I’ll give you a reason to cry

I was taught not to cry
And by taught I mean the rigorous repeated application of negative stimuli
Impacting my mind as much as my skin
So that every time a tear touched my face I knew that it could only get worse
Until even the autonomic functions of my body learned that tears preceded pain
Not the other way around
That you get to pick your scars, inside or outside, but not when you get them
And that the only thing worth crying for is mercy
For it to stop
Lesson learned
Compliance given

I’ve spent years trying to learn how to cry
To unlearn the lessons of my youth
And have those cleansing waters spring fresh from my face
In moments of joy or triumph

I’ve spent years trying to learn how to cry
To unlearn the lessons of my father
And have my feelings unfettered and unedited stream forth
In moments of connection or loss

I’ve spent years trying to learn how to cry
To unlearn the lessons of society
And have a man’s face unashamed and unafraid
In moments public or private

I am trying to teach myself
That sometimes the heart fills up and it spills out your face
That it is okay to walk with my face wet with tears
Streaked with the truth of my feelings

I am trying to teach myself
That there is something worse that can happen than feeling human
And that is not feeling at all
And that, is something worth crying about.

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Ballooning with Harley, Ivy and Cat

Lights up – Three villainesses on the control deck of a dirigible.  The bodies of the crew lie strewn about.  Cat woman lounges in a large chair or across the back of a couch.  Ivy leans by a window soaking up the sun.  Harley paces back and forth in full rant.

Harley:  Face it girls this stinks!  We’re the complete set of certified psychotic femmes fatale but we’re on the lamb from the law in a giant balloon!  <beat, deep breath and a head shake> Mr. J is gonna be so mad when he finds out we had to leave without him.  This was gonna be our honeymoon balloon.  (Clasps hands in front of her heart, starts humming and waltzing completely forgetting about her rant.)

Ivy:  If Batman hadn’t burned…

Harley:  Batman!  Batman!  Batman!  It’s always Batman.  He’s been ruining my life, spoiling my fun!  Coming between me and my Puddin’ from the very beginning…

Ivy:  Normally I wouldn’t care.  I have this natural immunity against poisons, toxins, <head toss> the pain and suffering of others, but the carbon footprint of the batmobile alone is reason enough to eradicate him – let alone what he did to my babies…

Cat:  (interrupting, righteously homicidal) He set /me/ on fire and threw /me/ off a building… (pouty sultry) just when I was starting to feel good about myself.  I want in.

Harley:  That’s it ladies!  We kill the Bat! … and then you can be my bridesmaids!

Cat: I’d rather claw my eyes out, but if we’re going to work together we /should/ do introductions.  We don’t really know all that much about each other… and my curiosity is just killing me.

Harley:  Whaddya talking about, we know tons about each other.  I’m Harley.  You’re Selena.

Cat:  Patience.

Harley:  Whatevah… and (pointing at Ivy) she’s that… whatchamacallit… cowboy plant girl – Annie Oakley!

Ivy:  IVY!  Poison Ivy.

Harley:  (Stops and considers.)  Oh yeah, that’s a much better name than Annie.  Cuz I was gonna say I think that one is already taken and I saw that you didn’t have no guns.

Ivy:  (Looks at own cleavage.)  Hey…

Cat:  (aside) I guess I’m not the only one with claws.

Ivy:  (threatening Harley) Watch it funny girl…

Harley:  (rant) Or what, Red?  You’ll give me a rash?  Leaf me alone or I’ll dump you in a vat of calamine and oatmeal.

Cat:  (considering) Puns and medical allusions.  You’re smarter than you look.

Harley:  (pouty and snarky) You’re one to talk Miss-only-one-here-without-a-doctorate.

Cat: (laconic) Me-OWW… and I thought I was the catty one.  I /was/ trying to pay you a compliment.

Harley:  Oh, okay.  (suddenly cheerful) Thanks kitten.  Lotsa people think I’m just some bubble-headed blonde bimbo.  Jokes on them.  I ain’t even a real blonde!

Ivy:  <facepalm> You can’t fight crazy.

Harley:  (as if making a huge discovery) That’s what Mr. J says all the time… and eventually he’ll be right, but so far the Bat is doing a pretty good job of it.

Cat:  And that’s why we’re on this… <waves hand airily, searching for right word>

Ivy:  Dirigible.

Harley:  (singsong) Honeymoon balloon.

Cat:  Rigid airship.

Harley:  (snickering) She said “rigid”.

Ivy:  What are you, twelve?

Harley:  (Smiling as if complimented) I moisturize.  Like I was saying, we know tons about each other and we get along great.  It’s like we’re the terrible trio, a certifiable ménage-a-doom.  The three of us together can take our high heels and bust the Bat’s bal… 

Cat:  (interrupting) Oooo. That makes me feel all dirty… (Starts to do cat grooming thing.)            

Harley: I was gonna say balloon.

Ivy:  My veins are full of chlorophyll not chloro-­‐feelings… still, there /is/ something about an anatomically correct rubber suit that puts fire in a girl’s lips.

(fans self)

I could use a tall drink of water.

Cat: Meow drinks /do/ sound good.

(To Harley)

White Russian, no ice, no vodka, hold the kahlua.

Harley: Just cuz I spend most of my time behind bars does not mean I’m a bartender. Get it yerself… I      gotta figure out how to drive this thing.

<Ivy and Cat stare at Harley in surprise.>

Memories – World of Darkness

Background:

This tale is the last journal and thoughts of a recently sired vampire.  He was created and abandoned with no instruction in the world of the undead, an Orphan.  Before “becoming” he had loved a werewolf woman (lupine, garou).  After his transformation his love became ill; in an effort to save her he “embraced”her.  He tried to make her a vampire.  The result was an abomination, a vampiric werewolf, insane and powerful. The “Bloodhunt”, a vampiric lynch mob, was summoned to destroy the abomination and her creator.  The terrified Orphan fled the bloodhunt and now hides out, starving but too afraid to go out and feed.

Memories of darkness overshadow the day.

Memories of shadow cast doubt on reality.

The reality of doubt throws darkness into my heart.

 Memories like fleeting shadows.

Jan22… From my window I see streetlights pierce hopelessly upwards towards the heart of darkness – missing.  Twilight descends on the doldrums of another day, giving hope to the sinister shadows on my bedroom wall.  I’ve been staring at them so long I know each and every one by heart.

By heart… funny.  They don’t move, they stare back at me expectantly. Challenging.  I’ve been waiting for them to move for days now, or hours. It’s getting harder to tell the difference.  I’ve been awake for too many nights.  They’re coming for me, the shadows.  I can’t let them catch me in the coma-like sleep inflicted by life in this city. Life… another strange word.

            Gods above and below; how I hate the city. Blending in with shadows – walking blissfully invisible in the night –it crowds even me.  Not that I’ve left the squalor of these cramped cells for days, or hours.  It’s hard to tell which now.

Jan ???  Safety in the praries?  Ha!  Safe from them?  Safe from the blood hunt?  I should have known better.  Why did I choose a city?  With it’s locked doors and infernal shadows.  The Garou family would have let me stay at their farm.  Canada… it was supposed to be nearly unpopulated; of kin at least.  What was I thinking?

Memories, dreams, visions, I can’t tell them apart.

Safety is as real as the shadows.

Did they move?

Is the sun coming up again?

Can’t let it take me…

Make me…

Sleep.

_____???  It had all seemed so simple, so right.  How was I, an Orphan, to know any better?  The lupines have been with me always.  I only wanted her to stay longer.  She didn’t know either.  How could she?  She was born human, her mother dying in childbirth.  We just didn’t know, and now she’s gone.  Killed as an abomination, even in this unnatural world.

            I’m so tired.  Maybe I can rest for a short time.  The sun’s here now.  I can tell by the restlessness of the shadows.  I miss the sunrise, so beautiful – just like her.  Golden eyed,with fierce red rays cascading down her back and over her shoulders – over my face.

            I could have loved the sun then; stood under it naked, invulnerable.  I could have died happy then.  Too late for that.  Damn you Sire!  Whoever you were.

A few minutes rest would surely be safe.

The shadows whisper to me.

Did they move?

Not really, not much.

They’re only whispering, dancing, beckoning, taunting.

Not really moving, not much, not really.

I could ask, command even.

Move to the door.  Open it.

Demand that they stop.

Stop their dancing.

Stop their beckoning.

Stop that infernal whispering.

Incense?  It’s on the air, but much more than I need or want.  Thicker than the pleasant potpourri she always kept.  Thicker even than her families’ sacred smudge;

Much too thick.

THERE!  They did move!  I know it…

And now they’re speaking.

Shouting!

Roaring at me!

They’ve come for me, at last.

Maybe now I can sleep. 

I’m so warm and so tired.

They’re here but it doesn’t matter any more.

Not really.  Not much.

The heat… that’s what made me so tired.

The heat.

Golden eyes and fierce red claws.

I call the shadows to me,

And chasing them comes the light.

So bright.

So beautiful.

So like the sun.

Men aren’t good material for poetry.

Men are too angular,

hairy

and beast-like

to write poetry about.

 

If I were an Adonis or David;

granite

or marble

polished and smooth and defined,

 

then possibly some other

angular

and hairy

beast would want to preserve my image,

 

but only because it is

sensuous

and beautiful

utterly unlike the rest of my gender.

 

Men want monuments!

Medals

and Testaments

to their POWER and DEEDS;

 

because it’s too

intimate

and frightening

to be personally scrutinized.

 

Men are too soft

fragile

and insubstantial

to write poetry about.

Words

Words are powerful and subtle

they can make us laugh

weep

tremble.

They inspire courage and terror.

They can drive us to change

a single decision

or

our very world.

 

Kings and czars

run in the face of poets

with their prickly nouns

and cudgels of consonance.

Aren’t We All… Alone (Part 7 – End)

I woke to harsh hushed voices – Mommy and Sid arguing again; even in the midst of gore they could argue.  The thought of gore made my stomach flip and bile rise to the back of my throat.  I brought shaking hands up in front of my face and found my fingertips manicure clean; blood started at the second knuckle and kept going.  Blood was everywhere else, knuckles to knees, on my face and in my hair.  I ran to the shower and collapsed under scalding hot water, clothes and all.  Minutes later Sid’s bruised big-knuckled hand turned off the tap.

“Leave your clothes in the tub.  Put this on and grab a shovel.”  His voice was as gruff as it ever was, but shook slightly.  I toweled off and put on the coverall that had been left on the toilet.  It was too big and smelt of oil and engine fluids.  I had to roll the cuffs and sleeves back several times.  I passed two yard sized garbage bags as I made my way to the back door.  Sid and Payn were already knee deep in the snow and frozen soil of our back yard.  I grabbed a spade and grimly joined in.

When the hole was finally big enough and deep enough Sid sent me inside for the garbage bags.  I dragged them down the hallway one at a time and out to the hole.

Sid cut the bags open and dumped the contents then threw up on top of it.  Payn helped me bury the body in our back yard.  Sid cried.  We buried my father deep and at my insistence face down.  A yearling oak tree from Sid’s greenhouse went in on top of him.  I felt numb and vaguely sickened; I didn’t understand why Sid was crying but I realized I despised him for it.  He didn’t speak the entire time we shoveled, just sat there and stared.  He started to say something a couple times, but when he looked me in the face the words died in his mouth.  Payn looked at me too, but I couldn’t read his expression.  He didn’t even try to say anything, but I didn’t expect him to; there were no words for what we had survived.

Mommy was inside, cleaning up the mess – the carpet was ruined, but she seemed almost cheerful.  Everyone took turns in the shower, Sid went first; I went last.   It took forever to scrub the blood off my hands with nothing but the cold water.  When I was finished I found my towel draped over a suitcase.  My backpack dangled from Sid’s hand.  Mommy held Payn in front of her.  I guess I hadn’t read them right after all.  They looked sad, but they smelled of fear; fear of me.

The movies were right: be a hero… kill the bad guy… get chased out of town.  Fourteen years old is a hard time to learn that no good deed goes unpunished, but I got it… good and hard – time for me to ride off into the sunset or face the torches and pitchforks.  It sucks when the angry villagers are your own family.

A place is just a place, but leaving friends is a true sadness.  I guess I could count myself lucky in that the only person I had to miss would be Payn.  My dearest friend had betrayed me to monsters; my biological father had tortured me for years; my stepfather and mother were complicit in that pain; and I was too much the eccentric recluse to have any friends at school.  It wasn’t that I was leaving home that hurt; it was realizing that I had never really had a home that brought a tear to my eye.   I had already been on my own, almost my whole life, now it was just official.

I refused to be anyone’s prey any more.  I couldn’t stand to be the passive bystander that Sid was either.  I’d end up hating myself as much as he hated himself.  I wouldn’t become the monster that my father had been – the monster that I fought off under bloody moonlight.  I knew what I didn’t want to be and that was a beginning.

Aren’t We All… Monsters (Part 6)

I let myself into my brother’s room.  I didn’t knock, but then, he didn’t have a door.  I told him all about the table and then about the wolves and Ace.  He didn’t believe me.  Honestly, I hardly believed it myself and I’d lived it.  “I’m changing brother-of-mine, and not the usual puberty hormone crap that Sid goes on about.”

“Mhmm.”  He didn’t say much, my brother.

“I mean, that table was bolted to the floor.”

He stared at me, one eyebrow bounced a bit.

“They’re were-wolves.  I didn’t imagine it.  I really am stronger, faster; I can smell stuff.”

He stared at me: accepting, quiet… passive.  I sniffed and smelled something that made my stomach recoil.  I looked at my brother and slow horror dawned on me.

“It’s not over is it?  It’s still happening to you.”

He nodded, once, slowly.

I made a decision in that moment, one that could change the face of my family and my world.

“I’m staying in your room tonight.  You’re going to hide in the closet.  I’m going to make him stop, forever.”

His eyes widened and his breath quickened.  I could smell the beginnings of a fear sweat from him, but he nodded, once, slowly.  My brother, Payton – “Payn,” I called him – would do what he was told; that I could rely on.

I waited only half an hour after lights-out was called before I started creeping up the stairs.  I had never been able to protect myself, but the volcano of shame and rage that had built up pressure over all the years of suffering under the monster finally had an outlet – a direction.  I moved with purpose and the beginnings of the crystal clarity I had felt only twice before – I knew I would protect my brother from the monster.

The shadows had been my friend and I was able to creep past the archway to the living room without notice.  Mommy and Sid sat in the living room, television off, music playing, talking quietly.  The porch light was on, washing out the redness of the twinkling Christmas lights – the only spot of brightness in the dark new moon night.  Mommy was crying to “Jingle Bells”.  Sid was holding her head against his chest.

I thought about stopping right then and there and confronting him, but something didn’t smell right.  That spiteful and petty man – insensitive and neglectful bordering on cruel, judgmental, harsh, punitive and bigoted – held my mother tenderly and didn’t smell like the monster that had been regularly raping my brother and I.  He smelt of fear.

Payn was already in the closet when I slipped into his room.  He was buried under a pile of plush toys and dirty laundry.  I saw him stiffen as I entered the room and waved to him in greeting.  He didn’t move or acknowledge my greeting.  I waved again, a little more urgently and heard him whimper at the sound of my clothes rustling.  I slowly realized that only the faint glow of the twinkling Christmas lights lit the room – he couldn’t see me.

“Payn, I’m here, stay there.” I whispered.

He calmed instantly at the sound of my voice and looked in my direction.  “Oh my god, they shine.  Your eyes…”

“Shhh” I had heard the front door open.  Angry whispers followed and the smack of fist on flesh.  The draft of the door closing on well-oiled hinges pushed a familiar scent into the house.  The monster was here.

I heard more muffled noises coming from the living room; things that I had missed or forgotten from all the years with my head under the pillow.  Raised voices.  Snatches of conversation.

“…mine now!”

“…no, you promised…”

“…weakest at the new moon, but stronger than you…”

Fist on flesh and flesh on flesh, muffled sobs and hateful laughter followed.

Minutes passed and the doorway to my old room filled to bursting with the outline of my tormentor.  His naked body was every bit as large as I remembered and his voice just as grating, just as horrid.

His one gold earring hung from a tattered ear.  “Where’s my little boy?  Daddy needs his special toy.”

There is probably no more terrible instance of enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a monster.  Luke Skywalker was right to scream and cry.  Years of blocked, repressed or forgotten horror flooded my brain – filled my cup to overflowing and I launched myself at my father with tooth and claw and vengeance.

It all happened in a heartbeat.  Everything seemed to slow down and sharpen into hyper-focus the moment I committed to the attack.  My body thrummed with adrenaline as I sprang off the bed toward the sickening shadow that filled the doorway.  My hands spasmed with the sharp pain of a stubbed toe as the tips of my fingers burst with obsidian claws.  My arms and legs wrapped around his chest and waist in parody of his plan; my newfound claws digging deep into the skin between his shoulder blades.

“But it’s the new moon…” His startled response was cut off as my canines sharpened and cut into my lips and then into his throat.

He tried to throw me off with the main force of his bulging biceps but I clung tenaciously, digging my claws in deeper, forcing my fingers through flesh and under the bone of his scapula.  He tried to scream, but I bit down and through skin.  For the second time in my life I felt a sickening slip of human skin slide down my throat and settle in my stomach.  He gurgled and dropped to his knees, slowly leaning backward with my weight pressing him down.  I unlaced my legs from his waist, braced my knees on his stomach and pulled with all my strength.

There is a sound that most people will never hear and those few who have, if they are of a normal temperament, wish they had not:  the sound of tearing human flesh.  In that final moment of vengeance I learned three things:  arms are only attached to the rest of the body by a few muscles; the claws at the tips of my fingers could tear through those muscles like butter; and, I… I wasn’t really bothered by the sound.

I stepped off the body of my biological father, feet squelching in the blood soaked carpet.  I looked down at him in disgust and found (much to my horror) that he had had one last moment of fun at my expense before he died.  I threw his gory arms down over his groin to hide the revolting mess and stalked down the hallway toward the living room, vengeance still in my heart and mind.

The anger drained out of me as soon as I passed the archway into our family room.  Sid had a bloody mouth and was holding an ice pack to the side of my mother’s head.  I finally understood why he punished any weakness I had displayed; it reflected his own failure, his own cowardice.  I think my brain shorted out at that revelation.  Everything that had happened, all the things that I thought I knew, the real face of the monster and what I had done to him… what I was becoming.

I stared in horror at the bloody claws attached where my fingers were supposed to be and then collapsed in a dead faint.