applespice: it is a sparkly fairy (Default)

Banner by [livejournal.com profile] fleeting_days.


Hello, internet! This journal is friends only. If you are interested in adding me, there are some things you should know. I am:

  • a woman
  • very liberal
  • geeky
  • girly
  • a teacher
  • into fitness and healthy living
  • pretty awesome anyway, most of the time


All of these things will figure pretty heavily into what I write here, so if you're down with all of that, feel free to comment and I'll most likely add you. If not, well. The internet is a vast and varied place, and I hope you find what you're looking for.

♥♥♥
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy (Default)

Banner by [livejournal.com profile] bluebraid


Hello, internet! This journal is friends only. If you are interested in adding me, there are some things you should know. I am:

  • a woman
  • very liberal
  • geeky
  • girly
  • a teacher
  • into fitness and healthy living
  • pretty awesome anyway, most of the time


All of these things will figure pretty heavily into what I write here, so if you're down with all of that, feel free to comment and I'll most likely add you. If not, well. The internet is a vast and varied place, and I hope you find what you're looking for.

♥♥♥
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([reading] lost in these pages)
I haven't done one of these in years, but it just struck me today to put a post up. If you have something weighing on you that you'd like to get out, post it here!

Share a secret in the comments. Anonymous commenting is on and IP logging is off, so share whatever you like.

Maybe I'm just feeling a little secretive today?
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([avengers] black widow represent)
Haven't done one of these in a dark age.

THE YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL MEME

applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([the IT crowd] FAIL)
Well, I am getting eliminated in LJ Idol tonight. I usually post my entries on Monday evening just a little ways before the deadline, that way I have ample time to write, look over what I've written, reconsider, and then finally post. Unfortunately, tonight was Report Cart Pickup at school. I still would've made it... but then there was an unexpected meeting for the class I sponsor. I didn't even get out of work until after the deadline had passed.

This isn't exactly the way I planned to go out - I'm extremely competitive and am pretty much always in it to win it, so I'll confess to being a bit depressed. LJ Idol has been a fun and wonderful way for me to practice and hone my writing and I'll really miss that. I wish I could say I'll definitely Home Game, but I'm so busy that most of what has been motivating me to stay on track is the deadline (you know, the one I just missed... lol). Still, I may try and keep up just to keep improving my skills.

For those of you I met this year through Idol, it's been a blast. To those of you still in the game, good luck!

LC, why do you ruin all of the good things??
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([game of thrones] dany blue)
She woke to bells ringing. Far off, at the top of High Hill, skinny church boys were pulling on the ropes, the sound rolling down from the crown of the city into every sleeping ear. It was not yet dawn.

Katina went immediately to the window. Against the bruised sky the processional torches stood out like stars, a glittering constellation around the foot of High Hill Cathedral. As she watched, first one light then another separated from the glowing knot and began the slow march down from the peak of the hill, like beads sliding down a string.

“Katina! Are you up?” Her mother’s voice, sleep-fogged, on the other side of the door.

“I’m up.”

“Dress quickly so that I have time to do your hair.”

The pale blue dress hung from a hook in the wardrobe. Katina ran her fingers over the light fabric and lace trim. In a secret corner of her heart, she was excited to wear the dress. She imagined walking through the streets in her bare feet, hem skating the pavestones, flowers woven into her hair. It was her first year to wear blue. At sixteen, she was no longer a child, so the old white dress that had been stretched and added to until it was patched and ragged was put away forever.

The dress fit perfectly, fluttering around her like a breath of wind. The dress fit close in the bodice, accentuating the curves that had begun to rise from her slender shape. Even her mother couldn’t resist reaching out to feel the soft cloth between her fingers, though her mouth did not curve into a smile.

“You look beautiful, Katina.” But her eyes were dark and sad. She wound flowers into Katina’s black hair, heavy blue blooms that tugged at the intricate whorls she crafted so carefully.

Almost as soon as she had finished, bells rang again. These were deeper than the waking bells, rich and dark and full of meaning.

“Come, Katina,” her mother said, pulling on a black veil that matched her somber dress. They went out into the street.

Around them flowed a river of people dressed in all the colors of sky and sea. White, palest blue, true blue, navy, indigo, black, each according to age and status. Most women wore flowers in their hair though some wore ribbons, and Katina knew that once they reached the palazzo they would see the richer women bedecked with jewels and precious metals.

Most people were silent as they walked, though some of the children chattered or cried and there was always the wind-rustle of whispering in the crowd. Katina was quiet until she felt the pressure of another hand on hers.

“Eloise!” Eloise was her best friend: tiny, blond, and bold. Her dress was a confection of airy ruffles and her blue eyes seemed to glow. Katina lowered her voice. “You look amazing!”

“So do you,” Eloise said in a voice that was not quite a whisper. “That blue looks perfect against your skin. D’you think some of the boys from our class will see us?” She was struck with a sudden gale of giggles – not unusual, in her case. “I know it’s awful, but I really hope they do! I don’t think I’ve ever looked this good in my life!”

Katina shushed her friend. Eloise never took anything seriously, and the insistent piping of her voice was sure to draw the attention of Katina’s mother. Katina doubted she’d be amused by Eloise’s irreverence.

They didn’t speak again, but held hands all the way to the palazzo. Katina wondered if her friend’s heart was beating as rapidly as her own.

Katina’s home wasn’t far from the palazzo, but the crowd was thick and many people had already arrived. Eloise gave her a quick hug and dashed off to stand with her parents, leaving Katina with her mother. Not for the first time, Katina wished that she had the kind of mother she could confide in – someone she could tell about her conflicting feelings of fear and excitement. Her mother would never understand. Her mouth was a thin, tight line under her veil, and she clasped her hands so tightly that her knuckles turned white.

The palazzo was enormous and the crowd even more so, but it wasn’t long before everyone had found a place. It seemed only the space of a few moments before the priests filed out onto the raised platform at the front of the square. Silence fell like a stone; even the smallest child felt his breath stolen away.

The priests wore robes of rich, saturated purple and their necks were draped with gleaming silver chains. Each wore a heavy hood that drowned his features in shadow. Only the hands were visible – surprisingly young hands, all unblemished by age or scar. They formed a semicircle with a gap in the middle and stood with their heads bowed.

Then came the High Priest, in robes of deepest black. Even his hands were covered by soft black gloves, leaving him completely shrouded in darkness. He moved to fill the empty space at the front of the platform. Every person in the press seemed to be drawn onto their tiptoes, connected to him by an invisible, unbreakable thread. There was no rustling of fabric or shuffling of feet – only silence, thick with meaning, until he began to speak.

“Children of Sanctuary,” he said in a booming, resonant voice that carried to even the farthest ears, “I welcome you in the name of the Lord God, who is our shelter in times of trouble.”

There was an outbreak of pious muttering at this pronouncement, which the High Priest seemed to have expected. He paused magnanimously. When he spoke again, the voices immediately ceased.

“I am confident that I need not remind you why we join together on this, the first day of summer, but lest the absence of words leads us to forgetting, I will speak briefly of our meaning here.” Even though everyone in the palazzo, from the oldest to the youngest, knew why they had gathered, they all listened silently with their eyes wide and attentive.

“Many generations ago, our ancestors came here fleeing the horrors of war. The very earth and sky had been rent by man’s violent machinations, but while many had turned away their eyes from God’s light, some yet hungered for peace. In God’s name they built Sanctuary, our beautiful city. They wished only for harmony and brotherhood, and to make an end of war and pain.”

The High Priest’s tone turned somber. “Sadly, those whose hearts burned already with the flames of Hell were too caught up evil’s grasp to allow even this one haven of peace and fellowship. They surrounded the walls of Sanctuary, vowing to slake their thirst on blood and tears. The people despaired, fearing that the city would be destroyed.”

Katina risked a quick glance around the palazzo. Nearly everyone in the crowd was staring at the High Priest, their expressions rapt. But only a few yards away, Eloise caught her eye, grinned, and winked. Katina turned her head away quickly, hoping no one else had seen.

“The priests of the city gathered on the High Hill, then crowned only by grass and wildflowers, and begged God upon their knees for mercy and redemption. For seven days and nights they prayed constantly, never eating, surviving only on water.”

Katina felt herself leaning forward. She knew what was coming – had heard this story every year since she could remember – but it still moved her, even now. Even despite her own growing fear.

“On the eighth day, at sunrise, one of the priests rose from his knees. ‘Brothers,’ he cried. ‘I have heard God’s voice in the deep, and I know how we may be saved.’ The other priests rejoiced, and they moved through the city, calling out the news to the people they passed. Soon every man, woman, and child was following the priest who had heard God’s voice as he moved toward the city wall, his face alight with rapture and joy.

“When he reached the wall, he climbed to the place just above the gate and looked down on the evil horde massed below. ‘Brothers,’ he cried again, for though they were the enemy, they had indeed once been brothers to those holy men and women who lived in Sanctuary. ‘Will you not cease your war-mongering? Will you not leave this place?’ And the horde answered, ‘No!’ And they laughed at the holy brother and threw filth at him, though he did not flinch away. ‘We have no riches to loot,’ the priest called down. ‘Or food enough to feed such a host.’ ‘It is not riches or food we want,’ replied the horde.
‘Blood is what calls us. Death is all we want.’ And the priest looked grave and sad, but he had known all along that this is what the evil army would say. ‘Then I come down to you, my brothers,’ he said. ‘And give you what you desire.’

“The priest climbed down from the gate and spoke to the gathering of God’s people one last time. ‘I heard my name in God’s voice,’ he said, and his voice was full of light. ‘I go in God’s name, and God shall save us all.’ And before the people could understand his meaning, he opened the gate and slipped out.”

Here the High Priest bowed his head, and Katina felt herself doing the same. “The horde fell upon the priest like vermin and tore him to pieces. But even with his last breath he prayed for their salvation, and when the deed was done they felt ashamed. God’s arrows pierced their hearts, and they left Sanctuary in disgrace.”

The crowd drew a shuddery breath. For now was the moment they had waited for – the moment they most feared.

“Evil has not left us entirely,” the High Priest said grimly. “Every year, on the first day of summer – the day of the holy man’s sacrifice – darkness gathers at our gates and bays for blood. Every year the emissaries of Hell require a sacrament of blood and tears so that we may live in peace.”

Katina could feel her hands begin to shake.

“Every year, the priests gather on the High Hill and pray for seven days and seven nights. On the eighth day at sunrise, God’s voice sounds in our ears to tell us who shall be the avatar of our salvation for the year to come.”

Now Katina felt her entire body trembling. She had been safe as a child – God never required the sacrifice of an innocent. Now she was a woman, wearing her first blue dress. The color of the sky, of Heaven, of healing and mercy. Her lips began to move, and silently she prayed.

“God has spoken through us,” the High Priest said. The priests around him linked hands, reaching out at last to touch the night-black gloves. “He has chosen.”

Silence. Tears welled in Katina’s eyes. Around her, the crowd stopped breathing, stopped moving, stopped praying.

“Eloise Marvall.”

There was a shriek. Eloise’s mother stood with her hands over her mouth, her face white as bone. Eloise’s father fell to his knees, trembling. Katina felt her mother grip her hand, but it felt as though her body was far away from the rest of her. Eloise? No, no, not Eloise.

“No!” Eloise shouted. Her face, usually alight with fun and laughter, was wild, almost bestial. “No! I won’t go! It’s not right! It’s not –“ She spun on her heel, tried to run. Hands reached out from every angle, holding her in place.

“Eloise,” said the High Priest, his deep voice carrying over the tumult. “God has spoken. You will keep us safe.”

“I don’t want to!” Eloise screamed. “No!” But the hands pushed, pulled, dragged her forward. Her eyes were wide, the beauty of the blue lost in terror. “No, please!”

When she reached the foot of the platform, the priests reached out and grabbed her wrists. Those hands, so young and smooth, held her in a grip of iron. “Noooo!” Eloise screamed. Her voice had grown ragged, but she continued to struggle. “This is wrong! This is evil!

Katina tasted bile. She wanted to scream, too. She wanted to run forward, grab her friend, tear her away from the priests’ horrible, grasping hands. But she did not move. She did not scream. She felt sick. She felt as though her heart had shattered and sent razor-sharp splinters into every nerve of her body.

And deep down, in the secret place of her heart, she felt relief.

It had to happen. Though she ground her teeth to think of Eloise turned out of the city gates into the world beyond – the world that had been ravaged by war, populated by the descendants of evil men, their souls mutated until they barely resembled the humans they had once been – it was the only way. It was God’s way.

So when they dragged Eloise, screaming and weeping, her hands twisting in the priests’ impossible hold, Katina stood still and watched. God’s ways were unchangeable. He had kept them safe for generations, hundreds of years. Who was Eloise to question the way things had always been done? Who was she to question Him?
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([walking dead] atlanta)
This. Is. Bullshit.

First they foist these so-called "11th hour recruits" on us in the barracks - no warning whatsoever - and now we're expected to deal with them in training as well? I get that things have been going kind of pear-shaped lately, but surely we haven't come to this!

Military training ain't no fun and games; that's a fact. I know they make out in those old films like it was a bitch then, but that's nothing compared to the current setup. Today, for example, we've been dropped off in the middle of what used to be some rinky dink one-stoplight town in Bum Fuck, Egypt - and they didn't tell us 'til we got here that we'd be up against live targets out there.

Well, not live. You know what I mean.

Either way, here we are, locked and loaded and thinking we're in for another "shoot the wooden outline depicting a bad guy" session and we're hit with the knowledge that this time, the fuckers can come after us, too! With those so-called "recruits" sitting right there like it ain't no thing!

Listen, the military might be A-OK with that kind of blood on their hands, but I'm sure as hell not. Yeah, there'll be spotters and snipers and bigwigs out there keeping an eye on us, but I've heard about this kind of training. At least one recruit dies every time. Some of the guys say the bigwigs let it happen, to teach us that you can't underestimate the enemy or some crap like that. No matter how you slice it, I know - I just know - that it's going to be one of those cute little 11th hours that takes a dirt nap today. And I just don't know if I can watch.

We come off the convoy and line up in the hot June sunshine, ten-hut, etc. Get the rundown on the place. It ain't much (most people assume that Army grunts are dumb as a box of hair so they keep things short and to the point), but it'll do for a tense afternoon. We're to clear out the little town before us - leave no bogeys walking. Lots of saluting and we're off to the races.

I decide early in the game that I'm going to shadow a particular 11th hour; cover them, you know. Watch their back. I choose Anderson, an impetuous redhead I'd noticed during training.

"Hey, Anderson," I call as I approach. "What d'you say we hit this thing together?"

Anderson responds with a slightly-curled lip and a shift in weight. Of course, these types are eager to prove themselves - probably not crazy about sharing any potential glory by teaming up. Still, it's the right thing to do. That's got to be obvious.

"Fine. But don't crowd me."

We jog off into the worn maze of streets. It's amazing how quickly nature creeps back in after humanity has left. It's only been about five years since the outbreak, but already trees are starting to grow through windows and weeds have choked all but the hardiest of sidewalks. I take the lead on Anderson, but turn to check back frequently.

There is a sudden tattoo of gunfire in the near distance (everything in this town is the "near distance") and Anderson flinches at the sound. What can you expect? Some people just aren't cut out for combat duty.

"Watch it." Anderson nods at the split-levels we're passing. "The noise'll draw them out."

Typically paranoid. The gunfire wasn't that close, but here's Anderson with gun at the ready, eyes strafing the street for any signs of deadheads.

"You gotta calm down," I say. "You don't want to show the guys in charge that you're jumpy."

"Jumpy?" Anderson snorts.

"Yeah, jumpy. The idea is to be alert, not flinching out of your skin every time you hear a gun go off."

Anderson glares contemptuously at me then resumes the periscope-head maneuver, gun up.

"Listen," I say. "I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, but it is what it is. You know better than anyone that you can't be jumping around like you've got a bee up your skirt every time you hear someone shoot a --"

"Watch out!"

I don't even see it coming. A hand grabs me by the collar and drags me backwards, throwing me off my feet.

"Aaargh!" I find myself on my back, staring up at the wasted face of what used to be a Taco Bell worker. Shreds of purple uniform hang off the emaciated body - he's even still got part of the hat. His eyes are all scratched up, marble-blind, but he doesn't need to see me to get a nice big bite. My gun clatters to the ground, and I feel a warm jet of urine hit the inside of my leg.

The gun report is so loud that my teeth clack together. The grip on my neck is gone, and I feel the press of warm, human fingers on my wrist.

"Get up, you asshole!" I open my eyes. Anderson is standing over me, a few strands of red hair dangling down toward my face. "There'll be more."

She hauls me to my feet. The Taco Bell worker, now practically headless, remains on the ground. "Next time, keep your fucking eyes open!" She hisses, "Or I'll tell everyone you had your ass saved by a girl!"
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([art] i'm not sorry)
Valentine’s Day means a full eight hours of heartbreak, tears, and crushing disappointment.

Oh, not for me. Even worse – for my students.

It’s one of the hazards of being a high school teacher that on Valentine’s Day I have to deal with about 10% of my students carrying around an enormous cache of “romantic” gifts (using the teenaged definition of “romantic,” which is startlingly opposed to the usual adult use of the term) – cheap teddy bears, roses that are soon crushed by obsessive handling, and those fucking mylar balloons – while the rest look on in either annoyance or jealousy. If it were only the looking I could deal, but as my students are completely incapable of keeping what’s inside their heads out of their mouths, I get a bitter running commentary throughout all five periods of the day. By the time I get home I could definitely do with a romantic dinner and a sensual massage of my own, but unfortunately for me my boyfriend is in another city for school during the week... so I’m stuck with Diet Cherry 7Up, a grilled cheese sandwich, and reruns of Criminal Minds.

This is my third year of teaching. By now, I expect certain things on Valentine’s Day.

1. Somebody will get dumped.
There are many cruel people in this world and most of them are teenaged boys. For whatever reason, these douchebags-in-training can think of no better way to stick it to the poor girl that foolishly agreed to date them than to dump her on Valentine’s Day. She comes to school buoyed up by the expectation of a crappy Wal-Mart teddy bear only to have her hopes and dreams crushed by the unwashed asshole she thought she loved – poor thing.

The best-case scenario (for me) is if there are only tears and excessive texting to the boy in question. This is annoying but can be dealt with. The worst-case scenario is, well...

2. Somebody got cheated on.
It sucks enough to be a teenaged girl* dumped on Valentine’s Day, a holiday almost certainly designed for teenaged girls. It sucks twice as hard if you got dumped for the side piece. All of a sudden she’s carting around your half-wilted roses and wearing your boyfriend’s enormous filthy hoodie. It’s too much to bear!

When this happens, the girl usually can’t handle the strain on her own. There are the usual tears and texting, but she will also want to “take a break” out in the hallway while her best friend reassures her. This is bad enough if her best friend is already in my class, but usually she isn’t and will show up unannounced in the middle of the period like some kind of skinny-bejeaned fairy godmother summoned by the power of friendship. This will completely disrupt my class, naturally.

Bonus points if either the dumpee or the side piece are pregnant – that always adds an extra layer to this tiramisu of awfulness.

*Don’t think that boys get out of this completely scot-free. While I have the girlfriends, my school is helplessly overcrowded so I probably have the boyfriends, too. So I get to deal with this from both sides of the coin – lucky me. And there are plenty of cold-hearted teenaged girls out there as well, ready to dump their boyfriends on this most sacred of high school holidays with the best of the bastard boys. If anything, a broken-hearted boy is even harder to deal with than a broken-hearted girl, as they are about 50% more likely to be irrationally angry along with the crying and texting. There’s nothing quite like bearing the brunt of a boy’s melodramatic emotional outburst only to have him expect for all to be cool once he tells you he’s “just dealing with some stuff.”*

But as we are all aware, most of us having been there at least once in our lives, not everyone has a significant other to dump them on Valentine’s Day. This leads me to the last V-Day expectation....

3. Somebody’s gonna be single.
This is possibly the saddest group of all. At least the others got to enjoy having a boy- or girlfriend for awhile, even if they had to be cruelly cut loose in the end. The perpetually singles never even had the faint hope of getting a bear or a balloon – they knew that the day would only bring disappointment.

There are several different shades of this particular individual, ranging from mostly apathetic (or at least pretending to be) to out-and-out rageaholic. I consider it a boon if I only have to hear about “Single’s Awareness Day” or some light bashing of the Valentine encumbered once or twice per class period. Sometimes, though, you get someone who just can’t let up, and that is no fun at all. The most disheartening bit is the secondhand embarrassment you feel for these types, as they could not make it more obvious (despite constant demands to the contrary) that they reallyreally wanted to be someone’s Valentine and are desperately disappointed that no spontaneous confessions of love were made and cheesy gifts given. It's sad but understandable, as again - who hasn't been there?

At any rate, by the time the day is done I am more than ready to go home. Riding the rollercoaster of teenage emotions is difficult even on the most innocuous of days, but Valentine’s Day is a minefield of FEELINGS that run the gamut from ebullient to gut-stabbing, and it is more than a little exhausting for those of us who like to think we’ve moved to bigger and better.

But I’m still going to get those flowers in the mail, right?

Right?



Happy Valentine's Day!
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] all lit up)
Loosely based on this story: Bald suspect wanted for stealing Rogaine from NY pharmacy.


“It isn’t you,” she said, chewing her lip guiltily as his heart reeled from the sudden sucker punch.

“I… you…” he mumbled, trying to keep the room from spinning away under his feet. Though he (thankfully) couldn’t see his face at this particular moment, he could only imagine it as wearing an expression similar to a terror-stricken antelope just as the lion’s jaws clamped down on its back end – the sag-mouthed horror and white-rolling eyes.

“Don’t be like that,” she said, with the old petulant pout that made him weak. The room pitched dangerously with that quirk of her lips, and he momentarily wondered if he would pass out cold on the middle of the braided rug. “Don't be dramatic. I just said it isn’t you!”

“Well, who else is it, then?” The question came out as more of a shout, heavily tinged with desperation. It echoed sickeningly in his ears.

“It isn’t like that,” she said with a leftwards-shifting glance that meant it definitely was. “It’s just… you know we’ve been growing apart. The old spark hasn’t been there lately.”

He knew no such thing and told her so. The spark was as bright as ever, in his opinion, maybe even brighter and more vigorous than it had been when they first met. He begged, he pleaded, he tried to use logic. She’d made up her mind, though, and that was that. She packed a few bags while he sat in the bathroom pretending not to cry, and then left without saying another word to him.

Headed to her new boyfriend’s place, no doubt. The thought made him sick.

He stayed home from work for three days, and in that time the thought of her mysterious new romance grew larger and larger in his mind. By the end of the third day, his obsession had yielded into something even more unsettling - a plan of action. He would find this new boyfriend, figure out what made him so damned special, and find a way to bring him down.

After his first day back at work (the majority of which he spent pretending that he was still slightly sick with the flu to keep his coworkers at bay), he drove over to the 24-hour-clinic where she worked. He parked his car in an inconspicuous spot from which he had a clear view of the employee exit and slunk down in his seat to keep watch.

He didn't have to wait long. His entire world may have been upended, but she still kept to her usual schedule. At a few minutes after six, she bounced out of the clinic in her powder pink scrubs and heavy coat, her white sneakers gleaming in the winter afternoon gloom.

If he had expected her to look distraught... upset... even mildly put out, he was sorely disappointed. She fairly bounded across the asphalt, her face carefully made up and glowing. In a single nauseating instant he realized that her friend Julie would not be the one picking her up today, as usual - she would instead be quickly entering the proximity of his nemesis and he had not fully prepared himself for the sight.

It was too late. Before he could avert his eyes, she reached out and popped open the door of a spotless silver SUV. Inside, the silhouette of a man leaned over to greet her, kiss her... but his eyes were not focused on the point where their lips met, no! Would that it were so. Instead he stared in horror as the difference that set his replacement apart was clearly limned by the light of the setting sun. Of course! How could he have missed it?

In stark shadow, ablaze along its luxurious rills and ridges, was an abundant head of hair.

He sat back, utterly deflated. Almost unconsciously, his hand crept to his skull, as if tentatively hoping for something other than the cold hard reality that had faced him in the mirror every day for the past seven years. His hand met nothing but smooth, hairless skin.

So acute was his horror that he didn't even watch them as they drove away. He only slumped in his car in horror, his eyes staring off into some alternate past where he had never lost his hair. She had always asked him to do something about it, always worried that it made him look older and less masculine. He had just laughed off her concerns. What a fool he'd been!

Suddenly he sat up, his hands slapping down on the steering wheel in resolution. He hadn't done anything about it then, but he could do something about it now. They had seven years of history - what if he suddenly reappeared in her life with a full head of hair? Surely she couldn't ignore his willingness to change for her or his obvious dedication to making her happy. This new guy and his shiny SUV wouldn't stand a chance. He wrenched the keys in the ignition and slammed the car into drive, roaring out of the parking lot.

When he reached the pharmacy, it wasn't too busy - just a few grandmas doing their evening shopping and some kids checking out the candy selection. He walked purposefully back to the hair care section, determined not to be embarrassed. So he would buy something to supplement hair growth - what was wrong with that? Plenty of men did it!

It was only upon reaching the aisle and the rows of glinting Rogaine boxes with their lush-headed models that he discovered the flaw in his plan. Each box - each tiny, nearly insignificant box - cost a staggering fifty dollars. And he knew, egg-headed as he was, he would need far more than one box.

For a moment he stood in anguish. What could he do? Money had been tight - would continue to be tight - since she had left. His job as a grocery clerk would barely bring in enough money to cover rent and a small number of groceries. He certainly couldn't afford multiple fifty-dollar boxes of Rogaine.

But he loved her. His desperation to get her back surrounded him at all times, making his heart hammer in his chest and his tongue go dry at the thought of her.

He had to have it. He had to have the Rogaine.

As stealthily as he could, he made a circuit of the store. When the cashier wasn't looking, he pulled a small, beat-up looking gift bag from its hook and slid it into the front part of his jacket. As he made his way back to the hair care aisle, he tore off the price tag. With many glances in every direction, he carefully pulled three boxes of Rogaine from the shelf and deposited them in the gift bag. He felt almost sick with anxiety, but no one said anything to him.

As nonchalantly as possible, he made his way to the exit. He carried the gift bag as if he had had it all along, dangling unnoticed from his right hand. As he hit the threshold of the store, he heard someone call out.

"Sir! You have to pay for that!"

Panic exploded in his lungs and he moved out of instinct alone, sprinting into the parking lot with his keys at the ready. Behind him he could hear the small tumult of the cashier's shouting, but it already seemed so far away. He ripped open the door of his car, threw the bag into the passenger seat, leapt in and fired up the engine. As he peeled out of the lot, he saw the cashier running back inside the store, but it hardly even fazed him. He was doing what he had to do.

When he reached the apartment, he was so worn out that he dropped the bag on the rug and collapsed on the couch. The day's stress had taken its toll, and he quickly dropped into a fitful doze.

He awoke three hours later to the sound of his phone ringing. Her ringtone.

"Yes??"

She was laughing so hard she could barely restrain herself. "Tommy, did you..." she briefly lost control, "did you go to the pharmacy today?"

His heart sank like a stone.

"It's just.... there's this video on the news, of a man stealing from the pharmacy... stealing...." she collapsed into laughter again. "And I was just thinking - he looks a lot like you."

Without speaking, he hung up the phone.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] narcissist)
The young man sat motionless, his dull blue eyes fixed on the window opposite the couch on which he slouched, his muscles lax, like a puppet with its strings cut. His stillness was offset by the continual bustling of a young blond woman who fidgeted around the apartment in tight domestic circles. Each time she passed near him she would reach out to flutter her pale fingers against his still form – brushing back a curl or straightening an invisible wrinkle out of his sweater. The young man remained perfectly static under these ministrations, not even an eyelash flickering in response.

“Soon, my dear,” she said, in a soft voice suffused with love. “So soon.” She gave his sweater a final corrective tweak, stood back to admire her handiwork, then slid her bag over her shoulder and left the apartment.

Out on the street, her gentle smile soon flattened into a tight-lipped line. The sounds of the city seemed to pluck at each nerve in turn - each honking horn or echoing shout translated into a flinch or scowl. It was hard for her to remember that she had once loved this city, had once basked in the life of it. Now she curled away from it like a leaf in flame, seeking the quiet shadows of her apartment and the soft, nearly imperceptible breaths of the still young man.

But there was work to be done, and despite the city's apparent harshness, she could still find what she needed if she looked hard enough.

The park often yielded the best results, so she turned her feet in that direction. So close now... today would be the day, if the park didn't let her down. The thought sent a happy little tremor down her spine.

When she reached the park gates, the mid-afternoon sunshine was streaming orange-gold, dappling the path between the trees with pleasant, warm light. She could hear children laughing, and the sound tugged at the corners of her mouth. Once she had been afraid that she would never have children. Now she knew it was only a matter of time.

It didn't take long to find him. Only a few hundred feet into the park was a sharply-dressed couple - her in a teal wrap dress and cream-colored trench and him in a soft brown blazer and cranberry scarf - strolling along with their arms wrapped firmly around each other. As she approached, they laughed at some private joke, their cheeks and eyes glowing. The man pressed a hand against her lower back.

When she was nearly upon them, the young blond woman stumbled. A sharp cry rang out over the quiet path, and the couple turned with concern in their eyes. The man stepped forward quickly, catching her bare wrist in his hand and steadying her before she hit the ground.

"Are you all right?" He asked. His wife (she could feel the cool metal of his ring on her wrist) stepped forward to see what was the matter.

Beneath his fingers, her pulse beat quicker. Flesh to flesh they touched, skin to skin. He could not guess that in her skin lived secrets - ways of drawing forth. He could not guess that the cold shiver that rushed through his blood at that moment to the place where his fingers met her thin wrist was a taking - no! A giving, however unintended. Her thin lips curved upwards.

"Oh yes, yes," she said, gently disentangling her arm. "I'm all right." She could feel him wrapped around her, the buzz of him tingling the hairs on her arms and neck. For his part he looked confused, unsure. But how could he tell? How could he know that part of him was gone, twinkling away in one simple little touch?

She rushed away, back to the little apartment, her purse bouncing against her hip as she almost skipped over the pavement. It would be done today! Today she would end her loneliness.

She barely heard the door close behind her as she ran toward the couch. There he was - the same as he had been for months - motionless, silent, empty-eyed. As she knelt before him on the rug, she allowed herself to briefly remember him as he had been. She remembered his smile, his sparkling blue eyes, his voice raised in anger. She remembered the contempt on his face as he stood in the door that day, telling her it would be the last time she saw him.

Slowly, she shook her head, casting the last image away. He would be hers again now, but only the good parts. He hadn't known what she could do that day - any day. He had never known about the heritage she'd hidden, the power of her people. For centuries they had kept such things secret, most denying the magic that shivered under their skin.

On that day, she could no longer ignore it. She would use it to have the one thing she wanted. The one thing she had ever wanted. Could that be so wrong? Didn't she deserve it?

So she had reached out and touched him - grabbed his arm as he turned away from her in disgust. She felt it - felt him - flowing into her like a summer breeze, hot with anger. And then he had collapsed, his eyes vacant, nothing but the husk that had once held all he had been and could be.

And she had gone out into the city, gathering all the things she knew she'd need. Kindness from an old man who gave her a rose. Patience from the father of four at the zoo. Humor from a college student laughing amongst his friends. Many more. Each had yielded up part of himself to her touch, never knowing what it was they gave. Each part she pressed into the shell that waited back at her apartment, passed into him with a kiss.

And today was the last piece. She closed her eyes briefly, pulling the image of the man from the park to the front of her mind. One more calming breath, and she leaned forward to press her lips against his. A moment of white light, a slight charge to lift her hair.

She opened her eyes.

He was looking at her, blinking slowly. His blue eyes sparkled in the light from the window.

"Hey, hon," he said. "Was I asleep?"

"Just for a little while," she replied.

He smiled at her. "I must have dreamed of you. I knew that when I opened my eyes you'd be the first thing I'd see."

Her heart fluttered. "Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat?"

"Sure." He stood and stretched. "Let's go to that little place on Elm that you like so much. I'm buying." He kissed her on the forehead. "I'm so lucky to have you, hon."

As they left the apartment, he put his hand against the small of her back. She smiled and curled her arm around his waist. Love could not be bought. It could not be sold. But it could, sometimes, be built. She had built this love herself, piece by piece, and she could feel the strength of it in his gaze. This time, everything would be all right. This time, she had all she needed.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([reading] old books)
Clay, twigs, and a drop of blood. Ancient, eldritch words. Spells pressed into the loam, each fingerprinted whorl transformed into a vein of power. A buzz in the air, a tingle along the boy's down-soft cheek. An awakening.

"Hello," said the golem, sitting up on the desk.

"Hello," said Kyle, his fingers shaking. It had worked.

The golem blinked. In the imprints Kyle had made for its eyes, tiny blue fires seemed to glow. "Where are we?"

"My room."

The golem nodded. "Naturally. And what is your name, Master?"

Kyle was afraid, there was no doubt of it, but a hot thrill went through him to hear the golem call him that. "Kyle."

"And what is mine?"

"You don't have one already?"

The golem was up and walking, exploring Kyle's notebooks and pencils. It sat down on a worn-shapeless pink eraser and regarded Kyle with the blue flames that were its eyes. "I suppose I've had several, but I don't remember them. Each new Master must name me in his or her turn. For each new shape, a new name."

Kyle wondered who the golem served before, and when. A boy like him? Driven by desperation and fear and perhaps under those things, loneliness and longing? The man who had spoken to him as he wept behind the library, the man who had given him the book?

"Hero," he said. The golem nodded again.

"It will do. And why have you summoned me, Master?"

Kyle did not know how to tell about the boys and the bruises. The shouted slaps and the whispered cuts that were even worse. The fights his parents didn't think he heard, the way the girls at school laughed when he passed by. He didn't know how to explain about sixth grade or disappointed teachers or eating lunch behind the dumpsters because there was no one to sit with.

He thought for a long time but Hero said nothing, only watched. He sat so still that he might be only clay and dirt, pebbles and sticks again.

"To protect me," he whispered, and felt the shame of tears behind his eyes. He wondered if Hero knew tears, understood them. "To be my friend."

"Friendship is protection," Hero said.

"I've never had a friend, not a real one."

"I am as real as sticks and stones," said Hero, standing. "And now you have me."
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] twilight)
It shouldn’t have happened. That’s all anyone could say afterward, as if that absolved them of their part. As far as Neda could tell, it should indeed have happened – in fact, it should have happened much sooner than it did.

Try telling that to them, though. They were secretly pleased to carry the burden of survival – to shake their heads wearily and sigh that the sins of others had brought them to this place. Every once in awhile there was an article in the paper about it, over which everyone could nod sorrowfully and say, “Those poor people. It shouldn’t have happened,” all the while implying that they should have known better.

They didn’t want to share the fault because they’d feel too guilty about it, Neda knew. Guilty that they’d survived, could read the paper and think about what had happened to everyone else. It was easier to think that the others had brought it on themselves somehow, and easier still to disguise that traitorous thought with pity. She understood, but it frustrated her - she felt guilty all the time. Sometimes it seemed as though all the guilt they’d pushed out of their hearts had landed squarely in hers, a heavy black malignancy that festered there and made her chest ache.

So unlike everyone else, she avoided people. She couldn’t bear to join them in the constant cycle of reassurance, the carefully crafted untruthing, so she ventured out into silent streets rather than face their smiles and the gentle pressing of their hands. Out and out, past the crumbling fringe houses – right up to the edge of the glass. Every day she went, tracing her finger along the cool edge and looking out into the world that was.

Until one day she saw it.

The tiny silver spidering, barely an inch.

The crack.

The Glass House was meant to withstand anything. It was the only reason any of them were alive when the rest of the world was dead. A completely self-sustaining ecosystem - five square miles enclosed in glass. A small town, farmland, and pens for livestock. Purified air circulated under the glass while ash drifted down beyond. The world outside sickened and died, but inside the Glass House people lived life as usual.

Neda had lived in the House her whole life. It was an experiment, her parents said. To see if the House was a viable solution in case of nuclear war. Nobody expected it to last. People shifted in and out – mostly out – as Neda grew up, but her parents were steadfast. “There isn’t enough data,” they said. “Not yet. We have to stay.”

When Neda was thirteen, the rumors began. War. Nukes. Fallout. More people began arriving at the House, some of them with carloads of possessions and extended relations. Some of those who had left years before returned, shamefaced. Eventually, they had to close the doors. “There’s no more room,” the townspeople said. Her parents shook their heads, angry.

“There are houses on the edge of town,” her father said. “They’re run down, but we could make them livable.”

“They’re scared,” her mother replied. “They’re scared there won’t be enough food to go around.”

Neda offered to share her bedroom – she would even sleep on the floor. Inwardly, she entertained the thought of a sister. Almost all of her friends had moved away and she was lonely. She would sleep on the floor if she only had someone to talk to. But though her parents smiled at her, no sister ever arrived.

And then came the day that everyone had feared – the one everyone said would never happen. The day the sky itself burned. The airtight seal on the door was activated and everyone gathered at the edge of the glass, their hands pressed over their mouths in horror.

On the outside, people gathered, too. They screamed and beat their fists against the glass. They held their children in the air, begging, weeping. Some had faces contorted with anger and they raged unheard, their clawed hands tearing at the sky and their eyes dark with hate and fear.

Eventually, they left. Their faces had grown blank. Their arms hung limp at their sides. Stumbling, they faded into the distance, their diminishing figures fogged by falling ash. Many of the townspeople had drifted away by then, but Neda stood until the last defeated figure disappeared. She was fourteen.

It had been two years since that day. The population of the Glass House was fifteen hundred people – maybe the last fifteen hundred people left anywhere – and Neda couldn’t stand any of them. Her parents chalked it up to typical teenage angst, but Neda couldn’t imagine anything less typical than her situation. She was sixteen years old and the world had ended. There was nowhere else to go, no one else to meet. No more choices.

So she rebelled in the only way she could, by hiding away from everyone. By facing the world outside, while so many others hid at the center of town and kept their eyes averted from the waste beyond the glass. She often imagined what the world would be like out there, silent and gray and empty. She fantasized about exploring it, rooting through the rubble of the old cities and discovering treasures no one else would ever see. It both frightened and excited her.

And then she found the crack. It started on the other side; the dead side. When she tried to touch it, the glass felt as smooth and flawless as ever. She wondered what could have possibly caused it. Her heart beat faster the more she stared. She couldn’t imagine such a tiny flaw having any noticeable effect, but it captivated her.

Every day she returned to the crack, her fingers rubbing over the smooth glass of her side. It was her secret place, where all of the flaws and the faults of the Glass House could be distilled into one tiny fracture in the glass.

And with time, she noticed that it was changing. Growing. Bit by bit, almost too imperceptibly to notice, the crack was lengthening.

Neda knew she should tell someone, but some strange darkness in her seemed to rise up and stop her mouth every time she planned it. Nothing good could come of it. Either everyone would be terrified or they would insist that there was nothing to worry about, and in either case the importance of it would be ruined. So she kept her secret and continued to visit the crack every day, each time afraid and interested to see how it had grown.

After six months, the crack was nearly five inches in length. It seemed to be deepening as well, reaching spindle fingers toward her. Every day her uneasiness grew, but every night she kept her silence at the dinner table and everyone carried on as usual.

And then someone spotted the Outsider.

They had all settled down to eat dinner when there was a frenzied knocking on the door. Neda’s father leapt up to answer. It was Gary Kellman, who was two years older than Neda and had once asked her to a dance when she was eleven and the kids still went to school.

“There’s someone out there!” He was gasping, his fingers clutching a stitch in his side. “On the other side!”

There hadn’t been anyone seen Outside for over almost two years. Without speaking, Neda and her parents followed Gary down the street, toward the edge of town.

“Ella spotted him,” Gary said as they rushed along. “When she was out checking the sheep.”

Others were being roused out of their homes now, and there was a steady stream of people hurrying toward the glass wall. Who could say what urged them? Perhaps only the chance to see a stranger’s face, after so much time with only each other.

At the glass they fanned out, searching the twilight haze. And then Neda saw him, fuzzy in the glare of the lights from the House. While the others stayed back, a good five feet from the glass, she felt herself walking forward, approaching the phantom in the world that was dead.

He was thin – impossibly thin – and his skin was bone-white where it wasn’t broken by bloody sores. Maybe he had survived by holing up in a cave somewhere and thought it was finally safe to come out. Maybe he was just looking for something to eat. His clothes were so rotten that they were nearly nonexistent, and his fingers looked as though he had been chewing on them.

When he opened his mouth, what teeth he had left were weakly anchored in gums that ran with blood and pus. He had no strength to beat against the glass – he only spoke, with his eyes trained unerringly on Neda’s, unaware that she couldn’t hear a word he said. His eyes were as blue as the sky had once been, bright and beautiful in that ruined face.

The man stopped speaking. Perhaps he had known all along that she couldn’t hear him, but couldn’t stop himself from speaking to another human face. He did not look hopeful, or defeated, or angry – only sorrowful. He knew that they would not let him in.

Neda lifted her hand and pressed it to the glass. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, not feeling the tears that ran down her cheeks. He put his hand up against the glass on the other side of hers and smiled sadly, then turned and hobbled painfully away. Behind her, the people of the Glass House stood silently until he disappeared.

“Poor man,” someone murmured. “How did he manage for so long?”

“Underground, probably,” came another voice.

“Well, why didn’t he stay there?”

“They don’t know.” A quivering note of sympathy. “They don’t know, these poor fools. He probably thought it was safe.”

“It’s too bad. It’s just too bad. If only there had been more places like this. If only people had listened.”

And there it was again. Those poor people and it shouldn’t have happened. The dark tumor of guilt that had grown up around Neda’s heart throbbed painfully, angrily. When she spoke, they didn’t hear her at first, but as she quietly repeated the words voice after voice fell still in the wake of them.

“There’s a crack in the wall.”

Until there was nothing but her voice in the falling darkness. And when she turned to go, one by one they followed her, a silent entourage to the source of her doomsaying. And as she walked, Neda knew what they were thinking.

It can’t be true. It shouldn’t have happened. It was all they knew, those poor people. And she pitied them as she led them to see the instrument of their fate.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([art] i'm so pretty)
The girl sat demurely side-saddle, her russet hair dusted with twinkling droplets of morning mist. Her dress was a rich, midnight-blue velvet, its daring cut only minimally disguised by a spray of airy lace over the bosom. Flanked on both sides by the young men that made up the volunteer escort from Miller’s Pond, she cut quite a striking figure. And that, thought Barlow, was almost certainly the point.

The girl was on her way to be married to some minor lord in Everton, a market town some twenty miles from Miller’s Pond. Barlow had only cursory knowledge of the lord – a fat, ostentatious man he’d often seen on market days – but he pitied the girl nonetheless. The lord was at least twice her age, and was rumored to be utterly ridiculous in both manner and lifestyle. Still, he was certainly wealthy, and Barlow had known many girls who would rather face marriage to a fat old blowhard than abject poverty. He wondered if this girl was such a case.

Even if she hadn’t been blessed with wealth, the girl had more than her fair share of beauty. Barlow could see why the lord would eschew a horse-faced noble bride for this common maid. Her hair was a crimson glory, her eyes the lively blue of a summer sky, and the dress she wore did little to obscure her lush figure. Her “honor guard” could barely keep their eyes off her, each boy’s gaze flicking to her in turn as they rode through the morning sunlight. Even Barlow himself had been stirred at the sight of her, though he was even older than the fat lord of Everton, and had a dear wife of thirty years besides.

Her looks explained the escort, almost as much as her future husband’s wealth. The road to Everton wasn’t particularly dangerous, being frequently traveled and patrolled, but the prospect of easy coin and a full day in the company of such a beauty was enough to lure several of the village’s young men to agree to conduct her there. A fat purse had arrived from Everton yesterday, only a few hours before the girl, with ample payment for a large number of men to escort the blushing bride to her waiting beloved. Barlow himself was supposedly along to keep the boys in check. Here in the brilliant sunshine, its golden light limning the vision before him, he couldn’t say he minded.

After a few more moments of relative quiet, Barlow spurred his horse forward to ride abreast of the girl. The man to her left had been trying to engage her in conversation, though his voice died in his throat as Barlow approached. The dull flush in his cheeks spoke more to his intentions than his words did, as Barlow assumed that no man, however young and foolish, would attempt to woo a noble’s intended in the middle of a mountain road.

“My lady,” he said respectfully, for though the girl was not a lady yet, she would be soon enough, “how does our pace suit you? Would you like a rest?”

“The pace suits me well enough, sir,” the girl replied, her voice surprisingly bold. She met his gaze steadily. Barlow was slightly taken aback – he had expected a blushing peasant maid. “There is no need to rest. I wish to join my husband as quickly as possible.”

“Of course,” Barlow inclined his head. “I am somewhat familiar with your intended, my lady. A great man.” As soon as the words escaped his lips, Barlow could not fathom why he had said them.

She laughed. “Great in girth, you mean.” Barlow stared. “I am somewhat familiar with my intended as well, sir.”

“If you’ll pardon my saying so, my lady, your impression seems less than favorable.”

“I’ll pardon it. Why not? I fear I’ll be pardoning a great many things before long.” The girl’s eyes twinkled. “Surely you did not assume that I marry for anything as silly as love, sir?”

Barlow flushed. “I make it a rule to assume as little as possible, my lady.” A lie, but even the young lady’s surprising frankness was not enough to inspire harsh honesty in a man such as Barlow. He had spent most of his considerable life in service to one rich man or another, and he couldn’t shake the rigid code of conduct that he was accustomed to.

“How virtuous of you,” she replied, tucking a red curl behind her ear. “As you will not engage me, I will answer for you. Of course you did not assume I married Lord Emmell for love. He is more than twice my age, fat, and a fool. Unlike many younger, thinner, brighter men, however, he can provide me with a comfortable life. I’ll be dressed in silks and brocades, dined with the finest delicacies, and will spend my nights in a featherbed. What do I mind that I’ll have to share it all with a laughingstock like Emmell? Better than starving in a dark hovel with a handsome man.”

Taken aback, Barlow could do no more than shake his head. “I can’t believe you’re taking this so lightly, my lady.”

She shrugged. “What else is there to do?”

There was little to say after that. Barlow hung back, letting the girl ride past him. She didn’t look back – their conversation seemed not to have fazed her at all. Barlow, on the other hand, was quite flabbergasted. He had never met a girl who cared so little about her marriage. Of course, he had suspected that she was marrying the man for money, but he certainly hadn’t expected her to be so candid about it. She was perfectly stoic about the entire thing; even amused!

Still in a daze, Barlow followed the company around a bend in the road and nearly steered his horse into the one ahead of him. The entire group had come to a complete and sudden stop.

“What-“ He didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before he saw the glint of steel before them on the road. Standing immediately in front of the girl’s elegant white horse was a large band of outlaws, each bristling with a knife, sword, or bow.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” said the man at the fore, a disreputable-looking fellow with stringy brown hair and a patchy scruff of beard. He held a long, finely-edged sword. “I hope you’ll forgive us for interrupting your stroll.”

Barlow pushed forward, easily shunting the terrified boys of Miller’s Pond aside. None had so much as raised a weapon, though most of what they carried was sadly worn anyway – more for show than anything else.

He stopped beside the red-headed girl. Regardless of what happened, he would do his job and protect her. “What do you want?” he asked, drawing his own blade.

“The usual,” said the outlaw with an airy shrug. “All the coin you carry, and anything else valuable besides.”

Barlow kept his sword raised. The amount of money they carried was indeed considerable, as Lord Emmell had sent no small sum to make sure his bride was safely conveyed to Everton. Still, nothing had been said of the girl - though she might fall under the outlaws' interpretation of "anything else valuable." Brigands such as these were known to carry off women just as soon as jewels or gold, and Barlow was determined not to let that happen.

He was just considering his options as far as fighting the ragged crew when a slim white hand reached out and pushed his sword aside.

"Put up your weapon, sir," the red-headed girl said, her voice as steady as it had been all along. "You'll only make things more difficult for yourself."

Nudging her horse gently, the girl trotted forward until she was practically nose-to-nose with the bearded ruffian. "Lash them to the trees," she ordered in a clear, calm voice. "And gently. They're only village boys, and surely none of them is fool enough to fight us." She looked sternly back at Barlow as she said this.

"My lady..." he began, uncertain.

"There's no more need for that, sir," she said with a smile. "I'm not a lady today, and I won't be tomorrow - or ever, if I have my way. I'm just a common thief. Now if you'll hand over that coin my dear sweet husband sent?"

The men moved forward, gesturing with their weapons for the boys from Miller's Pond to dismount. The boys quickly complied, many stumbling in their haste to avoid the sharp points of blades and arrowheads. Each handed over his leather pouch of coins. Barlow was the last, still staring at the red-headed girl.

"Why?" he asked. "Why not marry the lord if it's money you want? You could have so much more than this!" He tossed his own pouch toward her. She caught it one-handed, its contents jingling.

"I'm not the marrying type," she said. "Besides, there are other roads to ride. And," she added with a grin, "other fat old lords who will pay handsomely for the safe conduct of an innocent young bride."
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([autumn] leaves in the wind)
The air bristled with the crisp tang of autumn. The prince drew deep draughts of it through his aquiline nose, and his mustache quivered slightly. His attendants stood breathlessly in wait as he stood surveying the lawn, until at last he nodded and they rushed away like so many startled mice. Only one servant remained, a grizzled old man with white hair and eyes like a winter sky.

“Autumn is a fine time to dine outdoors, Ilie,” the prince said suddenly, his eyes fixed on the lawn.

“Yes, Your Highness,” the old man replied. “A fine time, indeed.” His own eyes were cast far from the property, reaching for the wooded horizon.

“My wife finds the air too brisk this time of year,” the prince continued, as if he had not even heard. “She prefers to eat in that dark, musty hall of mine. A miserable place. But I have always been a man of the outdoors.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

“There is nothing quite so satisfying as devouring a meal one has killed oneself.” The prince’s mustache twitched. “And, of course, the smell of blood in the air adds a certain ambiance.”

“I heard that the stag was fearsome large, Your Highness,” Ilie said deferentially. His eyes were now downcast, tracing bootprints in the mud.

“Yes indeed, a great beast. I slew him with an arrow to the eye,” the prince said. “He was a noble creature, worthy of a quick death. Would that I could say the same of men.”

There was a sudden flurry of movement as the prince’s attendants materialized on the lawn, carrying a table and ornate chair among them. The table was covered with a white linen cloth, which flapped in the cool air like a gull's wing, and the chair was carved to resemble the curled form of a dragon. Behind these men came a caravan of servants in rust-colored livery, bearing a number of covered plates and jugs of beaten silver. As they approached, all lowered their eyes. Within moments they had set an elegant table. Ilie himself drew back the dragon chair for the prince.

One of the prince's attendants withdrew the cover from a large plate, revealing a venison steak that steamed in the autumn air. Another stepped forward to pour the prince's wine. Ilie remained behind the prince's right shoulder, and the other attendants spread in a line behind him. Most, he knew, stared toward the woods at the edge of the prince's grounds, or at the earth like he did. The younger ones let their eyes be drawn upward to the strange forest that surrounded them. He could hear the disturbed exhalations of their breath, their nervous fidgeting. He hoped for their sake that the prince could not.

A scream rent the air - a thin, tired, hopeless sound. Ilie knew it well. It was the sound of a man who has given up the last hope of living, a man who must now face intolerable pain with the complete understanding that it will only end in death. He also knew without looking that the young attendants behind him were staring, horrified, at the source of the sound and that the prince, in his dragon chair, was smiling.

"You see, Ilie," the prince said, without turning around, "there is no flesh as sweet as that of a noble enemy. Were I to meet a man as noble as the stag I killed today, I would roast and eat his flesh, and I have no doubt that it would be the finest meal I would ever consume."

The prince paused for a moment to chew a slice of venison.

"But the flesh of men is befouled with sin and cowardice," he continued. "It is not worthy of consumption. Instead it should be mortified and punished for its weakness."

"Yes, Your Highness," Ilie said. What else was there to say?

The prince nodded and returned to his meat. One of the young attendants gagged as the stench of loosened bowels filled the air. The prince seemed not to notice. He stared out at his kingdom, methodically placing each slice of steak into his mouth as if he could focus on nothing but the quality of the meal.

Around them, the spikes of raw wood reached toward the grey autumn sky. All bore dark stains of old blood, though many were slick with fresh viscera. At various points on those fresh-anointed spikes hung men, impaled in the air. Some moaned fitfully, but many had lost the ability. Still more were dead. The spikes had protruded through the mouths of the corpses. The man who had screamed was the latest of the prince's offenders. He might last for days yet.

Ilie kept his eyes well-trained on the horizon or on the ground before him. He had learned years ago not to stare at the bodies of the damned. The prince smiled his enigmatic smile, and reveled in his meat and wine.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([game of thrones] khaleesi)
Hey, Game of Thrones/ASOIAF fans! Remember when we did that fun character meme a little while ago? That was good times!

We should do it again! But this time... with houses! I know that many of you are a part of [livejournal.com profile] westerosorting, but I also know that you can never be sorted too many times. I love it, you love it, we all love it. So let's play!

Simply put your username in the comments and your friends will tell you what Westerosi House we think you belong in! This will be a public post, so feel free to link on your journals if you want other friends to come and comment.

The last meme was such fun, and I hope this one goes well, too! Jump in!
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([funny] kill zombies)
Stuart Sanderson approached life with a healthy sense of apathy. It was, in his opinion, the best way to get through the daily grind. The news was always going on about some crisis or another, but Stuart found that none of it really affected his life much, so he just didn’t bother thinking about it. As long as he carried on doing what he always did, the crisis would fade or become so common-place that people just got used to it and quit complaining all the time. Why get worked up?

In fact, Stuart wouldn’t have bothered with the news at all if it weren’t for Kelley Ronson, the morning anchor for KNEWS-6. Kelley had big news anchor hair in seamless bottle blonde, green eyes lashed with thick black spikes, and a perfectly straight set of blazing white teeth. She also possessed the most soothing voice that Stuart had ever heard. No matter how bad the news, Kelley delivered it with a velvet voice and a smile. Stuart felt she was a kindred spirit, and he never missed her morning reports.

One Tuesday, late in March, that all changed.

Stuart woke at 6 AM as usual – just enough time to get showered and dressed before Kelley’s report at 6:30. He made himself a cup of coffee and settled in on the couch just as the theme music played and Kelley’s face appeared. Immediately he could tell that something was off. Her usual sunny smile was tighter than usual, and it didn’t quite reach her eyes. Her fingers trembled on the wide news desk.

“Some disturbing reports of rioting downtown today,” she said, her voice a pale shadow of its former glory. “Participants are said to be excessively violent, and have viciously attacked several members of law enforcement. There have been many reports of casualties. Representatives from the police department have stated that they may soon have to resort to the use of deadly force to contain the crowd, which appears to be growing at a rapid rate.” As Kelley drew a shaky breath, images began flashing on the screen – a massive crowd, arms outstretched, chasing down a smattering of fleeing police officers.

Stuart snorted in disgust and flicked off the television set. He didn’t often get upset about things, but Kelley’s departure from routine felt like a personal betrayal. Plus, all this nonsense about rioting. If people could get worked up over famines in Africa, they were sure to blow their tops over something so close to home. He would never hear the end of it.

The foul mood hung over him like a shroud as he packed up his briefcase and headed out to the office. Everything seemed perfectly designed to drive him up the wall. Traffic was out of control – it seemed like everyone in the city was on the road. Several people were walking or running along the side of the street, some dragging children or suitcases, and many weeping openly. Stuart felt almost sick with contempt. People were so easily taken in by the news. So there was rioting downtown – so what? It didn’t have anything to do with these people. Why did they have to wander into his day and cause such a scene? By the time Stuart finally reached his office, he was over an hour late and the beginnings of a headache were drumming against his temples.

At that point, it seemed that providence finally decided to step in. Stuart stepped off the elevator onto his floor and saw only Neil, the receptionist, and Perla Ramos at their desks. While he found it pathetic that his coworkers would be so taken in by the current hysteria as to miss work, he couldn’t help but be pleased that he wouldn’t be forced to endure their constant bleating on the subject.

Just as he was settling in at his desk, Neil shuffled in to his cubicle. He seemed unusually twitchy. His pale eyes flicked constantly over the entire office, which Stuart found extremely disconcerting - as well as annoying.

"Did you hear the news?" Neil asked, his fingers bunching convulsively into fists. Inwardly, Stuart groaned.

"Something about riots. It'll pass. Always does."

"I don't know, man..." Neil's eyes did another jerky dance across the field of cubicles. "I saw some of those protestors on my way in. They didn't look right. They looked... sick."

"Probably why they're protesting. Medicare or something." Stuart was tired of this conversation. Couldn't Neil see that?

"I don't think so..."

"Anyway, Neil, I've got some work to do. I'm sure it's no big deal. Don't worry about it." And with that he turned back to his desk and began deliberately riffling papers and fishing for things in his briefcase. He was aware that Neil was still standing behind him, but after a few more awkward seconds, he turned and left.

"Finally," Stuart whispered under his breath. Faintly, he heard a sound across the room like a woman crying. He turned on the radio at his desk and set the station to one that played particularly mellow jazz.

Stuart worked continuously until 5 o' clock. The building was so peaceful and quiet, and he felt more productive than he had in years. At lunch he hs noticed that both Neil and Perla were gone, but he didn't miss them. Sighing with contentment, he hit "send" on one last email, gathered up his things, and went down to the parking lot.

He had nearly reached his car when he heard the moaning. Turning, he saw a ragged-looking man approaching him with arms outstretched. He immediately pegged the man as one of the shiftless protestors - he looked like the hippie type, with his dirty clothes and matted hair. He also looked, as Neil had mentioned, sick.

Stuart fumbled with his keys. "Leave me alone. I don't have anything to do with your protest."

The man responded with a fetid moan. Stuart wrinkled his nose. "Listen, I don't know what you're trying to prove, but I'm the last person you're ever going to prove it to. So..."

He had just managed to push the "unlock" button on his keychain when the man struck. He lunged at Stuart and grabbed a handful of his shirt, moaning all the while. Stuart yelped and scrabbled weakly against the man's grip, though he was rather disoriented as the stink was even more palpable up close. His attacker wasn't exactly graceful - he lumbered around heavily with his filthy hands grappling at Stuart's fresh-pressed button-down - but Stuart had never been grabbed by a violent hippie before and was quite flabbergasted as to what he should do.

The man solved that problem for him by grabbing Stuart's flailing right arm and biting down on his wrist. Stuart howled, shrieked, and finally became proactive. He wrenched his arm away from the man and gave him a mighty shove backwards. With a bemused groan, the hippie toppled over onto the asphalt.

Stuart didn't wait around to see what would happen next. He ripped open the car door, leapt into the driver's seat, and tore out of the parking lot, headed for home.

As he raced back toward his apartment, Stuart began gradually to calm down. His foot eased slightly off the gas (not that it mattered - there didn't appear to be a car in sight). So he had been attacked by one of those protestors. From what little he had unfortunately gleaned about the goings-on around town, that didn't seem to be a special occurrence. He was lucky enough that it had only been one. He supposed the moaning and the carrying on had just been part of the act. Something about the mindlessness of corporate America, no doubt.

He looked down at his wrist. The bite was really fairly minor. It had only broken the skin in one place, and even then there was only the smallest trickle of blood. The man had looked sick, but obviously he didn't frequently come into contact with soap and water, whereas Stuart showered twice a day. A good hot shower and some antiseptic would be just the thing to take care of that bite.

When Stuart really thought about it, he found he wasn't in the least concerned. When he reached his apartment, he made himself a grilled cheese sandwich, watched a DVD, and went to bed.

On Wednesday, Stuart Sanderson was feeling slightly under the weather. Still, he dutifully woke at 6 AM, showered, dressed, and made himself a cup of coffee. He looked thoughtfully at the TV before deciding not to turn to KNEWS-6. He still felt somewhat hurt by Kelley's behavior the day before, and after yesterday's events he felt certain that there would be even more morbid news today.

The roads were still clear when Stuart headed to work. There were a few stalled-out vehicles along the side of the road, but everything else seemed to be running smoothly. When he reached the office, it was completely empty. Stuart didn't mind. It seemed that people had taken this protesting business entirely too seriously, and had gone out of town to wait it out. He could only imagine how much work they'd have to catch up on when they got back from their ridiculous little impromptu vacations. The thought made him chuckle.

His jazz station seemed to be down - when he turned on the radio, he heard only static. The internet was still up, so he sent a few more emails before settling down to work on a spreadsheet. He hadn't received any emails since yesterday, which was odd, but overall he found he didn't mind. Nobody ever seemed to say much of use over the office email anyway.

Around noon, he coughed up a bit of blood. He thought briefly about going to the hospital, but shook it off. It was nothing. He didn't want to be categorized with the hordes of people that were undoubtedly storming the place over all this rioting business - he could wait it out.

At two-thirty, he noticed that his vision was getting a little blurry. Too much time staring at the computer screen, he thought ruefully, getting up to wash his face in the bathroom.

At four-thirty, he slumped over onto his desk, his head spinning and his vision darkening. Shouldn't have had that last cup of coffee, he thought briefly before passing out.

At four-forty-five, Stuart Sanderson expired at his desk.

At five o' clock, Stuart sat back up. He moved his head slowly from side to side, as if looking for anyone else in the office. He moaned, not unhappily. Slowly, deliberately, he began to push buttons on his keyboard.

Six months later, one of the newly-formed Rebuild and Recover teams swept through Stuart's building. Two men in body armor with an automatic rifles in their hands found Stuart still sitting at his desk, pushing blindly at the keys. His eyes had rotted and his flesh was in tatters. His jaw hung open. The smell coming off of him was eye-wateringly pungent.

"Poor sucker doesn't even know he's dead," laughed the first man.

"Some things never change," said the second. He raised his gun.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([fashion] red and white)
When I was seven, I was almost kidnapped. Unlike most of my early memories, which seem to swirl together in a summery haze of fresh-mown grass and bare feet slapping against hot asphalt, that day stands out in my mind in stark grays. I had just learned to ride my bicycle without training wheels, and nothing could keep me from the outdoors – not even the damp promise of rain hanging in the air. So I ventured out into that heavy sky, the purple tinsel streamers of my bike handles fluttering against the backs of my hands, ignoring my mother’s dire warnings of impending sniffles.

Back then, my range was limited to the sidewalk in front of my house and those on either side. I would ride up one way, dismount the bike, turn it, and get back on to ride the fifty feet to my next boundary. The sidewalk was too narrow for a proper turn, but my seven-year-old self soon tired of the unwieldy dance that preceded each brief burst of uninhibited pedaling – I wanted the wind in my hair, and I wanted it now. So with little on my mind beyond the soaring feeling that accompanied a full-out burst of bicycle speed, it wasn't long before I turned my white rubber wheels into the grass of my neighbor’s lawn.

It didn’t end well. I didn’t have the balance yet to handle the uneven terrain of a suburban lawn, so I toppled over before I even had a chance to face the other way. Worse, the bike chain snagged on the rainbow lace trim that bordered my skirt, and I soon found myself helplessly tangled.

The truck materialized beside me so quickly that it was hard to believe I hadn’t already seen it. It was just there, out of nowhere, idling beside my crash site where there had previously been an empty stretch of road. Suddenly the struggle to get free of the bike seemed more important, though at the time I couldn’t tell you why. I just knew I wanted to get out, get up, and get away from this strange, bundled-up man in the white truck. He was swaddled in a heavy parka and baseball cap, despite the relative warmth of the day. I don’t remember anything about his face.

Somehow I managed to pull myself free and push the bike off my legs. As I began to stand, the door of the truck popped open.

That’s the moment I remember best – the sound of the truck door opening. That’s the moment I look back on and think, everything could have changed. My life could have darkened, twisted, even ended that day, and the opening of that door would have been the catalyst.

It’s hard to remember exactly what I thought or felt at that moment. Though visually the entire scene has crystallized in my memory, the exact details of my seven-year-old thought process has not. But I remember relief – relief and the sudden sense of my thundering heartbeat – when my mom stepped out onto our front porch and called my name.

The man in the truck slammed the door and hit the gas. The white truck tore away in a squeal of tires. It barreled down the street and disappeared over the crest of the big hill we always begged our parents to let us go down on our bikes or skates. I never saw it, or the man, again.

It’s easy to look back and see this as a pivotal moment. What would have happened had my mother not been looking out of the window? What would have happened had the man stepped out of the truck, approached me on the grass, taken my hand? A boy had been killed not far from our neighborhood only a year before, his body left in a shallow creek within walking distance. It wasn’t impossible that I could have died that day.

But I didn’t think about that. The moment came and went. My mother called me into the house, her face drawn and her hands shaking, and I went to play in my room. I didn’t consider how close I came to death – of course I didn’t, I was seven. But even now, looking back on that moment, it doesn’t seem possible to me that I might have died. In fact, it never seems possible to me that I could die. Not really.

People talk about how teenagers think they’re invincible. And that’s true – a lot of them do. The behavior I see in the student parking lot at the school where I work every day is more than a testament to that. But don’t we all think we’re a little bit invincible? Maybe not to the degree of engaging in high-risk behavior or even actively thinking that there’s no way we could ever possibly die – but the idea of death always seems very remote. We push it away. Or, at least, I do.

Yes, it could happen. Yes, sometimes I’m afraid. But a part of me, deep down, always holds close that thought - it’s not my time yet. Deep down, I think I’m too important, too special to die. I’ve got things to do, don’t you know? Things to say. It’s not my time yet. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now.

Will it ever be?
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] dark lady)
Her fair hair gleamed in the moonlight, so blond it was almost silver. When she walked, the tapping of her high heeled boots and the swish of her coat seemed a quiet, nocturnal music. Her dark eyes were fixed ahead of her, her stride sure-footed and confident. She was not a stranger to the night, this neon-lit nymph, and the knowledge of it read in every line of her slim, statuesque body.

He fell in love with her immediately, just as he had done a hundred times before with a hundred different women. Her straight back, her fashionable coat, the way her pale, tapered fingers curved around her satin clutch – all sent the familiar tingling rush into his blood. Almost unconsciously, he dropped his cigarette and ground it underfoot, pushing away from the brick-walled club in which he had been loitering for the past two hours, his gaze sliding unarrested from one short skirt to another. What a waste of time that had been – he should have known even before entering the place that he’d never find someone interesting there. It had just been so long…

The staccato clicking of her heels increased in tempo - she had sensed him approaching. He was quiet, his steps barely registering above the nighttime din of partygoers, but women had a kind of intuition about being followed. Still, she did not turn to look; her silvery hair swung behind her like a silken pendulum as her pace quickened. If he was going to speak to her, he knew now was the time - if he waited any longer she would think he was a pervert, the kind of person who followed beautiful women home from nightclubs and stared between the cracks in their curtains as they kicked off their heels and stripped off their dresses.

So he hurried up to walk beside her, keeping a respectable distance between them as he matched her stride. When she glanced over, the planes of her face tense in the semidarkness, he flashed her a quick, shy smile, the kind he knew from experience helped set a woman at ease.

"I'm sorry to charge toward you in the dark like this, but I hope you'll let me walk with you to the end of this street. There are some rough men around here tonight, and I'm afraid they'll harass a woman walking alone."

She looked at him suspiciously, her eyebrows drawing together. She veered farther away from him. He raised his hands in mock surrender.

"Of course, you can always tell me to take off - I won't be offended! But I promise I won't come any closer to you than I am right now. I just want to keep you company until you reach the end of this street. The main thoroughfare is well-lit, and I'll feel better if I know you've reached it safely."

Now a hint of amusement came into her pale, lovely face. A thrill went through him at the change he had wrought in her with his words alone. He imagined her face flickering through an array of expressions - a laugh, a tender smile, her mouth open and moaning in the throes of passion.

When she spoke, her voice was cool, but a ripple of laughter seemed to lurk beneath the words. "And how many other women have you assisted tonight? Have you accompanied untold scores of women down this dark little street, or have you let them all venture into danger until you had me in your sights?"

He shrugged and let his face fall sheepishly. "Truthfully? You're the first."

"And why is that?"

"You want honesty, I can tell - you're that sort of woman. Honestly, I couldn't resist you."

She remained silent, her dark eyes fixed on him and her eyebrows quirked. She wanted to hear more. She couldn't help herself.

"It's just... well, don't think I'm a creep, but you're extraordinarily beautiful."

When she smiled - the slow, indulgent smile that meant she secretly exulted in a stranger's notice - he knew he had her. He looked down again, a practiced blush spreading over his features. "I'm sorry," he added. "I shouldn't have said anything. I've had a little bit to drink and it's made me braver than I ought to be."

"It's all right," she said, smiling her knowing little smile. She edged closer. "I kind of like it."

They were nearing the end of the shadowy little street. The lights of the main drag sparkled ahead. He took a deep breath, and turned toward her with his most engaging smile. "How about if we walk together just a little bit longer?"

Her teeth glinted in the darkness as she returned his grin. "I'd like that."

----------

Dawn broke cold over the sleeping city. Frost glittered in the gutters and at the corners of windows. Lovers snuggled closer together under the blankets, taking comfort in each other's warmth. And in one apartment, the smell of blood clung to the walls and windows like a suit of skin.

A long knife sat on the draining board, beside it a cleaver. The counters had been scrubbed clean, but in the deep well of the sink a single drop of blood shone against the stainless steel. In the refrigerator, slabs of paper-wrapped meet were stacked with careful precision beside a staring head, its eyes fixed interminably on the mustard in the shelf on the door.

In the breakfast nook, a cup of coffee added its bitter scent to the scene. Yawning languorously, she settled into the chair before it, drinking in the sight of the dawn-lit city beyond the window. She settled a plate of sizzling bacon on the table beside the mug, a smile coming unbidden to her lips at the sight of the meat. It was always better fresh.

As she lifted the first morsel to her teeth, she played back the events of the night before. It was always the same with men like that - the little games, the lies. She hadn't intended on taking anyone that night, not until he had approached her. It had been a long day and she was tired, ready to slip into bed and wake to the usual chewy pork sausage in the morning... And then there he was, smiling that disingenuous smile, and the anger at his presumption had risen in her like a monster from the deep.

They were all the same. Just the same old shit, every day.

But the meat was tender, and her tastes were sated. For now. Until another man approached her on a darkened street, lied to her, put himself willingly into her hands.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] nobody puts her in the corner)
We need to talk. The sentiment hung between them like stale cigarette smoke, though neither spoke the words aloud. That heavy silence - the kind that always seems to hover between people right before a fight - was the reigning attribute of their marriage. Gwen liked to imagine all those words, the ones nobody said, floating around their heads in cartoon thought bubbles, crowding the air and occasionally glancing off of someone's temple, but otherwise studiously ignored.

She first became aware of the cartoon-thought-bubble we need to talk when Charlie started banging around the coffee cups in the kitchenette. It was 9:47 PM, watery yellow light seeping through the blinds and a dog barking somewhere down the street. Charlie'd just got off his shift at OK's Pizza, and the smell of pepperoni and burnt cheese clung to him like a greasy shadow. Anger clung to him, too - the slow, sludgy, why-me anger that Gwen hated so much.

When she couldn't bear another rattle-clunk of ceramic on the peeling vinyl countertop, she unstuck her tongue and pushed out the words.

"What's wrong, then?"

He looked up at her, his eyes narrow and black in the weak light, his curling hair greenish. For a moment she wished she could draw back the poison of her words - the exasperation of them - and make them sound like they would've six months ago, before they were married. Before they lived in a shitty double-wide and ate shitty pizza leftovers most every night, before she'd lost the baby, before they'd learned to hate each other. Then he deliberately thunked down the pink-polka-dotted mug the other cashiers had given her on her last day at the Piggly Wiggly, and anger flared like hot breath on her neck. It made her tongue loose, the words flashing from her lips like sparks.

"Can you stop doing that for one fucking second?"

Thunk.

"You're an asshole, you know that?"

Thunk.

She threw up her hands. She wanted to hit him. She wanted to throw a mug in his face and break his teeth. Instead she spun on her heel and stormed back toward the TV, Wheel of Fortune flickering brightly on the fake wood paneled wall.

"Was she mine?"

She stopped. The words flowed through her, tingling hot and cold at the same time. She turned. "What?"

"You know." Charlie was in the same place, his eyes still grim and black, his skin waxy. "Was she mine?"

"You -- You --"

"I know you were fucking that fatass deli manager," he said, his voice climbing two octaves in quick succession. "Ty told me."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" But her voice was higher, too, and with every double-thump of her heart she felt the words bouncing off her head - he knows, he knows, he knows.

It had been July, the month before she came up pregnant and Charlie'd bought her a ring from Sears with all his college savings. She'd been with Charlie for seven months, just long enough to get bored of the Red Box movie nights and the smell of pizza on his skin. Her nerves were tight and jangling, begging for release. Sam worked in the deli department, and he'd always looked at her with those mean little eyes of his - looked at her so that she could feel his thick fingers on her, in her, even before the first time she'd followed him into the walk-in freezer.

She thought it would only be once. The wrongness of it had appealed to her, but just for a minute. How could anyone want that more than once - back pressed up against cold metal shelving, polyester pants around her ankles, sour breath on her neck? She'd go back to Charlie, go back to her life. It would be easy.

But it happened again, again, again - in the freezer, her car, his mother's apartment. And then the stick had two lines instead of one, and she had a ring on her finger and a date set for October.

When she miscarried, she felt destroyed and reborn all at once. The baby would have loved her, she knew, and it killed her to have lost that. But what if she had been born with Sam's squinty eyes instead of Charlie's curly hair? What if she had slid from between Gwen's thighs with a confession stamped on her face - one that Gwen never planned to make? Who would take care of her then?

And there it was, the tiny pinprick of relief that she carried in her chest that had rotted her from the inside out every day since.

Now Charlie was staring at her, his eyes full of hurt and anger and maybe even hate, the words ballooning up between them like cumulus clouds. There were so many things she could say --

"It was nothing."

"She was yours."

"I love you."

But she didn't. She never would, not even to save herself. And when she walked out of the double-wide that night with the Sears engagement ring in her pocket and Charlie's hidden pizza savings in her purse, the words that she hadn't said followed her like a balloon on a string, darkening her face with its shadow.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([daul kim] otherworldly)
I've noticed in the last couple of weeks that a number of LJ Idol journals have added me. To those people, I have a question - do you mind if I add you back or are you only interested in LJ Idol entries? I ask because I do post fairly prolifically about my real life and other things. I absolutely don't mind adding you, but I want to make sure you're down for that first. Let me know!

I realize I should've asked this last year as well, so... oops on that one.

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applespice: it is a sparkly fairy (Default)
How About Them Apples?

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