It's Only a Goodbye
Don’t be sad, my love
There’s no need to cry
It’s only a goodbye
The end of an era
People come and go
Waves ebb and they flow
Nothing can stay in place
Don’t mourn the lass
Just be grateful
That we got so much time
So much happiness
So much love
To share with each other
And when the pain from the hole
That I left in your soul
Is too much for you to bare
Just look back
Try to smile fondly
And remember the memories we made
NOTE: This is an unedited version of the first chapter of my WIP, The World Above the Waves, that was unlocked as a part of the 500 follower award on my Instagram. If you like this teaser, make sure to buy the book when it comes out later this year!
The pristine walls, towers, and thrones stood tall and mighty in their place underneath the waves. The palace was flawless, orderly, and nothing was out of place. Life there was so far removed from the surface that one could hardly picture what the world above looked like. Ever since the queen’s death, the palace had been the shining pillar of detachment. There was no room for chaos, no room for blurred lines, no room for pain or confusion or clutter. Not in a world that was perfect.
Perhaps that was why the cavern was held in a place that was so close to her heart.
The cavern was everything that the palace was not. It was small and cramped and messy. No alterations had been made to the way that the ocean had carved the space centuries ago: full of crevices and outcroppings of jagged rock. Those same rocks served as the home for all of her forbidden treasures, taken from the world above. Waterlogged old books leaned against each-other, their ink having been long swept away by the currents of the sea. Warped shards of metal, rusted and chipped beyond any semblance of recognition or repair, sat on points of outcroppings, serving as nothing but pieces of art for her eyes and her eyes alone. Splintered pieces of wood, which were so determined to flee from the world in which they were trapped that they had to be weighed down by an assortment of rocks and shells and sand. Shiny silver and gold disks, jewelry, goblets, spheres, and prisms and cones: all shining against the edges of the rock. The cavern had become a treasure hoard. It looked as if it might overflow from the sheer number of trinkets packed into its tiny confines.
And in the middle of it all, there was a girl who was an artifact of her own. She, too, could never hope to belong to the world in which she was so hopelessly trapped within.
Maybe that was the reason why Dwyn loved the cavern so dearly. Like her, everything that it held belonged to a different world. A world that wasn’t her own. Like her, everything here was chaotic, confused, and uncontrolled. It was messy. It was cluttered. It didn’t have to be perfect, it just had to be.
She hadn’t felt at home in the too-perfect castle with its too-shiny walls and its too-happy faces in years. The pressure—the pressure to be perfect, to fit in—was just something that she couldn’t handle every moment of every day. Her actions reflected on her father’s, and his actions reflected on the kingdom’s, and the kingdom’s actions reflected on merfolk as a whole. She understood the importance of being perfect, even if her father seemed to think otherwise. It was just that being perfect all the time was so hard.
The cavern never judged her. It never expected anything of her besides her presence, and even that was negotiable. It opened its arms and welcomed her into a portal filled with treasures from a world that actually welcomed her with open, warm arms. A world where she didn’t have to be perfect. A world where she could surround herself with treasures and exist in peace.
It was as much of a home as she’d ever had.
A shout from the outside echoed off the stone walls. “Dwyn!” the voice called, high and lilted like the dolphins chattering in their little pods. Cordelia. The mermaid frowned. She could only expect to stay hidden in her own little world for so long. Still, she flattened herself against the rocks in a feeble effort to gain more time away. Maybe if she stayed still for long enough, her pursuers would just leave her to her own business.
She peered up at the entrance of the cavern just in time to see eyes the color of seagrass lock on her. A deeper, softer voice called out, “I found her!”
Dwyn sighed. Well, there went that plan. “Hello Beryl,” she greeted and, with a flick of her tail, she propelled herself towards her sisters at the entrance of the cavern.
“There you are!” Cordelia exclaimed, launching herself forward so that she was no more than a few inches away from Dwyn’s face. “What were you thinking? We’ve been looking everywhere for you. Do you want Father to kill us?”
“I lost track of time.” Dwyn crossed her arms. She glanced at Beryl, who was lifting one sandy eyebrow. “It’s a good thing Beryl found me,” she hastily added, “Otherwise I might’ve missed the dinner entirely.”
One could dream.
Beryl’s green eyes narrowed, but if she caught onto her younger sister’s deception, she didn’t say anything of it. Dwyn let out a relieved breath.
Cordelia tugged on Dwyn’s arm impatiently. “Well, let’s get moving then! Father’s been planning this for months and if we get in trouble for you making us late I swear on every grain of sand in this goddamn ocean that—”
Dwyn tuned her out, shaking her head as she followed her older sisters back to the palace. She would be content to hold off Cordelia’s violent threats until another day. The mermaid chatted on, oblivious to Dwyn’s lack of attention. She smiled fondly. “Are you excited about tonight?” Beryl asked softly.
Dwyn bit her lip. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “I mean, I’ve been waiting to visit the surface since I knew what it was. That world…it calls to me. You know? I mean, you’ve seen my cavern.” She frowned. “But…I just…What if it’s not everything that I’ve imagined it to be?”
“It will be,” Beryl placed a hand on Dwyn’s shoulder. “Hell, I don’t love it like you do. But I’ll never forget the first time I saw it.” She sighed, a wistful look in her eyes. “It’s the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing quite like it.” She gave her a jagged-toothed smile. “With you and your whole obsession with the humans, I think father’s going to have a hell of a time even getting you back down here.”
“I’m not obsessed,” Dwyn mumbled, even as a smile tugged at the corner of her lips. Even she knew that she was lying to herself. Obsession couldn’t describe her fascination with the world above. It couldn’t do it justice. The surface called out to her like a siren’s song, like the air from above the waves ran through her veins. She remembered sitting on her mother’s lap, asking question after question about that unknown, magical place. No tether had ever been as strong as her need for it. She sighed as the thought sobered her. “I don’t know if I’m ready. I’ve been wanting this for so long…”
“You’re ready.” Beryl’s voice was confident. It left no room for Dwyn to argue with her, even if she wanted to. “Most merfolk visit the surface throughout adolescence. It’s only us Atlantias that have to wait until adulthood.” There was a note of bitterness in her voice that Dwyn couldn’t help but sympathize with. “You’ve been ready since you were born, Dwynie. You’ll be alright.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“Don’t be silly, I’m always right.”
“Come on slowpokes!” a blur of orange scales and hair called from the distance. “If you make me late, I’ll kill you before father does.” Dwyn rolled her eyes, but both she and Beryl picked up their speeds to catch up to Cordelia.
From there, the day passed Dwyn in a blur. Flashes of the shiny white castle, decoration, and servants rushing by her stuck out in her mind. She was decorated with golden ornamentation hanging from her neck and ears. Her hair was done, flowing elegantly behind her in the water. But the first thing that she really processed was the ballroom.
If Dwyn had to choose a place in the castle that she hated the least, it would be the ballroom. The room was tall and circular, with a roof that was open to the sea above. A gaping crevice at the bottom made way for a whirlpool, with rapidly circling sea water that filled the center of the room. On a raised pedestal in the middle sat the thrones of the royal family.
King Arvav, Dwyn’s father and king of the merfolk of the Iastarian Sea sat on the throne furthest to the right. It was a cool gray metal, unrusted from the saltwater that surrounded it. It was rare that a firstborn merfolk survived all the way to adulthood, but her father had been ruling since his mother’s death thirty years ago. He was all the more renowned for it. Some suspected that he had been graced with the blood of a god, others thought he’d made a pact with one of the great leviathans of the sea in order to gain immortality. Those notions always made Dwyn laugh in disbelief. Her father wasn’t anything other than a powerful ruler, and far too cautious for his own good.
The reason for that caution sat to his left. The throne that was empty, and had remained so for fifteen years, stood there, golden and pearlescent with pastel shells covering every open surface. Dwyn swallowed around the lump in her throat. The throne had once belonged to Kailani, queen of the Iastarian merfolk and Dwyn’s mother. Dwyn had been only three when she died. Perhaps that was why she was the only one in her family who actually talked of the fallen queen.
On the left of that throne sat four more, all made from white quartz, shrinking in size the further left they were. Only one was occupied. On the largest throne sat Avisa, her storm-gray eyes scanning the ballroom as if every guest inside was actively plotting her assassination. As Father’s heir, she had rarely left his side since she turned eighteen. She and Dwyn had never been especially close, and ever since adulthood, Avisa had become almost as distant as their dead mother.
She had half the mind to hurl herself into the whirling water and around the various merfolk in the room before she could be spotted. But before she had the chance, Avisa was whispering in her father’s ear and his eyes caught hers. “Dwyn,” his voice boomed through the crowd, rippling towards her like a wave might crash against the shore. “My youngest daughter. Come.”
Dwyn hesitated for a moment. She was acutely aware that every pair of eyes in the room was boring into her. With a gulp, she swam over to stand by her father’s side. His grin was proud as he clasped a hand on her shoulder. He turned that smile to the ballroom around him. “Everyone,” he said, just in case there wasn’t a single merfolk that wasn’t watching Dwyn. “It is my youngest daughter’s eighteenth birthday. It is time for her to dive into adulthood.” The merfolk in the room cheered, and a shy smile split across Dwyn’s face. The king continued, “Ever since my beloved Kailani passed away, I have done everything in my power in order to keep my girls safe. And after today, we will have four adult heirs to the throne!” There was another round of cheers, although the smile on Dwyn’s face faltered this time around. “Today we celebrate my youngest, Dwyn, and how far she’s come. I’m sure some of you remember her ‘explorations’ of the palace.” The merfolk chuckled, causing Dwyn to blush a deep red. Father smiled too, ruffling the young mermaid’s hair. “But now she has become a young woman, one who will make us proud. So please, enjoy the party, and let us celebrate my daughter!” One final round of cheers echoed through the ballroom as the music picked up again and the king turned to her.
She saw the shift in his eyes as his posture softened and his eyes—the same sea-blue as her own—twinkled. His voice was soft, nothing like the booming rumble of the king of the Iastarian Sea when he spoke. “Happy birthday, my little wave.”
“Thank you, Father.”
“How does being an adult feel?” He put one big hand on her head, ruffling her hair. She groaned, pushing him away, much to his apparent amusement. “Do you like the party?”
“It’s excellent,” said Dwyn. She glanced around the room. If she was being completely honest, it was far too fancy and poised and forced for her tastes. But with the amount of work that her father had put into it, he didn’t need to know that. She quickly said, “To be honest, more than anything, I’m just excited to go to the surface.”
The smile dropped from his face, his mouth forming a line. “I suppose,” he sighed. “Just remember, be cautious and—”
“—don’t be seen, I know father. I’ll be careful. I just want to see it all.”
“You’re too much like your mother,” he shook his head. “Just be careful. And please, try to enjoy the party.”
Dwyn smiled. “I will.”
He gave her a grin back. “That’s my girl.”
The rest of the night passed in a blur of swirling water, streaking colors, and loud music. Dwyn danced around it all, trying to skirt the edges. Quite a few merfolk wanted to dance with her. Try as they might, they just didn’t impress her. There wasn’t anything wrong with them. Each person who took her hand was polite, beautiful or handsome, and they were incredibly respectful. But they just couldn’t captivate her. It wasn’t their fault; the whole palace knew that no merfolk would ever be able to hold the youngest daughter’s attention the way the humans did. Still, Dwyn took it all in stride, smiling politely and sharing her fair share of dances with each guest that requested it until the night had passed her by.
When the party had finally died down and the lights and music had faded into the background, Dwyn was almost bursting with excitement. She all but shoved the last few guests out the door. “Thank you for coming, yes yes we’re very busy. Have a good night!” she said hurriedly as she shut the door and turned to face her family. Her father was watching with a disappointed frown on her face, her sisters right behind him. Dwyn sighed. She wasn’t upset. She wasn’t even surprised. Most of her childhood had been spent on the receiving-end of her father’s frown. It was hardly a shock to her now.
“The guards will escort you to the surface. From there, you’ll be on your own,” the king said. “Please be safe. And Dwyn—Dwyn, look at me—it is crucial that you are not seen.”
“I understand, Father. I’ll be careful, I promise.” She hoped her words sounded like they had more sincerity than she put in them.
Her father frowned as he ran a hand over his face, looking like he was seriously regretting his decision to let Dwyn go to the surface—looking like he was regretting his having Dwyn for a daughter at all, actually. But he merely sighed and, with a nod to the guards, said, “Be safe little wave.”
Dwyn squealed, flinging herself forward. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” She wrapped her arms around her father. In the blink of an eye, she was at the door to the ballroom. She turned to the guards. “Come on, let's go!” And with that, the young princess was out the door.
She would’ve outswam the guards escorting her if it wasn’t for their constant calls to her, in which she’d turn and wait impatiently until they caught up. She did a few flips in the ocean water as she swam. Bubbly ecstasy coursed through her veins and drove her movements. She felt silly and giddy and entirely too enthusiastic, but she couldn’t bring herself to care.
Dwyn couldn’t help but notice the changes in the water as they approached the surface. The blues became less deep, lighter and clearer and warmer. The sea life she passed was smaller and the plant life was more vibrant. She peered at a fish as she passed, tiny and as brightly orange as her hair. When it swam at her, she let out a surprised breath. Startled by the bubbles, it fled.
She frowned, readying herself to continue the trek upward, when one of the guards called out for her to stop. She huffed, tail flapping impatiently in the water. “This is where we leave you,” the guard said, resting her spear over her shoulder. “The journey to the surface is yours to complete.”
“Be safe princess,” said the other guard. He reached into the pack he carried over his shoulder, pulling out what looked like…a conch shell? Dwyn narrowed her eyes. He handed it out to her. When she only tilted her head in confusion, he sighed and said, “If you run into any danger or need anything at all, just speak into this shell and we will be there.”
Her genius reply to that was just, “Oh.” She took the shell with a grateful nod, placing it into a similar bag slung over her shoulder. She hoped her face wasn’t as red as it felt. “Um, thank you.”
“Of course. Good luck, your highness.” With a nod, the two guards readied their spears and retreated back into the depths below.
Dwyn looked around. With the exception of the colorful fish swimming by her, she was alone. Above her, she could see the place where the ocean met the surface. Golden light spilled down around her. It was too far away to see what lay on the other side of that barrier that she had been longing to cross since she knew it existed. Her throat felt tight. She tried to take a breath, swallow around it, but found that she couldn’t. For the first time, the idea of crossing that line scared her.
She’d waited her entire life for this one moment. What would happen if she messed it up?
But Dwyn was Dwyn, and she could hardly stay scared of something that was so dear to her for long. The anxiety gave way to excitement so strong that it fueled her movements as she launched herself above the waves.
And she gasped.
Never in her entire life had she seen a sight so beautiful. Every tale that she’d ever read, everything that she’d ever heard, had vastly understated the beauty of the surface. She supposed that she couldn’t blame them. Afterall, the sight in front of her was absolutely indescribable. The sky wasn’t blue as she was told it’d be, but instead a vibrant array of oranges, pinks, reds, purples, and golds. They lit up the sky above her, the colors reflected on the sea. It was like she was in her own little world with only these beautiful colors exploding around her. And the green, there was so much green. Everywhere on the horizon there were just miles of brilliant green. She’d never seen so much of it in one place: tufts of it covered everywhere that she looked. She let out an amazed breath. If this is what this much green looked like on the surface, she’d never get tired of seeing the color again. Green on every piece of land—that must be land, then. She let out an amazed, if somewhat hysterical, laugh. What would the dry sand feel like underneath her fingers?
The sun beat down at her, drying the salty water on her skin with a tickling feel. She’d never been this close to the sun before, and the feeling of being dry was an unusual one. It pulled her away from her awe at the beauty of it all for just a moment.
And that was when she spotted the boat.
It was far off, far enough away that she might’ve missed it had she been distracted. It looked big and festive, nothing at all like the remains from warships she’d seen at the bottom of the sea.
It occurred to her that there would be humans on board. She frowned. The temptation to go there was almost overwhelming. She worried her lip between her teeth. On one hand, she’d promised her father that she’d be careful. On the other hand, she’d wanted to see humans for her whole life. The opportunity was just too good to pass up. Afterall, her father had said not to be seen. He’d never said anything about what she could or couldn’t see.
She approached with much less caution than she probably should have, speeding through the water with an excitement that couldn’t be contained by fear or warnings. The sounds of laughter, voices, music hit her ears. She frowned at the sound. The humans’ voices were far too hollow and light. She wondered how the sound carried at all.
The boat was indeed quite large, made out of dark wood and billowing cloth. People were laughing and playing games and manipulating instruments to their wills, and Dwyn was instantly captivated.
She’d thought that the first sight of the surface had been beautiful, but it was nothing compared to this.
Her eyes immediately fell to two of the humans. They stood at the side of the boat, overlooking the water. Dwyn tilted her head as she observed them. The two looked about as different as two people could look. The first looked masculine in appearance, with light skin and hair. He looked smooth, polished, the way that the majority of the merfolk that Dwyn interacted with on a regular basis did. A shiny golden crown rested on his head, a few shades darker than his hair. His smile was just as bright as the metal, wide and brilliant as he laughed easily. He was beautiful.
It wasn’t that the woman on his left wasn’t beautiful, exactly, but her beauty was so different from his that Dwyn wasn’t sure how she could use the same word to describe the two. Her skin and hair were both dark, scars and muscles rippling out from the places that the cloth she was wearing didn’t cover. Her gaze was hard as she looked out over the sea. She wasn’t polished or smooth or any of the things that Dwyn had been conditioned to be. She was all hard edges and rough lines. She looked much more like the guards in the palace than of the royalty, though not even they carried the edge that this woman did.
The two humans fascinated her. She was too far away to catch their conversation, still staying comfortably safe underneath the waves. But she could see their faces as they talked . She could hear the din of the conversation behind them. She could almost imagine what they were talking about.
When they left the side of the boat, she kept watching the other humans that passed by. They were all wearing that weird cloth that Dwyn couldn’t discern the purpose of. Their coloration was far more limited than the merfolk, seemingly restricted to a variety of whites and browns. But other than the differences in their appearances, they seemingly interacted in a way that was similar to the merfolk. Dwyn frowned. They didn’t seem like the violent, cold-blooded killers that father had warned her about. She’d known he was being overly-cautious, but these people hardly seemed dangerous at all.
She wasn’t sure how long she watched them. The next time she was aware of her surroundings, the sky had grown dark and sparkly and the music and laughter had grown louder. When the noise had finally died down, Dwyn almost swam away, disappointed that the party had ended. But then she heard the “ooooh”s and “ahhhh”s behind her, and she turned.
And Dwyn, well, Dwyn’s day was just getting better and better. Her eyes found the sky. It was alight with what looked like multi-colored stars, burning and fizzling against the blackened night. Red, gold, blue, green—all exploding in the air with a burst of color. She gasped silently. It felt like a gift, just for her and her alone.
Happy birthday, Dwyn.
How could her father dislike the humans so, when all they’d done in the time that Dwyn had been watching them was laugh and dance and talk and make these beautiful stars light up above her? It didn’t seem fair. How could these people ever be dangerous?
A high-pitched scream pierced the air, shaking her abruptly from her thoughts. And following it came the first word that was loud enough for Dwyn to hear.
And even though Dwyn had never seen the phenomenon before, she knew about the destruction that it caused. She knew how dangerous the flames were, how they burned like jellyfish stings and destroyed everything in their path like a tidal wave.
The thoughts ran through her head as she watched the ship burst into flame.
Writing Prompt Wednesday #124
Write a story that either starts (or ends) with someone saying, “Please, don’t do it.” https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/drama/write-a-story-699218ed-c11b-4e78-8007-4afbcd989f1d/
A bead of sweat rolled down my brow, my chest pounding. Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump. My eyes dart back and forth. The room is empty. There’s clutter. There’s no possible weapons. There’s no way to escape.
I look at him, finally. His eyes are flickering with flames of rage. His jaw works itself back and forth, back and forth. I try to glare back at him. I try to match the rage, the dignity that he holds in every facet of his being. But it’s a futile effort. I was never as brave as him. I was never as strong. That’s how we wound up here.
“What are you doing, Nes?” he asks. His voice isn’t disdainful or uptight, just sad.
“What I have to.”
“Nes, c’mon. You have another choice.”
“I don’t,” I sob. My arms shake, my hold wavering. “I can’t give you what you want. I can’t make you happy.”
“All I want is you,” he says with a frown. “You don’t have to give in to them.”
“Yes I do.”
“No you don’t!” His foot stomps on the ground. “Just come with me. It’s not too late. I don’t want you to become the thing that they’re trying to turn you into.”
I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. But he doesn’t understand. He has to understand. “Do you remember that time when we visited my family on Thanksgiving a few years ago? What was it? Five? Right after you got that big promotion.”
He nods. “I remember.”
My eyes blaze. “And do you remember what she said?”
“She was wrong, Nes.”
“‘You will always be broken, Vanessa,’” I say, ignoring him. “‘You will always hurt people.’”
“So what, you’re proving her right?”
“What other choice do I have?”
“Come with me. Drop the gun. Get out of here.” His voice is so warm, so nice. If I wanted to, I could fool myself into thinking that was in the cards for me. That I really could jump into his arms. That I could be protected. That I could be a good person. “You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to be the person they want you to be.”
“So I can become the person you want me to be?” I ask, my arms shaking. “How is that fair? When does someone start caring about the person I want to be? At least here I have power. At least I’m not scared all the time.”
“Don’t try to tell me that you’re not scared right now, Nes. I know you better than that.”
“You don’t know anything,” I spit.
He frowns. “C’mon Nes, please. Please don’t do it.”
All curling hair and gentle curves
Light, shy smiles
A daisy tucked behind her ear
A touch for a tear
Skin is glowing
Soft like frozen yogurt on a summer’s day
Now she’s rough
All sharp edges and jagged lines
A stone old glare
A scar curling on her lip
Sharp studs along her hip
Rough like a dirt road on a summer’s night
Writing Prompt Wednesday #123
“Give students two completely unrelated phrases, then have them write twelve lines of dialogue connecting the two” by @oliviagatwood on Instagram, suggested by @aly_son.c
“I called, but the line was disconnected.”
“So you thought that you should just…show up?!”
“I know that things between us have been tough—”
“But I was making a recipe—”
“Ah, so you haven’t given up on that yet.”
“Can you please just not be such a dick for once? I thought that I got everything but I forgot saffron—”
“—and the stores are closed—”
“I don’t see how that’s my problem.”
“And I was just wondering if you had any saffron that I could borrow.”
“No. I don’t. Can you go now?”
“Oh come on. You really expect me to believe that you don’t have any saffron left over from when we lived together? I used it in, like, every recipe.”
“The last time I had saffron in my house was back when I still loved you.”
Je t'aime (bien)
“Comment ça va aujourd’hui?”
Avi’s brow furrowed. “Comment…that’s how? How…are you…today?” She looked up at the tutor across from her, who was still watching her expectantly. “Oh, uh, bon.”
“It would actually be bien. You wouldn’t say things are going good, you’d say things are going well.”
“Ugh,” said Avi, throwing her head back as she slumped in her seat. “I’m never going to get this shit. French is stupid.”
She caught Taya’s crooked smile. “Not as stupid as English.”
“That’s fair.” She frowned at Avi. “If you still don’t remember ‘how’s it going?’ I’m kind of worried about the things you’re learning in class.”
Avi fixed her with a glare. “I remembered it! Way to instill confidence in your students.”
“It’s what I do best,” Taya giggled. “C’est de rien. T’as un beau visage, alors tu ne dois pas savoir français."
“Why do you talk to me in french if you know that I can’t understand it?” Avi pouted as she crossed her arms.
Taya grinned. “It’s fun.”
“It’s really not.”
“Ouais, peut-être à toi,” said the girl, still grinning as Avi tried to translate. “We should probably get started on the actual teaching part of things. What were you working on today?”
“Fuck if I know.”
“Let me see les devoirs.” Avi fished into her bag and pulled out the crumpled sheet of paper. She tried to ignore the slight frown on Taya’s face as she tried to flatten the worksheet against the table. “Oh okay, you’re just working on saying what you like. That’s simple enough.” She grimaced at Avi’s flat glare. “Well, uh, it should be.”
“So you’re using adorer and aimer. Adorer would be the equivalent of saying adore—easy enough to remember—and aimer would be like saying like or love. You’re just writing your opinion on the activities.”
“Seems easy enough.”
“Exactly,” Taya said. “So the first one is jouer au foot.”
Avi frowned. “Football?”
“Soccer,” Taya corrected. With a grin, she said, “We’re the only ones with football like we know it. En francais, we’d call that football americain.”
“Hm. I played soccer as a kid.”
“Did you like it?”
Avi grinned. “I hated it. There was way too much running. Cheer is much better, even if the people kind of suck.”
“So you’d say ‘je n’aime pas jouer au foot’ because you don’t like it.” Avi quickly scribbled down the words. “Alright, next is chocolat.”
“Who doesn’t like chocolate?!”
Avi gasped. “No.”
The tutor grimaced. “It’s too sweet.”
“That’s the whole point!”
“Whatever. Go ahead and write your answer if you’re so crazy about it.”
“Je adore le chocolat."
“Close. You’d say ‘j’adore’ because je and tu can kind of merge with verbs that start with a vowel. There’s some exceptions, of course, but it’s good to know as a general rule.”
“J’adore,” Avi murmured as she wrote it down. She grinned up at Taya. “Alright, what’s next?”
Taya read the next line and snorted. “Oh my god.”
“What is it?”
Avi squealed. “Arry Styles.”
“Is it bad that I don’t really get the appeal?”
Avi’s jaw dropped. “First chocolate and now Harry Styles? You’re breaking my heart Taya.”
Taya giggled. “Les hommes ne remplissent pas mes besoins.”
Her head tilted. “What does that mean?”
“Men don’t fulfill my needs,” said the tutor with a smirk. “Je suis une lesbian.”
“Oh,” Avi said, a slight blush rising to her cheeks. “Um, how did you know? If you don’t mind me asking?”
Taya shrugged. “I just kind of always knew. There was no grand moment of discovery for me. Why? Are you questioning things?”
Avi shifted uncomfortably. How was she supposed to respond to that? How was she supposed to tell the girl that she’d spent more than a few nights laying awake and thinking about that she was questioning things? Questioning things that had no place in her life. She was popular, religious, and head of the cheerleading squad. Feeling like that…it would ruin her. But the feelings wouldn’t go away, no matter how much she tried to shove them down. She frowned. “Something like that.”
Taya must’ve sensed the other girl’s discomfort. “Well, I’m not sure if you’re a lesbian with how you reacted to Harry Styles,” she joked.
She was giving her an easy out, one that Avi took graciously. “Oui. J’aime il.”
“It’s easier to use your indirect objects. Me, te, etc. For this it’d be him so you’d say ‘Je lui aime.’”
“Oui. Je lui aime beaucoup.”
“You used it correctly that time!”
“Let’s go!” Avi pumped her fist in the air, almost screaming the words.
“Shhh, you’re going to get us kicked out!” Taya giggled.
“I’ve finally learned French and you expect me to be quiet?”
“Tu ne sais pas francais. Pourquoi tu penses que je suis ici?” At the tilt of Avi’s head, she smirked and said, “Exactly.”
“Hmph. Whatever.” She bent over her homework, almost jumping out of her skin when her alarm blared. “Fuck that startled me.”
“Me too. What time is it?”
Avi checked her phone. “4:30.”
“I don’t know. I completely lost track of time.” She picked up her bag, shoving her homework in without much care. “I’ve got to get to cheer practice.”
“Will you be alright to finish it on your own?”
“I’ll figure it out. I’ve got Google Translate and all that.”
“I will not be replaced by Google Translate,” huffed Taya. “Seriously. If you have any questions just text me. I’m sorry that I couldn’t help you more.”
“It’s all good.” Avi paused as her bag was thrown over her shoulder, her brow furrowed as she tried to translate. “Je te aime? No, je t’aime. Right?”
Taya glanced at the ground. “Oh, well, not exactly. Grammatically yeah it’d be je t’aime but not to me. Je t’aime…it’d be more like saying ‘I love you’.” Avi’s eyes widened. “Which is weird because we use aimer to say ‘like’ all the rest of the time. French is weird that way. Maybe it is stupid. Sorry, I’m rambling. You could say, like, ‘je t’aime bien.’ That’d be like saying ‘I love you lots’ or something. More friendly. And that’s us. Friends. You know?”
Avi, who had been watching the rambling girl with mounting horror, nodded. She wanted to crawl into a hole, bury herself, and die. She wasn’t sure whether all of the color had drained from her face or whether it was bright red. “Right, right, sorry. Uh, I didn't mean to make that weird. Je t’aime. Bien.”
“It’s alright. You too, heh, Je t’aime. Bien.”
Writing Prompt Wednesday #122
What is home? (@growyourpoetry) https://www.instagram.com/p/CdsmxpUqYL0/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
A place to come back to
A place to feel safe
Where the demons can’t touch you
A shield held above your head
Warm arms in your bed
Always so protected
When I’m in your arms
Until the warmth in my heart
Turned to flames
Burning my head
Burning my heart
Where did you go?
What happened to us?
What happened to me?
What is home?
I’m all alone
Why do we use the word “broke”
To describe the poor?
Do we like
To further the illusion
That if you don’t come from money
What is happening?
The rising gap
Between rich and poor
People left at their door
But it’s their fault, isn’t it?
They’re the ones who are broken
They should try harder
This is the land of the free
Streets are paid with gold
Gilded and paved
For the poor to dig their graves
Their blood polishes, shines
The path for those who walk it
That’s the whole idea
The stars are beautiful tonight
The twinkle in her eyes
Sweet and soft
As she watches the sky in awe
A strand of hair falls in her face
I feel my heart race
As I push it away
The air is cold
Even as my face is warm
The water laps at the shore
A world of sparkling lights
She’s the brightest of them all
I don’t know how sailors of the past
Have followed the light of the North Star
To guide their ships through the night
When her smile is so much brighter
She asks me
If the stars are beautiful
And I say yes
Even though I’m watching her instead of them
Writing Prompt Wednesday #121
Write a poem from the perspective of a royal. -Anonymous
Steel, gold, silver, bronze
Weighing on my neck
It creaks and groans
And narrowly breaks
I can barely hold its weight
The people are watching
The people are rioting
The people are pleading for help
I’m trying, I promise
But how am I supposed to help
The thousands of people
The people who need me
When I can barely escape
The noose around my own neck
So many people dream
About sparkling, shiny crowns
They tend to abet
They tend to forget
The pressure, the weight, the pain
The weight of the crown
It holds me down
I’m trying to fight
I’m trying to stumble
But the kingdom
It’s starting to crumble