Vodka in Blue

We are having a drink at a fantastically swanky bar. I really like this place, from the color of the dark stone walls to the music in the background. I’m drinking something blue, and it reminds me of drinking a tropical afternoon on the beach. It smells vaguely of flowers and passionfruit.

I do not want to be here. I have ordered this concoction under duress, with the pretense of “getting together for a drink,” a.k.a – a date. In fact, I am loathe to be here. I want to drink my glass of alcoholic fairy water as quickly as possible, but with all the vodka snuck in there, that would mean I would need to eat something…. Which would mean I would have to stay here longer.

I force a grin and look down into my glass. It’s so damn blue I want to swim in it like a spring.

You smile at me and start talking; interested in connecting. I hear what you are saying. I’m listening. I participate. But my heart’s not in it. I’m too busy trying to figure out what’s wrong with you. There is obviously something wrong with you because you chose me. I can’t figure out what it is though. In the absence of obvious malice or malady, I simply assume that you are crazy.

That would be the logical conclusion, right? Like a depressing math equation: Boy + Certain Girl = Insane Boy. Sounds about right to me.

The bartender must have given me more than a pint of this blue goodness, but I can’t force it down any faster than I’m gulping. I throw in a few anecdotes about myself, deciding exactly how much information to give you, as you are clearly a maniac, while simultaneously wondering if I should make up horribly ridiculous lies just to see your reaction.

Seriously, how long does a date have to last? I’m in the middle of a book called “Hild” right now and am really desperate to get home and see who is winning the war with the Celts.

You are talking about your job, your last hiking vacation, and the time your mom came in to town to visit. I am trying not to make erroneous, shallow, or otherwise unfounded judgments about you. I am failing. You seem so nice. You have a gentle smile and eyes that laugh as loudly as you.

I hate the pitiful emptiness that gurgles out of my finished drink. You ask if I want another. I tell you I can’t because I’m driving. I mention the time and you acknowledge it’s getting late. I talk about a morning meeting tomorrow and how hard it is to have calls with Europe so early on a Friday. You dutifully agree that mornings are pretty much hell and I impress upon you that I really should leave and get home. I have to get out of here. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, nice man with the kind smile. I have no idea what your problem is, but have a strong feeling that it might be me.

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Mermaid

I was a mermaid once. In fact, it was only recently I became human. I have always been something else. And I prefer it. I remember feeling the warm water rushing over and under my hands, flowing its way through the spaces in my fingers. I would examine my fingertips, wrinkling with excess moisture, slowly touching my thumb and each finger together, one, two, three, four….

Eventually, my head would sink under the waves, eyes barely above water, and I could feel my hair, suspended and flowing outward. My fingers combed through my hair, slick and long, twice as long with its curls now relaxed in the water. I would sway back and forth, feeling each tendril play against my cheek, and listen to the water bubbling in my ear as I swayed, left then right. Left then right.

I would close my eyes, and my tail would shine, the scales iridescent against the light, glittering as a reflection of the stars. My ocean was dark. A vast expanse of space under the blanket of a moonlit sky. With my eyes closed, it expanded on forever, but every time I opened them, my ocean was contained, crashing up against four white ceramic walls, glaring against the bathroom lights and boxing me back in to this reality. I was a mermaid once, when magic was real.

Today in fiction: Vancouvite

I adore writing. I have so many characters running around in my head, flooding the pages of numerous journals that sometimes I have trouble getting them all to just SHUT UP for a minute so I can write about them. And yet where do they end up? Stifled between the pages of a journal, never to see the light of day (although they do sometimes see the glow of the computer screen as I type them to life on my computer). Either way, what a waste. And all because I lack the courage to show them, for fear of being scoffed at. Well, no more. Here, for your reading pleasure (or maybe displeasure), is a short story.

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Vancouvite

The trail that day was cool, shaded under so many trees. The sun filtered softly through, casting a light and shadow pattern along the path. The young friends, stood by the river, talking in quiet conversation and muffled laughs. The boy held a slingshot in his hand, aiming it at rocks and branches, trying to impress the girl that giggled each time he hit his mark. Thinking it would be funny, and perhaps not all that painful, he aimed the last and smallest pebble at a passing runner. The woman wasn’t paying attention to these children, focused on her own world of maintaining her pace and breathing as she ran uphill. She was too slow to react and stop him. He hit the runner right between the shoulder blades and she yelped in pain. The young girl gasped, and started yelling at the boy. What was he thinking? Why would he do that?!

The runner turned around slowly – deliberately. She reached her arms back, opening her chest, and then brought her arms forward, tilting her head from shoulder to shoulder, in an effort to shake off the stinging pain. In all actuality, it hadn’t hurt that badly. And if she were being totally honest, it hadn’t hurt at all, but Lucia loved theatrics and was always looking for an excuse to be dramatic. Or violent. And today, she was going to have both. As she walked toward them, she made sure to act hurt. Light tears welled up in her eyes, and the end of her nose began to flush bright pink, flaring a little to let in the extra air that she needed to make her cheeks rosy, too. She held the tears well, and they threatened to brim over, an impending sob. When she finally made it over to the boy, she looked him in the eyes. No traces of anger or malice hidden within.

“Why would you do that? It’s very dangerous, and you could seriously hurt someone.”

The boy shifted nervously in his beat up AllStars.

“I – I…” was all he could stutter.

“You what?” Lucia asked, still calm. “You’re sorry? You won’t ever do that again?”

He wouldn’t look up, too embarrassed at being confronted and ashamed at his stupid action. Not knowing how else to end this awkward situation, the boy finally looked up into Lucia’s eyes. His breath caught in his chest and his body tensed, ready to scream. He could not look away. In that half second, Lucia had her hands around his throat. Her small, delicate hands hadn’t the slightest chance of making it even halfway around his neck. Her short nails gripped his flesh, impressing tiny half-moons into him. At a solid 8 inches shorter than this boy, she had to tilt her head back merely to look him in the eye. Even so, she tightened her grip, knuckles turning white. He gulped for air that was not to be found, and his face alternated between confusion and terror.

As she held him, his knees started to buckle. In an instant, he was shorter than she, and she towered over him, a predator in disguise. As a Vancouvite, she experienced her victims from their point of view. Any other creature would have been appalled by such a power. But not a Vancouvite. She relished the suffering and loved every moment. The spark of the fear, the rise of the hair on the back of her victims’ neck, the racing heart, pumping so much adrenaline to the extremities that the body began to hum in chorus with its surroundings. The pounding of the mind as it fought to remain conscious, remain sane, and to make sense of the situation. The slight clamminess of the skin, warm to the touch but chilled on the inside. She never broke eye contact, her amber eyes lit from somewhere deep within her skull.

The young girl watched, helpless on the sidelines. She tried to scream but nothing came out except great gasps of air. Finally coming to her senses, she ran off. Initially to find help, but really just to get away. As the boy squirmed, grabbing at her hand and trying to loosen its grip, Lucia let out a laugh. A low, malicious rumble, placed somewhere between a wolf’s growl and human laughter. It vibrated within her chest and out through her arms and legs and feet. It rolled it’s way into the boy’s mind, because that was the true power of the Vancouvite. Not being able to inflict pain, nor feel her victim’s, or even having unnatural strengths that no humans possessed.

No, her real power lay in the ability to control her victims. As a Vancouvite, once they were touched, only she could bring them back from the edge. Their minds belonged to her. And as such, she could see every single thought they had, their memories, their hopes and dreams, but most importantly, she could see their fears. Because fear is the ultimate motivator. Fear will cause its victim to take someone else’s life, or even his own. With the ability to control this one emotion, he was nothing more than a marionette, a Gollum sent to do bidding. And if he proved himself, if he could withstand the fear and pain and horror without giving in and killing himself, he too, could stand to become a Vancouvite. Because it was nothing more than the shell of a human that had let the insanity take over.

When looked at in a different light, insanity was not so much the absence of being sane, but the ability to look beyond the accepted reality. To believe that one could simply be “more.” Because Lucia was devastatingly cruel, it was true. Absolutely violent with a constant yearning for another victim. But she was also passionate. When she loved, she loved completely. She felt sadness in its totality and everything to her was “more.” Her strength, her weakness, her pain, and her anger. It was more than human but less than divine. Trapped in this in-between. A place where the soul has not so much been turned over or taken but rather twisted and reshaped, she became a Vancouvite. A creature that stole minds, pilfered lives, and lived on an edge where one small nudge, the slightest breeze, would push her into the screaming oblivion.