i’m in love with you (probably)

im gonna try and write a script out for this because i need to say this before i die or anything, and i kinda just thought so nonchalantly that death would be okay, y’know? because i met you. lame right? i’m lame. i’m in love with you. probably. i think.

wow, this sounds so bad. umn, so remember we met? i remember how i met all of you. it’s weird thinking how i am completely lost to three people so seriously. i don’t know what i’d do without you guys. i think once i allow people to really be close to me, i’m scared because i fall in like too easily. really easily, but it’s a slow realisation.

i fell for his timid nature and the way his hair felt threading through my fingers. i liked the way he’d let me sit in his lap and just fall asleep for a while without being scared of him leaving, and when he said he’d die if i ever left him, i only smiled because i’m pretty sure i’d be the same way.

but his memories so bad he probably doesn’t remember that.

i had a dream i was curled up on the couch with a dark-haired boy when i was twelve. no sex or anything. just me on a shitty phone with someone’s arms wrapped around me and just talking something ridiculous in my ear until i rolled over and kissed him before falling off the couch.

so cheesy and ridiculous, but it’s my favourite dream, and i’ve come to realise that the brandon in that was the brandon i met later. neko i mean. la chat noire. so many terrible nicknames i’ve come up with just to keep this all a secret.

i’m gonna practise writing it until my heart doesn’t hurt any more out of anxiety and fear: i love you. i think.

shit, i fucked up. i really like you. damn, i can’t do this, but moving on like i said, three people. it’s so weird.

i mean she took the longest, link did. the realisation for braneko only took a year or two. maybe three, but lyssa that took seven and when she told me she was marrying, and that just broke me. it still does. hate is a strong word, but i hate myself for letting her marry him.

i wonder if you meant it when you told me you liked me. i’m crying now because i realise you couldn’t like me that much, but i pushed you away right? i did because you deserve better, but i really wish that was me. i’m sorry; as selfish as it is, i wish it was me. i wish i was good enough to be what you needed and to provide and shelter you from all the hurt in the world. i’d give you everything i have — monetary and not — to make you happy if that’s what it took. i like to think i’d do this for all my friends, but for you, the feeling is the strongest. isn’t that weird?

i’m in love with you.

i spit fire

i always wake up feeling the best at other people’s houses and other people’s beds. is it the person or is it the meds?
feed me sertraline and caffeine, inject me with all those pills and potions. give me a reason to keep living by my struggling means, give me a reason to keep believing in notions
like love and happiness and all that shit that rest inbetween. in daydreams and nightmares and my struggling reality.
i question the meaning of my existence, wondering why i feel infinitesimal, abysmal. in this whole big vast universe of stars lost in constellations and in magazines, i just feel so small.

i decorate myself in colours as if by wearing them i will feel them. i dress myself in flowers like chrysanthemums.
i hold them to my chest, and i wish for them to be a part of me. i want flowers to come out of my mouth as pretty words of poetry
but my poetry is violent, toxic, a heroin. i inject brutal truth into paper with my ink and pen,

and in the end i’m still waking up in other people’s houses searching for a place to rest my homeless heart only to realise at some point we all have to part.
no matter the medicines and how strong the tea i drink, i never can escape my mind and the ability to think.
i’m cursed by verse and bestowed a gift i cannot rid, to feel and express everything i rather keep hid.

like

do the stars fall like comets, hard and fast? once burning fire and now falling trash.
would you call me a lady lazarus because with hell on my heels and outside my door, i rose up again and lived the life i’ve sworn
heart and blood in my veins to the life i hate like a really bad girlfriend. she treats me well and takes care of me, but when i turn to bend
i may just break because i cannot sleep with all these thoughts in my head. the blankets are just there to keep me warm in my bed.
restless. i want to fade into these lines that come out my mouth. i want to exist to exist. fade into sheets and cloth.

my phone is gone, but if i wear the headphones, maybe i’ll mistake my own thoughts for music. sick beats and sicker rhymes, food for my mind and for my soul. hypnotic
energy is the onetwo onetwo of the rhythm that i bop my head to. it takes over me and brings me back to the onetwo onetwo oneyou.
every poem i write and every thought i think comes back to the relationships and relationshits i’ve had. it makes me think of how i’m borderline happy but i’m borderline sad.
the chemistry of meeting and the gravity that drags me down depart my mouth in a suicidal leap of poetry but never touch the ground.

i’ll pull my feet and heart up onto this foreign bed and use it to placate the restless hormones running through my head.
i’ll pretend that it’s home, and that the setraline and lometrigine do not make me but they do fix me:
the broken bits that don’t make much sense; the broken hearts and feelings of displacement.
i’ll spit out my fire, the comets resting in words behind my lips. i’ll spit out fire, inhale my dire straits like oxygen.

let go of gravity and let the poetry relieve me.

honey flow(ed)

When he buzzed into the room, the classroom buzzed with him. It was my senior year of high school, and I was young and dumb and too gay to be living in Tennessee — and he, well, he was young and beautiful and too much for me to handle. I nicknamed him Lucifer because he reminded me of that beautiful morning star that fell because he was too proud (although, in my opinion, justly so) and too much for heaven to handle, but really I was the one who fell for the New Student yet to be named.

He sat next to me and stared down at his feet. He was every 00 and obscure indie song in a too baggy lilac sweater and black shorts. I could tell we might get along by the way people stared at the Hello Kitty bandages that decorated his knees and at the skeleton barrettes he dared to put in his Creamsicle hair. I wondered how he managed to accomplish that colour. It complemented his pale skin so well, and I worried he was not getting enough of that (vitamin) D.

I think he caught me staring.

His eyes flashed toward me — dark amber with grey around the edges and black lashes shading them in a thin veil. (Fun fact: guys always have the best lashes. No contest.) I looked away like my mother caught me singing along to NWA silently while the preacher gave his (too long) sermon in the pew.

For the rest of class, I choked on my embarrassment and concentrated on sinking into the collar of my black turtleneck. Maybe it would devour me into the void before he called me out on being obviously a loser.

He called me “adorable.” Oh fuck, I couldn’t decide if that was worse or better. Perhaps it was just code for “loser.”

“Want a smoke?” He was already holding my hand and leading me out the door. He was tearing himself into my heart with that sharp smile of his.

I didn’t smoke, and it turned out he didn’t either. He passed me a vaporiser, and it was my first time letting candied air slide down my throat. It was hot and sweet like his voice. I wanted to taste him but was sated with the idea of the indirect kiss we shared on the mouth of that metal stick. I knew I was addicted at the first inhale.

(Breathe in fire, exhale desire.)

We spent the time devouring crackers I found at the bottom of my backpack and each other’s small talk (he had a thing for jazz, chill music, and pretending to be other people.) rather than the useless brainfood school taught us (I think we were supposed to be introduced to the wonderful world of condensed theorems.). He introduced me to a new side of paradise in half a day, and in that moment, I knew school could not offer me what he could offer me. I sold my soul to a moment and the experience he could give me. He made me feel like I was holy, and the sacrireligious thought coursed through my conservatively liberal mind before I could stop it.

I knew we were skipping, and that was bad and a certified, guaranteed road to adolescent deliquency — but remember, I was young and dumb. I was allowed to make mistakes.

As his boots clunked against the train tracks and my ratty old trainers slapped against the dirt right next to him, he gripped my hand and stretched out his arms to stay balanced on the railing. Our conversation had shifted to constricting small towns that could swallow minds whole in conservative blind views. He introduced me to the phrase “marmalade and razorblades,” and I introduced him to “smile in your face and spit in your lemonade.” He laughed. It was mellifluous. It was a honey flow right to my ears.

Perhaps I fell in like with him right then. His hand was warm interlaced with mine, and his voice was saccharine sweet and cloying in my ears. I wanted to take him home and let him keep me warm. His touch was hot like fresh apple pie, and he made the cool winds not feel so brisk.

“I always wake up better in new places and new houses. Is that weird?”

I looked at him, and he stared thoughtfully at the sky. His mind was eating him whole. No wonder he was so thin.

“Nah. I think its weirder that I listen to music that reminds me of people to pretend they are next to me.” That slipped out. The watery thoughts in my head had boiled right out of their container.

Silence filled between us.

“Jazz is restless. It won’t stay put, and it never will.” A rough yet definitely jazzy tune hummed past his lips in example. “If you ever want to think of me, listen to jazz.”

That night I kept my laptop open and gorged myself with jazz. I listened to every type of the genre: cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, free jazz, jazz fusion… Morning Star was not lying when he told me jazz was restless. S/he was a beast of a beat, a curry made of so many flavours it changed like Willy Wonka bubble gum. It overstimulated all of my senses, and I just couldn’t sleep; I could only dream.

He kept coming, and I kept falling, dreaming, being in like with him. Holding hands had become a bad habit like skipping classes and having late night conversations about absolutely nothing. I rarely invited him over, but I would sneak him the cookies my sister had baked (which in congruency made me have to wash the dishes, but, hey, he was worth it. He was worth everything.). I was officially a delinquent, but with days to spare on my spotless academic record, there was not a crumb left of my hormoned intoxicated thoughts to care.

The evening streets became our haunts, and we stained that old train track with the memories we created. When winter fell into a cold spring, he helped me break into an old barn nearby, and we tore into a bag of cookies (my sister refused to bake them for me anymore when she realised I was a full-fledged, punk-rock rebel) and shared a bottle of orange juice. With words unspoken, I stared up at the stars that peered down at us.

“I think I love you.”

There he went again. He was always so blunt and to the point. He spoke in analogies and brutal truths. It was coded into his dna, and he always knew without fail how to take me by surprise. I stared at him, open-mouthed and breathless, with my brown eyes wide and staring into his.

He tasted like orange juice and cheap, store bought cookies.

He tasted perfect.

The taste hit me before the realisation of My First (direct) Kiss did.

“Red complements your freckles.”

He must have heard how silently I devoted myself to him. How I swore he was my religion the minute he told me that he was smooth and wild like jazz.

“Fuck me.”

The laugh that responded to my blurted utterance helped me realise just what the hell I had said. I groaned and fell back onto the dirty, decrepit floor and covered my face with my hands. The rough, burnt edges of my homemade fingerless gloves scratched at my frost-nipped cheeks. “Don’t say anything!” I huffed and rolled over in the excrutiating agony that seized my every being. This was too cheesy, too gay, to be real life.

Actions speak louder than words. I should have told him not to do anything. His lips pressed to the corner of my mouth. His lips were not as soft as one would think. They were chapped and raw from the harsh cold winds that blew outside the building both of us had shacked up in for the next few hours, the night, eternity. He was grinning at me and just as red (or maybe more so considering he was paler than the snow outside).

“Hey, we should take things slow.”

He was still snickering over his belatedly said joke when I hit him in the shoulder. He fed me his saccharine, cloying grin that was more intoxicating than whiskey. Fuck, I was drunk off of the sight of it, and I was one foolish drunk. I ended up laughing right along with him, and we painted the night sky with the giggles and snorts that left our mouths in puffs of crisp, spring air.

“Slow huh?”

“Mhmn, dinner and a movie.”

“We’ve done that.”

“Not as dates.”

I snorted, and he hummed out a dancing tune with those rough lips of his. We both knew he had won. He already knew I wanted him, and I knew he wanted me. Our fingers were spliced together like the threads of a well-made sweater. He leant over and kissed me again, never touching my lips, just drowning me in sweet, chaste kisses.

Anything would do fine. This was fine. No matter how much time it took.

So graduation came and went.

When the frost began to dry and graduation and expectations sprouted from the rains of spring, he disappeared with all that cold. I thought maybe it had been put inside of me instead. I tried to think of the month that fit me, and all I could think was the end of the year. He showed me paradise, and he could show me hell.

Then spring came and went.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states: “In any cyclic process the entropy will either increase or remain the same.”

In the cyclic process of crushing on someone, it will increase until you reach maximum entropy and are crush’d.

Hard candies reminded me of him, and I had over 200 stashed in various tins in my rooms. I spliced them with salt water taffies and coffee toffee to shock my system. It reminded me of him. Sweet and bitter. Never too little of either. Always to the most extreme.

He came and went.

I think I should have remembered something. I should have remembered he was like the jazz blasting out of my car speakers. Through the quick rhythms I felt his energy and presence. It seeped through my ears and burrowed itself into my bones. I fixed the car mirror and crooked a smile. Still forced. I slipped a hard candy into my mouth to try and sweeten it before waving goodbye to my mother watching me from the frontyard with my sister.

Maybe he was listening to the .stomaches. CD he had stolen from my backpack, and maybe he was thinking of me when he listened to it. He taught me a lot of things, but the most prominent thing he taught me was that I have a soul. A soul that could buzz like bees and be sweetened with saccharine smiles and mellifuous laughs. A soul that could bleed and hurt and heal and feel good again. I hummed and started the engine. I was still being crush’d, but the pain had dulled and settled with the jazz prancing in my bone marrow. I had went from eating his cloying spirit to choking on it every now and then when he returned to my brain like a stubborn tumour.

This time the smile on my lips was not so forced. Oh no. The sadness in it was not held back at all. I should have eaten a taffy. Then the salt of it would mingle with the salt of tears sliding down my cheeks. Bittersweet. He took me high and left me dry.

“Ready for that date Mr. Jazz?”

The road hummed, and my empty words lifted into the empty air behind it.

flash fiction writing exercise [one minute]

S/he/it had done it. The dog’s body wracked and trembled in fear as it stared with wide, unblinking eyes at its master and warden. It fears the cage, the outside, the locked doors, but most of all that disappointment. That look of betrayl, and maybe the morning outings will become really forever, and sitting at the door for an hour, two, or however long those digital figures move on the clock, will die out like hope and waiting.

HisStory: A Jealous yet Loving God

25september2015

Throughout the Bible weaves the threads of how and why the Assyrians took control of Israel — not because of their superior military force but because of the Israelites sins against Yahweh (Bartholomew and Goheen 2004, 103). Through these sections, it can be seen that the people of both the north and south of Israel continue to practise idoltary, worshipping other deities besides the one they had pledged allegiance to. In this way, the people disobey the covenant they had made with Yahweh. It is important to note that despite this disloyalty, Yahweh’s merciful nature is shown through the way that rather than completely annihilate Israel and all its people, he instead forces them into exile via the powerful Assyrians (Sumney 2010, 147).
The Assyrians military prowess is described as one that takes dedication and assimilation of the nation as a whole. The Assyrians were seen as “Masters of War” and a barbaric nature due to their ferocity and indifference to human life when it came to domination (Youtube 2014). They would destroy entire regions and rape the land of all its worldly goods all under the name of their goddess of war, Ishtar. Most important were horses, that would give them the power of mobility. They would also go and take warriors as they went along, gathering soldiers from Rome and other lands to teach their Spartan outlook on the world and make the greatest warrior of the time — the horsemen. Status and power could be provided by the military, and it taught that survival could only be achieved through someone’s perseverance and dedication to the army. Peace relied ironically on the military and violence. In order to be powerful and remain above adversary, they had to destroy anyone who brought adversary. This was sustained by the way they always practised and trained even in these times of peace, and that is why they so easily overcome the lands of Judah, Babylonia, Egypt, and much of the Middle East (Youtube 2015).
In the Bible, Yahweh is disgusted by the way the Israelites turn to other deities beginning with Solomon who takes hundreds of foreign wives in order to sustain benevolent ties with the regions around him (Bartholomew and Goheen 2004, 103). In order to please this myriad of women, he had to build altars to their deities with government funds that had been pledged to Yahweh. Thus, Solomon began the practice of idoltary in the once clean region of Judah. Yahweh warns the people against these sins and swears that if Solomon does not repent, his descendents would be punished for his indiscretions — Solomon does not repent (Sumney 2010, 122).
Hezekiah, descendent of Solomon, sees how his land is doomed and hides in the walls of holy Jerusalem. The leader of the Assyrians threatened the people within the walls with crude threats of drinking their own urine and pokes fun at the God they so worship. Tactfully, this leader breaks down the walls with seige engines and bring terror down upon even Jerusalem. It is here that the destruction and punishment Yahweh promised finally reaches its peak. No one could go against the Assyrian’s artistry for seige nor could anyone fight their brutality, their cruelty, and their barbaric thirst for carnage. The following years, Yahweh’s chosen people are enslaved and become spoils of Saccabres, the ruler of Assyria (Youtube 2015).
It is only when the descendants become prophets that the indiscretions are forgiven. These prophets witness the fall of Assyria and the rise of the Babylonians. The first of these prophets is Zephaniah who proclaims his message prior to the reforms fo Josiah. Like those before him, he also warns Judah that Yahweh would punish them for their polytheism. Zephaniah, unlike the rest of the land, was one of the righteous and true to Yahweh despite the mass majority. Through this faithfulness, Yahweh also allows him to see that Judah would not only fall but also be restored and expanded once the people had repented and gave honour unto Him (Sumney 2010, 152).
Nahum, the second of the prophets, predicted the fall of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. It is here that the economic injustice that Zephaniah so worried about was finally answered. Assyria’s conquests finally rallied against them and challenged by the allying forces of the Northern bit of their empire. The fall of Assyria’s influence strengthened Judah. Unlike Zephaniah, Nahum focuses on Yahweh’s divine judgment rather than demanding that Judah repents. Nahum sees the defeat as a joyful celebration and blames Ninevah’s downfall on their cruel nature and sins not only against Yahweh but also humanity. It is thought that Nahum’s message was what influenced the reforms of King Josiah, and despite how this cannot be proven directly, it can be noted that during this time King Josiah had insistuted the celebration of both religious and political festivals. The further distanced Judah is of Assyria’s domination, the stronger the revival of religion and patriotism (Sumney 2010, 152-3).
Throughout all of this, it begs the question of why Yahweh demands so much of his people: not only does he punish the wicked but also the righteous (i.e.: Zephaniah and “the humble of the land”). Habakkuk explains that this is due to Yahweh testing the strength of his chosen people, and that they must “rejoice” even in the darkest time for Yahweh is always with them. It is a test of faith for the righteous, not punishment, and that they should not see it as such (Sumney 2010, 153-4). They had to persevere through this cruelty and not allow their spirits to ever be broken by their slave masters.
When Israel repents, it is then that they are truly freed through the prophet Jonah, who despite wanting to disobey Yahweh given the “evil empire”s cruel and merciless look on life, was not punished for trying to run away but given the chance himself to (reluctantly) repent and beseige Yahweh’s message. It is then that the Assyrians repent for their sins against Yahweh; although, they do not kneel to worship and obey him. Rather, they choose to live more ethnically and morally. Through the dynamic relationship of Assyria and Israel, Yahweh’s loving nature for all of His creation shows through (Sumney 2010, 161-2).

Bibliography
2003. The New Interpreter’s Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. USA: Abingdon Press.
Bartholomew, Craig G., and Michael W. Goheen. 2004. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Sumney, Jerry L. 2010. The Bible: An Introduction. Canada: Fortress Press.
Youtube. 2014. “Ancient Warriors — Episode 01: Assyrians Masters of War.” Youtube [The Amazing History Documentary Channel]. Last modified December 2, 2014. Accessed September 26, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnWuMexeK6Q
Youtube. 2015. “Ancient Warfare: Assyrian Empire and Macedonian Army.” Youtube [Illumanati Disclosure]. Last modified April 14. Accessed September 26, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPle6IzDuoU

marchez

oo.
assignment:: Students will prepare a log of 10 walks done outside of class during the semester. 5 walks by midterm, 5 walks by the end of the semester. Each should include the date, location and route, time of day, distance, and duration of the walk. The distance and duration is expected to increase throughout the semester. The first journal will be due during midterms and the second on the day of the final.

It’s going to be difficult to keep track of this log. I tend to wander a lot turns out. I am going to try and base it on my experiences around campus. Dates aren’t my best, but I shall give it my best effort! I don’t want to bullshit this, so I’ll be completely honest throughout it.

o1.
date:: first two weeks of school.
location:: beaman fitness center
route:: treadmill —-> cross-country thing —-> hiking thing
time of day:: 21h00
distance:: together with all the machines @3-5 mi.
duration:: 30-45 min.
I went on a forty-minute treadmill walk with my sister. In technicality this was kind of a surprise. I wasn’t really prepared for the walk. I did it in my casual clothes because I strongly believe in working out in what makes me comfortable, and that is pretty much anything. I really enjoy walking (and running). I thought about joining track in high school, but i’ve never been all that into team sports. i’m not a fan of people in general to be completely honest. not like people so much as socialising. it makes me nervous unless i am excited (over books and other interests i have). I can gush endlessly over the topics I am passionate about.

o2.
date:: heels day.
location:: off campus.
route:: two oaks —-> sports science center —-> streets —-> suburbs —-> vanderbuilt and traffic —-> COSMIC CONNECTIONS —-> alley with creepy old men —-> private property (shhhh) —-> stairs .—-> sports science center —-> caf —-> two oaks —-> my dorm
time of day:: 11-13h00.
distance:: like a mile?
duration:: 2h.
On the day I wore my shark stillettos, I was counted absent because I am horrid at directions. I did my best to follow the route, but I somehow ended up pretty far off? I think I was somewhere around Vanderbuilt. I’m not entirely sure, but I managed to wander until I found roads I was more familiar with. I went into Cosmic Connections and kind of walked around the store a bit. I bought a nice piece of lapis lazuli for my datemate (platonic but with benefits). his favourite gem is lapis (because of steven universe). he’s also a fan of magnetic stones. i left and headed back to my dorm, but i stopped by the caf on the way and grabbed myself a snack before venturing through my dorms.

o3.
date:: 19th sept 2015
location:: daycon clarksville.
route:: around the hotel.
time of day:: 11-23h00? (don’t quote me okay.)
distance:: i have no idea.
duration:: FOREVER, but to be serious on and off whenever my friend grew tired or we wanted to see a panel. i’m a bouncer when excited, so i was hype most of the time.
I was dressed as Ruby this day (Steven Universe) and Cinnababe (datemate) was my Sapphire. We had a rowdy time wandering (but he’d complain he wanted to sit), but we stayed pretty much on our toes the entire time. Most of the time it was him trying to stop me from shopping in the vendor room. I sadly was not able to spend a single second replying to my e-mail, since we were so busy. So many pictures!

o4.
date:: 20th sept 2015
location:: daycon clarksville.
route:: around the hotel.
time of day:: 12-22h00
distance:: no idea.
duration:: we went to a concert and all that jazz. it was fun. we also went wandering on the streets.
pretty much the same as the one before, but i was wearing a different costume. i think i sat more this day, but i would walk in intervals of .5-1h. i would take breaks whenever i was too tired.

o5.
date:: two weeks ago?
location:: belmont campus.
route:: wandering.
time of day:: evening.
distance:: .5-1mi?
duration:: 30min-1h?
my sister wanted to go walking after dinner, so we ended up walking around together around campus. nothing too big or anything. we chatted and pretty much hung out. both of us are hella fast walkers, so yeah, there’s that. she’s actually faster than me to be honest.

rules of the house

  • Don’t enter Father’s study. He hates that. Even if he is absent, he’ll know, and you’ll be locked into the closet.
  • Remember your dining etiquette… Elbows and hands must always be seen. Chew with your mouth closed. A fork is not just a fork. Any mistake means going without eating.
  • Make sure to look when Mother speaks. She uses her hands to hit instead of talk when she’s annoyed.
  • Don’t (be caught) play(ing) with dead things.
  • Church sermons are just another study. Not listening means you have to recite the Bible while kneeling on rice.

Continue reading

playing dead

The yellow dust of a dying moth’s wings falls into the canyons of Muriella’s fingertips. The moth is lost in the serenity of dying in its sunlit hospice.

The clock ticks. It stays stationary and breathes its last. The girl — young, average, plain — can feel eyes boring into my back as she continues to observe this form of finality. Inevitably, she has to turn around to her mother who is busy SMSing on her phone. An unlit cigarette hangs like a coffin nail in between her dark fingers. Muriella stands and stares at her. Her mother’s skin reminds her of the coffee grounds Verena pours into the compost heap Sunday mornings.

Muriella’s mind wanders elsewhere as her mother’s cigarette moves to her lips, and her hands start their furious dance. Muriella thinks about fire and dirty lakes. Absently, she observes her mother’s hands slowing to a stop. The end. Parenting quota has been reached.

The blue-grey smoke trails after her mother in wisps when she leaves. Muriella is left for Verena to deal with now. Melusine, the nickname came from Verena’s native, archaic mythology. A fresh-water spirit. Pale like sea fog and Muriella. Muriella ponders on whether her melatonin-deficient skin makes her pure — purer than her mother who doesn’t know she found the little black book filled with big black lies and purer than her father who hides from the Knowing she is not his. She is even purer than beloved Verena who hides from her past by masquerading as a housekeeper — Instead of too much perfume, she reeks of clean Nothing. Her chorus of silver bell jewellery and vibrant colours have been devoured by this prison’s hunger for anything Not Just Right. Verena, in essence, is now just another decoration in this too big, too empty manor.

Muriella associates the housekeeper with vinegar. The smell clings to the Scandinavian help. Perhaps, Verena has scrubbed out all of her originality with the acidic liquid. Muriella muses as the scent leads her to kitchen. “Mother says to disinfect my hands,” she says more to myself than Verena. he housekeeper understands and makes room for two around the sink. As the water runs, Muriella observes it trickling past my fingers. There is a forlorn wraith hiding in her rippling reflection.

(Redeem me, redeem me!
Just kiss me three times three!)

A minute is the limit. Muriella stops the tap and hurries to the garden to undo-redo her plait. The trick to braiding is counting in disorderly threes.

(Back with the pointer fingers in one, two sections. Three from two and cross. Three over two, three into one. New and improved three from the one. Repeat.)

It’s always easier at the end. With the snap of a hand-woven tie, her mermaid tail is crawling down her back. The smell of Vinegar Verena linger even out in the garden. Muriella shifts to her feet. With a crumpled flower in her hand, she carries it secretly to her bedroom.

Under Muriella’s bed rests an old jewellery box. When she opens it, the smell of a myriad of dead plants and fewer dead insects greets her with its sweet parfum. She remembers the moth her mother probably threw away.

A bereaved sigh leaves her lips just as the flower leaves her hand and splices with its brethen in death.

Death is terrifying. There is no stop-rewind-restart. There is only that inevitable finality and its aftermath. Hell, Hades, whatever it is — she is so afraid that the sins of her ancestors will drag her down or to find she is not as pure as she yearns to be. She stares at the empty carcasses in her morbid collection. Soon, she will have to steal Mason jars from the shed whenever Verena is not looking to keep up this hobby.

Muriella closes the windows and lies down on the ivory carpet. The sweet fragrance of crushed, dead flowers and terrifying death bury her. The plush threads become twigs cutting into her palms. Hail Mary’s lay on her lips, and she pleads for forgiveness. If she dies figuratively againagainagain, perhaps God will allow her to be reincarnated. To be washed clean and resurrected like phoenixes and mermaid braids.

Her too light fingers gingerly place the bone-white cross of her rosary to her forehead then her heart. She voicelessly sings the prayer of forgiveness.

(Redeem me, redeem me!
O Lord, Jesus Christ, Redeemer and Saviour,
Forgive my sins.)