#QueerBlogWed: A Hint of Spring

On September 28, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a strawberry, a ring of keys, and a spoon.

This freebie story for my Work in Progress On the Other Side of Mask was the result…

A strawberry was bold enough to peek out from the vine, defying the chill which permeated Lord Ruthvyn’s grounds. A tasy treat for a hungry boy. Not nearly as tasty as the boy himself, pressing his hands against the glass, mouth slack with wonder. 

Nathaniel could happily eat him up with a spoon, but such a treat wasn’t for a doll as himself. All of Lord Ruthvyn’s songbirds were for the master. His lordship didn’t share with his staff. No matter how much they came to care for his charges. 

“Is it spring?” Shelley asked, not turning away from the sight. 

“You know it’s never spring in Paradise.” Nathaniel wondered if his own words were true. The eternal chill the pale lords preferred filled the air, but fruit and vegetables still grew in their gardens. The lords needed it to feed their human sheep, working in the factories which smoked their offerings to the Goddess above. 

The set of keys in Nathaniel’s hand jingled. The doll hadn’t realized his hand was trembling. 

The boy fixed his gaze upon the ring. “Do those unlock our cages?”

“This entire estate is a cage.” Why was he saying these things? It wasn’t his place to terrify his lord’s songbird. This was a privelege belonging to Lord Ruthvyn alone. “These open a door to a little room in which a songbird sulks.”

Shelley’s luminous blue-green eyes widened. “Byron?”

Oh, Nathaniel was playing a dangerous game. Olympia will scold him if she caught him. How envious she’d be. “He keeps demanding to see you. He refuses to sing unless he’s at your side. He’s becoming quite tiresome.”

“Allow him to do so.” Shelley dropped his hands, turning the force of his liquid gaze upon Nathaniel. “We sing better together than when we’re apart. His lordship will appreciate our song more. As will you, Nathaniel.”

The doll was oddly touched that his master’s favorite remembered his name. “It’s not for me to decide if you sing together or apart. Nor is it for me to decide when Byron’s punishment ends.”

“You have influence over the one who does. More than Byron or myself.” Oh, this child knew how to flatter his master’s servants. “Please, Nathaniel.”

“Not nearly as much as I’d like.” Why was he telling the truth to this choir urchin whom his lord had plucked from the church like ripe fruit? “I’m a toy made for Lord Ruthvyn’s pleasure. As is Olympia. If we have any influence, it’s of a mercurial nature.”

“Please.” Shelley took his hand in his small fingers. How warm they were. Warm and alive. 

Did this child feel how cold Nathaniel was? He might live to see a hundred Shelleys come and go. Until they disappeared and a new painting, statue, or piece of furniture became part of the residence with what was left of them screaming silently within the inanimate object. 

Nathaniel would never be warm, no matter how many tender young boys held his hand. Neither would his master. 

“Don’t beg for mercy, songbird.” He pulled his hand away from the child’s grip. “It’s beneath you to plead with one of your lord’s toys for favors.”

He turned away, refusing to look back at that vibrant child. He wouldn’t last. None of his lord’s songbirds or other entertainments did. Only Nathaniel and Olympia remained.

It wouldn’t hurt to ask his lord about the two boys singing together. It had been their song which attracted his interest. 

Hearing that song again might bring color to Lord Ruthvyn’s white cheeks. It would only whet his appettie. 

The doll swallowed, not looking at any of the paintings on the walls of the various children, staring back at him. One day Shelley would be one of them. 

Why did that distress him? 

Best not to dwell on that either. 


#QueerBlogWed: Wednesday Words

On September 7, 2023, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a hospital, an argument, and the words “I’m late! I’m late!”

This poem was the result…

“I’m late! I’m late!”

Every ache in your body screams

Begging you to stop the pain

You’re unsure if a doctor could do anything

You’re worried that you need a hospital

The last place you want to go is there

You long for a baroque church of marble angels

Filled with statues, bearing wistful expression

Art popping out from every alcove, out of every altar

There’s no need to worry if you have faith

The beauty inspires awe, a feeling of reverence

Belief in the artist inspires belief in the subject

The sight of this beauty inspires you to create

Your body argues that it’s too old to kneel

The world is too dangerous to seek out these places

You were lucky to get to step inside so many

You were overwhelmed, with so much art on every side

If only the memory could sustain you now

As you rush to accomplish everything you put off

Only too aware of the pain slowing you down

Pain which will drag you to the hospital 

Forcing you to face everything you’ve fled from

You’re middle-aged, you’re old, you’re so very late

Even so you’ll keep trying to recreate beauty

Even as age and sickness threatens your own

Memories makes you race ahead, trying to outrun them

Trying to outrun them, letting the beauty lose

Allowing to flee in different directions 

As poems, stories, even essays

Telling a tale of yourself in so many fictions

You’ll still have beauty as long as you can write

As long as you can outrace the pain

Transforming mortal woman into many expressions

Taking on many forms beyond infirmity. 

#WednesdayWords: Paula’s Prompts

On August 31, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a puppy, a paper bag, and a bed.

This poem was the result…

A puppy tears apart a paper bag

You watch her roll around in the remains

With an energy you dimly recall

Vaguely invigorated, twitching a foot

Right before you feel yourself go limp

Fantasizing about a bed softer than your own

Where has all your vitality gone?

You’ve channeled all of it into story

Letting your plots envelop and energize you

A web of struggling characters thrashing in response

Somehow you cannot leave the puppy for them

Not when she fixes her soulful eyes upon you

Nudging your leg, licking your hand

Wagging her tail every time you’re near

You’re not certain why she likes you

It’s a challenge to like yourself most days

Even so she brings a reluctant smile

To your tired, careworn face. 

#QueerBlogWed: Wednesday Words

On August 24, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt: ‘You wake to the sound of someone screaming’.

This poem was the result…

Screams awaken you to shuddering fear

You find yourself in the lonely darkness

Surrounded by silence, snoring, and soft breathing 

Even the cats are asleep, undisturbed

You were sure you heard the cry

Your certainty is mocked by the quiet

Your heart races, denying you were dreaming

Still you try to lie back, force yourself to relax

Try to get some rest while you can

You have so much you had to do tomorrow

Yet your body continues to spasm with fear

A remembered terror you cannot release

Listening to your breath in the waiting silence. 

#QueerBlogWed: Wednesday Words

On August 24, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a seashell, a hot air balloon, and a pill box.

This poem was the result…

Did you ever ride that hot air balloon?

You dreamed of soaring in through the clouds?

Did you visit the people you could hear?

Singing at you from the seashell?

Did you ever get the express your wishes?

Slaving away at your job?

Managers screaming at you while you walked in a daze

Maddening them with your apathy

You never gave them trouble, but you were always somewhere else

I gaze now at your empty pill box

A list of ingredients I know nothing about on the side

Telling a true story you never wished to tell.

No, you’d much rather rise above it all

Escape from your body into your dreams

Surrender yourself completely to story

Forced to cope with reality’s needs

Can anyone blame you from running away?

After the way your own body treated you?

Your imagination became your best friend

Offering you joy amidst drudgery and pain

I hope you got a chance to fly in that balloon

Even if it was only in your mind

I hope the songs of the seashell people were sweet

When you pushed through the pain

To shape that imaginary sight

There’s so much more to you than the pill box

No matter what anyone may say

May you flourish and nurture your inner artist

Giving her a chance to create every day. 

#QueerBlogWed: Wednesday Words

On August 10, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a torn t-shirt, smoke, and a dirt road.

This poem was the result…

All that was left was a torn t-shirt

Smoke rising from a dirt road

No body, no explanation

Where did you disappear?

Did you follow the path meandering into the woods? 

A path I never thought you’d take

I gaze at the rip running through the logo 

A logo which once said Life is Good

I’m not sure if you ever believed that

For all you tried so hard to smile

Keeping it together when everyone else screamed

Your own voice too polite to exert itself

Maybe you finally had enough

Of trying to keep everyone’s spirits up

Of trying to make something good

Which everyone else undervalued.

There’s no sign of a struggle

No sign you were taken in spite of the smoke

No blood on the shirt, just the rip across the middle

A tear in a shirt I saw you wear so many times

A message I noticed, wondering if it was true

Even as I wondered if you were trying to make yourself believe

Believe in a quality of life you struggled to maintain

You didn’t improve it by disappearing

The world is a lot worse now that you’re gone

Leaving us all with hoarse voices, gazing at the empty places

Devoid of the cheer which was you. 

#WednesdayWords: Paula’s Prompts

On October 5, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com 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. 

#QueerBlogWed: World’s Most Boring Person

On October 19, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com 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. 

#QueerBlogWed: Taste of Wild Strawberries

On June 22, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com 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. 

#QueerBlogWed: Leiwell’s Letter

On June 15, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt. It involved a late supper, an itchy back, and a letter.

This Tale of Omphalos, a freebie story for The Hand and the Tower (which may be worked into the main plot) was the result…

Supper was late. She was the only one in the household who ate like a human. Danyel and Tayel picked at their bowls, attempted tiny sips with identical expressions of melancholy. 

“Go on,” she urged the twins. “You won’t be able to keep your feet solid and on the ground if you don’t eat.”

Seraphix, how her back hurt. 

No, don’t pray to Seraphix. Don’t draw attention to that name. 

“Being solid smells of foul things better hidden away.” Tayel’s voice had a sullen undertone. 

“Is Leiwell still solid?” Danyel glanced at the folded piece of paper with the broken seal, eyes glimmering, but they were only tears. “Will he fade away and turn into shadow if he stops having supper with us?”

“Danyel, you know better than to read your older brother’s letters.” Oh, how she quailed at the sight of the elegant, slanting script on the page.

“This is the first letter Leiwell has ever had.” Danyel’s voice brimmed with the same heartbreak as his eyes. “It’s the first time he hasn’t sat down to supper with us.

“Well, it’s not as he eats all that much either.” She snatched up the letter, giving each of the boys a sharp look, even as the letters, the words drew her attention back to the paper. 

My darling,

There are things you must do if you do not wish for time and the world to catch up with your precious family. Particularly the little ones. I’m guessing your “mother” has already started to itch with their proximity.

The letter wasn’t signed. 

“Seraphix preserve us,” she muttered before she could think better of it, crushing the paper in her hand. 

“Map, who wrote that?” The ever inquisitive Danyel would not be denied. He stared at her hand as if willing his vision to pierce through skin and bones to see the words on the page. Happily he lacked the uncanny perception of his twin. “We’ve lived alone in this cottage for as long as we can remember. Why is someone writing to Leiwell now?”

“Trust me. You think you want to know the answer, but you don’t.” Each word came out with a gutteral pain. Her back itched more than ever. 

Too long without her wings, but she would stay in human form. Small and safe to be around.

“Ask a question and it must be answered.” Tayel, bless him, helped her to sidestep his twin’s questions with an enigma and a glittering gaze, emitting from the tiny silver triangles which sometimes blazed in his irises. Not that most could see those triangles clearly. “Else it will scream and echo in your head.”

Not that this would daunt Danyel. He answered his twin, but kept his attention fixed upon Map. “All the more reason to answer the question. Avoid the echo.”

Yes, that would be nice. Questions still tended to madden Map, winding into mazes she had to plot out and transform into riddles. Being human couldn’t quite kick the tendency. Worshipping a god, learn to shapechange into other forms only soothed her hereditary urge. 

Well, maybe there was a simple way to answer this one without lying. 

“Leiwell is starting a job.” She opened her mouth, letting the half-truths fly out. “It’s what he needs to do for us to be able to live here quietly, away from prying eyes and wagging tongues which could put us in danger.”

“Why do we need to live quietly?” Of course Danyel asked the obvious question. “Are we hiding from someone.” 

“Hidden in the cracks between reality and dreams.” Of course Tayel already understood. It was more than a little uncanny, how much the child grasped of the peril Map and Leiwell had struggled to shield the twins from. Sometimes Map wondered if he didn’t sense far more of that peril than either his mother or older brother had realized was waiting in the shadows, in the outside world. 

This might be why Tayel completely lacked the curiosity of most younglings. Not that the twins were most younglings. 

Alas, Danyel had enough curiosity for both of them. “If we’re hiding, who’s sending Leiwell letters?” Something pulsed in his small fingers, digging into the table in front of him. 

“Peril grows in power with every word which gives it form,” Tayel hissed, eyes flashing. 

Ah, yes, the child had picked up far more than his twin about what was going on. Too much. 

“I thought I was asking about the person writing Leiwell’s letters. Someone who knows we’re here.” Danyel leaned forward, gazing intently at his Map. “Or is that person part of the peril?”

“Never you mind. Your brother is right.” Map fixed her son with a stern lift of the eyebrow. “We’ve had to accept a certain amount of peril in order to avoid greater perils. We needed to help in order to have a home by ourselves.”

If only she believed that. It hadn’t been her choice to make deals with that man reaching out to claim Leiwell again. It was he who’d decided to court that person, making a pact with a dark being in order to keep their home, to keep the shadows and the outside world at bay. 

As fool a choice as Map feared it was, she couldn’t think of a better way to hide. Not that there was any hiding from him. The one who’d already found them, who was writing letters to Leiwell, biding him to return to him. 

At the least the creature was playing nice, playing the part of a gentleman lord. She’d give him a chance for Leiwell’s sake. All the while keeping as sharp an eye on him as she dared. 

Too much attention would give him too much power as Tayel had guessed. 

“You said we had to accept a certain amount of peril.” Danyel’s eyes might not have his twin’s eerie luminescence, but the sorrowful anger within them gleamed with its own compelling light. “It sounds like Leiwell is the only one taking it on.”

“It’s his choice.” Tayel and Map spoke at the same time, giving each other a tiny eyebrow lift. More in synch than Tayel was with his brother, something both twins were only too aware of. 

“Why? Why does Leiwell have do whatever he’s doing alone?” Danyel balled his hands into fists. “If there’s a price for us living here, why can’t we all help pay it?”

“Leiwell doesn’t wish it,” Tayel spoke with surprising directness, a scowl puckering his rosebud mouth. 

“That’s right,” Map said, unable to surpress a sigh, just stopping herself from scratching her back. “When I brought Leiwell home to this cottage, we both had to agree to certain conditions.”

Too well did she remember those conditions along with the tiny smile playing upon Dyvian’s lips. 

Remember, Map, he is mine as much as he’ll ever be yours.

Eyes as prismatic as crystal, filled with cold, faded color regarded her from her memories. 

Never doubt my ability to take Leiwell from you if you try to take him from me. Play the role of mother if you wish, but don’t delude yourself. You are only his caretaker. His and the tiny lights he’s chosen to shelter in human form. 

“Maybe it was once just a role,” she muttered to herself as much as the boys. “I’ve been playing it for far too long for it not to become a reality.”

“Map?” Danyel unclenched his fists, his face softening in concern. Distracted by whatever he saw in her face. “Are you all right?”

“I will be.” She unclenched her fist, looked up from the paper in her palm at her boys. “We all will be.” 

She’d make certain of it. No matter how much Dyvian might scheme otherwise. She’d make certain. 

No matter what kind of a tower he tried to build and imprison her loved ones in, she was more than capable of knocking its crown off and her loved ones free. 

She’d done it before. She would do it again if she had to. 

She just hoped she didn’t have to.