Nature Blog 3

Now, after decades spent trying to figure out why aspects of my life have not made sense, do I understand the need for Transcendentalism. I can truly appreciate why Thoreau and Emerson spent their time surrounded by nature and in the most truest sense, were protected by it.

The earth doesn’t judge our individuality, doesn’t require us to follow along in our texts and highlight important parts of social ideas. When I allow Nature to be my teacher, she doesn’t hold a societal mirror in front of me, and she does not require me to reflect on how I fit into a mold or a box. Rather, she raises that mirror and requests that I simply reflect on my truest self–an exercise that has proved to have deep healing powers.

Can one create a sense of individuality from anywhere?

NatureBlog
“Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you. For you is the phenomenon perfect. What we are, that only can we see. All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do. Adam called his house, heaven and earth; Caesar called his house, Rome; you perhaps call yours, a cobler’s trade; a hundred acres of ploughed land; or a scholar’s garret. Yet line for line and point for point, your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names. Build, therefore, your own world.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

I believe it is possible to be unique wherever you live. Indeed, you can be ‘weird’ or refreshingly ‘odd’. Beyond a doubt, it is not a simplistic path to follow. To deviate from the norm is a personal challenge to reflect on the dichotomy between how a person should live according to the “color in the lines” world we live in and how that person does live–essentially, it is a challenge to live without fear. This is particularly evident if, like me, you hail from the forest highlighted reverse bobs, Bunko nights, and hedges of Escalades also known as “the suburban dream”.

I’m going to contend that it was only when I isolated myself and cut off energetic chords from certain people and their judgements, whether good or bad, that I truly began to learn who I truly was.

I would go so far to say that even good judgements work to write a script, so to speak, for a person.

What was my process?

A lot of wandering through Nature.

Observing.

Embracing moments.

Stopping.

I began to study individual blades of grass, to observe the way each thin line on each piece differed from the other, to take note of the way all of these differences were clear of judgement from any other strand of grass. The individual uniqueness of every single leaf of that grass worked together to paint a portrait. That’s a beautiful thing.

I studied leaves, the way they, even in their uniqueness, work together to herald in much-needed rain or cool wind. And how, even in the fall, as they sway and pirouette to the ground on their final journey, they do this in the most content of ways. They lived their lives; no regrets. They completed their significant journey, made their contributions. In that, rested a plethora of lessons about my own personal path.

Nature helped me learn to slow down. She taught me how to pause earth and time–to take a walk and stop to look at pieces of gravel on the road, or the colors in the sky. When normally I would appreciate the beauty of something and move along, I  took three more minutes to study it, or sometimes I took an hour, or I took all day and nestled in those tranquil moments, I learned to take deep breaths–Nature is a deep breath–she is the deepest, most caring, nurturing deep breath.

And from all of this, I learned who I was and who I can become.

I recall school, how the system seemed to press that socialization is crucial. I would negate this.

NatureBlog2
“Build therefore your own world.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

 

While being around others does work to acclimate a person to the handling of social situations and pressures, it becomes a detriment by implementing expectations that require them to fit molds: from standing in lines to standardized testing– which I realize is not the choice of the individual school but more so a reflection of a system that our society no longer translates into.

School is not the end all, be all. Academia is not the key to ‘finding yourself’.

Go outdoors; for once, don’t run through a rainstorm– stand in the middle of it. Watch the clouds dance for you and appreciate the cadence of raindrops drumming against leaves.

Nature is surely a powerful element, infinitely wise– with the ability to destroy and rebuild. The earth is our teacher and only when we listen, are we able to learn truth.

 

Submissions

 

Nah! I haven’t lost my mind–I mean, truly, who can lose what they’ve never had?

I never, ever thought I would be publishing an anthology, but I also never, ever thought I would hear of such a thing as an author trying to bully her peers by “owning” words.

Is this truly what the creative arts have come to?

I don’t think so, and because I don’t think so, I am putting out a call for submissions from other brave authors/writers who have read about this and want to say, “enough is enough”.

If that’s you, click here for more submission guidelines for “Cocky-Tales”.

Suburban Dream Blog

Suburbia is a nap.

Not an early evening nap that fades to night and eases into the next morning,

but one of those thirty minute cat naps after which the sleeper jolts awake

in a state of confusion and spends the remainder of the slow,

technicolor day disoriented

like ordering a plate of chicken fingers at a five-star steakhouse.

Chicken fingers–no spicy mustard. Suburbia is not spicy mustard; rather,

an afternoon montage of reminiscing over a full sink of dishes and a screaming toddler–

hold that thought, the housekeeper took care of that and the preschooler’s in daycare

is a trend. The summation of which is best juxtaposed to a chain store…

at the mall…

the morning the store dispenses the twenty percent off coupon…

after all, Gucci is expensive.

Welcome to the suburbs, where cliquing it is a sure bet to a ticket to Bunko night,

with clouds, but no rain–

there’s water sprinklers that turn on right after the recycling is sat on the curb

painted in eggshell–an eggshell colored curb to match redundant, cardboard houses…

bored is the right word,

gray-colored boredom behind

house after house,

row after row,

cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac,

week after week,

day after day,

hour after hour,

minute after minute,

second after

 

Final Battle Blog
Upon becoming king of the Scaladorian realm, twelve-year-old Kevin Hughes is a superstar. Upon learning of his betrothal to Princess Cyrrith his life is complete, but when fantasy collides with reality, could Kevin end up losing everything?

 

On a whim, I entered the NYC Midnight short story contest. Turns out, there were around 4,000 entries and only a little over 500 were selected to move on to round two.

“The Final Battle” ended up placing first in my heat. They assign you a genre, character, and subject.

Mine were: Drama, A child with dwarfism, and an escape. The maximum word count was 2,000.

While I wait for round two results, I thought it would be fun to post up my round one winning piece. Enjoy!

Gulgrom slowed his pace and fought with the underbrush. With each chirp of a cricket or croak of a frog, he advanced a single footstep forward. The fate of Melakrihn rested on him. A single deep breath and another tenth of an inch closer to King Chreighton, Gulgrom drew his sword. One more step and—
“No!” came a shout from Amareh, a centurion elder.
King Chreighton took a swift turn but was too late. Gulgrom’s sharp blade pressed into the king’s hefty chest. Not a second later, Gulgrom was being lifted into the air.
“Huzzah! Long live King Gulgrom! Ruler of the Scalandorian realm!” The chant, mixed with a multitude of cheers, filled the humid sky until it reached the stars.
After the crowd calmed, the Melakrihn clan surrounded Gulgrom. Addram, the most powerful elder, approached and placed his arm around Gulgrom. Addram raised his hand to quiet the rest of the members. “As you all know, the Scaladorian realm will be participating in Final Battle this year. Our dwarven clan has spent ages forming alliances within the realm. Be it known, on this eve of the sixth night of July, that Gulgrom has been betrothed to Cyrrith, princess of the elven clan, Amyyll. The joining ceremony commences on the tenth eve of April and shall surely solidify Scaladorian’s first win in Final Battle!”
Gulgrom’s heart flipped. Not only did he find himself responsible for the entire kingdom of Scaladoria, he was trusted with the heart of Princess Cyrrith. No one had a chance to notice the dreamy glaze that overcame Gulgrom’s eyes as the abrupt honk from down the road would’ve disturbed any opportunity to do so.
Gulgrom sighed and turned toward a gravel lot. He approached his mom’s car and snatched the handle, climbing inside.
“I told you not to slam the door, Kevin.”
“Sorry, Mom.”
Evelyn Hughes sighed and put the car in reverse before making her next announcement. “You know, Kev—”
“Gulgrom, Mom. When you speak of me as Kevin, it takes me out of character. Oh, and after tonight, it’s King Gulgrom.”
“Kev—I mean, Gulgrom, this is what I wanted to talk about. Dad and I think it’s great you have this hobby and all, but it’s time to start making friends in the real world, like that girl from the group…what’s her name? Meghan.”
Kevin shut down at ‘real world’. Did his mom mean the real world where Jared Ransin once set his Ninja Turtle lunch box on the highest shelf in homeroom? Or the ‘real world’ that deemed him as special needs? Like they couldn’t understand it, so they labeled it…that ‘real world?’ If so, Kevin much preferred the alternate reality where he was a hero, a king, and soon…a husband.
“Well, I ran into Meghan’s mom at the store. We think that since you two have so much in common, it’d be so fun if you met for shakes at Burger Bonanza.”
So much in common? Kevin snorted. What? A shared diagnosis of Achondroplasia?
“It’d be like a little date,” she giggled. “But, not really a date…you’re twelve. No dates.”
“No, mom. I don’t want or need a ‘little date’. As king, I am betrothed to Princess Cyrrith of the elven clan Amyyll.”
“Cyrrith…Cyrrith…” Evelyn’s mind searched to place a name with a face. “Wait…isn’t that Ruth Fenstauffer? She’s sixteen, isn’t she? A little old for you, don’t you think?”
“No, it’s princess Cyrrith, and she is one-hundred-and-eighty-four. I turned two-hundred last month.”
“Well, I think meeting up with Meghan and her mom would be good for you.”
Good for him? Or good for his mom? Good for her to know that her son could truly be “normal” and not some geeked-out-fantasy-nerd type? Kevin didn’t respond, and as soon as the car pulled into the two-car driveway, he jumped out before his mother could nag again about Meghan and secured himself in the basement to spend the rest of the evening spelling runes.
***
“This is exactly what I’m talking about, Ross! He stays up all night…spends all his time in this fantasy world and—”
“Dammit Evelyn! That is his world! It’s the world he succeeds in!” Ross Hughes straightened his tie and took a final sip of coffee.
“Where are you going?”
He nodded toward the door. “Work.”
“Sure! Run away.” Evelyn shrugged. “Run off to work where you can hide behind charts and graphs. Leave me here to deal with our son!”
Ross sat his briefcase down and relented. “What can I do to help?”
“Nothing. Go ahead; go to work.” Her right arm flailed toward the door and she turned and started rinsing dishes.
“Evie—” She didn’t acknowledge him as he grabbed the mahogany case and headed out the door to work.
Evelyn Hughes waited until she could no longer hear the engine of the red Honda in the driveway, then poured herself another cup of coffee. Before she could sit, the hallway toilet flushed. Evelyn walked to the door and stood, arms positioned in an impatient fold. Once it clicked open, she started the familiar lecture. “Do you know what time it is? Hmm? Do you? It’s half past nine! I already told you, one more time and this whole fantasy game thing is over. Do you hear me? Over! I’ve had quite enough. What am I going to tell principal Macey when she calls?”
“Mom, Final Battle begins in two weeks. Two. I only have fourteen days to upgrade weapons, redo uniforms, enhance defense, and spell enough runes. Now I’m in charge of the whole kingdom.”
Evelyn smacked her hand against her forehead. “I’ve had enough! Enough! When are you going to realize that all you’re doing is avoiding the world? This little game of yours…it isn’t life! You’re going to get hurt!”
“It is my life!”
“Just get your things. I swear to God, Kev. One more time and you’re out of the game.”
The ride to school was the type of deafening silence that made a guy wish his mom would just start rambling.
As they pulled up, the bell was ringing for second period—earth science. Kevin stepped out and rushed to the door. Even so, he still managed to arrive late for class.
“Glad you could join us, Mr. Hughes.” Mr. Jensen grabbed the roster to check Kevin as tardy. “Grab a Petri dish. Today we’re discussing mold fossils.”
Kevin turned to the shelf that held the dishes. The remaining ones rested at the top. His cheeks grew hot as he grabbed a stool and positioned it in front of the cabinet. Even on his tip-toes, he wasn’t able to reach high enough to grab one.
“Here, I’ll help.” Kevin relented and allowed Allison to step up and get a dish for him.
“Thanks,” he mumbled. She nodded and returned to her table.
He walked to his assigned seat. Even Allison needed a stool to reach the dishes. He glanced at her and she smiled. He turned back to the fossil in his dish—in a few years, she wouldn’t need a stool; he would. Kevin Hughes would always need a stool.
He swallowed and rewired his thoughts. Cyrrith was as powerful as she was beautiful; the eldest of three elven princesses. His heart sped at the thought of the betrothal. The enhanced magical abilities alone would be enough to prove the alliance an efficient brainchild of Addram.
Although he was aware the time spent at his desk in science class would be best used to strengthen Scalandorian’s battle plan, Kevin pulled a clean sheet of paper and began to write.
Her eyes,
gold flecks of moon—
Moon. Would that be cliché? Would his words be worthy of such beauty? Moon what? Moonshine? No, that was a drink. He thought harder—moonbeam? No. Moon-sparkle? Cyrrith did spend time with unicorns. Sparkle might work, Kevin thought.
Her eyes,
gold flecks of moon-sparkle.
That I might be—
Kevin glanced up for a second, just to consider what he “might be”. The room was empty. “Ah, Mr. Hughes. I see you’re back.” Mr. Jensen’s eyes narrowed. “The bell rang two minutes ago. You best be on your way to third period.”
Yay, third period—music class, with its never-ending symphony of up-down-up-down-up-down’s that wore on his back after the third or fourth time. Regardless, Kevin was not about to make a special request of staying seated for the duration. He grinned and tolerated the discomfort.
At the end of the school day, Kevin was surprised to see his dad at the pick-up line. “Dad?” He asked as he got in the car.
“Hey buddy.”
“Where’s Mom?”
Ross chuckled. “She’s out with a friend. Probably having a girl’s day. ‘An escape,’ as she called it.” A moment passed. “Bud, you gotta be more responsible with getting up and ready for school.”
Kevin folded his arms and watched houses jog by the car window.
“Man, I get it,” Ross continued. “Back in my day…shoot…twelve-years-old, we’d sneak out of the house and walk down to this abandoned railroad track. It was haunted, we thought. So, Larry Morganheimer would sneak coffee, and we’d hang out all night trying to catch a ghost…still not sure how he got the coffee, though. So, I’m with you on this—but you’re driving Mom crazy. Can you work harder to get up in the morning and get to school?”
“Yeah, Dad.”
“Thanks, bud,” he said as he pulled into the drive. “You gonna be okay? I have another meeting.”
“Sure thing.”
Once inside the house, Kevin sat at the kitchen table, determined to finish the poem.
Her eyes,
gold flecks of moon-sparkle.
That I might be worthy,
to hold her hand beneath
the night’s sky.
Kevin released a pent-up breath. The poem wasn’t long, but he felt it offered a good representation of his feelings for his betrothed. Would Cyrrith feel the same? Sure, she’d often been kind to him. How could the poem not win her affection? The idea of reciting his writing to her over-filled his being so much so that he concocted a new idea.
As a king, he decided the best course of action would be to meet his lover outside her window—a few pebbles tapping the glass would be enough to gain her attention. Then, he could render his feelings beneath the field of stars. When she fell madly in love with him, his mom would have no choice but to accept his life. She would be forced to see Scalandoria was real and the only illusion was her perception of normal.
He folded the paper just in time for Evelyn to enter. “Kevin,” she acknowledged. “Homework done?”
“Yeah, Mom…umm, Mom—”
“Excuse me for a second.” She didn’t stop, just kept walking toward the master bedroom.
Kevin eyed her as she disappeared behind the door. Escape, indeed. He shook his head and exited to the basement to strategize attack plans for Final Battle until dinner.
***
“I expect lights out early tonight, Kevin,” Evelyn called after her son as he trotted down the stairs upon finishing the dishes. No answer.
Kevin waited through his parents’ conversations and a few late-night television programs before slipping on his beard and into his wide-legged trousers and boots. Then, he threw on his gambeson with buttons and slipped on a pair of gauntlets. Satisfied, he grabbed the handwritten poem and made a silent getaway.
Fortunately, Cyrrith lived a couple blocks over in the same neighborhood. He continued down the sidewalk, his stomach knotting a bit tighter with each lustful step. Before turning the corner, he nearly gave up and returned home, but no—he must continue one of the most significant quests he’d ever set out on. He was King Golgrum, dwarven warrior and rune master—nothing would change that.
On his way, he gathered a few loose pebbles and stored them in his satchel. His anxiety evolved into full-on panic when he approached the house. What window belonged to Princess Cyrrith? How would he figure it out? His conundrum was met with headlights coming around the corner and growing narrower in front of the house, Cyrrith’s house. Maybe it was her? Kevin was overcome with relief—she would exit the car and he’d know her room because she’d turn the lights on once she got up there. Problem solved.
Or not. Kevin’s forehead tightened as Addram got out of the driver’s seat and swung around to open the door for Cyrrith. Once she was out of the car, Kevin’s insides unthreaded as he watched the couple lean into one another for a lengthy kiss.
“I had a good time tonight. Thank you,” Cyrrith said.
Addram smiled. “I’m glad.”
Kevin shook his head. How could they betray him? His bride and the most respected dwarven elf caught up in an affair. He slowly backed up, not realizing the drop off. “Oh!” he cried out as he flew backward.
Addram was at his side. “Kevin…what are you doing here? And dressed up, too?”
Kevin’s chest heaved, and his voice shook. “No, the better question is, Addram, what are you doing here? With my future wife at that!”
“Dude, just call me Adam; that’s my real name. You know that. Kev—man, calm down. Ruth and I have been dating for a few months.”
“B-but…you set me up to marry her! This is treason!”
“In the game, Kev. In the game—that’s what it is, it’s just a game.”
Disillusioned, Kevin found himself at a loss for words. Nothing could save him from the torturous reality of his future wife’s betrayal—the poem cried as the paper twisted and crumpled in his hand. Should he challenge Addram to an evening duel? A better idea came to him. “Banished!” he yelled.
Ruth cocked her head. “Banished? As in kicked out of the game?”
Kevin’s cheeks grew hot. “Banished!”
Adam took a step toward him. “Dude, you can’t do that just because we’re dating.”
Kevin narrowed his eyes. “Watch me!”
“Dude, that’s fucked up. Hope you feel good about losing friends. Over what…some stupid game!”
Ruth put a hand on Adam’s shoulder. “It’s okay.” She turned to Kevin. “He can’t ban us from the game. We can appeal and get back in. He’ll probably be the one who gets kicked out.”
Kevin gulped the lump back down his throat while he studied the angry eyes of Ruth and Adam. Disgust—his heart felt as though it stopped beating, and his breath shortened. The wind snatched the poem from his hand like a cruel thief. Could he really be kicked out of the game?
Before the others could catch a glimpse from the single tear that slipped down his cheek, Kevin turned and stumbled down the sidewalk, disappearing as reality, whether perceived or not, often does. The dwarven king vanished into the uncertain darkness.

IMG_0408

              “Misa,” Ajah grumbled as she struggled with the zipper. “Hold still.”

                Misa inhaled a deep breath and held it while Ajah continued fighting with the obstinate fastener. “You volunteered to help,” Misa reminded her best friend.

                “I did. I’m excited for you. You and Doran have been friends for as long as any of us can remember.” She giggled before continuing. “Now you can be friends.

                “There’s still two months before Matrice,” Misa’s cheeks grew hot as she responded to her friend’s comment. “Tonight is only Fesztiv.”

                                                                           ****

It’s important to note in Astridia, regardless of your region, marriage comes with a great ordeal of pomp and circumstance. This not only serves as a means of courtship between the two about to be married, it acts as a platform for families to bond and discuss business and serves as a clear communication to the couple they are welcome to seek support from close family and friends. 

After a proposal is accepted, there is two months until matrice— known on Earth as marriage— and an event is held each weekend, the first being Fesztiv which is an elaborate feast.

                                                          ****

 Ajah finished zipping the back of Misa’s strapless blue dress, chosen by her mother and ostracized by her dad for being, “so damn short the guests wouldn’t have to strain too hard to see everything if she as much as bent at the knee.” Her mom laughed before putting her foot down and, per usual, got her way by arguing that Misa was a beautiful young woman and should be enjoying her youth.

                To her surprise, Misa actually loved the dress and her feeling toward it didn’t change as she glanced out her balcony’s window and gazed at the twinkling lights icing the trees and lacing themselves around the garden’s trellis.

                The first car pulled up and a distant cousin got out and gave her keys to the valet before continuing up the decorated path. Misa’s stomach flipped and she turned to Ajah. “I’ll meet you downstairs. I need a minute.”

                Ajah shrugged an okay and shimmied on downstairs in hopes that Terron had finally arrived.  Ajah’s family was in agriculture and Terron’s worked in law. The two knew, in practicality, they couldn’t be together. The fact failed to stop them from embracing any opportunity to interact. Secretly, Misa pitied whoever married her best friend, because she knew Ajah would never really move on from Terron and why the two families allowed the girls to continue meeting, Misa didn’t understand. She eavesdropped on her mom speaking with other women in private about the scandal.

                To Misa, it was dumb. Why couldn’t her friend be with whoever made her happy? Why couldn’t Misa?   

                Even if her love was as fabricated as the silver-eyed, sand-haired concoction she’d dreamed up over the years, she could be content in her own mind. She’d never actually spoken to Soras. He was more like a figment wound in warm breeze, a spark of something that she felt should’ve been, but wasn’t.

                She continued down the hall and entered an empty bedroom. For an ephemeral moment, Soras filled the empty space until Misa bent and grasped the edge of a wooden dresser to keep from falling.

                A woodsy scent filled the room. “Fair warning, Great-Aunt Ceyne is here and swears she’s going to pop you with her cane if you don’t get downstairs soon.”

                Misa turned and found herself face-to-face with a new Doran; she’d never seen a cleaned-up version of him. His messy black hair was smoothed back and gelled and after all the years they’d ran through the fields and played hide-and-seek, a realization smacked her harder than Great-Aunt Ceyne could’ve with her cane— Doran, with his baby-smooth skin, wasn’t just good looking; he was hot. In the dim lights of the spare room, his eyes were a swirl of caramel and chocolate against the traditional black and white suit that was completed by a tux.

                Their eyes locked together and refused to part. “I-I was—” Misa began, but before she finished, Doran’s hand was on the small of her back and he pulled her to him until their bodies were closer than they’d ever been. His mint breath lingered and the sudden thought that if she opened her mouth, hers would be sickening, caused her to stiffen.

                “Are you uncomfortable?” Doran’s right eyebrow lowered.

                Thinking about her potentially horrendous breath, Misa glanced down. “No,” she whispered.

                “Then, what is it? Is this too much too soon?” His expression continued to grow tense.

                She wasn’t going to tell him in the otherwise empty room with his strong hand holding her, while their eyes absorbed one another that the trivial possibility of shameful breath would be the cause of her retreat. Instead, she cleared her throat and said she needed to use the restroom before they joined the night’s festivities.

                Doran, who found himself an equal mix of relieved and irritated, waited in the long hall wondering how her lips would feel when they finally met his. More important, was the question of when? She loved him as a friend; he knew that, but wondered if her affection could grow over time to meet his.

                Years prior, she confided in him about Soras and the crazy blend of emotions she experienced when she thought about her creation. The first few times she mentioned it, Doran listened with interest and pondered Misa’s knack for creativity, but the more she spoke of Soras, the greater her preoccupation seemed. That concerned Doran; perhaps, Misa would begin to believe that Soras was real.

                Someone tapped his shoulder and he turned. “Ready?”

                He nodded. “As I’ll ever be.” Probably more so than you, he finished in his thoughts. Her shoulders made an elaborate up and down movement and Doran knew Misa didn’t want to be there. That thought sliced him as they walked down the hall and stood at the top of the stairs where they overlooked groups of familiar faces all engaged in conversation and laughter that flowed above the music. He leaned over and whispered to Misa. “If we hurry, we can get to the food without making a scene.”

                She held back a giggle and he grabbed her hand as they both rushed down the stairs and weaved through a group of guests who were engaged in laughter until they reached the buffet table, unseen. “You’re good,” she admitted to an already gloating Doran.

                “I recall being pretty good at hide-and-seek too,” he taunted.

                She nudged him. “Hey, I remember winning a few times.”

                “Oh, yeah?” he challenged back, strategically moving closer to her.

                It must’ve worked because she inched toward him until her breath was on his neck. That was the second time he’d been ready to kiss her and the second time it’d been interrupted. The group they managed to dodge early turned to dote on the young couple. Their interest was enough to garner the attention of the rest of the guests.

                Misa’s dad came forward and raised his glass. “A toast…” he started, but Misa’s attention had been drawn elsewhere.

                Misa stared into Soras’ salt-gray eyes. “I can’t marry him,” she cried as she was drawn into Sora’s strong arms. He’d never seemed so real.

                He held her tighter, “Shhh.” Misa sobbed harder until Soras took her face in his hands. “He genuinely cares for you.”

                “He’s my best friend, but you… you’re— I don’t know. God, you’re not even real!”

                Soras ran his hand down her arm until he reached her hand and his fingers locked with hers. “I’m very real,” he promised, “I just can’t be there, with you.”

                Misa looked at him with an expression mixed with resentment and anger. “No,” she began, “I created you.”

                Soras let out a quick chuckle and kissed her forehead. “Something’s happening and I don’t know what it is, but it’s not right.” His words faded with his body and Misa was left, alone.

                “…Misa? Hey… uhh…” A familiar hand waved in front of her face. “Hello?”

                When her eyes met Doran’s, they were gleaming, but not with happiness. Her cheeks reddened. “No!” she screamed to the horror of the guests. “I’m not supposed to be here.”

                Before Doran or anyone else could respond she turned and ran. After a moment’s pause, he followed after her. He searched in the darkness until he found her leaning against a tree by the side of the drive. He cleared his throat. “Misa?” he asked, sheepishly.

                “Go away, Doran. You got what you want.”

                He sighed and stood in front of her. “No, I can’t make you happy.” He paused for a while and hesitantly finished. “But, I know where you might get answers,” he admitted.

                The last remark got Misa’s attention and she wiped a tear off her cheek and yawned from the exhaustion of nerves and frustration. “What?”

                “When you started telling me about Soras, I didn’t think much of it. Weird? Yeah. Concerning? No. You continued to talk about him and the more you told me, the more I started thinking you believed yourself,” he explained. “I did some research and I know a guy who might have answers, but we should go now.”

                Misa’s forehead crinkled. “Right now?”

                Doran nodded. “Yeah, before more people find you and start demanding explanations. It’d be easier if we left and came back in a day.”

                “How?” Misa’s stomach turned at the thought of having to rationalize taking off with Doran to her parents.

                “I don’t know.” He put his hand on hers. “Do you want answers, or not?”

                “I do.” Misa wanted to know more about Soras. Was she losing her mind? Or was he real and somewhere in Astridia?

                Her and Doran walked to his car without saying a word. Once they were on the way, Doran gave her a better explanation. “His name’s Sabik and he has an intriguing story. When he was younger, he worked in science and technology and built quite a following when he invented a translation device…”

                “Oh?” Misa wasn’t sure where he was going with everything.

                “Yeah, it translated Achai into other languages… like languages not spoken in Astridia. It proved the existence of other dimensions. It put him in a unique situation,” Doran finished.

                “You think Soras is from another dimension?” She wasn’t ready to accept that type of answer.

                “Not necessarily, but I see how the thought of him eats at you. I think if anyone might have a scientific explanation, it’d be Sabik. Although, he retired a long time ago after his wife passed away.”

                Misa appreciated Doran’s dedication to her Soras dilemma, but wasn’t sure that Sabik could help. She yawned and closed her eyes from exhaustion.

                                                                              ****

                “Hey, wake up. We’re here.” Doran tapped Misa’s shoulder gently to avoid scaring her.

                She stretched and yawned. “Huh?” she mumbled.

                “We’re at Sabik’s.”

                “Oh,” she stared out Doran’s window at a ranch-style home settled in between two other houses of similar design. “Doran, this is weird. He doesn’t even know we’re coming. I feel stupid,” she complained.

                “It’s worth a try. Right?”

                She shrugged as he opened the door and got out. He waited for her to catch up with him before he continued up the sidewalk. As they neared the porch, a curtain swayed and the door opened before either of them had a chance to knock.

                An elderly man stood before them. He was tall and thin with wisps of hair on either side of his bald head. His eyes, though, were a deep cerulean blue, perhaps the only feature still attractive about him. He raised his eyebrows. “Are you two lost?”

                Misa wasn’t sure what to say and Doran spoke up. “Sabik?”

                “You need to eat?” the man leaned closer to them.

                “No. Are you Sabik?”

                Sabik studied the boy’s lips as Doran spoke louder and slower. “I suppose I am,” he answered. “You kids aren’t from the news, are you? I don’t do interviews these days.”

                “We’re not, but we do have a question. I’m hoping you can help her.” Doran motioned to Misa who gave a short smile.

                “Fur?” the older man scowled. “You aren’t into anything illegal, are you?”

                Doran shook his head. “No. We have a question,” he reexplained.

                “I have an idea. Why don’t you two come on inside so I can get my ears straight,” Sabik offered. Mira and Doran nodded in response and followed him into his home. “Want something to drink?”

                “No, we’re fine,” Misa answered looking around the room at frame after frame of a younger, extremely handsome Sabik with jet black hair and flashy blue eyes. He was so happy in every photo of him and some woman that Misa’s heart flipped a little. Would she ever be that lucky with Doran? 

                “You’re nine?” he scrutinized her. “You sure don’t look nine.” He turned back to a countertop and began fumbling with a couple small devices he attached to his ears and adjusted. “There, good as new.” They stared at him for some time. “Don’t mind me. I whipped these babies up years ago. Right before I lost Meissa, my hearing started to go and I made up my mind I wasn’t going to miss one word from those enchanting lips of hers.” Sabik shook himself from the memory. “Now that I can hear ya, what do you kids need?”

                “Answers.” Doran spoke up. “And you may have them.”

                “I’m listening,” Sabik motioned for him to continue as he slowly took a seat in the blue recliner.

                Doran looked to Misa to explain. She hesitantly spoke. “Years back I made up this guy named Soras.”

                Sabik blinked. “Okay…”

                “He feels real. It’s like I travel to a different place or something. He’s real even though I know he’s not.” Misa stumbled to explain her bizarre meetings with Soras. “He consumes every part of me…” she hesitated, knowing a continued explanation would hurt Doran.

                Sabik sat quietly with his hands folded and stared at the carpeted floor. Misa’s explanation forced him back to a time when he was young and met Meissa. “Soras, you say? Does he look the same each time? Same features and all that?”

                “Yes. Actually, every time I see him, he becomes clearer. In the beginning, everything was shadows. Yesterday night, he touched my face and his hand was warm and soft.” She shivered at the memory of her fabricated lover.

                “It’s a progression, then,” Sabik remarked.

                “What does it mean?” Doran had been standing in the background half-relieved at the possibility of answers and saddened by how Misa’s eyes brightened as she spoke of Soras.

                 “They were called Anchors. They existed on each plane to keep out interdimensional travelers known as The Ones Who Walk in Shadows, or TOWiS. This was all long ago and Anchors no longer exist, nor does interdimensional travel.” The man winced as his memories stirred. “I cannot say what phenomenon you are experiencing young lady, but I can tell you with confidence your body remains in Astridia.”

                Doran shrugged. “So, what gives?”

                “I told you, Doran, there’s no explanation,” Misa sighed. She knew it’d be a long shot, but traveling with Doran seemed like a better option than trying to talk her way through the spectacle she made at the party.

                Sabik stood and shuffled to a shelf of books. He took his time thumbing through some pages and muttering incomprehensibly to himself as he did. Finally, he placed a book back and sat down in the chair once again. “There’s an explanation, but it’s not one you’re going to like. When we battled TOWis, I learned more than a man ever needed to know about the surreal.” Misa and Doran leaned in and waited for more, but Sabik only chuckled. “I’m not going to go into details. That’s another story for a different time. I think your souls are fighting to stay together.”

                Misa shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

                “When our bodies pass on, our souls travel to Ashzaria where they remain with their mates until the Oracle sends them to another life. The cycle continues until our souls max out their ethereal energy or fall into a deficit. The Oracle oversees that soulmates continue in the same planes, not necessarily at the same time. The rule is that they must exist in the same dimension.”

                Misa looked on in disbelief. To her, Sabik’s explanation was the mere ramblings of a senile man, but Doran pushed to find out more. “What happens if they don’t?”

                Sabik adjusted his wristwatch. “I don’t know, really.” He looked at a doubtful Misa. “But if your souls are fighting hard to stay together, it can’t be anything good.”

                The rhythmic tick of a wall clock was the only sound in the small living room as each one of them pondered Sabik’s reply until the chimes from the timepiece jolted them from their thoughts.

                Misa jumped up. “I need to get out of here.” With that, she charged out the front door and Doran could hardly keep up as he said a quick goodbye to Sabik and followed after her.

                He found her in a small park hunched over and crying. Without a word being spoken, he pulled her to his strong, warm body and held her and refused to let go until she was ready.                                                            

Back To Part 4

suburbia_tv_2

Navy blue boxes of processed macaroni and cheese

at the grocery store. Black SUVs parking in

make believe driveways. A highlighted forest of

reverse bobs. Attack out of monstrous boredom.

Greyish- white snow,

static.

“I was so busy,” speaks the diplomatic,

suburban headlines. Read past the

fictitious smiles with which the lies of

hell cannot compete. With the façade of

shining barbeque grills on Labor Day.

Hatred camouflaged as soaked olives

in putridly mixed martinis.

Once upon a time in suburbia,

I longed to join them as they would masquerade,

Frankenstein becomes a Countess.

Glistening golden glitter,

resting by green and black

garbage containers, left by the curb,

on counterfeit Sunday evenings.

(** Still under construction, don’t hate too much!!)