Weaver

rain

The light is dim in my tiny home, but morning has broken all the same.  Thunder rumbles all around me as rain splashes against my window panes.  The wind plays a game of tag with itself, rushing along my walls and pushing the rain in every different direction.

I light a rose scented candle and start the kettle for tea.  Today I have nowhere to go and the possibility for anything.  Lightning flashes, and I count the seconds before thunder grumbles an answer.  I pour myself a cup of tea and walk the few steps from my kitchen to the living room.

The windows are framed with plants that I’ve somehow managed to keep alive, their leaves stretching to catch every last bit of light.  A small table sits tucked into the corner, holding up stacks of books with used envelopes sticking out of their pages as bookmarks.  They call out to me with their worlds and stories, but today is not the day to open them.

In the center of the room, waiting patiently and filling nearly all the floorspace, sits my loom.

Today, I will weave something for myself.  Something I don’t have to show anyone or limit to what they want.  Something fun and experimental and all my own.

Today I want to weave the storm.

I start out with my soft grey thread, the best for binding and holding.  The wind presses rain against my windows in sheets, and I pull just the smallest stream of it out, weaving it up and down through the threads.  The wind bucks and squirms, but eventually it figures out the rhythm and direction I’m taking, and it flows smoothly through the thread.

The forming cloth under my fingertips is turning into a light, glistening blue, and I know it is ready for a new element.

I reach for the dark, blanketing clouds.

They are elusive and full of everything I’ve ever felt.  It’s no wonder they are always swirling and charged with a storm, I would do the same if I held so much inside me.

Light as mist and heavy as rain, I weave the clouds through.  They take their own sweet time to settle, but once they do, it makes the softest cloth I’ve touched.  Softer than my cat’s purring woven into silk.

The cloth now has flecks of green and purple and silver.  I breathe in deeply and stretch, stepping out onto my front porch for a break.

The wind instantly starts playing with my hair, and the rain follows it under the overhang to spray mist into my face.

The colors around me are all deeper, brighter, vividly shining through the downpour.  My eye catches on the yellow honeysuckle, and suddenly I know I have to have it in my cloth.

I am soaked by the time I come back inside, but I have the honeysuckle blossoms in my hands.  They are sweet and warm, murmuring about humid days and bumble bees.  I lay them out on my counter to rest while I change out of my wet clothes and pull on a soft sweater and warm leggings.

My cuckoo clock calls out the hour as I settle back to my weaving.  Rich dark yellow appears in fine threads amongst the wind and clouds, and the scent of honeysuckle rises to mingle with the essence of rose from my candle.

There is one last element I want to add to this cloth, and it is the most difficult of all to catch.

It is mid-afternoon before I capture a splintering bolt of lightning.  It is charged and wild and makes my skin tingle as I weave it in.  Lightning fills the spaces between threads and lines the edges, flickering like the sky outside.  I think perhaps even an echo of thunder is caught in the cloth.

I weave until the storm passes, leaving in its wake a hushed sort of calm.  The clouds part just in time to let through the last rays of the setting sun, steeping the sky in gold and red and orange.

I leave the cloth on the loom for the night, letting the storm settle into its threads.  Tomorrow I have other work to do, I have places to go and responsibilities to fulfill.  But sometime, when I have another day to myself, I will make something from my cloth of storms.

Of everything I’ve made so far, I think this one will be a favorite.

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Goodbye

Quiet

Flakes of white float down from the sky, collecting on my shoulders and clinging to my hair.  It covers the ground in a thin sheet, marred by the track of footprints I’ve left behind me.

I’m trying not to look back.  I already know what it looks like– still and quiet, dusted in white and gray.

There used to be such noise.  I think normal volume was never quite loud enough for us.  Squirrels used to wage warfare in the trees before the sun had a chance to wake me.  My neighbors would always be shouting, laughing, working.  Dogs would fill the air with their excitement and play, ceaselessly working to scare away the stubborn squirrels.

Now . . . silence.

My home, turned into an echo of what had been.  Buried under the flakes that continue to fall.

A phantom breeze brushes across my neck.

It’s time to move on.  I know it is.  Somehow, knowing that doesn’t make it easier.  There is a part of me that is clinging to the past and refusing to let go, no matter how impossible it is to go back.  No matter how many terrible memories I have, the good ones like to shine brighter.

I tell myself it doesn’t matter now.  The good and the bad, it’s all in the past.  It had to be, before I could leave.

That’s why I’d done it.  Why I’d buried my home behind me.

I take a deep breath, looking at the path before me.  The trees are reaching out their branches, green buds peeking out from beneath the white flakes.  The air is still cool enough to see a faint puff of fog as I breathe out.  It looks for all the world like winter is still clinging to the earth, refusing to let go, as I once had.

But that’s something I’ve learned over the years.  Looks can be deceiving.

A small smile grows on my face.

I look back, peering through the softly falling flakes.  My whispered goodbye is barely heard, only reaching my ears because of the blanketing silence around me.  It’s strange to look back like this, and I can almost imagine something peaceful amidst the dusting of white and gray.

In fact, if it hadn’t been for the smell of smoke, you’d almost mistake the ashes for snow.

 

From the Shadows

clouds

Sing a song of sixpence

I stand in the shadows, hair falling into my face as I glance up at the scene around me.  There is a quiet panic in the city square, bubbling just beneath the surface.

They are coming.  The monsters of legend.  They are coming and the people are scared.  I play with a switchblade in one hand, flipping it open and shut.  Waiting.

There’s a sudden silence that ripples through the air.  People are standing frozen in place, their faces turned in the direction of the city gates.  They’re coming.  They’re coming.

They’re here.

A spark is glistening in their eyes

I know it before the whispers start sweeping through the square.  Among all the statuesque crowd, a face turns and looks straight at me.  One flash of amber eyes and I know who he is.

What he is.

He grins at me, and I know it’s an invitation.  He’s decided then.  That would make one of us.

Just as the whispers sweep past me, the screaming starts.  The panic is boiling over.  These people know they are doomed.  I am watching them, waiting to see what they do about it.  Waiting to see what happens.

Golden wings are spreading

I can see it now, over the rooftops and domes.  A dark cloud is approaching, and I know better than anyone what sort of horrors it brings.

I glance back at the gleaming amber eyes, and he nods, just once.  He was always one for heroics.

The screams rise as he transforms in a burst of light and smoke.  Wings spread out from him, and he leaps into the air as his limbs grow scales.  He is fully in the sky before he finishes changing, probably because of how crowded it is on the ground.

A second flash hits the corner of my eyes, and I spot another one of us joining him.  I shut my switchblade and flip it back open, listening to the confusion this is causing.

They are taking to the sky

Screams rise behind us a block over, followed by the sound of wings.  Very, very large wings.  I raise my head to watch as he soars over us.

I know him by his black scales.  I’m surprised that he’s joining them.  I was with him when he received that long scar down his tail.  He’d sworn never to face those creatures in battle again.

I guess he’s breaking that vow.

The people below are crying, screaming, clinging to each other as they watch my friends gather above them.  I hadn’t expected so few to be running.  Perhaps they’re too scared to, or perhaps they’re clinging to some hope that these creatures gathering above the city will protect them.

I know they’ll at least try.

The sheets of clouds are breaking

I shut my switchblade one last time and put it back into my pocket.  There’s an older girl with wild eyes searching the crowd, calling out a name.  She’s lost someone, and I can feel the terror rising in her.  Not terror for her own safety, but for the safety of whoever it is she lost.

She pauses in front of me, standing on her tiptoes and scanning the crowd.  I can hear her heart from where I’m standing.  She turns in a circle, and she stops when she sees me in the shadows.

“Have you seen my friend?  Blue curly hair, about so tall?” her voice is breaking.

I slowly shake my head.  Tears fill her eyes and she turns back to look at the dark cloud approaching from the horizon.

The northeast winds begin

I melt out of the shadows, walking through the crowded square.

I am tired.

So, so tired.

A young man is sitting on the edge of the public fountain, shaking from head to foot.  He couldn’t run if he wanted to.  Wouldn’t even be able to stand.  I stop in front of him, and he lifts his eyes to meet mine.

He is young.

So, so young.

I pull out my switchblade and hold it out to him.  His hand is trembling, but he takes it, his face full of questions.

“You’ll be fine.” I say.  My voice does not shake.  It hasn’t for centuries.

A spot of color catches my eye, and I leave the man behind.  On the far side of the square I approach a girl with blue curly hair.  She’s turning in circles and calling out her friend’s name, fear coating every word.   She sees me and pauses.

“Your friend’s over there.” I say, pointing my thumb over my shoulder.

She runs past me, and I close my eyes with a sigh.  I have decided.

They’ve left behind their shadows

Light and smoke bursts from me, and I spread out my wings first.  They lift me to the sky as I change my form.  Scales cover me in an impenetrable armor.  Fire is rushing through my veins.

It’s been so long.

Amber eyes turn to meet mine, and I see surprise inside them.  I don’t blame him.  I’m still rather surprised myself.  Below me the city is a small thing, filled with little people.  People who I have lived amongst for ages.

In all that time, I remained a stranger.

A creature in the shadows.

But the others had found friends among them.  Nooks and crannies where they could fall in love with the place we’d gone to for hiding.

They’d found something worth standing against this cloud of darkness for.  I couldn’t share their reasons, but I had some of my own.

Up here, gathering in the sky, these were my friends.  My family.  If this city was theirs to die protecting, then it was mine as well.

Making a last stand with their kin

I turned to face the approaching enemy, and roared my challenge.  The others took up the sound, and I swear a ripple of fear swept through the cloud before us.

As one, our cry ceased.

As one, we charged.

As one, the last of the dragons made their stand.

Scattered

forgot

I’ve forgotten something.  Something important.

It’s not a foreign feeling to me, but it’s not something I’ve ever gotten used to.  I desperately want to remember.

My room is littered with half-finished projects and open books.  I don’t recognize half of the titles, but the pages are dog-eared and underlined.  I’ll finish them someday, the notes in the margin will trigger my memory.

Sticky notes frame my mirror, covered in phone numbers and dates and a grocery list from two years ago.  Flour, bananas, chocolate chips… I’d planned on making banana bread.  I’m not sure I ever got around to it.  Banana bread sure sounds good to me about now.

I reach for one of the many notebooks on my desk, flipping through the pages with the hope I will remember whatever it is that’s so important.  A half-finished poem, some notes from a conference, and a list of random words that look pretty.  I pick up a different notebook, and flip through pages of doodles and sketches.  Every page holds a glimmer of memory, a rough look at moments I wanted to remember.

Photos hang on my walls, barely giving room for me to see the faded wallpaper behind them.  I can’t forget them, not one, so I keep them where they hang to remind myself.

Perhaps it’s an important date.  I look at my calendar, hanging near my door.  It’s two months behind, despite keeping it where I walk by every day.  I flip it to the correct month, looking at all the boxes filled with my handwriting, marking events and birthday reminders I usually forget to read.  Today is blank, and so is tomorrow.  I can’t figure out what I’ve forgotten.

But it’s on the tip of my tongue.

I run my hands through my hair as I turn in place, hoping my eye catches on something that triggers my memory.  It feels important, it feels obvious, it feels . . .

Mreow?

The cat!  I turn around to see my gray tabby peek around the door frame.  She stares at me with question marks in her yellow eyes, and I wonder if they’re just reflecting the look in my own.  I’d fed the cat, hadn’t I?

She follows me with her tail up as I go to the kitchen and check her bowls.

I did feed her.  Sighing, I sit down on the floor and let her walk all over my lap.  I thought I’d figured it out.  Tabby rubs her face against mine and purrs as I absently scratch her head.  Whatever it is I’ve forgotten, I suppose it will have to wait.

I can’t remember.

I wish I could.

Child of the Sea

pexels-photo-143688

My father used to tell me I was a son of the storm, born with the sound of thunder in my blood.

My mother told me I was a son of the sea, the first breath coating my lungs with its salt.

I say I am both.

Ocean storms are electricity under my skin, wind in my hair, crashing waves against my heartbeat.  The sea is tides pulling at my soul, sand and pebbles beneath me feet, the smell of brine and sand and fish in my chest.

I walk the beach in the rise of morning, still bleary-eyed from rolling out of bed.  The tides are low and soft, waking me slowly with its murmuring.  The sky is blue and pink and gold, and in the growing light I search the ground at my feet.

I look for shimmering rocks, for lost sea glass, for shells that softly sing.  They wash up onto the shore with the sadness of the ocean’s depths, the longing of the tides, the wishes of the stars.  When I pick them up they cling to me, whispering their story, raw and stumbling and rushed together because they’ve held it all in for so long without a soul to listen.

The waves bring them to me, gently nudging them to my shore.  It knows I will find them and take care of them.  It’s known since I was a child, when a shell slipped from its grasp and found its way to my small sand-covered hands.  I’d sat with it cradled in my hands as I listened to its story, letting the waves lap at my feet like a worried mother.

I stayed there until everything was said, and then a little longer, sitting in silence before letting the restless ocean take it back.

I suppose the water saw my care, or perhaps the shell begged to go back, but I found it on the beach again the next morning.  The waves have delivered them ever since.

Today it is a scattering of sea glass and a shimmering rock the color of kelp.  They’re a chattering bunch, and I swear the sea shares a forbearing smile with me.

I carry them to my beach house and set them on my windowsill, where the sun will warm them and make them shine.  The wind chimes outside give them lighthearted music to learn, and the muffled sound of the endless sea lulls us all to sleep at night.

Every rock, shell, glass, and pearl have a place inside, lining my windows and shelves, the little ones clinging to each other as they fill vases and jars.  The new ones will still speak in rushed sentences and hurried words, but the ones that have stayed, the ones who have settled here for a long time, they know they have time.  They know I will listen.  The stories they tell are unhurried and old and whispered from deep, deep inside.

I am a son of the stormy sea.  My hair is stiff with salt, my hands are rough with sand, and my home is full of the depths of the ocean.  I know its secrets, and it knows mine, for there are some shells that ask to return to the water.

And with them, they carry stories of me.

 

Attic

dust.jpg

There are moths in the attic.  Hundreds of them.  No one comes up here because of them, because they hate the powder that falls from their wings when they land on them like dust.

I don’t mind them.  It’s quiet, and they keep me company as I sit in an old rocker with my notebook and pencil.  Everything here is calm, and it forces me to be calm too.  If I move quickly or suddenly, it upsets the moths and the dust, and I end up sneezing long after I leave.

Today, I hold my notebook open to a fresh page, my pencil tip inches away from touching.  The room smells like paper and moths and jasmine.  I’m looking around, slowing my breathing, paying attention to what I see.

A large globe sits in its stand, waiting to be spun by curious hands.  Boxes line against the wall, some filled with books and pictures and memories, some I haven’t explored yet.  There’s a rocking horse in the corner, and a few of the moths are resting on it, keeping it company until it is needed again.

A small table stands off to a side with little chairs around it, ever ready to be set for a tea party.  The dolls and stuffed animals that used to sit there are packed away, stored in one of the boxes to avoid the moths and dust.

Sometimes I get them out so the table doesn’t look so lonely, but then I’m always missing the little girl who serves them tea, and I end up putting them back.  The little girl hasn’t been there for tea in a long time.

I have her in a notebook though.

In an old one, when my handwriting was big and clumsy and I couldn’t spell.

A luna moth lands on my armrest, fanning out it’s broad green wings that taper into curling tails.  I smile as I finally lower my pencil to the paper and start to sketch it.  I’ve probably already given this one a name, but I never try to remember those things, and so today I call it Pearl.  It sits there for a long time, content to be drawn and in no hurry to be elsewhere.  I sit there a long time too, content to draw and observe.

When I’m happy with the sketch, I start writing around it.  I put down the name ‘Pearl’ and write ‘luna moth’ right next to it.  After that, I just write about whatever comes to mind.

How light it gets at night during a full moon.

The way dust floats in the air.

My favorite kind of tea.

The silence around me is calm, settled, waiting.  It is full of longing, memories, possibilities.  It is light enough for my imagination to soar, and heavy enough for my thoughts to go deep.  I doodle on the edges of my page, little flowers and stars and a string of pearls to go through them.

When the page is full and my nose gets stuffy from the dust, I shut my notebook with a sigh and slowly rise from my seat.  The floorboards creak under my weight, the only other sound up here besides my heartbeat, and a few moths flutter in response.  I don’t really want to leave, but I’ll be back tomorrow.

Until then, I think about the empty tea-table and the waiting globe, the luna moth and my rocker and how the dust looks floating in the air.

There is something about that place.  Something sad and hopeful and enchanting.

I love how it makes me think.

Wolves

pexels-photo-632078

There are three things you need to know before reading this.

I am a child.

I am a child.

I am a child.

There are people screaming and running past me, but I am standing still on the bridge watching as the wolves approach.  They aren’t charging, they aren’t pouncing.

Not yet.

They are snarling just enough to show their teeth.  Their fur is standing on end.  Their giant paws are landing softly on the ground, still ever the silent predator long after they stopped caring about sneaking up on their prey.

They know they will win.  They see the people fleeing.  They hear the sound of panic, of voices crying out it wasn’t supposed to be like this.  The people running past me can feel the ground crumbling beneath their feet, and I understand their panic.  They grew up on solid ground, they were told it would never shake, and so they never saw this coming.

My first steps were made on this trembling ground.

Like a sailor used to the roll of the sea, I am steady on my feet as the world falls apart.  As I watch the destruction approach.

As I stand in its path.

My hair is caught by a wisp of wind, escaping my red oversized hoodie.  The approaching wolves are close enough to notice me now, and they pause.

They don’t know what to do with a child.  In their packs, the children are gathered by the elders and carried away from danger.  In their packs, the children follow when the others flee.  In their packs, the children have not yet learned how to fight.

I am not from their packs.

I was born screaming, ready to fight for a breath of air.  My parents held me, they taught me, they showed me their love for this world whose downfall they mourn.  I have barely begun to know my surroundings.  I have only just started to understand this home of mine.  But I am not willing to hand it over to the wolves without a fight.

And I am not alone.

Hunter ambles to my side, his father’s wood axe held loosely in his hand.  He looks over to me and smiles, and I return the look, for this is how we bare our teeth.

Isobel stands behind me with books in hand.  They used to laugh at her stacks of books, but paper can cut deep and hardcovers are heavy, and the words she collects are sharpest of all.  They don’t laugh anymore, but she does.  She can still see the beauty in fire.

Jack walks up with his sister Ellie.  Hand in hand, they wait beside me.  Their icy blue eyes take in the chaos and do not look away.  You might as well chip away at icebergs than take them on as an enemy.  They have each other, and that is all they need.

Anna leaps onto the bridge’s rail, holding the cables to keep her balance as her long copper hair gets caught by the wind.  She looks down at the raging river below us then back at the wolves, raising an eyebrow at them, challenging them to be fiercer than the water she loves.  I’ve watched her swim against the current.  The wolves don’t stand a chance.

We are gathering at the end of this bridge, forming a line of defiance with still more coming.  This is where we have decided to make our stand, with abandoned cars and a stretch of pavement all that lies between us and these wolves.

The world fell apart to their claws within a few short decades, but that does not terrify us.  We were born into this chaos.  This is what we know.  The wolves are growling, uncertain, unsteady.  They are on our playing field now, and their balance is wavering.

I narrow my eyes at the leader and dare him to try to cross the line I’ve drawn.  They had better approach with caution.  If they were smart, they’d turn and run.  They should know from the looks in our eyes.  There are three things they should run from.  There are three things they ought to fear.

We are children.

We are children.

We are children.