poetry · writing

A Discomfort

I was told to expect pain:
cramps, bruising, nausea, the works

I was told to expect pain & discomfort

I told them I’d take it all,
if it meant
giving the rest away

When their work was done
I lay down exhausted and spent

But what little I felt
was nothing

I had years of pain
excruciating, vomit-inducing pain

This didn’t even register enough to be
a discomfort

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Original Works · writing

Mabel Lee Finch was hungry and impatient.

Mabel Lee Finch was hungry and impatient. And of course, her impatience was exacerbated by her hunger so she was having none of whatever this was.

“Marcia May Finch-Fitzbrogan you will get us out of this meeting right now! I refuse to miss lunch because of your terrible lack of foresight.”

Marcia had agreed to sell her soul last week and today they were meeting the demon to hammer out the contract details. Mabel had regrettably agreed to look over the contract for her sister.

“What if we made it a lunch meeting?”

“No! You KNOW it’d be in the Haverford, Elam, Lawrence, & Lushe office restaurant. And their dessert selection sucks.”

Marcia had to fight tooth and nail to get the meeting so soon after the verbal agreement. She knew Mabel wouldn’t agree to the time, hence her terrible decision to spring it on her now. In the car. On the way to what, Mabel thought, was their favorite barbecue place.

The feeling of betrayal that Mabel felt when she realized that instead of being on her way to pulled pork, mac & cheese, & 3 types of BBQ sauces, she was on her way to a boring meeting, a boring demon, & a crappy dessert menu, was too strong for her to bear.

“Let me out of the car.”

“Mabel don’t be ridiculous.”

“I was on my way to lunch. At a restaurant that’s actually good. You don’t wanna go, don’t go but you aren’t stopping me.”

Mabel jumped out of the moving car.

She broke her left arm in three places, but more worriedly her outfit was filthy and slightly torn.

She set her arm back in place and went to the outlet mall across the way. It’d take a few minutes for the arm to heal so only browsing at first and then trying stuff on.

She called the restaurant to make sure her sister hadn’t cancelled the reservation on the sly. She hadn’t. Which is why she wasn’t going to tear the woman’s fingers off.

It was simple enough to find a cute outfit she liked and she got a few more pieces since she was there. Her tattered clothes in one bag and new purchases in another, she called a car and made her way to the restaurant.

For their sake, she hoped they’d get her to her table soon.

Original Works · writing

“Do you know how long I’ve been waiting on this surgery?! Years!!!”

“Do you know how long I’ve been waiting on this surgery?! Years!!!”

Though technically true, Gwendolyn the Vampire Duchess had actually been waiting centuries to get this surgery.

But despite being necessary for her health, fang reduction was still mostly viewed as a cosmetic, superfluous procedure, so she was expecting ridicule as opposed to the much deserved empathy of dealing with feeding and hypnosis complications.

So she tended to downplay centuries of pain and malnutrition.

Original Works · writing

Letters From Belanna (Part 2 of 2)

Find part one here

<<<<<>>>>>

Day 38 of my expedition

Hi Marie. It’s morning and I’m exhausted. We’re not really going anywhere today, not until we figure out where we’re going. Madame Mercury’s trailing bird is trained to fly above the treetops and only flies below them once it has its bearings. So once we send a bunch of letters and it knows it’s way around, it’ll start off below the tree line and we’ll know where to go or at least that’s how it was explained to me.

Tell Mother that although I know it is her fault I am in this predicament (rose beasts sleep during the Sleeping cycle) that I do not blame her and do not want her to feel guilty, although she should.

Another letter shortly,
Belanna

***

Still Day 38 of my expedition

It’s not even lunch time yet, Marie. I’m hungry and my skin is irritated from all the thorn cuts and scratches. Vanessa made a salve but it doesn’t help as much as not getting scratched in the first place would help.

Another letter shortly,
Belanna

***

Once again Day 38 of my expedition

I’ve had lunch now.

Another letter shortly,
Belanna

***

It is still Day 38 of my expedition

What am I supposed to say at this point Marie? Being lost is annoying. I only hope that we find all we need on the way back and we don’t have to detour too far to get to where the pollen indicated.

I have no idea what else to say so I’ve asked Kyle Meridian to send a few letters in my stead. He agreed on the condition that I not read the letters he sends you. Normally I wouldn’t care but being expressly forbidden makes me ridiculously curious. But I agreed and can only hope that the two of you are not plotting my downfall and are instead trading words of romance that you’re too embarrassed to admit to tell your sister about.

I hope you haven’t been showing my letters to Mother because that’s a precedent that will be awkward to break when Kyle sends you his letters.

Waiting for dinner,
Belanna

***

Huzzah! ‘Tis Day 40 of my expedition

We’re finally on the move, Marie! I am excited that today is finally tomorrow. Or should I say that tomorrow has finally reached today? No matter how I say it, I am glad.

Madame Mercury sent out her trailing bird four more times before nightfall two days ago. You answered back once and I haven’t a clue how he feels about your correspondence, I really wish Meridian was the type to wear his heart on his sleeve. I’m far too lazy to be nosy and far too curious for my own good.

On a more productive note, we’re not off course! The rose beast landed us pretty far into the forest but we’re moving toward home and the pollen we were following! We may not get home early but Madame Mercury is confident we won’t get home late.

Hopeful,
Belanna

***

Day 43 of my expedition

Leola root aplenty! There was a small patch in a clearing. At first, we thought it’d only be enough for half a sack but we were wrong and now we have ten sacks of it. We’ve met the leola root quota and then some.

Mrs Eudora Fairly was holding two of the sacks but it was difficult for her, leola root is not too heavy but it is cumbersome. Her wife, Elaine, started carrying them for her, that’s three sacks she held. But Kyle was worried about her welfare and carried two of them for her. So in addition to the two he already held that made four total he was now carrying. The Fairlys got the worst of the thorns from the rose beast and were in definite need of that reprieve.

Just thought you might be interested in knowing the logic behind the arrangement of our stock, that’s all.

Now all that’s left is to collect enough star blooms and we’ll be on our way home.

Hoping to see you soon,
Belanna

***

Day 45 of my expedition

Charlaine’s family name is Berrora. I asked and she told me, that’s all it took.

Yesterday, she made a stew from some of the leola root and it tasted disgusting. She said leola root is full of fortifying nutrients and we need to get our strength back up if we intend to continue carrying all these leola roots. She didn’t let Kyle get up until he’d had three helpings. He looked like he was in pain, the poor boy. But I must say that he is looking infinitely better than the rest of us today. I’m going to try and stomach a second helping tonight, can’t argue with the results.

Fortified & nauseous,
Belanna

***

Day 48 of my expedition

Do you think all forest expeditions are filled with such strange occurrences and unfortunate circumstances, Marie? Or do you think misfortune just has a habit of clinging to me during the Blooming cycle?

Three days ago, I tried to stomach a second helping of leola root stew, as I said I would, but I grew so nauseous I thought I would throw it up. So I went to a clearing slightly away from the camp to do so, but what I saw made all nausea dispense, a cluster of star blooms! I called for the others and started collecting the flowers. I kept at it, I felt as if I might be able to fill my satchel. I didn’t look up again until it had gone dark and I realized that I was in a tunnel of some sort. The ceiling was so low, I couldn’t even stand up. I saw a light glow ahead of me so I went toward it. You’d think a dark and ominous tunnel, that a young scavenger gets lost in and leads to orb knows where, would be damp and cold but it wasn’t. The tunnel was warm and dry and caused me no discomfort despite my having to crouch down.

I kept moving toward the glow, picking star blooms as I went. When I reached the end, the tunnel opened up into a large cave. Curious that a space so large only has access by such a small passage.

The large space was so lush and bright you wouldn’t believe it, Marie! If not for the unnatural nature of the light, I might have believed I had found my way out somehow. Light came from all over the cave; many of the plants help luminescent qualities. The largest source of light came from a rock formation on the wall of the cave. It was covered in a bright orange moss that also appeared to be glowing. As it was, the formation with the moss upon it, almost seemed to take the shape of a person in a dress. But even more mesmerizing were the clusters of blooms on the floor beneath it. They were so neat and sat so handsomely beneath the rock formation that I would not be surprised to find out they were cultivated. I believe the blooms might be hallucinogenic because as I crouched closer to them to get a better look, I began having visions.

The first bloom had purple and orange petals and when I was near it, I hd visions of food and a plentiful harvest. Barrels overflowing with grain and tomatoes that looked so perfectly red. It seemed so real. I could smell the fresh dirt. I could see the sunblooms towering over me and fell their leaves on my arms as I walked past.

The second bloom was green, green all over, almost as if it was painted on. This time all I saw was water, lots of it, people swimming in it, bathing in it, drinking it, cooking with it. I felt the water pass through my fingers. I felt it rush around me as I swam through it.

The third bloom had petals of pink and yellow, fitting colors for the Blooming cycle yes? This time I saw children: children being born, children playing outside, children napping in the shade of a large tree. I even saw you with children Marie! Although I do not know if I was imagining you with your future children or you were simply caring for another’s but it was my vision so I will say they were yours.

I did consider taking a few of the new blooms with me as souvenirs but I was on a mission and I didn’t want to risk losing space for even two or three blooms. I turned back to the star blooms and continued on in earnest. The light in the cave grew dimmer so I began to wonder if there might actually be an opening to the outside in there. I suppose I was merely passing out from exhaustion because the next thing I remember is: I was waking up back at our camp, it was nightfall, and everyone was asleep around me so there was nothing for me to do but to go back to sleep as well. I cannot for the life of me remember how I got out of that cave! Apparently I had been missing for three days? They called and searched for me but found nothing until I showed up that night. I can only conclude I worked myself to the point of exhaustion for all three days because ALL of the remaining bags were filled with star blooms and the three cave blooms.

Madame Mercury was especially excited about the cave blooms, they are especially difficult to find and can only be found in the Forest of Flora. Apparently they are used in the fortifying of soil, the purification of water, and as a pregnancy tonic, respectively. Orb knows what that says about my hallucinations, I suppose Mme Mercury must have discussed them earlier in the expedition, it’s the only reason I can think of to explain them. Mme Mercury says they don’t even try to put the cave blooms on the quotas anymore because the only people who ever seem to find them, have no idea what they are!

Everyone was quite happy to have our quota filled and we’re making our way home now, we’ll be back almost 40 days early! Because I’ve done so much to fill our quota, I only have to carry two sacks of star blooms today! I’ll probably carry more tomorrow, give poor Kyle some help with the eight he’s carrying.

Speaking of Kyle, he informed me of the party you’re planning for our arrival home. Apparently, it’s customary in our family to throw a party after a member completes their first expedition and for the whole expedition party to attend? This is certainly news to me though for your sake, I did not let on. As thanks, you can make me a whole batch of glistening cloud cakes when I get home.

No rose beasts thankfully.

I do hope the next few days back are uneventful, I don’t think I can take anymore “excitement”. And although I didn’t completely hate my time on this expedition, I would prefer you not tell Mother as much. I intend to have my next expedition during the Fading or Sleeping cycle and I do not need her intervening again. Tell her I have made it out alive, although barely, and I am looking forward to my first warm bath in weeks, and those glistening cloud cakes.

See you soon,
Belanna

 

<<<<<>>>>>

This story was originally written for the Wattpad ambassador run profile “_Once_Upon” & their “30 Tales of Spring” anthology.

Original Works · writing

Letters From Belanna (Part 1 of 2)

Day 2 of my expedition

Hello Marie! I send greetings from the Forest of Flora! A beautiful place with a redundant name. You’d think they’d name it…anything else, but alas all of my suggestions are rejected outright. I was sure ‘Nightmare of Histamines and Sorrow’ was a winner.

I am absolutely miserable.

I can barely breathe and my eyes are so itchy and watery, I can barely see in front of me. I TOLD Mother that I wanted to take my forest expedition during the Sleeping cycle! I can breathe during the Sleeping cycle. I can run. Now? I can’t run and I can barely breathe. Tell Mother that any harm I face because of my allergies is her responsibility. Hopefully I won’t die, because that would likely haunt her for the rest of her days, but it is important you tell her all the same.

I could have been frolicking among ice crystals and dancing on a frozen lake, gathering ice powder in its abundance. But instead my expedition is postponed and I’m wading through the sticky humidity, eyes barely open, hoping for rain to form a short reprieve from sticky skin and an itchy throat.

I tried to get my expedition switched to the approaching Fading Cycle but apparently I need mother’s approval to do so. I have lived over 24 cycle collections and yet mother still holds all the power of appointment as head of the family. You must take heed and remember my pitiful circumstances as a cautionary tale for your future.

Hog to tradition! Not everyone in our family has taken their first expedition during the Blooming cycle, just most!

I may be alone in my misery but I am not without sympathizers. Before we even entered the forest I was a sorry sight, so anyone who didn’t understand my displeasure at a Blooming cycle venture, understood very quickly. Including myself, there are seven on our expedition party: Madame Mercury and her daughter Vanessa, as well as Mrs and Mrs Fairly, they’ve been married 15 years now. Charlaine, she has yet to divulge her family name, and Kyle Meridian, that tall boy from your scavenging class? He’s our seventh. He asked after you and I told him you are well. He sends his regards. If there’s anything else you wish for me to convey, tell me and I shall relay it to him.

And since you’re obviously wondering, no, I haven’t seen any rose beasts yet, although with my eyes as irritated as they are, one could be four feet in front of me and I wouldn’t see it. The other members of my party assure me that we haven’t come across one yet. I’m more interested in coming across star blooms and leola root. The sooner we collect our quota, the sooner my nightmare is over.

Madame Mercury brought a trailing bird with her and has offered to let us send letters home with it. The thing is spoiled rotten, it sits happily, being looked after all day and spends an hour or so a day sending correspondence. It is well trained so you can be sure that I will constantly send you letters documenting my misery.

Dreaming of home,
Belanna

***

Day 9 of my expedition

A reprieve! Madame Mercury is a goddess, a saint! She is the reason the moon shines so bright! She created a remedy for my allergies. It tastes awful and smells even worse but I intend to take it everyday for the rest of my life! She ground herbs and mixed them with water and honey. The honey only helps it go down smoother and gives it a stickier texture, no help with the taste or smell. I’m supposed to drink half and rub the rest on my face or anywhere else I itch or feel allergic reactions. I take it before I bathe otherwise I’d be stuck smelling like it all day.

I now understand why Blooming cycle expeditions are the most popular. The blooms and scenery are quite beautiful when they are not the direct cause of your suffering. The sky blooms are especially breathtaking, some of the blooms were as big as your head! They make the air smell sweet and Madame Mercury says that on a windy day, their petals dance and can catch you up and carry you as high as the treetops. It’s essentially a three month long scavenger hunt and bloom viewing. By the time we’ve gathered all our quota for this trip, the weight won’t be much worse than several large knapsacks. The ice from the fire caves, that they collect during the Sleeping cycle, is much heavier and would need far more than the seven in our party to move it.

Still no rose beast. We did see a few leafeaters though. Creepy little things. I always thought the name a misnomer but after seeing them, the name merely lacks creativity if nothing else.

Kyle Meridian actually tried to pick one up! He wanted it for an expedition pet or mascot or whatever silly notion he was on about. Madame Mercury warned him to leave it alone but he didn’t listen, and it bit him! They’re small but those teeth are sharp and there was blood and Kyle looked so astonished! He let it go and it scurried up a tree right above the fool as if to say: try that again, see what happens. I swear that was the most menacing looking leaf I have ever seen in all my years on this spinning orb.

He asked me not to tell the story to you, I suppose he was embarrassed but if anything, I find him much more enduring after being bitten so I feel it would be a disservice to him if I did not regale you with tales of his well meant mishaps.

Send Mother my best, she’ll be relieved to hear that she need not worry about the repercussions of causing my suffering. And before I forget, it is imperative that you and Mother remember to drink plenty of fluids. The Blooming cycle’s head no longer lies at the feet of the Sleeping cycle so soon you’ll be feeling its effects too. Hydration helps alleviate those effects!

All my love,
Belanna

***

Day 14 of my expedition

Humidity is a demon. Humidity is a demon, Marie! It thrives on our misfortune and has no obvious means of vanquishing it other than the passage of time and the inevitable change in weather. I am sick to my stomach from the thickness of this air. The expression is ‘air so thick you can cut it with a knife’ but I tell you that if I had the fabled knife that could cut through air I would not simply slice it, I would stab it and rid us of the menace all together.

Grumpy & sticky,
Belanna

***

Day 18 of my expedition

Do you know what I did today, Marie? I stood on my feet for four hours. I wore dark clothes under the hot sun. We stood in a circle in the hopes that pollen would fall on us. This is the life I am now living Marie. It’s the Following Ceremony. We follow the pollen to the plants we need. Of course, Madame Mercury was not subjected to our intense standing exercise, she was the Watcher, she watches the wind, and sees the different pollens on our clothes and figures out which plants are where.

If I ever have the misfortune of taking another expedition during the Blooming cycle, it shall be after I am well versed in this forest’s plants and systems. If I must ever take part in the Following Ceremony again, it will be as the Watcher.

No rose beasts.

Studious, Determined, & Covered in pollen,
Belanna

***

Day 20 of my expedition

Did you know the Following is a three day ceremony? I did not. My legs move like jelly and feel like jam. I was not meant to stand still for so long. Walking? I can do that for hours and not tire but being still creates aches and pains that feel unnatural.

But thankfully, the Following Ceremony is complete and we will set out in earnest tomorrow. Madame Mercury thinks we have a chance of finishing early. There was a surprising amount of blue pollen on our garments so with any luck we’ll find an enclosure of star blooms within the week and we’ll be home soon after.

No rose beasts.

Hopeful & Determined,
Belanna

***

Day 37 of my expedition

Well Marie, I can now say I’ve seen a rose beast. And believe my sincerity when I say I hope that all rose beasts may one day fall into a crack on this spinning orb, lose all their petals on the way down, and finally fall into the freezing core and drown in the world’s nectar. If I cannot have that, I can only hope that I never see or cross paths with one again and if you by some strange inclination still wish to see one after I’ve told you what has happened, I can only hope that your encounter is more pleasant than my own.

We were doing so well, Marie. We covered a lot of ground and I just know we would’ve found a sizable enclosure if we hadn’t run into that… thing.

The paintings and sketches are a gross under exaggeration of those damn behemoths! If one were to believe the drawings, a rose beast would be no larger than a rhino or possibly an elephant. But those are lies Marie. An elephant is a tiny runt compared to a rose beast. We were sleeping when it decided to walk across our camp.

It was tall enough that it nearly reached the tree tops. They are so quiet, Marie, eerily so. If not for the rustling of the trees against it, there would have been no sound. By the time we were even half awake, it was a few steps away. Of course, a few steps is several hundred yards for a beast that size. It was terrifying, it towered over us and blocked what little moonlight we had. We tried to get out of its way but it was too late. It would have trampled us to death if it was a denser creature. We got caught up in its thorns and it continued on as if we were nothing more than mud upon its boot and it was too busy to notice and scrape us off.

I apologize for taking so long to write you but we’ve been asleep for 15 days. Apparently, rose beasts incapacitate any living organism that enters them as a survival mechanism so they don’t try to destroy it from the inside. A survival mechanism, Marie. Rose beasts, behemoths that dwarf elephants, have a survival mechanism to protect themselves from us. It can make you think I suppose. It’s a near miracle that we didn’t die from the dehydration alone.

Once awake, we were still stuck inside that blasted thing for hours. Once we got our bearings, we tried to climb out. The drawings always make them look circular and almost friendly but it was like a wall, a wall of thorns and flowers and branches, that’s constantly jostling around. There is no such thing as staying still inside a rose beast. It’s insides are constantly moving and rotating, wait a few minutes and you’ll find yourself several yards away from where you were.

Hours of this nonsense and no respite from the thorns so by the time I got out, I looked a sad sight. Thankfully, I was able to climb out the side and I was very near the ground when I got out. The six others were not so lucky and had to climb UP to get OUT. So not only did they have hours of climbing out of the beast, they had hours to climb down from the trees as well.

Madame Mercury and Vanessa had the fortune of making it down before nightfall, but the other four had to sleep in the trees that night.

Needless to say we are lost. Madame Mercury thinks she can use her trailing bird to figure out which way leads back the way we came, so be prepared for a lot of letters over the next two days.

Tired and annoyed,
Belanna

***