She bustles. It is the word I use to describe her. Even at rest, in her prayers, she seems as if she is always moving, wide skirts forever swirling. She speaks with the lilt of the Italians, giving our words beauty, and when she prays, I understand how Latin is supposed to sound. She keeps her back straight, her chin high, and she looks at the world through bright eyes, knowing, watchful and often laughing even when there is no reason to laugh. And when she chides me for not working, I wonder if she knows how perfect she is?
Author's note: From the perspective of the Polish Kitchen girls.
I gaze down at the trunk, at the pieces of my wife’s past, of mine. There are bits of my brother and patron. There are pieces of her first and really, only love. There are scraps of who I wanted to be, once.
I leave abruptly, without a word and seek solace in a creature who is not my wife, who reminds me not at all of my past. My Maria is sweet and pale, too young to remember, too naïve to understand. She delights my body, leaves my mind free of concern while the specter of history looms darkly.
Author's note: This was actually written in Luciano's voice a year ago in response to one of Dorothea's Endings, with all due apologies.
Papa once told me, “Never grow old. It is full of pain and regret. Don’t grow old.”
He was right, in some ways. My joints ache, my gnarled fingers hurt all the time. It is difficult to lever myself out of bed on cold mornings.
But in some ways, he was wrong. My sons are strong and I teach girls English when they follow the paths that I once took. There is no regret here. Nor when Dorothea comes to me as she always has, and we lay together, girlish giggles slipping from our mouths interspersed with, “Do you remember?”
First part here.
There are three messages on his machine when Mike finally gets home, drunk and smelling like stale cigarettes and spilled beer. One is from his mom, asking what his plans are for his birthday. One is from a computer that desperately wants to sell him a vacation rental and seems vaguely disconsolate that no one is home to take this fabulous deal off its silicon. The last is from his girlfriend, or more properly, his broken up, over, final, caput, finished and in all ways ex-girlfriend. She wants to arrange a time to pick up her stuff and to hand over a box full of his
stuff – the final nail in the coffin of their relationship.
Mike met Laura at a funeral. Actually, he met Laura at the wake, when the whiskey had been flowing for a few hours and he and Bobby had been trying to figure out who was related to whom and how much distance there had to be between blood relations to make hitting on the hot chicks okay. The equations they were coming up with involved a whiskey component multiplied by advanced genealogical jargon, raised to powers of more whiskey.
Around the time that “circulating” meant wandering a vague circuit from a couch to the food table, around the back of the house to where a never ending supply of booze was being produced from the basement, and back to the couch, Mike caught sight of a short, pretty woman who was all blonde hair and blue eyes with pale, translucent skin devoid of freckles. For a moment he was transfixed; then, Uncle Pat broke his line of sight with a bear hug. By the time Mike managed to escape the manly back pounding, he had lost her. There was, however, a fresh bottle that was pressed into his hands and he meandered back to the couch where Bobby was waiting. ( Don't worry... it's short.Collapse )
Mike and Bobby
It begins with a phone call from his brother.
"C'mon, man. Let's go out and get a beer and shoot some pool."
Mike looks down at the bottom right corner of his computer screen to check the time, consults his watch's digital display, perpetually three minutes faster than his computer. He wonders why there aren't LCD watches, then wonders if there are and he just hasn't seen them.
"Well?" Bobby's voice is tinny and insistent on his piece-of-shit phone. "C'mon. You need to get out of this funk. You like pool. You like beer."
Both are true and Mike sighs. "Fine. I'll be done here in," he checks the time again, "-half an hour."
"Awesome, dude. I'll pick you up then." The line goes dead with no other sound. Phones used to click. Watches used to tick. Mike reflects that he operates in a strangely soundless world before hitting off the mute button on his keyboard and letting his office fill with sound. ( A Story About PoolCollapse )
I'm putting together a new mage for Cam. The last drabble was her introduction; here's a little bit more.
It is necessary, on occasion, to contract with Sleepers. Joule doesn't much like it these days, but Sleepers at least are generally polite and will pay in actual money (Remember money? That thing that lets you buy groceries?)
as opposed to information or favors or tass. The latter three are important, but at the end of the day, raw information doesn't pay the rent and "Thanks, Joule - I owe you one"
only goes so far. Tass isn't nearly as filling as one might hope or expect. ( See this? This is why I don't take Sleeper contracts anymore.Collapse )
This mage is not yet in play:
Joule feels magic in the air as palpably as the heat of the engine under her hands; for a moment she revels in it before returning her attention to her task. A little grease and a nudge right here, and the cap will come off in her hands, just as easy as one… two…
She straightens, tucks a stray wire sprouting from her scalp behind her ear, ignoring the smear of engine grease she tracks across her cheekbone. She examines the cap, carelessly underhands it to her client. "Don't need this. It just gums things up in there, anyway."
I did not expect the void he leaves in life to be so large. When he was here, with us, he would irritate me, come to me with requests that only a man who was born to wealth and nobility would make, could make. I longed for the days when he would travel on his uncle's business, the business of the court, and leave me be with my papers and ledgers. I wished for him to go, just go and not return for a few weeks. That was all I asked.
And now that he is gone, that he will not, cannot return, there is a niggling question in the back of my head... did I do it? Did I drive him away?
I look for solace in all my usual places. Davide eats in my quarters more often than he does not, offers wry commentary on the state of the embassy. I try not to bother D for even as my schedule has cleared, hers is still busy as ever and only getting more so. I content myself to attending Cristiana, to searching for those exactly perfect stones to match my new dress. I bury myself in papa's paperwork, even offering my skills as scribe and clerk to Don Giovanni and wondering all the while if this is all there is to my life.
We are in bed when it happens. It is cold out and we are pressed against each other under the covers, skin damp with sweat and limbs intertwined. Her lips brush against my skin, the sensation I remember when the knock comes, and with it, the letter.
I read it once and grow numb in the chill air. She takes it gently from my grasp and reads it herself. She doesn’t hesitate, only kisses my brow and orders hot mulled wine. I take comfort in this, in her, even as I can’t muster tears, only a grim acceptance of inevitability.
Judy fell first. This is unsurprising, given her age and physical condition. She took Ciara's death hard, wasn't quite able to cope. Courtenay's about my age, and in better physical shape. Of the two of us, though, I'm the one who seems to have a better handle on what is happening.
What is happening?
We made a push to escape. I tossed a flamingo over the chair and cube wall barrier, distracting the shamblers momentarily. It was enough to hop the barrier and sprint for the exit. Judy, the slowest of us, didn't make it. Courtenay wanted to go back for her, but I knew as soon as I heard the screams that it was over. Courtenay started to go back, but I caught her by the arm, shook my head slightly.
We paused at the door, waiting, watching. The parking lot seemed deserted and we made a run for it. We'd argued briefly about whose car we should take, who should drive. Both she and Judy drove convertibles. Mine is the only car that is sufficiently solid, although a better bet would be to try to get a larger, tougher vehicle. As the thought comes to me, I ask Courtenay if she knows how to hotwire a car. She looks at me like I'm crazy. Fair enough.
There are a couple of Shamblers across the parking lot from my car. For the first time, I regret not having electric doorlocks. I get into the drivers side, reach across for the passenger side. I take stock of my car, think about what I have readily available in terms of food and weapons. Not good; I recently cleaned out my car.
As we drive, I ask Courtenay how defensible her mother's house is - that is our current objective.
"Umm..." she says.
Shit. I quiz her on how many doors, windows the place has. Levels? What does the driveway look like? How close is it to her neighbors? Trees and bushes around the house?
She doesn't know, never gave it any thought. I stifle the urge to ask if she never thought about what to do in case of zombie apocalypse. Of course she didn't. She's a nice girl, teaches kids how to swim on the weekends. She's not like me, not like my people. We plan for emergencies, lay in contingencies. We keep axes and shotguns ready to hand... or some of us do. I'm nearly defenseless, I realize, and the thought scares me. It's just me and my car right now, and one scared swim coach.
Courtenay's mom's house is a nice, two level bit in the hills of Marin, but aside from being conveniently located on a hill, well away from its neighbors, it is otherwise useless to us. Too many exit and entrance points, too many places we would have to defend. And, as becomes obvious, it is already infested with zombies.
It took me awhile to figure out what the hell is going on
. I headed up to the North Bay earlier today to go to work, stopping at the bank's ATM, then getting gas. I was a little surprised at how calm the traffic was this morning, but chocked it up to Wednesday lull.
Work's been quiet. Half the office didn't come in, and because I mostly ignore my coworkers, I didn't hear the news until much, much later.
The survivors call it just that: the news. It sounds so tame like that. The word doesn't convey the terror we've been feeling, how we all look sideways at one another, expecting the worst, that one of us is about to turn. Courtenay and Judy follow my lead after the sales manager killed Ciara during the afternoon meeting. Now, we don't trust anyone.
The Customer Service department has been lucky. We are the most defensible cube-block, but also the hardest to escape past the zombies. The piled office chairs and extra cube walls will hold the shamblers at bay until I can devise a better plan. Judy's pink plastic lawn flamingos have come in handy as decoys - the shamblers can't seem to tell the different between us and a flamingo covered in Ciara's remains, on the end of three sweaters tied together. We take turns wiggling it, although every time Judy's turn comes up, she turns a bit green. The Shamblers appear entranced by it, at the very least.
I don't yet have a plan for our escape, but am thankful for every word I hear from friends that they are safe - relatively.
Good luck, godspeed. I'll try to send an update when I can.
I will be making a filter for Changeling soon; eventually, it will get moved to its own journal, because I'm a journal junkie. I will be posting my musings regarding the new Changeling: th Lost, its interpretation into the Camarilla, character concepts and fiction, etc. However, in the interim, behind the cut below is the beginnings of a background for the Changeling character, in my grand tradition of artistic wanking. Comment to be added to the filter if you decide you want in. ( Changeling: the Lost is a game of Madness...Collapse )
Cross-posting to various game-related journals.
Please be advised that this is still just a game. Please also be advised that I care deeply about the state of the domain and really believe in that part of every approval I've been writing for the last several years in which I describe how I intend to be like a storyteller in the play of my character.
When we belong to an organization, when we play a game, we have a responsibility to ensure that we are not the only ones who are having fun. Like the social responsibility all of us have to not make the lives of the people we live around miserable, so too do we have a responsibility to try to make sure that our fellow players aren't miserable.
My responsibility as a player and as a member of this organization does not end when I play my characters. It doesn't end when I leave game. It didn't end when I stopped being an officer. By signing up with the Camarilla, I agreed to read my Membership Handbooks and abide by it. Do I always succeed? No, not always, but by god, I try.
The Camarilla doesn't bring out the best in people. For the most part, it shows and magnifies the ways in which we become terrible and petty creatures. I wish it didn't. I wish that more people arose to the occasion of taking responsibility for themselves and their actions. I wish that I couldn't be counted among those that have shown themselves in a particularly bad light.
I've learned a lot about myself in the years that I've been in the Camarilla. I've learned that I don't much like who I've been. However, when I look at the work that I've put into the local club, I want to be proud of what I've done, even of the small accomplishments. I largely am. But what I am the most proud of is the ways in which I've grown, of how I work with people, how I see myself and others. I know that I'll be able to look back on this experience, and feel good about myself.
No one should be held responsible for their emotions. Everyone is responsible for how they react to those emotions. Keep that in mind in the coming weeks.