Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Vanessa

Quartz dreams, dreams of slipping out of his body to toddle off into the mists waiting for him in the Forest of Tears. The shadowy haze swallows everything, including himself.

Quartz: Huh. Guess this what it’s like for Christopher.

He reaches out, only to feel tendrils of silken thread wrapping around his arms and legs. He’s lifted off his feet. 

Quartz: Oi! Let go!

Vanessa: What ugly male voice dares to invade the Gardens of Arachne?

Quartz blinks, sees the haze clear to reveal a woman wearing a loose lavender gown, her raven hair ripping down her black, caught in twists of silver, falling around her four…arms? 

Yes. She has four arms. One points a finger at him, another gestures in what might be arcane symbols. The third and fourth are clenched in fists. 

Quartz: Quartz, if we haven’t met before. We may have, even if we don’t remember. 

Vanessa: Your wits may be fuddled, but mine are not. You have the uninvited honor of looking upon an arachnocrat. The Lady Vanessa Ashelocke. 

Quartz: You’re the one that caught me in your web…lady.

Vanesss fixed angry rose-purple eyes upon him while a fold of flesh under each opens, revealing that a third and fourth eye, filled with blazing white light. 

Quartz: (swallows and mutters) Not good.

Vanessa: No, it’s not, you hideous little man. Any of your kind caught in the Gardens are devoured and destroyed. 

Quartz: Hope by my kind, you mean men. Because I’m not.

Vanessa: (scowling, looking him up and down) Not a man? You look far too much like one. The sight of you brings back bad memories. 

Quartz: Erm, sorry about that. The bad memories, that is. Not my looks. Not sure why you think I’m similar to a man. Got a better beard than any ruddy man. I’m a dwarf.

Vanessa: A dwarf?

Quartz: That’s right. We’re not human, no matter what any human might think.

Vanessa: Human? Are you suggesting that I’m a human? How dare you!

Quartz: Not trying to be daring. Just being honest.

Vanessa: I already told you I was an arachnocrat! These are my…our…gardens you’re trespassing in!

Quartz: How many times do I have to say sorry? (He tries to move, but the webs hold him fast.) Right. I’ll say it again. Didn’t mean to trespass. I was dreaming.

Vanessa: (sniffing) These are the Gardens of Arachne, not the Shadow Forest. Dreamers have no business here. You shouldn’t be here. Unless…

She pauses for a moment, looking down at her four hands, the hedge before her where Quartz hangs in an opening. Some of the flowers are floating in the air. 

Quartz: Unless? 

Vanessa: Unless I’m the one dreaming. (She groans, dropping all four of her hands.) Unless I somehow summoned you the way I summoned Christopher. 

Quartz: Christopher was here? 

He looks beyond Vanessa at the floating flowers, the rose petals drifting in the air, the faint sound of boyish laughter, high and sweet. One of those voices could have been Christopher’s. 

Quartz: Right. Course he was. Grew up here, didn’t he?

Vanessa: You know Christopher. That hardly seems possible. 

Quartz: You know him. Spends lots of time in the Shadow Forest. Hardly possible happens there, to hear him talk. He and I share a Cauldron. Or a blog. Same thing, really. 

Vanessa: Blog? Cauldron? Sounds like a load of nonsense.

Quartz: Right. We’re in the Cauldron now. Didn’t you know?

Vanessa: (sniffs) If I was in a cauldron, I’d know it. 

Quartz: Maybe not. 

Vanessa: And just what you implying?

Quartz: Nothing. Look, according to you, I’m a dream. You’re dreaming. You brought me here. This means you wanted to talk to me. 

Vanessa: Why would I want to talk to you?

Quartz: You tell me. 

Vanessa: I seem to recall having a similar dream about Christopher. (Her cheeks color.) What would I possibly wish to say to you that I couldn’t say to my own brother?

Quartz: Your brother, huh? Wouldn’t have guessed. 

Vanessa: We’re not related by blood, but yes, he was raised as my brother. Quit avoiding my question. 

Quartz: Not avoiding it, but you’re the one who needs to answer.

Vanessa: Impudent little dream. You claim you’re not a man, but you have a man’s arrogance. Especially in claiming I brought you.

Quartz: Not sure how else I could come if this is my dream.

Vanessa: You could be an imp, a hobgoblin sent to vex me. Did Damian send you? (She sounds almost hopeful.)

Quartz: If he did, he didn’t tell me.

Vanessa: He wouldn’t. (She smiles a bit sadly.) I suppose there things I can’t talk to Christopher about. I called him my brother, but he wasn’t really mine. Any more than Damian. She took him away from me just as she took Stefan. 

Quartz: She?

Vanessa: Duessa. She takes everything from me.

Quartz: Beginning to remember you. Think we’ve talked about Duessa unless I’m mixing you up with someone else. 

Vanessa: (frowning) Anyway this isn’t what I wanted to talk about. 

Quartz: Right.

Vanessa: There’s nothing right about this. Not these gardens, nor your presence in them. It’s supposd to be perfect.

Quartz: Perfect, huh? There’s a short supply of that going around. If any. 

Vanessa: I’ve strived for perfection my entire life and I’ve failed to find it. All I’ve found is what’s wrong. 

Quartz: Stands out, what’s wrong. Particularly if you want perfection. 

Vanessa: True. And you know what’s wrong? Christopher. 

Quartz: How so?

Vanessa: He appeared as a ghost, a shadow of his former self. If he’d attacked me, draining my memories or strength, it would have made sense. 

Quartz: Guessing he didn’t. 

Vanessa: He was kind, compassionate.

Quartz: Often is. It can get a bit annoying. 

Vanessa: It’s worse than annoying. How can be like that? When Stefan gave me to his friend, I wanted to rip them both apart! How can he forgive me for giving him to Duessa? For letting her take him as her Marriage Feast? 

Quartz: This Stefan owned you? And you owned Christopher?

Vanessa: Stefan was my older brother and lord of the tower. He could give me to whomever he wished. No matter how much I hated it. Now I’m an arachnocrat. No one can give me to anyone. 

Quartz: You could give Christopher to Duessa. If I’m following right. 

Vanessa: He was a boy. I was his older sister, an Ashelocke, and an arachnocrat. Not that I could refuse Duessa anything. She’s the guardian of the Gardens, the first arachnocat of Arachne. What she wants, she gets. 

Quartz: What about what you want? 

Vanessa: Second to what she wants. Always has been. 

Quartz: Sounds like a secondary character. (He scowls.) You feel like forgiving these fools?

Vanessa: What fools?

Quartz: Duessa. This Stefan, your brother. His friend. 

Vanessa: No! I’ll never forgive any of them! I’m a monster because of them! 

Quartz: How so?

Vanessa: The only way to escape Stefan and Redcrysse was to become a monster with Duessa. To help the Gardens grow. They were supposed to keep us safe. 

Quartz winces, thinking of the mountain kingdom he and his brothers fled from. That was supposed to be safe, but the other dwarves were dragging everyone into their fights over treasure. They’d escaped to another mountain, only to find it occupied by a dragon. They’d taken refuge in a cottage in the Forest of Tears. The cottage was supposed to be safe, but Quartz had been forced to bargain with a kobold to get it. 

Quartz: Any place safe is hard to find, even harder to keep. Too often you have to give something up to get it.

Vanessa: (swallowing and raising her chin) Don’t think I regret my choice, for all my…misgivings. Arachnocrats may be monsters, but we’re kinder to the boys we feed on than men ever were to us. We treat our victims, no, Marrage Feasts better than we were treated. 

Quartz: Maybe that’s why. 

Vanessa: Why what?

Quartz: Why Christopher can forgive you. If you treated him better than you were treated, maybe there’s less to forgive. 

Vanessa: Christoper was devoured. I’m still here. 

Quartz: Aye. (He thinks of a girl, sleeping in the crystal coffin he now occupies. How lost, how lonely he felt, trying to waken her, until he finally succeeded.) Sometimes the worst thing you can do is hurt someone, forcing them to carry on. 

Vanessa: No. I don’t believe that.

Quartz: No?

Vanessa opens her third and fourth eyes, revealing the brilliant whites, shining like tiny stars without iris or pupil.

Vanessa: I’m alive. Where there’s life, there’s power. Power to work change in the world, even if it’s a tiny change. No matter how long it takes. 

Imprisoned dwarf and arachnocrat gaze at each other. Quartz blinks slowly. 

Quartz: Aye. Aye, that’s true. (He gazes at Vanessa.) Thank’ee, Lady Van. Seems I needed to listen as much as you needed to talk. 

Vanessa: Don’t call me Lady Van. I don’t know why you’re thanking me. You’re still caught in our webs. 

Quartz: Am I?

He grins, feeling himself fade away, slipping out of the strands. Slipping into another dream. 

Vanessa watches him disappear, leaving an empty space in the hedge. 

Vanessa: I’ve been having such odd dreams of late. Too odd. Maybe it’s something in the air. 

She turns to stride in the opposite direction, oblivious to the Gardens or her own body fading away, vanishing into the rising mist. 


#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

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

To sample various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

As for mine, Christopher will continue to examine himself, his current self in the looking glass in Stealing Myself From Shadows

Long wavy bangs fell over my forehead, gleaming coppery-gold. 

     Perhaps the black velvet tunic and trousers suited this slight form, but a small mouth frowned at what it saw.

     “This doesn’t seem right.” I studied the boy who could have been a girl. He wrinkled his nose right back at me. 

     Yes, I vaguely recalled seeing this boy in reflections before.

     His face changed into that of a girl with violet-blue eyes flecked with silver and green. She grinned back at me from the other side of the glass, pushing back stray strands of fly away hair. 

Like my style of writing? Hungry for more? Here is a link which leads to all my published works…

#WednesdayWords: Paula’s Prompts

On October 5, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt. It involved a backscratcher, a mouse, and a notebook.

This poem was result…

My husband has lost his backscratcher

My mouse has run out of power

Still I have my notebook

Empty lines waiting to be filled

To match my empty head

I ask myself what I want to write

My head is never as empty as I think

Distracted, seduced by other stories

Fighting to coo and squeal over what I loved

Why not give into the urge?

Writing about what I enjoyed gives me a clue

Just how can I work this into my stories

In a way that is my own

The challenge gets my fingers moving faster

I’m lost in the brainstorm, the creative possibilites

Moving into my own stories, reinvigorated

Until my husband begs me to rub his back

Missing his beloved backscratcher

I give in, rubbing, trying to hold on my ideas

Ways to recapture them once my mouse works again. 

Conversations with Christopher: Vanessa Part 2

For a moment Christoper just gazes at the arachnocrat who was his sister. A breeze shakes the roses, making the petals take flight, escaping on the wind. 

Some of them circle him only to wither and fall from the air at his feet. 

Christopher: I thought I was your brother.

Vanessa smiles at this, gazing at the fallen petals at his feet. 

Vanessa: How alike you are, the brother of my blood and the brother of my heart. Why must you crush the flowers with your passion? Even when we raise you to be a flower yourself, delicate and gentle? Why do you come back to haunt us, cast your shadow over everything we grow?

Christopher: Is that what he did? Stefan Ashelocke?

Vanessa: He’s the reason our garden grows. To creep up the walls of the tower. To soften and give beauty to the hard, unfeeling stone. 

Christopher: You’re speaking in riddles. I thought you preferred less ambiguous words. 

Vanessa: How is this for clarity? You, Christopher, were someone I could love and cherish without an arachnocrat’s hunger or a woman’s fear. 

Christopher: As opposed to Lord Stefan?

Vanessa: That’s right. He was always Lord Stefan. Never just Stefan. Even to Duessa and Dyvian, he was always the lord. The darkness creeping in and claiming them.

Christopher: And you? What was Lord Stefan, I mean Stefan Ashelocke to you?

Vanessa: Oh, he already owned me, heart and soul. I was just a young female extension of him. To both Stefan and his crude friends. 

Christopher: Friends? 

Vanessa: Sir Redcrysse and Una. They were the ones who brought Dyvian to Stefan as a gift. 

Christopher: A gift?

Vanessa: It’s what men outside the Gardens do. Own people, give them to others. It’s what women like Una accept and watch. Laughing, looking down their long noses, certain it will never happen to them. 

Christopher: What?

Vanessa: Being given away. Being treated as an object. Being laughed at as if your pain was nothing. 

Christopher shivers. Memories, a thousand memories lapped up in the Shadow Forest burst into bitter sharpness upon his tongue, accompanied by the sound of laughter. Sometimes rough and coarse. Sometimes high-pitched, a dismissive sneer in each syllable. Always cruel. 

No wonder so many wished to let go of those particular memories, leave them for the shadows. He wishes he could get the taste of them off his tongue. 

Vanessa: Redcrysse and Una loved to laugh at other people. They encouraged Stefan to do the same. 

Christopher: Did he?

Vanessa: Sometimes. He often smiled. Or smirked. (She balled her hands into fists.) How long I longed to wipe that smirk off their faces!

Christopher: Did you?

Vanessa: Duessa did. For that reason if nothing else, I admire her. She felled the tower and raised the gardens. She clipped Una’s wings and drained Redcrysse of his brutality. 

Christopher: And made Stefan the first Marriage Feast. 

Vanessa: If Duessa hadn’t taken him, he would have taken her. She was far more gentle with him than she should have been. Gentler with all of them. 

Christopher: I’ve seen Una, a starved faerie with shredded wings. She mutters constantly about how cruel Duessa was and is. 

Vanessa: Ungrateful wretch. I would have been far more cruel. Una forgets her own past cruelties in her self-pity. 

Christopher: Like laughing at people. 

Vanessa: Like stripping them of their dignity and encouraging others to do so. Like Dyvian. Like me. 

Christopher: You said Stefan gave you to Una? Or Redcrysse?

Vanessa: (closing all four eyelids) I’ll never forgive him. Or Duessa.

Christopher: Duessa? I thought you were defending what she did to Stefan, Una, and Redcrysse. Whatever that was. 

Vanessa: Redcyrsse became one of her valentines, danging from Duessa’s web, drained of his vitality without gaining the gift of eternal beauty. His torment is eternal, yet she was far too merciful. 

Christopher: What would you have done?

Vanessa: Made him suffer as he made me suffer. As he made Dyvian suffer. Draining him is a gentle punishment, but Duessa always tried to be gentler than her enemies. 

Christopher: Gentler?

Vanessa: You’ve experienced the delight of being Feasted upon. By her. It’s more than Redcrysse deserves. 

Christopher: What did he deserve?

Vanessa: To feel like he’s nothing but an object. A forgettable object to be used and discarded. To wish he was anywhere but in the web. A blissful swoon is too good for him. 

Christopher: You want him to suffer.

Vanessa: I suffer still every time I think of him. Remembering his eyes, his touch, his laughter. Why shouldn’t he do the same? Why should a monster like him escape from fear?

Christopher: Perhaps he hasn’t.

Vanessa: Oh, but he has. He’s in the web. He’s been drained. He’s too weak to suffer.

Christopher: Would you want him to be strong again? Strong enough to hurt someone else?

Vanessa opens her hands. She moves her fingers, allowing them to dance in an intricate pattern, a gesture of warning. A spell of words. 

Christopher can read the spell, the message. It’s one everyone in the Gardens learn.

Protect us from the cruelty of men. May we rise above their dominance. May we rise above their shadows. 

Vanessa: I have two extra hands to cast spells with. They should be twice as strong, my spells. Why can’t I ward the monsters away? Why are the roses dying?

A few black spots appear on the petals of the flowers nearby. Just a few, but Christopher recognizes the withering. 

Christopher: Perhaps you can’t escape from the shadow of your past self. Perhaps she’s here, haunting you now. 

Vanessa: Haunting me with her helplessness. How I hate her. 

Christopher: Why?

Vanessa: She wasn’t monster enough to eat the monster who hurt her. 

Christopher: Would that help? Would eating the monster make him go away? Make them all go away?

Vanessa: It should. (She begins to cry.) It should. Why doesn’t it work?

Christopher doesn’t answer. He just takes a step closer to her, a hesitant step. 

She doesn’t react, doesn’t even seem to see him. She just continues to cry.

Gently, very gently he puts his arms around her. 

For a moment she stiffens. Right before all four of her arms enfold him, holding him tight. 

They don’t say anything. They just stand there as if the wind picks up, sending the petals flying around them as everything dissolves.

After all they were just shadows. 

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating 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 different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, Christopher is making his way across the Navel to the promised looking glass in Stealing Myself From Shadows

 I made my awkward way toward the mirror, dodging clutter jutting out from my shelves. It was as if the items lying there wanted to stop me, to make me look at them. It would be so easy to be distracted, but I wished to see what the mirror would reveal about the current me. 

     What I saw reflected in the silver frame confirmed what Damian had said. 

     I wasn’t just small and slender, I was skinny. Eyes too big for my face, a violet-blue filled with reflected light stared back at me.

Like my style of writing? Want to read more? Here is a link leading to all of my published works…

#QueerBlogWed: World’s Most Boring Person

On October 19, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving the World’s Most Boring Person, chocolate, and toast.

This poem was the result…

The World’s Most Boring Person

Never listens, talks non-stop about herself

About hobbies that don’t interest you

People you’ve never met

Becoming a blur

You reach for a chocolate

You reach for some toast

All the while her mouth never stops

Unaware of your movement

You’re not every hungry

Too apathetic to do anything

Other than shove food in your mouth

All this boredom is infectuous

You’re willing to endure it after being charmed

After the one who hung on your every word

Made you feel special, fantastic

Part of a rich flow of conversation

Lapping and swelling between you

Too exciting, too addictive

Too attractive to be safe

For when she left you alone

Feeling empty, a discarded fool

One of her many discards

Boredom felt safe.

It was safer to be in the company

Of one who didn’t matter

You still crave company

As you try not bleed, try not to scream

You let the boredom surround you

Comforting and innocuous

Your secret bandage

For the hurt you cannot admit. 

Conversations with Christopher: Vanessa

Everything vanishes in a haze until the ground returns along with an awareness that he’s walking over it. All dust disappears into the smell of roses, dew, and growing things dampened by sunlight. 

Christopher takes a deep breath, his head swiming the scent. The perfume of an arachnocrat. Only this is sharper and less overwhelming than the odor the Lady Duessa overwhelms. Sharp with uncertainty and a hunger its owner is only just beginning to control if he ever did control it. 

He recognizes the scent from another lifetime even before he sees her. 

Christopher: Hello, Van. 

Vanessa Ashelocke starts and stiffens. Raven tresses fall over her shoulders from the silver coronet around her brow. She wears a lavender gown which gathers around the bosom, flowing out into loose skirts, slits along the side for her additional pair of arms. Only Christopher can see only two arms, lifted as if she’d been about to do something to the rose in front of her. 

Vanessa: (eyes as rose-purple as Damian’s widening in outrage) How dare you interrupt a lady’s contemplation as she dreams! Wearing Christopher’s form, no less.

Christopher: (stopping in front of his sister and the roses behind her) Maybe because I am Christopher? Unless I’m a dream. 

Vanessa blinks at him and lowers her hands. 

Vanessa: A dream. Yes, that’s possible. I’m still coping with the after effects of the Marriage Feast. Not to mention my second Feast slipping away, thanks to that fool Duessa’s indulgence. 

Christopher: Is that how you see the Lady Duessa? A fool?

Vanessa: A fool who doesn’t appreciate what she has. She wanted Damian for herself. Always did. Instead of taking him for herself or giving him to me, she drives him out of the Gardens. Into the darkness. 

Christopher: (looking away) Damian wanted to go. 

Vanessa: As if any boy knows what he wants. (sniffing) I doubt Damian himself knew, much less that he got it. 

Christopher: Don’t we all?

Vanessa: (drawing herself up with a haughty lift of her head) I am no boy. I am an arachnocrat. Don’t expect to understand what that means. 

Christopher: Do you?

Vanessa: Always with the questions. You endanger the reality of the Gardens, asking these things. Taunting us all to think about them. Oh, why am I wasting these words upon you? You were just a boy. Now you’re less than that. 

Christopher: You don’t believe in the eternal beauty given to a Marriage Feast?

Vanessa: If so, why haven’t I been able to see him? My Dyvian?

Christopher: Isn’t he in the center of your garden? Still as a statue with flesh like marble?

Vanessa: (shivers, tries to hug herself, but it’s awkward with an additional two arms which at last Christopher can see) After I Feasted, I found myself in a fever dream. Reality swam in and out. Dyvian disappeared. I awoke in the bower with additional arms and eyes, but no sign of Dyvian. 

Christopher: What happened to him?

Vanessa: Duessa said she’s taken care of it. I would be able to visit him when I was ready.

She opens a second pair of eyes, hidden behind tiny wrinkles upon her face. The light coming from them is blindingly silver, swallowing iris and white. 

Christopher holds up a hand to shield his own gaze, thinking of the silver triangles which sometimes appear in Tayel’s iris. The light is similar. 

Vanessa: I see much I didn’t before the Feast. Too much I don’t understand, yet not a trace of Dyvian. (She fixes those glowing eyes upon Christopher.) Nor was there any of you. What did Duessa do with you? Both of you?

Christopher: (looking away) I don’t know. I was lost in the Shadow Forest until Damian drew me out. 

Vanessa: Damian? (She shut the silver eyes. Only the rose-purple ones remain, moist and filled with longing.) You’ve seen Damian? Been with Damian? Where is he?

Christopher: I don’t know. (He meets her gaze.) He disappeared. I fear he may be lost as well.

Vanessa: No. He can be found. I just need to find him. Bring him back home. 

Christopher: And then what? He’s older than any Marriage Feast. He’s a man. 

Vanessa: No, not my Damian. (She turns to gaze at the flowers blooming in the vine.) He’s far too beautiful to be a man. He’ll always be a boy. My boy. 

Christopher doesn’t say anything. 

Vanessa takes a deep breath, opening her silver eyes once more. The light exuding from them isn’t quite as blinding, but it’s still too bright. 

Vanessa: Why can’t I see where Damian is? Why do I only see things I don’t understand?

Christopher: What do you see? 

Vanessa turns to fix those brilliant orbs on him. They don’t reflect and absorb him as Dyvian’s often do. They just keep him at a distance, ready to burn him if he dares to look back. 

Vanessa: Ghosts. Translucent ghosts. Not just you, but myself. 

She holds up her hand. It ripples around the edges, like smoke. She waves it. It leaves a trail in the air behind.

There’s a sound of a cauldron bubbling, a smell of something cooking even though there’s nothing in sight. 

Christopher: This is our creator’s blog. The Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration. I’m not sure if we’re really here. I’m not sure if we’ve ever been here, given we’re the scribbler’s creations. 

Vanessa: There you go again, talking nonsense. Of course I’m not a ghost. 

She raises all four of palms in a warding gesture. Christopher can feel the energy, pushing him away. 

Vanessa: All this is, any of this is the after effects of a Marriage Feast. I’m simply getting used to the extra arms and eyes. 

Christopher: I didn’t see your arms at first. Not all of them. 

Vanessa: Few do. The boys blossoming in our gardens can. (She turns her palms, shifting them into a more accepting position.) Sometimes I want to cross my arms, but it’s awkward with four. 

Christopher: You’ve become a true arachnocrat. Isn’t that your answer to everything?

Vanessa: Why shouldn’t it be? I’m far more than a woman. I don’t need to cross my arms as if only two arms could protect me from anything. (All four hands ball into fists.) Why should I hide? 

Christopher: What are you hiding from?

Vanessa: You! (She advances upon Christopher.) Why do you haunt me? Why do you appear as a ghost with many colors swimming in your eyes?

Christopher backs up a step and stops. He reaches out to take one of her hands. 

Vanessa flinches, gazing down at their interlocked solid fingers. 

Christopher: This is what I am now. 

Vanessa: (looking up at him) And Damian, is he the same?

A memory of Dyvian’s own eyes, filled with frozen colors; pink, blue, grey, silver. Light and color were diminished in them. They were ready to absorb and reflect anyone they beheld. 

Christopher: Yes and no. Perhaps. 

Vanessa releases his hand. Her arms slump at her sides. 

Vanessa: I didn’t know what I was doing. It was my first Marriage Feast. I was hungry.

Christopher: What happened?

Vanessa: I don’t know. I told you. I was in a fever dream. Images swam in and out of our bedchamber, becoming more solid when I focused on them, only to vanish. 

Christopher: This does sound like the Shadow Forest. Is that where you go when you Feast?

Vanessa: Is that where you go when the Lady Duessa feasted upon you? (lifting her head and raises her four fists) She of all arachnocrats should know what she’s doing!

Christopher: I don’t know. It’s where I was when Damian found me. It’s where Damian is now. 

Vanessa: We shouldn’t go anywhere! Not the lady arachnocrats, not our boys! Arachne is supposed to protect her court! We should be safe from the darkness Stefan unleashed!

Christopher: Stefan? You mean Stefan Ashelocke?

Memories return of a statue of a man, a man who looked very much like Damian now. A statue he and Damian once met in the shadow of, whispering their secrets to each other. A statue Dyvian held in particular reverence. 

Christopher: You mean the Lady Duessa’s former husband? The very first Marriage Feast?

Vanessa: And my brother. 

(To be continued next Monday…) 

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

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

To sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

In mine, Christopher finds his path through the Navel in Stealing Myself From Shadows. This is a little longer than six sentences for clarity…

There were narrow and open spaces leading between the shelves. A golden circle lay in the exact center of the floor, mirrored on the ceiling directly overhead with a silver circle. Outside was a counter with a curtain behind it. 

     Another space opened up in front of a much narrower window than the front. Beams of sunshine peeked in, raising clouds of dancing dust motes around a full-standing mirror. 

     “As you can see, I keep my promises.” How melodic Damian made every word. Each commanded my attention. “Go and see for yourself.”

     With slow reluctance I detatched myself from his hand. 

Like my style of writing? Here is a link to all my published works…

#QueerBlogWed: Taste of Wild Strawberries

On June 22, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt. This one involved wild strawberries, bright light, and a trade.

This Tale of the Omphalos, a freebie story for A Godling for Your Thoughts? was the result…

Sometimes Danyel dreamed of the bright light. It hid behind the clouds, ready to pierce hem with a single ray. 

“Purifying fire.” Tayel hissed as if he’d been singed by the very fire he spoke of. 

Danyel moved a little closer, tempted to stretch out his hand even as he winced at the painful brilliace of the ray. “Does it have to burn? Can’t it simply…warm?”

“You idiot.” Thomas stood under a tree, skulking in its shadow, bat wing ears flapping against his face. “The light isn’t for shadows like us.”

“We are light,” Danyel protested. “Light as much as shadow. Why should we be afraid?” 

He glanced over his shoulder for confirmation from his twin, but Tayel was nowhere to be found. 

It was just Thomas, himself, and the ray of light. Unless you counted the shadows. Entwined themselves around the older boy’s legs and ears, making him almost appealing to look upon. Almost.

“If you’re so brave, why don’t come closer? Try these!” Thomas pointed a thick finger with a long talon at the tiny red nub springing from the bushes like a little heart. 

“Are those strawberries?” Danyel took a step forward, curious. 

“Wild strawberries.” Thomas’s mouth was as red as his eyes, stained crimson from the fruit. “Want a taste? I’ll trade you. A taste for a taste.”

“Of what?” Danyel moved away from the light, closer to the bush and Thomas. Too close. 

Thomas grabbed Danyel by the front of his vest, pulling him close, and fastened his mouth upon the smaller boy’s, forcing it open with his tongue. 

At first Danyel recoiled, but something warm, sweet, yet salty filled his mouth in spite of the tongue invading it like a fat worm. His legs grew weak and gave way. 

He fell to his knees, sliding down Thomas’s body. He found himself staring at the buckle holding up the older boy’s trousers. It was tarnished brass, shaped like a coiled serpent. 

“You,” Thomas gloated, looking down at him, licking his lips. “You liked it. You were more than willing to trade a strawberry for a kiss. Even if you can never eat them, you can taste them on me.”

“How?” The world swam, the light breaking into writhing colors of orange and red, red as the strawberries. “You can’t eat them either.”

“We can eat them together.” Thomas reached down to grab Danyel’s chin, forcing him to look up at him. “What does it matter if we cannot taste the strawberries? We can always enjoy their memory ghost on the tongues of the people who did taste them.”

“You mean…” Danyel realized there was a body lying nearby, under the bushes. It was turning into dirt, leaving only a tunic and trouser behind. 

“Why try and try to eat them, making ourselves sick, when we can just lap the flavor up from someone else’s mouth?” Thomas licked his lips. “If you can’t do it, I’ll feed you.”

“You’re not Thomas.” Danyel shook his head, searching for those patches of colored light in the air. They were growing darker, swallowed by shadows. “You’re just wearing Thomas’s form, like a costume.”

“I’m part of Thomas, like I’m part of everyone in your village.” ‘Thomas’ traced Danyel’s lip with his thumb. “Let me in, Danyel. Give me another taste of you.”

How sweet the flesh tasted, but his shoulder was shaking, no. Someone was shaking him, shaking him awake. 

“Danyel!” Eyes brilliant with flashing silver triangles gazed down at him, looming over him. Tayel was shaking him awake, shaking himself. “No!”

“What…?” Danyel looked around the darkness of their attic bedroom, realized his twin had him pinned to the bed. 

Tayel let him go, recoiling from him. “Dreams are Doors, opening to yourself. Don’t let them in. Don’t give them a taste.”

Danyel flushed, recalling the sweetness of that mouth kissing his. To think he’d dreamed of Thomas, mean Thomas who always insulted the twins. Only it hadn’t been Thomas. Just someone who claimed to be part of Thomas. 

“What did he mean?” He murmured to himself as much as to Tayel or the darkness. 

“You never learn.” Tayel sat up, hugging himself. “Questions are Doors, too. We don’t know what will answer if you ask.” 

Annoyingly enigmatic as always. Danyel couldn’t bring himself to be mad. Not while Tayel was shaking like that. Not after he’d kissed Thomas even if it was just in a dream.

“I’m sorry,” he said, meaning it with all his heart. He wrapped his arms around his twin and held him, unsure what he could say. Perhaps nothing. 

Tayel allowed himself to be held, relaxing into his twin’s arms. 

Danyel breathed in the scent of his twin, the attic, everything familar. Trying not to think of the taste of wild strawberries. 

Even though he knew he’d never forget. 

Conversations with Christopher:

The mist clears, but the sky is dark. 

Christopher walks under a moonlit sky, a sharply bright crescent, mysterious and mocking. It reminds him of Damian’s smile. Illuminating the sandy path ahead of him, yet revealing very little else. 

Not until the light from the twin jewels, circling enormous heads draw his attention to the crouching figures on the path ahead. Two sphinx face each other, sitting on their leonine haunches, torsos thrust out, chins held high. 

One has ebon skin, silver hair plaited in braids, silver-streaked dark fur. She gazes down at Christopher approaching with an impassive face and eyes filled with silvery light. 

The other has snow white skin, silvery golden hair hanging in hanks over her shoulders, and a smirk trembling on her lips.

Both Sphinx: Do you know who we are?

Christopher stops before them, gazing up at them. Their forms are as familiar as a vague dream he cannot quite recall, but he recognizes their voices.

Christopher: (looking at the black sphinx) Map. (looking at the white one) Ashleigh. How long have you been like this?

Map: As long as I can remember yet not always. 

Ashleigh: Come, come, Christopher, we’re the ones asking the questions. What do you think happened?

Christopher: To you? (He pauses for a moment.) You opened a Door and found this part of yourself. Your appearance reflects the change. 

Ashleigh: Good answer. Good enough for me to spare you even if you look delicious. 

Map: I might eat you even if I’m not hungry. You might be safer in my belly. 

Christopher: Why? I’d be dead. 

Map: Why do you think? Answer me this riddle. What are you always walking toward until you can walk no longer?

Christopher: The future?

Map: Not a bad answer even if it’s not entirely true. Not for you. 

Ashleigh: There’s a deeper meaning for everyone. Even you.

Christopher: Isn’t there always?

Map: You ask a lot of questions, Christopher. Maybe you’re one of us. 

Ashleigh: You should try being one of us. Stop being a boy. Join us. 

Christopher: (looking away) Just like that. 

Ashleigh: It’s easier. As easy as letting go of an idea or a memory. 

Map: It’s hard. As hard as carrying a stone which gets heavier and heavier as it absorbs your memories. 

Christopher: So which answer is the truth?

Map: I always tell the truth even when I lie. 

Ashleigh: I always lie even when I tell the truth. 

Christopher: In other words, both answers are true yet neither can be?

Ashleigh: Oh, I do like how you make every answer a question!

Map: Every question is a Door. Open it, but you’ll never know what’s waiting for you on the other side. 

Ashleigh: You can always guess what’s coming with what little you don’t know. Foretelling a measure of what you’ll find. 

Map: Foretelling will only forearm you to a limited degree. Sooner or later the surprise waits to spring on you. 

Ashleigh: Don’t you love surprises? 

Map: Don’t you fear them? Even hate them?

Christopher: (glancing from face to face) Yes.

Ashleigh: How sure of yourself you’ve become. 

Map: Are you truly that sure of yourself?

Christopher: (looking down at his feet) Seldom. 

Map: Don’t confuse self-assurance with overconfidence. 

Ashleigh: Overconfidence will trip you up. Self-assurance will help you find your footing. 

Map: Your own ignorance isn’t waiting to trip you off. 

Ashleigh: Not unless you ask it to. 

Christopher: (looking up) I’m ignorant about so many things. I’m not sure where I’m going or what to do next.

Map: There are things you can do about that. 

Ashleigh: Yes, there are. You are speaking for the scribbler as much as for yourself. Aren’t you, Christopher?

Christopher: (ducking his head again) It’s that obvious, isn’t it? 

Map: We’re all her characters. 

Ashleigh: Even when we’re just playing out her interpretations of a myth. 

(I look at the screen with some indignation as I type, but realize this is true.)

Map: Go forward. Even if you can’t see ahead. 

Ashleigh: You can always ask where you’re going. 

Christopher: (raising a hand to shield himself from the wind picking up sand) Where am I going?

Both Sphinx: Toward the future. 

Christopher: (smiling a little, looking in the direction of where I’m at) We’d better get going. Shouldn’t we, scribbler?

He walks past the sphinx whom disappear behind clouds of blowing sand. He cannot see his path, but he keeps walking.