Almost Drabbles

“I told you to stop calling me that,” Fewo snapped, their jaw clenching.
“Sorry, sorry!” their teammate backed off, their crystal wings unforming to shield their face in case of a punch, “it just fits so well, with the wings, and the attitude, and the fire powers-”
“Why did you mention the attitude before the fire?? Also, are you calling my attitude spicy?? Huh??”
Hydra backed away as Fewo advanced on them aggressively.
“And you have wings as well! If I’m ‘spicy chicken’ you should be ‘icy chicken!’ GET IT??? BECAUSE YOU HAVE ICE POWERS? HUH??”
Hydra had to laugh at their overly aggressive tone, which made Fewo’s eyebrows raise in a more laid back annoyance.
“I like that! Icy chicken! Speaking of which, since we’ve finished our flying patrol, how about we get some tofu chicken! Extra spicy, not icy, hahaha…”
“Who would eat iced tofu chicken? Idiot.”
“Well I’m sure there’s someone…” Hydra said thoughtfully, as the two headed to the store.


Next:
socks

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They both stare at each other a few moments, Lyra beginning to lean forward cautiously towards the wary chicken.
The fowl clucks and bawks at her, wings flapping, as it skitters back a few steps. Lyra stills again, keeping her distance, watching, unmoving, careful.
And then, it only takes a single moment. The forest trees rustle as Aquilla stumbles through the undergrowth, arms so heavily ladden with sticks that they obstruct her vision and stop her from seeing the chicken she almost walks into.
“Oo–” Aquilla says when Lyra hisses in warning and the chicken clucks in protest and hops off into the trees, away from the feed Lyra had lured it over with. “Did I step on something? It wasn’t a squirrel, was it? Please tell me it wasn’t a squirrel.”
Aquilla waddles sideways until Lyra’s expression was in sight.
Her twin gives her a deadpan stare. “You know there are sooo many reasons why I hate you right now.”
“You’re mean,” Aquilla frowns, adjusting her grip of the dry kindle in her arms. “Where do I put this?”
Lyra heaves a heavy sigh, getting to her feet as she walks off into some of the trees.
“Hey!” Aquilla protests, trying to follow her. Her foot catches on some undergrowth, and she almost takes a tumble, some of the sticks falling out of her arms. “Help me! Lyra, come on! I think my socks are all bunched up in my shoes, and it’s getting super uncomfortable!”
“Boo hoo,” Lyra says, without much enthusiasm as she swats low-hanging branches out of her face. “Cry me a river.”
Aquilla huffs, irritated at her twin’s apathy. “The next time you get the kindling and your socks get bunched up, I’m not gonna help you!”
“Oh the horrors,” comes Lyra’s monotone reply.
“I mean it!”
Even before she’s finishing her sentence, Aquilla can hear her sister’s steps wading through the grass back towards her, and Lyra shifts some of the sticks off. The two girls yelp when some sticks fall to the ground, and dive to fix it.
“This is why I hate you,” Lyra complains.
Mean,” Aquilla complains.
“For the record, I didn’t come back because of anything you said. It’s because I’m a good person, and I feel obligated to help you out because you looked pathetic.”
Aquilla snorts.
“You should feel lucky my arms are full right now and I can’t hit you.”
“You’re so violent, Lyra,” Aquilla tuts. “Such a good person wouldn’t be so violent.”
Lyra growls at the back of her throat as she manages to stand back up, and she reaches over to kick Aquilla’s foot. Aquilla stumbles, then catches herself with a triumphant laugh. “Aha!”
Lyra rolls her eyes and heads through the trees. “I hate hanging out with you. You turn me into some sort of comedy routine.”
“You mean we’re funny?” Aquilla snickers.
“In a bad way.”


next!
notes

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I make a note to myself to never take anything for granted. Why did Milly’s flight get delayed today of all days? And I notice she didn’t agree not to read Ire’s mind, which makes dread seep through my body like an internal bleed.
She looks thoughtfully at him, and I want to tell him to get out of here, now, but my parents and Milly are here and I can’t make a scene.
My heart pounds dreadfully, and I try to reassure myself that she’d have more of a reaction if she saw anything really shocking. Wouldn’t she?
But she’s thinking about something, and I imagine there must be something incongruent between Ire’s facade and his surface thoughts. She must be reading them, I’m sure.
Her gaze becomes less focused, suddenly, as if she decided not to read his mind anymore.
What did she see?
WHAT DID SHE SEE?
I want to run up to her and shake her shoulders, demanding to know. I want to take Ire and run as far from here as we can get and never return.
I show no outward sign of my feelings beyond my clenched fists inside my pockets. As always, my shoulders are relaxed, my face calm and attentive. Ire said this face looks distant, but it’s just the right amount of distant for my family.
As Ire and my parents make small talk, Milly still doesn’t say anything. I know she will, I just don’t know when. And she doesn’t keep secrets from her parents, and I have nothing over her.


Next: early morning

Stars are Lighthouses

Early morning came each day with harsh lights and the rumbling of a solar flare, pulling me from what little sleep I’d managed to get the night before. Straight away, I’d check the fire. It couldn’t go out, that was my only job. The only reason I was still here.

Ensuring the flame hadn’t died, I stare out at the world I used to know. I’ve been here too long to miss my old life, but sometimes I wonder if anybody I used to know still remembers me. I haven’t heard news of the outside world in ages, but that doesn’t matter. I’m not out there. I’m here, watching…

Sometimes a ship strays close enough for the fire to glint off her hull, and for a moment, I see them, and I’m reminded why I’m still here. A warning, a mark. The gravity wells are dangerous, and if the light ever went out, it would be catastrophic. It’s inevitable, eventually, the light will fail, but it’s my responsibility to see that it doesn’t happen in my lifetime.


Next: Solitare

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It’s a funny thing, heartbreak.
Romantic, platonic, filial, oh heartbreaks of all kinds, really.
It makes a person in its aftermath, a new one, outfitted with all the right qualities painstakingly tailored over the years just to piss you off. Everything that gets under my skin, she knew about.
Perhaps I should find it flattering, having my own personal villain, custom-made especially for me and hand-delivered to my doorstep every morning. Perhaps I should find it flattering, that I know for a fact that I’m all that occupies her mind most days.
Watching someone I’ve loved turned into a monster attuned to my every weakness has been a wild ride.
I jab at the keys on my computer, solitaire’s green background screen glaring into my eyes, the office fan slowly turning around to whirr hot air into my face. The weather is sweltering, and the fan was, at this point, just moving hot air from one side of the room to another.
My formal shirt sticks to my skin with sweat, leaving an icky, unpleasant feeling that makes me want to shudder, the collar scratching into my throat. There’s enough sweat in my armpits that the man on the other side of the room would smell it if I raised my arms above my head. Every movement I make feels like I’m wading through deep, slow-moving sludge.
I jab at more keys on my computer, moving one card from a pile to another.
“Solitaire?” Comes the irritated hot huff of breath at my ear. I adjust the way I’m leaning in my chair, though I don’t flinch, at this point used to her turning up without notice at my elbow like a jump scare murder clown turning up around every corner in movies. At first, it’s scary, but then, you’re sick of its predictability. “What are you, Gen X?”
She folds her arms, rolling her eyes, and I let out a long huff of breath.
“You can join me, if you want,” I say, gesturing half-heartedly to the other chair at my table.
“I’d rather watch paint dry.”
And with that declaration, she stalks off, probably to tattle to my supervisor that I wasn’t getting any work done.
I stick my tongue out at her retreating back, and Jeff, from the cubicle over, snorts into his fist.


next!
lone

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The cat, curled up alone on the sunny spot by the window sill.
The heat of the mug in my hands, almost scorching to the touch as I stare at the sky outside. Somehow, the pain is a thing far removed from me, scritch scratching at my reality from far far away.

The mug slips, shatters to a million pieces on the tiled floor.
She notices me then, and our eyes meet before her gaze goes to the floor.
I open my mouth, but nothing comes out, as she clicks her tongue and walks over, taking my shoulders and nudging me gently away from the mess.
“I’ll take care of it. You go lie down.”
“Why should you take care of it? It’s my mss.”
“Iolas, please. You’re not feeling well.”
“I’m feeling great,” I simmer. “And that isn’t my name. Not everyone with a temper is your precious Iola–”
A sharp hit at the back of my head.
“Go sit down.” Is all she says.
My fists clench, but I head to the couch, as she crouches amongst the broken ceramic, picking up the pieces. I hope she cuts herself on one of the sharp edges.


next
below

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My eyes land below me as my slippery fingers cling to the smooth metal beam. The beam is too thin, my fingers have nothing to sink into, and I feel like I’m about to fall. I carefully hold still, sure that the slightest movement is going to send me tumbling down, my weight crashing me into the fog, breaking apart the drizzle with my too-large form.
I don’t know what the metal beams below me are for, only that I can’t see into the bright light of the rain-mist, the shapes of beams not so far below fading into bright haze.
I look above me and my heart lurches in my chest- a giant face, too big and too close, stares from above the next few beams criss-crossing above me. Why is there no rust? There should be rust.
I float up towards the face, realizing it’s too still, no, it’s just metal, bronze, a statue-
I go toward the eye, looking so insightful, sucking me into a secret passage.
The secrets of the universe are inside the eye of the bronze giant, inside this chamber ahead of me, the door of which is inscribed with ancient text that makes my heart leap with the significance, the mystery, the age and importance, and my heart quails before the doors as I advance toward that great weight-
And wake up.


Next: Shared

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“This is our shared dream. We can do it.”
I grab their hand, the same fire burning in my longtime friend’s eyes.
Together we leap over the cliff, hanging suspended in the air for a moment before the cushion of air beneath us kicks in.
Reality splits apart around us as we dive into the ultra compressed memories of the world. Trillions of tiny moving particles all around us form, stretching out into forever all around, coming across as an overwhelming sea of moving grey static until looked directly at.
As we’re lifted by the formless air, I grab their other hand and look firmly into their eyes.
“You’re here with me. Don’t ever forget, you’re you.”
They nod, the same determination sparking in their red iris and black pupil. The moment our eyes meet I see something more, as our memories come out of us, dissolving into static in the foam around us.
Within us and around our skin at the same time, drowning us in too much information to possibly comprehend at once.
But I fix my eyes on their memories, searching, holding onto the spark of determination inside of me even as it flickers under the wave of information everywhere.
I can’t see the sky above us anymore, only more tiny, rapidly shifting blocks of static everywhere, each speck of which would reveal fractured memories of strangers if looked at closely.
My breath catches, my lungs closing up, and I look at my friend’s eyes, reassured by the determination in them as they keep looking around us.
They look up at me questioningly, and I clench my hands tighter around theirs and smile reassuringly.
I can’t be the one to lose focus and taint their determination.
I keep looking, filtering through their memories of childhood, their memories of being raised in a normal household, fighting with their siblings, long hours at school, weekends at home, holidays and birthdays, cake and music, math and english, names and apoligies, a fearful afternoon spent curled in the corner- there, what is that?
I instantly zoom in on the memory, the image of them staring at their hands, blackened claws flickering in from a crack in their memory before it mended.
A thousand new paths open up from this one, all around me, and I take in all the information I can.
“It was you, wasn’t it? You’ve been with me all this time, just to betray me.”
The voice is different, but unmistakably them. The expression of the strange, alien winged demon in front of them is unreadable.
“Grow big and strong,” the voice that’s so much like my friend’s says, as their hand extends in front of them, watering giant seeds in an cavernous underground garden lit by fire dancing freely along the walls.
“I think we’ll last forever,” that voice says, looking out over a massive underground city lit by pools and lakes of blue glowing water so bright it echoes off the ceiling high above.
“I know we will. We’ll make it so,” somebody else says as the memory shifts aside, to be replaced with a vague, unsettling memory of a feeling, red and black, internal muscles freezing and choking as if held in a steel grip, problems unable to be healed by internal magic, despite desperately throwing that magic around, searching for anything to grab onto to fix the problem.
And then I lose sight of the memories as they’re swept away by a wave of other memories, too many and too fragmented to grab hold of.
“I can’t find them!” I shout, realizing with huge relief that I’m still holding my friend’s hands.
“It’s time to go!” they say back, pulling me in a direction.
I have no idea if we’re going up, our movement pushing aside waves of static that clings to my head, too many and too small to make anything of, too much information at once, making a mockery of reason and thought.
We break through into fresh air a minute later, after I’d given up hope of seeing it again, blindly pushing on.
We swim around, my friend searching around until they find the stairs, surfing over waves of foam that are somewhat more tolerable with the fresh air around our heads and the sensible, ordered sky above.
We emerge onto the stairs, climbing until our knees ache, never saying a word until we’re on the cliff and further.
I never want to go back there if we can help it.
“I didn’t find them either,” my friend admits, looking disturbed as they stare at the ground, “there was something I forgot, but, it wasn’t…” they look like they’re going to throw up or cry, I’m not sure which.
“I saw it,” I reassure them, grabbing their shoulder.
We don’t have to go back, I hope desperately.
They look up, startled,
“But I thought you said…?”
I’d laugh if I still had it in me after that experience.
“I meant I couldn’t find them after they were swept away by a wave of that… static,” I say, shuddering, wishing I could forget the sensation of too many fractured memories engulfing my skin from all angles.
“What did you see?” they ask intently, their eyes widening.
I sit down, still holding one of their hands as I try to recall everything I saw and tell them in as much detail as I can.
“I see,” they say, their face lined in some invisible pain, “this still doesn’t tell us where I came from, or how I came to be reborn, or tricked into believing I belonged, in that family. It doesn’t tell us where the old city was, or why I was betrayed… but… I think I can… guess.”
They don’t meet my eyes, their face pale, seeing something that isn’t there.
I’m caught between wanting to ask them what they mean and telling them they don’t have to tell me now.
They continue anyway.
“I found a memory that branched out into many others. They’re memories of my childhood, but they’re not the ones we saw at first. Only, I think they’re the true memories. I made many of those surface memories up. To forget the person I was.”
They look up at me finally, distantly, as if seeing a stranger.
“I’m not me. And our shared dream is a fantasy.”


Next: Forgotten

I have forgotten much of the life I led before I sat in this basement for an eternity.

Forgotten.

This forgotten basement, rubble on the rotten floor above threatening to cave the beams in and bury me.
The sounds of birds, insects and four legged creatures breaking the dead silence that ruled for too many years.

Forgotten.

The world has forgotten me, and I have forgotten what it is like to emote. I imagine if I leave this forgotten city, I will find a world that resembles the one I lived in for so long. Human, doing the things humans do. Living their lives, forgetting history and repeating their mistakes. Over and over and over again.

I have forgotten why I cared.


Next: Machine

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hhh missed the chance to post this


Noon tears the bread in half, blowing at the steaming curry filling that begins to drip onto her palm, as she shoves the other half in Dilna’s face.
Dilna, who’d been watching the fountains, moves back a little, surprised, then takes the bread with a look towards Noon.
“You could’ve just gotten two,” Dilna points out.
“And pay an extra four copper? No thank you.”
As the filling begins to drip onto Dilna’s palms, she hurries to blow at it, the smell of its cooked vegetables and spices wafting into her face, misting in the cool morning air. Her mother would’ve never let her buy street food. Especially not of this messy variety, in public.
Dilna’s aware of the looks they were getting, Cora’s daughter and her spirit lounging in the middle of a park on a weekend. She can feel her face redden slightly in embarrassment, though mostly, she didn’t mind.
Safa finds them again, then, making her way carefully down the concrete steps, as always, drawing looks for entirely different reasons, dressed to the nines as she is compared to the people around her.
“You’re a horrible influence on her,” Safa says, sitting on Noon’s other side.
“You’re just jealous I didn’t get you anything to eat.”
Safa wrinkles her nose. “Uh, yeah, no thank you. I can see the grease literally dripping off that bread.”
“Ah, is this food too much for the royal princess to handle?” Noon smiles, as Dilna begins to wonder if she’s supposed to lick off the curry dripping down her wrist, or let it be and wash it off later. A drop splatters onto her white uniform, and she withholds a sigh, beginning to lick it off.
Safa rolls her eyes, “Say what you will-- Dilna.”
“What? It’s getting all over my clothes.”
“It’s like I’m babysitting the two of you,” Safa huffs, digging around her purse now, probably to offer her a tissue or handkerchief, as Noon continues to scarf down her own bread.
Though Noon pauses to add, “Oh, these masalas never wash off clothing.”
“What?” Dilna asks, looking over at her. “I like this uniform.”
“Buy a new one,” Safa says, giving up finding the handkerchief, which seemed to be nowhere.
“I can’ t just buy a new uniform because I ate bread today,” Dilna’s brows furrow.
Safa rolls her eyes, leaning back on her hand as she pulls out her phone, choosing to ignore the two of them for her own sanity.
Dilna gives Noon a helpless look, which, when the spirit notices, she returns with a half shrug.
Ah, well.
At least the filling was delicious.
“Next, I was thinking we head down to the park,” Noon says, as Dilna concentrates on the mildly-difficult task of eating the mess in her hands. “You know, a little walk could do you some good, clear your head.”
Dilna hums distractedly, and Noon, now finished with her food, leans forward on her elbows, watching people pass them by in the park. The moment feels almost surreal to the spirit, sharing easy conversation with the two humans beside her. She’d spent so long in stone, she’d forgotten what humans were like.


next!
justify

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