Wise words from the Irish troubadour himself. Happy St. Paddy’s day, everyone.
“Audrey?” Mimi Claire clapped her hands. A girl wearing a black shift-dress over her straight frame slipped into the room as though she’d been standing right outside the door. Her light auburn hair, parted in the middle, was rolled into buns behind her earlobes. The angles of her heart-shaped face were a mask of opaque and inexpensive color, with waxy black liner above and below her slender eyes, and scarlet lipstick chiseling the lines of her wide mouth. She had short heels on, similar to Claire’s.
“Hi,” The girl’s lashes dropped as her eyes scanned down Lucy’s body. “What are you wearing?”
“It’s just clothes,” Lucy said, now a little defensively.
“You know, I’ve had some requests for Ryan and Audrey, together.” Claire swirled her downturned index finger in a circle. “They’re quite good with one another.” She waited a beat as though Lucy should say something. Lucy couldn’t imagine what that something might be. “The idea doesn’t bother you?”
“I want them taken care of — both of them.” Lucy took a step forward. She knew Audrey shifted too, because she could hear the girl’s unfinished dance soles scratch the wooden floor.
“Well, they take decent care of each other, especially now that they have room to explore without their guiding star.” Claire fanned her open hand over her head. “Later, Audrey.”
“I miss you, Lucy,” Audrey said before pulling the knob on the heavy, metal door and gliding back through. Lucy felt something very painful in her chest.
“I’ve changed my mind.” Lucy looked back to Claire. “I want them with me. I will take care of them. I take full responsibility.”
“They’re night cereus,” Claire stared after the younger girl now with something that looked like genuine affection, “they only thrive in the dark; and how they blossom. Sometimes just for a moment, but what an unfolding. What they lack in longevity, they make up for in spectacle. Bringing them out into the sun is a waste — they’ll crumple. I’ve seen it before.”
Mimi Claire looked absolutely serious. Lucy felt a strange urgency mounting, like she couldn’t keep hold of the organization in her composure anymore. What’s more, this bellicose presence in her own body had been growing more palpable from the moment Claire swaggered into the room and laid her hand on Lucy’s chest. It was work, Lucy realized, so much work to keep everything sorted so that the rotating prism of her awareness changed face uninterrupted, under the pretense of free thinking. Lucy could not see further than the flipping images immediately in front of her mind’s eye, but knew at that instant that every theme in this ideological spectrum had been planned out mile by mile down her mental corridor long before. It was just an affectation of methodology — a show within a show — carried out under wraps where no-one but Lucy could see. Now, everything else she’d believed to be folded and buried in the background came to life as its volatile rolls rippled beneath the footing of her thoughts.
Claire stood before her, dastardly and doubly inviting. Whether seeing this was really seeing it or knowing it was simply reminiscing, Lucy could not peel her focus away from the revelation that Claire was operating inside the promise of release; of a sweet surrender before you turn your palms up and free-fall backward into the schism of dissolution. This unwelcome longing began in the center of Lucy’s chest and spread its pervasive warmth out like pooling syrup that spilled over the length of her torso until it blotted out all reason, filling the cracks in her resolve. It was an illusion made real only by her acknowledgement of it, Lucy was sure, but still it masked those confusions of pressure and the imperfections of sadness. It was louder than reason and louder than feeling, that viscous honey of desire, which usurped all else in its glossy, uniform cocoon and left nothing behind but the exhaling urge to serve itself. And that finality, as the last beads of glaze closed around the remaining bastions of restraint, was perhaps the most seductive thing of all.
“Then — let me stay?” Lucy tried not to hear the supplication in her weakened tone. “Let me stay here.”
The petals that formed Claire’s mouth met and parted like butterfly wings bending in place. “I’m flattered,” she said.
“I meant for them,” Lucy replied. Claire’s smugness allowed Lucy a moment to grapple for some sort of clinging vine that might lead her back to herself.
“Sure you did.” Claire grinned. “But no, you don’t belong here, anymore. Your place is at your new school,” she fluttered her elegant fingers, “doing whatever it is you have to attend to, there. But I’m not so cruel as to send those soft eyes off alone.” Claire moved even closer, looking, again, almost as tender as someone who actually felt humanity. “You can’t have Ryan, or Audrey, but I do have someone for you…
At the Basajaun table at Detroit Fanfare in October.
You’re looking very Shane, today.
Writing exercise: Bring your laptop to bed “just to make a few notes,” then decide it makes more sense to simply write the scene now & see how many words you can get in before the battery runs out. I logged 883.
(This writing exercise is brought to you by, “I didn’t bring the cord with me because I didn’t think I’d need it, but now I don’t want to move because I’m warm & comfortable.”)
TyRuben Ellingson Interview - Part One, Early Influences and Hollywood
Fantastic interview with film concept artist and effects art director TyRuben Ellingson on work ethic, del Toro, Cameron, ILM, & more! Ty is teaching now at VCU if you’re lucky enough to attend there!
Lucy could hear the girl’s penny loafers clicking the scratched terrazzo flooring behind her. She didn’t look back. The footsteps sounded matter-of-fact and innocent, and they matched the girl’s expression when Lucy turned around.
They were alone. Lucy had walked them to the remotest hallway she could think of and took a final look down the corridor on either side before moving closer to her classmate’s face.
“Okay, who sent you?” Lucy whispered.
“What?” The girl looked baffled.
“Who sent you?” Lucy said again, and put her hand on the lockers behind the girl, leaning in. “I know someone did. Was it a man? With a beard?” Lucy instinctively gave his description rather than his name, both because she imagined the girl might not know it and because Lucy herself suspected his name was something altogether different.
“I’m a new student.” The girl tucked her chin a little. “I don’t remember who gave me the test. Is that important? I barely talked to him — he just waited in the classroom until I’d finished. It was last semester, at my old school in Edgewood.”
“That’s not what I meant.” Lucy almost wanted to be angry, but it was difficult in the face of this teenage girl who seemed eager to be liked and very regular — or as regular as any of the students at this school could be. In fact, she seemed quite nice. Lucy scowled.
“Did you go to a medical facility, before you came here?”
“No.” The girl shook her head. “Well, when I had a cold, a couple months ago, but they said I didn’t need an antibiotic. And then it went away.” The girl smiled.
Lucy’s mind raced. She lowered her voice even more and her heart beat fast. “Do you know Elizabeth?”
“Elizabeth Randall? From Edgewood?” The girl said.
Lucy sighed. “It doesn’t matter. What’s your name? Your real name?”
“Your name is Natalie?” Lucy looked deep into the girl’s eyes.
“Yes,” Natalie said.
Lucy eyed the girl some more. “I thought you were someone else.”
“Is this your locker?” Natalie looked over her shoulder at the metal door where Lucy had put her hand in her attempt to intimidate the girl.
“A couple halls down,” Lucy said, unmoving, her lips in a straight line. The girl glanced at Lucy’s hand above her head and Lucy moved it away sheepishly. Natalie smiled again.
“It’s this way,” Lucy mumbled and walked away. She could hear the guileless penny loafers following behind her. The “click” of each blithe step made Lucy feel more guilty and even more confused.
Writing is slow tonight. Apropos tunes:
(Stray Cats - Crawl Up And Die)
The high ceiling, exposed pipework, and busyness of the loosely-maintained remittence center made Lucy feel invisible and safe. Preoccupied businessmen and downtrodden passers-by paid her no mind, each wrapped in their personal reality for their own range of reasons. It was apothegmatic that in a building devoted to singular possession, people kept to themselves more than anywhere else Lucy had ever been. When one individual opened his or her clandestine metal box, anyone nearby averted their eyes pointedly but not too noticeably, lest the strength of their aversion serve as a marker for some sort of hyper-awareness of others’ privacy or of the etiquette. Like men at urinals, each person down the row pulled open their designated numbered door while displaying the learned veneer of naturally-appearing disinterest, for they believed that filling the communal jar of comfort for others would afford them the same treatment cumulatively as they came back to their lockbox again and again, until that dreamy day when they had the space and means to give the box’s contents a real home, whatever that might look like.