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?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Promise of a Golden Dawn

We all need a dream sometimes,
Because sometimes reality sucks.
It's flat and boring and depressing.
Dreams take us away from that.
They have light, angelic wings that span across the sky.

Sometimes the world is dark and cold.
Sometimes we have to go it alone,
Despite all the people that would love to help us.
The only thing that can never be pulled away is a dream.

People need dreams like the world needs dreamers.
A bright, shining light.
Something good, barely in the distance.
A reason to hold on.

Dreams are the promise of a golden dawn
Even in the midst of our darkest days.
People hold on to dreams because dreams hold on to people,
Anchoring them in the very reality dreams are an escape from.
Dreams are what let us hope.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Plan

I'm tired of being told how my life is going to go.
Take this class
Follow this plan
And you'll go far you know.

We've counted out the years of your life.
We'll tell you how to spend them right.
Just sit back
No need to fight.

You're all unique little snowflakes.
Now follow this cookie-cutter plan.
It doesn't make a difference how you're different
Just as long as you stay on the path.

I don't want to follow the rules.
I want to throw away the plan.
I want to make my own road.
I'll make it a better one if I can.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Growing Up is a Trap

The years of childhood are shaky and indefinite.
You never know how many you will have.
Too often they end too soon.
Society calls you an adult at eighteen.
That doesn't mean you haven't already grown up.

Growing up is a trap.
It's forsaking fun for responsibility.
It's giving in to the darkness of the world around you.
It's getting rid of the part of you that most dares dream.

Far too often, childhood ends far too soon.
Almost as often it can come back.
Maybe the laughter of any child will trigger it.
Maybe the laughter of your own.
Maybe something else, entirely unknown.

Regardless of the cause, the effect will be the same.
You'll give off that childish laughter
As you play some childish game.
And you'll know in that moment, some things
Some things never have to change.

Growing old is necessary,
But growing up is a trap.
There's no reason you can't get the spirit of childhood back.
You can't avoid responsibilities
And all that with them you gain.
But you don't have to lose the light and laughter.

          I think,
                    Should remain.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Midnight Inspiration

Frantic midnight inspirations.
Those are the best kind.
The scribble on the nearest piece of paper the second your eyes fly open kind.
The unfounded, unbridled kind.
You don't know where it came from
But you hope it never leaves.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Black Coffee

I didn't like black coffee at first.
We tend to reject things that are bitter, 
Or that make us feel bitter.
But sometimes bitter things make us better.
A beam of light is seen most clearly
When the world is at its darkest.
I didn't like black coffee.
I didn't like a world not diluted
And coated with sugar.
I didn't like it unsweetened.
But that bitter flavor of reality is sometimes the sweetest,
Because the deepest bit of truth,
The texture that lured you into coffee in the first place,
Is what tastes the strongest.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Undereye Baggage

The ultimate caller of forgotten responsibilities.
As soon as your head hits the pillow,
Homework suddenly remembered,
Chores unearthed.
The annoying sensation of something missing is brought to the front of your mind.
Many unproductive hours could've been the opposite.
You heave yourself out of bed.
The bags under your eyes have only ever been destined to grow. 
You wouldn't change it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thicker Than Blood

Blood is thicker than water.
It's a phrase we all must've heard,
Whether as scolding advice or simple fact.
It's not one that I believe.

It's as well intended as any so-called words of wisdom get,
But the intentions are where its honesty ends.
Family is important
But sometimes blood is not enough to mend.

Family can betray us just as easily as anyone else can.
That's a fact that we all try to keep far away from our hearts,
Hidden in the deepest, darkest corners of our own subconscious minds.
That's part of what makes it so much harder to believe when it finds its way into our lives.

Family is important,
But some things are more important.
Trust is thicker than water, and
Love is thicker than blood.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tights and Capes

I'm a fan of superheros
Complete with tights and capes.
But it is not a costume
That does a hero make.

What about the quiet hero,
Steadfast and unafraid?
What about the heroes standing beside us
Through the problems of each day?

What about the hero leading by example
Carrying on and seeing through?
What about the hero who doesn't need violence,
Who can fight for a cause with words too?

Yes, I'm a fan of superheroes
Complete with tights and capes.
But it's the heart behind the emblem
That does a hero make.

We can't spend our days waiting around
Hoping to be saved.
It takes only a cause and willpower
For a true hero to be made.

I'll always be a fan of superheroes
Complete with tights and capes.
Because it seems to me they exist to show us
What great heroes we can all make.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Simple Definition

Home is a complex word
With a simple definition:
Home is where the heart is.

Home is falling asleep with my mom; 
Movie marathon run too late.

Home is riding in the car with my brother,
Singing along to our favorite songs,
Debating the mysteries of life.

Home is lounging on the couch,
Pen delicately tattooing pages,
While Dad's music drifts from below.

Home is where you can be alone
But never truly feel it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Suspended Disbelief

Sometimes there is a mystery,
And it's up to me to solve it.

Sometimes I'm a pirate,
Heading off on my next great adventure.

Sometimes I'm a hero,
Preparing to face insurmountable odds.

Sometimes I'm an explorer
Off to discover the next great unknown.

Sometimes I just drift,
Untouched by the pressures of reality.

Sometimes I suspend my disbelief.
Life is more fun that way.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bare Bones

They say that if you strip us down,
Take away everything recognizable,
So all that's left are bones,
We are all the same.

There must be hundreds of pictures on the internet,
The same skeleton copy-pasted next to itself,
Over and over again,
Bearing a different caption in each incarnation.






The notion is a well intended one,
That we are all the same,
If you take our bare bones,
So we should all be treated same.

The message is wrong,
Both scientifically and philosophically,
At least,
If you ask me.

Our bones bare racial markers,
Occupational markers,
Remodeling from the time you broke your wrist when you were seven,
Immeasurably different.

We are the sum of the decisions we make,
The paths we choose to follow,
The paths we strive to make,
And that leaves its mark, right down to our bare bones.

As much as we may try to tell ourselves otherwise,
We are all different,
No matter how you look at it,
And that's great.

If anything it should be heartening,
The fact that what we do leaves an impact on the world and on our bones,
So people can read who we were,
So we can't possibly be forgotten.

We are different,
And that is a fact to be celebrated,
For as a society,
We are the sum of the individuals we all are collectively.

Someday we all must fade,
To return from whence we came,
Until all that's left of us,
Is the story we carved into our bones.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Down the Drain

All the trials, tribulations,
And worries of the day
Slide off,
Traveling in rivulets,
Meeting in a toxic whirlpool,
Whisked down the drain,
Leaving only warmth, thoughtfulness, and contentment in their wake.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kinetic Theory of Gasses

 Gasses are made up of many tiny particles,
Infinitly smaller than the vast expanse between them.
 They do not attract or repel eachother,
Instead bouncing around randomly,
 Flung by elastic collisions,
Like rubber bands shot behind a teacher's back.
 They may be fast or they may be slow,
Depending on how hight the Kelvins go.
 But they're always moving;
That we all know.

Absolute Zero of the Soul

They say the world stops for nothing.
But I think sometimes,
And only for a moment,
It does.

Every once in a while,
The miracle of life overrules its own laws.
We reach an absolute zero of the soul, 
And all movement ceases.

We drop everything,
Those things we are told day in and day out matter the most,
And revel in the fact that we exist at all,
The fact that is above all else important,
For without it there could be no other facts.

Molecules stop buzzing,
Cells stop dividing,
And the world stops spinning.
Its journey around the sun halts.
We exist merely to exist
And to lovingly marvel at existing.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Iridescent Wings

Floating on iridescent wings
Life fleeting yet beautiful.

Dance through the air
Chasing eachother gleefully
Disconnected from the responsibility of an extended life.

How ironic is it
That with the freedom to enjoy life as you choose
You lose the time to do it?

       Most of the time,
We should all be the butterfly
   Gliding on iridescent wings
      Feeling nothing but happiness.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

"The pen is mightier than the sword,"
        I say,
And the whole world seems to scoff.
The assassins and the armaments
All hold their swords aloft.
"Come and face me now,"
        They say,
"With your puny pens
    I'll win any battle,
      Any war;
        It's your life that will end."
I smirk knowingly
And take my pen in hand.
In physical combat, yes,
I may not stand a chance.
But with my pen I will make peace
With my words they will have lost,
As my pen scratches out
Just what their war has cost.

The Company in the College

Bored. Bored, bored, bored. Austin knew he shouldn't be, but dammit he was bored. When he got accepted to CIT, short for Chicago Institute of Technology, he expected it to be a bit more challenging. And, he had to admit, in some areas it was. He was even lucky enough to be rooming with Andy, his best friend since middle school. But Austin was finished early, and Andy was in a different class, and he was bored.

Trying to divert himself, Austin thought back to his first day of college. His entire family drove up with him; his mom, his dad, his step-mom Marian, and his little sister Ellie. Ellie was a small few years younger than him, and she was looking forward to going to college for herself sooner than their mother would like to admit. She had bounced along beside him eagerly, taking in all she could. "Man, that is a lot of grey."

Austin had toured the college with his dad, post applying and pre acceptance. They had noticed almost immediately that every building was made out of the same grey brick. It made the whole campus almost labyrinth-like. The tour guide, endowed with the typical annoyingly perky enthusiasm of their breed, had asked if anyone had noticed an architectural theme. Austin's dad, with a completely straight face, called out, "Grey."

The tour guide had not been amused.

Reflecting on the memory had kept Austin amused for a total of about five minutes. He flopped his head back and puffed out a large sigh. He sat back up and looked around his Computer Security class. The monitor of his professor's computer caught his eye. Austin wondered how good the security on his professor's computer would be. Idly, Austin ran his fingers over the keyboard of his laptop. This was a horrible idea... He could get expelled for this...

Before he had really processed what he was doing, Austin was typing. He glanced at his target discretely out of the corner of his eye. His main focus remained on the scrolling code flashing down the monitor in front of him. He was good at Computer Security. Each time the students tested each other's work, his held up well. And he had yet to meet a security system created by one of his peers that he couldn't break. Austin hoped his professor's computer would be more of a challenge.

Austin was not disappointed. It seemed he found a new frustration at every turn. There were firewalls protecting firewalls. False paths of codes. The computer was a labyrinth. Austin was thrilled. He had no real interest in the contents of his professor's computer; he just wanted the challenge of it. He almost hoped he wouldn't break through. Not today, at least.

But he did.

Just for the novelty of it, Austin started clicking through files. He was looking for his grade. He already had access to it on his own computer, but finding it on his professor's would give him a sense of accomplishment somehow. His scrolling stopped abruptly. There was a folder labeled, "CLASSIFIED". It was practically begging Austin to open it. So he did, finding all of the documents inside were encrypted.


A quick glance at the clock told Austin he was running out of time. He began downloading the files to his computer so he could decode them later in the semi-privacy of his dorm room. The bell rang sooner than he would've liked. He only had about half of the files downloaded, but Austin closed off his computer anyway. It wouldn't do to draw suspicion, and it wasn't as if he had actually been looking for anything. His curiosity had merely been ignited.

Eager to start the decryption process, Austin hurried back to his dorm. He did stop to grab some lunch on the way. Ellie had texted him every day in his first week of college to make sure he had eaten. It had gotten him into the habit, thankfully. Andy still had to remind him to put down his computer and pick up a sandwich upon occasion, but Austin could honestly say he was functioning.

Thankfully, the dorm was empty when Austin got back. Andy still had two more classes for the day. Austin would've trusted Andy, obviously, but he would rather see what the contents of the stolen documents were before sharing with anyone else. Austin didn't mind gathering information for himself, but he wasn't going to spread a massive invasion of privacy without due cause.

Austin decided to decode the titles of the documents first, so he could divine which would be the most interesting to begin with. He put in the decryption codes and watched as the names sorted themselves out, assisting when necessary. His lips quirked upwards in amusement as the titles revealed themselves. They were on things like Watergate and Operation Red Team. That was the big secret? His Computer Security professor was somewhat of a conspiracy theorist?

His amused smirk fell, however, as the titles continued to reveal themselves. These were things he had never heard of before. And Austin himself had dabbled in conspiracy theories. His concern grew as the files became relevant to his classes. His classmates. The last file he had collected was the most disquieting.

The title was his name.

Trying exceptionally hard not to become frenzied, Austin clicked on the file. He waited impatiently while his decryption code worked. He had perfected it, and there was nothing left for him to do but wait. The waiting was maddening.

He got up. He paced. He grabbed a Coke. He sat down. He chugged it. He got up. He paced some more.

Finally, mercifully, his computer made a noise at him, signifying the completion of its task. Bracing himself for what the screen might reveal, Austin sat back down in front of his computer. His file was only a page, but it didn't seem to have any academic relevance at all. He skimmed the page of notes on himself, most pertaining to his habits and character.

Isolated from the majority of his classmates...

Cold, distant, calculating...

Unexpectedly courteous and helpful...

Borderline sociopathic tendencies...


Driven when challenged...

Recruitment: Likely.

Recruitment likely.

That final line very nearly stopped Austin's heart. Recruitment? Recruitment for what? He thought back to the names of the other files. Was his professor a C.I.A. agent planning on recruiting him? It seemed ridiculous. It seemed plausible. Maybe it was a trick. Maybe he was dreaming. It would be far from the craziest dream he ever had.

Austin pulled out his phone and stared at his contacts. He needed to talk to someone. He needed someone to tell him he was being crazy. And he needed someone who wouldn't keep pushing him for answers when he said to stop, because he wasn't sure how much he could say. There was only one person who would do that. He texted Ellie.

A knock sounded at Austin's door. He jumped and slammed his laptop shut. Then he chastised himself for his actions. Andy probably forgot his key again. It wasn't exactly an uncommon occurrence. Andy still wasn't quite used to grabbing his keys when he wasn't driving. Austin composed himself and opened the door for his friend.

It wasn't Andy.

Standing outside the door, flanked by two somewhat burly black-suited men, was Austin's Computer Security professor. He looked anything but amused, but Austin somehow succeeded in keeping his composure. His professor and the men took a collective step in the door. Austin stood his ground, but he wasn't close enough to keep them from entering.

The door clicked shut and locked with an air of foreboding finality. "I think we need to have a little talk, Mr. Bryer."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Get Young

They tell the young to find ourselves,
But we're not missing.

We're just misunderstood.

Do we find ourselves with age,
Or do we lose ourselves?

We're told we're too young to understand,
But maybe they're too old.

We're freer when we're young.

Standards of an unaccepting society
Have yet to weave thick strands of wool over our eyes.

Fear, hatred, inhibitions are all taught,
Gained with age.

We're all in such a hurry to grow up,
But maybe we should endeavor to get young.

To go back to the self-assurance of youth,
And rediscover what we stood for then.

What we might stand for still
If only we hadn't listened to those who told us not to.

Maybe it's not that black and white;
Maybe it never is.

But that doesn't mean nothing's missing,
That we wouldn't benefit from a piece of ourselves we unwillingly left behind.

The best adults are still children on the inside.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Million Silent Screams

Day of silence
A million moments of silence
Compacted into one extended period
For a million voices unwillingly silenced.
A silence long and loud enough
That maybe,
That million silent screams will be


Wednesday, April 9, 2014


People you are tied to through the strings of the heart
People who infuriate you
And who become infuriated for you
People who push you beyond your best 
Until you think you might explode
People who bring out your best
And your worst
And love you in spite of it
Maybe even for it
People who believe in you
Even when you can't
People who love you
And people you love

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What She Will Be

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
    The question is asked with amusement, intrigue,
 And mild condescension.
       "A ballerina!"
            "A scientist!"
                "An astronaut!"
                    "An artist!"
      Some convoluted combination of the four.
  A million answers
Drawn from a thousand inspirations.
  The world is amicable.
     The child is young.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
    The question is less amused, more serious,
 And more condescending.
    "A ballerina!"
        "A scientist!"
            "An astronaut!"
                "An artist!"
      No convoluted combination of the four.
   The inspiration is dimming.
 The world is drawn in more defined lines.
   The child is not as young.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
     The question is asked seriously, not really a question,
 And still condescending.
    The answers are hesitant,
  Questions themselves.
       "A doctor?"
          "A lawyer?"
   The inspiration is gone.
 The world has told what it wants.
   The child is no longer allowed to be young.

  The child is no longer a child
 And the question is no longer the same.
The tone is still condescending,
 There are a finite number of right answers.
                 None of those are an answer she intends to give.
"What will you be?"
The world screams demandingly.
                            In quiet defiance, she responds,
                                                                             "An inspiration."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sleepless Nights

Sleepless nights
Clear starry sky
Drift on the edge of darkness
Elusive dreams

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Meanings of Life

Perhaps the reason humans have yet to ascertain the meaning of life
Is that we keep looking to find the meaning of life.
We're all so eager to proclaim our individuality,
And yet we continue to search for a universal answer as to the reason we're here.

The old man sits on an equally old porch swing.
The meaning of his life has passed,
The one he fought so hard to bring to being.
Now, the meaning of his life is simply to live.

The newly single parent sits in their too-empty living room.
They don't know how they're going to get through this,
How they're going to keep going,
But they don't give up.
The meaning of their life is asleep in a bedroom upstairs.

The newly admitted college student stares up at the brick establishment.
They have been ready for years, and finally they're here.
Heart filled with ambition, they enter the building.
The meaning of their life is waiting for them.

The screaming baby is brought into existence.
The little one is completely ignorant of the world's cruelty,
And of its beauty.
The meaning of their life is something they have yet to decide.

The Unfortunate Situation and The Little Sister

Kianna and Lenna now looked as they normally would, and as they walked the streets of the kingdom heading towards the castle, no one suspected the dark deeds they had just committed. The pair recieved many compliments on the clothing Kianna had designed for them. Lenna was wearing a short wrap-around blue dress with long flowing  sleeves and silver accents, tight black pants, and soft leather boots with silver buckles. A silver half-moon headband was worked in with her braid. Kianna herself was wearing a purple  corset-style dress with gold strings for the lacing, two straps to hold it up, and flowy detached sleeves.  The skirt, which was puffed up slightly with multiple layers, came down just above her knee. She was not allowed to wear pants according to their customs due to her status as a noble, but she still had the leather boots with gold buckles. The gold ring around her head that her small bun was set on top of, separating it from the rest of her free flowing hair, marked her as the princess. She really did have quite a talent for design, but she still doubted her skills. She was used to getting non-genuine compliments with the intentions to please her, even though what would make her happier was an honest critique.

The girls entered the castle smiling and laughing together as they went in search of Kianna’s father. He greeted them warmly with a smile, but there was a certain somberness to his eyes that Kianna picked up on. It unnerved her. It didn't fit in at all with her father’s personality. “Hello, my little flower. Lenna, it’s lovely to see you dear, as always, but if you don’t mind I require a few moments alone with my daughter.”

Lenna clasped her hands in front of her and gave him a respectful nod. He had banned the Nightlock siblings from bowing before him long ago. They were much too close to his daughter for that. “Of course, sir. See you later, Kia!”

As Lenna walked out, Kianna’s nerves mounted. She had to wonder what this was about. Had he found out she was an assassin? No, that wasn't possible. She knew Alex and Lenna would never rat her out. Her head was spinning. She felt like she was falling, but she knew her feet were still planted firmly to the floor... “Come here, my child.”

Kia’s father’s strong and gentle voice pulled her back from the edge. No matter what it was, they would work through it together. That was how it had always been with her father. He respected her and tried to let her make her own decisions. Even if the worst had happened and he had found out about her double life, she was sure the worst would not come of it. Kianna walked over and sat next to her father. “What is it, Dad?”

Kianna knew that her father wasn't very young, but he appeared to have aged ten more years in that one moment. Suddenly, she was worried again. Was something wrong with him, or her mother, or her little sister? She was a bit disturbed that her mind kept jumping to the worst possible conclusion, but she knew something was off. Her instincts were screaming at her, and if there was one thing she had learned in her life as an assassin, it was to trust her instincts without doubt.  “Kianna, my daughter, we are having a visitor tonight. He is a prince from one of the neighboring kingdoms. Sweetheart, I am so sorry. You are to marry this man. I don’t want to force you into this, but I assure you it has the best interest of the kingdom in mind. I know that’s something you've always held close to heart. I need you to go to your room and get dressed in your finest gown. We must all stick to the strictest of social protocol tonight. Do you understand?”

Her father’s eyes pleaded with her, and she knew he didn't just mean to ask if she understood what was going on. He wanted to know if she understood why he did it. He wanted to know if she could ever forgive him. “Yes, sir.”

The formal response was like a slap in the face to her father, and she knew it. Their relationship had never had any base of formality. But she truly didn't understand how he could do that to her. Kianna had always been a good princess, looking out for the good of her kingdom any way she could. She fought for them as an assassin then pretended to be a helpless noble girl when she was in their view despite helplessness being the feeling she hated most in the world. She worked hard to both fit the ideas that they had about how life should be and to maintain what she felt in her heart was right. And now, having been denied such an important and fundamental choice that would never be denied anyone else, she wondered when it would be her turn to worry about her. When would anyone ever worry about what Kianna wanted?

The princess rushed passed her mother who tried to stop her to comfort her. Kianna didn't want to be comforted. She didn't want her mother's kind eyes and understanding words to sway her. She didn't want to be understood, and she didn't want to understand. She wanted to be allowed to feel the way she felt, and she was determined to do just that. She always looked out for the best interests of everyone else around her. For once, she vowed to be selfish. For once she was going to look out for herself.

A small voice stopped her internal rampage. “Kiki!”

Kianna turned to face her five year old sister, Livianna. She felt her anger deflate. Because Livianna was one person she could never forsake in favor of herself. She was reminded of how glad she was that she was born first, so that Livianna didn't have to go through this. She would much rather it be her than her little sister. Her short orange locks, one of which always insisted on falling in front of her face, wide brown eyes, and childish demeanor screamed of an innocence Kianna prayed every day would never be disturbed. She bent down and scooped up her sister, who’s little legs snaked around Kia’s middle and small arms wrapped around her neck. Kianna gently brushed back the stubborn piece of hair, but it popped right back out of place. “What is it, Livi?”

“Why do you look so sad, Kiki? I don’t want you to be sad. I love you.” The words simultaneously warmed and broke her heart.  Innocent little Livianna would never comprehend what was going on. And what about when she married? Obviously they would have to come back to rule when her parents died, but chances were she would be moving fairly far away from her little Livi for a while.

Kianna kissed the top of Livianna’s head, deciding a lie was best right now. “I was sad because I couldn't find you! But now that you’re here, I have nothing to worry about! We have a new friend coming to meet us today. Do you want to come get ready with me?”

Livianna nodded eagerly. She loved doing anything with her big sister. Kianna was the center of Livianna’s world. She idolized her big sister, practically worshiping the ground the older girl walked on. When she grew up she knew she wanted to be just like Kiki, which she had proclaimed many times.

Kia managed to distract herself from the upcoming events for a while by helping her little sister get ready. She dressed her in a dark green dress that she had designed. The skirt fanned out like leaves with golden veins lined with gold. It had long fitted but comfortable sleeves and a t-shirt style approach to account for comfort. There was also a pair of little green shorts underneath to so Livi could run around and play.  Kianna dressed herself in a long flowing blue gown with a similar  skirt pattern to Livi’s, only rather than the golden veins she had golden swirls climbing up the skirt representing waves. It was a bit tighter fitted at the top and the neckline dipped a bit. The sleeves clung to her arms to just above the elbows before flowing out. She fastened a golden flower necklace around her sister’s neck and a blue water drop necklace  around her own.

“Kiki, can you do my hair like yours? Pleeeeeease,” Livianna begged, staring up at her sister with huge eyes.

“Of course I can, Livi. Whatever you want.” Kianna set to work on her sister’s hair first. She left a few strands of orange hair framing the younger princess’ face and pulled the rest back into a small ponytail. Then she fastened in the silver loop that showed Livianna was a princess, if not the crown princess. The loop fastened just beneath the ponytail, which Kianna then clipped up so the short strands fell over the clip. It looked absolutely adorable. After that Kianna set to work doing the same to her own hair. Hers was much longer, and it fell down in waves to her shoulderblades. The style looked much more sophisticated on the older girl, who now stood in front of the body-length mirror holding her sister. “What do you think?”

“I love it,” Livianna squeaked excitedly, before adding reverently, “You’re really pretty, Kiki.”

Kianna smiled at her sister’s compliment. “Not half as pretty as you, Liv.”

At that moment, their mother appeared at Kianna’s doorway. She stared at her oldest daughter with sorrow and regret. She couldn't help but feel a bit of sympathy for her mother, who she knew would never want this for her. “Our guest will be here shortly. Why don’t you come with Mommy for a little while, Livianna.”

Livianna wanted to protest so she could stay with her sister, but she felt at that moment that something wasn't right, and she knew when something wasn't right that it was time to listen to Mommy, so she left her sister alone without complaint.

As much as Kianna loved her little sister and appreciated the distraction she had provided, she also appreciated the time alone to reflect on what was about to happen to her. She was going to marry a man she had never met before. She had no choice in the matter. It wouldn't make a difference if she detested him with all she had, or if they didn't see eye to eye on anything. For whatever reason this marriage was necessary politically, and tradition dictated that she would get married soon anyways. A queen always had equal power, but a queen had never ruled without a king by her side. Kianna wanted for all she was worth to screw tradition. It had screwed her all her life. It seemed as though she was always being held back by some sort of custom that the rest of the world was free to acknowledge as outdated.

Kia stared at the mirror, but Kia didn't stare back at her. It was Princess Kianna that looked out through the mirror. The regal woman who followed the dictations of culture, edicate, and tradition, not the tenacious defiant girl she knew she really was. How much of herself would she lose to this marriage, to this man she had never met? The not knowing was killing her. 

Kianna had never before questioned being born into her family. They all loved her and she loved them. But for the first time she wished she had been born one of the normal commoners that lived in their kingdom. Thinking of her father, her mother, Livi, Lenna, and Alex , she decided that was not the case. Because if she wasn’t about to face the possibility of losing herself now, she never would've been herself, never would've known all of those wonderful people. And she would not wish this situation on anyone, let alone her baby sister.

There was a knock at Kianna’s door, and she knew before the servant told her that her future husband had arrived. She steeled her nerves. Maybe it wouldn't be that bad. Maybe he would be sweet, and they would get along wonderfully. Maybe this was an odd twist of fate that would bring her to the man she would love. Unfortunately, she somehow doubted it. This was not a time for things to work in her favor. She knew from the looks on her parent’s faces. Whoever this man was, he was not someone they would pick for their daughter willingly. She only wondered what had forced their hand.

Kianna straightened herself and strode with as much pride as she could muster into the greeting hall to meet him. If she was going to do this, she was going to do it right, and she was determined to hold on to at least a little bit of who she was in the process. The already tense atmosphere stiffened with Kia’s arrival. Livianna had no idea what was going to happen, but she was picking up on the tension everyone else was feeling, and so she stayed glued to her mother’s side, uncharacteristically quiet.  

Before she had to fall into the pompous and fake etiquette that she knew she would have to adhere to for the night, Kianna flew into her father’s arms. She couldn't let him suffer through the evening thinking she hated him. She rested her head at the crook of his neck and reached up to whisper in his ear. “I love you, Daddy.”

After that the tension was a little less thick, but it was still undeniable. When the knock sounded at the castle door, Kianna just about jumped out of her skin. Her father reached out briefly to squeeze her hand before letting her go and signaling for the doors to open. The loud creaking noise the large wooden doors produced when they were opened had never seemed more ominous before that day.

All four of the men who entered were imposing to say the least, but it was easy to see who it was she would be marrying. He had an air of authority. Kianna had faced down plenty of horrible people, but just the sight of him sent a chill down her spine. He looked absolutely sinister, and she had a terrible feeling about him. He was tall and broad. His short blond hair contrasted sharply with his almost black eyes. His armor was black with red swirls that resembled fire, and a red cape billowed out behind him. He held a calm demeanor of self-importance.

Kianna’s father walked her forward and stood in front of their visitor with an amiable smile on his face. “Welcome, Prince Narciso. It’s wonderful to have you here. This is my eldest daughter, Princess Kianna.”

Taking the cue, Kianna curtsied deeply in front of the foreign monarch. “It’s lovely to meet you. How do you do?”

Prince Narciso took her hand and kissed the back of it. He smirked, and it seemed to be filled with venom. “Charmed, I’m sure. And you are just as lovely as promised.”

Her fight or flight response started to kick in, and Kianna was disturbed to find out it was heavily weighted towards flight. She wasn't sure how to respond, but her father stepped in. “She is, isn't she? Please, come with us. We have a lovely meal prepared.”

As frustrated as she still was with the situation in general and her father in particular, Kia was thankful for the distraction. She didn't know how long she could've kept her eyes locked with Narciso's calculating gaze, but she knew she couldn't've lived with herself if she had broken it. As it was, she was somewhat disappointed with herself. She was an assassin. She had faced great warriors and won. Had taken down entire plots and conspiracies with one swipe of a coal-black sword. She could face this.

Then again, she wasn't really an assassin anymore, was she?

No, she couldn't honestly say she was. But, for the time being, Kianna was still Kia, so she held on to the last bit of nerve she had with a tenacious bout of strength. Without so much as a nervous glance, she took the seat next to her future husband. Even if she was afraid, she was brave. And she wouldn't lose that. Not so soon. A new determination flooded her. She wouldn't lose it ever. A smile spread across her face. It was a true, genuine one filled with determination.

Her parents noticed the change, and small smiles of their own graced their faces. They knew the situation was less than ideal. But they also knew their daughter. They knew she was strong. They never would've put her into such a situation if they weren't sure she could handle it. Who knows? She could even be good for the young man sitting next to her. Maybe she could bring peace to more than one kingdom in more than one way. Even if she couldn't change the prince, they knew she could change his kingdom. She had the tenacity to do the seemingly impossible, of that they were sure. 

Food was brought out soon. Conversation arrived with it. It wasn't something that could be put off forever. Knowing that, Kianna turned to Prince Narciso, smile still in place. "So, tell me about yourself."

Narciso glanced down at his princess out of the corner of his eye. "What do you want to know, Princess?"

Kianna stirs her soup, mulling the question over. She hadn't considered the need to press specifics. "I don't know. What are your hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?"

"I like to hunt." The answer was short, to the point, and showed no interest in reciprocating conversation with her. 

Too stubborn to give up, Kianna pushed onward. She thought of what she did in her life as an assassin, hunting people. Hunting animals would give her less guilt, and it would probably pose a similar challenge. Maybe it was something they could bond over. "That sounds fun. What do you hunt?"

Seeming a little surprised, Narciso actually turned toward her this time. "Wild animals of any variety. We find boar, mostly. Do you hunt?"

It took Kianna a moment to answer. She couldn't very well explain who she was and what she had done. "No," she answered calculatedly. "But I'd like to give it a try."

The silence that followed was heavy. In her perceptive nervousness at the situation, Livianna toppled her soup, splattering it on herself and her older sister, who's right she was sitting at. Tears welled in Livianna's eyes. She didn't understand the importance of this event, but she knew it was important. In that moment, Kianna didn't care about the man sitting next to her. She only had eyes for her tearful younger sister. Smiling kindly, Kianna wiped the soup off the younger girl, then herself and the table. "Don't worry, Livi. Look. No harm, no foul."

Happy once again, little Livianna hugged her older sister. "Thanks, Kiki."

"Any time, Livi." Kianna smiled and ruffled her little sister's hair affectionately. "If you're done eating, you can go play."

Livianna looked to her parents for conformation. They nodded their assent. Livianna wasn't needed for this; only Kianna was. And they had refrained from explaining the details of the visit to Livianna, hoping to spare their youngest the emotional trauma for as long as possible. It would be easier to discuss serious business with Livianna gone. Blissfully ignorant, the little girl bounced off to play.

"You will make an excellent mother."

Kianna choked on her soup and sputtered in a rather undignified, un-noble manner. She coughed for a few minutes before she could even pretend to regain any composure. Even, then, the act was tenuous at best. "Excuse me?"

"I think you'll make a good mother for our children." His words seemed sincere, and yet Kianna still couldn't shake the ominous feeling she had about the foreign prince.

"I hadn't really thought of children yet," Kianna told him, hoping her discomfort would discontinue the subject, for the time being at the very least. They were engaged, sure, but they knew next to nothing about each other. She wasn't okay with discussing that kind of subject with him yet. She knew one day she would have to, but she was less and less sure that she would ever truly be emotionally prepared for that discussion. 

Mercifully, the subject was dropped. A more tentative, casual conversation was struck up. She shared with him the interest she had taken in fashion and her love of interacting with her people. He shared with her his love of weapon forging and battle strategy. His words weren't menacing, but the menacing aura that seemed to surround him remained. The fact that it didn't dispel with time worried her. She didn't know what she would do if she couldn't get over her uneasiness. But she wasn't convinced that she should. That was the most disquieting thing. She knew her parents were against this sort of thing, yet here she was. The whole thing was beyond suspicious to Kianna.

After what seemed like an eternity, the meal finally ended, and Prince Narciso left with his dignitaries. Kianna allowed her fiance to kiss her quickly on the lips before he departed, knowing that it was likely to be the first of many. She had never been kissed before. She felt the loss acutely. The large wooden doors of her home closed slowly, and she felt trapped. Kianna stood, she didn't know for how long, in the entry hall of the castle, wondering what the hell she could possibly do.