#QueerBlogWed: Just a Dream

On June 8, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving beans, a gate falling of its hinges and a star.

This Tale of the Navel, Tale of Omphalos, a freebie story for The Hand and the Eye of the Tower was the result…

The beans had climed over a gate falling off its hinges. 

As long as I’d been in Omphalos, that gate had been in a state in disrepair. Never more so now. 

“Does anyone ever harvest those beans?” I didn’t look at my companion. Instead I stared at the star in the sky. 

It shone with a reproachful brightness which reminded me of Tayel’s eyes. How aggrieved he’d be if he knew I was sneaking around with his precious twin. Even if it was just in a dream. 

“Map gathers them. She makes a soup or a stew with these beans.” I could hear the slight hitch in Danyel’s breath, feel his shy gaze. “She doesn’t like to use meat.”

“No, she doesn’t.” I let out a sigh, imagining Map’s furrowed brow at the notion of any living creature having to die to feed another. “She will, though.”

Just because she didn’t like to eat meat didn’t mean she wouldn’t eat it. Or try to feed it to others. 

“Christopher.” Danyel’s small hand tugged at mine. “I’m dreaming of you, aren’t I? Why do I always dream of you, but I can never remember you when I wake up?”

I turned, allowing myself to look at his upturned button nose, the curl of silvery golden hair falling over his forehead. Luminous violet-blue eyes too big for his face gleamed with reflected starlight, mixing with the heartfelt question shining back at me. 

In an unguard moment, I told him the truth. 

“Because I’m selfish. I shouldn’t be talking to you, but I can’t stay away.” I tried to smile. “I’m lonely. I’m only like my former self when I’m with you in a dream.”

“Why?” He tugged at my hand again. “Why can’t you come see me…us…when you’re awake? Why do you hide in a dream?”

“Your brother doesn’t want me anywhere near you.” I pressed his hand with my fingers, delighting in being a physical person again. The price, however, was too high to do this anywhere than in a dream. “He’s right to be protective of you. He’s right to be worried.”

“Why?” He repeated his favorite word, the one he pestered all of his loved ones with in the manner of determined innocents. “Why should he worry about you? You wouldn’t hurt me. Would you?”

I turned away, allowing myself to dissolve into the mists, leaving him to gaze at a damaged gate covered with beans. 

Soon Danyel would be waking up. Soon he’d find himself lying next to Tayel, wondering what happened. 

Tayel would guess exactly what happened. He’d be hurt, worried, and upset with me. Sensing the danger, the truth of me, yet unwilling to name it. 

I was always with them, watching over them, even if it wasn’t as a living person. I was waiting for Danyel and Tayel, even though I hoped they’d keep away. 

I was getting too hungry and lonely to be careful. I’d given up too much of myself to bring Danyel and Tayel into the existence. To let them go, beyond the Door, to find a life as real as the one Damian had given me.

Part of me would always want them back. Part of me counted on them returning to me. 

The other part of me dreaded that reunion. Dreaded what might happen, what I might do when I met the twins in the waking world. 

Danyel was getting more and more persistent about seeking me out in his dreams. He seemed to want to find me as much as I wanted to be found. 

Tayel was afraid of me. Afraid of what I’d do to him, to both of the twins, but particularly to Danyel. Afraid I could take away everything he held dear. 

Alas, I could. This was part of the reason I dreaded meeting the twins in the flesh. Why I contented myself with glimpses in dreams and visions. Watching them through walls of stone. 

They were curious. They couldn’t help but wonder. Not even Tayel, no matter how hard he tried not to. 

Peter had once accused me of being entirely too irresistible. Of invoking a passion to get closer to me which bordered on madness. 

I hadn’t believed him. To accept such a thing was both vanity and undeserved. 

Seeing Danyel’s eyes shine at me made me worry. Just what had I kindled in this innocent life I’d created?

I feared we were both going to find out. 

Like my style of writing? Here are my published works…

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Conversations with Christopher: Map

Mist rises, swallowing the road, the cottages on either side of it. The gate ahead disappears.

Christopher turns back to look for Peter, but he, too, has disappeared. 

He swallows, keeps walking. The stone beneath his feet turns into gravel. A glance down reveals tiny blades of grass and flowers poking through the pebbles. They start to wither, becoming dust. The crunch of the pebbles beneath his boots softens. 

He looks down again to see white sand upon the ground. 

The mist darkens to a opaque gray. A lantern sways in the distance, blue and green light swirling around each other, captured in the glass.

Christopher follows the light to the hooded figure carrying it. One wrinkled, weary hand emerges from a billowing sleeve, holding onto it for dear life. 

The wind gust past Christopher, blowing back the hood to reveal Map’s tired face, her shadowed eyes. 

Tiny invisible hands tear at Map’s robes, at Christopher’s hair. 

Map: Pay them no mind. It will only make them stronger. 

Her warning makes it impossible not to Christopher. The wind wails, moans, and complains. Christopher hears Jupitre’s lamenting in its cry. 

My lost light, the power which once crackled in my hand. Why did you abandon me?

Map stops in the tracks, tension vibrating in her bent shoulders.

Map: Why? Did you ever ask what it was like to be squeezed? To be swallowed whole? You only notice the pain when you’re the one feeling it!

Christopher: I thought that would only make him stronger?

Map: If he was stronger, maybe he’d shut up. 

Christopher: Are you sure he’s talking to you?

Map: (turning to give him a speculative look) Do you think he’s talking to you?

Christopher: I don’t know.

Map: It doesn’t matter. He blames us both. 

The light caught in her lantern, a pulsing blue and green energy beat against the glass walls. 

Please, Map. Let us out. 

The trap doesn’t instruct. It only confines. 

Christopher recognizes the two voices, the pulses of energy. He flinches. 

Christopher: They’re your children. Why are you doing this? Why not let them out?

Map: They’ve been bad. (She tapped against the glass.) They did things they weren’t supposed to do. They lost themselves because of it. 

Christopher: Didn’t we do the same when we opened a Door? 

Map: (frowning) You let them go.

Christopher: They were taken from me.

Map: To protect them. I have to protect them and you. I have to take you all somewhere safe.

Christopher: (looking around in the darkness, wind ripping at his clothes) Is there any such place?

Map: (heaving a sigh) No. No matter how hard we try to find, someone always finds us.

Christopher: Instead of hiding, why not help them…us…prepare for being found?

Map: We’ll never be prepared.

Christopher: It’s worth trying. Better than just wandering and hiding. 

Map regards him for a long moment. She sets the lantern down upon the sand and opens it. 

The light come flying out in streaks of color over the sand. They leave a trail of grass and flower in their wake. 

The sky lightens as the mist clears, revealing grass peeking out of the sand, even beneath his feet. 

Christopher: Why are the plants no longer turning to dust beneath my feet? 

Map: I don’t know. Why did I release the lights? They’ll only spend their energy and fade faster. 

Christopher: Only you can answer that. Maybe you didn’t want to make them cry. 

Map laughs, some of the sadness lifting from her brow. She and Christopher watch a tree shoot out from the ground, branches spreading out. 

Map: What will the price be for all this? Will it be worth it?

Christopher: It’s what they wish to do with their energy.

Map smiles, showing a hit of the sphinx she sometimes becomes in these strange places beyond the Door. 

Map: Good answer. 

Conversations with Christopher: Peter

Pain. It cuts through his temples, making him stagger. Not even the cool kiss of the Shadow Forest’s mist or the comforting steam of the Cauldron can soften it entirely. 

Christopher breathes in the musty air, dust, shelves covered with items hiding in cracks and corners. Things a customer don’t realize they want, let alone need. A statue of a muscular man with a hen’s head leers at him with beady eyes. 

The shelves are too close. Their smell makes him sick. 

Peter: Here.

A hand guides him through the shelves, to the door. Chimes tingle when it opens. 

That sound is soothing, easing some of the pain. 

Christopher staggers across the threshold into the main street of Omphalos. Thankfully no one else is around. Peter follows. 

Peter: Do you do that often?

Christopher gets a brief memory flash of Damian putting a hand to his temple, groaning. 

Christopher: (lifting a hand to his brow) I wonder if this is what Damian felt in the Navel. When he said he felt trapped in there. 

Peter: Do you feel trapped? Are you unhappy?

Christopher: (shaking his head) This is the happiest I’ve ever been. Even though I still miss Damian. 

Peter: Were you happy when he was here?

Christopher: (pressing a hand to a temple which throbs a little less painfully in the open air) Happier than I thought I could be.

Peter: (smiling a little) Thought you were incapable of happiness, did you?

Christopher: Not incapable. Just not that happy with something so simple. Small things were so beautiful, so precious after the Shadow Forest. Time slowing down to something that didn’t constantly chase my imagination. 

Peter: (licking his lips and swallowing) Ah, so time can actually keep pace with one’s shifting mental imagery beyond the Door.

Christopher: It’s far more terrible than you realize. (He starts walking down the street away from Peter.) Anything which crosses your mind may manifest. Even if you don’t want it to. 

Peter: (following him) Sounds like you must have been a god on the other side. 

Christopher: (with a bitter laugh) Anyone can be a god on the other side. 

Peter stops for a moment with a convulsive shudder which makes him sway upon his feet.

Christopher: (glancing over his shoulder) Whether or not you would want to be a god is another matter entirely. 

Peter: (starting to trot after him) Who wouldn’t want to be a god? All that power!

Christopher: Exactly. (looking ahead) All that power. It comes with responsibility. 

Peter: Don’t assume everyone is afraid of that. 

Christopher: You should be. Wield great power and you’ll make great mistakes. 

Peter: Not to mention accomplish great things. 

Christopher: (stopping) Just what do you think a god is, Peter?

Peter: Someone who isn’t bound by mortal concerns or constraints. 

Christopher: Exactly. It’s overwhelming. 

Peter: To be overwhelmed like that, how I envy you. 

Christopher: Why? (He stops, turns around to look at Peter.) Why do you want to be overwhelmed?

Peter: I’m too easily underwhelmed. Too small. Too powerless. Unable to help or save anyone. Unable to release myself from my own restrictions. 

Christopher: Restrictions can define us, bringing rewards a god is incapable of appreciating. 

Peter: (raising an eyebrow) You think I’m unappreciative?

Christopher: Of the consequences of a god’s actions? Yes. 

Peter: Perhaps you’re too sensitive about such things. 

Christopher: I wasn’t suited to godhood. 

Peter: Don’t assume I’m not just because I want it. 

Christopher: (taking a step closer to Peter) We always want what we don’t have. (He reaches out a cheek to touch Peter’s cheek.) Appreciating what we do is much harder. 

Peter: (taking his hand and kissing it) Is that why you reject me? Once I have you, I won’t appreciate you. Is that what you think?

Christopher: I fear you love the quest far more than the treasure you seek. Whether it’s something you desire in another person or godhood. 

Peter: (dropping his hand) And your beloved Damian? Did he appreciate you?

Christopher: (turning away) Yes, I believe he did. For a while. Only I wasn’t enough. Not enough to satisfy him. Let alone make him happy. 

Peter: Is anyone? Just because a feeling is fleeting, should you turn away from it? I never have.

Christopher looks up at the top of the hill. Sometimes he sees a ruined tower up there. Sometimes a circle of standing stones. 

This time he sees dancing lights, twinkling and twirling around each other. He knows there will be a pond lying beneath them. A pond filled floating colors, disappearing and dissolving into each other. 

Christopher: (smiling sadly) No, you haven’t, have you?

He keeps walking, not looking back.

Peter puzzled, frowning, keeps following him. 

Conversations with Christopher: Maia

A castle made of gold shimmers and straightens in the ever-changing mists. It becomes a sparkling skyscraper, a tower made of glass, flashing and teasing amidst the fog. 

Its light becomes a beacon, beckoning Christopher, luring him out of the mist onto a waiting patch of grass with a clear view of the skyscraper, rising into the heavens like the ambitions which formed it. 

A woman with short dark hair gazes up at its walls, a slight smile playing upon her face, a dark cape fluttering from her shoulders. She fidgets with a top hat in her hands as if she isn’t quite sure what to do with it. 

Christopher: Maia, isn’t it? I’ve met you before, but I’m not sure if I’ve been here. 

Maia: Here? This place doesn’t exist. I dreamed while slaving away in an old-fashioned factory which was the heart of Verity. 

Christopher: Why?

Maia: (laughs, transferring the hat to one hand) Why? For I am Iama the Terrible! (She flourishes her hat in the direction of the skyscraper.) And this is my castle of gold. Or perhaps I should say tower?

Christopher looks up at the sparkling walls, gleaming with golden light. For a moment, its glass turns a brilliant, hot white with a bony crown reaching out of the top with skeletal fingers. 

Maia: (shielding her eyes with her hat) Ow! Stop that!

Christopher: Sorry. 

The stones darken with black tears, whimpering. The sky grows dark, filled with rumbling clouds, outraged at the spokes daring to reach for the heavens. 

Maia: That’s not my tower. 

The clouds part, revealing the sun. The darkness drips down the walls of the skyscraper, pooling at the base, leaving it golden and gleaming once more. 

Christopher: (not looking at her) What’s the difference between a castle and a tower?

Maia: (giving him a sideways glance) Well, I suppose they’re both fortresses. You can barricade yourself inside either. Only a castle somehow still feels like a home. A tower is a prison. 

Christopher: A tower can be a home. A tower can part of yourself, but yes, a tower can be a prison. Locking you inside, making you feel powerful and safe.

Maia: It’s just a feeling. You’re not safe. (She looks back at her tower.) Isolation is not safety.

Christopher: (offers her a sad smile) No, it’s not. 

Maia: The white tower, the black tower. Which one did you hide in?

Christopher: Both and neither. 

Maia: You do like your riddles. 

Christopher: You like your tower.

Maia: I used to like it. I let it go, along with with the ambition that created it. 

Christopher: Leaving it behind in the Shadow Forest where it bubbles up once more in this Cauldron. 

Maia: Those are your words, describing your world. Not mine. 

Christopher: Why are you here? Why do you still call yourself Iama the Terrible if you’ve left your castle…tower…of gold?

Maia: (letting out a sigh) She’s still part of me, even if I’ve left her dream behind. I’ve got her princess. My princess. I’ve found I’m weak without her. 

Christopher: Are you?

Maia: I thought I was the strong one. The provider. The one who took care of her and our sister. Nathalie and Grace ended up having to save me. 

Christopher: Does that make you weak? Or wiser?

Maia: (chuckles again) Wise enough to realize I’m weak. 

Christopher: That’s something, isn’t it?

Maia: Yes, it is. Like saying goodbye to the tower. I have something better now. 

Christopher: (turns to gaze at her as if he’d just seen her) Something better?

Maia: Sure. I have my girls; Nathalie and Grace. No tower can compare to them. 

Christopher: No. (He looks up at the walls, not really seeing them.) It can’t, can it?

Maia: You have something, don’t you? Or rather someone?

Christopher: What?

Maia: Someone better than the tower. I never would have dreamed of this place, desired to build it if not for them. Only it kept me from them, from being parts of their lives.

Christopher: (looking down) I suppose it does.

Maia: Beware of your own walls, Christopher. Don’t let them come between you and the ones that truly matter. 

Christopher spins around to stare at her, startled, but Maia is already backing into a cloud of mist, blowing him a kiss. She disappears. 

He turned to look up at the skycraper which turns white, black, growing luminous with colors. Its windows are no longer opaque. He can see faces in the window, looking out at him.

Christopher: Thank you…Iama. I’ll keep that in mind. 

He starts walking toward the tower, the mist rising beneath his feet. 

Want to read more about Maia/Iama and her girls? Here are buy links to Wind Me Up, One More Time; their story…

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#QueerBlogWed: Danyel’s Dream

On May 16, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt. It involved a raft, an urgent trip, and a pipe.

This Tale of Omphalos, in particular Danyel was the result…

He sensed it was a dream the moment he saw Map struggling to get into a raft. She’d never leave her cottage or her family. 

“Why are you doing this?” he protested. “I thought you didn’t want to go anywhere, like Tayel!”

“Now, now, I have to take this urgent trip.” She patted him on the head, stuck her pipe inside her loose tunic. “Someone needs my help, got themselves stuck behind some blasted Door. You and your brothers should manage for a few days.”

Brothers, yes. He had brothers. Leiwell, tall, dark-haired, with emerald green eyes. Foolish trips off to mysterious places were more his sort of thing. 

Not to mention Tayel. Tayel would never take a foolish trip off to a mysterious place. Most places weren’t mysterious to him, just unpleasant. 

Yes, his brothers, Leiwell and Tayel. He was Danyel. For a moment he’d felt like someone else, as if that name had been given to someone else. 

“But why are you taking that pipe?” The question was somehow very important, even though he didn’t understand why. “You don’t smoke, except when you blow rainbows when no one is looking.”

“Oh ho, have you caught me doing that, have you?” She grinned, her wrinkled face like a mischievous walnut. “Guess you could say I’m partial to pipe dreams, even though I thought I gave them up.”

“Does whomever you’re trying to save need a rainbow?” He struggled to understand the reason for this departure, even though it seemed unreal. Of course it was unreal. It was a dream. 

“You might say that.” She settled down in the raft, fixing a sharp black eye on him. “Maybe I need to smoke a rainbow to catch a rainbow. Maybe it’s the only way to send Christopher’s rainbow dragon back to him.”

“Christopher.” The name caught in his throat, making every hair tingle. “Who is Christopher?”

“Guess you don’t remember.” Map huffed, pushing the raft off the river’s bank. “Be a good boy, take care of your brothers, and don’t daydream too much about the tower! You’ll get its attention, make it a lot more than it ought to be.”

“Map, wait!” Danyel tried to call, only to find the words stuck in his throat. “Wait!” 

He woke up to his own cry, staring at the attic ceiling. 

“No point in calling after dreams.” Tayel was laying on his side beside him, staring at him with overly bright eyes. “They’ll only come back when they’re ready.”

“It was Map. She was leaving us.” Danyel rolled over to face his twin, their noses inches away from eah other. “She was looking for Christopher.”

There was no surprise in Tayel’s voice. “Map is downstairs, making the walls rumble as she slumbers as always. Listen.”

Danyel listened. 

Sure enough, he could Map’s snores through the walls and floor, heaving breathing and snuffling, like a dangerous bear hibernating. Not to be disturbed, not even by dreams of her departure. 

“Who is Christopher?” Danyel gazed at his twin’s lips, his glittering eyes. “That name sounds so familar.”

“Familar are the figures within the pages of book, coming to life in story.” Tayel shut his eyes. “He may have been one of them.”

“He may have been.” Come to think of it, the name did sound like someone who might have been in a story. “I can’t help feeling like he’s much more than that.”

“Anyone is more if you allow them to be.” Tayel turned away to face the ceiling. “To give them such power may be a dubious idea.”

“Like thinking the tower is more than a pile of rocks?” Yes, Map had mentioned the tower, too, hadn’t she?  “You sound just like Map. Warning us not to daydream because it’s dangerous.”

“If more than one warns you against the perils of imagination, you should consider before daring them.” Tayel kept his eyes closed, his lips pressed together.

“How I not dare? How can we not daydream?” Danyel demanded. “I know you do it. Why don’t you want to talk about Christopher?”

“Whispering your fears in the night encourages them to whisper back.” Tayel rolled away, leaving Danyel facing his back. “Go to sleep.”

Danyel didn’t answer. There was no point in doing so. His mind, however, refused to be quiet. 

Maybe so, but I’m not afraid of Christopher. I feel like he’s someone I want to remember, but somehow, someone is stopping me. 

He swallowed, pulling the covers up to his chin, only to have Tayel yank them away. 

You’re a blanket thief. Tayel didn’t speak, but Danyel heard the words in his head. 

For a moment Danyel forgot his worries and his questions. He just grinned. 

Like my style of writing? Want to read more? Find buy links to my published works at…

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#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 their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

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In Stealing Myself From Shadows, Christopher had just accepted Damian’s hand, stepping into his world. This will be my last share from my NaNoWriMo project for a while since it’s December, the perfect time to trot out my Christmas publications. Enjoy!

 I gasped in inarticulate delight to look up at the sun, to squint away from its brightness in an endless blue sky.  I dug my toes into the squishy earth beneath my feet, the soft grass. 

    Ah, my feet were bare. That was a problem, wasn’t it? 

    I looked down at my body, touched the loose, short white tunic covering it. 

    For a moment a flash of memory, of boys dressed like me, flowers in their hair blazed in my mind, only to disappear, leaving me cold. 

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Conversations with Christopher: Duessa

Often Christopher walks through shadows, finding himself taking shape in the Cauldron. 

Not this time. He hears singing; women’s voices, singing along with one deeper voice, drawing them all in. 

“Blessed is the Feast

Who offer up his life in marriage

Who chooses not to take

Who gives power instead

Never forcing his dream on anyone

Offering up his blood to his bride

Give him a lifetime of pleasure

Ecstacy beyond fleeting release

Fulfil every desire

Leaving him eternal.”

Flowers blossom on thorny vines around him, popping into life, petals trembling. Trapped in bloom.

Christopher reaches out a hand to the flower, only to see it blacken, withering upon the vine, letting out a sound that’s all too like a sigh of relief. 

The voices die, becoming one voice. 

Christopher faces the arch leading into the Temple of Arachne. Four statues stand in repose. All of them are women with eight arms, frozen in an eternal dance. None of them are former Marriage Feasts. 

Christopher: I’ve always wondered whom they were, those four arachnocrats. 

Duessa: So have I. They appeared with the Temple when the Gardens blossomed around the Ashelocke estate. 

She moves forward, wearing a black gown with slitted sleeves, allowing her eight arms to move. Her auburn hair is piled on top a silver and golden coronet, letting auburn curls fall to brush against her neck. A pendant in the shape of an enormous ebon spider with a red teardrop on its back nestles above her breast. Only four of her eyes are open; the rose-purple and the golden. 

Christopher: When did the Gardens blossom?

Duessa: When the tower fell, but there’s always another tower. Just as with death, there’s always rebirth. Tell me, Christopher, why kill such a lovely flower with your touch?

Christopher: (wrapping his arms around himself) It was trapped in eternal beauty. I wanted to free it.

Duessa: Even if it means killing him with your touch?

Christopher: You speak of the flower as if it was a person.

Duessa: I speak of it of the flower as if it were a boy. Boys and flowers are similar to me. They have only a short time to bloom. 

Christopher: Is that what the arachnocrats were singing about?

Duessa: They sing that song at every Marriage Feast. They sang it at yours.

Christopher: (shivers again, recalling the sting, the brief moment of ecstacy before it fled) I remember. 

Duessa: Do you understand why? What this chant means?

Christopher: It’s about being cut down before you can truly bloom. For blooming is painful. (He closes his eyes.) For a moment I felt its pain and its pleasure. A lifetime’s worth. 

Duessa: This is what we give you at your Marriage Feast. A lifetime’s worth of pleasure and pain in your bride’s arms, leaving you utterly satisfied and still. 

Christopher: Stone. 

Duessa: Eternally beautiful. You sound very like Damian, Christopher. I never thought you objected to being a Marriage Feast, Christopher. Nor to me.

Christopher: I’m not the same Christopher you fed upon. Not entirely. 

Duessa: You look, smell, and respond very much like he did. 

Christopher: I think Damian meant me to. 

Duessa: Did he really?

He gazes at her, a goddess with many arms. Or as close to a goddess as he’s ever seen. Power writhes within her, hungry and alluring. Ready to strike. He can see some of that power in her slitted golden eyes. The scent of roses rises from her hair, her arms, her skirts; overwhelming him. Making his eyelids tremble, his entire body ready to relax into something limp and pliable.

It’s an effort to keep his feet planted in the ground. 

Christopher: You are what you’ve always been, Duessa.

Duessa: And what is that, tidbit?

Christopher: My lady. Our lady. 

Duessa: How courteous you are. Far more courteous than my Damian ever was, yet you prefer him. You gave yourself to him, even when you promised yourself to me. 

Christopher: (shivering again) I cannot recall this promise. 

Duessa: It was just one more thing you chose to drop in the Shadow Forest, feeding to your hungry admirers there. 

Christopher: Everyone has hungry admirers in the Shadow Forest. 

Duessa: True. You never answered my question. Just what is our song about? The prayer we make for every Marriage Feast?

Christopher: It’s a prayer?

Duessa: Of course. A prayer to the spider to make us worthy of your sacrifice. 

Christopher: Us?

Duessa: We arachnocrats, of course. We’re well aware of what you’re sacrificing during the Feast. 

Christopher: Our future. That’s what the song is about. Giving up the future for the passion of the present. 

Duessa: Entrusting the future to your bride in exchange for the passion of the present. We are not thieves, Christopher, no matter what Damian might think. 

Christopher: Shouldn’t you be telling Damian this?

Duessa: (sighing) I doubt Damian will ever allow himself to be alone with me again. Except for one last time. 

Christopher: What time is that?

Duessa: When he challenges me. You see, Damian would never exchange power for pleasure. This is why he abandoned both of us. 

Christopher: (shutting his eyes) I don’t feel abandoned. 

Duessa: You should, tidbit, You should. (Her shadow spreads across the ground, moving toward him. It darkens the stone at the bases of two of the eight-armed statues.) Know this, Christopher Ashelocke. I would have taken your life, your power, and your future, but I wouldn’t have abandoned you. Nor will I abandon him. 

Christopher: Is that why you spared me?

Duessa: I didn’t spare you, little one. I devoured you.

Christopher: Only I didn’t become a statue. Why?

It’s Duessa’s turn to shut her eyes, both the rose-purple and the golden. 

Duessa: Tut, tut. You wouldn’t want me revealing all of my secrets at once. Would you, little one?

She raises her arms, all eight of them, rising into the sky, up, up, where the dome awaits. A dome which looks like an intricate web of stars, linked together. 

Christopher wonders if the web above is Duessa’s or belongs to Arachne. The Spider Herself whom the Guardian of Gardens claims to worship. 

It’s not safe to stand and wonder if this place. Tiny webs will slip over him, clinging to him, binding him here. 

He closes his eyes, willing himself to fade away. To become a ghost the ties slip through, unable to catch. 

Christopher disappears. As he does, the Temple disappears as well. Disappears into darkness, prickled by tiny lights. 

For a moment, one of those lights seems to wink. Wink in a way Christopher would find very familiar. 

A pity he’s no longer here to see it. 

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday this 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+.

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In mine, Damian has claimed Christopher’s hand with his consent, but where is he taking him? Christopher finds out in Stealing Myself From Shadows

His entwined themselves around mine, warm and solid. As we touched, the world blossomed around us. 

    We stood in the middle of a garden filled with winding paths surrounded with roses springing out from the bushes. The sweet scent went straight to my head, leaving me slightly giddy. A gazebo stood behind us, covered with twisting vines and purple blossoms. Flowers grew in clusters all around us. 

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#QueerBlogWed: A Moment of Crossover

Quartz is getting impatient. He’s tired of being trapped in a crystal coffin, in a sleeping curse. He’s tired of his own story, Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins being put on hold while I’m concentrating on Stealing Myself From Shadows.

So when one of his favorite people in the real world posted a Wednesday Words prompt at ptwyant.com involving an origami star, a sheep, and windchimes, he decided to take over. Never mind the wind chimes at the Navel and Gabrielle’s greeting crawling their way into his cursed sleep…

Someone was folding paper into a star. Huh, pretty. Imagine being able to do that. A light shone inside. Maybe they’d put it in the sky. It would lead a bunch of star-struck worshippers to their true queen. 

Right. Only in dreams. 

Windchimes tinkled. A sheep bleated. Someone greeted me in one of those loud, ridiculously cheerful voices. “Welcome to the Navel, center of all things bizarre!” 

“Urgh, shaddap,” I growled, realized I was moving my lips. “Can’t a cursed dwarf sleep in peace? Like there’s anything bizarre about contemplating your navel.”

“Ah, the navel is the center of a person’s being. Therefore the center of the world.” The voice changed, becoming higher. More sing-song. Even more irritating. All too familiar. “Therefore if a person is important to you, their navel is the center of your world.”

“Right. Just what I need to get up. Ruddy romantic philosophy.” I opened one eye, my vision filled with the wrinkled, beaming face of kobold. “Why can’t you return use of my limbs instead, eh?”

“Peace, my darling demented dwarf.” Nimmie Not, my own personal demon reached out with impossibly long, bony fingers to tweak my nose. “To be honest, to claim to be the center of all things bizarre is unsufferable arrogance on the part of a wayward direction, but we can all make whatever nonsense we wish to out of it.”

“Nonsense being one of your favorite things.” I glowered at him, accutely aware of my sore back from lying too long on this crystal. “Forcing me to lie through yours is another.”

“Ouch! You wound me!” He clutched his chest, swaying above me, making me aware he was above me, on the other side of the crystal. 

The nose tweaking, it had been close, close enough to tickle like a mad will’o’wisp, but his fingers couldn’t touch me. Nimmie Not was outside my coffin, clear enough to see, kept away by rock. 

“So sad, so close, so far.” Nimmie Not sniffed the air. “I smell roses and briars. Her scent still clings to you.”

“She scattered flowers over me before she left.” Where had they gone. Maybe they’d been magical flowers, disappearing when my Fairest had. “Haven’t seen her. Haven’t been awake.”

“No, only dreaming the dreams of the perpetually grumpy.” Nimmie Not let out a sigh. “Your brothers miss you. Poor Garnet has torn out his beard.”

“I kept telling him not to, the silly lad.” I sighed, stared at the crystal. “And how is she?”

“She? What she are we speaking of?” Nimmie Not let out a sniff. “There are entirely too many princesses and witches wandering this Forest of Tears. I lose track of them all.”

“You know who.” I wasn’t moving my lips. Somehow I was talking. Somehow Nimmie Not was hearing. “How is she?”

“She? She has found a princess of her own to torment and curse.” The kobold let out another sniff, looking down his long nose at me. “She’s been having entirely too much fun with her victim to think about you.”

Aw, shards. Here’s hoping Nimmie Not was telling tall tales again. Alas, there was usually some truth in them. “Sounds like she’s happy.”

“How unhappy you sound when you say that.” The little man scowled, tapped his long fingers against the coffin. “Really, Quartz. When are you going to stop worrying about her? It’s not like she’s your actual daughter.”

“Yes.” Shards, the sadness welled up like a vein of silver uncovered. Why was it somehow beautiful? “She’s my daughter as much as she’s anybody’s. You don’t stop worrying about someone just because they’re not worried about you.”

“No.” Reproach filled his voice, brimmed in his bright black eyes as he fixed them upon me. “No, you don’t Quartz.”

If I could move, I might have flinched. There was no missing that double-meaning. 

“If you’re worried, get me out of here.” It was as close as I came to pleading with him. 

“I told you.” He crossed his arms, gazing at me with that reproachful face. “Breaking that curse and getting up is up to you.”

I snorted, even if it was just in my own mind. I didn’t believe him. Who would? 

From the first time I’d met him, he’d been full of mischief and tricks. Trying to convince me I was a Person of Importance. At least to him. 

Right. As if I’d ever believe that. 

Never mind a fool part of me wanted to. 

Conversations with Christopher: Gabrielle

The room is bigger than Christopher would have thought, looking up at the Navel from outside; a cottage with a shingled, slanted roof, vine-covered walls, and clear glass windows. 

He’s not outside. He’s sitting at a table in a room above the shop, listening to the rain tapping on the roof. 

Gabrielle sits nearby, golden loose, falling free over a dark blue robe covered with tiny smiley faces. She cradles a cup of tea in her hands, steaming rising from its surface. She watches the rain drops slide down the glass, leaving a trail which is splattered by a second drop and a third. All making their mark against the surface. 

Gabrielle: Yes, it will make its mark against the glass along with dirt and dust, yet the rain washes everything away. Leaving everything cleaner except for this window. 

Christopher: Omphalos is clean. Cleaner than many places I remember. I could almost believe we’re safe, having a roof over our heads. Watching all this rain come down without being soaked by its wet embrace, its damp kisses. 

Gabrielle: (smiling a little) Watching yet somehow apart. In the middle of the rain yet untouched by it. 

Christopher: (feeling a bit stung) Isn’t that why we do in the Navel? Watch our customers, remaining apart from them? 

Gabrielle: Is it?

Christopher: People come into your shop. We guide them to whatever they need. Once they have it, they leave. We may never see them again. Unless they come back, unsatisfied, wanting something else. Or the same something, again and again.

Gabrielle: Actually there’s only one regular customer like that. 

Christopher: I know. Hebe keeps asking for cup after cup. Only to smash it and come back for another. It annoyed Damian to no end. 

Gabrielle: And you think we’re untouched by this? Finding our customers what they want, guiding them to something they didn’t even realize they needed? Helping them in a way they cannot help themselves?

Christopher: No. (He releases a breath.) I suppose these were Damian’s doubts. Not mine. 

Gabrielle turns her attention from the window to fix her vivid blue eyes upon him. She lifts the cup in her hand.

Gabrielle: I don’t really need this tea. At some point I’ll have to look for a toilet, a privy, or a convenient hole, and pee a lot of this out. That’s part of life. Right now the cup is warm in my hands, warming my cheeks, soothing my stomach. It tastes sweet, giving off a flowery scent which clears my head. I’m enjoying it even if I have to pee later. 

Christopher: What do you mean?

Gabrielle: How valuable your time is in the Navel is up to you, Christopher. Damian thought he was wasting his here. Do you?

Christopher gazes at her smooth face, the smile playing at the corner of her generous mouth. 

Christopher: I may pay for this later. (The truth slips from his lips without thought.) I worry that you’ll pay for it, too, having a creature like me around. I worry that Damian is already paying for it. For bringing me into this life. I love it, though. I love being alive. I love walking through Omphalos, looking up at the sky, not worrying about what will swoop down from above because I allowed myself to daydream. I love being here, sititng here with you. (He ducks his head, feeling a little shy.) I love being your son. 

Gabrielle puts the cup down. She reaches for his hand. Hers is warm from the tea cup, her fingers strong. 

Gabrielle: If you love these things, it’s worth whatever price you…we…will pay for it. 

The two of them fall silent, listening to the rain fall. 

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