Poetry-Thing Thursday: Weep-Wounding Fools

The ladies say it best,
when a’raw and un’dress’t,
that power’s a flaw,
of those filled with unrest.
In waves, and a-rising,
these ladies go sizing,
they speak from the breast,
the one that beats best,
“nature is nothing,
if not filled with unrest,”
but simple facts are,
We see, true, what you are,
you’re a vile and venom,
type of code-seven.

You’re the kind of creature,
that weeps only to wound,
a power you know,
can only consume.
But not quite how you think,
for you’d best be remiss,
when interfering with Wizards,
and Shaman’s-Breath mist.

For these are the things,
that know of true power.
Things only you,
seek to devour.
But you cannot
and will not,
for we stand firm before you.
There is nothing we did to deplore you.

It was you, my friends,
that dug such a grave.
You and your weep-wounding,
madness-parade.

But I’ve come from the desert,
you all claim to know,
and I can tell you now,
you’ve nothing to show.
Your vile and venom,
will do you no good,
to a creature formed,
of antidote-blood.

A little native boy,
came once to me.
I sat him down,
upon my knee.
“Why do you hate?”
he asked to me,
I do not,
my boy,
I’ve simply no joy.

“But can’t you just find it?”
he asked in reply,
I wished and I hoped,
and wanted to die.
But a miracle thing,
instead I did sigh,
I wept and I leaked,
meditatively, why,
I found deep within me,
that native boy’s rye.

Now I say madly,
to those onlooking, resigned,
be careful what you spark,
the whom and the why.
For these wonderful ladies,
my friends they’re so fly,
you’ve no idea the wonder,
hurry,
or why.

You know only your foolish,
ball-stenchly shroud.
Well at least I try to keep down,
that stinky ball-cloud.
It’s not always so proper,
not always so proud,
when your fetid manhood,
adds victimhood-crowd.

If you knew, only knew,
you stupidly fools,
what greatness you’ve squandered,
but set in motion,
your minds wouldn’t have already wandered,
from loving, devotion.
But they have and they will,
and that’s alright, too,
for these ladies are going,
to show the way through.

VIN27- In It Together

I grew up wanting to be a cop. Then, as a teenager, I was treated like a villain for my views. Most ran counter to those of what I wished to be. Not because I was any different, but because I learned my “dream me” requires being someone other than me. Namely, an asshole hypocrite.

Simply, my views kept me from achieving what I wanted because I was suddenly the enemy, rather than the Guardian, as I’d wished.

Growing up is difficult. Yet I remain a Guardian. Each fool that believes I hate: I do not. Each debater/hater that disagrees and hate me— I don’t hate you.

In fact, I feel for you. Because you hate, and that is a painful thing to carry around.

Trust me, I’ve spent most of my years hating myself.

Growing older, I came to realize how important it was to discourse. I grew up, realizing, if I wasn’t the bad guy, and “dream me” wasn’t the bad guy, and the guys I wanted to be like weren’t really bad guys– for Guardians are required, regardless of title– then something was wrong.

That something, it turns out, is the system meant to support and nurture these “dream me(s)”.

It is broken. With it, so are we.

But I’m speaking personally, so I will remain narrowed to that field, and personally, I am broken too. I am damaged, emotionally and physically, as are many of my family and would-be friends (as I don’t have any left at this point).

All the same, we’re not the only ones.

In fact, there are entire generations of us utterly wounded, bleeding, broken, and all from unhappiness.

I have said it once and I will say it until my teeth fall out, tongue withers, and throat bleeds:

We are in this together, and should fucking act like it.

In the end, I don’t give a fuck what you put in your body. I don’t care how or who you love. I don’t care about your affiliations, views, or perspectives. You are Human and I love you.

If I feel you are wrong or confused, I will debate and correct you ‘til the B’ohs wander in from pasture, or I get bored, too angry, sad, or disappointed to go on. But I will return. Eventually. And do it for you. And me. And everyone between, around, and hidden or foreign.

Because we are in this together, and should fucking act like it.

Take heed however: there are powers that wish us all to be at each other’s throats. I love them too. Because they’re Human, susceptible to error, and just as much scared, lost, and alone as the rest of us– no matter their power or position.

That doesn’t mean I like them. It simply means, because they are Human, I feel for them and hurt with them. I love them, as I love the stranger weeping on the street for their loss whilst the others walk past.

It’s past time we stop walking past and help.

Because in the end, all any of us wants is to be happy, healthy, and loved. You cannot deny that. Not at the core. It is a Human thing. No matter what you say, you’re Human– if only in part. Because you understand, at your core, (even if you don’t want to admit it, and trust me i have fucking been there) that you it is truth.

So. If you see me fighting, arguing, debating, or finding yourself subject of it, please remember I am doing it for the betterment of all. Even if I wrong, the point is to discourse: to understand and compromise. For the good of all.

And so we all can come to happiness, health, and love. Because we’re in this together, and should fucking act like it.

Short Story: Blind and Bound

She stood in her shower, half-cradling a breast. One arm draped upward and around her, finger resting at her lips. The other worked to soap herself. Her eyes, stared: quite literally, dead-ahead. Their milky blindness told most of the story, but even her own circumstantial birth could not account for all of their current damage.

Something had happened. It was obvious and she knew it. What, she wasn’t sure– No, she was… but it seemed a dream. Someone else’s. It couldn’t have been hers. She’d been dreaming. A nightmare. Taken advantage of, but not. Caught off-guard, really.

She’d been blind since birth, born with a defect that kept the optic nerves from forming properly. Cataracts came later. She couldn’t help either, but as she’d known nothing else, she coped, adapted: to both life and circumstance, it was never a question of bothering her.

Until today.

Her senses were acute enough she’d never needed her cane outside the most populated areas; shopping malls, boardwalks, city-centers and the like– places where Humans couldn’t fathom that the rats and roaches scurrying about were actually people. People like them. Each with their own lives, memories, minutes and moments lived until and beyond their passing in the amalgamated haze of life.

For a five-five blind woman with less muscle mass than a proper steak, it meant nobody paid any attention to where you were or going. Short of having an attendant, she’d never have been able to walk city-streets without the cane.

She’d resented it her whole life. Not for any, one, irrational or emotional reason, but because she knew it made her appear outwardly vulnerable.

Her only feelings on the matter were that no-one knowing made it easier. Confidence alone held the facade of equal power in the streets. It allowed her to be one of the other cockroaches when needed. Otherwise, gave her strength to carry on day-to-day, despite her slightly more-unique set of challenges.

But if the equal-power perception were upset things change.

In other words, she remained a roach with her cane, but now one hanging from a candy cane on a dead Christmas tree. The conflict was obvious. She needed to be a chameleon using its color-changing to hide itself in plain-sight. Not a fucking clown.

At least, that’s how she’d always thought of it. Now, it seemed that wasn’t true. She’d been attacked without it, just another unlucky woman in the hands of some sick pseudo-human creature.

She’d screamed as soon as she’d felt his hands.

The smell! Something like motor oil and gasoline mixed with brill-cream. The smell of Human gone bad. Or old fruit too long rotting in sunlight. No good for liquor or anything more than decomposition.

She’d smelled it almost as soon as it hit her peripheral. As a deaf-dog smelled its owner in a garage from a second floor bedroom. She knew someone was near. An off-rotted someone. Were circumstances different, she’d have thought it a dead body.

The sudden rush of steps gave her pause, but the kind that didn’t hesitate in her step. Then, from nowhere, she was on the ground. Something struck her head, dazing her. Making her unable to scream. The world was spinning. Its motions unnatural, sickening. Dread burst into her limbs, doing its best to compel them onward.

It was too late. She felt cold air. Body heat. Stinking, Human-badness. Something pathetic and erect seeking violent, grotesque bounty. Before she could scream, he was inside. Then, she was screaming… but her mind was floating, drifting as if a sail-barge set adrift mid-storm and now consigned to float forever, alone.

Then, she was alone. Her limbs flailing, her tears ran.

It had only been moments. The little-pricked psycho couldn’t even last more than a few seconds, proving it was only the rush he got off on. She’d never gotten to touch his face. If she had, she’d have a good description, but her body’d been too heavily restrained.

Cooling water centered her on reality, pulling her back from a brink. Enough to warm the water, anyway.

Heavy. He was heavy. Not muscular, not obese. Heavy. Like the darkness of his soul was a lead-weight that kept her still. Part of it was herself: still too shocked to know how to think or act outside flailing. Utterly understandable, no-one would deny that. She’d managed a couple good scratches and a hit before her forehead hit concrete and she was dazed again, too.

So, he was heavy. And smelled. He’d have some scratches, and probably a bruise.

It wasn’t enough. She needed more, could only get it by revisiting that horrible memory. Over and over again. The way he slid inside with a kind of practiced-precision: he’d done it more than once. Nobody got that lucky on the first try of anything, especially not this.

Serial rapist. Heavy, but not fat. Smelling of badness and poorly endowed.

Still not enough. Better, but not enough.

He’d come at her from the side, along Fifth. Out of an alley. He’d have struck in the area again. Serial-anythings were predictable once identified. He’d hit her with something blunt, but not metal. She knew it from a thunk on the ground beside them. Wood on asphalt. The sounds replayed in crystal clarity. Clearer even than when they happened– for now, she had some grasp on their order of action.

Something wood and round. It had begun to roll, stopped and scraped when lifted. As if broken at its end. It was light, but precise. He hit her again.

Wood. Dense. Rounded but too small for a full-size bat. Not strong or heavy enough to break bone or skin. She was guessing it had been a scale-model one; the type kids picked up as souvenirs at their first attendance of a real game.

She had an idea of the weapon, but what more could that help? How many of the things were there in the world? Let alone in a city with a Major League team? She couldn’t know, but it was another detail.

She’d begun to move again. The last of the creature’s vile poison leaked off her into the pooling warmth, suckled away into nothingness down the drain. Her body gave an involuntary quake, but her arms worked to clean herself. Her feet warm, soothed.

He’d been wearing sneakers. He’d gotten the drop on her only because he was lost in his spring. The steps had been heavy, confusing at first. Incapable of immediately registering themselves as boot or shoe. But now, they were sneakers at full-tilt. He’d have worked out a method, a serial case: probably repeat offender.

No belt either. He wouldn’t have worn one. It wasn’t his first time, after all. That was obvious still. She’d heard no zipper but had felt the press of thin material on her legs as his knees pinned the backs of hers.

Pants. No zipper. Synthetic Fibers. Athletic-wear.

It was the only conclusion. With his weight, he was probably in disguise– that is to say, his dress wasn’t usual. He’d have abandoned the dress of a so-called day-to-day job, its presence evidenced in the brill-cream scent between the gasoline and motor-oil. He wouldn’t have left work just to do this. He’d prepared to do it.

Meaning the car-scents were hobbiest scents. Probably, the brill-cream an identifying trait. People that knew him would know it. That too, would connect him with his likely hobby of auto-repair– or if not hobby, necessity. Which meant he either had enough money to work cars for fun, or none at all and against odds, did it for pay.

Compulsive gambler was also a possibility. Such was the case in cracked eggs.

She didn’t know any mechanics though. While a few gear-heads in the ‘burbs knew her, none would remember her. Certainly, none with that scent of badness.

She twisted the shower off and stepped out. Groping for the towel and careful of her steps on the slick tub. It needed to be cleaned. Like she’d been…

No! She wasn’t unclean. It was him! He needed to be cleaned: Scrubbed from society while facing his crimes head-on.

She’d already taken a sample from the homemade rape-kit she’d fashioned from cotton-swabs and airtight tupperware. It wasn’t perfect, but she wasn’t about to walk into a police station without having some idea of what to say. She wanted him caught, not to have herself coddled. The last thing she wanted was to be coddled.

No, what she needed was information. As much as possible before going to the police. If she could figure out who it was, she could act.

Statistics said a victim was more likely to know their attacker. It wasn’t much to go on, but it could temporarily narrow the field. All she needed was to connect the right dots so she could turn the guy over, let detectives handle it from there.

It was as decent a place as any to start. She made the call.

A half-hour later she was meeting in her living room with a cop. She didn’t particularly like the idea, given the reputation they’d gained, but it wasn’t that difficult to choose between the Detective’s presence and letting the tiny-pricked bastard do it again. She gave what information she could muster:

Heavy, taller than her. Sneakers. Sweats. Wooden mini-bat. God-awful smell. Probably a serial. Scratched and bruised.

The detective hadn’t bothered to question her. She could hear the disbelief in his breath. Not the kind that would write her off. Rather, the kind that said he was ashamed how he’d squandered his senses. She gave him the homemade kit, which he handled as if a fearful student given a task by a mentor, to be taken with all precautions and properly handled.

He asked if she wanted a ride to the hospital, offered it. She accepted, though mostly for efficiency’s sake.

Two hours later, her he calling: he’d found someone she should, “Erm, take a look at…” She chuckled in earnest. His relief told her he was equally in earnest.

She was guided into a room. “The DNA will confirm,” the detective said. “But he fits the profile. Make the ID, we’ll hold him for interrogation.”

She stepped in, immediately overwhelmed by the scent of badness. She didn’t need confirmation, her gut affirmed her feelings. Her senses screamed. Terror rippled chains over her body, threatening to rip her back to that horrible series of moments. She shattered them with a breath.

Stepping over, mind focused, she connected a few, choice aspects of the attack she’d missed before. He had a strong right hand, dominant, but a stronger than usual left arm. Probably, from driving. Racing, she guessed. It fit with the stench of motor-oil and fuel.

And, he’d had a certain way of breathing. A huff-puff beneath a wheeze. He smoked. Excessively. He smelled of it even now. Smoke and sweat. It poured from him. Not fear sweat, no. Junkie sweat. The kind that came from craving fixes. He didn’t believe she could ID him; she was blind, after all. So, he wanted her again. He thought he could get away with it. Again.

That cinched it.

She stepped before him, senses screaming and gut knotted. The smell of badness floored her. She took off her sunglasses to stare him in the eyes with her milky-blind blues.

“You didn’t think I’d catch you.”

His breath stuttered. Imperceptible to anyone but her. He remained silent, but he was caught.

“The DNA will get you, but I want you personally to know, you won’t be seeing daylight for a long time. If you do, and you’re not changed, I will know. I will always be watching.”

The detective needed no further confirmation. He one, then the other, from the room: the former to sit and file paperwork, the latter to holding. Even as she boringly recited information for a proctor to fill out, she knew she’d never again fear walking the street– cane or not.

Hard Lessons: Part 14

14.

Meanwhile

Angela stood beside her bed, the clock there synced to her HUD and both reading 12 AM. Unbeknownst to her, Crystal and Titus were currently stuffing gear into packs in a race against the clock. She, on the other hand, had all the time in the world.

Lucas had received his latest cocktail beside her on the couch, where she’d sat until after he’d fallen asleep. The reason was simple; if Angela had learned anything, it was that some things couldn’t happen alone. Once Lucas had fallen into his restless sleep, she’d left for some herself. His rehab schedule meant aligning to his use schedule; midnight and midday dosings with sleep somewhere between.

She centered herself at the bathroom mirror with her own, liberal doses of water, pot, and whiskey, then made for the kitchen. An undeniable, sibling responsibility had consumed her. While Lucas was hardly a child, even less likely to ask for help than a hit, her duty was tending to him rather than his ego.

She approached the island, spying a scratchy-note. Sudden fear erupted in her chest. The agony of every troubled-child’s environment reared. Her fear was confirmed in fewer words than felt fair:

I can’t do this, Angie. Thanks for trying.

I love you, sis.

The writing was shaky, done with obvious speed and jitters. He’d run. She panicked. Completely.

She spun in frantic circles, eyes trailing. Her head ached, mind racing unable to comprehend anything. Bilious stomach acid was already bubbling up. Her brain smeared the images her eyes clawed for purchase on. It found none, and nothing coherent otherwise.

All in hope, for some sign that he was there, had changed his mind. Panic had never so thoroughly seized her. She neared a faint amid dizziness that toppled her sideways. She had the vauge and distant notion of catching herself on the island, fighting to breathe.

In reality, she wailed, sobbing. The open-close of a door didn’t register. She was too consumed. She collapsed, caught by a vague but familiar form and weight. Arthur’s gravel-throat was rolling over her skin, vibrating her bones, but nothing was audible outside her the piercing ring of her own mind.

She was a sub on full-alert, reporting damage; a computer throwing errors before a crash. She needed a reset, and there was no avoiding it. Before she knew what had happened, she’d gotten it.

She emerged from her fugue state unaware any time had passed. It had, copiously. Only then could she comprehend the melange of terror, guilt, panic, and grief that had gripped her.

Her body tensed, released. Her muscles gave one last, minor tremor, and she breathed normally again.

Had he not worked for her so long, Arthur might have questioned her sanity. He’d been hired to run security by Julia, but also to keep an eye on Angela during her recovery. If it could have been called that. In truth, it wasn’t much more than the re-awakening any person experienced after surviving and leaving street-living.

In all those years, Angela had been tearful precisely twice. Once, when she returned with Julia’s dead body in her arms. Then, once after being tortured by the bastard that had killed her. Both circumstances were extenuating, obvious.

This wasn’t.

Yet Arthur knew its origins. He’d sensed them. As he sensed the breakdown that drew him to her. Apart from the obvious, there was the deeper, unspoken geyser of emotion now drained like her many tears. That geyser, formed over decades of emotional neglect, abuse, and manipulation was thought to have been forever been covered, quieted.

Instead, the pressure had built from deep quaking– her brother’s re-appearance. Consciously or not, she’d known that pressure would mount, release, destroy anything in its way. This time, she was lucky. It had only damaged what little emotional resistance remained around her childhood, and not the world around her.

Arthur cradled her in silence, dutifully sentinel. He knew little of the Dale home-life directly, but he’d gathered enough. Family of five– four for most of Angela and Lucas’ lives. Heavily sheltered. Criminally so. Forcibly intrusive. Obsessive. Repressive. The list went on.

The Dale parents were obsessed with keeping their children on certain, proscribed paths. As a result they’d wedged themselves into every aspect of their children’s lives for one purpose; control. Where that could not extend, they cajoled and intimidated, demanding constant reports of every moment of their absence.

What wasn’t mandated as part of their cult-like mentality, didn’t exist.

Except that it did. Angela had always known that. Lucas too. Because there was evidence of it everywhere you looked. No doubt, Alison knew it now too– Arthur hoped, for Angela’s sake.

Arthur could only liken the Dale parents to the blind-faithed, ignorant fools forcing friends and family into Jonestown before offering them Flavor-Aid. Certainly, by any metric the damage their children had suffered indicated their unfitness as human beings, let alone parents.

There was never a question to Angela’s emotional instability existing. Rather, it was if the miracle she’d managed was genuine; was her stability as real as it seemed? Lucas had the same inability to process emotion, but did his sister have no greater grace or resolve?

Arthur might’ve forgiven Lucas for everything else, but forcing that question erased any remaining sympathy he had. To be forced to compare someone like Angela to the less-than-dirt-beneath-a-shoe that was Lucas was too much.

He was putting his foot down, and beneath it was going to be Lucas’ gut. Angela had given him everything he wanted, and needed. If something weren’t done soon, she’d keep hurting herself for someone undeserving of even her consideration, let alone her blood.

Angela emerged from the ruptured-Earth her emotions left behind, almost entirely unaware of reality. The grip that had seized her was total, extending through every muscle and nerve in her in her body. There it had put her into lock-down, technically still living, but hard pressed to be called it.

She’d managed to wrest herself away from Arthur because her body’d relaxed naturally. Arthur coaxed her slowly back to speech, offering her anything she wanted. He sat beside her on the kitchen floor; old, bum leg stretched out alongside the island. The other propped him upright.

Angela stared, afflicted by waves of flickering thoughts. “I knew it would happen,” she croaked finally. She wet her throat, “I knew it would happen and I still let him get to me.” She cast a desperate look about, “Why’d I let him get to me?”

“Some people matter enough they’ll always get to us. Always. No matter how we fight, they win.”

She clenched her jaw, “I can’t allow this, Arthur. I can’t be weak like this. Lucas–“

“’Isn’t weakness to love, Angela,” he corrected firmly. “S’Our greatest strength. May be a weakness to fail to recognize love as strength, accept it as one, but that’s not loving that’s weakness. Some times, the hardest lessons are those that make us strongest.”

Her eye twitched, “And this one? What is it?”

“That no matter what, sometimes your love will wound you.” Arthur eyed her deeply, “You hurt because you love. You love because you hurt. You become stronger for it, every day. That makes you Human, not weak. That is strength.

“Sooner you learn to accept your nature, sooner you can use it to your advantage.”

Angela’s gaze held his a moment, searching for any trickery buried beneath his words. She found only conviction. She stared forward, wearing a soldier’s thousand-yard-stare. Arthur was right. More often than not, that was the case anyhow, why would this be any different?

More than that though, she felt his rightness.

Love let Lucas into her house, her car. Love, her ability to show and reciprocate it, let Crystal in; told the truth of Julia’s death. Love saved her, let her into Angela’s house. She’d never have bound to Julia were it not for love. Love, too, plunged her into Julia’s depths. Even the depraved street-living would never have come about if she weren’t so deeply loving.

Forever wounded by the lack of love her family offered, she sought it elsewhere. Eentually, she found her way toward it, if not to it.

To say childhood was at the root of many of her problems was like blaming a foundation for a swamp-house’s slant. It was short-sighted, didn’t fully explain how deep the problem went, and was far too simple for such complex a reality.

Yet Angela knew that love given freely to simply be reflected it back was necessary for a healthy life. Her parents didn’t, had answered only with distrust and suspicion, thus wounding the giver. As common with children, that giver was wounded deeply for life. So much, she’d spend most of her life since trying to compensate. To give. To love. Regardless of circumstance.

Crystal was a prime example: Similarly in need of love, her very entry into Angela’s home and life might have destroyed them. It hadn’t though, and only due to Crystal’s own actions. Actions Lucas was equally capable of but unwilling to perform.

From the moment he’d been allowed in, directly or not, he’d been doing damage. He knew that now, didn’t care. She pushed herself up from the floor and opened the drawer for her tablet. Why, exactly, left her mind as the drawer opened, empty of its contents.

New panic flooded her. “Shit. Shit.”

She jerked open the other kitchen drawers in a frenzy of swearing movement.

Arthur pushed himself up, “What–“

She circled amid the mayhem, completely aware of the irony. “Fucking thief.” Arthur moved to stop her. “The card. For Curie’s John. He took the tablet. Now he’s got the card.”

It took Arthur a moment to untangle the knot of confusion she’d tied, but he kept her grounded, “Stop now. Think. He can’t have gone far. He doesn’t have enough money to leave town and he’s half-way into detox. He’ll be trying to score, which means small buyers.”

She stammered slightly, trying to slow herself, “Right. Right…. Uh. Titus. Titus will know.”

“I’ll call.”

“No, I will. Better to be honest and take responsibility… right?”

Arthur gave a slight bow of his head, agreeing.

Short Story: Born Twice

Floodlights fell crosswise through rain, dulled to gray. The buildings and sidewalks, equally gray, formed a narrow corridor of misery. She traversed it alone, following an empty road slick with tears. Allie supposed as much, anyhow.

It was fitting, after all.

She’d hardly known her father, knew him less now death had exposed… him.

It was hard to explain why things were so dark. So cold. She knew all too well they were; the slump of disappointment, the drag-along feet of grief and wounds.

Rain soaked her raised hoodie to the bone. The only thing saving her her from ragged trembling was the overlong coat hanging open along her. Between that, her denim, and luck, the rain was held at-bay– if only outside.

Inside, Allie was a wreck.

Her father’s lovewas a cold, neglected wound festered bysilence. At that, he was mute. He’d have been as dead as stone, too,were he not begrudgingly filled with blood. He was heartless; aspetrified as an archaeologist’s first trilobyte.

That was what she’d known. Always. There was good reason for it, too.

She ambled through the gray wet, remembering her art project. Handmade. She’d waited weeks for it to return from the kiln. The whole time begging and pleading with any powers that be it hadn’t had an air bubble in it. Those time-bombs utterly destroyed every other ceramics piece she’d ever made.

This time, she’d guarded against it, meticulously kneading the clay. She repeated the process past hand-cramps. She wrung them out after one, expertly-crafted coffee mug. When it returned unharmed, and she gained access to the ceramic paints, she took greater care in coating and glazing it than anyone before her.

She sprinted home with it in both hands, bursting through the door to show her mother and father. She reached the latter first, beaming at the mug in her hands. Her father’s reply was an unceremonious grunt.

He focused back on his tablet of paper, kept writing. Not even a breath of pride or congratulations. Not a thought toward her beyond contempt for interruption,begrudging tolerance of presence. That was her father, exemplified.

She meandered between two, gray warehouses toward a lot a half-kim ahead.

It was like riding a tunnel o’ love raft alone, along drained out pool. The feeling was utter desolation; something once-sacred, now desecrated. She couldn’t help it enveloping her. Not with the the myriad of gray tainting her surroundings.

Until recently, she’d have felt her wounds entirely unfair.

In many ways, they were. Her father had never shown feelings toward her, but only by virtue of never showing any. She knew by her mother’s word he loved her, was simply atrocious at showing it. For along time, Allie hadn’t believed that. She knew it differently now, but knew she couldn’t have.

Not then.

She’d come home in tears, for one reason or another, met with the same reaction; indifference, stony silence, muteness. The memory she returned to time and again still stung with her even now, years later. Her father’s reaction, however framed differently after his death, made her utterly certain of his inability to feel.

Yet she was wrong.

This time, soaked in tears and rain as she was now in the alley. Like now, her heart broken. Justanother, crappy weekend. For all but Allie, whom had learned to emulate her father’s lack of emotion in all but the worsttimes. The epitome of human indecency, of teen angst. In essence, it was exemplary of all the worst aspects of human behavior. All in one moment of hormonal, teenage confusion.

She’d sat down to lunch with a friend. Another appeared, vid in-hand of Allie’s long time boyfriend making it with another girl. And going all the way at that. After so long, so much, it was crushing. Mostly, it was utterly humiliating.

The entire school had seen him with another girl. Before her. At least if it’d been them, she’d have been secure in the knowledge they were devoted.

Butanother girlwith less morals than a sea-slug, and a test-tube baby-face left in its first tube too long. Worse; one, lopsided breast beside another in a bra two-sizes too small and wrapped in less fashion sense thana half-decayed corpse.Even in the gray, Allie still felt the sting. How beyond-humiliatingit really was.

In retrospect, that was probably why she’d run out of school, ditching half the day.

She came bursting her front door, finding her father once more occupied. She was in shambles, emotionally, physically– she’d been soaked through from the pouring rain. She had nothing with her, not her pack, not her purse. If she hadn’t been wearing her shoes, she’d have left them too.

And all her father could say when she arrived home was, “You’re home early.”

At least, if he’d been angry, scolding, it would’ve been an emotion– something to contend with. Instead, it was the same, thoughtless lack of emotion that led to the video; to her being cast off for some pinched-face slag-sucker.

She fled for the bathroom, hiding until well after her mother returned and deduced her state.

Perhaps if she’d known then what she knew now, she might’ve handled things differently. Then again, could she have known then what she knew now, he would have. Unfortunately, her age and innocence meant she couldn’t know, wouldn’t be allowed to for years to come.

When that time finally came, he ensured she understood thoroughly.

His words rang in her head as if still being uttered. In that roundabout way sound goes on vibrating forever, she decided, they were.

Her mother had passed her a note from her father after his funeral, told her to read it alone and tell no-one of its contents or existence. She further instructed that afterward it be destroyed. She opened the letter, found a lone address with instructions including, “Go alone.”

She followed the letter’s request, if only for the sake of playing her final role as dutiful daughter. She found the warehouses, made her way into the one she’d only now left behind. Recalling her entrance as she slid into her mother’s car, the words echoed in her head with the fresh memory they were forming.

The warehouse’s door locked behind her. Innocently. The place was deceptive, looking much like any other warehouse outside but inside, clean and sterile. It was a hospital, condensed into a large, multi-room space.

There, in an office, her father spoke a final time.

He uttered a truth so radical it altered her world, her memories. One that tainted them with the hints of gray one at seeing things as they were; the loss behind the scenes; the tragedies, losses, sacrifices missed and made.

She found her way in as per instruction. There, she sat before a single computer monitor lit. Her father’s face appeared, more haggard and tired than ever. The distinct hint of pain in his eyes, something she’d never before seen but knew regardless.

“Allison,” he said with an eerily new warmth. “If you’re here, I am gone. You have to know what is at stake. The danger you’re in.”

Allie would’ve laughed, but her father’s usual frozen stone had become liquid warmth.

“You must understand why, after all of these years, it has been so important you never become attached to me. Why I have been so cold.”

He was visibly pained by thought.

“Allison, you were born much earlier than you believe. The first two years of your life caused you endless pain that only worsened over time.”

Allie could only wonder what he was on about.

“You do not remember, because we– Iremoved it from your memories.” He raised a hand as if to stop her from speaking, thinking too far ahead. “What matters is your body was slowly but surely failing. Three years old, and with only weeks to live, your body was killing itself with seizures. Bouts of inexplicable pain so horrible you became catatonic for days afterward.”

Allie fought to understand, to remember, but couldn’t. Torn between her father’s words and her own supposedly lost memories, she could only watch, hope to understand.

“One particularly bad episode left you catatonic for a week. You didn’t speak, eat, or move. You couldn’t. You were withering because of it. So, we… put you on ice.”

She understood now, but didn’t entirely believe him; a creature so unlike her father, yet wearing his skin. She’d been caught off-guard by the whole thing, but even if the purposes felt clearer she had her skepticism. Her father all but erased any room for her doubt.

Simply by remaining incapable of argument.

“The pain, we later learned, was caused by a degenerative neural disease. It’s not dissimilar to Multiple Sclerosis but has the distinct difference of causing attacks of nerve degeneration. These attacks were responsible for your catatonic episodes. They were killing you.

“Unfortunately, knowing so little of the disease meant knowing of no way to fix you.”

She glanced around at the empty office, as if hearing foreign voices’ echoing their forever-resonance on eternally elderly sound-waves. They filled the gaps of credence in his story, preempting his major revelation as if to make it less impossible, more believable.

“I could not afford to lose you, Allison. I loved you– love you– even if I dare not show it.” He heaved a terrible sigh. Reality weighted his chest, expelling his air supply. “So I did the only thing a I could to ensure I would not lose you.

“Your mother will confirm this. She was there every step. Before, through every episode and treatment. After, through your rebirth. Even so, we both felt it would be best you heard this from me:

“You were not born once, but twice. First, from your mother’s womb, and second from this laboratory that now sits empty, unused.”

Allie’s eyes narrowed. Her ears sharpened.

“Your body was too damaged. Your mind was not. We took a neural map, your brain’s physical and mental schematic, and duplicated it in the gray matter of a vat-grown brain. One, with no mental imprint. It, became you. That brain, like its accompanying organs, vascular system, nerves– its body, is yours.”

“You were born twice, Allison, and both times I loved you more than I could love anyone else.”

Nonsense. Asinine. You could no more transfer a mind than raise the dead. Yet still, she believed him. She didn’t know why, but she did. Now, Her eyes were wet. It wouldn’t be the last time.

“The problem, Allie, is you’re valuable. For the last twenty years, people have sought to capture and examine you. Countless would-be assassins. Kidnappers. Molesters. All of them sent to rip you from your rightful life.

“I couldn’t let you get attached to me, because I couldn’t allow myself to be used against you. But I feared most that if you grew to love me as I loved you, my death might scar you too terribly, make you too easy a target. I couldn’t bear to live with the consequences of that.”

His face soured first with fury, then grief, before he recomposed himself.

“It is fortunate you’ve reached the age you have before my death. Now your mother may train you to protect yourself. I’m truly sorry, Allison. Forgive the love that has put endangered you so. Forgive that it made him stubborn enough to remain cold to protect you. And forgive it that its greatest gift was soured by its enemies.”

His eyes glazed over with tears, “Most of all, forgive me.”

He cleared his throat, mentioning something passing about having written every day to her. That her mother had the journals. Despite everything said, his last words affected her most; even after she found herself beside her mother in the perma-gray.

“Forgive me, Allison. And know, no matter what, I have always loved you, my daughter.”

She choked a back a breath, “I do.”

Poetry-Thing Thursday: The Outcast

Do you know,
what it’s like,
to go against the grain?
For every breath,
that you take,
to fight a current?
Or how it feels,
to think your life,
might all be in vain?

I have wandered,
for many days,
trapped in hate.
As many more,
have been spent,
in total despair.
For each of them,
the only spin,
a wheel of fate.

But I don’t believe,
in those,
mysterious things.
Only that,
which feels,
real in my hands.
Because I know,
from my heart,
Reality’s what freedom brings.

I couldn’t say,
just how many,
times I’ve screamed.
About as many,
as I’ve cried,
or clenched a fist.
Abuse of the heart,
is all that I knew,
or even dreamed.

But those days,
have long since passed,
with seeds un-sown.
And though I’ve grown,
will be forever known,
as The Outcast.

Bonus Poem: Possible Realities

There is a face,
that colors my memories,
from a time long-passed,
of childhood vulnerabilities,
but looking back,
the face bears pleas,
for love and attention,
that its owner buries,
so that it might still weather,
the coming, stormy seas.

There was something then,
that I must have sensed;
a touch of daring,
in eyes, courageous, tensed,
of full earthen-hue,
or when red and incensed.
It was something that changed,
as we grew older, condensed,
into creatures arising
to rest in minds, en-fenced.

But age has withered the old,
replaced images with new,
as each passing moment,
becomes fewer and few,
and time marches onward,
ever distancing we two,
These thoughts of what could’ve been,
leave me seeking a clue,
to the truth of past moments,
and whether you see them too.

But we may never know,
what could have been,
and dwelling too long,
keeps us from looking when,
life comes a-calling.
Maybe we shouldn’t imagine,
for the roads have diverged, and in,
the light of the past,
possible realities are broken.