Month: July 2015

A Perfect Reflection

mirror mirror

Her husband dotes on the daughter of a better life,

Forever mourning the loss of his beloved first wife,

And she’s not enough, though everyone said she was perfection,

Now – just a desperate woman staring at her reflection.

Trying to be as flawless as the glass beneath her fingers,

To push back burning spite, but cruel insecurity lingers,

Because Time’s gouged wrinkles in her skin, though her face remains fair,

But Snow White is young and she can’t compare.

She’s losing her beauty to the envy in her eyes,

To the hate in her heart because the mirror never lies,

Snow White is seven and as beautiful as day…

Perfection has never seemed further away.

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Our Game

We thrived on our pushing-pulling game,
Never believing things could ever change,
Victory rots on my tongue,
It tastes so wrong –
Your dying smile,
Because after a while
I pushed too much
And the tenderest touch
Splinters our violent love…
We shatter,
Pretend that it doesn’t matter,
I won. I won. I won.
But it still tastes so wrong,
Because I played thinking I would lose,
I played for you,
Together, forever,
But forever proves too long,
Eternity decays on my lips too,
Because I’d give anything to go back
To the way we were before.

It was just our game

The Sea and the Shore

mermaid

It always started the same – the slice of ships in the water, the barbed and tangled nets dropping like the claws of some forgotten leviathan, shattering the peace below and devouring up any mer foolish enough to get too close.

They would never be seen again.

The next day, the tide would wash in crimson with the blood of the human traders, as her kin took their revenge in turn in an endless cycle of hunting.

Nerina lurked by the shoreline, perfectly still, watching.

Human prey were, on the whole, dreadfully boring. They succumbed easily to the song, hearts ensnared from the second they began to beat, and growing frantic under tender hands and the silky darkness of the deep.  Desperate, writhing little things they were, greedy for air and all the treasures denied from their grasping hands.

The girl was on the beach again.

If mer slipped through the water like snatches of moonlight, then she was the opposite; sun-soaked and dark, all soft edges and stillness in comparison to the fluidity of the ocean.

The song had no effect on her.

Every night the humans would flee to their shells, trying to block their ears from the lure that stole their souls whilst they slumbered. The beach would be left devoid of life, empty of its daytime rabble.

And in the emptiness, they stared at each other.

The girl stalked the waters like a caged beast, toes dipping in but never venturing further.
All she needed to do was come in, let the sea worship the contours of the land, and she would be Nerina’s forever.

She never did. She just watched, gaze scouring the waves with the quality of fish hooks.

Tonight was different.

The small but specialized fishing boat was coaxed out, by the girl and by the hungry waters – tethered carefully with ropes and anchors, net slithering down but easy enough to avoid if one knew it lurked there in the gloom.

The bottom of the boat was cast as always with streaks of silver to stop her kind from tearing the wood out from beneath the humans, to lessen the effectiveness of their singing too.

The girl clutched a sharp knife in one hand, and seemed to genuinely believe that it would keep her safe.

Adorable.

Nerina settled near the side of the boat, head tilted to one side.

“You must be very brave, or very foolish to finally come to my world,” she said. The girl just looked at her, watched her lips, and made a gesture at her ears, smiling. If the baring of teeth could be called a smile.

Nerina’s head swivelled the other way.

“I can’t hear you,” the human said. The words were carefully pronounced, followed by quick hand movements that had her blinking at the girl in incomprehension. “You cannot lure me.”

And yet, was the human not in a boat in the water?

A sharp smile curled the corners of Nerina’s lips instead as she considered her options.

“What is your name?” she spoke slowly, so that the human could watch her mouth to pick out the words. There was a power in names, and in titles, regardless of if they were heard by human ears or not.

The human arched her brows at that, as if telling her not to even try it.

Nerina bared her own teeth back, relishing the girl’s flinch.

This just made it more fun.

It was a different type of hunt, a challenge where she couldn’t merely open her mouth and watch her prey crumble. But Nerina was the best huntress in all her pod, so it was obvious that she would win this prize too.

Her gaze nonetheless raked over the girl with equal fascination to the scrutiny she found herself under, and she twisted herself in the water so that her scales were on show. Her smile broadened when the human’s eyes widened a little at the display, and she flicked water at the girl to watch her huff at the splash.

For her efforts, she finally received a smile in return – the coaxed curiosity of a small fish lured into the deceptive light in the darkness.

They stayed like that for a long time.


(more…)

Dinner ὰ Deux

Red Wine

“I’m sorry, Miss, but we have another reservation at 10. I don’t want to hurry you, but…”

Julia examined the menu in minute detail, stared down the clean white linen stretching out in front of her, dropping into the empty chair at the other end of the table. She twisted one of the napkins in her fingers. Straightened the silverware. Sipped at the glass of red wine she’d been clutching for the last half an hour.

“No, it’s fine. I understand. I’m ready to order.”

She made an art of studying a couple two tables down. It was better than checking the time again.

They were a new couple; one in love with the possibility of redemption, and the other with being the saviour. Their fingers clenched together by the salt and pepper shakers, frightened to let go and no longer be needed. Frightened that they would instead fall back to a cramped, dark space in their own heads where honest thoughts were twisted and shrunken from lack of sunlight.

At least, that was the story she painted for them. She liked doing that.

The woman in the corner by the window was a secret agent, and the two by the door were a brother and sister having a family reunion after years of estrangement.  It was all very emotional.

Julia swallowed.

She was sure everyone was staring at her, could feel the pity blooming in their eyes behind her back. The familiar story of ‘Woman Stood Up By Date’.

She went through her speech again, draft 52 and ongoing, before dropping her gaze back to the tablecloth.

The empty chair stared at her – she shouldn’t have been surprised. Matthew always did this. Oh, it wasn’t out of spite, she knew that. It was the bad traffic, staying late to take a conference call, getting a flat tire, getting lost, stopping to help an old lady cross the road. It was always something, and never his fault.

Her lips pinched thin.

I think we should break up.
Six words, it should be easy.

It wasn’t.

(more…)

Blackberry Bruises

blackberry

Blackberry bruises on my fingers,
Swiped by red tonges, but smudges linger,
Tastes like summer days,
A piping pie,
In my scarlet bucket the blackberries lie…
Collected carefully, try not to crush
The fragile things and watch them smush,
And bleed,
I stretch and try to reach,
Toes brushing the wet grass, gleaming green,
Softer than the prickly thorns
That bite my hands to protect their own,
But I want to take the blackberries home.
So I’ll steal them.

Time’s Pocketwatch Chapter 2

Chapter One here

Chapter Two

It seemed an impossible thing. Everybody knew that little girls didn’t fall in through second-floor bedroom windows, especially when the window only opened so far as the palm of another little girl’s hand.

But there the girl sat, eyes wide as she shook shards of glass out of her frizzy hair.  The pieces clinked along the wooden floor, spreading everywhere like the first dustings of frost.

Maeve’s mouth dried.  “…are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” the girl said. “Sorry about your window. Don’t worry, I’ll fix it.”

“It’s not my window.”

The girl had the strangest eyes that Maeve had ever seen – one was as black as space, and the other as pale and bright as the moon.

“Are you an alien?” Maeve asked.

“Don’t be stupid, of course I’m not.” The girl stood up, brushing down her summer dress. “Can I hide in your wardrobe?”

Maeve blinked.
The girl seemed to take that as a yes.

Not five seconds later, men’s shouts echoed down the street outside, along with the pounding of footsteps. “Split up! It can’t have got far!”

Maeve wetted her lips, before shuffling forwards towards the window so that she could get a better look. Her heart hammered in her chest.

Had her mum not heard the window break? Had no one seen the girl fall in? Why was no one coming?

“Someone must have seen it,” one of the men said. “Ask around, for god’s sake…”

Glass crunched under Maeve’s feet, but she stayed low, fingers seeking out a safe spot on the ledge. She peeked over the windowsill and down into the street, breathing heavy.

The sky had darkened.

Instead of the daylight Maeve had expected, it was  abruptly night. A dull, smudge of night that only the brightest of the stars managed to pierce, but night nonetheless.

The street was empty except for a flashing police car that hadn’t been there two seconds before. The emergency lights tinted the whole bedroom an eerie blue, just like when they came to tell her mum the news about the accident.

Maeve froze, unease prickling down her spine and settling like a cold stone in the pit of her gut.

None of this made any sense at all! It should have been day, and she’d never heard any cars drive up the street. She never heard the siren wailing! The police car was just there, appearing like the night. It should have been lunch time.

She closed her eyes again.

The sky was still dark when she peeked an eyelid open, and the police car was still there.  Nausea clawed up her throat.

Maeve checked her watch. 1:52am. All wrong.

Her stomach squeezed, all thoughts of the strange girl vanishing.

“Mum – Mum!” she fled for the stairs. “Have you looked outside? Did you hear-“ Maeve stopped short.

Her mother’s face twisted puffy with tears, her nails bitten raw.

A policeman stood at the bottom of the stairs. Sort of old and kind-looking enough, ruddy faced with a beer-belly, notepad in one hand and a wad of used tissues in the other.

They both stared up at her.
Her mum whimpered – a terrible, choked sound like someone had punched her in the throat.

“Is this your daughter, Mrs Millington?” The policeman’s brow furrowed.

“I-yes-that’s Maeve – that’s-where the hell have you been?” Her mother charged up the stairs, crushing her close. Fingers scrabbling into her hair, the other hand clutching at her back. “Don’t ever do that to me again!”

Maeve forgot how to breathe again, head spinning. “I’m sorry?”

Her mother’s fingers tightened in her hair.

“You can’t just run off and disappear like you did, Maeve,” the policeman said. “You had everyone very worried. The city is a dangerous place.”

Run off? Disappear?

“I was in the bedroom,” she said.

Her mum pulled back.  “Do you think I didn’t check the bedroom?” She glanced back at the officer, eyes wild. “We checked the bedroom.”

The officer jotted something down in his notepad.
“Why don’t you tell us what happened, Maeve?”

“There was-“ Maeve stopped, a second time. Bit her lip. “Didn’t you hear the window break?” Her eyes darted between them, but the policeman’s expression didn’t change and her mother only paled again. She looked like she’d spent her whole day crying.

Most of the boxes were ravaged, as if a tornado had blown through the hallway. Not neatly unpacked or placed in the right room at all.

“When was the last time you saw me?” Maeve asked, voice shrinking.

“Maeve, this isn’t the time for one of your games.” Her mother’s breath hitched.

1:56 am.

“Why don’t we all sit down in the kitchen?” the officer said. “Put the kettle on.”

Narcissus

Narcissus

Pride becomes your suicide,
History leaves you villainized,
So give all the love you have to envious eyes
The hateful hearts that would see you despise
Yourself as much as they do.
Because confidence should crumble
Like a rotten apple on the tongue,
Oh Narcissus man,
You’re doing it all wrong!
Pride corrupts,
The greatest crime in the world is self-love…
So sweet a sin when a man like you should shrink.
Isn’t it’s better to live crippled in insecurity
Than die, breathlessly
In selfish liquid legacy
Knowing that you are good enough?