Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Eye of the Beholder

(Today's exercise.)

And though there is so much in the world to be angry about, when I come home and look to him I see nothing but beauty. 
Long lashes under perfectly arched, dark brows...
Olive skin...
Almost always he has a five o'clock shadow. He's gotten lazy about it recently and tried to trim it into some kind of organization, but I've never minded how it has looked. Because there's nothing on him that I would change.
From the slope of his nose to his full lips.
He is perfect.
I've taken recently to trying to take different angles of him with my phone, but he's always in a state of self-consciousness. He rolls his eyes, bemused by my antics but somehow manages to turn away just in the nick of time with a sigh, leaving me with the memory of the shape of his jaw, or his long hand covering the side of his face.
If anyone found the pictures, they might almost be seen as artistic in their own strange way.
I've always tried to catch him unexpectedly, but he has the damnedest sixth sense and always catches on turning away. Sometimes, he's smiling through his fingers seeming very pleased with himself and other times it's a deep frown, but he's never asked me to stop and it's almost like our game.
"Can't I just take one photo of you?"
"You've taken many photos of me."
"You know what I mean!" I stood on our couch with my phone in hand, "If you let me take one good one, I'll never ask again!"
"Yes you will. You're insatiable," he teased.
I smirked, "Just one?"
He sighed, "Just one."
I smiled with glee before pointing the camera at him. He stared up at me, but at the very last minute he looked down.
"You're such a butt!" I squealed as I looked in the viewfinder, but I wasn't disappointed at what I saw. Between the lighting and the tilt of his head, I thought it was a good photo.
"I know," he grinned even though he seemed guilty as he pulled me down beside him.
"This doesn't count, you know," I gave a mock pout.
He looked contemplative as he wrapped an arm around me, "Then I guess you're going to have to keep trying until we both get it right."

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Miracle of Light

(AN: I'm still getting a feel for starting up again, and while I love keeping with a series, it also stresses me out. So, for the sake of newness, until I'm inspired again I'm putting the zombie story on hold. I love it, but I wrote it on the fly with no real purpose in mind. I'll do my best not to make that mistake in the future. So here's something else. A series of exercises from Write World. I hope you still enjoy my exercises! Here's today's.)

I always loved the intricacy of stained glass windows. With the sunlight streaming at just the right angle, the light was beautiful and bright through the otherwise dreary cathedral that my mother dragged me to every Sunday. She always got something out of it, and because I wanted to make her happy - despite not being the most religious person - I went without a fight. Rows of people standing, singing; rows of people sitting, then kneeling. Regardless of how many times I went, I could never get the moves right and I always found myself peaking around when everyone bowed their heads.
Sharp, pressed suits, lovely dresses...
Mine was something plain in coming from a poorer family and never nearly as fancy as the people that surrounded me. But it made my mother happy, so I wore the thing. It was sort of a faded cornflower blue with a modest neckline that fell just below my knees. I would never wear it otherwise, but I wouldn't tell her that.
Stand up, sing, sit down, kneel, more weird hand motions. Something in Latin.
I had to suppress the heavy sigh that threatened to heave out of my lungs, but focusing on those windows always made something in my brain awaken. Bright, eye-catching blues and sharp reds spiraling outward like a lotus flower...
I hated the service, but I always looked forward to those windows which I was thankful were placed near the front. I only had to shift my eyes to the side of the person speaking and zone out, letting the colors take me over.
When it ended - which never felt soon enough, but always came in good timing - mother would turn and ask, "What did you get out of the service?"
In which I would smile and say, "The light is miraculous."
And my mother seemed to accept that vague answer, nodding as we made our way out.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Falcon

(This is completely unrelated to the zombie story. This is something from my life.)

After dinner, my boyfriend and I decided to go for a nice walk around the neighborhood as the sun was setting because we had not done so in a while. He didn't have band practice and I got out of work much earlier in the day, so after dinner it seemed like the perfect thing to do. Hand in hand we strolled down the road, passing by the house that usually has four basset hounds running up to a fence to greet us. One tried to peak at us as long as it possible could before we disappeared out of sight leaving me with a glimpse of its sad, little eyes.
A little further down, he gently took my shoulders and turned me to a large tree. He loves nature, and brings me back to center by helping me appreciate the moment and that which surrounds me. So I thought maybe he would point out the beauty of it. Instead, he pointed to a large falcon who rubbed its beak upon a branch and sharply looked at us. For a moment I wondered what it thought.
And I always thought it would be weird to be an animal. Technically we are, but I mean under the watchful eye of nature. I find myself stopping to watch birds and squirrels. When I had them as a child, I would watch my pets. Sometimes I wondered if any of these things watched me, or even if I was interesting enough to watch in the first place.
The falcon tilted its head and rubbed its beak. We squatted in the middle of the road to get a better view. And then I thought, it must be a little daunting. Two apes that were casually passing, stopping to watch a bird even though it wasn't really doing anything particularly interesting. I wondered what it would be like for a moment to have a much larger creature watching me. To be under its scrutinizing gaze. Would it regard me with wonder? With curiosity? With amazement at my existence?

And then the falcon pooped.

My boyfriend and I exchanged glanced at this, and then we shared a laugh. Because of course nature didn't care that we were there. Nature stops for no one.
We stood, rejoined our hands and continued on our way.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

War Paint

I drove until I felt tired not really knowing where I was going, nor with any destination in mind except the vaguely general direction of 'west'. 'West' became synonymous with safety because there had been no news reports of anything happening that way.

We managed to drive at least to some desolate area that had lighting. A cheap looking motel greeted us. There were no people.

There were twelve units altogether all in a horizontal line. The doors which may have been a vibrant green at one point faded to something dirty and ugly. Though curious enough, one of them had a tie on the knob.

We knocked at that one and the door swung open. We readied our weapons to prepare for the worst, but it wouldn't come. There was one queen sized bed, unmade and a small coffee machine that looked clean. There were clothes strewn around the bedroom and a couple of abandoned suitcases. No blood. It was hard to say what happened, but whoever was there made a speedy getaway like everyone else apparently.

I snickered to myself at the thought of two lovers, naked, driving in some aimless direction. Or running.

Riley and I broke into the office to get a key. It may have been the end of civilization, but I refused to sleep on someone else's used sheets. Ew.

So we found a fresh room and took extra coffee from the other one and whatever other toiletries and toilet paper we could find. Extra towels, just in case. Never know when a towel could come in handy.

We showered and slept in shifts so nothing could take us by surprise.

Since leaving town, it was a surprisingly peaceful night. Unsettling so.

When I woke in the wee hours of the morning, Riley turned and said, "I'll sleep in the car. We should get a move on. No telling how long we'll be alone."

He totally wasn't wrong.

"Okay, let me have some coffee and put on my make up," I pulled out a bag of my own where I stuffed what remaining toiletries made sense at the time as well as some make up. Mostly make up.

Riley scoffed at me, "No men around and you still have to put on make up?"

I gazed over my shoulder and my eyebrows shot up in surprise before narrowing deeply.

"What? Don't act like you're mad because you're a typical girl."

Having make up was the one consistency I had in my life from the time I started 7th grade. Some could argue that was too young, but whatever. It gave me time to perfect it. And soon I became way better at it than everyone else. The internet totally helped, by the way. (I mean, seriously. What did people do before it existed?)

I even got some haters along the way, but whatever.

The make up became my war paint. Lips painted close to the color of the skin I'm proud to call my own, or red like the passion and drive I carried in my being.  Cat eyes so sharp they could slay, and in their own way they did. Many, many times. Cheeks pink and shining with my youth and shimmer so bright, no one dare dull my sparkle.

But there was always an art to it, a precision that I couldn't help but appreciate. I mean, it was something that was way older than me so it was around for a reason, right? Status, power, and sometimes in time of war. And yes, to attract men, but that was seriously the smallest part of it.

Putting on make up felt like a ritual , and rituals gave power and made one stronger. After a while, it didn't feel like 'just make up'. It felt like power, and no one likes giving up power.

I found myself standing up and closing the distance between us, "And what makes you think anything about what I'm doing is for anyone other than me?"

I stared at Riley with a challenging look in my eyes until he said, "Whoa, I didn't mean to offend."

I held up my lipstick, rouge in color, "You see this?"

Riley glanced to the lipstick as a look of confusion crossed his face.

"Pharaohs have worn this and so have queens. This may have turned guys to us, but it has also brought them down to their knees," My brows - totally groomed to perfection - deepened their crease and Riley looked surprised as I said in a low tone, "I wear this because I like to remind myself how fucking powerful I am, just like them. And just like these queens, yesterday I've killed. And I don't put it past myself to be an isolated incidence. This isn't just for beauty, this is for war."

I turned to the mirror in pointed silence as I began applying everything.

Riley made coffee for me that morning.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Levels of Grief

Time doesn't stop.

When you see that special someone across the room that's tunnel vision. Tunnel vision can make it feel like time stops - that nothing else matters - but it only focuses your attention elsewhere. Time doesn't stop when your own heart does. It only feels like it. However, time does slow down in a life or death situation. Time slows because you realize in that very instance how precious the lingering seconds are that you or that person have left.

I guess I screamed when I saw Lex and then tears ran down my face. I don't remember this. Riley told me later.

"It's going to be okay, you'll be okay," I said it over and over again. I remember that. I remember saying it like a mantra or a prayer, the words repeated in quickened cadence offering comfort until they sounded strange and soon lost meaning. Still, I said them anyway as I grabbed the first aid kit from the back.

I always hoped the hard, blue box with the red cross on it would be used for its sterilizing pads, maybe a bandage or two, but this? My shaky hands grasped at the sterilizing fluid, as I tried to look over what kind of gauze to use, but I only succeeding in dropping what was in my hands. Lex reached out with his good arm and stilled me.

"Amy..."

I shook my head, "We can fix this," I insisted, "We can make this okay."

Lex was shaking his head but I wouldn't let him speak. I insisted louder. I yelled it, screamed it. Maybe I prayed it. Maybe I was willing it into existence. He was going to be fine.

But he shook me and said in a louder voice, "Amy!"

I stopped as he kept a firm hold on my arm and just stared at me with a piteous expression. I couldn't blame him. I was crying. The tears were like a torrential onslaught and I gasped in their wake, struggling to catch my breath, struggling to talk, so powerful was my grief.

His grip was so hard it almost hurt, but I didn't care. I finally gulped and said in a tiny voice, "Please don't die."

"If I don't die, I'll become like one of them."

I shook my head, "It can't happen this way. This isn't the way that it was supposed to work."

"Life never quite goes according to plan, Ames," He reached into the back for one of our guns, a much smaller one and staggered out of the truck with shaky breaths. I followed him to steady him, and he thrust it into my hands, "Shoot me."

I stared at him blankly and swallowed hard before I spoke again, angry, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

"This is what we've been training for," he yelled at me, then groaned from the wound, "If you can't do it, I will, but you have to get used to this."

He wasn't wrong, but I was desperate and clinging to the last family member - the last sense of home - that I had.

I felt myself trembling as I stared at the gun. The very sight of the shining metal made me sick. I looked between it and Lex. His blood dripped to the ground and I watched the puddle for a moment before shaking my head, "Maybe it won't happen to you. Maybe you're different! You're tough! You fought them off, didn't you?! Why can't you fight this off?"

"Amy..."

"No!" I insisted in a louder voice to drown his out, "You managed to get me front row tickets to a sold out concert for my sixteenth birthday..."

"Amy..."

"You fucking made every single bulls-eye when we practiced shooting!"

"Amy...."

He looked at me like he pitied me as I clutched the gun, shaking my head, "You're braver than I am. You're so much braver. You can take this whole fucking thing down. I'm not you. I'm not as brave as you! Look at me!" I spread my arms and looked down my body to prove a point before meeting his eyes. He was blurred through my tears, "I can't do this without you."

Lex took a deep breath and clapped his good hand to my shoulder. He looked into my eyes, and wiped my tears with his good hand as he said, "Everything you've done up to this point has been your own doing."

I stilled at his touch, continuing to stare at him hopefully.

"You're stronger because of yourself. You're a better shooter because you wanted that for yourself."

I shook my head at everything he said, but he squeezed my shoulder hard and said, "You're stronger than you give yourself credit for. You've already made it this far, and you'll make it even farther."

I pressed my lips together to stop my shaking breaths.

"I believe in you, but for your sake, you have to believe in yourself."

I stared at the ground, unmoving.

"Okay?"

I nodded very slowly, "Okay."

He let the rag fall and walked away from me, nodding. He was cueing me. He was ready.

The wound, thought bloody, looked strange and I could swear the same eyes I saw on the zombie - that weird, green, glassy stare - was starting to stare back at me.

I wasn't ready.

But I inhaled sharply and pointed forward, pulling the trigger in one fell swoop.

He fell immediately.

I threw up.

Riley rushed to my side and put an arm around me. I guess he was looking to comfort me, but I shoved him off.

I was sad and angry. I didn't want to be touched. I wanted my mom. I wanted Lex. I wanted to feel safe. And none of those were guaranteed, evidenced by the corpse laying a few feet away.

I swallowed thickly and reached into the back of the truck, grabbing a container of gasoline. We should have saved it for gas, but logic wasn't my strongest point in that moment. I uncapped it and dumped it over Lex's body, making a long line away from him and the truck.

Riley followed me in silence until I thought we were far enough away. I grabbed a book of matches from my pocket and struck one, tossing it to the line and watching it ignite immediately.

He stared between the burning pile and me with caution, looking like he wanted to say something, but couldn't. And really, what could anyone say in a situation like that? If I were me watching me, I would have been doing the same thing.

After we stood there - I don't know how long - I looked at him and said, "I didn't want to do that twice. That's why," glancing in the direction of the smoldering remains. I heaved a sigh as I began making my way to the truck.

I felt exhausted. Every foot step felt heavy, but I somehow put one in front of the other until I stopped at the driver's side and opened the door. Riley still stood, watching me with an expression that was somewhere between dumbfounded and cautious. Or maybe he was afraid. Past me would have been afraid of this me.

This me looked rough. This me suffered. This me had the bloodstains and the smell of gas and ash to prove it.

"Are you coming or what?" I called out.

Riley hurried to the passenger's side, getting into the car.

Once seated and buckled in, I reached to the pocket in the door where Lex kept his cigarettes.

"Filthy habit," he would always tell me before he lit one, bringing it to his lips, "Never start."

I felt my hand close around the plastic-wrapped box. Pulling my hand up, I glanced at the packaging. Malboro Reds. The manliest of cigarettes.

I rolled down the window and lit one up with some difficulty. I realized it was because my hands had been shaking. I inhaled deeply before exhaling out the window.

It was terrible, but it made me feel calmer.

"You want me to drive?" Riley asked.

I shook my head, "No," I took another long drag, though it almost felt like too much and I could feel my throat attempting to spasm in a cough, but I stopped it and blew the smoke out the window again. I cleared my throat and leaned against the seat with a heavy sigh.

I closed my eyes for a moment and I could feel a small, though bitter smile cross my lips, "Sorry, did you want one?"

Riley glanced between the package and my eyes, "Nah, I'm good."

I gave a lazy shrug and sighed before sitting up straight, and finally turning the keys that had been left in the ignition, "It's a filthy habit anyway," I said quietly before I put the truck in park and finally started our journey out of town.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Checking in

Hey guys,

I don't know where to start considering it's been well over a year since I last updated this thing. I want to start by saying thank you to everyone who's ever taken time to check out this little project that I've toyed around with. I also want to especially say thank you to the people who have been brave enough to approach me about how much they liked it.
I'm astounded that even after stopping, something has been memorable enough to stay with some of you. On my end, I feel humbled. I don't always like my writing but apparently some of you do, and that's great! Amazing, even!
In saying that, I feel like I've cheated you out of some conclusions to these stories. It's almost like finding out your favorite show is canceled on a cliffhanger. Or at least canceled when there could have been an amazing season 2 (looking at you, Fox). But also, in some ways I feel like I've been cheating myself.
With my 28th birthday upon me very soon, it's taken me this long to realize how much I've always loved writing and always will! Writing is my art and I'm excited to share it with you. I hope some day that maybe it could even pay the bills!
But it all starts with step one, and that involves more writing. So, I'm back! And I hope you guys continue along this path with me. More updates to come :)

Love,

-Kira

(P.S. You guys are awesome. Don't let anyone make you think otherwise.)