This week was really fun, I hope you enjoy, it’s late so I don’t have much of an intro.
Here you go!
Day 6: Spirit
Chills run down my spine. My fingers twitch, almost losing grip on the pages of my book.
“Sorry,” I mumble, turning back one page.
Slow warmth replaces the chill in what I’ve come to recognize as a thank you.
The ghost resting their head on my shoulder reads a bit slower than I do.
Day 7: Fan
The room was much too cold. The blankets wrapped around Jason were doing absolutely nothing against the chill on his skin. He stared blankly at the ceiling fan.
Blades spun, tilted, faster and faster, dragging his eyes with them and pulling nausea up from his gut into his throat. Fire burned on his face. Why was he still cold if the fire was so hot?
Looking at the fixture hurt, white-bright lightbulbs burning his eyes. But he couldn’t look away. It just kept spinning. Faster. Faster. Slower and faster.
Jason couldn’t move. He could only gaze at the fan and shiver, air from the fan chilling the sweat on his forehead. It was so hot. No, no it was cold, he was so cold . . .Sounds reached his ears but they made no sense. All he could hear was the buzz of the fan, spinning, spinning, falling falling falling–
He sat up, holding his middle, pain dragging up from his stomach and it hurt it hurt, he coughed and he couldn’t breathe and it burned his throat.
Something touched his back, a hand, cool and warm and safe, rubbing in circles. A voice murmured, words unintelligible but comforting. Jason tried to open his eyes — when had he closed them? — but the light was too bright and none of it made sense.
His brother pulled Jason against his chest, blessedly cool on the boy’s face. He could feel the steady heartbeat, much slower than his own racing in his head and throat.
“Hey,” Jeremy said, still rubbing Jason’s back. “You’re okay, buddy.”
“Cold . . .” Jason whined, but wasn’t he hot? So hot he was shivering.
“I know. Here, little sips, okay?” A water bottle touched his lips. He drank, the burning in his throat soothing away and his stomach settling.
Oh, he’d thrown up. Slowly he remembered that he was on the couch. That he was sick. A breeze from the fan blew strands of hair onto his sweaty forehead and his brother brushed them away. Jason slowly fell asleep again, drooling on Jeremy’s sweater.
Day 8: Watch
“So what are we watching?” Kelsey flopped on the couch next to me. The bowl of popcorn balanced on the cushions came dangerously close to spilling all over the floor, but I caught it with my knee.
“I’m picking! I’m picking!” Toby shouted from the floor, lunging for the remote. I held it up out of reach.
Kelsey looked up, snagging a piece of popcorn and dropping it into her mouth. “Why not?”
“Because he only ever wants to watch Up.”
“UP!” Toby cheered.
Kelsey made a face. “Yeah we’re not watching Up. That’s too sad. What about Storks?”
I rubbed my eyes. “I can’t watch Storks again, I just can’t.”
“I wish The Mysterious Benedict Society was a movie.”
“They made a show, didn’t they?”
Kelsey sputtered — actually sputtered — at me. “That! Was NOT! The Mysterious Benedict Society. That was a fake, an imposter, a cheap ripoff–”
“They didn’t even have the reveal of the password! I mean, come on, control!? That’s one of the best bits!”
“I won’t bring it up again.”
“You better not.”
I tapped the remote against my collarbone. “What about . . . um . . . Spiderverse!”
“No!” Toby yelled, slamming his little hands on the coffee table and nearly spilling his apple juice. “It’s too scary!”
“It is not,” Kelsey argued. “You could just go to bed if you don’t want to watch it.”
I shushed both of them. “It’s fine. We won’t watch Spiderverse. At least not until it’s his bedtime.”
“I don’t wanna go to bed!” Toby folded his arms in a pout. “I wanna watch Moana!”
“I thought you wanted to watch Up?”
“Moana has ocean powers!”
“Does she really though?” Kelsey was upside down on the couch now, legs flipped up over the back. “I wouldn’t call them powers.”
“I wanna watch BOTH!”
“You can’t watch Moana and Up, we don’t have enough time.” I tossed a few pieces of popcorn in my mouth. “Or popcorn.”
Kelsey snapped her fingers. “You know what’s the best movie in the world? Song of the Sea.”
“I concur.” I opened the search menu and began typing it in.
“Noooo that one’s sad!” Toby whined.
Kelsey gave me a Look.
I sighed. “It is sad, but only at the beginning! Then it gets better!” Toby would probably be asleep by the end anyway, he doesn’t need to know how it ends.
Toby looked like he was going to throw a fit.
I sighed, closing down the search bar and instead opening Youtube. “Okay. How about we watch Evo then?”
Toby’s face lit up. “GRIAN!” he cheered, scrambling up on the couch. “GRIAN AND TAURTIS!”
Kelsey wiggled back into a normal person position on the couch, reaching over me for some popcorn. “How long d’you think he’ll last?” she whispered.
“Ten minutes,” I said, clicking the episode and getting ready to skip the ad. “And then Song of the Sea.”
“And then Song of the Sea. I’m dying to hear the soundtrack.”
“You have it on Spotify?”
“Well yeah but it’s not the same.”
Toby watched with rapt attention as the video began.
Day 9: Pressure
A tail flicked through the water. Saoirse felt the resulting wave push against her lateral line. She slid further into the kelp bed, only her eyes peeking out.
The other mer did a little loop before darting out of sight, heading towards the cliff. Saoirse watched them go. They were probably going to go Deep. Nobody was supposed to go Deep.
She slid out of the stringy plants and swam after the other mer.
After leaving the kelp bed there wasn’t much in the way of cover. The other saw her right away, picking up speed. Saoirse matched pace.
Eventually they stopped, doing another little flip to slow their momentum. It was a girl Saoirse had seen a few times in the area but didn’t know the name of. When Saoirse caught up they circled each other a couple times, dorsal fins flaring bright colors.
Saoirse trilled a greeting first. “Hello. Where are you going?”
“Down Deep,” the girl answered.
“Because I would like to.”
“But it isn’t allowed.”
Saoirse circled the girl again. Where she had muted grey and blue coloring, this girl was all bright reds and oranges and blacks, smaller than herself, sharp claws. Built for speed and hunting, not hiding and waiting.
“If you go Deep, you will not come back.”
“Yes I will.”
“No one ever has.”
“I will be the first.”
Saoirse frowned. Deep was not safe. They were told by pod mothers from birth, taught when learning to hunt. Fish did not venture down Deep. Mer did not venture down Deep.
The girl flicked her fins, subtle colors running down her tail.
“I am going down now.”
Saoirse watched as the girl swam to the edge of the cliff and over it. Down into the darkness, into the Deep.
Saoirse turned to head back to her hiding place, away from the chill of the Deep. But she did not swim away. Maybe the girl would come back. Maybe she would be the first.
Saoirse burrowed into the sand, watching, waiting.
She waited a long time.
The colorful girl came back.
Her arms were clutched around her chest, gills flaring painfully, eyes blown wide from the darkness. But she had come back from the Deep.
Saoirse left the sand to greet her.
Day 10: Pick
King of shadows, king of shades . . . Hades was king of the underworld
The sun shines bright on a man’s face. He squints, ducking away, eyes used to the dim glow of electric lights and factory fires. The sun warms his skin, his hair, but it can never thaw the chill in his bones. Why he came up he doesn’t know. Maybe he grows tired of hearing the monotonous hammer strikes, pickaxe swings, turning wheels and clanking chains. Maybe he grows irritated with the sameness of it all. Maybe he no longer wants to be inside his walls.
A train ticket is not hard for him to acquire.
But he fell in love with a beautiful lady, who walked up above in her mother’s green fields
The sun shines bright on a woman’s arms. Bare but for the vines wound around them, roses blooming at her shoulders, thorns resting against her skin without piercing. The sunflowers in her hair yearn towards the sun as she spins in the grass, bare feet sowing tiny blue blossoms between the blades. She throws back her head and smiles at the summer, breathing it, drinking it in like wine.
She drops to her knees, reaching for flowers that bend towards her hand.
He fell in love with Persephone, who was gathering flowers in the light of the sun
The man blinks in the sun light, eyes drawn to the bright auburn reflecting it. Flowers of all kinds shy from his feet as he walks. He approaches the woman, a strange feeling in his heart, in his throat. His steps crush the tender grass, and the woman looks up.
Their eyes meet.
Living green and dying grey.
She looks away.
Her fingers deftly pluck a blood-red carnation, adding it to the bouquet clutched in her other hand.
She looks up.
And she smiles at him
And he took her home to become his queen, where the sun never shone on anyone
Day 11: Sour
“I’m sorry you want me to what?”
I looked up from the counter I was cleaning, just a little startled by Beckah’s voice.
Colton grinned. “Eat a lemon slice.”
“No I’m not gonna do that!”
“I’ll give you five bucks.”
Beckah paused. “Well.”
I tilted my head. “Have you . . . never done that before?”
“What, eaten a lemon slice?” Colton filled a cup with ice, the sound grating against my ears.
“Yeah. Like. They aren’t bad. I eat whole lemons quite often, actually–”
“You what?!” Beckah quiet-screeched. No one was in the restaurant yet, but the cooks were giving us looks through the window. “You’re insane. Isn’t that, like, really bad for your teeth?”
I shrugged. “Tastes good.”
“You’re insane.” Beckah picked up the lemon slice with just her long fingernails, grimacing. “Five bucks, right Colton?”
“I’ll get it out for you right now.”
With one last wince, Beckah bit down on the slice. She didn’t stop gagging for like, two minutes. Didn’t even swallow it.
And if a few minutes later I grabbed my own and popped it into my mouth without flinching, well. That was only to prove a point.
Yes, Day 10 is based on Hadestown (which if you haven’t listened to, you should). And Day 11 is basically a word for word account of something that happened on one of my first days of work.
I’ll see you next week with more stories!