Friday, September 26, 2014

Venus

Venus walked through the main door just as thunder rolled overhead and the rain began to fall. She glanced over her shoulder to glare at the rain then flounced to the front desk of the most expensive hotel in New York City. “Reservation for Vanessa Rome please.” She gave the concierge her best smile. He didn’t look dazzled.

He tilted his balding head forward to peer at the computer screen. “I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t have a reservation for anyone by that name.”

Venus sighed. “My Daddy made the reservation for me, can you check for Dios Rome, please?” Again she smiled dazzlingly at him.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but the only reservation we have for that name was last month. My computer shows that no one claimed the room and the card used to reserve it was charged for the full three days. Are you certain you didn’t get your travel dates wrong?”

She did a quick mental count in her head. “Blast, what’s his name changed the calendars, didn’t he?”

“Ma’am?”

“The one with the green shorts,” Venus raged, godly powers overflowing. She wiped away a tear of frustration from her eye. “Daddy never remembers the date changes. The two extra months and the New Year starting in the middle of winter rather than when Persephone returns from Hades. It’s really too much!”

“Of course.” The concierge cleared his throat. “Would you like me to call you a cab, ma’am?”

“A cab?”

“Yes, a cab, we’re fully booked this evening. I can’t offer you a new reservation.”

“You can’t?”

“No, ma’am. We’re full. You need to go somewhere else.”

Venus’s immortal power surged, her eyes narrowed, she balled her fists ready to attack her victim.

“Gregory?” A blonde woman pushed past her to rush to the concierge.

“Marian?” He stared at her in shock. “I haven’t seen you…. I meant to…. I can explain…”

“Oh, Gregory, there’s nothing to explain! I understand perfectly and my answer is,” she blushed and looked down, “...yes. Yes, I will marry you!”

As the happily reunited couple burst into a frenzy of sweet coos, whispered promises, and lusty kisses Venus altered the guest book. A few minor changes and the penthouse with a view was hers.

She cleared her throat. “My reservation,” she reminded the lipstick-covered man, “I’d like my room key, please.”

“Yes, of course, right away.” He didn’t even question how his full hotel suddenly had a penthouse free.

Venus took the room key with a final look of disgust.

“The room will be ready in an hour.” The woman trying to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation swallowed up the man’s line of patter.

“Jupiter, almighty!” Venus swung her multicolored Fendi handbag and stalked out back into the night. The thunder grumbled over head as the rain subsided. Her gold Gucci heels clicked on the cement as she tried to breath the fetid city air.

A Mercedes drove past, splashing her shimmering dress with water. Her fists clenched. “How dare you!”

Immortal wrath churned, reaching out to punish the horrible human. With a graceful flick of her wrist Venus dried her dress. She tossed her perfect mane of golden hair and crossed with the light.

There was the blaring of a horn, the squeal of tires, and the crunch of a black Mercedes hitting a mini-van. Venus looked back with an evil smile.

The woman in the Mercedes jumped out, nearly tripping over a manhole, and started to rage at the driver of the mini-van. He got out, yelled at her, yelled again in delight when he realized who he was yelling at, and they started kissing.

“Jupiter, almighty, you’ve got to be kidding me!” Venus moaned as the on-lookers clapped. A media-outlets man-on-the-street cam stopped to interview the happily reunited couple. “It’s so unfair!”

She kept walking, window shopping through the best part of the city, while all around her smited humans fell in love, rekindled old romances, decided to give love a chance. Her stomach roiled as a feuding couple in a café put differences aside so they could kiss and make-up.

Despondent, Venus slunk into a shabby bookstore and curled up in an over-stuffed armchair to sip a hot cocoa with extra whip cream.

“Bad day?” the barista asked as she placed a napkin next to Venus on the side table.

“The worst! My reservations at the hotel were messed up, I just had a fight with my husband, and now everywhere I look people are falling in love again. I hate that!”

“To bad,” the girl says without sympathy.

“What about you?” Venus asked with a sniffle. “You have some hot body to curl up with tonight?”

“Nope. I prefer cold and dead.” The girl slipped her a card before walking away.

Hit Girls- Taking care of problems and cleaning your closet since 1982.  First time free.

Venus turned the card over, thinking. It wasn’t that she didn’t love Vulcan, it was that he didn’t understand why she was always with Mars. After all, it was blazingly obvious to everyone but her jealous husband why she was with him. Mars was a wonderful shopping buddy, he understood why she needed more sling-back pumps, he could match colors, and he was madly in love with his hair-stylist from Tulsa.

Vulcan just didn’t understand.

With a snap of her fingers the card vanished. Hit girls, hit men, hit whatever… that’s not what she needed. She needed……….

“Josh?” The barista was staring at her new customer as if he’d grown a third head.

The Hollywood hero smiled as he pulled a gun. “Sorry, Babes, you know how it is.”

“But, we, I …” A coffee mug dropped from her hands, shattering on the ground as the barista backed away.

The man stood.

The ground shook.

The door to the bookstore opened. Lightening cut across the sky silhouetting a familiar form. He walked in, adjusting his glasses that hid his too-green eyes. The well-cut suit he wore accented his well-muscled frame.

Venus sighed. The Romans had it wrong, she’d married the hottest man on Olympus Mons.

Vulcan sat down across from her. “I’m sorry.”

She sat up, quite surprised. Vulcan never said sorry, it just wasn’t in him. In their long, tempestuous marriage she could count the number of apologies he’d given on one hand. He never said sorry, but he showed it in the little things he did. A new vase of black glass, diamonds, a new mountain range in some far-off tropical locale…

“Come on, don’t make me say it again. Is that what you want?”

Venus shook her head and put her mug down with care, the whole world seemed to slow. “No. You’re sorry? Really?”

“I went to surprise you with Mars…” He broke off and blushed.

Venus blushed in sympathy. Vulcan wasn’t just near-sighted sometimes he was downright blind. She cleared her throat. “He’s a nice boy, and they make each other happy.”

Vulcan turned bright red. “It’s just, I expected…. Jupiter! Venus, you are so beautiful I can’t imagine how any man would turn you away for, for… anyone else.”

Venus studied her nails with interest. There was a story there. If you got upset because the boy you love swung the other way, well, blame it on Hera. Venus knew and was keeping the blackmail tucked away for a rainy day.

“Don’t worry about. I never notice them. Just you.” She smiled up at Vulcan, batted her eyelashes, took his breath away…

Behind them the world began to move again. Josh stepped forward, gun still aimed at the betrayed barista’s heart. The coffee-girl tilted her chin up defiantly. “Go ahead, you’ve all ready broken my heart.”

Vulcan looked over and then winked at Venus. “Aren’t you going to give the girl a break?”

Venus smiled.

Josh dropped the gun. “Marry me. We’ll run away together. No one ever needs to know…”


Goddesses always get happy endings. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Space To Be Alone

We sat apart, watching the earthrise. I wondered how many people were left down there.
“It's too crowded,” she said abruptly. “I can't think in here.”
I looked around our transparent dome, edge to edge a hundred paces, only us inside. “Where will you go?” We’d had this conversation before. We both knew there was nowhere.
“Get rid of the weeds,” she told me instead. “The grass can’t breathe.”
This was new. “What should I do with them?”
“Burn them,” she snarled, then slumped. “Or don't. Save the oxygen. I don't care. The rescue ship will come.”
“It will.” I hugged her, and waited again for the mood to pass.

Later, I caught her staring at the stars. I anchored her hand in mine. “What are you thinking?” My pulse hammered.
She gestured over our heads, entranced. “Do you think they have enough room?”
“Who?” I asked, biting my lip as she pulled away.
“The stars.”
They glittered the sky, crammed in elbow to elbow until some overlapped. I shrugged. “How much is enough?” A whole world wasn’t enough when you shared it with EBOV momento mortis. And a dome was plenty if you didn’t. I found Earth close to our western horizon and stared.
She squeezed my hand. “The rescue ship will come.”
I nodded, still staring at Earth. “Of course.” What if her mood didn’t pass this time?

“It’s the horizon,” she said that night. “It’s too empty. It doesn’t leave any room for me to be alone.”
I shook my head and rested my head on her shoulder. “Why do you need space to be alone?”
She sighed and patted my hair. “Go to sleep.”

In the morning, the airlock alarm screamed. I ran to it, sweat slicking my palms, fear clogging my throat, reaching for the emergency lock. But I was too late.
She'd left a note. It read: I'm sorry. I needed space.
I looked around the dome that I now inhabited alone. So much space, pressing down. She was right. Far too much emptiness to live in alone. I opened the airlock and hoped someone from Earth would survive.
No. Not someone. Someones. Not enough space for one person. Alone.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Emalia's Lanterns

Lanterns lit the city like a million stars fallen from the sky. The light reflected off polished marble walls and threw the runes engraved there into sharp relief. At the gates to the under-city the lanterns ceased. Their light never fell past the dark guardians, jackal-headed beasts carved of star stone who came to life to eat those denizens of the under-city who dared to cross into the light.

Down that way, in a warren of mud buildings baked hard by the sun, lived the powerless. The people with no family name, no power, no chance to duel for the emperor’s throne. Down in the dregs of humanity was where Rion went, jumping over the gates with a push of magic and landing on the dusty street beyond without a sound.

Here and there weak candles lit windows covered by tattered clothes. Voices floated through the darkness, fishermen mumbling to themselves as they prepared to hike down to the river Esen as the sun rose in a few hours. Everyone else was asleep. Still, Rion pulled a veil of magic over himself. The scion of the Tahtali house shouldn’t be seen here. He shouldn’t be anywhere near this part of the desert city, but he could no more stay away than he could breathe underwater.   

At last the narrow streets led him to a small plaza with a communal well that reached deep into the mountain. Here was one corner of the lower city that could belong to the city above, one corner of where hard mud was carved with flowing glyphs of power. He traced a name he loved better than his own and looked up to her window. “Emalia?”

Lantern light flared purple behind a curtain of silk. A silhouette appeared and then the curtains were drawn aside to reveal the face of his beloved. Dark hair fell around the face of goddess and every thought save one scattered. Twelve days had passed since he’d last seen her, last felt her touch, heard the whisper of her voice in his mind.

Emalia’s thoughts didn’t seem headed in the same direction. Her lips twitched into a wry smile he knew from a thousand fights in the dueling rings at the citadel. “Why are you courting death?”

“Because I haven’t persuaded you to come live in the city proper yet.” A wisp of her magic coiled around him, exciting every nerve in his body. “Let me come up.”

There was a laugh as the curtain fell again, and then the sound of stone grinding against stone as she lifted her wards. His heart raced in anticipation. The bastard daughter of a bastard. An outcast with no name. But her magic. Her mind! From the first time she’d spoken in the square in the magi’s class he couldn’t look away.

Three years had been wasted trying to tease her family name from her, trying to buy her in the time honored traditions of his ancestors. One night in utter despair he had wandered the dark city, seen her, and followed, intent only on finding her family name. She’d led him here, into the very heart of darkness, and in a breath he’d thrown away everything for her. The emperor’s law decreed that no unnamed child with magic should live. Yet Emalia lived, and he had not the heart to turn her to the emperor.

Two more years had passed while he jealously guarded her secret. Two years of yearning for her before he confessed everything to her in the desert under the light of a waning moon. Two years of fearing he would lose what he could never call his own.

And now twelve days apart felt like the cold fingers of death.

Emalia opened the door to her shop wearing little more than a gauzy tunic that dropped to her knees. Even the insignificant candlelight pierced that thin veil revealing a body that would tempt any man. “Weren’t you supposed to be in the western desert for another fortnight?”

“I was, but I was called back early for a trivial matter. I’ll leave again in the morning.” He reached for her, needing to hold her, needing to have her with him as desperately as a fish needs the sea.

“A trivial matter? I heard you dueled with Kherei and left him blind. He’s not unpowerful.”

“He’s a foolish boy rushing for the title of magi by challenging those he thinks weaker. His eyes will heal in a month or two and the time away from the citadel will be good for him.”

She crossed her arms. “He would kill you if he could. Would you make me a widow before you make me a wife?”

“My love, my steadfast star and only light!” Rion picked her up and swung her around. “Only one magi in this city could ever beat me in dueling arena, and you are her. My perfect rival, Emalia.” He kissed her, drinking her in, feeling the pulse of her blood as it coursed through her, feeling her magic seep through his skin until they were one. Every touch shared. Every thought in perfect unison.

They danced up the stairs, the memories of a thousand nights spent just like this woven into every step. Her tunic dropped beside his armor. The brush of cold air on her skin made him shiver. His hunger fueled her passion. By dawn’s light both had forgotten where the individual ended and the lover began.

Emalia rested her head on Rion’s shoulder, lazily tracing a scar on his chest. “You are worried.”

“There’s trouble brewing in the city and I have to leave to patrol the desert with you behind.”

She laughed. “I’m in the lower city. Who would come down here?”

“Someone who thinks they can gain power by denouncing you? Someone who thinks they might challenge a magi to win rank? Some fool man who thinks you are unwed and free for the taking.”

Emalia propped herself up on one arm to look at him. “Let them come. If the emperor charges me with being a false magi I will challenge him to a duel. Let the challengers come praying to their false gods for titles, I will kill them. Let the swains come with their poems and flowers, they will never have me while I live.”

“See? I could come back to the city in smoking ruins. Then I would be forced to conquer another because I cannot let you live in a fallen city. And from there, what? Once I lay one city at your feet it may well become a habit!”

“Will you lay worlds at my feet, magi? Will you give me every breathing thing to rule as I please?”


“If you so wished, it would be done.” They kissed, saying more with a touch than any words could ever convey. He knew what she wanted, felt every beat of her heart, and did not doubt she could have the world if she so wished. But his morning and evening star desired no more than his love. She never sought power, only knowledge, and so the world was spared from bowing before an immortal goddess born the bastard of a bastard in the time before time began. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Is Saving Me

I am late to the party, because
I always am
what with one thing or another, but
here I am at last,
and I bear cake.

I
What is saving me is this:
wonderful blogs,
space of my own to
say what I’m thinking
think what I’m saying and
somehow align the two.

Wise words, beauty in strife,
small moments captured
in the hecticness of life.

II
Dog poo.

III
The Small Boy has
cried and
fussed and
refused to leave my side.
I strapped him on and wore him until
my back muscles cried, working
in the warmth of a pre-spring afternoon,
sunshine gilding his hair, like
yellow Labrador hair, and
the smiling eyes of our dogs.

I moved, and
used my body  
the way it was designed, and
carrying a child so close felt like the small
Heaven of quiet-soul moments,
the sunbright warmth of
connected people, like
happy dog fur, which is both
happy-dog fur, and
happy dog-fur,
tumbling freewheeling spiralling in the breeze as I
scoop and shovel, scoop and shovel.

No one knew that dog poo could be spiritual.
(Well, possibly they did, but my soul had never heard it.)

IV
It’s putting him to bed, forced
into slower rhythms
of twilit rooms, of
soft white humming, of
the washing machine and droning
from a far-distant TV.

It’s knowing I can’t leave because
he wants me close; it’s realising that I
need him close.

When I have nothing better to do, I love
these night time rhythms.

I have nothing better to do.

V
I lie on the floor, still singing, still humming, and
for the first time all day
I relax, and
putting him to sleep is no longer hard work
draining work
but solace in a frantic day, and I
thank God for a small child who needs me,
even though I am tired of need,
because I need need, and he
needs me, and it because of this that
I am lying on the floor soothing
myself
as much as him.

VI
One day, I will remember these lessons
learned in soul-quiet moments.
The moments will run thicker – like
honey, maybe,
a sweet glaze over a life
well-lived, slow
and luscious and dreamy.