It’s been summer for what feels like an eternity. If we’re getting technical, it’s been a little over a month and a half. It’s been nothing but sunshine, heat, and cloud-less blue skies. Most people would find this to be some kind of heaven – I’m pretty sure that’s why everyone flocks to California or Texas (depending on their prior political opinions, that is). On the other hand, you have people like me. My idea of the perfect day is spending a crisp morning just after sunrise out on a walk with my dog, the rain pouring down enough to soak us both. There are always more birds, less people, and I can feel everything better. It keeps raining as we go home, relax, drink tea and get comfortable under blankets and pillows. The rain keeps on, as we re-energize and I make my way to my desk to sit down and write. The morning walk is mostly for Gus, but nothing centers me and brings me back to my creative space quite like a walk in a rainy wood. By the time I’m sitting with my fingers to keyboard, my mind has opened up and is ready to spill over with creativity, an untouched well of possibility. The rain – and the tea – don’t stop. I don’t want to say that I hate the sun. There’s something particularly beautiful about a wonderful sunny day, with the sun just past risen and the world still waking up. It feels something like infinity and, again, like possibility. Like the sun shining down on my shoulders could lift me up into the air and send me flying wherever I want to. That only lasts so long, though. Before noon the sun beats down on my shoulders and becomes a heavier, overbearing weight that I can’t shake. It clings, it hovers, it sticks to my skin and tries to stay with me wherever I go. I don’t like being clung to. I don’t like the feeling the sun makes as its hot and sticky skin tries to caress mine. The sun and I, after our honeymoon moments, are not made for each other. I miss the rain. I miss the rain like I have only missed a few things in my life, and I feel both stupid and ridiculous realizing just how much I miss it. How absolutely visceral missing it feels. I’ve lost a lot of things in my life. Three very important things in the last year, all that felt they were varying sizes of me, parts that were ripped and cut out and others meticulously carved from their place. The rain leaving felt like someone slowly fading, their presence hardly missed until – with a sudden shock of a hello and just as quick of a goodbye – it hit me. It hadn’t rained for more than a month and I hadn’t noticed. I could feel myself grow comfortable in this skin, enjoying the sun, enjoying the sky, enjoying the days where I felt like I could do anything I wanted… Then, for just a few minutes, the rain came back. I was stuck in my cubicle when it happened, but I’m lucky. I have a cubicle by the window. It rained and I heard the sound of it against the glass instantly, saw the sky darken. My heart leapt into my throat, my heart pounded in my ears and absolutely nothing else mattered because the thing I hadn’t realized I had been missing was suddenly right there, wrapping its arms around me and telling me that it hadn’t forgotten about me. It would just be a little while longer. The rain stopped. Like I said, it left just as quickly as it had come. When used in this context, the definition of visceral reads as follows: so overwhelmingly real and tangible that despite it being weather and not something with a soul or a presence or anything it was the most real thing that had ever existed. It was in that moment that I felt the space the lack of rain had left for me, the area that had disappeared over time and that had been left empty, waiting for the moment the rain returned. How it hadn’t ached before this I didn’t know. I almost felt guilty, for just a moment, but here is the thing: the rain will never make you feel ashamed. So I didn’t. I had never known how badly I needed the rain until that moment, even though I had always known that the rain and I were bound. My favorite smell in the world is petrichor – a little known word for the smell of fresh rain hitting pavement after a dry spell. It will be happening soon. The rain will come back in another three weeks – it always comes back around my birthday, a little gift from the world to me. Now that I’ve noticed the rain and its absence, I can’t go back to pretending it isn’t there. I can’t forget what it felt like, what it feels like. I’ve been wondering if this in and of itself was a little gift too, something to remind me that perhaps I needed to get back to myself before I pushed myself further. You can’t be and do the things you want to do if you’ve lost yourself. Not really. I’m waiting for the rain to come back. I plan on being right there for it, the moment it does. Standing, waiting. Welcoming it with wide open arms.
Due to some recent change that decided to nose their way into my life just as I was beginning to instigate some order ’round these parts (see: weekly posting of short stories), I’ve had to do some thinking. Thinking isn’t a bad thing. I do a lot of it. I love thinking. Thinking and I, we go way back. Thinking and I have been doing some work and discussing some things and just wanted to have a little bit of a heart to heart with you, the blog, so you know where I’m at right now. Thinking thought it would be a good idea.
So, as we know I work at a vet clinic, and recently there has been some…upheaval. In the way that may or may not be beneficial to me. We’ll see. What this means for you, little blog, is that I am going to be changing the days I post because my entire life has been faceted around the days I work at the clinic and so I must now re-tailor things to fit in a more appropriate manner. I will be working Tuesday through Friday, and boy, am I excited to have Sunday’s off. It feels like a little miracle if I’m honest. I’m excited. I’ll be working different hours – getting up earlier, getting home earlier – and I am very much hoping that that will mean that I have more time to dedicate to truly getting work done. I may have to become slightly more dependent on coffee throughout the day…but even if that’s the case it’ll be worth it. I’d like to have more time to work on my writing and I think the only way I’ll be able to do that – and part of the reason I am so excited about my schedule change – is making sure I’m able to force myself into a rhythm and force myself back into writing every single day. I did so well around this time last year, when I managed to finish two manuscripts in two months…and then I just fell of the wagon completely.
Well, wagon, meet my ass. We will be back on you by the END of September.
In other words, Auberon’s next posting will be sometime NEXT week, after the 30th. I am not sure when. Unfortunately due to my insane work schedule (working almost 8 days in a row in order to transition) I won’t have a ton of time to get settled until next week at the earliest. I’ll be writing when I can, but I won’t be able to do proper editing (lol) of the chapter before next week. That’s okay though, it’ll give me a little bit more time to work on some things – like the “covers” etc which I immediately fell behind on. I got a little bit overly excited…I’m hoping I can get ahead of the game in September so I don’t feel so behind and all over the place.
We’ll see how that goes.
I honestly think that’s all I wanted to touch on today, although I’ve wanted to write a really thorough post on a few different things lately…so maybe I’ll do that a little bit later and see if we can get any more active posts up while we’re waiting to post Auberon. That sounds like a good enough idea to me.
It was two weeks before Auberon got a day off. She didn’t mind the constant work and the promise of getting a real paycheck at the end of it all, though her feet were beginning to blister in places she didn’t know existed and her hands were red and tough from burns. If it hadn’t been for the fact that she was fairly sure that most human bodies weren’t supposed to be worked constantly, and that she was beginning to feel the after effects of overtiredness, Auberon thought she was doing just fine.
“Take a break,” Hazel said one afternoon as she turned to look at Auberon, her constant smile faltering. “You look like you’ve been walking across the Sahara for days with no food or water.”
“I don’t think that’s a compliment,” Auberon said, letting out a laugh that turned into a sigh. She wasn’t necessarily wrong. Auberon was used to working hard, but working at the pace that Hazel did and keeping up with her for two constant weeks had barely given Auberon any time to settle into her new home. On top of that, she had been constantly stressed about her aunt coming and finding her to drag her back home. She didn’t think the probability of it was that high, but that didn’t mean a chill didn’t run down her spine every time she heard the jingle of the opening door.
“It’s not meant to be. Take a few days off. It’ll give you a little bit of time to spend that paycheck of yours.”
“Paycheck?” Auberon practically blossomed at the words, surprise falling across her face. Hazel snorted and gestured to the back.
“Yeah, every other Friday. It’s in your cubby – go cash it across the street. Get out of here, I’ll close up.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” Auberon called over her shoulder, practically sliding into the back room. As promised, sitting neatly and unassuming in the cubby next to her keys, was a neatly folded envelope with her name spelled out on the front of it. Her heart fluttered in her chest with excitement as she tore the envelope open and looked inside, the check – just as unassuming a piece of paper as the envelope it was in – with her name on it looking up at her. Relief flooded her veins. In between this and the tips she had been splitting with Hazel for the last two weeks, she would have enough for rent and then some. And that was only two weeks worth of work.
Giddiness flooded through her as she bounced out of the cafe, giving Hazel a quick side hug. She was ushered out of the building by her coworker, who thrust an iced Americano into her hand before waving her off. Auberon was halfway down across the road toward the bank before she thought, yet again, about how lucky she was.
Auberon wasn’t telling Hazel this, and if her coworker had noticed at all within the last two weeks she hadn’t said anything, but Auberon had been eating solely off of a stolen plate and fork from the cafe.
It was one of the things that the basement apartment hadn’t come equipped with, and Auberon had been just getting by enough on tips that she hadn’t thought to set aside money to buy real utensils or that which to eat off of. Honestly Auberon was getting on fine with the salad plate she had nicked from work. Plus, honestly, no one bought so many baked goods that the tiny thing would be missing.
It was while she was standing in the aisle 7 of the only grocery store in town she first heard of the missing person, looking at plastic forks, knives, and paper plates.
“Sad about the Johnson girl,” she heard from the other side of the aisle. She was staring at the plastic forks and spoons. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to commit to actual silverware and honestly she was fairly sure that the tiny grocery store wouldn’t have any, anyway. The thought was pushed out of her mind as the woman, hidden by the shelf, let out a heavy sigh – Auberon wanted to know what could have been so sad about whoever this girl was.
“Oh, just terrible. I can’t imagine what her mother is going through.” If she had had moveable ears, they would have perked in the direction of the conversation. Instead she slowly made her way toward end of the aisle, looking down to see both women chatting while mulling over condiments; one woman was holding a jar of mayonnaise and the other a double pack of ketchup. They were both staring intently at the items in their hands, as if they were judging their purchase based on the labels. In all actuality they were just pretending to do something to cover up their blatant gossip.
“Can’t you, though? She let her daughter out at night when she knows what’s out here. It could have been anything. Coyotes, a bear…a boy,” the first woman said. Her brown hair was tied up in a tight ponytail, and she was wearing a matching track suit. She nudged her companion with her shoulder, although she didn’t take her eyes off the ketchup in her hands. The other woman – tall, blond, willowy – hushed her and looked down either end of the aisle they stood in. Her eyes glazed right over Auberon, who looked suddenly very intent on the Worcester sauce in front of her.
“You can’t say things like that out here, Joan. Someone might hear you.”
“I’m only saying what everyone else is saying. Girls’ don’t go missing here. They run away. Off to bigger cities with their secret boyfriends. I did the same thing when I was her age, you know, and I came running back with my tail tucked between my legs. Begged my mother for her forgiveness. I was gone for six months. Sarah will come back, same as me.”
“You do have a way of settling my thoughts, Joan,” the blonde said with a sigh, placing the mayonnaise back on the counter. “I was getting a little bit worried about Amy.”
“Don’t be. Amy and Sarah weren’t that close, were they?”
Auberon grabbed the unneeded bottle of steak sauce and threw it in her basket, turning on her heel then. She didn’t need to hear much else. It was bad enough that she was eavesdropping on them anyway – it seemed like petty high school drama, although admittedly it felt like the women were downplaying it a little bit. If a girl was missing it was always smartest to leave all options open, and not just decide on the easiest, right?
The rest of her shopping trip was uneventful, up until she had paid and was carrying her paper bag out to her bicycle. A police officer sat in his car, watching the opening doors of the market. He tipped his hat to Auberon as she came out, and she gave a slightly forced smile as she moved to unlock her bike and to strap her bag of groceries onto the back of it.
“Officer Henry, you on patrol?” the speaker from inside of his car crackled to life, and the officer sat straighter instantly.
“Nah sir, I’m out front of the market. You need me?”
“We need everyone,” it said, “back to the station now. We’ll prep you there.”
“Roger that, sir. I can be there in five.”
The car grumbled to life and sped out of the lot, back wheels squealing as it turned onto the main road. Auberon watched him fly off, her eyebrows knitting together as she slipped her keys into her front pocket and lifted herself onto the bike. Maybe Raven’s End wasn’t always as quiet as it seemed.
,,,By the time she finally came home, it was dusk. She had taken her time to roam around the town, riding her bike down back roads and following sidewalks that she had yet to go done. Almost every day she had been exhausted once she came off work, so she hadn’t made it out to do any true exploring of the place she was planning on calling home. This afternoon had been just perfect for that – it helped that everything she bought at the store would stay solid, too.
She leaned her bike under the awning of the deck and locked it there. Her fingers fumbled for keys, one arm wrapped around her bag of groceries. Had it not been for the unfortunate crunch from underneath her feet, Auberon never would have noticed the smear of blood that tracked down the glass and culminated in a crumbled mess that was quite literally under her feet.
It took all of her willpower not to scream when she did look down.
Auberon pulled her foot away, inhaling through her nose as deeply as she could. Her shadow fell over it, but even with the darkening sky she could see the scattered and clumped feathers, slick with wetness. White portions of bone stuck out where her foot had been. Fragments were still attached to her shoe. Guilt clung to her throat like a choker, tightening with every breath. Her next inhale brought the metallic tang of blood, and the scream that was stuck in her throat changed into a gag as she tumbled backwards, the bag falling out of her hand, contents tumbling out as she tried to back as far away from the dead bird as possible.
It was obvious what had happened – it had flown right into the glass door, so hard that it had broken itself. Killed itself. She had only made it worse by not noticing, by practically crushing it underneath her feet. Now it lay, eyes glassy, wings broken. It would never fly again. Not now that it’s entire chest lay open and trampled. Auberon didn’t want to touch it, didn’t want to look at it, but she couldn’t seem to take her eyes off of it, and in the same moment she wanted to reach her hand out to it and comfort it. As if there was still some form of life in the frail body. As if there was some spirit lingering there.
She finally closed her eyes and did her best to think of anything else. She thought of the vegetables that would be bruised on the ground, on work in the morning. She breathed and tried to ignore the smell of blood. When she finally opened her eyes, she didn’t look at the bird. She moved over it, opening up the door and kicking off her shoe outside – making sure it didn’t land anywhere near the bird – and grabbed a roll of paper towels.
From there it was simple. A clean up job. Auberon couldn’t look at it as anything else without getting sick, so she pretended that she was just taking care of a mess at work. She had knocked over a bottle of syrup and used coffee grounds the other day that had looked a little like the mess on her front porch. In the darkness she could pretend that that’s what this was, as long as she didn’t try to focus too hard on it. It was only when her fingers brushed against the smoothness of its beak that she was reminded that it had once been living. Breathing, heart pumping and glassy eyes blinking. Auberon got up and walked away for a moment, staring out into the darkness as she put the back of her hand to her forehead. There was nothing she could have done to stop it. It was a wild bird, for fuck’s sake. Even if she had been here, all that would have changed was that she would have seen it happen. That might have been even worse. Turning back to the rest of its remains – no longer able to look at it as a mess from the shop – she let out a deep sigh. For now all she could do was clean it up and hope that she could do was hope that she could give the poor thing some dignity. She moved slowly, gathering its remains as she found them – scattered bones from where she had crushed it, feathers that had fallen in the mess – and set them all carefully alongside the body. When she was finished, there was only the puddle of sticky blood on the ground in front of the door, and the smear. The bird lay wrapped tightly in the towels.
Auberon didn’t just want to throw it away, and burying it six feet underground felt just as alien. A bird was not meant to hide beneath the Earth. It felt disrespectful. It was obvious after she had picked it up from its size that it was a raven, and it felt wrong to show such little reverence to it – especially given the town’s namesake. This was her home, after all, and she should treat it as such.
She would burn it in the woods, later. Give it as close to a Viking funeral as she could. The bird, she decided, would fly one last time.
Auberon had finally managed to go inside, hiding the remains of the bird in her bathroom and shutting the door tightly behind her. It was at ten thirty, and all she had done in the time between setting the bird up in the bathroom and setting herself up in the living room was stare at the eggshell white wall. For a good quarter of an hour, that was all she had figured out how to do. She was positive that it was the shock of the scenario – it isn’t every day that you have to reassemble a dead and broken raven, of course – but it left her heavy headed and feeling like she had fog in her brain. It felt almost surreal, despite the obvious reality of everything. She might have been able to write it off as something else if she hadn’t been so sure there was a dead bird in her bathroom sink.
Over time, the idea of functioning like a normal human person returned to her, and somewhere between her blank staring and then she had realized that something had to be done about the corpse before it started decomposing. So she texted Hazel. Both because she knew no one else and because she felt that if anyone would help, it would be her.
Hey, can I ask you a weird question?
Shoot! Hazel replied, almost instantly. A wave of relief flooded Auberon.
If I needed to burn something is there a safe place for me to do it?
There was a short pause before her phone began buzzing in her hand, Hazel’s face suddenly appearing on the screen. Auberon answered the call immediately, phone shaking as sudden anxiety rippled through her. She had never been good at phone calls, and the strangeness of the night didn’t change that. In fact, it made her anxiety a little worse. Her whole body felt like it was on high alert.
“Hey?” She asked, warily. She was about as used to receiving phone calls as she was to texting – and ultimately both of those things were fairly new to her. It wasn’t that she had been…isolated growing up. It was just that she had had more important things to do, and the only phone calls she had ever gotten were from her aunt. Those never ended well. Phone calls, along with many other day to day tasks, fell into the category of Immediately Anxiety Inducing.
“Hey. What do you have to burn and do you need a ride?” Hazel’s readiness took Auberon by surprise, but she didn’t hesitate in responding, more glad that she was so willing to offer her services even if she had no idea what they would be used for.
“It is…kind of a weird story, but a ride would be good, considering I have no idea how to get around here still. And it’s dark, which will make it harder.”
“Okay, I can be there in ten. Meet me down the road.” Auberon smiled to herself, happy that she didn’t have to explain just yet and that despite a complete lack of detail, Hazel was more than happy to offer her services. It was incredibly refreshing. It almost felt a little bit like friendship.
“You” Auberon began, leaning back against the kitchen counter, “are seriously awesome. Do you know that?”
“I’ve been told,” Hazel said, letting out a half laugh, “but I try not to let it go to my head. Most of the time. See you soon.”
The line clipped off, and Auberon moved to gather the bird, making sure it was padded enough to go on a ride without breaking itself too much more.
Auberon stood a little ways past the gate, where the private road turned into public, and waited for Hazel. The night air was cool against her skin – not so much that goosebumps raised on her arms, but enough that she took a shaking breath as she held her backpack close to her chest. Or maybe it was because she had a dead bird in her pack. What had once contained the entirety of her belongings, essentially her entire life, was now carrying what was left of the raven’s. She wasn’t sure if that counted as poetic justice or not.
When the headlights of Hazel’s Subaru pulled down the road Auberon gave a half-hearted wave and walked towards the vehicle as it rolled to a slow stop. As she opened the passenger’s side door and slid in, pack still hugged to her chest, she couldn’t help but notice Hazel’s eyes locked onto the mansion. It wasn’t until the door shut firmly behind Auberon that she managed to shake her attention from the house and looked at her passenger.
“Hey. So what are we burning?”
“Okay so, first thing, please do not kill me after I tell you what is in the bag. Second…I have a dead bird in the bag.”
“Right,” Hazel said, sucking both of her lips in and staring at Auberon. She stayed silent for a good thirty seconds or so, obviously mulling over what the best thing to say was. “So we’re burning the bird.”
“He deserves a proper funeral.”
“Right. And that means we’re burning him why?”
“Like a Viking funeral.”
Hazel nodded, lips pursed but looking poignant as she backed out onto the main road. The car rumbled quietly along, the softest hint of electronic music reverberating through the speakers. They both remained silent, dark trees zooming past them as they sped down the country road. Auberon had never been this far out before – hadn’t managed to get much farther than the singular city light, if she was being honest. The streets and roads she had been exploring earlier the day weren’t exactly much to see, and had it not been for the fact that she had enjoyed the leisurely sentiment of it all, it would have been incredibly boring. This was different though – as they drove down the road and the trees buzzed past them, the stars were out in full force, lighting up the night sky with the help of the half-full moon. The past two weeks had flown by for Auberon, letting her get lost in the work and tedious – but welcome – day to day life of living alone. It was a sort of freedom and ultimately it was exactly what she wanted…but there was something that she hadn’t wanted to admit that she lacked. Something that she had hoped to find but was missing somewhere along the lines of her easily found house and job.
Now, sitting beside Hazel, driving down a road she had never been before, Auberon had the sudden realization that it was this.
Whatever this feeling was, the way she felt sitting next to a girl who was becoming her friend and who had appeared to her with no need for explanation and offered nothing but help while driving along a deserted road in the middle of one of the most beautiful nights she had ever seen, was what she had been missing.
Minus the bird, of course. Auberon would have been much happier if this hadn’t involved a corpse.
The feeling slowly dismantled itself as the car slowed, and Hazel pulled off onto a long gravel driveway. At the end sat a house with the light of a television flashing through the window. The moment the cars headlights hit it, the front porch light flicked on and the front door opened, practically in the same second.
“Where are we?” Auberon asked, straightening up suddenly. The figure that stood, half-illuminated in the light, was a thick set man that was so tall that his head practically touched the doorway. His hair was long and pulled back behind his head. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, which made Auberon instantly uncomfortable; she had always hated that men had the option to be half naked whenever they wanted to and women were always constrained to at least underwear.
“Tane’s house. He’s an old friend,” Hazel replied, looking over to her passenger with a smile. “Don’t worry. He’s Good People too.”
“So it’s not just me then?” Auberon asked, a shaky laugh escaping her lips.
“Sorry to burst that bubble, but no, it’s not just you.” Hazel shut off the car and slid out, instantly running up the steps and wrapping her arms around the man. He swung an arm around her in return – so thick that if he had used both he would have squished her in his grasp – before letting her go and giving a nod to Auberon, who stood awkwardly just outside of the passenger’s seat.
“What are we burning?” He asked, clearing his throat and waving Auberon toward him. “Not just a backpack?”
“A bird,” Hazel sighed, although the porch light illuminated her smile. “We’re sending him back to Valhalla to feast with the Vikings.”
Old Madge sat and stared at the wall in front of her. The heavy bed sheet which covered it most days, hiding it from her view and from her constant thoughts, was lifted and tied to the side. Floor to ceiling was covered in notes, pinned with thumbtacks and wall tacky and tape, all scribbled down in chicken scratch that not even a nurse could comprehend. Threads of all different colors intertwined, looping and dancing along each other, sometimes spun together and creating a rainbow of colors. It was a mess, reminiscent of something someone might have seen in a police procedural; a conspiracy board. Anyone who wasn’t Old Madge would have instantly thought it to be unorganized, a mess, nothing more than a strange woman’s ramblings. It was incomprehensible except to her.
“Oh,” she said softly as she took a step closer, running her finger along the length of a singular thread. It was periwinkle blue – almost lost in the bright shades of pink, yellow, and purple. The old woman’s eyebrows furrowed, the wrinkles around them instantly caving around them to make them look more like little black sockets where eyes should have been. “This isn’t good at all.”
She plucked the thread, and it reverberated against the thumbtacks that held it up on either end, moving from one edge of the wall to another. Like a domino affect, the others all began to ripple and vibrate as well. So many of them moved that the softest hum echoed around the room.
“Old Madge, what are you going to do?” The woman asked herself, placing a palm directly against the wall, stopping the threads from moving as they went taut against her hand. They left her in absolute silence.
If you had asked Auberon Wolf what she had thought about her life up until today, she wouldn’t have been able to say anything good about it. Up until this morning, almost every day since the morning of her twelfth birthday had been one insurmountable disaster after another, and before long they had all added up until there wasn’t much left that she could do except merely survive. Today was the day, she was sure of it, that she had been surviving for.
“So these are the copies of your keys,” said Mr. Montgomery, handing her a keyring of jingling metal. She held it in her hand, the cold of it against her skin causing goosebumps to rise just past her wrists. She couldn’t stop herself from smiling. “Do you have anything you’ll need help moving?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head as she looked up from the keys to him. He was a younger man, hardly older than his mid thirties, with already graying hair but a youthful face. It was his cheeks that threw her off – they were large and plump, and could be perfectly described by the one Christmas song about Santa’s being cherry-like. His blue eyes were watery but kind, and his smile seemed genuine enough. And he wasn’t asking her any questions – if he did she wouldn’t have any answers anyway. So she had to appreciate that much about him. “Just me, my bike and my pack.”
“Alright then. Sounds like it’ll be an easy enough job to settle in then. Town isn’t too far from here, and if you need any help with groceries or anything on that bike of yours, just let us know. I’m sure Jefferson would be able to take the car down to the store for you.” The fact that the Montgomery’s had a butler, that they referred to by only their last name, was an instant reminder of the sort of place she was moving into. The family above her was obviously affluent, rich, probably indulgent. That they would even consider renting to someone like her was a surprise, and even more so because of the fact that they were actually taking her money and handing her the keys without blinking.
“Thank you – that’s very kind,” she said, her smile growing. Except after she handed him over her rent money for this and last month, she was fairly sure she was only going to have money to buy granola bars and oatmeal until she was able to find a job. That wasn’t something she needed to share with her new landlord, though.
“I’ll let you settle in. Just come knock on the front if you need anything,” he said with a wave, disappearing around the corner of the large manor.
She had no idea how she had gotten so fucking lucky.
Turning around, she let everything sink in. She was hardly more than a day from her aunt’s home, but she wasn’t sure she would have managed to find this good of a deal elsewhere, and honestly she didn’t care about proximity. It wasn’t like her aunt was going to come looking for her. And the town – at least what she had seen of it so far, which wasn’t much – was idyllic. It was the sort of place that you wanted to be. Which was funny, because she had never heard of it before even though she had lived just miles away from it for most of her young adult life. She pushed the thought away, though, in lieu of better ones. Like the fact that she had a home, with a backyard, totally to herself. In the basement of a mansion, no less. Sure, it was going to take most of the money she had saved up, but ultimately if it meant she had a place to stay, one that she could call her own, she didn’t care how much it was. She would find a job soon enough, and Mr. Montgomery had been incredibly understanding. It wasn’t like she had lied – she had blatantly told him she just wanted someplace of her own, and that she was going to be working on getting on her feet. He was aware that she wasn’t currently rolling in money and she had made it abundantly clear that she had no current job. She just hadn’t made it clear how broke she would be once she handed over her cash. At the time that had been good enough for him, and Auberon couldn’t have been more grateful.
“Holy shit,” she whispered to herself as she felt the keys in her hand, running her thumb over the teeth. With her other hand she threw the door open, taking a deep breath as the smell of a new coat of paint and floor wax filled her nostrils.
It was so much more than Auberon had ever imagined she would get. It was technically a studio apartment, if a studio was the same size as a miniature football field. It was the size of a real, proper apartment, just the minus the walls. Considering it was just going to be Auberon here anyway she wasn’t really concerned about those to begin with.
The room came already furnished, thank god, otherwise she would have been stuck using her sleeping bag. At least until she had enough money to find a bed for cheap on something sketchy like Craigslist or the classifieds, and a fear of bed bugs had been looming ever since she had made the last second decision to run away.
Except it wasn’t really running away if she was honest – considering she was just on the tail end of nineteen years old, and was perfectly capable of living on her own. Legally capable, even. The only part of it that was running away was the fact that she hadn’t told her aunt that she was doing it, and that she had spirited away in the middle of the night – for fear of her being found out and guilted into staying, of course.
Large windows took up most of the main wall, natural light casting a shadow on the sectional that took up the main living area. Without realizing Auberon had pushed forward into the room, door shutting softly behind her. Her fingers ran against the back of the couch, the soft suede rubbing against the pads. She let her bag fall off her shoulder into the corner of the couch as she wandered across the hardwood floor, drawn to the massive bed pushed into the corner of the room. It was covered practically from head to toe in blue throw pillows and an overly ornate duvet, the sort of thing that appeared in Better Living magazines. Auberon was instantly in love with it.
The last time she had had a new bed, a bed that looked like someone cared about it, a bed with new sheets and new pillows and that wanted to be made, she had been ten years old and her life had been very, very different. The nostalgia – mixed with the excitement of having something of her very own – overwhelmed her; Auberon threw herself onto the bed, flopping onto her stomach and giggling the moment the bed seemed to swallow her in its softness. The bed didn’t creak, the mattress didn’t protest. She sunk into it – she could imagine its soft arms wrapping around her and hugging her, just as happy to be used as she was to be using it. It felt like heaven.
“Home sweet home,” she murmured into a pillow, letting her words disappear into the fluff
She didn’t stay there long, if only because it didn’t take long for her to get stir crazy. With no form of entertainment in the home – no books, no television, nothing to use to decorate – Auberon figured that it would do her no good to just sit around in the house, staring at the eggshell colored walls (if they really were eggshell – if she was honest she had no idea what constituted as real white versus any other shade. When did shades of white turn to shades of grey? So for the sake of the fact that her new landlords seemed to be the sort to use ‘eggshell’ over ‘real’ white, she deduced that that was what the color was, like a regular Sherlock Holmes). Plus, she had always been bad about waiting for anything. Her logic told her that the sooner she got into town, the sooner she would be able to find a place that was hiring, and thus find a job and start making a living. After all, that was all she really wanted to do.
Mr. Montgomery had been right – the downtown area was less than a mile away and completely flat, so an easy bike ride with no real issues. At most people stared at her as she flew past them on the sidewalk, presumably because she was a new girl who had never been seen in these parts before. From the sign she had seen when she was first coming into town limits – a decrepit old thing with a carving of a large raven on it that proclaimed boldy RAVEN’S END, POPULATION EST. 2,105 – she assumed that this was one of those places where everyone knew everyone, and she was probably going to be worth talking about. Which, considering the fact that she was looking for a job and hoping to make this place home, wasn’t the worse thing in the world.
From the looks of it there were only two stoplights in the whole town – one by the exit and one smack dab in the middle of the most ‘metropolitan’ area, if one could even call it that. It didn’t seem particularly busy, although people could be seen walking from shop to the next; cars drove through and straight toward the highway and out of town. If anything this seemed more like the sort of place where one might stop to grab a coffee and use a restroom, rather than settle down and spend the day. Just as she rode down the sidewalk – there was no bike lane, and even despite the twenty mile per hour speed limit she wasn’t about to drive in the road and piss off the locals on day one – she passed by everything that looked like it might have been of any merit; a cafe, a second hand bookstore, and most surprisingly a place labeled RAVEN’S END APOTHECARY. The town’s bank sat kitty corner from where she paused at the intersection, and the only interesting thing about that was the bike rack that sat outside of it.
In all honesty, the entire town seemed to have boring, dreary charm down pat. Auberon added that instantly to the list of things she was falling in love with.
It didn’t take long for Auberon to realize, as she locked her bike in place, that it was well before eleven and only two things besides the bank she stood next to was open. There was the diner to her left, and the cafe that she’d already passed. This early in the morning, she would only have two options on where she could start looking for work.
“Are you looking for something lass?” A voice said from directly behind her, making Auberon jump and spin around with a gasp. Standing less than a foot away from her was the most pale woman she had ever seen – her skin and hair were the same exact shade of paper white, her eyes a gray that Auberon had never imagined could be seen anywhere but in clouds. A fraying sun hat sat back on her braided hair, creating a shadow just over her eyes and across the bridge of her nose. “Sorry to surprise you,” she said with a grin. It took up half of her face, crooked and pulled tightly to the right side, leaving the left almost motionless. Despite the apology she looked deeply pleased with herself, as though she had just pulled the most delightful prank on someone. “Just looked like ya needed some help.”
Auberon’s heart beat hard in her chest from the scare, but she gave the woman her best attempt at a smile and nodded as she took a deep and steadying breath. “Thank you – I actually would love some help.” She stood up straighter and gave the woman a smile as she extended a hand for the older woman to shake. “I’m Auberon.”
“Knew I hadn’t seen you ‘round – I know everyone. Madge, I am,” she said as she took Auberon’s hand and gave it a firm, hard shake, harder than Auberon had expected. “Auberon’s a funny name, d’ya know where it came from?”
“No,” Auberon said with a shrug – she had looked it up once but her parents had been gone long before she had ever gotten the urge to ask them what had made them pick it. “No idea. So you know everyone here?” She said, instantly moving the subject on – the woman seemed nice enough, if not…quirky, and if she knew everyone then there was a high chance she would know if there was someone hiring. At least that was what she hoped.
“One and all, big and small,” the woman said with a wink, not dropping Auberon’s hand as she began tugging her in the direction of the crosswalk. “C’mere, let Old Madge get you set. I’ve got a good sense about people, Auberon, and I get a good sense about you. Do you know what sense I’m getting?” She asked, ignoring the glowing red hand sign that told them to stay put on the other side of the street and pulling Auberon along behind her no matter, “that you’re good people. I know just the place for you.”
Old Madge pulled her to the other edge of the street and pushed open the door of the cafe, making sure that Auberon was in before she let the door fall shut behind her. Floor-to-ceiling windows crossed the entire room, black and white tile on the floor, a granite counter top creating a bar that took up the back and main wall. It wasn’t all that busy except for a man sitting in the corner, dutifully tip-taping away at his keyboard, and the girl that leaned against the counter in a black apron, doodling on a napkin and swirling a spoon in a cup of piping hot coffee with the other hand.
When the door fell shut and the bells that sat around its handle jingled, the girl looked up right at Auberon, and a grin overtook her face as if she was seeing a long lost friend for the first time in years.
“Whose this, Old Madge?” She said, pushing away both the coffee and the doodle. “Who’ve you brought to me today?” The girl’s dyed black hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail that fell just between between her shoulder blades. Her smile was big and genuine, showing whitened teeth that were so straight they could have only been made so by braces, and a splattering of freckles across her nose that seemed to move as she spoke and smiled. Her eyes were a mossy shade of green, and just like Madge, there was something strangely inviting about her.
“Hazel,” Old Madge cried, despite their proximity, “I’ve brought you a good people,” she said, tugging again on Auberon, who blushed but grinned nonetheless.
“I thought I told you I don’t take in strays,” the other girl said. Now standing directly opposite each other on either side of the bar, it wasn’t hard to see that Auberon was almost half a foot taller than the barista – she had to look up to smile in Auberon’s direction.
“She ain’t a stray – her name is Auberon, and she’s good people.”
“And how long have you known this ‘good people’?” Hazel asked, outstretching her hand for Auberon to shake – her handshake, while looser than Old Madge’s, was still firm. The sort that she had been instructed as a proper, good handshake by her debate teacher in high school. “I’m Hazel, if you haven’t figured out yet.”
Old Madge let out a sigh and shrugged, letting Auberon’s hand go for the first time. “Somewhere between five years and five centuries, I’ve yet to figure that out yet,” she said in a groan, although her words ended in her half-sided, toothy grin. “This good people is looking for something and I think you can help her.”
“Let me guess,” Hazel said, directing her words at Auberon now, “you’re looking for a job.”
“You would be correct,” Auberon said, giving the girl a half smile. “Although I wasn’t expecting to be caught up in whatever Miss Madge is trying to sell you – I’m really not all that sure I’m good people,” she said, giving a sheepish grin.
“Old Madge,” the older woman said, ending in a cackle.
“Oh, that’s the thing – good people never are. It’s the ones that tell you that they’re good people you’ve got to look out for,” Hazel said, this time moving toward the back of the counter to where a display case of baked goods sat. She pulled out a muffin and placed it on a napkin, handing it to the old woman and making a shooing motion. “For your troubles, Old Madge. If it wasn’t for you, god forbid, I’d never have anyone else to cover my shifts. I’ll see you around I’m sure.”
“You’ll see me when I see me,” Old Madge said with a shrug, giving a hard pat on Auberon’s shoulder as she took the muffin and began to walk backwards toward the door. “I’ll see you when you see me!” And with that toddled out of the cafe, disappearing out the door and around the corner as if she had never been there.
“Does that happen often?” Auberon asked, staring at the place where Old Madge had just been standing.
“Not all that often, but it doesn’t not happen, if you know what I mean.”
“I think so.” As Auberon spoke Hazel ducked down behind the counter, reappearing a moment later with a folded apron in her hands, identical to the one she wore. She thrust it out to Auberon across the granite bar.
“So, Good People, you want a job or not?” Continue reading
Been quiet here lately. Not even crickets sounding off. There’s a good reason though, I promise.
I’ve already failed this portion of my quarterly goals, but that’s alright, because it’s helping me make sure I get to another part of it. I missed last week’s blog post but I’ll be posting an additional post tomorrow. That post will be the beginning of a short story serial that will be going up in a weekly format, and will hopefully be something you’re all interested in.
It’s the story of a girl named Auberon, who has spent her entire life wanting to escape and have freedom on her own terms. She just wants to be able to live her life as she sees fit, and decides to settle down in a small town she’s never heard of, slowly making herself something that might last. There’s just one small thing though…this town isn’t exactly as quiet as most small towns are supposed to be. This town is sitting on a secret, and Auberon might be exactly the person it needs to uncover it.
The story is, if you’re looking for a genre breakdown, a YA paranormal/supernatural piece. It’s going to be posted weekly, every Thursday evening, and I’m really excited to share it with whoever is going to be reading it.
Back to radio silence – I’ve got some finishing touches to work on.
Usually I sit down to blog posts and have absolutely no idea what I’m going to talk about. Today, however, is different. Not only have I done things since this blog post, I have things I want to talk about. So weird, I know. I’m wondering if I should pick up a format or something but really I just think I’ll randomly update you all as I see fit, because if I give it a format that will make it a little less exciting and a little less me. I am organized, you see, but only to a point. I prefer my organization with a flair of chaos to it.
So over the last week I: got drunk, went to a lavender festival, went to a book con (book fair?), picked up old projects, and took a really exciting bath.
We’ll skip the drunk, fast forward through the lavender festival (it was really great and super pretty and I went with my girlfriend for her birthday but we had no money which was a great thing because we would have spent it ALL and we decided that Sequim is a wonderful place and that we both wish we were already retired so we could live there because it’s perfect except it doesn’t rain enough), and pause on the book con:
It was the Capital Indie Book Con, that was held at the Evergreen State College, and it was so fun. It was super tiny (as it was a local indie book con) and I’m really not sure how much publicity was gotten for it. It seemed like a mostly word-of-mouth sort of thing, but it was a fun little event. I, of course, didn’t go as an author but merely a reader. It was incredibly interesting to see the marketing that some of these authors did for their novels. And it was an “every genre ever” sort of con so nothing was left out. There was speculative fiction and fantasy, erotica, historical fiction, even a few non-fiction pieces and authors there. In all my friend and I – also a writer – ended up spending about two and a half hours milling around the booths, talking to authors, getting a feel for it all. Once again I was very glad I was broke. If I hadn’t been when I walked in, I would have been when I walked out.
I did walk out with two books and a piece of art though – albeit the art was free and from a WONDERFUL author named Cait Spivey, whose book I immediately went home and picked up on Amazon. I will be reading it soon and will post a review as soon as I do! In the meantime, she sent me home with a watercolor piece of Nimona, a character created by Noelle Stevenson, and I about died of excitement. Obviously I had a favorite person there. I can’t help it. She loves Nimona, I love Nimona, she gave me art…and what I was able to read for the concepts of her stories seemed absolutely wonderful. To say I’m excited about her existence and her work is a bit of an understatement. (Nimona is now hanging across from my other shaved-haired-favorite, Ronan Lynch, on my desk. They are friends. Probably. Not.)
Then in other news, I had an exciting bath, but that was mostly just because I used the bath as a meditation exercise that involved planning for #Rory, and I was able to get the next plot point worked out that I was having issues with. So, I’m happy there too. Gus and I just got back from a walk and I’m going to sit down to get a bit more writing done – and check off my blog post on today’s to-do list. 😉
If you’re reading, hi, I hope you’re enjoying. Otherwise I’ll just click ‘publish’ and send this into the void. Although it’s a very friendly, helpful void. I like you, void. Let’s be friends.
Okay, so. I got this idea. I had this idea. It was bequeathed to me. Actually it was seen in a video and sounded like a great idea so I decided to do it. It was this video, actually, by an author named Jenna Moreci whose vlogs I’ve been watching pretty consistently over the last few weeks. I’ve been impressed by her debut, Eve, and I love her presence on camera as well as the incredible dedication she seems to have. So I figured what better form of flattery than pick up one of her habits and see how it works for me?
I’m not really a “goal” sort of person. I’m not organized, like at all. My desk is a mess, my notes are my mess, my mind is a mess, my novels are a mess…I’m a messy person. That doesn’t mean I can’t tidy shit up though. I’m a Virgo and that’s supposed to mean I’m a perfectionist so I’m going to start acting like it (and stop acting like the anxiety-filled-neurotic freak I am when it comes to organization and thus my constant lack thereof!!!). So, with the inspiration of Moreci, I’ve decided to implement QUARTERLY WRITING GOALS!
Some of these goals are the following:
- Finishing 2nd draft of #Werewolfuckery
- Updating the blog weekly……….
- Posting my serial short story
- Doubling word count on my #PantsingNovel
These are not all of the goals, and some of these are lofty (like finishing the 2nd draft of #Werewolfuckery – that is asking for a little much of myself. Although I can’t say I don’t think I can do it. I can, it’s just…where the intimidating part of the title comes in). I’ve got tinier goals too, some that will help me achieve this bigger goals, and some that have absolutely nothing to do with them. I’ve got from this evening to the end of September to finish them. I’m giving myself to the end of the month because I didn’t get to start this until the middle of this month, and that seems fair to me, probably.
I literally have no idea how this is going to go because I’m not good at lists, or goals, or really any sort of life organization, but I’ve got someone in my life all of the sudden who is really good at these things…and she might be a good influence on me, but we’re not going to admit than anywhere that she knows where to look.
In the meantime, I’m one-twelfth of the way to finishing one of the goals as of this post! Whoo! (Oh, here we go.)
Muchly and always,
I allow myself to let go of energy that no longer serves me. I allow myself to let go of energy that no longer serves me. I allow myself to let go of energy that no longer serves me.
I allow myself to let go.
I allow myself.
I allow myself to let go of energy that no longer serves me. I allow, I allow, I allow. I let go. I.
It’s Monday evening, rather than Tuesday (at any point of the day), and I’ve been sitting and gazing at this blog every few hours over the last two days. You know, I’ve always been aware that writing a blog is hard. It’s dedication and commitment. Both of those things I tend to have a problem with. I think a lot of it comes down to lack of faith in myself, and also a lack of interest in my own day-to-day life. It makes me wonder what the point is of sitting down and writing things when I feel like there isn’t much to write about. I like to write things that stem from emotions, be them mine or not. I hadn’t realized that until someone else told me that the other day. There’s only one problem with that.
On a day to day basis, I like to bottle things up. I wouldn’t even say it’s a defense mechanism now – it’s just how things are. I bottle up my emotions and save them for a rainy day when depression comes knocking, and even then, it’s more like depression pulls out the cork just enough to cause a leak rather than a full tsunami. My depression is sneaky, and comes when it’s least expected. It makes life more difficult on the daily, but it does not make it impossible. Some days I think I appreciate it because of that, while other days I hate it.
You can’t even do depression all the way, I say to myself. Why would you be able to do anything else?
It’s a cruel little game I like to play on myself without ever really knowing it. Self-doubt lumbers in like the sad ogre that it is, something to be pitied, and I want so badly to strangle it and control it and force it to understand that there is worth in what I do.
These last few weeks have brought nothing but change. Subtle, small changes that have slowly grown insurmountable. They are unexpected and exciting and at the same time terrifying, and I don’t know what to do about them. They aren’t really things I feel comfortable writing about in a public setting, not just yet, but it’s something that makes me feel like I have to do things again. No matter how hard things may be. No matter how much I don’t want to or how little faith I have in myself and my craft. I’m thankful for these little things, little changes, and I hope I can hold on to them.
All of this is to say that I’m back now. I think I’ll be changing the days from Tuesday and Thursday to Monday and Wednesday, and we’ll consider an addition later if things go well. I know that no one really reads this, but I hope that everyone who does is doing well. I hope you can manage to take my words and find the little bit of strength you need to have faith in yourself, too. I know it’s hard. It’s not easy. If I can do it, I hope that you can too.
There’s a bar by the windows. She sits there partially because there is nowhere else, and partially because of the trapped feeling that blossoms in her chest as she looks around the otherwise packed cafe. Here, she can study the stained glass of the theater across the street. Here, she can keep an eye on those who walk in, out, and by…and also on the corner of the room, where the door reads EMPLOYEE’S ONLY in damning red letters. Here, in the corner of the bar where she can see it all, she feels safe.
She knows that safety would be gone the moment she passed through the labeled door, the moment she slipped underneath the EMPLOYEE and shut it behind her. The idea makes her chest flutter weakly within its cavity – or maybe because of the person sitting beside her, with the flat chest and the shaved head, who she can’t stop stealing glances at. She knows she wants to grab their hand and run through the door, throwing ideals of safety out the window for the chance of adventure and maybe love…but instead she remains sitting. She’s quiet. She reads her book by the windows, easily distracted by passers-by.
Instead, she dreams.
—It isn’t safe, just beyond the door. She hears it buzzing. It’s constant, like the soft whir of a fan, but higher pitched. As though there’s some sort of frequency attached to it. No one else seems to notice it and never has. Despite the fact that she’s come here every day for months, she’s never once witnessed an employee step past the threshold. She wants to know what the buzzing is – almost yearns for it sometimes, on the days when the fluttering in her chest gets overwhelming and the fear subsides just long enough for her to wonder if it would be worth it to run through and forsake it all. She knows that ultimately, it’s too much for her. She never could. She relishes the safety of her books too much. She relishes the dream of slight perfection in the back of her head, the one that always pinpoints the person with the shaved head and tries to beckon them to look over at her.
For the first time, in that moment, they do. They look with their soft grey eyes at her and the fear all but leaves. Instead she’s caught by their beauty, the simpleness, the way the corners lead up into soft eyelashes that almost touch their cheeks as they blink. It’s in that moment that she decides. Fuck the fear, fuck the buzz, fuck it all.
She doesn’t speak, she just stands, and she crosses the room. No one notices, no one at all, except for the person with shaved head whose eyes follow her all the way. They follow her even as her fingers touch the knob. The buzzing has grown increasingly louder.
Louder, and louder still, until it’s all that’s in her head. Except for those grey eyes, which for some reason keep her unafraid. She looks back at them. They look back at her.