The Coat

The coat is soft and warm. Been patched up so many times there’s hardly any of the original material left. But it still feels wonderful.

Macaia’s mother bought the coat from someone from the stars. Someone who had traveled the length of the galaxy and back again, crisscrossed the universe so often, it didn’t feel special to them anymore.

But it was special. Amazing.

The coat let you go wherever you will in the whole entire universe. It let you dream and travel. Experience so much more than any one place had to offer.

It gave you freedom.

Freedom from the bonds of an ordinary life.

Macaia wished she could have taken her mother along upon her journeys. But the coat only carried one.

The best she could do was tell her mother every morning where she had been the previous night. The marvels that she had seen. The wonders experienced when others slept.

“She will grow out of it,” someone said. Her mother replied “Oh, no, I hope not. I hope she may always tell me all her dreams.”

Grow out of the coat? Macaia wondered. Oh, no. This coat will grow with me.

But she didn’t say so. For grownups never believed.

Peaches and Cream

Peaches and cream. That’s what they were having. In honor of her skin no longer being that stupid color.

Now she was pure chocolate. Like the rest of them. Like she was always meant to be. From the start.

Lady only knows what the glitch was at her creation that made her skin so strange.

Finally fixed today, on her twenty second birthday. At last.

That’s a long time walking around in funny-color skin. Twenty two full circles of the Station.

Everyone had stared! So much.

From the moment of her creation till this day. Everywhere she went, everyone looking at her all the time.

No one ever got used to that color. The weirdness of her skin. Even her own family was troubled by its appearance. Let alone strangers who didn’t have to see it every day.

They’d even touch it! Strangers! Barely ask permission and then go right ahead whether she was about to give it or not!

It mostly would have been not. She did not like to be touched. It was awful.

So awful, she rarely went anywhere. Always stayed at home if she possibly could avoid going out.

Distance learning was a lovely thing.

Other kids mostly went to school all happy together. But she got to learn in the comfort of her own room.

Except on the days when everyone had to be present. Compulsory on Site in Person Days. Those were bad.

Others would be celebrating and enjoying whatever the reason for that particular CSPD was.

She would be cowering under a hood and mask, wearing long sleeves, long pants, boots and gloves. Trying to hide as much of her weird and ugly skin as she possibly could.

She still got taunted. But at least it was for her lack of fashion sense, and not for something she didn’t choose and couldn’t change.

Until now.

Last week the scientists had finally found a formula that worked. Today her skin was changed.

She was every bit as beautiful as everyone else! Her skin was fine! Pure chocolate! No longer awful. 

Peaches and cream were all very well as a dessert. Delicious. Sweet. Juicy and creamy and yum.

But as a color of one’s skin?

Shudder.

Thank Lady that was now over.

She’d eat these peaches and cream today. And never wear a hoodie again.

Place of Birth

The castle towers reach high in the sky. It is in ruins.

The turrets, the fortifications stand magnificent against all foes. Have fallen.

The wall hangings are intricate and so beautiful. Not even ashes remain.

The people… Richly attired, bejeweled both beauties and uglies. Servants. More humbly dressed. Bones in a box or crumbled into dust.

My friends.

How is it that I alone still stand here in this place?

So long since I’ve been here last. Decades. A century almost.

Visiting the place of my birth, and seeing it like this… It’s painful.

The passage of time. The ravages it causes.

The memories… of home.

I wish I were a vampire. At least I’d have a reason why.

But no.

Not really.

I have no wish to eat off other humans. To make more of my kind.

Whatever it is I am.

I wish I’d made a wish to a wizard or a witch. An elf perhaps. A troll, a magician, a something.

That would give me someone to blame.

Even my own stupidity.

I have nothing.

No excuse. No explanation.

Nothing and no one to whom to shout J’accuse!

Unless it is to God.

But I have never seen God, or Goddess, or Goddesses or Gods, do this to someone else.

It’s only me. Standing at the place where I was born. Looking at the colors of autumn in the leaves of a tree that grows where my crib must have been.

Oblivious to any Magic seeping from the ground, up the roots and the stem of the tree into its branches and its leaves.

It’s only me. Leaving the place of my birth once again. Moving on.

Sunflowers

The sunflowers follow us wherever we go. Always facing us. Both when we’re together, and when we are apart. About half of them follow you, and half me.

It’s creepy as hell.

Imagine sitting at a school desk, surrounded by sunflowers. Sounds cute at first, but how the hell did those flowers get there? And how do you see what’s happening at the front when they get in your way?

Imagine being in the cafeteria, and sunflowers queue with you. They come to your table. Fill all the other seats.

You’re the only person who can sit next to me.

And I wouldn’t mind. I love being with you as much as we can, but…

Where the hell did these flowers come from and why??!!

Why do they do what they do? Why do they surround us? Follow us? Watch us? Bring us together? Why??!

I do not understand.

And neither do you.

It’s the same for you as it was for me. They just showed up one morning two years ago. At the start of the summer break.

I was at the beach.

You were in France. Visiting your relatives there.

We both thought we were the only one who suddenly had sunflowers around them. And we both got therapy that year, because no one else can see them. And we didn’t yet know we have to lie. Everyone just avoids getting into the space where the flowers are, without being aware they do so.

Then this year, a different school started, and we met. A brand new school for the both of us, and what do we do but meet the love of our lives surrounded by sunflowers in the hallway on the very first day.

It was such a relief to not be the only one. 

I think we fell in love at first sight.

We go through life as normal as we can. Pretending not to see the flowers anymore.

Spend every moment together that we can.

Talk about them. But only with each other. Wonder about them. But aloud only with each other. Ponder if there’s more.

Somewhere out there maybe. Somewhere perhaps. Another couple in love surrounded by flowers that follow them everywhere.

You say it could be worse. Worse than what we’ve got.

It could be we hated each other. Surrounded by prickly thorns. Exploding seeds.

We laugh, but… 

God, I hope there’s no one out there going through all that.

Crowning Glory

I’ve been working on this painting for Fifteen years. Fifteen years of my life dedicated to getting it exactly right.

It’s to be the altar painting of the largest of our temples. The crowning glory of my career as a religious artist.

So it has to be right. Perfect.

Nothing short of that will do.

Yet every time I think I’m finished… Every time I have it perfect, exactly as it ought… Every time… There is always a schism occurs just then.

Something changes in the faith, in the teachings. And that change requires changes in the painting.

Always. Without fail.

So now I’m feeling hesitant.

The very next stroke of the brush will finish this work. It will be perfect.

And I don’t want to put it there. In case…

But that’s ridiculous.

I am being ridiculous. I know.

Me perfecting this painting is not what causes the religious strife.

It’s all coincidental. I know it is.

I am not controlling the thoughts and visions of thousands upon thousands of people with the completion of my work.

And most certainly not without them ever having seen it!

That would be impossible.

Yet I still hesitate. With brush in hand. With paint upon the brush. My hand lifted and pointed at the spot where the color should go. Poised. At the ready.

I hesitate.

Pull back my hand.

Walk away from the painting.

Stand. And contemplate the thing. For hours without end.

It is impossible, I know.

For three weeks, all I do is prepare to paint that final stroke. And then I put it off. Delay.

Fear.

On the morning of the first day of the fourth week, I finally get so angry with myself for being stupid, I go ahead and paint that damned thing! That tiny line that makes it all so perfect!

Ah!

The beauty of the completed work makes me weep. Transported.

I stand before the painting. Transfixed.

And then I hear it.

The rumble of the wheels.

The slamming of the doors.

The hurried steps.

My tears of rapture turn to despair before they’ve even stepped inside the studio.

They stop at the doorway. Staring. Uncertain what to think of my uncontrolled display of emotion.

I howl.

They wait a long time until I have calmed down. Still do not speak at once. Their turn to hesitate. 

“Yes? What is it?” I finally ask. “Tell me!” I bark.

“Saint Alamaiika,” they blurt out. “Deposed of sainthood. Only this morning.”

“This morning?”

I laugh.

I laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

“They are only the second most central figure in my work!” I laugh, and laugh, and laugh and laugh, and laugh.

They leave at some point. I do not notice when.

“Ah, yes,” I say out loud when my laughter has died. “Some changes will be made. All symbols of Alamaiikan thought must be removed. There’s one, two, three, four… So many! And the Saint themself!” I giggle, and threaten to laugh again. “Excuse me. Former Saint,” I apologize to no one in the room at all. “That affects the composition of absolutely everything once again. And I will start all over.”

This time… I will not finish my work.

Two More Years

“That’s the last bag,” says Kiril looking into the medical fridge.

“Seriously? No more blood?” says Aristeus.

“Nope. No more. That’s the last one…”

They stare at each other. Uncomfortable with what this means.

Their ship is still two years from their destination.

There’s no one else left on board.

It’s just the two of them.

And soon they have to decide if there will only be the one of them. Completely alone for two more years.

Or if there will be two, but completely changed. And very, very hungry.

They can both of them survive, but they will suffer. A lot. And so will others where they land.

Or Kiril can kill his best friend since forever. His lover since college. His husband since six years ago.

If he can.

Chances are Aristeus’ survival instincts may not let him submit to that option even if that is what they both intellectually decide.

“How do you not pack more blood for this long a journey into deep space?!” Aristeus suddenly accuses.

Kiril looks at him. A little hurt, but understanding.

“How do you not pick a better time to be infected by a Vampire?” he replies.

Dead Name

“Tina! Allow me to introduce you to my cousin Harry here. Dead name Harriet. By profession, he’s a potter.”

“A potter? How interesting. Was that your profession in your previous life as well?”

“Oh, no. No. I used to be a dressmaker for quite a fancy couture house. But they let me go when I died. So I had to find something else to do instead. I thought pottery would be a nice change. Still creative, but… A completely different medium.”

“Yes. Indeed. I can see how that would be a change of pace from the hectic world of high fashion. Tell me… What was your favorite season back when you were a dressmaker?”

“Well… I’ve always been oddly fond of 1846. Though I couldn’t tell you why… It wasn’t all that different from 1845, or even 1847, but I still have this particular preference for it none the same.”

“Fascinating. And tell me, were you happy as Harriet in 1846?”

“Oh… No… You misunderstood… .Though I’m sure I see how that’s really easy to do. You see… I wasn’t Harriet in 1846, or any previous lifetime. That used to be my name in this one. I was born in the body of a girl, you see. Though I am definitely a man this time around. Hence Harry.”

“Oh, my God… I’m so sorry.”

“No, I understand…”

“Sorry, but what the hell is wrong with Patrick?! One does not throw around people’s this lifetime dead names like that!”

“Oh… Patricia has always liked confusing people with that particular bit of misinformation. I don’t even notice it myself anymore, to be honest. Otherwise I would have corrected it at once… So sorry.”

“No! Don’t apologize. It’s not right! Oh, hang on… Patricia??”

“Yes. Yes… I’ve been calling him that ever since he started this lifetime deadnaming me. And now I don’t call him anything else… It’s really quite funny how habitual it’s become. I can’t even think of him as anything other than Patricia.” A little laugh.

“No. It’s not funny. It’s not funny at all.”

“Well… Patricia seems to find it hilarious.”

“I’m pretty sure your cousin is not the best expert on what is, and is not funny.”

“Oh…”

“I’m also pretty sure I’m going to kill him when next I see him.”

“Oh, please don’t. It’s all good jest. That’s all it is.”

“Good jest, my ass. I’ll kick his, and then I’ll kill him… I see he’s over there. Here, hold my drink.”

Said drink is thrust into Harry’s hands.

He does not know what to do with it.

Patrick/Patricia is on their own.

Banks

The River God was angry. Flooded water all over the banks.

Ultimately, they were the ones responsible for the pollution, were they not? If they had not insisted on creating debt, but not the money with which to pay off the debt, all those humans would not have been so desperate to “make a living”, or “amass their fortune”, would they?

If you know there’s food enough, without money, you won’t struggle to scrape up bills and coins. If you know there’s doctors, and medicines available, without money, you won’t compete with others all the time. If you know your kids get schooled, and your elderly cared for, if you’re sure to have a roof over your head, and walls to keep you warm, if you have clothes, without money, you know you’re safe.

No need to throw poisons and shit on the ground and in the water when you know you’re safe. Can dispose of all that properly. Without money.

“It’s all the banks’ fault!” roared the River God. And flooded. And drowned a thousand innocents along the way.

For the animals truly were innocent of human folly.

Caffeine

“Honey!? Come quick!”

“What is it?”

“Look out this window, and tell me what you see.”

“… I don’t see anything, really… Nothing out of the ordinary at all. What did you want me here for?”

“No. Not towards the ground. Look up! To the sky!”

“What’s it I’m supposed to be seeing in the sky? … Hang on… Is that..?”

“Yeah….”

“An elephant? Flying??”

“Yep. That’s what I saw. It’s what I asked you here for. To tell me if I’m nuts.”

“… Its wings are tiny. There’s no way. It can’t fly on such teeny tiny little things. No way!”

“… An elephant is in the sky right near our home, and that’s what you focus on? That its wings are small? Since when do elephants have wings at all?!!”

“They don’t. But how is that thing flying? The mass and the wingspan are totally at odds… How does it do that??”

“I don’t know… But I suddenly sure as hell don’t feel like going out of the house to fetch that coffee.”

“What do you mean? Of course you’re going out to buy coffee. We’re all out! And you might see it better. Figure out how its wings work.”

“Nah uh. Not me. Not going anywhere. Not with a hundred more of them on the horizon. Look!”

“Oh, wow. Now that’s interesting for sure. I wonder what they want?”

“Whatever it is, I’m not buying coffee today. If you want it, you’ll have to go get it yourself.”

“I’m sure I will. But don’t expect me to be bringing you any!”

“That’s fine. I’ve been thinking of quitting caffeine anyway. I’m sure I will survive.”

Dalaminia

The summer was almost over. The last of the flowers blooming. Soon it would be too cold for anything to grow. Until next spring.

Dalaminia was dancing in the rays of the sun. Already so much cooler than a few weeks ago. She was feeling playful. Decided to have a little fun.

She sprinkled Dust upon the flowers that were still growing. And then she watched them grow, and grow, and grow. Huge. Like trees.

Then she sprinkled some more Dust on roses that had blossomed months before. Next to their berries now burst hundreds of new flowers, as big as dinner plates of humans.

Oh, it was a delight to see! So beautiful.

But the sun was setting, and she had to rush. Must not be caught outside after dark.

Dalaminia left the big flowers behind. Trusting that the approaching cold would destroy them soon enough.

What she did not know was that there was a cache of Antidust underground. Right near the flowers. And some of their roots had breached into that hiding place.

Everyone knows that Dust and Antidust should not be mixed. When they are, the results are… Well, as we all know… Disastrous.

The Dust traveled into the roots of the flowers. From the roots into the cache of Antidust.

The fires from the ensuing explosion are still burning to this day.

So… Class… Do not be Dalaminia. Keep some sense about you when dealing with Dust.