Across That Ocean of Sand

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“You don’t get seasick, do you?”

His attention remained on the leather harness rather than on me, yet I heard a rather interesting lilt in his tone, as if he were remembering some past bloke who couldn’t hold his breakfast.

“It’s a similar feeling, a rocking, swaying with the muscles of her neck bunching between your legs. A different sort of barren landscape underneath.”

I swallowed against an instinctual bile rising to the back of my throat and neglected to answer for I’d never stood foot aboard anything large enough to sail the seas. “Have you ever been on an ocean?”

My curiosity was merely an attempt to distract myself from the wyvern clawing at the ground and sniffing at the dusty air, her focus pulled toward the erg filling the world to the east. Ruins of a distant time jutted from beneath the sandy layers nearby. Crenellations lingering long after the city had been claimed by the encroaching dunes.

The man snorted and patted his vest before tugging free a pair of hide-covered binoculars. “No, but wind-surfing the dunes sparks a similar feeling I’ve been told when you’re on the down side, a dropping in your gut, and I’d dune-surfed a few times in my youth.”

“Who told you they were similar?” I asked.

I had my doubts, as I’d dune-surfed as well and didn’t think it could possibly be comparable to being wyvernback. Not at all. On the sand, I had control of that board. Up there? I’d be at the beast’s mercy. And there was a whole lot farther to fall if I lost my balance.

“And old flame,” he muttered in answer as he scanned the horizon, then he passed the binoculars to me. “We go south, over the sinkholes, stop at the Ribcage for her to rest and then head on to Hollow Heights near dusk.”

“That long?”

“Longer still if we don’t get going.” He patted his girl’s neck, gloved fingers scratching at beige-scaled hide. The man himself, face leathery, short beard unkempt, clothes worn, yet clean, seemed content to merely stand there though. He’d been paid half already. I reasoned, if I backed out now, it’d been an easy payday for him even without earning the other half.

And backing out seemed more and more attractive the longer I stood there hesitating. Couldn’t seem to move myself closer to that wyvern, my heart beating a rapid rhythm and my mind tricking me into thinking I was in danger. Sweat broke out on my neck. My legs screamed for me to run.

“Her name is Preen. Likes compliments and jewelry. To a girl’s heart.”

When I didn’t move, his eyebrow quirked and a resigned smile that held a hint of irritated empathy flickered across his face. “She’s a nableclaw. Small, swift and friendly to boot. You’ll be in safe hands.”

My chest squeezed, the air so dry I felt as if could feel my lips cracking. “Give me a moment.”

The words came out sharper than I’d intended, but I didn’t correct myself as I spun abruptly and strode away, needing to be out of reach of the wyvern, my fear an animal in its own right, clawing up my spine, ripping through my skin, pouring from my pores like burning magma.

Along the edge of the rocky mound, I paused and leaned, staring longingly to the northwest where the plateau around Springhaven stretched. The small city—home—couldn’t be seen, not from this height, not from this distance, but I knew it to be there, hidden beneath the plateau.

The man’s boots scuffed the rock behind me. “You’re not a dune crawler or a wyvernback. What’s in the Wastes for you to do this?”

What indeed. More like a who. A man I wasn’t even sure would be happy to see me.

I knew I could convince myself of the uselessness of this trip easily enough. I also knew I’d forever ask myself what if…

What if I hadn’t let this fear stop me from going to him? Hadn’t let it be the end of us. Continue reading

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I wrote you a poem of rhythm and rhyme

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I wrote you a poem of rhythm and rhyme

A small little piece filled with capers and crimes

I fed you red herrings and snippets of clues

Plus suspects most foul I whittled to few

 

You read every word and thought that you knew

The murder committed, the how of it too

You played along nicely, your guesswork divine

And though I tricked you, you had a great time 

© EMMI LAWRENCE (5.13.2018)

My Life, His Breath

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We played a game that summer, one both dangerous and arousing. That lake—crystal blue and quiet—held secrets of our trysts, hiding those breath-swallowing moments within the silt and grasses. Every second, every touch and tightening grip, emblazoned itself upon my memory. For he held a power to him, a charisma I could never resist.

Whatever game he created, I would have said yes.

This one took a turn during the heat of July, when the sun sweat circles on our shirts and cooked the water level down half a foot. Dan, with his bright green eyes and daring smile, grabbed my hand before I could dive off the pier.

“How long can you hold your breath?”

About as long as anyone, I presumed, but I shrugged in response, anticipation tingling up my spine.

He leaned closer, a drop of sweat leaking down his temple. I wanted to lick it off, taste the salt upon his skin, flavored with a masculine scent no lake could wash clean. His voice became a deep whisper of suggestion.

“Want to find out?”

I never did need to say yes to him. Not in June when he’d winked at me across the parking lot at the camp ground. Not last week when he’d groped his own crotch when he caught me neglecting my fishing rod in order to stare in his direction. Not two nights ago when he snuck into my tent with a fat stack of condoms and a need that shook his fingers. And not today.

He pushed me off the pier with a laugh, his palms hotter than my skin. I gasped as I hit the water, sending a splash across the pilings. He stood above me when I surfaced, unrepentant and cocky, his hands on his hips. I could stand there, the tips of my toes curling against slick rocks that had already sliced our feet open during our first weeks at the camp.

“I’m going to find out,” he said, then he dropped his hands and stepped forward.

I jerked to the side to avoid getting hit as Dan came leaping into the lake. He didn’t surface after the water splashed against my face, but the lake, as bright as it was on the surface, was nigh impenetrable underneath so I couldn’t see where he’d gone. I fished about, searching for him, anticipating him yanking my shorts or tickling my balls.

Instead, he surfaced near the last piling. Green eyes sparkling as he blinked water off his eyelids, he grinned at me with surefire need on his face. The devil in him, I’d seen it. Loved it. So none of that warning scared me away.

I swam for him, chasing him into the lake. He swam backstroke, laughing at me as I gave chase. A need rose up inside, a need I was familiar with. The same need he had reflected in his eyes. One that shone brightly, brighter even than the sun.

This was us. This is what we had become. Lusty and focused and drawn to dark desires. Continue reading

In the Darkest Hours

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I lay in that bed. The sheets cold. The heater off. Winter at its depth. A chill seeping in through the bottom of the door. A whistling outside the window. The stars beyond covered with clouds. And the light from the streetlamp creating a glaze upon the glass, a frosted smudge.

I lay there. Waiting. Wondering if he would return. My mind too focused on that question, as often as it seemed to come.

There’d always been a swath of feeling when that doorknob finally turned. When the keys jangled as he cursed the fact they were stuck once more and wouldn’t turn without much coaxing. Even now, I wondered at it. Had it been relief? All those times. All those hours, waiting, wondering, unable to sleep until I heard him arrive home.

He’d been warm when he entered the bed. A heater. A furnace. And even though I hadn’t been cold, I’d turned into him. Felt the hair upon his arm tickle against my shoulder. Hear his annoyed grunt as he shifted away from the stubble on my chin. We never stayed like that. Never woke up entangled in each other’s arms. Always broke apart sometime in the darkest hours before dawn and never found one another again.

I wondered if that was where this feeling crept from. The darkest hours before dawn. Waiting to see if this time he wouldn’t return. If this time, he kept his foot on the pedal, drove past our building, onto empty highways that would lead down a different path.

And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out if the feeling that swept over my body, tingling through my veins when that doorknob turned, wasn’t relief after all, but disappointment. Or even dread. That I would hear his irritated sighs. His exhausted groan as he turned over in the sheets. The blanket tugging, feeling far colder than any empty bed.

I thought back to when we’d first met. When I’d been working on the corner. Serving food and drink in the evening hours after classes. When I’d hide flashcards in my apron and study as the hours grew long and the tables empty.

He’d come in, like clockwork. Thursdays. Always Thursdays when the beers were cheap and the smoke lifted above the bar so thick it was visible from outside the windows.

Work meetings, he claimed. His fellows were coworkers and the conversations easy and comfortable. Networking, he murmured later with an exhausted smile and lips that held the scent of spicy wings I’d served earlier. We’d speak, at first just small talk. About the weather, hot and cold. Him asking about the classes I took and wondering over job openings he saw. That was how we got to working together. Me, grabbing a hold of his offer to toss my resume to hiring managers in his office.

How long had he been planning on wooing me? How long until I finally realized what he was after? How long until I’d wanted him in return? Continue reading

You have the thirst

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You have the thirst
though not the power
You claim the courage
Yet waste your hours

You have a dream
But not the will
You live a life
Yet aren’t fulfilled

You have tomorrow
but lost today
You see the goal
But not the way

You find your voice
When no one hears
You face your faults
But not your fears

You’ll wake too late
To live your dream
If all your time
Slips through the seams

So take this day
Shift out of park
And through the years
You’ll make your mark

© EMMI LAWRENCE (2.1.2018)

~ ~ ~

There was this moment, over a decade ago, where I went from ‘someone who wanted to write’ to ‘someone who writes.’

We talk a lot about things we want to do, things we’re going to do, but so few of us actually get to doing them. And every so often, even if we’ve conquered these moments in the past, we still need reminding to stop talking and start doing. Reminded me of that awesome Shel Silverstein poem. Hopefully I can post it here without getting into trouble:

All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin’ in the sun,
Talkin’ bout the things
They woulda-coulda-shoulda done…
But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little did.

© Shel Silverstein

The Garden of Lust and Bone

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The garden, if that innocuous word could be used in this situation, held a grandness that surpassed anything he’d ever seen. Not that he was a garden connoisseur or had ever bothered to stop to gaze in wonder at the trees.

The morning glories blooming along the stone walls during this early hour did little to cheer him, for they were just another obstacle in this well-intentioned, but likely fool-hardy quest.

The self-proclaimed queen–really, little more than a half-bred fae with marginal skill but deadly precision–would likely not take kindly to him sifting about in this expansive garden of hers. But she had her hands, and likely other parts, filled with some other ignorant youth who had decided her beauty somehow outweighed the warnings of all those who loved him.

Which meant Ethanial could conceivably get in and get out before a morning’s worth of bedroom activities found the lovely woman out on her veranda with her newest conquest.

He did not so much scale the wall as he climbed a thick lattice that had been erected at random intervals. The flowering brush scratched at him and the thick scent of cracked vines followed him up and over. He paused, hands lost within the foliage as he twisted to glance across the garden. Though there wasn’t much to see, not from this height. The trees, plums and apricots and taller walnuts spreading branches out grandly, blocked much of the underside of the garden, but he could see the moss-edged stone paths here and there erupting from underneath the canopy.

He hopped the last few lattice holes and narrowly avoided trampling a line of jasmine. To the right, where the stone path meandered out of sight, he saw the slim edge of the veranda off the back of the fae woman’s home. The lights remained dim, but here in the garden blue will-o-wisps blinked.

“I’ll not be but a few moments,” he muttered to a cluster of the wisps when they hovered close. He waved a hand through them, scattering them back about the garden where they continued to linger, but at a distance.

Rubbing the tiny scratches on his arms, he moved away from the house, keeping just off the stone path so his footsteps would not echo. Randomly, he’d pause and touch the dirt, sensing the death and decay that led to sweet-smelling blossoms and heavy growth. He could feel them, bones of long lost youths, men too short for the world according to some.

He would pause just long enough to ascertain that no, this one wasn’t the naive young man he sought. And then he would move on, weaving through the garden at a quick pace. He was careful where he stepped, not wanting to be too obvious in his passage, but not too careful, for he didn’t worry whether he trampled some living thing, for life, really, was a passing entertainment. Nothing to worry over when death could be undone just as simply.

He passed a wooden wheelbarrow with an overflowing strawberry plant, then a fountain made of the same stones as the paths. The water bubbled, a noisy, irritating sound that grated on his nerves more than it calmed them.

The garden seemed never-ending. The dirt beneath Ethanial’s feet filled with past lives stolen long, long ago. It became hard to concentrate. Hard to determine whether he truly was in the right place, all these lost souls blending together as if they’d become one in their tortured end.

He decided that it wasn’t so much the similarities of their deaths that made them difficult to distinguish, but the lustful art they had produced in life within this very garden. Men just turned from boys pushing into the most beautiful woman they’d seen, thrusting against her as she clutched at the dirt, twirling slender fingers through flaxen hair.

Flaxen…that was their word for her bright hair, its softness trailing against their chests, slipping through their fingers.

Ethanial hesitated. Shivered.

He’d responded, not to the desire running rampant among the underside of the garden where it was rife with emotion, their ever-present desire for that woman. But the muscled thighs that had pushed forward to enter her, the curves of shafts of all sizes and shapes, the flat stomachs that had tensed as they’d caught themselves before falling against that bosom.

“You’re a lustful garden,” he muttered, eyeing the wisps as they floated closer. “No wonder men still fall to her charms.” Continue reading

Ode to Coffee

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Oh, delectable nectar
poured forth from the gods
of mechanical interest
on laminate mods

You eliminate languid
pain and frustration
and manipulate outlook
for the day’s estimation

As linoleum creaking
I move to dispense
that recovery method
for last night’s unrest

In supplication I come
my knees bending deep
while declarations intoned
devotions most steep

I administer liquid
my cup overfilled
that invisible tugging
for now to be quelled

My anxiety wafting
far from the night’s storm
Our reality shaking
I conquer the morn

© EMMI LAWRENCE (1.25.2018)

~ ~ ~

The addiction is real :)

Is this the same as when rock stars sing about drugs? XD

Festival of Fools

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You stand on the shore of the defenders, the sand coarse against your feet and the summer air heated despite the sun still deep beneath the horizon. With your friends you paint green stripes upon your arms and tie green cloth about your swim-ready shorts. The air is filled with quiet laughter, eager anticipation and yarns spun by older defenders who had played within the holiday for many, many years.

A sense of calm wraps about your heart as the barest hint of light begins to creep over the world. You can sense him, standing there, on the opposite shore. Out of sight, but never out of mind.

Slim shadows mark where small schooners and dinghies and even non-wind-catching craft dot the bay, but the largest of all, that Barge of Delights, seems an ominous presence in the predawn hour. Port controllers drift further off, toward the entrance to the bay where the ocean currents ran rougher.

In front of you, just past the lapping waves, sways a platform, bending and dipping and every so often disappearing completely: the first stop along the Broken Pier. The true entrance into the Festival of Fools.

You’ve never stepped foot on it before, that platform, or any of the ones bobbing in the waves after it, a trail, like breadcrumbs, that cross the bay, connecting the defenders along this shore to the invaders on the other.

They would wear red and gray. Headbands about their foreheads, ends hanging down bare backs or braided or folded in new-fangled designs. You’d braided one, the red strip down the center, the gray to either side. You’d given it to him, your heart hammering in your chest.

He’d taken that band. He’d be here today. You are sure of it. Continue reading

Micro Poem Collection #2

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Thunder carved
And lightning born
Steel sharp
With perfect form

Oceans part
The waters shorn
Wild heart
Gives chase to storms

~~~

What rage he feigned, to hold his reign
Feats of glory, swollen stories
So legends claim a perfect name

~~~

At the base of my spine
I trap a shiver
As the glint in your eyes
no longer glitters

On the curve of my cheek
the tears turn silver
For the want of your touch
you don’t deliver

~~~

Though damp lines down his face are creeping
I see a strength in his gentle weeping
A steady heart, his head high keeping

~~~

She’s starlit pure and angel kissed
Where checkered halls in time persist
Her pearl bloom in earthly hearts
Tears fervent men of sense apart

© EMMI LAWRENCE (2018)