Wed, May. 6th, 2009, 10:49 pm
Too tired to expand on the title. Much love.
The Only Thing
Thirteen is a bold, cocksure age, and I am cockier that most. But she makes even me pause, with her black clothes and pale hair, so different from my boy’s jeans and ragged ponytail. There is something about her that sets us apart from the rest of us as we standing there on the frozen playground, the wind striking color into our cheeks. She is unmoving, balanced, silent – and I am flashing by, feeling my feet slam into the ground, bouncing me off in unexpected directions –
I am being chased, and she is stiller than stone.
It starts at lunch. I am usually alone, or sitting on the outside of a group, when noontime roles around; cocky I might be, but “awkward” is at this point my middle name. But today the group I’m sitting on the edge of contains a stranger, this tall blond girl with an unfamiliar accent and a lunch brought from home. She doesn’t say much. She watches, and she crunches through carrot sticks and celery with a single-minded intensity before moving on to pita spread with hummus. We are in seventh grade. No one eats food like that in seventh grade. I eat a hamburger and watch her out of the corner of my eye.
She returns the favor.
Eventually, someone thinks to introduce us. Her name is Melissa, and she is almost a year older than me. The accent turns out to be South African, vaguely Dutch, vaguely German, totally foreign. It is hard to reconcile her pale blondness with a country I have always considered to be dark, all blacks and browns. She speaks a little Afrikaans for us; eventually, I will learn to understand it, although because I will never learn to roll my rs, speaking it will remain just out of reach.
We are herded outside into the vindictive cold of February, standing in the lee of the squat brick middle school. I stick my hands in my pockets, and touch stiff paper; puzzled, I pull it out, flip it over, and examine the scrawled words.
It is a rough outline for an extremely embarrassing short story. I just wrote it two days ago, and already I understand how unrefined and ridiculous it is. As I study it, Tabby sticks her head over my shoulder.
“Whazzat?” she asks.
I jump, startled, and proceed to say exactly the wrong thing. “Nothing! It’s nothing.”
Before I can blink, they are on me; four preteen girls attempting to snatch the note cards out of my cold fingers. My body reacts before my mind, sending me dashing across the frost-hard ground, barely missing crashing into Melissa.
She stands unmoving.
But as I run past her a second time, she stretches out a hand behind her back, where the others cannot see. Comprehension dawns, and before the others can notice I slip her the note cards and keep running. I see Melissa slide them into an inner pocket of her jacket, unread.
And she stands, stiller than stone, watching me flash by again and again.
I still don’t know why I trusted her.
Twenty is, in many ways, just as bold and cocksure as thirteen, but Melissa still gives me pause. She is a thousand miles away and my best friend. I tell her everything. When I realized I was queer, Melissa was among the first to know; she listens to me talk about horses and girlfriends, poetry and prose, reading and, most of all, writing. Every story I have ever came up with, true or not, Melissa has heard, commented on, laughed at.
But there is one she has not heard, and there is a certain irony in it.
Because the only thing I’ve never told her is the story on those cards.
Fri, Jun. 20th, 2008, 10:48 am
"You're doing this on purpose!"
I surprise even myself with this revelation, which bursts from me suddenly and with something like outrage, half-awed, half-amused. She laughs, and presses closer. Her lips brush mine.
"You got it," she says.
We are attempting to get from the restaurant to the car. That sounds easier than it is; saying goodnight to thirty people is no joke. Especially when each goodbye is accompanied by such a specific sort of hug - the kind that lasts long enough to feel the contours of the other's body. As I turn away from my last farewell, I see Kiley standing with Jess, in the pose that I have come to believe is peculiar to contra dancers. I've never seen it anywhere else.
Their foreheads are touching. Kiley's hand is around the back of Jess's neck, an adaptation of the comforting head-cradle I use with anyone who is really upset, a touch that says I'm here like nothing else can. Jess's hands rest on the smaller girl's hips, and though their lower bodies touch, their torsos are canted a little bit away from each other. I can't hear what they're saying, but Jess looks tired, and grateful to be held.
I look away.
Kiley joins me a few seconds later, and we walk to my car together. I drove her to the restaurant, and her bag-of-stuff is still in the front seat. I glance over at her, thinking again how much I like it when she wears a dress; something about her shorn hair and general dykiness paired with girly clothes inevitably sends me into giggles. Rounding the corner into the parking lot, I hear her say, half to herself and half to me, "There are way too many pretty girls here."
This is in fact something that has been on my mind.
"I knowww. They're all so damn cute."
She shoots me a look that I am starting to understand far too well. It says, You have two girlfriends. I know because I have met them. And yet you still stare at the pretty girls? It's something she's said out loud, in one form or another, at least seventeen times so far this evening. There's only one response, and she knows it's coming because it's what I always say. After a year, we've fallen into a pattern.
"You! You at least are single! You don't know how lucky you are! This happens every time I go dancing because what am I supposed to do, not admire the pretty?"
By this time we're at the car.
"My friends make fun of me, you know. I tell them that I've just gone dancing, and then I tell them about the cute girls I meet, and they all remind me that I am very taken!"
I yank open the door and hand Kiley her bag; she's laughing at me. She follows me around to the driver's side as I continue talking.
"You at least can flirt with impunity. I do it accidentally and half the time the girl I'm flirting with asks, Aren't you dating someone? And I can't - god, sometimes I don't even notice I'm at it."
I'm about to open the door when she takes my hand, raises it to her lips, and and lightly kisses it, grinning. A minute later she has one arm around me, hugging me goodnight. I flash back to our dance earlier in the evening, the close swing, forehead to forehead, her hands tangling themselves in my hair...
Before I know what's happening, I'm pressed hard against the door, and I can feel every line of Kiley's boyish body against mine. Again she knots her fingers into my newly-short locks, tugging gently until I'm looking at her. We're nose to nose; her other hand is against my hip. I am aware of the warmth of her, and her by-now familiar scent, of her breath against my cheek. She leans against me a little harder, so that our shoulders are nearly touching. My breath comes a little shorter now; it is not so long since I was half-smitten with her, which I am sure she knows very well. There is something sparking wickedly behind her eyes -
- and suddenly I understand, and my head tilts back with the bright flash of comprehension.
"You're doing this on purpose!"
Kiley laughs. She kisses me lightly, a reward almost, then hugs me again and lets me go. "You got it," she says, picking up her bag once more and favoring me with a smirk.
Still shaking my head, I get into the car. She's still grinning while I shut the door. As I pull out, she starts walking towards where her ride waits for her. I roll down the window as I come alongside her, and stick my head out.
"I'll see you next week... and goodnight, you little tease!"
Her laughs follows me into the night, and stays with me the whole long ride home.
For Sarah, in the notebook she'll take with her to Africa:
I love you wet from bathing,
with your hair all disarrayed -
I love you in the sunlight,
I adore you in the shade;
I love the way you smile at me,
and the way your laughter sounds...
And I love how you are always there
to throw my arms around.
Really, really sappy. But sometimes silly love poems are the best kind.
The door was locked.
Edie kicked it, hopefully, then tried the handle once more when that failed. Effigy wandered up behind her, and gave it another half-hearted kick. It didn’t budge. As the two of them stared morosely at the dark blue door, Julia came around the corner, having been checking the back door; tagging alongside her was Ince, systematically checking every window she could reach.
“It looks like we’re out of luck,” announced Julia as she joined the group standing around the front steps. There was a low mutter, and the daemons rocked from foot to foot. Xanathyr reared up, bear formed, and swatted idly at the door. She left claw marks deep in the paint, but the wood was solid and did not move. Julie tugged at her paw, and she dropped back down, grumbling.
Another figure came ambling up the walkway, a small raptor trotting at hir side. Unlike everyone else, Steve didn’t even bother to try the door; instead, ‘e jumped off the steps and started along the path that led to the back of the house. Just before ‘e went out of sight, ‘e stopped, turned, and said, “Treehouse.”
Treehouse? That was a new one. The small crowd of humans and daemons followed Steve to the backyard and through a small stand of trees. In the small clearing beyond stood an ancient spreading oak with sturdy branches, from the lowest of which hung a rope ladder. At the base of the ladder crouched the biggest hyena any of them had ever seen; Sagolin pricked up her ears and growled softly in her throat, a challenge that the enormous creature didn’t even deign to respond to.
But maybe that was because of the moat that separated them. Riltharn took off from Aaron’s shoulder and flew closer, staying over the water long enough to see what lived in it, then winging his way back.
“Hippos,” he announced, settling his feathers. “Very big hippos with strikingly large tusks.”
“There’s also a sign that says Uberwolves Will Be Eaten,” added Frith, poking it with his blunt nose. “But we don’t have to worry about that.”
“Why?” chorused Edie and Sagolin, and Steve laughed.
“Because we,” ‘e said, “have the password.”
Still grinning, ‘e leaned out over the water and called down, “Poo-flinging animals!”
“You’re kidding,” muttered Julia from the background, but even as she spoke, the hippopotamuses rose up out of the river, side-by-side, forming a bridge for them to walk across. Just as they were about to step out onto the wet backs, a boy came running up to join them, skidding to a stop as his lovebird-daemon fluttered above his head.
“The door’s locked,” he said with great drama, following Edie across the bridge. “Where are we going?”
She pointed up into the branches of the tree, and he followed her finger to see a huge treehouse nestled in among the branches. The roof was tin and perfectly ridged, the walls made of bright new wood. There were windows every few feet, positioned so that sun would stream in at all times of the day. The door was opened, and just visible inside were wildly painted walls and comfortable chairs. A platform had been built to stand on while opening the door, and off the back of the treehouse was a porch.
Steve was standing in front of the enormous hyena now. The beast had gotten to its feet, and as soon as it had everyone’s attention, said in a gravelly, roaring voice, “The question you must answer is ‘What animal is there where the female of the species has a pseudo-penis?’ That is other than any species of hyena.”
“Binturongs,” ‘e said, happily, and the great creature moved aside. Steve grasped the rope ladder and began to haul herself up. Frith leapt into the air as a bird and followed her; Sagolin looked mournfully up at him and then at Edie. The guardian glanced over at them, and then jerked her heavy head over towards the base of the tree.
“There’s a ramp,” it said gruffly, and then turned back to watch the river. The pair headed up it, with another latecomer (who had just managed to cross the hippos before they sunk back into the river) right behind her. Drew had his shoes off, and was attempting to empty all the water out of them as he walked. Bell padded behind him, shaking off her wet fur. She looked morose.
But the climb and the dampness was worth it. The treehouse was bright and airy. Steve was already splayed out on one of the sparkly, furry blue rugs with Frith on his back beside hir. The two of them were clearly pleased with themselves. Julia sat in one of the chairs, eating chocolate, and Aaron was out on the porch. Aphrodite – the boy with the lovebird – had been the last one up the ladder and was still getting his breath back on the platform outside. Ince was with him, dangling her legs and telling him about languages.
“What are these rugs made of?” asked Drew, just in front of Edie. Julia laughed from her chair. “It’s uberwolf fur, can’t you tell? It’s so shiny and fancy that it couldn’t be anything else. The Guardians catch them and skin them for rugs.”
Edie sat down next to Steve, looking around curiously. “I didn’t know that TDF had a backyard, much less a treehouse. What’s this place called?”
“Go look outside. Above the door.”
Using Sagolin as leverage, the girl got to her feet and walked out. Then she turned around, and, squinting against the sun, read the plaque somebody had nailed up right over the doorframe. Edie’s surprise must have shown on her face, because from inside, she heard Steve laugh. But it made sense – where else would they go when the door was jammed? They had to meet somewhere. She went back inside, grinning to herself. Sooner or later, she knew, the locksmith would come. But for now, the Yaplet Treehouse would do just fine.
Sat, Apr. 26th, 2008, 04:15 pm
I'm going to point any interested parties over to http://www.amethodicalmadness.blogspot.com
, because my newest piece is a bitch in terms of formatting and I can't be bothered to make it work here.
Okay, so it's a heavily edited version of Rete Mirabile. But still!
It's now called:Excerpt from Chapter Eleven of R. Mackey’s Humorous Guide to Owning an Equine,
Blood, Bruises, and Broken Bones: Bonding With Your Horse Through Injury
Thu, Apr. 17th, 2008, 09:58 am
I decided that LJ has been giving me too much shit lately about formatting and I'm just not good enough at computer stuff to figure things out or go through and fix ALL my italics or whatever.
So while this journal will remain (probably becoming more horse-oriented) and be updated with writing pieces, you can find the majority of my work over here....http://amethodicalmadness.blogspot.com/
There's already stuff up there that should be new to most of you. Jonah talked me into it, and since I already had an account to comment on Fugly Horse of the Day... it was a quick jump.
Also, I enabled anonymous commenting, so it's just as easy! I'll post "Check MM today!" updates once in a while, so you know it exists.
List ten fictional characters you wouldn't kick out of bed (in no particular order) and tag five people to do the same [let's just ignore the fact that this is highly questionable while in a relationship, shall we?].
1. Veralidaine Sarasri, called Daine (Wild Magic Quartet). Ignoring the fact that she's shacked up with Numair and, um, has children.
2. George Cooper (Song of the Lioness Quartet). Do I even have to explain this one?
3. Battle (Empress of the World). Her name is BATTLE and her head is shaved and I have this unadmitted adoration of pretty dykes with buzzed hair, okay?
4. Angua (Discworld Night Watch books). She's one hot werewolf.
5. Max Guevara (Dark Angel). I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT. It was such a terrible show, but I had such a crush.
6. Kaylee (Firefly). Cutest mechanic evar.
7. Westley (The Princess Bride). Book OR movie version. Can you tell that the only guys on this list are ones that are really, really special?
8. Desire (Sandman). Dangerous, frightening, seductive, conniving, beautiful. This is one I'm not sure would be safe, but it would be WORTH it.
9. Death (Sandman). Just because she's someone I would love to talk to, anywhere, anytime. Plus, she's cute.
10. Sue Trinder (Fingersmith). A lovely lesbian who is also a thief, and who is involved in one of the most intricate cons I have ever read about.
Tagged: whoever wants to do it, though I'd specially love to see what Dee (superfinemind) and Melissa (raven_wings_) come up with.