a060147
Aspiring writer specializing in erotica, somewhat.
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
Challenge of the Week #61: Write a piece of flash fiction about rejection. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $100. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by a060147

death of a private

"But I'm still here," she muses, her voice barely a rasp. The shot glass rolls dangerously close to the edge of the table, but she sets it upright before it can shatter onto the wood. Drunk, but not too drunk. Not drunk enough to go beyond her limits. I watch quietly as she closes a little more into herself, places her head in her hands. Sighs. And then she's leveling me with a gaze I hadn't expected to be so sharp, muttering over the hum of the bar, and I find myself leaning in to make out the words.

"That book," she repeats, louder this time. There's enough irritation in her tone to root me to the spot. "The one about the apocalypse. You still have it, don't you?"

I'm not sure what she's talking about, but I nod anyway. She crinkles her nose.

"You know what I'm talking about, private. That book, that stupid, science fiction or whatever you call it --" She trails off, throwing her hands in the air, and I wish I'd actually said something. Made something up, maybe, just to do something other than try to comfort her. The liquor hasn't slurred her words yet, but it's getting there. "You know what? I don't know. Just thought you'd want to go on and on about it like you usually do. Be a hell of a lot better than the bullshit we've been through."

There's another glass in front of her suddenly, and she wraps her fingers around it before I can reach. Doesn't knock it back like she'd done to the first five, though, just sort of cradles it as she stares into the amber liquid. Wordless. The bloodstains on her uniform have long dried, the gashes on her neck just barely forming a raw pink -- but the expression on her face is the same as it had been that day. Except that she's not frozen in horror, covered in her squadron's remains, and there is no bomb, no ambush, no wound. I'm the one dragging her to the medics -- but not the one who made it out -- and there is no novel clutched to her chest as she panics uselessly, too delirious by the blood loss. The doctors had taken it away the moment they sedated her. All for the best, of course. It was probably too bloodstained to read anymore.

She smiles mirthlessly, righting the medals at her breast. "Almost as if I were rejected by death himself," she says, flat-voiced. Cold. "That was the last line, wasn't it? You were -- you were reading off the last page, I told you to shut up, and you told me you'd always keep your promise. That you'd never let anything happen to me, ever, and I --"

She pauses. Thinks for a moment. But she knows, and I know, and my hand passes through hers as easily as air.

I'm still here, she wants to say. Shouldn't you be, too?

12
3
11
Juice
55 reads
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
Challenge of the Week #61: Write a piece of flash fiction about rejection. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $100. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by a060147
death of a private
"But I'm still here," she muses, her voice barely a rasp. The shot glass rolls dangerously close to the edge of the table, but she sets it upright before it can shatter onto the wood. Drunk, but not too drunk. Not drunk enough to go beyond her limits. I watch quietly as she closes a little more into herself, places her head in her hands. Sighs. And then she's leveling me with a gaze I hadn't expected to be so sharp, muttering over the hum of the bar, and I find myself leaning in to make out the words.

"That book," she repeats, louder this time. There's enough irritation in her tone to root me to the spot. "The one about the apocalypse. You still have it, don't you?"

I'm not sure what she's talking about, but I nod anyway. She crinkles her nose.

"You know what I'm talking about, private. That book, that stupid, science fiction or whatever you call it --" She trails off, throwing her hands in the air, and I wish I'd actually said something. Made something up, maybe, just to do something other than try to comfort her. The liquor hasn't slurred her words yet, but it's getting there. "You know what? I don't know. Just thought you'd want to go on and on about it like you usually do. Be a hell of a lot better than the bullshit we've been through."

There's another glass in front of her suddenly, and she wraps her fingers around it before I can reach. Doesn't knock it back like she'd done to the first five, though, just sort of cradles it as she stares into the amber liquid. Wordless. The bloodstains on her uniform have long dried, the gashes on her neck just barely forming a raw pink -- but the expression on her face is the same as it had been that day. Except that she's not frozen in horror, covered in her squadron's remains, and there is no bomb, no ambush, no wound. I'm the one dragging her to the medics -- but not the one who made it out -- and there is no novel clutched to her chest as she panics uselessly, too delirious by the blood loss. The doctors had taken it away the moment they sedated her. All for the best, of course. It was probably too bloodstained to read anymore.

She smiles mirthlessly, righting the medals at her breast. "Almost as if I were rejected by death himself," she says, flat-voiced. Cold. "That was the last line, wasn't it? You were -- you were reading off the last page, I told you to shut up, and you told me you'd always keep your promise. That you'd never let anything happen to me, ever, and I --"

She pauses. Thinks for a moment. But she knows, and I know, and my hand passes through hers as easily as air.

I'm still here, she wants to say. Shouldn't you be, too?
#fiction  #romance  #prosechallenge 
12
3
11
Juice
55 reads
Load 11 Comments
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
Challenge of the Week #60: You have just discovered a new lifeform. Write a story of 200 words or more. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $100. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by a060147

the boy in the glass

I meet him on a Sunday -- summer vacation, quarter after eleven, nearing lunchtime -- surrounded by people and things who don't really matter at all. Shouldn't, anyway, not with my mother acting as the lead director of the facility's new program. There are exactly three starkly dressed men in the room right now, all bearing lab coats, identification badges, and the tendency to speak over one another, and with their discussion steadily reducing itself to a heated, nearly incoherent squabble, my ability to pay attention has already excused itself several minutes ago. I find myself staring at the perfectly monochromatic linoleum instead, counting the outlined squares, then at the perfectly bare walls, then at the scuffed edge of an oxford shoe bearing one too many scratches to be in good condition. Then the shoe is speaking to me, and I'm looking up and into the disapproving gaze of one of the lab workers. The urge to slap him for his disrespect rises so quickly that my fingers twitch. I don't, of course. Mother had pulled me out of my activities for the day to show me her newest endeavor, and pleasing her remains priority over all else. Knocking one of her trusted scientists unconscious, possibly putting my own image in bad light in spite of this step out of line -- no, that wouldn't sit well at all. So I stare back with the wide-eyed, innocuous gaze I've adopted just for bastards like these. Hold my tongue. He doesn't bite, not fully, but he hesitates a bit and begins to speak in that professional, level tone again, reiterating.

"He's a feisty one, this boy," he explains, pushing up the bridge of his spectacles. "Lacks obedience. Difficult to handle. He is intelligent, though, and possesses a grasp of language and abstract logic like we haven't experienced so far -- but I'm sure that's what you're here for."

And I'm not sure exactly what that is. I don't deign to ask this underling the obvious, though, and instead opt to raise a brow in confusion. Give a blank, questioning stare over the edges of my own wire-rimmed glasses. He almost returns the stare, as if it had been my fault for not listening in the first place -- before the taller, lankier of the trio steps in front of him, placing a hand on his shoulder. It's difficult not to smirk at the sharp look he chances at him.

"If I may, Miss Fujino," the taller man addresses correctly and formally this time, "would you have your attention directed to your left?"

I turn.

And then become completely and utterly clear on the task at hand.

As the first on a long, long list of anomalies, the boy is encased in glass. In a tank, actually, with countless tubes connecting to both him and various apparatuses scattered about, unknown monitors tracking unknown conditions. He's a small, delicate little thing -- no taller than I stand, probably, with slender hips and shoulders and limbs -- and the considerable size of the tank itself dwarfs him to the likeness of a child. He's albino, of course. All the results of the program are. But he's the first one I've ever seen with such androgynous, youthful features that I can't help but be thrown off by the pretty lips and pretty eyes, the thick, thick lashes fluttering gently over rounded cheekbones. As if he'd been pulled from some fairy tale storybook, almost. As if he were some gentle, benign prince draped in gold and finery instead of breathing apparatuses and electrodes. The short, undeveloped feathers of his budding wings flicker occasionally in time with his breathing; the tips of his fingers quiver as if he's been caught dreaming. Then it's his eyelids that are quivering, slowly but surely, and I find myself staring into the cloudiest, most opaque set of rosy irises I've ever seen. Willed into stillness. He's just like --

"An angel, isn't he? I thought you'd like to see our newest success in splicing."

The proximity of the voice behind me startles me out of my reverie, forcing me to tear my gaze away from the creature -- and to eye-level buttons on a perfectly pressed, perfectly white blouse. My mother. My mother had come to see me, me of all people, instead of letting her secretaries inform her how this briefing had progressed with her daughter. There's a smile on my face before I can stop myself; I try to think of a phrase to best express my understanding and interest in my newest task.

But the short, bespectacled underling is on her before I can speak, and my fingers are twitching again. He taps his cheap shoes against the linoleum excitedly as he does so. "Director Fujino, what a pleasant surprise! What brings you here today?"

My mother allows his nearly shit-eating grin a dismissive glance before acknowledging me. Small nod, slight hum escaping her lips. I feel like I'm going to burst. She turns towards the taller man as he whispers something in her ear, makes a sound of approval, then leans so closely in my direction that we're nearly face-to-face, eye-to-eye. Begins speaking in that low, level tone I've only ever heard her use with her colleagues, and says, "Lucy, do you know why I brought you here today? Do you know why I've decided to show you, out of all my colleagues and partners, this subject? Why I've trusted you with this? Tell me what you think of it, Lucy."

She's talking directly to me. She's talking directly to me. The three squabbling scientists and stark walls and floors are gone, suddenly, as is the beautiful, winged subject in the tank. She wants to know the answers to exactly three distinct questions, all imperative to the program, and she's going to listen to me directly as I answer them. As I explain my role in this task in the most knowledgeable, most appropriate answer possible.

"I-I'm going to monitor the development of subject 0049. This high-functioning subhuman will be under my responsibility until the duration of the experiment expires. Until then --" I take a quick breath to stop my heart from jumping out of my chest," -- I will do everything in my power to ensure the progression of the subject's mental and physical capabilities, no matter the cost."

"And?"

And? I think quickly, studying her features.

"And -- and because I am the most controlled and least likely of all possible participants to produce lurking variables, I am the best suited for this task."

She frowns a little at this -- that half quirk of a lower lip lasting for only half a second -- before setting her smile again, nodding. I've made a mistake somewhere, I know. Probably should've commented on the immaculate state of the subject, the methods in which I would explore the subject's psyche and capabilities. Anything but that too simple cop-out of an answer. Too late now. She's already turned to leave, the room and squabbling scientists and tank returning to their rightful places; within moments the taller man is briefing me about the experiment in short, informative statements, tapping his pen against the clipboard. The man with cheap shoes has spared enough glances between me and the subject to be grating. I listen to the click of her heels as she leaves the room, exits the hall, and places the world right back where it should be in her absence.

At the end of the day, I'm alone again. My mother's decision to include me in her newest developmental project has been categorized as an internship under my university; the details are already neatly filed away. So I wouldn't have had a choice in the matter, anyway. Not that I ever would decide against it. The boy sits across from me in his tank, watching me curiously as I divide the paperwork into manageable sections. Stares with unfocused, rosy eyes as he taps the glass every so often. I'm not even sure if he's aware that he's under my care at the moment, if he had even heard anything of the conversation -- but he's supposed to be the best and the brightest of all the spliced subhumans, so I imagine he's understood at least a few things. He's a pretty, lovely little thing to look at, at least. My mother would appreciate the mint condition of his appearance at the end of the trial. The sound of a heavier, harder tap catches my attention for a moment, and I glance back to see the boy resting his palm against the glass, looking at me expectantly. A greeting of some sort, I suppose.

So he'd already figured out more than a few nuances in human body language. I can see why my mother had thought him so impressive.

I press my fingers in a reflection against his, immediately scouring his small frame and features for any sort of response. Pause. He studies me, grins, and mouths inaudibly but unmistakably:

Hello. How are you today?

8
1
2
Juice
96 reads
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
Challenge of the Week #60: You have just discovered a new lifeform. Write a story of 200 words or more. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $100. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by a060147
the boy in the glass
I meet him on a Sunday -- summer vacation, quarter after eleven, nearing lunchtime -- surrounded by people and things who don't really matter at all. Shouldn't, anyway, not with my mother acting as the lead director of the facility's new program. There are exactly three starkly dressed men in the room right now, all bearing lab coats, identification badges, and the tendency to speak over one another, and with their discussion steadily reducing itself to a heated, nearly incoherent squabble, my ability to pay attention has already excused itself several minutes ago. I find myself staring at the perfectly monochromatic linoleum instead, counting the outlined squares, then at the perfectly bare walls, then at the scuffed edge of an oxford shoe bearing one too many scratches to be in good condition. Then the shoe is speaking to me, and I'm looking up and into the disapproving gaze of one of the lab workers. The urge to slap him for his disrespect rises so quickly that my fingers twitch. I don't, of course. Mother had pulled me out of my activities for the day to show me her newest endeavor, and pleasing her remains priority over all else. Knocking one of her trusted scientists unconscious, possibly putting my own image in bad light in spite of this step out of line -- no, that wouldn't sit well at all. So I stare back with the wide-eyed, innocuous gaze I've adopted just for bastards like these. Hold my tongue. He doesn't bite, not fully, but he hesitates a bit and begins to speak in that professional, level tone again, reiterating.

"He's a feisty one, this boy," he explains, pushing up the bridge of his spectacles. "Lacks obedience. Difficult to handle. He is intelligent, though, and possesses a grasp of language and abstract logic like we haven't experienced so far -- but I'm sure that's what you're here for."

And I'm not sure exactly what that is. I don't deign to ask this underling the obvious, though, and instead opt to raise a brow in confusion. Give a blank, questioning stare over the edges of my own wire-rimmed glasses. He almost returns the stare, as if it had been my fault for not listening in the first place -- before the taller, lankier of the trio steps in front of him, placing a hand on his shoulder. It's difficult not to smirk at the sharp look he chances at him.

"If I may, Miss Fujino," the taller man addresses correctly and formally this time, "would you have your attention directed to your left?"

I turn.

And then become completely and utterly clear on the task at hand.

As the first on a long, long list of anomalies, the boy is encased in glass. In a tank, actually, with countless tubes connecting to both him and various apparatuses scattered about, unknown monitors tracking unknown conditions. He's a small, delicate little thing -- no taller than I stand, probably, with slender hips and shoulders and limbs -- and the considerable size of the tank itself dwarfs him to the likeness of a child. He's albino, of course. All the results of the program are. But he's the first one I've ever seen with such androgynous, youthful features that I can't help but be thrown off by the pretty lips and pretty eyes, the thick, thick lashes fluttering gently over rounded cheekbones. As if he'd been pulled from some fairy tale storybook, almost. As if he were some gentle, benign prince draped in gold and finery instead of breathing apparatuses and electrodes. The short, undeveloped feathers of his budding wings flicker occasionally in time with his breathing; the tips of his fingers quiver as if he's been caught dreaming. Then it's his eyelids that are quivering, slowly but surely, and I find myself staring into the cloudiest, most opaque set of rosy irises I've ever seen. Willed into stillness. He's just like --

"An angel, isn't he? I thought you'd like to see our newest success in splicing."

The proximity of the voice behind me startles me out of my reverie, forcing me to tear my gaze away from the creature -- and to eye-level buttons on a perfectly pressed, perfectly white blouse. My mother. My mother had come to see me, me of all people, instead of letting her secretaries inform her how this briefing had progressed with her daughter. There's a smile on my face before I can stop myself; I try to think of a phrase to best express my understanding and interest in my newest task.

But the short, bespectacled underling is on her before I can speak, and my fingers are twitching again. He taps his cheap shoes against the linoleum excitedly as he does so. "Director Fujino, what a pleasant surprise! What brings you here today?"

My mother allows his nearly shit-eating grin a dismissive glance before acknowledging me. Small nod, slight hum escaping her lips. I feel like I'm going to burst. She turns towards the taller man as he whispers something in her ear, makes a sound of approval, then leans so closely in my direction that we're nearly face-to-face, eye-to-eye. Begins speaking in that low, level tone I've only ever heard her use with her colleagues, and says, "Lucy, do you know why I brought you here today? Do you know why I've decided to show you, out of all my colleagues and partners, this subject? Why I've trusted you with this? Tell me what you think of it, Lucy."

She's talking directly to me. She's talking directly to me. The three squabbling scientists and stark walls and floors are gone, suddenly, as is the beautiful, winged subject in the tank. She wants to know the answers to exactly three distinct questions, all imperative to the program, and she's going to listen to me directly as I answer them. As I explain my role in this task in the most knowledgeable, most appropriate answer possible.

"I-I'm going to monitor the development of subject 0049. This high-functioning subhuman will be under my responsibility until the duration of the experiment expires. Until then --" I take a quick breath to stop my heart from jumping out of my chest," -- I will do everything in my power to ensure the progression of the subject's mental and physical capabilities, no matter the cost."

"And?"

And? I think quickly, studying her features.

"And -- and because I am the most controlled and least likely of all possible participants to produce lurking variables, I am the best suited for this task."

She frowns a little at this -- that half quirk of a lower lip lasting for only half a second -- before setting her smile again, nodding. I've made a mistake somewhere, I know. Probably should've commented on the immaculate state of the subject, the methods in which I would explore the subject's psyche and capabilities. Anything but that too simple cop-out of an answer. Too late now. She's already turned to leave, the room and squabbling scientists and tank returning to their rightful places; within moments the taller man is briefing me about the experiment in short, informative statements, tapping his pen against the clipboard. The man with cheap shoes has spared enough glances between me and the subject to be grating. I listen to the click of her heels as she leaves the room, exits the hall, and places the world right back where it should be in her absence.

At the end of the day, I'm alone again. My mother's decision to include me in her newest developmental project has been categorized as an internship under my university; the details are already neatly filed away. So I wouldn't have had a choice in the matter, anyway. Not that I ever would decide against it. The boy sits across from me in his tank, watching me curiously as I divide the paperwork into manageable sections. Stares with unfocused, rosy eyes as he taps the glass every so often. I'm not even sure if he's aware that he's under my care at the moment, if he had even heard anything of the conversation -- but he's supposed to be the best and the brightest of all the spliced subhumans, so I imagine he's understood at least a few things. He's a pretty, lovely little thing to look at, at least. My mother would appreciate the mint condition of his appearance at the end of the trial. The sound of a heavier, harder tap catches my attention for a moment, and I glance back to see the boy resting his palm against the glass, looking at me expectantly. A greeting of some sort, I suppose.

So he'd already figured out more than a few nuances in human body language. I can see why my mother had thought him so impressive.

I press my fingers in a reflection against his, immediately scouring his small frame and features for any sort of response. Pause. He studies me, grins, and mouths inaudibly but unmistakably:

Hello. How are you today?
#fantasy  #scifi  #fiction 
8
1
2
Juice
96 reads
Load 2 Comments
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
You've been told by your father that he will ask you to die a painful humiliating death in 40 days from today, but the choice is up to you. How does that make you feel. 150 coins to the most philosophically significant non-rhyming entry.
Written by a060147

eloping of a consort

The women here are not women. The women here are neither the hawking street vendors of the square nor the humble farmers of the countryside, as we have neither mouths nor fingers to fill either of those roles. We ornamented, dainty, useless things -- the blue bloods, the royals, the valued -- are too easily auctioned off for the sake of marriage, our virgin bodies held high on pedestals. And so I married young. Loveless. Kept my gaze forever downcast until I found a curious, bespectacled one staring right back at me.

My father, standing over us in the aftermath of my undoing, asked if I was prepared to face the consequences. If I felt vaguely ashamed over the sin. Window behind me already cracked, carriage outside, I nodded.

1
0
1
Juice
12 reads
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
You've been told by your father that he will ask you to die a painful humiliating death in 40 days from today, but the choice is up to you. How does that make you feel. 150 coins to the most philosophically significant non-rhyming entry.
Written by a060147
eloping of a consort
The women here are not women. The women here are neither the hawking street vendors of the square nor the humble farmers of the countryside, as we have neither mouths nor fingers to fill either of those roles. We ornamented, dainty, useless things -- the blue bloods, the royals, the valued -- are too easily auctioned off for the sake of marriage, our virgin bodies held high on pedestals. And so I married young. Loveless. Kept my gaze forever downcast until I found a curious, bespectacled one staring right back at me.

My father, standing over us in the aftermath of my undoing, asked if I was prepared to face the consequences. If I felt vaguely ashamed over the sin. Window behind me already cracked, carriage outside, I nodded.
#fantasy  #fiction  #romance 
1
0
1
Juice
12 reads
Load 1 Comment
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
If you could give anything to someone you care about or to who you think deserves it, what would it give them and why did you choose that particular person?
Written by a060147 in portal Stream of Consciousness

punch-drunk

i.

I breathe, dazed. Still punch-drunk in the aftermath. The couch allows little give as I push up and away from it unsteadily, leveling the bare shoulders of my professor as he turns away from me, silent. I'd left one too many marks on them probably -- though that could easily be dismissed by the rhythm he'd chosen -- and already I can see the beginnings of a bruise forming near the nape of his neck, the scratches fresh against the dark skin. Then they're not bare anymore, disguised by the crisp white of his button-up and stiff collar, and I find myself staring instead at the seamless silhouette of his wide back in the dim light. Shadowed. His belt clicks audibly as he secures it; the binder of unused notes that he'd brought complains a little as he gives it a quick flip-through, even though we both know we hadn't bothered to take anything out of it in the first place. Habit, I suppose. I'm wondering what I must look like to him right now, unraveled and undone in a way he'd never seen me before -- and then I'm realizing, too suddenly, that he's looking at me over his shoulder with an expression I can't recognize. Not on him, at least. But I figure that the both of us hadn't expected anything of the past hour to actually happen.

He opens his mouth. Pauses. Begins another breath before pausing again, unsure of what to say. The binder seems like it's the only thing anchoring him to the floor, keeping him from running. Not that I'd be able to chase him, anyway, but that's beside the point. I'm not sure what he's thinking. He lingers around the door, grazing the knob with his knuckles, before looking me in the eyes fully for the first time since the act.

"I'm sorry," he says finally. It's the same manner he uses to address unfamiliar or uncooperative students, and I feel a strange sense of disappointment in his choice of tone.

The door shuts quietly behind him.

ii.

We pass each other at least five times over the next few days: him hurrying to whatever meeting or lecture hall in his casual, expensive shoes, me trekking by in my similarly everyday, costly wheelchair. It's a little easier to feign normalcy this way, with both of us either too awkward or too tongue-tied to say much of anything, and that's okay. A little more than okay, actually, considering the decade-long age gap and our deathly shy demeanors. When I think about it, really analyze what had happened that night, I can't  put together the order of events logically without adding some sort of outside explanation. I'd fallen out of my chair and nearly knocked myself unconscious, for one, when I should've been on my way for tutoring in the library. Two, after I hadn't shown up at our usual table for at least thirty minutes, my professor asked someone where I was and ended up wandering around, searching. Until he figured I was in my apartment, of course. Three, he found me crumpled on the ground next to my desk, confused, and had tried to leave me on the couch and ask for help when suddenly I'd kissed him, hard, and he'd kissed me back and I was pulling him down with me and I was wondering if this was real, if this was happening, because there was no way on earth my bookish, bashful professor would ever want to --

I sigh, burying my face in my hands. I'd kissed him because I'd wanted to, because I thought I was still dreaming, and he'd kissed me back out of ... politeness? As an expected reaction? Then I'd realized that he actually was real, and when I tried to apologize he was already closing the distance between my mouth and his again, clumsy but passionate. Gentle and genuine and fervent, all at once. His knee had accidentally brushed between my thighs at that moment, I'd -- I'd actually let out a moan against his ear, and suddenly the heat building up in my chest was unbearable beyond anything I'd ever imagined, was unthinkably encompassing and warm and too, too much to ignore. I'd begged, and he stopped being gentle.

Similarly, at least five times over the next few days, I pretend that the traces of warmth against my lips and thighs are as recent as they had been the other night.

iii.

My voice almost catches in my throat when I mutter: "I wanted it, you know."

He's staring at me as if I just punched him. I might as well have. With twenty minutes of our hour-long tutoring session having passed in near total silence, it's easy enough to know what he's thinking now. He's wondering if it was a mistake, fucking a student like this in circumstances like that. He's wondering if I was completely willing or able, if I'd wanted this for a while or if it was spontaneous, if I regret anything that happened. Worrying, too, if our long-term friendship can take a blow like that without falling to pieces, or if we'd be better off never acknowledging the night ever again. The pen sits still in his hand, still bleeding onto the index card, and I swallow the rest of my hesitation before it can resurface.

"And I wanted to say thank you, too, for that. For -- for helping me, I mean." I correct myself quickly, forcing down the urge to stammer. Slide the note across the table as nonchalantly as I can. "If I ever need any assistance again, I'll text."

He grins at that, looking relieved, and the expression is so familiar that I can't help but return it. I can read him again. Are you sure? he wants to ask. Have you thought about this? Do you know what this means?

He opens his mouth to speak. I nod before he can.

10
4
3
Juice
58 reads
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
If you could give anything to someone you care about or to who you think deserves it, what would it give them and why did you choose that particular person?
Written by a060147 in portal Stream of Consciousness
punch-drunk
i.

I breathe, dazed. Still punch-drunk in the aftermath. The couch allows little give as I push up and away from it unsteadily, leveling the bare shoulders of my professor as he turns away from me, silent. I'd left one too many marks on them probably -- though that could easily be dismissed by the rhythm he'd chosen -- and already I can see the beginnings of a bruise forming near the nape of his neck, the scratches fresh against the dark skin. Then they're not bare anymore, disguised by the crisp white of his button-up and stiff collar, and I find myself staring instead at the seamless silhouette of his wide back in the dim light. Shadowed. His belt clicks audibly as he secures it; the binder of unused notes that he'd brought complains a little as he gives it a quick flip-through, even though we both know we hadn't bothered to take anything out of it in the first place. Habit, I suppose. I'm wondering what I must look like to him right now, unraveled and undone in a way he'd never seen me before -- and then I'm realizing, too suddenly, that he's looking at me over his shoulder with an expression I can't recognize. Not on him, at least. But I figure that the both of us hadn't expected anything of the past hour to actually happen.

He opens his mouth. Pauses. Begins another breath before pausing again, unsure of what to say. The binder seems like it's the only thing anchoring him to the floor, keeping him from running. Not that I'd be able to chase him, anyway, but that's beside the point. I'm not sure what he's thinking. He lingers around the door, grazing the knob with his knuckles, before looking me in the eyes fully for the first time since the act.

"I'm sorry," he says finally. It's the same manner he uses to address unfamiliar or uncooperative students, and I feel a strange sense of disappointment in his choice of tone.

The door shuts quietly behind him.

ii.

We pass each other at least five times over the next few days: him hurrying to whatever meeting or lecture hall in his casual, expensive shoes, me trekking by in my similarly everyday, costly wheelchair. It's a little easier to feign normalcy this way, with both of us either too awkward or too tongue-tied to say much of anything, and that's okay. A little more than okay, actually, considering the decade-long age gap and our deathly shy demeanors. When I think about it, really analyze what had happened that night, I can't  put together the order of events logically without adding some sort of outside explanation. I'd fallen out of my chair and nearly knocked myself unconscious, for one, when I should've been on my way for tutoring in the library. Two, after I hadn't shown up at our usual table for at least thirty minutes, my professor asked someone where I was and ended up wandering around, searching. Until he figured I was in my apartment, of course. Three, he found me crumpled on the ground next to my desk, confused, and had tried to leave me on the couch and ask for help when suddenly I'd kissed him, hard, and he'd kissed me back and I was pulling him down with me and I was wondering if this was real, if this was happening, because there was no way on earth my bookish, bashful professor would ever want to --

I sigh, burying my face in my hands. I'd kissed him because I'd wanted to, because I thought I was still dreaming, and he'd kissed me back out of ... politeness? As an expected reaction? Then I'd realized that he actually was real, and when I tried to apologize he was already closing the distance between my mouth and his again, clumsy but passionate. Gentle and genuine and fervent, all at once. His knee had accidentally brushed between my thighs at that moment, I'd -- I'd actually let out a moan against his ear, and suddenly the heat building up in my chest was unbearable beyond anything I'd ever imagined, was unthinkably encompassing and warm and too, too much to ignore. I'd begged, and he stopped being gentle.

Similarly, at least five times over the next few days, I pretend that the traces of warmth against my lips and thighs are as recent as they had been the other night.

iii.

My voice almost catches in my throat when I mutter: "I wanted it, you know."

He's staring at me as if I just punched him. I might as well have. With twenty minutes of our hour-long tutoring session having passed in near total silence, it's easy enough to know what he's thinking now. He's wondering if it was a mistake, fucking a student like this in circumstances like that. He's wondering if I was completely willing or able, if I'd wanted this for a while or if it was spontaneous, if I regret anything that happened. Worrying, too, if our long-term friendship can take a blow like that without falling to pieces, or if we'd be better off never acknowledging the night ever again. The pen sits still in his hand, still bleeding onto the index card, and I swallow the rest of my hesitation before it can resurface.

"And I wanted to say thank you, too, for that. For -- for helping me, I mean." I correct myself quickly, forcing down the urge to stammer. Slide the note across the table as nonchalantly as I can. "If I ever need any assistance again, I'll text."

He grins at that, looking relieved, and the expression is so familiar that I can't help but return it. I can read him again. Are you sure? he wants to ask. Have you thought about this? Do you know what this means?

He opens his mouth to speak. I nod before he can.
#fiction  #romance 
10
4
3
Juice
58 reads
Load 3 Comments
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
In celebration of the March 28 release of my latest book, FROM ICE TO ASHES (about the birth of a rebellion on Saturn's moon Titan), I'm putting this challenge forth. Tell a story of a rebellion against Earth by an offworld colony. The person whose story moves me most gets digital copies of every scifi book I've ever published. I'll also do a thorough critique of a short story for the winner. Two runners-up get digital copies of FROM ICE TO ASHES. Visit www.rhettbruno.com for more info.
Written by a060147 in portal Sci-Fi

december 25, 20XX

i. december 1, 20XX

It's quiet here, most of the time. Peaceful. Even in the later hours of the afternoon there exists only the occasional shuffle and murmur of my fellow guardsman -- each repetition becoming less and less coherent as the night falls -- and more often than not, I find myself nodding only out of habit rather than understanding. Murmur. Nod. Murmur. Nod. A loud sip of coffee, and a reciprocating nod before I can stop myself. Here, in this barren, monochromatic, endless stretch of tundra, there exists only the shifting skies and routine patrols to look forward to. And then there are, of course, the monthly rations and supplies sent by the empire, the red and yellow sleds emblazoning themselves shamelessly against the snow. I would imagine the whole outpost to be nearly colorless without them. Noiseless, too. It is said too often that the lack of nearby cities or centers -- or much of anything, for that matter -- stagnate the hearts and mouths of the men and women here, leave the recruits of our outpost wordless, and dissipate the pleasures of food and drink and company as quickly as the influxes of new faces. This, I cannot disagree with. We of the forty-fourth outpost are a humbled and needed people, a refuge to those unable to go directly to the front lines or remain useless at home, and I cannot blame the less conversational of us for being so.

The canteen of coffee sits cold between my thinly gloved fingers, the warmth of its contents having long lost themselves to the frigid air. I shiver, almost reaching for the note tucked into my breast -- before casting a quick, cautious glance to the man seated adjacent to my post.

He hasn't seen anything. Or if he has, he either hasn't bothered to say anything about it or hasn't deemed it important. There are still strict uniform policies here, after all, in spite of the general laxness. While we lookouts are offered greater freedom in selecting our outerwear in comparison to the other officers -- as evidenced by this redheaded man's similarly colored scarf and gloves -- the prohibition of free floating and hidden objects beneath our uniforms still applies, as do the punishments and confiscations to go along with them. And my partner, this lanky, freckled, mumbling apology of a man, would no doubt submit to them before I could ever have the chance to keep the note. Couldn't risk that. He's staring forward at the moment, brilliant scarf masking the freckled nose and cheeks beneath the material, and I sigh inaudibly.

It takes me a moment to realize he's actually speaking.

"Sorry, I wasn't paying attention." I apologize quickly, leaning a little closer in his direction. "Could you repeat that?"

I can almost see the beginnings of his temples blend into the scarf. He stammers incomprehensibly for the briefest of seconds, eyes hesitantly darting between mine and his pockets at least four times, before finally removing his hands from his person and gesturing towards me. An offer of some sort. I shake my head, not quite understanding. He glances down again. Another moment or two of contemplation -- or embarrassment, at this point it could be nearly anything -- and he pulls off the thick crimson pair of gloves, pushes the extra wool away from his mouth. The lined fabric presses warmly against my fingers.

He smiles sheepishly, unsure of what to say. "Y-you, um --" He coughs a little. Clears his throat a little unsuccessfully before beginning again. "You looked cold," he admits, using a free hand to play with the edge of his scarf. "I-I didn't want you to be."

He stares expectantly at me, in equal parts of both nervousness and shyness. I stare back, albeit out of surprise at having heard his voice for the first time. My smaller hands slide perfectly into the thicker gloves, welcoming the transferred heat, and I return his bashful smile with one of my own. His freckles nearly glow at that.

I realize that this young man should have a name.

ii. december 12, 20XX

His friends would call him Rudy, if he had friends. For the most part, the officers around here call him Rodrick, "boy", and "you over there", and that works just as fine. He's actually only several years younger than I am in spite of his appearance, having just turned twenty in the past month, and he's so embarrassed by his thick, sing-song accent among the northerners at the base that he finds it easier to remain silent. The stammer is more of a nervous habit. And with him standing nearly a head taller than I do, the physical aspects of our record-keeping and shelving duties have never been easier. He tells me twice over breakfast that I've been the first to talk to him so familiarly at the base -- the first to actually tell me, the second to try to correct the statement -- and his youthful self-consciousness is so refreshing that I can't help but laugh into my coffee. He's a good kid. Big family, no money, almost no schooling, but with a decent upbringing. Rudy has two brothers and three sisters to take care of when he gets sent back, and when he gets his paycheck after the four-year contract, he says he'll use it to put the youngest, Ruby, through college. The stammer disappears when he talks about them. We sit so long at the table that the porridge goes cold.

He asks, one day, if I have anyone waiting for me back home.

I can feel the note nearly throbbing against my chest. His cheeks are a little more flushed than usual today at our post, the frosty air kissing our exposed skin with each gust of wind, and I register too late than I've been staring at him longer than necessary. A second or two too long, a moment's give into what could or should be the answer. Rudy glances away almost immediately, features indiscernible. Mutters an apology to hang in the space between us. And then there's the question tugging at the edge of my mind -- if I really do or don't have anyone waiting for me, if the note should mean much of anything out here, if deciding to reciprocate the contents of the note at all should change how I answer this young man's question -- and again I'm reaching for the slip of paper tucked into my breast, wondering. If Rudy notices, he doesn't mention it. I let the question slip into the gust of wind, give a small chuckle, and tell him that I don't, not really.

The relief on his face is genuine. I spend the next two shifts describing the floating spires and sky-bridges of my home city -- pushing away the memories of dark-haired men and letters, crowded trains and old, hand-me-down rings -- and keep Rudy preoccupied enough not to ask anything further. Not to engross my thoughts with anything more than what matters, anything more than our civic duties at the base to protect the empire. The imminent war is priority, I'm aware. The complexities of relationships could be handled later.

I tell myself this more often than I should.

iii. december 17, 20XX

The pen sits too heavy between my fingers, at times. I twist the ring over and over again in the light as I stare at the creamy page, still blank. Still unmarred with what would surely be scribbled and crossed-out lines of apologies and explanations alike. I'd planned exactly one hour to write at least half a page, another thirty minutes afterwards for editing, and all I could come up with were flimsy, dismissive excuses for why I hadn't replied in weeks. My skin was too dusky for the color of the metal, I'd thought of penning at first. How could I ever expect to become a proper married woman with something like that? The looming threat of war would force him into the draft and there wouldn't be a point. My duty was to the empire, not the house. I couldn't possibly afford to splurge on a dress, much less a ceremony. A hurried exchange of a letter on a train was no way to propose.

In the end, the page sits as perfect and unmarked as the minute I'd taken it out. I can't bring myself to do it.

iv. december 22, 20XX

The attendees of the assembly are as fidgety and impatient as I'd expected them to be. No visits to home allowed just yet, in spite of the general dormancy of the rebellion over the past months. The supervisor's voice booms over us in the speakerphone, listing telltale signs of attacks to the base, possible disturbances, and other required topics, such as the correct manner to alerting the central controls of the base in case of emergency. A typical gathering, in other words. After giving a quick glance to the officers around me -- three out of the four are sleeping, the odd one out much too invested to notice much of anything -- I mimic the supervisor's face at Rudy, who, surprisingly, seems just as attentive. He mimics it back, grinning.

v. december 24, 20XX

The base is strung alight with celebration, and I welcome the hushed quiet of the night with gratitude. The note and ring remain unreciprocated against my breast; the page and pen remain untouched. But I don't bother dwelling on it now. The guards on shift are allowed cups of eggnog and hot chocolate as part of the Christmas Eve festivities, along with small parcels of shortbread and chocolate, and I chew on a particularly buttery biscuit as I gaze absentmindedly into the tundra. Rudy takes small, short sips of piping hot chocolate beside me. Makes small, out-of-the-blue conversation here and there: How did your family celebrate Christmas, growing up? What was it like here? Does it always snow during the holidays? Where did they find all the rations for this sort of stuff?

Then, unexpectedly: "What's that plant hanging above us?"

I turn fully towards him for the first time of the night before looking up, curious. And, for once, find heat rising to my face for reasons other than the bitter cold. "Mistletoe," I explain, doing my best to brush off an intrusive thought. "Some prankster must've put it up there."

"Oh?"

"You're supposed to kiss under it," I say too quickly, thankful for the darkness. "Just ignore it."

But his mouth is warm and sweet and briefly pressed against mine all of a sudden, refusing my suggestion, and I could care less about the fact. He pulls away and grins bashfully down at me, an apology already forming on his tongue. I steal the words before they can leave his lips.

I decide, as I secretly allow the note and ring to fall a good several stories to the ice below, that shortbread and hot chocolate make a very, very good combination.

vi. december 25, 20XX

I hadn't seen it coming. Never would I have been able to see it coming. It's quiet here, with half the base dead and the other captured by the rebel forces, and I can't help but glare at the redheaded, boy-faced traitor standing before me. He hadn't allowed me to get hurt -- something of our friendship had meant something, apparently -- but the betrayal stings all the same, stabs just as deep. There's something indiscernible in his expression as he reads the proposal over and over again, the worn paper giving easily to his blood-stained fingers. Disappointed, almost. And then I'm being hauled up by my restraints onto the rebel ship, our shared gaze broken by the movement of my fellow prisoners, and he's barely casting a glance into the closing doors to acknowledge me.

He's holding the ring so tightly it's as if he wants to crush it.

5
1
3
Juice
29 reads
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
In celebration of the March 28 release of my latest book, FROM ICE TO ASHES (about the birth of a rebellion on Saturn's moon Titan), I'm putting this challenge forth. Tell a story of a rebellion against Earth by an offworld colony. The person whose story moves me most gets digital copies of every scifi book I've ever published. I'll also do a thorough critique of a short story for the winner. Two runners-up get digital copies of FROM ICE TO ASHES. Visit www.rhettbruno.com for more info.
Written by a060147 in portal Sci-Fi
december 25, 20XX
i. december 1, 20XX

It's quiet here, most of the time. Peaceful. Even in the later hours of the afternoon there exists only the occasional shuffle and murmur of my fellow guardsman -- each repetition becoming less and less coherent as the night falls -- and more often than not, I find myself nodding only out of habit rather than understanding. Murmur. Nod. Murmur. Nod. A loud sip of coffee, and a reciprocating nod before I can stop myself. Here, in this barren, monochromatic, endless stretch of tundra, there exists only the shifting skies and routine patrols to look forward to. And then there are, of course, the monthly rations and supplies sent by the empire, the red and yellow sleds emblazoning themselves shamelessly against the snow. I would imagine the whole outpost to be nearly colorless without them. Noiseless, too. It is said too often that the lack of nearby cities or centers -- or much of anything, for that matter -- stagnate the hearts and mouths of the men and women here, leave the recruits of our outpost wordless, and dissipate the pleasures of food and drink and company as quickly as the influxes of new faces. This, I cannot disagree with. We of the forty-fourth outpost are a humbled and needed people, a refuge to those unable to go directly to the front lines or remain useless at home, and I cannot blame the less conversational of us for being so.

The canteen of coffee sits cold between my thinly gloved fingers, the warmth of its contents having long lost themselves to the frigid air. I shiver, almost reaching for the note tucked into my breast -- before casting a quick, cautious glance to the man seated adjacent to my post.

He hasn't seen anything. Or if he has, he either hasn't bothered to say anything about it or hasn't deemed it important. There are still strict uniform policies here, after all, in spite of the general laxness. While we lookouts are offered greater freedom in selecting our outerwear in comparison to the other officers -- as evidenced by this redheaded man's similarly colored scarf and gloves -- the prohibition of free floating and hidden objects beneath our uniforms still applies, as do the punishments and confiscations to go along with them. And my partner, this lanky, freckled, mumbling apology of a man, would no doubt submit to them before I could ever have the chance to keep the note. Couldn't risk that. He's staring forward at the moment, brilliant scarf masking the freckled nose and cheeks beneath the material, and I sigh inaudibly.

It takes me a moment to realize he's actually speaking.

"Sorry, I wasn't paying attention." I apologize quickly, leaning a little closer in his direction. "Could you repeat that?"

I can almost see the beginnings of his temples blend into the scarf. He stammers incomprehensibly for the briefest of seconds, eyes hesitantly darting between mine and his pockets at least four times, before finally removing his hands from his person and gesturing towards me. An offer of some sort. I shake my head, not quite understanding. He glances down again. Another moment or two of contemplation -- or embarrassment, at this point it could be nearly anything -- and he pulls off the thick crimson pair of gloves, pushes the extra wool away from his mouth. The lined fabric presses warmly against my fingers.

He smiles sheepishly, unsure of what to say. "Y-you, um --" He coughs a little. Clears his throat a little unsuccessfully before beginning again. "You looked cold," he admits, using a free hand to play with the edge of his scarf. "I-I didn't want you to be."

He stares expectantly at me, in equal parts of both nervousness and shyness. I stare back, albeit out of surprise at having heard his voice for the first time. My smaller hands slide perfectly into the thicker gloves, welcoming the transferred heat, and I return his bashful smile with one of my own. His freckles nearly glow at that.

I realize that this young man should have a name.

ii. december 12, 20XX

His friends would call him Rudy, if he had friends. For the most part, the officers around here call him Rodrick, "boy", and "you over there", and that works just as fine. He's actually only several years younger than I am in spite of his appearance, having just turned twenty in the past month, and he's so embarrassed by his thick, sing-song accent among the northerners at the base that he finds it easier to remain silent. The stammer is more of a nervous habit. And with him standing nearly a head taller than I do, the physical aspects of our record-keeping and shelving duties have never been easier. He tells me twice over breakfast that I've been the first to talk to him so familiarly at the base -- the first to actually tell me, the second to try to correct the statement -- and his youthful self-consciousness is so refreshing that I can't help but laugh into my coffee. He's a good kid. Big family, no money, almost no schooling, but with a decent upbringing. Rudy has two brothers and three sisters to take care of when he gets sent back, and when he gets his paycheck after the four-year contract, he says he'll use it to put the youngest, Ruby, through college. The stammer disappears when he talks about them. We sit so long at the table that the porridge goes cold.

He asks, one day, if I have anyone waiting for me back home.

I can feel the note nearly throbbing against my chest. His cheeks are a little more flushed than usual today at our post, the frosty air kissing our exposed skin with each gust of wind, and I register too late than I've been staring at him longer than necessary. A second or two too long, a moment's give into what could or should be the answer. Rudy glances away almost immediately, features indiscernible. Mutters an apology to hang in the space between us. And then there's the question tugging at the edge of my mind -- if I really do or don't have anyone waiting for me, if the note should mean much of anything out here, if deciding to reciprocate the contents of the note at all should change how I answer this young man's question -- and again I'm reaching for the slip of paper tucked into my breast, wondering. If Rudy notices, he doesn't mention it. I let the question slip into the gust of wind, give a small chuckle, and tell him that I don't, not really.

The relief on his face is genuine. I spend the next two shifts describing the floating spires and sky-bridges of my home city -- pushing away the memories of dark-haired men and letters, crowded trains and old, hand-me-down rings -- and keep Rudy preoccupied enough not to ask anything further. Not to engross my thoughts with anything more than what matters, anything more than our civic duties at the base to protect the empire. The imminent war is priority, I'm aware. The complexities of relationships could be handled later.

I tell myself this more often than I should.

iii. december 17, 20XX

The pen sits too heavy between my fingers, at times. I twist the ring over and over again in the light as I stare at the creamy page, still blank. Still unmarred with what would surely be scribbled and crossed-out lines of apologies and explanations alike. I'd planned exactly one hour to write at least half a page, another thirty minutes afterwards for editing, and all I could come up with were flimsy, dismissive excuses for why I hadn't replied in weeks. My skin was too dusky for the color of the metal, I'd thought of penning at first. How could I ever expect to become a proper married woman with something like that? The looming threat of war would force him into the draft and there wouldn't be a point. My duty was to the empire, not the house. I couldn't possibly afford to splurge on a dress, much less a ceremony. A hurried exchange of a letter on a train was no way to propose.

In the end, the page sits as perfect and unmarked as the minute I'd taken it out. I can't bring myself to do it.

iv. december 22, 20XX

The attendees of the assembly are as fidgety and impatient as I'd expected them to be. No visits to home allowed just yet, in spite of the general dormancy of the rebellion over the past months. The supervisor's voice booms over us in the speakerphone, listing telltale signs of attacks to the base, possible disturbances, and other required topics, such as the correct manner to alerting the central controls of the base in case of emergency. A typical gathering, in other words. After giving a quick glance to the officers around me -- three out of the four are sleeping, the odd one out much too invested to notice much of anything -- I mimic the supervisor's face at Rudy, who, surprisingly, seems just as attentive. He mimics it back, grinning.

v. december 24, 20XX

The base is strung alight with celebration, and I welcome the hushed quiet of the night with gratitude. The note and ring remain unreciprocated against my breast; the page and pen remain untouched. But I don't bother dwelling on it now. The guards on shift are allowed cups of eggnog and hot chocolate as part of the Christmas Eve festivities, along with small parcels of shortbread and chocolate, and I chew on a particularly buttery biscuit as I gaze absentmindedly into the tundra. Rudy takes small, short sips of piping hot chocolate beside me. Makes small, out-of-the-blue conversation here and there: How did your family celebrate Christmas, growing up? What was it like here? Does it always snow during the holidays? Where did they find all the rations for this sort of stuff?

Then, unexpectedly: "What's that plant hanging above us?"

I turn fully towards him for the first time of the night before looking up, curious. And, for once, find heat rising to my face for reasons other than the bitter cold. "Mistletoe," I explain, doing my best to brush off an intrusive thought. "Some prankster must've put it up there."

"Oh?"

"You're supposed to kiss under it," I say too quickly, thankful for the darkness. "Just ignore it."

But his mouth is warm and sweet and briefly pressed against mine all of a sudden, refusing my suggestion, and I could care less about the fact. He pulls away and grins bashfully down at me, an apology already forming on his tongue. I steal the words before they can leave his lips.

I decide, as I secretly allow the note and ring to fall a good several stories to the ice below, that shortbread and hot chocolate make a very, very good combination.

vi. december 25, 20XX

I hadn't seen it coming. Never would I have been able to see it coming. It's quiet here, with half the base dead and the other captured by the rebel forces, and I can't help but glare at the redheaded, boy-faced traitor standing before me. He hadn't allowed me to get hurt -- something of our friendship had meant something, apparently -- but the betrayal stings all the same, stabs just as deep. There's something indiscernible in his expression as he reads the proposal over and over again, the worn paper giving easily to his blood-stained fingers. Disappointed, almost. And then I'm being hauled up by my restraints onto the rebel ship, our shared gaze broken by the movement of my fellow prisoners, and he's barely casting a glance into the closing doors to acknowledge me.

He's holding the ring so tightly it's as if he wants to crush it.
#fantasy  #scifi  #fiction  #romance 
5
1
3
Juice
29 reads
Load 3 Comments
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
"Love letter, love letter..." Nick Cave. So what that you have only 200 words to proclaim your love. We are writers! So woo your love. You have one day left (oh well I will give you some more time ;o) Tag me if you in your comments @casteleijn #200words
Written by a060147 in portal Poetry & Free Verse

sunny

My sister tells me you'll have eyes like your father, freckles like mine. That you'll have a smile big enough to hold the universe, that the brownness of your skin will be made for catching sunbeams, that one day your hugs will be wide enough to hold all of the things you love within them. I hope that this letter will be one of those things. My sister tells me all that things that you could be -- and I find myself wondering, every now and then, if you'll become that astronaut I'd wanted to be as a child, if you'll be as stubborn as I am or as placid as your father, if you'll decide to marry someone who knows there'll be an end sooner than later. If you'll end up having a weak heart like mine, or if you'll be as strong and healthy as can be. There's plenty of time for wondering in here.

I've told my sister to give this to you if we don't ever get to meet. I love you, baby girl -- and I'm sorry I won't ever be able to hold your hand.

                                                                                          -- to my little piece of the sun,

                                                                                                                               Mama

6
1
7
Juice
24 reads
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
"Love letter, love letter..." Nick Cave. So what that you have only 200 words to proclaim your love. We are writers! So woo your love. You have one day left (oh well I will give you some more time ;o) Tag me if you in your comments @casteleijn #200words
Written by a060147 in portal Poetry & Free Verse
sunny
My sister tells me you'll have eyes like your father, freckles like mine. That you'll have a smile big enough to hold the universe, that the brownness of your skin will be made for catching sunbeams, that one day your hugs will be wide enough to hold all of the things you love within them. I hope that this letter will be one of those things. My sister tells me all that things that you could be -- and I find myself wondering, every now and then, if you'll become that astronaut I'd wanted to be as a child, if you'll be as stubborn as I am or as placid as your father, if you'll decide to marry someone who knows there'll be an end sooner than later. If you'll end up having a weak heart like mine, or if you'll be as strong and healthy as can be. There's plenty of time for wondering in here.

I've told my sister to give this to you if we don't ever get to meet. I love you, baby girl -- and I'm sorry I won't ever be able to hold your hand.

                                                                                          -- to my little piece of the sun,

                                                                                                                               Mama
#fiction 
6
1
7
Juice
24 reads
Load 7 Comments
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
What is home? Create a poem or a short story about home. Bring me there. Make me feel at home or not.
Written by a060147 in portal Poetry & Free Verse

almost

His fingers, calloused and warm and laced through mine, are welcoming when they should not be. Inviting, almost, with the other pressing into the small of my back, his body so, so unbearably close -- and I know that I am wrong to think of it. There are more sensible things to think of at the moment, like if he can see the shifting curve of my lips in the dark, if my nails are raking too roughly against his skin, or if my voice is carrying over to the neighbors next door. If he's even noticed it at all, or if he's enjoying the muffled cries against his shoulder. But instead I am caught wondering, mid-act, why this stoic, reserved man has decided to place his hand in mine when it could be easily pressed anywhere but there, at anytime but now, for any reasons than the ones coming to mind at the moment. And then his thumb is tracing the edge of my lips, I'm realizing, in a manner I hadn't thought possible, and I'm thinking that his embrace is comforting and familiar and ardent in all the ways that I shouldn't.

He's kissing me, suddenly. His lips on mine for the briefest of seconds, then again and again as if he isn't sure if we'd actually kissed for the first time or if he had only imagined it. Poses the idea of me staying the night as an order rather than a question, takes my squirming, gasping body even deeper into his, asks me if I like making love to him rather than if I like fucking him. And it does feel like love, almost. I wish he hadn't asked that. My mind is running too much with all the possibilities of what we are and what we could be when I know that this act is wrong, when I know that I am wrong to even think something like this could ever come to light -- and when the world is finally white and indiscernible and trembling with something greater than just ecstasy beneath him, I'm struck dumb by the knowledge that I've finished for all the wrong reasons.

I end up staying the night. His fingers remain where they were, giving mine a gentle squeeze, and instinctively I bury my head into his chest, breathing. Deep, slow, rhythmic. It's a little easier to collect my thoughts in the aftermath. I allow the questions on my tongue to dissipate as quickly as they had surfaced; I quiet the pipe dreams of this relationship progressing any further to a silent halt; I pretend, nearly successfully, that my hands are warm for no other reason than his being in it.

He almost feels like home.

7
2
4
Juice
54 reads
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
What is home? Create a poem or a short story about home. Bring me there. Make me feel at home or not.
Written by a060147 in portal Poetry & Free Verse
almost
His fingers, calloused and warm and laced through mine, are welcoming when they should not be. Inviting, almost, with the other pressing into the small of my back, his body so, so unbearably close -- and I know that I am wrong to think of it. There are more sensible things to think of at the moment, like if he can see the shifting curve of my lips in the dark, if my nails are raking too roughly against his skin, or if my voice is carrying over to the neighbors next door. If he's even noticed it at all, or if he's enjoying the muffled cries against his shoulder. But instead I am caught wondering, mid-act, why this stoic, reserved man has decided to place his hand in mine when it could be easily pressed anywhere but there, at anytime but now, for any reasons than the ones coming to mind at the moment. And then his thumb is tracing the edge of my lips, I'm realizing, in a manner I hadn't thought possible, and I'm thinking that his embrace is comforting and familiar and ardent in all the ways that I shouldn't.

He's kissing me, suddenly. His lips on mine for the briefest of seconds, then again and again as if he isn't sure if we'd actually kissed for the first time or if he had only imagined it. Poses the idea of me staying the night as an order rather than a question, takes my squirming, gasping body even deeper into his, asks me if I like making love to him rather than if I like fucking him. And it does feel like love, almost. I wish he hadn't asked that. My mind is running too much with all the possibilities of what we are and what we could be when I know that this act is wrong, when I know that I am wrong to even think something like this could ever come to light -- and when the world is finally white and indiscernible and trembling with something greater than just ecstasy beneath him, I'm struck dumb by the knowledge that I've finished for all the wrong reasons.

I end up staying the night. His fingers remain where they were, giving mine a gentle squeeze, and instinctively I bury my head into his chest, breathing. Deep, slow, rhythmic. It's a little easier to collect my thoughts in the aftermath. I allow the questions on my tongue to dissipate as quickly as they had surfaced; I quiet the pipe dreams of this relationship progressing any further to a silent halt; I pretend, nearly successfully, that my hands are warm for no other reason than his being in it.

He almost feels like home.
#fiction  #romance  #SoulHearts 
7
2
4
Juice
54 reads
Load 4 Comments
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
A Tiny Window. Write about it. 15-200 words only. In short, I challenge you to write a vignette about a vignette.
Written by a060147

in the window

I wonder if her husband ever notices the lipstick.

The citizens in the heart of the Shandong province breathe as deeply and as thoroughly as their fellow neighbors do, speak in tongues and topics as familiar as their fellow neighbors do, and know of as many secrets, lies, and rumors as their fellow neighbors do. Words pass through the streams of hawkers and businessmen alike as easily as money does, and with so many exchanged hands -- for everyone in the Shandong province has known the coin of another at some point -- it is nearly impossible to keep any misdoing secret. Too many eyes, mouths, and opportunities for the nosy and the curious to peer into an apartment and truly discover their fellow citizen's folly.

I've watched the woman in the window leave with the overcoat-bearing man exactly five times now, each tryst begging the application for red lips and rosy cheeks. Each return humbling the state of her typical housewife's updo and perfectly ironed cheongsam. She is intelligent and thrill-seeking and vigilant all at once, and I wonder if the window to her living room ever worries her.

I caught her eye once. She smiled.

3
0
0
Juice
15 reads
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
A Tiny Window. Write about it. 15-200 words only. In short, I challenge you to write a vignette about a vignette.
Written by a060147
in the window
I wonder if her husband ever notices the lipstick.

The citizens in the heart of the Shandong province breathe as deeply and as thoroughly as their fellow neighbors do, speak in tongues and topics as familiar as their fellow neighbors do, and know of as many secrets, lies, and rumors as their fellow neighbors do. Words pass through the streams of hawkers and businessmen alike as easily as money does, and with so many exchanged hands -- for everyone in the Shandong province has known the coin of another at some point -- it is nearly impossible to keep any misdoing secret. Too many eyes, mouths, and opportunities for the nosy and the curious to peer into an apartment and truly discover their fellow citizen's folly.

I've watched the woman in the window leave with the overcoat-bearing man exactly five times now, each tryst begging the application for red lips and rosy cheeks. Each return humbling the state of her typical housewife's updo and perfectly ironed cheongsam. She is intelligent and thrill-seeking and vigilant all at once, and I wonder if the window to her living room ever worries her.

I caught her eye once. She smiled.
#fiction  #romance 
3
0
0
Juice
15 reads
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
"I should come with a warning sign." Show us what's written on it! 2-20 words only!
Written by a060147 in portal Micropoetry

one-sided

softer voices, please. quieter.

the sound of anger before the impact becomes a little too synonymous sometimes.

1
0
0
Juice
8 reads
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
"I should come with a warning sign." Show us what's written on it! 2-20 words only!
Written by a060147 in portal Micropoetry
one-sided
softer voices, please. quieter.

the sound of anger before the impact becomes a little too synonymous sometimes.
#fiction 
1
0
0
Juice
8 reads
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by a060147 in portal Publishing

summit

i.

Her teeth looked human once. I'm sure of at least that much.

This girl, with her dusky, sun-kissed skin and dark, bouncing curls, is staring curiously into the edges of my mouth, rounding her chubby fingers into the hollows of my cheeks, pulling and pressing and drawing the ends of my lips up and down, side to side. Lets out a giggle at her own childish creation. There's enough light filtering through the windows of the nipa hut to play at the soft, untarnished curves of her features, and for a moment I can almost see a perfect reflection of her mother's dimpled, wide grin plastered over the youthful visage, as inquisitive and attentive as I had imagined it to be. Her mother is gazing back at me now with too bright eyes and the beginnings of hunger rolling off her small child's body in waves, the points of her own inhuman maw just barely developing under the cupid's bow -- and I am answering the little beast's gaze in turn, reciprocating the young girl's subconscious show of dominance with a presentation of a much larger, much more mature one. Evidently her mother is not one to take her daughter out among the other villagers. And the modest home, rundown and bare and nestled deep, deep within the far reaches of the mountain, had been difficult enough to find. But I'm here now. This girl, with blunted claws and budding wings, has become fixated on this strange intruder with features so like her own, sticky fingers ceasing their exploration for a moment, and I find myself able to speak again.

"Anak," I begin, throat slightly heavier than I had expected, "Saan naroon ang ina? Where is your mother?"

She startles somewhat at the strange trill of my voice, its melodic, birdsong quality nearly echoing off the walls of the small abode. Even with my masked appearance I had never been able to master the true nuances of human speech. The small child blinks once, twice, and I'm almost about to repeat the question when she finally quirks her lips to one side and raises her brows, wordless and poignant in her assessment of my presence. So she knew, but she wasn't willing to tell me. Amusement almost catches at the edges of my mouth at that, the familiar gesture -- forcing me to swallow most of it before the child could take it as a game. Liway had always been a cautious, observant woman; it is no wonder she had tried to raise her daughter to be the same. The child's immediate reaction to inspect my maw upon arrival, of course, stood as a bit of a contrast to that nature, but that hardly mattered when it had taken me at least four weeks to follow the cold trail so far from her village. Four long weeks of traipsing about in dirt roads and sleepy towns and wondering, always, if the woman I loved still loved me back after all these years, if she had already been taken by another man in my absence, if her child would ever know who her father was. What her father was. And I find myself wondering now if she had ever been taught the lessons her priestess mother had been led to believe, if her mother had told her tales of feathered, man-eating beasts just as the elders of the village had done to her child. Our child.

The thought rests strangely on my tongue. All these years, and I'd barely given any thought to the possibility that I could ever refer to this little beast as such. Our child, our daughter, the beloved bastard offspring of a priestess and the diwata of the mountain. Our tiny piece of the world, sitting right here with a petulant pout and a bright yellow sarong.

It occurs to me that this little thing should have a name.

ii.

The first and third Fridays of the month are always the worst days. Not because they're the days Mama expects me to be done with my books, because I'm not allowed to play in the stream by myself, or because I can't talk to any travelers wandering around outside -- no, that would be harebrained, as Mama would say -- but because they're the days Mama has to go walk all by herself to the marketplace the next village over to trade baskets of furs and skins she collects. It's a long walk, she tells me, one that I shouldn't have to do because I can't fit as well on her back anymore, and it would be much more fun if I just stayed inside and read until she returned in the evening. It isn't, of course. I'd much rather be skipping along beside her the whole way there, a basket under each arm, and yell back at the hawkers and traders, but it makes her happy when I agree. I'm a big girl, besides; I can take care of myself. The room was barely lit this morning when she kissed me on the forehead and told me to be good, her small, work-worn fingers smoothing my bird's nest of hair, and by the time I'd managed to come to completely, she was already gone.

I wonder, sometimes, what the outside world is like. The outside world is where Mama comes back with food she can actually eat, lamps she needs to see, and smaller things, like matches and handkerchiefs and parcels of spices. And she doesn't like her meat the way I do -- not with blood sticking to the roof of her mouth, not with the creature only barely breathing at first bite. She says it's impolite. In my few visits to the outside world I've counted at least seventeen things Mama has listed as inappropriate to do in polite company, which is everyone, about eight that she considers worthy of scolding, and up to exactly three that are most definitely, absolutely, unquestionably unacceptable. Showing myself without wrapping my wings in layers of cloth, for example, and letting my teeth make themselves known in front of anyone but myself or Mama.

I figure that touching and talking to this familiar and unfamiliar man would be among those things, but she isn't here at the moment.

He looks like me, almost. Skin as dark as mine, hair as feathery and black as mine, smile as toothy and piercing and wide as mine. Wings large enough to graze the wall behind him, claws overgrown and sharpened to a point, powerful, not quite human feet digging themselves into the floorboards. He's asking me what my name is in that odd warble of his now, tone bobbing up and down to the rhythm of some unknown song, and I can't help but stare at him for a moment before trying to answer.

9
2
2
Juice
24 reads
Donate coins to a060147.
Juice
Cancel
We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by a060147 in portal Publishing
summit
i.

Her teeth looked human once. I'm sure of at least that much.

This girl, with her dusky, sun-kissed skin and dark, bouncing curls, is staring curiously into the edges of my mouth, rounding her chubby fingers into the hollows of my cheeks, pulling and pressing and drawing the ends of my lips up and down, side to side. Lets out a giggle at her own childish creation. There's enough light filtering through the windows of the nipa hut to play at the soft, untarnished curves of her features, and for a moment I can almost see a perfect reflection of her mother's dimpled, wide grin plastered over the youthful visage, as inquisitive and attentive as I had imagined it to be. Her mother is gazing back at me now with too bright eyes and the beginnings of hunger rolling off her small child's body in waves, the points of her own inhuman maw just barely developing under the cupid's bow -- and I am answering the little beast's gaze in turn, reciprocating the young girl's subconscious show of dominance with a presentation of a much larger, much more mature one. Evidently her mother is not one to take her daughter out among the other villagers. And the modest home, rundown and bare and nestled deep, deep within the far reaches of the mountain, had been difficult enough to find. But I'm here now. This girl, with blunted claws and budding wings, has become fixated on this strange intruder with features so like her own, sticky fingers ceasing their exploration for a moment, and I find myself able to speak again.

"Anak," I begin, throat slightly heavier than I had expected, "Saan naroon ang ina? Where is your mother?"

She startles somewhat at the strange trill of my voice, its melodic, birdsong quality nearly echoing off the walls of the small abode. Even with my masked appearance I had never been able to master the true nuances of human speech. The small child blinks once, twice, and I'm almost about to repeat the question when she finally quirks her lips to one side and raises her brows, wordless and poignant in her assessment of my presence. So she knew, but she wasn't willing to tell me. Amusement almost catches at the edges of my mouth at that, the familiar gesture -- forcing me to swallow most of it before the child could take it as a game. Liway had always been a cautious, observant woman; it is no wonder she had tried to raise her daughter to be the same. The child's immediate reaction to inspect my maw upon arrival, of course, stood as a bit of a contrast to that nature, but that hardly mattered when it had taken me at least four weeks to follow the cold trail so far from her village. Four long weeks of traipsing about in dirt roads and sleepy towns and wondering, always, if the woman I loved still loved me back after all these years, if she had already been taken by another man in my absence, if her child would ever know who her father was. What her father was. And I find myself wondering now if she had ever been taught the lessons her priestess mother had been led to believe, if her mother had told her tales of feathered, man-eating beasts just as the elders of the village had done to her child. Our child.

The thought rests strangely on my tongue. All these years, and I'd barely given any thought to the possibility that I could ever refer to this little beast as such. Our child, our daughter, the beloved bastard offspring of a priestess and the diwata of the mountain. Our tiny piece of the world, sitting right here with a petulant pout and a bright yellow sarong.

It occurs to me that this little thing should have a name.

ii.

The first and third Fridays of the month are always the worst days. Not because they're the days Mama expects me to be done with my books, because I'm not allowed to play in the stream by myself, or because I can't talk to any travelers wandering around outside -- no, that would be harebrained, as Mama would say -- but because they're the days Mama has to go walk all by herself to the marketplace the next village over to trade baskets of furs and skins she collects. It's a long walk, she tells me, one that I shouldn't have to do because I can't fit as well on her back anymore, and it would be much more fun if I just stayed inside and read until she returned in the evening. It isn't, of course. I'd much rather be skipping along beside her the whole way there, a basket under each arm, and yell back at the hawkers and traders, but it makes her happy when I agree. I'm a big girl, besides; I can take care of myself. The room was barely lit this morning when she kissed me on the forehead and told me to be good, her small, work-worn fingers smoothing my bird's nest of hair, and by the time I'd managed to come to completely, she was already gone.

I wonder, sometimes, what the outside world is like. The outside world is where Mama comes back with food she can actually eat, lamps she needs to see, and smaller things, like matches and handkerchiefs and parcels of spices. And she doesn't like her meat the way I do -- not with blood sticking to the roof of her mouth, not with the creature only barely breathing at first bite. She says it's impolite. In my few visits to the outside world I've counted at least seventeen things Mama has listed as inappropriate to do in polite company, which is everyone, about eight that she considers worthy of scolding, and up to exactly three that are most definitely, absolutely, unquestionably unacceptable. Showing myself without wrapping my wings in layers of cloth, for example, and letting my teeth make themselves known in front of anyone but myself or Mama.

I figure that touching and talking to this familiar and unfamiliar man would be among those things, but she isn't here at the moment.

He looks like me, almost. Skin as dark as mine, hair as feathery and black as mine, smile as toothy and piercing and wide as mine. Wings large enough to graze the wall behind him, claws overgrown and sharpened to a point, powerful, not quite human feet digging themselves into the floorboards. He's asking me what my name is in that odd warble of his now, tone bobbing up and down to the rhythm of some unknown song, and I can't help but stare at him for a moment before trying to answer.
#fantasy  #fiction  #romance  #adventure 
9
2
2
Juice
24 reads
Load 2 Comments
Login to post comments.