Hung speed dating

Iris [4/5]

2020.10.01 21:47 normancrane Iris [4/5]

Back to Table of Contents

- - -

Since

Blood, guts and bone shards blanketed the surfaces of the waiting room, making it look like the inside of an unwashed jar of strawberry jam. My wife was gone. Every woman in the room was gone. The space behind the reception desk stood eerily empty. The television in the corner was showing the splattered lens of a camera that a hand suddenly wiped clean—its burst of motion a shock to the prevailing stillness—to reveal the peaceful image of a Los Angeles street in which bloodied men and boys stood frozen, startled…
I was too numb to speak.
Someone unlocked the hospital doors but nobody entered.
The waiting room smelled like an abattoir.
My clothes smelled like an abattoir.
I walked toward the doors, opened them with my hip and continued into the morning sunlight. I half expected shit to rain down from the skies. If I had a razor blade in my pocket I would have slit my wrists, but all I had was my wallet, my car keys and my phone. Sliding my fingers over the keys reminded me how dull they were. I didn’t want to drive. I didn’t want anything, but if I had to do something I would walk. I stepped on the heel of one shoe with the toe of another and slid my shoe off. The other one I pulled off with my hand. I wasn’t wearing socks. I hadn’t had enough time to put them on. I threw the shoes away. I wanted to walk until my feet hurt so much that I couldn’t walk anymore.
I put one foot in front of the other all the way back to my apartment building, waited for the elevator, and took it to my floor. In the hall, I passed a man wearing clean summer clothes. He didn’t give my bloody ones a second glance. I nodded to him, he nodded back, and I unlocked the door to my apartment and walked in. My feet left footprints on the linoleum. A dark, drying stain in the small space between the fridge and the kitchen wall was all that was left of Pillow. She’d squeezed in and died alone. I took out a mop and rotely removed the stain. Then I took off my clothes, flung them on the bed, which was as unmade as when we left it, took a shower and laid down on the crumpled sheets beside the only pieces of my wife that I had left. My sleep smelled like an abattoir.
I awoke to a world without women.
I rolled off the bed into sore thighs and guilt, got up to emptiness that echoed the slightest noise, and left my wife’s clothes on the sheets without thinking that eventually I’d have to pack them into a plastic bag and slide them down the garbage chute. I felt magnified and hollow. In the kitchen, I used the stove top as a table because the actual table had my wife’s tablet on it, and spilled instant coffee. What I didn’t spill I drank in a few gulps, the way I used to drink ice cold milk as a boy. I stood in front of the living room window for a while before realizing I was naked, then realizing that it didn’t matter because men changed in front of each other at the pool and peed next to one another into urinals in public restrooms, and there weren’t any women to hide from, no one to offend. The world, I told myself, was now a sprawling men’s pisser, so I slammed the window open and pissed.
I wanted to call someone—to tell them that my wife was dead, because that’s a duty owed by the living—but whom could I call: her sister, her parents? Her sister was dead. Her father had a dead wife and two dead daughters. There was nothing to say. Everyone knew. I called my wife’s father anyway. Was he still my father-in-law now that I was a widower? He didn’t accept the connection. Widower: a word loses all but historical meaning when there are no alternatives. If all animals were dogs, we’d purge one of those words from our vocabulary. We were all widowers. It was synonymous with man. I switched on the television and stared, crying, at a montage of photographs showing the bloody landscapes of cities, hospitals, retirement homes, schools and churches, all under the tasteless headline: “International Pop”. Would we clean it up, these remnants of the people we loved? Could we even use the same buildings, knowing what had happened in them? The illusion of practical thinking pushed my feeling of emptiness away. I missed arms wrapping around me from behind while I stared through rain streaked windows. I missed barking and a wagging tail that hit my leg whenever I was standing too close. Happiness seemed impossible. I called Bakshi because I needed confirmation that I still had a voice. “They’re the lucky ones,” he said right after I’d introduced myself. “They’re out. We’re the fools still locked in, and now we’re all alone.”
For three weeks, I expected my wife to show up at the apartment door. I removed her clothes from the bed and stuffed them into a garbage bag, but kept the garbage bag in the small space between the fridge and the kitchen wall. I probably would have kept a dead body in the freezer if I had one and it fit. As a city and as a world, those were grim, disorganized weeks for us. Nobody worked. I don’t know what we did. Sat around and drank, smoked. And we called each other, often out of the blue. Every day, I received a call from someone I knew but hadn’t spoken to in years. The conversations all followed a pattern. There was no catching up and no explanation of lost time, just a question like “How are you holding up?” followed by a thoughtless answer (“Fine, I guess. And you?”) followed by an exchange of details about the women we’d lost. Mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, friends, cousins, aunts, teachers, students, co-workers. We talked about the colour of their hair, their senses of humour, their favourite movies. We said nothing about ourselves, choosing instead to inhabit the personas of those whom we’d loved. In the hallway, I would put on my wife’s coats but never look at myself in the mirror. I wore her winter hats in the middle of July. Facebook became a graveyard, with the gender field separating the mourners from the dead.
The World Health Organization issued a communique stating that based on the available data it was reasonable to assume that all the women in the world were dead, but it called for any woman still alive to come forward immediately. The language of the communique was as sterile as the Earth. Nobody came forward. The World Wildlife Fund created an inventory of all mammalian species that listed in ascending order how long each species would exist. Humans were on the bottom. Both the World Health Organization and the World Wildlife Fund predicted that unless significant technological progress occurred in the field of fertility within the next fifty years, the last human, a theoretical boy named Philip born into a theoretical developed country on March 26, 2025, would die in 93 years. On the day of his death, Philip would be the last remaining mammal—although not necessarily animal—on Earth. No organization or government has ever officially stated that July 4, 2025, was the most destructive day in recorded history, on the morning of which, Eastern Time, four billion out of a total of eight billion people ceased to exist as anything more than memories. What killed them was neither an act of war nor an act of terrorism. Neither was it human negligence. There was no one to blame and no one to prosecute. In the western countries, where the majority of people no longer believed in any religion, we could not even call it an act of God. So we responded by calling it nothing at all.
And, like nothing, our lives persisted. We ate, we slept and we adapted. After the first wave of suicides ended, we hosed off what the rain hadn’t already washed away and began to reorganize the systems on which our societies ran. It was a challenge tempered only slightly in countries where women had not made up a significant portion of the workforce. We held new elections, formed me boards of directors and slowed down the assembly lines and bus schedules to make it possible for our communities to keep running. There was less food in the supermarkets, but we also needed less food. Instead of two trains we ran one, but one sufficed. I don’t remember the day when I finally took the black garbage bag from its resting place and walked it to the chute. “How are you holding up?” a male voice would say on the street. “Fine, I guess. And you?” I’d answer. ##!! wrote a piece of Python code to predict the box office profitability of new movies, in which real actors played alongside computer-generated actresses. The code was only partially successful. Because while it did accurately predict the success of new movies in relation to one other, it failed to include the overwhelming popularity of re-releases of films from the past—films starring Bette Davis, Giulietta Masina, Meryl Streep: women who at least on screen were still flesh and blood. Theatres played retrospectives. On Amazon, books by female authors topped the charts. Sales of albums by women vocalists surged. We thirsted for another sex. I watched, read and listened like everyone else, and in between I cherished any media on which I found images or recordings of my wife. I was angry for not having made more. I looked at the same photos and watched the same clips over and over again. I memorized my wife’s Facebook timeline and tagged all her Tweets by date, theme and my own rating. When I went out, I would talk to the air as if she was walking beside me, sometimes quoting her actual words as answers to my questions and sometimes inventing my own as if she was a beloved character in an imagined novel. When people looked at me like I was crazy, I didn’t care. I wasn’t the only one. But, more importantly, my wife meant more to me than they did. I remembered times when we’d stroll through the park or down downtown sidewalks and I would be too ashamed to kiss her in the presence of strangers. Now, I would tell her that I love her in the densest crowd. I would ask her whether I should buy ketchup or mustard in the condiments aisle. She helped me pick out my clothes in the morning. She convinced me to eat healthy and exercise.
In November, I was in Bakshi’s apartment for the first time, waiting for a pizza delivery boy, when one of Bakshi’s friends who was browsing Reddit told us that the Tribe of Akna was starting a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to buy the Republic of Suriname, rename it Xibalba and close its borders for all except the enlightened. Xibalba would have no laws, Salvador Abaroa said in a message on the site. He was banging his gong as he did. Everything would be legal, and anyone who pledged $100 would receive a two-week visa to this new "Mayan Buddhist Eden". If you pledged over $10,000, you would receive citizenship. “Everything in life is destroyed by energy,” Abaroa said. “But let the energy enlighten you before it consumes your body. Xibalba is finite life unbound.” Bakshi’s phone buzzed. The pizza boy had sent an email. He couldn’t get upstairs, so Bakshi and I took the elevator to the building’s front entrance. The boy’s face was so white that I saw it as soon as the elevator doors slid open. Walking closer, I saw that he was powdered. His cheeks were also rouged, and he was wearing cranberry coloured lipstick, a Marilyn Monroe wig and a short black skirt. Compared to his face, his thin legs looked like incongruously dark popsicle sticks. Bakshi paid for the pizza and added another five dollars for the tip. The boy batted his fake eyelashes and asked if maybe he could do something to earn a little more. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I could come upstairs and clean the place up a little. You two live alone?” Bakshi passed me the two pizza boxes—They felt hot in my hands.—and dug around in his wallet. “It’s not just the two of us,” I said. The boy smiled. “That’s OK. I’ve done parties before if that’s what you’re into.” I saw the reaction on Bakshi’s face, and I saw the boy’s grotesque caricature of a woman. “There’s condoms and lube in the car,” the boy said, pointing to a sedan with a pizza spray-painted across its side parked by the curb. “My boss says I can take up to two hours but it’s not like he uses a stopwatch.” I stepped on Bakshi’s foot and shouldered him away. He was still fiddling with his wallet. “We’re not interested,” I said to the boy. He just shrugged. “Suit yourselves. If you change your mind, order another pizza and ask for Ruby.” The elevator dinged and the doors opened. As we shuffled inside, I saw Bakshi’s cheeks turn red. “I’m not actually—” he mumbled, but I didn’t let him finish. What had bothered me so much about the boy wasn’t the way he looked or acted; in fact, it wasn’t really the boy at all. He was just trying to make a buck. What bothered me was how ruthlessly we’d already begun to exploit each other.
For those of us who were heterosexual, sex was a definite weakness. I missed it. I would never have it with a woman again. The closest substitute was pornography, whose price rose with its popularity, but which, at least for me, now came scented with the unpleasantness of historicity and nostalgia. Videos and photos, not to mention physical magazines, were collector’s items in the same way that we once collected coins or action figures. The richest men bought up the exclusive rights to their favourite porn stars and guarded them by law with a viciousness once reserved for the RIAA and MPAA. Perhaps exclusivity gave them a possessive satisfaction. In response, we pirated whatever we could and fought for a pornographic public domain. Although new pornography was still being produced, either with the help of the same virtual technology they used for mainstream movies or with the participation of young men in costume, it lacked the taste of the originals. It was like eating chocolate made without cocoa. The best pornography, and therefore the best sex, became the pornography of the mind.
The Tribe of Akna reached its Kickstarter goal in early December. On December 20, I went to church for the first time since getting married because that was the theoretical date that my wife—along with every other woman—was supposed to have given birth. I wanted to be alone with others. Someone posted a video on TikTok from Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront, dubbing over Marlon Brando’s speech to say: “You don’t understand. I could’a had a piece of ass. I could’a been a school board member. I could’a been a son’s daddy”. It was juvenile and heartbreaking. By Christmas, the Surinamese government was already expelling its citizens, each of whom had theoretically been given a fraction of the funds paid to the government from the Tribe of Akna’s Kickstarter pool, and Salvador Abaroa’s lawyers were petitioning for international recognition of the new state of Xibalba. Neither Canada nor the United States opened diplomatic relations, but others did. I knew people who had pledged money, and when in January they disappeared on trips, I had no doubt to where. Infamy spread in the form of stories and urban legends. There’s no need for details. People disappeared, and ethicists wrote about the ethical neutrality of murder, arguing that because we were all slated to die, leaving the Earth barren in a century, destruction was a human inevitability, and what is inevitable can never be bad, even when it comes earlier than expected—even when it comes by force. Because, as a species, we hadn’t chosen destruction for ourselves, neither should any individual member of our species be able to choose now for himself. To the ethicists of what became known as the New Inevitability School, suicide was a greater evil than murder because it implied choice and inequality. If the ship was going down, no one should be allowed to get off. A second wave of suicides coincided with the debate, leading many governments to pass laws making suicide illegal. But how do you punish someone who already wants to die? In China: by keeping him alive and selling him to Xibalba, where he becomes the physical plaything of its citizens and visa-holders. The Chinese was the first embassy to open in Xibalban Paramaribo.
The men working on Kurt Schwaller’s theory of everything continued working, steadily adding new variables to their equations, complicating their calculations in the hopes that someday the variable they added would be the final one and the equation would yield an answer. “It’s pointless,” Bakshi would comment after reading about one of the small breakthroughs they periodically announced. “Even if they do manage to predict something, anything, it won’t amount to anything more than the painfully obvious. And after decades of adding and subtracting their beans, they’ll come out of their Los Alamos datalabs like groundhogs into a world blanketed by storm clouds and conclude, finally and with plenty of self-congratulations, that it’s about to fucking rain.”
It rained a lot in February. It was one of the warmest Februaries in Toronto’s history. Sometimes I went for walks along the waterfront, talking to my wife, listening to Billie Holiday and trying to recall as many female faces as I could. Ones from the distant past: my mother, my grandmothers. Ones from the recent past: the woman whose life my wife saved on the way to the hospital, the Armenian woman with the film magazine and the injured son, the Jamaican woman, Bakshi’s wife. I focused on their faces, then zoomed out to see their bodies. I carried an umbrella but seldom opened it because the pounding of the raindrops against the material distorted my mental images. I saw people rush across the street holding newspapers above their heads while dogs roamed the alleyways wearing nothing at all. Of the two, it was dogs that had the shorter time left on Earth, and if they could let the rain soak their fur and drip off their bodies, I could surely let it run down my face. It was first my mother and later my wife who told me to always cover up in the rain, “because moisture causes colds,” but I was alone now and I didn’t want to be separated from the falling water by a sheet of glass anymore. I already was cold. I saw a man sit down on a bench, open his briefcase, pack rocks into it, then close it, tie it to his wrist, check his watch and start to walk into the polluted waters of Lake Ontario. Another man took out his phone and tapped his screen a few times. The man in the lake walked slowly, savouring each step. When the police arrived, sirens blaring, the water was up to his neck. I felt guilty for watching the three officers splash into the lake after him. I don’t know what happened after that because I turned my back and walked away. I hope they didn’t stop him. I hope he got to do what he wanted to do.
“Screw the police.” Bakshi passed me a book. “You should read this,” he said. It was by a professor of film and media studies at a small university in Texas. There was a stage on the cover, flanked by two red curtains. The photo had been taken from the actors’ side, looking out at an audience that the stage lights made too dark to see. The title was Hiding Behind The Curtains. I flipped the book over. There was no photo of the author. “It’s a theory,” Bakshi said, “that undercuts what Abaroa and the Inevitabilists are saying. It’s a little too poetic in parts but—listen, you ever read Atlas Shrugged?” I said I hadn’t. “Well, anyway, what this guy says is that what if instead of our situation letting us do anything we want, it’s actually the opposite, a test to see how we act when we only think that we’re doomed. I mean what if the women who died in March, what if they’re just—” “Hiding behind the curtains,” I said. He bit his lower lip. “It sounds stupid when you say it like that but, as a metaphor, it has a kind of elegance, right?” I flipped through the book, reading a few sentences at random. It struck me as neo-Christian. “Isn’t this a little too spiritual for you? I thought we were all locked into one path,” I said. “I thought that, too, but lately I’ve been able to do things—things that I didn’t really want to do.” For a second I was concerned. “Nothing bad,” he said. “I mean I’ve felt like I’m locked into doing one thing, say having a drink of water, but I resist and pour myself a glass of orange juice instead.” I shook my head. “It’s hard to explain,” he said. That’s how most theories ended, I thought: reason and evidence up to a crucial point, and then it gets so personal that it’s hard to explain. You either make the jump or you don’t. “Just read it,” he said. “Please read it. You don’t have to agree with it, I just want to get your opinion, an objective opinion.”
I never did read the book, and Bakshi forgot about it, too, but that day he was excited and happy, and those were rare feelings. I was simultaneously glad for him and jealous. Afterwards, we went out onto the balcony and drank Czech beer until morning. When it got cool, we put on our coats. It started to drizzle so we wore blue plastic suits like the ones they used to give you on boat rides in Niagara Falls. When it was time to go home, I was so drunk I couldn’t see straight. I almost got into a fight, the first one of my life, because I bumped into a man on the street and told him to get the fuck out of my way. I don’t remember much more of my walk home. The only reason I remember Behind The Curtains at all is because when I woke up in the afternoon it was the first thing that my hung over brain recognized. It was lying on the floor beside the bed. Then I opened the blinds covering my bedroom window and, through my spread fingers that I’d meant to use as a shield from the first blast of daylight, I saw the pincers for the first time.
They’d appeared while I was asleep. I turned on the television and checked my phone. The media and the internet were feverish, but nobody knew what the thing was, just a massive, vaguely rectangular shape blotting out a strip of the sky. NASA stated that it had received no extraterrestrial messages to coincide with the appearance. Every government claimed ignorance. The panel discussions on television only worsened my headache. Bakshi emailed me links to photos from Mumbai, Cape Town, Sydney and Mexico City, all showing the same shape; or rather one of a pair of shapes, for there were two of them, one on each side of the Earth, and they’d trapped our planet between themselves like gargantuan fingers clutching an equally gargantuan ping-pong ball. That’s why somebody came up with the term “the pincers”. It stuck. Because I’d slept in last night’s clothes I was already dressed, so I ran down the stairs and out of my apartment building to get a better look at them from the parking lot. You’re not supposed to look at the sun, but I wasn’t the only one breaking that rule. There were entire crowds with upturned faces in the streets. If the pincers, too, could see, they would perhaps be as baffled by us as we were of them: billions of tiny specks all over the surface of this ping-pong ball gathering in points on a grid, coagulating into large puddles that vanished overnight only to reassemble in the morning. In the following days, scientists scrambled to study the pincers and their potential effects on us, but they discovered nothing. The pincers did nothing. They emitted nothing, consumed nothing. They simply were. And they could not be measured or detected in any way other than by eyesight. When we shot rays at them, the rays continued on their paths unaffected, as if nothing was there. The pincers did, however, affect the sun’s rays coming towards us. They cut up our days. The sun would rise, travel over the sky, hide behind a pincer—enveloping us in a second night—before revealing itself again as a second day. But if the pincers’ physical effect on us was limited to its blockage of light, their mental effects on us were astoundingly severe. For many, this was the sign they’d been waiting for. It brought hope. It brought gloom. It broke and confirmed ideas that were hard to explain. In their ambiguity, the pincers could be anything, but in their strangeness they at least reassured us of the reality of the strange times in which we were living. Men walked away from the theory of everything, citing the pincers as the ultimate variable that proved the futility of prognostication. Others took up the calculations because if the pincers could appear, what else was out there in our future? However, ambiguity can only last for a certain period. Information narrows possibilities. On April 1, 2026, every Twitter account in the world received the following message:
as you can see this message is longer than the allowed one hundred forty characters time and space are malleable you thought you had one hundred years but prepare for the plucking
The sender was @. The message appeared in each user’s feed at exactly the same time and in his first language, without punctuation. Because of the date most of us thought it was a hoax, but the developers of Twitter denied this vehemently. It wasn’t until a court forced them to reveal their code, which proved that a message of that length and sent by a blank user was impossible, that our doubts ceased. ##!! took bets on what the message meant. Salvador Abaroa broadcast a response into space in a language he called Bodhi Mayan, then addressed the rest of us in English, saying that in the pincers he had identified an all-powerful prehistoric fire deity, described in an old Sanskrit text as having the resemblance of mirrored black fangs, whose appearance signified the end of time. “All of us will burn,” he said, “but paradise shall be known only to those who burn willingly.” Two days later, The Tribe of Akna announced that in one month it would seal Xibalba from the world and set fire to everything and everyone in it. For the first time, its spokesman said, an entire nation would commit suicide as one. Jonestown was but a blip. As a gesture of goodwill, he said that Xibalba was offering free immolation visas to anyone who applied within the next week. The New Inevitability School condemned the plan as “offensively unethical” and inequalitist and urged an international Xibalban boycott. Nothing came of it. When the date arrived, we watched with rapt attention on live streams and from the vantage points of circling news planes as Salvador Abaroa struck flint against steel, creating the spark that caught the char cloth, starting a fire that blossomed bright crimson and in the next weeks consumed all 163,821 square kilometres of the former Republic of Suriname and all 2,500,000 of its estimated Xibalban inhabitants. Despite concerns that the fire would spread beyond Xibalba’s borders, The Tribe of Akna had been careful. There were no accidental casualties and no unplanned property damage. No borders were crossed. Once the fire burned out, reporters competed to be first to capture the mood on the ground. Paramaribo resembled the smouldering darkness of a fire pit.
It was a few days later while sitting on Bakshi’s balcony, looking up at the pincers and rereading a reproduction of @’s message—someone had spray-painted it across the wall of a building opposite Bakshi’s—that I remembered Iris. The memory was so absorbing that I didn’t notice when Bakshi slid open the balcony door and sat down beside me, but I must have been smiling because he said, “I don’t mean this the wrong way, but you look a little loony tonight. Seriously, man, you do not look sufficiently freaked out.” I’d remembered Iris before, swirling elements of her plain face, but now I also remembered her words and her theory. I turned to Bakshi, who seemed to be waiting for an answer to his question, and said, “Let’s get up on the roof of this place.” He grabbed my arm and held on tightly. “I’m not going to jump, if that’s what you mean.” It wasn’t what I meant, but I asked, “why not?” He said, “I don’t know. I know we’re fucked as a species and all that, but I figure if I’m still alive I might as well see what happens next, like in a bad movie you want to see through to the end.” I promised him that I wasn’t going to jump, either. Then I scrambled inside his apartment, grabbed my hat and jacket from the closet by the front door and put them on while speed walking down the hall, toward the fire escape. I realized I’d been spending a lot of time here. The alarm went off as soon I pushed open the door with my hip but I didn’t care. When Bakshi caught up with me, I was already outside, leaping up two stairs at a time. The metal construction was rusted. The treads wobbled. On the roof, the wind nearly blew my hat off and it was so loud I could have screamed and no one would have heard me. Holding my hat in my hands, I crouched and looked out over the twinkling city spread out in front of me. It looked alive in spite of the pincers in the sky. “Let’s do something crazy,” I yelled. Bakshi was still catching his breath behind me. “What, like this isn’t crazy enough?” The NHL may have been gone but my hat still bore the Maple Leafs logo, as quaint and obsolete by then as the Weimar Republic in the summer of 1945. “When’s the last time you played ball hockey?” I asked. Bakshi crouched beside me. “You’re acting weird. And I haven’t played ball hockey in ages.” I stood up so suddenly that Bakshi almost fell over. This time I knew I was smiling. “So call your buddies,” I said. “Tell them to bring their sticks and their gear and to meet us in front of the ACC in one hour.” Bakshi patted me on the back. Toronto shone like jewels scattered over black velvet. “The ACC’s been closed for years, buddy. I think you’re really starting to lose it.” I knew it was closed. “Lose what?” I asked. “It’s closed and we’re going to break in.”
The chains broke apart like shortbread. The electricity worked. The clouds of dust made me sneeze. We used duffel bags to mark out the goals. We raced up and down the stands and bent over, wheezing at imaginary finish lines. We got into the announcer’s booth and called each other cunts through the microphone. We ran, fell and shot rubber pucks for hours. We didn’t keep score. We didn’t worry. “What about the police?” someone asked. The rest of us answered: “Screw the fucking police!”
And when everybody packed up and went home, I stayed behind.
“Are you sure you’re fine?” Bakshi asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Because I have to get back so that I can shower, get changed and get to work.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said.
“And you promise me you’ll catch a cab?”
“I’m not suicidal.”
He fixed his grip on his duffel bag. “I didn’t say you were. I was just checking.”
“I want to see the end of the movie, too,” I said.
He saluted. I watched him leave. When he was gone, my wife walked down from the nosebleeds and took a seat beside me. “There’s someone I want to tell you about,” I said. She lifted her chin like she always does when something unexpected catches her interest, and scooted closer. I put my arm across the back of her beautiful shoulders. She always liked that, even though the position drives me crazy because I tend to talk a lot with my hands. “Stuck at Leafs-Wings snorefest,” she said. “Game sucks but I love the man sitting beside me.” (January 15, 2019. Themes: hockey, love, me. Rating: 5/5). “Her name was Iris,” I said.

- - -

Continue Reading
submitted by normancrane to normancrane [link] [comments]


2020.10.01 20:32 seventhblankpage Some cats can sense when a person is dying, but my cat can sense something much, much worse...

I was not a cat person before Guinevere. Like, really not a cat person. I’ve always been Team Dog, hands-down, ten times out of ten. Honestly, I’m still not exactly a cat person. A cat owner, yes (and a reluctant one at that), but not a cat person. Guinevere being the one exception, of course.
I could wax poetic about the nuances of my distaste for felines, but I’ll spare you the monotony. The abbreviated version is that frankly, I’ve always found cats to be prissy and stuck up. Owning one would be like having a person the size of a loaf of bread shedding and tracking litter all over my house, judging me all the while. I just don’t see the appeal. Before the cat people eviscerate me, yes I know that dogs also shed and are a lot more work, to which I say: at least they don’t make a hobby of sharpening their claws on your legs. Checkmate.
All this to say, I had no intention of getting a cat (or any pet for that matter) when I headed to the animal shelter on a windy Tuesday morning last month. Hell, I wasn't even going to look at the animals. Heather, my best friend from college, had started her new job at the local shelter just a few days prior. She’d been volunteering there for ages and the shelter liked her so much that they decided to bring her on as manager. It isn’t easy work and the pay is shit (and, you know, there are the cats), but Heather – animal lover extraordinaire – was over the moon and jumped at the offer. That Tuesday – her second day on the job – was also her birthday, so I decided to bring her lunch. I had the day off, anyway.
I slept in that morning and ended up leaving for the shelter around 11:00, stopping by Heather’s favorite Mexican restaurant on the way. I remember being vaguely surprised that the shelter parking lot only had one car in it (a falling-apart Prius which I immediately recognized as Heather’s), but then again, who's going to an animal shelter at noon on a Tuesday? Other than me, that is… Sure enough, Heather was the only person there – working or otherwise – and she was on a phone call looking exceptionally frazzled when I walked in.
When she saw me, a huge smile spread across her face. I mouthed “happy birthday” to her, holding up the paper bag with a grin.
Heather’s smile grew wider, and then her expression turned apologetic.
“Sorry” she whispered, covering the phone’s receiver with her hand, “I’ll be done in a sec. You can look around if you want!”
Heather nodded towards a set of double doors – the kind you find in hospitals – and I acquiesced, making my way down a cinder block hallway towards what I assumed would be the animal rooms. Fluorescent lights cast the hallway in a sterile glow and the air was just a little bit too cold for comfort.
Why do animal shelters always feel like prisons? I wondered absently, though I couldn’t remember the last time I had been in a shelter, and I’d never so much as set foot in a prison.
I heard them before I saw them. The pathetic mewling of dozens of cats assaulted my ears, like nails on a chalkboard but arguably worse. The meowing intensified as I rounded the corner to the cages themselves. The smell of ammonia and wet cat food nearly made me gag; the odor combined with the sound almost sent me running.
I scanned the cages and the small fuzzy bodies within them. It was weird, but there didn’t seem to be any dogs at the shelter... I did a quick once-over of the hallway, looking for another room. This one seemed to be it. What kind of shelter doesn’t have dogs?
Maybe they’ve all been adopted, I thought to myself, smirking, after all, who’d want to adopt a cat?
I didn’t see Guinevere escape from her cage. I’m not even sure she had been in a cage at all. I did, however, almost punt her across the room when she came up behind me and rubbed on my leg, an unexpected black shadow that nearly made me jump out of my skin. If my sudden, violent movements startled the cat, she didn’t show it. To my great surprise, she started threading herself between my legs like a furry snake, making a bizarre rumbling noise as she did so. It took me a moment to realize she was purring.
I looked down at the serpentine feline winding a lemniscate around my legs and – to this day I do not know what possessed me – I reached down to scratch her behind the ears.
The cat let out a small, pleased chirping noise and blinked up at me with perfectly round green eyes that seemed too big for her face. She was tiny – smaller than most of the other cats, though she didn’t look like a kitten – which made her eyes look comically large by comparison. I guess it was kind of cute, in an extraterrestrial sort of way.
The wide-eyed cat walked with me as I made my rounds of the shelter, searching unsuccessfully for a dog. She leaned against my leg and purred every time I stopped, pushing her wet little nose against my shin. I smiled despite myself.
After a few minutes I heard an exasperated sigh and the click of a phone receiver, followed by the sound of footsteps walking towards me.
“Happy birthday!” I said, embracing Heather as she rounded the corner to join me, “tough customer?”
“My boss,” my friend replied, looking sheepish, “the system went down this morning and I couldn’t figure out how to get it back up… I’m the only one working today and they don’t teach you all that stuff when you’re a volunteer...”
“Well, hopefully lunch will make you feel a little better.” I brandished the bag at Heather, who took it with a beatific grin.
Heather’s smile slipped when she spotted the cat by my feet, a curious expression spreading across her face. “Looks like you’ve got yourself a little shadow.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said, looking down, “I don’t know why it likes me so much.”
She,” Heather corrected gently, “her name is Guinevere.”
“Well I don’t know why she likes me so much. And Guinevere’s a stupid name for a cat.”
“I didn’t name her,” Heather shrugged, frowning slightly. The silence hung heavily between us, and Heather didn’t take her eyes from the cat.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing. Just, be careful with that one.”
“Huh? She seems okay.” As if on cue, Guinevere chirped up at as,. It was – though it pains me to admit this – adorable.
“Yeah, I thought so too,” Heather sighed, squatting down to give Guinevere a pat. “She seems like such a sweet thing but apparently she’s been adopted like four or five times and always gets brought back. I dunno...”
I looked at Guinevere, wondering if her good kitty persona was an act, a ruse to entice unsuspecting humans to adopt her, after which she would revert to being a menace, as all cats are. “Why?”
Heather shrugged again. “People give all kinds of excuses for surrendering a pet. Who knows what’s true? Usually they decide that having a pet’s too much trouble, or that they don’t like scooping litter, or that they just can’t bear their designer furniture getting all scratched up… That sort of thing.”
“Five times seems like a lot, though. And she’s not that old… right?”
“Vet said she’s at least three.” Heather paused for a moment, looking pensive. A conspiratorial smile spread across her face. “There’s another possible explanation, though.”
“Go on.”
“Legend has it,” Heather continued, moving closer to me and dropping her voice to a melodramatic whisper, “that all of Guinevere’s former owners had one thing in common.”
“What’s that?”
“Shortly after adopting her, every single one of them died. Every. Single. One.”
I’m not a superstitious person, but in that that moment I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
“You’ve heard that cats can predict death, right?” Heather continued, her eyes narrowing. “In nursing homes, a cat will climb on an elderly person’s bed and refuse to move. Twenty-four hours later that person will be dead. They know. The cats know.“ She looked at Guinevere, who was now sitting on my foot. “And when a cat finds someone who’s close to death, they stay close to them. They won’t budge from their side until the person is gone, even if the person’s a total stranger. Even if they’ve never met them before.” Heather paused, eyes glued to the cat at my feet. “Kind of like Guinevere’s doing right now.”
“You’re not serious, you don’t believe those stories,” I scoffed.
“Of course I believe them,” Heather shot back, her suddenly angry eyes flashing to mine, “the stories are true. There are hundreds of recorded cases. Thousands.”
I don’t know if it was the look in Heather’s eyes or the deadly seriousness in her voice, but something about my friend’s words made my stomach twist itself into a knot. “So what you’re saying,” I started slowly, unable to keep the tremor out of my voice, “is that I’m… what? That I’m... going to die?”
Heather’s face darkened, and then she burst out laughing.
“No!” she shrieked with laughter, “No, god no, of course not. I’m so sorry – HA! Guinevere’s just clingy but, but you should’ve seen your face… your expression – priceless!”
The tightness in my abdomen uncoiled, and I exhaled, not realizing I’d been holding my breath.
“She just likes you, dumbass…” Heather giggled, wiping a tear from her eye, “god that was funny. Sorry,” she smiled at me bashfully, “but you know, the sensing death thing, that’s true.”
“Bullshit.”
“No, really,” she continued, grabbing a bin of cat food and beginning to dump a scoopful of kibble into each of the tiny little bowls. “Just not for the reason you think. Cats don’t have a psychic sixth sense or anything, just a really good sense of smell.”
The confused expression on my face sent Heather into another fit of self-satisfied giggles.
“We smell different, when we’re sick, when we’re dying,” Heather gestured at me with the food scoop. “Humans don’t have good enough noses to tell the difference but cats–” she smiled affectionately at a grumpy looking kitten the size of a softball, “cats are sensitive. They can tell.”
“Okay, that’s weird, I guess. But what’s the deal with her dead owners, then?”
“Just really rotten luck,” Heather stroked Guinevere from head to tail, “they were all old, I checked – the adopter’s birth date is always on our paperwork. It’s sad when an owner dies of course, but it isn’t as uncommon as you’d think. A lot of elderly people adopt, cats are good for loneliness. But if the owner passes away and no family members will take the pet, they get brought back. Guinevere hasn’t had a whole lot of luck with that.”
“Well, black cats are unlucky, right?”
Heather brandished the cat food scoop at me with a look of mock outrage. “She,” she said, pointing lovingly at Guinevere, “is actually brown.”
“Well, in that case, I’m fine,” I joked, “besides, it’s not like I’m adopting her.”
I signed Guinevere’s adoption papers two hours later. I don’t know what possessed me. I really don’t. But somehow, I couldn’t bear to leave Guinevere to be adopted by another person who would end up leaving her. I’m a sucker for a sad story, evidently. Or maybe I just wanted to be a hero, the one to break the curse. And Guinevere really seemed to love me… maybe I’m just a sucker for flattery. That’s probably it.
The only thing more surprising than the adoption itself was that I actually ended up liking Guinevere, like, immediately. I found myself thinking of her during the day while I was at work, wondering what she was up to and feeling eager to get home and play with her. The affection aspect probably helped, too: Guinevere really was clingy. She was by my side, constantly, the kind of neediness you’d expect from a dog more than a cat. That thought always made me chuckle; of course I would adopt the most dog-like cat on the planet.
Guinevere was smart too, really smart. Smarter than any cat I’d ever met. And well-behaved, to the point of it being a little shocking. I had bought a little spray bottle for training purposes (apparently you spritz cats with water when they’re being naughty?) and I haven’t had to use it even once. There wasn’t even a learning curve with her litter box – she’s literally never had an accident.
There was only one incident that’s blemished Guinevere’s perfect pet record. A couple weekends ago I was carrying groceries in from my car and I left the front door open. I didn’t think anything of it; Guinevere had never shown any interest in going outside before. But she must have been in some sort of mood that day, because she sprinted through the open door with a speed I’d never seen before. And she was headed straight for the street.
Swearing, I let the grocery bags fall from my arms and scrambled after her. My street wasn’t a particularly busy one, but still – Guinevere was so small, a driver could easily miss her… the mere thought of it made me nauseous.
Guinevere made a beeline for a parked car across the road, yowling like she was being chased. Or like she was attacking – I can’t say I know the difference.
With me close on her heels, Guinevere pulled up short before the car, hissing – another thing I’d never seen her do before. I tried to grab her, but if you’ve ever tried to catch a cat, you know: there are few things harder than catching a cat that doesn’t want to be caught.
Guinevere skittered away from me, her teeth bared, her fur sticking straight up, her claws fully protruded. After several tense minutes I was able to grab her. She thrashed as I did so, striking out with her paw and scratching the car.
Shit shit shit. Guinevere’s claw had taken a long strip of dark gray paint off of one of the car’s rear doors. Just my freaking luck.
I kept a death grip on Guinevere as I sprinted for the front door, dodging her irate swipes and nearly tripping over the spilled groceries as I did so. Miraculously, I made it inside without her escaping from my arms, and I dropped her unceremoniously in the bathroom, slamming the door shut and feeling only marginally guilty about it.
Damn cat.
With a sigh, I went back outside. I needed to take down the car’s license plate number, leave a note with my insurance information…. I’d been on the receiving end of hit-and-run car damage, and I wasn’t about to be that asshole. Besides, it was broad daylight – any one of my neighbors could have seen the ordeal. I stepped over the grocery bags I’d dropped on the stoop. One of them had tipped over, and a few apples had rolled down the steps. I cursed under my breath. They were probably too bruised to eat now, though maybe I could use them for a pie…
One apple had rolled almost all the way to the street, and as I squatted down to get it, I realized that the car Guinevere had attacked was gone. Odd: I hadn’t seen anyone in the car. But then again, I hadn’t looked. They must have gotten in and left while I was wrangling Guinevere into the bathroom. But I’d only been gone for a minute…
Feeling a little guilty about the damaged car, I headed back inside to release Guinevere from her bathroom prison. She was obviously not happy with me, but she had at least calmed down.
Like I said, that was really the only incident. Guinevere was a model pet, and even proved useful. She seemed to be keenly aware of what was going on in my house at all times. Like this one time I forgot to set a timer for a pizza I’d put in the oven and went to watch TV in the other room (rookie mistake I know). Guinevere sat at my feet hollering her head off until I followed her into the kitchen to save the pizza. And get this, there hadn’t even been any smoke – she let me know before the pizza burned.
Another time she woke me up in the middle of the night by sitting on my chest and batting my nose with her paw. I was annoyed at first, until she jumped down and sauntered over to the window. It was a few inches open, and powdery white snow was quickly accumulating on it. A few more minutes and the snow would have spilled over and ruined my wallpaper. That was kind of strange though, too: I couldn’t recall opening my window. Actually, I was sure that I hadn’t. I never opened them in the winter (way too cold for that) and what’s more, I always kept them latched.
Guinevere seemed to take a special interest in windows after that. She spent a lot of time sitting on the sill (which I guess is a cat thing?), sometimes even choosing the window over my lap. She never dozed in the sun like a normal cat, though, she was always vigilant, staring at the cars as they drove by. Once again, acting more like a dog than a cat. She really was unusual; sometimes she felt more like a human than a cat, too. It was her eyes, I think. Her expressions were so familiar and person-like… it was uncanny. I started to feel like I could tell what mood she was in and what she was thinking by her eyes alone. I wonder if she could do the same with me.
About a week after the snowy window incident, Heather came over unannounced. At the time I found it odd; nobody really just “drops by” without checking first in this day and age, especially since it’s so easy to text.
But Heather didn’t text, or call. She just knocked loudly on my door one Saturday afternoon, startling me. I opened the door, strategically keeping my foot out to block Guinevere just in case she decided to make a run for it again.
Heather looked awful, like she’d partied too hard without sleeping for several consecutive days. Heather wasn’t the party-going type, but then again, I wasn't the cat type so anything was possible.
“Heather, uh, what’s up?”
“Can I come in?”
“Well hello to you, too.”
“Please, it's cold.”
I realized Heather wasn’t wearing a jacket or boots, despite the snow-covered ground. I stepped aside and let my friend walk in. I hadn’t even shut the door before she started to speak.
“Guinevere can’t sense when people are dying.”
I blinked at Heather.
“She can’t. Everything I told you. That wasn’t right, that wasn’t it.”
“Well if she can’t sense death,” I said, sarcastically, rolling my eyes in an exaggerated motion, “what is the point of having a cat?”
“You’re not hearing me,” Heather said, her face ashen. “You remember how I said all of her previous owners were old?”
I nodded silently.
“They weren’t.”
“Uh, what?”
“We weren’t the first shelter to have her.”
“Okay…? And?”
Heather pulled something out of the pocket of her jeans: a piece of notebook paper, tightly folded, the ink bleeding ever so slightly. “I got a call,” she began, her hands trembling almost imperceptibly, “from a woman who runs a shelter the next town over. In Darien.”
I raised one eyebrow, waiting.
Heather’s hands shook harder as she tried to unfold the paper. “Guinevere had gone through multiple owners there, too.”
“How many?”
“Seven,” Heather replied, her voice barely above a whisper. And not one of them, not a single one of them was old. Not a single one was sick.”
“Okay? I don’t understand where you’re going with this.”
“Every single one of those owners died, too.” Heather thrust the paper at me, and I saw it was a list of names. “They weren’t old, or even sick. But they died. They’re all there. You can look them up.”
“If you’re trying to scare me again, this is really not funny. I’m not gonna fall for it.”
Heather’s mouth opened and closed a few times, and I realized she was trying to catch her breath. When she spoke at last it sounded as though she was choking on her words.
“Guinevere can’t tell when people are sick and dying. She can tell when they’re going to die.”
“That’s the same thing.”
“No, it’s not,” Heather spat, in a voice laced with venom. “Guinevere,” she began, turning her fearful eyes to the cat who was blinking innocently up at us, “can tell when people are going to be killed.”
This time, it was my turn to burst out laughing.”Nice try, Heather. Good god, you go far for a joke.”
“I know it sounds impossible–,” Heather began in a pleading voice.
“More than impossible, insane.”
“–but they were murdered, all of them. I swear. Every single one of them was murdered. Look their names up, take it, take it.” She shoved the paper at me but I stepped away, still laughing.
“If,” I began, trying to regain my composure enough to play along with the joke, “and this is a big if, IF what you say is true, why on earth would Guinevere choose to get adopted by people who are going to get killed? That’s a terrible idea!”
“I don’t know!” Heather wailed, desperation coloring her voice, “the woman from Darien thinks… thinks Guinevere was trying to, to warn her owners. To warn them, or, or to stop it from happening.”
I blinked at Heather, suppressed laughter straining at my throat. “You really believe this shit, don’t you?”
Heather nodded, her lower lip trembling.
“Well Heather, this proves it. I guess black cats really are bad luck.”
“She’s brown.” Heather’s voice was a scathing whisper, but her eyes were swimming with unspilled tears.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. Was I being a bad friend? Maybe. Probably. But the whole situation was just so fucking ridiculous.
Heather looked so crestfallen that I actually did feel bad for a second. But not bad enough to take the list she was still holding out to me. A long moment passed.
“Fine,” Heather seethed, letting the paper fall to the floor. “It’s your fucking funeral.”
With that, my best friend strode to the front door, slamming it behind her. A moment later her car pulled out of the driveway, leaving Guinevere and I alone.
At least, I thought we were alone.
I went about my day, letting the list of names remain on the floor where Heather had dropped it. I didn’t believe her, obviously, but something kept me from throwing the paper out. Her words swam around in the back of my mind and kept me company, and then something weird started to happen.
Let me just preface by saying, I’m not a paranoid person. Not at all. There’s even a name for what I was experiencing. It’s called the Baader-Meinhof illusion, the frequency illusion. You hear about something new and then start seeing or hearing it everywhere. Like when you learn a new word or hear a catchy song for the first time.
That was what was happening to me. Or at least that’s what I told myself when I started getting creeped out by things that shouldn’t have bothered me. By living alone, by noises in the darkness, by the flash of car lights on the ceiling as I lay in bed... At least once per night I’d get up to double-check every lock in the house. Before long I was triple-checking. Then quadruple-checking.
But I always felt better in the mornings, so it was easy to convince myself that I too was being ridiculous.
Last week, Guinevere tried to escape again as I was leaving for work. I caught her in the nick of time with my foot and gently pushed her far enough into the house that I could close the door.
Stupid cat. I thought, digging in my pocket for my keys. As I walked to the driveway, I glanced across the street and was hit with a surge of déjà vu. A dark grey car was parked on the far side of the road, a car that looked familiar. Curious, I took a few steps toward it, and saw what I was looking for: a long, thin line scratched down one of the rear passenger doors: Guinevere’s handiwork.
I walked over to the car, determined to get the license plate number and reimburse the owner for the damage. But I was thwarted once again. The car didn’t have license plates. Bizarre, I thought, glancing at the car’s heavily tinted windows and wondering who it belonged to. A family member of one of the neighbors, maybe. Probably a politician or minor celebrity or something – someone who didn’t want people peeking in. I made a mental note to leave a note on the dashboard when I came home from work, but upon my return, the car – once again – was gone.
Later that night, I watched a scary movie alone – a dumb thing to do, really, especially given my newfound paranoia. I knew it was stupid but – call me a masochist – I did it anyway.
I was sufficiently anxious after the movie ended (surprise, surprise), and had even more trouble than usual falling asleep. After my fifth round of checking the locks, I finally began to relax – until the lights of a car outside flashed across the darkness of my ceiling. Flashed, and then stayed on.
I held my breath, waiting for them to pass. They didn’t. I counted to ten, and then the lights shut off. My heart hammering within my chest, I crept downstairs. I drew back the curtain and squinted out into the darkness. Without any streetlights, I couldn’t see a damn thing. Swallowing heavily, I flicked on my porch lights. The bulbs gave them the effect of floodlights (they were really far too bright, I just hadn’t gotten around to getting them changed), and their luminosity lit up the entire street in front of my house.
There was a grey car parked outside, parked on my side of the street this time. I squinted, trying to see if the windows were tinted, but the glare reflecting off of them was too bright to tell. The car’s own lights were off and remained off for the full five minutes I stood there. Surely, it had been there the whole time. I was just being ridiculous because I’d been spooked by the movie. That was it. At last satisfied (or close to it) I shut off the blinding lights. In the afterglow of the fading bulbs, I saw what appeared to be a scratch on the rear door.
Definitely a friend of the neighbor’s… probably more than a friend if their car is still here this late. My heart beating a little more slowly, I made my way back upstairs, snagging a bottle of wine as I did so. I was not above letting a little Malbec help me to sleep. And it did help, soothing my nerves and letting me drift off easily.
The car was still parked outside my house in the morning, but all things are less frightening in the daylight, so I quickly forgot about it.
It was Saturday, and I decided to capitalize on being up early to get some cleaning out of the way. I started in the living room (it always takes the most time to clean so I prefer to get it done first), and was wiping down my coffee table when I saw a piece of paper poking out from between two books.
It was the list Heather brought over two weeks prior. I’d forgotten about it. Heather hadn’t spoken to me since, and I was in no rush to reach out first. I knew she’d come around, she always did.
I chuckled as I looked at the paper. What a stupid prank. I must have been subconsciously looking for an excuse to procrastinate from cleaning, because I brought the paper over to my desk and sat down in front of my computer, almost without thinking.
I typed the first name into the search engine. John Ergeld. The first link that popped up was an obituary. I didn’t bother clicking it, and went straight to the next name: Eliza Marsh. Another obituary. I couldn’t help being a little bit impressed with Heather. She’d certainly done her homework to make this believable. When I typed in the third name, no obituary popped up. Whoops. I was already prepared to gloat to Heather when I realized that no obits had popped up because they were buried beneath news headlines: “SMALL-TOWN SCHOOL TEACHER MURDERED BY VENGEFUL FORMER STUDENT.”
I clicked on the link. I wish I hadn’t. Because there was a picture of the woman who had been killed, an older woman with a kind smile. She was sitting on a flowery couch in what I assumed was her home. In her lap was a dark cat with extremely large eyes.
I should have walked away from the computer, but I couldn’t. I typed in name after name, even going back to re-check the first two. I began to feel sick to my stomach as I learned, one by one, that each and every one of them had been murdered.
The last name on the list was “Grace Allen,” a recent college graduate who had died in a house fire. In a house fire. I know it’s sickening to be elated upon learning of a person’s death, but Grace was killed by a house fire – an accident, one that happens all the time.
I skimmed the article detailing her death, relief flooding through me.
The relief was short-lived, however, because the very last line of the article stated that the cause of the fire was arson.
My paranoia tripled. Sleeping became even harder, and I’d find myself pacing the hallways late into the night, or trying to distract myself with mindless TV shows. I couldn’t shake my anxiety. Guinevere seemed to notice my distress; she stayed even closer to me, looking at me with her wide eyes full of concern, an expression that was unsettlingly human. She was a comfort for me, but I found myself wishing that she was a dog. A guard dog, and a big, loud, scary one at that.
Through it all, the grey car remained in front of my house. I should have been comforted by this – surely its presence meant that it was just an ordinary car. If it was something more sinister, its owner wouldn’t have left it sitting out in broad daylight for all to see. Right?
I couldn’t shake my irrational fear of it. I couldn’t get past the fact that it had no license plates. And if it were really a car belonging to the person who was visiting the house across the street, why wouldn’t they have parked in the empty spot in front of that house, instead of mine?
Over the next few days, I worked from home so I could keep my eye on the car. I checked on it often. It was always there, in the exact same spot. I never saw anyone getting in or out. Still, I slept with the lights on, for more days then I care to admit.
Eventually, my fear diminished. It had been a week, and nothing bad had happened. I had just been silly and scared. I was too high strung these days; I probably needed a vacation. I resolved to take one as soon as I could get a few days off from work..
Drowsiness came easier that evening as I pondered what fabulous place I should visit on vacation. For the first time in a week, I shut the lights off before laying down. Sleep had almost fully claimed me when the motion detector lights came on outside my house, snapping me immediately back to alertness.
It’s just a dog, I told myself, pulling the covers more tightly around my shoulders. Or a cat, a neighborhood cat tripped the sensors. The lights went off and I exhaled. My relief lasted a full twenty seconds before the motion detector lights on a second time.
My phone pinged in the silence, a sound that almost made me piss myself. It was a notification from the security system I had installed last year. The home security package came with a camera for the front door, one that took a picture and sent an alert to my phone whenever anyone came within five feet of it. In the weeks after I’d gotten the new system, I got picture messages nearly daily: the mailman, an inquisitive squirrel, one time, a bee. I was getting them so frequently that I’d changed the settings to only alert me at night, and since then I’ve gotten only two photo notifications: one on mischief night, one on halloween, both ding-dong-ditchers having harmless (though annoying) fun. Those had been the only times – until now.
With shaking hands I unlocked my phone and opened the app. I couldn’t immediately tell what I was looking at; the image was unclear. As I stared at it, I saw something that made my stomach turn. There was a shape there on the porch, in range of the camera but out of the light. Just barely out of the light, as if whomever – or whatever – was out there wanted to avoid being seen and knew exactly how to do so.
As I was zooming in on the photo’s shadows, my phone pinged a second time. A second photo came up. This time, it showed only darkness. I leapt to my feet, sprinting to the window. The porch light was still on, as were the motion detector lights. But the picture I was looking at showed only pure black. Something was covering the camera.
My heart jumped to my throat. I opened a web browser and typed in the security company name, searching for a number to call. Maybe they were having a system glitch, maybe they could have someone come over to check…
The search didn’t go through.
My WiFi was down.
My blood seemed to turn to ice in my veins, but somehow my body started working on autopilot. Holding my breath, I crept out of my bedroom, heading for the laundry room and the router within it. I’d reset the internet router and everything would be fine. This was just a ridiculous coincidence. As I walked, I traced one hand along the wall to keep from falling in the darkness, and dialed 911 with the other.
I think I already knew, before I even put the phone to my ear. Knew that it wouldn't work. Knew that my cellular service had been disabled.
After what felt like an eternity I made it to the laundry room, with Guinevere right behind me. There’s a small window in it, close to the ceiling, more for ventilation than anything else. It let in the moonlight – not a lot, but just enough to see by. When my eyes adjusted to the silvery darkness, I saw that the router’s cable had been cut.
We are in here now, Guinevere and I, in the laundry room, waiting for morning. I am counting my breaths, imagining each inhalation to be the tick of a clock that is ticking towards sunrise – a sunrise that can’t come soon enough, and that may not come for me at all.
The sounds have started, sounds of entering.
The strategic splintering of wood. A metallic rasp I can’t identify. And then footsteps. Unhurried and thorough footsteps, pacing through every inch of my house. The sounds of doors opening and closing as the footsteps check every room with a chillingly methodical patience. The sound of furniture being moved, of cabinets being thrown ajar, of curtains whistling open, and then being shaken.
And the sound of the footsteps, always the footsteps, growing louder as they creep closer to my hiding spot, inch by inch, room by room. It can’t be much longer now. I’ve already counted one thousand breaths.
The ephemeral moonlight is dwindling now, and soon we will be in total darkness. What little light remains illuminates Guinevere’s enormous eyes. She is sitting in my lap, those otherworldly eyes locked on mine. Those eyes that seem so human.
As I count my breaths I remind myself that cats aren’t people. I tell myself that the look in her eyes isn’t a look of hopelessness, or of sadness, or of finality.
As the footsteps stop in front of the laundry room door, I lie to myself one more time, telling myself that the unmistakable look in Guinevere’s eyes is a look of something – anything – other than goodbye.
There is a terrible groaning noise as the door is wrenched off its hinges. I force myself to keep my eyes open. Guinevere closes hers.
submitted by seventhblankpage to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.10.01 15:32 nitecrawla Adding to the Wiki soon: "Haunted Lubbock"

For those that have been around awhile know around this time people seem to post looking for "haunted locations" in/around Lubbock. I've compiled a list of the locations as well as what the redditor commented about it. Listed Sources and sites. Still looking for more input & information for the Wiki.

Lubbock High:

La Quinta at Q & the Marsha Sharp

Pioneer Hotel:

Hell’s Gate:

O.L. Slaton :

-https://www.everythinglubbock.com/news/student-found-dead-no-foul-play-suspected-at-o-l-slaton-middle-school/

LP&L Building

Lubbock Cemetery :

http://www.eyeonsoaps.net/angelfeet.htm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A93U_LE0uJo

Memphis Man-

TTU :

Airport

Old Gay Hill School Luther Texas

“Train trestle that is near the Guadalupe arroyo”

“Yellowhouse Canyon”

“Prison House Legend”

Aliens:

Skinwalkers -

They're fascinating. Too fascinating. I went a little crazy around 2014-2015 and couldn't stop thinking about them. Started having dreams about them scolding me but not actually saying any words. Then my appendix ruptured and I almost died. Was in UMC over night and when I came back I found handprints all over my porch in the snow, but no boot/shoe prints. I was done after that. I took my warning and lived. - u/CrypticCryptid

UMC :

Books :

Links :

Sources :

submitted by nitecrawla to Lubbock [link] [comments]


2020.09.30 17:06 vivi-73 should i break up with him?

update: after talking to mom and reading replies to this post, i broke up with him. he took it well and we’re on good terms. thank you for all the advice!!
trying to keep this as short as possible, but that’s probably not gonna happen. i (f16) am dating a boy (m17) who isn’t exactly going very far in life. he always does the absolute bare minimum required and takes any shortcuts he can. he has a suspended license for too many speeding tickets and i’m not even sure he’s gonna graduate high school. he thinks failing classes is funny and not a big deal because he can just “retake them”, but he’s a senior... so he kinda can’t. he has such a bad gpa i don’t even think he can get into college, so he thinks he’s just gonna go into the army. but with the way he does things i’m pretty sure he won’t even end up there. he’s just a sinking ship and i don’t want to go down with him. i on the other hand am a junior in high school and doing good. i’m in advanced classes and want to go to college and hope to become a nurse practitioner one day. on top of school i have a job which i work 5 days a week. i am lucky enough to be in a situation where i don’t need a job, but i still have one anyway and i enjoy it a lot. going to work is like going home to my second family. anyways, i always take wednesday’s off so i can see him, but he also just got a job and works 5 days a week so our schedules have been interfering. the last time we hung out was september 8th and he blames me for it every day when it’s not entirely my fault. he expects me to bump down to working 4 days a week or call in for my shift just so i can see him (funny part is if i bump down to 4 days he still will work 5). i can’t call in once a week just to see him because my bosses respect me and depend on me and i can’t risk loosing that. i get that it’s been 4 weeks but still it’s not entirely my fault that we haven’t seen each other and it pisses me off that he expects me to work less or even skip doing online classes just to see him. on top of all that apparently i don’t love him enough either. i am not a lovey-dovey pda type girl at all. in my house we don’t hug that much or say i love you a whole lot. we just know we love eachother. i am very close with my family and he isn’t, so i think that’s why he needs constant reassurance. but it’s just annoying to me because i literally have to coddle him and tell him how great he is 6 times a day otherwise his feelings get hurt.
anyways, i really don’t know what to do at this point. i don’t know what i see in him or why i stay lol. i just need some advice. i’ll talk it out with my mom too. thanks guys.
submitted by vivi-73 to relationship_advice [link] [comments]


2020.09.29 22:31 quinnmcd Dos and Don'ts of dating

I didn't start seriously trying to date until 5 years ago when I was 22 years olds. During that time I was just trying to get a girlfriend. I ended up learning a lot about myself and obtained a better understanding of how the dating world worked. I didn't read any guides or watching any videos I went on dates and got advice from my female roommate and best guy friends. As I got older I've had time to reflect and understand why I had so many failures when I came to dating.
I know lot guys here haven't ever been on a date or are clueless on what do on a date. these are personal do and don'ts that I've learned from experience. I also want to say that I'm still learning. Just a couple of months ago I learned new things about what to do on dates. A bad date isn't a failure it's a learning experience.

DO 1) Let her know it's a date (be clear)
I had my first "date" was when I was 22. I met this beautiful southern Asian girl on tinder. During the date, I told her it was my first date, and then she told me "this isn't a date it is a casual meet up" I was pretty naive at the time and just shrugged it off. We hung out about an hour played pokemon go at the park and got some ice cream. I asked her out on another date a few days later and got friend-zoned. She said she was only looking for friends and didn't want to date because she was moving 3 hours away to go to college.
you want to be clear that you want to go on a date. "Let's go on a date" or "we should go a date to _____" use the word DATE. Don't ask to meet up, hang out, or chill. Ask her to go on a date.
Screen girls before asking them out. If I'm messaging girls on dating apps before I ask for their number, I ask what are they looking for. I want to clear that we both looking for the same thing and I want to make my intentions be known from the start. It saves lots of time and wasted emotions.

Don't 1) Don't be so eager to go on a second date.
think of a first date as a job interview. You don't ask you got the job after an interview. I've made this mistake several times. I've asked girls for a second date before we finish the first date because I THOUGHT things were going well. After asking walking a girl to her car and asking "when can I see you again?" I might as well have just written the words "needy" and "clingy" on my forehead. Give girls time to process their feelings after a date.
Don't move so quickly with girls. More at their speed while still making sure you're not getting your time wasted. When you move too quickly she may feel like she's being rushed to making a decision and most of the time she will come to the conclusion that you aren't the one for her. let her choose you. Don't get into she's the one mentality and keep trying to make her like you.

DO 2) Enjoy yourself, and be yourself
Some of my best dates have also been my more fun dates. Remember that if you're trying to form a type of relationship with a girl that you're letting her be a part of your life. You want her to enjoy spending time with you. if you show her a good time then she'll more than likely want to see you again.
Be yourself and be genuinely interested in her. don't look up conversation starters before dates. Don't look at her social media for things to ask about on a date. Don't do things that will keep you in your head thinking. Let conversations flow naturally. Be in the moment. Ask her what you really want to know about her. Don't be scared to disagree with her. Don't be scared to say the wrong thing.

Don't 2) Don't try to impress women
if you're trying to impress people and get validation there's a good chance that you don't even like yourself. Spending lots of money on a date will only get you used in the future. Girls see right through your facade/lies when you try to show off and fake like you are greater than you truly are. Don't try to win women over or pay for their attention. You don't want to be taken advantage of. Attempts to impress people usually do the opposite of what you want them to do. you will come off as entitled, disingenuous, or just out of touch.
Be confident in yourself and know your value. Trying to impress women is needy behavior. Being needy is the easiest way to drive women away from you.

Do 3) create tension
I used to constantly get friendzoned after dates. it took me a while to realize when a girl told me "just wants to friends" after a date if usually meant "there's only a 12% chance I ever want to see you again" One of the biggest reason why I got friendzoned was that because I was being too friendly, and just clueless on what do to show interest physically/sexually. I was so scared to make a move that I was giving off friendly vibes. I was just happy to be on a date with a beautiful girl. I failed to realize that the date was just the first step. Girls would give me multiple dates to make a move and I never would. It took a lot of time for me to get comfortable enough to actually try.
Try to start dates off with a hug. Make good eye contact on the dates. Give her a flirty smile and try to sit close to her when you can. You shouldn't be making her uncomfortable. Every girl will react differently. When you try to sit close to a girl some will try to move closer others will try to create more space. Read their body language and their reactions. if she doesn't want you close to her don't keep pressing the issue. Some girls need more time to get comfortable around you, others just won't like you enough.

Don't 3) Don't into dates with an "I need to win her over" mindset
The "I need to win her over" mindset makes you act inferior to her. You don't act like yourself, you won't let yourself speak without a filter, and makes you more nervous when you pressure on yourself.
Don't go into dates asking yourself "does she like me?" don't make her try to like you. You should also be seeing if you like her and find out IF SHE has the potential to be your girlfriend. Don't settle for whatever that girl likes you. Just because she's on a date with you doesn't mean she likes you, it means she has some interest in you. The point of the date it gets to know each other, get comfortable around each, and to see if you're compatible.

don't 4) Don't be outcome dependent.
you can't be focused on the outcome of a date. again your goal should just enjoy yourself. There's a lot of things that are out of your control on dates, but you can control if you have a good time. You can show a girl the time of her life, but she could be insecure and feel like you're too good for her. You can have the worst date ever and a girl can see still potential for something in the future.
Always be confident that if the date doesn't go as planned that you'll have more dates in the future. Don't put pressure on yourself to make it the best date of all time. Be in the mindset of "if dates go good and she wants to see me again, cool. if she doesn't want to see me again also cool" Try your best to relax on dates and present yourself as a high-quality guy. Be able to accept any outcome that, because it will make it easier to try again.

conclusion
when I write posts like this I hope guys can see where they have also messed up, then change their ways and I also write these posts so other guys don't make the same mistakes that I have. I've made these mistakes so you don't have to. All the mistakes I've made have made me better. You shouldn't let getting rejected, being ghosted, or friend-zoned stop you from trying. These things should make you better and get you a step closer to your goal.
submitted by quinnmcd to seduction [link] [comments]


2020.09.29 20:31 Subtlegi {NF] A Technical Investigation of Citizen Kane

I wrote this some time back as a term paper for a College Film Class. The reference pics have been removed to save space
A Technical Investigation of Citizen Kane
It’s Not All Black and White
📷 Citizen Kane is considered perhaps the best film ever produced. What does it contain that so many of others missed? I believe it is the imagination and technical expertise of Orson Welles and Greg Toland’s talent cocktail that forged this memorable work. To the right, notice both men on the floor setting up a low angle shot. Welles did very little alone, he was intelligent enough to use “OPB” other people’s brains. The screenplay alone does not stand up well against many other “Great Films,” it is the audio/visual experience created by the use of great techniques in lighting, photography and sound recording which make this film a masterpiece.
Over a period of twenty-five years, I have acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience in the Visual Arts. During this time I worked professionally in film, sound, and video while also enjoying the wonderful art of amateur black and white photography. My resume’ qualifies me to present a case for my thesis and in doing so I will cite technical information which is a part of my knowledge base. This combined with my research, meld into a comprehensive report on the behind the scenes wizardry of an ultra talented group of filmmakers.
📷Like most humans, I experience film through my eyes and ears, always looking deeper, beyond the dialog alone, into the complete experience. Although I hear the famous word “Rosebud” spoken by Kane, it is the atmosphere of the room, and the close up of his mouth, which amplifies the moment.
📷 Orson Welles wrote, directed, and acted in many productions of which Citizen Kane, being his best known, is the film he’ll be remembered. The following is a sampling of other productions Welles wrote, directed and more, except for this first two, written by William Shakespeare. MACBETH, described by Welles as "a violently sketched charcoal drawing of a great play," The magnificent photography by John L. Russel (Psycho) Directed by Orson Welles, and acted by Welles, Jeanette Nolan, DanO'Herlihy, Roddy McDowall, 1948. OTHELLO (production spanned three years) it won the Grand Prize at Cannes. Directed by Orson Welles, With: Welles, Suzanne Cloutier, Micheàl MacLiammoir, Robert Coote, 1952, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, Rita Hayworth plays a sultry wife, and includes the legendary hall-of-mirrors shootout finale. Directed and written by Orson Welles, 1947. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, Directed and written by Orson Welles, 1942. TOUCH OF EVIL, Directed and written by Orson Welles, With: Heston, Welles, Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff, Dietrich, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Weaver, 1958 (Starlight News).
After reading the above, it is impossible to overlook Welles as the original film multi-tasker. This man did it all. As a fine actor, writer, and director, it can be argued Welles has a bit of a control issue, but perhaps when you’re as talented as he, it’s not to unusual to not want to place your work or self in another’s hands.
The conductor of light, director of photography Greg Toland was hired from Samuel Goldwym Studios at $700.00 per week (Carringer 69). While at Goldwyn Studios Toland became regarded as one of the most creative cinematographer of the 1930.
His ‘acknowledged brilliance,’ as “American Cinematographer” magazine argued in 1942, placed him in the most nearly ideal position any Director of Photography has since the halcyon days when D.W. Griffith and Billy Blitzer were between them creating the basic techniques of the screen (American Cinematographer).
These accolades and of course the films themselves placed Toland in a position of power when negotiating with producers. Here are some items he requested and received from the producers of Citizen Kane. “RKO was obliged to employ Toland’s regular crew and rent his camera equipment from Goldwyn” (Carringer 69). He demanded these guarantees as an artist, for he had personalized his equipment, his brush, so to speak, to accommodate the style in which he shot. The crew consisting of grips, camera assistants, and gaffes were all a part of Toland’s creative bag of tricks that worked together as a one organism to accomplish the monumental task of producing a film of this caliber. Above all Toland insisted on creative control. This he had become accustomed to at Goldwyn Studios. After much success in his early career, Toland remarked, "I want to work with someone who's never made a movie. That's the only way to learn anything from someone who doesn't known anything”(Walling). He got his chance in 1941 with Citizen Kane on Orson Welles first movie. This team of Toland, and Welles became a creative partnership unsurpassed in movie making history.
There is light and the absence of light, there is shadow, created by infringing on the path of a light. These elements are the two ends of the visual spectrum. White (light), Black (shadow) and by the expected use of them, every lighting situation (in B/W) can be resolved. Mind pictures like these become possible in the right hands. Powerful light driven through small spaces cut like knives on the floor and walls. Soft light pushed through a window or down a hall washes the area like a softly driven snow. The power of this technique is obvious in the shot captured of the Walter Thatcher Library. (right) Nothing is resolved here (can be seen clearly), but it’s not the dialog or the face of the actors the filmmakers are interested in, but the mood set by the absence of light and the rod of
light coming from above. Reminiscent of a spiritual setting, the beam of light representing the entrance of the Almighty into the room.
Film is the medium that followed and in some ways took the place of paint, brush, and canvas, first with the snapshot, followed by moving pictures. In 1940 film had its limitations, even today it’s requires an informed photographer to photograph in a variety of settings with equally satisfactory results. Much of what makes an artist great is the length to which they are able to stretch the medium in which they work. This is where Welles and Toland excelled; they stretched the ability of the camera and film to lengths never before attained.
The tone of Citizen Kane is created with light, shadow, and darkness. Photography and light go hand in hand, in fact photography, as we know it, cannot exist without a light source. The way a scene is lit directly affects the resulting print. Film stocks of the late thirties, early forties were “slow” meaning the amount of exposure time (to light) with respect to the quality and resolution of the resulting print is high (long). A “fast” film with a speed of 800ASA or higher can capture an image indoors without a flash or extra lighting in a normally lit room. In 1940 a 100ASA film was considered fast, this film used in daylight would be capable of good exposure, but anything less than daylight would require lights, for a stills, a flash, for moving pictures, stage/motion picture lighting …Big, Hot, sometime noisy lights.
The film used to shoot Citizen Kane was Kodak Super XX, 100ASA which was an “off the shelf” product, that fortunately for Toland had just recently been released. Double X was “Four Times Faster” than its immediate predecessor. Without this timely release Citizen Kane may never have been made. The other variable is the amount of light needed and available, and how much one chooses to expose the film. Exposure time and aperture settings are two variables that determine, to a great extent, whether a scene will appear as bright as a 📷sunny day or full of shadows with the blackest blacks, but only grayish whites. Proper contrast presents itself as balanced if upon examination the black & white negative it exhibits the two extremes represented on the gray scale, black and white. This bias manifests in a photo that is too dark or too light and lacks contrast.
The manipulation of exposure can be seen and studied early in this film. In the scene shot in the projection room, Toland under exposed the film by not using an “average” light setting, (balanced) instead he resolved the streams of light pouring from the projection windows and placed the actors in the shadows. There is nothing wrong with this; in fact, it is exactly what they wanted. The average person taking snapshots of their children would not appreciate their photos turning out in this fashion, but the professional is an artist, and artists create moods and settings with the tools of their art. In film, what we don’t see sometimes makes the shot
📷 “Camera derives from the Latin word for room or chamber. The camera pre-dates film. The Camera Obscura or “Dark Room,” occasionally seen at scenic locations was, in its original form, a pinhole camera.
The “pinhole’ in the roof could scan the countryside by means of a rotating mirror. The image was focused on a white table in the center if the room and viewed by observers inside the “camera” (Di Guilio).
📷”The Mitchell Camera Corporation began in 1919 as a camera repair and modification shop in Hollywood, as The National Motion Picture Repair Company (Roberts 141). The film was shot with Mitchell BNC cameras (BNC stands for Blimped News reel Camera). The BNC was introduced in 1934 and the first two cameras were sold to Goldwyn Studios in 1934 and 1935. "The first important picture on which they were used was Citizen Kane" (Roberts148) In 1934, this camera made the recording of sound for film feasible. At around 35 dB, the NC was quiet enough for unblimped use in exterior sound filming, as long as the microphone was not near the camera. Later that year the BNC was introduced, the B stood for Blimped. The Blimp is a sound proof housing which surrounded the camera bringing the sound level to a very quiet 21dB! To the average person these numbers mean nothing, even with an explanation of these levels may continue to seem irrelevant. But, take it from a man who spent years on sound stages, in recordings and television studios, the difference is huge; 35dB “decibels” is the sound level in an average home, 21dB is the sound level of a whisper, or rustling leaves. These are logarithmic numbers and the difference is demonstrated by taking the next step up. 70dB is the sound level of freeway traffic and of a vacuum cleaner. The change the “blimped” camera had on motion pictures is immense! (Noise)
The camera’s angle and length of lens create perspective. A long lens creates a voyeuristic feel as if looking in from afar a good example being Hitchock’s Rear Window. A short or wide lens brings the viewer into the scene. Angles are simple to understand.
📷
Considered how you appear to a small child from its playpen? Put yourself in the it’s place, think of its perspective “low” looking up, “wide” larger than life, and somewhat distorted view. This is not a pleasant picture. The baby looking up sees a huge, distorted thing; fortunately babies are innocent and cannot put the ominous nature of their vulnerable scene in perspective. Conversely, the perspective of an adult looking down at a child is like a king from his throne, a feeling of power, not vulnerability. Perspective makes the difference. Even in a situation where those involved are adults as in a courtroom setting, perspective plays a role. In a courtroom, the judge sits up high upon their judgement seat, which forces the defendant to look up. The judge appears large and powerful, while the defendant feels small, powerless, and vulnerable. Above, strong and in control, below, weak and suppliant. Orson, digs holes (right) in floors, through walls, and flies his cameras in the air shooting from different angles, creating different perspectives. A film shot at one level is flat, without flavor and as bland as an unseasoned potato.
📷 Next we explore the topic of “depth of field” (the distance from the object nearest to the camera and the farthest that are in continuous focus) also know as “Deep Focus” The first notable example is from the footage shot in the parlor of Mrs. Kane’s boarding house. In the foreground, mother, father, and Mr.Thatcher
discuss the boy’s future while in the background young Kane is seen through the window, all in perfect focus. Another example is the scene where Kane and his wife are sitting at either end of a long dining table in the huge Xanadu, big headed Kane intimidating and distorted (not out of focus) in the foreground, his bored wife, small and insignificant in the distance, both presented in sharp detail.
📷This next frame combines two techniques, “tight composition,” and “deep focus.” Tight composition meaning a quantity of images in a relatively small frame, and deep focus, all the images in frame are in focus. The scene is when Kane walks in on Susan’s singing lesson only to hear “the Maestro,” frustrated and disgusted with Susan’s ineptness, screaming a laundry list of insults at her. Bad timing. Kane in anger reprimands “the Maestro.”
After a few critical viewings, and a quick look at my camera’s dept of field indicator, I estimate the field covered in “the Maestro” frame was approximately 18 inches to 30 feet. Probably an 18mm or 25mm lens was used which has great depth of field when stopped down to F/11 or F/16, these two numbers are aperture setting or f-stops, indicate the size of the hole the camera looks through. The larger the number the smaller the hole, and the great dept of field.
A standard photographers table supplies the following values: for an 18.5mm lens at F/8: 1' 6" to Infinity and for 25mm: 2’ 9" to Infinity. To shoot at these apertures, a 100 ASA film requires 1280-foot candles of light, which is quite high by today’s standards. (A foot-candle is equal to the light ‘one candle’ would illuminate a surface at the distance of one foot.)
The definition of Deep Focus is applicable as a frame of reference in defining Shallow Focus, in which one part of the screen is in focus and the rest blurred, thus directing the viewer's attention to the key element of the action. This was a useful technique, but not an innovation in the1930s, having been used since the early days of film, although much of it’s use was dictated by the limitations of the cameras and films of the time.
An unknown Internet author describes a fancy focus technique.
📷Toland found that extra means were needed to maintain sharpness in certain extremely deep shots. Split-focus lenses and carefully controlled double exposures sometimes turned the trick, but were difficult to set up. One example is in the sequence in which Kane's wife attempts suicide: a glass, spoon and medicine bottle in sharp focus dominate the foreground; the bed is in the middle ground; and figures enter the door in the background. Here the foreground was lighted and photographed first, with the rest of the scene in darkness. Then the foreground was silhouetted and the background was lighted and shot in focus on the same film. (Sharp Practice)
Film is the medium that in some ways followed and took the place of paint, brush, and canvas. First came the snapshot, followed by moving pictures. To this day film has limitations, but in 1940, they were manifold. Much of what makes an artist great is the length to which they stretch the medium in which they work. This is where Welles and Toland excelled; they stretched the ability of camera, film, and light to lengths never before attained.
📷Before the making of Citizen Kane sound stages and film sets were open ceiling. A lot went on just above the frame, all of it unseemly, and needed to be hid, things such as; microphones, (big ugly microphones on booms with cables hanging) and other equipment that hung from the usually high ceiling sets. This open ceiling arrangement prohibited the camera from tilting (a vertical pan) any higher than the top of a room’s wall. Toland and Welles had no desire to repeat the same old shots seen hundreds of times before. They figured a way to work around this problem. They created ceilings with muslin, now microphones and the like were hidden above this “new ceiling.” This permitted Toland to shoot from the floor, (right) actually from a hole in the floor without thought of running out of wall. Note all that ceiling showing.
📷This took the bit from Toland’s mouth, freeing him to point the camera wherever his heart desired. The frame pictured to the left is an extraordinary example for three innovations are demonstrated in one shot: covered ceilings, a low angled perspective and deep focus. Fantastic!
Who says you have to be high tech to be innovative? Artists dislike restraints, when set free, they fly high. Freedom brought us this wonderful film.
The sound on Citizen Kane encompasses dialog, sound effects, and the musical score. In reverse order, Bernard Herrman scored the film, and later went on to compose the music for other great movies, including Psycho and Taxi Driver (who can forget that sax?). Welles brought with him from radio a keen ear and an understanding of sound effects. These effects augmented the film, but were not overpowering as in some films today. One example of his subtle usage is noted by Robert Carringer. “. . . such as the typewriter heard in extreme close-up when Kane is finishing the opera review and the musical accompaniment to the light bulb that dims to signal the faltering of Susan’s singing career”(100). I’ve recorded many sound tracks for video and television and I don’t envy the task assigned to the engineers in charge of this film. Even when recording a simple spot, I used more and better equipment than the entire sound crew of Citizen Kane.
In their process . .
. . . there are two separate and distinct sound operations, each presided over by a different sound engineer. One engineer is in charge of the sound recorded during the production. His chief assistant is the operator of the boom – a microphone slung from a long metal rod and suspended above the actors’ heads (Carringer 102).
Considering the task of a “boom operator” under ordinary circumstances was difficult, on Welles’ set there were times it must have been close to impossible. Because of the muslin ceilings the operator had a much more difficult time properly placing the microphones above the actors.
Once recorded, then it went into post production, and into the hands of James G. Stewart, a sound contractor who work on some of the most famous theaters in America, including Radio City Music Hall, before moving to California and joining RKO. He was in charge of post production, in those days called “rerecording,” today mixing and overdubs.
📷In the late thirties one could not go to a local sound store and buy whatever your budget allowed, these sound engineers, were just that, “engineers,” and if they needed something they’d design and build it. The crude two-man mixing console shown here is a “one off,” built for RKO under Stewart’s direction. Prior to this point in the process, the audio is dry (no effects, or processing) it’s during the “re-recording” process that echo, reverb, effects, and overdubs are inserted and mixed. Sound persons rarely get much glory, but without them, the public might still be watching silent films (Carringer 102-3).
In closing, Citizen Kane is a technical milestone in movie making, although I find the screenplay depressing. This tale of a boy removed from his family, given an education and all the money he could ever need (so one would think). Who grows into an idealistic, generous, and kind man, who had plans to change the world, but instead the world changed him, and for that, he hates the world and himself in return. The final scene, reveals his true heart, one, once so soft, now, hardened and broke. Calling to the heavens, spoke his final word “Rosebud” the name of a sleigh he once owned, so long ago, before fate stepped in and killed the boy. When Kane spoke, “Rosebud” he was not only calling out the name of a child’s toy, no, he was calling out to the life he left behind which contained that sleigh. The life he never had the chance to live.
📷📷📷📷📷”Rosebud” “Rosebud” “Rosebud” “Rosebud” “Rosebud”
Sources Cited
American Cinematographer, “Greg Toland.” 1942. http://www.cinematographer.com (1999)
Carringer, Robert. The Making of Citizen Kane. University of California Press, Berkeley
  1. 69, 100, 103-04.
Di Giulo, Edmund. “An Historical Survey of the Professional Motion-Picture Camera.”
SMPTE Journal, NY, 1967
Forzano’s Studio Stock “Gray Scale Chart” NY, 1979.
Noise Levels In Decibels. “The Sound Level Chart”
http://www.temple.edu/CEPT/temp/dcblevel.html (Nov. 2000)
Roberts, Laurence. “The Mitchell Camera: The Machine and Its Makers”
SMPTE Journal, NY. Oct. 1981: 141, 147, 148.
Star Light News. “Orson Wells.” http://starlightnews.cjb.net/orson.htm (Nov. 2000)
The British Film Institute “Gregg Toland -Sharp Practice”
http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/archive/innovators/toland.html (Oct.2000)
Time Life “Citizen Kane Cinematography Notes”
http://www.pathfinder.com/photo/essay/kane/toland.htm (Oct. 2000)
Images: Peter Stackpole, LIFE, Welles and Toland on floor, 1.
RKO Radio Picture**:** Projection Room, 4. Mother in the Boarding House, Kane outside, 7. Tight Composition, 8. Low Ceilings, 10. Low Angle, 10.
Walling, Christopher “Cinematographer Gregg Toland”
http://www.christopherwalling.com/Pages/S&L~GreggToland.html (Nov. 2000)
Wilgus, Jack and Beverly. “A Search for Camera Obscura.” The Magic Mirror of Life.
http://brightbytes.com/cosite/what.html (Nov. 2000)
submitted by Subtlegi to shortstories [link] [comments]


2020.09.29 18:47 QNine Interception Chapter 2: REMEMBRANCE

In this chapter, Saz tries to remember.
Previous Chapter (On QuadrantNine)
Saz sat on the shredded couch, a cup of herbal tea with a splash of laze mixed in to calm his mind and help with the unwinding. "The more stress you put on the connections, the longer it takes." The witch told him.
The witch, Minerva, sat next to her console and told him everything she knew about him. She told him that he had contacted her earlier that week for an interception, she admitted to him that she had lied about being capable of intercepting him, she had done plenty of interception before, but never for a human. In hindsight, she wished she hadn't agreed to their deal. Human interceptions were not unheard of, in fact they were theoretically feasible and were one of the primary ways people were abducted and held for ransom, or worse, sold into slave labor. Various systems had been put into place to prevent such a thing, but even then crafty hackers could still reroute a human mid sprint. Human interceptions typically left the victim dazed and confused for hours, sometimes days, as their mind unwound. There were tales of people being intercepted and sold into slavery, who didn't know any better, obeying commands as if they were always a mindless drone, until months later when everything flooded back to them and they realized everything they knew had been taken from them.
Since her sprinter was outfitted only for inanimate objects, and not living beings, she had told him to sprint naked, just to be safe, and if he had any augments to have them removed. Saz was not augmented, as far as he remembered. It would require two trips, one for him and the other for the goods. When he arrived she had left the room to give him "some decency" while he changed and adapted to his new surroundings. Probably not the best idea for somebody suffering from temporary amnesia.
"Made a few modifications to help with the unwinding," she said. "Been a while since I've worked on a sprinter though. Hopefully I didn't fuck it up. You're welcome to stay until you fully unwind. But, "she stuck out a finger, "on the condition that you stay within this room. When you're ready to leave I'll have you blindfolded. Can't have you knowing where I am. We're in a similar line of work, I hope you understand."
Saz nodded and sipped his tea.
He held out his hands, he recognized them easily. From their olive undertones, to the pale scare tissue wrapped around his right wrists like a fleshy bracelet. His left arm was spotted with lighter scare tissue, small and irregular, like a pale leopard.
He placed his right hand on his hair, well head. There wasn't much up there. A short buzz cut, no longer than the thickness of his fingers. He wondered what color his hair was. Brown maybe?
"I got to make a quick call," Minerva said. "You promise you won't strangle me again?"
"Promise," Saz said.
She left the room, leaving Saz alone with his thoughts.
Like dancers moving across a dance floor while the lights strobe about them, memories appeared and disappeared, as soon as he'd remember something it would be gone, only an after image remained in their place. He'd see a clear image of a gun, held by gristle harry hands. Only hands though, the rest of the body faded into a dark hulking silhouette.
There was a woman with neon pink hair fully illuminated standing in an alley flashing neon signs hung above her, and then she was gone. Then another woman with neon blue hair, her face a dull blue, like glowworms in a dark cave. On her shoulder sat a glowing red five pointed star. Each time she flashed into existence, her hair was different. Her face, a void, but in each iteration she bore the same glowing red star on her shoulder.
He remembered his line of work, or at least of them. He been a runner. He ran chems and other contraband substances from point A to point B, then return back with the cash. He had come to Case City for the big bucks, it was the only city that still printed its own physical currency, making a paradise for libertarians and outlaws alike.
The hatched door swung open, Saz looked over. Minerva shut the door behind her.
"I hope you're happy," she said, "I canceled the date."
"Aren't you a little old to be dating?" Saz asked. "Don't you have grand kids or something?"
"Hun," she said, "you're never too old to have a little fun." She still wore the black dress, the drops of light still trickling down the fabric. "Oh, and that's thirty six strands you made me tear. A hundred and eighty extra bucks coming out of your bill."
"Fine," Saz sighed. So what's your story?" Saz asked.
"I intercept, I get paid, I make a living. Nothing else too it," she said.
"Did you make that yourself?" He pointed towards the sprinter in the middle of the room.
"What makes you think so?"
"Sprinters aren't supposed to look like that. Looks like you Frankensteined your own."
"I'm not going to have the kid with a wound up head tell me what a sprinter should or shouldn't look like. Pfft," she spun on her chair. "You get back to your business, and I'll get back to mine."
She turned around and began working on the console again. Case watched the sprinter, he knew what they were supposed to look like. That was burned deep into his minds eye. They were supposed to be larger than this, have holoscreens and dials for picking your route, and have a protective shielding. This one was barebone, just a stainless steel coffin, no protective glass or anything. It was either cheap old crap or counterfeit. He knew more about sprinters than himself at this point. In one sense it was relieving to know so much about one thing when he knew nothing else at all, but in another sense he was frustrated that he only knew so much about one thing.
The sprinter began to purr, the purple plasma drifted across the invisible barrier between the room and whatever hocus pocus wonderland lied in the chasms between sprinters. He envisioned a three dimensional roadmap, with highways, feeder streets, main arteries, all the way down to the rustic dirt roads. Each road terminating at a different sprinter, allowing who (or what) ever entered to be whisked away faster than the speed of light from one place to another. He saw the network with clarity, The Case City Network, the CCN.
He watched the specs of light dance across the plasma membrane. The plasma functioned like a break, slowing down the matter passing through the CCN. A sprinter warped only a few packets of matter at a time, in order to not clog up the routes. Whenever a packet hit the plasma would light up like a firefly in the night sky. After the packet of matter had been sufficiently slowed down the sprinter itself would begin organizing said material in accordance to the blueprints it had received from the sender side. The machine would then begin piecing together the packets using a mix of nanomachines and other high tech wizardry he either didn't know or couldn't remember. You were effectively dead the moment you began sprinting, only to be miraculously brought to life in another within a few minutes of entering one. Because of this, sprinters had earned various nicknames: coffins, caskets, death booths, Lazarus chambers, and so on.
In theory the material was the same between both ends, but sometimes a packet would be lost or mixed up, most of the time it was benign, other times people would emerge with missing organs, or limbs they had not entered the sprinter with. The cases were few and far between, and mostly happened with counterfeit sprinters. Saz looked at his hands, they looked right to him, seamless and the right proportions.
The sprinter's plasma barrier retreated back into its hiding spot, like the ocean retreating from the shoreline during a low tide. In the middle of the metallic coffin sat a black box with a white cross atop it. Case stood up and looked at it curiously.
"Hey, hey," Minerva said, "don't touch that." She stood up from her console and walked to the sprinter.
"I wasn't going to," he said. "What is it?"
"Medicine," she said. She sat herself down on the side of the sprinter and retrieved the box. She opened it and produced a small flask. "I'm sure they won't mind being one vile short." She sat the box back down in the center of the sprinter and turned to Saz. "Take this," she held the vile towards Saz. He took it and sat back down on the couch.
"What is it?" He held the vial up to his eyes and inspected the label. 'REMEMBRANCE' it said in bold letters, beneath it in smaller text, 'Case Co Biolabs.'
"Supposed to help with the unwinding," she said. "You're lucky that was my first interception tonight."
"How do I take it?"
"Open it," she mimed a twisting motion with her hands, "and bottoms up."
Saz twisted the top off and peered into the vial. A green liquid sat within the container's walls. He tossed his head back and downed the medicine. It tasted of oil and rotten fruit. He gagged.
"Taste like shit, but works like a charm," she smiled. "No, don't spit it out."
Saz's gag reflexes overloaded his throat. His throat closed up and his diaphragm began convulsing, he coughed the green liquid up. Some of the green serum spilled on the couch. Minerva rushed over and snatched the vial from his hands.
"No, no, no," she said, "you are not wasting this. Did you swallow any?"
"A little bit, bleh," Saz stuck out his tongue, "I think."
She sighed and screwed the cap back on. "Half left," she said, "we'll give it another shot after your stomach settles." She returned to the console and booted up the sprinter again.
"What are you doing?" Saz asked.
"Figured I'd make a little cash intercepting tonight," she said, her back turned towards him. "If I got to babysit you in the sprinter room might as well."
"Why would anyone want that vile stuff?" The taste still lingered in his mouth.
"Runners using counterfeit sprinters mostly, or maybe a sprinting station is in need for an emergency," she shrugged. "I don't ask questions, just send it to whoever's paying the most."
The plasma receded reveling an empty casket. His gaze drifted from the casket across the room towards the wall with the light board, "Welcome Saz!" still written in radiant green.
"Why'd you write my name on the board?" Saz asked.
Minerva shrugged. "When you called me for the job I could sense distress in your voice, like something was wrong. I thought maybe it'd help with making you feel welcome." Beneath the hoarseness of her voice, Saz sensed a tinge of warmth in her tone. "Who'd you piss off?" The warmness gone from her voice.
Her console beeped, she spun around on her chair and resumed her work.
"And we have another," she said. The sprinter booted up once again, Saz watched it, waiting to see what lied beneath the curtain. The sprinter did its magic, the plasma curtain closed, and opened. In the middle of the sprinter lied a steel case, maybe a half a meter long an no more than a quarter meter wide.
"Mind checking it for me?" Minerva asked.
"Uhh, sure…" Saz went to the sprinter and opened the case. Nestled inside a crooked crevasse embedded within a cushioned surface sat a black metallic arm. The reflection of the florescent light above the sprinter twisted around the arm like an ever shifting tattoo. At the shoulder of the cybernetic arm, in luminous scarlet sat a flower with five petals, drawn so intricately. A single line started from the tip of the top petal, it traced the outside and spiraled inwards, growing thinner and thinner until it twisted into a perfect circle in the center. He felt his eyes begin to water, he didn't know why.
"A runner without augments? You must be quite the paranoid type," a woman's voice echoed in his head. The same one from earlier. "I don't even want to know where you hide the contraband."
Saz cocked his head.
"How's it look?" Minerva asked.
"Familiar," the word just slipped out of his mouth.
"No, I mean what condition is it in?" She asked.
Saz shrugged. "Looks good to me, what are you doing with this?"
"Close the case and set it by the door," she said.
"I'm not your assistant," Saz said.
"You're going to make a little old lady like myself lift a heavy box like that?"
"I bet you're augmented from head to toe. Just how many implants do you have in you?"
"Didn't your mother tell you to never ask a lady if she's augmented?"
Saz was sure that wasn't a thing people told him not to ask.
"Usually I'd leave that hatch open," she pointed to the door, "let a little bot take care of it, but since you're here I figured I'd give the bots a day off."
"Fine, fine," Saz closed the hatch and lifted the container out of the sprinter. It was lighter than he expected, he carried to the door and sat it down. "There, are you happy? He said walking back to the couch.
"You make a fine assistant," Minerva laughed.
"What's the arm for?" Saz asked, sitting down.
"Refurbishment job," she said. "Client wants it polished."
She didn't mean what she meant, nobody in her line of work would do a simple "refurbishment job." No, he remembered clearly what those words meant for people like her. She was going to wipe it of any ID tags and markings.
"No," Saz shook his head, "you can't do that."
"Yes I can."
"How much are they paying you? I'll double it!" Saz didn't know what he was saying. There was something about that arm that beckoned him to protect it, like a child holding on to a teddy bear while his mother threatened to toss it out.
"Why do you want that arm so badly? It's not even your size, it's clearly a woman's."
"Just please," he closed his eyes. Images of the woman with the luminescent hair and the five pointed star tattoo flashed through his mind's eye like a corrupt video file. He slammed his fists into the couch. "I'll triple it, quadruple it. Just tell me how much."
"Saz, calm down," his eyes were still closed but he heard her voice draw closer. He felt her hand touch his shoulder, her palms were rough and calloused, like a shopkeeper's. "I can sedate you if it'll make this easier. I read some studies that said that dreaming can help with the unwinding process."
"No, I'm fine," he opened his eyes and gazed at the sprinter. "Just give me more tea."
She removed her palm from his shoulder, leaving a cold mark on his skin. He looked at his palms, twinkles of sweat glistened across his skin. Like he had just broken a fever.
Another image of the woman with luminescent hair flashed before his eyes. She was smiling at him, her tattooed gave him a thumbs up. She had long scarlet hair draping to her shoulder, like lava flowing down a volcano. The strands flowed into her flesh, and began gently twisting into a delicate pattern. Soon a five pointed star emerged, and the red river continued flowing inwards. The lines spiraled towards the center, tracing the same pattern over and over again, stars within stars, until it ended in a circle. Her flesh turned pitch black, leaving only the tattoo. He had been wrong, it wasn't a star, it was a flower.
If you enjoyed this, you can read more of my writing over on my personal website QuadrantNine.net. Click here for a list of all of my stories.
submitted by QNine to QuadrantNine [link] [comments]


2020.09.29 07:12 poopygal My (30 yo) boyfriend’s mom is bonkers and trying to break us up

My boyfriend (30 yo) and I (27 yo) have been together for a bit over 3 years. From the very beginning I had noticed some small things his mother would do that I found straight up odd. For instance, the first time I ever met her was at an outdoor concert in a local park and my boyfriend had to use the restroom and she insisted on going with him. Weird but ok. Then it was weirder stuff like insisting on accompanying him to doctors appointments or going to his college with him to figure out his classes or paying for expensive speeding tickets. He is smart and capable of doing all of these things on his own. But ok. Fast forward a year and we are living together. His mom has a legal apartment attachment in her house that she offered us to live very cheap so obviously we jumped on it. I was a little wary at first, since living in a partner’s childhood home isn’t exactly ideal but I figured we’d give it a shot especially since rent in my area is scary expensive. So things were going...ok? She never invited herself in our apartment or anything like I had feared but she started doing other stuff that I felt wasn’t right. For about 4 weeks straight she would throw these BBQs with her friends, ok fine, normal, wtrv- but every time she did it she made sure my boyfriend was off of work (he has a busy schedule and is really off for about one day a week) and she would pretty much force him and by him it would be us to go. So our only day off together would get eaten up by these uncomfortable and forced gatherings. I felt as if she knew this was a nuisance for me and enjoyed it. She did not want him and I to have time alone. It was very bizarre- but wait the plot thickens.... I’d had enough. I’d had enough that my boyfriend wasn’t speaking up to his mother and I’d had enough of being virtually controlled by her. So one “bbq” (one where she explicitly told us we didn’t have to come) we stayed out all day enjoying our time but his mom was blowing up his phone asking when we are coming and where we were. He was being very elusive and not being straight up w her and letting her know we weren’t coming bc I guess he’s afraid of her and I would’ve told her but didn’t feel it was my place it was more of his. So anyway we came home at around 9pm, there were still people there and she kinda huffed and made a big deal about it, mumbling something about the food, wtrv. She was PISSED and AT ME not HIM. Wtf? So...plot thickens more... she texts my boyfriend: stop letting your gf control you And he goes: I’m learning Like wtf? So now I’m pissed at him bc I felt as tho he used me as a scapegoat towards his mom for not going to this stupid bbq and is enabling her to talk like that about me to him and his mom has some nerve to say that to him. OK so then.... I texted his mom something along the lines of :I’m sorry we didn’t go to the bbq I didn’t know it was required to hangout w u and ur friends every Saturday night and (my bf) knows how to say no to me. Omg she was Pisssssed- this unleashed her fury on me. She must’ve hated me for a while. But I collected myself, realized this was a bad situation about to get worse and decided we should go out to dinner to smooth things over and she agreed. Phew battle over, right? NOPE My bf and I had been texting all day the day of the dinner prepping for what we wanted to say to his mother. We wanted to confront her in a kind way and tell her we are adults that need space and our own lives so we can grow. Anyway, as we are driving to the restaurant I’m trying to go over it with him before we get there and he completely changes his tune! He’s complaining about how he’s tired and doesn’t wanna go (neither do I! I was just trying to do the mature thing) and then he echoes his mom and calls me controlling! So that was it for me I got out of the car at a red light. Ok it thickens even more.... Apparently it was totally fine to leave me on the side of the road bc the two of them and his stepdad are all at the restaurant without me. I called my sister to pick me up and I spent the night at my parents house bc I couldn’t stomach going back to that place. But In the meantime I’m text battling my boyfriend over this and he is having a bit of a panic attack over it. Ok. Then HIS MOM TEXTS ME: please don’t text____, he is not feeling well, text him tomorrow at the earliest. Thank you. And I’m like w. T. F. I didn’t know my bf was an 11 yo boy? I kinda lost it and immediately texted her that she needs to cut the cord. It felt so good to finally say it to her. But that unleashed a fury once again of personal attacks on me, all the while this is in a group text my bf is in as well and he says nothing. Ok she kicked me out of apt. That was expected and I kinda feel great about it, tho I will miss living with my bf. Cut to move out day What a dramatic day! I recruited my dad and my sister to help me move my stuff. My boyfriend actually helped as well. The whole time his mother keeps coming out to try to start fights w my dad and me. My dad is a wise owl and does not engage. Then she waits for my dad and sister to load the car and corners me, alone. Calls me an idiot, bitch, stupid, etc - I point out all the people she’s cut out of her life (her own and only sister, all of her husbands family, my bfs biological father, countless friends) andddd my boyfriend is there the whole time and doesn’t say a thing, just stands there kinda shell shocked. I sobbed in his arms when she finally left me alone. I was angry w him bc he doesn’t set boundaries or stand up for himself at all but we still love each other very much and his mom was the only point of contention in our relationship. Ok So weeks have gone by at this point, I’m living with my parents and he’s still w his mom, and we are picking up the pieces..we are looking for apartments together, and tonight was the first night we’d gone on a date since this whole thing. Whilst on the date guess who blows up his phone?! That’s right, his mom. He finally calls her back which I was against bc I knew it’d be some bullshit and it was. She was telling him that he doesn’t have to come all the way to see me (?) and doesn’t have to date me (?) and followed up by saying he’s financially on his own and to have a nice life and hung up. I was kinda livid. Like wtf ?? That was her goal. She knew he was with me and wanted to try to rile me up from afar. I told him that he must set the record straight if he didn’t want this to happen again. So when we got in front of my house he called her and told her he loves me and wants to be with me and it’s his choice and he’s embarrassed by her actions and doesn’t feel respected or treated like an adult. She responded by crying and telling him he ruined her vacation (?) like I’m sorry you is crazy. So now we are kinda stuck and puzzled and nervous for the future. He is finally speaking up for himself but his mom reacts like a spoiled brat not getting her way? I’ve never been in a situation like this and I fear for our future and even my safety. I feel she would try to ruin our wedding if we had one or try to ruin our apartment situation if we get one. Not sure what to do here. We love each other very much and are both lost with this. Any advice? And thnx for reading this essay!
submitted by poopygal to relationship_advice [link] [comments]


2020.09.29 03:12 ThrowRAdumbdingus I (m32) think I’m into my friend (30f) of 10~ yrs but I’m not sure

TL;DR: How can I tell if I’m very close friends with a girl or if I’m legitimately into her?
Context: I met two of my closest friends about 10 years ago. I dated one of them (M) very briefly and we mutually agreed we were better as friends and moved into an apartment together. We lived together for three years with absolutely no incidents. We both dated a few other people while living together and I consider her one of my best friends.
We had a mutual friend (J) that hung out with us most of the time that M considers her best friend. I get along with J very well. I consider her a very close friend. I’ve always been attracted to her physically but she’s not exactly my type; she’s kind, outgoing, energetic, loud and goofy. I usually go for kind of bitchy, surly women that drink too much because that’s more my speed.
During the last year I lived with M, I drunkenly mentioned one night after J had left that I thought I was into her. M told me that was a terrible idea because if one of us screwed it up (which, to be fair, was pretty likely. We were both quite messy at the time) that it would ruin the group dynamic. I agreed and stifled that feeling. That was about five years ago.
After I moved out, I still saw J and M fairly regularly but not as often as I used to. Two years ago at a party, J and I made out (we were both drunk) and afterward, we discussed the situation. I was really wishy washy about a relationship because of my own insecurities and for the obvious reason that if it went poorly, we might not be able to remain friends. We decided it was probably best not to get involved. A couple of months later, J invited me and two of my other friends (a couple) to a Halloween party. We danced together and made out again. It’s worth mentioning that we were both intoxicated but I heard her indicate me to a friend of hers and say “that’s my friend, X. I’m secretly in love with him.” She later went on to give a detailed list of activities that she would like to engage in with me. I told her “not like this. Not while you’re drunk.” Afterwards, we decided not to do that anymore. We really only saw each other in group settings after that.
I recently started seeing J regularly again and I’m starting to feel like I’m into her again and that she might be into me too but she’s flirty with everyone and open and honest all of the time (which honestly kind of describes me, too). The problem is that I’m not sure if what I feel for her is a strong friendship or a desire to be with her romantically. I don’t want to go into this half-cocked.
So I guess my question is: how do I tell if what I feel for one of my very close friends is more than just friendship? We’re obviously attracted to each other but does a good friendship translate to a good romantic relationship? I’ve never dated someone I was already so close to before. I don’t mind being shot down because I want her to be happy. I just want to be sure of my own feelings before I bring it up with her.
submitted by ThrowRAdumbdingus to relationship_advice [link] [comments]


2020.09.28 21:18 normancrane Iris [3/3]

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 <-- You are here.
I awoke to a world without women.
I rolled off the bed into sore thighs and guilt, got up to emptiness that echoed the slightest noise, and left my wife’s clothes on the sheets without thinking that eventually I’d have to pack them into a plastic bag and slide them down the garbage chute. I felt magnified and hollow. In the kitchen, I used the stove top as a table because the actual table had my wife’s tablet on it, and spilled instant coffee. What I didn’t spill I drank in a few gulps, the way I used to drink ice cold milk as a boy. I stood in front of the living room window for a while before realizing I was naked, then realizing that it didn’t matter because men changed in front of each other at the pool and peed next to one another into urinals in public restrooms, and there weren’t any women to hide from, no one to offend. The world, I told myself, was now a sprawling men’s pisser, so I slammed the window open and pissed.
I wanted to call someone—to tell them that my wife was dead, because that’s a duty owed by the living—but whom could I call: her sister, her parents? Her sister was dead. Her father had a dead wife and two dead daughters. There was nothing to say. Everyone knew. I called my wife’s father anyway. Was he still my father-in-law now that I was a widower? He didn’t accept the connection. Widower: a word loses all but historical meaning when there are no alternatives. If all animals were dogs, we’d purge one of those words from our vocabulary. We were all widowers. It was synonymous with man. I switched on the television and stared, crying, at a montage of photographs showing the bloody landscapes of cities, hospitals, retirement homes, schools and churches, all under the tasteless headline: “International Pop”. Would we clean it up, these remnants of the people we loved? Could we even use the same buildings, knowing what had happened in them? The illusion of practical thinking pushed my feeling of emptiness away. I missed arms wrapping around me from behind while I stared through rain streaked windows. I missed barking and a wagging tail that hit my leg whenever I was standing too close. Happiness seemed impossible. I called Bakshi because I needed confirmation that I still had a voice. “They’re the lucky ones,” he said right after I’d introduced myself. “They’re out. We’re the fools still locked in, and now we’re all alone.”
For three weeks, I expected my wife to show up at the apartment door. I removed her clothes from the bed and stuffed them into a garbage bag, but kept the garbage bag in the small space between the fridge and the kitchen wall. I probably would have kept a dead body in the freezer if I had one and it fit. As a city and as a world, those were grim, disorganized weeks for us. Nobody worked. I don’t know what we did. Sat around and drank, smoked. And we called each other, often out of the blue. Every day, I received a call from someone I knew but hadn’t spoken to in years. The conversations all followed a pattern. There was no catching up and no explanation of lost time, just a question like “How are you holding up?” followed by a thoughtless answer (“Fine, I guess. And you?”) followed by an exchange of details about the women we’d lost. Mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, friends, cousins, aunts, teachers, students, co-workers. We talked about the colour of their hair, their senses of humour, their favourite movies. We said nothing about ourselves, choosing instead to inhabit the personas of those whom we’d loved. In the hallway, I would put on my wife’s coats but never look at myself in the mirror. I wore her winter hats in the middle of July. Facebook became a graveyard, with the gender field separating the mourners from the dead.
The World Health Organization issued a communique stating that based on the available data it was reasonable to assume that all the women in the world were dead, but it called for any woman still alive to come forward immediately. The language of the communique was as sterile as the Earth. Nobody came forward. The World Wildlife Fund created an inventory of all mammalian species that listed in ascending order how long each species would exist. Humans were on the bottom. Both the World Health Organization and the World Wildlife Fund predicted that unless significant technological progress occurred in the field of fertility within the next fifty years, the last human, a theoretical boy named Philip born into a theoretical developed country on March 26, 2025, would die in 93 years. On the day of his death, Philip would be the last remaining mammal—although not necessarily animal—on Earth. No organization or government has ever officially stated that July 4, 2025, was the most destructive day in recorded history, on the morning of which, Eastern Time, four billion out of a total of eight billion people ceased to exist as anything more than memories. What killed them was neither an act of war nor an act of terrorism. Neither was it human negligence. There was no one to blame and no one to prosecute. In the western countries, where the majority of people no longer believed in any religion, we could not even call it an act of God. So we responded by calling it nothing at all.
And, like nothing, our lives persisted. We ate, we slept and we adapted. After the first wave of suicides ended, we hosed off what the rain hadn’t already washed away and began to reorganize the systems on which our societies ran. It was a challenge tempered only slightly in countries where women had not made up a significant portion of the workforce. We held new elections, formed me boards of directors and slowed down the assembly lines and bus schedules to make it possible for our communities to keep running. There was less food in the supermarkets, but we also needed less food. Instead of two trains we ran one, but one sufficed. I don’t remember the day when I finally took the black garbage bag from its resting place and walked it to the chute. “How are you holding up?” a male voice would say on the street. “Fine, I guess. And you?” I’d answer. ##!! wrote a piece of Python code to predict the box office profitability of new movies, in which real actors played alongside computer-generated actresses. The code was only partially successful. Because while it did accurately predict the success of new movies in relation to one other, it failed to include the overwhelming popularity of re-releases of films from the past—films starring Bette Davis, Giulietta Masina, Meryl Streep: women who at least on screen were still flesh and blood. Theatres played retrospectives. On Amazon, books by female authors topped the charts. Sales of albums by women vocalists surged. We thirsted for another sex. I watched, read and listened like everyone else, and in between I cherished any media on which I found images or recordings of my wife. I was angry for not having made more. I looked at the same photos and watched the same clips over and over again. I memorized my wife’s Facebook timeline and tagged all her Tweets by date, theme and my own rating. When I went out, I would talk to the air as if she was walking beside me, sometimes quoting her actual words as answers to my questions and sometimes inventing my own as if she was a beloved character in an imagined novel. When people looked at me like I was crazy, I didn’t care. I wasn’t the only one. But, more importantly, my wife meant more to me than they did. I remembered times when we’d stroll through the park or down downtown sidewalks and I would be too ashamed to kiss her in the presence of strangers. Now, I would tell her that I love her in the densest crowd. I would ask her whether I should buy ketchup or mustard in the condiments aisle. She helped me pick out my clothes in the morning. She convinced me to eat healthy and exercise.
In November, I was in Bakshi’s apartment for the first time, waiting for a pizza delivery boy, when one of Bakshi’s friends who was browsing Reddit told us that the Tribe of Akna was starting a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to buy the Republic of Suriname, rename it Xibalba and close its borders for all except the enlightened. Xibalba would have no laws, Salvador Abaroa said in a message on the site. He was banging his gong as he did. Everything would be legal, and anyone who pledged $100 would receive a two-week visa to this new "Mayan Buddhist Eden". If you pledged over $10,000, you would receive citizenship. “Everything in life is destroyed by energy,” Abaroa said. “But let the energy enlighten you before it consumes your body. Xibalba is finite life unbound.” Bakshi’s phone buzzed. The pizza boy had sent an email. He couldn’t get upstairs, so Bakshi and I took the elevator to the building’s front entrance. The boy’s face was so white that I saw it as soon as the elevator doors slid open. Walking closer, I saw that he was powdered. His cheeks were also rouged, and he was wearing cranberry coloured lipstick, a Marilyn Monroe wig and a short black skirt. Compared to his face, his thin legs looked like incongruously dark popsicle sticks. Bakshi paid for the pizza and added another five dollars for the tip. The boy batted his fake eyelashes and asked if maybe he could do something to earn a little more. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I could come upstairs and clean the place up a little. You two live alone?” Bakshi passed me the two pizza boxes—They felt hot in my hands.—and dug around in his wallet. “It’s not just the two of us,” I said. The boy smiled. “That’s OK. I’ve done parties before if that’s what you’re into.” I saw the reaction on Bakshi’s face, and I saw the boy’s grotesque caricature of a woman. “There’s condoms and lube in the car,” the boy said, pointing to a sedan with a pizza spray-painted across its side parked by the curb. “My boss says I can take up to two hours but it’s not like he uses a stopwatch.” I stepped on Bakshi’s foot and shouldered him away. He was still fiddling with his wallet. “We’re not interested,” I said to the boy. He just shrugged. “Suit yourselves. If you change your mind, order another pizza and ask for Ruby.” The elevator dinged and the doors opened. As we shuffled inside, I saw Bakshi’s cheeks turn red. “I’m not actually—” he mumbled, but I didn’t let him finish. What had bothered me so much about the boy wasn’t the way he looked or acted; in fact, it wasn’t really the boy at all. He was just trying to make a buck. What bothered me was how ruthlessly we’d already begun to exploit each other.
For those of us who were heterosexual, sex was a definite weakness. I missed it. I would never have it with a woman again. The closest substitute was pornography, whose price rose with its popularity, but which, at least for me, now came scented with the unpleasantness of historicity and nostalgia. Videos and photos, not to mention physical magazines, were collector’s items in the same way that we once collected coins or action figures. The richest men bought up the exclusive rights to their favourite porn stars and guarded them by law with a viciousness once reserved for the RIAA and MPAA. Perhaps exclusivity gave them a possessive satisfaction. In response, we pirated whatever we could and fought for a pornographic public domain. Although new pornography was still being produced, either with the help of the same virtual technology they used for mainstream movies or with the participation of young men in costume, it lacked the taste of the originals. It was like eating chocolate made without cocoa. The best pornography, and therefore the best sex, became the pornography of the mind.
The Tribe of Akna reached its Kickstarter goal in early December. On December 20, I went to church for the first time since getting married because that was the theoretical date that my wife—along with every other woman—was supposed to have given birth. I wanted to be alone with others. Someone posted a video on TikTok from Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront, dubbing over Marlon Brando’s speech to say: “You don’t understand. I could’a had a piece of ass. I could’a been a school board member. I could’a been a son’s daddy”. It was juvenile and heartbreaking. By Christmas, the Surinamese government was already expelling its citizens, each of whom had theoretically been given a fraction of the funds paid to the government from the Tribe of Akna’s Kickstarter pool, and Salvador Abaroa’s lawyers were petitioning for international recognition of the new state of Xibalba. Neither Canada nor the United States opened diplomatic relations, but others did. I knew people who had pledged money, and when in January they disappeared on trips, I had no doubt to where. Infamy spread in the form of stories and urban legends. There’s no need for details. People disappeared, and ethicists wrote about the ethical neutrality of murder, arguing that because we were all slated to die, leaving the Earth barren in a century, destruction was a human inevitability, and what is inevitable can never be bad, even when it comes earlier than expected—even when it comes by force. Because, as a species, we hadn’t chosen destruction for ourselves, neither should any individual member of our species be able to choose now for himself. To the ethicists of what became known as the New Inevitability School, suicide was a greater evil than murder because it implied choice and inequality. If the ship was going down, no one should be allowed to get off. A second wave of suicides coincided with the debate, leading many governments to pass laws making suicide illegal. But how do you punish someone who already wants to die? In China: by keeping him alive and selling him to Xibalba, where he becomes the physical plaything of its citizens and visa-holders. The Chinese was the first embassy to open in Xibalban Paramaribo.
The men working on Kurt Schwaller’s theory of everything continued working, steadily adding new variables to their equations, complicating their calculations in the hopes that someday the variable they added would be the final one and the equation would yield an answer. “It’s pointless,” Bakshi would comment after reading about one of the small breakthroughs they periodically announced. “Even if they do manage to predict something, anything, it won’t amount to anything more than the painfully obvious. And after decades of adding and subtracting their beans, they’ll come out of their Los Alamos datalabs like groundhogs into a world blanketed by storm clouds and conclude, finally and with plenty of self-congratulations, that it’s about to fucking rain.”
It rained a lot in February. It was one of the warmest Februaries in Toronto’s history. Sometimes I went for walks along the waterfront, talking to my wife, listening to Billie Holiday and trying to recall as many female faces as I could. Ones from the distant past: my mother, my grandmothers. Ones from the recent past: the woman whose life my wife saved on the way to the hospital, the Armenian woman with the film magazine and the injured son, the Jamaican woman, Bakshi’s wife. I focused on their faces, then zoomed out to see their bodies. I carried an umbrella but seldom opened it because the pounding of the raindrops against the material distorted my mental images. I saw people rush across the street holding newspapers above their heads while dogs roamed the alleyways wearing nothing at all. Of the two, it was dogs that had the shorter time left on Earth, and if they could let the rain soak their fur and drip off their bodies, I could surely let it run down my face. It was first my mother and later my wife who told me to always cover up in the rain, “because moisture causes colds,” but I was alone now and I didn’t want to be separated from the falling water by a sheet of glass anymore. I already was cold. I saw a man sit down on a bench, open his briefcase, pack rocks into it, then close it, tie it to his wrist, check his watch and start to walk into the polluted waters of Lake Ontario. Another man took out his phone and tapped his screen a few times. The man in the lake walked slowly, savouring each step. When the police arrived, sirens blaring, the water was up to his neck. I felt guilty for watching the three officers splash into the lake after him. I don’t know what happened after that because I turned my back and walked away. I hope they didn’t stop him. I hope he got to do what he wanted to do.
“Screw the police.” Bakshi passed me a book. “You should read this,” he said. It was by a professor of film and media studies at a small university in Texas. There was a stage on the cover, flanked by two red curtains. The photo had been taken from the actors’ side, looking out at an audience that the stage lights made too dark to see. The title was Hiding Behind The Curtains. I flipped the book over. There was no photo of the author. “It’s a theory,” Bakshi said, “that undercuts what Abaroa and the Inevitabilists are saying. It’s a little too poetic in parts but—listen, you ever read Atlas Shrugged?” I said I hadn’t. “Well, anyway, what this guy says is that what if instead of our situation letting us do anything we want, it’s actually the opposite, a test to see how we act when we only think that we’re doomed. I mean what if the women who died in March, what if they’re just—” “Hiding behind the curtains,” I said. He bit his lower lip. “It sounds stupid when you say it like that but, as a metaphor, it has a kind of elegance, right?” I flipped through the book, reading a few sentences at random. It struck me as neo-Christian. “Isn’t this a little too spiritual for you? I thought we were all locked into one path,” I said. “I thought that, too, but lately I’ve been able to do things—things that I didn’t really want to do.” For a second I was concerned. “Nothing bad,” he said. “I mean I’ve felt like I’m locked into doing one thing, say having a drink of water, but I resist and pour myself a glass of orange juice instead.” I shook my head. “It’s hard to explain,” he said. That’s how most theories ended, I thought: reason and evidence up to a crucial point, and then it gets so personal that it’s hard to explain. You either make the jump or you don’t. “Just read it,” he said. “Please read it. You don’t have to agree with it, I just want to get your opinion, an objective opinion.”
I never did read the book, and Bakshi forgot about it, too, but that day he was excited and happy, and those were rare feelings. I was simultaneously glad for him and jealous. Afterwards, we went out onto the balcony and drank Czech beer until morning. When it got cool, we put on our coats. It started to drizzle so we wore blue plastic suits like the ones they used to give you on boat rides in Niagara Falls. When it was time to go home, I was so drunk I couldn’t see straight. I almost got into a fight, the first one of my life, because I bumped into a man on the street and told him to get the fuck out of my way. I don’t remember much more of my walk home. The only reason I remember Behind The Curtains at all is because when I woke up in the afternoon it was the first thing that my hung over brain recognized. It was lying on the floor beside the bed. Then I opened the blinds covering my bedroom window and, through my spread fingers that I’d meant to use as a shield from the first blast of daylight, I saw the pincers for the first time.
They’d appeared while I was asleep. I turned on the television and checked my phone. The media and the internet were feverish, but nobody knew what the thing was, just a massive, vaguely rectangular shape blotting out a strip of the sky. NASA stated that it had received no extraterrestrial messages to coincide with the appearance. Every government claimed ignorance. The panel discussions on television only worsened my headache. Bakshi emailed me links to photos from Mumbai, Cape Town, Sydney and Mexico City, all showing the same shape; or rather one of a pair of shapes, for there were two of them, one on each side of the Earth, and they’d trapped our planet between themselves like gargantuan fingers clutching an equally gargantuan ping-pong ball. That’s why somebody came up with the term “the pincers”. It stuck. Because I’d slept in last night’s clothes I was already dressed, so I ran down the stairs and out of my apartment building to get a better look at them from the parking lot. You’re not supposed to look at the sun, but I wasn’t the only one breaking that rule. There were entire crowds with upturned faces in the streets. If the pincers, too, could see, they would perhaps be as baffled by us as we were of them: billions of tiny specks all over the surface of this ping-pong ball gathering in points on a grid, coagulating into large puddles that vanished overnight only to reassemble in the morning. In the following days, scientists scrambled to study the pincers and their potential effects on us, but they discovered nothing. The pincers did nothing. They emitted nothing, consumed nothing. They simply were. And they could not be measured or detected in any way other than by eyesight. When we shot rays at them, the rays continued on their paths unaffected, as if nothing was there. The pincers did, however, affect the sun’s rays coming towards us. They cut up our days. The sun would rise, travel over the sky, hide behind a pincer—enveloping us in a second night—before revealing itself again as a second day. But if the pincers’ physical effect on us was limited to its blockage of light, their mental effects on us were astoundingly severe. For many, this was the sign they’d been waiting for. It brought hope. It brought gloom. It broke and confirmed ideas that were hard to explain. In their ambiguity, the pincers could be anything, but in their strangeness they at least reassured us of the reality of the strange times in which we were living. Men walked away from the theory of everything, citing the pincers as the ultimate variable that proved the futility of prognostication. Others took up the calculations because if the pincers could appear, what else was out there in our future? However, ambiguity can only last for a certain period. Information narrows possibilities. On April 1, 2026, every Twitter account in the world received the following message:
as you can see this message is longer than the allowed one hundred forty characters time and space are malleable you thought you had one hundred years but prepare for the plucking
The sender was @. The message appeared in each user’s feed at exactly the same time and in his first language, without punctuation. Because of the date most of us thought it was a hoax, but the developers of Twitter denied this vehemently. It wasn’t until a court forced them to reveal their code, which proved that a message of that length and sent by a blank user was impossible, that our doubts ceased. ##!! took bets on what the message meant. Salvador Abaroa broadcast a response into space in a language he called Bodhi Mayan, then addressed the rest of us in English, saying that in the pincers he had identified an all-powerful prehistoric fire deity, described in an old Sanskrit text as having the resemblance of mirrored black fangs, whose appearance signified the end of time. “All of us will burn,” he said, “but paradise shall be known only to those who burn willingly.” Two days later, The Tribe of Akna announced that in one month it would seal Xibalba from the world and set fire to everything and everyone in it. For the first time, its spokesman said, an entire nation would commit suicide as one. Jonestown was but a blip. As a gesture of goodwill, he said that Xibalba was offering free immolation visas to anyone who applied within the next week. The New Inevitability School condemned the plan as “offensively unethical” and inequalitist and urged an international Xibalban boycott. Nothing came of it. When the date arrived, we watched with rapt attention on live streams and from the vantage points of circling news planes as Salvador Abaroa struck flint against steel, creating the spark that caught the char cloth, starting a fire that blossomed bright crimson and in the next weeks consumed all 163,821 square kilometres of the former Republic of Suriname and all 2,500,000 of its estimated Xibalban inhabitants. Despite concerns that the fire would spread beyond Xibalba’s borders, The Tribe of Akna had been careful. There were no accidental casualties and no unplanned property damage. No borders were crossed. Once the fire burned out, reporters competed to be first to capture the mood on the ground. Paramaribo resembled the smouldering darkness of a fire pit.
It was a few days later while sitting on Bakshi’s balcony, looking up at the pincers and rereading a reproduction of @’s message—someone had spray-painted it across the wall of a building opposite Bakshi’s—that I remembered Iris. The memory was so absorbing that I didn’t notice when Bakshi slid open the balcony door and sat down beside me, but I must have been smiling because he said, “I don’t mean this the wrong way, but you look a little loony tonight. Seriously, man, you do not look sufficiently freaked out.” I’d remembered Iris before, swirling elements of her plain face, but now I also remembered her words and her theory. I turned to Bakshi, who seemed to be waiting for an answer to his question, and said, “Let’s get up on the roof of this place.” He grabbed my arm and held on tightly. “I’m not going to jump, if that’s what you mean.” It wasn’t what I meant, but I asked, “why not?” He said, “I don’t know. I know we’re fucked as a species and all that, but I figure if I’m still alive I might as well see what happens next, like in a bad movie you want to see through to the end.” I promised him that I wasn’t going to jump, either. Then I scrambled inside his apartment, grabbed my hat and jacket from the closet by the front door and put them on while speed walking down the hall, toward the fire escape. I realized I’d been spending a lot of time here. The alarm went off as soon I pushed open the door with my hip but I didn’t care. When Bakshi caught up with me, I was already outside, leaping up two stairs at a time. The metal construction was rusted. The treads wobbled. On the roof, the wind nearly blew my hat off and it was so loud I could have screamed and no one would have heard me. Holding my hat in my hands, I crouched and looked out over the twinkling city spread out in front of me. It looked alive in spite of the pincers in the sky. “Let’s do something crazy,” I yelled. Bakshi was still catching his breath behind me. “What, like this isn’t crazy enough?” The NHL may have been gone but my hat still bore the Maple Leafs logo, as quaint and obsolete by then as the Weimar Republic in the summer of 1945. “When’s the last time you played ball hockey?” I asked. Bakshi crouched beside me. “You’re acting weird. And I haven’t played ball hockey in ages.” I stood up so suddenly that Bakshi almost fell over. This time I knew I was smiling. “So call your buddies,” I said. “Tell them to bring their sticks and their gear and to meet us in front of the ACC in one hour.” Bakshi patted me on the back. Toronto shone like jewels scattered over black velvet. “The ACC’s been closed for years, buddy. I think you’re really starting to lose it.” I knew it was closed. “Lose what?” I asked. “It’s closed and we’re going to break in.”
The chains broke apart like shortbread. The electricity worked. The clouds of dust made me sneeze. We used duffel bags to mark out the goals. We raced up and down the stands and bent over, wheezing at imaginary finish lines. We got into the announcer’s booth and called each other cunts through the microphone. We ran, fell and shot rubber pucks for hours. We didn’t keep score. We didn’t worry. “What about the police?” someone asked. The rest of us answered: “Screw the fucking police!”
And when everybody packed up and went home, I stayed behind.
“Are you sure you’re fine?” Bakshi asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Because I have to get back so that I can shower, get changed and get to work.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said.
“And you promise me you’ll catch a cab?”
“I’m not suicidal.”
He fixed his grip on his duffel bag. “I didn’t say you were. I was just checking.”
“I want to see the end of the movie, too,” I said.
He saluted. I watched him leave. When he was gone, my wife walked down from the nosebleeds and took a seat beside me. “There’s someone I want to tell you about,” I said. She lifted her chin like she always does when something unexpected catches her interest, and scooted closer. I put my arm across the back of her beautiful shoulders. She always liked that, even though the position drives me crazy because I tend to talk a lot with my hands. “Stuck at Leafs-Wings snorefest,” she said. “Game sucks but I love the man sitting beside me.” (January 15, 2019. Themes: hockey, love, me. Rating: 5/5). “Her name was Iris,” I said.

Iris

“What if the whole universe was a giant garden—like a hydroponics thing, like how they grow tomatoes and marijuana, so there wouldn’t need to be any soil, all the nutrients would just get injected straight into the seeds or however they do it—or, even better, space itself was the soil, you know how they talk about dark matter being this invisible and mysterious thing that exists out there and we don’t know what it does, if it actually affect anything, gravity…”
She blew a cloud of pot smoke my way that made me cough and probably gave her time to think. She said, “So dark matter is like the soil, and in this space garden of course they don’t grow plants but something else.”
“Galaxies?”
“Eyes.”
“Just eyes, or body parts in general?” I asked.
“Just eyes.”
The music from the party thumped. “But the eyes are our planets, like Mars is an eye, Neptune is an eye, and the Earth is an eye, maybe even the best eye.”
“The best for what? Who’s growing them?”
“God,” she said.
I took the joint from her and took a long drag. “I didn’t know you believed in God.”
“I don’t, I guess—except when I’m on dope. Anyway, you’ve got to understand me because when I say God I don’t mean like the old man with muscles and a beard. This God, the one I’m talking about, it’s more like a one-eyed monster.”
“Like a cyclops?” I asked.
“Yeah, like that, like a cyclops. So it’s growing these eyes in the dark matter in space—I mean right now, you and me, we’re literally sitting on one of these eyes and we’re contributing to its being grown because the nutrients the cyclops God injected into them, that’s us.”
“Why does God need so many extra eyes?”
“It’s not a question of having so many of them, but more about having the right one, like growing the perfect tomato.” I gave her back the joint and leaned back, looking at the stars. “Because every once in a while the cyclops God goes blind, its eye stops working—not in the same way we go blind, because the cyclops God doesn’t see reality in the same way we see reality—but more like we see through our brains and our eyes put together.”
“Like x-ray vision?” I asked.
“No, not like that at all,” she said.
“A glass eye?”
“Glass eyes are fake.”
“OK,” I said, “so maybe try something else. Give me a different angle. Tell me what role we’re playing in all of this because right now it seems that we’re pretty insignificant. I mean, you said we’re nutrients but what’s the difference between, say, Mars and Earth in terms of being eyes?”
She looked over at me. “Are you absolutely sure you want to hear about this?”
“I am,” I said.
“You don’t think it’s stupid?”
“Compared to what?”
“I don’t know, just stupid in general.”
“I don’t.”
“I like you,” she said.
“Because I don’t think you’re stupid?” I asked.
“That’s just a bonus. I mean more that you’re up here with me instead of being down there with everyone, and we’re talking and even though we’re not in love I know somehow we’ll never forget each other for as long as we live.”
“It’s hard to forget being on the surface of a giant floating eyeball.”
“You’re scared that you won’t find anyone to love,” she said suddenly, causing me to nearly choke on my own saliva. “Don’t ask me how I know—I just do. But before I go any further about the cyclops God, I want you to know that you’ll find someone to love and who’ll love you back, and whatever happens you’ll always have that because no one can take away the past.”
“You’re scared of going blind,” I said.
“I am going blind.”
“Not yet.”
“And I’m learning not to be scared because everything I see until that day will always belong to me.”
“The doctors said it would be gradual,” I reminded her.
“That’s horrible.”
“Why?”
“Because you wouldn’t want to find someone to love and then know that every day you wake up the love between you grows dimmer and dimmer, would you?”
“I guess not,” I said.
“Wouldn’t you much rather feel the full strength of that love up to and including in the final second before the world goes black?”
“It would probably be painful to lose it all at once like that.”
“Painful because you actually had something to lose. For me, I know I can’t wish away blindness, but I sure wish that the last image I ever see—in that final second before my world goes black—is the most vivid and beautiful image of all.”
Because I didn’t know what to say to that, I mumbled: “I’m sorry.”
“That I’m going blind?”
“Yeah, and that we can’t grow eyes.”
This time I looked over, and she was the one gazing at the stars. “Before, you asked if we were insignificant,” she said. “But because you’re sorry—that’s kind of why we’re the most significant of all, why Earth is better than the other planets.”
“For the cyclops God?”
“Yes.”
“He cares about my feelings?”
“Not in the way you’re probably thinking, but in a different way that’s exactly what the cyclops God cares about most because that’s what it’s looking for in an eye. All the amazing stuff we’ve ever built, all our ancient civilizations and supercomputers and cities you can see from the Moon—that’s just useless cosmetics to the cyclops God, except in how all of it has made us feel about things that aren’t us.”
“I think you’re talking about morality.”
“I think so, too.”
“So by feeling sorry for you I’m showing compassion, and the cyclops God likes compassion?”
“That’s not totally wrong but it’s a little upside down. We have this black matter garden and these planets the cyclops God has grown as potential eyes to replace its own eye once it stops working, but its own eye is like an eye and a brain mixed together. Wait—” she said.
I waited.
“Imagine a pair of tinted sunglasses.”
I imagined green-tinted ones.
“Now imagine that instead of the lenses being a certain colour, they’re a certain morality, and if you wear the glasses you see the world tinted according to that morality.”
I was kind of able to imagine that. I supposed it would help show who was good and who was bad. “But the eye and the tinted glasses are the same thing in this case.”
“Exactly, there’s no one without the other, and what makes the tint special is us—not that the cyclops God cares at all about individuals any more than we care about individual honey bees. That’s why he’s kind of a monster.”
“Isn’t people’s morality always changing, though?”
“Only up to a point. Green is green even when you have a bunch of shades of it, and a laptop screen still works fine even with a few dead pixels, right? And the more globalized and connected we get, the smoother our morality gets, but if you’re asking more about how our changing morals work when the cyclops God finally comes to take its eye, I assume it has a way to freeze our progress. To cut our roots. Then it makes some kind of final evaluation. If it’s satisfied it takes the planet and sticks it into its eye socket, and if it doesn’t like us then it lets us alone, although because we’re frozen and possibly rootless I suppose we die—maybe that’s what the other planets are, so many of them in space without any sort of life. Cold, rejected eyes.”
From sunglasses to bees to monitors in three metaphors, and now we were back to space. This was getting confusing. The stars twinkled, some of them dead, too: their light still arriving at our eyes from sources that no longer existed. “That’s kind of depressing,” I said to end the silence.
“What about it?”
“Being bees,” I said, “that work for so long at tinting a pair of glasses just so that a cyclops God can try them on.”
“I don’t think it’s any more depressing than being a tomato.”
“I’ve never thought about that.”
“You should. It’s beautiful, like love,” she said. “Because if you think about it, being a tomato and being a person are really quite similar. They’re both about growing and existing for the enjoyment of someone else. As a tomato you’re planted, you grow and mature and then an animal comes along and eats you. The juicier you look and the nicer you smell, the greater the chance that you’ll get plucked but also the more pleasure the animal will get from you. As a person, you’re also born and you grow up and you mature into a one of a kind personality with a one of a kind face, and then someone comes along and makes you fall in love with them and all the growing you did was really just for their enjoyment of your love.”
“Except love lasts longer than chewing a tomato.”
“Sometimes,” she said.
“And you have to admit that two tomatoes can’t eat each other the way two people can love each other mutually.”
“I admit that’s a good point,” she said.
“And what happens to someone who never gets fallen in love with?”
“The same thing that happens to a tomato that never gets eaten or an eye that the cyclops God never takes. They die and they rot, and they darken and harden, decomposing until they don’t look like tomatoes anymore. It’s not a nice fate. I’d rather live awhile and get eaten, to be honest.”
“As a tomato or person?”
“Both.”
I thought for a few seconds. “That explanation works for things on Earth, but nothing actually decomposes in space.”
“That’s why there are so many dead planets,” she said.
submitted by normancrane to cryosleep [link] [comments]


2020.09.28 17:51 LordCongra [Runes & Brews] - Book 1: Trouble Brewing, Chapter 10

Cover Art Personal discord Chat to me on the Reddit Serials discord Runes & Brews Homepage Patreon advanced chapters: 6 First Chapter
If you want to stay up to date with news from me, make sure to follow Congra too!
------------------------------------
Theo and Adam sat together, back to back. He was finishing up the last runework on Deskan’s arrow while Adam prepared a water-breathing philtre.
Distill, Theo,” Adam murmured, shifting his body slightly for more contact with Theo.
Distill,” he said, allowing the spell to form in his mana pool and travel through Adam with what was now well-practiced ease. The amount of mana that he pulsed was far more controlled than it had been three days earlier. Not perfect yet, but it was better.
Impatient noises sounded out from Adam. “How much longer do you need me for this morning? I’ve gotta meet up with everyone for the trial. Oh, and, can I get a Heat?
“Sure thing, Heat. And, I just have a couple more runes to finish on this arrow and it should be all set. The trials worked just fine on the clay version, anyway,” he said, shrugging. It had taken some time to feel comfortable in this position sitting against Adam, but he’d been able to get his enchanting work done while his stocks were replenished, so he really couldn’t complain.
“Shit, Attenuate, please? Less mana if you can,” Adam grumbled, sounding displeased with himself.
Attenuate. What’s happening with it? What color is the potion right now?” Theo asked, turning his head slightly to try and get a look.
Adam grunted. “It’s… maybe a pinkish-orange? I don’t know, there’s a lot of chunks floating in there.”
“Add a little more gallarant seed powder, you probably didn’t add enough binding agent,” he said, returning to his own work inscribing runes. Sunlight shone down on him, filling his fairly empty mana reserves just enough that he could manage both as long as they worked slowly.
The pestle scraped against the mortar for a few moments before Adam sighed with relief. “That worked. Thanks, Theo. It’s more orange than pink now, should I add the stardust?”
“You should. Then I’ll give you one strong Distill. Let me know when you’re ready,” he said, giving an affirmative nod that Adam couldn’t see.
“Ready.”
Distill. Make sure to watch that stability, waterbreathing potions can sneak up on you,” Theo warned, nudging Adam slightly.
He leaned forward, almost making Theo fall backward. “It’s still not in the red or anything, I think we could manage one more tiny Distill. Can you do it?”
“Mhm,” he affirmed, waiting for Adam’s back to make contact once more. He grasped as much as he could mentally on his mana pool, trying to practice restricting the flow. “Distill.” It worked somewhat, he didn’t waste as much as he had been wasting.
“I think it’s done. It’s a really pale green now but it’s not red,” he said, sounding pleased with himself.
“Okay, I’ll give you a Cool to finish it off. Cool,” he said, his voice echoing with the Named Spell.
He felt Adam nodding to himself. “Perfect. It’s done. Maybe a little frosty…”
“That’s fine, it’ll warm up on its own. You can take a break now, that’s plenty of potions. I’m almost done with this arrow, just need to add the final touches,” Theo said, holding it up for Adam to see.
Studying it for a moment, he leaned in closer. “Just one last Intent rune, eh?”
“That’s it. You can go make yourself something to eat if you want while I finish up,” he said, waving a hand towards the door. “I shouldn’t be long.”
A groan from his stomach indicated Theo was right. “Sure. I can make you something too. Any specifics?”
His own stomach growled, so he nodded. “I believe I have some goose eggs in the larder, could you fry them over easy for me? My frying pan is in the cupboard on the left.”
He gave Theo a thumbs up. “Got it. You have anything green? I don’t wanna eat anything too heavy right before our test.”
“Plenty. I have a loaf of bread in the larder as well if you’d like to make yourself a sandwich.”
Adam smiled at that. “Sounds great. You keep working. Think you’ll be done by the time your food is ready?”
“Make your sandwich first and I think I should be,” Theo said, pointing his stylus at Adam.
“Sure thing.”
Once Adam left, he delved back into the enchanting. The last rune wasn’t too complex, but he wanted to make sure he hadn’t missed any spots so he was setting aside time for an inspection as well.
Mana flowed through the stylus, a soft silver light emitting from the tip as it made contact with the metal of the arrow. He hummed to himself, inscribing the last rune with the utmost precision. His stylus glided along the surface, leaving the glowing marks of a forming rune in its wake.
Finished, he carefully pored over the arrow in its entirety. He frowned at one spot where the line didn’t look up to snuff. With more mana flowing, he corrected the error fairly easily, mentally complimenting himself on a job well done.
The scents of cooking reached his nose and he just about hovered out of his seat towards the kitchen, arrow in hand. Sizzling and popping in the frying pan were the first sounds he heard as he walked into the kitchen.
Adam danced around the counter to a song that wasn’t playing, sprinkling a little salt on the egg. He turned around, noticing Theo watching him. His ears turned red. “Oh, Theo. Hi. Breakfast’s ready.” Moving the egg to a plate, he set it on the table for Theo.
Theo just smiled and sat down. Both at the table, he took his first bite. “Adam, this is delicious! And did you pan-fry some bread slices for me?” He used the bread to sandwich his egg, dipping it in the yolk.
“Yup. Secret recipe, can’t tell you what,” he said, grinning.
Raising an eyebrow, Theo leaned in, stage-whispering. “It wouldn’t happen to be… butter in a pan, would it?”
He feigned a gasp. “How did you know?”
“Just had a hunch,” he teased. “Oh, and Adam, I was wondering, what’s the test like? I’ve heard stories before, but it’s been a while.”
With an impressive amount of balance, he leaned disturbingly far back in his chair. “You wanna come and watch? They allow spectators. The test is supposed to be a little different every time they do it, so even I don’t know exactly what’ll happen.”
His eyes widened. “Really? I’d have to open the shop later, but… yes, I’d love to come!”
“We should probably get going soon, so eat up,” he said, gesturing to Theo’s plate of slowly cooling eggs.
Adam’s eyes rounded as Theo shoveled food in his mouth with wild abandon. His fork clattered against the plate loudly. “Done. Now, I just need to freshen up quickly. I’ll need to put on my good vest.”
“What’s wrong with the vest you’re wearing?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow.
Glancing down at his vest, he scrunched his brows before looking back up. “Nothing, really. They’re all good vests, but… a vest for each occasion, y’know?”
“I don’t, but sure, go change,” Adam said, hands raised in defeat.
“I’ll be quick!” Theo called out, already halfway through the door to his room. Vests were thrown left and right as he tried to pick out just the right one. He settled on a mahogany brown vest and tied an emerald green bow tie under the collar of his shirt. Perfect.
Cleaning himself up in the bathroom quickly, he fussed with his hair for a bit, trying to get it just right. The humidity was higher today so it was being uncooperative. Finally ready, he jogged back out to the kitchen to find Adam sharpening his battleaxe with a whetstone.
“All done!”
Adam raised a brow, regarding Theo’s new vest. “That’s like, the same color vest, you just added a green bow tie.”
Theo placed a hand over his collarbone, scoffing in mock-offense. “I’ll have you know the last vest was a dark umber. This one is mahogany. And the green bow tie is for good luck.”
“Brown is brown. I appreciate the good luck though, I think we’ll need it,” Adam said, grimacing.
“You just don’t understand vests. But, speaking of things you need. Would you want to… borrow a wand? Or maybe some other enchanted tool? Just for the test,” Theo said, eyeing him expectantly.
“I wish. We already registered everything we’re bringing in. We can’t add extras,” he said, frowning.
“Oh. Well, shall we get going?” he asked, gesturing towards the door.
“Probably. Telsa’s gonna be antsy even if I’m this early,” he said, stretching as he stood up once more.
“Oh, just one more thing, actually. Be right back,” he said, dashing into his workshop to grab his inscribing stylus and his finished Wind Tunnel wand. With a spring in his step, he came back out, leading the way to his door. “I just need to lock up and we can go. I’m bringing my stylus in case I need to touch up the runes at all for Deskan.”
“Sounds good. You have it in that case thing, right?” Adam asked, eyes scanning Theo’s bag that hung over his shoulder.
“I do. Wh- oh goodness!” Theo called out as Adam picked him up and stuffed him under his arm.
“Because it’s later than we thought!” he shouted, sprinting down the street.
From his position, he could glance up at the sky. The position of the sun confirmed what Adam had said, it wasn’t morning anymore. They arrived at the adventurer’s guild with remarkable speed. Theo’s sides were hurting from being jostled around as much as he had been.
When he looked at Adam, he was jealous that the brute hadn’t even broken a sweat. I wonder how much easier my own exercises will be now that I’m Tier 3.
Telsa strode up to them, eyes blazing with fury. “Adam, you were nearly late! Our test is in five minutes! Oh, hi, Theo.” She smiled brightly at him, terrifying him with the sudden shift of demeanor.
“Uh, hello. Is Deskan here? I have her arrow?” he asked, searching for her.
She stepped out from behind a stone pillar, sneering as usual. “Let me see it.”
As he moved to hand it to her, Telsa snatched it out of his hand instead. “What do we say, Deskan?” Her glare could have peeled paint off a wall.
Deskan glared right back. “Please,” she spat the words out, taking the arrow aggressively from Telsa’s proffered hand. Walking up to a training dummy in a field just outside the guild, she fired the metal arrow into it. With smooth, practiced motions, she nocked and shot several more. They all disappeared from sight shortly after leaving her bow, impaling the dummy from all angles around it.
Theo clapped, noticing that Deskan’s lip quirked up slightly as she gathered her arrows. She regarded Theo. “It works perfectly. Thank you. I’m…” She clenched her teeth like it hurt her. “Sorry I doubted you.”
“It’s quite alright. I know my prices can potentially hurt my reputation, but I’d rather keep adventurers alive by better supplying them than price-gouge them,” he said, puffing his chest up and putting his hands on his hips.
“Don’t let it go to your head,” Deskan said, already turning to count her arrows, clearly done with the conversation. “Hey, you have the other arrows I left you, right?”
“Oh, yes I do! It’s right…” He opened his bag, taking the teleporting arrow out. “Here. Unharmed, despite Adam carrying me under his arm the whole way here.”
Nils walked up to the two of them. “He did that to you too? Not very comfortable, is it? He’s done it to me on several occasions when we’re retreating on requests.”
Theo rubbed his sides, frowning. “Not comfortable at all. I think I may have bruises soon…”
“Deskan! Nils! Come on! It’s go time! You too, Theo!” Telsa called out, waving them onward.
“Oh, I suppose we should go then. I’ll be cheering you all on from the stands!” Theo gave them a thumbs up, following an attendant who brought him to the stands around the adventurer’s guild arena.
There were a few others watching, mostly human but two fulvitre and a chosen whose hair was actually a mess of short quills. The chosen had a bubble of water suspended around his neck which he stored in a flask moments later, looking refreshed.
A chosen with an orange chitin exoskeleton walked out into the middle of the arena. He tapped a necklace twice with one claw hand and shouted out, his voice far louder than it should be. “The Vanguard’s Grip will be performing a test today to advance from Steel rank to Silver rank! We ask for your cooperation at this time to please keep yourself as quiet as possible. We have Fundamental barrier mages in place to keep the arena sealed, but it would not do to have unwanted attention from the monsters brought to the crowd.
“Without further ado, we will now announce what the Vanguard’s Grip will be up against today.” He pulled a slip of parchment from his pocket, reading it over once. “Oh, looks like everyone here is in for a show. They’re up against shiftrock moles! These oversized rodents channel Primordial mana to trap or pierce their prey with the power of earth! Looks like our competitors are coming out now! I introduce to you, Telsa Preant, Adamant Weaver, Deskan Torsum, and Nils Selic, the four members of the Vanguard’s Grip!”
Theo clapped as hard as he could, cheering. His excitement slowly died down as he realized no one else was cheering. He looked around, everyone was staring at him. His ears burned as he huddled down to look as small as possible.
The chosen announcer cleared his throat. “Well, uh, we have three guild representatives observing today who will judge this team on their efficiency, teamwork, effectiveness, utility, and speed of completion. Once I leave the arena, the moles will be released and the fight will begin!” He walked towards a door in the wall of the arena, shutting it behind himself.
Cages on the other side of the arena slid open, allowing five moles, each larger than Theo, to walk out onto the field. Sunlight shone down brightly onto the battleground. He couldn’t hear them, but Telsa said something to Adam who nodded to her.
He charged ahead, the moles moving to meet him. Adam dodged side to side as pillars of earth sprung up from the ground. Roaring, runes lit up on his skin. In a blur of movement, his axe cleaved through the next earthen spire that shot up from the ground at him.
A group of spires appeared around him in a circle, enclosing him in a cage of rock. His movement was heavily restricted, but he gripped one of the pillars, tearing it out of the earth with his brute strength alone. He blocked off several of the moles, catching their claws and teeth with the pillar.
By this time, Deskan was in position. She caught one of the moles unaware, her beacon arrow stabbing into its side with a spray of blood.
It hissed in response, a volley of floating earthen spikes firing at her. She returned with a volley of her own arrows. Unfortunately, the mole summoned a rocky armor plating around its skin, making each arrow glance off. The other moles followed suit, mimicking the first upon noticing its injury.
“Telsa! Alacrity!” Nils held up his staff, a large gem set in the crooked head of it glowing brightly. A blue glow of mana settled around Telsa’s head and body. She crouched low, throwing one of her daggers towards the moles.
Theo gasped as it missed, but Telsa was smiling. The air between her and the moles seemed to bend in a way his mind had trouble comprehending. She sped forward faster than Theo could register, her other arm coming up with a swing of her dagger. “Rending Slash!” Light bent around her dagger, reaching a focal point as she cut.
Another mole almost reached her before the pillar of earth Adam had ripped up slammed into its face. The momentary distraction was enough, however, and the beast that Telsa had nearly cleaved through backed off just enough that her cut only left a gash across its front. It leaked blood, but the mole wasn’t down for the count.
They all burrowed into the ground moments later. Telsa barked an order and the group stood back to back in a diamond formation. Deskan’s mouth was moving and she pointed towards the ground.
“Got it! Titanic Strength!” Adam leaped into the air, the runes on his arms and legs glowing brighter than before. His battleaxe gleamed in the light, slamming into the ground. Rock cracked and burst into debris around him as he shattered it with his hit.
Several of the moles were sent airborne by the force. One had Deskan’s beacon arrow in its side. She fired several arrows which teleported into it moments later. It landed on the ground in an unmoving heap. Adam was heaving for breath on the ground as several moles approached him.
Telsa appeared at his side moments later, her dagger clipped to his side. Theo’s wand was pointed at the rodents who had claws up ready to strike. “Bolt Orb!” Three orbs of yellow lightning shot out of the wand, striking the moles. They reared back, chittering loudly. Telsa spun on her toes, grabbing her dagger from Adam’s side and swinging widely.
Nils called out. “Reaction Reduction!” A red aura settled around the moles, their bodies becoming slow to move.
Warped Size!” Telsa’s dagger blades extended far longer than they should have. “Rending Slash!” It was space itself, Theo realized, that bent in on her daggers, her next strike cleaving through two of the moles despite their earthen armor.
Only two moles remained. Deskan’s beacon arrow plunged itself deep into the head of one, dropping it instantly. Telsa raised the wand once more, firing another Bolt Orb at the final mole. Stunned once more, Adam had recovered enough and slammed his axe through its chest, the runes on his arms glowing a final time. He landed on his back, breathing heavily from his explosive exertions.
There was a moment of quiet before applause broke out from the small crowd. Theo joined in, subtly glaring at those who hadn’t clapped with him before.
------------
Back in the main lobby of the adventurer’s guild, Theo stood with the Vanguard’s Grip, awaiting the judgment of the guild officials.
An older human with bright violet hair stepped out of their meeting room, facing the group. Everyone stared at him expectantly before he smiled and held up four silver tags. “You all passed.” He let everyone take that in and cheer with each other before continuing.
“Your teamwork was incredible and you handled the situation faster than expected. It seems that Bolt Orb wand gave you the capability to handle larger crowds than before.”
Adam nudged Theo, smiling.
“But. You all still have areas to improve on. Adam, your spells have high mana requirements and clearly exhaust you quickly. We recommend working on your stamina to improve that, not just your strength.
“Telsa, the latency between spell activation and your strikes could use improvement, make sure to not let yourself be distracted as well. Trust in your tank to defend you.
“Deskan, you may want to invest in a way to retrieve your beacon arrow more readily. It cost your team time for you to retrieve it out of the body each time.
“Lastly, Nils, you need to improve the efficiency of your buff channeling. One of our representatives detected a much higher mana expenditure than your spell should have cost. We recommend seeing a Phrenist to have those Named Spells removed once you have appropriate replacements Spell Books. There are a few the guild could recommend but if you have a personal preference that is quite fine as well.”
Telsa walked up to the representative and took the offered tags, handing over a set of steel tags in return. “Thank you, Guildmaster Tynvern. We’re honored you oversaw our match. And thank you for all of the feedback, we’ll be sure to apply it.”
“I’m just glad to see your team finally advance in the ranks, Telsa. You’ve shored up the aspects you were lacking in before. I look forward to your future progress,” the older man nodded to the group. “I have more tests to attend to. You’re welcome to stay but I assume you all want to go out and celebrate.”
“That we do, Tyn,” Adam said, grinning.
Deskan glared at him. “Guildmaster Tynvern, you mean.”
“It’s quite alright, Deskan. I’ve known young Adamant here for far longer than the rest of you. I must take my leave now, however. Good job once again. You all did wonderfully.” He stepped through the door under loud thanks from everyone, Theo included even though he didn’t know why, it just felt right.
“Well, Theo, we’re gonna go celebrate. You wanna come?” Telsa asked, looking between him and Adam with a knowing quirk to her lips.
He frowned. “I would love to, but I really need to go open my shop now. I may be available tomorrow after I teach Pina some more manual casting. You all take it easy today, you’ve earned it. Congratulations on reaching Silver rank! That’s quite the achievement.”
“Thanks, Theo. We’ll stop by tomorrow, then. See you later. If I don’t have too bad of a hangover, at least,” Adam said, waving him off.
“If you do, you know who to come to,” Theo said, chuckling. He waved to everyone as they went their separate ways. With the lesser leaks and being in the sunlight as long as he had been, his mana pool was filled up quite a bit again, fortunately. He returned home, feeling excited about the Vanguard’s Grip’s success today.
Unlocking his shop he went to close the door behind him before something stopped it. He turned around to see a large hand holding the door. “Maraz.”
Bright, perfectly white teeth smiled back at him widely. “Hello again, Theo. Did you have fun at the adventurer’s guild today? I saw you down in the guild district and figured I’d come to check in on the shop. Your prices wouldn’t happen to be the same as before, would they?”
Theo backed up, hand moving to the pocket with his wand in it. The very same hand trembled. “T-They’re the same as b-before, Maraz. Can’t you just leave me alone to run my shop?”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Theo. Your time is up and the guild wants me to make sure you change,” he said, cracking his knuckles.
Theo eyed Maraz defiantly, his legs quivering under him. His voice was shaky but his conviction was firm. He clenched a fist around his wand. “I-I don’t believe I will.”
Maraz raised a fist. “You don’t really have a choice, do you?”
Once Maraz took another step forward, Theo whipped out his wand. “I do. Wind Tunnel!” In his fear, he didn’t have even the slightest hold on his mana pool. A large portion of his mana dumped into the wand immediately.
The runes lit up, blindingly bright. The wood of the wand snapped and splintered as a concussive wind blast shot Maraz through the shop window. Theo himself shot backward, slamming into his counter.
Several potion bottles and other enchanted tools fell to the floor in the wake of the destruction. Theo’s heart clenched as he stood up, groaning in pain. He looked out the opening that was his window to see Maraz laying on the ground, blood leaking from his head.
“Oh dear.”
First Chapter Patreon advanced chapters: 6 Previous Chapter Next Chapter (placeholder)
submitted by LordCongra to redditserials [link] [comments]


2020.09.28 12:01 Business-Complaint-9 MY DYING LAST DAYS, GETTING F****D BY SUDDENLINK!! (Charging Me A Service $60 Fee On The 3rd Time Out, To No Avail Why I Wasn't Getting HS Net, For Him To Tell Me, "IT MAY VERY WELL BE A GHOST OR SOMETHING, BECAUSE A HOME NEARBY WAS A PASTORS WHO HELD FUNERALS THERE IN THE EARLY 1900s)

I was warned about Suddenlink when I moved to WV after losing home in Florida from hurricane. BUT, there really is no other with proper service for HS Internet. First, ordered just low internet. Within hours would get 10-20 texts/emails offering to upgrade. Took deal, $99 for Phone, 2nd Tier Cable 200 Channels and 400 MBPS HS Internet, PLUS $200 Amazon Gift Card offer. Was to be installed between 1 and 4pm. Called at 5pm, told on their way, 6:00 "En Route" 7:30, She hung up on me, 9pm, "Checked w/driver, he is Enroute". Installer didn't get here until a little after 10pm. He said, they told him I was an irate customer that demanded the installation TODAY!... LIED. He installed 2 Altice ONE boxes, both didn't work, he called his Sup. They were here until after 1am. Sup gave him the next day off, I tipped them $30. I then soon realized NONE of my devices were getting more than 35 MBPS Internet. 3 phones, Desk PC, 2 Laptops and I even had people I knew, that had never been here, to enter and log onto WiFi in case we all got a virus. NOPE, No more than 35MBPS. Called and tech came out, once...had no idea, twice, had no idea, three times w/the third so confused he said it MAY BE A GHOST because the house in front was once home to Pastor who held funerals in early 1900s. A GHOST! I then received a $60 fee on my bill for them to come out, yet nothing was fixed. Then on one of the countless calls, the CS Agent said it was because our area couldn't get those speeds! Yet, I was paying for it for NOW 5 months. He said he would have the Tech fee reversed. After calling about the Amazon card once, they told me I had to wait 90 days, second call they said I had to wait six months, third call, they gave me a number to call, number was invalid. Called now in my later part of sixth month, person gave me another number and since the tech fee did not show on my bill, he said he escalated it to priority and said it would be off. NOW, well into my 7th month, after paying all this time for 400MBPS at $99 plus taxes and fees, with the total at first being $120, then slowly each month went up to $146, I called again for the Amazon and the credit and after speaking with 5 people, I was told by one, I wouldn't get a credit for the service call because I didn't sign up for and pay for "Safeline" (Never heard of it, was never offered it, would never have taken it!..if your service doesn't work, WHY would I pay for you to fix something that never worked that you sold me). I was sent to Supervisor who said they didn't even know what Safelline was! Then HE said that I could have gotten the credit but it was now past the second billing cycle since the tech came out and they cant credit past two months! Then asked about Amazon card, got the 5th guy, after all of the others told me that I had to wait 90 days, then it was 120 days, then two different times to call 2 diff numbers, none worked, now THIS person told me this.... and this is really good!.. You ready?...."In order to receive the card, you must pay your first three bills 10 DAYS BEFORE THE DUE DATE"...He didn't say, you I had to pay it within 10 days of the due date, meaning PAST the due date and he he was also telling me, simply PAYING THE BILL ON TIME, meaning 1 day early, 3 days early, 7 days early, which in today's economy and crisis, just paying your bill on time, as long as it's not past the due date should be considered an EXCELLENT payment history, right? NOPE, I had to pay the bill no later than ten days BEFORE the due date!!!! I went back to everything I had, I typed in the phrase in various ways online and nothing came up. I looked at every bill and my contract and receipt I was given both times!...NOTHING. By the way, YES, I am dying. I have Lupus and recently was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma skin cancer and had 1/4 of my torso skin taken off. Because of my Lupus, I am not able to be put under general anesthesia for staples, so they had to sew me with what they call Couch Staples. The cancer as made its way to my spine where I have three tumors and they cant do anything about them. NOW, I am not one to play the sick card, but after calling Suddenlink 18 times, that I kept track of, towards the end (More recent) I would get so frustrated at a different story told, excuse after excuse and LIES, I started letting them in on my other problems. Not that we all dont have some and don't expect special treatment, but I do expect what I paid for, not to be lied to time and time again and be f****d month after month, without even any lube!. At least others have been kind enough to offer THAT!. Yes, I joke, because I have to, but after the final call this week I lost it. When I was told I wasn't getting the card, I let loose, swore, yet never directed it at the person, and I USUALLY do not hold the reps accountable for corporate policies. HOWEVER, there is a point where you see that this company is SOOOO corrupt and that they dish out so many lies and scams, that it must really take a certain kind of person to work at a place like that and can do that to customers. I know some have kids and all that, but EVERY single person I have spoken with has lied, aimlessly uttered something like they cared and apologized, which are simply words on a cue card someone told them to say. I myself could never work at this place, EVER. I could not lie so blatantly to people. Especially when someone is so exhausted after bouncing around for 3 hours and 21 minutes as I had been this past Friday. I told the last guy, who amazingly spoke pretty good English...BECAUSE HE SPOKE IN THE QUEEN'S ENGLISH, as in British. Where HE came from I will never know. I told him Suddenlink and CEO Dexter Goei can "Go Eff themselves" and said I was cancelling as soon as I called AT&T, the only other company with decent internet service. The only other is Frontier, who wouldn't exist if it wasn't for mass exodus of pissed off Suddenlink customers and I heard their service is so bad most end up going back to Suddenlink. Ill just have to suck it up if that's the case. I have had my attorney in Los Angeles, who I admit is my Entertainment Atty and also who is handling my will since I am in the situation I am in with my health, but attorneys go to school and learn all law and then they enter into a certain field, so its not like he is totally not capable of SOMETHING, so he is filing complaints with the FCC and State Comptroller of both WV, NY and IL where their corporate filings and/or assets are kept, which includes Altice and Cablevision. He is also filing some other federal complaints other than the FCC because much of the money comes from and goes back to the company that purchased Suddenlink in 2015, or around then, that are based in France. Ironically, down on one of the street corners near the WV State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which is where I live, there has been a group of people, usually one dressed in a banana costume (Who knows, I guess to get you to look) holding signs about Suddenlink and Class Action Lawsuits filings. In my 53 years, with years that I worked FOR someone in a career position and not just "A Job", I have worked for either telecommunication companies (AT&T, Bell Atlantic and Southern Bell/BellSouth) and also the newly formed at the time because of the breakup of 'Ma'Bell' and being unregulated, with the then ability to diversify from telecommunications, the new AT&T Banking Division out of Jacksonville, Florida launching their new AT&T branded "Universal Card Visa/MC", for which I/We won the Malcolm Baldrige Award, a National award that was given for excellence in customer service. One of the requirements were that you had to have been in business for at least five years. In an unprecedented first, we won the top prize in our SECOND year. We had such high numbers they broke their own rules. AT&T Universal's CEO had the gold award melted down and made into smaller awards for each employee. I say this to show that I KNOW what kind of customer service a company not only should posses to keep customers, but that I also know when it goes beyond that, breaking laws, which they seem to have done quite clearly in my opinion and if the many class action lawsuits have any say. I also ventured into the Banking/Credit Card/Credit Reporting areas as well, including a couple years working late stage collection which even included "Skip Tracing". If anyone knows anything about that, they know that most late stage collectors, 3rd party collections and Skip Tracers, who are more PIs then Customer Service Reps and there are MANY horror stories of what Skip Tracers have done to find a person owing a debt, including calling neighbors, telling them there was a family emergency so they would walk next door to get the debtor to come to their house, only to fund the collector on the phone. Though I worked for a better bank than that, the horror stories I have heard, including repossession companies do not even come CLOSE to the lies and scams Suddenlink as pulled on FOR SURE myself, with proof, and seemingly others besides me in masses. Something needs to be done and until Im dead, I will do a little each day to chip away and warn others. I must get my roommate up for work and make breakfast and their lunch, so I don't have time to edit this for grammar or spelling, as I'm already behind, so my apology for that. Thanks
submitted by Business-Complaint-9 to Suddenlink [link] [comments]


2020.09.28 03:40 Subtlegi Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane
This was my term paper for a college film class I took some years back. I did much research, spoke with Kodak, a cameraman from the shoot, as well as being a camera buff and videographer. I took out the all of photos referenced to save space here, but if anyone likes it and wants the complete piece I'd be happy to send it to you, just let me know. gabriel
https://preview.redd.it/v6p9ng6tlsp51.jpg?width=1790&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=b6458662ef0ad0112d6a5dfcbc362e7f631e45f6
A Technical Investigation of Citizen Kane
It’s Not All Black and White
📷 Citizen Kane is considered perhaps the best film ever produced. What does it contain that so many of others missed? I believe it is the imagination and technical expertise of Orson Welles and Greg Toland’s talent cocktail that forged this memorable work. To the right, notice both men on the floor setting up a low angle shot. Welles did very little alone, he was intelligent enough to use “OPB” other people’s brains. The screenplay alone does not stand up well against many other “Great Films,” it is the audio/visual experience created by the use of great techniques in lighting, photography and sound recording which make this film a masterpiece.
Over a period of twenty-five years, I have acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience in the Visual Arts. During this time I worked professionally in film, sound, and video while also enjoying the wonderful art of amateur black and white photography. My resume’ qualifies me to present a case for my thesis and in doing so I will cite technical information which is a part of my knowledge base. This combined with my research, meld into a comprehensive report on the behind the scenes wizardry of an ultra talented group of filmmakers.
📷Like most humans, I experience film through my eyes and ears, always looking deeper, beyond the dialog alone, into the complete experience. Although I hear the famous word “Rosebud” spoken by Kane, it is the atmosphere of the room, and the close up of his mouth, which amplifies the moment.
📷 Orson Welles wrote, directed, and acted in many productions of which Citizen Kane, being his best known, is the film he’ll be remembered. The following is a sampling of other productions Welles wrote, directed and more, except for this first two, written by William Shakespeare. MACBETH, described by Welles as "a violently sketched charcoal drawing of a great play," The magnificent photography by John L. Russel (Psycho) Directed by Orson Welles, and acted by Welles, Jeanette Nolan, DanO'Herlihy, Roddy McDowall, 1948. OTHELLO (production spanned three years) it won the Grand Prize at Cannes. Directed by Orson Welles, With: Welles, Suzanne Cloutier, Micheàl MacLiammoir, Robert Coote, 1952, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, Rita Hayworth plays a sultry wife, and includes the legendary hall-of-mirrors shootout finale. Directed and written by Orson Welles, 1947. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, Directed and written by Orson Welles, 1942. TOUCH OF EVIL, Directed and written by Orson Welles, With: Heston, Welles, Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff, Dietrich, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Weaver, 1958 (Starlight News).
After reading the above, it is impossible to overlook Welles as the original film multi-tasker. This man did it all. As a fine actor, writer, and director, it can be argued Welles has a bit of a control issue, but perhaps when you’re as talented as he, it’s not to unusual to not want to place your work or self in another’s hands.
The conductor of light, director of photography Greg Toland was hired from Samuel Goldwym Studios at $700.00 per week (Carringer 69). While at Goldwyn Studios Toland became regarded as one of the most creative cinematographer of the 1930.
His ‘acknowledged brilliance,’ as “American Cinematographer” magazine argued in 1942, placed him in the most nearly ideal position any Director of Photography has since the halcyon days when D.W. Griffith and Billy Blitzer were between them creating the basic techniques of the screen (American Cinematographer).
These accolades and of course the films themselves placed Toland in a position of power when negotiating with producers. Here are some items he requested and received from the producers of Citizen Kane. “RKO was obliged to employ Toland’s regular crew and rent his camera equipment from Goldwyn” (Carringer 69). He demanded these guarantees as an artist, for he had personalized his equipment, his brush, so to speak, to accommodate the style in which he shot. The crew consisting of grips, camera assistants, and gaffes were all a part of Toland’s creative bag of tricks that worked together as a one organism to accomplish the monumental task of producing a film of this caliber. Above all Toland insisted on creative control. This he had become accustomed to at Goldwyn Studios. After much success in his early career, Toland remarked, "I want to work with someone who's never made a movie. That's the only way to learn anything from someone who doesn't known anything”(Walling). He got his chance in 1941 with Citizen Kane on Orson Welles first movie. This team of Toland, and Welles became a creative partnership unsurpassed in movie making history.
There is light and the absence of light, there is shadow, created by infringing on the path of a light. These elements are the two ends of the visual spectrum. White (light), Black (shadow) and by the expected use of them, every lighting situation (in B/W) can be resolved. Mind pictures like these become possible in the right hands. Powerful light driven through small spaces cut like knives on the floor and walls. Soft light pushed through a window or down a hall washes the area like a softly driven snow. The power of this technique is obvious in the shot captured of the Walter Thatcher Library. (right) Nothing is resolved here (can be seen clearly), but it’s not the dialog or the face of the actors the filmmakers are interested in, but the mood set by the absence of light and the rod of light coming from above. Reminiscent of a spiritual setting, the beam of light representing the entrance of the Almighty into the room.
Film is the medium that followed and in some ways took the place of paint, brush, and canvas, first with the snapshot, followed by moving pictures. In 1940 film had its limitations, even today it’s requires an informed photographer to photograph in a variety of settings with equally satisfactory results. Much of what makes an artist great is the length to which they are able to stretch the medium in which they work. This is where Welles and Toland excelled; they stretched the ability of the camera and film to lengths never before attained.
The tone of Citizen Kane is created with light, shadow, and darkness. Photography and light go hand in hand, in fact photography, as we know it, cannot exist without a light source. The way a scene is lit directly affects the resulting print. Film stocks of the late thirties, early forties were “slow” meaning the amount of exposure time (to light) with respect to the quality and resolution of the resulting print is high (long). A “fast” film with a speed of 800ASA or higher can capture an image indoors without a flash or extra lighting in a normally lit room. In 1940 a 100ASA film was considered fast, this film used in daylight would be capable of good exposure, but anything less than daylight would require lights, for a stills, a flash, for moving pictures, stage/motion picture lighting …Big, Hot, sometime noisy lights.
The film used to shoot Citizen Kane was Kodak Super XX, 100ASA which was an “off the shelf” product, that fortunately for Toland had just recently been released. Double X was “Four Times Faster” than its immediate predecessor. Without this timely release Citizen Kane may never have been made. The other variable is the amount of light needed and available, and how much one chooses to expose the film. Exposure time and aperture settings are two variables that determine, to a great extent, whether a scene will appear as bright as a 📷sunny day or full of shadows with the blackest blacks, but only grayish whites. Proper contrast presents itself as balanced if upon examination the black & white negative it exhibits the two extremes represented on the gray scale, black and white. This bias manifests in a photo that is too dark or too light and lacks contrast.
The manipulation of exposure can be seen and studied early in this film. In the scene shot in the projection room, Toland under exposed the film by not using an “average” light setting, (balanced) instead he resolved the streams of light pouring from the projection windows and placed the actors in the shadows. There is nothing wrong with this; in fact, it is exactly what they wanted. The average person taking snapshots of their children would not appreciate their photos turning out in this fashion, but the professional is an artist, and artists create moods and settings with the tools of their art. In film, what we don’t see sometimes makes the shot.
📷 “Camera derives from the Latin word for room or chamber. The camera pre-dates film. The Camera Obscura or “Dark Room,” occasionally seen at scenic locations was, in its original form, a pinhole camera.
The “pinhole’ in the roof could scan the countryside by means of a rotating mirror. The image was focused on a white table in the center if the room and viewed by observers inside the “camera” (Di Guilio).
📷”The Mitchell Camera Corporation began in 1919 as a camera repair and modification shop in Hollywood, as The National Motion Picture Repair Company (Roberts 141). The film was shot with Mitchell BNC cameras (BNC stands for Blimped News reel Camera). The BNC was introduced in 1934 and the first two cameras were sold to Goldwyn Studios in 1934 and 1935. "The first important picture on which they were used was Citizen Kane" (Roberts148) In 1934, this camera made the recording of sound for film feasible. At around 35 dB, the NC was quiet enough for unblimped use in exterior sound filming, as long as the microphone was not near the camera. Later that year the BNC was introduced, the B stood for Blimped. The Blimp is a sound proof housing which surrounded the camera bringing the sound level to a very quiet 21dB! To the average person these numbers mean nothing, even with an explanation of these levels may continue to seem irrelevant. But, take it from a man who spent years on sound stages, in recordings and television studios, the difference is huge; 35dB “decibels” is the sound level in an average home, 21dB is the sound level of a whisper, or rustling leaves. These are logarithmic numbers and the difference is demonstrated by taking the next step up. 70dB is the sound level of freeway traffic and of a vacuum cleaner. The change the “blimped” camera had on motion pictures is immense! (Noise)
The camera’s angle and length of lens create perspective. A long lens creates a voyeuristic feel as if looking in from afar a good example being Hitchock’s Rear Window. A short or wide lens brings the viewer into the scene. Angles are simple to understand.
Considered how you appear to a small child from its playpen? Put yourself in the it’s place, think of its perspective “low” looking up, “wide” larger than life, and somewhat distorted view. This is not a pleasant picture. The baby looking up sees a huge, distorted thing; fortunately babies are innocent and cannot put the ominous nature of their vulnerable scene in perspective. Conversely, the perspective of an adult looking down at a child is like a king from his throne, a feeling of power, not vulnerability. Perspective makes the difference. Even in a situation where those involved are adults as in a courtroom setting, perspective plays a role. In a courtroom, the judge sits up high upon their judgement seat, which forces the defendant to look up. The judge appears large and powerful, while the defendant feels small, powerless, and vulnerable. Above, strong and in control, below, weak and suppliant. Orson, digs holes (right) in floors, through walls, and flies his cameras in the air shooting from different angles, creating different perspectives. A film shot at one level is flat, without flavor and as bland as an unseasoned potato.
📷 Next we explore the topic of “depth of field” (the distance from the object nearest to the camera and the farthest that are in continuous focus) also know as “Deep Focus” The first notable example is from the footage shot in the parlor of Mrs. Kane’s boarding house. In the foreground, mother, father, and Mr.Thatcher
discuss the boy’s future while in the background young Kane is seen through the window, all in perfect focus. Another example is the scene where Kane and his wife are sitting at either end of a long dining table in the huge Xanadu, bigheaded Kane intimidating and distorted (not out of focus) in the foreground, his bored wife, small and insignificant in the distance, both presented in sharp detail.
📷This next frame combines two techniques, “tight composition,” and “deep focus.” Tight composition meaning a quantity of images in a relatively small frame, and deep focus, all the images in frame are in focus. The scene is when Kane walks in on Susan’s singing lesson only to hear “the Maestro,” frustrated and disgusted with Susan’s ineptness, screaming a laundry list of insults at her. Bad timing. Kane in anger reprimands “the Maestro.”
After a few critical viewings, and a quick look at my camera’s dept of field indicator, I estimate the field covered in “the Maestro” frame was approximately 18 inches to 30 feet. Probably an 18mm or 25mm lens was used which has great depth of field when stopped down to F/11 or F/16, these two numbers are aperture setting or f-stops, indicate the size of the hole the camera looks through. The larger the number the smaller the hole, and the great dept of field.
A standard photographers table supplies the following values: for an 18.5mm lens at F/8: 1' 6" to Infinity and for 25mm: 2’ 9" to Infinity. To shoot at these apertures, a 100 ASA film requires 1280-foot candles of light, which is quite high by today’s standards. (A foot-candle is equal to the light ‘one candle’ would illuminate a surface at the distance of one foot.)
The definition of Deep Focus is applicable as a frame of reference in defining Shallow Focus, in which one part of the screen is in focus and the rest blurred, thus directing the viewer's attention to the key element of the action. This was a useful technique, but not an innovation in the1930s, having been used since the early days of film, although much of it’s use was dictated by the limitations of the cameras and films of the time.
An unknown Internet author describes a fancy focus technique.
📷Toland found that extra means were needed to maintain sharpness in certain extremely deep shots. Split-focus lenses and carefully controlled double exposures sometimes turned the trick, but were difficult to set up. One example is in the sequence in which Kane's wife attempts suicide: a glass, spoon and medicine bottle in sharp focus dominate the foreground; the bed is in the middle ground; and figures enter the door in the background. Here the foreground was lighted and photographed first, with the rest of the scene in darkness. Then the foreground was silhouetted and the background was lighted and shot in focus on the same film. (Sharp Practice)
Film is the medium that in some ways followed and took the place of paint, brush, and canvas. First came the snapshot, followed by moving pictures. To this day film has limitations, but in 1940, they were manifold. Much of what makes an artist great is the length to which they stretch the medium in which they work. This is where Welles and Toland excelled; they stretched the ability of camera, film, and light to lengths never before attained.
📷Before the making of Citizen Kane sound stages and film sets were open ceiling. A lot went on just above the frame, all of it unseemly, and needed to be hid, things such as; microphones, (big ugly microphones on booms with cables hanging) and other equipment that hung from the usually high ceiling sets. This open ceiling arrangement prohibited the camera from tilting (a vertical pan) any higher than the top of a room’s wall. Toland and Welles had no desire to repeat the same old shots seen hundreds of times before. They figured a way to work around this problem. They created ceilings with muslin, now microphones and the like were hidden above this “new ceiling.” This permitted Toland to shoot from the floor, (right) actually from a hole in the floor without thought of running out of wall. Note all that ceiling showing.
📷This took the bit from Toland’s mouth, freeing him to point the camera wherever his heart desired. The frame pictured to the left is an extraordinary example for three innovations are demonstrated in one shot: covered ceilings, a low angled perspective and deep focus. Fantastic!
Who says you have to be high tech to be innovative? Artists dislike restraints, when set free, they fly high. Freedom brought us this wonderful film.
The sound on Citizen Kane encompasses dialog, sound effects, and the musical score. In reverse order, Bernard Herrman scored the film, and later went on to compose the music for other great movies, including Psycho and Taxi Driver (who can forget that sax?). Welles brought with him from radio a keen ear and an understanding of sound effects. These effects augmented the film, but were not overpowering as in some films today. One example of his subtle usage is noted by Robert Carringer. “. . . such as the typewriter heard in extreme close-up when Kane is finishing the opera review and the musical accompaniment to the light bulb that dims to signal the faltering of Susan’s singing career”(100). I’ve recorded many sound tracks for video and television and I don’t envy the task assigned to the engineers in charge of this film. Even when recording a simple spot, I used more and better equipment than the entire sound crew of Citizen Kane.
In their process . .
. . . there are two separate and distinct sound operations, each presided over by a different sound engineer. One engineer is in charge of the sound recorded during the production. His chief assistant is the operator of the boom – a microphone slung from a long metal rod and suspended above the actors’ heads (Carringer 102).
Considering the task of a “boom operator” under ordinary circumstances was difficult, on Welles’ set there were times it must have been close to impossible. Because of the muslin ceilings the operator had a much more difficult time properly placing the microphones above the actors.
Once recorded, then it went into post production, and into the hands of James G. Stewart, a sound contractor who work on some of the most famous theaters in America, including Radio City Music Hall, before moving to California and joining RKO. He was in charge of postproduction, in those days called “rerecording,” today mixing and overdubs.
📷In the late thirties one could not go to a local sound store and buy whatever your budget allowed, these sound engineers, were just that, “engineers,” and if they needed something they’d design and build it. The crude two-man mixing console shown here is a “one off,” built for RKO under Stewart’s direction. Prior to this point in the process, the audio is dry (no effects, or processing) it’s during the “rerecording” process that echo, reverb, effects, and overdubs are inserted and mixed. Sound persons rarely get much glory, but without them, the public might still be watching silent films (Carringer 102-3).
In closing, Citizen Kane is a technical milestone in movie making, although I find the screenplay depressing. This tale of a boy removed from his family, given an education and all the money he could ever need (so one would think). Who grows into an idealistic, generous, and kind man, who had plans to change the world, but instead the world changed him, and for that, he hates the world and himself in return. The final scene, reveals his true heart, one, once so soft, now, hardened and broke. Calling to the heavens, spoke his final word “Rosebud” the name of a sleigh he once owned, so long ago, before fate stepped in and killed the boy. When Kane spoke, “Rosebud” he was not only calling out the name of a child’s toy, no, he was calling out to the life he left behind which contained that sleigh. The life he never had the chance to live.
📷📷📷📷📷”Rosebud” “Rosebud” “Rosebud” “Rosebud” “Rosebud”
Sources Cited
American Cinematographer, “Greg Toland.” 1942. http://www.cinematographer.com (1999)
Carringer, Robert. The Making of Citizen Kane. University of California Press, Berkeley
  1. 69, 100, 103-04.
Di Giulo, Edmund. “An Historical Survey of the Professional Motion-Picture Camera.”
SMPTE Journal, NY, 1967
Forzano’s Studio Stock “Gray Scale Chart” NY, 1979.
Noise Levels In Decibels. “The Sound Level Chart”
http://www.temple.edu/CEPT/temp/dcblevel.html (Nov. 2000)
Roberts, Laurence. “The Mitchell Camera: The Machine and Its Makers”
SMPTE Journal, NY. Oct. 1981: 141, 147, 148.
Star Light News. “Orson Wells.” http://starlightnews.cjb.net/orson.htm (Nov. 2000)
The British Film Institute “Gregg Toland -Sharp Practice”
http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/archive/innovators/toland.html (Oct.2000)
Time Life “Citizen Kane Cinematography Notes”
http://www.pathfinder.com/photo/essay/kane/toland.htm (Oct. 2000)
Images: Peter Stackpole, LIFE, Welles and Toland on floor, 1.
RKO Radio Picture: Projection Room, 4. Mother in the Boarding House, Kane outside, 7. Tight Composition, 8. Low Ceilings, 10. Low Angle, 10.
Walling, Christopher “Cinematographer Gregg Toland”
http://www.christopherwalling.com/Pages/S&L\~GreggToland.html (Nov. 2000)
Wilgus, Jack and Beverly. “A Search for Camera Obscura.” The Magic Mirror of Life.
http://brightbytes.com/cosite/what.html (Nov. 2000)
submitted by Subtlegi to classicfilms [link] [comments]


2020.09.28 02:24 tsinnyc30 *TS* *NSW* I can't trust men, so I don't know how to love...where do i start to heal?

tw nsw rape/child sexual abuse. I write in a way thats very vivid, thats how the images in my mind work. Maybe its also because I am a writer, and it is hella drilled into us about details. All about the details. I know this can upset some people. So there is the warning.
I was a child of sexual abuse. Which made my rape at 23 worse. Much worse.
When I was 5, I was in foster care. I was a super feminine acting boy. (I am a trans woman now). My foster brothers and male figures never used to play with me. Saying things like:
"Don't you want to play with the girls, sissies don't like sports"
"Take ya gay, useless ass on somewhere" They would always leave me 
In came Carl. He always included me. He was 16/17 and he was amazing at first. He let me play super Nintendo with him. He took me to the park. He snuck me candy like Reese cups, when my Grandma told me no. I loved him. Growing up with my twin in foster care, I felt abandoned. Because I was a feminine boy, i felt doubly abandoned.
 He started asking me if I wanted to cuddle with him at night. My grandma was tired and he was always so nice to me, I don't even think she had a second thought about it. The first few sleep overs with Carl was beautiful. He would just hold me. He would tell me scary stories, then I would run to the bathroom in the dark, running back to his bad shaking. He would get me cupcakes. He would hold me, and tell me how he loved me. Until one night, it changed. He smelled funny to me, the-now-gorgeous-familar smell of Marijuana. He told me he wanted to show me a secret game. The games of men. Not knowing any better, I said show me. I loved and trusted him at 5. He was the big brother I always wanted...replacing the abandoned feeling I felt at my parents. He kissed me. He had vitiligo, and a pink spot that was so unique on the corner of his lips on his right side. I remeber the feeling of his third degree burned hands on my body. His mother tortured him and locked him in the closet for weeks on end in the Bronx. He had cigarette burns all over his body. He was still attractive. Beautiful hazel eyes. Brown skin like mines. Full pink lips. He was a boxer, he turned the hands his mother tried to take from him into weapons that made the street nickname him "Mean Machine", with how savagely he would fight guys on the street. He was also a child of sex abuse, once the system found him at 7, and placed him in group homes, which later, in my teenage years when I found out, made me totally forgave him. He did love me, even though he hurt me, but ultimately as a late teenager, he was just reliving a cycle. It does not excuse him, but compared to my rape at 23, I can forgive Carl. 
He pulled his pants down and put my tiny hands on his bigger genitalia. That was all we did the first time. He called me pretty.
"You really look like a little girl with ya long curly hair and bambi eyes". 
He orgasmed and because it didn't feel bad, I didn't see it as bad. It was just a game.
He then grabbed me softly and forced me to look at him. 
"You can't tell. If you tell, I will die. You don't want me to die right? If you tell, I will be gone and you will have nobody to play with, I will be killed horribly. This is our secret game. Only us. Okay?"
I was heartbroken. I let out a high pitch shrill cry. As I clang to him and repeated:
"Puleazhh don't die...please don't die. Please don't die...i lub you."
He held me again and we fell asleep.
The game was simple at first, just touching, but quickly it progressed.
 The 4th time I saw him, he put whip cream on himself. "I have a treat for you. If you play our secret game well, you will get a reward. You have to lick it off" 
So I did. I remember the smell of him. His just turned into a man pheromones plugging my noise. The sweat of his skin, and the sweetness of the whip cream. I gagged horribly. But he told me i was doing a Good job even though it was barely fitting. I remember his fluid on my face.
He wiped us both off and got a big ass bag of candy out his closet. Again...the behavior was painted as something good by him.
 (Im legit unnerved even though I can't help writing so candidly. To do that to a child, to lie and use manipulation is utterly insidious. To use my emotions, that he should have protected.....it id fucking gross. Gross. A 5 year old. What was sexy about me, I still occasionally peed the bed, I was dirty from always climbing and exploring things, etc...but then its not about that. But its just....ugh. I know he picked me because I was feminine and because I was a loner by the nature of what I am, a transgender individual.) This went on for months. His "you are so beautiful like a little princess", his cuddles, his playfulness. I loved it. Even the sex acts we did, i didn't mind because it was not violent nor did it hurt at that point. It was definitely uncomfortable/ weird and there was no sexual thrill for me. The only thrill was for me to please the brother I loved. If it pleased him, I was happy with that. I had turned 6 and a week later he brought me upstairs. He smelt like straight alcohol. He kissed me aggressively. "I missed my princess" His aggressiveness was scaring me. He had never acted that way before. "Ima go to De-lores. Goodnight. You being weird. (my adopted mom/ I call her grandma too). 
"No...u can't leave yet. You don't miss me?"
He pinned me down, as I yelled for him to let me go. He placed his hand over my mouth and nose, until I almost couldn't breathe and thrashed in the bed. He bent me over and tried to penetrate me, but I was wayyyyyy to small for that. So it never went in, but it was sooo painful. The edges of my hole, burned from the friction of him desperately tryna penetrate me......
He let me down on the cream color carpet of his room as I cried and hit him.
"U HURTED ME...CARL! YOU HURTED MY BUTT. YOU HURTED ME!" HE HUGGED ME AS I HEARD WHAT SOUNDED LIKE A WHISTLE NEAR THE STAIRS LEADING TO THE SECOND FLOOR. 
He placed me in the upstairs bathroom.
"If anybody asks why you up here, tell them you were using the bathroom. And im sorry. Im sorry. You forgive me. I'll make it up to you. I promise. Say you forgive me...please."
"I...forgived...u...." 
I said wiping snot away.
A week later. My grandma sat me down. She asked if anyone was touching us. She looked evil though. I know she would never hurt me, but I loved Carl like family. She had hell and brimstone in her irises, and she got into one of her righteous rants, where she said she would kill for me, kill for my brother, nobody would hurt us.
I don't know if she meant it, but she scared me into silence. I don't blame her. Its hard even bringing those topics up without emotion. But I didn't want Carl to die. So I shut up. At 6, I shut up. I didn't want him to die. And her words made what he said reality in my head.
I never went to him anymore though after my Grandma's talk and him tryna penetrate me. I never let him get me alone. He would try to bribe me with food, candy, video games, begging, clothes, money...but i never went.
He went to Juvie a few months later for stabbing a boy in the face over street wars.
 Life was normal until 11. In fourth grade, I was taking a NYS official test, I was answering a question about the Native American indigenous to NY state and boom: (There were two paintings in the upstairs hallway. My grandma had a picture of a Native man, with striking features, in a swamp, grabbing a snake. It was next to a picture of a black girl playing double dutch. That question connected back to that picture) 
It all played out in my mind like a movie. I didn't even realize I had suppressed it that much. I fought back tears and (I work well in stress, idk why but I do), I got a 97%.
 After that day I became hypersexual. When I think about it, I always was....touching boys and girls. Kissing girls and boys, playing house and being the wife. Always too fucking touchy and in people's personal space. But I guess at 11, puberty hit me full force and the idea of sex became something constant in me. Before that it was all mimicry of what happened to me. At 11, these thoughts entered me and would not leave. I wanted real sex after that moment. It is hell to be hypersexual at 11. My southern-upbrung Grandma was definitely not ready for that. Then my thoughts were about boys. I was consumed with them. Especially older men. Taking my friend in the closet and telling him I love him, while I pull his penis out and offer him a blow job. 
"...ok...ok...idk..but if its you...ok"
 I started fucking myself with things. The ends of a big screw driver with a soft silicon handle. An ugly yellow toy banana I found at Family Dollars. Fingers. It was like older men knew I was in a heat, I didn't want. I would masturbate like 7 times a day. It was never enough. It was all consuming. An older man who liked me gave me a dildo, he never had sex with me though. We would just talk about how it felt when I penetrate myself. He would stutter and cum to my stories. (I lose myself in good anal sex. I still do, I dissassociate in a good way, the noise of the world falls away and all I am in those moments are a body, feeling. There is no analyzing life, or existential crises. There is not a thousand thoughts in my head. No ptsd or bpd or bipolaor depression or all those mental illness therapists told me I had directly and not so directly) This feeling of shame came when I couldn't stop the thoughts. I was something bad and deviant. My thoughts were deviant, so I locked them up tightly. Even though they were ever present Carl came out of juvie/prison when I was 12. His 6 pack all those years ago had turned into an 8 pack. His slender, toned teen body, had grown into a young man's body. I was drawn to him. He felt indebted to me. 
I remember at 12, when of his hood friends used to flirt with me. Nothing crazy, just a little flirtatious. Always tryna wrestle me. Always tryna get my attention.
I came home one afternoon to him surprising me, him agitated.
"Jay is fucking with you D?" "No he is cool" "Lemme know cuz I will end any nigga for you. You hear me...any of them. You mines. You hear me!" 
My grandma sat on her bed smiling. Like aww look at the older brother being protective.
It wasn't protection though. He still felt like i belonged to him some way even though he never made anymore moves. He also felt guilty.
He was always giving me stuff. Clothes. Food. Money. Anything. It could have been his last.
I would watch him shower. He would leave the door open slightly. I would peek and look at his naked body, until my mind went crazy in heat. One Night, he left his shirt on the floor as he showered. I had a small t-shirt on and these too tight underwear. On the same cream color floor where he tried to penetrate me, i pentrated myself with that, ugly yellow banana, inhaling the intoxicating smell of his shirt. I was so into it, I didn't feel his eyes on me. 
He was watching me smell his shirt and fuck myself.
 He was hard and staring when I came on his rug. "We can't do that nomore. What i did was wrong....but fuck...you looked so sexy....still with the soft skin and big bambi eyes." "Fuck all that...i want you to fuck me..." "What's gotten into you...you used to be so innocent and sweet. We don't have to. I will always be be ya side. You still sexy though God. Even more sexy." "I don't know how to handle what you exposed to me. I want dick in me all the time. 24/7. I dream about it. I day dream about it. I fantasize about it. Please Carl, fuck me...please" "Im too big and people in the house and...." 
I got up knocking all the shit off his dresser. There's a rage in me, a darkness. A need. Impulsivity. Like every emotion is competing for best actress.
I started crying in pure fucking frustration. 
"So you could try to fuck me at 6, you pedo, but 12 is too old? Fuck you nigga. I hate what you did to me. You made me so fucking weird and now!!!!! You don't want to FUCKING continue. I hate you. Fucking die."
He hugged me like when I was little.
"You went me that bad? To finally have me truly take ya virginity. Wait a little longer okay. But look at me...clearly I'm excited. Just wait...ok? Sex starves D might be the seseries. (Him referring to me at 5/6 as sexy 🤢🤮, when I think about that disgusting convo) I pouted. He gave me 300 from his drug business to shut up. 
After that, every time he would pass me, he would feel on me. I'd wear little t shirts where my nipples poked out and pajamas too small, so my little butt could poke out.
He would touch me and kiss me in rushing. He was never home, always in the street. 
At 13, he died from a gunshot wound to the heart. He never did get to fuck me.
(Sometimes, when im depressed, and analytical, I think if all that really did propel me on my way to my life now. I pass as a woman and live an alright life, even with the trauma, but my Mom says when things like that happen to us so young, they become apart of our psyche. Not to say I would have been a sterotypical masculine male....but is this why I like being called princess and good girl, is this one of the reasons why I so desperately clung to womanhood, is this why, especially young, all my sexual fantasies were of me being penetrated by older, well hung, developed men. How much of it is my true nature, how much was groomed into me. The choking, the hypersexuality in my youth, the crazy sex adventures I found myself in. I don't think about it often. Its one of those questions that if I let it sit too long in me, will undo me. I love my transition (mostly) but that thought is scary. To think that, the person I am today can be attributed, at the least, slightly, to my childhood trauma)
The real trauma happened at 23. When i was 23, I dated this guy named Jason for 6 months. I had just started transistioning for a few months. He took me out. I met his close friends. I met his cousins. The sex was good, he was sweet and passionate. I felt like i was falling for him. Lucky. Special
I was a new trans woman, and most guys arent always so kind to not so passable trans women.
He treated me like a woman. How I always wanted to be treated.
Up until the night I told him no.
We had went out on a night on the town. The place is near west 4th street in NYC. It is called the Fat Black Pussy Cat. He bought me these bomb ass nachos and like 13 tequila shots. My stomach was queasy and I couldn't keep my head from spinning.
I get home and boom, sleep.
His body weight and his massive hands on me woke me up. (5'9 150 to his 6'5 250 pure muscled body). He was an athlete and he had went to prison. I never saw it as a red flag because it was a white collar crime.
He wanted sex.
I said no. I'm nauseous. In the morning bae.
It took my brain 10 minutes to catch up to what was going on.
My laughs and his stoic face.
My giggles and "stop playing Jason, in the morning im ride it good daddy." fall on a face that was determined.
His hand on my throat squeezing tighter and tighter.
When I realized what was happening (i'm also a childhood survivor as well). I fought. Two rights to his eyes and nose. He laughed. I ran for my kitchen, and picked up a knife but he slammed me.
Those first few moments were straight anxiety. Me, running full speed over my couch; him catching my leg and my face hitting the floor.
Me, head butting him right in his lip. I sunk my teeth into his shoulder blade. He slammed my body face first into my living room wall.
I remember the sound of glass breaking as he slammed my back against my glass coffee table. Bits of glass, like glass splinters, on the side of my spine.
I remember the anxious feeling turning into a doomed one, when my strength and stamina didn't match up to his. Even just 10 months on estrogen shots and anti testestorone pills had made me weaker. Like 50 percent weaker
His laughter in my ear as he said:
"I like girls with heart, ya are more satisfying to break"
After 20 minutes he got tired. Not physically tired. Tired of this fight in me.
I was on my last wind. Every nerve in my body was in fire from fighting with him so long. I grew up fighting and winning as a feminine boy. But as a trans women, on hrt, a high dosage, its just not the same.
I remember my teeth cutting into my jaw as he slammed my head into the kitchen tiles, the hemoglobin left the taste of iron in my head.
He punched my ribs, knocking the wind out of me. Stomped my right hand. I just laid there, as the reality of my situation set in.
Im not getting away.
"Isn't this why you transistioned...to entice men. Didn't you do this to become mines"
I dissassociated as he choked me until i couldn't breathe. Color flashed in front of my eyes. I focused on my cat in a corner, a white ball, like this had happened to her before . I didn't want to die from fighting for the right over my body. So I mentally left.
I focused on a dustball under my stove
I stared at a dead sparrow on my kitchen window ledge I had never noticed. I imagined I was that bird. Dead. If I'm dead, I can't feel and if I can't feel, this is not happening to me.
His kisses on my shoulder....and his "there's my baby girl", was worse than the rape or beating. That memory lives under my skin. His attempted intimacy daring rape. How....how....
It makes me so mad and digusted. Like I wanna take my nails to my skin to kill that fucking memory.
I wanted him to be evil. You are a fucking monster, fucking show it, you disgusting, deviant, criminally sadistic bastard. If you wanna be evil.
He caressed and kissed my unresponsive body.
Pushing his dick into my dry walls, slightly ripping me.
It was messy because I was not ready nor did I prep. It hurt because he went in dry.
I didn't even scream, as I felt myself tear a little. I just stared....i was death in those moments.
He left me there saying "I love you Daisy". I stayed on the ground for 30 minutes. No thoughts. I just stared. My kitty Carmen licked my face and I cried so horribly, stirred back to reality by her. She left white hairs on my chin as she turned into a ball under my neck.
He left anal fissures in me and a hemorrhoid. It hurt to use the bathroom for 10 days. He had fractured the bone below my right index finger. My left eye was filled with blood. When he slammed my head in the kitchen, blood filled into it. I looked like an extra in the Walking dead.
I never told because I am transgender. They don't care if we live let alone if we are raped.
I swallowed it. Never telling anybody for years, going to school the next day like I was in a car accident and smiling.
I sometimes attack men in my sleep. My exs always tell me how wild I sleep at night and how they can't touch me when im deep sleeping or I become violent.
I have extreme pstd at times. Fits of paranoia and rage.
I don't trust men. Nor do I think I can ever conventionally date again. I try but I leave or dip...or go m.i.a. i just don't feel connected to me like I once did. Its been so many secual wrongs done to me.
But him making me almost love him and then brutally raping me, was the one sexual trauma to truly do me in.
Even if i like a guy, there's a subliminal voice in my head telling me:
"All men are predators, some just are more good at hiding it"
I never hated my transition until that moment. That sheer terror of my body failing me. The sheer terror of my physical strength changed. The utter hopelessness.
"Damn I made myself a fucking target. I had to be a fucking tranny. I'm weak now and can't even protect myself."
And i don't think I can ever trust any man 100 percent. Maybe...at best...99 percent.
But it has made me lonely and depressive. How do I love again? How do I learn to trust?
I don't want to die without finding true love but at this progression...im be an old trans woman with mad cats. Bitter and jaded, seeing the world as evil.
I used to be so carefree. Now I trust nothing.
How do I get a piece of the old me back?
How do I move on?
The memories being like movies. I can see all the details.
 Im ready to heal. 
submitted by tsinnyc30 to stories [link] [comments]


2020.09.28 02:21 tsinnyc30 *Tw* *nsw* (trans woman, 30) I don't know how to be close to men anymore when I think about it all. (Vivid, candid, and graphic)

tw nsw rape/child sexual abuse. I write in a way thats very vivid, thats how the images in my mind work. Maybe its also because I am a writer, and it is hella drilled into us about details. All about the details. I know this can upset some people. So there is the warning.
I was a child of sexual abuse. Which made my rape at 23 worse. Much worse.
When I was 5, I was in foster care. I was a super feminine acting boy. (I am a trans woman now). My foster brothers and male figures never used to play with me. Saying things like:
"Don't you want to play with the girls, sissies don't like sports"
"Take ya gay, useless ass on somewhere" They would always leave me 
In came Carl. He always included me. He was 16/17 and he was amazing at first. He let me play super Nintendo with him. He took me to the park. He snuck me candy like Reese cups, when my Grandma told me no. I loved him. Growing up with my twin in foster care, I felt abandoned. Because I was a feminine boy, i felt doubly abandoned.
 He started asking me if I wanted to cuddle with him at night. My grandma was tired and he was always so nice to me, I don't even think she had a second thought about it. The first few sleep overs with Carl was beautiful. He would just hold me. He would tell me scary stories, then I would run to the bathroom in the dark, running back to his bad shaking. He would get me cupcakes. He would hold me, and tell me how he loved me. Until one night, it changed. He smelled funny to me, the-now-gorgeous-familar smell of Marijuana. He told me he wanted to show me a secret game. The games of men. Not knowing any better, I said show me. I loved and trusted him at 5. He was the big brother I always wanted...replacing the abandoned feeling I felt at my parents. He kissed me. He had vitiligo, and a pink spot that was so unique on the corner of his lips on his right side. I remeber the feeling of his third degree burned hands on my body. His mother tortured him and locked him in the closet for weeks on end in the Bronx. He had cigarette burns all over his body. He was still attractive. Beautiful hazel eyes. Brown skin like mines. Full pink lips. He was a boxer, he turned the hands his mother tried to take from him into weapons that made the street nickname him "Mean Machine", with how savagely he would fight guys on the street. He was also a child of sex abuse, once the system found him at 7, and placed him in group homes, which later, in my teenage years when I found out, made me totally forgave him. He did love me, even though he hurt me, but ultimately as a late teenager, he was just reliving a cycle. It does not excuse him, but compared to my rape at 23, I can forgive Carl. 
He pulled his pants down and put my tiny hands on his bigger genitalia. That was all we did the first time. He called me pretty.
"You really look like a little girl with ya long curly hair and bambi eyes". 
He orgasmed and because it didn't feel bad, I didn't see it as bad. It was just a game.
He then grabbed me softly and forced me to look at him. 
"You can't tell. If you tell, I will die. You don't want me to die right? If you tell, I will be gone and you will have nobody to play with, I will be killed horribly. This is our secret game. Only us. Okay?"
I was heartbroken. I let out a high pitch shrill cry. As I clang to him and repeated:
"Puleazhh don't die...please don't die. Please don't die...i lub you."
He held me again and we fell asleep.
The game was simple at first, just touching, but quickly it progressed.
 The 4th time I saw him, he put whip cream on himself. "I have a treat for you. If you play our secret game well, you will get a reward. You have to lick it off" 
So I did. I remember the smell of him. His just turned into a man pheromones plugging my noise. The sweat of his skin, and the sweetness of the whip cream. I gagged horribly. But he told me i was doing a Good job even though it was barely fitting. I remember his fluid on my face.
He wiped us both off and got a big ass bag of candy out his closet. Again...the behavior was painted as something good by him.
 (Im legit unnerved even though I can't help writing so candidly. To do that to a child, to lie and use manipulation is utterly insidious. To use my emotions, that he should have protected.....it id fucking gross. Gross. A 5 year old. What was sexy about me, I still occasionally peed the bed, I was dirty from always climbing and exploring things, etc...but then its not about that. But its just....ugh. I know he picked me because I was feminine and because I was a loner by the nature of what I am, a transgender individual.) This went on for months. His "you are so beautiful like a little princess", his cuddles, his playfulness. I loved it. Even the sex acts we did, i didn't mind because it was not violent nor did it hurt at that point. It was definitely uncomfortable/ weird and there was no sexual thrill for me. The only thrill was for me to please the brother I loved. If it pleased him, I was happy with that. I had turned 6 and a week later he brought me upstairs. He smelt like straight alcohol. He kissed me aggressively. "I missed my princess" His aggressiveness was scaring me. He had never acted that way before. "Ima go to De-lores. Goodnight. You being weird. (my adopted mom/ I call her grandma too). 
"No...u can't leave yet. You don't miss me?"
He pinned me down, as I yelled for him to let me go. He placed his hand over my mouth and nose, until I almost couldn't breathe and thrashed in the bed. He bent me over and tried to penetrate me, but I was wayyyyyy to small for that. So it never went in, but it was sooo painful. The edges of my hole, burned from the friction of him desperately tryna penetrate me......
He let me down on the cream color carpet of his room as I cried and hit him.
"U HURTED ME...CARL! YOU HURTED MY BUTT. YOU HURTED ME!" HE HUGGED ME AS I HEARD WHAT SOUNDED LIKE A WHISTLE NEAR THE STAIRS LEADING TO THE SECOND FLOOR. 
He placed me in the upstairs bathroom.
"If anybody asks why you up here, tell them you were using the bathroom. And im sorry. Im sorry. You forgive me. I'll make it up to you. I promise. Say you forgive me...please."
"I...forgived...u...." 
I said wiping snot away.
A week later. My grandma sat me down. She asked if anyone was touching us. She looked evil though. I know she would never hurt me, but I loved Carl like family. She had hell and brimstone in her irises, and she got into one of her righteous rants, where she said she would kill for me, kill for my brother, nobody would hurt us.
I don't know if she meant it, but she scared me into silence. I don't blame her. Its hard even bringing those topics up without emotion. But I didn't want Carl to die. So I shut up. At 6, I shut up. I didn't want him to die. And her words made what he said reality in my head.
I never went to him anymore though after my Grandma's talk and him tryna penetrate me. I never let him get me alone. He would try to bribe me with food, candy, video games, begging, clothes, money...but i never went.
He went to Juvie a few months later for stabbing a boy in the face over street wars.
 Life was normal until 11. In fourth grade, I was taking a NYS official test, I was answering a question about the Native American indigenous to NY state and boom: (There were two paintings in the upstairs hallway. My grandma had a picture of a Native man, with striking features, in a swamp, grabbing a snake. It was next to a picture of a black girl playing double dutch. That question connected back to that picture) 
It all played out in my mind like a movie. I didn't even realize I had suppressed it that much. I fought back tears and (I work well in stress, idk why but I do), I got a 97%.
 After that day I became hypersexual. When I think about it, I always was....touching boys and girls. Kissing girls and boys, playing house and being the wife. Always too fucking touchy and in people's personal space. But I guess at 11, puberty hit me full force and the idea of sex became something constant in me. Before that it was all mimicry of what happened to me. At 11, these thoughts entered me and would not leave. I wanted real sex after that moment. It is hell to be hypersexual at 11. My southern-upbrung Grandma was definitely not ready for that. Then my thoughts were about boys. I was consumed with them. Especially older men. Taking my friend in the closet and telling him I love him, while I pull his penis out and offer him a blow job. 
"...ok...ok...idk..but if its you...ok"
 I started fucking myself with things. The ends of a big screw driver with a soft silicon handle. An ugly yellow toy banana I found at Family Dollars. Fingers. It was like older men knew I was in a heat, I didn't want. I would masturbate like 7 times a day. It was never enough. It was all consuming. An older man who liked me gave me a dildo, he never had sex with me though. We would just talk about how it felt when I penetrate myself. He would stutter and cum to my stories. (I lose myself in good anal sex. I still do, I dissassociate in a good way, the noise of the world falls away and all I am in those moments are a body, feeling. There is no analyzing life, or existential crises. There is not a thousand thoughts in my head. No ptsd or bpd or bipolaor depression or all those mental illness therapists told me I had directly and not so directly) This feeling of shame came when I couldn't stop the thoughts. I was something bad and deviant. My thoughts were deviant, so I locked them up tightly. Even though they were ever present Carl came out of juvie/prison when I was 12. His 6 pack all those years ago had turned into an 8 pack. His slender, toned teen body, had grown into a young man's body. I was drawn to him. He felt indebted to me. 
I remember at 12, when of his hood friends used to flirt with me. Nothing crazy, just a little flirtatious. Always tryna wrestle me. Always tryna get my attention.
I came home one afternoon to him surprising me, him agitated.
"Jay is fucking with you D?" "No he is cool" "Lemme know cuz I will end any nigga for you. You hear me...any of them. You mines. You hear me!" 
My grandma sat on her bed smiling. Like aww look at the older brother being protective.
It wasn't protection though. He still felt like i belonged to him some way even though he never made anymore moves. He also felt guilty.
He was always giving me stuff. Clothes. Food. Money. Anything. It could have been his last.
I would watch him shower. He would leave the door open slightly. I would peek and look at his naked body, until my mind went crazy in heat. One Night, he left his shirt on the floor as he showered. I had a small t-shirt on and these too tight underwear. On the same cream color floor where he tried to penetrate me, i pentrated myself with that, ugly yellow banana, inhaling the intoxicating smell of his shirt. I was so into it, I didn't feel his eyes on me. 
He was watching me smell his shirt and fuck myself.
 He was hard and staring when I came on his rug. "We can't do that nomore. What i did was wrong....but fuck...you looked so sexy....still with the soft skin and big bambi eyes." "Fuck all that...i want you to fuck me..." "What's gotten into you...you used to be so innocent and sweet. We don't have to. I will always be be ya side. You still sexy though God. Even more sexy." "I don't know how to handle what you exposed to me. I want dick in me all the time. 24/7. I dream about it. I day dream about it. I fantasize about it. Please Carl, fuck me...please" "Im too big and people in the house and...." 
I got up knocking all the shit off his dresser. There's a rage in me, a darkness. A need. Impulsivity. Like every emotion is competing for best actress.
I started crying in pure fucking frustration. 
"So you could try to fuck me at 6, you pedo, but 12 is too old? Fuck you nigga. I hate what you did to me. You made me so fucking weird and now!!!!! You don't want to FUCKING continue. I hate you. Fucking die."
He hugged me like when I was little.
"You went me that bad? To finally have me truly take ya virginity. Wait a little longer okay. But look at me...clearly I'm excited. Just wait...ok? Sex starves D might be the seseries. (Him referring to me at 5/6 as sexy 🤢🤮, when I think about that disgusting convo) I pouted. He gave me 300 from his drug business to shut up. 
After that, every time he would pass me, he would feel on me. I'd wear little t shirts where my nipples poked out and pajamas too small, so my little butt could poke out.
He would touch me and kiss me in rushing. He was never home, always in the street. 
At 13, he died from a gunshot wound to the heart. He never did get to fuck me.
(Sometimes, when im depressed, and analytical, I think if all that really did propel me on my way to my life now. I pass as a woman and live an alright life, even with the trauma, but my Mom says when things like that happen to us so young, they become apart of our psyche. Not to say I would have been a sterotypical masculine male....but is this why I like being called princess and good girl, is this one of the reasons why I so desperately clung to womanhood, is this why, especially young, all my sexual fantasies were of me being penetrated by older, well hung, developed men. How much of it is my true nature, how much was groomed into me. The choking, the hypersexuality in my youth, the crazy sex adventures I found myself in. I don't think about it often. Its one of those questions that if I let it sit too long in me, will undo me. I love my transition (mostly) but that thought is scary. To think that, the person I am today can be attributed, at the least, slightly, to my childhood trauma)
The real trauma happened at 23. When i was 23, I dated this guy named Jason for 6 months. I had just started transistioning for a few months. He took me out. I met his close friends. I met his cousins. The sex was good, he was sweet and passionate. I felt like i was falling for him. Lucky. Special
I was a new trans woman, and most guys arent always so kind to not so passable trans women.
He treated me like a woman. How I always wanted to be treated.
Up until the night I told him no.
We had went out on a night on the town. The place is near west 4th street in NYC. It is called the Fat Black Pussy Cat. He bought me these bomb ass nachos and like 13 tequila shots. My stomach was queasy and I couldn't keep my head from spinning.
I get home and boom, sleep.
His body weight and his massive hands on me woke me up. (5'9 150 to his 6'5 250 pure muscled body). He was an athlete and he had went to prison. I never saw it as a red flag because it was a white collar crime.
He wanted sex.
I said no. I'm nauseous. In the morning bae.
It took my brain 10 minutes to catch up to what was going on.
My laughs and his stoic face.
My giggles and "stop playing Jason, in the morning im ride it good daddy." fall on a face that was determined.
His hand on my throat squeezing tighter and tighter.
When I realized what was happening (i'm also a childhood survivor as well). I fought. Two rights to his eyes and nose. He laughed. I ran for my kitchen, and picked up a knife but he slammed me.
Those first few moments were straight anxiety. Me, running full speed over my couch; him catching my leg and my face hitting the floor.
Me, head butting him right in his lip. I sunk my teeth into his shoulder blade. He slammed my body face first into my living room wall.
I remember the sound of glass breaking as he slammed my back against my glass coffee table. Bits of glass, like glass splinters, on the side of my spine.
I remember the anxious feeling turning into a doomed one, when my strength and stamina didn't match up to his. Even just 10 months on estrogen shots and anti testestorone pills had made me weaker. Like 50 percent weaker
His laughter in my ear as he said:
"I like girls with heart, ya are more satisfying to break"
After 20 minutes he got tired. Not physically tired. Tired of this fight in me.
I was on my last wind. Every nerve in my body was in fire from fighting with him so long. I grew up fighting and winning as a feminine boy. But as a trans women, on hrt, a high dosage, its just not the same.
I remember my teeth cutting into my jaw as he slammed my head into the kitchen tiles, the hemoglobin left the taste of iron in my head.
He punched my ribs, knocking the wind out of me. Stomped my right hand. I just laid there, as the reality of my situation set in.
Im not getting away.
"Isn't this why you transistioned...to entice men. Didn't you do this to become mines"
I dissassociated as he choked me until i couldn't breathe. Color flashed in front of my eyes. I focused on my cat in a corner, a white ball, like this had happened to her before . I didn't want to die from fighting for the right over my body. So I mentally left.
I focused on a dustball under my stove
I stared at a dead sparrow on my kitchen window ledge I had never noticed. I imagined I was that bird. Dead. If I'm dead, I can't feel and if I can't feel, this is not happening to me.
His kisses on my shoulder....and his "there's my baby girl", was worse than the rape or beating. That memory lives under my skin. His attempted intimacy daring rape. How....how....
It makes me so mad and digusted. Like I wanna take my nails to my skin to kill that fucking memory.
I wanted him to be evil. You are a fucking monster, fucking show it, you disgusting, deviant, criminally sadistic bastard. If you wanna be evil.
He caressed and kissed my unresponsive body.
Pushing his dick into my dry walls, slightly ripping me.
It was messy because I was not ready nor did I prep. It hurt because he went in dry.
I didn't even scream, as I felt myself tear a little. I just stared....i was death in those moments.
He left me there saying "I love you Daisy". I stayed on the ground for 30 minutes. No thoughts. I just stared. My kitty Carmen licked my face and I cried so horribly, stirred back to reality by her. She left white hairs on my chin as she turned into a ball under my neck.
He left anal fissures in me and a hemorrhoid. It hurt to use the bathroom for 10 days. He had fractured the bone below my right index finger. My left eye was filled with blood. When he slammed my head in the kitchen, blood filled into it. I looked like an extra in the Walking dead.
I never told because I am transgender. They don't care if we live let alone if we are raped.
I swallowed it. Never telling anybody for years, going to school the next day like I was in a car accident and smiling.
I sometimes attack men in my sleep. My exs always tell me how wild I sleep at night and how they can't touch me when im deep sleeping or I become violent.
I have extreme pstd at times. Fits of paranoia and rage.
I don't trust men. Nor do I think I can ever conventionally date again. I try but I leave or dip...or go m.i.a. i just don't feel connected to me like I once did. Its been so many secual wrongs done to me.
But him making me almost love him and then brutally raping me, was the one sexual trauma to truly do me in.
Even if i like a guy, there's a subliminal voice in my head telling me:
"All men are predators, some just are more good at hiding it"
I never hated my transition until that moment. That sheer terror of my body failing me. The sheer terror of my physical strength changed. The utter hopelessness.
"Damn I made myself a fucking target. I had to be a fucking tranny. I'm weak now and can't even protect myself."
And i don't think I can ever trust any man 100 percent. Maybe...at best...99 percent.
But it has made me lonely and depressive. How do I love again? How do I learn to trust?
I don't want to die without finding true love but at this progression...im be an old trans woman with mad cats. Bitter and jaded, seeing the world as evil.
I used to be so carefree. Now I trust nothing.
How do I get a piece of the old me back?
How do I move on?
The memories being like movies. I can see all the details.
 Im ready to heal. 
submitted by tsinnyc30 to adultsurvivors [link] [comments]


2020.09.26 21:46 CrystalBloodWolf The Last of Us Part II - A sample out of my rewrite for feedback!



Chapter 24 - Aquarium Tour
Date: 17th of May 2038
Location: Aquarium, Pier 59, Seattle


Ellie had sat down at one of the couches that had been laid out in the reception area of the aquarium. She's had some time to take in her environment now and she quite enjoeyed the serene atmosphere this place gave off.

With the ocean so close, the paintings on the walls gave her a sense of warmth and safety, like a long buried memory rising up to greet her and give her a hug, after what seemed like an eternity.

She had taken her guitar with her, pulling softly at the strings to fill the void that had settled over this place.

It was a calming melody, allowing her to lose herself for just a moment in this moment of peace and clarity.

After a little while, she heard small taps against the floor, eratic breathing and a tail swinging in the air, coming closer to her.

She opened the eyes she had closed to focus on the music, and looked up on the object that had pulled her out of her trance. And there it stood, innocently enough, the german shepard that belonged to none other than Owen's pregnant girlfriend, just starring back at her.

Ellie: Hi there, little fellow.

She had cought that her name was Allice. Ellie had to admit that it was quite a beautiful dog, looking fascinated with the stranger that had entered her home. The dog had sat down, slightly tilting her head to take in her apearance.

Ellie picked up the guitar from her lap and put it to the side, leaning forward, slowly outstretching her hand towards the shepard's head. She made sure not to startle her and slowly began to pet her.

Ellie: Oh, you like that, don'tcha? Yeah...you do...

It was clear Allice loved every bit of attention Ellie was giving her at that moment. She leaned into it, tongue sticking out of her mouth and a satisfied expression on her face.

Ellie: You're such a good girl, I bet you are.

Ellie had now abandoned her position on the couch and crouched down infront of the shepard to treat it in a better manner.

Now with both hands roaming over the dog's head and upper body, giving everything a good scratch and petting. The dog seemed to love it, and Ellie couldn't shake off that grin on her face that had started to build throughout this process.

She hadn't even noticed that Joel had come back inside and already stood a couple metres away from her.

Joel: Looks like you already made a new friend.

She looked over her shoulder at him, a bit surprised of his sudden apearance, but that smile never left her face.

Ellie: She's such a beautiful dog, isn't she?

Joel: Yeah, she's cute. And trained to kill.

Ellie: Come on, Joel! She's a sweetheart. Arren't you my little girl? Yes, you are!

Joel crossed his arms and stepped closer towards them, sizing the dog up and down a little bit.

Joel: Hmm...guess she's alright.

Ellie: You heard that, Allice? Sounds like ol' papa Joel is a little jealous over there.

Joel just shook his head, a small chuckle escaping him.

Joel: If you wanna put it like that. Just be careful, you never know what they've done with their attack dogs.

Ellie: I'll be fine, Joel. You see anything out there we have to worry about?

Joel: No. Area looks clear, as far as I could tell. Turns out the boy isn't as full of it as I had assumed.

Ellie: He's a good guy. You shouldn't be too hard on him.

Joel: Funny coming from someone who kept bossin' him around on our way here.

Ellie: Well, that's how I made sure he'd be trustworthy. Believe it or not, I'm actually getting better at judging people.

Joel didn't miss the look that had passed over her face. Her expression was somber, he could tell bad memories were giving her trouble. He looked off to the side and let out a breath, now giving the space he was in some attetntion.

Joel: I'd guess it'll be awhile before those three'll get back. What d'ya say, kiddo? Wanna give this place a little explorin'?

She snapped back into reality and put her head down in though.

Ellie: Why not? I mean it's not everyday that we have an aquarium all to ourselves.

Joel: That we ain't. Let's get goin't then.

A small smile had come back on her face and she turned back to face Allice, who had still been looking back and forth between Joel and her.

Ellie: How about you be our guide, girl. Huh, you wanna show Joel and me your home?

She stood up from her kneeling position and gave Allice a couple more strokes before she had stood up. With a couple of barks, the shepard had stood up as well and lead them towards a door, out of the reception.

Ellie: You see that? I think she really understands me.

Joel: Or she's just hungry, looking for her food bowl.

Ellie: Stop being such a downer. She's a smart girl, I can tell.

They started following her out of the room into a connector corridor leading to the first set of exhibition windows, that were sadly empty.

Joel: Oh really? And how exactly you'd reckon that?

Ellie: Just a feeling. And she hasn't attacked any of us yet, so that has to count for something.

Joel: Seems so. Then let's see where she leads us.

Allice had continued to walk forward and only came to a stop infront of a sign above another set of doors. They all looked up at it.

Ellie: "The Ocean Experience", Well that's...vague.

Joel: These things are always like that. Tryin' to catch your interest, so that you'd invest your time in it.

Ellie: Hard to believe that people back then had problems to decide what to do. Back in Boston, we had to constantly come up with things to do, when we weren't busy with school or getting ourselves in trouble, of course.

Joel: How come you've never told me anything about the life you had before we met?

Ellie: Dunno, never found the right moment, I guess. It's not like you're one that's big on sharing what's in the past.

Joel: Fair point. All right, how 'bout this? We take turns. I'll tell you somethin' from my past, and then you'll tell me somethin' about yours?

After a moment of consideration, she nodded her head in agreement.

Ellie: Sounds good. You wanna start, or should I?

Joel: Just ask me somethin' you wanna know. We'll go on from there.

He shoved open both of the doors and allowed them entry, Allice quickly heading infront of him, down the small set of stairs infront of them. The room was filled with the same kind of windows as the corridors before had.
All the windows had a small picture and the name of the sea creature they showcased, on a little billboard infront of each respective one, but the tanks were still left empty.

Ellie: Such a shame. There arren't even any traces left of them.

Joel: The bacteria in the water probably took care of that.

Ellie: Looks like your genius is showing again, old man.

Joel: I have my moments.

They went down the steps and inspected the billboards. All kinds of different fish, crabs and other sea organisms were depicted, in different shapes, sizes and colours.

They took their time to inspect it, even if it wasn't much.

Ellie: So let's see...Ah, I've got one! Back in Boston, you and Tess. Was there ever anything going on between you two, or were you just friends.

Joel: You really ain't pullin' any punches on this one, huh? Um...well, we were partners. We'd been doin' work for quite a while together, so I'd be lyin' if I said that there was nothin' that'd crossed my mind.

Ellie: Uh huh. I mean, I could tell that there was something between you two. Just couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was.

Joel: Trust me, kiddo. Neither could we.
Allice had stopped infront of one of the windows, the bilboard reading "Sea horses"

Ellie: Watcha looking at, girl? No cute little sea horses here, I'm afraid.

Joel: We already got land horses waitin' for us outside, so she can look at those if she wants.

Ellie: You heard that, Allice? I think he's warming up to you.

She had bend forward to give her a couple more caress her behind her ears. Joel just let a "tss" and entered the next room, with a similar display that had been setup, but the windows inside there were fewer, but larger. Ellie and Allice had followed him inside there shortly after.

Ellie: I think it's your turn now.

Joel: Sure...um...you always mentioned growing up in that military boarding school. Was it really that bad?

She needed a moment to collect her thoughts on this topic before she was able to answer.

Ellie: Looking back at it, sure it wasn't the best place to be, but also not the worst. I mean, I had trouble getting along with the teachers there and the other kids, plus getting up at the crack of dawn for military drills was a pain in the ass, but other than that, there wasn't much to complain about. I had food to eat and a bed to sleep in. And Riley was there.

Joel: The friend of yours that was there when you got bitt?

Ellie: Yeah, that's her. She was probably the only thing that kept me sane.

Joel: Oh...you and her, uhm...were you...?

Ellie: Together? Like in a relationship? Nah, never had the chance. At least I got to show her how I felt before she died.

Joel: I'm sorry, Ellie.

Ellie: Don't be. Getting to spend that day with her in that mall...that was one of the happiest moments in my life. I have to be thankful for that. Even if remembering it hurts.

They start to inspect the different windows again, until Joel came across one he recognized.

Joel: Huh, dolphins. Sarah loved those.

Ellie: Really? Why?

Joel: They looked cute and pulled off tricks during shows. Why'd you sound so shocked?

Ellie: Because they are brutal!

Joel: C'mon Ellie...

Ellie: I'm serious, Joel. They might look cute, but on the inside, they're truly diabolic creaturse.

Joel: How the hell'd you figure that?

Ellie: Because I read up on it. In Jackson during our time...apart, I spend a lot of my time in the library, reading all sorts of books. Just trying to keep me busy, you know. And I came across this magazine about sea-life and there were some not-so-nice facts about these fuckers.

Joel: Oh really? Like what?

Ellie: Like the fact, that the males gangrape the females once breeding season comes around.

Joel: What? You sure, it was a science magazine you were readin', and not some fantasy stuff.

Ellie: Do I look like an idiot to you?

Joel: You want my honest answer?

Ellie: Oh, just shut it, old man.

Joel: (chuckles) All right, all right. So go on. How exactly do dolphins "gangrape" their females?

Ellie: Well, according to the mag, groups of males would team up together into so called "Super-Alliances", which tended to be as large as 14 males. Together they would then set out to aggressively "herd" fertile females.

Joel: Aggressive as in...?

Ellie: Um you know, the usual. Chasing'em down, hitting them with their tail, biting, or even slamming into them.

Joel: Sweet Jesus. Never would've thought them capable of that.


Ellie: Looks can fool, Joel. Especially when they're hidden in the dephs of the ocean.

They stepped away from the billboard and kept inspecting the other exhibitions.

Ellie: Anyway, I think it's my turn again. Since I was a little harsh the first time around, I'm gonna go a little easy on you. What was your job before the outbreak hit?

Joel: I was just a simple carpenter, working from contract to contract.

Ellie: And what would you do?

Joel: Y'know, I had to take measurements and calculate the size and amount of the material we'd need, according to the blueprints I was given.

Ellie: That sounds...like a lot of math.

Joel: I'd also have to cut, shape and smooth out the material, we'd be workin' with. It was a fine job, not the easiest, but a fine one none the lsee.

Ellie: Were you happy with it?

Joel: It wasn't my dream job by any means, but it was enough to get by.

Ellie: You were living together with Sarah back then, right?

Joel: That's right.

Ellie: Okay.

Allice barked and turned towards them, gesturing she wanted to move through the still closed door infront of them.

Joel: Looks like our guide wants to continue our tour.

Ellie: Then let's not keep her waiting.

Ellie went over to the door Allice was motioning towards, and opened it for her, letting the dog pass through. She gestured for Joel to go through as well.

Joel: How very thoughtful of you. Thanks.

Ellie: What was it you said? Age before beauty?

Joel: Would you drop it already? My bones are enough of a reminder. They ain't in need of your help.

Ellie: All right, fine. No more remarks concerning your age.

Joel: Good. Thank you.

Ellie: At least for today.

Joel: (Sigh).

This door had lead them to a new area, being anounced by another sign that had been hung up along the ceiling, with the title being written in shining colours to catch the eye.

Joel: "The Stunning Hunters of the Sea". Wonder what that entails.

Ellie: I hope they actually have some sharks in here. That would be fucking awesome compared to the boring fish-pictures we've seen 'till now.

The corridor was formed in a spiral, slowly leading them up to the second floor, but the floor remained as a smooth surface, not turning into a set of stairs like most would expect. The exhibitions were inbedded into a giant pillar structure on their left, that the walkway was build around.

Like before, they sadly remained empty.

Joel: Is there any chance you read up on some fun facts about sharks, too?

Ellie: Actually, I have. You wanna hear some?

Joel: Hit me with it.

Ellie: Okay, let me think...Did you know there are over 500 different species of sharks?

Joel: That many? Whoa.

Ellie: Yeah, they can also vary dramatically in size and also live in most ocean habitats.

Joel: What's the biggest and smallest shark?

Ellie: If I remember correctly, the smallest shark is the dwarf lantern shark, which is about as big as a human hand.

Joel: Wow. That's...really samll.

Ellie: Yep. And the biggest one was...uhm..oh yeah!. The whale shark! It could grow up to almost 40 feet.

Joel: Jesus! I wouldn't wanna come across that fella.

Ellie: They've also been around for quite a long time. Scientists estimated that they have existed for over 400 million years, even predating the dinosaurs!

Joel: Oh boy. That's definetely somethin' I didn't know.

Ellie: Looks like you're finally not the oldest thing around anymore.

Joel: Didn't we just agree to stop commenting on that?

Ellie: Sorry, couldn't hold back on that opportunity.

When they reached the top, they found themselves on a balcony overlooking the reception area they had been in before. Allice had already run off to the end of the walkway, scratching against a set of double doors leading into another small area of the Aquarium.

On their way over, Joel decided to speak up again, as their eyes roamed over the hung up skeletons of whales and other giant remnants of sea life.

Joel: I think the ball's in my court again to throw you a question.

Ellie: All right. Shoot.

Joel: When I spoke to Marlene in the hospital, I got the notion that she and your mother were close friends. Has she told you anythin' about her, or your parents in general?

Ellie's steps gradually slowed down before coming to a complete halt. She rubbed over one of her arms, turning her head away from Joel, who had stopped to advance towards the doors as well ,at that point, and turned his whole body over to face Ellie.

Ellie: Um...not really, no. To be frank...she hasn't told me anything about them.

Her voice was low and her tone soft. Joel took careful steps towards her and put his hand on her shoulder. She turned her head towards him, a somber expression on her face. Joel gave her a weak smile, giving her shoulder a light squeeze.

Joel: If I go too far, just say the word and we can stop discussin' it. I don't mean to reopen old wounds.

She cleared her throat and recovered from the sudden wave of sadness that had come over her, slowly nodding her head, after reaverting her gaze to the side. She reafirmed eye contact a moment after.

Ellie: It's okay. Just been a while since I even thought about her. She's never been a real part of my life. But I can still feel her missing from it. Isn't that crazy?

Joel: It's more normal than I'd like it to be. When Sarah kept askin' questions about her mother, while she was young...I struggled to find the right answers. Marlene probably didn't speak about her because it must've been just as painful for her.

Ellie: Yeah. Maybe.

A set of barks pulled them out of their moment, their heads snapping to the door still waiting agaist the same double doors she's been scatching against for some time now.

Joel: Looks like someone's gettin impatient.

He gave her shoulder one last squeeze, before retracting his hand and motioning with his head towards Allice. He continued his walk over, Ellie falling in line behind him a split second later.

Joel: We better not keep her waitin' for much longer.

The two of them came up beside her and looked at the entrance sign to the next area. It read "Stingray Bay Café". Joel opened the doors for them, Allice once again rushing through.

Inside, they found a small counter area to their right, where the drinks probably had been served and sold. The room was still filled with a couple tables and a set of chairs, but they'd all been pushed off to the side and neatly stacked up.

They figured it had probably been Owen, who had cleaned up this place. The light was coming in from the giant windows at the end of the room infront of them. The siting areas had been split into two parts, the bigger one being right infront of them, with a lot of now free space to walk around in, and a smaller one, that was reachable through a small set of stairs to their left.

It was on an elevated platfort, enough for about two tables or so. Allice had gone off towards the right side of the room, past the counter, where a set of T-shirts, with all kinds of different ocean motives on them, and other souvenirs had been hung up on.

Joel and Ellie inspected the room on their own leasure, him stepping further inside of it first, his eyes scanning his surroundings. Ellie followed suit and turned her whole body, taking everything in it had to offer. She found that some plushies of various sea creatures had been hung up on the ceiling, dangling around on the thick ropes that had been bound around them, keeping them in a tight hold.

Joel: (Whistle) Not bad. This place surely isn't too shabby.

Ellie: You can say that again.

Joel took the steps to his left and walked onto the elevated platform, walking up towards one of the giant windows. The view was breathtaking, giving them an outlook of the ocean, together with the other piers in the distance, the great Seattle Wheel being one of the elements that made it fantastic.

Joel leant against the wall beside of it and remained in that position, letting the vista leave it's mark on him. Ellie joined his side a moment after, letting her eyes linger on the smoothly moving waves, crashing into the shore closely infront of them.

Ellie: And? Is this everything you hoped for?

Their gazes met, both now wearing warm smiles as they shared this moment of tranquility together.

Joel: Well, I think the jury's still out on that. But you certainly can't deny that view though.

Ellie: Hm, yeah.

They remained like this for the next minute or so, simply bathing in the silence as the world kept breathing around them. It was only until they heard a high pitched squeezing sound from behind them, that they were able to pull their eyes off of the sprawling vista.

They turned around to see that Allice had returned to them, but she had a chew toy in her mouth, that squeeked when pressure was applied onto it. It was in the form of a purple squid.

She put it down infront of them and begged with her eyes for someone of them to throw it. Ellie couldn't rsist that invitation and quickly stepped up to pick it off the ground.

Ellie: You wanna play fetch, girl? All right. Here we...go!

On her last word, she threw the toy out, onto the other side of the room. Allice quickly chased after it, running towards it with high speed, jumping over the small railing, onto the lower floor before them.

Ellie: Oh man! Look at her go!

Joel: Damn. She really seems to like that toy.

When she reached it, Allice picked the squid up into her mouth and hurriedly brough it back over to Ellie, putting it right back infront of her. The woman in question proceeded to pick it up again and threw it over to the other side of the room this time. Allice practically flew off towards it once again.

Ellie: You're so fast. At it girl!

She once again retrieved the toy and made her way back, but this time, she put the squid infront of Joel. He turned towards hie head over to Ellie giving her an amused look, before bending down to pick it up.

Joel: Woho. My turn now, it seems.

Ellie: Give it a good throw. She seems to love it, when you throw them far.

Joel: Here goes nothin'. Fetch!

He swung his arm wide and threw the toy across the room, Allice running after it again. This whole process was repeated a number of times more, with both Ellie and Joel having to keep throwing the toy around the café over and over again. But like all things, they started to grow tired of it after a while, even though the german shepard looked like she could still go on for days, just bringing the toy back to her momentary handlers.

Joel: I don't know 'bout you, but I've had my fair share of this. How 'bout we finish up our tour. Figure there's not much left to this place anyway.

Ellie: Yeah, I was starting to get bored of this too.

She left the purple toy down at the ground and proceeded to walk towards the exit on the other side of the room, past the mentioned souvenirs, where Joel had already positioned himsels moments before.

Ellie: Come on, girl. We can play some more later, all right?

After a second, Allice came strutting over to them, leaving the toy on the ground behind her. They opened the next set of double doors, Joel taking the lead as they stepped over onto the next balcony, the other two stepping in line behind him.

The balcony lead them to a set of stairs back down into a a round side room. It looked like a playing area for kids, with paintings of different animals littered across the walls, playground structures like a small tower and slide half hazardly still set up on both sides of the room.

What appeared to be a little out of place though, were paper targets that had been set up all across the room, sitting on a couple of the structures, others hanging onto thin rope from the ceiling.

It only made sense to them, when they noticed two light pink toy bows, sitting off on the side of the room, leaning against a wall. Above them was a small whiteboard, with the names "Mel" and "Owen" spelled on them, the numbers "9" and "11" standing beside them respectively.

Joel: Looks like he set up this course. Probably as a little game for them.

Ellie: Seems so.

He turend over to her, a playful grin stretched across his face.

Joel: What d'ya say, kiddo? You up for a little challenge?

Ellie: I don't know. I mean, this is their little love cave. We probably shouldn't intrude more than we already have.

He went ahead to put both bows up, giving them a closer look. They looked to be in good condition, and he turned back to Ellie, same smirk still plastered on his lips.

Joel: That is very considerate of you. Even though I can tell it's just an excuse you're usin' to avoid havin' to face me.

Ellie: What? Pff, I'd shoot you to the moon and back if I wanted too. I'm just trying to be a respectful guest.

Joel: Oh don't worry, I don't blame ya for it. I mean, if I were you, I'd be shakin' in my boots too.

Ellie crossed her arms, looking incrediously around the room, seeing that Allice was just wandering around and starring at some of the paintings that were littering the walls around them. After a moment of consideration, she uncrossed her arms, and walked over to Joel.

Ellie: All right, old mna. If you want an ass beating, I'll give it to ya. But how about we raise the stakes by a little. Winner gets to ask the last question to the loser. You in?

He stretched out one of bows over to her, she took it into her hands, seeing that a whole bunch of plastic arrows were attached to the lower base of it, same with Joel's identical one.

Joel: You're on, kiddo. Far as I can tell, there are 15 targets set up. Means first one to eight wins.

Ellie: You better not hold back, Joel. I'm a pretty good shot with this thing.

Joel: Please. I've been doin' this longer, than you've been alive.

Ellie: Oh yeah? Okay, get ready to be destroyed by the bow-master!

They got into position beside each other. Allice had noticed instinctively noticed what they were doing, and got beside Ellie, sitting down beside her, her tail wiggling from side to side on the floor. She shot the dog a smile while she tried to focus on the upcoming competition. She knew Joel was experienced, like he had mentioned, but she had always been a great shot with bows. She hoped that would help her to edge him out.

Joel: All right. I'd say we start on three. You got that, Ellie?

Ellie: Do your worst, old man.

Joel: (Chuckles) Fine. On three then. One. Two. Three!

Their competition was kicked off, Joel imediately sending out an arrow with his call. It hit one of the targets, toppling it over.

Joel: Ha! Got one.

Ellie: Hey! You're playing dirty, Joel!

Joel: Just try to keep up, kiddo.

Ellie shot out her first arrow, it found it's mark as well. She didn't celebrate it though, quickly changing over to the next one and smashing it down to.

Ellie: How do you like that? Got two in a row.

Joel: Now don't get cocky. We're far from done.

They both tried to focus, shooting down more targets as they went on, keeping it close between them. After a while, it was clear that it would be coming down to the last target, which had been placed furthest away, at the top of a plastic tower, at the other end of the room.

When both of them had seven taken down, it was Joel who shot out his arrow first, it fell short and hit the lower end of the tower.

Joel: Shit!

Ellie put all the focus she could muster in that moment into her next shot, pulling back the arrow and putting just the right amount of strain onto it with the string. Releasing it simultaniously with the breath she was holding, it bolted out and flew across the air.

With a satisfying sound, the plastic tip collided with the paper target, knocking it off the tower and securing victory Ellie. A victorious smile graced her features while she held up one of her arms in celebration.

Ellie: And that's that! Bow-fucking-master!

Joel: (Exasperated sigh) Oh well...

She bend down to one knee, put the bow down and grabbed a hold of Allice, softly scratching across her back neck.

Ellie: Did you see that, girl? Papa Joel just got his ass handed to him!

She reacted with a bark, tongue sticking out as she enjoyed the attention that was given to her by Ellie.

Joel: All right all right, you did it. You beat me. Couldn't have you cryin' over a crushin' defeat, now could I?

She turend her attention back over to Joel, looking at him with a playful smile, joy clearly visible in her eyes.

Ellie: Uh uh, don't give me that front. I saw the sweat running down your brow during that last shot. Looks like we got a sore loser on our hands here, Allice.

Joel: (chuckles) Guess you caught me there. Good job, kiddo.

Ellie: (laughs) Thanks, Joel.

She stood up, both still holding eye contact, Joel with his arms crossed, a sense of pride filling him. He only noticed then, how long it had been since the last time he had seen her just having fun and enjoy life for what it was.

Joel: A deal's a deal. You won, you get to ask me what'cha want.

Ellie: Okay, uh...let me think. Hmm...

She thougthfully rubbed her chin as she tried to come up with a good question she had always wondered about. After another moment of thought, she snapped her fingers together and posed her question.

Ellie: Ah! I got one. You ready?

Joel: Shoot.

Ellie: Esther. Is she just a fling, or do you actually like her.

Joel: That's a loaded gun and a half.

Ellie: Joel...

Joel: Uh, well, I...She's certainly an attractive lady and has a good sense of humor. Plus she seems to show genuine interest when we get to talk. So yeah, to get 'round to it, I do very much like her.

Ellie: Oh. Wow.

Joel: What?

He tilted his head to the side, slightly narrowing his eyes while running a hand through his beard.

Ellie: Nothin'. It's just...I guess I never saw you get close to anyone else in that sense. The thought of you finding comfort in someone else so far along your life...it kinda gives me hope.

Joel: You thought I was to remain a lonely old man 'till I eventually kick the bucket?

Ellie: No, no, no! That's not what I meant.

Joel: I know, kiddo. I'm just pulling your leg. But thanks for the kind words.

He gave her a genuine smile, which she promply returned. They stood there for another moment in that comfortable silence between them. Only Allice's steps filled the room, as she headed for the door, leading them back to the main area.

Joel: We should head back. They should be back by now.

Ellie: Guess you're right.

Joel: Okay. C'mon.

Together, the three of them walked through the next set of doors and entered the main area again, but there was still no sight of the others. Ellie was trying to hold down the worry that had started coming up.

They'd said it would take them a couple hours, but it had been at least four by now since they were gone. Before she could voice her concerns to Joel, the front door jolted open, with Owen and Mel rushing in.

Mel: That's her fault, not yours. She made her choice.

He stopped in his tracks and turned around towards her, a number of blueprints clutched in his hand, deep concern inbedded in his features.

Owen: It was me that convinced her she should come back. If anyone is at fault here, it's me. I need to get her out of there Mel. She'd do the same for me.

A look of disbelief formed on Mel's face as she put her hands on her hips stretching out her neck towards her lover.

Mel: Yeah, right. The woman who left us for her stupid, selfish revenge quest would just do everything in her power to save you. Next thing you tell me is, that she rescues a group of scars who are stuck in a burning building.

Owen: Listen Mel, I--

Before he could go on, the other two had aproached them, concern all over Ellie's face while Joel triede to keep his expression neutral.

Ellie: What's going on with you two? Where's Abby?

Owen focused his eyes on her's, his features still displaying discomfort, his eyes tense.

Owen: We, uh, had some trouble while we were at base.

Joel: What kind of trouble?

Owen: You know, the kind you'd expect. Isaac wasn't particularly thrilled with how Abby just got up and vanished. So, he...um..

Ellie took a couple steps closer to him, her expression serious and fierce, wanting a straight answer out of Owen.

Ellie: Owen,. What has he done to her?

Before Owen could answer her, Mel did it for him, crossing her arms while she spoke apathetically.

Mel: He locked her up. She's supposed to rot away in there for the coming two days.

Owen: Mel!

Ellie: What the fuck? And you just let that happen? Why didn't you say anything to protect her from him?

Her gaze shifted from one to the other, starring them both down to get some answers, the fire starting to build in her eyes.

Owen: Hey, I tried, okay? But Isaac's not really known for his understanding and kindsness. Plus he seems to be extra on edge from the way he was acting.

Ellie: And what are we supposed to do now? Just wait it out and let her rot away in there? Or worse?!

Joel had stepped up behind her and tried wrapping one of his arms around her.

Joel: Ellie, calm down.

She turned her head towards him, the deep worry clear in her green eyes as she stared into his.

Ellie: Joel! What if they hurt her while she's in there! We gotta get her out!

Joel: We'll figure it out. I promise.

Owen: And I got the tools we'll need to do it.

He waved around the pieces of paper he still held in his hand, a satisfied smile on his face and mischief visible in his eyes. The same couldn't be said about Mel though, who still looked quite upset with the prospect of what her boyfriend was proposing.

Mel: Owen, no! You don't get to risk your life for a stupid mistake she made!

Owen: She needs me, Mel.

Mel: You got a family that needs you! And I swear to god, I'm not bringing this kid up alone, you hear me?

She stood infront of him, the worry and concern buried under her anger now shining through her eyes as he stared back into them.

Owen: I hear you. But I made her dad a promise. I broke it once. I'm not doing it again.

The resolve in his gaze was enough for Mel to notice that there was point in further argueing with him. His mind was made up. Her posture slumped, as she let her head hang low, closing her eyes. After a second, she snapped her head towards the other two in the room, starring both of them donw.

Joel decided to step forward, taking careful steps towards Mel.

Joel: We'll keep him safe and bring him back in one piece. You can trust us.

Her stare was still harsh, hiding the pain that residing beneath. Her gaze shifted between him and Ellie, but resting inside of his eyes at tje emd.

Mel: If you let anything happen to him...god forbid what I'll do to you.

With that she turned away from them and dtomped off towards the nearby kitchen space.

Mel: Allice! Come here! I need at least one that has my back...

The dog followed her without hesitation, only shortly turning around and sparring a fleeted look for the three, before heading after her master.

Owen let out a deep sigh after Mel had slammed the door shut behind Allice. A nerrvous hand ran through her hair.

Owen: Please excuse her. The pregnancy has really taken a toll on her mood. And, um...It's been a while since she and Abby really got along.

Joel: It's all right. This ain't the first time I was under the scrutiny of a concerned wife.

Owen: We're not married.

Joel: She sure acts like it.

Ellie raised her voice to while crossing her arms, fixing her intense gaze onto Owen.

Ellie: So what's the plan?

He pointed his papers towards the desk in the middle of the room, motioning for them to move there and speak through what he had in mind.
submitted by CrystalBloodWolf to TheLastOfUs2 [link] [comments]


2020.09.25 16:23 AshleighBSB Boarding School Blues - Chapter 4: Hanging Out At The Mansion

[Cover] [Chapter 1] [Table Of Contents] [Patreon] [Discord] [Join my mailing list for a free book]
This is Book 4: Boarding School Break: Happy Thanksgiving
[Book 2: Boarding School Beginnings] [Book 3: Boarding School Boyfriends]

Big. Enormous. Large.
My friend lives in a mansion.
Huge. Colossal. Vast.
Pat took Melinda to the top of the right staircase and a couple of steps down a corridor before he stopped and faced her. He ran his finger through her hair, saying “I missed you, Daphne.”
He left his hand behind her head as he pulled her towards him for a kiss. Melinda placed her hands on her chest and gently pushed him away.
His face was full of concern. “What’s wrong?”
Melinda closed her eyes, fighting back tears. “So many things.”
Pat looked around, then took Melinda’s hand and led her to the opposite end of the house to the second door on the right. The door was closed, but Pat entered without knocking.
“I’m cleaning,” Walter said, jumping off a chair. “Oh, it’s you.” He sat back down, but did not pick up the remote control he had obviously just dropped.
“We’re not here.” Pat glared at his brother as he led Melinda to some bean bag chairs in the corner of the room. Melinda looked around, noticing a large television on one wall with more bean bag chairs scattered around the room. There were remote controls and games all over the floor, and some plates and cups stacked on a table.
Walter pouted, turning to Melinda. “What’re you doing here?”
“Your mom thought maybe you’d clean your room if you knew I was here.”
“She must not know me. But, why are you here? Like, at our house?”
Melinda looked cautiously at Pat. “Well…”
“Oh, man! You came to see him?” Walter did not hide his whine.
“No. Your mom called mine last night to invite me over. To have a playdate with you.”
Walter raised his eyebrows. “She didn’t.”
“Well, my mom didn’t call it a playdate, but yeah. She pretty much did.”
“So, why did she send me up here and make Pat stay?”
“Because I had already told my mother about me and Pat and she was uncomfortable. So, we just had to have a really awkward conversation with our moms.”
“Okay. Never inviting a girlfriend over. That’s good to know. Who’s up for WTTE?”
“Not now, doofus. Go back to your game.” Pat glared at his brother before turning to Melinda. He took her hand and gently pulled her into one of the chairs as he sat in another. “What’s wrong, Daphne?”
She kept her voice low. “Did you get my text?”
Pat shook his head. “When?”
“Last night.”
Pat checked his phone, again shaking his head. “Nothing. I saw you had tried to chat, but when I called back, there was no answer.”
“My phone died. What’s going on with you and Poppy Sommers?” She could feel the tears stinging her eyes, but she refused to let them fall.
“Poppy? Nothing. Why?”
Melinda saw something in Pat’s expression that she had never seen before and it hurt her. She responded very quietly. “My mom’s right. You are a good actor. There’s something you’re not telling me.”
“Daphne, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Can you please start at the beginning?”
Melinda pulled out her phone and showed him the image Joey had shown her the night before. Pat gave it a cursory glance before returning it with a shrug.
“Poppy and I were together last summer. You knew that.”
“No, I didn’t. But, this isn’t from this summer. This is from the other day.”
Pat looked at the article more carefully, scrolling slowly enough that Melinda realized he must be reading it. Meanwhile, Walter must have been listening to the conversation, because he suddenly reappeared reading over Pat’s shoulder.
Pat muttered a curse under his breath. “I’m gonna kill Cynthia,” he grumbled as he stormed out of the room.
Melinda tried to remain nonchalant as Walter took his brother’s seat. “Who’s Cynthia?”
“Our agent. You okay?”
When Melinda shook her head, afraid her voice would betray her, Walter leaned over to give her a comforting hug. “He’s crazy about you. He would never cheat on you.”
“What’s going on?” asked a voice standing above them. “I just ran into Pat and he looked ready to kill someone.”
Melinda watched Meghan, an eighteen-year-old version of her mother, gracefully fold herself into another chair.
Walter handed Melinda’s phone to his sister, who read the article carefully.
“That twit. I warned Pat she was bad news, but did he listen? Nooo.”
“It says they’re….” Melinda could not bring herself to quote the article.
Meghan glanced at the phone. “They’ve rekindled their romance after a five-month hiatus.”
Melinda nodded. “What’s high-ate-us mean?”
Walter smiled, used to translating vocabulary words for his friend. “It basically means a break in a routine. It’s a common term in Hollywood and appropriate for this article. Except for the fact that it’s a lie.”
Meghan smiled kindly at Melinda. “Lemme guess. You saw this and thought Pat was back together with Crazy Poppy?”
When Melinda nodded, Meghan turned to her brother. “Go. It’s girl time. I suggest you go find Pat. He looked a little unhinged when I passed him in the hall.”
Walter squeezed Melinda’s shoulder before following his sister’s instructions. Meghan took her brother’s seat.
“I’m not about to gossip about my brother’s previous girlfriends. But, I’m pretty sure he’s confided in me about all the girls he’s liked, both crushes and actual girlfriends. He and Poppy were spending a lot of time together when they filmed Romeo and Juliet.”
“I thought they were dating. Romeo and Juliet,” Melinda interrupted.
“Jarrod and Poppy?” Meghan shook her head. “The producers thought it would make good publicity to have a real life romance between them, and they got along okay enough. But, Poppy had her eyes on Pat. And, I think he liked that she was going out of her way to spend time with him. I warned him she’s crazy. Literally crazy. But, he didn’t listen to me. After the movie wrapped, they kept spending time together.”
“How long were they together?” Melinda tried to keep her voice light, even though she was finding it difficult to digest.
Meghan shrugged. “You have to understand. Poppy’s not completely right in the head. She gets these strange ideas and believes they’re true and tries to convince everyone else they are, too. Her mom is her agent and tries to keep a lid on things, but every so often, Poppy’s crazy side comes out.”
Melinda sniffled but held back the tears as Meghan continued. “Pat always insisted he and Poppy weren’t serious. But, they hung out a lot for a few weeks. Despite whatever he told me, I was never convinced Pat liked Poppy, just the attention she gave him. He tried to break it off not long before he left for Hawaii.”
“Tried to?”
“I’m not sure of the details. We were at this party. They had disappeared for a while. When they came back, he told me he had broken up with her. A few minutes later, she walks right up to him, wraps herself around his arm, and starts talking to someone as if she had been part of the conversation all along. It was as if they hadn’t broken up.”
“So they got back together?” Melinda feared the answer.
Meghan giggled. “No! Pat wanted nothing to do with Poppy. But, I’m not sure Poppy figured that out. My best guess? Poppy needs attention so she leaked this story to the media. She probably believes it, too.”
“Does he still care about her?” Melinda asked the question without meaning to.
Meghan smiled. “If he even thinks about her any more, my guess is that he pities her. He has never cared for a girl as deeply as he cares for you. He’s crazy about you.”
“That’s what Walter said.”
Meghan frowned. “Sadly, I think Pat’s starting to confide more in Walter than me. Probably because they’re at school together and I’m not. But, when Walter was still ignoring Pat, he called me. Invited me to come to campus for the day to see a ballet.”
Melinda smiled, knowing she was referring to her performance in the Nutcracker earlier that month, as Meghan continued.
“Pat and I had a long talk the next day. I could tell how much he cared about you. I’ve never seen him this happy with anyone before.”
Walter returned with a still-fuming Pat behind him, each of them flopping into the bean bag chairs.
“I tried to contact Cynthia. She’s probably still sleeping. Stupid time difference.”
Meghan rolled her eyes. “We’ll call her later I need to have a few words with her myself.”
“About this Poppy thing?” asked Walter.
“No. Nightshade.” Meghan spit the word out like she had eaten something disgusting.
Walter tried to change the subject. “Well, since we’re waiting for LA to wake up, who’s up for a game of WTTE?”
“What’s WTTE?” Melinda turned to Pat.
He shook his head. “It’s easier to show you.”
Melinda followed her friends to a room next door, with a pool table, a bookshelf full of board games, and a large octagonal table with a green-felt top. Pat led Melinda to the octagonal table, where he and his brother wordlessly picked up the table top and flipped it over to reveal a wooden surface. Pat walked to the bookshelf and returned with some pencils, lined paper, and graph paper, while everyone else chose seats at the table.
“What’re we playing now?” Melinda asked.
“Weddas, the Travel Edition,” Walter sounded proud.
“Someone,” Pat said emphatically, glaring at Walter, “forgot to bring home Weddas. So, we created a travel version.”
Melinda raised her eyebrows. At the beginning of the school year, Melinda had explained to Walter how she kept a vocabulary journal to learn new words, and that it had become especially useful at her new school when she was overwhelmed by her peers’ superior vocabularies. After his first visit home, Walter introduced her to Weddas, a game his family had invented. It involved using letter tiles to create a crossword puzzle of words.
After returning to school, Pat had often joined their game and Melinda quickly learned the boys loved to play the game daily, sometimes multiple times a day, if they had the time.
“You couldn’t play a regular board game like normal families?” she suggested.
Meghan laughed. “That was my suggestion. My brothers are obsessed with this game.”
“So, how do you play the travel edition?”
Pat held up the graph paper. “Well, when its your turn, you write a word on the page. You can only write seven letters, as if you had tiles, but you can write any seven letters you want. Each letter gets its own square. On this page,” he held up a sheet of lined paper, “we write everyone’s words and keep track of which letters are used. You can only use a letter six times.”
“Wow. That is…”
“Inventive?” suggested Pat.
“Ingenious?” suggested Walter.
“Pathetic,” finished Melinda with a smile as Meghan burst into laughter.

It took a few turns for Melinda to settle into the game, but Melinda was finding this new version a little easier, since she could just think of any word she wanted, instead of trying to make words using the letters in front of her. For once, she found it easy to hold a conversation while playing the game.
Melinda turned to Meghan as she waited for her turn. “So, when are you going back to New York?”
“My roommate went home for Thanksgiving and I didn’t want to stay in the apartment alone all week. I have to go back for a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and I just plan on staying in the city.”
Pat turned to Melinda. “So, did your mom say how long you’re visiting?”
Melinda shook her head.
“She left,” Walter said. “When I left to find you, I ran into Mom. You can spend the day and we’ll take you home after dinner.”
“Sick,” Pat smiled. He turned to his sister. “Did you say you needed to talk to Cynthia, too?”
Meghan rolled her eyes. “Nightshade.”
Pat and Walter both shuddered. When they said nothing, Melinda asked, “What’s Nightshade?”
“My agent passed me a script. She does it all the time and I’m not sure Mom even knows I have it. So, I read through it, and it’s just wrong on so many levels. First of all, there’s a ton of cursing. I don’t swear. Like, ever.”
“She’s like you.” Walter nodded towards Melinda.
Meghan smiled as she continued. “I would possibly, probably not, but maybe, consider the movie if that were its only flaw. But, there are so many things wrong with it. Like, there are multiple scenes where I would be…”
“Naked,” Pat smiled. “The word is naked.” He turned to Melinda. “She thinks that’s a bad word, too.”
“She’s like you.” Walter again nodded towards Melinda.
Melinda smiled. “Does your agent know how you feel about those kinds of movies?”
Meghan shrugged. “I thought she did. But, she still sent me this. When I told her I didn’t think it was for me, she said that now that I was eighteen, I should consider...how did she put it? Basically, I should be in movies that are for an adult audience, not a kid audience. Shed my good-girl image.”
“But, it’s not an image, right? I mean, I get the impression you’re like your brothers. You really are a good, wholesome girl. And I don't mean that to be insulting. It's something to be proud of.”
“Is she this insightful with everyone?” Meghan asked Walter.
“Pretty much. Except when it comes to boyfriends. She has a horrible track record there.”
“Ouch,” Pat put a hand to his chest, pretending to be insulted.
Melinda shook her head. “No. Walter’s right. I told you about my disasters.”
Pat smiled at Melinda, playing with her hair. “Actually, you never mentioned why you broke up with Townie.”
“You looked at me.” Melinda smiled, remembering how her ex-boyfriend was jealous of the time Melinda spent with her guy friends.
Pat smiled back. “No, seriously. Why’d you break up?”
“She is serious,” Walter said. “He got jealous you looked at her.”
“Wow. You really do have horrible taste in guys. What does that say about me?”

Although their game did not take long, by the time Melinda and her friends were finished, everyone was growing hungry. They headed down to the kitchen, where Walter pressed a button on the wall beside the doorway.
“Mom, do we have anything for lunch?”
Mrs. Evan’s voice emanated from the speaker beside the button. “Lunchmeat. Have some sandwiches. I think there’s some canned soup if you want to heat it. We’re having meatloaf for supper, with potatoes. Is that okay with Melinda?”
Walter held the button for her to respond.
“It sounds delicious.” She was unable to recall the last time she had even had meatloaf and decided it was probably before she had attended Hartfield, because she was certain she had not eaten any at school.
Walter began taking meats and condiments from the fridge and Pat retrieved the bread and canned soup from a walk-in closet Melinda assumed was the pantry. When Meghan went to a cabinet to get them all plates, Melinda began to feel useless.
“How can I help?”
Meghan pointed to a cabinet. “Cups. Get drinks. I want water.”
“Me, too,” chorused the boys.
“Tap?” Melinda knew the tap water in her parents’ home was nearly undrinkable.
“Use the fridge,” Pat instructed her. “It’s got a filter.”
So, Melinda used the dispenser in the front of the refrigerator to get four glasses of ice water, which she carried to the breakfast nook. Meghan had set two plates on one side of the table, and a plate in front of each of the remaining benches. Melinda placed a glass at each plate, then returned to the counter where Pat was dumping cans of soup into bowls and placing each one in the microwave.
“Here,” he smiled at her as he handed her a bowl. “This one’s chicken noodle.”
Melinda placed the bowl in the center of the table, finding Walter had selected a seat and begun making his sandwich. When she returned to the table with a second bowl (minestrone), Meghan had sat on the middle bench and was smearing mayonnaise on her bread. Melinda noticed the plates had been rearranged so that she and Pat would be sitting together on the bench facing Walter.
Melinda sat down after bringing the bowl of Italian Wedding soup to the table and Pat joined them a moment later with another bowl of chicken noodle soup. Melinda waited to make a sandwich, mesmerized by the one Walter was building. He had spread deli mustard on a slice of bread, then placed a slice of American cheese, a slice of salami, a slice of cheddar cheese, a slice of ham, a slice of provolone cheese, and a slice of turkey. He then spread mayonnaise on two sides of another slice of bread and layered it with the same cold cuts before spreading more mustard on a third slice of bread to complete the sandwich.
“Where’s the lettuce and tomato?” Meghan asked him.
Luckily, she had caught him before he had a chance to take a bite. He picked up his sandwich. “I don’t want any.”
“But, I do.” Meghan stared at the turkey on her bread. “Was there any in the fridge?”
Walter shrugged as he took a giant bite. “Prob’ly.”
Meghan simply shook her head in disgust as she went to look for the toppings. “Melinda, seriously? How are you friends with him? He’s so gross!”
“It’s not so much that we’re friends. It’s more that we have an arrangement. I let him copy my math homework and he helps me understand my Latin.”
“You also drag me to church,” Walter added.
“Oh, yeah. That’s because I have to watch you eat.”
Everyone laughed as they continued to build their sandwiches. A moment later, Walter asked, “Does anyone else want the chicken noodle soup?”
“There’s two,” Pat pointed out.
“Not for long. Unless someone else wants some.”
“Me!” Melinda announced and gently slid one of the bowls closer to her before her friend could take it.
Meghan chose not to have any soup, so Pat ended up eating both of the others in addition to a ham and cheese sandwich. Walter, meanwhile, had a second sandwich, this time only one layer.
“So,” Walter said as he took a large bite. “Now what should we do? More WTTE?”
“NO!” declared both girls adamantly.
“Melinda didn’t come to play board games all day,” Pat told his brother.
“What would Melinda like to do?” asked Walter.
“I have no idea. I had no plans for today.”
“We could watch a movie,” suggested Pat.
“We could play video games,” suggested Walter.
“That might be fun,” Melinda said.
They finished their lunches, making sure to return all the food to the fridge and even placing their dirty dishes in the dishwasher before returning to the playroom. They sat in the bean bag chairs on the floor while Walter turned on the television and gaming system and passed out the remotes.
The Evans family owned a large selection of video games in all genres, but Melinda examined the boxes carefully until she found one that she thought might look interesting. She held it up.
“Can you teach me to play this one?”
Pat smiled as Walter groaned. “That’s my favorite game. Walter hates it because he always loses.”
Pat put the game into the system and explained the basics. The screen split into four zones, one for each player. Melinda had to select which cartoon character she wanted to be, then select her race car. She could customize the wheels and body, but she elected to stick with the default settings, not knowing what else to select.
Pat told her there were many tracks they could race, but he would choose an easy one while she learned how to play. He showed her which buttons she should press to move and the game started.
As they drove, the players collected special items, which could be used to help them in the race. Walter threw an oil barrel that caused slicks all over the track, causing Melinda to turn around and lose her place. Pat threw bananas that would have had a similar effect, except Melinda was able to swerve around the peel at the last second. Meghan collected a star that allowed her to zoom along at double speed and pass nearly everyone. Melinda collected a clock, which Pat showed her how to throw. It caused everyone to freeze for five seconds while she continued to move, allowing her to pass the finish line while everyone was still frozen, since she had thrown it during the final lap.
Melinda had fun playing with her friends, even when Walter changed the game to one where they had to work together to defeat some evil elf lord. After a while, Walter was the only one alive, but he did not seem to notice. Meghan left, declaring she had something better to do, although she had no idea what it could be. Pat beckoned Melinda to join him in his chair, where he put his arm around her. She snuggled close as he whispered in her ear.
“I missed you, Daphne. I miss holding you.”
Melinda said nothing for a while, but simply watched Walter’s game on the screen while Pat played with her hair absently as he tried to help his brother..
“Dude! Not the arrows!”
“I know, I know!” Walter cursed under his breath as he pressed buttons furiously. His bow and arrow turned into a sword and he was able to lop off the head of a creature Melinda thought might have been a tree, but she really could not tell.
“That was close.” Walter sat back as on the screen his character traveled through the woods to destroy the next creature he encountered.
Melinda turned to Pat. She laced her fingers behind his neck as she returned his gentle kiss. They held each other close until Melinda could no longer endure the warm feeling that filled her entire body to bursting every time she kissed Pat. They sat with their foreheads touching for a moment while Melinda waited for her heartbeat to return to normal.
“I missed you, too.” They kissed for quite a while until Walter began cursing at the screen again.

Walter never seemed to tire of defeating the elf lord, so Pat offered to give Melinda a tour of the house. He explained that most of the second floor was their bedrooms, although the two doors they had passed at the top of the stairs were adjoining offices for his parents. They turned left out of the playroom and walked slowly down the corridor, which was lined with windows to overlook the pool below. The hallway opened into a lounge area with a small table in front of two bathrooms whose lights were off and doors were ajar.
Pat led Melinda through the door at the end of the hallway into what could only be described as a movie theater. The enormous room had dark walls and a sloping floor, with a massive screen mounted to the wall at the bottom of the room. Melinda counted four rows, each containing five cushy red seats. In front of Melinda was an actual concession stand, with an empty popcorn machine, a small refrigerator with bottles of soda and water, and a display case of movie theater candy.
“Wow,” was all Melinda could say.
“My mom designed this room to have movie screenings. Or, we’ll use it to watch Dad’s music videos. But, this is also where we like to watch movies, too.”
“Not, like, regular television, right?”
“Honestly, none of us watch too much tv. Neogenesis is a must in here, though. The surround sound is incredible. Other than that, I’m not sure any of us watch anything else.” Pat shrugged. “Come on. I wanna show you the rest of the house.”
They walked down the sloping aisle to an exit at the front of the room that opened to the pool deck. The indoor pool had four full-sized lap lanes, which were marked on the pool floor but did not have the bubbles floating in the water to separate the lanes. The room was a little too warm for Melinda in her sweater and jeans, but she said nothing.
“There’s a sauna and hot tub in that room over there,” Pat gestured towards to a glass room just beside the theater, “but, we’re not allowed in it most of the time.”
“What are those doors?” Melinda pointed across the way.
“Those are the guest rooms. Their bathrooms open out to the pool. We keep swim suits in the dresser in case people want to go swimming and forgot to bring a suit. Like, you didn’t bring one today because who swims in November, right?”
Melinda giggled and Pat pointed beside the guest rooms. “Over there,” he pointed beside the guest rooms, “is the library. I can show it to you later, if you want.” There were plenty of windows in the library, so Melinda was able to espy bookshelves lining the walls, as well as a couple of study desks and some comfy-looking chairs.
“It kind of looks like the study room at school.” Melinda and Walter did their homework together in the same library room most evenings. Pat had joined them enough times to know the room to which she was referring.
“Yeah, it kinda does. I think that’s why Walter’s more apt to study there than in his dorm. It’s like being home. When we were homeschooled, the library was our schoolroom.”
Pat led Melinda past a glass-walled room, through the sliders into the living area Melinda had seen when she first arrived. Instead of turning left into the kitchen, however, Pat led her through another set of double glass doors into the glass-walled room she had seen from the pool deck.
“This is the gym.”
Melinda was facing a large circular contraption that had a bench in the center and a stack of weights on the side. Melinda had seen commercials for smaller versions on television, but had never seen anything this large or complex. It was too complicated for Melinda to figure out how it worked, but according to the pictures on the poster affixed to the wall beside it, you could use this machine could be used to tone over twenty different body regions.
Beside the home gym was an old fashioned weight bench with a rack of free weights beside it. There was a mirror with some mats and exercise balls beside it. Across the room, there were five cardio machines, some of which Melinda could not identify, all facing the pool, although each had some sort of computer screen.
“Why is there a screen on the treadmill?” Melinda pointed to the one machine whose name she did know.
Pat smiled. “You can program it to any setting you want. So, if you want to take a run through the woods, you would just press this button and voila, you’re in the woods.”
“Whose room is this?”
“We all use it. Mom and Meghan like the machines and the home gym. Dad likes to use the home gym, but he prefers to run outside if the weather’s nice. Walter and I like the weight bench, and only use the treadmill in the winter.”
“Where do you go outside? Your road didn’t look that great for running.”
“Did you see the track going around the house? The driveway is kind of part of it, but it goes around the house itself. The track is about a quarter mile.”
“I knew Walter liked to run. I didn’t realize you joined him.”
“Yup. I created a loop around the campus. I showed it to Walter.”
“But, you’re going to stop that when we get back, right? I mean, it's too cold to run.”
Pat shook his head. “Nah. We’ll keep running outside unitl the paths become too icy. Then, we’ll switch to the indoor track.
Melinda just shook her head. “No wonder you guys are always eating!”
“Hey! Don’t compare me to that gourmand!”
“Gourmand?”
“Someone who really likes to eat. Usually excessively.”
“Oh! That is a perfect description of Walter! I’m gonna save that word for Weddas.”
Beside the gym was Mr. Evans’ music room, which was actually a small studio. In addition to an upright piano and a wall of guitars, it held some music stands and a mixing board. Pat explained that the room was soundproofed and completely wired with microphones, so the band could record in here as they practiced. Sometimes their father would record music as he wrote it, so he could share it with his bandmates later.
“That’s so cool,” was all Melinda could think to say.
Pat led her back to the living room. “That’s pretty much the whole house. There’s a dining room off the kitchen, but we only use that for company. So, what d’ya wanna do now?”
Melinda thought for a little while. “How warm’s the pool?”
Pat frowned. “The filter’s broken. I wanted to swim this morning, after my run, but Mom said we can’t use it until the filter is fixed. I say we watch a movie.”
“In that theater?”
“Well, yeah. That’s the best place to watch movies.”
“Um, is your mom gonna freak out if you and I watch a movie alone there?”
Pat considered a moment, then went to the intercom Walter had used earlier. “Melinda and I are going watch a movie. Anyone want to join us?”

Want to be notified when I post the next chapter?
In the comments below, type:
HelpMeButler  
[Table Of Contents] [Chapter 5 coming October 2]
Follow follow Patrick McGregor's story in Confessions of a Teenage Celebrity - Chapter 2: Meet the Parents (Part 2)
submitted by AshleighBSB to AshleighStevens [link] [comments]


2020.09.25 16:05 AshleighBSB [Boarding School Blues] - Chapter 35: Hanging Out At The Mansion

[Cover] [Chapter 1] [Table Of Contents] [Patreon] [Discord] [Join my mailing list to receive a free book]
This is Book 4: Boarding School Break: Happy Thanksgiving
[Book 2: Boarding School Beginnings] [Book 3: Boarding School Boyfriends]

Big. Enormous. Large.
My friend lives in a mansion.
Huge. Colossal. Vast.
Pat took Melinda to the top of the right staircase and a couple of steps down a corridor before he stopped and faced her. He ran his finger through her hair, saying “I missed you, Daphne.”
He left his hand behind her head as he pulled her towards him for a kiss. Melinda placed her hands on her chest and gently pushed him away.
His face full of concern.“What’s wrong?”
Melinda closed her eyes, fighting back tears. “So many things.”
Pat looked around, then took Melinda’s hand and led her to the opposite end of the house to the second door on the right. The door was closed, but Pat entered without knocking.
“I’m cleaning,” Walter said, jumping off a chair. “Oh, it’s you.” He sat back down, but did not pick up the remote control he had obviously just dropped.
“We’re not here.” Pat glared at his brother as he led Melinda to some bean bag chairs in the corner of the room. Melinda looked around, noticing a large television on one wall with more bean bag chairs scattered around the room. There were remote controls and games all over the floor, and some plates and cups stacked on a table.
Walter pouted, turning to Melinda. “What’re you doing here?”
“Your mom thought maybe you’d clean your room if you knew I was here.”
“She must not know me. But, why are you here? Like, at our house?”
Melinda looked cautiously at Pat. “Well…”
“Oh, man! You came to see him?” Walter did not hide his whine.
“No. Your mom called mine last night to invite me over. To have a playdate with you.”
Walter raised his eyebrows. “She didn’t.”
“Well, my mom didn’t call it a playdate, but yeah. She pretty much did.”
“So, why did she send me up here and make Pat stay?”
“Because I had already told my mother about me and Pat and she was uncomfortable. So, we just had to have a really awkward conversation with our moms.”
“Okay. Never inviting a girlfriend over. That’s good to know. Who’s up for WTTE?”
“Not now, doofus. Go back to your game.” Pat glared at his brother before turning to Melinda. He took her hand and gently pulled her into one of the chairs as he sat in another. “What’s wrong, Daphne?”
She kept her voice low. “Did you get my text?”
Pat shook his head. “When?”
“Last night.”
Pat checked his phone, again shaking his head. “Nothing. I saw you had tried to chat, but when I called back, there was no answer.”
“My phone died. What’s going on with you and Poppy Sommers?” She could feel the tears stinging her eyes, but she refused to let them fall.
“Poppy? Nothing. Why?”
Melinda saw something in Pat’s expression that she had never seen before and it hurt her. She responded very quietly. “My mom’s right. You are a good actor. There’s something you’re not telling me.”
“Daphne, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Can you please start at the beginning?”
Melinda pulled out her phone and showed him the image Joey had shown her the night before. Pat gave it a cursory glance before returning it with a shrug.
“Poppy and I were together last summer. You knew that.”
“No, I didn’t. But, this isn’t from this summer. This is from the other day.”
Pat looked at the article more carefully, scrolling slowly enough that Melinda realized he must be reading it. Meanwhile, Walter must have been listening to the conversation, because he suddenly reappeared reading over Pat’s shoulder.
Pat muttered a curse under his breath. “I’m gonna kill Cynthia,” he grumbled as he stormed out of the room.
Melinda tried to remain nonchalant as Walter took his brother’s seat. “Who’s Cynthia?”
“Our agent. You okay?”
When Melinda shook her head, afraid her voice would betray her, Walter leaned over to give her a comforting hug. “He’s crazy about you. He would never cheat on you.”
“What’s going on?” asked a voice standing above them. “I just ran into Pat and he looked ready to kill someone.”
Melinda watched Meghan, an eighteen-year-old version of her mother, gracefully fold herself into another chair.
Walter handed Melinda’s phone to his sister, who read the article carefully.
“That twit. I warned Pat she was bad news, but did he listen? Nooo.”
“It says they’re….” Melinda could not bring herself to quote the article.
Meghan glanced at the phone. “They’ve rekindled their romance after a five-month hiatus.”
Melinda nodded. “What’s high-ate-us mean?”
Walter smiled, used to translating vocabulary words for his friend. “It basically means a break in a routine. It’s a common term in Hollywood and appropriate for this article. Except for the fact that it’s a lie.”
Meghan smiled kindly at Melinda. “Lemme guess. You saw this and thought Pat was back together with Crazy Poppy?”
When Melinda nodded, Meghan turned to her brother. “Go. It’s girl time. I suggest you go find Pat. He looked a little unhinged when I passed him in the hall.”
Walter squeezed Melinda’s shoulder before following his sister’s instructions. Meghan took her brother’s seat.
“I’m not about to gossip about my brother’s previous girlfriends. But, I’m pretty sure he’s confided in me about all the girls he’s liked, both crushes and actual girlfriends. He and Poppy were spending a lot of time together when they filmed Romeo and Juliet.”
“I thought they were dating. Romeo and Juliet,” Melinda interrupted.
“Jarrod and Poppy?” Meghan shook her head. “The producers thought it would make good publicity to have a real life romance between them, and they got along okay enough. But, Poppy had her eyes on Pat. And, I think he liked that she was going out of her way to spend time with him. I warned him she’s crazy. Literally crazy. But, he didn’t listen to me. After the movie wrapped, they kept spending time together.”
“How long were they together?” Melinda tried to keep her voice light, even though she was finding it difficult to digest.
Meghan shrugged. “You have to understand. Poppy’s not completely right in the head. She gets these strange ideas and believes they’re true and tries to convince everyone else they are, too. Her mom is her agent and tries to keep a lid on things, but every so often, Poppy’s crazy side comes out.”
Melinda sniffled but held back the tears as Meghan continued. “Pat always insisted he and Poppy weren’t serious. But, they hung out a lot for a few weeks. Despite whatever he told me, I was never convinced Pat liked Poppy, just the attention she gave him. He tried to break it off not long before he left for Hawaii.”
“Tried to?”
“I’m not sure of the details. We were at this party. They had disappeared for a while. When they came back, he told me he had broken up with her. A few minutes later, she walks right up to him, wraps herself around his arm, and starts talking to someone as if she had been part of the conversation all along. It was as if they hadn’t broken up.”
“So they got back together?” Melinda feared the answer.
Meghan giggled. “No! Pat wanted nothing to do with Poppy. But, I’m not sure Poppy figured that out. My best guess? Poppy needs attention so she leaked this story to the media. She probably believes it, too.”
“Does he still care about her?” Melinda asked the question without meaning to.
Meghan smiled. “If he even thinks about her any more, my guess is that he pities her. He has never cared for a girl as deeply as he cares for you. He’s crazy about you.”
“That’s what Walter said.”
Meghan frowned. “Sadly, I think Pat’s starting to confide more in Walter than me. Probably because they’re at school together and I’m not. But, when Walter was still ignoring Pat, he called me. Invited me to come to campus for the day to see a ballet.”
Melinda smiled, knowing she was referring to her performance in the Nutcracker earlier that month, as Meghan continued.
“Pat and I had a long talk the next day. I could tell how much he cared about you. I’ve never seen him this happy with anyone before.”
Walter returned with a still-fuming Pat behind him, each of them flopping into the bean bag chairs.
“I tried to contact Cynthia. She’s probably still sleeping. Stupid time difference.”
Meghan rolled her eyes. “We’ll call her later I need to have a few words with her myself.”
“About this Poppy thing?” asked Walter.
“No. Nightshade.” Meghan spit the word out like she had eaten something disgusting.
Walter tried to change the subject. “Well, since we’re waiting for LA to wake up, who’s up for a game of WTTE?”
“What’s WTTE?” Melinda turned to Pat.
He shook his head. “It’s easier to show you.”
Melinda followed her friends to a room next door, with a pool table, a bookshelf full of board games, and a large octagonal table with a green-felt top. Pat led Melinda to the octagonal table, where he and his brother wordlessly picked up the table top and flipped it over to reveal a wooden surface. Pat walked to the bookshelf and returned with some pencils, lined paper, and graph paper, while everyone else chose seats at the table.
“What’re we playing now?” Melinda asked.
“Weddas, the Travel Edition,” Walter sounded proud.
“Someone,” Pat said emphatically, glaring at Walter, “forgot to bring home Weddas. So, we created a travel version.”
Melinda raised her eyebrows. At the beginning of the school year, Melinda had explained to Walter how she kept a vocabulary journal to learn new words, and that it had become especially useful at her new school when she was overwhelmed by her peers’ superior vocabularies. After his first visit home, Walter introduced her to Weddas, a game his family had invented. It involved using letter tiles to create a crossword puzzle of words.
After returning to school, Pat had often joined their game and Melinda quickly learned the boys loved to play the game daily, sometimes multiple times a day, if they had the time.
“You couldn’t play a regular board game like normal families?” she suggested.
Meghan laughed. “That was my suggestion. My brothers are obsessed with this game.”
“So, how do you play the travel edition?”
Pat held up the graph paper. “Well, when its your turn, you write a word on the page. You can only write seven letters, as if you had tiles, but you can write any seven letters you want. Each letter gets its own square. On this page,” he held up a sheet of lined paper, “we write everyone’s words and keep track of which letters are used. You can only use a letter six times.”
“Wow. That is…”
“Inventive?” suggested Pat.
“Ingenious?” suggested Walter.
“Pathetic,” finished Melinda with a smile as Meghan burst into laughter.

It took a few turns for Melinda to settle into the game, but Melinda was finding this new version a little easier, since she could just think of any word she wanted, instead of trying to make words using the letters in front of her. For once, she found it easy to hold a conversation while playing the game.
Melinda turned to Meghan as she waited for her turn. “So, when are you going back to New York?”
“My roommate went home for Thanksgiving and I didn’t want to stay in the apartment alone all week. I have to go back for a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and I just plan on staying in the city.”
Pat turned to Melinda. “So, did your mom say how long you’re visiting?”
Melinda shook her head.
“She left,” Walter said. “When I left to find you, I ran into Mom. You can spend the day and we’ll take you home after dinner.”
“Sick,” Pat smiled. He turned to his sister. “Did you say you needed to talk to Cynthia, too?”
Meghan rolled her eyes. “Nightshade.”
Pat and Walter both shuddered. When they said nothing, Melinda asked, “What’s Nightshade?”
“My agent passed me a script. She does it all the time and I’m not sure Mom even knows I have it. So, I read through it, and it’s just wrong on so many levels. First of all, there’s a ton of cursing. I don’t swear. Like, ever.”
“She’s like you.” Walter nodded towards Melinda.
Meghan smiled as she continued. “I would possibly, probably not, but maybe, consider the movie if that were its only flaw. But, there are so many things wrong with it. Like, there are multiple scenes where I would be…”
“Naked,” Pat smiled. “The word is naked.” He turned to Melinda. “She thinks that’s a bad word, too.”
“She’s like you.” Walter again nodded towards Melinda.
Melinda smiled. “Does your agent know how you feel about those kinds of movies?”
Meghan shrugged. “I thought she did. But, she still sent me this. When I told her I didn’t think it was for me, she said that now that I was eighteen, I should consider...how did she put it? Basically, I should be in movies that are for an adult audience, not a kid audience. Shed my good-girl image.”
“But, it’s not an image, right? I mean, I get the impression you’re like your brothers. You really are a good, wholesome girl. And I don't mean that to be insulting. It's something to be proud of.”
“Is she this insightful with everyone?” Meghan asked Walter.
“Pretty much. Except when it comes to boyfriends. She has a horrible track record there.”
“Ouch,” Pat put a hand to his chest, pretending to be insulted.
Melinda shook her head. “No. Walter’s right. I told you about my disasters.”
Pat smiled at Melinda, playing with her hair. “Actually, you never mentioned why you broke up with Townie.”
“You looked at me.” Melinda smiled, remembering how her ex-boyfriend was jealous of the time Melinda spent with her guy friends.
Pat smiled back. “No, seriously. Why’d you break up?”
“She is serious,” Walter said. “He got jealous you looked at her.”
“Wow. You really do have horrible taste in guys. What does that say about me?”

Although their game did not take long, by the time Melinda and her friends were finished, everyone was growing hungry. They headed down to the kitchen, where Walter pressed a button on the wall beside the doorway.
“Mom, do we have anything for lunch?”
Mrs. Evan’s voice emanated from the speaker beside the button. “Lunchmeat. Have some sandwiches. I think there’s some canned soup if you want to heat it. We’re having meatloaf for supper, with potatoes. Is that okay with Melinda?”
Walter held the button for her to respond.
“It sounds delicious.” She was unable to recall the last time she had even had meatloaf and decided it was probably before she had attended Hartfield, because she was certain she had not eaten any at school.
Walter began taking meats and condiments from the fridge and Pat retrieved the bread and canned soup from a walk-in closet Melinda assumed was the pantry. When Meghan went to a cabinet to get them all plates, Melinda began to feel useless.
“How can I help?”
Meghan pointed to a cabinet. “Cups. Get drinks. I want water.”
“Me, too,” chorused the boys.
“Tap?” Melinda knew the tap water in her parents’ home was nearly undrinkable.
“Use the fridge,” Pat instructed her. “It’s got a filter.”
So, Melinda used the dispenser in the front of the refrigerator to get four glasses of ice water, which she carried to the breakfast nook. Meghan had set two plates on one side of the table, and a plate in front of each of the remaining benches. Melinda placed a glass at each plate, then returned to the counter where Pat was dumping cans of soup into bowls and placing each one in the microwave.
“Here,” he smiled at her as he handed her a bowl. “This one’s chicken noodle.”
Melinda placed the bowl in the center of the table, finding Walter had selected a seat and begun making his sandwich. When she returned to the table with a second bowl (minestrone), Meghan had sat on the middle bench and was smearing mayonnaise on her bread. Melinda noticed the plates had been rearranged so that she and Pat would be sitting together on the bench facing Walter.
Melinda sat down after bringing the bowl of Italian Wedding soup to the table and Pat joined them a moment later with another bowl of chicken noodle soup. Melinda waited to make a sandwich, mesmerized by the one Walter was building. He had spread deli mustard on a slice of bread, then placed a slice of American cheese, a slice of salami, a slice of cheddar cheese, a slice of ham, a slice of provolone cheese, and a slice of turkey. He then spread mayonnaise on two sides of another slice of bread and layered it with the same cold cuts before spreading more mustard on a third slice of bread to complete the sandwich.
“Where’s the lettuce and tomato?” Meghan asked him.
Luckily, she had caught him before he had a chance to take a bite. He picked up his sandwich. “I don’t want any.”
“But, I do.” Meghan stared at the turkey on her bread. “Was there any in the fridge?”
Walter shrugged as he took a giant bite. “Prob’ly.”
Meghan simply shook her head in disgust as she went to look for the toppings. “Melinda, seriously? How are you friends with him? He’s so gross!”
“It’s not so much that we’re friends. It’s more that we have an arrangement. I let him copy my math homework and he helps me understand my Latin.”
“You also drag me to church,” Walter added.
“Oh, yeah. That’s because I have to watch you eat.”
Everyone laughed as they continued to build their sandwiches. A moment later, Walter asked, “Does anyone else want the chicken noodle soup?”
“There’s two,” Pat pointed out.
“Not for long. Unless someone else wants some.”
“Me!” Melinda announced and gently slid one of the bowls closer to her before her friend could take it.
Meghan chose not to have any soup, so Pat ended up eating both of the others in addition to a ham and cheese sandwich. Walter, meanwhile, had a second sandwich, this time only one layer.
“So,” Walter said as he took a large bite. “Now what should we do? More WTTE?”
“NO!” declared both girls adamantly.
“Melinda didn’t come to play board games all day,” Pat told his brother.
“What would Melinda like to do?” asked Walter.
“I have no idea. I had no plans for today.”
“We could watch a movie,” suggested Pat.
“We could play video games,” suggested Walter.
“That might be fun,” Melinda said.
They finished their lunches, making sure to return all the food to the fridge and even placing their dirty dishes in the dishwasher before returning to the playroom. They sat in the bean bag chairs on the floor while Walter turned on the television and gaming system and passed out the remotes.
The Evans family owned a large selection of video games in all genres, but Melinda examined the boxes carefully until she found one that she thought might look interesting. She held it up.
“Can you teach me to play this one?”
Pat smiled as Walter groaned. “That’s my favorite game. Walter hates it because he always loses.”
Pat put the game into the system and explained the basics. The screen split into four zones, one for each player. Melinda had to select which cartoon character she wanted to be, then select her race car. She could customize the wheels and body, but she elected to stick with the default settings, not knowing what else to select.
Pat told her there were many tracks they could race, but he would choose an easy one while she learned how to play. He showed her which buttons she should press to move and the game started.
As they drove, the players collected special items, which could be used to help them in the race. Walter threw an oil barrel that caused slicks all over the track, causing Melinda to turn around and lose her place. Pat threw bananas that would have had a similar effect, except Melinda was able to swerve around the peel at the last second. Meghan collected a star that allowed her to zoom along at double speed and pass nearly everyone. Melinda collected a clock, which Pat showed her how to throw. It caused everyone to freeze for five seconds while she continued to move, allowing her to pass the finish line while everyone was still frozen, since she had thrown it during the final lap.
Melinda had fun playing with her friends, even when Walter changed the game to one where they had to work together to defeat some evil elf lord. After a while, Walter was the only one alive, but he did not seem to notice. Meghan left, declaring she had something better to do, although she had no idea what it could be. Pat beckoned Melinda to join him in his chair, where he put his arm around her. She snuggled close as he whispered in her ear.
“I missed you, Daphne. I miss holding you.”
Melinda said nothing for a while, but simply watched Walter’s game on the screen while Pat played with her hair absently as he tried to help his brother..
“Dude! Not the arrows!”
“I know, I know!” Walter cursed under his breath as he pressed buttons furiously. His bow and arrow turned into a sword and he was able to lop off the head of a creature Melinda thought might have been a tree, but she really could not tell.
“That was close.” Walter sat back as on the screen his character traveled through the woods to destroy the next creature he encountered.
Melinda turned to Pat. She laced her fingers behind his neck as she returned his gentle kiss. They held each other close until Melinda could no longer endure the warm feeling that filled her entire body to bursting every time she kissed Pat. They sat with their foreheads touching for a moment while Melinda waited for her heartbeat to return to normal.
“I missed you, too.” They kissed for quite a while until Walter began cursing at the screen again.

Walter never seemed to tire of defeating the elf lord, so Pat offered to give Melinda a tour of the house. He explained that most of the second floor was their bedrooms, although the two doors they had passed at the top of the stairs were adjoining offices for his parents. They turned left out of the playroom and walked slowly down the corridor, which was lined with windows to overlook the pool below. The hallway opened into a lounge area with a small table in front of two bathrooms whose lights were off and doors were ajar.
Pat led Melinda through the door at the end of the hallway into what could only be described as a movie theater. The enormous room had dark walls and a sloping floor, with a massive screen mounted to the wall at the bottom of the room. Melinda counted four rows, each containing five cushy red seats. In front of Melinda was an actual concession stand, with an empty popcorn machine, a small refrigerator with bottles of soda and water, and a display case of movie theater candy.
“Wow,” was all Melinda could say.
“My mom designed this room to have movie screenings. Or, we’ll use it to watch Dad’s music videos. But, this is also where we like to watch movies, too.”
“Not, like, regular television, right?”
“Honestly, none of us watch too much tv. Neogenesis is a must in here, though. The surround sound is incredible. Other than that, I’m not sure any of us watch anything else.” Pat shrugged. “Come on. I wanna show you the rest of the house.”
They walked down the sloping aisle to an exit at the front of the room that opened to the pool deck. The indoor pool had four full-sized lap lanes, which were marked on the pool floor but did not have the bubbles floating in the water to separate the lanes. The room was a little too warm for Melinda in her sweater and jeans, but she said nothing.
“There’s a sauna and hot tub in that room over there,” Pat gestured towards to a glass room just beside the theater, “but, we’re not allowed in it most of the time.”
“What are those doors?” Melinda pointed across the way.
“Those are the guest rooms. Their bathrooms open out to the pool. We keep swim suits in the dresser in case people want to go swimming and forgot to bring a suit. Like, you didn’t bring one today because who swims in November, right?”
Melinda giggled and Pat pointed beside the guest rooms. “Over there,” he pointed beside the guest rooms, “is the library. I can show it to you later, if you want.” There were plenty of windows in the library, so Melinda was able to espy bookshelves lining the walls, as well as a couple of study desks and some comfy-looking chairs.
“It kind of looks like the study room at school.” Melinda and Walter did their homework together in the same library room most evenings. Pat had joined them enough times to know the room to which she was referring.
“Yeah, it kinda does. I think that’s why Walter’s more apt to study there than in his dorm. It’s like being home. When we were homeschooled, the library was our schoolroom.”
Pat led Melinda past a glass-walled room, through the sliders into the living area Melinda had seen when she first arrived. Instead of turning left into the kitchen, however, Pat led her through another set of double glass doors into the glass-walled room she had seen from the pool deck.
“This is the gym.”
Melinda was facing a large circular contraption that had a bench in the center and a stack of weights on the side. Melinda had seen commercials for smaller versions on television, but had never seen anything this large or complex. It was too complicated for Melinda to figure out how it worked, but according to the pictures on the poster affixed to the wall beside it, you could use this machine could be used to tone over twenty different body regions.
Beside the home gym was an old fashioned weight bench with a rack of free weights beside it. There was a mirror with some mats and exercise balls beside it. Across the room, there were five cardio machines, some of which Melinda could not identify, all facing the pool, although each had some sort of computer screen.
“Why is there a screen on the treadmill?” Melinda pointed to the one machine whose name she did know.
Pat smiled. “You can program it to any setting you want. So, if you want to take a run through the woods, you would just press this button and voila, you’re in the woods.”
“Whose room is this?”
“We all use it. Mom and Meghan like the machines and the home gym. Dad likes to use the home gym, but he prefers to run outside if the weather’s nice. Walter and I like the weight bench, and only use the treadmill in the winter.”
“Where do you go outside? Your road didn’t look that great for running.”
“Did you see the track going around the house? The driveway is kind of part of it, but it goes around the house itself. The track is about a quarter mile.”
“I knew Walter liked to run. I didn’t realize you joined him.”
“Yup. I created a loop around the campus. I showed it to Walter.”
“But, you’re going to stop that when we get back, right? I mean, it's too cold to run.”
Pat shook his head. “Nah. We’ll keep running outside unitl the paths become too icy. Then, we’ll switch to the indoor track.
Melinda just shook her head. “No wonder you guys are always eating!”
“Hey! Don’t compare me to that gourmand!”
“Gourmand?”
“Someone who really likes to eat. Usually excessively.”
“Oh! That is a perfect description of Walter! I’m gonna save that word for Weddas.”
Beside the gym was Mr. Evans’ music room, which was actually a small studio. In addition to an upright piano and a wall of guitars, it held some music stands and a mixing board. Pat explained that the room was soundproofed and completely wired with microphones, so the band could record in here as they practiced. Sometimes their father would record music as he wrote it, so he could share it with his bandmates later.
“That’s so cool,” was all Melinda could think to say.
Pat led her back to the living room. “That’s pretty much the whole house. There’s a dining room off the kitchen, but we only use that for company. So, what d’ya wanna do now?”
Melinda thought for a little while. “How warm’s the pool?”
Pat frowned. “The filter’s broken. I wanted to swim this morning, after my run, but Mom said we can’t use it until the filter is fixed. I say we watch a movie.”
“In that theater?”
“Well, yeah. That’s the best place to watch movies.”
“Um, is your mom gonna freak out if you and I watch a movie alone there?”
Pat considered a moment, then went to the intercom Walter had used earlier. “Melinda and I are going watch a movie. Anyone want to join us?”

[Table Of Contents] [Chapter 36 coming October 2]
Follow Patrick McGregor's story in Confessions of a Teenage Celebrity - Chapter 12: Meet the Parents (Part 2)
submitted by AshleighBSB to redditserials [link] [comments]


2020.09.23 15:51 Lobster_Muffin My DemiAndPoly story - communication, compersion, experience gaps, and the struggles of converting a mostly-monogamous relationship into a polyamorous one.

I was asked to share my little story in the demi/poly world, so here it is! Okay it turned out not be very "little"...
My girlfriend and I have been together for some years now. I am older than her, so the age gap was always going to factor into things, but it hasn’t really been a problem until the last year - I have had more experience in the world than she has, and she’s only really known one serious relationship (us). I’ve always been aware of this, and encouraged her to do things independently from me where possible - I never wanted her to resent me for holding her back during her most formative adult years.
We spent a while as swingers, mostly for her benefit to explore her sexuality (she’s bisexual), but also because I felt a strong connection and compersion with her when I could see how much fun she was having. I obviously got things out of it as well, but I’d say 95% of our swinging was the two of us together, rather than one of us separately.
There have been occasions when she has had opportunities to form a sexual/“more than friends” relationship with people that I never met - these have all gone very well for both of us, with no feelings of jealousy, just that good old compersion.
Last year, she spent four weeks working overseas in the USA. She has never worked abroad, never really lived on her own or had to fend for herself. I had no doubt she would do well, but I encouraged her to be open to meeting people and maybe having a fling. She did just that, and met a guy in each of the two cities she worked in. I got to share in some of her stories, but for the most part, it was something she had for herself, and I loved that. I never felt threatened - I always trusted she would come back to me.
This changed when I flew over to meet her, and we went on a long road trip around the States. Things were… different. She was messaging one of the guys a lot but barely talking to me. I did my best to let her process her thoughts - she’d just been living single for four weeks, it’s a big adjustment to then get in a car with me for three more. Eventually, she opened up to me (after a particularly painful drunken night). She acknowledged that I was the person who knew her the best, and I’ve helped her with things in the past, so why was she confiding in a relative stranger about our long-term relationship, etc. We decided to work on the relationship, giving her the freedom she needed (which she always had, but keeps forgetting about).
A year later, she announced to me that she is polyamorous. This came as no huge surprise to me - I know she’s capable of so much love and compassion for her friends, and so I want her to be able to explore that without bounds. Being poly simply suits her perfectly, and I could probably have told her she was poly before she even realised herself. However, this announcement came at the same time as a mutual friend of ours became single. I knew she liked him and found him attractive, I even knew she loved him, but aside from the occasional kiss at a party, it never went further than that. It just seemed a bit too similar to what had happened in America, and I’m finding it extremely difficult to be okay with this.
Since they started their relationship, I’ve been feeling varying levels of discomfort, sometimes even jealousy and resentment. I know she’s getting NRE with him, and she’s generally happier than she’s been in a long time, but I’m worried that HE doesn’t completely understand the poly situation, and he has recently made a comment that he wished she wasn’t “taken”. I’ve spent some time with him alone and we talked about all of this, and it became very apparent that he hasn’t done any research into this. I don’t know how important it is that he DOES that research, but I sometimes feel worried that he’s trying to push me out of the picture. However, I acknowledge that this is JUST a feeling, and other than the comments I’ve just mentioned above, he’s given no indication that he has any sinister or hidden motive. He’s the nicest guy, he’s so… pleasant. I don’t see what she sees in him but that’s not for me to judge.
On to me…. I have no dying urge to be poly myself. I like the freedom and the possibility of it, but…. I’m demisexual. I already have the relationships I want with each of my friends. I have no interest in taking things further. BUT, I’ve never really dated before, and maybe now is a good time to give that a try - my girlfriend is incredibly supportive of this, giving me tips and helping me with dating profiles. I’d also like to take some of the pressure off my girlfriend, because we live together, and (because of the current world situation) I’m usually home when she gets home from her dates, and I don’t want her to feel like I’m just sitting around waiting for her (which I usually am not). So I’ve signed up to OKCupid, which is an absolute bust in the area I live. I’m not Tinder material so that hasn’t worked either. Lockdown is a thing here so prospects of naturally meeting someone new are incredibly low, and to be honest, I’d just like new people to talk to who aren’t already part of our social circle. I sometimes feel like I have no-one I can talk to without going behind someone’s back, since everyone knows everyone.
You might be wondering how we could be swingers if I’m demisexual. It’s a question I’ve been asked before. I’m able to have sex or be sexually involved with people I’m not attracted to - hell, I’ve been married before, I’m used to it…. I truly, honestly and fully only have eyes for my girlfriend, and it’s bothered her when I don’t admit to finding someone else attractive - she used to think I’m just trying to protect her feelings, but I honestly just don’t find anyone else attractive in that way. But I can have a good time with them. I just… don’t really want to go seeking that out. To me, when we were swinging, I was having sex with my girlfriend, not the other people in the room.
Annoyingly though, I am VERY sex-driven. I feel like I’m just quite unlucky in that I’m a very sexual person, but I’m also not sexually attracted to pretty much anyone (other than the obvious). This puts pressure on my girlfriend who, herself, is NOT necessarily sex-driven. Obviously she’s getting NRE with her new partner, and we’ve had great sex recently, making an effort to go on dates ourselves and taking away the monotony of “convenience sex”. I have absolutely no complaints about our sex life right now, and I think, in some ways, it’s better than it has been in a long time.
I just wish I could skip the uncomfortable adjustment period with my girlfriend having a romantic relationship with one of her closest friends, who himself is completely harmless. He poses no threat to my relationship. I WANT to get to being 100% comfortable and supportive. I don’t like the intrusive thoughts that jealousy brings. I don’t like worrying that she’s having a better time with him than me, because that’s really not the point of all of this. You don’t have a favourite child when you’re a parent. Everyone in your life adds something unique that cannot necessarily be replaced by another.
I understand the thoughts, and by this point, I honestly believe I agree with them all. I just wish my brain would settle into it quicker. I often fantasise about the three of us spending time together without me getting stabs of jealousy when I see her stroking his arm. We’ve had some occasions recently where we HAVE hung out together and I’ve been completely comfortable with everything, but the following day, it feels like my brain has exceeded the speed limit and moved forward too quickly. I’m purposefully limiting my exposure to him for the next few weeks, just so I can grow and adapt in my own way. My girlfriend is being incredibly supportive with this as well, setting boundaries and time limits, so she can give her primary relationship with me the care it definitely needs right now.
It’s a process. I’m getting through it. I believe this will be wonderful. I just need to take it one day at a time, and not rush into things. I even recently had a revelation - I am capable of loving more than one person. I have two close friends who I realised I actually loved just a few days ago. This is a feeling very new to me - I thought I was only capable of truly loving one person. I’m learning a lot about myself, and I think this adventure is making me into a better, more compassionate, more loving, more sincere, more understanding human. I can’t really complain about that.
submitted by Lobster_Muffin to DemiAndPoly [link] [comments]


2020.09.22 06:54 not_another_goth Yall I'm going to marry my angel

So I posted here last month about my guardian angel, this incredibly sweet blonde haired lad.
See story here
It's pure insanity. I need to go more in depth of how I met my viking angel.
We met on tinder, by pure chance. I was in the middle of moving to a larger city. He was from the town I was leaving. After about a day of talking we met for the first time, to exercise our dogs.
I had seen him before at the dog park. His dog is an unforgettable akita. He himself is unforgettable too and I thought I would never have a chance. I never approached him before our first date. Our first date was terrible. Both of us where so incredibly awkward (me being 6 months out a marriage and a bad 2 week relationship) and him having not dated for 4 years to avoid high school drama.
I moved. I assumed to never see him again. I wallowed in my pits of despair, and he was a very soft light that made me happy. He was my first friend in awhile.
My neighbor, who has become my closest female friend, was upset that I was still hung up over the boy I moved for (who dumped me days before I signed lease). She stole my phone while we where shopping and asked my viking out for me, because my face lit up every time my phone dinged.
I was suprised he accepted my friends forced request of us dating. Our second date I still assumed he wasnt intrested however. He was too good for me. Too attractive, too attentive. Too weird.
It wasnt until our third date later that week that I understood.
Now, here I am. On September 4th I proposed half way awake, with a pounding migraine that he was tending to. I had gotten off a 12 hour shift and drove an hour to suprise him.
We had been together for less than 2 months. He accepted gleefully. After 3 weeks of dating he was already talking about potential venues as "jokes" (when he told me he was secretly already hoping to marry me).
It's still weird to me. Many of those close to me have had relationships like this but I never figured I would be one. I'm the one in my social circles who moves slow and is terrified to open up. And yet, with this boy I found myself smitten.
So... I'm engaged, with a bit more rush to divorce my ex (who I really should had never married). We have plans of a very very small outdoors wedding next august, being just our parents and a few very close friends. Savings are already being made for our joint desire to own land in Wisconsin.
Its weird to find someone who clicks so well. But I'm so incredibly grateful to have found this missing piece of me, who is so gentle with me. He has seen me at my absolute worst, in the deepest I've been in for my depression. And yet he still wants to be with me. I worry he might be rushing it, given hes so young (21) but I am happy to go at whatever speed he sails.
I dont really have anywhere else to share this rant about this. I'm scared of being judged for being engaged to someone I've seriously only known for less than 3 months... but I found the person I click with best. We could talk for hours, or just sit in silence and enjoy each others company. I think I found my soul mate, if they exist. I can't imagine life without him anymore. And he vibes the same way.
Tl;dr; I got engaged to someone who started dating me when I was a mad alcoholic and hella depressed. We have known each other for a little less than 3 months.
submitted by not_another_goth to bipolar [link] [comments]


2020.09.21 12:06 Elizabeth_Dreadful I dated a US serviceman who shot my sighting down so hard I stopped talking about it, here it is:

I live on the coast of England, and I’m used to seeing planes and military craft flying in the sky.
I was sitting in my room one evening in October around 2010 when I got a call from my mum who was in the carpark of the Tesco’s the other side of town. She told me to look out of the window towards the sea, and tell me what I could see.
The night was super cool and crisp (that nice kind of frosty October night that smells like Halloween lol) and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but a few stars. And one quite large orange tinted “star” hung directly opposite my window, but much bigger and almost shockingly round.
I told her I knew exactly what she meant and she said “Good, I wasn’t sure if I was being weird.” She said she’d noticed it when she left the stop, put her shopping away, put the trolley back. And then sat in the car and stared at it before finally risking me laughing at her and called me.
And just then, as we were staring, it shot off in a line smooth and soundless and faded into the distance. My mum lost sight of it fast but I was higher up saw it until it got too far away. It moved so fast it was gone in less than half a second, I think I would have lost sight of it quicker if I didn’t have such a wide view of the sky.
I dated a USAF vet later in life who called me an “idiot woman who couldn’t understand what Raptors can do.” And I just never mentioned it to anyone again.
But there was no sound, surely there would have been a sonic boom. And the speed it was going at would have surely splattered whom ever was inside all over the cockpit. Also pretty sure legally planes are supposed to have at least one blinking light.
Most importantly, I’ve never seen a plane so bright and look just so round.
I remember being mad at the time that I didn’t film it, but this was 2010 and my tiny digital camera probably wouldn’t have picked up anything anyway lol
submitted by Elizabeth_Dreadful to UFOs [link] [comments]


2020.09.21 10:41 BIGCBG Missed meth connection

During my last relapse after finding some meth off Grindr. I matched with this dude who said he didn’t wanna fuck and actually didn’t ! He was a male prostitute (Femboy) he gave me shards to kinda be like security outside while he turned tricks in his room.
I must’ve shot at least .8 he gave about 1.5 grams and I crushed it all and tried to shoot half missed in my arm and shot the rest . I got WAYYY too high and I started looking out his windows being all creepy, waking back and forth and waiting for tricks lol. He eventually kicked me out .
I left his house in the morning and caught the train back to my friends house where my car was Parked. The male hooker got me a Lyft to his house which I thought was cool at the time lol. As I got off this train this beautiful girl who was clearly spun af, eyes like saucers asked me if I had a car . Which is weird question at a train station but i said I did . She looked like Teanna TRump the porn star but clearly a tweaker.
It almost felt like love at first sight. We chatted on the bus to my friends house where my car was parked after we got off the train. It felt like we were about to go on a wild adventure . That would last much more than a day . We got to my friends house and I shot a smudge of heroin i just so happened to have because I was still very high from the night before about to drive to Orange County from SFV
She filled my tank and bought me cigarettes and we started driving . Showing each other music. She had such good taste in music. Much better than my current girlfriend who I was dating at the time also. I remember thinking “_____ would never listen to this !” We were going song for song showing each other such good songs dancing and laughing . Eye fucking each other in the car . Then she tells me to pull over
She prepares a huge shot of meth but she wants to boof it. I say to her why don’t we just shoot it? She’s like no I’m telling you this is better . She boofs half with her feet on my dash then hands it to me. I finish it off and boof the rest. Then we get back on the road otw to her apartment . Vibing out really connecting . I’m rubbing her legs etc but I’m kind of intimidated because she so hot me but she keeps calling me babe.
We make it to her apartment . And we lay on her bed. Directly across from it is the door to her backyard that has no blinds . I keep seeing a tree shake and it’s sketching me out . I’m not even aware that I’m violently way too high . That heroin made me forget how much meth I did the night before . The boof in the car was too much on top of it. I can’t stop looking outside . She’s trying to talk to me and calm me down . It’s not working. I go outside smoke a cigarette and. Throw it Over her wall outside .
I tell her I’m going to buy blunts when I leave I see apt staff in the bushes by her wall. This makes me 20x more paranoid . (I didn’t know but my cigarette started a small fire they were putting it out) I get the blunts and come back. I roll a blunt and smoke it we’re talking but I’m not being smooth I’m just talking about random shit she’s trying to connect with me but I’m scared to make a move and just fucking kiss because she’s so beautiful to me plus I’m really paranoid . A lot of my paranoia has to do with the fact she had an eviction notice on her door. I can’t stop looking outside and also I tell her about the staff in the bushes by her wall. Now she’s paranoid a little. As were smoking there’s a knock on her door.
She’s terrified and thinks it’s the cops and says don’t answer it. For some reason I’m not scared (but I’m scared of her) and answer it. It’s staff saying someone set the brush outside on fire with a cigarette and also that there’s complaints of weed smell and there’s no smoking on top of that A***** was supposed to vacate her apartment weeks ago . I tell them we’re packing she’s sick and she’ll call apt mgmt in the morning . They actually left us alone after that .
I come back in and report what happened. And on top of all this I can’t stop looking out the window . She’s paranoid too now and thinks I’m setting her up . She puts her Broken closet door in front of the glass back door. I keep looking out of it. She’s yelling at me now to stop. She calls some dude that’s her friend . She has some meth I crush it all up probably 2 gs. Shoot about 60 ccs of glue . She says that was a lot doesn’t do a shot herself .
I say I’m going on a walk and coming back. I get back the doors locked they won’t open it. I bang on it for 15 minutes until they let me in. I grab my speaker and go to my car. They leave too and go to her friends car . I say something like i wish it didn’t happen like this. She said are you ok with genuine concern ? I’m talking to her but not looking at her she thinks I’m talking to myself
Her friend speeds off . I drive home high as fuck barely make it home. I think back to this day all the time. I should mention my girlfriend is calling / texting me while all this happening and I’m ignoring her. I hung out with A***** one more time after this which I’ll write about another time. But I always go back in time to this day in my mind. From the moment our eyes first locked all the way until we walked into her apartment we had amazing chemistry and should’ve had amazing sex but everything went wrong. Both of our lives were falling apart at this time. She was hooking lost her car and just got evicted. I was losing everything too. I often wonder if we would’ve had sex would we have just ended up homeless together living in my car . Would we have overdosed or ended up in jail. I would’ve definitely lost my girlfriend who I live with and who helps me in every aspect of my life even during my relapses . A***** hasn’t posted on social media in over a year . I wonder if she’s still alive. I think about her all the time
submitted by BIGCBG to Stims [link] [comments]


UNSENSORED 2011 - Well Hung Dating Site for the Well-Endowed? - YouTube Well endowed. - YouTube New Dating Site For Well Endowed Men

  1. UNSENSORED 2011 - Well Hung
  2. Dating Site for the Well-Endowed? - YouTube
  3. Well endowed. - YouTube
  4. New Dating Site For Well Endowed Men

Hanging of the Melbourne Silver Mine's All Analogue Photography Exhibition UNSENSORED '11 at the Collingwood Gallery, 292 Smith St Collinwood, Melbourne. (Opening Nov 25 and running until December ... Well endowed. There's a new dating site for well endowed men. It's called 7orbetter.com. Kirk will fill you in on all the details. The Doctors discuss a new dating site called ‘7 or Better’ specifically created for the well-endowed. CEO and creator Steve Pasternak joins to discuss how th...