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About Literature / Professional Senior Member MegFemale/United States Groups :iconanthropology-of-self: Anthropology-of-Self
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Deviant for 9 Years
Core Member 'til Hell freezes over
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It has come to my attention that I need a fiction pen name. 

8 deviants said Or maybe "Raptor Queen"
6 deviants said I'm thinking "Meg Raptor"
3 deviants said Halp. I'm terrible at this.

(Current) Favorite Passage

But no one may know the shape of the tale in which they move. And perhaps, we do not truly know what sort of beast it is, either. Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.

--Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making




Artist | Professional | Literature
United States
Hi! My name is Meg. I really like cheese and Young Adult fiction.

(DevID made by Thiefoworld)

To Listen

Sat May 16, 2015, 6:10 AM


Lit CV Team!
:iconinknalcohol: inknalcohol
:iconhugqueen: HugQueen
:iconshadowedacolyte: ShadowedAcolyte

#CRLit Chatroom

I turn 29 tomorrow. 

In the past five years, I have written more than I ever thought I would. Two theses. Countless articles. So, so many papers for school. 

And I am happy where I am. I am still a science journalist. In the fall, I begin the next chapter of my academic career which I'm sure will heap boundless more writing opportunities on my plate. I write every day, and I am so blessed for the chance to do so.

But I look at my pages of pages of writing, enough to fill a book, to fill two (after this semester, gods, maybe three),  and I love them, but I do not feel as though I am writing the right words. 

A voice tells me there are other stories to be told.

And it reminds me, none too subtly, of a promise I made to myself when I was twelve. I would be a writer. Not a journalist, not a academic. A different sort of writer. One who crafts characters, who takes risks on the page, who finds a way to create worlds. 

That voice has been louder than ever in the last few months.

It's time to start listening. 



  • Mood: Eager


It has come to my attention that I need a fiction pen name.
8 deviants said Or maybe "Raptor Queen"
6 deviants said I'm thinking "Meg Raptor"
3 deviants said Halp. I'm terrible at this.
The whole world was watching when the Prime Minister had a knife driven through his heart.

Eliana was home sprawled on the floor, a pile of gears and and bolts and screws splayed out before her. She only half listened to the news caster as she excitedly commented on proceedings. Ana’s mind and fingers more concerned with building a pocket-sized catapult, per her father’s instructions. Her father sat behind her on the couch, his posture sloppy. Quite unlike him, his elbows on his knees, one hand buried in his hair. The action let his ears show, the pointed tips quivering as he strained to hear the news over the sound of Eliana’s three elder sisters once again attempting to recreate the Elfen Girls newest music video.

Ana hadn’t been asked to join their fun. Not because she was tone deaf -- though, to be sure, every single one of the Lochland girls was about as musical as a bullfrog -- but because they knew she’d never be so frivolous with her time. Not when their father was home and there was a chance to win his praise.

Ana swore softly  under her breath as a gear slipped, threatening to capsize the whole venture. Below the gears was her homework, half-finished and mostly wrong. Coffee colored one edge of her math tablet’s case, something for which she’d gotten a scolding, not because she’d ruined the computer, but because the beverage was not appropriate for a 12-year-old girl and especially not a girl in her condition. But her father drank it. So she did as well.

“Eliana, come sit with me,” her father said.

The gear slipped again, and this time, the half-finished catapult did come apart, a nut rolling away to disappear beneath an easy chair. Ana looked up at her father, eyes wide. This was just about as close to affection as she ever saw from him, and it made her own ears, large, but not quite as pointed, quiver.

Silently, she stood. On socked feet, she crossed the plush carpet to sit next to him on the couch, knees curling so she could tuck her toes beneath her butt.

“Do you know what’s happening, Ana?” he asked, one hand giving a weak wave toward the television.

Ana shrugged. “They’re signing the peace treaty,” she said.

Harvarde Lochland sighed. While the rest of the planet was out dancing in the streets, the end of the war between Fae and humans had left him melancholy. As she looked at him, Ana had a straight line of sight down through the dining room and the hall beyond. A door stood half open on the farthest wall, and through the opening she could see a glint of metal. And even from where she sat on the couch, she could smell the the burn of oil and solder.

“Papa,” Ana said, giving her father an attempt at a warm smile, “you can still make people things. Just maybe not weapons.”

Harvarde looked down at his youngest daughter, no hint of a smile on his own face. “Do you know what happens to weapons smith after a war?” he asked.

Ana gave a slow shake of her head. His tone was inquisitive, but beneath it she could hear an edge she couldn’t quite place. Not fear, precisely. It was more like he was steeling himself for a verbal onslaught that hadn’t yet been formed. She’d heard similar tones at school, when kids were in the middle of being caught in a lie that they knew they’d never actually pull off. But her father hadn’t ever shown a hint of of uncertainty that she could ever remember. And a lie? Surely not.

“They are ilamera,” he said, the Fae language of his home rolling easily off his tongue.

“Disgraced,” Ana translated out of instinct more than real understanding, long days of drilling through that impossible language burned into her mind.

“Outcast,” Harvarde agreed. “It will not happen right away, perhaps. But at some point, they will decide that the real person to blame is the one who supplied the weapons. And on this they will be able to agree wholeheartedly.”

Ana knew that the Fae and human forces did not have much in common, but all of their weapons bore the name Lochland. Harvarde had been diplomatic to a fault, careful to stay in the good graces of the humans while still fulfilling his obligation to the Fae as a weapon’s master. And both sides, it seemed, had allowed it because without Harvarde Lochland on their side, there was no hope of winning.

Ana looked back at the television. On a raised dais, the human Prime Minister and the Fae High Lord were seated at an oval table that seemed far too big considering the setting. The faced each other across a chasm of deep mahogany inlaid with Fae runes, twisting curves of golden and bronze. Ana spotted the sign for the falyorn, a winged bird that was said to have feathers the color of jade and was the size of a child’s leg, but the camera cut away before she could read what story might be laid out across the table.

A high priest of the Fae goddess Imli was speaking, which struck Ana as strange. True, Imili was a goddess of peace, but not of the Seelie. And the priest’s red hair marked him as a Seelie Fae just as surely as it did for the Lochland clan. But Imili was the UnSeelie’s favorite goddess of peace, for her name more closely translated into the goddess of waiting. The peace that occurred right before a war.

As the priest spoke in rapid Fae, a translation crawling across the screen, Ana watched the faces of both leaders, Prime Minister and the High Lord, each with a fixed smile full of too many teeth. “But Papa, don’t you want peace?” she asked. “The war is terrible. It has caused more destruction than any other in the history of our worlds.”

“You are parroting your teachers, Ana,” he chided. “This war is no worse than any of the wars the humans had already been locked in. We just changed the rules a little.”

The camera cut from the flame haired priest to a human dignitary who was carrying a tray upon which sat a single white sheet of paper and two pens.

“How quaint,” Harvarde murmured. “They are going to write the it down on actual paper.” He tilted his head back as Ana leaned forward, trying to get a good look at the pens. She’d never actually seen one used before outside of films. “Charlise! Evean! Adela!” Harvarde yelled, earning himself a reproachful groan from the other room as the singing, blissfully, cut out. “Come and watch this. Your teachers are sure to talk about it tomorrow at school.”

Three pairs of feet were stomped disagreeably toward the living room. Ana’s sisters, each a year older than the next, ending with Charlise who was 15, came to a stop behind the couch wearing identical scowls and crossing their arms so that they looked almost like a Fae army themselves. If the Fae army had worn their hair in fashionable curls and sported enough reflective fabric to blind the sun.

The high priest was speaking again, arms outstretched like a man who might be able to lift the roof off the building if only he tried hard enough. The news caster was still speaking as both leaders signed the paper, fixed smile still in place. But the translation scrolled across the bottom, and Eliana read the crawl, brow furrowing. The text read, “And may the dark be forever banished, a distant memory long forgotten by two peaceful nations.”

But that wasn’t what the priest was saying at all.

Harvarde sat forward, eyes suddenly sparking with life.

“Papa,” Ana said, confused. “They aren’t translating that right.”

With a low thrum that shook Ana’s collarbone even through the television’s speakers, the air behind the dais illuminated, a bright blue light schisming down like a lightning bolt suspended in mid air. The line cracked, each side pushing outward, first a slow motion and then a sudden surge, the air renting in two. On the other side of the tear, there was darkness broken only by stars and a strange orange glow, like a night sky polluted by the light of a city.

Before Ana had a chance to process what she was seeing, a figure emerged. A man. A Fae, the tips of his ears glinting with silver rings. His black hair had a ragged, choppy look to it, like it’d been cut by unsteady hands. The camera had been zoomed in on the exact spot he emerged from, and for a brief moment, he looked straight at the camera, eyes a dark pool with no iris or cornea, just pure black. Expressionless. Already dead.

He had a dagger, jagged and gleaming, gripped in one hand. With the other outstretched, he lunged right for the Prime Minister. The knife was buried to the hilt before anyone had a chance to react, red blood seeping into the cool cream color of his shirt.

Behind her, Charlise and Evean screamed. Harvarde was on his feet now, eyes riveted to the screen where the camera still showed the Prime Minister, slumped forward, blood pooling onto the peace treaty. The Fae, too, was dead, a bullet-wounded brain. His blood was darker, almost purple, and it mixed with the bright red of the Prime Minister’s, covering the sigils inlaid in the table, falyorn lost beneath the dark liquid.

“What’s happening?” Adela yelled. “What’s happening?”

Ana looked to her father, heart pounding not just because of the horror playing out on the screen. No, it was her father who scared her more.

He wore a smile. Broad and gleaming. When he spoke, the words were almost a purr.

“We’re back in business.”
Eliana - Prologue
I move 400 miles away in 4 days. I'm not packed. I still have work that needs to be done. So of course -- of course -- now is when I want to write the most. And when I can't possibly shut out the sound of voices that want to be heard. I've written so much of this story in the last weeks. I thought I'd start putting some of it up here in hopes for feedback as I have no real idea where it might be going. It doesn't even have a real title yet. But! Writing again!
4 deviations
The backdoor was always locked, a heavy deadbolt of a lock, almost too difficult to throw back, even for a grown man. The most secure door in the whole house no doubt. So he couldn’t have gotten out that way. And all the doors upstairs creaked with weathered age or slid rough in their tracks, grating plastic on metal. The door off the sunroom, though, held potential.
    This was the basement that still haunts my memory: one bedroom, a den and a short connecting hallway that ended in a bathroom. The great room, long and thin, was mirrored to the north by a hallway that connected a half kitchen and laundry room. Then a workroom that in my memory was as big as my entire childhood home, unfinished floors filled with books and wood working tools, the materials of my grandparents’ obsessions.
    Beyond that room was the sunroom, and though the door would have been difficult to get to through all the discarded beach toys and household paraphernalia, escape itself would have been simple. The lock would turn under the pressure of tiny fingers, the door swinging open with hardly a nudge. The darkness was so much more complete at my grandparents’ house than anywhere else I ever visited. A country home on a man-made lake, where streetlights were a secondary construction thought and evening brought on sunfish reflected in moonlight.
    Sloping lawns, with angles sharp enough that I could never help but run down them, led in two directions. One to the boathouse and beach, places where we knew we were not supposed to be without a supervisory adult. The other path led to the retaining wall, put up by the industrious builders of the lake to create instantaneously deep water, places for fish and snapping turtles to breed out of reach of fishermen’s poles and swimmers’ kicks. We would fish along that concrete wall, feet dangling off the edge, waiting for something to come close enough to the surface to bite.
One step off that ledge, and it was a plunge to the depths.

They dammed in a portion of a runaway river, a muddy wall of reinforced earth full of skeletal remains of creatures that lived where land met water.  Imagine the jumble of bones, separated from the entirety of the remains – a femur here, a rib cage there. The dead disassociated.
    They laid down sand by the ton, covering the sticky earth with a fresh pebbled surface that would not squelch unpleasantly between the toes. It was to be a luxury bit of land, after all, houses that would sell for the millions to boating enthusiasts that had no desire to muck about on the mud-bottomed river. This lake would be cleaner, stocked to the brim with vibrant, catchable fish, and bordered by designer summer homes.
    They did everything they could to bring the lake to life.

I suppose in those days, my grandparents were marginally rich. They built a custom home on the lake, one surrounded by green space that sprawled out along the acreage. By the time I came around, my grandmother had a strawberry garden the size of the entire backyard of my city home, roving vines that burst forth with ruby red fruit all through the summer. They grew corn and tomatoes and pumpkins in a large plot of land that lay kitty-corner from the house.
    I never went up to that garden. It was where my grandfather and father buried the carp we caught, huge, ugly gray fish that were inedible. But they made excellent fertilizer once my father had clubbed them to death and submerged them deep underground.

I would stare at the handle of the workroom door, one that was newly locked since my five-year-old cousin had somehow gotten out of the house in the middle of the night.  He was found the following morning, floating face down in the lake, body already bloated by the water.
    In my seven years, nothing had ever been off limits without explanation. No crossing busy streets, no leaving the classroom during school, no swimming without an adult. But those restrictions were all logical. This locked door, behind which lay the piano and walls and walls of books, treasures which I had always loved when visiting my grandparents’ home every weekend, were suddenly forbidden.
    I would stare at the doorknob in the silence that hung heavy in the air in a way that only country quiet could.
    And I swear it would creak centimeters back and forth, just the barest hint of someone trying to escape.

Everything is always in motion. Stillness is a superficial comfort. We trust in the sturdiness of the ground, the immobility of walls, the stagnation of our own skin. But the Earth is always moving at least two ways, a dizzying rotation along its revolution, not to mention the constant heaves and sighs of the crust, mantle, core as its own internal unrest spills out to bring us all in. And doors are no more stable than seas, particles dancing in constant, controlled, chaos, crashing and colliding at such steady paces, at such minute spaces that we are left to believe that the whole will never fall. And skin. It’s already dead and even that does not stop its motion, as it sheds and sloughs, leaves markers of itself behind, markers of yourself behind, on every possible surface.

Like a cancer, the darkness spread through the basement. From the workroom, it creep-crawled through the living room and kitchen. I’d have to take a flying leap off the stairs in order to clear it on my way to the den, slamming the door behind me and locking it against whatever lurked out in the hallway.
    The dark had nothing to do with night. During the day, rooms dipped in frayed black, either hiding a host of spiders or draping in the perfect contours to suddenly frame the image of a man stained into the wood paneled walls. Either option was equally potential-energy loud, each equally skin-crawling terrifying.
    I can’t quite articulate it, but I knew deep in my childhood heart that someone was out there. Before leaving the den, I would crack open the door, breath held, body tensed as I scanned the hallway. Sometimes I would meet his eyes. They weren’t really eyes. There was no body, no corporeal, tangible ghost to behold. But there was the undeniable feeling of connection, like staring out across a room full of strangers and the jolt to the brain feeling when in the sea of faces, you find a pair of eyes already locked on you, watching. It felt like that, the fleeting moment of acknowledgement that he knew that I knew he was out there.
    When the moment broke, I had scant seconds to sprint back across the hallway and up the stairs before he would find me again. I’d run hard, take the steps two at a time, biting down on whimpers until I had reached the in the sun lit world of the upstairs. Only then would I peer back down into the darkness. I was certain the entity was my cousin, reliving his last night over and over. But I felt, in the same part of my brain that could see the eyes that were not eyes, that the ghost was a grown man, and not a boy. A scary, hazy memory who filled the basement with pressure and fear.
    The ghost, it seemed, was not aging well.

The house knew tragedy before my cousin. My great grandmother had died there of some ailment unknown to me – likely age as she’d been dinosaur ancient when I was a child attempting to not be scared of her glass-eyed doll collection that adorned the walls of her upstairs room.
    Grandpa died there, too. I remember him laid out in bed, too sore or too tired to move, his body connected to lifesaving contraptions. I was too young then to understand what they were, to capture the correct memories so that I might be able to piece together what sort of cancer he’d had. Whatever malignancy of bone or tissue it was, it at least was forgiving in the end. Cancer took him in the night. It had been a long road, but at the last, he’d met his destination peacefully.
    It had been nothing as terrifying as drowning.

Ghosts stay behind for many reasons – the catchall notion of unfinished business. They haunt their killers, stand watch to give warning, cling vicariously to the vestments of life through that of their loved ones. It is not a happy existence. But at least it is something.
    Folklore says that ghosts are born of traumatic acts. They are spirits ripped from bodies, souls locked into one moment of fear and memory, the last memory, the only memory, replaying it over and over, walking the same ground, tracing a path of pain and misery until they are driven insane and decide to take the rest of the world with them.

When my cousin was alive, we’d played a game called “chase the lady.” Perhaps because he had grown up with only brothers to chase, the idea of racing after a girl was enough of a novelty that the game of chase would last for hours. We’d wind around the pool table, run the circular circuit of the basement so hard that we’d slip in socked feet on tile floor, careen through the carp-fertilized field full of desiccated plants that grew wild without my grandfather to tend them, vegetables that were neither planted nor harvested, produce left to rot and freeze in the never-ending cycle of seasons.
    We’d shriek as we ran, high pitched notes that laid back the ears of neighborhood dogs. Two years was a big difference when he was five and I was seven, and he never caught me, my legs just that much longer, that much faster. But I could always hear him, just a few steps behind, a pant of breath, a cut-short scream of near joy as his fingers brushed my shirt, almost capturing his prey. His footsteps pounded hard on the dirt, on the tile, on carpet, echoes of his pursuit that would ring in my ears long after the last “chase the lady” had met its end.

Scientists have long been searching for ghosts. They begin as reputable men and women, ones who stray a little too far in the world of psychology or physics, who tip over into quackery, who fall into a darkness no peer review would dare touch.
    In the early 1900s, a man, an inventor, lost his son to a tragic accident, a fall from the top of the stairs or a drowning in a bathtub or a dog attack. So certain was he that the whispers he detected just on the edge of his hearing were the words of his dead son that he built a special phonograph, one meant to record messages from the hereafter. He set up the device in the boy’s room, placed the needle on the recording cylinder and waited to capture his son’s words from beyond.

At twelve, I carried a radio the size of my torso and my copy of the Lion King soundtrack and braced myself. It took three attempts to steel my nerves enough to descend the stairs, even though the bright noon day light spilled through the basement’s great room. The only open outlet was behind the couch where the shadows lay heavy, and the whole time I struggled to plug in the radio, I imagined a pale, sunless hand reaching out to grasp my wrist and pull me into forever.
    I put in the tape and pressed record. Late night television had taught me about electronic voice phenomenon, that sometimes, somehow, technology could capture what the ear could not. If my ghost had a message – and I was sure that he did and that’s why he still followed me, still watched me – then I finally had a way to let him speak.
    The recording session stretched out by minutes, and I had my head buried in my arms, body curled in on itself as the presence grew denser, a chill that broke through the heat of the sun searing through the windows and against my neck.  It enveloped me, an unwelcome embrace, until I became afraid that it would steal my soul as well, and I broke, grabbing the radio and pounding back upstairs to my room.
    I listened to the recording, certain I would finally be given a reason for my haunting. For five minutes, there was the sound of my haggard breathing. No other voice was heard. All else was static.

I dreamed – I still dream – of the lake flooding. It never happens because of rain. Some other force fills the world with water. The lake is suddenly packed with whales and sharks, deep water animals at home in the newly rejuvenated world. The water rises, consuming the boathouse, the beach, the gardens, until it is right up against the brick and wood, climbing up windows.  Soon, the house will become a tomb, water rushing in the flood every hidden nook and cranny, pulling me under.
    I always fight to get out of the house, try every door, every window. But they are locked tight against escape. And just as I am panicking, heart racing while a shark hovers outside a window, waiting to be let in, he will always appear, the same incorporeal felt-sense of a pair of eyes finding me across the room. And a window opens out onto dry land.
    Always – always – my ghost helps me escape.  

At fifteen, after I had decided that I no longer believed in ghosts even though I still couldn’t enter the basement without a heart-racing trill of fear, my grandmother stole a dog. It was some neighborhood dog, a shag of white fur and a quick-to-wag tail. Far from a runaway, every night for a week the father of the family who owned her would come around to fetch the animal. It was the two little girls who finally relented, deciding that a lonely old lady whose husband had died over a decade earlier could use the dog more than they – even though they did bring the dog a Christmas card every year my grandmother was in illicit possession of their pet.
    If ghosts weren’t real – as I was sure they weren’t now, my budding scientific mind refuting the idea of something so occult – then the only logical conclusion was that a living person was in the house. Some transient who, like the dog, had been adopted in a fit of loneliness. He must lurk in the workroom – still locked after all these years – and only come out at night, when he and the dog would steal cookies from the pantry and watch the moon rise over the lake. And he’d hover just outside my door while I slept, or tried to sleep, but all I ever managed was hours-long stares at the door knob. At 3 AM every morning, it would twitch, a back and forth so slight that it made no noise, the hesitant urge of a man on the precipice of decision.

The house was in the process of claiming another victim, my grandmother succumbing to dementia and untold cancer. She would wander the upper floor, stolen dog in shadow, talking to herself, or maybe talking to the dead that still lived there, haunting the floorboards and walls. She’d all but stopped eating, and the cookies remained untouched on the pantry shelves. If there had been a transient in the basement, he had long ago starved to death, another ghost for the tally.

The ghost took up residence in the room I slept in – the same room that had once held all of great grandma’s eerily lifelike dolls. Sometimes he stared at me from the closet, and I could feel him breathe with the sway of the wind that howled in winter. Other times, he stood at the threshold of the room, looking in, looking out, a blockade that does not know if he should stay or leave.
    I wondered why my cousin did this. He was the only one who had died a terrible death, the only one who should have left a spirit behind. But he’d been young and cheerful and vibrant, not the sort of being who would turn into a malevolent force who would haunt my every move. But it had been eleven long years since he died, a decade of watching his cousins and brothers grow, become something more, live. It would be difficult not to grow angry – lost – left behind.

The lake was dying. Thirty years after it was formed, there was some sort of malignancy in it that caused algae to grow at alarming speed. The past few summers had been far too dry, and the lake receded back, exposing land once sanded by men who thought it was an excellent idea to tame a river. Fish lay exposed on the sand, animals who missed the passage out to deeper water, who died under the baking, suffocating sun.
    They said the lake all over had dropped five feet in depth, and our little cove was likely closer to ten. The fall off the retaining wall was now a free fall into water that was hardly over my head. My feet touched bottom. They found the end.

My last night there, I slept on the couch in the living room. The position was too exposed, too wide open and easily attackable, but I had three different escape routes, should the ghost realize that this would be his last-ever chance to finally do what he’d been plotting since I was seven. In the morning, we’d take my grandmother to one of her son’s home to die. No member of my family would be here under the light of the moon ever again.
    The night was sticky hot, a summer night not unlike the one when my cousin had slipped out of the sunroom and out of life. In a fevered sleep, I rolled over and looked out the door that led to the Astroturfed deck and there was a roiling mass of black, smoke or demon, a low pitched yowl barely reaching my ears.  I did not sleep. And when dawn came, light resolved the mass into a clowder of cats, fighting over the feed that my grandmother had left out for them. But even though I could see them clearly, see their whiskered faces and white-socked feet, I did not believe they were real. It’s simply that the light hid what only the darkness could reveal.

In the weeks before my grandmother died at a house hundreds of miles away, we began the process of removing every trace of my family from the home. Pictures, horded newspapers, the folded flag that she’d received when my grandfather had been buried, one just like what we’d receive when she was laid to rest beside him. The darkness had receded back to the basement, but even then, it pulled further away when we went down there and the workroom was finally unlocked to reveal an empty space, devoid of life, devoid of history, just concrete and memory and unmarked boxes.
    It was there that they told me, as we lifted out memories, that my grandfather had not died of cancer. He’d committed suicide in the house I’d slept in every weekend for the majority of my life. His own life gone in the sudden, violent, cessation of a bullet’s path through his brain.

    A contrary term.
    Perhaps it means to cease to exist.
    But cease can also mean stop or halt.
    To de-cease. To unstop. To unhalt. To defy stillness.
    They are deceased; They are moving.

The car loaded, the rest of the family waiting, I went back to the deck. The cats were gone, off to find another food source. The dog, too, had been returned to its grateful and gracious owners. Shadows lay long on the deck, one that once held wrought iron furniture. I have a single memory of my grandfather sitting there, looking out across the lake as his grandchildren played in the water and fished, a smile on his face, the content sort of smile of a man in deep, abiding love with kin and home.
    He was there still, a chill on my spine that was no more lessened now that I knew the truth, knew it was him.
    The wind off the lake hit me heavy, a dank smell of decaying fish. I imagined the water rising, lifting the dead aquatic bodies off the sand. Water would rise, cover the lawns to finally rinse away the forever imprints my cousin left behind in the earth when he walked to his death. It would cover the sunroom door, lock it forever. And it would keep rising, rushing up to flood the floors, the walls, the ceiling, would wash clean the remains.
    And I’d keep my head above water as long as I could until the window opened once again onto dry land.
Quite possibly my favorite thing I've ever written. I shopped it around for a couple of years but it was never published. I just couldn't quite seem to get it to the right place at the right time. But I love it too much to let it hide away on my computer forever. 

Time is a human construct ably abetted by the sky, the stars. We looked at the sky and decided to delineate day and night, to make them into two halves, when in fact they were just fine whole.

Prehistory – our prehistory – we were overwhelmed by the sky. Cave paintings and inscriptions are a myriad of hypothetical disasters, stars falling, bursting, chelating. For we saw the Milky Way in all its wonder, all white dust, blue light and rosy curls, a solid mass hanging heavy in the sky.


A girl has prehistory as well. Before she is born, before she is even the star twinkling in her mother’s eye, her parents meet. They fall in love because the stars deem them compatible. The mother, an Aquarius, full of intellect and dreams. The father, a Taurus, rooted so firmly in the ground that he has enough foundation to lift the world. Both are fixed signs, revolving around one another, becoming the binary.


The Kalahari have a myth: deep in the desert, a place with no stars, a woman was desperate and alone. But as the fire gave her light, she decided to throw its embers into the sky, creating a path upon which to walk to other worlds.

And we wanted those other words. We named the sky, claiming it as Straw Thief’s Way. Silver River. Way of the Birds. The Deer Jump. Great Fence of the Stars. The Road of the Slaves. The Winter Way. The Milky Way.

Emblazoned with the names we gave them, the stars used to resonate with us, like a string plucked at perfect pitch so that it shook our hearts behind our breast bones. The stars sung and we, unable to close our ears to the music, listened. And we heard our fates.


A girl is born on May 17. She grows under the rule of Saturn, the leader, and Venus, the romantic. Years from now, when she scours for the meaning behind her birth right, the stars will tell her that she’s destined to battle to never be forgotten.

She will learn, too, that she was born dangerously close to border between two zodiacs – a Taurus tipping into a Gemini – so the pull of a false fate created by the twin sign, the binary, could lead to catastrophe. As a result, she knows she must be careful to keep her true stars close to her heart, her ear bent to only their voices through the din.


For Aristotle, the heavens were spheres, 47 to 55 of them, interlocked segments of sky that contained each a planet or a zodiac. They rotated, pushed along on impetus by the gods, or just God, or the Prime Mover. They rotated in a harmony so mathematically divine that they were thought of as a symphony, the musica universalis, the music of the spheres.

Then, when the study of the heavens was first being put to scientific scrutiny, we referred to the heavens as the firmament. Firm, unyielding, fixed. There was no vacuum, no void. Space was full and weighty and almost within reach. The place of eternity, of the gods, the prime movers. And we, the Earth and her patrons, we were at the center of it all.

With the movement of the spheres, the zodiacs, we split our lives into years, into months. With the sun, we split our lives into days, then into hours, then to minutes, then to seconds, microseconds, nanoseconds, femtoseconds, and on, always making it smaller, pursuing the moment when time can no longer be divided. We are looking, always looking, to find time’s moment of undoing. We created it and now we cannot stop seeking its collapse.


At seven, she sits on a low brick wall that fences in the elementary school’s playground. For the moment, the world has stopped spinning, its rotation locked into Mercurial stillness, one side stuck forever facing the Sun. The light blazing on her skin feels warmer than normal, a sear, a sign, a plea from the star, asking to not be forgotten.

Beside her is a shoe box covered in tinfoil. She’s supposed to be peering through the tiny prick of a puncture, the only safe way to view the eclipse that is just starting to blaze black in the sky. Her classmates all have their heads covered securely in boxes. But she opens her eyes all the way and takes in the moment of glory even as it blinds her.


In China, the sky blackens. A dragon – ancient, celestial, unnamable – swallows the sun. They bang on drums, scream, cry, shake their fists in the air until they are raw and nearly mute, but always, the dragon retreats, and light floods the world again.

The light of stars is peculiar and ancient. An after image. We see our sun as it was eight minutes ago, the light taking that long to reach our eyes. For Sirius, the brightest star in our sky, the light we see is 8.6 years old. We didn’t know that the star Sanduleak -69° 202 had supernovaed until February 24, 1987, 168,000 years after it had died, just when homo sapiens were first stepping into the sun.

Even now with powerful telescopes, scientists believe that certain fundamental factors of the universe have coasted beyond our observable reach. Because of the drift, the expansion, there are questions for which we will never know the answer. And, more disturbing, there are answers that we may never know to question.


At eleven, she leaves her big city home for the first time. On the drive to the backwoods of South Dakota, the wide open spaces full of corn and wheat that stretch on without landmarks, without anchors, fill her with dread. She’s lost her mooring, her buildings, her neatly gridded blocks, her street lights.

She craves night, when the country will be hidden by darkness and all the stars – her stars, the ones she has memorized, each pinprick of light perfectly positioned in the heavens – will be her safe haven.

But when the sun winks out and the only human-touched lights are fires sputtering to sleep, she sees that her stars were simply the brightest, the ones strong enough to beat back the pollution that hazes their siblings into nonexistence.

Here and now, when every star is allowed to shine, her loves, her brave bright constellations, are lost among the noise and dust.


Imagine the sky as it fades away, the grandeur of the Milky Way lost in the reflection of our own city lights. Imagine the Galilean, the Apostle, the homo florensis as he steps into our century and all of the crushing night sky has vanished into paltry pinpricks. Would that invoke more fear in them than the night sky in all of its heavy glory?

The Olympians used the stars to tell their stories. Those great heroes who fell in battle, who sacrificed all, had their likeness scrawled across the heavens. Heracles and Orion we remember, can point out in the sky as we recite their deeds. But what of Perseus? Of Delphinous? Of Ophiuchus? Their stars remain, fixed points in the sky. But their stories fall on silent, vacuumed ears.

The Bortle Dark-Sky Scale puts our disconnect to the stars in convenient categories. Rural areas can still see the sky in all its wonder, constellations lost in a mess of other, unnamed celestial bodies. Urban living – the scale’s hell – when the night sky has such an orange hue that one can easily read outside at midnight. In the suburbs, the transition between those who can see and those who cannot, even the brightest objects are ghosts of their true selves.


Sixteen, newly licensed and newly mobile, she drives out of her city in search of the Milky Way. Under the weight of too many new memories, she can hardly recollect her childhood awe at seeing the full glory of the sky, just once, just a single night of beauty. So she drives for miles and miles, always looking at the sky for a hint of its true form. But no matter how far she travels from the city lights, the sky stays black, as though the majority of the stars are lost forever, hidden away by feats of electricity.

So she turns to a telescope, borrowing one from the same school where she’d nearly been blinded by the eclipse a decade before. She turns the lens towards her heart, the constellation Taurus tucked away between Perseus and Orion. Pressing her eye to the scope, she holds her breath, ready to be overwhelmed.

The stars are clear, bright pulsing voices, their song plucked along a perfectly tuned instrument that has not been played in millennia.

She thought they would look so much closer.


In modern times, we’ve abandoned the myth of the Milky Way. Perhaps it is because science has removed the need for myth. Or perhaps it is because we can no longer see it. Out of sight, out of mind. Out of awe.

Instead, we speak of our future a as scientific curiosity:

When our Sun, our soul, blossoms into a red giant some billions of years down the road, it will quickly devour Mercury and Venus. Earth, however, is at just the perfect distance make its fate uncertain. We will either become the new Mercury, spinning around our massive star without hint of rotation, one side always in searing heat, the other in frigid darkness. Or the Sun’s pull will be too strong, and we will not be able to fight the allure and after a few last trips around, we will tip in, our final moment a burst of gravitational ecstasy before we are consumed.

All that will be left is the star.

And there will be no after.


A girl, 29 and still searching for the Milky Way, creates her own myth: When the universe banged into being, stars came and went with such rapidity that their light hardly had the time to make it through its first year. They burst apart, flinging dust out to the far reaches of the expanding plane of existence. Some of the dust collected into new stars, making the Milky Way. Some into planets. And some, just some, of that star dust coalesced into organic material that over the eons grew, stretched, evolved into the creatures that would eventually look to the sky and decided to delineate day and night, to claim the stars as their own to understand and tame, to make lights so bright that they lost their ability to see where they came from. They no longer hear their fate singing across the spheres.
Light Years
Sometimes to find oneself, one must look at the larger world. 


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raspil Featured By Owner May 17, 2015   Writer
i hope you have a fantastic day!  :cake:
phoenixleo Featured By Owner May 17, 2015
Happy Birthday! :iconballoonplz: 
LadyLincoln Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Happy birthday, lovely. :heart:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Happy birthday! :hug:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Arichy Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy birthday! 
namenotrequired Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Student Interface Designer
I hope you're having a fantabulous birthday, Meg! :party:
Lexi247 Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2015
Just stopping by to say hello :hug: Have a wonderful day~!
Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2015   General Artist
hello there, lovely person! Huggle!
this is to inform you that i have made use of one of the titles of your poetry in my title poem over here: Love
i hope that this is alright with you, pray that you enjoy the read, and thank you for your inspirational artistry! :eager: by darkmoon3636 <3
Memnalar Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2014
Points are badass. People who give them are badder asser.
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