Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Do I Want to Know?

Here we all stand
At the end and beginning of everything;
A dawn that doubles as a dusk. 

This is the moment we've all been waiting for,
Wishing for. 
I've never been one of you, but in this victory I feel connected. 

Somehow it all feels hollow and fake,
Despite all our lives so far leading up to this point. 
Perhaps because all our lives so far have lead up to this point. 

We all have an idea of where we'll be in five or ten years,
Of who we'll be,
But we don't know. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sight and Savior

According to the nurses, the room dropped a full twenty degrees the day the twins were born. The boy, Jace, came first. The newborn, for all their prodding, barely made a fuss. All involved feared something must be terribly wrong with his lungs, but every test came back negative. It would seem the newborn Jace already possessed an astounding amount of patience.

Two minutes later, it became apparent this patience would be instrumental in dealing with his twin sister. Baby Jaya was screaming at the top of her lungs almost the moment she came out, and she didn't stop. For hours. The new parents were at their wits' end when Jace was finally carried back from all of the negative tests performed on him. Only once she was nestled next to her brother did Jaya calm down. Jace, too, seemed more at peace when in his sister's presence.

The children's hair turned white far before their parents' did. In fact, the first tufts of hair to sprout from each tiny head were already a ghostly white. Their baby blue irises quickly faded to a deep onyx, barely discernible from their pupils. Aside from gender, the babies were near identical. that difference and the fact that Jace was slightly larger than Jaya allowed them to be told apart.

Their intolerance for separation continued as they grew. Whenever they were separated, Jaya would wail at the top of her lungs. Jace would look around, searching, almost seeming frantic. Neither would calm until their twin was in their sights again. When they both learned to crawl, their first movements were towards each other. Jaya's first broken bone was the result of a daring escape from their crib when Jace had awoken early and been brought to their living room playpen. It would be a long time before their parents attempted any sort of separation again.

True to the day of their birth, Jaya was a chatterbox. She would babble at anything or anyone that moved. Sometimes, it seemed she would babble to nothing. More often than anything else, Jaya would babble to Jace. Responding to her was the only time Jace felt inclined to attempt any approximation of speech. They would babble at each other for hours, seemingly having conversations in a language all their own.

Likely due to Jace's unwillingness to converse with anyone but his twin, Jaya began learning conventional English slightly before her brother. However, he quickly picked up words from his sister. He gained more interest in others once he understood what they were saying, but Jaya was still his favorite companion. The feeling was clearly mutual. Jaya would gladly converse with anyone around her, but she always came back to Jace.

Even when no one else was around, Jaya seemed to have plenty of conversational partners. It unnerved their parents slightly, but multiple online searched led them to believe Jaya just had a slew of imaginary friends. Jace never spoke to any of his sister's imaginary friends, but he seemed to acknowledge them openly. That was attributed to the fact that they were twins. Everyone wrote it off.

That all changed when the twins turned five. Within the past year, Jaya had become more withdrawn. She had always stayed close to Jace, but now she was practically clinging to him all the time. He didn't mind in the slightest. As usual, Jace seemed deeply attuned to what was going on. However, even he couldn't stave off Jaya's increasing anxiety. The previously talkative, giggly child was now quiet and frowning more often than not. Their parents were becoming almost as worried as Jace already was.

Jaya woke up in the middle of the night. She was surrounded. She was always surrounded. She looked for Jace through the bluish-white haze of bodies. He was peacefully asleep. Usually, Jaya found Jace's natural peace calming. That was not the case this night. It stood in stark contrast to the chaos Jaya was always feeling. Jaya knew by now that the impressions of people she saw had no substance. She leapt through the wall surrounding her bed and sprinted down the hallway and down the stairs. Jaya collapsed in the middle of the living room with her hands on her head, sobbing. They were closing in on her.

Jace woke up not minutes after Jaya left. He sensed his twin's lack of presence. And he knew something was wrong. None of the extra presences that always seemed to be around were there, either. Not wasting a moment, Jace jumped out of his own bed and followed his intuition to the living room. At the bottom of the stairs, he froze.

Never in their five years had Jace doubted what Jaya said she saw. He had always been able to sense a presence around them. Sometimes more than one. The air just felt... different... in some places. Shimmery, almost. But never before had Jace seen anything himself. Hundreds of glowing, translucent people were floating in their living room. And they were converging on his sister.

Action transcended thought. Jace charged through the cloud of people and threw himself over his twin. Jaya didn't open her eyes, but she felt him on top of her. Her hysterics increased. She was sure she was going to die, and now Jace was going to die with her. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair.

Jaya looked up at the figures surrounding them. She chocked on her words. "Stop. Stop!"

"ENOUGH!" A green blast moved through the room, taking the translucent figures with it. A man was left standing near their door. He was tall and lithe. He wore a faded brown jacket that appeared to be leather, a black t-shirt, faded jeans, boots, and a fedora. Wavy light-brown hair grazed the tops of his shoulders. His eyes were an eerie glowing green.

Slowly, the man approached the children. They were sitting next to each other now. Jaya had yet to stop shaking. The man crouched down in front of them with a gentle smile tugging at his face. He tried to look as non-threatening as possible. "Hey. You kids okay?"

"Who are you?" Jace questioned hesitantly. Was he going to try to hurt them too? Jace wasn't letting him anywhere near Jaya.

"I'm not going to hurt you kids," the man promised. He was careful to keep his hands where they could see them. "I want to help. I want to be your friend. My name is Zander."

"I'm Jaya." She smiled timidly up at him. "This is my brother Jace. Thank you for saving us."

Zander tipped his hat to her and winked. "It was my pleasure, Jaya."

Their parents came then, finally responding to Jaya's yells. Zander disappeared as soon as they entered. They knelt on the floor with their children, gathering them into their arms. "Are you two okay? Tell Mommy and Daddy what happened."

When Jaya explained, their parents were horrified. They weren't horrified by the terrible event that plagued their children while they themselves slept on. They were horrified because they were convinced their daughter was insane. "Is that what you saw, too, Jace?"

Quietly, Jace nodded. He was still somewhat shaken by the fact he was able to see anything at all. If that was what Jaya say all the time, he could understand why she always seemed so scared. It had scared him, too. Their parents sent them back to their room to sleep. The twins did nothing of the sort. They sat together on Jaya's bed, very much awake. No words were exchanged. No words needed to be. They understood each other just as well as they always had.

Immediately the next morning, the twins were herded out to the car. They exchanged slighted glances with each other. Their parents wouldn't tell them where they where going or what was happening. Jace got the feeling this would not be a fun surprise. He conveyed this conviction to Jaya with his eyes. Her short, bouncy pigtails visibly drooped. She knew her brother's intuition was almost never wrong.

Sure enough, it was anything but. The child psychologists was non-threatening enough at first. She said they could call her Annie. Adults never let them call them by their first names. Jaya relaxed slightly, but the inconsistency was setting Jace's suspicion on edge. This was easily conveyed through their own language of furtive glances and subtle nudges. Most of the time, Jaya was more open than Jace. In this situation, however, she decided to follow his lead.

The twins were each given a piece of paper and told to color whatever they wished. Jace and Jaya immediately reached the tacit agreement to share the paper and create two masterpieces. The first was mostly of Jaya's creation. It was seemingly wild and unpredictable, but Jace's quiet additions easily pointed out what his sister's focus was supposed to be. The second was mainly of Jace's design. It was purposefully structured, but Jaya's occasional addition gave it a little spark.

Despite their collective suspicion, the twins enjoyed themselves. Coloring together was one of their favorite pastimes. It was only once they finished their pictures that their true distress began. Annie wanted to talk to them. Separately. She wanted Jaya first. A very reluctant Jace was led out of the room by their parents.

Jaya fidgeted nervously on the too-big, too-fluffy couch, staring up at Annie. The woman smiled kindly at the little girl. Jaya wasn't buying it. “Your parents told me what you saw last night. That must’ve been really scary, honey.”

Silently, Jaya nodded.

“What if I told you you could stop it?” Her voice dripped with sincerity.

Hopeful young eyes looked up from the fascinating spot they had located on the carpet. “Really?”

Satisfied, Annie nodded. “Really.”

“How?” Jaya was all ears. She would do anything to make the shadow people leave her alone. 

 Annie leaned in conspiratorially, gesturing for Jaya to do the same. Eagerly, she did so. “You don’t think about them attacking you anymore. They’ll do whatever you want them to. They’re your imaginary friends, hon.”

Affronted, Jaya backed off. Tears stung behind her eyes. It didn't take long for them to spill over. “They’re not imaginary! And they’re not my friends!”

Hoping to placate the girl, Annie smiled warmly. “I know they seem real to you, but-"

“They are real,” Jaya insisted. “They ARE!”

Not long after that, Annie let Jaya out of her office. The younger twin was still shaking with silent tears. Their parents tried to be of comfort, but they were completely ignored. They were the ones who brought them here. She went straight to Jace, who hugged her as tightly as his small arms could, glaring over her shoulder at Annie. Needless to say, she got nothing out of Jace.

As soon as they got home, the twins headed straight to their room. They iced their parents out completely. Jaya had stopped crying, but she still looked completely miserable. Jace hugged her again. “You’re not crazy, Jay. I saw ‘em too.”

 A rather irate figure materialized, sitting criss-cross in the middle of the floor. “You most certainly are not crazy.”

Both twins jumped at the sudden voice, and Jace instinctively pushed his sister slightly behind him. Jaya glared halfheartedly at him and pushed forward. Her face lit up. She had begun to doubt herself, but between Jace’s reassurance and the proof now sitting in front of her, she knew her doubts were unfounded. “Zander!”

Zander chuckled at the enthusiastic response. “The one and only.”

Jaya ran forward to hug him. And promptly fell on her face. Jace tensed immediately. “He’s one a those things.”

“But he doesn't look right,” Jaya informed, brow furrowed in consternation. “’Sides, they’re not all mean. And Zander’s saved us before.”

Smiling gently, Zander gestured for them to come in front of him. Jaya did readily. Jace joined her, only slightly more hesitant. They both sat down, mimicking Zander’s position. “The word you’re looking for, young ones, is ghosts. And I can assure you that I am one, though I don't associate with those that attacked you.”

Jace looked skeptical. Jaya looked thoughtful. “That… Kinda makes sense. How come I can see ‘em when no one else can?”

“Why could I see ‘em last night?” Jace added. “Why can I see you now?”

“You, Jaya,” Zander began, “have an incredible amount of energy. This allows you to pick up on things others simply can’t, because it makes you more attuned to the energy signatures of other beings. Those of ghosts are more pronounced, because they’re made purely of energy, making them easier for the untrained eye to spot. You’ll find many people who claim this particular gift, but most will be lying. The true ability is exceptionally rare. It’s unlikely you will ever truly encounter another who possesses the ability. You too, Jace, posses heightened energy, though not to the same degree as your sister. You were able to see the large concentration of energy last night. I am more powerful than most other ghosts the pair of you have encountered. I have enough energy to make my presence known to you should I so desire.”

“Is that why you look different?” Jaya had connected the dots.

Pleased with her inference, Zander nodded. “It is. It’s likely you've seen a few others like me without realizing it.”

“Why did those other ghosts come after me?” Jaya asked this softly. The experience still frightened her.

“You’re a bright spot of energy,” Zander explained carefully. He didn't want to add to their fear, but he also found honesty important in the moment. “Many of those spirits were, are, very confused. They don’t understand that they’re dead. Most of them feel very weak. They were drawing off of Jaya’s energy, trying to feel strong again. Trying to understand.”

“They were hurting her?” At Zander’s hesitant nod, Jace pressed forward. “Will they come back?”

“Fear not, young ones.” Zander’s calm, deep voice soothed them. “Now that I know, I can protect you.”

“Really?” Jaya asked.
“How?” Jace added.

“I’m much stronger than they are.” Zander smirked. “I was a wizard in my lifetime.”

Jaya grinned. “Cool!”

Jace’s head was swirling with too many questions to form any coherent word. Zander had to be really old to be a wizard. How long did wizards live, anyway? Did wizards wear old beat up leather jackets?

“I’m not that old,” Zander told him, amused. “And it’s not leather. It’s dragon skin.”

“How do you do that?” Jace demanded.

Despite knowing exactly what the boy was talking about, Zander quirked an inquisitive eyebrow. “Whatever are you referring to?”
“Know what we’re thinkin’,” Jaya clarified unnecessarily.

“If you’re not shielding, expect someone else to be reading,” Zander told them seriously. The twins shared uncomfortable looks. “I can teach you how. And I should be able to keep others out of your heads until you've learned.”

Both twins brightened. “Thanks!”

Zander smiled ruefully. “Not a problem. I never took an apprentice during my life. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I’m still here.”
Their training didn't start right away. The twins were very young, and their parents were on high alert. They had to wait until their parents calmed down. Not long after, the twins were forced into separate rooms. This did not sit well with either of them, but Zander helped them cope. He put a portal between their rooms in their closets so they could access each other at a moment’s notice. It was something they both took frequent advantage of.

In addition, Zander cautioned both children not to tell their parents about any more ghostly happenings. Given their original responses, he didn't believe they needed or deserved to know. This seemed to work. The twins were no longer deemed crazy. The unproductive sessions with Annie ceased. Still, they remained in their separate rooms. According to their parents, this eventuality had been inevitable due to the twins being different genders. With Zander’s portal, they didn't mind as much as they might have.

Soon, Zander was confident their parents were inattentive enough for the twins to start learning. They began with meditation. Clearing one’s mind was an important step towards protecting it. Jace picked up on this art almost immediately due to his calm nature. For Jaya, who always seemed to be excited and moving, it took longer. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Jace’s mental shield was more complex. It needed to leave Jace sensitive enough to detect presences without leaving him vulnerable. When she caught up, Jaya’s shield was far simpler. She just had to shove up the strongest defenses she could imagine. Nothing would be enough to block Jaya’s sights.

Jace picking up on magic faster than Jaya was a continuing theme. When Jace was learning basic spells, Jaya was still learning basic meditation and energy control techniques. Still, Zander never held their lessons separately. Hew recognized what many others were oblivious to: Jace and Jaya would always be better together. Eventually, that wasn't enough to keep Jaya from being clawed down by her perceived inadequacies.

One day, when the twins were seven, Jace and Zander found Jaya sitting on her bed crying her eyes out. Zander sat down next to her and gestured for Jace to leave. Jace nodded his compliance. Zander had earned the position of the only person either twin truly trusted with the other.

Once they were alone, Zander got Jaya’s attention. She looked up at him with tear-filled eyes that broke his hear. Zander was reminded of why he never took an apprentice while he was alive. Kids turned him into a giant softy, damn it. “What’s wrong, young one?”

Jaya wiped fiercely at her eyes. She desperately wished she could hug Zander, but she knew that feat to be impossible. “I can’t do it. I keep trying and trying but I can’t do it!”

“That doesn't sound like you,” Zander said, feigning perplexity. “What is it that you can’t do, exactly?”

“Magic!” Jaya exclaimed, flopping back on her bed. “I can’t even meditate! I’ll never catch up!”

Zander sighed quietly. He had been half expecting this, but the more optimistic part of him hoped Jaya’s sunny disposition would keep it from happening. Of course, he could never be that lucky. “Oh, Jaya. What am I going to do with you?”

“How am I supposed to know?” Jaya mumbled grumpily.

In spite of himself and the situation, Zander chuckled. At the dark look Jaya gave him, he quickly sobered. “Listen up, Little Jaya. I don’t want to have to say this more than once. I never expected you to progress as fast as Jace has. The same thing that makes you so unique makes this harder for you. You have an incredible amount of energy coursing through you. It’s difficult to control. Focus on that. Your personality isn't exactly made for sitting still, either. And that’s not a bad thing. You and Jace have different strengths. The two of you compliment each other. Don’t fight that.”

Jaya rubbed at her eyes. No new tears replaced the old. She smiled up at Zander. “Thanks.”

He returned it in kind, focusing a little too much energy to be able to ruffle her hair. “No problem, young one.”

After that, Jaya was no longer discouraged. On the rare occasion she did have doubts, all it took was a hug from Jace and a smile from Zander to erase them. She took joy from the small victories, like her increasing meditation record. Jace, for his part, was energized by his sister’s difficulties. He felt the need to get better to protect both of them. He enjoyed dabbling in wind magic, but they focused mostly on plasma based spells. Those would be most effective against ghosts. They were happier and stronger working with Zander.

Zander found his fondness for the twins only grew. Whether or not he had intended it, they had become his children in his eyes. He wouldn't change it. They were good kids. Zander became someone they could come to for guidance in life as well as their magical studies; he became a second father. Their parents loved them, sure, but they didn't understand. They never would. Zander did.

Their lives only looked up from there.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Part three of 5502338491211465810223849455568101000234818679.

As soon as I am deemed coherent enough for a long enough period of time, I am moved. I take this as an opportunity of escape. I know the odds of me making any significant progress towards freedom are under five percent. I don't care. I feel compelled to try regardless. As soon as the door opens, I break away from those holding me and sprint. It takes approximately forty-five seconds for it to become clear that this is a mistake.

All of the halls share the same stark whiteness with the room I first awoke in. There are no windows. It is a possibility that we are underground. The possibility that the design omits windows is equally as likely. I had not believed it possible to become more lost when I already had no clue where I was. That notion is swiftly proved incorrect. The white halls give the effect of a labyrinth. I am swiftly caught, and it is apparent that my captors have an effective manner of determining location, as they have no difficulty dragging me off to an indiscernible white cell.

The white door disappears as it closes.


I would like to say solitary confinement lasts for two weeks. Honestly, I am unsure. That in itself is unsettling. I am accustomed to nothing but absolute certainty in my calculations. If my idea of day and night is correct, so are my calculations on the duration of my captivity. However, there is no change in my environment to mark the passage of time. The lights in the cell are kept constantly dim to allow for sleep at any time. I do sleep, as sparingly as possible. Allowing myself to become unaware under the circumstances seems foolish at best.

Finally, the door swings open. It seems I ended up facing away from it in the midst of my earlier pacing. Its outline could not be told apart from the rest of the wall. I jump from where I am currently sitting and whirl to face the source of the noise, effectively backing myself into a corner. In my current position, I find this decision wise. No one will be able to sneak up on me as I currently am. The same woman with the same glasses and the same clipboard enters. I look into her eyes. I would classify the whole of my demeanor as defiant. 

Her demeanor, as before, seems condescending. She glances down at whatever is on her clipboard. I assume it pertains to me. Her eyes rise once again to meet mine, and I note that something about them seems cold. "Based on what we've seen, introducing you back into society would be a mistake. That's unlikely to change. Take her away."

The last statement is not directed at me, but it spurs me into action. Despite now knowing that my odds of escape are approximately 0.00000000000000437%, I try to run. They are expecting it this time, and catch me before I have so much as exited the door. I am too busy struggling to take note of my altering surroundings. I calculate the collective strength of the men holding me to be four-point-two-three times that of my own. My continued struggles are therefore illogical. I do not stop. 

They throw me into another cell. Momentarily, I panic. Had they simply moved me to a deeper prison? My panic subsides as I see another Number in the cell with me. She is female, and a few inches taller than I. Her hair is black and short, her eyes ice blue. Her age is likely comparable to mine. We stare at each other for a while, analyzing. 

Precisely five minutes after my arrival, she speaks. "Hi."

Unsure, I respond. "Hello."

"I was beginning to wonder if I would get a cellmate," she informs me. "I am sure you are wondering where you are."

"I have heard this place referred to as The Asylum. I have inferred that this is where Numbers who show noncompliance end up." That is the extent of the information I have compiled. 

"Your inference is correct." Understanding seems to make my situation more bearable. "You will not be released. No one who has entered beyond the White Place ever has." 

My blood runs cold. "Someone must have left."

My cellmate shakes her head. "I am sorry. None beyond the White Place."

Before I can respond, our door swings open, seemingly of its own volition. My cellmate leaves our cell, and I follow. We join the hundreds marching down the hall. I notice that the walls are yellow instead of white. I am thankful. I have come to hate white. We all come out in one large room. The walls are blue. There are easels and paper, lined and not. Anything anyone of any interest could ask for. Before I can head to the easels, my cellmate pulls me off to a corner. 

She pulls a cloth off of a reflective surface. "This is sort of a right of passage here."

Understanding, I step in front of the reflective surface. This is not something I have experienced prior. For the first time in my seventeen-point-one-eight years, I take in my own appearance. Despite not having an objective standard of beauty, or perhaps because of that, I find my own physical appearance aesthetically pleasing. My hair is long, straight, and burnt orange. My complexion is pale. My eyes are dark, almost black, but perhaps tinted with the barest hint of green. A brighter orange is my favorite color.

In the weeks that follow, I determine that I had negatively judged my situation prematurely. There are security officers around, but we are no longer micromanaged. Comparably, we are practically left alone. I can paint without secrecy now. I have gained friends in my roommate, another female, and a male. They seem to enjoy my work. The bonds are mostly superficial at this juncture, but they are strengthening. I had classified The Asylum as a prison.

It seems it may be freedom. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Legend of the Dream Walker: Part Two

Introspection was something Corrie typically tried to avoid. She knew she wouldn't like what she saw. However, it was always hard to avoid this time of year. The first day of school. The end of any illusion of freedom. She gave herself one more once-over in the mirror. Everything was in place. Corrie looked around her room. It was just as pink as her outfit.

Her favorite color was blue.

She was fake. It sounded harsh, but that was the truth of it. Nothing she projected about herself was true. Just lies designed to make Corrie fit in. Her mother and her best friend were the only people who had any inclination of who she really was. They hated that she hid herself, but they understood. They didn't push. Corrie was thankful for that. She could barely stand herself as it was.

Corrie headed to the bathroom to do her hair and put on her makeup. Not a single brown strand was out of place. Perfectly framed green eyes stared back at her. She hated her emerald irises. She didn't know of anyone else on the reservation with eyes that green. It was a difference that was impossible to mask. One she just had to face.

Finally ready, Corrie hugged her mom and said goodbye. They had passed, "Have a good day" long ago. Instead, they said, "Good luck". Corrie slipped on her shoes and picked up her small white bag. She was skeptical of its ability to carry everything she needed, but it was what was trendy. She would just have to prioritize her school work.

When she left her house, the first genuine smile of the day graced Corrie's face. Her best friend, Lin, was already standing outside. Lin didn't bother styling her hair or putting on makeup. She was very kind and compassionate, but also candid and honest. Lin was not the right person to be friends with, but the friendship was cemented in their toddler years. Lin was the only thing Corrie wouldn't abandon for her quest to fit in. Corrie ran down her driveway and was pulled into a bone-crushing hug. "Hey!"


Lin released Corrie, and they fell into step beside each other. They linked arms and talked about everything and nothing on the way to school, laughing all the while. Lin was the true, rare kind of friend. Corrie knew she was lucky to have her.

As they arrived at the school, their steps slowed. Their arms unlinked, and they drifted a few paces away from each other. Their guards were up. They had knowingly strode straight into the wolves' den. Survival mode activated. Corrie scanned the crowd they found themselves immersed in. Spotting who she was looking for, Corrie discretely waved to Lin before darting off. The last vestiges of the real Corrie disappeared in the mass of squealing teenage girls.

The fake smile spread over Corrie's face almost of its own volition. After so long, it was a habit. She grinned identically along with three other girls. Courtney, Brittany, and Brianna. They were the right people to be friends with. "Omg, guys! It's so great to see you!"

"You too," Brittany squealed, pulling the other three into a tight group hug. They pulled away again, but their arms remained touching.

"It was so lame that you had to help your mom all summer," Brianna pouted.

"Ohmygosh, I know," Courtney squealed. "She didn't give you any time to yourself. So lame!"

"I know." Corrie rolled her eyes, covering the fact that she was very grateful for the excuse her mom had given her for the summer. "What a waste."

"Well, you're here now. We'll just have to catch you up," Brittany gushed. "You missed out on ALL the summer gossip..."

Corrie spent the morning being regaled with stories of who had hooked up with whom over the summer and what her classmates were saying about each other. Apparently Brianna had gotten together with some guy at a party and now had no idea who he was or if she would see him again. She had been DYING to ask Corrie's advice all summer.

They fell over each other, arms linked, giggling, moving as one unit. The quadret stumbled into class, still a mass of giggles, moments after the bell rang. Their teacher raised an eyebrow at them. "Late already, ladies?"

Courtney, Brittany, and Brianna shrugged unapologetically. Corrie had the decency to at least shoot the teacher a guilty glance, even if it was too discreet for him to see. He started his first day lecture once they were seated. Corrie, along with the majority of the class, tuned out. They had six more near-identical lectures coming their way throughout the course of the day.

Instead of paying attention to the teacher, Corrie payed attention to Trevor. As captain of the football team and president of the student council, he was very much the right person to like, but her like of him was genuine. He was smart, and he was actually a pretty nice guy. He had his moments, but everyone did, right? He had good intentions, and it wasn't all too often that he did something stupid. He wasn't exactly hard on the eyes, either...

Corrie's daydreams were cut off by the not-quite-discreet-enough buzzing of her cellphone. Luckily, the teacher was too engrossed in his own lecture to notice. She quickly flicked it to silent before checking. Three messages had accumulated in the group chat before Corrie noticed.

Brit: What's on your mind, Corrie?
Bri: Isn't it obvious? TREVOR! :D
Court: Too bad it won't work out. :(

That was the downside to liking the right guy: other people were bound to like him too. Courtney had never outright staked a claim, but her intent was clear. Even though she had known Corrie liked Trevor. Not that Corrie would expect it to make a difference. Corrie cared about these girls. She had seen them through countless dramas and heartbreaks. Loyalty just wasn't a value they tended to have in spades.

Corrie: A girl can dream, right? XD
Brit: Of course! Maybe it'll work out for you. *hugs*
Bri: Group hug! :D

The bell rang, and they transferred their virtual affection into the physical realm. Their group fractured into smaller pieces to drift off to individual classes. The day continued in the same monotonous pattern of texting, giggling, and exchanging furtive smiles with Lin. The pattern broke briefly at lunch, where she spent more time finally finishing getting caught up on gossip than actually eating. Then she plunged right back in again. Corrie was relieved when the final bell released her.

Her spirits lifted even more when she realized track was starting right away this year. Track was on the short list of school activities she engaged in that she actually enjoyed. Even better, it was a viable excuse to interact with Lin. Sprinters, distance runners, and hurdlers all ran varying routes at varying rates. Corrie and Lin were the distance runners. That meant they had to stick together. They exchanged grins as they laced their sneakers and pulled their hair into pony tails.

Corrie relished the wind against her face, the rush of adrenalin, and the steady thump of shoes hitting the ground. No conversation was exchanged. Both runners were focused on the task at hand: trying to improve their time. Neither of them minded the silence. In fact, it was this kind of companionable silence that Corrie missed the most throughout the day. There was no pressure to say something witty or know everything about twenty-some-odd people she didn't really know at all. They knew each other, and that was enough.

In a way, improving their time was a double-edged sword. The sprinters, who ran a shorter distance in less time, were already back. The coach had them do some stretches then allowed them to leave. The hurdlers would be a while yet. Corrie almost wished it had taken more time. Her mind was at its clearest when she was running. She wasn't quite ready to let go of that clarity yet.

However, there was no point in begrudging the fact. That wouldn't change it. Instead she said goodbye to Lin and went to retrieve her bag and regular clothes from her locker. She closed the door and saw Trevor standing there looking at her. Great. She was still covered in sweat from running and her hair was sloppy. Of all the times to notice her, he had to pick now?

None of these facts seemed to phase him in the slightest. He grinned at her, and the gesture was effectively disarming. His spiky dark hair was in a perfect disarray, and his eyes seemed to sparkle with promised mischief. "Hey."

Corrie grinned back at him, self-consciously smoothing a stray strand of hair behind an ear. "Hey yourself."

Trevor quite obviously took in Corrie's appearance. "Track start already?"

"Ya," Corrie admitted, looking towards the floor and nibbling carefully on her lower lip.

"Well, I hope that doesn't take up too much of your time." He leaned against her locker casually and crossed his arms over his chest.

The question was clear in Corrie's eyes when she looked up at him, but she asked it anyways. "What do you mean?"

Slowly, Trevor smirked. He carefully brushed another loose strand of hair behind her other ear. "Well, I was hoping the most beautiful girl in school would agree to be my girlfriend."

It didn't occur to Corrie to be happy. It didn't cross her mind, despite his rather obvious flirting, that he would be talking about her. That was a title most commonly awarded to... "Did you want me to talk to Court?"

He laughed and rolled his eyes, and, despite the situation, Corrie felt compelled to smile. "I'm not talking about Courtney."

Her brow furrowed in confusion. "Then who w-"

She didn't get to finish that sentence before Trevor's lips were on hers. When they pulled back, they were both grinning. "You, Corrie. I'm talking about you. So, what do you say?"

It felt to Corrie that she was walking on air. Her smile had to be splitting her face, she was sure. "I say yes."

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Jenny had always loved stargazing. And her parents' farm was the perfect place for it. She would lie in her parents' fields for hours just gazing up at the sky. She imagined a world orbiting each and every star she could see, each with a kid like her, making friends with the stars.

When they came, it would've seemed very far away from Jenny's little farm were it not for the giant spaceship hovering over Jenny's little town. It projected the image all the way from New York across the sky for all to see. That was where the mothership was hovering. Directly over the U.N.. The projection in the sky was real enough to make Jenny feel like she was actually there in the Big Apple. It was enough to make her feel the total terror, the slight air of hopelessness, and her own minuscule spark of excitement. This was what she dreamed about, after all. The dream had just turned into more of a nightmare.

A door opened on the projected image of the mothership. Standing on the platform that was left there were three genuine aliens. They were humanoid in form, but they clearly were not human. The largest male had dark grey skin and bleach white eyes. His hair was vertically spiky to a length that suggested it grew that way naturally. He was clearly very large, and his face was haggard. A scar stood out across his left cheek.

The woman standing next to him had bright blue skin. Her eyes were a violetish-indigoey color that humans don't have a word for. Orange hair framed her face. She was only a few inches shorter than what seemed to be her husband.

Another male was with them, about a head shorter than the female. His skin was a lighter shade of grey that seemed to shimmer with blue. His eyes were a dark violet, and his black hair was spiky as well, but a little more wild. A thin braid went down from the base of his neck.

With his ship still hovering above the U.N. building and threatening one of the most prevalent cities in the U.S., the largest alien made his demands. "I am Jafezar, king of the Jizzilians. There is a war being raged across the stars. One that the likes of you could not possibly fathom. We cannot wait for you to. The fate of the universe is at stake. All must fight for the survival of all."

"We do not wish to force you into anything." The woman's tone and posture belied her peaceful words. "But we will, if we must. We will make you a deal, Earthlings, and we will only make it once. Surrender your troops to us. Fight for us. Give us members of your species that are of able mind and body, and we will not take your children, your elderly, or your infirm. Refuse to surrender to us, and we will take you all. Our technology and weaponry is far superior to yours. Resistance would not be wise. You would not prevail."

The transmission cut off, and the world waited on baited breath for the U.N.'s decision.


The world became a very different place in the months that followed. Each one was more agonizing than the last. All of the cheer had been sucked out of Jenny's small town, and out of Jenny. The ship that had shown up the first day never left. It's presence was domineering and oppressive. People left their homes only when necessary. They returned as soon as possible, and always before dark. 

Jenny no longer lived on the farm with her parents. Her and her older brother still lived on the farm, but their grandparents came to live with them. Their mother had been taken the first month of Earth's induction into the intergalactic war. Their father had followed in the second. Jenny no longer watched the stars late at night; their magic had been stolen along with her parents.

She walked as quickly as she could down the street, head down, focusing on not looking at the giant ship hovering over the town. Bitterly, Jenny wondered if they could win the war if they spent less of their fleet terrorizing innocent planets. She quickly squashed the thought. It wasn't helping, and who knew what kind of telepathic abilities The Invaders may have? No, it wasn't safe anywhere. Not even her mind.

It was a relief when she reached home. Jenny didn't know why. Home wasn't actually any safer than anywhere else. But there was the illusion of safety. And the remaining people she cared about were there.

The air was tinged with tentative excitement. It was dimmed somewhat by circumstance, but the occasion was an important one. Her brother was turning eighteen. That didn't mean everything it used to. Rights were restricted by The Invaders. No one went to college anymore. But lately, any excuse to celebrate was a good one.

Jenny and her grandparents worked in swift, silent tandem. Sweets were a limited commodity. The resources simply couldn't be afforded. Still, the small family managed to procure a cupcake and a single candle for the occasion. The radiantly joyful smile from Jenny's brother made all the strife worth it. 

He blew out the candle, wishing for freedom. He ate half the cupcake before shoving it over to Jenny. "You eat the rest."

She looked up at him questioningly. "That's yours. You eat it. It's your birthday, not-"

"Jen, you eat it," he ordered tenderly. "Who knows what the situation will be when you turn eighteen?"

And Jenny couldn't really argue with that. Or the warm compassion radiating from her big brother's eyes. "Thanks."
It was one of the best nights they had sense The Invaders arrived. Laughter had found its place in the house once again. It died when the doors burst open. The Invaders looked large on TV. They were even larger in person. "We have come for the young Earthling."

The tone brooked no room for argument. Jenny argued anyways. She stepped closer to her brother and clung to his arm. "No. No way. No"

"He is of age by the standards of your society," one of the invaders informed them coldly. "He will fight now."

"I don't care." Jenny was exhibiting a fierceness none who knew her had witnessed before. "I won't let you take him."

Jenny's brother hugged her. He tucked her head under his chin and rocked back and forth. "I have to go, Jen."

"What? No!" She clutched him tighter. 

He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "I have to. If it's not me, it'll be someone else. If I don't go, they could take you."

After one last tight squeeze, Jenny's brother gently pried her off of himself. He pushed her towards their grandparents. They held her back while she watched her brother walk out for what might be the last time with the two invaders. Something in Jenny broke, then. Something she hadn't even known existed in the first place.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Early Graduation

It only lasts four years.
Usually I'd say that's more than enough.
Make it shorter if you can.

Usually I don't think about people drifting.
Usually I don't think about being the one left behind missing.
I don't think about the terror of graduation,
Of leaving behind the lifestyle of public education.

For twelve years it's all you've known.
It's stayed the same, but you,
You've grown.
For all these long years you've done what you can,
And now your life is waiting for you to command.

It's at your fingertips now,
You can almost grasp it.
There's no use in worrying.
We've all always been destined for hell in a handbasket.

The world is out there calling
And it's calling out to you.
It's nearly time to show that desperate world
Just what it is that you can do.

That first one is the hardest step,
But take it without hesitation.
Because when it comes to the important things,
Like kindness, compassion, and a little bit of madness,
You qualified for early graduation.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Swirling blue ocean.
What do you hide in your dark
Mysterious depths?