Old Habits

Feb. 10th, 2009 12:21 am
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She has been staring into space for some lengthy period of time when the Mirror Girl clears her throat conspicuously.

"Well?"
"Well what?"
"What did you see?"
The girl is silent a moment, staring down now into nothingness.
"You found the source, didn't you? What was it?"
The girl remains silent, one fingertip tracing a curling spiking pattern against her inner wrist.
"That good, huh?"
"That good."
"So who was it?"
The girl shakes her head.
"My mother always said that... people like me... led lives full of disharmony and imbalance, and that the problem stemmed from-" she makes a choking sound, steadies herself, tries again "-from my evil-"
"From your 'proclivities', hm?"
"Yes."
"Do you believe her?"
A long pause.
"Sometimes."
"Why?"
"Because of things like this."
"Like what?" The Mirror Girl gestures widely. "There's a lot to choose from, you're going to have to be more specific."
The girl takes a deep breath, unclenching her fingers slowly.
"Once upon a time, I threw myself on the mercies of an older woman."
"Oh? You mean aside from this last one?"
"Yes. Although I didn't realize it, and if she did..."
"If she did?"
"If she did, then she is crueler and more selfish than I had ever imagined."
"Hindsight twenty-twenty?"
"Somewhat? I still don't know how- wait, I wasn't finished."
"Go on then. How?"
"When she cast me off, I took it... hard. I determined that I was unworthy, and that was why I had been rejected. I convinced myself that if I had been more circumspect, less in the way, more mature, more responsible, less..."
"...underfoot?"
"Sure. If I'd been all of those things, I convinced myself, she might have loved me, might have given me what I desired."
"Which was?"
She is silent a moment more.
"Love? Sex? Validation? I'm not sure anymore. But I realize now that that was the start. From then on, I was very, very careful never to... to take liberties. Get in the way. Be inconvenient. To assert myself."
"And therein lies the problem, hm? That to be happy you need a partner, but your way of presenting yourself to one leads to you getting walked on."
"Exactly. The furthest thing from partnership."
"And now what?"
"Now I need to clean my house, because this is not going to work if I'm going to tie myself to the Star and the Flame."
The Mirror Girl smiles wickedly. "Oh ARE you..."
The girl shrugs. "Maybe? My impulse is to say that it depends on what they want. That my plans figure next to nothing beside theirs with each other. But the Star had said that it would also-" she breaks off with a sound that is half-laugh, half-sob, "- she said that it would also depend... on what I wanted."
"Sounds... ideal."
"Only if I can figure out what I want."
"And that's a problem?"
"I want it all. I don't think that ever works. So maybe I don't. Or maybe I want part of it. And I'm worried they'll get bored, waiting."
"So it all depends-"
"-On me."
arsenicwaltz: (Default)
"He burns with his own ego, you know."

The girl is standing quietly in front of a floor-to-ceiling mirror tucked away in part of the Palace that few know of and fewer visit. The girl's black gown rustles restively, but the girl in the mirror is lit oddly with the greenish cast of fluorescent lighting, and wears black jeans, a black sweater, and a long trench coat. Her hair is ragged, her fingernails bitten to nubs and her face is tired, and she blinks into the mirror, peering in as if looking through a poorly lit display case. It is the same girl, but it is not. Nearby on the Palace-side of the mirror, a standing candelabra casts a golden light that glints on the jet beads of her skirt, but that also casts a raking light across the gilt whorls of the mirror's frame. In the shadows cast by the flickering candles, one can see the word "VERITAS".

Death looks up at the girl from her crosslegged seat on a nearby fainting couch, and cocks her head questioningly. The girl continues.

"I stood here with him in my arms and in my heart, and you know what I saw in the mirror?" She pauses momentarily, brooding at the memory. "I saw a man aflame, awash in his own self centered pursuit of pleasure. It was a death's head, a grim reaper, with hair of fire. And..." she chokes, "... and with my arms around him, I saw... Beside me, I saw..."

"Me." Death nods, comfortingly. "It's a good thing you aren't still chasing the Flame then, isn't it?"

The girl nods, unhappily, reaching for a tasseled cord by the side of the mirror, by which she lowers a long swath of golden velvet over it, as if to shut out a draught from the other side. The greenish light is smothered behind the fabric's thick pile. She stands, fidgeting restlessly with the tassel, a frown creasing her brow.

"But, that's not what's bothering you, is it?" Death prompts quietly. "You'd let him find his own way into my realm, because it's not your way to interfere with his karmic debt. Good girl. So..."

"It's his conquests! His girlfriends, his playtoys!" she blurts. The force of her words takes something out of her, and she sinks to the floor beside the fainting couch, head in hands. "I'm one of them. I was one of them. But the more I see the women he keeps company with, the worse I feel about it - his choices of partners reflect poorly on my own worth." The girl lets out a shuddering sigh, one hand dropping from her face to clench and unclench convulsively on her knee. "I even... felt sorry for her, for this last one. They seemed so damn happy at first, but he's just a total headcase, and no girl deserves that." She grimaces. "Well, almost no girl."

Death strokes her hair gently. "So what's the problem?"

Her eyes are closed now, as if to shut out the painful truth. "I'm starting to dislike him, as a person. It has the potential to fester into something like we had going all those years. I'm just about ready to chop off that limb now, to save myself the pain of having to watch him burning in the bed he buttered all by himself." Her face is pained as she looks up at Death, beseeching.

"I don't think I want to be his friend anymore."

Backstory

Dec. 20th, 2005 07:30 pm
arsenicwaltz: (Default)
Once upon a time, there was a little girl with wide brown eyes and lank brown hair, and an imagination full of hopes and dreams. As the little girl grew up, she was taught that nobody would value her corporeal self, and that she should focus on improving her mind. Craving attention, the little girl did so, spending hours and hours with her imagination and her eyes buried in books, completely neglecting her body. The little girl grew into a big girl, with dark eyes and a body made all of soft, unfinished curves, and the big girl was sad because she found that while her mind was by far her best feature, it was rarely noticed much less appreciated because of her outward appearance. So the big girl continued to live her life solely in her head, punishing her body when her inner turmoil was too great to bear.

Slowly, the big girl grew into a young woman, her curves hardening and diminishing under the onslaught of her unhappiness, until one day she caught the eye of a young man. Now this young man was very much unlike the girl, in that he lived most of his life in his body, and did not understand how vulnerable the girl was to him. His attentions startled and confused her, awakening parts of her she'd never learned to deal with, and when he left her, he left her wounded in more ways than one. While the girl had lived in her head for most of her life, she now craved the touch of bodies in ways she had no mechanism for coping with, and so, living in her mind and punishing her body, she learned to hide them, to squash them, to keep her shamefully uncontrolled desires secret from the world around her.

Unfortunately, she learned this trick a little too well.

Living in near-seclusion for nearly four years almost broke her entirely. Her weekends were spent trying to forget her isolation, and the loneliness that no number of casual touches could erase. Once, she found someone who awakened her imagination, her intellect, and her dreams as well as her body, only to find that he was only interested in the last part of the bargain. They parted on very poor terms. The girl went from relationship to relationship, never finding the full complement of what she needed, until one day...


The girl's pen stops here, as she struggles to find the words to ease the ache in her heart. There are none, nor does she expect that there ever will be. Regretfully, she puts down the pen, and pushes back from the desk she sits at, the brass casters of her chair sliding silently across the floor. She goes to the window of her study, pressing chilled fingers to even colder glass as she stares out into the night.

The glass fogs slightly with her breath. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I couldn't keep hiding it."
arsenicwaltz: (Default)
The frame in front of her is of a bright red wood, polished to a dull natural gleam. Inside it hangs a small scrap of plaid fabric wrapped into a cylinder by a tiny black leather strap. The girl leans agains the wall opposite, her eyes fixed on the interior of the frame, but obviously seeing further and far more than the simple symbol it contains. The black taffeta rustles softly as she sighs, closing her eyes. The Gallery is filled with a great sense of vacancy as she vanishes.

Elsewhere in the Palace, life and unlife continue as normal. The Shadows go about their business, the City bustles nonspecifically outside the walls. But inside the Parlor there is a stale, heavy gloom. On the hearthstone are scattered a pen, ink and the blank pages of a book, though it is obvious that there are many more missing. Beside the coals of a now-dying fire rests a single page, one corner eaten and blackened where it barely escaped the kiss of the fire. The page itself is filled with line after line of a black scrawl, the same phrases repeated over, and over again.

He is not interested. It would not work. Give it up.
He is not interested. It would not work. Give it up.
He is not interested. It would not work. Give it up...
arsenicwaltz: (Default)
The Grand Parlor of the Palace is a quiet space, crowded with the ephemera and rickety souvenirs of a thousand dusty memories. From the ornately swirling William Morris wallpaper, to the crystal fringes on the ornate cream and burgundy lampshades, to the claret velvet of the overstuffed horsehair couches, the Parlor exudes an air of quiet luxury and repose. Framed pictures hang from the picture-rail on ornately tasseled cords, small wing tables stand at attention at the ends of the furnishings, and a large curio cabinet filled with indistinctly glimmering objects stands next to the sea of shining bottles that is the sideboard. One wall is graced with an ornate fireplace, silvery marble nymphs supporting a matching mantlepiece bedecked with carved laurel wreathes. A pair of brass andirons in the shape of pair of dancing ponies hold a number of blazing logs before a fender of polished pierced brass. A large brushed sheepskin rug in a shocking shade of plum purple sits before the fire, and upon this we find our girl, her black skirts spread like a halo about her.

She lies quietly before the fire, staring into its depths, watching the interplay of blonde and red tongues of flame on the sturdy oak logs. A hazy presence forms in one of the tall, wingbacked chairs to her right, and she looks up quizzically to find a pair of pinpoint eyes upon her again.

"Welcome, Lord Shaper." The figure nods acknowledgment as the girl rolls over onto her back, staring contemplatively up at the ornate copper ceiling. There is a long pause, while she gathers her thoughts.

"Dancing with him is just as good as I remember. Better, perhaps. Or maybe I'm just better at it now than I was then." Her mouth quirks in a self-deprecating smile. "Yes, probably that." She takes a deep breath, wrapping pale arms around herself, the glimmering jet fringe of her bodice lost behind them.
"Knowing there is another that hunts him... That hurt me more than I can say. It is not," she sighs in frustration, "that I begrudge her the opportunity. Far be it from me to infringe on the hunting rights of any of my kind. But she is not... I have not... the respect for her that I perhaps once did. It would hurt me more than I can say if she caught him." She pauses again, fighting the lump in her throat.

"I have not hunted him but in my heart, because he told me several months ago that it wasn't what he was looking for. I've held myself back, chained my heart, done my best not to let it slip. But the heart is a wayward creature, and my regard for him as grown over the past several months until I cannot be in his presence without feeling it tremble. To know that I might have had a chance, had I but taken it, would be nearly unbearable."
The girl throws one arm across her eyes and lies still a moment, basking in the heat of the fire.

"It was good for me to tell the Letter about it. It was such a relief to have someone finally know all of what's been going on inside my head. I mean, he was there for most of it, so he had a better understanding of why it hurt so much. It was like piercing my heart, and letting it all drain out, and then salving it by spending some small time with him and the Lamb." She rolls up to a sitting position, clutching her knees tight to her chest and staring back into the fire, which has dimmed somewhat.

"I told another that to hunt the Flame outright would endanger our friendship, and ruin that perfect fantasy of him that I have cached away in my imagination. He said that it makes me a coward, that I'd rather have the friendship and the fantasy than to act on my feelings." She glances up at the hazy figure in the wingback chair. "But you of all beings would understand how a Dream can be so much more fulfilling than the reality. I would rather live in your world than to have to do without him in mine."

The girl looks down now, speaking to the flames, to her black satin dancing slippers, to nobody in particular. "I am resigned to it. Perhaps I can hold my heart in check until she catches him, and then perhaps... Perhaps this feeling will die."

Changeling

Nov. 17th, 2005 12:03 am
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"Please, I've tried so hard to avoid this..."

Her words are lost in her folded arms on the linen of the dining table, and Desire stands over her in a spotless white tuxedo, proffering a handkerchief. There are black streaks under the girl's eyes, bisecting the purple that tells of sleepless nights and long days. Her gown's pink satin has faded and the silk crackles like the leaves of a neglected tropical plant, flaking away with every breath and every movement. Underneath the silk that scatters like the dust of moths' wings, a layer of black is barely visible, shining and glimmering vaguely as if it contained stars. In the adjacent Ballroom the skeletal dancers twirl and there is a faint discordant accompaniment from the dusty pipes of the calliope. Desire says nothing. She looks up, and the gown begins to shatter and peel away from her.

"I tried so hard to resist this. I don't want to fuck this up, and it's not what he wants. He doesn't feel that way. Hell, I don't think I feel that way. We're equally unfit for this... Please." She gestures in the direction of the balcony, to the breeze that carries the whiff of still-raw pine stumps. "Was that not enough?" She points at the calliope. "And that? I don't need, I don't want, I can't survive any more of this!"

She stands suddenly and the dusty remains of the gown peel and fall away like a chrysalis, but the rustling of all-black taffeta petticoats fill what little silence remains. The gown is black, but not without color, much the same way the carapace of an exotic beetle might contain flashes of the rainbow. The skirts rustle restively, and a froth of black lace encircles her shoulders as she paces. "She said you didn't want me injured, wanted me alive..." she mutters to herself "how is this supposed to help?"

Desire remains impassive, tucking the refused hanky away. "You know, I am as much a product of your vitality as a reason for it. As long as you are alive, you cannot escape Me. I would take that as a comfort, if I were you."

The girl shoots a look that could freeze gin in Desire's direction. A pair of black gloves have begun at her fingertips, and begin to spread up her fingers and over the back of her hands, the satin spilling up her pale flesh like ink spilling through water. She stares at the ballroom unhappily. "But no good could ever come of this! This is madness! I want to keep him as a friend, at least a friend!" The girl tugs at the edge of the satin as it spills over her elbow, then in frustration rips the damp fabric from her arms and throws it in a slightly twitching pile on the table. It gives a startled lurch, then lies still and begins to fade into nothingness. She turns her back on Desire, and strides to the balcony window, resting her head on the doorsill and folding her arms as the tears begin afresh. In front of her eyes the remains of the forest are like an open wound on her Domain. She shudders as Desire comes up behind her, a breath of a kiss laid against the back of her neck.

She puts fingers to her chest, and the tips come away stained with blood, old and black. She closes her eyes. "Yes. The three of swords. I always thought that the third blade in the heart was for me, but the Prophetess said that it was an old would, one that could now heal. Perhaps this is it." The girl turns to face Desire again. "But not all Healings come without their fair share of pain."

There is something amused and ironic written across Desire's face. "Embracing me does not mean accepting the path that you fear. There is choice in all things. Acknowledging your desire for him might even provide a bit of relief. To admit it is not to act upon it." Desire takes the girl's hands, ignoring the faint tracery of long netted-lace mitts that have appeared, and kissing one, pulls her to the ballroom.

"Come my pet. You have little choice in this one matter."

Black skirts and white tailcoat blur together in the twirl of the Dance.

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