Them = Us
I’m not like other girls,
That would be terrible.
They’re catty, and bitchy,
And stupid, of course,
Other girls are sluts,
But I’m not like them.
I’m glad I’m not like other girls,
I might totally kill myself,
But I’m not like them.
I’m me, and I’m special.
You still don’t love me, though.
I’d never be a slut like them,
Unless you wanted me to.
I don’t drink,
Unless you’re offering.
I’m saving myself for marriage,
But I know you really love me,
And you won’t run away afterwards.
Other girls just give it away,
But not me, I’m special.
Other girls do crazy things for attention,
I really enjoy drinking!
Even though I’m scared.
I wasn’t like other girls,
But they were just like me,
We’re all the same,
All repeating the same chorus,
Over and over.
We aren’t like other girls.
Broken But Whole
She is a broken thing.
They try to put her back,
To what they imagined she was,
But the pieces do not fit.
Some of them crumble,
While some of them are new,
And were never there before,
They do not fit.
She is a broken thing.
Her mother does not understand,
Grandmother is angry, and thinks that,
She is being selfish,
By being a broken thing.
There are cracks,
They will never go away.
She doesn’t mind,
Because she is a broken thing,
She doesn’t understand.
I am a broken thing, mother.
You do not need to fix me.
I cannot be fixed.
I am a broken thing,
But that doesn’t have to be bad.
The Beautiful Reprieve of Forgetting
I just really, really have a lot of emotion for the idea of Minsk as a whole, and so I came out with this drabble. It’s not exactly finished, but I’m not sure where to go with it. I have like fifteen pages open on the history of Minsk, but there are some bits I just cannot understand, so if someone wanted to help me with my history, or point out something I didn’t do right, or anything like that, I am more than happy to let them- please do, in fact! I want this to be as good, and accurate, and right as possible, without offending anyone whatsoever. That’s not my intention at all.
There were Cities she’d never forgive, and things she would never quit being bitter about.
She was tall and had the build of a working woman, a woman who’d worked and built and carried all her life. She was broad, and strong, with old scars running down her arms and her back, and her face. Minsk was nearly blind in one eye, from a burn that had never healed.
The title that she was given as a Hero City did nothing to ease the grief of her lost children. Over four hundred thousand of her people were dead- murdered and burned, and dragged away by the very Soviet police that should have protected them. Her buildings were torn down, her streets were wet with blood, both old and fresh and she grieved. Someday, this day would be celebrated, but not now. Not yet. Her people were liberated, but at such a terrible cost.
Later, although not so long to her, there came Communism, in all its red finery. They said it would solve everything, it would fix every problem. It did not. She worked so many jobs, at factories and dressmakers and all sorts of places- so many that she didn’t know the name of them all. It seemed all she did was work.
And yet, she was happy. It was a tentative happiness, the kind that came from being too tired to be sad, and tired of sadness anyway, but there it was. She worked, and she was proud of working. She smiled, and was proud of smiling, after all that had been and might be, and was yet to become even a thought of being.
1. the euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love.
2. in love, enamoured.
Grandfather in place of father,
It’s never bothered me.
Rough hands, soft voice,
Sad old eyes have a hint of blur,
The alcohol never really left you,
And age is creeping up.
Short, like me and round,
You don’t mind it.
There isn’t much laughing anymore,
Your humor is much more wry,
You are the only father I’ve ever known,
Subject 53: Emil Cabello. Spanish subject. Sent to counselor for preliminary interviews. Ten appointments scheduled for analysis of character, and suggested study programs. Subject is illiterate, so paperwork must be read to him. Fluent in English, Spanish, and German.
Warnings: Subject is prone to violence. Be cautious with physical contact.
Interview 1. Tape 1, Side A.
Note: The counselor’s voice has been edited out, for the benefit of brevity. Each interview is a week apart.
So, what was it you wanted to know again? Why I’m here, right? Alright, see, here’s the thing. I’m a streetrat, from a poor town, who got mixed up in a Spanish gang. And, since I’m not all Spaniard, I was their little bitch. They roughed me up a little, and a little too often. It wasn’t all that bad, seriously. Dude- don’t look at me like that, I’m fuckin’ fine.
-pause in speaking-
Why the fuck are you hugging me- is that a rabbit? Tch. Fag.
Right, so anyway, after that, my mom didn’t want me, right? Makes sense. Nobody wants a gang brat.
So I’m here. Shipped out with the rest of the rejects to this ass end of nowhere.
….what do you mean ‘why are really here’? What the holy fuck is that supposed to mean?
Hey, I’ve got friends!
-quiet murmuring from the other voice-
Who? Well…I guess Ahren and the rest of the Golden bunch. Y’know, Levi and Leo and the lot. Those guys are the best. And Blaike, he’s pretty cool.
Yeah, I’m a thief, you caught me. Everything going missing, I’ve stolen. Including a few cherries, hehe.
Interview 2. Tape 1, Side B.
So, there’s this guy here, and he really creeps me out. Like, seriously fucking creeps me out. I can’t tell if he’s just shy, or plotting all our deaths. It’s that kid, Aaron. The twitchy as fuck one.
…Tell me you did not just suggest I make friends with the twitchy bastard.
Uh-uh. No. Not happening. He looks like if I touch him, he’s gonna start crying like he’s been raped. Jesus fuck.
-after another long pause, an irritated sigh is heard-
Fine. God. I’ll go make friends- but I’m doing it my way.
Interview 3. Tape 2, Side A.
Note: The subject is noted to be battered, and slightly anxious.
So I made friends with the kid, I think. He cried at me a bit, for hugging him. And then I got in a fight with this other kid who wanted to be friends with him and we scuffled. Fuckin’ Hungarian bastard. Kicked me in the ribs.
He’s a nice kid, though, Aaron. Not as creepy as I thought. Something not quite right about him. Can’t figure out what. Hey, can I ask a question? Asking anyway. His uncle, is he…well, y’know. Like that with the kiddo? Just asking, cus it ain’t cool for anyone to go through that.
…and, hey, y’know, maybe I got a little crush or somethin’. He’s just so damned cute, y’know? It’s not like I really like him or anything- I just want in his pants. That’s all it is. ‘Course, he’s made it clear he’s an Ace, so that ain’t gonna happen. Fuckin’ hell.
Interview 4. Tape 2, Side B.
Hey, Io, you ever noticed how fuckin’ pretty Aaron’s eyes are? I mean, he’s in here all the time- right? So you must’ve seen ‘em. They’re like, grey, except not. Kind of a silvery blue. Yeah, that’s it. God, and that hair…ugh. This sucks, dude, seriously. I don’t even know what the fuck is wrong with me. All I know is he was telling me what happened with his uncle, kinda, and then I was an Emil puddle. This is not even cool. Fucking hell.
…Y’know, this bunny of yours is pretty cute. Ain’t ya, Peppermint?
So, yeah, he’s fucking adorable. I still want to just fuck him into his bed. And the floor. And the shower. And hold him afterwards, like a cheesy couple thing. I heard this song the other day, ‘Would you go with me’, and it makes me think of him. Fuckin’ hell. Cus there’s this one line, ‘If I set you free, would you go with me’ and I can’t help think that maybe he’d go out with me if I got him away from Richard.
…you’re giving me that look like you want to hug me again. Don’t you even fucking dare, Ioly- GOD DAMN IT, WHY.
Interview 5. Tape 3, Side A.
Note: Subject appears to be extremely anxious and guilty.
So, I like, found out what was going on, right? And I can’t just let Richard get away with that shit. It’s not fucking cool. So, I’m sick. I mean really sick. The ‘I could die’ kind of sick. And I can pass it on. I’m real responsible about it normally, tell everyone I’m gonna sleep with, and always wear a condom and make sure they shower afterwards, and all that shit. Cus, see, I’m Positive. And I know that’s some heavy shit to just drop, but I figure you know anyway. Whatever. So I go to Richard, and I seduce him. Not hard, since he likes the young ones, and I don’t wear a condom.
Io, I think I got him sick. I think I passed it on. And I’m freakin’ the fuck out right now, cus if I did, I may as well have signed Aaron’s death warrant myself. He won’t know what to do. I mighta just killed him, and I can’t say a damn thing about it, ‘cept to make sure he takes a shower afterwards, y’know? I can’t do this today. I can’t….I can’t be here. I gotta go.
Interview 6. Tape 3, Side B.
Note: Subject is observed to be weeping.
I told him. Not Aaron, but Richard. Busted in the room, in the middle of the bastard being all over him, and started shooting my mouth off. He fuckin’ shoved him. He shoved the poor kid, off the bed, into a wall, and it cracked his head real hard. There was blood everywhere, and Richard beat the hell out of me afterward, and he’s blind. He’s blind and it’s my fault, and what the fuck am I gonna do? Carried him to the infirmary, and all that, but he’ll never forgive me. I think I’m gonna drop out. I don’t wanna be around when he wakes up and figures out what happened.
I can’t. I just can’t look at him, and know it’s my fault and know he can’t even glare at me. I just can’t. I’m in love with him, and I know it. And everybody else knows it, and they pity us. They fuckin’ pity us. I can see it, all over their faces. Cus I’m a horny little mongrel, and he’s too fucked up to even be touched by anyone else, let alone have sex. We’re just this pair of kids nobody else wants, except that he’s fuckin’ beautiful and he can’t see it. God, he has eyes like wet silver. Like rain. He is beautiful, and what am I, but a little street rat. I don’t even deserve him.
-rustling sound, as Emil moves around on the couch-
Doc, this sucks. No one ever mentions that. Nobody ever tells you about how much it fucking sucks to be completely in love with someone, to the point of doing anything you can for them, just for a tiny little smile, and knowing they don’t even see anything about themselves worth wanting. Makes you want to go irritate Ahren or some shit, get him to beat the hell out of you.
This is stupid. I’m not coming back to these sessions anymore. I don’t need any fucking ‘record of my progress and emotions’ or whatever the hell this is.
Interview 7. Tape 4, Side A.
Note: This interview was not forthcoming with useful information. Subject avoided any subject pertaining to the previous week’s emotional exhibition.
So, apparently, if I don’t come to these meetings, I’ll lose your support for my continued presence here. The goddamn headmistress came down to tell me that herself. Fucking bitch. Meg is a mega-bitch, y’know that, right? And her boyfriend isn’t much better. Damn, that guy is handsier than me. Whatever. Doesn’t matter.
So, anyway, I got in a paint fight with Blaike today. Yup. Ended up with green hair. Made me look like a damn gourd. Tch.
Oh, and if Pervy-Kilt is missing any books, I didn’t do it. Fuckin’ swear. What do I need books for? I can’t even read. Uh, uh, don’t look at me like that. I see that look on your face. I been goin’ to my tutorin’. It just ain’t going nowhere, that’s all.
Interview 8. Tape 4, Side B.
I asked him out. I think I got a yes out of him. He seemed more mortified than anything, to me. I should be happy that he’s considering it, but….I dunno. I can’t help feeling like I should be setting him up with Lukas, or-God forbid-one of the other, bigger boys. You, maybe. Or that one Russian kid, Juliette. After what he went through, he deserves more than just a thief. A painting thief, but a thief.
-there is a pause of too-uncomfortable silence for a long moment, before Emil changes topics-
I noticed something about him today. He mumbles to himself. It isn’t a lot, just little things. A list, it seems like. ‘William’s gone. I’m not just his nephew. Not everyone is out to hurt me.’ Things like that. And I was wondering, maybe, you could tell me who William is? It’s not really my business, but I feel like I could help him.
Note: This interview was skipped. Tape 5, Side A is Interview 10, as noted by the labeling. The counselor regrets that he could not make the appointment, as he was called away to testify against a fellow faculty member. It may also be relevant to note that the subject has stolen the previously used tape recorder, and another had to be purchased. Subject appears to find this incredibly humorous. Subject is doing poorly, health-wise, and counselor feels it would benefit him greatly to remain on bed rest for the next two weeks. Appointments will continue once a week, on Friday, after that, as they have before.
Interview 10. Tape 5, Side A.
Dude, it has seriously been for-fucking-ever since I’ve seen you last. What the fuck is up? I mean, hell, I had a cold, but that doesn’t mean I have to be confined to my bed, away from Aaron for two weeks. Not cool. Not cool at all. Can’t go and separate me from my boyfriend that way. Fucker.
-another rustling sound heard-
Is there someone in your bedroom, dude? Cus I swear to God, I just saw someone-….oh. My. God. That’s Sam. You’re fucking Sam? Duuuude. And I thought I had masochistic taste. Jesus fucking Christ, man. That’s asking to get your ass beat by his crip brother.
-mocking laughter from the subject-
Note: This interview was ended early, as a scuffle ensued between subject and counselor’s guest.
End Interviews. Counselor’s last thoughts on the subject are as follows:
Histrionic in temperament, and a tendency to be very codependant. Seems very bitter about his illness, and grows unreasonably angry at the suggestion that he spends too much time with his lover. Mild kleptomania. Low moral standards.
Behavior suggests a history in prostitution and heavy drug use. Not a victim of abuse, but high protective instinct towards those who are.
Subject is known to have a high aptitude in artistic venues.
Counselor may pursue further appointments, if necessary.
Kings of War and Queens in Truth
He loved her too much to subject her to all of him. Roy was too much for Riza. Too broken, too angry. He’d only hurt her. That was why she remained his Queen, and his love stayed unspoken. Between them, no words were needed. He would succeed in his mission to overthrow the Fuhrer and set up a better government, not just for the country, but for her. She deserved to know that all her sacrifices were not in vain. For Riza, Roy would be anything she needed sans a lover. Even a king.
None of it was for Martel, or maybe it was. Somewhere deep down inside, Greed knew what it was he really wanted and he still couldn’t have it. That fact infuriated, invigorated and hurt him all at the same time. Surrounded by minions, and yet so alone, Greed sometimes felt like a statue. They admired him, feared him, and some even loved him, but he couldn’t bring himself to feel anything for them. Not even for his little serpentine queen. So, perhaps, it was all for her in the end, that she might see he was only a monster trying to be a king.
Havoc was dead, and it was his fault. Now Riza would die, too, all because of him. All of it was because Roy couldn’t keep out of things he had no business in. His mind swung around to Maes. “Oh god. I never meant for this.” He hadn’t wanted them to die, not any of them. Roy fought to stay conscious, and stood shakily. Slowly and painfully, he made his way to where Riza should be. At first he couldn’t see her, and then everything became worse. Tears were still drying on her cheeks, and her gun had fallen from her hand. Lust had really done a number on her- had he not known her so well, for so long, he might not have recognized the mangled corpse. Roy knelt beside Riza and cradled her body, closing his eyes. He died holding her that way, leaned against a wall. If he’d been a particularly religious person, he might have thought he heard a funeral bell pealing somewhere. He might also have felt as though someone walked across his grave. He felt none of these things, and saw no light, only a comforting blackness.
Greed might have laughed, if he’d been together enough to think about anything but the agony in his body. In all his long, long life, he’d never feared death, until now. He hadn’t even known his brother existed till this day. Father could never get over his abandonment, and he should have known that dear old dad would send an assassin eventually. In his pride, Greed had thought he’d been perfectly protected, and now look what had happened. His stone was broken, out of energy and could not save him. The only people he’d ever come close to caring about were dead, slaughtered wholesale. No, scratch that, he had cared for them. They weren’t just his underlings. Especially not Martel. For just a moment before he died, he was almost able to say what he had not ever voiced. The chimera were his…
The king was dead. Long live the king.
In some ways, Riza would always know she was Roy’s queen, and that it was why they would never be together. A king never sacrificed his queen by revealing her purpose. That’s why it never bothered her when he would flirt and tryst with the multitude of women he did- they meant nothing to him, not when it really mattered. At the end of it all, when judgement was called down on him, it would be her standing beside him. Riza Hawkeye would be with him until the very end and none of his women could say that. In truth, if not in fact, they were married. He was her king, her commander, and her husband.Roy would always be Riza’s everything.
Martel would always be Greed’s loyal second, and she could see the same in the other blonde woman. So different, and so very alike, they were the queen pieces of their respective superiors’ chessboards. It still made her jealous and angry to see the homunculus dally with other men and women, but that was just who he was. He acted out of his sin, and a desire to be as human as they were, a desire that contrasted sharply with his plans for domination and immortality. She couldn’t fight it, though. When you lived with Greed, you got used to such things. Besides, he was the Boss. He’d always be the Boss, no matter what lay unspoken between them.
Tears had not graced Hawkeye’s face in years, but today she wept openly. All that they had sacrificed, only to see Roy fall to some heartless homunculus. It was too much for her. She screamed out her rage and grief at the creature that called itself Lust, the same creature that had seduced and murdered Havoc. All of her pain, her guilt at her unfinished work showed on her face. When her gun was empty and her tears were done, Riza fell to Lust. Perhaps it was the homunculus that killed her, but more likely it was the weight of her broken promise. “I have someone to care for,” she whispered, her words breaking the silence. The cloying scent of blood and death hung heavy in the air above her. In the end, Roy’s queen failed him.
Martel did not weep. She did not cry, and she did not scream, only lay in the puddle of blood that wasn’t entirely hers and broke. Dorchette was dead, and so was Roa, -they lay only a few feet away from her- but that wasn’t the worst of it. Greed was gone, stolen from those who loved him. She’d still been conscious when that wretched bastard murdered him in front of them. There was no kindness from the Fuhrer’s government for them, not even in death, she realized. Even after they’d been tortured, set up, and experimented on, there was yet more pain in store for them. She resigned herself to her fate. It was her own fault, of course. She had not done what she was employed to do: protect Greed. He’d warned her that his family would come for him, and she had not listened out of pride. There had just been so many times it had seemed like he was dead for good and come back for her to believe he could really die. Now he was dead, and she lay dying beside him. For the first time in her life, Martel gave up. As her last breath was fading away, she muttered, “Long live the king.”
Know what these are?
If you answered “weird-looking puppies”, you are wrong.
These adorable little puffballs are domesticated fox kits.
Once upon a time, in Soviet Russia (no, really), this badass motherfucker named Dmitry Konstantinovich Belyaev woke up one day and said to himself, “Hey, the world doesn’t have enough awesome pets, let’s domesticate the fox!”
And so he embarked on an experiment to selectively breed fur farm foxes based on how much they didn’t flip the fuck out at coming into contact with humans. Within a few generations, he had foxes literally eating out of his hand. Within a few more generations, he noticed that these ultra-friendly foxes started to take on traits we associate today with domestic dogs: mottled coats, floppy ears, raised and curly tails, panting, increased vocalizations, and so forth.
Belyaev made some major discoveries into the process of domestication, i.e. how it is we came to have wolves happily hanging out in our homes and why those wolves didn’t really look like wolves anymore.
Unfortunately, because this sort of experiment is too amazing for even one person’s lifetime, he died while working on it. Fortunately, he managed to pass the torch on to this badass lady, Dr. Lyudmila Trut.
Dr. Trut continues the domestication experiment at The Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk in Russia, where she continues to make awesome discoveries into the genetics of domestication and fox behavior.
And in case you were wondering whether you could get your hands on one of these adorable little fucks, the answer is: yes. Yes, you can. Because the project itself is in dire financial straits, so much so that they’ve begun breeding the foxes for sale into loving homes. So if you’ve got $6,000-$9,000 lying around, have the space, time, and energy to take care of your own foxy bundle of joy, and don’t mind flying to Russia and dealing with customs and such, then you are more than welcome to go to Novosibirsk and pick up a fox of your very own to play fetch with.
(No, really, they play fetch and everything.)
IF EVER I AM RICH
The TYRANT: the bullying despot, he wants power at any price. He ruthlessly conquers all he surveys, crushing his enemies beneath his feet. People are but pawns to him, and he holds all the power pieces. Hesitate before getting in this man’s way – he’ll think nothing of destroying you.
The BASTARD: the dispossessed son, he burns with resentment. He can’t have what he wants, so he lashes out to hurt those around him. His deeds are often for effect – he wants to provoke action in others. He proudly announces his rebellious dealings. Don’t be fooled by his boyish demeanor – he’s a bundle of hate.
The DEVIL: the charming fiend, he gives people what he thinks they deserve. Charisma allows him to lure his victims to their own destruction. His ability to discover the moral weaknesses in others serves him well. Close your ears to his cajolery – he’ll tempt you to disaster.
The TRAITOR: the double agent, he betrays those who trust him most. No one suspects the evil that lurks in his heart. Despite supportive smiles and sympathetic ears, he plots the destruction of his friends. Never turn your back on him — he means you harm.
The OUTCAST: the lonely outsider, he wants desperately to belong. Tortured and unforgiving, he has been set off from others, and usually for good cause. He craves redemption, but is willing to gain it by sacrificing others. Waste no sympathy on him - he’ll have none for you.
The EVIL GENIUS: the malevolent mastermind, he loves to show off his superior intelligence. Intellectual inferiors are contemptible to him and that includes just about everyone. Elaborate puzzles and experiments are his trademark. Don’t let him pull your strings – the game is always rigged in his favor.
The SADIST: the savage predator, he enjoys cruelty for its own sake. Violence and psychological brutality are games to this man; and he plays those games with daring and skill. Run, don’t walk, away from this man – he’ll tear out your heart, and laugh while doing it.
The TERRORIST: the dark knight, he serves a warped code of honor. Self-righteous, he believes in his own virtue, and judges all around him by a strict set of laws. The end will always justify his nefarious means, and no conventional morality will give him pause. Don’t try to appeal to his sense of justice – his does not resemble yours.
The BITCH: the abusive autocrat, she lies, cheats, and steals her way to the top. Her climb to success has left many a heel mark on the backs of others. She doesn’t care about the peons around her – only the achievement of her dreams matters. Forget expecting a helping hand from her – she doesn’t help anyone but herself.
The BLACK WIDOW: the beguiling siren, she lures victims into her web. She goes after anyone who has something she wants, and she wants a lot. But she does her best to make the victim want to be deceived. An expert at seduction of every variety, she uses her charms to get her way. Don’t be fooled by her claims of love – it’s all a lie.
The BACKSTABBER: the two-faced friend, she delights in duping the unsuspecting. Her sympathetic smiles enable her to learn her victims’ secrets, which she then uses to feather her nest. Her seemingly helpful advice is just the thing to hinder. Put no faith in her – she’ll betray you every time.
The LUNATIC: the unbalanced madwoman, she draws others into her crazy environment. The drum to which she marches misses many a beat, but to her, it is the rest of the world that is out of step. Don’t even try to understand her logic – she is unfathomable.
The PARASITE: the poisonous vine, she collaborates for her own comfort. She goes along with any atrocity, so long as her own security is assured. She sees herself as a victim who had no choice, and blames others for her crimes. Expect no mercy from her – she won’t lift a finger to save anyone but herself.
The SCHEMER: the lethal plotter, she devises the ruin of others. Like a cat with a mouse, she plays with lives. Elaborate plans, intricate schemes; nothing pleases her more than to trap the unwary. Watch out for her complex designs – she means you no good.
The FANATIC: the uncompromising extremist, she does wrong in the name of good. She justifies hers action by her intent, and merely shrugs her shoulders at collateral damage. Anyone not an ally is an enemy, and therefore, fair game. Give up any hope of showing her the error of her ways – she firmly believes you are wrong, wrong, wrong.
The MATRIARCH: the motherly oppressor, she smothers her loved ones. She knows what’s best and will do all in her power to controls the lives of those who surround her – all for their own good. A classic enabler, she sees no fault with her darlings, unless they don’t follow her dictates. Don’t be lured into her family nest – you’ll never get out alive.
It was the eyes that caught his attention; three sets of them, all brown and wide, peering out from the shadows beside his bar. Brown was a forbidden color in those days- the mark of those who were ‘lesser’, those doomed to die a slow and horrible death, amidst smoke, and weeping mothers, and ravaged bodies. He paused and waited. Nothing. “I can see you, you know.” One of the sets of eyes, the tallest and clearly the oldest, moved out from the shadows. His name was Laurence, he said, and he needed somewhere for his niece and nephew to hide. They hadn’t done anything wrong. There was a protest against unspoken charges written on his face, which Randulf quieted. “No blame here, don’t worry. You’re just like everyone else to me.” There was a little girl involved, Marta, and a boy, Dor, whose name Randulf only barely stopped himself from laughing at. He let them inside. Marta was a fiery child and wouldn’t let him pat her on the head. Dor acquiesced to the patting only because Randulf offered him food. They became his friends, his only friends, now. It seemed he was the last of his family, aside from his unkillable, beautiful sister. The rest had fallen to their cruelty, murdered and punished by the humans they hated. He could almost smile about that.
Time passed. It seemed so slow and all too fast at the same time. The war was over. He’d had to absorb souls he’d never speak of to them to keep his stone active. He hated himself, something that had never happened before. It was a time of laughter, and hiding from things he’d done in the past to make a brighter future, one he could be proud of. They called him ‘Boss’ and ‘Greed’ and sometimes, when Laurence was asleep and it was only the two of them with him, ‘Papa’. He loved those moments. They were the best things in the world, all in one package: children, lovers, friends. Sometimes, they could even be diaries. They knew all the things that no other human ever would.
They got old. Laurence he saw coming, and the grief was terrible. He was frail now, and his muscle had long since gone to flab, and then to a peculiar thinness that made his height laughable and silly looking. Like a great bull that had been let out to pasture for too long. And then it was Dor, and he was still so short, and his laughs became weaker and weaker. It was something in the lungs, they thought; they’d been around so much smoke that perhaps his lungs just gave up. He coughed for months, hard and raw and sometimes with blood, and then he coughed no more.
Marta was the hardest. He fought it with her, took her everywhere he could, but there were no doctors. There was no medicine. There had been a terrible war, they all said, and who could expect for things to be good so soon after. He didn’t know what it was, there was no name for it. It was just a nameless death that took away his loved ones, every one. He made a promise he didn’t intend to keep.
There was no more laughing.
“If a clock could count down to the moment you meet your soul mate, would you want to know?”
One minute, 37 seconds.
My legs are shaking. Holy cow, there is no way I can do this. None.
One minute, 29 secods.
I glance around at the faces surrounding the room. Of course my Meeting would take place in the gross, overcrowded cafeteria.
One minute, six seconds.
Somewhere within these four walls, someone has the exact same countdown on their wrist. They’re going through the exact same pressure as me.
Mom said I should be excited, not nervous. Yet I still find myself wiping my sweaty palms on my dress. I can’t believe she talked me into wearing a dress. I mean, shouldn’t my Soul Mate meet me as I normally am? All plain jeans, blah shirts, and wild brown curls?
Something deep within me tells me to stand up. I do, drawing the attention of my tablemates. They all know too. They smile encouragingly up at me. I chew my lip nervously.
That same feeling pulls me towards the center of the room. My stomach drops away from me as I take a step in that direction.
I continue in that direction. With each step the tempo of my heart picks up.
17. More rapid.
16. It’s racing.
Oh my god this is it. The moment my life changes forever.
My eyes search frantically around the cafeteria, searching for someone who looks as nervous as me. For someone who’s heading towards their future with no sense of direction like me.
The feeling directs me slightly to the left. I turn to accomodate.
5. My heart has given up entirely.
4. I stop walking.
3. Just waiting left.
2. Everything is about to change.
1. Deep breath.
0000 d 00 h 00 m 00 s
Someone bumps my shoulder. I twirl around and my gray eyes meet blue, blue ones.
“Hello there, love. It appears as though we’re Soul Mates then, eh?”
As my words fail me, the only thing I can think is “I’m so glad I shaved this morning.”
I’m sitting outside a cafe when it happens, sipping some cheap drink, pretending to enjoy the sunshine. The counter runs to zero, and there is an audible click, the tab deactivates, falls off. The clink of polyurethane to cobblestone floor is echoed a few feet ahead of me. I shake a proffed hand, look up at a disdainful face.
“This is all I get?”
It’s just a couple more weeks, now. I’ve been watching closely as the numbers tick steadily down. Just a couple more weeks, I keep telling myself. Out of my group of friends, I’m on what they like to call the “fast track,” people whose numbers start much lower than others.
Two weeks, six days, fifteen hours. The clock keeps ticking. Two weeks, one day, four hours.
The days are getting so close now I’m pretty sure my uncontrollable excitement is starting to seriously annoy everyone around me. My friends tease me incessantly about who they imagine my soul mate will be. Tall, short, fat, dimples, nail biter, foot tapper.
At one week, three days, and seven hours, the clock stops.
Instead of a soul mate I get condolences, a therapist, and a broken clock.
I hurry down the clinic hallway as I slip on my button-down shirt. They just installed it- how could it have been just two minutes?
Two minutes, thirteen seconds to be exact, and I was nowhere near ready! My hair was a mess, and I felt something in my teeth. I had to look good for my soulmate. A perfectionist through and through.
A sign hanging from the ceiling pointed to a restroom to the right. I checked the time again. A minute and thirty-three seconds? Fuck! I picked up the pace and almost slipped on the time floor.
Time was almost up and my heart was racing. Finally, I dashed into the bathroom to fix myself up. The door shut, and as I looked into the mirror, I heard a click.
I checked the time. Zero.
What? This doesn’t make any…
I looked back at the mirror. Then back at the timer. Back at the mirror. Back at the timer.
Can this please become the new machine of death??? I want a whole book of little stories like this!!
Forgetfulness and loneliness could be such a deadly combination, especially in this case. Or perhaps it was just a lack of noticing how long I really had. The last time I looked down at my wrist was God knows when. Maybe yesterday, maybe last week. Possibly longer. And living in such a busy city should have really made me more aware of when I was going to meet my soulmate.
It was one morning when I was drinking my coffee when I realized already that it was already at 000 days.
And 00 seconds.
My heart drops. I could have passed my soulmate by in the crowd of people crossing the street. It could have been that woman who gave me directions to the bookstore or maybe the waiter who let me have a free cup of coffee. It could have even been that man who almost mugged me a few nights ago, knowing how strange fate can be.
But I never knew who that one person for me was. I’m going to have to go through my whole life without another chance to meet them again. I wonder how they feel about all this…
Not a half hour after installation, my clock went off. A doctor (very handsome, although clockless) was working on my bedside, assisting my nurse. Well then, we both must have thought, why not?
Early on, things went smoothly. But when your clock goes off, it usually does. There’s no not-knowing. You’re insured. It’s safe.
He and I were comfortable.
And I was bored (to tears).
This man was not what I had envisioned. He was safe, and easy and cut and dry.
He didn’t understand, and though he was happy (content) with me, I wan’t with him. I left.
Busted clock, I thought. A scam? Maybe it’s just not for me.
But what bothers me most, is that when I think back,
my nurse was clockless too.
And I’m not sure what that means.
‘Seventeen’ my mother said, like it meant something. She squeezed my hand when the put the clock in, as if it was a guardasil shot, some sort of painful, preventative measure against something that could hurt me.
I’ve heard the way she talks to the preacher when I’m not there- in her mind, it probably is.
On the drive over to the game months later, she tries bait my enthusiasm as my clock winds down; 0d, 1h, 29m 38, 37, 36s- She says; ‘what if it’s the football captain?’
And I joke; ‘what if it’s my band teacher?’
And her face turns white and cold, mouth hard over a smile that’s clenched into a grimace.
I take my place in the stands with the rest of the marching band, fellow flutists looking at my clock with varied expressions. Envy, hope, congratulations, curiosity. A few rows behind me, the percussionists start taking bets.
I play through almost mechanically, stomach churning with nerves as the game winds on and the clock counts down. Down on the field, the home team is crushing the visitors, which is bad news, since it means that for the next few weeks things will be tense back home as the team tries to recapture their honor after having lost so badly.
The game comes to halftime eventually, and the players file off as the home cheerleaders take the field once more, center stage while the boys regroup.
One girl with hair bright enough to see from the stands is lifted into the air by her teammates until she’s level-eyed with me, and my heart stops when the clock on my wrist does.
The beeping is all the way down in my lap but I can hear inside my skull. From the look my mother sends me from a few rows over, I can tell she either heard it too, or she’s been counting along as well. She follows the tracks of my eyes, and her face goes just as white as mine does when she catches sight of the cheerleader staring almost blankly at me.
I’m frozen. My mother stands.
Down, down to the field, leaving the flute behind, leaping the fence. I have to see her, get to her- Or at least, the was the plan.
My mother’s hand catches me sharply on the shoulder, pointed nails digging deep into my skin through my uniform before I’m even halfway out of my seat. Down on the field, the cheerleader is crying.
‘No daughter of mine’- she hisses and the next thing I know I’m in the car, crying quiet as she drives me to the camp from the brochure the preacher gave her two months ago.
‘There are people who can help’ my mother says through a clenched jaw, the muscles in her face twitching with rage and effort as her knuckles turn white around the steering wheel. They’re specialists in this sort of repair. Your clock is just broken, that’s all. You’ll be spending some time with them so they can fix this-
‘You mean fix me’ I say, and my mother nods shortly.
‘Yes. Fix you.’
“Congratulations!” I call, as a new couple kiss to cheers from the crowded street. It was magical to watch - the beeping going off simultaneously, the two locking eyes, running towards each other… Magical.
I look down at my clock and sigh. Twenty seconds. Though it’s been twenty seconds for years. I still remember horror on my friend’s faces when we realised what had happened. I’d dressed up. Nothing too fancy, just nice jeans and a girly top, but I’d had my hair done. My nails, too. I’d even got my friend to do my make-up for me, though she kept trying to persuade me that I should have a natural face when meeting my-
It took over a year to come to terms with. I used to have to stay inside, for fear that I’d see a couple like the one in the street and break down. I would hate how their clocks could work so perfectly, while mine was so pointless. I’m better now, though. Doctors offered to remove it for me, but I asked them if I could keep it. Maybe I’m sentimental, maybe I’m just used to it now.
I get up to order a hot chocolate, then sit back down again. The new couple are sitting a few tables along from me; the woman’s crying, the man can’t stop smiling. It must be nice. But I’m content.
I stir my hot chocolate, and look around absent-mindedly. My eye catches the barista’s, and I smile before I really notice the way he’s looking at me. Then down at his wrist. Then up at me.
But… It can’t. I can’t be-
I look down at my wrist.
0000d 00h 00m 00s.
Lift up the burdens of your soul,
To the wind, the rain, the snow,
That they might wash them away,
Like black ice before spring,
Or the last vestiges of death and decay,
Before the growth of new life and hope.
The cold, icy burn of the wind on your cheeks,
Is a boon to your healing, your compassion,
Because it reminds you what it is,
To be lost, to be alone, to be cold,
For you are not alone, you are not lost,
Home is with you; it is all around you,
And the floods will not wash you away,
Only your burdens.
Sometimes, Greed stopped and wondered why Dean made such a big deal out of him not being a monster. He knew he wasn’t. By most standards, he was a pretty good guy. He obeyed the laws of the land (mostly), he paid his taxes (sometimes, when it suited him), he didn’t steal or kill people (unless he really had to), and he treated women with respect (always. Martel scared him.) So, it made him think that Dean would insist so passionately that he wasn’t a monster, that he was a person. That Dean would never kill him. He’d joke about being Dean’s monster under the bet, but he never meant it.
Maybe it wasn’t for Greed’s own sake that Dean was so insistent. He’d met John once, and nearly killed him- the ‘faggot’ remark the old man had thrown Dean’s way didn’t sit too well with him- and it occurred to him that maybe John wasn’t any better than Father in the way he treated his children. Maybe it was Dean’s own sake that he was so insistent.
Not because he thought Greed was a monster, but because he thought he was.
Matt was a very simple creature when it came down to it. There weren’t many people in the world he cared about, when he thought about it. When he thought really hard, there were only two. Mello, of course, was obvious. He’d always love and be loyal to Mello, that was just a part of who he was. The other was Topher. Brilliant Topher Brink, who he loved and thought loved him.
So when Topher said, ‘You can’t love me. You’re a doll,’ he believed him. Topher wouldn’t lie to him. He must be a doll. For as long as he lived afterwards, a small part of him believed that he was, indeed, just a doll, despite all evidence to the contrary.
After the global wipe, Matt found Topher’s wedge and a working chair. There probably wasn’t another one left in the world- and he’d had to fix this one. It had taken him days to get it back in perfect order. That was the easy part, he knew. He still had to find a volunteer. Months later, months that had been spent half-awake guarding his chair at all costs, Matt found someone willing to be his new Topher. Just as they were coming out of the stupor of being imprinted, he began to lose consciousness. He’d been awake too long, and he needed to rest.
“Did I fall asleep?”
“Yeah. For a bit.”
Then everything went black.