Monthly Archives: May 2012

Pipe Dreams

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Hi guys! Its been a couple of weeks since my last post. I have totally been slacking, but I had several good reasons. Lets just say that it has been a tough month. We all have them. Things go awry, the trouble trio pays you a “friendly” visit, and it is almost all you can do to not go crazy! But, I felt inspired and jotted down this little entry. It has one foot in fact and the other in fiction. I’m not going to tell you which parts, though. That would be cheating.

THERE ARE DAYS WHEN I FEEL IN CONTROL. The world is okay, I sort of know what I’m doing, and I halfway have my act together. But then there are the other days; the days when it seems as though my sanity is hanging on by a thread. Days when the only thing I want to do is crawl under my heavy covers, black out the windows until there is nothing but swallowing darkness, and huddle, hidden from the world. The fatigue is oppressive. Nothing seems worthwhile, other than that sweet evocative darkness and the softness of my pillow. And sleep.

For in sleeping, we dream.

A heavy weight presses down on my chest every moment of every day. It nags at me, squeezes every ounce of my strength, and still demands more of me. It is the weight of responsibility. I’m not sure that it is something that I handle. It eats away at me, devouring me, reducing me to a husk of what I thought I was. Perhaps I was only fooling myself. Perhaps all that ever truly existed of me was this near-empty shell, this slovenly, useless piece of flesh, driven by a need for self-satisfaction. Instant gratification. Perhaps, I never truly EXISTED before. My hopes, dreams, aspirations, likes, dislikes, the things that stirred my blood, roused my soul, all pipedreams.

Oh, but we are back to dreams.

The only place where I have ever truly LIVED was in my dreams. But these were mere fantasies and delusions that powered the vacuous form of my existence and artificially filled it, lest it collapse within itself. Therefore, in dreaming, I exist.

But in dreaming of you, I thrive.

So now, let me lay down my head and dream of you. Let me find myself in your confidence, drink in the hope and ecstasy of promises for the future. This darkness will pass and I will not cower from all that seeks to wear me down. But let the darkness pass tomorrow. For tonight, I will cling to my pillow and revel in bittersweet dreams that allow me to hold you close. It will suffice.

Sincerely,

The Dreamer, St. Anne’s Community, Room 302

P.S. Just one more day…

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9:15 – the REST of the story

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By Popular Demand: 9:15, as Paul Harvey used to say “And now, the rest of the story.”

“I WANNA WATCH MAX ‘N RUBY NOW!” the Monster of Sheffield Lane bellowed. I huffed and put my hands on my hips, assuming the “assertive” stance.

“It’s not on right now, so pick something else,” I said as evenly as I could manage. I think that I’m good with kids, but after five minutes of being Mindy’s sitter I was ready to throw in the towel. Shoes don’t buy themselves, however.

She dissolved into a temper tantrum just as phone rang. I picked up the cordless and walked out. “Hello, Lafayette Residence.”

“Nine – Fifteen,” a male voice intoned, then disconnected.

I stared at the dead phone in my hand for a moment and looked at the clock. It was 8:05, like I thought. I shrugged and hung the phone up, writing “9:15” down on a post-it note beside the wireless charger.  As far as I knew, it might have been a message for Mindy’s parents, and I just didn’t get the memo to watch out for it.

“All right, munchkin, it’s time to take a bath and get ready for bed,” I said, turning back to the screaming three year old.

“No! No! Max ‘n Ruby!” she wailed. I sighed. At least bed time was in half an hour. I could last until then.

***

Within twenty minutes, I had Mindy clean and in her little bed. “I don’ wanna sleep,” she protested, holding back a yawn and rubbing her eyes.

“Well, too bad, kiddo. Rules say bed at 8:30,” I tucked her in. “Need anything before I turn out the lights?”

Mindy’s eyes widened like saucers. “No! Leave the light on!” she pleaded. “I wanna sleep with the light on.”

“You can’t sleep with the light on.”

“But I’ll be scared!”

I shook my head. “What is there to be scared of?”

She pointed to the corner of the room behind me, so I turned to look in that direction. All that was there was a very old porcelain doll slumped over on a side table. Its hair was missing, leaving only a few strands stuck to the hardened glue, and its eyes stared out over a vacant smile. It was a creepy doll.

“If I take the doll with me, will you go to sleep?”

She nodded enthusiastically. I sighed and picked up the ugly doll, tucked Mindy in, and turned off the light. She quickly fell asleep after that. My bet was that being a terror took a lot of energy. She looked cute and innocent when she slept, though. Just another reminder that looks can be deceiving.

I went back downstairs and threw the doll into the side chair in the living room. I pulled out my cell phone and thumbed through my apps. The Lafayette’s were due back by 10:30, so I had some time to kill while the munchkin slept. This was both my most and least favorite part about babysitting. On one hand, I didn’t actually have to watch anyone, but on the other, it was boring. In retaliation, I pulled up Angry Birds and had fun destroying some ugly pigs.

Forty five minutes later, I was still happily launching exploding birds at impervious obstacles when I heard a shuffling sound coming from across the room.  I sat up and looked, but nothing seemed out of place. I walked over and peered through the blinds. Nothing. I stepped back and put my hands on my hips. I looked down at the side chair where I had thrown the doll. It was missing.

I frowned. Mindy must have gotten out of bed to get the doll. Why did she ask me to take it if she was just going to come back and get it anyway? I walked back upstairs and peeked into her room, ready to reinforce bed time. She was still asleep, though, comfortably twisted in her covers and lightly snoring. I gave a cursory glance around the room, no creepy doll in sight.

I carefully shut the door and went back downstairs.

I checked the chair again, just in case I had missed it. If anywhere, I expected it to be underneath. Imagine my surprise to see it sitting straight up, as if it had been carefully placed there.

I second guessed myself. Perhaps I just thought that it wasn’t there earlier. No, I was absolutely sure that it wasn’t there before. My heart felt like a cold rock in my chest as the other possibilities crossed my mind. I reached over to the umbrella stand and pulled out a walking cane that was probably just for show and brandished it as I walked from room to room. I found no one. I double checked the locks, and all were secure. I double checked Mindy’s room, and she was still fast asleep.

Comforted that there was no one in the house, I returned back down stairs. A chill ran from the top of my head to the toes on my feet in electric panic. The doll had moved again, and Mindy most definitely was not the culprit. It was now sitting on the couch, in the very spot where I previously had been, and it was holding my phone, as I had been.

I had seen this movie before. I squealed as I assaulted the porcelain doll with the cane. The old brittle doll was no match for the hard wood, and it cracked and splintered, the hollow face caving in with little effort. I’m not sure if I imagined the doll’s howl of terror. I hammered at it with the cane until the doll was little more than a silent pillowed torso.

I was still cleaning out the couch cushions when the Lafayette’s got home.

“So, how did things go?” Mrs. Lafayette asked with a smile, hanging her coat.

I returned her smile weakly. “Okay. I actually had an accident with Mindy’s porcelain doll. Sorry,”

The smile slipped from her face, her expression unreadable. Something was amiss. Her eyes cut to her husband. He smiled at me, but it wasn’t a very genuine smile. “Don’t worry about it. We weren’t attached to it anyway.”

It was an odd reaction but I counted myself lucky and didn’t press it. “Sure,” I replied. “Oh, someone called and left you a message. ‘9:15’.”

They shared look, and then Mr. Lafayette turned to me. “Our last babysitter was a family friend of ours, a young man. He vanished around 9:15, about three months ago. That porcelain doll had moved around the house ever since.”

Morning (By the Light of the Velvet Moon page 3)

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He slept until well after dawn, and I feared for him. We had both regained our original forms shortly before the rise of the sun. I was thankful that his curse did not cause him to suffer twice in one night, as he slept soundly through the whole process. The sound of snapping bones and ripping stayed with me, however, and I was thankful that the nature of my being kept me from such pain.

I sat back on my haunches outside of my small unhidden den, and guarded the man-wolf. As a wolf, he had been arrogant, definitely, but also handsome. Where I was lithe, he was muscular and half again my size. Where my fur was a pale tan buried in white pelt, his had been a thick, tawny brown. He had been everything that I wasn’t. He looked like the other wolves, for a few hours at least, and I did not. We had another major difference; he was lost, or at least he soon would be when he awoke.

Where he was ignorant to his nature, I was not. I was young and inexperienced, but I knew what I was: a faoladh, spirit wolf, a guide to the lost, and protector of the young. Those are the things that my mother had whispered into my ear during the days of my weaning. I never understood her words, but looking upon the furless form of the man in my den, I understood. Understanding came in the form of a tugging at my heart and the knowledge that I could not leave the cursed one alone.

I was not an expert on men. To be honest, this was the first one that I had ever seen up close. I had seen the shiny beasts that carried them down the black river, but they frightened me so I had never approached closely enough for a good look. He did not seem impressive to me at all. His fur was reduced to a messy mass on top of his head. It was short and needed grooming. At least my woman-form had long thick hair that covered my back, providing me with some warmth. He was almost as bare and just as thin as a maple tree in the winter.

I examined him closely, drawing in his scent. There were remnants of the wolf to his skin, and it barely masked the scent of other. Had I been looking at him with my nose instead of my eyes, I may have mistaken him for wolf instead of man. As that thought crossed my mind, a strong whiff of something sickly spicy assaulted my nose and I sneezed, waking the conriocht.

He made a sound like a growling bear and woke up like a frightened squirrel. He twisted his head and saw me sitting in front of him. My ears perked and I cocked my head to the side as I considered him.

“Holy shit!” he yelped and sprang back, hitting his head on the rock of what had been the opening of my little den. He hissed and rubbed his head, scooting back with his eyes on me. They were honey brown, like his wolf’s had been.

I whimpered and lowered my head down onto my forepaws, looking up at him. I didn’t want to scare him further.

His eyes darted around like a prey animal in search of the hunter. Finally, his eyes fell on me and he licked his lips. “Nice doggy,” he said, holding his hand tentatively out to me. “Those are some pretty blue eyes. You part husky?”

His voice was gentle and nervous, but his words offended me. I sat up and pulled my ears back, giving him a nice growl.

He sat back down and held up both hands. “Okay, okay, not a husky. I get it. Nice wolf?” he asked. I stopped my snarl and recomposed myself, sitting tall.

He looked around the small den and then back at me and cleared his throat. “Uh, whatever happened last night wasn’t me, okay?” His skin started to change color. It was intriguing. I had seen lizards do the same thing but they usually turned brown or green, not red. I wasn’t aware that humans had the same ability, and I wondered why he did it. I had never experienced such a change in my woman-form. Perhaps I did not share the ability.

I will admit to a small amount of satisfaction that he seemed to be the one who was frightened this time, and not the other way around.

I moved away from the entrance and let him stand, since he seemed be looking for a way of escape. Following me out, he stood up in the sunlight and looked around. “Damn it,” he whispered. “How am I supposed to get back to the road? Didn’t think about this part…” For a moment I thought he was talking to me, but then I realized that he was speaking to himself. His voice went a pitch higher. “‘Let’s drop you off at the nature preserve, nobody will be there! You’ll have plenty of woods to run in before you see a single person!’” He tripped a bit over the fallen ivy and hissed something that I couldn’t understand. “Great idea, Ryan!” he said sarcastically once he regained his balance.

I stepped over to him and tried to take his wrist in my mouth. I planned to lead him to the black river where his things were. “Woah, what do you think you’re doing?” he yelped, pulling his hand back and holding it to his chest. I whined and took a few steps in the direction that I wanted to go and let out a small bark. I’m not a dog, but he was familiar with the concept. I met a dog once, and all he did was bark and whine. It was very annoying, and I found him to be extremely rude.

The conriocht took the hint and followed me. “What is it, Lassie? Timmy fell down the well?” he asked.

I stopped and looked at him inquisitively. Perhaps becoming cursed rendered one insane as well. He shook his head and laughed. “Do you know the way back to the road? Is that where you are taking me?” I gave him another small bark. “Okay, sorry. Lead the way, Ivy.” I whimpered and sat down, cocking my head to the side. He named me? “You smell like ivy, okay?” he defended himself. I had a name, Cana, but since I could not convey that to him in words he would understand, I let it slide.

It wasn’t a log walk through the woods before we found the place near the black river, or the road as the conriocht called it, where the colorful skins had been left. I could see a silver glint through the trees, and it drew my wary attention. It was one of those shiny monsters, only this one stood still. Another man stood behind it and called out from the road.

“Hey, Rick! Where you been, man? I don’t have all day to stand here waiting on werewolves, you know.”

The conriocht -or what did the other call him? Rick? – picked up the skins and examined them. “Shut up and just bring me the bag. My old clothes are ruined.”

I heard the other man open the monster. I took the opportunity to hide.

“I’m impressed you managed to find them. I had a thought after I dropped you off last night that you might get lost out here. So, how did your first night as a werewolf go?”

Rick snarled. “Could you please stop saying that word?” He reached into the bag and pulled out a new set of… clothes. I watched him pull them on in fascination. It answered my question of how he could stand having so little fur. “And I don’t remember,” he continued answering. “I probably did some things that I would’ve regretted this morning if I had remembered them. Plus, I think I might have eaten something.”

“Man, that’s just gross,” his friend laughed.

Rick looked around. “Did you see a wolf around here?”

The other shook his head. “You mean besides you? No. Why?”

He sighed. “Nothing, let’s go.”

They left, and I watched from the woods. This was not the last that I would see of Rick the Werewolf. I felt it in my soul.

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