dreamingaloud: (Default)
Fly, little bird, upon the breeze,
Through hill and valley, where'er you please.
On swiftest wind you do alight,
O'er mountain and valley, day and night.
But little bird, fly straight with care,
For on your journey you must beware
Of the cat's claws, and how they scratch,
And young man's fingers, they might snatch
You from your flight; if they only knew
Your freedom; why, they'd cry for you.
But be not afraid, for you must fly
On strands of air, up to the sky.
Past oak and hawthorn, cherry, pine
Far from this cage, this cage of mine.
dreamingaloud: (Default)
In my dreams, he is always coming for me.

If you merely look it at him, it seems he is a man. Nothing but a man, wearing a tattered hospital gown with stains I do not wish to identify. His hair is long, and it hangs over his face, obscuring his eyes. But the worst part is his smile. An evil, cruel grin that perfectly frames his yellow, jagged teeth.

I run, of course. But I can never help it, he always overtakes me, grabbing me by the shoulder and spinning me around. He pushes me against the wall, sliding his hands around my throat, and starts pushing up, up and away from the floor. Soon I can no longer touch the ground, my feet lolling uselessly at the end of my legs. My hands claw desperately at his grip around my neck, but just as it seems I might finally pry his fingers away, another hand emerges from the darkness. Then another. And another. Too many arms, too many hands! From the sleeves of his flimsy paper gown are countless appendages, affixing themselves to my body wherever they can. My neck, my shoulders, my chest, my stomach, my legs and arms. They pin every inch of me to the wall as he laughs, he laughs.

I struggle to breathe even as I know it's useless. For the arms are still coming, now they just reach out, running their fingers along every inch of the surfaces around us. Cracks spiderweb outward from where he touches. The world begins to shatter. Like shards of glass, the remnants of reality fall down around us, leaving nothing but a vague, empty blackness. Yet he remains. Just the two of us drifting in the void.

It is then I hear his voice whisper in my ear, so close I can feel his breath on my face. And he says my name. "Barbara..."

So those nights, when I wake up gasping in a cold sweat, and you ask me to tell you what I dream of, now you know.

But now that I've told you, he's coming for you too.

Click for prompt )
dreamingaloud: (Default)
The liquid chugged its way down to the floor, pooling around my bare feet. The smell was stronger than I expected. It assaulted my nostrils with a metallic tang. I inhaled deeply; half to calm my nerves, half to ascertain that this wasn't a dream.

It wasn't.

I had pictured this day so many times. Now that it was here...how should I feel? Morbid? Distraught? I didn't feel much of anything. My head was clear.

It's funny. Dad always called me his little firefly. Maybe he should have called me his little phoenix instead.

I lit the match.
dreamingaloud: (Default)
Written 4/13/09

He traveled for seven days and seven nights across the forbidden lands.

The first day he encountered a mighty river. Its current was strong, too strong for a man to cross. So he called upon his pact with the fish spirit, and the markings on his legs and ankles unfolded into a fish's tail. With the fish's sleekness, he reached the other shore.

The second day he encountered a gaping chasm. The gap was wide, too wide for a man to cross. He called upon his pact with the falcon, and the markings on his arms became strong, supple wings. With the falcon's swiftness, he reached the other side.

He called upon the lion's strength and the fox's cleverness. He called upon the hawk's sharp vision and the mouse's discretion.

On the eve of the seventh day, he encountered a dense forest. The moonlight could not filter through the tightly woven branches, but he stumbled unseeing deeper into the woods. As he walked, a gentle light began permeating the darkness. He moved towards the glow, becoming more surefooted as the brightness illuminated his path. At last he came upon a small clearing. On the moss-covered ground, a perfect circle of glowing mushrooms indicated the spot for the ritual.

He knelt, moss soft beneath his knees, and slipped the pack from his shoulders to remove the sacred tools.

"O spirit of the cosmos, I humbly come to proffer these gifts." He placed his hands on the ground and bowed, briefly resting his forehead on his knuckles. The air in the clearing began to hum with energy, but he ignored it.

"I give you wheat and wine, so you may be nourished." He placed the bread and wineskin in the circle.

"I give you the blade, so you may protect the innocent." He plunged the dagger into the moss.

"I give you the scales, so you may judge the wicked." The hum in the clearing changed in frequency, his ears hurt from the noise, but he pressed on.

"I give you the ring, so may rule forever." His whole body was reverberating from the strange sound, but he could not turn back now. The deed was almost done. He drew his own knife from his scabbard.

"Finally, I give you the blood of a warrior, so you may live!" He drew the knife quickly across his left wrist, wet crimson splashing against the gentle green of the moss.

A roar of wind and sudden light filled the space. He might have screamed. He was lost, helpless, senses overwhelmed. He was only vaguely aware of his body hitting the ground before the world went dark, silent, and still.



He awoke gradually, slowly, painfully. He opened his eyes gradually, unable to focus at first, seeing only a sea of green. He had fallen forward, cheek resting on the ground, arms by his sides. He moved his hands slowly, gingerly, and began to raise himself off the ground.

The prior chaos had subsided, and a soft glow once again suffused the clearing. Yet the mushrooms on the ground had fallen dark. The light came instead from a figure standing in front of him.

It was the size and shape of a man, but it was faceless, sexless, featureless. Seeing him rouse now, the being moved toward him.

He was aware that he should feel awe or reverence or humility, but a feeling of puzzlement tinged with hurt washed over him.

"You can't possibly be here...?"

[I AM HERE.] The spirit did not use words, but he knew its meaning perfectly.

"My life. The summoning was supposed to cost me my life. Yet I'm still alive...?"

[YOUR PART OF THE BARGAIN IS FULFILLED.]

The panic gripped him now, and the fear. "But the agreement...my life for your services! It has to be finished! My people..." he choked on the words, chest tightening with emotion. "The end times have come. Strange monsters have appeared. The crops refuse to grow, and there are no animals to hunt. My people are dying. Please, if my life is what it costs to save them, take it!" Glancing wildly around, he snatched his knife on the ground and offered it to the being.

[YOU ARE MISTAKEN.] He sensed a gentleness from the figure. [YOU HAVE GIVEN ME YOUR LIFE IN THE WAY THAT IS IMPORTANT. YOU HAVE OFFERED ME YOUR SKILL AND SERVICE, AND TOGETHER WE WILL SAVE YOUR PEOPLE AND MINE.]

"Yours...? But you can't possibly..." his voice trailed off, words not forthcoming.

[MY WORLD IS NOT SO DIFFERENT FROM YOURS. THEY ARE CONNECTED. IF YOUR PEOPLE SUFFER, SO DO MINE. IF YOUR PEOPLE DIE, SO DO MINE. YOU CAN'T SAVE YOUR PEOPLE ALONE, NOR CAN I SAVE MINE ALONE. I NEED YOUR SERVICES AS MUCH AS YOU NEED MINE. WILL YOU FIGHT BY MY SIDE? TO SAVE BOTH OUR WORLDS?] The figure stretched out a perfect, shining hand.

He stared for a moment, uncomprehending. He inhaled slowly, and dropped his knife to the ground. "I will fight."

[TO THE END?]

The man smiled. "To the end." He reached out his hand and touched the luminescent fingers.

The clearing was silent and empty once again.

Click for prompt )
dreamingaloud: (Default)
Written 2/11/09

The wind was bitterly cold, rushing through the alleys and streets of the city with a ferocity that made even the heartiest grip their jackets tighter against their bundled frames. As the others hurried for their houses and cars, restaurants and movie theaters, she sought no solace in the structures around her. She continued trudging forward, parting the mass of oncoming people, a fish swimming upstream against a swift current. Her fingers had gone numb long ago, and she no longer paid any mind to the goosebumps on her legs or the wind tugging at the hem of her skirt like a petulant child. The numbness was a familiar friend to her these days.

She wasn't sure what made her start these frigid nighttime walks in a sleepless, aimless city. But by now they had become habit, and she no longer felt the need to justify them to herself. There was comfort in the hovering neon lights and the rhythmic slap of her shoes on the pavement. She never walked the same path twice, twisting endless loops and circles around the map, but somehow, perhaps unfortunately, she always ended back at her home. She would always temporarily accept her unwanted destination, until another chilling eve forced from the house, perpetuating this cycle her life had become.

The street was empty now, the dark hurried figures had all nested in their buildings, windows blazing with light. But she walked on, turning corners, ducking through alleys, forging her usual mismatched, unfamiliar path.

She glanced vaguely at the storefronts and hedges around her. This place was new to her, she supposed. The names of business, roads, and families rung no bells in the recesses of her mind. She preferred it that way, anyway. Her systematic steps forward coincided with the rise and fall of her chest, her exhalations fogging the air before being rushed away in the vast sky.

A stronger gust of wind ripped through the night, and her eyes teared up against the frozen wall of air. She paused in place briefly, cold fingers wiping the tears away. There was something dark looming in front of her, something large and black and towering. She took a step back, eyes traveling upward, to better grasp the form of the figure blocking her way.

On a pedestal, roughly three feet off the ground, stood the life-sized figure of a man. His arms were open, about two feet away from his sides, as if he was ready at any second to embrace the world or usher it forward into a cozy room. His chin was tilted downward, smiling benevolently at the street below. Into the pedestal was chiseled:

May he who is lost find solace in the paths he takes,
For all wanderers eventually make their way back home.
-- Thomas Hammond


She stood completely still for a moment, examining at the figure. Her gaze settled on the man's face. He had such kind eyes. Hesitantly, she stepped forward, slowly extending her small hand. Her fingers rested gently against the cold bronze of his pant leg.

The wind began to howl again, raking its cold fingers through her hair and clothes. But she paid it no mind, her eyes fixed upon the statue's gentle, downward gaze. She continued stepping slowly forward, gently tracing her fingers up the creases of the metal fabric. She nudged her toe into a crevice at the base of the inscription, effortlessly ascending the pedestal. The wind was even more pronounced up here off the ground, but all she seemed to notice was the face in front of her, with its soft smile and kind visage. Her hand softly brushed the statue's cold cheek. May he who is lost find solace in the paths he takes, she thought.

She wrapped her arms around the neck of the bronze man, pressing her delicate body against the solidity of the metal. She rested her cheek on the man's chest, tightening her embrace of the figure. Slowly, gently, her eyes fluttered closed.

The storm raged on.

Click for prompt )
dreamingaloud: (Default)
Written 2/06/09

This is a cruel parody of my profession, I think.

Sure, when on the job, I like to record my subjects. Actions, mannerisms, words.

But there's something sinister about those six eyes, blinking. And those raptor claws curled around a mechanical pencil, resting on a reporter's notebook.

I've looked over my shoulder, but he can't possibly be interested in these bare concrete walls. His focus lies on me.

I take a step backwards, trying to slowly extricate myself from the scritching of his pencil and the swishing of his tail on the dirty floor.

And I wonder if now is a good time to ask him what he's writing.

Click for prompt )
dreamingaloud: (Default)
Love? Don't speak of such things. What do I know of love these days?

That's the trick, dear one. I can't claim to know love. It rushes by too quickly to be recognized. I know it only by the traces it leaves behind, the bumps and chasms that weren't there before. Its aftermath is tracked not by memory, but by the shadows it leaves upon our hearts and minds.

Love runs. It's better not to make chase. To do so is the folly of youth. It's easier to watch the footprints fade into the distance.

Such is love. And life.
dreamingaloud: (Default)
Our first date was in a coffee shop.

She hated the taste of coffee, but she drank it anyway. For the caffeine, she said. I always knew she was a liar. She was beautiful when she drank coffee, and she knew it. Of course, you could scarcely call it coffee by the time she got through with it. She steadily added sugar and cream, lightening the concoction by shades until it nearly matched the off-white of the ceramic mug. Her delicate fingers cradled the mug's smooth surface, lips barely touching the rim, taking only the smallest of sips. She seemed more content holding the cup anyway, letting the warmth of the beverage slowly seep into her fingers and palms. When her hands were warm (and the coffee cold), she abruptly threw her head back and tilted the mug, swallowing the lukewarm liquid in three big gulps.

She quickly, efficiently deposited our cups into the used dish tray and slung her bag over her shoulder. "Let's go," she said.

We stepped outside into the autumn wind, hair tousled from the chilly gusts. Her right hand slid into my left one. Her fingers were still slightly warm from the coffee. We walked along the quiet streets, twilight shadows slanting across our path. Her free hand stretched delicately outward, and her fingers brushed against whatever happened to be there. She ran her hands over wooden fences and bicycle seats without prejudice, skimming her fingertips over parking meters and tree trunks. Yet there was a hesitancy to it. Before each new surface, her fingers recoiled slightly, almost imperceptibly, as if she were testing her own reality against these randomly-occurring objects, and she was afraid that she might eventually slip, as if her hand might suddenly move unbidden through the metal or wood instead of across it. Every successful contact seemed a relief for her, yet she could not dwell upon it, not so long as we continued moving.

We passed beside a long stretch of chain-link fence. Her fingers traced the interlocking rings, falling into the rhythm of moving up and down and up along its length. Suddenly, she reached out and laced her fingers through the metal, grabbing the fence firmly. She tugged gently on my hand, pulling me closer to her until our faces were almost touching.

"I can't love you," she whispered. Her eyes were locked on mine. "Not in the way you love me."

"I know," I said. "I think maybe that's why I love you in the first place."

I kissed her then, the only time I'd ever kiss her. Her lips tasted sweet, like sugary, milky coffee.

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Laura (A curious, enigmatic thing)

February 2010

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