Lover in the Painting

She looked at me when I stroked her hair in perfect brown oil. She was beautiful, curvaceous with lips like apples. A small dip of my brush gave her legs longer than the days I’d spent dreaming of her. The corner of her right eye was smudged slightly in the one place I’d lost my focus for just a moment. It was in that small moment I’d lost myself in the joyous expression nestled in her soft brown eyes. She was perfect.

Her lips began to part as if to say something to me. My heart nearly sputtered out of my chest, my breath caught in my throat at the beauty of her hesitation. The ballerina cradled her reddening face in two small hands.

She reached a slender finger away from her face and towards my brush which hovered just on her hairline. I was unprepared for her girlish smile when she tapped a fingertip to the hairs on the brush. Had I heard her laugh, I may have tried to fall into the easel to be with her. A gentle stroke gave her flowing chocolate hair in a precarious bun atop her face heart shaped face. Curious, she followed each line as I made it, her cheeks ablaze and her smile deepening. Her eyes flitted to the other blank canvases behind me. She galloped away.

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I ran to her side, following her chasses and turns in awe. She flitted from easel to easel with grace swaying her arms about. I ran to her stumbling over wooden stools and old paints to see where she may have gone next. I found her hiding in the easels just above my window, the sun bathing her in morning light I hadn’t even noticed until now. Just a wink and she flitted off to my sketchbooks. The pages came to life, flipping one after another as she danced across them. Her laugh was infectious. She galloped with ease and jumped from sheet to sheet.

She paused suddenly and turned her brown pools and rosy cheeks to meet my gaze. I hadn’t noticed until this very moment I had been holding my breath. She reached out a delicate hand to me. My quaking fingers inched towards the paper, yearning for a small touch. I found myself in the notebook at her side, my hands reduced to ticks of charcoal strokes. She placed her hand in mine and together, we ran from page to page, canvas to canvas, nearly missing the water spots ahead of us where earlier I’d become frustrated with my work.. We danced- or rather, she danced circling around me in giddy turns and strides. But she found her home in her easel. My work was completed and it was time to part ways. All too soon I found myself on the outside of her world, always looking in and longing for her love. I was shut out, trying to tap fingertips of canvas to feel her joy once more. She was all oils and paper again, leaving a melancholy ache in my chest. But her smile always reminded me of what I had. I always had her. Always had the dancer in the painting. My lover in the painting.  

The Robbery

I’m not sorry. That’s what I’ll tell the overworked police officer when he shows me the evidence he has on me after this.

I’m not sorry. That’s what I’ll tell the judge when he tries to lock me away for the crime of wanting what’s rightfully mine.

No, I’m not sorry.

I’d like to say I was anxious for what was to come, but my nerves were steely, my hands stone steady inside my black leather gloves. Given the circumstances, you’d believe I was a hardened criminal without a trace of humanity in my body. Maybe the second part of that impression was accurate but I was not a criminal- unless, of course, you count the social rap sheet I sported. In my life I had the audacity of being born poor and healthily melanated. To add insult to injury, I had an extra X chromosome and a human oven between my legs. All injection worthy offenses.

I wasn’t the only one with a hefty record, though. I was part of a team who’d banded together specifically for this night. If one of us was going to commit the perfect crime, she’d need the perfect accomplices.

Red One, who sat in the passenger’s seat reapplying her foundation, was born with parents who were only visitors here. They nearly gave her the chair for that offense. Red Two, polishing her aluminum bat in the back seat, made friends with the wrong people. Johnny and Jack were always there to show her a good time but weren’t too kind to her when she’d resurfaced from her blackouts and found she’d lost her home. To her left was Rookie who liked to dabble in games where she could play with her own team. She hadn’t been caught yet, but soon enough the closet she lived in would get a little too small. She’d be sentenced to life for that one.

No, none of us was sorry.

Can you blame us for pulling up to the curb at 3am, waiting to act on the small window of opportunity? One that we groomed each other to seize? All that was left now was to play the waiting game.

Wait. Start the car and bring it to a low rumble. Low beams on. Wait. Turn on the radio.

That’s not for you…

Turn the dial

Isn’t that a little ambitious…

Turn the dial.

That’s unrealistic…

Turn the dial yet again

You’re not talented enough for that…

Every station plays the same song.

Cut the music.

We had a few stops to make tonight and this was the very last one. We’d run up on our self-doubt, invaded the home of our fears and dumped them in the trunk of our beat up self-esteem issues. We’d dump the car later. It was only extra baggage.

I heard her short breaths behind my neck. Rookie was nervous. This was her first time and like any first-timer, she brought her self doubt along without taking the slugger to his temple like I’d told her. Said she didn’t have the stomach.

Rookie mistake.

Wait. Spot check exit points. Polish aluminum bat. Reapply foundation. Wait.

See, the rookie’s self-doubt didn’t go quietly. From the trunk, it sent muffled whispers in loving insults disguised as “mother”, “lover”, and “friend”. Poor girl was shaking in the back seat, making a habit of wiping her upper lip and brow every few seconds. But she told me she was ready and I wanted to believe her. She’d have to get herself together soon. It was time.

The plan was simple:

Set timer to two minutes. Cut engine. Mask on.

We sauntered our way to the massive double doors. Bats in hand, we were unbothered by robust chains on the handles. If we wanted opportunity, or any resource for that matter, we’d have to fight for it and keep a slow swagger in our steps as we showed up to claim it. One swing for practice and another to break the windows. We were a force as our army blazed the lobby. The faces of our hostages all looked the same, frozen in an expression of collective disgust and offense. Good. Stay mad.

No security or weapon could take us out as we stormed across the marble floors towards the safe. The funny thing about having such a notorious social rap sheet is that it basically makes you bulletproof. We quickened our pace, sprinting full speed towards the steel safe.

Only 45 seconds left on the timer. No more waiting. Black bag in hand.

We filled up the black bag with all it could carry. Rookie finally found her stride, slinging a black bag over her shoulder. Brute force seemed to be the only option against us, but a bat to the face can slow just about anyone down.

30 seconds left.

Make a quick escape out the back door.

Flip the pages and run my hands along the binding. Freedom in a leather hardback.

Who can blame Irma….

The funny thing about Florida is that it only really has two settings when it comes to whether: Hell hot or hurricane. Today seems to be masterful combination of the two as we await for Irma’s arrival. Kind of makes you long for the old Florida before the madness. Just a few days ago, there was no breeze but plenty of sunlight- sunlight that would gladly remind you that nothing is safe from the 90 degree heat. The air is humid, moist and a bit hard to breathe. It makes you feel like you’re finally suracing from deep under water, only to shut you down and sink you five feet further. Florida. A place where it rains on one side of the road and not the other, where it pours for literally 5 minutes then blesses you with sunshine for the rest of the day. What a bitch. She makes you think she’s doing you a favor by giving you sunshine, but really it’s a cruel way to heat the air she has already moistened and made difficult to inhale. What a bitch. Maybe I’m a pessimist who doesn’t like sunshine or flowers. Actually, I am in fact a pessimist who hates sunshine and flowers. But before you gather the mob and pitchforks allow me to explain. I didn’t want to be here. Ever. Florida seems to have an alluring nature about it that never quite appealed to me. Most will ignore the flying roaches, mother nature’s mood swings and the bloodsuckers with wings in favor of Disneyland and vacation homes. Let us just ignore the fact that Disney is overrrated and unnecessarily expensive and that the US’s largest pedophile population resides in the sunshine state.

These things aside, truly the weather only bothers me for one particular reason. It is too personal. Even mother nature weeps violently in the summer months, tries her hardest to cover her sorrows in sunshine. She licks her wounds in glowing light to compensate for her human moments. She only makes things so much worse.  In her Fall months she whips and howls along the coasts and warm waters of the ocean. Destruction and terror are her only path as she hides her pain. She is ripped of her resources, leaving scars in her body only to continue to care for her abusers. She is left bled dry with gashes on her skin. It sounds too familiar… maybe I’m just overthingking things. I suppose I cannot blame Mother Nature for her cries. Maybe we’re too much of the same. What a bitch.

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No More Prey

Sometimes…. I just want to be like you

I long to be like you

Unbothered with the burden of breathing

Unbothered by the effort of living

I long to be like you.

I long to escape my own mind.

I long for the silence normality would bring me, sweet solace in the emptiness of emotion

I long to break the cold embrace my thoughts constrict me in

I long the luxury of keeping you at bay so this monster is unable to wrap you in its terror

All i want is for you not to see and for me not to live it

I could scream and claw myself away from the tundra, breaking fingernails to crawl out of my own skin

I long the sanity of the sleeping of my demons, may they rest eternally

I long for the darkness to be gone, for my mind to remain strong

For the deepest corners of my mind to empty out its horrors so I may be at peace

I long the warmth of happiness effortlessly felt

For dreams of candy sunsets and nightmares chased away

I long for no one to be wrapped in the siren of my sorrows as they rip from themselves away from us

And I…. Only I remain it’s humble prey.

 

Haven Says: Safe Sex, Paychecks

When you’re a twenty something year old woman, the world has a funny way of telling you what the next step in your life should be. It seems that your sexuality is always up for a new marketing strategy. Can you be kind of slutty if I have an education? Is it more acceptable to wear fishnets if you have a law degree? Should you be very conservative and avoid scandal altogether? No. Don’t think too hard. Just stay pretty and let the experts tell you how you can be desirable.

A room full of eager faced interns, ready to make a good first impression on the boss await anxiously in a conference room. You stand naked on the massive table waiting for what is next to come. You find yourself surrounded by faces named “mom”, “teacher”, “pastor”, and “friend”. A stout oversized man walks through the door, cigar in hand and a mean mug on. You’re the product. You are only valuable if others think you are. So what’s the tagline? What’s the slogan that will attach the most amount of value on you as a woman?

  • “Modest in life makes a good wife!”

What genius! Because clearly if you practice modesty you’re aiming to be a good wife one day. The correlation is undeniable. Let us ignore your own ability to choose. Not to mention that if you’re not modest, you don’t care about your husband. Noted.

  • “Sex for him, at his whim”

Another strike of societal genius. Alas, there is a strict guideline to establishing your value, and sexual deviance is not allowed. It is imperative to your value that you only practice acceptable forms of sex in a relationship or in marriage. Your own sexual drive or urge is nonexistent and only exists if “he” wants it. It must ALWAYS exist if “he” wants it. Let’s disregard that he too has self-autonomy and doesn’t always want it. It is vital that no one find out you are following this rule. Keep a pretty face in public and give all you can. What he wants, whenever he wants. Dually noted.

  • “Vanilla givings, happy living””

The golden rule! You are only allowed a small spectrum of acceptable sexual behaviors ONLY within the parameters of a marriage or committed relationship. You are allowed no urges of your own, or plastic/glass friends in your nightstand. You are not allowed to be sexual outside of the predetermined circumstances. Let us once again disregard the magic of becoming your own personal DJ or the curiosity of having “shes” instead of “hes” take the role of the guest star.

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It doesn’t matter that you stand two feet away from them. Your life and future are for sale. You are naked. You are silent. You are completely uninvolved. You must stand still, smile and await judgement. You will not be wanted by the public if I’m not in the right packaging and as long as you do exactly as the slogan says, you are valuable. So you stand silently, awaiting their brilliant marketing expertise on what will make me worthy. As if what you choose to happen between your legs has anything to do with the fact that you are a person worthy of respect. As if the only merit you have is to be seen as desirable. Well here are a few slogans from yours truly.

Haven says:

GREAT SEX AND PAYCHECKS.

CELIBATE AND KILLIN IT

BACK SHOTS AND CASH DROPS

NO SEX AND PROTESTS

AMAZING Os, AND CEOs

It’s amazing that the concept of sexuality as it pertains to you is a conversation that includes so many people. A dialogue when it’s meant to be a monologue. Let’s not be unreasonable. The opinions of others count. They just won’t dictate my life until those opinions pay to keep my lights on.

 

SilverFang Episode 10: Sink or Swim

I flailed my arms as the ground quickly approached me. My stomach sank with every inch I drew closer to my death. Instinctively, I shielded my face with my forearms as I awaited impact…

Impact that never came.

Instead, I sliced through the surface of frigid water. My elaborate Solstice shawl cocooned itself around me, weighing me further towards the bottom. The freezing temperature shocked my body into a temporary standstill. I struggled under the pressure of waters so deep, begging my limbs to allow me to swim. I fought my way to the surface, ignoring the numbness running from my fingertips to the rest of my body. I kicked; I flailed; I swam with all my might. Just as I felt I had no breath left in my lungs, my head broke the surface of the waters.

I gasped, grateful for the air entering my lungs. I coughed violently as the water pushed its way out of me. I was so cold and so afraid, all the while confused at my improbable survival. My legs grew weary as they struggled fought the weight of my dress. As I struggled to stay afloat, I saw an edge to the waters just off to my right. Water poured in from aqueducts, creating rushing tides in the massive pool. The last bit of strength my body had pushed me towards the stone edge. My breath was ragged, and my vision was only slightly better than before. I laid my cheek on the cool granite, hugging it closely to my chest as if I would fall of the surface of the earth if I let go. As I looked up, I saw a massive statue of Mother Earth. She was naked and powerful in all of her glory, bent at the waist and weeping as she reached towards the water. I’d fallen into a sacred basin and tainted Her waters with my blood. If the Mother wasn’t watching over me before, she certainly wouldn’t be now.

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I found the feeling in my arms again and pulled myself out of the basin, finally realizing that I had never left the cathedral. The prayers and scriptures were finely etched into the stone walls of the sacred room. The orbs illuminated every corner in their soft yellow light, creating a reverence in the tomb. I didn’t know much about religion, but I’d heard the stories of how the world supposedly had come to be. The Mother mourned as she had lost her only son and cried for seven days , creating an ocean. She rose above her pain and took the salt from her tears to craft a world of new beings she could call her children. Her vulnerability poured from her eyes, flooding the basin in deep waters. Most would find comfort in an all powerful being. But there was no comfort here.

My attackers wouldn’t be far behind me, and I had to make an escape. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get far in my condition; I was running out of options. My immediate reaction was to run in any direction as fast as I could. I dragged my lead body to the grand double doors of the prayer room.

As I touched my fingertips to the cool wood, I realized that I didn’t have the strength to open them; I didn’t have the strength to do anything. The fog in my head was thickening, and I could feel my limbs weighing me down. For the first time tonight, I felt  I might actually die. My hands shook as I fought my body to respond. I was desperate to find strength where there was none to get me through this night. I leaned my back against the stone wall as my legs began to give out from under me. I tilted my head towards the Mother. I had never spoken to her, mostly because I didn’t quite believe she listened, but I was willing to try anything for a miracle.

A pound at the door made me flinch. Sheer panic washed over me. There was nowhere to run. Another brute thud came from the double doors.  I let my fingertips stroke the carved prayers along the stone wall, bracing myself for what was to come. I felt the hum of my magic flicker, and with it came my last bit of strength to fight for my life. I couldn’t be sure how much longer I could hold out, but I had to try. I mustered my last bit of energy and burst into smoke. I could feel the grain of the stone scrape between my cells as I disappeared into the wall. I could only hope I could hide better than I could run.

 

SilverFang Episode 9: The Phantom Pt. 2

My breath was trapped in my throat. I was thankful the agony had ended, but I couldn’t be sure of what would come next from my captors. The side effects of the girl’s torture left me dazed. I peered over to the man approaching, not daring to make eye contact. He was still wearing his masque from the festival. As he removed it, his face held the same ghostly expression. It was as if the life had drained from his face, leaving behind a clenched jaw, broad lips in a tight line, and a haunted expression. I could feel all warmth leave me the moment his winecolored eyes fell on my face. I couldn’t help but feel as though he was looking through me- as if he was doing his best not to rip me apart.

“I don’t foresee anything in our way,” he said to the girl, his eyes locked on me. “We’re clear to move out.” His purple irises dissolved into auburn, and I could feel his once vibrant energy settle into a hum. It was evident by the change in his eye color that he was an oculus- a type of shadow user able to envision the future. If I so much as thought about getting away, he would predict it.

“But we were just about to play,” the girl pouted.

His eyes never left my face. I cowered away from his spiteful stare. “You can do that later.” He sauntered over to her, his gait aggressive as if to size up and intimidate every piece of ground he walked on. I could hear him murmuring to her, surely planning how they would end my life in a painfully slow way. I couldn’t imagine what they wanted from me. The only thing that was certain was that they needed me alive- at least for now.

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My mind struggled to find logic in this situation. The phantom mentioned that they were clear to move out. So we should be leaving here soon, I thought. I couldn’t underestimate their resources. If they were able to stalk and corner me in public, then there was no telling what they could do in private. To no avail, I kept attempting to summon the tingly feeling of my magic. No matter how hard I tried, it was always just out of my reach.

I listened intently for any indication of what they might do to me. They couldn’t get too far with a body; that was for sure. If they were going to move me, they would have to untie me first. I would only have a small window to escape. Even then, I wouldn’t be able to fight them both off. My eyes darted around the room in search of options, ultimately landing my sights on the slate gray floor beneath my feet.

I could hear the heavy footsteps of the man coming towards me. I kept my head low, hoping to make myself small enough to be spared. He stooped down to meet my eyes, his brow furrowed and his face serious. His brute fists carried a delicate flower the color of blueberries.

“This is going to hurt,” he said. He placed his hand over my nose. As I gasped, I could feel the heat in my sinuses. I choked on the burning winter in my senses. A numbness fell over my throat and nose. Before I could scream, I was slumped over in my chair, barely conscious.hydrangea-419061_960_720

The world moved slowly, and through my tunnel vision, I could see his feet walking towards the girl. I couldn’t hear anything except the slowing of my heart rate. My only chance at survival was to listen to my instincts; however, that was proving to be a difficult task. I felt the cotton building along the walls of my head. The effects of the flower were quickly weighing me. I forced my mind to focus on something besides the echoes of their soft voices or the surreal melting of the colors I saw. The phantom reached down to steady my limp body.

The knife… I dragged my eyes away from the spiraling objects in my vision to the breast pocket of his cloak. Wait until she goes for the ropes… My subconscious was much more focused than I was. Grab knife… Sink… Run. My senses were overloaded by the simple act of tapping into my shadow magic. I was tingling all over, but not in the way I needed. My eyes rolled around, trying to steady the spinning room. I had to stay focused.

“Grab… SinkRun…” I murmured to myself. I felt the girl loosen the ropes around my wrists. My arms were too numb to put up a fight; they fell heavily to my sides. I knew this was my chance, but I couldn’t remember why. My mind was in circles trying to remember, and I could feel the warmth of my magic in my belly.  I kept my attention on my arms, trying to make small movements.

“Grab… Sink…” I muttered to myself. The girl seemed concerned over her new toy. The seemed irritated that she would care at all about my well being. I could feel his grip around my torso tense.

“What’s wrong, pretty doll? What do you want to say?” I could feel her cool breath on the nape of my neck.

Through the haze, I could clearly see the dagger shining in his cloak. My adrenaline ran high. The bit of focus I had left allowed me to remember my plan. I wiggled my fingers, testing my motor skills. As she came closer, my body awakened. My vision was steadying, but not by much. This was it.

“Hit?” she misinterpreted.

“Yeah,” my hoarse voice cracked. “You hit like a bitch.” I grabbed for the knife, immediately turning to black smoke. The knife sliced clean through her pretty porcelain skin as I sank through the floor.