The Scent of Books

A black vanilla ink upon musky pages. Suitable for all. A perfume to stimulate the heart and mind.

The initial scent of salty tears fades gracefully into whispers of a freshly healed heart. The dark odour of pain and sorrow is harmonized by the spice of anger that bursts from gleaming swords.

To soften it, wafts of sweet smiles and honeyed laughs.

And finally a top note of hope that soars with each page turn, released with a crinkling sigh.

Self-Loathing

Self-loathing secrets, fighting so hard against their name.

Locked away, they yearn to be released. They wail against the walls, louder and louder until they are heard.

Rarely are they content to sit, quiet, reserved. To linger in the recesses like  meandering ghosts, unseen, unheard, unknown but for the occasional shiver of unease.

Secrets hate their very nature. They rebel against it. Imprisoned, they’ll scream through the bars until their voices join yours and they leap to freedom.

More Secrets

“Damnit, boss, you said it was a gremlin!”

“Did I? Strange, I don’t recall.”

He glanced up to see his boss squatting on the roof above them. Forty stories up. He muttered something unfavourable as the figure waved.

“What was that?”

“Nothing,” he said, his hand clenching around his phone.

“Indeed. Well, seems like Jake’s running late. You’ll have to do this one alone. Can’t fall behind schedule, after all.”

“By myself? Boss, I’m flattered at your faith in my abilities, but-“

“Chop chop!”

He cursed as he disconnected the call, shoving the phone into his pocket, and opening his bag. He unzipped the extra compartment and pulled out the red coiled rope. It was slightly faded in colour, some parts blackened and frayed, but he was unconcerned at its whining.

“Job to do,” he shrugged as he shifted the bag more comfortably on his shoulder. The rope began to glow. The light sputtered slightly. “Yeah, yeah. Complain, complain. What about me, huh? Think I want to take on this chimera by myself anymore than you do?” The glow increased until the rope began to hum in vibration. “That’s better.”

He glanced around the corner, only to jerk back quickly as a garbage can flew past his head. A furious roar followed.

“Off to a great start already.” He looped the rope and slung part of it over his shoulder. “Right, probably a good idea to move.” He ducked as giant claws dug into the building next to him. Debris clattered behind him and a long, thin neck chased him into the next alley. There was a hissing noise and he could not help groaning. “I hate snakes.”

There was a spitting noise and the ground behind him sizzled as acid ate its way through the concrete. He ducked behind a car, cringing as it, too, was sprayed, and began to melt. “I take it back,” he called out. “Snakes are great.”

The sound of a building crumbling answered.

Peering through the window, he saw the creature rear back. He swallowed. The rope in his hands was hot as energy coursed through it. His muscles tensed, and then he was moving, leaping over the car that was mostly gone.

The chimera struck. He threw the rope forward and the loop widened, hovering for a moment, before snapping forward, around the head. The rest flew from his hands and twined around the body, constricting.

There was a furious screech, and for a moment the creature writhed, and he feared that it had failed, for it was looking at him, its mouth open, and he could see the acid dripping from its mouth.

He saw the muscles move. Saw it aim. Then the rope began to glow, and he knew that the spell had activated. For a moment it was so bright that he could not see. He threw a hand over his eyes in surprise. It had never flared this brightly before.

When he lowered it, the chimera was on its side, eyes glaring, as it lay, unable to move. In front of him he could see a few drops of acid hissing on the ground, but he was unharmed. He let out a breath, shivering slightly at the close call. The creature must have been immobilized before it could complete its action.

He turned at the sound of footsteps.

“Happy now?” He grouched.

“I knew you wouldn’t die.”

“Yeah?” He snorted. “How did you figure that?”

Her eyes flicked down to his bag. “It’s ruined.”

He scowled at her evasion and glanced down, only to shout in dismay. “She’s going to kill me,” he stared at the remains of the doll his wife had made. Acid had eaten away all but part of the head and one of the arms.

His boss’ lips curled upwards. “I’m sure she’d be happy to make you another one.”

—-

Part II of Secrets. Can be read as a stand alone or a sequel. I hope it satisfies some of your curiosity!

Time

You stretch your fingers, white across my skin. Happiness, pain, networks of thin branches.

You remind me with jagged lines what life has brought. Edged, numb in the aftermath of pain. You allow me that small reprieve, that shield.

I used to hide them. Because at one point in my life, I took the wrong class, and learned the wrong material. I had to unlearn it with your eternal patience, your guidance. Never did you let me take a step back.

Now they stand, proud against my skin. My marks. Classes, passed with all the colours blended into a white, stark in contrast with my skin.

Steam

She loved the cold, but she hated winter. Her scarf muffled her breaths. The air was musty around her nose.

Her fingernails were slightly blue around the iced coffee she held. She shivered as she took a sip. She held her breath until her face was safely nestled within her scarf.

She checked her watch again. The bus was late, as usual. She curled her toes in her boots, but they did not warm.

“Cecilia, right? From Latin class?”

She glanced beside her.

“It’s Charles. We met a few times.”

She nodded and smiled but he probably did not see it. “I remember.”

He scratched his head. “It’s December,” he gestured towards her coffee.

She shrugged. “I like it iced.”

“Pardon?”

“I like the cold.”

“Ah. Well I suppose you do look quite cozy.”

She nodded. “I am.”

“Sorry?”

“I’m quite cozy.”

“Right, right.” His fingers tightened around his tumbler and she glanced away hurriedly with a shiver she could not restrain. He frowned. “You sure you’re not too cold?”

“Absolutely.”

But already he was unscrewing the top of his mug. He held it in front of her face before she could shy away. “Here, have some. It’ll warm you right up.”

She shook her head, eyes wide as she took a step back. “No, no, I don’t want-“

The steam rose in grotesque shapes that darkened his shoulders, hollow eyes grinning as tendrils wrapped around his throat and lingered near his heart. Some of them reached out towards her, and she could smell the acrid stench of corruption.

Her coffee slipped from her hands as she stumbled backwards. It splashed across the ground, and Charles cursed as it leapt up the hem of his jeans. He frowned as he glanced up at her.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled as the darkness dissipated. She hunched her shoulders and edged away.

“It’s fine,” he ran a hand through his hair and fell silent, taking a few steps away.

She clutched the strap of her bag with white knuckles. She kept her face buried safely within her scarf, shivers wracking her frame.

You

I turn around and see your face in the words on my page. The ink twists until your name forms, wet upon the page.

How long will I be stuck, caught by your web, spinning my words from your silk? When will I step free to write without your hand upon mine, directing the lines?

When will I be able to turn to you and smile. Look you in the eye. With the threads you have spun on the floor around my feet?

Come Home

I long for your sweet serenades. Your claims that peal like bells from the tallest towers. Awaken me with your melodies. Fill the air with possession.

Winter was long and silent in your absence. The air had not the warmth of your sound, the world lacked the colour of your songs. The sun could not break through the clouds without your calls to guide it.

Come home now. Bring with you the blossoming flowers and green winds of life. Let spring smile upon our faces.

—-

I started painting a couple weeks ago. Now I have all these ideas to go along with them.

Art sourced from my deviantart account.

The Phoenix

Gathering flames move sluggishly, heavy with heat. Larger, brighter, it expands in the hands of its creator, flaring under a coaxing breath. Guttural words, grunted into its flickering tips. Glimmering symbols imprinted within its dancing heart. Then it begins to grow. Outwards, hundreds of arms, hungry, reaching, pulling it upwards. Grumbles like the scraping of glass.

With a gentle push, it begins to fall. All the while it continues to expand, hungrier with every star it passes.

It approaches, and it knows that finally it can feed. Finally it can satisfy the hunger that ravages its very core.

Then a song, beautiful as the caress of raindrops. And pain. It screams. It writhes, striking wherever it can. So close. It is so close. Colours, lush with life that it longs to devour, are almost within reach.

But in its way, this small creature. Gold and red, eyes brilliant in their furious eternity. Talons, black as the sun’s shadows, and a beak, hooked, to reign the wandering flames. Wingbeats like storms drive them upwards.

It flees the discordant harmony, the pain and fury, until it reaches the safe embrace of its brethren. One day, they murmur, their gazes set upon seas of blue and green.

—-

Based on the myth of the Phoenix.

Photograph Me

   “Photograph me,” she said with a secret in her smile. So I did, to immortalize the moment.

   “Photograph me,” she insisted through tears and red eyes. Her face was blotchy, her lips turned down. So I did, because I thought that perhaps it would make her smile.

   “Photograph me,” she said with cold eyes and thin lips. A thin flush traced her cheeks as she looked down at me. So I did with the barest tremble to my hands.

   “Photograph me,” she said through coughs that seized her whole body. That drove blood from her lips, so dark in contrast to her pallid skin. Her hands, skeletal, gripped my shirt. So I did through tears that blurred the images until I could not see what it was I had taken.

   Photograph me, I remembered her words as I stared down at her lifeless features. Her words drowned out the sobbing that surrounded me. So I did. But only a cold detachment allowed me to raise my camera. Only bitterness allowed my finger to press down. And only longing kept the rolls and rolls of film hidden away in boxes, cobwebs like memories draped between the canisters.

Secrets

   “Another business trip?” She sighed as she straightened his collar and tightened his tie. “So soon after the last one.”

   “It can’t be helped,” he said as he kissed her on the cheek. “This one is an emergency meeting, and I need to be there to present.” He gazed fondly at her as she fussed over his travel bag, checking to make sure he had his toothbrush for the third time.

   The seal he had placed over the extra compartment glowed and her hand and eyes passed right over it without noticing. She zipped up his bag and handed it to him. He took it with a smile that he hoped showed none of his guilt.

   His contract flared within his mind, and any thoughts of revealing his secrets drained before they could fully form. His wife’s eyes were clear and he felt comfort knowing that she was ignorant of some of the true horrors that lay out in the world.

   Grimacing at the thought of dealing with the gremlin that had snuck into the city, he picked up his bag. “Best be off before I miss the train.”

   “Of course, dear.” His wife smoothed his jacket with small hands. “But take this with you. I made it,” she withdrew a small, knitted doll hanging guilelessly from a keychain. At his chuckle, she attached it to his bag. “A good luck charm of sorts, to keep you safe.”

   “It’s not like I’m off to war,” he said, his fingers lingering over the soft wool.

   His wife beamed. “I’ll see you in a few days.” She ushered him out the door. He waved as he left, swinging his bag over his shoulder.

   “Please, keep him safe,” she said too softly for him to hear. She smiled when she saw the doll wink. “Thank you.” She blew a kiss into the wind.

—-

Read part II here.

Earth’s Poetry

   Rain falls, Earth’s poetry. Creating bursts of brightness and colour beneath its rhythmic cadence. Life.

   It is, at times, disrupted by unruly winds that force it against the ground in pounding roars, building until it escalates beyond the gates of blood and bone.

   But eventually it settles. The darkness thins to a sighing wisp that, for now, can float free of the weight it once bore.

—-

   April is National Poetry Month. I don’t write poetry, but I do love to read it. So here is a short tribute to its beauty.

Eternal Gaze

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The forest sprawled, unending over the mountains. Trees grew intimately and the thick canopy hid all from view, undaunted by time and distance.

She paused at the top of the hill. Grass claimed the rest of the path. She shifted her bag on her shoulders, her eyes tracking the sun, the wind, and the oncoming clouds with an understanding that only pain could teach.

It was silent but for the restless branches and territorial birds. The valley was serene as it was treacherous. Beautiful as it was deadly. She brushed her fingers over the handle of the knife attached to her waist. The clawed scars on her shoulder and back burned like the fires she lit at the heart of winter, desperate to fend off the cold and the animals.

She knew that one day she would meet her end under the eternal gaze of the forest. The time would come when she would finally meet the death that fell, wet, from storms. That lingered in the eyes of beasts. So her body would become part of life, eternally reborn.

She breathed the smell of oncoming rain and stepped into the forest’s embrace.

—-

The mountains make me want to pack a backpack and roam the vast wilderness.

The Attack

“Hold my hand,” she whispered, reaching back.

“Why, are you scared?” He teased as he grabbed her hand. She did not reply.

He glanced at the dark sky with a frown. It was midday, and yet the clouds were so thick that it seemed like night. He shivered and clenched her hand tighter.

“It’s cold,” he muttered when she glanced at him. Her lips curled upwards and she cocked a brow. He flushed.

They kept moving at her insistence. Their feet crunched withered leaves and their breaths leapt from their mouths in brief, ethereal designs.

“What’s going on, anyway? Where did everyone else go?” He stumbled over a root but ignored her sharp tsk. “Why didn’t you follow the others? Wouldn’t it have been better to stay together?”

“Why didn’t you?”

“I couldn’t let you go all by yourself.”

“My hero.”

“Hey, I’m trying to help.”

“You don’t even know what I plan on doing.”

“That’s because you won’t tell me.” He hadn’t meant to sound so whiny. “Why don’t we go back? I’m sure it’s not too late to catch up with the others.”

“They’ll be long gone by now. If they made it at all.”

“What do you mean by that?” His voice wavered.

“If they made it out of the school alive, then they’ve probably been taken to a shelter. So I’m sure they’re fine.”

For a while neither of them spoke. The wind was growing stronger and the air seemed thicker somehow. Even the sound of their steps was muffled. He wondered if his ears were plugged.

“So the accident-”

“Attack.”

“Why?” He continued as if she had not interrupted. “Why the school? It’s not like we’ve done anything.”

“Doesn’t matter. It was never about us. It was about what is underneath the school.”

“Underneath? Like, some kind of monster hiding below?”

She shot him a funny look. “The well of power. Though I guess you wouldn’t know about it. They were aiming for the – energy, I suppose you could call it.”

The ground trembled and he nearly fell, only managing to balance by leaning on a nearby tree. The air trembled and for a moment it was filled with… something. Something that felt almost viscous in his lungs. He could not breathe.

She patted his back and he coughed heavily, relief slumping his shoulders as his lungs expanded.

“Looks like they broke through the protective barriers,” she said as she stared behind them. “We have to hurry.”

Never letting go of his hand, she broke into a run. He followed quickly, unable to shake the chill that had gripped his spine.

The land began to climb and his lungs burned but he did not stop because she was still running ahead of him. He almost collided with her when she stopped at the top of the hill. Then he clapped his hand over his mouth and fought sudden nausea.

It was not so much what he saw that repulsed him. In fact, it looked almost ordinary. A black stone, about half his size, lay in the centre of a large crater. It was smoking slightly, and looking closer he could see deeper shadows writhing within flat walls and sharp angles.

The air around it was what made him gag. It was putrid. It stank of something had never encountered, but knew so intrinsically that he instinctively took a step back, because it was twisted into something unnatural and forced upon a world that was not meant to hold such an abomination.

“Why did you bring me here,” his voice cracked.

“I told you not to follow me, but you didn’t listen. Now it’s too late. You’re safer here than you are back there. Its attention has been drawn away, and it has grown careless in its victory.”

She opened her backpack and pulled out a chain. It should have been too heavy for her to lift, but she coiled it around her shoulders as one would a scarf. It made no noise, and though it had looked at first like metal, he felt foolish for thinking it could ever be made of such a weak material. Symbols glowed along each link as it shifted and then settled like a snake coiled in anticipation.

“Stay here,” she said as she placed her bag at the base of a large tree. “If anything happens, run,” she pointed away from the school and stone and herself, “North.”

She couched down and removed her shoes, placing them next to her bag. Her feet wiggled in the loose dirt. And when she stood, she seemed different. Her eyes held a glow that repelled the dark stench in the air. He had not realized how bad it was until he met her gaze.

Questions nagged his tongue. What are you? He wanted to ask. No, he wanted to shout. But he didn’t. Instead, he ignored them and crossed his arms. “Then who would guard your shoes?” He said instead, a smile finding its way onto his face, despite his low shivers and tense muscles.

It took a moment, then her eyes softened and something sparkled deep within them. She stepped forward and kissed his cheek, a mere whisper of lips upon his skin. Then she was gone, flying over the edge and towards the perversion.

His hand reached up and touched his cheek. His heart thumped loudly in his ears. And for a moment he forgot his fear.

Transformation

The snow fell heavily for four days, weighing even the tallest of trees with sighs of white. When finally it stopped, all was still and silent. Even the wind fell into taciturn contemplation.

It was the sun that blossomed sound to back to life. Starting with the smallest of drops, it began the arduous task of coaxing the world back to life. Slowly the snow’s white glare began to melt away, slumping from branches and grumbling its way into streams. Steaming from branches and raining its last breaths, it faded to life.

And the noise was what brought the plants to sleepy awareness. Yawning, they stretched upwards to relieve the winter stiffness. Smiling in colours, they greeted each other in brightness. The wind chuckled through the air at last, spinning a dizzy dance of warmth.

—-

Spring is here at last!

Is He Well?

“Oh, you were his classmate, weren’t you? I remember seeing your photo in the yearbook. You really stood out.” She gestured for the woman to sit.

The lady chose the seat fully illuminated by the sun. She sat straight with the might and strength of the ancient forests. The brown and green of her eyes drank in the light even as she refused the offer of coffee.

“I remember my son talked of you at times,” her smile held memories. “I suppose it is because of that that I knew he had not truly been abandoned.” Her cup clinked as it met the plate in front of her. “I was offended at first. Did she not trust me?” She chuckled away her watery eyes. “Then I was jealous, because he was my son and who was she to interfere.” Her gaze wandered to the trees across the street from the small cafe. “But in the end I came to realize that so long as he had people there for him, I would be happy.”

Her hands played with the napkin. She was silent for a while. “Is he… is he happy? Is he well?”

The woman reached over and placed a hand upon her own, calming the gentle trembles. The hand felt as smooth as a tree’s bark and her hair reflected forests. The sun shone from the woman’s smile.

She closed her eyes for a moment. And when she opened them, she was alone but for the wind’s whispering words and the cheerful laughter of leaves.

—-

Another in the Changeling Child series

Her Child
Changeling Child
Changeling Child II
In the Sun
Her Child II
Longing
Return
Torn