Archive for July, 2007


The Mask


Cait stood in John’s study and released a heavy sigh as her eyes moved not so much from object to object but from memory to memory. Ariel was in bed and although it seemed like only minutes, several hours had past since they took John away. Her gaze skipped as pebbles across his desk and followed the warm light of a single lamp to the wooden cove behind his leather chair. Upon the wall, framed by books of varying sizes and colors, a solitary beam of light fell upon “The Mask” as the Discovery men called it. Passed from generation to generation, the mask represented everything noble in the Discovery lineage, and until a few hours ago, John had upheld the honor of the house as no one before him.

“What is it Kyra?” asked Von, somewhat puzzled by her dour demeanor.

“It’s Rog. They’ve taken him away.”

“For what?”

“Crimes against the state. I didn’t have the energy to argue.”

“What crime?”

“Seems they stole a military vessel.”

“What vessel?”

“The one they rescued us in.”

“Oh.”

A tear slipped from Cait’s eye. She wept not for Discovery honor. She wept for her own.

Advertisements

Von’s Journal #5


Von held a small piece of lace his grandmother had given him. It was one thing before, another now. He picked up his journal and made a singular entry:

At the end of the day, what is the measure of one’s life.

Just Staring

Kyra: Von, what are you doing?

Von: Just staring.

Kyra knocked on the door. “Em, can I come in?” A small red light turned green and Kyra felt the familiar rush of air as the door swished open. Em was sitting in a chair, back straight, with hands palm down on knees together and staring straight ahead as those without sight are prone to do. She was as still as a monk in meditation, eerily so thought Kyra. Pulling up a chair she sat beside her, her eyes searching for mood as her mind searched for words.

After what seemed like forever and all the pre-planned words were found lacking in the moment, Kyra took a deep breath, slowly and gently placed her hands on top of Em’s and said, “I want you to know, we will find the doctor who will restore your sight.”

Em sat without responding other than a slight tilt of her head which seemed to indicate a return from some place else at the sound of Kyra speaking.

“I mean what I say Em.”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Anything Em.”

“Remember when we took those red pills?”

“Yes.”

“Remember the peace we felt?”

Kyra squeezed her hands. “I do.”

“Why can we find so much peace in death and yet find so much pain and struggle in life?”

Kyra knew the answer but pondered whether an answer was being asked. “An eternal question Em. What do you think?”

“Resistence.” Em spoke the word in a voice Kyra didn’t recognize or at least didn’t recognize coming from Em. She had heard the tone before, where, she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

“Resistence?” asked Kyra.

“When we took those pills, we dropped all resistance to the present moment. We stepped into the flow without looking back, without questioning, without fighting the current. And I have never felt such peace and tranquility before or since.”

Kyra listened. She rubbed her thumbs in circles on Em’s hands.

“And now, I find myself unable to let go. I want my sight back. I refuse to believe it is not possible. And I’m confused. I’m sad. I’m depressed. I’m angry. I’m afraid. I’m lost. And I’m alive. Where did the peace go?”

Kyra sighed. “Can I ask you a question now?

“Yes, please.”

“I felt that peace too and I also want it back. Will you join me? I think together we can find it.”

Em stood up, trying not to lose her balance and releasing Kyra’s hands, opened her arms. Leather embraced cloth. “Yes. I would like that very much.”

Von, Rog and Em sat without talking, each lost in their own world as they waited for the doctor as children wait to hear their name read from gifts under tree. John had had his bandages removed the day before and his sight was now as it was before. Today was their turn.

The nurse called Von. He entered. Sight restored. Next she called Rog. Again, darkness was left behind. Last was Em. She entered in darkness, and after what seemed to Von and Rog like a awfully long time, she returned still in darkness. Smiles turned south. Laugher vanished quicker than the snap of fingers. Em stood, her arms by her side, her head struggling to maintain posture.

“Frail the doctor. I will regain my sight.”

Von and Rog stood speechless.

Em held out her hands. “Let’s go. These frailing aliens don’t give a shiott about us,” said Em using language Von and Rog had never heard her use.

Von looked at Rog and Rog looked away, his face bloodless. He had his sight back. Em did not.

“Von,” commed Kyra, “how’d it go?”

“Not good.”

“What happened?”

“Em is still blind.”

“Oh my Janus. Is she okay?”

“It’s not Em I’m worried about.”

Stains of Scarlet

Trev woke. He showered. Shaved. Ate breakfast. Returning to the restroom, he spend the rest of the morning puking his guts out. When there was nothing left to vomit, he worked his abs until they ached with dry heaves. His throat burned with his own acid. He tried to blow his nose. The smell refused eviction.

“You okay in there,” asked Mairi as she banged on the door in her silk robe and bare feet. She wore nothing underneath. Her red hair, like the rest of her, looked pert.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” His response seemed oddly strained.

“Trev? Open the door.”

“I said I’m fine. Please leave me alone.”

Mairi quietly leaned forward. Putting her ear to the door she heard nothing but her own breathing. “Trev? Oh my Janus!” She felt it first. Something warm, slippery yet sticky, not water, thicker yet thinner it felt at the same time. There was a moment, a gap, between the scarlet ribbon slipping under the door and between her toes and the recognition of something terribly wrong. The gap was less than a second but seemed long enough for a thousand thoughts to race through her mind.

Trev coughed, a cough deep, a cough sounding more like gurgling than the dry heaves of a moment before. The sound of Mairi’s voice seemed distant, reminding him of his mother calling his name at the pool as he swam underwater. He didn’t want to come up. He was in another world now. Land and sea. How could one understand the other? And so he floated on waves of consciousness untouched, feeling a gentle pulling as if the hands of Janussaries (Hynerian angels) were carrying him away.

Mairi pounded on the door. “Open the door. Now!”

She couldn’t touch him now. He was in the water. She wouldn’t follow him into the deep. He felt warm. Hues faded to pastels and sound lost all range of high and low. He was in the flow now and the flow would take him wherever the flow went.

Mairi’s heart raced. Taking a step back, she hurled herself against the door, her feet bloody with the life of Trev, cells dying in step with hope. Images of stains filled her mind. Stains of the body, stains of the mind, stains of the soul. Janus she hated stains. Her small lithe body was as feather pounding rock against the door. Falling to her knees in step with tears down her cheeks she began to sob as mothers sob for children, her head heavy in her hands as if guilt were lead. In anguish she cocked her head to bang the object of resistance and fell forward as the door swished open and where there was one bloody body upon the cold stone floor, now there were two.

Interview with Yul (from Earth): Part 2

T: Ready to continue?

Y: Always ready.

T: I would expect no less (smiles). Tell me what happened when Rog walked in the door.

Y: You know how when in hospital they ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1-10?

T: Yes.

Y: Well, on the pissed scale, I was about a 15. Beyond pissed, beyond anger. It was an odd place, emotionally. I felt like I was in the eye of a storm. Hell had happened and I had a feeling hell was going to happen again, but in this moment I felt the strangest sense of detachment. When he walked in that door, I felt nothing.

T: Nothing. At all?

Y: Not a damn thing; and it scared me to death. He sat there with his pathetic eye bandages, and I felt nothing. I didn’t even feel numb. He was like a book I had once read and at one time liked, maybe even loved, but now, it just looked old and yellow and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why I had ever felt the way I did. He didn’t look the same. I almost felt embarrassed.

T: (dumbfounded look)

Y: What?

T: I’m sorry. I was not expecting this and my mind is running, trying to grasp what you are saying.

Y: (sighs) I wasn’t expecting it either. It happened in an instant. The door opened. The nurse walked him to a chair beside my bed. He sat down, looking all the much like the Jackassary he explained himself to be, and I just didn’t care. If fact, I felt a strange sense of boredom. Only later did the eye pass and the second wave of hell overtake me. To be honest, the meeting with Rog, well, even saying it was anticlimactic, is overstating the case. It was a non-meeting meeting. He looked whipped, like a pampus with his tail between his legs. His shoulders drooped, his voice had no power and he seemed very uncomfortable not being able to see. I don’t think he really knew what he wanted to say, not that there was anything he could have said that would have made a difference.

T: I want to come back to this second wave of hell, but before we move on I want to bring closure to your meeting with Rog. My understanding is that when he came out of the room, the only thing he could tell Kyra that you said was “either/or.”

Y: (laughed) Not sure we really talked about much of anything.

T: But he was in there for an hour or so, right?

Y: Probably.

T: What did you do for an hour if not talk?

Y: I think you are missing the whole scene. We talked, but about nothing, at least nothing that I remember. But the words were only words. They didn’t mean anything. You see, there was only one thing to say. We both knew what it was. He didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t feel I needed to say it. He had made a choice. Right or wrong and that choice was, to put it bluntly, to leave me to die. I don’t frailing care what the circumstances were. I was dying. He choose to be elsewhere. Ain’t no words gonna reconcile that.

T: (silence)

Y: So, I told him. Either you get your sorry arse out of my room or I’ll find someone who can. He sat for what seemed like the longest time, almost like he didn’t comprehend what I said. Then he stood, again, just standing there like I was going to say something else. The silence must have just killed his soul, especially not being able to see me. Next thing he heard was the call button for the nurse. She escorted him out.

T: (sighs)

Y: Look. I never said I was some frailing Janussary.

T: True.

Y: And would you want to frail me as bad as you do if I were?

T: (hesitates)

Y: Still struggling to be bluntly honest.

T: (starts to speak)

Y: Look. Frailing is a waste of time without an absolute commitment of unadulterated openness. If there is anything, and I mean anything, between you and the other person, any idea, concept, thought, hope, belief, dream, whatever, then the frailing will suffer. You must bring all of you to the frail. And the same for the other. (pause) All of you. And nothing but you. Otherwise . . .

T: Otherwise . . .?

Y: Otherwise, the pieces won’t fit.

T: I’m not sure–

Y: Of course you don’t. You don’t speak my language. You see, the problem was not Rog and what Rog did. The problem was me. As soon as he left the room, the second wave of hell came, slowly at first, but with a relentlessness and a force, I suppose I can say this now, that was beautiful to watch in its power and intensity. And it was pure hell. Now stand up.

T: (stands)

Y: Take your pants off and show me what you got.

T: What?

Y: Take your pants off. Now.

T: I–

Y: Sit down. Why would I frail you and all your baggage? Drop the baggage and then come back and see me.

T: I don’t think you understand–

Y: No, I don’t think you do.

(to be continued)

Morning

“Good morning Kyra,” said Papa.

“Good morning Papa,” yawned Kyra, still rubbing the sleep from her eyes. No matter how early she rose, Papa always seemed to be up and he always looked perfectly manicured. His white tunics were nothing but pristine, each fold easy and crisp, the cut looking tailor made.

“Have a seat and join me.” With a grace that even a child could notice, Papa lifted his off-white cup of snizzle to his tanned lips, took a sip, and as effortlessly allowed the cup to float back to the table. A cool morning breeze rolled in from the ocean, palm trees bowing as servants in the wind, their broad leaves whispering approval. The ocean looked warm, inviting. The waves were gentle but not calm and the hue, forever changing, shown with a turquoise sheen rarely seen with such clear brilliance. Colors blue and green shifted in the sun as a kaleidoscope, patterns morphing to the limit of the imagination with shapes and values light and dark, rich and light, inviting and forbidden. Golden sand basked in sun and water, silent in private joy, as comfortable in solitude as a welcome mat waiting patiently for the patter of guests seeking solace and renewal. “Close your eyes and take a breath.”

Kyra pulled up a chair and sat at the table, her feet not quite reaching the aged wooded deck. Closing her eyes she took a deep practiced breath, just as Papa had taught. Silently, she breathed in to a count of four, her focus on the flow of warm ocean air on the tip of her nose. Holding the breath for a second count of four, almost swirling the warmth in her chest, she gently released the exchange back into the breeze with a third count of four.

“Give me your hand and we’ll do this together,” said Papa. Without opening her eyes, Kyra held out her small white hand and into the leathery mitt of Papa’s palm, like a baseball in a mitt, her hand disappeared in his. Together, in silence, the two breathed in the morning, heart-rates slowing, seeking and finding harmony as large drum to small drum might. His hand felt large and warm and somehow tender in strength. His breath, its rhythm and pace, felt as a rope, a belay, holding her in a safe place, a place where a touch said more than words, where a breath brought peace and a heartbeat conveyed love. Their breathing synchronized; and slowly their hearts. From a window Grand looked out and smiled. The love Zeke showed to Kyra, so consistent day in and day out, so kind and gentle and loving, as one might show a delicate flower that needed just the right amount of sun and water to flourish, that love she thought, was Zeke. He didn’t try. He didn’t plan. He simply was. Where love began and Zeke stopped was as difficult to separate as the point where one body of water became another. The two were simply one and the same. And so Grandma Kyra stood and watched and smiled through eyes that had never lost their wonder. She would leave Hyneria before him but not without him.

“Kyra, I love you,” said Papa.

“I love you too Papa.”

“Do you know where we are?” he asked, his eyes, like hers, still closed, his tone as soothing as warm honey, the grip on her hand neither too tight nor too loose.

Kyra smiled with lips closed. “Here. We are here Papa.”

“And what time is it my dear child?”

“Kyra smiled again. “Now. It is now Papa.”

“And when we sit here tomorrow, and look over the glorious ocean, tell me–“

Kyra cut him off. “Here and Now. Our appointment with life Papa.”

Papa smiled and held her hand a little tighter as if to emphasize his approval. “And when we love someone?”

“Oh Papa, you know the only time you can love someone is Now and the only place is Here.”

“Open your eyes Kyra and look at me. I want you to listen to me very closely.” Papa took her other hand in his and pulled his chair up to hers. Their knees were touching. “You are a very special child and I love you very, very much.”

Kyra smiled, pulled her hands from Papa’s and launched herself into his arms, her whole body fitting in his chest as arms and legs wrapped around him. “Papa, I love you too.”

Papa stood and twirled her around as if the two were dancing center stage with the sun and the breeze looking on at love manifesting itself in the natural order, the way it should be. Grand had seen this scene played out a hundred times and for the hundredth time she raised her right arm and wiped her eyes with her sleeve.

Curves

Von: Want to talk about it?

Rog: Nope.

Von:(waits a few seconds) You sure?

Rog: Yep.

Von: Okay, if you–

Rog: What was I suppose to do.

Von: Is that a question?

Rog: No, not really.

Von: (few more seconds go by) How’s your snizzle?

Rog: Good.

Von: Good.

Rog: You know what I miss?

Von: What?

Rog: Curves.

Von: (laughs) Curves?

Rog: Yes, curves. (no response from Von) You know. Curves.

Von: What kind of curves?

Rog: Two kinds.

Von: Really?

Rog: Yep.

Von: (says nothing)

Rog: Well?

Von: Well what?

Rog: Aren’t you going to ask?

Von: About what?

Rog: The frailing curves.

Von: Okay. What are the two kinds of curves?

Rog: The kind you see and the kind you feel. Before my Jackassery, I never understood that the two were not one and the same, but when you lose your sight, everything looks different. (laughs at himself) Looks different. Get it. (laughs some more)

Von: Yea. Funny stuff.

Rog: But after awhile, you start thinking and you know what I thought . . .

Von: I have no idea.

Rog: Got any snoot?

Von: (belly laughs and pulls out a bottle) Now render unto me my due.

Rog: What?

Von: Just tell me what you thought.

Rog: Right (takes a sip). Well, when I lost my sight that is when I realized that there were two kinds of curves, not just one. You see, before, I thought a curve was a curve.

Von: Pardon me but what the frail are you talking about?

Rog: A curve Von. You know.

Von: (laughs in a non-laughing manner) Pretend I don’t.

Rog: A woman Von. The curves of a woman. Take Yul for example.

Von: You sure you want to go there?

Rog: (Rog ignores him) There is the curve of her head, so frailing round you just want to roll marbles off the top of it. You can’t look at her head and not see the curve, how her long purplish green hair lies flat, how the light highlights the curve (takes another sip). I’m telling you, you don’t appreciate that curve until it’s gone.

Von: Marbles? Are you frailing kidding me. Marbles.

Rog: Shut the frail up and let me finish. This is my theory. You can talk later.

Von: Please professor Rog, enlightening me more on rolling marbles off the head of women.

Rog: You through?

Von: The floor is all yours.

Rog: Her eyes, they curve like rainbows in the tropics. Her cheeks, curve like mountains rising in the dawn and those mountains Von, are never the same. I swear she can smile a hundred different ways and every time, that curve is slightly different, frailingly intoxicatingly different, almost as if she knows, like she can manipulate the angle of her jaw to communicate the smallest nuance of desire. And then, when you see those cheeks and those dimples, you notice the curve of her nose, that upturned, I will get down and dirty and make you like it nose, that nose that curves in such a way as to fit in places, well, in places, you know, places.

Von: Yes, places. Curves and places. Got it. Continue.

Rog: Her lips Von. Don’t tell me you never noticed the curve of her lips. The upper lip curves intelligently down in a gently sweeping motion but the lower lip, oh my frailing my, Von, that lower lip curves sharply, levels out and curves again. If a curve could pout, that is one frailing pouty curve. Hot damn Von, you know what I’m saying.

Von: Yea. Curves. Intelligent and pouty.

Rog: It gets better.

Von: Oh I’m sure it does.

Rog: Nothing like the curve of her neck and the neck has several curves. The back of the neck, such a short curve compared to the lower back. When she lifts her hair and holds it above her head, both hands, that curve looks regal, almost like a Chatelaine. Can you imagine me with a Chatelaine?

Von: Nope.

Rog: That is a curve for you. See what I’m talking about?

Von: Have some more snoot. On second thought, I’ll have some more.

Rog: Then there is the collarbone. A complex curve and, for curve connoisseurs like–

Von: You?

Rog: Yea, like me. As I was saying, for a curve connoisseur like me, when seen in the right light, at just the right angle, the curve of the collarbone is as sexy as any curve there is. You see, the best curves are the ones you don’t think are curves, the ones she doesn’t think are curves. Call them hidden curves, natural curves, curves without machination.

Von: Machination? Do you even know what that means?

Rog: John loved word games and we had a long seven days on the way to bring your arse back. I got more.

Von: Like what?

Rog: Like, like, like I’ll use them when and where I please.

Von: I see.

Rog: Now the breasts.

Von: The breasts? Since when did you start calling them breasts?

Rog: Since about two days ago. Now listen up (Von laughs, hard). The breasts have two important curves. The upper curve and the lower curve and they have two dimensions, standing and horizontal. From collarbone to nipple is one curve and the one most unappreciated. See, the nipple, especially when hard, erect, distracts from a full appreciation of the upper curve. Now the lower curve, that’s the one every one knows. From rib to nipple, but you know what?

Von: What?

Rog: It is a subtle curve, not a gross curve (Rog paused as if proud of himself for the distinction).

Von: Really?

Rog: And the spot right at the juncture of rib and tit, that is the place.

Von: For what?

Rog: For appreciation to begin.

Von: (shakes head)

Rog: Speaking of appreciation, Yul has the most glorious arse I’ve ever seen. Now the curve there, magnus melodious like twin moons over a placid lake. And this takes me to confluence.

Von: Pray tell what is confluence?

Rog: You know. Where one curve blends into the next curve.

Von: For instance?

Rog: Lower back into the arse. Remember Neraj?

Von: What about it?

Rog: Well, that is where I bought Yul “the tool.” And that first night, we had moonlight so bright, so cool in its bluish shade, it felt like winter at noon, only it wasn’t cold. You remember the huge picture windows we all had in our quarters right?

Von. Of course.

Rog: Well, I showed the tool to Yul and she immediately wanted to try it.

Von: I thought the tool was a solo–

Rog: It was, is. Do you want to hear the story or not?

Von: Go on.

Rog: So we have this incredible moonlight coming into her quarters. She is on the bed and she pulls out the vial.

Von: You knew about the vial then?

Rog: No, no, no. I had no idea. I thought she was rubbing perfume on her wrists. Anyway, she was on the bed, on all fours and, maybe it was the vial–

Von: Wait a minute, what does the vial have to do with you?

Rog: Oh, she rubbed her wrist on my neck.

Von: When?

Rog: Between the–what the hell Von, your confusing me. Just let me tell the story.

Von: So she had the vial and she has intoxicated you with it and herself and you are in a chair and she is on the bed.

Rog: Yep.

Von: And where is the tool?

Rog: In her left hand.

Von: Continue.

Rog: Well, when she dipped her back and rotated her hips with a turn of her head that is when I knew.

Von: Knew what?

Rog: Confluence. Are you listening?

Von: Ahh, right, confluence.

Rog: And you know what else?

Von: What?

Rog: There are static curves, the kind you can appreciate in a photo and then there are curves that can only be appreciated in living motion.

Von: (holds his glass and inhales, lost in the image)

Rog: You know what I’m talking about?

Von: I think I do.

Rog: Von, when she turned her head and I saw that neck muscle catch the light, almost emerging from her collarbone in the bluish glow, and you know how lean and tight Yul is.

Von: I do.

Rog: Well, she looked so frailing feline in that pose, like a hungry predatory cat stalking prey, so lithe, so strong so frailing in control. Just prime Von. Just frailing prime.

Von: (smiles)

Rog: But that’s not what I’m talking about. When she turned her head and parted her lips, she spread and rotated her hips in a single motion, a fluid, effortless move, well, I would call it a dance but that wouldn’t do justice to the art of that move. I just wanted to watch and you know, I’ve never just wanted to watch. That move, if I never see it again in a thousand years, that move Von is as clear in my mind as if it had just happened.

Von: I can imagine.

Rog: Well, that is the first species of curve, the one you see.

Von: And the other?

Rog: (sounds more sober) The ones you touch and the ones that touch you (takes another sip). Well, after my jackassery I started thinking about curves and I realized that I might not ever see those curves again, but I could still feel them, touch them, caress . . .

Von: I get the point.

Rog: At least that’s what I thought. I can’t see but I can touch and if you had to choose–

Von: Touch.

Rog: Yes.

Von: And now?

Rog: Can’t see. Can’t frailing touch. So I ask you. I’m asking. What was I suppose to do?

Von: Depends.

Rog: For crying out loud, what kind of answer is that?

Von: Look. Do you want my opinion?

Rog: No.

Von: Fine. You wouldn’t have like it anyway.

Rog: Well.

Von: Well what?

Rog: At least I can still touch myself (suppresses a laugh)

Von: By Janus, yes you can.

Rog: Pour me another.

Von: With pleasure.


“M
ommy, is daddy in trouble?” asked Ariel.

“I’m not sure sweetie. But your daddy is a very brave man, a very, very brave man,” said Cait.

“Do you love him?”

“I’m sorry hon, what did you say?”

“Do you love daddy?” Slight pause. “Because I do.”

Cait was a strong woman. Tears flowed anyway. “Yes, sweetie, yes. I love your daddy. I love him very much.”

Ariel snuggled into her mothers arms. “Good.”

And so the two rocked quietly lost in their own thoughts.

“Mommy?”

“Yes dear?”

“Does daddy love us?”

After tucking Ariel into bed, Cait picked up the phone. “Sue, where is John? Okay, can you put him on the line?”

“Cait?”

“You [censored] [censored]!”

“Cait? Cait?” John shook the receiver. “Cait?”

The Score