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[ Stories: Witch-Girl (Read from the bottom of the list), The Canon ] [ Poetry: All Poetry; ( ♥ ) ( ⚔ ) ]
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[ red_a02 ] Shuzhen – The first episode was a lot of fun, cos it had an interesting cocktail of sexual tension and smooth fight choreography. This episode is like the awkward aftermath...
27 Aquarius 13 18:13
[ vermilion_2 ] YAPX – I understand that most of your stories are dialogue-based and heavy on retorts and counter-retorts. This one felt unnecessarily circular. It starts with a cool premise: a killer/villain/vigilante uses Lent to swear off something that should be second nature to him (I suppose), and then talks about a story. The link between the two (giving up killing & the story) isn’t a 100% fit. Maybe instead of “let me tell you a story”, it could be “hey, you see I even passed a guy up for death today!” or equivalent. Something to drag Lorelei into the banter and the premise. // That’s my only complaint. I’m not a big fan of dialogue-based stories, but I can make a exception for this.
14 Aquarius 13 08:03
[ 130204 ] YAPX – Good pace, good characters, great dialogue. The thing I like best is a combination of the three: how you build up their pseudo-relationship through all that back-and-forth exchange. Somehow, you craft a unique, strange relationship: from any one point in the story, both of them are manipulative, victimised and hypocrites - though not all at once. // On word choices, I felt you could change the word “janitor” (“cleaner” or “uncle” would’ve given a different, but more acute local flavour to it). Mostly because, it’s connotes an added level of difference through: class. Whether or not you intended it, by portraying the “janitor” and “student” you bring out the fact that he’s stuck there socially in all sense of the word. It made the part where he says he reads books during weekends completely out-of-context and weird. // Also, there’s too much “sliding” in and out of the room. Not sure if that’s intentional repetition, or just a lack of other words. // I thought that the girl’s own background is pretty compelling. Even after everything, I can’t tell if she’s speaking the truth. Because I’m all for unreliable narrators and characters, I can still find her well-thought out. But other readers might lose patience or wonder at her sudden change of heart at the final moment.
04 Aquarius 13 08:48
“All things belong somewhere,” she says, “it is the nature of things.”
“Ow!” she squeals.
The witch-girl looks down, then up, scans the room, focuses on the demon, and snaps, “Can you not leave boxes of your clothes all over the damn place?”
The demon clenches his hand, causing the cloth he is wiping the window with to squish out little steams of water, which flow down the glass.
He turns to her. “Sorry,” he says.
“Do something about –”
He feels something inside him flare, and before he realises it, he says, “No.”
“What?!” she glares at him.
“I said ‘no’. No, I’m not sorry. No, I won’t do something about it. You do something about it.”
His vision discolours as his eyes ignite with flame.
He isn’t going to stop now. “Do you think I like having my clothes in boxes? Do you think I like having to learn to bloody sew because the clothes here can’t fit me because no one else has bloody wings?”
“I spend my whole bloody day cleaning, I cook your meals, I wash your clothes, I mop the bloody floor. Do you once tell me that you enjoyed your dinner? Just once? I’ll answer that. No. Because little miss superstar witch is too busy plotting to rob all the gold of fairyland to say ‘thank you’.”
She is pointing at something, near him.
He looks down, and he sees his wash cloth sending out little curls of smoke. His hands are on fire. The wet cloth hisses.
“Dammit,” he yells, as he tosses the smoking cloth onto the floor and stamps on it with his hoof.
The bat-wings of the demon rises and falls as he pants, and his vision clears as he swallows his rage.
“Are you done?” the witch-girl asks, her voice icy.
“Yes,” he says.
“Then how about this? Who do you think pays for all these clothes you ruin because you simply cannot sew? Who pays for these exotic spices that you insist on using in minuscule fucking amounts? Like a pinch of cinnabar really makes any difference? Huh? Answer me that!” A cackle of electricity dances across her fingertips as she yells, “Who has to scour the fucking city for cinnabar just because you want to try out some new recipe you just saw on some stupid cooking show? Do you have any idea how much you spend?”
They glare at each other, across the room. Her hair slowly rises in a nimbus around her head, as static electricity courses through her.
“Maybe I have to watch television,” the demon says in a low growl, “because it’s the only way to drown out the sound of your incessant talking.”
“I do not talk incessantly.”
“Yes. You do.”
“Fine,” she snaps, “I do. But I had no idea you found it so annoying.”
“Well, I do.”
“Fine. I’ll shut up, then.”
They glare. She sparks. He smoulders.
“Maybe,” she says, “you should find some place where you can’t hear me.”
“Maybe I should.”
She watches as the demon walks to the balcony, pulls the door open, and steps outside.
“Don’t you dare fly out on me!” she shouts at his back.
With a leap, the demon takes off into the night.
“You’ll come back when you’re hungry!” she yells.
He doesn’t look back.
“I’m not your pet,” he says to the open sky.
“She’s really smart,” the demon says.
Sitting waist-deep in a pool of lava, he leans back against the wall of the crater and he says, “You know what she told me? Ice doesn’t float. At least, not really. We think that ice floats because it goes up, it’s the thing that moves, but no. The water is going down, pushing the ice out of the way. She says you have to imagine it on a horizontal plane, a flat surface, to truly appreciate it, imagine a crowd of people pushing a giant ball out of their way as they are rushing home. Gravity moves the water, and the water moves the ice. The ice is just a victim of circumstance.”
“The thing is,” the demon continues, “Stacey doesn’t understand people. I thought it was because she’s human and I’m a demon, but I’ve been watching a lot of television and we aren’t really all that different. I mean, there are differences, but not a lot, not really. We want to be appreciated, I guess. I don’t know. I watch these comedies and I find them funny, you know? I can relate. She’ll probably be able to explain it better.”
The demon sighs.
“She doesn’t remember to eat,” he says, “she eats cereal. Boxes of cereal. She’ll never eat a proper meal if I didn’t put it in front of her. She just spends all her time lying down. She lies on the sofa, looks up at the ceiling, and then, after enough time, she goes to her bed. She lies down, and she looks up at the ceiling. After some time, she gets up, and she goes back to the sofa. Bed-sofa-bed. It’s a ceiling! Nothing’s going to change. It’s a flat piece of concrete that prevents the things above you from falling down on you. It’s a reversed floor. Over and over, she does this, all day, bed-sofa-bed. And then she showers, and then she walks around naked. Bed-sofa-bed.”
The demon sighs.
“I don’t think it’s healthy, skipping meals like that. Proper meals are important. I saw it on a show. It affects your growth. I wonder if she’s still growing. How old is she, anyway? Late teens, early twenties? She should have stopped growing. Even so, it’s just not healthy. Humans have to be healthy. I saw this show about nutrition, and how calcium is important. I ought to make her something to eat.”
The demon pushes himself half out of the lava pool before he remembers, and slumps back down.
“I wonder what she’s doing now,” he says.
He looks at the rock he has been talking to. “Don’t judge me,” he says to it, “Feh. Like you’ve never had a quarrel with a girl who had summoned you from the burning Hells before.”
The demon lands on the balcony. He has been away for three nights.
The balcony doors aren’t locked.
He’s not sure why he’s here.
In the darkness, he walks across the living room, and bumps into the sofa, which shouldn’t have been there.
“Ow,” he says.
There is the soft sound a girl makes when she is waking up.
He stands there, in the dark, unsure of what to do.
“I,” her voice lilts into the darkness, “moved the sofa. I didn’t want to wake up and find out that you’ve came back and then you left. I…”
Her voice is soft. He had never heard it this soft before.
“I…” she says, “I didn’t want there to have been a moment and I missed it because I was asleep. This is the moment. And I’m here. Okay?”
The softness of her voice, her distinctive lilt, the darkness and the light blue glow of the moon. This is her, as he had never experienced her before.
“I’m just here to get some things,” he says.
“I moved your things into the guest room.”
His eyes have adjusted to the dark. He can see the sofa now, she had moved it into a space which used to be empty floor, anticipating (correctly), that he’d walk into it in the dark. He can see the shape of her, sitting there, rubbing her eyes with one hand.
He walks to the guest room, a designation which annoyed him, because it was really her storeroom, full of boxes: boxes for her books, boxes for her shoes, boxes for her gold (stolen), boxes for her boxes. He opens the door, flips the light switch, and he sees –
The boxes are gone, and the room is empty, and ordered, entirely unlike the chaotic mess that accumulates around her like shed skin in the nest of a snake. There is a bed, with a creaseless sheet, and a pair of pillows, smoothed down, and a cardboard box where a side table is supposed to be, a night light and a brass incense burner upon it. He goes in, and he sits down, bewildered, upon the bed. He sees, next to the door, the television that used to be in the living room.
And he sees her at the door.
She walks in, holding the cooler that contains his heart, her bondage over him. Her eyes are shiny, wet.
She places the cooler in his lap. He looks down, and he sees the seal that prevents him from opening it. And he looks up again. Her eyes are shiny, wet, but no tears fall.
“I…” she softly says, “don’t know what Hell is like. I read up a little, but… all the accounts differ. I can’t even tell if it’s hot or cold, or anything.”
She presses her hand onto the dried blood that is the seal. Her forearm is wrapped in bandages.
“And you hardly ever talk…” she says, as she slowly rubs her hand over the seal, smearing it, rendering it useless, “I made a red light for you, and I got you some charcoal and sulphur and things. You said something about that, once. I remember.”
She removes her hand.
“And,” she says, standing there, her head bowed, her arms limp at her sides, “I can soundproof the room, and… and… you can watch TV when I…”
She chokes, swallows, “When I talk too much and I annoy you.”
“What happened to your arm?” he asks.
“I couldn’t move the TV on my own,” she says, “I tried. But it was too heavy. I didn’t know when you would come back… if you would come back. I… summoned some imps. It had to be ready before you came back. I tried to do it on my own. I really did.”
Her lips quiver.
“Maybe…” she says, “Maybe… you might consider staying? Just maybe…? Consider…”
Her voice trails off.
He watches as a tear finally breaks free from the shiny pool of her eye, travels down her face, and drops upon the floor.
Her last word comes with all the power of an echo, “Maybe…”
And then she turns around, and walks away.
He sits, upon the bed sheet that she had smoothed for him, and he looks at the brown floor, and at the small patch of darker brown, at the tiny mark made by a single tear drop.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
She stops, by the door.
He can feel his heart beating. He has been feeling it, on and off, ever since he left. It’s not really his heart, he knows, just his imagination of his heart. His actual heart is right here, in this cooler.
She is just there, silent and still on the threshold.
And he stands up, the cooler in his hand, and he walks up to her.
He is a step behind her when she says, at the edge of hearing, “Please don’t hate me too.”
His body stiffens, stops with that small bit of space between them. He wants to hug her, to hold her and to tell her that he doesn’t hate her, that he never will. Instead, he holds one end of the handle of the cooler, and lifts the other end into her hand. He watches as her fingers close around it, and then he lets go.
And then he says, “Can I get a fireplace?”
“Yes,” she says, “Anything you want.”
“Okay,” he says.
“Okay,” she says.
She walks away, and he closes the door behind her.
He lies back upon the bed, looks up at the ceiling.
And he says to her, though she could not hear him, “Cinnamon. Cinnamon is a spice. Cinnabar is a mineral.”
1906 words / 531
And we tried so hard
And we looked so good
And we lived our lives in black.
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