“…and though she be but little, she is fierce.” William Shakespeare, “Midsummer Nights Dream”
little wonder, precious child,
tiny princess, sweet and wild,
silly angel, rainbow pearl,
oldest sister, great big girl,
all these are the things you are,
but not all that you will, by far,
for as you grow and reach so high,
one day you will reach the sky,
and spread your branches over all,
my Rowan tree, so strong and tall.
kitten little, sometimes big,
walking through the streets alone,
puddle water, garbage cans,
sometimes an abandoned bone.
boxes set for mornings haul,
make shelter from the freezing rain,
kicks and stones and shouted words,
she stumbles past, ignores the pain.
born into an alley, grown,
no memories to give her place,
her only clue a collar, red,
that takes her into kitten-space.
in form, a scrawny alley-cat,
black and white with bright green eyes,
the colors meld in formless shapes,
to make the shadows her disguise.
in kitten shape she eats and sleeps,
then grows again at each sunrise,
when big, she stands a scrawny teen,
with ebon hair and emerald eyes.
tail that hangs so limply down,
and ears that hear a mouses cry,
invisible, intangible, but present,
real, and not insanitys’ sweet lie.
her hair so long and tangled falls,
across her fearful, tearful eyes,
hiding the skin so ivory white,
torn by hate in loves disguise.
skin that’s never felt soft hand,
a mothers touch, a fathers love,
never felt a sweet caress,
just icy air and a strangers shove.
where will she end, this kitten, lost,
who is there to take her in,
how did she come, and at what cost,
what secrets lie beneath her skin?
Under Neath: A Kava continuation (rather long, so be warned. man this story is addictive. thanks again, trg!)
I woke up to a flash of red and the faintest whiff of that…literally, apparently…intoxicating scent. The red proved to be a little red hairbow in the gloss-black hair of what looked to be a child of 6 or 7. Her skin was dark, like a wet cardboard box, and her eyes were tilted just the tiniest bit and colored a gray so dark it might as well be black, if not for the tiny motes of gold that seemed to float there.
She was dressed all in grey except for the bow, with a soft tunic-like top over what looked like pajama pants. She was standing next to me, or rather next to the table I found myself strapped to, rocking back and forth on her heels and humming softly. Not considering her a threat, I looked away from her at the room around me…or at least that’s what I -tried- to do. As soon as I started to turn my eyes away, the humming got slightly louder, and I found myself staring into her eyes again.
Those eyes…the near-black iris surrounding the hypnotic ebony of the pupil seemed to fill the room, or at least my vision. The gold motes became tiny, perfectly formed koi, swimming happily in the black, black sea of those eyes. It became suddenly extremely important to me that I catch every detail of those beautiful fish, that I bring my focus deeper, and deeper…a harsh cough broke whatever was happening, and I was…released, as the girl turned to glare at the noisemaker.
I found myself panting, out of breath, with the slight headache of oxygen deprivation…and very confused. Lacking anything else to do, I also turned to look at the woman in the doorway. And the doorway. And every other detail of the room that I could take in, in that sweep. I locked it all away for later, aware that I had narrowly survived something dangerous, and needed to pay attention.
When the little one saw just who had coughed, her glare turned into a grimace, then a pout, as her head dropped so that she looked up through a waterfall of black. The woman in the doorway, leaning on the door frame as if too weak to stand, was the owner of the gorgeous ankles and lipstick red stilts I’d seen back at the bar.
All things considered, the rest of her fulfilled the promise made by her legs…all things being that she looked completely exhausted and the black circles under her eyes weren’t carry-on bags but full suitcases. She coughed again, and shook her head at the little one. Her voice was that of one accustomed to command, but tired and roughened by whatever was wrong with her.
She looked at the little one and let loose with a flow of sound, almost like water or birdsong or both or all, all combined into a beautiful whole that I wished I could record and keep, just to hear again and again…I shook my head again, and the sound was back to what it had started as, the work-roughened voice of command. Whatever she’d said to the little one had her wringing her little hands in distress, and whispering through her hair in that same trickle-whisper-purr, but it didn’t affect me the way it had from Her.
Finally, with a jerk of the head from the Woman in red, the little one scuttled from the room, her sparkling red hair bow falling from her hair to the floor by the Womans feet. With a tired sigh, she bent to pick it up, long beautiful fingers fidgeting with it as she slowly walked across the room toward me. A smile quirked the corners of her lips for a moment, until another cough racked her body, and she crumpled into a chair that I hadn’t noticed sitting there, like a string-cut puppet. After a series of coughs, she slowly straightened, fingers clenched so tightly around the little bow that her knuckles were white…which was some trick, considering her skin was somewhere between new-snow and ice—blue already.
Once she sat up, platinum-white hair falling off her shoulders like water over crystal boulders, she closed her quartz blue eyes for a moment, and then opened them and her fingers, tucking the little bow away in a pocket of the red power suit she wore.
Being ever considerate, I decided to speak first, to save her voice…or something like that, anyway. “Hi! Nice to finally meet you…how much did you say your name was?” Alright, so I’m a smart-ass, no surprise there. Again that tiny smile, the barest quirk of those beautiful lips.
“As it is “nice” to meet you, as well, Mr. Blake. Although one -could- wish for more congenial surroundings, I’m afraid you’ll have to make do, for now. Perhaps later, when you understand a bit more…we can be a bit more…accommodating.”
brother mine, still standing tall,
though your back’s against the wall,
for the sake of what I’ve been
you will not let the evil win.
when we were young, and only two,
for questions I would look to you,
and when I passed you, won the race,
nothing but gladness filled your face.
and when to school I finally went,
you couldn’t know how much it meant,
to have you there, a paper guard,
even when the times got…hard.
even when the needles flew,
the wires and the hands of blue.
when I called, you came to me,
and at high cost you set me free.
you gave to me what could have been,
the world you worked so hard to win,
for sake of me, you crossed the line…
and sacrificed your life for mine.
Buddys indrawn breath whistled in my ears, as the three of us bellied up side by side to look over the edge of the roof. Grinning, Buddy rolled over to look back to Prof, who simply raised a brow. Buddy laughed, his voice a hoarse whisper. “I can’t believe it! It’s really here…I thought you were shitting me.” Prof snorted. “I -do- occasionally know whereof I speak. Not, I’ll be the first to mention, often, but…”
I listened to them banter behind me, but couldn’t tear my eyes from the beautiful sight that lay in the courtyard below…long and sleek, with the angles and curves of some ’60’s idea of a spaceship, the extravagant sports car looked designed for stranger worlds than these. Her amber-red tail lights were slanted, like flirting eyes, and I knew there was nothing more beautiful in the world…I -would- drive that car. At least, I’d drive it when we delivered it…had a well-heeled enthusiast already lined up, waiting.
Gravel bit into my arms as I carefully backed away from the edge, toward my two temporary partners. Once I was sure it was safe, I sat up, shrugging one shoulder. “Uh-huh. It’s a real nice car. You sure we can get it out of there?” Buddy blinked, shaking his head disbelievingly. “You are one cold fish…”nice car”…” He snorted, still shaking his head.
Prof just nodded. “Got the owner-mans’ schedule by heart…he’s a man of routine, hasn’t moved from his safe little path in the three months I’ve been watching him. And this weekend he’ll be safely off to Bermuda with the missus…”
I nodded, turning to Buddy. “And you’re sure you can get the equipment? Tent and all?” He shrugged. “Sure…my cousins rig’s been sittin’ idle for a month now, he ain’t gonna notice if I borrow it a little. How we gonna get’em to believe the note’s from him, anyway?”
I looked to Prof. This part was his baby. He grinned, holding up a folder full of paper. “Owner-mans own stationery, already signed…he makes up a handful of these before he leaves, in case “anything happens”…isn’t that clever of him?” He chuckled, as Buddys grin got even wider. “Nice…”
I nodded, thinking to myself that the better part of this occupation wouldn’t be possible if the world were to get a sudden shot of smarts. “Ok, then. 7 sharp, outside the warehouse, tomorrow. See you both there.” They nodded, then turned back to their bragging conversation before I’d even made my way down from the roof. Once again I reflected how glad I was I’d never bothered with steady partners…enough time with idiots like these, and anyone’d lose a permanent point of intelligence.
Driving my little Accord home, like any law abiding citizen, I stopped for gas and ran her through the car wash…using the slow passage through the dark, wet, soapy tunnel to relax, like always. The soap froth made pictures on the windshield, formed and faded and formed again, and I zoned out to the sound of Tom Petty on the radio, till we emerged into the bright dark of a Seattle night.
Stopping only to grab a fat steak for the grill, I drove home at a “safe” pace, no more visibly conscious of the police presence on the highways than anyone. Steak, salad, and two carefully tended beers later, my head hit the pillow and the world went away.
If I dreamed that night, it was no more than a news report…”This was Your day, and You were There!” I hadn’t had what I would call a “real” dream since I was a kid. Of course, there was a -lot- that I hadn’t done since I was a kid. And a lot I had.
Bonnie Tyler was belting out “I Need A Hero” when the radio cut on that evening. I grinned to myself, swinging my legs over the side of the bed. Heroism was a self-correcting problem, as far as I was concerned. Grabbing the clean t-shirt and jeans off the ladderback chair by the window, I headed for the shower as the announcer began the rush-hour newsbreak.
A twenty minute walk later, I slipped behind the bar, giving a nod to the harried ‘tender already on shift. May rolled her eyes out of sight of the crowd, and I tossed her a sympathetic grin and slipped back into the familiar routine. My hands poured, opened, built and filled, working almost independently of my mind, till the Friday happy-hour crowd finally thinned, and I could afford to slump back and shake my head at Mays’ offer of a break. “You go ahead. I’m wired, tonight.” She just shrugged, and slipped out the pass-through with a grateful sigh.
I occupied myself wiping down the bar, stacking glasses, all the little crap that needed done before closing. The Queens Head was a nice enough place for the neighborhood, and the fact that it was in walking distance of home made it ideal for me as a base of operations. I checked my watch, glanced at the door, and rolled my eyes. Of course they were late. Probably stopped to take candy from some kid and got arrested. I was really going to have to look harder for good help, next time. And where was May? She should’ve been back in to take over for me…what…20 minutes ago now?
Signaling one of the servers to grab the bar for a minute, I headed toward the break room/storage area…and to the door into the not-quite-an-alley behind the bar. May always went out there to smoke, even though it was allowed inside. Said it didn’t feel right. But I didn’t smell cloves, and the door was open a bit. “May?” I moved cautiously toward the door, predator senses on alert. “May? Y’done yet? C’mon, honey, I want a break -sometime- tonight…” When I reached the door I threw it open, quickly jumping to one side…but nothing happened. More than nothing. It was dead quiet out there. No traffic sounds, no sirens, no usual music-played-too-loudly-through-bad-speakers from the local raver/skater punks…nothing. No. Not quite nothing…
A chill fog drifted silently through the door, sliding across the cement floor to pool around my feet. I caught a whiff of something…like perfume, but thicker. I shook my head. What the -hades- was going on here? I…I was looking for…someone. Someone who…who smelled like…cloves? No…like perfume. Like…this… I shook my head, harder, a low growl starting in the bottom of my throat. No…not right. Not at work…not here. I swallowed the growl, or tried to, but it came out more like a whine, as my knees buckled…and my head hit the floor. As my eyes closed, the last sight I saw was a gorgeous pair of ankles in mile-high red stilts. What? I’m a guy!
Being an empath is hard. Harder still, standing here. Those strings have played more feeling than the world is still capable of, and all I want to do is crawl into those memories, those times, good times and bad, and curl up forever, try to live in them, and not here. Not here, in the cold, waiting for the auction to start. Waiting for my heart to break.
Yeah, being an empath is hard…
(With all due credit to Spider Robinson, who taught me more about music and empathy in his books than anyone ever has in life. Also life, hope, joy, sadness, laughter, friends, family…thank you, Spider and Jeanne. Written for the Friday Fictioneers, like it says above, but it won’t let me link in a title, so here’s the link. ;p)
If this makes anyone stop following me, I understand. I’m a very open-minded person, so much so that things fall out sometimes, but I hate negative emotions because I have so many of them. Hate, guilt, shame, anger, pain, loneliness, etc.etc.etc. So, that over, on to what I wanted to say.
The card is basically Eve and the Snake, but in a good way, a life-affirming non-guilt-ridden don’t be afraid of the Snake because she/he is only one path to power, way. And I like this, because in the story, it was the power of knowledge, the loss of innocence, that got them “kicked out” in the first place. I prefer to think of them as “released” once they had the tools it took to live out here. To live and breed and hurt and die…and in doing so, become one with the One.
And to answer a question in my mind, here is what I believe. I believe that -all- the stories, of gods and Gods, Godess’ and godess’, spirits, creatures, etc. are true. If the God/ess is all-knowing, all-encompassing, all-powerful…why couldn’t he/she be whatever he/she needed to at the moment?
I like this take on Chinese New Year…especially since it happens to be the year of the snake…and my tarot cards just turned up “The Snake Princess” card…saying? “the serpentine path to power” Whew.
I was wondering recently… Why are the Mayans and their so-called doomsday prophecy so famous, and Chinese New Year is left on the back burner?
The truth is, the Mayan prophecy is just the end of an era for the Mayans. It doesn’t mean that we’re all going to die, just that now’s the chance to decide where to go from here, with all there is to worry about in this modern world.
If we’re speaking of foreign calendars, then the Chinese New Year can contrast with the Mayan calendar, and act as our redemption.
Let’s celebrate the spring of new beginnings with the start of Chinese New Year next February 10. It’s the Year of the Snake this year, which is my animal, so I guess it’s more significant for being my year as well.
This is my year to get active. Especially since I’ve already begun my new…
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I sit up on the hill and watch until the fireworks fade, one hand idly twirling my ID badge on its distinctive red-white-and-blue lanyard.
Once the last sparkles have fallen into the lake, and the fire crews nearly have the blaze under control, I pull my worn and tattered little black book out of my pack. I remove the knotted rubber bands that hold the cover shut against the straining within, and carefully open it to one particular page.
With a grin, I take the worn stub of pencil from behind my ear, and make a checkmark next to “Fireworks Technician”. One more off the list. Then, carefully placing my ID badge (sans lanyard) between the pages, I reclose the little book and replace it in my pack, which I then throw over my shoulder.
Leaving the lanyard behind, tied in a pretty bow around the box of sprinklers I’d used to set the blaze, I turn my nose toward the moon, and set off in Her direction once again. Wonder what’s next…