Saturday I slept in real late, then spent some time writing. Around midday Dar and I went to the community center and *GASP!* worked out at the gym. We did 20 mins on the ellipticals, did a sampling of most of the weight equipment, and finished up with a short jog on the treadmills- my first workout in a gym EVER in my life. Which is even stranger than it sounds, as I've been a regular athlete since I was five. I guess I've always been a bit disdainful of gyms, preferring to get my workout doing sports, preferably outside. But it was hella fun. And we've bought a 20-visit pass, so we'll be going regular, hopefully. Afterwards we loosened up doing a few laps in the pool. I climbed the rope again (which is a lot harder after a hard workout, ohmigod), we went down the waterslide, and then finally boiled our muscles in the hot tub as a preventative measure. I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow anyway.
Feeling sufficiently like we'd been pummeled by meat tenderizers and injected with happy drugs, we went to pick up Lauren, whose kestrel-catching venture was a bust, alas. Next week, perhaps- fingers crossed! We showered and ate salmon-salad sandwiches and bean salad, and Lauren and I marathoned the very first episodes of Doctor Who (OMG THANK YOU SO MUCH BECCA). We also watched a few episodes of Snuff Box, which is FUCKING BIZARRE and also amazing and awesome.
Today is also the birthday of Jesse Hajicek, one of my favorite writers. As a gift to him I have written a few shorts and drabbles about Star and Zander, the main characters of his fabulous webcomic, Metanoia (for non-Riversiders, you may remember Star from my pr0n earlier this month). Remember those drabbles I asked for, for my Sekrit Projekt? Yeah, this is them. I only had time and inspiration for four, oh well. If you're interested, here they are (cross-posted to riverside_hq), and thank you so much for the prompts!
“Dinner’s almost ready. Star… will you find Zander? He’s been out for hours….”
A flare of a match in the dark, a growing brilliance and low hiss filling the room as the mantles of the kerosene lantern radiated light and heat. Star shook out the match and adjusted the lantern, lifting it and opening the creaky-hinged door, pressing out into the blackness. The lantern’s light illuminated the slowly whirling snowflakes, falling soft and fat to join the unblemished drifts; a memory of the day’s late-season howling blizzard, now quiet and gentle in the night.
Bundled up tight against the cold, Star trudged uphill, the warm kerosene glow making shadows dance, pine-tree trunks copied in black bands and rays, shifting and transient on the snow. As he climbed, the pines thinned and fell away; the steep slope curved and flattened toward the horizontal. The sky opened up, expanding in all directions toward the horizon, and Star stood at the crest of the ridge.
The light caught on a single twisted tree, an old tire swing hanging motionless from a gnarled branch; next to it a lone figure stood, just as silent and just as still. He stood staring outward across the prairie, rolling hills visible only in silhouette against the glow of Pine Ridge and of Oglala beyond the horizon, lights reflected and magnified by the low ceiling of snow-heavy clouds.
As Star approached the figure the silence was so overwhelming that the hiss of the lantern and the crunch-squeak of Star’s boots in the freshly fallen snow seemed to fill the world. When he spoke his voice seemed unnecessarily loud. “Emily’s made dinner, it’s almost ready,” he said. Alexander nodded, but made no other motion. Star stopped just behind his shoulder and joined him in staring out into the blackness.
After a few quiet moments Alexander turned his head, giving the tire a slight push with one gloved hand so that it swung slowly on the end of its rope, a lazy pendulum. “I used to come here all the time, as a kid,” he said.
Star nodded. “It’s a nice cabin.”
Zander snorted lightly, a soft puff of air. “It’s a crappy little shack, it’s drafty and it smells like fish,” he replied.
Star said nothing.
Zander turned his head toward the glow that was Pine Ridge, and the silence fell heavily with the snow. Then he shook his head. “Stupid,” a choked mutter that forced itself from his lips. A deep breath in, a heavy exhalation, then he continued, dully. “So stupid. What was the point? What was the fucking point? I don’t- I didn’t even like my dad. And he- he sure as hell didn’t want anything to do with me. I haven’t seen him, or spoken to him in eight years and I’ve never wanted to. …So why would they- why would the Omega Collective kill him? What would they gain by that?”
There was no answer from Star, and Alexander didn’t expect one. He stared hard at the glow from the small reservation town, at the clouds, at the hills, at the snow. He shoved his hands in his pockets, expelling the air from his lungs in a loud huff of air, a dissatisfied sigh. “What was the fucking point?” he muttered again more quietly, to Star, to no one, to God.
Star put his hand on Zan’s shoulder, and they stood for a time, listening to the lantern’s hiss and watching the snow.
Lexi, Kevin, Gina, Star, and Zander sat sprawled or cross-legged in a circle on the floor. There were several bottles of beer scattered among them, empty and partially full, and cans of soda for Gina and Zan. Gina had somehow persuaded the boys to play “I Never”.
She grinned now, thinking. “I neveeeerrr… ran away from home when I was a kid.”
Lexi dropped a finger, smirking. “Gina, you are a kid.” He was running out of fingers.
Proving her maturity, Gina stuck her tongue out at him. “Am not. Nineteen’s adult. Government says so.”
Star and Zander both thought for a minute before dropping fingers themselves. “Well, I’m out,” smirked Star, reaching for his beer. “What’s the dare?”
Later, in their apartment, Zan asked, “Why’d you have to think so long about whether you’d run away from home?”
Star leaned his hip against the kitchen counter, shrugging one shoulder. “I was trying to figure if it qualified. It was my foster family. I never really thought of the place as ‘home’.”
“Ah.” Zan leaned back against the kitchen sink, raising his eyebrows slightly. “So what happened?”
“They were uptight religious pricks and they were trying to de-gayify me. And they took away my library card. …So I said fuck ‘em. I seduced their prissy, uptight little cunt of a son, blackmailed him into giving me the car and all the money in the house, ditched him at the mall with five bucks, parked the car in Omaha and caught the next bus for Minneapolis. Been here ever since.” He grinned.
Zander let out a breathy laugh, a small, slightly incredulous sound. “You’re a fucking maniac,” he said.
Star shrugged again, still grinning. “So why’d you have to think about it so long?”
“Same thing. Trying to think if it qualified. I didn’t so much run away as… I got kicked out.” He glanced up at Star. One eyebrow was raised, questioning. Zan shrugged a little. “I told you when I was sixteen, I tried to kill myself. …My dad found out I was gay. He told me… I wasn’t his son, he never wanted to see me again. So I left. And then… the truck. Zachriel.” He shrugged again.
Star digested this in silence a few moments. Then, “Where’d you go?” he asked.
“Where?” Alexander asked. He could still feel the sting of the scrape on his cheekbone, the dull throbbing of his knee. He was thirsty, and his feet were tired.
There was silence for a moment as he studied the buildings of Whiteclay apprehensively, his stomach turning. This is where his dad, and so many of the men in Pine Ridge, bought the beer and liquor that made them mean and stupid. He’d been here before, sitting in the back of his dad’s truck, seen old bearded men chewing tobacco and watching him with sharp eyes. Where could he possibly go in Whiteclay? Where could he go that could possibly be safe?
There, came Zachriel’s voice in his head, warmly, filling him. How had he ever lived without this, alone? How had he not felt the lack?
Alexander eyed the farmhouse, set well off from Main Street and its liquor stores: two stories, pale blue with white trim, cozy, homey-looking, neat gardens of flowers and vegetables surrounding it. “Who lives there?”
A woman, replied the voice from inside him, from everywhere in the universe.
“What’s her name?”
I have no idea, replied the angel, and Alexander could feel that he was amused.
So he had walked to the house, and knocked on the door, nervous and ashamed. “What do I tell her?” he asked himself, asked the angel, quietly.
A woman came to the screen door, blinking in surprise and concern at the skinny Lakota youth on her porch, soiled with dust and dried blood. She was young and pretty, in her mid-twenties, and white, with blue eyes and strawberry-blonde hair cut short above her shoulders. She was dressed conservatively and maybe a little old-fashioned, in a blouse and skirt, like a housewife from the Fifties. She wore a tiny gold crucifix around her neck.
The woman opened the screen door a little and stood looking at him. “Can I help you?” she asked.
Alexander swallowed, panicking, trying to choke past the block in his throat, trying to decide what to say. His words came out in a rush, suddenly. “Please, ma’am, you don’t know me, but I don’t know where to go, I’m from Pine Ridge, my dad, he- he found out I’m gay-” screaming to himself in his head, Why did you tell her? and answering himself, I need to know now if she’ll reject me, I can’t stand not knowing, “-he kicked me out, and- and could you, maybe… could you maybe, please….” He trailed off, not sure what to ask for.
The woman listened, the faintest touch of sadness around her eyes, then smiled kindly. “I’m Clara. Clara Smith. What’s your name?”
He swallowed again. “Alexander Skerry, ma’am.”
Her smile grew, warmer and wider. She held the screen door open for him. “Come in, Alexander. Are you hungry…?”
“There was a woman in Whiteclay. She took me in for a bit. I still write to her, sometimes. …Then I came to Minneapolis.” He tilted his head at Star, half-smiling. “Been here ever since.”
Star lay on his back on the kitchen floor, head and hands hidden by cabinet doors and water pipes. There were clunking noises and then a hand emerged, waving impatiently at Zan, standing next to him. Zander handed him a wrench and leaned over to peer at what he was doing. He shook his head and straightened, looking down at Star skeptically.
Zander became momentarily distracted by an expanse of cream-pale skin, exposed where a fold of Star’s t-shirt had lifted. He reached out for Star’s shirt with his toes, tugging it a couple of times under the pretense of getting his attention, pulling the shirt down to cover up the (smooth, soft, lickable) skin of his stomach. “You’re doing it wrong,” he said. “Let me at it.”
“Fuck off Zan,” came Star’s voice, mildly, from beneath the sink. “I know how to fix a sink.”
A moment later there was a clang, a sputtering yell, and a modest flood of water across the kitchen floor. Zander laughed until he got a stitch in his side, and then he kept laughing.
Zander dragged a crate across the floor of the storeroom and shifted it into place next to the other large found objects, completing the makeshift wall. Across the room, the hastily reinforced door shook, reverberating with thuds and booms and the squeaky crunch of abused metal. They’re going to get in, he thought. The cavalry won’t get here in time.
He looked down at where Star was crouched behind Zan’s barrier of crates. Star had found a coil of copper wire, a car battery, and a couple of barrels of gasoline, and was busy MacGyvering an implement of splodey destruction. Zan glanced to where the barrels of gas were shoved up close to the door, mentally calculating the size of the explosion relative to the size of the room. He didn’t like what he came up with.
“Uh, Star?” he began, vaguely surprised at the steadiness of his voice. Star glanced up at him. “…We gonna survive that?” He jerked his chin at the battery at Star’s knee.
“Maybe not.” His partner’s grin was dangerous, something sharp and feral in his eyes. “But they sure as hell won’t either.”
Alexander stared at him, then crouched down and put his back to a crate. “Z, we’re going to need the strongest shield you can give us,” he said.
Already on it, little brother, the angel replied.
If anyone's interested, these were the prompts I used:
1.The video for "Canvas" by Imogen Heap (I borrowed heavily from the imagery in the first half of the video, and tried to capture the mood and feel of the images and music in words)
2. Clara (one of my characters from omg_alchemist and omg_fma... a version of her in the Metanoia-verse might be like this)
3. Water, or anything to do with it
4. A coil of wire