Hello, Bewildered Onlookers and Blown Minds!
We expect life to be straightforward, more or less. We get into our habits when WHAM! Someone flips the script. All new possibilities are open to you! I think it’s time we explored those possibilities, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Wait, You Can Do That?
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
When we grow up, we see one world, one point of view: our own. As we gain friends, are assigned groups for projects or get to know coworkers, we begin to hear different ideas. We think to ourselves, “why didn’t I think of that?” Little by little, our point of view grows. We learn about more and more prospects available to us. In turn, we grow as people. We have moments when we ask it and moments it is asked of us. It constantly questions our morals and our beliefs, and we are better for engaging with it.
Take, for example, that one kid your parents didn’t like you hanging out with after school. Maybe they led you to a place you weren’t allowed to go, or they took something they shouldn’t have taken. You ask the question either to yourself or to them. Depending on the answer you came to or got, maybe you didn’t go or maybe you took that thing. That action and its consequences shape people into who they become, what they do, and what they question. It changes lives for good or ill.
Likewise, this question can be used to ask permission. Imagine a scared child approaching a strict parent or a new employee asking something of their new employer on their first day. How relieving it is to have permission, but perhaps some doubt stirs in their chest. They ask the question and either their fears are confirmed or their relief is justified. We are either freed or trapped. We are either shunned or accepted. It’s all because we asked that question.
Maybe the question is used to ascertain ability. You don’t know if Bill in the next cubicle can whistle. You don’t know if Daniel can code in Java. You don’t know if Myrtle can make a mean bowl of eggnog. You never will unless you ask the question. When you have the answer, it can be a linking of spirit, an instant friendship. It can be a repulsion. It can even call from the recesses of your mind a fear that human beings rarely experience.
There are many people that can be asked. There are many ways to ask the question. There are many ways to respond to the answer.
Will you bind lives together or pull them apart with just an inquiry? Will you bring joy, sadness, or something else?
It all starts with one simple question. Go ahead; ask it.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
“A Surprising Act of Kindness” (Arith the Necromancer Universe)
I was just a boy when I encountered the man that I would later learn was Arith the Necromancer. At the time, the chance encounter in the forest frightened and confused me. I had just tripped and fallen into a thorn bush and had badly cut up my arms and legs as I had thrashed about in pain.
After I had crawled out of the thorn bush finally, I saw him approach me. He stood there dressed in black robes, a figure with intense eyes. His beard was dark, short, but full. His face bearing only the faint wrinkles of a man in his middle age. He looked very much like the stories I’d heard about necromancers. Yet, his expression was one of concern as he looked upon me. I reflexively recoiled as he approached, backing away until my back was to a tree.
Still, he advanced on me, looming over me, as I cowered there, bloody and scared. He reached out, and I felt for sure he was going to kill me with a touch and make me into some walking dead thing. I shut my eyes in fear.
I felt his hand upon my arm. It felt soft and a feeling of coolness flowed from his hand into my arm. I could hear whispers. So many voices whispering, but I couldn’t hear what they said. The voices stopped, and he withdrew his hand. The pain from my cuts had stopped. I slowly opened my eyes, looking at myself. The cuts were gone. He had touched me with his terrible hands, yet I was healed. I stood there confused, staring at the face of the man. His face was one of compassion.
He stepped away from me, giving me space, and I breathed out not having realized I had been holding my breath for all this time. Realizing he had backed away, I bolted for my village. I never looked back. I never thanked him.
Blessings of the Philosopher (Alchemy’s Kin)
“I’ll give you this,” Fleur Bellerose said, flourishing her polearm in one hand. “You put up a better fight than I expected.”
Phoenix extinguished his flaming blade with a swift motion of his fingers. Calais clapped him on the back while Sayaka sat a few yards away from the grassy enclosure, wondering how beating each other up was supposed to help them improve. Fleur had said that in order to stop Vesper, they needed to learn how to fight ‘properly’, but…she wasn’t quite sure what that meant.
“I’m not incompetent,” Pheonix said, brushing off Calais’ show of camaraderie. “Hell, I reckon if I can take you on, taking on Vesper should be a breeze”
“That was the easy part.” Fleur responded. “I said you fight well, but in your current position, she’ll make mincemeat out of you, tout de suite.”
Phoenix’s brow furrowed. “You beat her before, right?”
“Ok, so even though she got stronger, if I’m keeping pace with the Elemental who beat her in that state, why should she be that big of a challenge?”
“Phoenix, y-you don’t…” Sayaka started, but Fleur raised a hand to quiet her.
“Spar with me again and I’ll show you,” she said, readying her weapon. Calais floated out of the enclosure as Phoenix’s blade ignited once more. A moment’s silence ensued as the two combatants assumed their places.
“Ready…” Calais shouted. “GO!”
Sayaka only had time to register her friend taking a lunge forward before a flash of color blinded her. When her eyes re-adjusted, the first thing she noticed was that the fiery longsword had been lodged in one of the fence posts. The second was the sharp tip of the polearm centimeters away from the throat of a vine-bound Phoenix.
The third were the eyes of the victor.
They did not shine forest green as usual, but rather a bright, strong, intimidating gold.
“Do you see now?”
“An Alchemical Blessing!” Sayaka gasped.
“Ho…ly…shit…” Calais said, furiously rubbing his eyes.
Threshold by Dirtdiggler
Jordan Bell stood at the edge of the curb, the five inches between his sneaker and the black asphalt seemed to nauseatingly stretch. This was the farthest he had ever been from home. His mother had told him on his fifth birthday, almost five birthdays ago, never to go beyond Zee’s Convenience Corner Store. She had said it in passing and never thought about it afterwards. Mrs. Bell considered herself a lenient parent, but to Jordan her words still held the power of an unbreakable command.
When his friends would go beyond to the undiscovered world of arcades and condemned apartments he would meekly teeter on the edge of the curb before being abandoned and consoling himself with Zee’s candy fish. But Jordan was almost ten whole years old, and by a generous rounding that made him practically a grown up, certainly old enough to cross a busy intersection by himself.
He had never asked why he wasn’t allowed to cross this street, why couldn’t it be a street just a few blocks ahead? Wasn’t it so dumb that he couldn’t just go to the arcade like a normal kid? Jordan asked himself these questions as he stood at the curb, looking down at his feet, not crossing the street. Not that he was afraid, of course he wasn’t. It’s just that this was an important moment, one that had to be built up to, like inching step by step into a cold lake. He looked towards the street now and it was clear that there would be no inching across this time. Long convertibles and looming vans sped past, forcing Jordan him to hold his ball cap on his head to prevent it from being blown off from the displaced air.
Jordan saw a gap between tone oncoming car and the one behind it and got into a sprinting position. He waited for his moment..3 he held his breath..2 closed his eyes..1! Jordan ran as fast as he could, for nine agonized seconds his lungs burned, his feet pounded the asphalt, horns blared and tires screeched, until he tripped on the opposite curb, skinned his knee and started crying for his mother.
They call him the accountant because he pulls the biggest profits out of all the demons in hell.
Tempting souls is their business and the accountant ’employee of the millennium’.
Then five feet behind this legendary figure, two young demons follow him down peaceful streets, cloaked inside a shield of non-detection.
“Are you sure he can’t hear us?” the first asks the other.
“Yes, I’m sure so stop being so twitchy” the second retorts with a punch to the shoulder.
The first one rubs the spot “I’m not twitchy, I’m careful, imagine what this guy can do to us if he finds out”
The second waves the concerns away “The accountant wouldn’t hurt us. We’re low-ranking pond sludge, he has people for that sort of thing.”
The first swallows hard “You’re joking, right? You really think he has an army of demons beneath him just like the legends say?”
“I heard it was humans, a giant network sprawling the globe, a true pyramid of schemes.”
The first one huffs “Good one, surely you can’t trust humans to do a demon’s job?”
“Can’t trust demons to give up their bounty either.” the second retorts.
There’s a pattern to the movements of the accountant.
He seems to be following a string of signs.
Signs that say ‘primary school’.
“He must be cheating, there’s no other way. No one can tempt two hundred souls in a day.” The first one concludes.
“Maybe he steals them from other demons?”
“We would have heard that right? I bet he fudges the numbers, he’s an accountant after all.”
The sound of little brats running and shouting dooms up from the schoolyard.
The second one halts, pulls the first one back and says “This is it, pay attention now.”
“Oh my satan, oh my satan.” The first one squeals.
The accountant shrinks. His body mimicking that of a child. He manifests a small, rickety stall usually reserved for mediocre lemonade. However, on this sign, it says something different entirely. “A candy bar for your soul.” And all the children flock towards it with a cheer.
The Next Generation (Chronicles of The Dragon)
Kimiko stopped before entering the club. She wasn’t supposed to be out, but she wouldn’t be good at her job if she couldn’t sneak out. Still, best to make sure no one was following her.
Inside, the band was getting ready and people were moving towards the stage. He, however, was clearly trying to be unobtrusive, but no matter how deep he pushed into the corner, he was still the tallest person in the room. And he’d need to grow his hair out a bit more if he wanted to hide his western eyes.
He wasn’t hiding himself like a stalking predator though, simply as someone not wanting to be noticed. It brought back memories of last night, where he insisted he didn’t want to fight them, despite them doing their best to end him. At least at first.
She walked up and asked him, in English, “What are you doing here?” Her English wasn’t great, but it was far better than his Japanese.
He looked at her and lifted a glass. “Trying to relax.” He gestured at the stage. “Listening to music.” He squinted at her. “Are you following me?”
“I’m here for the music.”
He nodded. “Enjoy.” And took another sip.
“Why are you in Japan?”
He looked at her and after a moment answered. “People at home were getting very angry with me.”
“People are very angry with you here.”
“Well. I didn’t know that.”
“You killed my predecessor.”
“It was an accident.”
“The Head Priestess wants you dead.”
He finished his drink. “Is that why your team attacked me last night?”
“Yes.” She turned towards the band as they started playing. “You didn’t want to fight.”
“I had no reason to.”
She started to bounce to the music. “They think you are evil and must be destroyed.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“I’ll tell my team we won’t fight you.” She turned and gave him a smoldering look. “Unless you give us reason.”
“You can do that?”
She turned back to the band. “She controls the temple. I control the combat team.”
By Matthew R. Wright
Nights: long and filled with unpleasant stillness and silence. When I were young, I suffered through them. “The Long Nothings” my older-brother Warren used to call them. We both struggled. Being-made to lay in the dark and do-nothing; felt like torture. That was, until the night Warren came home after sleeping-over at a friend’s. That night, everything changed. That night, we became Dream-Gifters.
Most-nights, my brother and I’d lay on our bunk-beds and wait in silence for sleep. Sometimes, we’d hear dad downstairs watching a movie and we’d listen-along. Sometimes we’d talk, quiet enough for mum not to hear us; anything to pass the time into unconsciousness.
The night that Warren came back from Corey’s, he vibrated with excitement, and literally ran to our room when the time came. He really wanted to share his experience with me. Older brothers can be great like that, mostly; Warren was 80/20 a great brother.
He shared that Corey struggled too, hated the dark and the stillness. But! he had a secret tool. He was “gifted dreams.”
See, Corey didn’t have a dad to listen-in on, just him and his mum. And night-time was lonely. “Give me a dream.” he’d ask her. His mum then gave him that thing you read on the back of book, what’s it called? A blurb.
His mum-‘d spin a tale of pirates finding chests full of ancient-maps, or adventures across distant-stars. Corey-‘d then focus in-bed on the blurb. A distraction. The darkness was now just a step before the blurb’d begin. Like when the lights go out at the movies. He’d focus and Boom! He was out. He’d sleep and be gifted that dream, apparently.
It sounded unbelievable.
“Did it work? Can people do that?” I asked Warren.
“Yes, want to try it?”
Course I did. Over the next few-nights, Warren and I shared ideas for blurbs and dreams. Tales of adventure, of daring, of screams. It took a few tries, but one-night it actually, properly worked.
We had fixed the nights. No-more stillness and silence, no-more long nothings. Now it was bunk-beds and blurbs.
By Taja DaLeen
“Wait, what the hell? Really? How the… why? This doesn’t make any sense. Does it make sense? … hey, George. Talking to you here. Does it make sense to you?”
“You do realize that while I may keep you company, I hardly care about all this.”
“But… but! You’re always so fussy about illogical stuff, this just has to bug you! Doesn’t it?”
“No. I do not care. And please, stop all that flailing. I would appreciate you not hurting yourself. Or me.”
“But I’m pissed! You should be able to tell! And this wasn’t mentioned once, not even the tiniest hint that she can do that! This ruins everything!”
“If this indeed does ruin ‘everything’ for you, that is what you call a ‘you problem’. Now please, if there is nothing important to discuss, I would like to rest while the sun is in this position.”
“But, aren’t you supposed to be my friend, family even? Something like a familiar, or what’s it called? Shouldn’t you care?”
“Oh please, do not pout like that. Also, while yes, I am your spirit protector, that is what I am called as I already told you countless times, I do not have to care about such trivial things. I am to help you with real problems, concerning the real world. Information about different kinds of magic and the like.”
“But! This is a problem to me! Sure, it’s got nothing to do with the Other World, but still! It’s real to me! Her pulling that stunt just… ruins it! Everything! How are the others supposed to react?”
“I fail to see how this matters. It does not concern me, at the end of the day I am a cat after all, and it also should not concern you. At least not this much. It is simply one of your strange TV shows.”
Keep your head down
Don’t look up
Don’t ask questions.
This was the mantra I lived by for the past century.
Up at the crack of dawn, and work ‘till my blackened ivory hide was steaming from the sun’s merciless gaze. Also, I need to keep my head down.
I don’t want their fiery chains to whip my back again.
I was minding my own business, hefting a massive boulder upon my shoulders, when he appeared at my side.
He was tall, like me. His rubbery skin was rough, like mine. And his head was held high, unlike mine.
I nearly dropped the weight upon my shoulders.
Before I could chastise him, he leaned down and spoke.
“Haven’t you had enough?”
“Put your head down. We must keep the peace.”
“Brother, we mistake quiet for peace. We mistake barely surviving ‘till the next day as peace. We mistake blind obedience for peace.”
I roughly set down the boulder.
“You think I wanted this life for myself? For my family?”
I growled and he put a hand on my shoulder.
“Nor I. I wish to return to the days when our people were free to ride the sands once more.”
I took a moment to calm myself.
“What can be done?”
“We must rise. We must free ourselves.”
“If it were that easy, we would have done so ages ago. You have a plan, yes?”
“We simply walk away.”
I stopped, incredulous.
“We can do that? Won’t that anger the guards?”
He smirked sharply.
“Why do we care? Together, we have little to fear from their whips and chains. They can’t stop us brother, it’s why they sought to imprison our minds.”
“So, we walk?
Rock Star (Dawn Collection)(Repost from Private Group)
“Hey kid, can you do whatever it is you’re doing a bit quieter? I’m trying to sleep,” the Sunrise King said, nonchalant.
The psychic child was barging through the king’s mindscape, making a mess of his inner archives. He pried open case after case that orbited the slumbering sun. It proved to be an odd, yet effective way to conduct an interrogation.
Streams of memories poured out from the containers and formed glowing rings around the king. The child reached into them to pull out any useful information. Unexpectedly, projections of the Sunrise King began to leap out from the streams as well.
The father and the commander in him emerged to defend their mindscape.
The father pulled the kid away from his meddling and began to scold him. “Young man, what do you think you are doing in a stranger’s mind? I’d like to speak to your parents about this.”
While the father was lecturing the kid on proper investigation etiquette, the commander was thinking of a way to expel the saboteur. He had to protect his secrets and schemes. In desperation, he settled on an unsavory solution.
“Keep the kid there, I need to secure that case!” he yelled to the father.
The commander leapt over trunks and boxes, then he stumbled upon an abandoned instrument case labeled Rock Star. The father understood what he was attempting and shouted, “no, not him!”.
He hesitated a moment before snapping open the guitar case. Immediately, a spirited projection of a teen aged Sunrise King emerged, singing and playing his guitar. The rock star’s song hit like a rogue comet, scattering the archives and disorienting the psychic. It filled the mindscape with a shameless song that overwrote every thought.
The projections faded away as the Sunrise King awoke, invigorated. The song still filled his head as well as his invaders. The overstimulated psychic sat outside the king’s prison cell covering his ears, hoping that it might silence the song inside.
The king said pleasantly surprised, “I can’t believe I used to sing like that!”
By MasaCur (Reposted from Private Group)
Everything went dark. Streetlights, interior lights, even the dashboard. Ramona pulled out her phone, and the screen wouldn’t turn on.
Just as suddenly, everything came back. Ramona glanced up at the traffic light, and saw it turned green. She advanced forward, and then slammed on the brakes immediately.as a woman dashed out into the street with a scream.
Following on her heels was a pale man with thin, wispy hair, running on all fours. Ramona blinked. “Is he wearing…chainmail?”
The pale man pounced upon the woman, snapping and snarling, attempting to bite at her. Ramona sighed, pulled the Glock from her glove box, and exited her car.
“Hey, asshole! Get off her.”
The pale man’s head snapped around. His mouth hung open, filled with jagged teeth.
Ramona kept the hood of her car between herself and the man. She kept the handgun pointed at him.
He bolted toward Ramona, and she fired. He hit the ground.
Seconds later, he climbed back to his feet. There was a hole in the rusty chainmail where the bullet struck, but no blood coming from the wound. And it seemed to be getting smaller.
He snarled a rattle growl, and advanced on Ramona again.
He lurched toward Ramona, causing her to stumble back.
A voice boomed from behind Ramona. “Get back, creature of darkness!”
The pale man gave an inhuman shriek and slunk away.
Ramona glanced behind her, and saw a redheaded man holding a crucifix. He advanced on the creature until he stood beside Ramona.
“Thanks,” she gasped. “I’m lucky you came along when you did, Padre.”
He smiled grimly. “I’m not sure how long I can hold him off, though.” The man looked at Ramona’s Glock, and placed his hand upon it. “Oh Lord, if it be in your plan, bless this weapon, and allow it to vanquish this beast.”
“You think it will work?” Ramona asked.
He nodded. “I’m holding it back with pure faith. I believe this will too.”
The pale man screamed.
Another shot and it evaporated in a miasma.
Ramona gasped. “I can’t believe that worked.”
The source of stories, or T.A.A.P. (Repost from Private Group)
“Technology assisted auto plagiarism.”
“…What? I don’t think I understand what you mean.”
So, I explained to her.
“You asked me where the inspirations for my novels come from. Technology assisted auto plagiarism is the answer, at least to where I got the inspiration for “For the Lack of a Candle”. After the success of “The High Priestess of Poker”, I caught a severe case of writer’s block. No idea seemed interesting enough to linger in my mind, and the ones that did… well, I wasn’t making any progress in putting them to paper. I felt empty, and a bit desperate.”
“In dire straits, all exits seem valid. I was reminded of all those stories of great artists that allegedly achieved success through a deal with the devil, and then I searched for my own devil. A technological devil, whose prices were cheaper, but who was no less powerful nor less cunning.”
“Have you ever worked with those very robust predictive simulations? Like the ones used to predict the weather, or model planetary formation, or those that calculate how entire ecosystems may evolve through specific actions? There are some that can do… even more than that. Imagine that someone feeds all my writings to a simulation such as this. Not just my published novels, but also my personal notes, the scraps of text on my digital data trail, the self-censored drafts that never saw the light of day… Imagine that said simulation could then try to predict my next novel, based on these inputs.”
“Now, stop imagining, ‘cause that’s the book you have in your hands. “For the Lack of a Candle” was the output. I read what the program emulated as my writing… and then I copied it.”
She looked at me, incredulous. “Are you even allowed to do that?”
“Well, here’s the funny thing. Technically, plagiarism is the copy of a previous, existent work. What I’ve copied was a future, hypothetical, plausible work. So who’s to say?.”
Maybe I had no hints on where to find inspiration to share. But at least I’ll always have stories to tell.
A God-Fearing Man
They said Roginar was a god-fearing man. That’s why I was skeptical when they said he wanted to join us. As an ex-priest of the Church, his beliefs should have been in direct opposition to our band of upstarts, but he and his followers seemed more than loyal to our cause.
It was a cause worth fighting for. For too long, humanity had been bound by the pact between the gods and the Church. For too long, we had given the gods offerings in exchange for their judgements. We wanted freedom. No more offerings and no more judgements.
That is why we came to the meeting site on the day of the Solstice. When the gods sent their emissary, we would plead our case. The gods would have to accept that we were ready to govern ourselves.
“You’re mistaken, child. We’re not here to talk to their emissary – we’re here to capture him.”
What Roginar said made my ears turn hot. The heat quickly spread to my face and chest as the words sunk in, burning me from the inside.
“”That’s – are you daft? That’s impossible!”
That last word left my mouth louder than I expected – it echoed out across the grassy field below us. From our position on the knoll overlooking the meeting site below, I could see several of our allies look up at me. Roginar stood confidently beside me, seemingly unfazed by my outburst.
Lowering my voice to a hiss, I continued, “Being a priest has inflated your ego, Roginar. Only a god can touch a god.”
Roginar simply smiled in response. It was a knowing smile that chilled me to my core. As the clouds above us parted and the silvery form of the gods’ emissary came into view, the heat in my chest was slowly replaced by a cold fear. A fear, not of the god descending from above, but of the man standing next to me.
I saw Roginar step forward, the smile on his face even wider.
The smell of ozone filled the air as lightning danced to life on Roginar’s arms.
As Conner sipped his coffee, he noticed Will kept checking his watch. At 9:37, a young woman walked into the café, and Will smiled.
“Someone you know?”
Will seemed surprised to have been caught, and a bit of color crept into his cheeks. “No. Not really.” There was a pause until he added. “I’d like to though.”
“Oh?” Conner raised an eyebrow. Will was somewhat notoriously single.
Will was now pointedly avoiding looking in both the girl and Conner’s directions. “She’s come in a few times with friends, but usually she sits and reads. I’ve read a few of the books I’ve seen her with. She has good taste, mostly.” He paused and smiled to himself. “She seems sweet.”
Conner took another sip of coffee as he watched the girl in question sit while waiting for her order. She had, in fact, pulled out a book, although he couldn’t make out the cover from here.
“You know you could just go up and talk to her?”
That got Will to look directly at him. The shock on his face slowly faded. “Oh…that honestly had not occurred to me.”
“Do you know what she’s reading today?”
Will finally looked over in her direction and nodded. “Hound of the Baskervilles. Looks like she’s almost done, too.”
“Have you read that one?”
He nodded. “Not my favorite Holmes, but decent.”
“So, why not go over and ask how she’s liking it?”
Will still didn’t seem entirely convinced.
“Hey, maybe this is your one and only conversation. Maybe you’ll chat occasionally about books when you see her here. Maybe you’ll form a book club. Maybe you’ll get married and I’ll give a super embarrassing speech at your wedding about this very conversation. I don’t know. But I do know nothing happens unless you give it a shot.”
Will looked over at the girl again, downed the rest of his coffee, and stood up. “I’m, uh, gonna go throw this away. Over there.” He pointed at the trash can. The one over by where the girl was sitting.
Conner smiled. “Remember; no spoilers!”
Of Rats and Fathers (Life of Madness)
(originally from Private Group)
by Lee Strangely
The metal chair was cold, much like the rest of the waiting room. Technically every chair she sat in across the day was cold and metal, but this one was different. The chairs outside and inside the principal’s office were the kind of chairs with that weird minimalist look, and the cushions built into them that didn’t actually cushion anything. They weren’t very comfortable, though Maddy grew quite accustomed to sitting in them.
Next to her was another girl, with dark hair and a dark hoodie.
“What do you think they’re talking about in there?” she asked.
Maddy smiled, “Me.”
They couldn’t understand everything that was being said inside, but it sounded like a very heated argument judging by the volume.
“So why are you here?” Maddy asked.
“Got in an argument with the P.E. teacher… You?”
Briefly someone inside raised their voice, “This is different! She terrorized students with a dead rat!”
The girl looked back at Maddy in astonishment, “Did you actually do that?”
“No no-no-no, that’s a dramatic oversimplification… You see, it was really cool, I found a dead rat in the closet during my robotics class. I attached some wires, a battery, a transceiver. You know, just the bare bones, nothing fancy. And I was able to link it up to the remote I was working on, and MAN the movement turned out so much better than I was expecting. I sent him into the locker-room, and I had never heard screams at such high notes in my life!”
“Those poor girls.”
The office door then opened. Out came a man in a well-worn overcoat and a fowl mood. Maddy went pale upon his entrance. As she started to get up, he grabbed her by the hair.
“Okay I- ow-ow-ow-ow.”
He pulled her along until they left the building.
“Why do you keep doing this to me?!” he hissed, “my work is important, I don’t have time to deal with your antics, every, other, DAY.”
“Sorry…” she briefly noticed the bandage wrapped around his right hand, “Where’d you get that?”
“Work.” he growled.
A composite of confusing elements
Written by Pluie
Phodie and I stared down at a writhing flesh puddle. He had once been a merchant, but he had sadly been reduced to this melty, amalgamating mess wriggling mere inches from my feet. I backed away and scoffed in response to the disgusting sight, moving my hand to grip the handle of my khopesh in preparation for a mercy kill. That is until I felt tiny hands grip onto my forearm, preventing me from drawing my weapon. I looked down towards the small Phodie, but she had her attention trained on the amalgamate. Now confused, I decided to inquire “Why did you stop me? I thought your whole thing was making sure everyone was at peace. And, unless my eyes deceive me, that doesn’t exactly look peaceful” I point at the gurgling man with a grunt, sometimes I didn’t understand this girl’s logic…
Phodie didn’t answer me until the amalgamation had stopped squirming and started reforming into his previous form, groaning and gurgling as his body eased itself together again, all while I grimaced behind my mask. “He is at peace now.” Phodie’s small voice chirped. I shot her a wide eyed glare “what??” The little Oracle turned to look up at me, tilting her head to now convey her confusion “do you remember what had happened before he collapsed Méte?” I stared at her and let out a less than patient sigh “Phodie, that was NOT just a ‘collapse’.”
“that isn’t what I asked.”
“how are you not-”
“answer my question or I won’t answer yours”
“fine.. I was going to buy us some food for our travels, you asked if he could come out of his stand, and when he did you…touched him”
“I stopped you because that reaction was just his body adjusting to an absent soul. He is an amalgamation of reincarnations of himself, one of them was causing issues, so I removed it. ”
Woah… too much information at once. Yet Phodie spoke as if she had seen it everyday. All I could really manage to say was “I didn’t know you could do that..”
The Magic System
Kate turns the wheel of the crawler with one hand, the other thumping a stress ball against its metal flooring while Zakke sits in the back. He clicks a pen repeatedly. “Look, I’m just saying, Bazel’s been after us–”
“Fine, after ME, for a while now. But you don’t want me dead, riiiight? And besides, with his palace blown up—from an explosion I still admire—I’m practically out of the picture!”
The ball thumps. Kate checks the mirror to make sure they’re not being followed from the palace’s ruins and scowls at how pleased Zakke is with himself. Thump. “Well, with an explosion that even impressed YOU, mister “king of explosives”, who do you think Bazel will blame?”
“Yeah. So you gotta figure something out.”
With barely a glance, Kate slings the ball at the floor, hearing it bounce around the cabin before smacking the pen out of Zakke’s hand.
Slowly turning the crawler around a corner, Kate checks the mirror again as Zakke picks up his pen and tosses back the ball. Click. “Oh really,” Kate smirks. “You’re sure you wanna give this back.” Thump.
“You’re not—” THUMP. “Ow! C’mon, really?” Zakke gets the pen again with an overdramatic sigh, leaving the ball. “So.” Click. “What’re we gonna do?”
“Hey, don’t lump me into your problems. YOU are the one Bazel wants.”
Zakke groans. “Well what am I supposed to do, then?” Clickclick.
With another backwards glance, Kate pulls into an alley they might be able to hide in. “I don’t know. Return the cash?”
“Yeah, I can return the half million gears. But now that the palace got nuked, he’ll definitely want my head with the cash.” A pause is filled by the hum of the crawler’s engine and the clicking pen. “What?”
“I might be able to get you a deal.”
The pen stops. “What.”
“Yeah. I was a cop, remember? I’ve got old connections that go pretty high up. They’re why I stopped being a cop, but I’ve still got– Ahh shit.”
“We do have a tail.”
The chance of having an extraordinary friend is absurdly small, and it seems I was born under a lucky star.
Monna has been my friend since I was first able to form and keep memories. Around the same time, I fell in love with her. She was born with fiery red hair and crystal blue eyes. She was taller than me up to the years of our puberty, after which I ended up being taller by a couple of inches.
She is intelligent, athletic, good-looking, and quick-witted.
We were in our early twenties when this story occurred. We were in her room, which was mostly empty by this point since she had moved out a while ago.
I was sitting on the floor, my back against the bed, while she was sitting on it and looking through the window with a gloomy expression. We didn’t talk for a while. The last time we spoke was three years ago when she was leaving for some school for the gifted.
I didn’t know where to begin with my questions, and it seemed like she was troubled by something.
“Hey Monna, do you ever wish that you could do magic?” It was a random thought, but lately, I’ve been wondering about it. I was tired from work and I wasn’t thinking clearly.
“Do I? Well… I can do magic, but you might not like it.”
“Wait, you can do magic?” I heard rustling from behind me.
“Close your eyes, wait for the spell to take effect, and then open them” And I did as she told me.
The moment I closed my eyes, I heard more rustling on the bed before I felt our lips touch. I did not open my eyes until I heard window glass shattering. I saw a ball of fire hit the wall in front of us. Flames exploded all over the room in an instant.
“I need a shield,” she said in a panicked voice, pulling away from me. “Will you swear to be it?”
I had a feeling, in that inferno, the answer could only be “Yes!”
(Edits were made due to mistakes in grammar and word count issues)
“Hey! Did you know that you could gain bird powers by eating a bird?” Foster asked me.
He paused. “Wait, what?”
“Yeah, I, uh, I got bored yesterday and decided to catch a pigeon in the street. They’re surprisingly easy to catch,” I said nonchalantly.
Foster was speechless and dumbfounded, so I had to pry.
“You look shocked. Why?”
“I…de…wha…Are you serious?”
“What? What’s the problem, buddy, friend, chum?”
Foster frowned. “I don’t believe you.”
“I said I don’t believe you! I think you’re screwing with me with your nonsense.”
“Alright. I’ll just fly then.”
“Pfft. Oh sure. You’re just going to…”
His eyes widened at my newfound power. I stared down at him from the ceiling.
“What the fff…HOW?!”
“I caught a pigeon. I told you that.”
“I have so many questions!” Foster dragged his hands down his cheeks.
“Do you really have that many questions? People say they do, but never ask more than, like, three questions?”
“Well, for one, what prompted you to eat a bird?!”
“Well, I didn’t say that I ate it. But I did want to know what it tasted like but I didn’t get the chance to.”
Foster narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean?”
“Well, I picked up the bird and I absorbed it.”
“What do you mean you ABSORBED it?”
“I picked up the bird, and my body absorbed it. And not like picking up an item in a video game, okay. It melded into my body. It was flapping and screeching trying to get away as its flesh stuck and stretched into mine. It was horrifying.”
Foster’s eyes widened. “Do you absorb everything you touch?”
“THANKFULLY NO. I was still hungry afterward, so I bought some chicken nuggets. I was careful not to touch the cashier as I handed them the cash, but their hand brushed against mine and nothing happened. I was so relieved.”
“Well, that’s good at least.”
Silence stuck for a while until I broke the news.
“I’m wanted by the FBI.”
“Wha-WHAT DID YOU DO?!”
“I pooped on the President.”
“Look! It’s such a pretty bird!” Sia exclaimed, pointing at the branch in front of us. “Hey, have you ever imagined flying like one? I would love to feel the wind on my face.” She watched the bird fly off, twitching like she was flapping wings of her own.
I remembered something and only barely stifled a giggle. Unfortunately, Sia still heard and narrowed her eyes. “What?”
“Yeeees?” She prompted.
“Well, I guess it’s fine to do it here,” I answered half-heartedly.
I pulled out my wand from my bag, and motioned for her to come closer. She approached while I cast the spell under my breath, her confusion and curiosity growing more visible. When she reached me I fired the spell towards both of us, taking her hand as she started lifting off the ground. Her face shifted between surprise, fear, and excitement as she realized what was happening.
“Magic can do this?!” She yelled, gaping as she struggled to stay balanced in the air, turning upside down and holding her skirt in place.
“The spell was prohibited years ago, so I can’t use it near towns.”
I pulled Sia’s arm to help her regain her balance.
“Do you know how to swim?” I asked as we slowly started to rise.
“I-I never had the chance to learn!”
“This is easier, I promise. You can even start learning right now.”
Pushing off against a boulder, I started rising faster than before, pulling Sia behind me and quickly surpassing the treetops.
“Ardeeeeen!” Startled by the sudden acceleration, Sia grabbed my arm and hugged it as tightly as she squeezed her eyes shut.
After going a bit higher, I stopped our ascent and put my free hand over Sia’s to comfort her. Her eyes slowly opened, and she froze at the view before us. The forest spread around the mountains in the distance, sun setting behind them and casting light on the town we were traveling towards. The wind brushed gently against the two of us.
After a short silence, she murmured, “It’s beautiful.”
A Question of Should (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
The red light on the monitor heralded the coming of the thing Jackie was both dreading and anticipating. Having slowed down considerably, the sun screamer was still on course, directly toward them.
“We have the choice,” she said, more to herself than Michael. “We either siphon power from this creature, in order to reactivate the nanobots, in hopes of fixing this ship or we get used to the idea of Ozymandias becoming our new home.”
“We don’t even know if this is a creature,” Michael said.
He had a point. What did they know about sun screamers? Only what legends said. Humanoid, miniature suns, traversing the cosmos.
“Whatever we decide, we’re running out of time,” Michael continued, the icy calm in his voice almost driving her up the wall. “It’ll be here in five days, if it maintains its speed, according to Newton.”
Jackie bit the lip of her currently humanoid hull. So soon… Why was she the one making this decision? Because she was satari? Because she was in medical? Because she was technically the oldest?
“It might not even feel it. It’s not like we’re completely draining it.”
“That’s just it, Michael,” she snapped. “We don’t know if it feels pain. We don’t know whether it is sapient or not. We don’t know if our plan to catch it will work. We don’t even know, if calling it an ‘it’ is even appropriate. We just know that we need more power, if we’re ever to break orbit.”
Jackie wished deeply that she didn’t know all this. Knowledge could hurt as much as it helped. She wasn’t sure, why she acted the way she did. Maybe because sun screamers appeared to be energy-based creatures, just like she was. Maybe she was just sick of everyone turning to her to have all the answers, as if being satari made her inherently more enlightened.
“Well, maybe we should answer the question of whether we can even catch it in the first place,” Michael said.
“It’s not a question of whether we can,” Jackie replied. “It’s a question of whether we should.”
I’m an Unbeliever (Debut)
By That guy
The Gods have shown us no mercy. Their cruelty has crossed every boundary. Our crops cannot grow, our livestock have passed out, and our cities are all but in ruin. There is only so much that we, as mortals, can take. An assembly of the wisest and most knowledgeable of leaders has taken place in the capitol of the world, the only place that the Gods themselves have yet to touch. Arguments have been thrown back and forth, but no progress has been made. It was only Epistimi, the wisest of all, who has thought up a solution to this troubling crisis.
“So, Epitstimi,” spoke the Vice Councilmen, “The wisest of all, what wisdom will you bestow upon us in such apocalyptic times?”
Epitstimi rose forth from his chair and spoke, “We shall simply ignore them.”
“We can do that?” A councilmen asked.
“Precisely,” Epitstimi replied, “We ignore them until they go away.”
A councilmen raised his hand in the air, and Epitstimi pointed at him as he spoke, “Won’t ignoring the Gods simply anger them even more than they already are?”
“Why yes,” Epitstimi answered, “But eventually they’ll decide we’re not worth the time.”
We all looked to another. Possibly thinking the same question in our mind. The Hawk King then raised his hand into the air, and Epitstimi pointed which lead to the Hawk King’s question, “If this were to work, then how do we explain everything on this world. Like, where we came from, or how the animals, sun, moon, and life came into existence?”
“Ah,” Epitstimi stroked the long hairs of his beard, “Well quite simple, we’ll use a really, really big explosion that gave birth to life, the world, and the makings. Then we’ll use long and confusing words, but arranged in a less conventional manner that makes it seem like we know what we’re talking about. Despite not knowing what we’re even talking about. We shall call this, ‘Science’!”
Epitstimi proceeded to walk proudly back into his quarters. Not even elaborating further on his idea. Leaving all of us to question his position.
The Road Back Home
I didn’t know they could do that. I don’t know why they would do that.
I thought they loved me.
I thought I was a good dog.
But here I am.
Huddled in a soaking heap on the side of the road. Tail tucked between my legs. Too weak to bark or move.
I know the road is dangerous. The stench of death is overwhelming.
I can’t bring myself to move.
Maybe I deserve this.
I just wasn’t good enough. Maybe I played a little too rough with the cat. Maybe I dug up the dirt one too many times. Maybe I should never have gotten too old to fetch.
My insides growl. The pain won’t let me sleep.
Do I really deserve this.
Maybe I do.
I stare off into the direction their car drove off.
Please tell me what I did wrong. I promise I can be better.
Please come back for me.
The ground rumbles beneath my limp body. A light shines in the distance. I know it’s a car.
For a second I think they’ve come back. My tail thumps into the muddy soil.
Please take me back. I want to go home.
It drives past. Splashing even more grimy water and muck onto my black coat.
I want to go home.
More cars drive by. I don’t bother looking up. What’s the point. I’m broken, unwanted.
“You have a home little guy?”
Home? My eyes open and in the dark I see a car. A woman standing in front of me.
A hand pats me on the head and I lean into the warmth and comfort.
“Jenna dear, get the blankets and come over here. I don’t see a collar.”
I get wrapped in something soft. It takes away the dampness.
The woman lifts me up and puts me in her car. I let my tail wag just the tiniest bit.
“Can we keep him.” The little girl whines.
“If no one comes for him, yes.”
The car roars back to life.
True or False (Tale of Gilbert)
By Tamela Redfin
I sat on the ground, looking into the cracked mirror. Yup, this was my future as well as my present. I was a cyborg now, with no friends, except for maybe one other robotic-looking girl. Or was she? It had been weeks since I left my room and everything felt so, so cold.
“GILBERT!” Klon Vatti, better known as Feldspar Augen, shouted to me. I tried to hide so I wouldn’t have to see the soulless body of Gildo. “Ah there you are, why the long face?”
“You know why the long face.” I replied with that stupid robotic voice.
“I need your help.” He motioned and I saw Cora’s clone, Corlita enter. “I want you two to bring me Elenora Alderbrand… Helen’s daughter.”
“False. You can’t make me.” Corlita snapped before Klon Vatti clicked a button. Corlita fell to the ground, screaming in agony. Wait, were those lights I was seeing?
“Do you want to be the next Sulfur Cora? If so, start acting like her!” Klon Vatti shouted.
“True… TRUE!” She answered.
Then Klon Vatti stopped.
Corlita turned to me, “Experiment 105, code name Gilbert, do you know how to use your laser eyes? True or False?”
“Uh, no? I mean, false.”
Corlita winked, firing a laser straight at me, which I thankfully dodged. She then clutched my right arm. “Set dial to fire, not to off position. Wait, what does laser net do?”
I held out my hand and fired. Unsurprisingly, a net of lasers caught Corlita.
“Experiment 105! Release me.” Corlita thrashed about, but she only seemed to be ensnared tighter.
“Corlita, relax.” I lowered my hand. She didn’t understand. “Uh movement set to false?”
Corlita quickly seized up and the net loosened, before disappearing. She fell into my arms. “My thanks to Experiment 105.”
“Please call me Gilbert.” I replied, setting her down. So that’s what I’d be now? Klon Vatti’s evil errand monkey? I also had to get Corlita out of here.
Interplanetary trip (short for the anomalous galaxy)
“So let me get this straight? you got back from Neptune to earth near-instantly?!” the scientist in chief Arnold Carmine was baffled at the anomaly in from of him.
“And you are sure your powers aren’t magic?” asked the arch Magus Amelia Thomson. she knew the Aetheric arts could do almost anything with few rules, but recreating that insanity was challenging to pull off. unless one knew how to make a wormhole, and even then you still needed to use special suits to survive the trip with zero oxygen. “went did you realize you could do this?”
“Well, I meant, one of my best friends was going to live in Neptune’s colonies, so I just wanted to visit her,” said the 25-year-old Pamela Alejandro while she shyly played with her fingers “so I thought I could just fly to her right?, so I did it.”
This young woman got into a freak accident, that should have ended her life, yet she did this safely without magic, or a specialized space vessel, with just the clothes she was wearing.
“Miss, do you realize you pierced the atmosphere layers of the earth, and then did the same in Neptune upon re-entry?” Arnold said almost having an aneurysm, and wanting to get drunk, at the Superman-like achievement Pamela just did.” and then again, went you returned?”
“And not to mention, that in the process you made several authorities worry about a rogue space vessel,” Amelia said massaging the side of her head trying to soothe a zoom-to-be headache.” you do realize the uproar this is going to provoke right?”
“Jejeje! Oops,” Pamela dared to chuckle nervously. All of this just because she wanted to visit a friend on another planet? oh christ.
The mage and the scientist looked at each other, both could feel the change to the status quo would happen…. again with a bottle of Vodka for Arnold no doubt.
Anomalies like Pamela would never seem to amaze them both that’s for sure.
Sleepless. (The Will)
“Did you mean it?”
The dragoness looked over to the black-haired man sitting next to her on the desolate walls of what was supposed to be his home. Eymir had pulled himself into a ball, tighter than any other she had seen. Even though the stars shone brilliantly with the moon, his eyes had no glimmer to them. “What do you mean?” Remianna replied.
“When you said you would help me. Do you have any idea what you’d be up against?”
He was breaking, and she could see the cracks widening. Remianna forced his legs down and used them as her pillow, looking up to the Sufferer with confident eyes.
Eymir closed his eyes and sighed. “You already know I have two traits—that alone is a problem for anyone trying to take me down. Even the most powerful Wills only have one,” he reminded her, but Remianna did not falter.
“The first is… when my essence touches physical matter, I consume it—adding to my mass of pure eleum. I can carry up to ten tons of mass within me, and whenever I consume something, I can recreate it perfectly. If I can touch you through any surface with my essence… I can kill you.”
“But?” Remianna prompted.
“But that’s a simple parlour trick without the second trait,” he continued. Eymir swallowed, preparing himself to reveal the one thing he had never told another soul. “The reason I have such a large essence pool isn’t because of my linage. It’s because… I…”
It took him several moments to get out the truth, his tears acting as lubricant. “…because I take my victim’s core essence—their soul—and add it to my own. It’s why I can’t sleep anymore: they’re all still there… screaming and trying to take control of my body. Especially… her.”
Remianna’s jaw tightened, and Eymir noticed. “Are you sure you want to help me?” he asked.
“I just don’t think a monster would let a woman use him as a pillow,” she quipped.
“You’re insane,” he shook his head in disbelief.
“Maybe I’m just crazy about you.”
A Pleasant Revelation (Cordelia’s Journey/A Tiefling Tale) [From Private]
C. M. Weller
Thunder rumbled into Cordelia’s awareness, first. Heralding the feel of a soft, down mattress or the warm weight of blankets and quilts. Hinting at the awareness of some very warm presence by her side. Wrapped around her wherever possible.
The thunder ebbed and flowed like a tide, making her think that there must be a truly unpleasant storm outside before the golden light of dawn sidled into her awareness.
Cordelia put things together. Slowly, since it took her brain some time to accomplish puzzles this early in the day. She was not wearing a single stitch of clothing. Neither was her husband. Oh yes. She had got married, just yesterday. And enjoyed some matrimonial bliss, thereafter.
Cordelia turned towards the weight of her husband. Kormwind Arachis Felbourne Whitekeep, ninth of the name. The Demon Lord of these mountains. Affectionately known to those who loved him best as ‘Kosh’.
Kosh, who had all five limbs wrapped around her as if he still feared she may vanish. Kosh, who had suffered so much just to win this much peace. Kosh, her beloved.
He had drooled on the pillow in his slumber, and his hair was an unsurprising mess. Nevertheless, she could still spot the gold band that was now a part of his left horn for the rest of their lives together. She would never forget that weird look of beatific glee on his blue features, in combination with the scent of searing horn and burning blood.
Tieflings like him got more than a little strange about forming permanent bonds.
Cordelia brushed some of his indigo curls from his face and felt… a vibration? The thunder was coming from HIM!
Golden eyes opened and he made a deep, “Mrrrrp?” noise.
She couldn’t hide it from him. “You were purring.”
His voice still trembled with the noise. “I’m… happy.” His pointed teeth showed, and he was unafraid of their influence on her. “I’m really, truly happy.”
“How long have you known you can do that?”
Kosh loosened one arm to rub his eyes. “About a minute, belike?”
By Marx(CW: Mental/Physical abuse, Depression)
I remember how it started.
Jasmine wasn’t entirely sure that me and him weren’t trying to prank her somehow. Teasing her love of the supernatural. So, she wanted proof. Proof that he was a demon and forced me into being his thrall.
I remember him looking at me.
It was the look you give a toy. Not one you like, but one you never wanted. One you’ll break one day out of spite.
I felt it before I saw it. Which was weird of course, because how many people can feel their hair? But I did. And then I saw it. One strand turning from blonde to black. Then it was two, then three, and all I could do was watch in horror as a prominent black streak formed in my hair and became a permanent fixture in my life.
As I look in the mirror now, I barely recognize myself.
I remember hating the little bits of green in the blue of my eyes.
They’re gold now.
I remember hating my freckles and pimples and all the little flaws on my skin.
It’s flawless now.
I remember hating my teeth. They weren’t quite buck teeth, but they stuck out just enough that when I smiled it made me look childish.
That’s no longer an issue.
Neither is my torso being too short.
Or my legs being too long for my height.
And my hair? It’s all black now. Except for one blonde strand. And I know it’s that way on purpose. He loves to taunt me. To remind me of how little control I have over anything, including my own body.
In my weakest moments, I frantically search for that one hair and I tear it out, just wanting it to be over already.
It eventually grows right back though. Or another strand turns blonde. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter.
Nothing except for what he wants.
Nothing except for whatever mental or physical torture or humiliation entertains him from one day to the next.
This is my life now.
And there’s nothing I can do about it…