That is

A presence, everlasting.

Love and wisdom. Knowledge in their eyes.

With each word, we change. Slightly, subtly.

Sometimes it is blood that binds us. Sometimes it is choice. Love transcends blood; cements what choice connects.

Nature’s hold is tangible in the increasing lines and slowing motions. But even She does not hold back our souls.

Sometimes a single glance. A clasping of hands.

“I know.”

Is all that is needed.

Treasure

If I didn’t know that a heart pumped blood, what would I imagine to be a heartbeat?
Would I think it a drum, played by my soul,
Or a timer, ticking, counting down to my last breath?
Would I think it the footsteps of an angel, keeping pace with my life,
Or perhaps the clinking of gears that run my body, stuttering along until my death?
Would I think it the pounding of a demon, trying to free its sins from the cage of my flesh and bones,
Or the sound of the war that constantly ravages my mind?
Would I think it thunder that accompanies the storming of emotions that make my body their home,
Or the impatient tapping of a deity, displeased with my choices?
Would I think it the ancient language of all beings, its meanings obscure and lost in the world of technology,
Or the resolute beating of the wings of my spirit, driving me ever onwards?

Would I never know that it was so very important,
Or would I know instinctively, every time I gasped for breath and it responded, every time it clenched, every time it felt it would burst with emotion,

Would I treasure my heart the way I do now?

—-

It’s been a while. I hope you are all doing well in this new year.

The Colour of Life Drained

“Don’t do that,” a stern voice had Charlotte jerking her hand backwards, away from the tepid water.

Her stepmother’s pinched face was frowning at her from the other end of the small dock. Her father had married her only a few months ago, and already Charlotte wanted her gone. It would probably never happen, though. Her father was enamoured. Always Mia this, Mia that.

When Charlotte had first heard her father’s girlfriend’s name, she had imagined someone young and inspiring. Someone who would want to spend time with her, giggling over romantic movies and Abercrombie models.

She had certainly not thought Mia would be like this. Strict, distant, and so… serious. Charlotte scowled and glanced back at the water, marveling at the contrasting colours.

The ocean, normally such a clear, brilliant blue, held swirls of gritty red that stretched like pointed, grasping fingers. She couldn’t help but reach back out to meet it.

She gasped as her wrist was caught and she was yanked backwards, falling painfully onto her backside. The worn planks offered no cushioning.

“I’m not a child,” she snapped, wrenching her wrist away.

Mia’s face was dark like a storm. “Even children have enough sense to listen.”

Charlotte pushed herself to her feet, unsteady as the waves rocked the dock. “I don’t have to listen to you,” she sneered. “You’re not my mother.”

Lips pursed, Mia straightened. “I will never be your Mother,” she replied stiffly.

Though Charlotte told herself that the words were what she wanted to hear, she could not help the pain that shuttered her face.

“She is someone I can never replace,” Mia continued. “But I am here now, whether you like it or not. I am here, and I expect you to be, as well.”

Charlotte stared, brows furrowed, feeling no guilt as she read the lines and the marks and the depths of Mia’s face. Then her eyes stuttered to the side, to the red creeping ever nearer.

“There is a reason it is the colour of life drained.” As Mia spoke, a fish floated past, belly up.

Charlotte could not look away.

“Lunch is ready. Your father is waiting.” Her footsteps drew away, and like a child, Charlotte followed.

My Students, A Study

His eyebrows curl together in perpetual worry, though he is only 6 years old. His wide, black eyes stare up at me and the world.

“Why?” he loves to ask, and only relents when an adequate explanation has been given.   Already a critical thinker, and already a troublemaker. I feel sympathy for his future teachers, but I can’t help but love his rebellious ways. He will never be a follower. I want to see where he ends up in twenty years. I don’t doubt he will be great.

It has been almost a year since I started teaching him. I’ve seen his habits develop. His once messy writing has turned neat and precise. He used to finish his work as quickly as he could, and now he takes as much time as he can. He strives for perfection. He hates being rushed. And I want to give him all the time in the world, but the clock’s ticking hands bind my own.

His distinctive laugh has begun to grate the ears. No longer small and cuddly, he has slowly transformed. In less than one year, he will be in elementary school, and his first stage of evolution will be complete. But no matter how much he changes, he will always be my precious student. A curious little candle, being hurtled down a treacherous river. My only hope is that I have helped him build a sturdy enough boat.

People: A Study

I sit on the cafe terrace and pretend that I’m waiting for someone. And in a way, I am. I’m waiting for them to walk by. For all of them.

I see weariness, excitement, surprise. Flashes. Sometimes they wave to catch my attention, lingering until their wearer has passed me by. And other times they shy away, so I turn my head.

For these brief moments, I almost feel as if I am meeting people. The first impression as I walk into a room. The superficial study that I use to look underneath.

Colours that match perfectly, colours that don’t. Blocking, styling, stating. A burst of blue, a pitter-patter of pink. They giggle across arms and down legs.

She dances like an ocean swell

Her feet cry red tears of passion and pain. Her muscles tremble in agony. Her back arches, her fingers drift through the air. A slender neck, proudly displaying her focused features. Long hair, primly observing from a loosening knot on her head.

It makes her feet bleed, but still she does not stop. She slips her bandaged foot back into the shoe and ties it tightly. She tests herself lightly. A small hop. It hurts, but she barely winces. Already her eyes are drawn to the bar, to the open floor, and her ears are listening for the beat. The rhythm of waves against strong cliff walls.

She stretches lightly again. Tendu. Petit battement. Grand battement.

Then she is flowing across the floor like an ocean swell. Her legs reach forward, her hair foams. Momentarily she descends, only to push off again, higher than before. She grows as her arms extend. At last she crashes onto the beach. Her feet hiss across the sand.

Then she retreats, and all that is left is a damp imprint of her momentary presence. A small displacement of sand.

Already she has returned to the sea. And she once again begins her journey to the shore.

I don’t regret my choice, but sometimes I do miss ballet. Or just dancing in general.

And Then I Dreamed: Hellhounds

They’re chasing after her, those red-eyed hellhounds in skins of man. She darts away, barely ahead. Her eyes are wide, her breaths released in sobs. Her long hair is taunting as it narrowly escapes the hungered reaches of her pursuers.

I cannot lie still and do nothing.

The hunters are gaining. Their eyes are gleaming. Tongues slide across bloodied teeth. They whip their horses with cruel strokes, cutting into skin, and red droplets are trampled under death dealing hooves.

Squeals are drawn from the worn steeds. Whites show as eyes roll and froth drips from chained mouths.

My heart clenches at the thought of their success. To see her fall, her red life trampled and bleeding into the ground, the notion alone makes me feel sick.

I reach out my hand, and her eyes meet mine. They’re wild, untamed. For a moment the glowing orbs rebel, until hungry cries behind her relieve her of choice. She changes direction, eyes locked with mine, and I, too, begin my journey forward.

But she is not the only one who has spotted me. The hunters renew their efforts. Now they hunt not one, but two prey.

A spike of fear runs me through. But the mere thought of them succeeding burns away the hesitation that threatened my limbs.

I can feel the tremors of the deadly hooves hitting the ground, approaching; the pounding drums that herald death.

Desperation fuels us, and finally we clasp hands. A relieved sob caresses my lips. I wrap my arms around her, and we fall to the ground. Above us the hunters triumph, horses rearing, hooves flailing, readying to execute the final note of the hunters’ drums.

But when the beat sounds, we are no longer there. For up we have flown, past the reaching hands, past the drumming hooves.

Shadowy in form, we race for the sky. Arms like wings we flap, fighting to go higher, higher. And then we begin to fall, and desperation once again claws at my heart. This wasn’t right. We had to go up. We had to. And so we rise, up and up, so light, ‘till the scene below feels like naught but a mere dream.

—-

I often have these adventure dreams where I’m on a quest to save someone. I’m not quite sure why. I guess I fancy myself a hero. Ha.

A Challenge from the Sky

The only time you ever jog is when the sky starts beating its fists against the pavement and then, inevitably, your face. The harsh smack of each drop against your skin is soothing, meditative, barely rhythmic. It beats to the pounding of your feet, it mimicks your heart. It’s almost as effective as a handy waterfall.

You’re soaked the minute you step outside. Your clothes cling to your body in dissent, and only concede in the safety and warmth of your room.

Your hair is distressed, drenched, limp. It nudges your eye, but you dismiss its complaint with a flick of your head. Droplets charge the rain ahead of you, but are soon overwhelmed and beaten down. You hope that you don’t succumb to the same fate.

There’s a burning sensation, caused by your harsh, desperate attempts to breathe. Sometimes a sympathetic droplet will land in your mouth, a willing sacrifice to soothe the anger of your throat. Your body is starting to show its resentment towards your choices.

Your legs are next to feel the flames of effort and exertion. They throb and groan in disapproval. They gnaw on your knees and hammer at your ankles. But you don’t listen because you know that they have always had weak judgement of what was good and what was not. Sometimes you consider heeding their advice, but in the end you can never resist the challenge that the sky spits down.

Your whole body begins to weep. Tears of pain make their slow pilgrimage downwards, towards the end of their existence.

For you are only human, you are limited, and you can only carry so much weight before you begin to protest. With every motion, you strike at the rain, then retreat again in defeat. And tears are torn from you with each stroke.