I dare not compete with the strains of your heart,
all its syllables seething with rich incandescence:
my sonnets lie landlocked in preadolescence;
I bear little passion to augment my art.
I write not of love, but of you nonetheless:
of the libraries anchoring roots in your chest
to weave sea-weathered songs into stanzas you’ve strung
out of dialects breathing last words on your tongue,
and I write of your verses. Your words smell of sighs
and the streams of tidewater that leak from her eyes,
pooling deep in your gut, scalding salt in your blood:
when you touch pen to paper, the ink tastes of love.
So I marvel, dear poet; you’ve lived so unsung
though you breathe as a muse and musician in one.
You have said that my verse gives you air to fly true,
but you’ve given me color. My words are for you.
earth contaminates your blood; sentiment rakes its claws
across your brow, wrestles your eyes tender.
i marvel at how little your heart sleeps,
its wingbeats stirring soft, hot revolutions in your dreams
(while mine quivers, laughing darkly, like a dying coal).
i want nothing more than to swallow your exhalations,
your warm sweat, your voice in the late morning,
the twitch of your knuckles, your throbbing mouth
until they fissure my ribcage, an artificial pulse.
but my ears are not built for bellsongs.
my skin is too frail to bear the roar of tempests,
tectonic yawns, silver armies, sun-flecked tides.
i am at a disadvantage, my salt-drunk friend:
i am landlocked, and my sky holds no technicolor.
the birth of you, the death of Me—
you quelled my singularity
tenfold my heat (or so i thought)
a brighter star. you cast your lot
with luck; in our young binary
you were my system’s Primary.
my body swerved to serve, alone,
a white queen on a cosmic throne
(while others, lenses pointed high
condemned the motions of the sky:
small central mass. we would not last.)
Love truly is a parallax.
—We clung to shadows; eschewed fact:
No fleeting, fragmentary bliss
Could conquer my impassiveness.
The grandeur of celestial dance
Collapsed under our fraught romance
(And while your body craved my kiss
My hold on you became stasis.)
And now your absence leaves a throne
For me, the queen of the alone.
The salve to my dependency:
The death of you.
The birth of Me.
For Sera, who wanted some Elijah/Mouse.
Well, they apparently didn’t let world-class hackers use their laptops in prison. Mouse hadn’t really gotten her hopes up, but she had also failed to prepare in advance for the grueling hours of inactivity that lay ahead for the next lifetime or so. Her twelve-year-old self would’ve lobbied tirelessly for her sole link to the world; would’ve (depending on the tendency of the guards towards violence) screamed bloody murder until her laptop found its way in her hands again. But ironically enough, eighteen-year-old Kate Fletcher - despite being bored out of her newly-adult wits - was starting to find the situation oddly liberating.
The first person and I sat on the concrete for some time, watching passerby stroll past blithely as we swung our legs over the brick floor. We examined Barnes and Noble window advertisements with unnecessary scrutiny, a cup of frozen, syrupy strawberry lemonade melting in the block of sunlight between my thigh and hers.
"I’m trying to be tolerant," she repeated over and over again. The statement hadn’t been borne from any provocation - other than, of course, the possibility of one of us being a lesbian - and so it didn’t dispel fears so much as elevate them, seeing as trying to be tolerant seemed to be taking up a greater deal of effort than anticipated.
The frozen lemonade was lukewarm and achingly sweet, leaving my throat raw. “But seriously, if you have any problems with-“
"-No, no. I find it interesting," she replied with mild (though rather obligatory) pleasantness, though it didn’t seem as forced as I had expected. She had been suspecting for some time, or so she claimed, though to have it confirmed (in public, no less, and without any sort of prelude whatsoever) was certain to be a shock. I could excuse her that, and from prior experience, I knew any sort of discomfort was borne not from blatant intolerance but from what I hoped to be momentary disbelief. And I felt the dizzying aftereffects of the revelation, too, clouding my judgment and forcing my surroundings to take on something of a dreamlike quality - never had I consciously admitted anything of this nature to anyone, much less in an area where my blasphemy could be heard by the general public.
But whatever awkwardness had been stirred by the revelation quickly dissipated into mutual amusement. The enduring benefit of being her friend, I realized with quiet relief, lay in her tendency not to take things too seriously. Both of us seemed to recognize my fleeting fancies for the whims that they were; eventually laughed openly at the sheer incredulity that would be wrought on our peers’ faces if they were to know. And between the hyperbolic fantasizing we lapsed into after a brief goading on her part, the all-too-universal kinship we felt after she admitted to hopeless longing on her part as well, it became all-too-evident that I could tell her anything without judgment.
For all the second person’s trademark tact, she found it difficult to be anything but blunt. “I’ve known for a while,” she remarked matter-of-factly, responding to my dumb stammering with something like wry amusement. Thank God for nonverbal cues. Thank God for a situation that didn’t necessitate overwrought explanations. Thank God for her.
"I’m so sorry for not hanging out with you guys more," I offered rather pathetically, to which she laughed and shrugged dismissively.
"No, it’s fine. I understood."
Thank God for her.
And there was no elaboration to be had, no justifications to be offered. She seemed to hold an infinite reservoir of experience and wisdom; as far as I was concerned, speaking about my situation would offer her nothing more than she already knew. “I lied about going for it, you know.” She offered plainly, hunched over the computer desk as I sat, a warm lump of gratefulness, on the couch across from her. “You have to be careful about this one.”
"But I don’t even - I don’t know, I don’t know - it’s just this person. It’s confusing. I don’t know what to call it.”
"I don’t believe in labels," she concluded firmly. And as much as I loathed that cliche, as much as I longed to tell her that it was much more complicated than that, it really wasn’t. "You like what you like. You don’t have to put a name to it."
And all latent romantic interests aside, all confusion and emotional idiocy, there was a wonderful security to be found in someone who knew the right things to say. I wondered how much time I had lost to chasing fantasies; pursuing illusory passions instead of delegating my time to people who had always constituted a silent base of support in the back of my mind. I walked past you guys a lot without you noticing, but I understood. How many times? Where? When?
I resolved to answer the questions myself. Or change the situation; make it so that they wouldn’t even have to be asked. Two people had always been there for me. It was my job, my obligation, my privilege, to be there for them.
A graduation present for Lauren. Congratulations!
He finds her behind the desk of the library’s front counter, methodically checking in the last of the school year’s returns. There’s a sense of unfettered industry to her - she’s dressed in starched formal clothes, her brow furrowed in intense concentration - but he knows that she senses his presence, even if she doesn’t make any effort to acknowledge it.
Unfazed, he slings himself onto the counter, feet just barely swinging over the ground. “Miss Black.”
I wrote this Pokemon fanfiction three years ago, when I was - wow, this is pretty cool - thirteen?
And I never finished it. This would’ve been slightly more excusable had I not held back right before publishing the very last chapter, despite the copious amounts of character death and overwrought angst I was planning to riddle it with. (I even wrote the epilogue before I wrote the last chapter because I was so eager to ruin lives. Unfortunately, thanks to the death of both my desktop computer and my flash drive, it is now gone forever and I have no intent on replicating it.)
This fic is actually much better than I remember, though.
Victoria Valius is twenty-three. She is brilliant and cruel and dying of terminal cancer.
She has lain on the crisp, starched sheets for a seemingly endless succession of days, a splotch of imperfection in an otherwise pristine room. Food and drink are proffered to her chapped lips by her husband’s trembling, lovelorn fingers. The sickly scent of wilting tulips mixes with the sweet stench of uncontrollable illness. Her scalp crawls with grease and sweat; her hair snakes about her face and travels in oily ink rivulets down the ivory pillowcase.
Her little sister, all angles and sharpness and college-student snark, stands in the corner of the room and takes notes.
Research for my book was Vivia Black’s reason for coming. It is why her brother-in-law hovers in the hallway rather than in the room; he cannot bear to think of his wife’s deathbed preserved in words and printed thousands of times over. Vivia is wearing a dark brown coat and a blood-red scarf and to Victoria, this is deeply upsetting. Things have worsened to the point where she registers colors and shapes before identities and ideas - my sister is a secondary observation, and the hatred cannot bring itself to manifest.
But poetic justice has been flitting through Vivia’s mind all morning. At times, she thinks that she ought to offer a vaguely condescending remark to the crumpled adversary dying on the bed. She concludes that silence is more agonizing - for Victoria now, not for her. And it is also ironic and perhaps a touch cruel that she intends to capitalize on her sister’s premature death, since nobody expected Victoria to be immortalized in quite this way.
"You wanted to be remembered forever," she finally manages. Her voice is hollow and abrasive, coarse against the encompassing silence. It is a cold, shallow victory. She had wanted Victoria to fall to ink and paper, not to rogue cells and fatigue. How fitting it was that the only thing capable of destroying the woman was her own body.
Victoria closes her eyes. Vivia’s pen stills. And at this moment, she realizes there is nothing to write about anymore.
there is a world beneath your eyelids
devoid of all gravity
where lack of sleep and lack of reason
form measured insanity.
and others think you mad; perhaps
your sovereignty is but a curse.
but I, for one, quite envy you -
the Master of the Universe.
Too often I build youthful castles in air
And you try to reach them with your winding stair
Of logic and luck, felling bricks with your eyes.
But close them, my dear. (Still I rise, still I rise.)
"You thrive upon theft." Your scornful inflection
Awakened me, then, to my own imperfection.
But I, being stupid, have only my dreams.
Speak softly, my darling. They’ll tear at the seams.