Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz, Jasper, and Garnet

It’s been a long time since the seven dwarves were together. It’s been even longer since his brothers have seen Quartz outside his crystal coffin. 

Jasper, the sixth dwarf and the second to the youngest, decides to have a little fun with this during the spooky season. 

He blackens his ginger whiskers and sprinkles them with silver. He waits until dusk behind the door of the cottage he shares with his brothers. 

A nose peeks out, followed by a face covered with scraggly ginger whiskers. Garnet steps outside, not really wanting to. 

Garnet: Um, Jasper? Our brothers should be coming back from the mines soon. Have you finished the gardening?

Jasper: (imitating Quartz’s manner) Right. As if you weren’t the one supposed to do the gardening. 

Garnet: (nearly jumping out of his skin) Quartz?! (He peers at Jasper, a sooty Jasper with salt-and-pepper whiskers.) It can’t be. You’re dead. Opal said you were dead. 

Jasper: (snorting in a very Quartz-like fashion) Since when is Opal right about anything? As if I’d do what he says!

Garnet: (taking a timid step forward) You saying you’re not dead?

Jasper: I’m saying it’s impossible to rest in peace when you’re always pulling your whiskers and ducking responsibility!

Garnet: (one guilty hand reaching up a hank of beard) I’m not…

Jasper: Right. Keep this up and the garden gnomes will come after you. Just see.

Garnet: (shaking his head) Thought garden gnomes were just a silly, round-faced human ornament collection. You said so. You said not to take Jasper so seriously.

Jasper: Uh huh. You learn things when you fall under the sleeping curse, terrible things. Like the truth of those gnomes. 

Garnet: What truth?

Jasper: Oh, they seen like a bunch of chubby cheeked idiots who don’t even move until they notice you. Unless they chose to show you their true faces. Once they do, they’ll never leave you alone. 

Garnet: That’s what Jasper told me. I saw their true faces, their claws and their teeth. You said it was just tall tales. 

Jasper: There’s truth to tall tales, lad. I’m guessing you’re still seeing those gnomes, their true faces out of the corner of your eye. I’m guessing you still hear them whispering your name. Coming closer and closer. 

Garnet doesn’t say anything. He just shivers. 

Jasper: I’ve seen them, too, lad, in my cursed sleep. Seen them coming closer to you. If they come close enough…(He shudders)

Garnet: What? They’ll eat me? They’ll take me away to some horrible world and make me their slave? What?!

Jasper: It’s too terrible to say out loud. We don’t want to catch their eye. Not any more than you have.

Garnet: What can I do?

Jasper: Just be good, very good. Good behavior and good manners are a charm against such monsters. Keep your head down. Never pull your beard again. 

Garnet: I won’t!

Jasper: Now go take care of the weeds in the garden. 

Garnet: (frowning) That was Jasper’s job. 

Jasper: The better you behave, the less those gnomes will notice you. Now take care of those weeds! Do a better job than Jasper ever could!

Garnet: Fine! 

He bolts in the direction of the garden. Jasper watches him go, smothering his own giggles. 

Jasper: Oh, little brother, how gullible you are. 

Quartz: Right. And how good you are at conning others into doing your chores. 

Jasper turns, sees a shimmering outline of the actual Quartz, glowering at him. 

Jasper screams in terror and runs for the door, slamming it behind him. 

Garnet comes running from the garden, stops short at the sight of Quartz. 

Garnet: Quartz?

Quartz: For someone who claims to see all sorts of things your brothers can’t, you miss what’s right under your nose. And I’m not dead, thank you very much!

Garnet: Opal says you are. Before you go saying you don’t do what he says, or since when is he right about anything, I’ve seen you lying in that crystal coffin myself. Not breathing. 

Quartz: Aye, curses are complicated. I’m suffering from whatever was absorbed by that coffin. 

Garnet: You mean our princess’s curse? You’ve got it now?

Quartz: (sighing) Something like that. I’m not dead, though. Don’t ever believe it, no matter what that fool Opal says. Now get inside with your brother. 

Garnet: Why? I’m not afraid of you, even if you are a ghost. 

Quartz: Turns out what you’ve been seeing isn’t all kobold crap. There may be more to this tale of garden gnomes stalking than I realized. 

Garnet: Really?

Quartz: Just get inside, little brother, and wait for the rest of us to come home. 

Garnet swallows and shuts the door behind him. On the other side Quartz hears a faint whisper. 

Garnet: Happy Halloween, Quartz.

Quartz: (swallowing a bit in turn) Happy Halloween to you, too, little brothers. (He can hear Jasper breathing hard on the other side.) Stay safe. (adds a little mischievously) Don’t let the garden gnomes bite. And don’t pull your whiskers! 

A couple of squeaks are his response to this.

Happy Halloween! 😉


#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those who participate post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to….

For my own, Stealing Myself From Shadows will continue…this is a little longer than six sentences, but they’re short sentences.

 I hesitated at the sight of his offering. Should I accept his hand? What he was truly doing was asking for mine. 

     I wasn’t sure if I still had one, attached to this thin, fragile body. Besides he needed to give me something in return. 

    “Who are you?” I felt my lips shape the words, tasting them. Yes, I had lips. I had a voice. Had he given these things to me? Perhaps he had every right to ask for something back. 

Wednesday Words: Tales of the Navel

On March 9, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt at It involved a delivery package, water, and nosy neighbors.

This made Madam Journey to stop by with her cart to deliver a package to the Navel…and collide with Juno.

There’s something to be said for moving. You keep moving. You don’t have to stay and deal with noisy neighbors. 

Don’t envy ‘Brie, having to live with a neighbor like Juno. Got a reflected storm in those eyes of hers, a sharp beak in that chirrupy voice, pecking and pecking. Ready to draw blood, scratch whatever you’re hiding out of you. 

She’s still a customer. Not that I work at the Navel. Not exactly, but I work with ‘Brie. I bring her deliveries. I’m just as glad that Juno doesn’t notice me when I do. 

“Oh, why if it isn’t the Wandering Madam!” She tittered behind a thick hand covered with rings. Meant to dazzle the eye, those gems sparkling from each finger. Made it hard to look at any one of them. “Just what are you bringing our darling ‘Brie in that quaint cart of yours?”

“Madam Journey,” I said with a short nod. Not that it was my true name. Wasn’t about to give to just anybody. Especially not greedy goddesses like Juno. Even if she was now just a nosy neighbor. 

Nosy neighbors could be trouble. Nosy neighbors in Omphalos were too often spies. 

“Just a package.” I held the wrapped parcel, not willing to give it to Juno. She wasn’t the right one for it. “The usual.”

“Is that so?” Juno tittered again, eyes daring from myself to the cart. “Nothing is ever usual at the Navel, is it, dear? ‘Brie herself claims it’s the center of all things bizarre, but what’s bizarre can become commonplace on a regular basis, don’t you think?

“Depends on the bizarre.” Not much of an answer. Juno didn’t need one. “Bizarre may be the people as much as the packages here.”

“Too true.” 

Speak of the bizarre. Juno’s daughter stood in the shop. How quiet she must have been, lurking behind one of the shelves. Almost as good as that beautiful monster ‘Brie kept around the Navel, passing off him as her son. 

Hebe stared at the package with a pinched, hungry face. She had the same watery gray eyes as her mum.

“That’s for me.” There was no question in her voice. She reached out for it with trembling hands. 

Too bad she was right. 

I unwrapped the parcel, revealing a cup which was almost a bowl. A youth appeared in onyx and black along the side. He himself offered a basin to someone unseen. 

“Every time you passed the cup to my father, I imagined you were passing it to me,” she muttered, almost too low for me to hear. Not that she was talking to me. “You took everything, yet I couldn’t bring myself to hate you. No matter how much you haunt me.” 

With slow reverence, she leaned forward to kiss the figure upon the side. 

“Hebe!” Her mother made a strangled sound in her throat, hand clutching at her chest. “Why? Why are you here? Must you claim another cup?”

“Yes.” Hebe held the cup with especial tenderness in her hands. “Don’t worry. It won’t last. They never do.”

She turned with her prize and strode out of the Navel.

“It does her no good!” Juno turned upon me with sudden fury. “Why must you continue giving her these trinkets that remind her of what she’s lost? Why feed her madness?”

I shook my head real slow, left and right. “I don’t know myself. Why don’t you ask her? I’m just making a delivery.”

Most of the time, it’s a good thing. Something someone needs. Something they’ve lost. Treasure pretending to be trash.

Sometimes it’s trash pretending to be treasure. Just trying telling that to someone who looks with eyes filled with angry worship. 

They’ve got to figure it out for themselves. When to stop collecting trash. 

You’d never know it, looking at me, a baggy woman pushing a cart that seems to be full of trash. The truth is, I gave up collecting trash a long time ago. 

Not that anyone believes it. Too many folks put too much stock in appearances.

You got to look deeper. Even if you do, it may not stop you from collecting trash. Not if you don’t understand the real reason why. 

Only Hebe could figure it out. 

Her mother glowered at me, maybe thinking of all the nasty things she might have done to me if she was still a goddess, sitting on high in the heavens. 

Good thing she wasn’t. Not that I couldn’t have handled her, but I don’t go looking for trouble. Just things people have lost or are looking for. 

I nodded at Juno and made my way to the exit. 

Conversations with Christopher: Peter (and Other?) Part 4

Once upon a time, Peter made it his personal mission to make Christopher smile. No matter how big a fool he made of himself. Eventually he succeeds.

Sitting in a dark theater, Christopher watches Peter, the sly way his lips curve, the gleam in his eye as he gazes at Suetonian’s scowl. He lets his fingers continue their stroking path down the bust’s cheek in a tickling caress. 

Not even stone can resist Peter. The scowl eases, rock-hard lips softening into something less disapproving, less ill-humored. 

Why wouldn’t it? The bust is only here because Peter wishes it. This is a stage Peter has set, but what is its purpose?

Peter: You’re wondering what I’m up to, aren’t you, Christopher? Why a stage? Why all this?

Christopher: Wouldn’t you?

Peter: Of course. I’m always thinking and wondering about other people. (He cocks his head at the bust, giving Suetonian the sly look of a man who’s just succeeded in leaving his sexual partner extremely satisfied.) I live to entertain, to please. To give you a performance that’ll make you smile, forget yourself. 

How vivid the roses are in the wallpaper behind him, almost bursing out of the second dimension. Christopher can smell them, a seductive perfume which reminds him of the Gardens, of Duessa. 

And of Damian. 

Peter loses the smirk, as if the stray thought of Damian banished it. He locks his dark eyes with Christopher’s. 

Peter: I can images in your eyes, visions of you and me. Visions which might make us both happy, if you’d let me.

Christopher: (squirming in discomfort) Peter…

Peter: You don’t know how much I covet your power. The power of Happily Ever After.

Christopher: I’m not sure how real it ever was. Happily Ever After was just a title I acquired in the Shadow Forest. 

Peter: Was it? (He licks his lips with seductive slowness) Didn’t you earn it, little shadow?

Christopher. Sometimes someone’s happiness makes someone else sad. I never could make you happy, Peter. 

Peter: So certain of my unhappiness at your side, are you?

Christopher: No. I wish I could have made you happy. 

Peter: Not half as much as I wished to make you happy.

Christopher: I know. I’m sorry, Peter. 

Peter: For what? Whatever do you have to be sorry for?

Christopher: I was rude to you when you came to the Navel. I rejected you so many times. I took offense to everything you did.

Peter: I know. (He smiles a little, a flush coming to his cheeks.) It was adorable. I fear it brought out the pervert in me. 

Christopher: You never stopped trying to make me happy. No matter how much you flirted or tried to touch me, all you really wanted was a smile. 

Peter: Oh, Christopher. (He chuckles.) I wanted a lot more than that!

He let out another chuckle. Suetonian’s stone lips turn down into a smirk, his sightless gaze fixed upon Christopher, giving the shadow the impression he was laughing right along with Peter. 

Like a hot, blistering wave it hit Christopher. Scorn. Scorn for everyone, the entire history of civilization. How could he not mock it? No wonder he’d told a history filled with lies. No one had caught him. Not until centuries later. Why would they? People enjoyed his embellishments too much. It made them careless about checking his facts. What amusing fools. 

This hot wave of scorn was coming from the bust of Suetonian, the personality animating the stone. Or what Peter thought animated the stone. Who and what he’d decided Suetonian was. It was withering. 

Christopher stood in the middle of it, thinking this is what the flowers must feel like when I get too close, when they wither and turn black. 

No. Christopher sat up straight, stopping squirming, and planted his feet in the ground. For it mattered. The truth mattered. Why else would the most of persuasive lies have a measure of truth? 

This was the key to Peter. Even when he was lying, mocking other people he was telling the truth. He was convinced it was what other people needed, wrapping them in the reality he thought they needed, but there was something comforting in a reality which stayed solid, a sky filled with changing colors you could just watch, without worrying about whatever was in your imagination flying down and devouring you. You could let your imagination wander, your visions staying locked in your head while you just flirted with them, safe and sound. 

Not that Peter was in a place where he could indulge in such things. 

The set wall was creeping forward. Red roses poked their way out of the velvet, accompanied by thorns, thrusting their way through. 

Look out, Christopher wanted to cry, but the words wouldn’t come out. The look in Peter’s eye silenced him, something hungry and hurt. 

Peter: Did I make you happy, Christopher? Really? Or did I just tear open old wounds, my presence constantly reminding you that Damian was no longer there?

Christopher: No. (He hangs his head, not wanting to reflect the past back in his shimmering eyes of all the times he scowled at Peter, letting Peter know he could never replace Damian in so many ways when he didn’t say it out right.) I’m sorry. 

Peter: Once again, I’m baffled at this shame. What do you have to be sorry about?

Christopher: No matter how bratty I was, you never stopped trying to get to smile. And you did. Remember?

He looks up, meets Peter’s eyes, hoping his own shine with the moment Peter did get him to smile, standing in a garden which Christopher once saw as just his and Damian’s. 

Christopher: You explained purple prose to me. You said it was a guilty pleasure of yours. I realized it was a pleasure of mine, too. Only I never knew I was supposed to feel guilty about it. 

Peter: Of all the lines I’d ever used, I never knew that admission would be the key to getting you to smile. 

Christopher: That moment was ours. Yours and mine. 

Peter: One fleeting moment. (He closes his own eyes, refusing to look at Christopher.) There was others, so many others. Moments when I tried to touch and you shrank away. Maybe you wouldn’t have minded it if it was someone else. You would have welcomed it. 

Suetonian’s stone smirk grows. Christopher could almost feel his scorn. 

Suetonian: <Happily Ever After indeed.> Christopher hears the words in his head, although he’s not sure if Peter can. <You think you can cheer up this challenge, little shadow? This ultimate shadow I’ve nourished with my lessons of the power of lies?> A hint of pride mingled with the scorn. <He doesn’t want a happy ending. All that bother trying to make other people happy, to make you happy, yet he refuses to recall the time he succeeded. He’d rather be pricked by thorns and make a joke out of it.>

The set wall is right behind Peter, pressing against his back. As if to illustrate Suetonian’s point, they scratch his cheeks, catching in his hair. 

Peter grins as if, yes, it was all a joke. Suetonian grins right along with him. 

Peter: Funny how the answer is perfectly obvious. If you wish I was someone else, maybe I should become someone else. Someone who makes both you and Paul happy.

Christopher: (standing up) You already do! Don’t try to change, Peter. We like you the way you are!

Peter: Ah, that’s not true. (He nestles back amidst the roses and thorns, even when they tear at his cheeks, sending bloody tears streaking down his face.) I distress Paul so much, he literally tore himself in two. As for you, I’m always putting pressure on you, making you feel like you have to respond to my lust and satisfy it. Better to become someone who can satisfy you. 

Christopher: No!

He leaves his seat, runs toward the stage. 

The thorns snake out into tendrils, lashing at Christopher, keeping him away from the stage.

Christopher: (glaring at them) If only I had a sword. 

Peter: Why don’t you wish for one? Slash at my thorns, like a fairytale prince. What a princess I’ve turned out to be, making my bed amongst the briars. Go ahead and give us a whack. You’d think I’d be used to your blows by now.

Christopher: Blows? (He stared at Peter, reflecting the young man in the standing bower of briars.) What have I done to you?

Peter: Nothing I didn’t ask for or beg for. You’re quite the slight little thing, but your unhappiness, your loneliness feels like a blow. 

Christopher: I’m not unhappy. Nor am I lonely. I have Gabrielle. I thought I had you. 

Peter: And I can never have you anymore than you can have Damian. How I hated him.

Christopher: All right, yes, I missed Damian. I was unhappy, even heartbroken when he left, but you got me to smile again. You reminded me of what it was like to smile. You couldn’t have done that, Peter, if you hadn’t been you. Please don’t dismiss yourself or the power you have!

Peter: Oh, I don’t. After all, I’m flexible. Adaptable. (He writhes a bit against the thorns as if he enjoys their pricks.) Capable of changing into someone better. Someone you’ll actually want. Someone everyone will want. 

Christopher: There’s no such thing as someone everyone wants?

Peter: (widening his eyes, smiling in a wicked way) If you believe that, Christopher, you’re unworthy of the power of Happily Ever After. I’ll be taking that burden from you, the challenge of making everyone happy.

Christopher: How can you do that? I tried, Peter, but we’ve seen it’s not possible. 

Peter: How quickly you forget your own lessons! Anything is possible Beyond the Door. Including becoming a god.

Christopher: You think you can become a god?

Peter: If enough people believe in me, believe that I can make them happy, yes. A godling, at the very least. 

Christopher: You’re starting to remind me of Dyvian. 

Peter: Thank you for reminding me that he’s one of the first people I have to find and convert. I’ll see you in another form, Christopher.

Peter’s body disappears, becoming a flurry of rose petals. They take flight, along with the set wall which dissolves into flowers, flying and floating. 

Christopher remains with the empty stage and no set. Only Suetonian’s bust remains. 

Christopher: I wonder that he didn’t take you with him. 

Suetonian: <I’ve taught him all there is to know. It’s his turn to surpass me in deception and art.>

Christopher: What you’re saying almost sounds noble, yet it gives me the chills. 

Suetonian. <Thank you.>

Christopher: That wasn’t a compliment. 

Suetonian: <That wasn’t entirely not a compliment.>

Christopher: (sighing) No, I suppose it wasn’t. 

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on our blogs. It can be our own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample different writers’s snippets, go to…

For my own, here’s another taste of the shape changing serpent I’m wrestling with, err, Work In Progress, Stealing Myself From Shadows…

 I shivered at the hand. I cringed away from those slender fingers. 

    “It’s all right.” The young man’s voice was soft, husky with reassurance. It sent a tingle down my back, reminding me that I had a back, a body. “This is your rebirth, Christopher.”

#QueerBlogWed: Tales of the Navel

I couldn’t remember if it was a love potion gone wrong or a love patron which was part of P.T. Wyant’s Wednesday Words prompt. Along with a snowstorm and a marble on February 16, 2022 at

I decided to do both. If there’s any place you can find both, it’s at the Navel…

I’d never seen snow before.

A spiral of snow flakes spun around the head of the slender individual who entered the Navel. 

The narrow spaces of the shop widened. Were they trying to accomodate our customer?

“Welcome to the Navel.” I could never manage my mother’s boisterous tone or Damian’s dazzling smile. My greetings always felt subdued as if I wasn’t sure if I was welcoming or not. 

The visitor took no mind. “Thank you. I’m looking for a love potion or perhaps a love patron? My beloved is giving me trouble.” 

Not a snowflake touched the ground. They continued to spiral around the visitor’s head like a spinning veil. A veil of snowflakes, how bizarre. 

Appropriate for the center of all things bizarre, something ‘Brie constantly claimed the Navel was. She was going to be seriously envious of that veil.

“A love potion or a love patron?” I was intrigued. “What’s a love patron?”

“Oh, I suppose it’s someone or something which empowers lovers.” The customer waved their arms out of billowy sleeves worthy of an arachnocratic lady, but this was no arachnocrat. This individual was far more androgynous, gazing with a remote expression at something which wasn’t there with stormy silvery eyes out of a dusky golden face. Their eyes reminded me of Juno’s or Hebe’s. “Rekindling old passions by patronizing time and intimacy lovers have allowed to slip away, but a potion might do the same.” 

“I’ll see what I can find.” Yes, this was bizarre, but bizarre was the Navel’s specialty. If this customer was here, something was waiting for them. I just needed to find it for them.

I turned around to find a boy my age standing there, a boy with lustrous dark eyes and a mop of glossy black hair. His short tunic reminded me of the attire in the Gardens of Arachne, but he wore a wreath of leaves, not flowers. 

In his hands, he carried a bottle filled with greenish-yellow liquid. 

“Um, hello,” I said, trying not to jump. I hadn’t heard him come up behind me.

“Hello.” He smiled, lowering his dark eyelashes. “The customer wished for me. I came. Take me to them.”

Too surprised to argue, I accepted his offered hand. 

Objects often came and went as they wished, responding to a customer. This was the first time a person actually appeared.

Hand and hand, we moved over the customer with snowflakes falling over their head. 

“You!” They lifted a hand to point a finger at the boy. “What are you doing here?”

“You wanted me. I am here.” The boy let go of my hand, lifting the bottle the level of the customer’s eyes. “Bearing your other desire.”

“Desire embodied, passion in a bottle.” The customer shut their eyes. The snowfall intensified upon their head, letting out a low howl. “Do you really think it’s that easy?”

“Do you?” The boy countered, advancing upon the customer, still brandishing the bottle. “You still found the path to the Navel. You still found me here.”

“Is this a place where one’s wayward loves find themselves drawn back to their abandoned lovers?” The walking snowstorm took a step back. “You may be carrying a love potion, but just how are you a love patron?”

“Why not?” The boy stopped, holding his ground. “Why must you be the one to support me? Why can’t I support you? Why can’t a beloved be a love patron?”

“It’s not how it’s done.” The customer shook their head. “It’s a lover’s duty to guide, protect, and support their beloved. Just as it’s a beloved’s duty to inspire and reinvigorate the lover with his beauty.”

“The way it’s done isn’t my way.” The boy held his head high with dignity and pride. “I want to care for you. I want to banish the storm hanging over your head. Won’t you let me?”

He still offered the bottle.

Silent, unsure if I should say anything, I watched the snow fall upon this strange customer before they reached for the love potion. 

“I was going to trick you into drinking this,” they confessed to the boy. “Perhaps I am the one who needs a draught of liquid passion.”

They raised the bottle to pale lips. No frost or ice touched the vessel, although the snowflakes gathered upon the hands holding it. 

They took a drink. A greenish-yellow light ran through their slender form, illuminating it with their swallow. 

The cloud overhead disappeared. Color entered the strange customer’s cheeks, no longer obscured by a veil of snow. 

They drew a shuddering breath, began to cough and gag.

“Ah, you’ve poisoned us!” The customer raised a hand, warding off the boy. “This is a trick!”

“No trick.” The boy smiled sadly, but there was a dangerous glint in his eyes. I’d seen such a look on Damian’s face. “It was a love potion, but it’s also poison to monsters incapable of love.”

Relish and sorrow in equal measure filled his voice when he looked upon the customer, clawing at his throat. 

I had the strangest premonition, a vision of Damian standing where this boy stood now. Gazing at the Lady Duessa, clawing her own throat with many hands. Looking at the woman who’d dominated his life with the same regretful triumph. 

“What have you done?” I whispered. I took a step closer to the customer who’d fallen to their knees.

“Don’t touch them!” The boy moved between me and the fallen stranger, catching them in their arms. “I would not share this monster with any other prey for I’ve both loved and hunted them for too long.”

“What do you mean?” I gazed at the boy, cradling the robed figure with especial tenderness. “Did you just poison them?”

“I wanted it.” The customer gazed at the boy in hungry adoration I understood only too well. “A love potion or a love patron to bring you back to me. To make you mine completely, even if it meant dying in your arms.”

“I know.” How gentle and merciless the boy’s manner was. “I was more than willing to be yours if it kept you from feeding on the lives of any other young beloved who might catch your eye. If it meant you were mine and mine alone.”

He bent down to fasten his lips to the customers. The two of them seemed to melt together, becoming one beautiful statue of marble. There was no telling where the lover ended and the beloved began. 

The snow began to fall over both of them, right in the Navel. Obscuring them, making them disappear. 

For a moment I saw a pale-haired young man I’d remembered in flashes, holding a dark-haired boy. The boy looked up at him with adoring green eyes. 

Those eyes changed color. Many hues swam in the irises. I saw myself, lying in the arms of Damian, gazing down at me with tender ruthlessness. 

The snow vanished, not leaving a melting flake upon the floor. 

I wiped away my tears, not sure why I was crying.

“Welcome to the Navel,  center of all things…Christopher!” Gabrielle appeared in the silver disc upon the floor, her welcoming expression turning to one of worry. “What’s wrong? I thought there was a customer. Are you all right?”

“Don’t worry.” I brushed the tears away, managed to smile. “There was, but I handled it.”

I wasn’t sure if that was true. 

Conversation with Christopher: Peter (and Others) Part 3

Paul shudders in the silence, hugging himself, trying to still his own trembling. 

It’s a silence Christopher felt compelled to give into, relaxing all movement, anything which might make noise. Never mind that he’s supposed to be having a conversation. Let the silence breathe for a moment. To interrupt would be rude. No, worse. Unkind. 

Peter has no such reservations. He walks over to Paul, drops to his knees, and hugs him, murmuring something into his ear. 

They look more like brothers than former lovers, holding each other. There’s a stamp of similiarity to their features; same generous mouth, same up-turned nose, same delicate jawline, the same lustrous dark eyes, filled with emotions. Even the way their hair curls, falling in locks over their foreheads is the same, even if Peter’s is more russet. 

For a moment Paul allows himself to be hugged. Allows himself to relax, to release a hissing breath.

Paul: No. (He pulls away, pushes Peter away.) Just because the ugliest part of me has taken on a separate form means you’re safe from me. Quite the contrary.

Peter: When did I ever want to be safe? Especially from you? (He reaches for Paul again.)

Paul accepts his hand, rising to his feet, lifting Peter to his as he does. The two of them stand and turn toward the bust. 

Paul: I don’t know why you brought Suetonian here. 

Peter: He represents our talent for self-deception, but also for re-invention. 

Paul: Do you want to re-invent yourself, Peter? 

Peter: (tightening his grip on Paul’s hand, eye bright with a hunger he doesn’t bother to hide) Always. 

Paul: (smiling with a measure of scorn) A pity. I don’t. Not now that I’ve cast off my ugliest feathers.

He pulls his hand free of his former lover’s with a violent anger that makes Peter stumble. He stares at Christopher, sitting silently in the audience.

Paul: We’ve all got something to hide, deep outside, wanting to come out. You’ve seen what I’ve got. When are you going to show yours?

He doesn’t wait for an answer. He spreads his arms, transforming into a blur of spiralling black feathers. The feathers become birds. They fly in all directions, seeking the exits, not stopping to dive at anyone on the way. 

Christopher watches them go. He looks back at the stage, to see Peter gazing at him. 

Peter: When are you going to show me?

Christopher: What makes you think I haven’t?

Peter lets out a chuckle at this. He runs a finger over Suetonian’s stone head. 

The bust silently scowls. 

(To be continued…)

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets! Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction. It can be our own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, Christopher will continue to discover the reality he finds himself in Stealing Myself From Shadows...

 I gazed at the young man’s narrow nose, the triangles in his face. How familiar they were, how familar he was. Only I couldn’t recall anything about this man. 

    How long had it been since I’d seen anyone’s face? This one absorbed me, attracted me, made me want to see him a little clearer. 

    The young man extended a gleaming white hand toward…me? 

    Yes, me. The light from the man picked me out in the darkness, made me more aware of myself than ever. 

Like this Work In Progress you’re reading? Let me know!

#QueerBlogWed: Games Shadows Play

On December 15, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a game, bedtime, and a bag.

The shadows decided to play with a young Leiwell as a response in this Tale of the Navel

The shadows waited until bedtime to play their games. Leiwell imagined they carried a bag with them tonight. In it was one thing he really wanted. He had to guess what it was or convince the shadows to give it to him. 

If he failed, he would have to give them something they wanted. They’d pop it in the sack and he’d never see it again. 

Leiwell lay still under the covers, seeing them quiver in the corners of the dark room. Listening to Map’s snores when they began to rumble through the floor. 

“Ready to play?” the first shadow asked. Slender and secretive, Leiwell was willing to guess he knew more than one thing Leiwell needed to know. Somthing to do with the arm green aura exuding from the shell he carried beneath his cloak. 

“He’s never ready.” The second shadow was impish and mischievous, capering from patch of darkness to path of darkness. “He’ll have to be very clever to get the better of us!”

“Now, now, don’t taunt our boy.” Cool and soothing, the third shadow was very like the mysterious master Leiwell only recalled with clarity in dreams. “He risks as much as we do every time we plays with us.”

Yes. Map wouldn’t like it if she caught Leiwell playing with shadows under her roof. It was possible she’d banish all of them from her cottage, including Leiwell himself. 

“Have you brought the bag?” Leiwell allowed his bedcovers to slide from him, his feet to hit the floor. All the better to grab his ankles. He wouldn’t cheat. He wouldn’t cower in the bed. 

“Yes, we have.” The second shadow reached out to the first and stroked their back. A cloak of darkness tumbled into their hands. “What do you think we’re carrying, hmm?”

He was tempted to say the lights filled with green warmth and chill blue. What Lewiell wanted most, to see manifest in the world. Only he doubted he’d find them in the shadows’s black bag. 

No, they’d be carrying something else he wanted. 

“Do you have a memory of my master’s?” It was impossible to keep the yearning out of his tone. “Our time together?”

“O ho!” The second shadow danced around the floor, springing from the sihouette of the chest to Leiwell’s boots against the wall. “There’s precious little of that!”

“Precious little, even though you’ve tried to carry what you recall with you.” The first shadow opened the bag, revealing a green orb. “Is that your guess?”

Leiwell hesitated, glancing at the third shadow. 

“I cannot help you,” they murmured in their melodic tone. “You have to choose. No matter how costly the choice.”

“Yes.” Leiwell reached for the green orb, feeling it pulse with warmth. 

He smelled leaves and sunshine. He tasted dew and triumph, wondering at the rush of energy which infused him. 

Prismatic eyes caught him in their mirror-like gaze, reflecting him back. “Yes. You are alive, my darling.”

Leiwell closed his eyes, opened them. Looked into the empty darkness of the sack. “Was that all?”

“Aren’t you a greedy one?” The second shadow laughed again. “Give you what you desire and you hunger for more!”

“Perhaps if we’d taken something from you, you’d appreciate what you have.” The first shadow shook their head. 

“Memories are fleeting.” The third shadow turned away. “Too often they bring pain. Too often they’re of no use. That’s why they’re cast away.”

“I don’t want to forget.” Leiwell reached for the bag. “Please. Give me more.”

“We told you!” The second shadow stamped. “There was precious little to give.”

“What little we had, you took.” The shadow with the bag stepped into the darkness, becoming one with it. 

Only two shadows stood before him, distinct in the moonlight. 

“Please.” Leiwell crawled to the edge of his bed. “What do you want? Whatever it is, I’ll give you.”

“Oh, you will!” The second shadow giggled. “You’ve only just began to give.”

They leaped into the darkness, dissolving into the misshapen nothingness of the night. 

Only one shadow remained that would still speak with him. “Leiwell. Don’t be so quick to offer a shadow anything.”

“Don’t go!” Leiwell implored, but they, too vanished, leaving the boy alone. 

He sat in his bed, pressing his fingers against his chest. He’d won. He’d gained a memory. Something he wanted. Hadn’t he?

Mocking laughter tingled for a moment in his mind before fading away, laughter like and unlike his own. 

He clapped his hands over his ears, wishing to block out the sound. He couldn’t. It came from inside him. His memory. The same memory of his master greeting him, touching him. 

Perhaps this was the price for remembering. 

Leiwell shuddered again. 

Conversations with Christopher: Peter (And Others) Part 2

The damask wall behind begins to bleed. A blood tear runs from the stone eye of Suetonian’s bust. 

Peter: (looking from wall to stone face) Why are you crying? Is the desire to be loved so wrong? I’m willing to change in order to wine that love. 

A second tear runs down from Suetonian’s other eye. 

Peter turns to look at Christopher still sitting in the empty theatre. The slender boy is very still, keeping his hands laced tight in his lap. 

Peter: Are you listening? Am I so wrong?

Christopher: No, but I’m not you.

Peter: What’s that supposed to me? (He gestures to the wall and the bust.) Do you think I’m the one doing this?

Paul: Always. 

His voice comes from everywhere in the theater, surrounding the stage. 

Peter spins around, looking here and there, trying to spot his former lover. 

A raven flies down from rafters hidden in the darkness above to alight on Suetonian’s bust. It deliver a single derisive peck to the liar, err, historian’s head. 

Peter: Now that’s just rude. (He wiped his brow, tossing his auburn curls over his shoulder.) Not to mention hypocritical. 

The raven fixes its beady eye upon Peter. There’s something both lascivious and contemptuous about its stare. 

Peter: (backs away) You have no right to look at me like that. 

The bird flies down to the ground and puffs out its chest, hunching within its wings. The feathered dark body begins to grow. Its shadow expands along with its body, drawing in the darkness swarming around the threater to swirl in its body. Too much darkness for whatever is forming. Some of it drips sodden feathers, turning into a pools of a reddish-brown ooze. The ooze smells like rot, mildew, and something sickeningly sweet. 

The body swells to man-size, wings folding to reveal a young man’s pale slender body. Paul raises his glossy dark head, fixing a reproachful ebon eye upon Peter. 

Paul: Don’t I? Who amongst us isn’t a hypocrite? Certainly not you, flinching from this form. Do you detest yourself that much?

Peter: (mouth half-open in shock) Do you even need to ask that question? You’re the one who made me hate myself. 

Paul: I’ve never been able to make you do anything. No matter how hard I tried. 

Peter: Is that why you left me?

Paul: I left you because I was trying to protect you from all this!

Paul drops to his knees. The wings vanish from his back, leaving a few feather to flutter in their wake. 

One of them drifts toward Christopher, hovering around his face. 

Christopher: (shutting his eyes) No. I’m not going to feed on you. Not now. 

The feather vanishes in a shower of golden dust which clings to Christopher’s face, lips, and tightly clasped hands. 

Christopher: No. 

Some of the dust slips into his mouth when he speaks, making him choke, making him lose his grip on himself. 

Paul: There’s no such thing as refusing to feed for a shadow. Not for very long. Even if you say no, we can’t help but throw ourselves at you when you’re hungry. 

Peter: Leave him alone. You’re here to torment me, aren’t you?

The pools of ooze slid across the floor, become one. A figure rises, dripping reddish brown slime  which disappears before it hits the ground. It disappears into the man’s black beard, his pale skin, his dark robes. 

The man grins a yellow-toothed grin, filled with ugly glee. He lacks Paul’s beauty, yet he looks very much like Paul might, given added years and a life of malice. 

Gryluxx: Oh, I’m here to torment everyone I can. It’s my pleasure. 

Christopher: Gryluxx. 

Peter: Gryluxx? The feather-brained gossip of the Shadow Forest? 

Gryluxx: Watch who you call feather-brained, my pretty pervert. It’s only too close to insulting yourself, is it not? 

Gryluxx walks over to Paul to lay a hand upon his head. 

Paul shivers, shutting his eyes, a look of revulsion distorting his delicate features, features which are very like Gryluxx’s own. It’s their expressions which change them into something very different. 

Peter: What are you doing? Leave him alone!

Gryluxx: Why should I do that? Why should I do anything you say? Because this is your stage and you are the star? Just how long can you wallow in that delusion? 

Christopher: (standing up) What do you want, Gryluxx?

Gryluxx: Peace, little shadow. Your part in this conversation is only as the audience. You might choke on a spoiler if you’re not silent. 

Christopher: One might say your entire appearance here with Paul is a spoiler. 

Gryluxx: One might say many things. (He runs his fingers through Paul’s lustrous dark hair.) One might speak of weakness, of eternal youth and beauty as a plaything to a god. Or worse, a goddess. 

He gives Christopher and Peter both meaningful smirks, making them flush in response.

Gryluxx: Yes, we might speak of passion for pretty perverts and time wasted trying to save them from their own debasement. We might speak of distractions from the hunt.

It is Paul’s turn to flinch, shivering under Gryluxx’s caress. 

Peter: You’re a fine one to speak of perverts, touching him like that. (He advances, hands balled in a fist.) Who do you think you are?

Gryluxx: Who do I think I am? (He stopped, fixing Peter with an angry glare.) Don’t you see, you foppish little fool? You with your set, your bust, and your need to be loved. Well, you were loved and I’m bored of it. (He looks the auburn-haired youth up and down with a sneer.) 

Paul looks up at the man touching him with sheer revulsion. 

Paul: No. It’s a lie. I never stopped loving Peter, no matter how much he exasperated me. You’re not part of me. You’re not part of me.

Gryluxx: (stooping to lean close to whisper in Paul’s ear) No, I’m not. You rejected me. You’ve released me. Now I’m free to do as I please. (He lets out an ugly caw to rend the air, piercing everyone’s ears.)

Christopher claps his hands over his, feeling his skin crawl. Peter takes a step back, flinching at the sound. Paul swallows, his face twisting in revulsion. 

Gryluxx: Oh, how you scorn my cries! Cringe all you wish before me, but I exist. I am ambition. I am frustration. I am everything you find too petty you acknowledge, but I am here.

Paul: No. (Paul slowly gets to his feet, glowering at Gryluxx. The golden light in his eyes is hellish.) You have no place here.

Gryluxx: (wagging a finger under Paul’s nose) Deny me all you wish. You’ve created that place. Your own disgust with yourself summoned me forth. 

Paul: Why? What do you want? To destroy me?

Gryluxx: To destroy you. To live for you. To do all the things you would not. Everything Jupitre would not let you do. Everything you were afraid of showing Peter.

Paul: (becomes very still, still as a statue) What do you mean? 

Gryluxx: Now, now. If I spoiled the surprise, it would certainly be a spoiler. Just wait and find out!

He spreads his arms, disappearing into a flock of black birds, all cawing in mockery. The raven take flight, going up and in all directions.

Some of them dive bomb Christopher, beaks aimed at his face. He ducks, shielding his head. The theatre is filled with their cries, their discordant laughter, the flap of birds’s wings before the ravens find the unseen exits in this place not visible in the dark. 

The silence they leave behind is a living, breathing thing. 

(To be continued…)