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.

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vulnerable

My fortress of solitude. At least it's pretty. Don't hate.

My fortress of solitude. At least it’s pretty. Don’t hate.

The rain is pounding on the roof and the wind won’t stop howling. I’m looking at the movie, but really watching him. I wonder what would happen if I actually told him what I thought. I play the scene out in my head, about six different ways, and each of them ends in catastrophe. So I say nothing. When he looks at me I smile and look back at the movie.

Of course I wasn’t watching you, how odd would that be?

I don’t know why I keep pretending my heart’s not already out there. Available and free for the taking.  And I still don’t know what I’m so afraid of. Well, yes I do. But I have to maintain a sense of composure, a sense of dignity. Damnit I have my pride! And my pride is best maintained with silence.  A fortress, if you will, of solitude.

Besides all that, I already know the conclusion. I remember saying I had no expectations. This is still true, but in my mind, sometimes, everything plays out differently. I am just not sure what to do with the pieces of me. Not sure where to put them or how to place them correctly. A long time ago, I thought I knew my heart. But now, there are all of these gaps and open spaces. The light shines through and gives away the frailty of what I’m working with.  I think all of the pieces are still there, but I just can’t quite figure out how I’m put together. So for now, I guess I’ll just keep my mouth shut, and watch this stupid movie.

pingback: Daily Prompt: Fright Night

Getting a new iPhone is like…

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Eating a funfetti cupcake. Yum.

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(amazing cupcake photo courtesy of Life and Food Porn)

I bet you didn’t see that one coming. But bear with me; I’m pretty sure this isn’t what you think it will be.

A couple weeks ago, I got my new iPhone. When I found out that it had finally come in the mail, I typed “ERMAHGERD, I AM EXCITE,” to my friend, just so she could understand the level of excitement emanating from me at that moment. It was new, it was different, it was updated, it was…. better!!

I thought about the phone for a good portion of the day, contemplating it’s shiny new-ness, and laughing at my current iPhone 4 and it’s age related shortcomings, while simultaneously pleading it to continue working. I considered all of the extra features, imagined how fast it would be, and of course wondered about the awesome gold “plate” on the back of it.

I picked the iPhone up at Office #2 after I got done from work at Office #1, gloriously parading the box around for the empty office and my imaginary sidekicks to see. Once I was satisfied that all the inanimate objects in the office had gotten an appropriate glimpse of the box that held the shiny new-ness, I promptly went home to begin The Transfer. In an effort to keep the excitement running as long as possible, I likened this to Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein and (of course) imagined that I was Dr. Frankenstein, and the iPhone – my monster.

I went through all the normal back-ups and phone activation. Through this activation process I finally understood that passwords control my life to the point that I’m not allowed to make a call from the number that I pay for, with the phone I bought with my money, unless I enter the secret password I set about 8 years ago (seriously, what the hell is the extra password for….). After going through all these steps and managing to not ruin, impair, or otherwise permanently disable my phone (honestly, I am completely non-technical. I can barely manage to get a blog posted with both links and pictures), my phone was…. A L I V E.

It then proceeded to say “hello” in more languages than I have fingers and toes, all while calmly walking me through set up. Pretty soon, I was back on the main home screen and ready to go. Done and done.

And this anti-climactic ending, this smallest of denouements, my dear readers, is why a new iPhone, in all it’s shiny golden-backed glory, is like a funfetti cupcake with rainbow chip icing….

You see, I love those cupcakes. They shaped my childhood in a way that only sugar highs and the smell of baked goods can. As a child, when you eat a funfetti cupcake, they are always delicious. And somehow, the deliciousness multiplies exponentially with the number of cupcakes you stuff into your face.

But as you get older, something changes. You look at the cupcake with the same food lust as before.

“The cupcake is delicious.”

“I will eat this cupcake and it will be as though unicorns are prancing around me. A pegasus will fly overhead. That is how good this cupcake will be.”

But you realize, once you finally get your gluttonous paws on it, that it’s just another funfetti cupcake with rainbow chip icing. In fact, it’s even a little dry from slight overcooking and being set up on the counter. And the icing, it’s still good. Well mostly, but now it bites with sugar in a way that is slightly less than pleasant.

But you eat it anyway and you smile. Maybe even take another. And your deliciousness factor will not increase exponentially, but you’ll still remark on how good it is. You will talk about the cupcake and repeat, “I know, I love these things!” You will do this because it is expected. You will do this because you accept that it is expected and have subsequently become a willing participant. But most of all, you will do this because two cupcakes are always better than one, a new iPhone is better than the old, and the only language we all seem to understand is more.

Witch people

When I was a child, I was a witch. I had a book of spells that I had crafted, half out of ingenuity and half out of necessity (I mean really, how many spells could I possibly remember for turning a person into a frog, or a rabbit, or a hamster?). I wrote pages and pages of spells in that book, complete with made up potion combinations and ingredients. I have no idea where I came up with the words because they were obviously not based on a romance language, and also most certainly not Germanic. Perhaps my mind had tapped in to some deeper power. The power of gibberish. Either way, if I mixed these mythical ingredients together, according to my explicit instructions, it would result in momentous magic. I still remember all of the things I could create with my mashed up words and scribbled handwriting and inaccurate measurements strewn on the page. I could do anything.

And that is the amazing thing about witches. From what I have put together from studying the history of witchcraft and witch hunts in school (Yea, that’s a class, honest. I went to a liberal arts college, what can I say), and through my own reading on the subject, they were a force within themselves. And not the force that is perpetuated today. I never saw them as women inciting terror, flying through the night cackling at the moon. Instead, I always viewed them as women that were able to see what they wanted, and then let themselves have it. And isn’t that an amazing gift? To see something in your sights, and allow yourself to take it? To be smart enough to take it, or quick enough. To just be enough.

The very idea, the idea of enough, is one that we rail against and scream about and are bombarded with in a million different ways. Are you thin enough to fit into the “right” clothing size that society has selected as beautiful? Are you smart enough to get that promotion at work? Are you funny enough to have your group of friends double every time you open your mouth (as opposed to shrinking, which sometimes happens when I talk)?

I don’t know. What is enough? And who defines it? And how do I get it? As I get older, I grow tired of this constant line of questioning. It’s frustrating and unproductive. A constant repetitive interrogation that goes on and on. Instead, I’m starting to realize it’s simply a matter of perspective. I am enough because I say I am. And that is the true magic. The funny thing is, in the end, I guess I turned out to be a witch after all.

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Place St. Francois de Sales

Place St. Francois de Sales

A walk by moonlight in the town of Annecy.

This photo was taken in Annecy, France during a late night walk by the river in the town center. There was something about this lamp, next to a relatively uninspiring placard that gave me a moment of pause. The lamp was beautiful in its history, in the fact that the metal had probably been handcrafted, and the glass delicately placed within the metal. The placard was equally beautiful with its unique font and weathered paint.

I took many pictures that night as I walked through the town. And while I enjoy this picture, and the others from that night, none of them can really capture how the moon glinted on the water, or how the lanterns outside the restaurants gave off a warm glow of firelight. It could be operator error of the camera that these weren’t appropriately rendered (entirely possible; trust me). But I think it was something more. A photograph can capture on film the moment a feeling or action transpires, but it is imagination that creates the romance. It is our presence in that exact time and space that creates an understanding of the beauty around us, and the feeling of thankfulness that we have been placed within that moment. I am thankful I had the opportunity to see Annecy by moonlight, by daylight, and to eat the amazing food it had to offer. I am also extremely thankful that I have photo editing software on my computer to help make up for my shortcomings behind the camera.