Walk 3.01


Alone, she would be three lights ahead and going sideways between a lamppost and a garbage bin to get ahead of that slow-moving family.

Instead his arm is a leash and when she tries to hurry at the end of the walk signals his disparagement has her ashamed at consideration for others. Never mind personal safety, or respect for the rules of the road.

She should not be proactive about trying to move out of the way of people’s pictures. She should not try to pull him back from a subway map when others are trying to look too.

He sees her half-assed, and struggling against instincts for speed, for politeness.

He isn’t there when her ankles are flashing, her chin up and eyes scanning. Anticipating when the lights will turn. He doesn’t see her weaving through a crowd, or skirting two girls taking pictures on the bridge, without breaking stride. Zipping down the stairs into the park.

He doesn’t know what she is like when she is walking without him.

The DeWhitts


Mrs. DeWhitt was a bit too unerring in her instincts for her own good. Somehow, whether by the curling of her toes or a pinch in her right shoulder, she knew when Mr. DeWhitt was inappropriately occupied with the nth chamber maid, the girl-who-came-only-on-Wednesdays, the innkeep’s daughter, or any other bit of female miscellany under the age of thirty.

During these times (which constituted most of the time) Mr. DeWhitt would often be puzzled to find his dinner late, cold, or absent; his gloves, or cuff links, or rifle missing; his galoshes continually, inexplicably muddied; and his best scotch disappearing faster than he could rightly account for.

Unfortunately for the marriage, Mrs. DeWhitt exercised her powers in so natural and unconscious a manner, and Mr. DeWhitt was so far from thinking these mishaps anything but coincidence, that the gentleman never realized that he was receiving his just desserts, and the lady was never content.

Carpet Squares


Listless at my habitual 3pm low, and wishing that I could work in a more comfortable position, a change of position, I studied the long space under the underutilized half of my L-shaped desk.
I looked at it, and that was to envision explaining myself, which irritated me. It was a perfectly good bit of carpet, shaded and never walked upon. It would fit me nicely if I laid down there to read instead. So why can’t I actually do this?
 –
Open offices are detestable.

Distances


The only reason she has him, is because she doesn’t.

This man, sitting next to her, who cannot remember to put the bathmat back up on the side of the tub. She sits next to him only because he is so laissez-faire that he let it happen – and then she became a part of his routine. A part, not a prime mover.

Like his cards. Like the music to which he bobs his head. She is the movement of clothes, some his, some hers, into the washing machine. It happens.

She is the added pressure of a pair of feet on his thighs while he reads his newsfeeds. He could be doing the same thing minus that pair of feet; that’s how she knows he would be the same without her.

She wouldn’t be the same without him. Without him, she would no longer be measuring these differences, coming up with distances.

Marielle Beauchene


Marielle couldn’t help but give another small, inward sigh of relief that she and Aneirin were still together. She had been dreading this morning. Next to her, Aneirin was smiling at their new teammates and teacher as if this were perfectly natural, but she kept her fingers close to where his white tabard trailed in the grass, shining bright.
 –
She remembered him out in a rainstorm when they were both six years old, laughing when the lightning came, and though she’d wanted to go inside he made her see a part of his delight. In the backyard on his tenth birthday, when both of their extended families had gathered. That year the apple trees had been overflowing. She remembered the pyramid of presents stacked back in the cool, dim living room, while outside aunts and uncles and cousins crowded around him, a mass of heads and noise, but through them all she was still able to see a corner of Aneirin’s smile, a ray of his light, and that was enough.
 –
She remembered him two months ago when his wink, and a ripple of the sunlight around her, gave her the win in her last sparring test of Rank 1.  She did not remember the expression of the girl she had been matched against. And there was a twinge of guilt.
 –
“But what does it matter, Marielle?” he’d asked later, smiling and shaking his head. “You’re better than her anyway.”
 –
And Marielle had subsided, even though she didn’t believe him. Not always. But to believe in anyone, or anything, the way she believed in Aneirin, was incomprehensible to Marielle.
 –
As their families always said, they were sun and moon to one another.

 

Hildr Ostergaard


When Hildr’s older cousin had earned his Rank 3 badge, he’d patted her on the head and told her that either one day she would discover her true calling in battle, or she’d give up and go back to the farm.

In retrospect, she supposed that he was being condescending. But Hildr was not prone to resentment. And now that she was sitting next to Umi Kiritaeke, who used four-syllable words that Hildr had never heard before, who scooped up a pond merely by shifting the weight of her dainty body, and who drank cold tea with her eyes half-shut as she rested in the shade, her cousin’s motivations couldn’t have mattered less.

Moulded like a doll, yet calm and confident. Denied the constitution of a warrior, yet awe-inspiring.

Firstly, she had to find a way to speak to Umi Kiritaeke.

And secondly, Hildr had to become strong enough to stand at her back, always.

Family Gatherings


Sci-fi City Downtown by JadrienC

Sometimes you have to ‘enjoy’ company that you don’t, really. Lalantree knows this as well as anybody.

To give you a sense of just what I am dealing with, Loddi once asked me if I would rather lose my heart (and dignity) to a psychopathic baker, or flee the civilized world, giving up everything from clean pillow shams to NutriPills, only to waste away in boondocks replete with SABs1 and smugglers.

In my humble opinion, the baker of Loddi’s bipolar love was not psychopathic (I still buy rolls there), but merely possessed of poor judgement, seeing as she countenanced his Gothic style of flirting in the first place. Furthermore, it is well known that the Carwallian smugglers (the only smugglers within 50 lightyears to whom Loddi could have possibly been referring) live very well in their off-planet colonies, though the latter are admittedly remote places. Politics may be laissez-faire over in the Esten Economic Zone but they still don’t want blatant crime polluting the fine views and real estate values of the elite.

1Substance Abusers: a blanket term.

Read On.

~

Image from JadrienC.

Winter Ways


They were kissing, finally, and laughing and fumbling all over each other. Not caring for the moment that they were teammates, and yet bonded by their time on the ice.

She gives a gentle laugh, and she would have kept reading. But he breaks in.

“Maybe that’s why you keep picking up stories like these. You know you’ll never have the camaraderie that they do.”

It’s sudden and cruel. She has dropped the book and is already curling around her tears.

He has more to say but she can’t bear to listen, not at the moment. She knows that she won’t pick him up again for some time.