Meander

Hawthorne walked around the empty mall aimlessly. He wasn’t supposed to be there. No one was.

The shops had long since been abandoned; a few of them boasted bits and bobs still littering the scant shelves. It reminded him of an old pop song lyric, “just to prove that we were here…”

He shook his head and his sleeping bag when he found the right spot. This was so not worth twenty bucks.

But, a dare was a dare. Hawthorne had to prove his manhood, or whatever.

Gibby was full of bad ideas- this being chief among them. Last month, he dared another friend to surf a moving car down a residential street. Luka was fine, but he wet his pants when Gibby stopped suddenly before she got to the stop sign.

Gibby was the queen of the burnouts and loadies. She had the best shit, and she was willing to share, provided you did what she dared you to. If you didn’t, no one would talk to you.

Hawthorne snuggled down into his sleeping bag and thought of Gibby and her haunting amber eyes. He imagined her cock-sure grin when she picked him up in the morning. She may even hug him.

After twenty minutes, he gave up on sleeping. There was too much nothing going on in here. He usually fell asleep to the ambient sounds of his mom’s apartment- the soft voices of the neighbors coming through the walls, the flick of his mom’s lighter as she smoked, the blare of the tv.

It was soothing to him, but here in the old mall, there was nothing.

Hawthorne sighed and got up. He left his sleeping bag where it was. He was near the exit that Gibby was picking him up at in the morning. He’d grab it on his way out.

Most of the security gates were down and locked in the empty stores. He tried each one as he passed, hoping for an open store. There wasn’t much to take, but that would make it all the sweeter when he found something.

Gibby would hug him for sure when she saw he was brave enough to swipe something while he was in here.

He didn’t hear the second set of footsteps following him up the dead escalator. He didn’t even think to look behind him when he got to the second floor.

His pursuer followed, quiet as death and twice as quick. When Hawthorne got to the old music store, the would-be stalker grabbed him around the waist.

He shrieked.

A grim smile split the follower’s face as he held Hawthorne tight. Wings unfurled from his back and soon they were flying out of the hole in the skylight. Hawthorne screamed the whole way up.

And, the whole way down when the creature dropped him. He only stopped screaming when he hit the tiled first floor.

Red eyes and black wings took off into the cool night.

Hawthorne twitched on the floor. He didn’t realize he had been bitten by the creature. The bite was probably the only reason he was still alive. His back crunched and shifted against his will and he screamed out again.

Gibby pulled her mom’s car into the parking and parked in front of a defunct department store. She honked her horn and lit a joint. Fifteen minutes came and went before she cut the engine and exited the vehicle.

Hawthorne was probably going to jump out and scare her. She knew it, she just knew it. Well, she’d let him scare her.

Then, she’d tell everyone how she found him sucking his thumb and still asleep when she went to pick him up. It was her word against his, and who would they believe?

Gibby tripped over Hawthorne’s sleeping bag as she made her way through the abandoned mall. Yeah, he was going to pop out at her. She rolled her eyes and steeled her nerves.

“Come out, wherever you are!” She called. She picked her way all over the first floor, winding and trying to pull up the security gates as she passed the stores. They were all locked tight against her prying.

She wandered aimlessly, hopping up on a kiosk just to see if it would hold her up. It did; she had a slight frame. When she had exhausted the first floor, she started to climb up a dead escalator to the second floor.

Like her erstwhile friend, she didn’t hear the footsteps behind her. When her pursuer grabbed her, though, she spun around in its clutches and sprayed mace all over the front of her attacker.

The creature, she didn’t know what else to call it, screamed and grabbed her tighter. It raked its teeth along her neck, getting the mace residue in the wound. It was her turn to scream.

Wings unfurled from the creature’s back and it carried her up and up into the early morning light before dropping her.

Hawthorne smiled as he listened to her screams until they stopped with a thud. He blinked his red eyes against the dawn and swooped back inside the mall.

Tell Me Where It Hurts

Tell me where it hurts. Tell me every little pain that haunts you and makes you weak.

Loving you isn’t the rotten work you make it out to be. To drown in the ecstasy of your notice is all I long for. Let me die in your arms.

Tell me in no uncertain terms who did this to you. I will make them sorry they ever touched a hair on your precious head. I will make them hurt.

Tell me where it hurts. Tell me when and where and who injured you.

The act of loving you doesn’t end at your rough and broken edges. I want to hold you tight and squeeze all my love into you so that it glues your parts back together and you are whole again.

Tell me you love me, too, so I can die in peace. I want to rest eternally in the bosom of kindness and reconciliation.

Tell me I’m not the one who did this to you; I couldn’t bear it if I had. I would rather fall on poignard than hurt you. I would rather call to the old gods and the new and draw down their notice than be the reason your smile falters.

I want my love to be as gentle as a lamb, as fierce as a lion, and as all-encompassing as the sea. I want to gather you up into my arms and never let you go.

Tell me where it hurts.

New Things!

GM Potter is on YouTube!

I started a YouTube channel! I am getting ready to post my welcome video and have some ideas for the coming months. The channel will focus on book reviews and crafting- two of my dearest loves- and will also feature updates to my writing and go over my process. I hope to see you there!

A Letter Written

I stare down at the papers strewn across my writing desk, waiting for inspiration to strike. I’ve agreed to be a pen-pal to a person half a world away that I’ve never met, and I haven’t the foggiest idea what to say.

Should I write about my day? How interesting could that be? I get up, I go to work, I come home and go to bed. That’s it.

I could write about my family, but I live alone and don’t have a particularly close family. I could always write about my goldfish. His name is Blub-blubs. He mostly just floats there.

Maybe I could go into my hobbies. I stream old tv shows from the 90s. I don’t sew or craft or even have the energy to do much else.

I hear the mail truck rumble down the street and decide to walk down to pick up the bills. I wave to Fred as he pulls up to the next mailbox. He waves back.

Oh, no!

There’s a letter from my pen-pal. My fingers tremble as I open the letter right there on the lawn.

His name is John Smith; he lives in Germany but he’s from England. He gets up and goes to work, then goes home and watches old tv shows from the 80s. He has a beta fish named Bubbles and doesn’t talk to his family much since he moved away.

I run back to my desk and write a letter back. I ask him about moving outside his country; I’ve always wanted to do that. I ask about his job and what shows he watches.

Maybe my life isn’t quite as boring as I thought.

Novel Update

Malcolm on my current novel draft.

I sat down to work on the current draft of my novel this evening to find my youngest cat sleeping on the stack of papers containing all of my notes and revision. He weighs about 16 pounds. If it were either of my other two cats (also both around 16 pounds because they are all Texas-sized), I would just shift him to get it out. However, this cat is just over a year old and still loves to bite.

As my mother likes to say, “Tomorrow is also a day.”

A Sea of Silken Flowers

This is part two of the Embroidery story.

I watched Townsend make his way across the graveyard, delighting in the confusion blooming across his face. Absentmindedly, he touched each headstone as he passed; draped across each one was a small scrap of fabric painstakingly embroidered with a flower in silk thread.

I flinched when he saw me. I was still holding my basket of flowers, and for a moment I thought of running. He scowled and cut across the grey grass to me.

I froze. Not a good look for an assassin, let me tell you.

“What are you doing?”

“What do you think?” My voice was defensive, maybe more than it needed to be. I softened myself. “I’m just paying my respects.”

“To every new grave?” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Brock says you’re turning down jobs.”

“Only some of them.”

“Why? Is this about Larrissa?” He said my sister’s name like it was nothing; like she was nothing.

“Don’t you say her name!” I shoved him and he stumbled back a few steps. “Don’t you ever say her name!”

“What is this?”

“He told me I would save us from a civil war, that by doing my job I would save lives.”

Townsend looked confused.

“Look around! Does this look like I saved anyone?” I resisted the urge to let out a scream. “They built a new graveyard because the bodies were stacking up in the street!”

Townsend shrugged and opened his mouth to rebut, but the fierceness in my eyes stopped him cold. I shook my head and looked in my basket. There were still a dozen flowers to pass out.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Don’t say that to me, say it to them,” I muttered as I laid another flower on a freshly turned grave. This one wasn’t marked yet. Perhaps it wouldn’t be.

“I don’t know what you want from me.”

“I want out!” I screamed. I imagined that windows opened so their owners could get a better view of the crazy woman screaming in a graveyard. “I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, and I’m done.”

“I don’t-“

“No women, no kids. That was the only rule I ever had.” I stomped back to him. “How many of these belong to women and kids? How many times has the water rippled and someone else gotten hurt even though I have my rule?”

“We can’t know that,” he protested.

“I know.” I pulled out my favorite dagger and plunged it into his breast, pumping it twice. “I quit.”

He crumpled to the cold, grey ground, his face was a mask of shock. I rooted around in my basket until I found his flower.

A black dahlia for death and betrayal.

Embroidery

Ouch! Damn it!

I stuck my finger in my mouth and sucked on it as I inspected the scrap of fabric in my hands. Good, there was no blood on it. I pulled my finger out of my mouth; it wasn’t bleeding either.

I took up my needle and pulled another satin stitch across the bleached muslin. Sometimes you just needed to stab something a few hundred dozen times to feel better.

“What are you doing?” asked a familiar voice.

“Hey, Brock,” is all I said in answer. I didn’t lift my eyes from my work.

“No, seriously, what are you doing?” he asked.

“What does it look like?” I didn’t even try to hide the annoyance from my voice. “I’m practicing the womanly art of embroidery.”

“You’re an assassin!”

“I like to sew.”

I swear I could feel him roll his eyes as he sat down across from me. Still, I didn’t look at him.

“You’re needed, standard wet work.”

“How much?”

“50% above the usual rate.”

I opened my mouth to say no, but he cut me off.

“That’s after my cut.”

“No women, no kids, right?”

“Never.”

I shrugged but set down my project. He handed me an envelope which I opened. I finally looked at him when I read the target. His face was bruised and I could tell it had been bloodied recently.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Nope, this is real, and it’ll happen with or without you.” He smiled but winced instead. “Either you take out the prince or an angry mob will and we’ll be plunged into civil war.”

“Who takes over after the overgrown brat?”

“Dunno, above my pay grade.”

“Fine.” I picked up my project and pulled another satin stitch across the taught fabric.

“What is it anyway?”

“A flower. It’s for my sister.”

“I thought she-“

“For her grave,” I corrected.

Brock nodded and left me alone in my room- my candle wavered when he shut the door. I waited until I heard his heavy footsteps thunder down the stairs before I allowed the tears to fall.

“You shall be avenged, dearheart,” I whispered when I was done with my work. “Soon.”

The prince was an easy target. Possibly too easy. I didn’t even have to rush while I washed the blood off of my hands. I was already in the graveyard when the alarm bells sounded across the still sleeping city.

I laid the embroidered forget-me-not down carefully across the top of the headstone. I crossed myself and made my way home. I sat down in front of my unlit fireplace and pulled out another fabric scrap.

I stretched it taught across the hoop and tightened the screw. The first stab is always the most satisfying. This one would be for the poor sap who would take the fall for the prince. His grave would be unmarked, but Brock would make sure I know where it was.

A white orchid on a white fabric scrap would be enough to help him reach the heavens.

Other Than I Am

I’m not a Man. I never will be.

There is no dagger in my smile. When I smile, it’s just that- a smile. I smile when I feel joy. I can’t be anything other than what I am.

I am prey to the swaying of my thoughts, so I will bow my head. I will beat my fists against the tiled floor and curse the Creator for making me as I am.

I cannot be any other than as I am. I long to be a Man- to be free to do as I please with little to no consequence.

I long to walk alone at night, with nothing but the stars to guide me. I can’t, or rather, shouldn’t. It isn’t safe for me to do so. If I am accosted, it is my fault for allowing it.

I am not a Woman. I never will be.

I am not fierce; a fire burning brighter than the very stars themselves. I’ve never burned bright enough for anyone to notice.

There is no power to the sway of my hips. My smile does not hide secrets. I have no secrets.

I long to bewitch and ensnare, but I cannot.

I have neither a Man’s mind nor a Woman’s might.

I cannot be anything other than what I am.