Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wow.

Finals happened. Life happened. I'm still here. Bewildered and confused? (To borrow from Shannon Hale) Like an unsteady Jenga tower in relation to sanity? Yeah. But I am here, darn it!


(And now to borrow from Cuil)

Things That are Making Me Happy:

- The smell of sandalwood

- Capital Letters

- Shannon Hale's posts about her twins (Go read those posts and try not to squeal/cry.)

- My seester :) She's pretty awesome. Besides, we have a practical joke going down tomorrow, and there just aren't many other people with whom I could plan such things.

- My blogger twins :)

- Guys' jackets

- Neon-colored socks for Christmas (they're so darn happy)

- Whipped cream (seriously, that stuff is amazing)

- Being able to revise some writing/add to it - it's the first time I've worked on any project of any length in ages, and for a few hours, I was able to just write without thinking about it.

- Little compliments (it's amazing how nice it feels to know someone noticed you doing something well. Makes me want to pass the compliments along. :)

- In the midst of a lot of uncertainty, being able to stumble into a few moments of undiluted peace.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things I Have Discovered

(Mostly in the past six months)


- Standing up for something is simple if you believe in it.

- Enjoy life. Be passionate.

- I am worth waiting for. And whoever I'll end up with is too.

- Sometimes when someone dumps their responsibilities on you and runs, you don't have to be all happy and polite about it. You don't have to be nasty, but when those words like 'please' and 'thank you' drop from terse emails, it's a subtle indication that was a crap thing to do to me.

- There is so much to life. So much.

- Sometimes, hanging out with guys who have girlfriends is a great thing, because then there are no ridiculous expectations that come with singles being in the same room.

- Related, there's the Apartment of Safe Guys on campus. One's in a relationship, one probably won't be until he's graduated. Both great guys, and best of all, zero awkwardness. (Also, I bring them cookies, so we're tight.)

- I have a good angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other sometimes, leaving me stuck in indecision, right where I was before they showed up.

- I will end up in the oddball situations, just because I'm like a magnet for them. I now expect things to not go as planned.

- Some people have hearts of gold under class clown exteriors. Find these people and don't let go of them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Linked

The ring consisted of a simple ebony circle set in the dirt, and it contained two combatants. The first was a man, about twenty-five years old and six feet tall, lanky enough to be languid. He rolled one wrist in a circle, then the other, and repeated the motion with his shoulders. He proceeded to crack each knuckle systematically, not the half-conscious habit of someone filled with nerves. Most lazy bystanders would peg him as a playboy European, or even American, just talented enough a fighter to try his luck in the ring. The only indications otherwise were the way he moved, and the outlines of weapons sheathed on his back, hidden by his black duster. A few raindrops fell, striking and rolling from the jacket, which had the discreet shimmer of expensive fabric.


Mae stood directly opposite him, motionless save for the rise and fall of her chest. She looked almost native, except for her eyes. One hazel, one brown, they weren't enough different to capture immediate attention, but they marked her as having mixed heritage. Her long coat resembled a kimono, pale blue with abstract patterns of silver thread. It was held shut by bone pegs, and the black belt supporting a sheath, the bottom of which tapped the side of her calf.

The officiator coughed once, looking at her. She nodded, tracing the patterns on the katana's hilt. She remembered her father doing the same, years ago, his sizable index finger sliding over the loops and whorls.

The European shrugged his coat off, folded it once, and tossed it outside the ring. A dirt-faced boy ran towards it, hands nearly closing around the collar, when he made the mistake of looking at its owner. The European didn't move, or make a threatening gesture, but Mae saw his eyes. The boy jerked his hand away from the coat and scampered backwards, not taking his eyes away as if he believed the man would curse him when his back was turned. It was a foolish villager's superstition, and God knew there were enough foolish villagers around here. Mae's opponent probably viewed her the same way. Better trained and stupider, to challenge him, but he'd blatantly slighted her village elder's honor. In his world, the idea of dueling for honor died several centuries ago. The law still stood here. Man-to-man combat in this circle, with few rules and no outside interference.

He turned and bowed to her, almost mockingly. "Best of luck."

She returned the gesture, stiffly. He'd read up on dueling customs, then.

The officiator rang the gong once. Mae still felt the vibrations in the air as she unsheathed her katana. The steel slid free, gleaming despite the overcast skies. Holding the sword downward with her left hand, she unstrapped the belt with her right and tossed it from the ring. She made the mistake of entering a duel wearing it only once, and nearly taken a knife to the ribs as a result. It was an easy handhold for an opponent using a short-range weapon.

Her opponent looked her up and down once. The left corner of his mouth tipped up, and he tossed one of his swords, still sheathed, out of the ring. The other he drew from the scabbard on his back. Mae had known it was a katana from the first glance, and now she noted the way his hand closed around the grip. Comfortably. He'd used this sword before. It was an odd choice for a European. Or American. She leaned toward the latter, but his accent was fluid, shifting with each word.

And he'd thrown one of his weapons from the ring, making it unaccessible for the fight. It could have been an American sense of fair play, or the American gift of patronization/infuriation. He didn't think she could handle him using two weapons versus her one? So be it.

Their blades met, and she had to step back with her left foot. He put more strength into the blow than she anticipated. And the next. And the next after that. She would have to play on speed now. The next strike, she waited until the last moment and leaped back. His sword sliced into the ground, and she darted around him, slapping his back with the flat of her blade. Their eyes met as he spun. The casual arrogance melted from his eyes, leaving cold fury.

The battle continued for a half-hour, a flurry of strike and counterstrike. She grazed the side of his leg, and he nicked the top of her shoulder. Neither were serious wounds. And neither she nor him would give this up. Unfortunately, she was tiring, and he didn't seem to be. She didn't want to employ her last resort, but unless she made a lucky strike soon, she would lose. He swung, she dodged, and threw her sword out of the ring.

He paused mid-strike. "You concede?"

The rules stated one could use whatever weapon one brought into the ring. He had to know that. She brought herself, and that was the only weapon she truly needed. Mae closed her eyes for half a second, finding that spark in the back of her mind, and then she let it ignite. When she looked up, she was a girl with fire in her hands, slender lancets of flame dancing on her outstretched fingertips. Some of the villagers gasped, muttering fire demon, the epithet she'd lived with her entire life. They thought she was possessed, not simply genetically gifted. The talents didn't develop in Asians, or hadn't yet, only those with mixed blood.

He got half a curse out his mouth before she extended her hands and let the flame wash over his sword blade. She didn't make the flame hot enough to melt it, though she could. She just needed him to drop the katana. It hit the ground with a clank, and she darted forward, kicking it by the hilt from the ring. Three steps more, and she knocked his ankles from under him, pinning him on his back with a knee to his chest. She swept her tanto from the concealed sheath on her calf and wedged it neatly under his chin. It was her grandfather's weapon, a ninja's preferred weapon, lightweight and perfect for assassinations.

She felt his heart hammering beneath her knee. Mae let the traces of a smile edge her lips. He hadn't expected it because he'd thought it impossible she had a gift like that. "Do you concede?"

He laid there for a moment. She felt his pulse drop. The next time she met his eyes, they were iron-blue, fixed on hers.

He gave her a skeleton grin. All teeth, no humor."I don't lose."

She opened her mouth to retort, but found her throat closed. Her left hand trembled, and lifted the knife from his throat. Mae watched, eyes wide, as she brought the dagger through the air, towards herself. She tried to push away, to shake free the deadness in her limbs. The tanto came closer. A moment later, she felt the keen edge scrape her throat, the tip resting at that sensitive spot just under her ear. She felt herself press the knife closer, almost enough to break the skin.

He smiled and flicked two fingers. She found herself lifting the knee from his chest and scooting away. He rolled to his feet in one movement, like a cat, standing above her.

Mae felt her knees digging into the ground as she stared at his shoes. Black. Lace-up. Steel-toed. More, she felt the sting as the knife slipped through her skin, her hand shaking on the handle. A trickle of blood started down her throat, trailing toward her collarbone. Of all the people in the world to challenge, she found a puppetmaster. They were notorious for...creative deaths. They could be. All they had to do was command it. And the officiator could do nothing about it. Nothing happening in the ring was against the rules.

He squatted down, knees on his elbows, eyes glinting. "If you're going to use your talent, it's only fair I use mine."

She couldn't choke out an answer. She was too occupied with the smell of her own blood.

"So, it would be completely within my rights to kill you right here and now. That is in the rules, is it not?"

She managed one terse nod.

"But thankfully for you, I have more of a heart than that. I just want one thing from you."

She couldn't keep the anger from her voice. "What?"

He shook his head, smiling. "Temper, temper. I just want your sword."

Mae stilled. She heard the officiator pull a breath through closed teeth. That sword was her link to her father. A blood link. Yet, as she felt her own knife scraping her throat, she realized it was the sword or her life. She pushed the words through gritted teeth. "I concede it."

"That's a smart girl." He flicked his fingers again, and she inhaled sharply as feeling flooded into her limbs. She dropped her knife into the dirt, one hand running over the split skin at her throat. Collecting herself, Mae turned, watched him stride out of the ring and pick up her katana.

The officiator shot a look her way, questioning. She kept her face blank. He took a few respectful steps toward her opponent, speaking with the slow cadence of one unaccustomed to English. "Sir. Is there not another prize you would desire?"

He lifted one sandy eyebrow, swirling the katana in a few lazy circles. "No. This blade is remarkably balanced."

The officiator smoothed the wisps of his beard, dark eyes troubled. "I must say with all respect that I believe you should not take that weapon."

He picked up Mae's scabbard and sheathed the sword with a snap. "What are you trying to say, man?"

Mae rose to her feet, brushing the dirt from her jacket, and walked from the ring. "Try to strike me with it."

Half the spectators went silent, probably because only half of them understood English. The officiator paled, but nodded approvingly at her. He knew.

Her opponent stilled, scarcely tilting his head. "What did you say?"

She spread both hands, face serene. "Afraid to hit a girl?"

He shrugged. "If you insist." Before she blinked, he unsheathed the katana and swung it toward her side in one smooth motion. Mae waited for him to double over in pain, blade falling from his hands as his face turned blue. It didn't happen. At the last second, she dove, hitting the ground and rolling toward his second sword, the one he'd thrown from the ring before the fight. She rolled over it, catching it on the next revolution with her left hand and pulling it free from the scabbard. Standing and swinging on instinct, she slammed her blade into his, inches from her face.

They stood there, blades locked. Mae could only imagine the look on his face matched hers - brow furrowed, lips cracked, eyes pinched.

He pressed his lips together before speaking. "Who are you?"

"I could ask the same," said Mae. "That sword in your hands was worked on by a Charmer four generations ago. If someone not in the direct bloodline of my ancestor tries to use it against one of my family, he or she will perish, rapidly."

He eyed the katana she held. "It's the same with that blade."

They lowered swords at the same time. Mae held hers lightly by her side. It felt right in a way her father's never quite had. She'd grown accustomed to its weight, slightly too much for her, but she wouldn't fight with anything else. Mae twirled the blade experimentally. It felt like she was holding a stick of bamboo, lightweight and sturdy. "I like it."

He did the same, moving through a few fencing positions. "This is perfect. That one's always been a bit too light."

She looked at him, really looked at him for the first time. He had a defined chin and sandy hair, but the eyes. They were her father's eyes. Hazel with gold circles around the pupils. "Who were your parents?"

He shrugged. "No idea. I barely remember my father. I got abandoned in London when I was five or six and made my way from there."

"He told me he came out here to hide," said Mae. "He died five years ago." They were dancing around his key identifying mark.

"He was mildly telekinetic," he said. "I remember that much."

Mae exhaled. They were silent for a moment. "He never told me I had a brother."

"He probably thought I was dead. I should have been." He looked her over again, as if seeing her for the first time. "So. Firebomb?"

She lit her right hand, just because she enjoyed the flames dancing against her skin. "Yes. Puppetmaster?"

"Yup." He said it without a trace of shame. Maybe even pride. "And yes, I am an evil genius like the rest of them."

Mae smiled a little. He was joking. Maybe. "I don't even know your name."

"It's Chance," he said. "Chance Real. And you're Mae."

"Yes."

"Last name?"

"Depends on which passport I'm using."

He studied her face. "You meant that."

She gave an enigmatic smile. "Just because I look like I'm fifteen years old doesn't mean I don't have a fairly complicated job."

He tipped back his head and laughed. "It sounds like we're in a vaguely similar line of business, then. You here for the G12 conference in Hong Kong and just stop back in here?"

"I live here. But yes, I am traveling there." There were choice bits of information waiting to be gathered there. The job would pay well.

"Well," he said. "We should meet up sometime then. You know. Catch up. Get to know each other, I guess."

She fought to keep the edges of her mouth immobile. "I'd like that."

They exchanged contact information as the spectators dispersed, probably wondering how Chance and Mae went from attacking each other outside the ring to chatting.

Chance looked at his wristwatch. "As much as I hate to say it, I have a plane to catch."

"Best of luck," said Mae. She hugged him, on the wings of some impulse she couldn't explain.

He stiffened for a moment before pulling her into his chest. "I'm glad I didn't kill you before I found out who you were."

"I'm happy about that too," she said.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Safe?

She emptied the cup of flour into the bowl, watching the residual cloud rise like vapor. He sat at the table, snickering at some meme-based website, probably. It shouldn't bother her he assumed control of her computer, she told herself as she shook powdered cinnamon into the bowl. Picking up a fork, she began pressing the flour and cinnamon into the butter-egg-sugar confection at the bottom of the bowl, mixing it in slow, circular motions. It did, though, a silly little thought nagging the corner of her mind.


A few minutes later, as she poured the chocolate chips into the mix, she felt him standing behind her, a few steps to the left. "How're they coming?" he said.

"About to throw them in the oven." She blinked. "Which isn't on. Turn it to 350, would you?"

"Sure." He pressed the display buttons as she reached into the bowl and scooped out an unshaped lump of dough. She rolled it over in her hands once, forming a neat sphere and setting it on the pan. Despite the slick of dough clinging to her hands, something about the simple act of creation soothed her.

He was still standing there, watching. Not close enough to radiate body heat, but in arm's-reach.

There was nothing wrong here. Two of her suitemates were in their rooms, doing homework, nonetheless, but almost present. He was a nice guy. Tried to kiss her once after their one date, but she wasn't ready. Never would be, for him. When she looked at him she saw a guy about her height, blond hair curling under his ears and pale blue eyes under the rim of a battered red baseball cap, jeans ripped at the knees and chewed-up brown Cons. Nice. That was all. She felt no fire or flutter or even spark.

She set the last ball of dough on the tray a moment later. "And done." She kept her voice casual, self-deprecatory, friendly but uninterested in that way. The pan went in the oven, the bowl in the dishwasher, and when she turned from the sink, crumpling a paper towel between her hands, she saw something.

She saw him grabbing her by the shoulders, spinning her into the far wall, hands sliding down her arms to trap her elbows against the wall, her eyes widening, mouth opening to protest, scream, him silencing her with his mouth on hers and her struggling, head pinned to the wall, unable to move.

It was a glimpse, a moment, but she knew her reactions flashed across her face, because he took a step back. "You alright?"

It was stupid. He'd never do something like that. If anything he'd be the guy who sort of forced a kiss in the heat of the moment then fell over apologizing in horror. It wasn't the future she saw. Couldn't be. Just an overactive imagination. Right? She realized she was still standing there, sliver of paper towel poking through her closed palms. She forced a smile. "Yeah. Just spaced out for a moment."

He tried a smile. "Okay. You looked kinda freaked out."

Though nothing had happened, nothing would, she felt a whispering sense of dread creeping into her gut, a black mist at the edge of her senses, lingering. Not enough to legitimately panic, not even close, but a feeling that shouldn't be there, a weed. She shrugged and stepped past him to the trash can, popping the lid and dropping in the towel.

She made an excuse about a study group almost as soon as the cookies were finished. Grabbed her keys, let him show himself out, took off across the road. She shivered as she paced down the next few blocks, feet crunching leaves. She hadn't thought of a jacket. Her black thermal was long-sleeved, waffle-textured, but thin, only warm where it overlapped her jeans. She made it to the right house a few moments later. The streetlight cast her as silhouette, thin and indistinct. She gathered her courage and knocked.

A dog barked inside, and she heard nails scrabbling against floor. A man ordered the dog back, and the porch door swung open a minute later. He was wearing a pair of stonewashed blue jeans and nothing else, bent over, grabbing the retriever's collar as he pushed open the swing door. "Sorry about Loki, he's hyperactive as heck today."

"It's okay." She bent down, let the dog sniff her hands, give her an enthusiastic lick across the face. Eventually he calmed and ran towards the back of the house, probably to fetch a tennis ball. He loved to play.

"So, what's up? Wasn't expecting you to stop by." He stood, and she realized, again, he wasn't wearing a shirt, and flecks of water danced from his hair. Fresh out of the shower. He was taller than her by a few inches. She always forgot that until she saw him.

"I just...." What? Panicked from an overactive imagination? Ran out of her house because of a premonition? She didn't know what to say, so she just walked over the threshold and wrapped her arms around him, bare chest and all.

She felt him tense for an instant before carefully pulling her in with one arm across her back. His voice softened. "Hey, what's going on?"

Her breath shuddered. "I...Kale was over, I was making cookies, and I just...God, this sounds so stupid, but I don't know, it just felt really weird."

"I thought you two weren't going out?"

"We aren't. But I think he still wants to. And...I don't know, he was just kind of standing over my shoulder and it really freaked me out, and I don't get why."

"Yet you're jumping me when I'm not wearing a shirt and that isn't freaking you out?"

She felt her face flame, and stepped back. "Um. Sorry, geeze, I wasn't thinking-" She caught the glimmer in his eyes and flushed again. "Dadgum you."

He laughed. "I get that a lot." He pointed at the couch. "Take a seat, let me grab a shirt before I freeze, and I'll be right there."

She sat. He disappeared up the stairs. Loki trotted over and rested his head on her knee, slobbering. She sighed and sank into the worn leather, idly massaging Loki's ears.

Stairs creaked, and he reappeared in a blue and black plaid. It looked soft. Slapping Loki's rump, he sat at the other end of the couch and turned towards her. "So."

"I...I don't know. I mean, nothing happened. I don't think anything would have, but...something just felt wrong and I got freaked out." She pushed an errant bang behind her ears. "He's a nice guy, he'd never do anything, but I just got this weird feeling...and now I'm not making any sense."

He lifted a shoulder. "It makes enough sense. My question is, why'd you come to me?"

She bit the edge of her lip. "I mean, this sounds stupid, but you've stood that close to me a million times, and like, I can be in a crowd and know exactly where you're standing in relation to me, every time. It's weird, and I don't even get that, but not once did I ever get weirded out by it. It's just..." She released a breath. She didn't do this spill-your-guts thing well. "I guess I just started thinking that if you'd been standing there instead of him I'd've felt perfectly safe."

He blinked, rubbed his jaw. "Well. Thanks."

She knew he meant it, was just surprised by her saying that. She was too. "Yeah." She shrugged. "That's about it." Now she felt like a class-A moron, filed away in his mind as a silly girl. She stood. "Sorry, I didn't mean to barge in, I'd better be heading back."

He blocked her path to the door in half a heartbeat, eyes fixed on hers. Carefully, he placed his hands on her shoulders. "I'm sorry it turned out that way with him. But I'm not him, and, well, I guess I'm here for you. You're an amazing girl and no one should freak you out like that."

She could feel Loki sniffing the back of her knees. Mostly, she felt his hands on her shoulders. "Thanks." She blinked. "I'm not crying, I promise."

"There's nothing wrong with that even if you were. Which you aren't. Of course."

She half-laughed, half-coughed, and he pulled her into a real hug, one where she wrapped her arms around him, closing her right hand around her left wrist and letting herself relax, cheek rubbing against his shirt. It was soft. And she was right. She did feel safe.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chick-flick narrative voice!

It's one of those days where I feel I should put a modicum of effort into my appearance (why exactly, I don't know, it's not like today will probably be any different than the average three-class Tuesday), but will probably end up wearing these ridiculously comfortable Under Armour men's soccer shorts and a Nike T-shirt instead. (To my credit, the shirt is new, yellow-orange, and has the word 'Nike' in pink script. Thass right, y'all, PINK. By technicality, I will be wearing pink. Contain your shock to a few respectful gasps.) I've recently fallen in love with fitted Nike T-shirts, because they are made for those of athletic persuasion, and actually make me look like I have a waist without being Spandex-like and clinging to every inch of my body (in which case, I would also be wearing pink, on my face, from embarrassment).


And they're guys shorts because I got them for Frisbee, because having long shorts really helps those of the kamikaze persuasion who like making wild dives for the disc when it's out of normal reach (I am not claiming to be one of those people. But I think you all know I am.) I tried finding women's shorts long enough, but I have freakishly long femur bones (approximately fifty percent of my height is between my hip and knee). The only shorts that came past my knees were basketball shorts. They were extremely comfortable, pajama-like, even, but disturbingly see-through. (My conspiracy theory is that men designed them.)

So that is how I ended up with men's shorts. And holy crap, they are the most comfortable shorts EVER. Besides, like a good pair of high heels, they nicely show off my calves, one part of my body in which I do take pride.

_____________

I'm not sure why I'm blogging about incredible randomness of my life, but I have been reading this fantastic blog for about an hour now (warning, there is a bit of language, but if you push past that, prepare to laugh out loud, possibly scaring any other occupants in the room). Hopefully that explains. Plus, this post gives me a chance to ramble in my chick-flick first-person narrative voice, one I usually don't use, because it's pure fluff, but really fun to let loose now and then.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rafe leaned over his chocolate milkshake, voice low. "It's all a conspiracy, you know."


Shara's expression blanked out, and she looked at me, hands freezing around her paper-cupped latte.

I shrugged. This was Rafe. According to him, there were not one, two, but seven conspirators in the JFK assassination, the world was made of tiny elephant-shaped particles in lieu of atoms, and - my personal favorite - Steve Jobs and the Google crew were teaming up to overthrow the government. "What is?" I said.

"Your parents being out of town so much, travelling around the world. They're spies." He calmly adjusted his black beanie. Edges of tin foil poked from the hem, and he tucked them back in.

"I thought that too, when I was seven." I said this in a matter-of-fact tone. Not that a patronizing tone would offend Rafe. Nothing offended Rafe. He'd been called a nut, looney, maniac, oddball, and loser. All the names bounced off him like tennis balls, probably scared senseless by his grin.

He leaned back in his wrought-iron chair and winked. "Trust me, sugar. You'll see the light one day."

I sighed. "Don't call me that."

"Why not?"

"I have a name."

"Meh. I like Sugar better than Emily." Rafe tilted his head, eyes gleaming. "Yup. Sugar."

"Geeze, cut it out." I couldn't say it with much irritation. Mostly because I liked the nickname the same way I liked peppermint mochas - far too much. I mean, Rafe was mind-meltingly droolingly heart-beating-like-a-helicopter gorgeous. Lanky limbs, caffe latte skin, soulful brown eyes, swishy black hair, a face of subtle angles, and a smile that made girls swoon, until they realized it was...well, Rafe. He thought the Titanic was an early German U-boat attack, for heaven's sake. Did I like him? As a friend. Did I want to like him as something more? Yes, if he weren't batcrap crazy.

Rafe took a languid sip from his milkshake. "I only do it because of the irony."

I wadded a napkin and threw it at him. It nicked his left ear before falling to the ground. "Okay, Quixote." That was my retaliatory nickname for him. Pretty darn fitting, too. I checked my watch, did a double-take, and pushed my chair back so fast the legs scraped the concrete. "Holy crap, it's almost five."

"Erk." Shara winced at her sound of dismay, and started sweeping a collection of pink Post-it notes, sharpies, and notebooks into her purse. I don't know how it all fit. Rafe theorized she mugged Mary Poppins.

He took another long draw of milkshake, watching Shara and I clean up our studying supplies, none of which we'd actually touched in the last hour, except to re-enact a particularly good play in yesterday's soccer game. "You're actually going to class?"

"Yeah," I said, shoving my laptop into my backpack. "You should too. For once."

He lifted his shoulders enigmatically. "I do alright without."

Truth was, he had a better grade than I did, and I worked my butt off in that class. I sighed. Cute, ridiculously smart, and completely insane. I always fell for the impossible cases. My phone buzzed, and I snatched it off the table. "Huh. Thought Mom and Dad were still on the plane to Beijing." I aimed a finger at Rafe, who raised his eyebrows with a smirk. "Don't even start." I flipped the phone open. "Hello?"

"Emily, where are you right now?"

I frowned. At first, I thought my mother sounded controlled and angry, voice tight like a rubber band. "Heading over to Psych. What's up? I thought you were still-"

"You need to get out of town, now."

Rafe leaned in, mirth dropping from his face. I tried to glare at him, but that failed when I recognized the exact emotion in my mother's voice.

It was fear.

"Okay," I said. I slung my backpack over my shoulders. "What's going on?"

She released a breath. "There's a lot I can't go into right now, but you're in danger, and you need to run."

Across the table, Shara tilted her head. I shrugged, shaking my head. "That's pretty vague."

Rafe swore under his breath, standing, milkshake tipping sideways on the table. "Fantastic."

"Is that Rafe?" said my mother.

"Yeah," I said. "Look, what the heck's-"

"Just tell-"the line went dead.

I stood immobile, phone in my head. "Mom?"

The bell on the front door jingled, and two men entered. They looked like a couple young professionals in business casual attire, stopping in for coffee after work, except for the way they moved. The dark-haired one got in line to order, and the blond walked our way, casually. Something about it seemed rehearsed, like they'd done this a million times.

Rafe took my hand in his, and started walking toward the side door to the patio. "Come on."

I followed, bewildered. "What's-"

"You too, Shara. Leave the notebook, it doesn't matter right now." He dropped my hand and settled an arm over my shoulders as Shara trotted to catch up. "Don't look back, just keep walking. We just have to get to the car."

My breath lodged in my throat. I looked at Rafe as he pushed the door open with one hand. He looked no different for a moment, smiling like a loon, but his gaze was both a million miles away and assessing every detail of our surroundings. "You weren't kidding about-"

"No," he said. "Sometimes the windmills really do come alive, Sugar."

______________

Sorry. No real ending here, and this is not my best writing by any stretch, just a bit of a creative exercise.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

the one with the dusty rose lips

and sway in her hips, long california legs and swoop of blond hair, coy pout and golden fingernails dancing on the table, the girl who walks through the room, eyes serene and straight-ahead as the boys stop to stare. the corners of those full lips turn up as she reaches the door because oh yes i got the power, but it's only in the quiet moments when she gazes out the window you catch the sadness in her eyes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Because my brain is dead as a doornail (or doorknob, or doorknocker!)

I had two midterms this week, and a 8-10 page paper (it clocked in at 8.5 total). I did not go to bed before 1 am any day this week. I am exhausted. But this week is done! :D So, I will hopefully write something soon that is not drivel from the dregs of my brain. Here is some freewriting. I hope it is not atrocious. Please...don't hate too much :P


_______________

he smiled. oh, god. it was the adonis smile. 'nice to see you out here. you should come more often.'

i lean casually against my car to disguise the fact my knees are butter left in the microwave for three minutes on high. 'yeah, hopefully i'll be able to. it was fun watching y'all play.' i sound so horribly drawling and texan, but my options were 'y'all' and 'you', which could be rightly taken as 'you' in the singular form, which would just be kind of weird since i've only known him for a couple months.

'it was a pretty good game.' he shifts, and the parking lot light falls over his chest, which, thanks to the delightful resurgence of summer weather, is deliciously bare.

i smile and tilt my head a little, getting a quick glimpse. six-pack. just as i suspected. thank you, summer, i know i was cursing you this morning, but i grudgingly concede you have your benefits. 'for sure.' crap. this conversation is racing toward awkward silence. 'i mean, except for the part when matt took a soccer ball to the face.'

he half-snorts. yes, i'm hopelessly biased, but the man makes snorting sexy. 'i always get on him for flirting with the sidelines and not paying attention. i think he learned his lesson tonight.'

i rub the side of my mouth, hiding a grin. 'yeah, he and my roommate seem to be hitting it off.'

'i'm sorry. have fun with that when they start dating.'

i groan. 'noooo, please no, i always manage to walk in on the most awkward couple moments ever. it makes me want to run off to a nunnery for the rest of my life.'

'well that'd suck, especially because i was gonna see if you wanted to get coffee or something tonight.'

my breath latches in my throat, and i make a flattering 'urk' sound. adonis just asked me out for coffee? i cough to clear my throat. 'excuse my frog imitations. i've been practicing them in the hopes of luring the frogs out of the swamp by my apartment so i can eternally shut them up and then use their entrails to tell the future.'

he blinks. to my eternal humiliation, an actual frog croaks from the pond behind the fields.

i feel heat bleeding into my cheeks. what was that crap that just spewed from my mouth? thank you, macbeth, for that inspiration.

he grins and start laughing. my face is on fire. 'you know, i've heard you say some weird things, but that just topped them all.'

'i try to exceed expectations,' i mumble. mumble? i don't mumble! what is wrong with me? now he thinks i'm sort of incoherent freaky frog-whisperer!

he gets a hold of himself. 'um. anyway, coffee?'

i nod tentatively.

'well, that was enthusiastic.'

'after the frog rant, i'm kind of scared of what might come out of my mouth, honestly.'

he starts laughing again. 'i'm kind of curious what's going to happen once we get you on some caffeine. ten o'clock?'

i smile. it's a little hesitant but happy. could be worse, it could be super-bashful and blushing, or one of those stupid grins smearing itself across my face. 'see you there.'

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

and what is it anyway, this crazy little thing

it does funny things to us, and i don't mean comical-larry-curly-and-moe. that bittersweet curl in your stomach and that dime-sized hollow spot in your chest that pulses like a negative heart. and the knife and the poison in the tomb with silent stone angels only witnesses. the need to give, not receive it to feel whole again. the hitch in your breath when you see them under the soft light of the lamp absorbed in a book with a half-smile, and you feel your own lips curve because their happiness is yours and they don't know it.


they don't know. maybe they never will. but for now you can't help it. maybe you'll never be able to. maybe staying silent and hanging on to that scrap of time you share, just you two, is worth it than speaking and risking the ruination.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Distinctly Prosaic Update

As some of you may know, I tried out for the men's club Ultimate Frisbee team at my university. They decided to keep it an all-male team, so I decided to start a women's team. It's been mostly paperwork so far, and difficult to recruit, since we can't use official channels to spread the word since we are not yet an approved organization. So, I turned in the paperwork today, and who did I run into (almost literally) on the stairs but the captain of the guys' team? He sent me a shortlist of names of other women interested in playing. Three of four of them are in, and one of them sent out an email to her sorority.


Within one hour, the tentative roster has doubled from six people to twelve. I am literally on the edge of tears out of sheer happiness. Now I'm waiting for number 13. See, I have this weird love of the number 13. Mostly because it's conventionally unlucky. And for the last two weeks, I've been brainstorming team names, and for whatever bizarre reason, the name 'Lucky' has lodged itself in my mind. I can't figure out a logical reason to save my life, which is rare for me. So, I have this weird hope we have 13 people on the team, and call it Lucky. (I've also been seeing shamrocks everywhere the last two weeks. They're stalking me.)

So, in conclusion, God is so, so good. Now I'm just waiting for number 13 to show up, and then my night shall be complete.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

stop making the eyes at me and i'll stop making the eyes at you

but the thing that surprises me is i don't really want you to. it's a day of 'i bet you look good on the dancefloor' on repeat because it's the ambivalence and terror and sass and flicker of excitement eating through your veins. the god-i-miss-you feeling that crushes you like a freak wave but leaves you untouched and shaken five minutes later. the sheer recklessness of to-hell-with-it that usually wears off like perfume, but what does it mean when it clings to you for days, no longer on your skin but melding into it. and secretly you like it, the way it holds your hand and lets you walk the tightrope edge, with that dangerous smile saying you'll have to find out if your parachute works all on your own, princess. and then in the moment, the only one that matters, you become icarus or peter pan, or you become atlas always wondering what if.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Night With Hesiod, Euripides, and Sophocles

My increasingly incoherent and snarky thoughts:


- Yes, Oedipus. She is your mom, he was your dad, you're a hot-tempered idiot, but really, blinding yourself with your wife/mother's broach pins? Overkill much?

- From 'Hymn to Demeter': "Yet, goddess, cease your loud lament...Aidoneus [Hades], the Ruler of
Many, is no unfitting husband among the deathless gods for your child, being your own brother..."
Me: That seems like a pretty good reason to lament right there.
- Oooooh, another prophecy! Let me guess - it applies directly to the main character! 
- And then Zeus fathered Persephone by...I did not need to know that, Hesiod, thankyouverymuch.
- Mental bleach, anyone?
- Apollo is a jerk.
- "and tell Metaneira, our deep-bosomed mother, all this matter fully..." Um...anyone else finding the particular adjective used disturbing?
- yeahhhh, the gorgeous godlike woman out in the fields just happens to know exactly who you are. Anchises, you have a brain, please use it.
- "take me now, stainless and unproved in love..." Yeah, Aphrodite. That's a hysterical line from you.
- I don't even want to know what my subconscious is going to do with all this mythology once I finally sleep.
- Goodnight world!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

wishes

i am the hard rock underground electronic back-in-black girl, the one tearing up the field and tackling homework, but when the books pile up and scraps of paper fly, a barricade and tornado around me, all i want, really, is a hot bath. a wide six-foot-long tub with claw feet, with bubbles and jasmine salts and steam swirling from the surface. low lights and silence save for the lapping of the water. i can sink into it and let it steam away the stress, relax the sprain in my ankle, calm the goosebumps on my arms. lay there up to my shoulders, listening to wachet auf and lullaby for my favorite insomniac or aurora borealis, and not thinking. then have a heater on in the room and step out and into an oversized cream towel, new and thick and soft, feet sinking into a rug. bundling myself into blue pajamas with christmas trees and turquoise-striped fuzzy socks, sitting up against my wall with a mug of earl grey and a guilty pleasure book for half an hour until i take off my glasses and sleep.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall

oh god. kelly?


just forget you saw me here, martin.

what the hell are you-

what the crap are you doing out here? it's freezing.

yeah, no effing duh-

leave it, martin. just go.

damn, just get down from there, don't do this, kell, you've got so much to live for-

like what? like going home to a masoleum? or trudging through a degree i hate because my father wants me to be a lawyer like him? or putting up with the hell i'm going through?

there's your sister-

she's a backstabbing fiend.

sharon-

thinks i'll be her golden ticket to wealth.

there's rick-

rick? you don't know the first thing about rick.

kells. kelly, what'd he do?

nothing i didn't ask for, apparently.

don't say that! i don't know what the hell's going on there but don't even try to defend him.

what are you even doing out here, martin? you barely know me.

doesn't mean i don't care.

yeah, i've heard that one before.

you have no idea.

what?

i know your favorite color is really green, even though you don't say so because people make fun of you and your name.

kelly green.

yeah. i know you liked the aeneid better than the odyssey because odysseus was a douche, you have a silver pair of high heels you never wear because sharon said they looked slutty, which is a shame, they're perfect, and you like canadian bacon and pineapple on your pizza. you've got ridiculous ways with math i can only dream of, you make awesome puns no one ever catches, and you think the whole oh-my-god-i-ate-a-carb-i-must-puke diet stuff is bull.

what the crap have you been doing, stalking me?

i have a photographic memory, remember? it's why i remember what you were wearing at that sorority dance a few weeks back.

it was a hot pink gown, kind of hard not to remember, genius.

no, not that. i mean, don't get me wrong, you were gorgeous. but i remember afterward. i think you and monica must have been going to get coffee and study. you had your hair down and you were wearing painted-splattered jeans and a white t-shirt, and you were barefoot...i don't know. it was dark and one of the lights framed you and you looked free. and i've give about anything to see you like that again.

i didn't - wait, martin, what are you doing?

this is a pretty nice spot. i mean, it is a long way down, but i never thought this parking garage had such a good skyline view. not a very comfortable seat, though. they should install cushioning.

martin, you might fall-

i already did. wasn't really planning on ever telling you, but life's a bitch, and here we are.

i'm pregnant. didn't know that, did you?

no.

and that doesn't change your mind at all?

my mother had me her senior year of college. her boyfriend at the time didn't understand the concept of 'no' being an acceptable answer either.

my dad's going to kill me.

if he had any sense of decency, he'd kill rick.

oh, no, it'll be my fault. everything is. i'm never quite good enough for daddy dearest.

well screw what he thinks.

it's pretty cold up here.

yeah. damn october for being cold. want my jacket?

yeah. thanks.

man. i could go for some hot chocolate right about now.

me too.

dark chocolate with hardcore marshmallows you can sink your teeth into. not that milk-chocolate-with-little-white-pellets swiss miss garbage.

best kind.

let me give you a hand down.

thanks, martin.

anything for you, kells.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My handler stepped into her office, gaze touching on me, sitting in her office chair, and landing almost audibly on the Glock laid sideways on her desk. The iron goddess herself drew a small breath before speaking, visible testament to just how unsettled she was. "Aries, I understand it has been a trying week, but you have worked through worse than this. It can be settled in a diplomatic manner-"

"I have to kill you to get out," I said.

Lita stilled. As few rules governed our work, she knew this was no test. Her superiors, few as they may be, did not use her agents against her. For the most part, her superiors tried to avoid her agents altogether. "Who told you this?"

I savored it for a moment, her not quite able to keep her gaze from slipping to the gun, barrel gleaming in the lamplight. "It's over, Lita. Even the godless are having trouble ignoring the evidence."

"There is no evidence. You know that as well as I."

"There wasn't until I gave it to them."

The cords of her neck pulsed, and I saw it in her eyes. She knew I wasn't lying. Her lips moved soundlessly for a moment. "How could you do this? Do you not realize how many lives we have saved and conspiracies we have stopped?"

"Yes, Lita." I stood, setting both hands on the desk. "I do. But they don't haunt me like every person we've killed or lives we've destroyed."

"Sometimes there is an acceptable margin of loss-"

"No," I said. "That's where you went wrong."

Lita narrowed her eyes, and her voice lowered to a hiss. "By utilizing this philosophy, I have personally saved the lives of two presidents and four other heads of state, and you dare to call me wrong?"

"You went wrong when you believed yourself capable of defining that margin of loss."

Lita looked pointedly at the gun, and back at me. "Now you would do the same?"

I picked up the gun in my left hand, and pulled a silencer from my right pocket, never taking my eyes off her. "You took away my life and taught me to kill. You tell me."

Light glinted on the sweat tracing her hairline. "Aries-"

"Aries," I said, screwing the silencer onto the barrel, "is not my name." The cylinder clicked into place.

"Wait - surely -"

I tilted my head. "Surely what?"

"Jessica, listen to me-"

The edges of my mouth turned up, and I laughed, silently. "You think my birth name is a failsafe? It's unfortunate, really. You did your job too well. I'm not Jessica anymore either."

She sagged into the wall. "That is it, then. You're just going to kill me and leave."

I aimed and pulled the trigger three times. The movies are inaccurate. Silencers suppress the sound, true, but bullets fired at such velocities still make sound. Enough that I'd have to run.

Lita opened her eyes, slowly, and turned to the wall. She touched one of the holes torn in the wallpaper with shaking fingers.

"I'm finishing the game on my terms, not yours." I shot out the light and threw the window open as the bulbs tinkled against the desk.

Five minutes later, I stepped into the black Mercedes at the front of the building, and closed the door as the driver accelerated. "I'm done."

Chandler looked at me, head tilted. "You left her alive, didn't you?"

I handed him the gun, peeling off my gloves. "You don't sound surprised."

"I should be, but I'm not."

I blinked at the tears burning the back of my eyes. He tipped my chin up. "Why tears?"

"I can't remember the last time someone believed in me because of who I am instead of what I can do."

He pulled me across the back seat and into his arms. "You can start now. You can start over now."

The first tear broke over my eyelid. "I don't even know my name anymore."

"But you know who you are."

I drew a shaky breath. "Yes. Yes, I do."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gee whillikers.

I don't even know where to start with real life, because it has turned into a series of bizarre events. I won't even say 'unfortunate', although there have been several of those, including a rather nastily sprained ankle (the brace totally looks like a corset. I have started referring to the process of getting into it as 'lacing up my ankle's corset.). Blogging about this would simply be a rehash of the oddness, so I shan't. I have no idea what I'll be saying this fall, so I think mainly I shall try to do a bit of freewriting on here. Maybe just a paragraph or two. They might not even make sense, but I finally wrote a (longish) short a couple days ago, and being creative just feels so good. So bear with me, and hopefully I'll free-write some interesting things over the next few weeks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

It's been a day of Murphy's Law kicking my butt. And it's only 11. Today so far: I go to switch class sections (for chapel, which is a required class for transfers) because I know someone in the next section, and it'd be more fun than going in and sitting by myself amidst a ton of freshmen. I am informed I can't switch, due to that class being tied to 'transfer orientation' class (which is the biggest waste of time, in which some faculty guy talks to us about tutoring and getting help with our grades. It's totally catered to freshmen, which none of us are, and frankly, downright insulting. I mean, I totally have my bad areas, but grades are my specialty and strength. I've been in college for two years, please, quit treating me like a clueless freshman. I say clueless freshman because I know some freshmen who are incredibly clued in, and do not wish to generalize that much :P).


Then I try to pay for my parking pass. The office only takes cash and check, information not posted anywhere online or in the building. I drive back to campus (the big admin building is a couple miles away) and then spend 30 minutes trying to get a parking space back on campus. I get one at 9:07. My section of chapel starts at 9:05. They close the doors at 9:08.

I'm not caught up on sleep from this weekend (which was completely fabulous, complete with seeing the fam, Inception, awesome food, and lotsa frisbee, so this is not an fml/mylifesucks post, more just a rant, because eventually I will laugh over today), so I'm super tired, which makes all this seem so much worse than it is. Rawr.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In lieu of an actual post

‎A quote from my World Lit professor, on day one: "So just grab that if it's something that turns you on."


I looked down at the floor with eyes closed for a long time. He was talking about paper topics presented in class. Also mentioned was "groping" toward a clear thesis in one's papers. It's going to be an interesting semester.


How are things going with you?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things that are making me happy

- Love


- Chai tea for sore throats

- Two awesome layouts at frisbee last night

- A last-minute game today (since I leave for school tomorrow)

- Embarking on a new adventure to Waco tomorrow

- Collarbones

- Figuring out my eyeliner so it looks just right

- Sister dates to Sonic (lemon-berry slush!)

- My beautiful friends

- My handsome friends

- Giggling over old Facebook photos

- Lunch with one of my besties

- The smell of Old Spice

- Hearts of gold

- Minimalist packing

- Getting okayed to try out for the men's Ultimate Frisbee club team at Baylor since there isn't a women's team (!!!)

- Realizing how this summer turned out so entirely differently than I thought it would, and excitement for this fall.

What is making you happy?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Home Sweet Home...

I've had a fantastic four weeks here. Amazing classes, great group of people, beautiful country and architecture. And not nearly enough sleep. I totally brought that one on myself. But wow. I am ready to be home for a few days and sleeeeeeeeeep. And write a decent blog entry. And post some photos. I have so many, and so few remaining brain cells.

I'm off to finish a paper now. Wish me luck. These are the days I question my choice of major...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

There's something in the air...

Two of my friends have gotten engaged in the last few days. I found out about both of them yesterday (well, technically, three of my friends got engaged, but two of them were engaged to each other...). It's exciting. I am thrilled for them. Still, two in one day? That is too much for my little brain. They're all juniors in college, and that seems so, so young. But then again, it's entirely probable this will still be happening when I'm graduated, and they will still seem so young. Wow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hehehehe

I know there's an eternal debate about the tastefulness of buying a book from another country when it's not yet released in your own (the States, in my case). Well, I was in a bookstore yesterday, and what did I see on the walls that nearly caused me to burst into song? The long-awaited seventh Artemis Fowl book. On sale. For six pounds (roughly nine dollars.) It doesn't come out in the States until August 3. My theory: I didn't order it from Amazon UK. I bought it in-country, and won't have it in the States until it's come out there. In other words, SO MUCH WIN :) (And the UK cover is pretty awesome - and the words are in glorious UK English, with all those extra 'u's in words :D)

That is all. :) I am just happy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

you're something beautiful, a contradiction

listening to the mixtape, wry voices over the airwaves and trying to write studiously, thoughtfully, but the words spill out in a rush of color, uncontained, unbounded. feet bare, fingers ringed as i type, my nails, enameled an impossible color between red and pink, bubbles sparkling in my water, back-breaking anthology closed on the desk, buses rumbling outside the window in complaint of the tourists, smoke drifting through the window on the breeze and tickling my bare shoulders. thinking of the girl with the delicious words that sip and slip cherry red lips into each other and the one with the music and pictures of far away icy places and near, warm forests and the one with the james-bond mystery name and her stories and heart. all these words, beautiful bittersweet words for a season of contradiction, the almost-summer romance and sweet heartbreak, the lightness on the breeze and terrible cathedral solemnity and power and awe and laughter and all

this mixture of life.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Wisdom Teeth Strike Again

After chatting with my parents, who chatted with my dentist, we concluded (on his advice) that wisdom tooth socket probably just had something stuck in it, and was irritated, not infected. My problem was finding a syringe with which to wash the socket. Over the course of the entire day, I became well acquainted know a decent section of London and four pharmacies. No syringe. I went in to the dental centre at Imperial College, where we were staying, and asked if there was any chance I could get in that day, as my mouth was really beginning to swell and hurt.

The dentist concluded it was an infection, and not irritation, because there was nothing to clean out - I was completely healed over. So she gave me antibiotics. And didn't charge me for the prescription. The antibiotics cost about 15 pounds, or 22 dollars. I don't know where I stand on socialized medicine at the moment, but that was an excellent display.

So the meds are working, and also making me incredibly lethargic. I only have four more days left! Yay! Then perhaps I will actually be entirely awake! But I'm not complaining. God was very gracious.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh, the timing.

I would like to be on here raving about such-and-such cathedral or seeing the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum, but I am actually here with a prayer request. Remember those wisdom teeth I got out over a month ago? Well, one of the sockets, apparently aggrieved at losing its tooth, has decided to act up. I'm unsure whether it's just irritation, or an infection, but it's dreadfully poor timing. So...please pray I get in touch with mis padres and they get in touch with my dentist today, and he gets in touch with the local London Boots Pharmacy (UK equivalent of Walgreens or CVS), and I get some antibiotics today or tomorrow.

Oh, and please pray for my temper...I would like to say I am handling this with great dignity, but really, I am royally hacked off. Thanks, y'all.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Mind Is Blown From Sheer Awesomeness

Just a shortie here. I'm alive, the plane to Dublin was delayed three hours, so I got to know some of my fellow students playing Mafia and card games on a floor in the Chicago airport. It was fairly epic. In three days, I have eaten in two pubs, wandered in the world's absolute coolest and most amazing library EVER (yes, adjective build-up required), tiptoed through Christ Church cathedral, gone for a run in Dublin, had fantastic conversations about movie scores and Harry Potter and Twilight (everyone loves HP and hates Twilight!), navigated the streets, and felt slightly less evil for stereotyping sorority girls.

When I get some decent (and free) internet, and some sleep, I hope to post pictures.

How are you all doing?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

God Save the Queen

Tomorrow I'm off! Well, technically, I won't get to the UK until Thursday, what with the dratted long flights. I do meet up with my group at the airport tomorrow, though, something about which I'm excited and a bit nervous, since I don't know a single person I'll be traveling with. They'll be great company, I'm sure, though - this isn't one of those trips you'd want to take or classes you'd want to take if you weren't rather interested in the subject matter. I think my plan is this: see how long I can bluff until everyone realizes no one knows who I am. I am the infiltrator. Ha! Well, that mindset helps me quit being pointlessly nervous.

I shall try to post photos - will depend on time free and my motivation. There's going to be so much fantastic architecture though! I think I'll be posting mostly photos the next few weeks. Or, perhaps, if I"m lucky, there will be some excellent true-life stories upcoming.

Til then!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stolen Moments

It is atrociously late (my Muse is far more nocturnal than I), so I apologize for any stupid typos or grammatical mistakes, and the general weirdness of the idea. It wouldn't let me alone til I'd finished it.



____________________

She sat on the park bench, the edges of her sneakers touching the grass. Each blade stooped, washed of its vibrancy by the rolling clouds, nursing imminent rain. The wind bit through her coat. She drew it close around her, the silk inside brushing her neck. She should have worn something thicker than an old mouse-colored trench. November chased out the remnants of Indian summer weeks ago. November, the greyest month, the death of warmth without the vitality of holidays, which laughed at the with cider and fruitcake. November, somber, solemn, too cold to be somnolent, cheerless enough to be sordid.

A young couple walked past, too absorbed in each other’s eyes to notice her. She sat like a statue, like the cathedral’s angels, forever weeping into their crumbling hands. The girl loosened her white wool scarf and pressed into the boy’s side. He smiled and stretched an arm over her shoulder, drawing her in. They fit like puzzle pieces.

She didn’t have to close her eyes anymore; she’d learned how to do it without. All it took was a sketch of the event in her mind, the pencil outlines, and her subconscious would fill in with color and shadow. The boy, the girl, their posture and warmth, a dash of a ponytail for her, a fine fuzz of a close-cut for him, parkas, scarves, gloves. Before five seconds past, the deed was done. The boy and girl halted, simultaneously, looking at each other with confusion . She could see the instant they shrugged that they didn’t know, decided to write it off as mutual déjà vu of some sort. It was the opposite, really, but they’d never realize it.

She scarcely heard the footfalls on the pale grass before the voice accompanying them. “Cute couple, really.” He said it jovially, with a European flair, reh-a-lly, a twist of English? Scottish? “Too bad they’re missing those few seconds you took just then. Very neatly done, too, scarcely a, oh, what-do-you-callit, a hiccup of time there.”

Her spine chilled from the bottom up, and she turned on the bench, driving her knees into the iron armrest. “I’m sorry?”

He grinned down at her, benevolently. He was wearing a tan overcoat, of quality fabric but well-scuffed, navy trousers, and a pair of off-white trainers. His hair was the color of dark chocolate, and spiked a thousand directions, as if he’d remembered to gel it but not comb it up straight. “Y’mind if I sit? Fantastic, thanks.” He strode around and sat on the other side of the bench, tails of his shamrock green scarf flipping up with the impact.

She twisted back around a moment later, knees pointed straight toward the lake again. She didn’t like talking, and even if she did, what could she possibly say?

“Sorry, that was a bit of an abrupt introduction there, but I’m a shameless ham.” He rubbed his chin, pensively. “Have been since birth, now that I think about it.” He turned toward her, his breath forming a cloud of vapor, floating towards its massive cousins in the sky. “Now, ordinarily, I wouldn’t bother trying to find someone who’s been stealing time, but there were a few things that interested me. First, you’re bloody good at it, I haven’t found a soul who was aware they were missing a single tick of the watch. Second, you’re very young to be taking so much time, and third – well, you’re just so bloody good at it.”

She stared at the lake. Edges of ice circled the rim, growing into a fragile crust. “I didn’t know there was anyone else like me.”

He leaned into the bench, crossing one leg, dropping an arm over the back of the frame. “Oh, well, I’m not exactly like you, but close enough. Y’see, when anyone takes times, there are these…imprints, for lack of a better word, like wax paper rubbings of the taken moments. For example, right there-” he pointed towards the path ringing the lake, “there are these ghosts of that boy and girl all cozied up. I can see right through them, they aren’t real by any means. A dozen people will walk right through them before the day’s over without so much as getting a chill or smelling a thing.

“That’s how I find them, you see, if I don’t see them first. They all have a sort of smell. Moments like that one you just snitched are a lot like a cinnamon sticky, all warm and saccharine and heartwarming. If it’s a family around a dinner table, it usually smells like roast turkey. Or meatloaf, on occasion. Not sure why meatloaf, I really can’t stand the stuff. Public display of affection, or PDA as I suppose it’s called nowadays, now that depends, holding hands is like cotton candy, cuddling like pastries, first kisses –” he broke off, gaze in the past. “Different for every person.”

The roar started in her head, the migraine coming in like the tide. She pressed the bridge of her nose in hopes of lifting the pressure, even for an instant. “What was yours like?”

“Don’t know,” he said. “Someone took that moment from me.” He looked sideways at her. “After all that rambling, and you only have a single question. You really are a quiet one, aren’t you? I suppose it could be worse, there could be two of us wittering about. What I’m mostly curious about is why. You’re not nearly old enough that you need these moments to keep you young. My best guess, and I’m a fantastic guesser, is that you’re one of those who can relive the moments, like memories, and they never fade. It’s addictive, feeling the thrill of jumping out a plane or getting a promotion or proposed to, without it ever affecting your real life.”

She shook her head, slowly. “I can relive them, but that isn’t why.” Though she had her moments, her dark days when she needed someone holding her. Since she had no one, she borrowed another’s for a heartbeat, a blink in time. Her nose ached, and she felt moisture rolling from it. She touched her hand to her face and withdrew it, a single splash of blood filling the lines of her fingertip.

“Oh, that looks nasty.” He withdrew a spotless handkerchief from his coat and handed it to her. “Go ahead, I’ve got loads of these. Allergies?”

She pressed it to her nose. “Reaction to the chemotherapy.”

He stilled, face settling into blankness.

“I’m dying,” she said. The breeze blew in her ear and fingered her collar before skating on, leaving her chilled. “That’s why I’ve taken so much. I hate being a thief, but it’s kept me alive six months past the first prognosis. It counteracts the cancer in some way, but it’s adapting. It’s taken so much time to give me even another day. I took a whole night’s sleep from my dog just to give me the hour to come out here.”

He didn’t speak for a long time. “I’m so sorry.”

“I don’t have family. Friends…they stopped coming by not long after I should have been dead. This is all I have. Even at that, I don’t have much longer. I’ll start declining within a few weeks. If I stop taking these moments entirely, I’ll be gone in a few days.” She shed her last tear over it months ago. But now as she sat here, even in the cruelest month, with iron skies and cold water and fading earth, she was still alive, and the world held the smallest beauties to take her breath.

“But?” he said gently.

“I’m not ready.” She drew her knees up against her. “I’m not ready,” she whispered. She hadn’t admitted it until now. The ache in her chest rose, and tears spilled over her eyes, hot on her frozen skin.

“Ah, come here, love.” He shifted closer and let her fall into his shoulder.

She was finest glass, poised on the edge of the mantle, trying not to fall and shatter. His coat smelled like soap. Clean, lemony soap, citronella with no bitter aftertaste. A wholesome smell that worked into her and halted the tears. She stayed there for a moment, cheek pressed into his chest. It was so warm. With a shiver, she felt the ache in her head dissolve. Her nose stopped bleeding, and she felt a lazy glimmer of energy in her chest, as if life was seeping through him into her. She wanted the moment to last.

She drew a sharp breath, and the air stung her throat. Why the thought hadn’t occurred years before puzzled her. Perhaps she’d merely had no moments rich enough or worth remembering in color. Carefully, she sketched the moment, this moment, drew it with color pencils she didn’t know she had. The clouds, the bench, the grass, a lanky figure with a long coat and fabulous hair, supporting a wisp of a person with a streak of a black braid, all bones and pale skin and mouse-colored coat. What she wanted to draw was the warmth, the safety, but all she could do was pencil in her closed eyes and relaxed mouth.

“That’s a girl,” he said. “Although, is my hair really that out of control again?”

She jerked back against her edge of the bench, eyes wide.

“Oh, didn’t I mention that? Must have forgot, I can get a general sense of moments being drawn up. You did have the colored pencils after all. Not many people do.” He gave that silly grin again. “Zounds, I can’t wait ‘til you get to the watercolors.”

“It took me twenty-five years to get to the colored pencils. I don’t have the time left for paint.” She felt that cold ache in her chest again.

“Now, see, I don’t think that’s exactly the case.” He held up a hand, chin tilted imperiously. “Ah, don’t interrupt, let me finish. Pushy Americans, the lot of you. Where was I? Oh, right, time. Your own memories and moments are the strongest to you. The trouble is, they’re deucedly tricky to capture. That one you just took, give reliving it a go.”

She closed her eyes, and felt time tick back, and she was leaning against him again with the subtle soap in her nostrils and warmth in her heart. The memory finished, and she opened her eyes. The little flicker of life in her chest stretched a half-inch and maintained itself.

“That gave you another week,” he said. “Relive it two or three more times, you might get a couple days more. That’s the thing about memories, especially your own. They fade.”

A week. Seven full days of life. She knew it wouldn’t last forever. If she so much as caught a cold from this insane jaunt outside, those seven days would evaporate to one as the stolen time fought off the added sickness. “Thank you,” she whispered.

He looked at her for a long moment. “You have so much left to live. Ah, to hell with it, you’re going to live.”

She blinked. “For how long?”

He stood, throwing his arms out. “Years and years. I don’t know why, but there’s so much more you need to be alive for, so I can’t just very well let you catch cold and die in a hospital a few weeks from now.”

“But what can you do about it?” She did not let herself hope.

He began pacing. “You know that bit in Scripture about God giving man dominion over the earth after He talked the whole darn thing into existence? Well, that dominion bit included a few things we lost when Eve trusted a snake of all things. Like dominion over words. Language, to be precise. You always hear about how there’s so much power in a name and how important names used to be, not just some label you got courtesy of your parents.”

“Yeah?” she said.

“Well, there are a few of us out there who have a bit more power over words than the rest. Shakespeare for one. Man was a genius. Knew just what to say and when, and we all know he did pretty well for himself. Me, I’m no literary genius, I just use words with a bit more zip than the average person.”

“What does that mean?”

He stopped pacing and looked up. “Let’s just say time isn’t the only thing that heals.”

She felt a flush of anger in her cheeks. “Look, I hate to be rude, but would you quit blathering-”

“What’s your name?” he said. “Your full name.”

“Rose Elizabeth Scott,” she said, through clenched teeth.

“Rose,” he said, as if testing the feel of it in his mouth, tasting it. “Perfect. Rose Elizabeth Scott, you aren’t getting out of here for a long, long time, so you might consider being a bit nicer.”

Her head roared, but it was not a headache. It was joy. White exploded in her vision, and when she could see again, she felt vigor rush through her veins. She drew a careful breath. “What…was that?”

He was grinning like a loon, hands tucked in his pockets. “Much better, isn’t it? Names have so much more power than you’d think. Especially when said with intention.”

She could feel the cancer cells shrinking, shriveling, curling into nothing. “Am I-”

“In full remission. It might come back in a few years, but ‘til then, you’ve got plenty to do.”

“Like what?” she said.

“Well, for starters, there are a few time-thieves out there who are taking crucial
moments, like a politician whispering secrets, or a mother telling the babysitter where she set the house key. I could use some help flushing them out. You’ve got all the makings of finding imprints, I’d just have to teach you how. It’d beat a secretarial position. Be more dangerous, sure, and the company’d be a little odd and charming, but indubitably handsome with a porcupine haircut, and I do eat the strangest mix of food, I love curry, and pizza, and fish and chips, and chocolate, and biscuits, and-”

“Yes,” she said. It was insane, walking away from everything she knew, but she had life restored and positively rolling through her. Even if it were only for a few years – yes.

He clapped his hands together. “Brilliant! Only thing you’d have to do is keep an eye on that cancer, and even if it came back, you’d have the chance to catch it early, and maybe by then I’d have something cooked up to get rid of it for decades.”

She stood, and they started walking along the path. “I don’t even know your name.”

“William,” he said. “William Keats. A distinguished literary name, if I say so myself.”

“Bright star, were I stedfast as thou,” breathed Rose.

“No, no, that was that my great-great-great-great-great-however-many-great-grandfather’s poetry. I don’t write much, I just read it.”

She turned to him, as a drop of moisture stung her cheek. She looked up, and falling from the sky were not raindrops, but white flakes the size of her thumbnail, feathery and evanescent. “Snow.”

He glanced up as well, nose crinkled. “Now that’s what the end of a good day should look like.”

“You said you didn’t remember your first kiss,” she said. “What about the second?”

“Ah, Rose Scott, you are such a girl, asking about kissing. But in answer, I’ll let you know when it happens. I keep hoping I’ll get a bit of a redo, since everyone else’s first is the most delightful memory-”

Rose stood on her toes, placed a hand on his neck, and kissed him. She’d only planned to give him a peck on the lips, but it turned into a long moment, with the snow falling around them.

Some time later, they both stepped back. She felt her face glowing, and touched it. Her fingertips nearly sizzled. “I…”

Will blinked before throwing his head back and roaring. “Who knew you had that in you? You look so polite and unassuming, and that…straight-up and all around, I did get a bloody second first kiss.”

“You were right,” she said. “First kisses do taste.” She traced her teeth with her tongue, as if she could bring back the taste. “Dark chocolate with cocoa nibs.”

He tilted his head, wonderingly. “You don’t mean to tell me-”

She flushed again. “Sweet twenty-five and never been kissed, yes.”

The corners of his mouth worked slowly upward. “Well, Rose Scott, you surprise me again. I have to tell you, though, I’m deadly curious to see what a second kiss tastes like. But,” he said, checking his watch, “we have all the time in the world for that. Let’s be off, shall we?”

“Give me a minute first,” said Rose. She closed her eyes, smiling.

“Ah, yes, this is a moment to save, isn’t it?” he said, sounding pensive. “Although, do go for more of an umber pencil this time for my hair, would you?”

Her smile broadened, and she opened her eyes. “Not a chance. I’m using watercolors
now, you see.”

He grinned back without a word. She finished the painting and saved it in a special place, and they walked off together into the snow.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Charlie Brown's favorite exclamation

Good grief.

I'm in Colorado with the family for the next six days. It was a long drive up. Seventeen hours, I think. It's beautiful, though. I'll try to get some pictures posts, but no promises, as I do not have my own camera with me (this negligence caused by yours truly not packing until the night before). It's close to 10,000 feet altitude here, and I feel it, like a wimpy girl who lives at sea level most of the year. Quite honestly, I could sit in the living room of this little house re-reading the Mitford books for hours and be content with just resting. Part of me is sad there's internet, but another part of me rejoices I don't want to be on much. There's a little mountain with patches of snow out the big windows, and it's so foreign from Houston suburbia's culdesacs and suburbans it makes me happy.

I had the oddest sensation driving up yesterday, through a valley with gently rolling grass surrounded by pine-crested hills. I had a vision for a moment I was twenty, and I was rambling through the hills in a pair of old jeans rolled at the cuffs and old tennis shoes, next to a man I loved, with a black Lab dashing out and back and around us. The sky was cloudy, and one of us had a red Chevy Avalanche pickup, or had borrowed it, and we were just being together, and it was so simple and so lovely I'm hoping it wasn't idle imagination and will come to pass someday.

And then I think, Oh my, I'm going to Oxford in nine days. England. Out of the country without my family, which is a glorious thought with a sense of freedom like I'm a bird free from the nest. And then I realize again (the thought repeats) I am going with a group of people, none of whom I know from Adam. They're all from Baylor and should be excellent travel companions. The bold side of me, roaring with adventure and confidence plans to play along like I've been at Baylor my entire collegiate career. But the timid side of me, the one I've tried so hard and succeeded decently in muffling over the past year is frightened to death.

Oddly, with all this trouncing about in my mind, I'm not anxious. Perhaps that elusive process of growing-up truly has visited me in some small way.

EDIT: prayers for a quick resolution much appreciated - Baylor has apparently cancelled my housing request, something I did NOT want them to do, and now they're saying they're out of rooms on-campus...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Actor and the Housewife, thoughts.

I've fallen in love with The Actor and the Housewife again. (This is by Shannon Hale, and if you have not read it, for the love of every good book, go find a copy and read it. Now.) Few books have ever brought me to tears (Harry Potter the sixth did, twice), and this is one. It resonates with me, because a huge theme is love between a man and woman as best friends, without romance. I wish there was more love like that in the world. It seems we must either be very casual friends or in love, and that's stupid. Your thoughts?

Friday, June 18, 2010

I live!

Sort of. I've been out in Nascar country for a few days, helping renovate my uncle's house. Well, paint, mostly. Lots of ceiling paint. I am still high on the fumes. I am also sleep-deprived, because...well, most of you know of my small addiction to that sport called Ultimate Frisbee. There's a tournament tomorrow on the beach (well, if you can call it a beach. It's the substitute beach for Texans who don't have real beaches.), and I really wanted to play, but wasn't supposed to get back until tomorrow. So...the only flight option was a 5:20 red-eye out of Chattanooga. I woke up at 3:30 this morning. I have never woken up that early. Stayed up that late? Yes, to my great shame. So I am rather sleep-deprived and yawning now, but tomorrow should be a fantastic day.


I can't get My First Kiss by 3OH!3 or that other Keith Urban song (I Want To Kiss A Girl?) out of my head. I don't know what my subconscious is trying to tell me, but I am bothered by and am fiercely scolding it. Catchy pop songs. We love and hate them.

I think I have stopped making sense, so I am going to go watch Dr. Who or something that doesn't involve higher brain function. Peace, y'all.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I have awesome friends

Okay. So a friend of mine was recently sort-of stalked/repeatedly asked out by this girl he'd only met once. This is an excerpt of the IM conversation. It is hysterical. And hopefully will give you hope there are still guys out there with standards. And spelling. ('Theji' is the girl, just fyi, and 'Me' is my guy friend).

3:36amTheji
u need 2 kno 1 thng is tht if a gurl wants 2 b wid u than u should b wid her
u understand tht
3:43amTheji
hey wat happend
3:43amMe
sorry just distracted by my game.
anyway
3:44amTheji
so wat video game
3:44amMe
thats BS. i mean yeah if a girl wants to be with you thats cool, but that doesn't mean you should just be like OH MY GOD shes into me lets give up all forms of standards and be with her.
3:44amTheji
if she hot a guy would rite?
plz jst try it and see wat happens plz
3:45amMe
WHY
WHY ARE YOU SO INTERESTED IN ME?!
I DONT UNDERSTAND IT
3:46amTheji
i thnk tht ur nice and gud looking and kind 2 a gurl and i never had tht in my life
r u angry wid me
?
3:46amMe
okay honestly, I'm not mad at you, slightly flattered at best.
But it would never work because you can't spell to save your life.


That last line. Best reason to not date someone EVER. *wipes tear of happiness from eye*

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pray with me?

Friend of mine is so close to knowing Jesus but doesn't yet, and it pretty much breaks my heart every time I see him. So I'm asking anyone who's willing to send up a prayer or two for him, that God would just break through to him in a miraculous way. Thanks, y'all! :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

oh hai thar

I got my wisdom teeth out this morning. The whole experience thus far has been decent but strange. But, on the other hand, I see how some artists and authors came up with what they did while consuming large doses of drugs. Vicodin is some strong stuff, as was whatever they put in the IV drip to knock me out before surgery.


So now I am sporting this awesome non-sexy chipmunk-face librarian look with my glasses (which I never wear), hair in a mess, wads of gauze in my mouth, and ice wrap around my head (it looks something like the bandage about Jacob Marley's head, for those of you who have watched A Christmas Carol). The drool has not been to big an issue, as I regained feeling in my lips a few hours ago. I think. Time has been a blur of floatiness, sleepiness, quite a bit of pain, pills eating away at the pain, some lovely piano music (google Ludovico Einaudi and listen. Yes, it's a command), and very little food.

I am, unfortunately, craving pizza. Rawr. That is going to be what I eat in a few days. After I play frisbee. I am supposed to wait five to seven days before any strenuous activity. Frisbee is on Tuesday night. That's four and a half days. Close enough in my book ;)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First sentences

Her grandfather was a preacher, and he named her Grace.

I almost won't read a book if I don't like the first sentence. I know, perhaps a silly reason to set a book back on the shelf, but there's such an art to the first sentence. There are a few of my own I rather like (Biased much? :P). That first bit in italics is one I wrote last night (I know, I actually started something. It's a shock to me as well).

Edward Taravella loathed hostages.

That's an older of mine.

Anyways. As you might tell, I'm feeling a bit random. I've been reading so much C.S. Lewis for summer school I'm thinking half in British English. Not sure if that's good or bad.

What are some of your favourite first sentences? Please share.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Drama

Could it just be methodically hunted down and exterminated? Who shall join me in this task?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

There was almost a boy

but I couldn't date him in good conscience, because we don't believe the same things, and I couldn't stand hurting him later on down the road, instead of just saying something now. The good: for the first time, I feel I actually handled the entire thing without any stupid mistakes. I'm thanking God for that, because I have made some completely idiotic decisions in the past regarding boys, even just in the way I thought about certain boys. And this whole thing went down in a pretty chill manner. And God guarded my heart, and I was so much smarter about the whole thing.


The bad: were this guy a Christian, I'd date him in a heartbeat. I am now, belatedly, realizing how much I wanted things to work out. And I'm tired, and it all sort of just happened, and I will probably cry myself to sleep.

I know it will all work out. God has it all in control, because he's omnipotent like that. I'll be okay after not too long. It just sort of hit a couple hours ago. Prayers much appreciated. I just feel kind of numb and stinging at the same time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oy criminy

I moved back home on Saturday, and should be here about six weeks. I thought this would be a rather sedate six weeks, punctuated by frisbee games.


Oh, right, except life can't be that normal, can it?

(The answer is no. It has been the craziest last three days of my life, involving frisbee, boys, insanely hot weather, gingers, a stolen car, and not enough sleep. Should I be able to clarify some details later, I shall. That remains to be seen. For now, prayers for my sanity greatly welcome!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Change

Leaving. Heartache, closing doors. Arriving. Dread. New beginnings. All my emotions tangled like a ball of yarn attacked by a sadistic kitten. Exhaustion. The need to cry, while utterly dry-eyed. Missing someone I've never met. Wishing. Hoping. Praying.


Yearning.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ugh.

There is a new realm of thought. I call it the queasy borderline. Where you aren't quite yet fantastically imagining things you shouldn't be, because later those imaginings will come bite you in the butt when they don't happen, but you want to imagine so badly. And little glimpses of potential, yet unlikely futures, sneak in, and are so tantalizing, but you must resist anyway?


Yes. I am in the queasy borderline today, and I do NOT like it. Rawr.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pals Award!



I have been given a Pals Award from the magnanimous Q! :D I therefore am happy to bestow it on the lovely Miss Erin, Cuil, and Twinkiesaregross!


_________________

On another note entirely -- I have watched some of the nation's best frisbee players for hours over the last two days. Fan-freaking-tastic. (I also hung out with an [awesome] friend who says 'fantastic' a lot, so it has been slipping into my own vocabulary...) I also danced the night away (and part of the early morning) in heels that I should have broken my ankle in simply walking to the floor from my car. I did not, and proceeded to dance for four hours in them. My calves hate me, but the shoes forced me to stay on the balls of my feet, and I danced the best I ever have. Plus, my hair is looking more like a semi-natural shade of red. *Cheers!*

All in all, fantastic weekend. I'm off to scrub layers (yes, literally) of dirt, sweat, and sunscreen from myself.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Things Making Me Happy

(idea shamelessly stolen from Cuil)


- two friends I haven't seen in months and years, respectively, coming to town all in the same weekend, before I move home

- realizing God is gracious, despite my idiocy

- my atomically red hair, which shall fade to a more manageable shade within a few days

- Nordstrom rack, sassy Chinese Laundry heels on sale, a $350 dress for $50.

- letting myself have a girly side after three or four years of strident refusal

- running out of text messages and having beautiful silence for a few days

- blogger twins :D

- lazy naps on cloudy days

- roses and saved petals :)