, are those that have utterly no concept about depression and suicide and write articles that victim blame the person who died, or say that depression is not a disease, or both. This way of thinking is dangerous.

I like small words. I like short sentences. People have short attention spans these days and brevity is the soul of wit. I’ll take this in phases so that you guys can stay with me.

My experience:

I have direct experience with depression. I’ve dealt with it most of my life and without going into gory details, it’s only been in the last few years that I was able to seek help for it. It’s through this first-hand knowledge that I can speak, at least from my experience, about what it does and what it looks like. Talk therapy has helped me greatly and I’m eternally thankful that I didn’t need medication for it in the long term. There was a stint where I was lightly medicated but that was during my darkest hour. I’ve also had suicidal thoughts and feelings. The closest I came to acting on it was one night sitting by the river. It was all I could do to keep myself on the land side of the fence. I had to call my husband to come and get me or else I wouldn’t be here right now. That was during the time I was getting professional help. Help is not always a guarantee of life preservation.

Others have different experiences, but there are common markers.

Other experiences:

Common factors that I’ve noticed:

  • 1. Depression can’t be cured.

It just hides or goes into remission like cancer or an eating disorder. Like a lot of things, once you break the seal on something it’s never the same. You can find ways to manage it, but a cure is not realistic.

  • 2. Depression is way more than sadness.

Living means you’re going to be sad as well as all the other emotions. Sadness has an expiration date. Depression drags on for weeks, months, or years. Sometimes things that make you sad can make you depressed, that’s where understanding gets tricky. A lot of times people mistake depression for sorrow which makes them frustrated with those people who are depressed. Sometimes depression isn’t sadness, it’s the absence of feelings altogether. When everyone around you is happy, and you should be happy, and you know you should be happy, but you can’t feel it.

  • 3. Depression is stigmatized.

I’ve heard people make insensitive comments to and about depressed people: drama queen, wallowing in it, get over it, don’t take it personally, Debbie downer, whiney, sour puss, wet rag. The list goes on. I remember clearly, it was six months after my father died and I was told to get over it. I was 14. I watched him die for months before the cancer won. Yes, I got depressed. After hearing things like this lobbed my way I was not encouraged to seek help.

  • 4. Depression is ignored by those closest to us and misunderstood by most people.

Some of the people I love and call friend or family added to this depression or caused it to flare up. I look back at my pictures and I clearly see the deadness in my eyes, the well of hopelessness in some of them, even with a smile on my face that really read as a grimace. Yes, I would joke around and laugh or make others laugh, because when I tried to talk through what I was feeling, people usually reacted by trying to fix me as fast as possible, because I scared them. Trust me, no one was more scared then I was. Most people with depression are scared. Maybe not about dying, but they’re scared of something.

  • 5. You’re not going to cure it or control it from following bullet points on WebMD.

Depressed people don’t want to make a fuss because of the way they get dismissed by those who can’t be bothered. They are also ill-equipped to deal with the panic and anxiety from loved ones who can’t be calm. These two groups have one thing in common: they are thinking of themselves and not the depressed person. So what happens? We turn to web sites with a check list on how we can beat depression. Here are the self-help greatest hits from a quick Google search. Guys, if this actually worked do you really think depression would still be an issue? The answer is clearly ‘no’. If any of this lifts your depression in the long term, that means you were not depressed, just really sad – and that’s ok! It’s just not the same.

I’m glad you stuck with me this long. It shows me that you really want to understand, even if you’re a little scared of the topic. You’re supposed to be. Living things, for the most part, crave to keep living – bio 101.

So what would make someone want to commit suicide? Lots of things can give the person a reason to act, but the real reason – the raw, gut clenching fact – is that the person feels like there are no other options. They believe they are facing indefinite, crushing, debilitating pain in a nightmare they can’t escape and no temporary relief will take that away.

Why suicide?

  • 1. Depression lies to the person feeling it.

It says we’re weak, worthless, and meaningless. It says we’re stupid and people hate us. It’s the bully that no one in the physical world can stop because it’s trapped in our minds whether by mental disease such as bi-polar or mean spirited people feeding us lies and our brains repeating it so they don’t have to. Depression tells us that no one will miss us. It says there will be no end to the pain. It lies. It doesn’t sleep. It tells us the only way out is to die and then there will be peace where no one can get us, not the pain, not the bully, not the disease or horrifying memories that chase us.

People who are sad don’t feel this. They feel terrible, but they don’t feel hunted or abandoned. They know they can reach out and someone will be there, so they seek help.

  • 2. Depressed people hide because they think their fears will be founded in rejection, apathy, revulsion, abandonment, ridicule, and shunning.

And they’re not wrong. Two seconds of internet searching, being told “get over it” on various occasions after my father died, and being ignored by friends, family and administration when I was bullied to the point of a mental break by one of my employers gives strong evidence that there is a real apathy and victim blaming patterns of behavior that people show when the depressed try to reach out for help.

  • 3. Traditional support structures often don’t pay attention.

These are the same kinds of people who are shocked when they hear someone kills themselves. They’re the people who blame the victim, or claim they never knew something was wrong. I wonder how much they tried asking. I wonder how much they listened to understand what was going on with the person rather than listening to toss out some piece of advice that made them feel smart. They are self-centered, which brings me to my next point about suicide and what it is.

  • 4. Suicide has nothing to do with anyone except the person who dies.

There’s a difference between mourning the loss of someone you love and blaming them for hurting you by dying. Point #1: Everyone dies – it’s the timing and method that is variable. Point #2: It’s not about you. Killing oneself is only about that person and their pain. The pain blinds them to love of everyone – child, spouse, sibling, parent, friend, pet – none of it matters because they are in an abyss from which they can’t pull up. I don’t expect children to understand because they’re children. It’s our job as adults – the ones that brought them to this planet without asking first – to try to help them through this and explain it. Let them make up their own minds. Besides, getting angry at someone who committed suicide only makes you miserable (they’re dead, they can’t hear you) and it convinces other depressed people not to seek help.

  • 5. Telling suicidal or depressed people to “get help” is NOT helpful.

Maybe they want to talk to you and be reassured that you love them, or care for them, or feel SOMETHING for them. If you meet them with apathy, or anxiety, or a bunch of clichéd quick fixes, why should they believe that a total stranger who charges them $500 an hour gives a wet slap about them? You’re supposed to be part of their support system.

Maybe they have a chemical, physical, or mental disease and depression is a symptom. Many schizophrenic and bi-polar people don’t think they need help. Mental afflictions lie to people, telling them it’s fine, everything is fine, you’re fiiiiiine, you don’t need help! So they won’t look for it.

Maybe they don’t want it. They could have been running for a damn long time and they’re just tired of fighting. Even with all of Mr. Williams’s support and popularity and money (that I’m assuming he had) he got tired of running. If what people say is true and kids, family, friends are all amazing reasons to keep on living, can you imagine how much darkness and pain he would have to be in to give that up?

  • 6. Not everyone who commits suicide, or wants to, is “crazy”.

I’ve heard this line a lot. Suicidal people are not in their right mind. I don’t think that’s always the case and in my experience it wasn’t. I was clear minded when I thought about it. I knew it would stop the pain. I also knew it was permanent and I have commitment issues. I also had someone very close to me pull me back and show me that there are things worth fighting for and I wasn’t alone and they would help me. They wouldn’t let me miss all the time that I could have. They did it for me, not because they would miss me or mourn me. They did it because they wanted me to be happy. You know who you are, and I will always be grateful.

  • 7. Health care in America doesn’t take mental health seriously enough.

I believe this is self-explanatory. Health care is stupidly expensive. Mental health care is even more so, but because you’re not bleeding from the eyeballs or having a chest popper from Alien making a nightly appearance, mental wellness is often passed over. And since people can’t see the injury they don’t think there’s a problem. BTW cancer can have that same hiding manner – until it’s too late.

So what do you do? You don’t have depression, but maybe you’re not so sure about your loved one. You came this far because there is something off in their behavior and you want to check in with them. Maybe you do have depression and you’ve read all this way with me to find something, some truth, because you’re not ready to go yet. All I can offer is what I know and lived through.

Now what?

  • 1. In the right hands, you can beat the episode, but probably not alone.

As I said, talk therapy and changing my environment saved my life – literally. Sometimes you have to put a little trust in a stranger and open your wallet. It sucks. It does. It can also be a tremendous help. Yes, there will be ignorant and insensitive assholes that will comment and jeer, but that is their problem and says way more about them than it does about you. There will also be people who learn how brave you are and how strong you are for reaching out especially at a point where everything is painful and you can’t see the forest for the trees.

  • 2. If you know, or think you know someone with depression YOU have to help them.

They might not be able to get help on their own. If you love them and you want them to stay on the earth, it’s your responsibility to help them. Remember, they may have already made a permanent choice based on bad intel – lying brain, feeling abandoned, hopelessness. They’re good with their game plan to die. You have to help them get the professional help they need in order to see that there is potential for more good life instead of the long road of pain they think it inevitably is.

  • 3. Don’t head shrink – leave it to the professionals.

You can do a lot of damage trying to psychoanalyze someone, even if it’s well intentioned. There’s a span of belief that each person has. Telling a depressed person that they’re good enough, strong enough, and gosh darn people like them, falls way outside their span of belief. Try convincing an atheist that there is a god and Jesus loves him. That makes for a fun show down at the microbrewery, even the gluten free ones. Professional psychiatrists, psychologists, and other people in the mental health field are really the only ones that should be doing this anyway. They have the skills and years of training to handle it. Reading Depression for Dummies, or having seen that one episode of Dr. Phil are not where you should start.

  • 4. Never, ever, ever threaten them with the hospital or psych ward.

This is a death warrant for some people. “I’ll lock you up.” “I’ll have them shove medicine in you.” “The ambulance is on the way.” These are the possible outcomes:

  • They stop talking
  • They commit to the death plan
  • They cut you out of their lives
  • They sink deeper into depression
  • Their depression is compounded with terror at the threat of being locked up

You don’t ever do this. Ever.

  • 5. Be there, but be calm!

If you ever saw a stray cat you’ll know that they bolt at the first sight of a human, dog, or loud sound. The same concept applies here. If you’re going to talk with/support your loved one you have to chill out. I get it. This is scary shit! It’s literally a matter of life and death which makes being calm way more important. If they see you get upset, freaked, nervous, agitated, whatever, they are going to stop talking. THIS IS BAD!! You never want a depressed or suicidal person (passive or active) to stop talking.

  • 6. Shut the hell up and LISTEN with your BRAIN (and your ears).

Most people listen to respond. Don’t do that. Listen to understand. Even if what they say is a gibbering mess that ends in tears, *shut up and listen to them*. You don’t have to fix it. You don’t even have to speak! A lot of the time they just need to get it out, like vomit or poison. They need to expel the demon chasing them so they can start to heal. A short while ago, when I was seriously on the edge, being heard derailed a potential mess. Just knowing that I was heard and loved and safe stopped it in its tracks. I can’t stress enough how important it is for the person to feel like they were heard. When this happens it shows them that they matter. Writers say “show, don’t tell.” This is what that looks like in real time.

  • 7. Let them go.

That does not mean help them along. That’s a whole other topic, one that I am nowhere near qualified to comment on. When I say let them go I mean you have to trust them to make the decisions they want to make for themselves. Yes, it will devastate you to lose someone you love, but maybe it’s devastating for them to be in constant torment. There has to be quality of life, not just quantity. You also have to respect that they are an adult and can make their own decisions – taking into account reason, severity and type of mental disorder. If you’ve done all you can for them, let go. This is out of your span of control. What you’re really trying to control is the disease and threat to life that it causes, and no one can do that. If someone really wants to go, they will. They just won’t talk about it which is why making sure they keep talking is so vital.

Everything has an expiration date: milk, vacations, our lives, even reality TV shows. What we should be doing with the time we’re given is help each other, offer unbiased support, love and a safe harbor. Life is hard! We all know it but many of us bring more children into the world because we know that it can be amazing too. We fall down on taking care of each other and in a world so fraught with harm and sadness we should be kind to people or at least civil. It’s easy enough to get a check list of what can cause depression, but to fully understand it will take more than bullet points. All that text above is just the tip of the iceberg for trying to understand it and it’s from one person’s experience. The best way you can help is to listen with an open mind, love with an open heart, and give support with no strings because you want the best for your loved one and not what is only right for you.

Good luck.

Charlotte’s Cross mini scene


A scene I sketched out with all of the protagonists. Not sure if it will make final cut but it was a piece that was wandering my mind for a few days.

 

Renzi picked up Markus’ water skein and coaxed out the liquid within. It hovered just above his hands, soft and pliable, with a glow of warmth to it. He passed it to Charlotte seated on right. She scooped a small mound of dirt from the earth and melded it with Renzi’s water. Delicately she fashioned feathers, a beak and beady eyes from the clay. A sparrow. It rested in her hands, a close likeness to the real thing. Charlotte, pleased with her work, passed the clay bird to Valenara.

Markus watched in wonder as the marked ones worked. They said nothing and yet seemed to know what each person’s role was to be. Not even a look of spite passed from Valenara to Charlotte, as was typical of the two when they interacted.

Valenara stroked the clay bird’s chest and throat. A faint sound of bird song broke the midnight silence around the campfire even though the bird made no movement. She passed it to Dran who cradled it lovingly in the palms of her small hands. Golden light issues from where the bird rested in the little girl’s hands and it shook its head and chirped loud and strong.

Markus gasped and leaned forward as the feathery new bird was passed to Sky. He swallowed hard and hoped that the reckless lad would know how to be gentle with such a fragile being. To Markus’ surprise, Sky was very careful when he was offered the sparrow. He allowed it to perch in his index finger with its tiny sharp clawed feet. As it peep peeped at him, Sky blew softly at the bird ruffling its feathers and causing it to unfurl its little wings. With a shimmy and a fluff the bird took flight, hovering near Sky for a moment before flying off into the trees, lost to the twilight.

Charlotte said, “the circle is incomplete.”

Renzini sighed, “Yes. Without Trucido, this circle, and others, will never close.”

“Old stories will never end.” Valenara said

“And new ones can’t begin without the past to guide them,” said Dran

Sky stared at the ground, clenching his teeth. “I hate him. But I hate that we need him more.”

Nicodemus closed his eyes slowly. “He makes the straight line into a circle. By ending life he sustains the infinite dance of life”

None of them knew quiet how to respond. They say in solemn silence until the stars winked into view one by one and Luna made her climb into the sky, forcing a smile from Renzi’s lips.

Dream Catcher WIP


Prologue

Tamrind found himself standing in the middle of his bedroom in bare feet. Instead of the wooden floor he expected to feel, there was nothing, and yet that seemed as it should. He couldn’t remember how he got there or what he was listening for, but he knew there was something moving outside. He could sense it. Through the glass of the window he could see tiny green motes of light dancing to and fro. Fireflies drifted among the low branches of the rose bushes that grew under the sill. A shadow darted out from the thorns, disturbing the fireflies and scattering them about. It wasn’t one he had seen before. It shimmered.

When he turned away from the window his surroundings shifted from room to grassy field under a dusky sky. In the distance was a huge tree breaking up the horizon, reaching its branches skyward, and among the blades of grass were small darkened circles filled with firefly light, a greenish glow, leading him toward the lonely tree. His steps took him triple the distance than any normal footfall as he followed the luminous path. In moments he was looking up into the crown of branches at the champagne glass shaped leaves. Under his hands the bark felt soft to the touch, but there was no give under his fingers that one would expect. The fireflies wound around the tree spiraling upward from the ground into the overhead boughs, some of them dipping in an out of the leaves and shaking off bright blue drops of liquid.

Early summer was on the breeze lifting off the wildflowers and moss nestled in the cracks of the trunk, but Tamrind didn’t smell it. He just knew it was there.  The scape was soundless, not even the rustle of leaves in the night wind, gentle as it was. No one was to be found, but the vastness of the plains stretching in every direction with the champagne leaf tree the only thing to break up the monotony. Even the lighted path he followed from his room had vanished.

As he walked around the tree, tracing his hand along the bark and trying to avoid disturbing the little bugs, Tamrind came to a woven basket nestled among the roots. It was already half filled with acorns with a few scattered on the ground around it. He knelt down and reached for one of them. “Hey!” A voice from above backed at him. “Don’t touch those!”

Tamrind looked up into the boughs but count see anything but leaves and the inky sky peeking between them. “Uh, sorry?”

“You should be,” it sounded like a girl’s voice. “Those are mine. Go find your own.” He couldn’t see the girl, but he could see the branches shifting under her weight as she moved through the tree.

“Calm down. I wasn’t going to take them,” he said.

“Get out of my tree! What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I’m not—” He looked down at his feet and the ground far below, yelping as he scrambled to grab onto any branch within reach. “How did I get up here? What’s going on?” Tamrind’s face snapped around to hers. She was half his size, dark green curly hair cropped to her chin and sparkling in the low light, and she was dressed in what looked like cast off flower petals. “Who are—”

“I didn’t make this dream for you, human. Piss off!” she yelled. With both hands, the girl shoved him off the branch not giving Tamrind time to cry out. The pit of his stomach dropped hard before his world went black.

He opened his eyes with a start. Sunlight was streaming through his bedroom window warming up the pitcher of water on the nightstand next to his bed. Sheets were a tangled mess around his legs. It was just after dawn and the cloister clock would start to chime, calling everyone to the mess hall for breakfast. He rubbed his face with his hands and sighed. His head ached and his stomach felt tight for some reason. Another restless night and the morning didn’t promise to be any better. How many more nights would he have to endure sleepless, hopeless, dreamless.

The last thing he remembered was leaving a note on his rocking chair. He never expected an answer, because as far as he was concerned prayers were worthless. The gods had stopped listening years ago or maybe they never were in the first place. And yet, there was that little scrap of paper resting every night with one final plea, ‘Wake me if you’re out there…’

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