when love is described like burning

burning

When I kiss you I taste smoke between my lips but do not think of burning. The crackle of flames has always been a homely thing – you invite me to warm my fingertips by your hearth.

When you make matchsticks out of my nerve endings I do not think of arson. I think of laughing, tracing sparklers bright and fizzing in the Autumn air. You write your name along my hip bones and the letters don’t fade so easily.

And when I burn for you, I do not think of water.
I think this is just like the movies.

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October Creeps and Thrills Reading List

I love reading. I think reading novels, consuming stories, is one of the best ways to gain inspiration for writing and, honestly, a lot of fun. So I thought I’d put together an October list of 7 ‘Creeps and Thrills’ reading list of some of my personal favourites in honour of Halloween. Enjoy!


  1. Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

    Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows, a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

    I am a huge Gillian Flynn fan – she’s one of my favourite authors and I recommend everything. As a lover of brilliant villains, and of interesting female characters, so far she has yet to disappoint me. And Sharp Objects has one of the most intriguing and creepy villains I have seen in a long time!


  2. Confessions of a Sociopath, by M.E Thomas

    The first memoir of its kind, Confessions of a Sociopath is an engrossing, highly captivating narrative of the author’s life as a diagnosed sociopath.She is a charismatic charmer, an ambitious self-promoter, and a cunning and calculating liar. She can induce you to invest in her financial schemes, vote for her causes, and even join her in bed. Like a real-life Lisbeth Salander, she has her own system of ethics, and like Dexter, she thrives on bending and occasionally breaking the rules. She is a diagnosed, high-functioning, noncriminal sociopath, and this is her world from her point of view.Drawn from the author’s own experiences; her popular blog, Sociopathworld.com; and scientific literature, Confessions of a Sociopath is part confessional memoir, part primer for the curious. Written from the point of view of a diagnosed sociopath, it unveils for the very first time these people who are hiding in plain sight. The book confirms suspicions and debunks myths about sociopathy, providing a road map for dealing with the sociopath in your life.

    So, not a fiction book for once, but it’s one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long while. It’s a different perspective on sociopaths that you would normally get in the media, and personally I found it really helpful and fascinating. I love a good villain – but sometimes it’s important that not everything can be split into black and white categories of hero and villain like you’d expect.



  3. House of Leaves, by Mark. Z Danielewski

    A blind old man, a young apprentice working in a tattoo shop, and a mad woman haunting an Ohio institute narrate this story of a family that encounters an endlessly shifting series of hallways in their new home, eventually coming face to face with the awful darkness lying at its heart.

    One of the cleverest creepy books I’ve ever read. You get as much out of it as you put in, so perhaps not a read if you’re just looking for some lighter reading…but absolutely brilliant! It will linger with you long after you read it as you try and decipher the clues to work everything out.


  4. Exquisite Corpse, by Poppy Z Brite

    To serial slayer Andrew Compton, murder is an art, the most intimate art. After feigning his own death to escape from prison, Compton makes his way to the United States with the sole ambition of bringing his “art” to new heights. Tortured by his own perverse desires, and drawn to possess and destroy young boys, Compton inadvertently joins forces with Jay Byrne, a dissolute playboy who has pushed his “art” to limits even Compton hadn’t previously imagined. Together, Compton and Byrne set their sights on an exquisite young Vietnamese-American runaway, Tran, whom they deem to be the perfect victim.Swiftly moving from the grimy streets of London’s Piccadilly Circus to the decadence of the New Orleans French Quarter, and punctuated by rants from radio talk show host Lush Rimbaud, a.k.a. Luke Ransom, Tran’s ex-lover, who is dying of AIDS and who intends to wreak ultimate havoc before leaving this world, Exquisite Corpse unfolds into a labyrinth of murder and love. Ultimately all four characters converge on a singular bloody night after which their lives will be irrevocably changed — or terminated.

    I very much enjoyed this one. Set in New Orleans – always a fantastic place for a serial killer novel – it’s great for the way that, for once, you get two killers actually interacting with each other. Which is good fun and makes a nice change.


  5. The Child Thief,  by Brom

    Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief—and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood. His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life, but his promised land is not Neverland. Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter’s crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?There is always more to lose.Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries—one where he must learn to fight or die among the “Devils,” Peter’s savage tribe of lost and stolen children.There, Peter’s dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the “Flesh-eaters” and save the last, wild magic in this dying land.

    This is a wonderful dark re-telling of Peter Pan. It’s unique and clever and still full of magic. I really enjoyed it. It’s great if you’re looking for something a little different.


  6. Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis

    Bret Ellis, the narrator of Lunar Park, is a writer whose first novel Less Than Zero catapulted him to international stardom while he was still in college. In the years that followed he found himself adrift in a world of wealth, drugs, and fame, as well as dealing with the unexpected death of his abusive father. After a decade of decadence a chance for salvation arrives; the chance to reconnect with an actress he was once involved with, and their son. But almost immediately his new life is threatened by a freak sequence of events and a bizarre series of murders that all seem to connect to Ellis’s past. His attempts to save his new world from his own demons makes Lunar Park Ellis’s most suspenseful novel.

    I bet you were expecting American Psycho. While a classic read, I personally found it utterly tedious to read – which was probably rather the point. Lunar Park was completely different. I’ve heard it described as the Bret Easton Ellis novel to read if you hate Bret Easton Ellis’ work, which worked for me. It’s a clever mock-autobiographical gothic about a writer haunted by his own work and (you guessed it) American Psycho. It was unusual and, as a writer, I really got a kick out of it.


  7. A Portable Shelter, by Kirsty Logan

    In their tiny, sea-beaten cottage on the north coast of Scotland, Liska and Ruth await the birth of their first child. They spend their time telling stories to the unborn baby, trying to pass on the lessons they’ve learned: tales of circuses and stargazing, selkie fishermen and domestic werewolves, child-eating witches and broken-toothed dragons. But each must keep their storytelling a secret from the other, as they’ve agreed to only ever tell the plain truth. Ruth tells her stories when Liska is at work, to a background of shrieking seabirds; Liska tells hers when Ruth is asleep, with the lighthouse sweeping its steady beam through the window. As their tales build and grow along with their child, Liska and Ruth realise that the truth lives in their stories, and they cannot hide from one another.

     

    A little dark, and a little beautiful. This is a great and fantastical collection of short stories – for those who like a bit of horror, but mixed with love, where hope can win out.


    Honourable mentions of classics you really should read, because these ones really are classic for a reason:

    Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley,
    Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
    Carmilla, by Sheridan Le Fanu

Monster

They watch you shatter and I wonder what they think of me;
Some thing of careless cruelty
Or malicious intent, 
– I broke you either way.  

And yet, they forget
That a glass heart can be cutting too
The chips and cracks make you look so fragile
– You are all sharp edges now.  

They watch you shatter and I wonder what they think of me;
Fingers red sliced gathering shards, 
I will help you piece together again
– Everyone knows that bloodied hands are a sign of guilt.

The God Key – Chapter One tentative draft share because I’m super excited!

 

“Very heroic, having me dragged here.”

“I told them not to hurt you,” Archangel said. Seeing Isaac again, up close, was as dizzying as blood loss. He itched still, damningly, to reach out and touch. To soothe bruised jaw and tension corded shoulders, release chafed wrists and press kisses to every inch of his skin. “We didn’t want to hurt you.” He stepped closer. “You brought this upon yourself.”

His basement was small and padded and grey, equipped only with the chair and shackles that Isaac was bound to. The shackles dwarfed him and his slender wrists. It was ridiculous.

“Why am I here, Gabriel?”

It was strange to hear that name after so many years. Just a little bit wrong feeling. And yet, on those lips, it was achingly easy. Intimate. He released a breath. “I’ve been trying to find you for a long time.”

“I know, I’ve been avoiding you for a long time. That’s not what I asked.”

He fumbled, uselessly, frantically, for the threads of Isaac’s mind. Nothing there. There was only maddening, shuttered, impossible silence like the grave. It seemed to seep into everything. What are you thinking, Isaac? Archangel stroked his powers over the minds of others, instead – Spring on guard just outside the door.

He wished he’d thought to bring in some sort of barrier with him. Coffee, even. The files. Try just talking to him, reasoning with him – what sort of idiotic idea had that been when the very sight of him had Gabriel bent over the ropes with the match bell ringing?

“I need your help,” Archangel said. “We need your help.”

“I need you to stay the hell away from me, but here we are.”

“You didn’t have to let me believe you were dead!” It burst out of him. It was the exact opposite of the patient calm and control he’d wanted to radiate. This time, even when he knew he absolutely shouldn’t, he couldn’t resist touching. Just to check that he was truly there in front of him, warm and alive. Just because he hoped it fucking hurt Isaac even a fraction as much.

Isaac bit down on his lip at the small caress of fingers on his jaw. A choked sound caught in his throat. His head jerked like he wanted to twitch away, though he couldn’t.

Archangel could feel the power buzzing beneath Isaac’s skin, could literally watch Isaac’s fledgling grey eyes turn as white as a fresh sheet of paper. In an instant he could hear every thought in the house, feel the tug of them like strings ready to be woven into a tapestry of his pleasing. I’m so tired, spaghetti carbonara for dinner, just a few minutes of rest, be good, train harder, I should make coffee, I wonder what they’re doing in there…

The thoughts stretched farther, further, a rush of hundreds of voices and souls going about their life. He could hear every thought except the ones he most wanted to hear, but a person’s power never worked on Isaac when they touched him and Isaac’s own gifts kicked in. Everyone else though…

Their gazes locked. Isaac’s breath had gone shallow and his body taut. He gave Gabriel a look of exquisite agony. He didn’t, however, give an explanation. An apology. Nor did he offer up any useful information.

Archangel let his arm drop and forced himself to focus. “You’re too powerful for me to leave you alone, you know that.” His voice was only a little hoarse. “I couldn’t let you fall into the wrong hands; I’m not the only person who’s been looking for you these last few years. Would you rather it was one of them who found you, instead of me?”

“Better the devil you know, Archangel?”

“I’m not the devil.”

“No. You’re a regular hero, right? Let’s just call this detaining a threat instead of fucking kidnapping your ex like the other freaks get.”

Perhaps spitefully, Archangel reached out a hand again, carding his fingers through Isaac’s hair. There. A quiver of breath, a slight surrender, a skin-hunger. How long had it been since someone touched Isaac like this? Or touched him at all? Had the last time been Gabriel too? The power rushed beneath his hand, all the possibilities that he once thought died bleeding out on their bedroom floor.

Focus.

“Indifference is a form of evil, Isaac. Doing nothing means letting evil win.” Letting me mourn you was evil. Isaac’s hair was overgrown, tangled, greasy with hiding out and matted with cold sweat. He’d have to get it cut. “Don’t you dare pretend I’m the bad guy here.”

“Gabriel.” Isaac’s gloved fingers flexed again on the arms of the chair. His power pulsed wildly, magnifying Archangel’s telepathy in one moment, shrinking it the next until his head had gone quiet with only the whisper of foreign thoughts. But it always went back to the magnifying. Isaac had told him once that everything in his whole body lit up with their mere proximity to each other. He couldn’t get enough of it, kept the point of contact up for a beat longer, two.

Gabriel.” Pleading. Point to him. Archangel let go, offering reprieve again as Isaac squeezed his eyes shut for a few seconds and cleared his throat. “So, you found me. You caught me. What happens to me now? You can’t keep me tied to a chair forever – that would be cruel. No one here wants to hurt me, remember? Least of all you.” His cheeks were flushed.

“The chair is a temporary arrangement until I can be sure you don’t do something stupid.”

“Until you can get inside my head and make me behave like a good boy for you?”

“Is that really what you think of me now?” Archangel’s voice stayed steady with effort, practice. His face faltered for only a split second. It was, unfortunately, a split second that Isaac caught.

“I think you think what you’re doing is the ultimate right. I think you think you’re protecting me. I think you’re an arrogant delusional prick who thinks anyone who doesn’t share his particular view on the world is immoral and needs to be saved.”

It was true, but not like that. Isaac twisted everything.

Archangel circled the chair, placing himself behind him. Giving himself a brief reprieve too, perhaps, from the look on Isaac’s face.

Gabriel had always loved broken things, he loved to put them back together. Isaac had been a stained glass window of a boy when they first met. Startling colours, beauty, torment, and absolutely shattered into a million pieces. He’d loved him instantly. With his eyes blazing white and his body shuddering like a magnet trying to connect he looked devastatingly in need of Gabriel to save him again. Whether he was too stubborn to admit it or not.

“I know she was in your head, it’s how we finally found you.”

“You think I’m a Trojan horse gifted to bring your kingdom crashing down?” Isaac laughed, without amusement. It was a horribly scratchy noise like he’d grown unused to making any. “Feel free to let me go whenever you like. I’d hate to be an inconvenience.”

Archangel didn’t laugh. He studied the back of Isaac’s head, as if it would magically open up for him and make sense again. “I think she’s clever and slippery and cruel, and I know what having her in your dreams is like. I think you’re terrified to have anyone in your head ever again, especially me, which is why I’m asking. Nicely. What did you talk about with her?”

Isaac’s mind remained closed to him. So did his mouth.

Archangel’s lips pressed thin. “For fuck’s sake.” He did his best to clamp down on his frustration. He clung instead to the quivers of Isaac’s breath, to the fact that even when Isaac tried to close his eyes and ignore him he was inevitably drawn back. Unable to keep from focusing on Gabriel, from looking at him, any more than Gabriel could resist reaching out to touch all reassurances and strategy aside. Isaac had refused to even speak to anyone else, let alone co-operate with them. Surely the fact he kept responding, however reluctantly or defiantly, meant something?

Or maybe Isaac just knew how to play him.

He moved to stand in front of him again, expression composed and shoulders drawn back. Radiating patience, calm, rationality as much as he could when he hadn’t slept in over seventy two hours. “You know I can’t leave your head unchecked,” he said. “I can’t let you go to her – we wouldn’t stand a chance.”

“Nobody here wants to hurt me, but you’re more than willing to make that sacrifice for the greater good if you have to.” Isaac raised his brows, lips curling into some mocking imitation of a smile. “That’s it, right? Probably suits you just fine considering how quickly you gave up asking nicely. It means you get to play jigsaws with my head after. You like doing that.”

“She’s poisoned you against me – I’m trying to protect you.”

“Sure, if you say so. That’s it.”

A fresh stab of irritation needled him at the fact Isaac had the audacity to eye-roll at him with that comment. Why did Isaac have to make everything so bloody difficult? Why did he always insist on forcing Gabriel’s hand? As if making Archangel run around the country chasing after him like a fool hadn’t been bad enough.

“I’m not your enemy, don’t make me into one.”

“You don’t change, Gabe.”

You do. You have. What has she done to you?

Archangel slammed his powers against Isaac’s mental barriers.

(more…)

A Compilation of Descriptions

You would see me turn myself into a stone-hearted woman – like the statue on a trophy, a commemorative prize of what you made me into. It is easy to look at statues and not feel bad. Breaking a stone heart is an accomplishment. A sculpture is a work of art and only an object after all.

I will be soft. I will be kind.


Loving you was like the glut at the end of a carnival day. Sick with sweetness, the sugary high that turned to strung nerves and pounding skull – a pleasure gorged on in fear of making the most of it before it was gone, that in dizzy excess was no longer pleasure at all. Only the memory of it. The chasing of it. The flashing strobe lights of it at once beautiful and alarming. And yet beyond you, the world was colourless.


She was always both drawn and repulsed by stories of shapeshifters, werewolves, possession, changeling children – she devoured anything about stolen or changed bodies. Probably because she always felt like such a stranger to her own.


I make the person that I used to be out of the broken bits of me, scraps of skin and stitched up smiles, the dust in my bones from where the world has worn me down. I have forgotten how I used to love you, I am so different now, but I love you still.

You look at me like I am Frankenstein’s monster zapped to life and set down at your kitchen table in an old sweater, with distant eyes, a crumbling disguise. I think I love you now like a haunting thing.


I once met a girl who said she wanted to die at sixteen so she would be beautiful at her funeral. Beautiful forever. Young forever. The two best things in life they say, young and beautiful. Youngandbeautiful. Synonymous. I laughed then, with everyone else – I had to – otherwise I’d choke on the fact that the world makes fifteen year old girls believe that it is better to be dead than to be ugly.


The garden curled around the fences of the manor like fingers wrapped around prison bars. Like every inch of ferocious wildness was straining against the edges of its cage in an effort to creep down to the sleepy civility of the village below and devour it.


I did not fall in love with you. I fell in love with the people we could be, the conversations we could have had, the nostalgic desire of everything that could happen between us. I fell in love with the idea that someone like me would fall in love with someone like you.

But I did not fall in love with you.


Old ghosts rise in my bones every time we kiss, there is a summoning on your lips of all the people you used to love and how you compare them to me.

You have made my body into a haunted house.


You built fences and fortresses around your feelings, and I had heard the stories of princesses locked in towers a hundred times. I forgot that sometimes defences aren’t built to keep the knights out – but to keep the monsters in.


There are many different kinds of secrets in the world – some shackle people together, some shatter them apart. Some secrets are as quiet as a lipstick smudge on a blown away scrap of tissue, some as loud as the silence after loved one’s death. But most secrets grow. Secrets are hungry, lonely things. They want to be told.

Unfinished

I remember the smell of smoke
It creased into the folds of your tweed jacket
As I pretended to be asleep so you would pick me up
And take me inside.
Familiar, home
In the folds of your favourite jacket,
I didn’t know then…
I always loved a fire,
Crumpling sacrifices,
My exam schedule and your lungs burning,
The promises greyed like ashes in your mouth
And I stained my teeth trying to hold them.

It was never enough.

13 Villainous Prompts

  1. “You used me.”
    “I prefer the term symbiotic. Don’t act like you didn’t enjoy being special.”
    Somehow, the assumption that I could never be special otherwise stung more than the betrayal did.


  2. “Forgiveness? I don’t want your forgiveness – I want fire and brimstone and let hell rain down upon me.”

    “It’s not about what you want.”

    “You don’t get to forgive me,” the villain spat. “We’re not done yet.”


  3. They loved dangerous things. Take a monster, humble it and arrange its teeth in a smile, make it pretty, make it sweet – there’s no greater power in the world. After all, it is only the dangerous creatures which need to be tamed.

  4.  I loved you with the sweetness of something rotting.

  5. “Did you really think you could beat me?” The villain laughed, shaking their head. “Oh, that’s cute. You’re adorable.”

    “So are you but you don’t see me flirting at a time like this!”
    They both froze and stared at each other.


  6. “I loved you, once.”
    “You still do, it’s why you fight me so hard. You don’t care about them. But god,” the villain leaned in close. “You will never forgive yourself for not seeing this coming.”

  7. “Dearest. Darling. Sweetheart,” the protagonist flatly recited the list of endearments the antagonist was most likely to wield in their conversations. “You’re play acting at intimacy again. God, it must be desperately lonely being you.”

    “Oh, love. I’m not the one play acting at anything – if I wanted to be intimate with you, baby, I’d bother to learn your name.”


  8. “You think me a monster, perhaps you’re right.” The villain studied the hero almost clinically as they gasped desperately for air. “But at least I am what I am. You would tear yourself into a hundred pieces if that would make them love you, but don’t you see?” In an instant, they’d stepped close, cradling the hero’s jaw. “You’re never going to be enough for them. They want an angel who will save them all and you are only human.”

  9.  “So protective…” the villain murmured. “You were never so protective over me.”

    “You never needed anyone to protect you!”

    The look on the villain’s face stopped them dead.


  10. “You saved my life.”

    “And you thought that was mercy? Oh, darling…” the words were as soft as a lover’s caress and the smile as cruel as the twist of a knife.


  11. “I could have given you the whole world.”

    “I didn’t want the world – I just wanted you. Don’t you get that?”


  12. “You don’t have to do this, please,” the hero said.
    “Ah, but when would we ever spend time with each otherwise? I think I’d miss you too much.”
    “You can’t be serious.”
    “You’ll never know.”


  13.  “I need you alive,” the antagonist said. “I don’t need that idealistic, defiant head of yours in working order.” A sharp nail caressed soft lips, catching hold of the other’s tongue when they opened their mouth to reply. “I don’t need to spare your friends. I don’t need to give you nice things. You would do well to remember that.”Their hand drew back.

    The protagonist spoke as they neared the door.

    “Maybe once…but I don’t think you’re convincing either of us anymore. No…” they followed, stalked, after their enemy. “You don’t need me coherent, you don’t need to make my life comfortable, or spare my friends. But here we are. Know why?” They reached out a hand to brush the antagonist’s hair out of their face. “Because you, my sweet thing, love my mind. Or should I change it just to you love me?”

    “You’re deluded.”
    “We are what we made of each other. You would do well to remember that next time you try to play wolf with me. You need me alive and I…” the protagonist sighed and pressed a sweet kiss to the other’s lips. “Well, I’m afraid I don’t really need you at all.”