Snippets of a Story – April

I’ve been a bit absentee here this month, and I do apologize – a lot has been happening, and it’s occupied the majority of my brain space. I’m NOT going to Colorado this summer, for a majority of reasons – so on the upside, I won’t have to neglect any of you! I’m a chapter away from finishing Paper Hearts, so I’m procrastinating badly. I always do, with that last chapter. It’s like knowing you have to say good-bye to a good friend. I’ve been reading (fiction, of course; but also some non-fiction; currently a book about Shakespeare’s life before he was famous and ‘Man and His Symbols’ by Carl Jung) and yesterday we helped my sister Maralie pack – they’re moving back to Washington! We’re going to miss them. A lot. But here I’m making myself sad. Onward with the snippets!

alicecoverdone

Rusty grunted and pulled out one of the books. “I’d forgotten all about this one.”

            I tried to catch a glimpse of the cover, but all I saw was green. “Which one?”

            “It’s a bonus book I wrote – oh, fifty years ago or so.”

            I blinked. “You forgot your own book?”

            “My dear Rooney, I’d forgotten my own name. Things haven’t entirely come back yet.”

            “Maybe you should stop being a wysling and just write books about yourself,” I suggested.

            He either chose to ignore the jab, or it sailed over his head. “That might not be a bad idea.” He settled down on the couch to read his own book, and I prepared pancakes while Patrick paced back and forth on the counter, sticking his head into bowls and sniffing and occasionally stirring the syrup heating on the stove. – Paper Hearts

When I first beheld the isle that was to be my prison, I thought it a harsh, ugly place. Tangled sea-grasses blew in the wind like the mane of a wild pony, and where it did not grow, nothing was visible except lumps of black rock. There was nothing friendly about this place, no sign of welcome. When I asked the ferryman whether the whole isle kept such an austere appearance he assured me that nearer the middle of the island there grew a forest –a dark, unkempt place better suited to wild animals and other creatures.

            “Other creatures?” I had inquired. “What other creatures?”

            He tapped the side of his bent nose with a finger. “Creatures, you know, miss.”

            “No, I do not know,” I replied, my curiosity aroused. “That is why I asked.”

            “Best not to mention unnatural things,” he said. “They can hear it.” – This Rough Magic

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­The city was a good place to get lost in. Sheer numbers gave every individual a kind of anonymity, and Alice wrapped herself in it like a suit of armor or a camouflage coat. Head down, walk quickly, don’t catch anyone’s eye. That was the trap. If you looked someone in the eye, they all seemed to feel like that was the universal code for ‘talk to me.’ Blending in was key. No one was going to go out of their way to talk to a girl who looked like a bad-tempered drug addict. – Impossible Things

She was a hard book to read, my sister. She felt things deeply, but could at times seem so stoic as to be practically Spartan. I remembered one afternoon when we were children, and the rain streaked in abstract patterns down the window-glass, sitting on my bed. I had taken the head and she had taken the foot, and I was brushing her hair with mother’s stiff, pearl-handled brush.

            Out of nowhere, I had asked, “Do you mind?”

            She shifted, tucking her feet under the hem of her nightdress. “Do I mind what?”

            “You know.” Her hair smoothed like honeyed waves down her back with each stroke of the brush. “Being born without…it.”

            She knew what ‘it’ was; I did not have to clarify. ‘Magic’ was a vulgar word that even wizards refrained from using. They preferred to speak of their particular ‘talents,’ as though it would fool everyone else into believing they were ordinary, and not to be feared. It seemed to work on nearly everyone, but in my mind I privately called it magic anyway.

            “No,” she told me. “I don’t mind.”

            “Don’t you miss it?”

            “If I had it and lost it, then I would miss it, but since I never had it, what’s the point?” – This Rough Magic

Something warm and wet in my face woke me up. I gave an indelicate shriek and toppled out of bed – or halfway out, as Rusty caught my arm before my head could hit the wooden floor. Ginger jumped off the bed and ran in circles around my face. I jerked up before she could lick me again.

            I groggily eyed Rusty. “You can let go now.”

            He released my arm and said, “Pancakes.”

            “Hmm?” I pushed my hair out of my face and wished it would behave in the morning. “Pancakes?”

            “That’s what Azrael said. I don’t know what he meant, but he told me to wake you up and say ‘pancakes.’”

            “Oh,” I said, recalling my promise from the night before. “Pancakes. Right.” I slid out of bed and fell off balance to avoid stepping on Ginger’s wagging tail. I stumbled around the edge of the bed and pushed the drapes apart again. Sunlight burst through, bright and welcoming and entirely too cheerful for this time of day.

            “Must be a magic word,” said Rusty.

            “What?”

            “Pancake. I’m going to have to start using it. See if it works miracles for me, too.”

            “It means pancakes,” I said, giving him a blank stare.

            “Apparently it raises the dead, too.” He gave me a pointed once-over and left the room, snapping for Ginger. The dog followed him out with a yapping bark. – Paper Hearts

            “You should be taking therapy, not me.”

            “Ah.” He waved a hand dismissively. “I don’t need it.”

            “Maybe fashion advice, then.” Alice spat a strand of windblown hair out of her mouth. “Your hat went out of style a hundred years ago.”

            He affected indignation. “Hey,” he admonished. “Respect the hat.”

            “It’s not the only thing,” Alice continued. Her apartment block was in sight now, slowly approaching with every step. “That paisley vest thing you wear? I’m not sure it was ever in style. And cravats went out with the Scarlet Pimpernel.”

            “Is that so?” He sounded amused. A young woman with her hair dyed straight-up white walked past them and he watched her until she passed, a strange shade crossing his face. It was gone in an instant, and Alice decided she had imagined it.

            “You should also look into wearing normal shoes now and then,” she added. “Tennis shoes or something. Leather scuffs.”

            He smiled in good-natured response to her criticism. “You’re awfully talkative this afternoon.”

            “It’s an allergic reaction to you,” she said immediately.

            “Oh. Wow.” He patted his coat, above his heart. “You know how to hurt someone’s feelings.”

            “If you’d stop talking to me, that wouldn’t happen.”

            “Ah, but then you would never get any practice.”

            “I’m already so good at it, imagine what I could do if I really tried,” she answered, unable to help the brief smile that flickered across her face. His efforts to pull her out of her shell might be annoying and unwelcome, but they had the irritating habit of working. – Impossible Things

            “It seems like a friendly skull,” I said, sitting down next to it and rubbing it fondly with the palm of my hand. It continued to stare out at Azrael and the marionette with forlorn eye sockets.

            Azrael raked his fingers back and forth through his mass of curly ginger hair until it stuck up in all directions. “It’s a skull, Rooney. It can’t look friendly. It can’t look anything but skullish.” – Paper Hearts

            “Miranda,” I said, but there was only a little reproof in my voice. Neither of us liked the manservant, if he could properly be called ‘man’ anything. Every time he saw my sister, his face took a lecherous turn. He also groveled too much, and it put me off.

            “Prosper,” she said, mimicking my intonation of her name. “Please, can’t you ask him?”

            “No,” I said, jutting out my chin. “I’ll demand it; and if he refuses, I’ll turn him out of the house.”

            “You cannot,” she told me, smoothing the ivory-soft skirt of her dress absently with a pale hand. “You know it.”

            “I do.” I shrugged. “But if we were not allowed to imagine good things in life, where would we be?”

            Her lips twitched, but she managed to level her eyes disapprovingly. “Be kind.”

            “Kindness is not in my nature.”

            She sighed. “What would you be without me?”

            “The mean-hearted wench I was born as.”

            “Nobody is born mean-hearted.”

            “Tell that to Caliban,” I retorted, just as knuckles rasped against my bedroom door. – This Rough Magic

She took a pencil and turned it between two fingers, ready to write down a note or connect two dots, but nothing made sense. Remembering dreams was like pulling all the legs off a caterpillar and still expecting it to be able to walk – crazy and impossible.

            Also pointless. – Impossible Things

His face was wild, his hair strangely feral and nearly indecent without the hat to cover it up.  – Impossible Things

“You know a watched kettle never boils,” he said from the doorway.

            “It’s a watched pot,” she corrected. The handle of the knife dug into her hand, and her thumb strayed down to the blade. “And I’m not watching it. I’m intimidating it.”

            “It’s being defiant.”

            “I’m going to have it beheaded.”

            “I’m not sure it deserves that.” He smiled and, reaching up, touched the neck of his bathrobe, as if feeling personally wounded for the kettle’s sake. – Impossible Things

She’d just have to get over this, too. Maybe she could ask Carol for another kind of pill; anti-hallucination pills or something. It was too bad you couldn’t take straight-up sanity, she thought; shoot it through a vein or swallow it in pill form, or breathe it in like smoke.

            The sanest person in her life was her psychiatrist, and that was a depressing thought. – Impossible Things

Revisiting Disconnect

The annotated copy of The Tempest came in at the library today, much to my joy (I read the preface and the first three acts in the car on the way home, unable to stop myself) and tonight we get pizza for dinner and Divergent for dessert (or was that the homemade chocolate-chip/oatmeal cookies my sister’s whipping up?) – so altogether, I’d say today is one of those gems. I’ve been mulling over a blog post, but I couldn’t quite settle on what to write – so, I pulled my NaNo. I fell in love all over again. The characters, the world, the chapter titles, the (hole-filled but dear to my heart) plot make this a grand success, whether it ever gets published or not. Most people don’t know this, but the plot of Disconnect, if it ever continues into a series (it could use a sequel, if I say so myself) will follow the same line as King Arthur and Camelot; except in dystopian Japan. I’ll leave you to take that how you will.

So, to commemorate my trip down memory lane (also known as Five Months Ago) I give you a few of my favorite pieces. Some you’ve already read, and some you haven’t – but I love them all mightily.

DisconnectCollage

Mom ran her fingers through my hair, eyeing it critically. “You need to dye it again,” she said offhand. “The blue is starting to fade out at the roots.”

“I will.”

“And I know you aren’t a big shot at school, honey, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the games, right?” She hugged my shoulders and pressed a kiss to the top of my head.

Yes, I was short enough she could do that.

Shut up.

“I get sick of being followed around by cameras.” I shoveled the last bite of breakfast into my mouth and tossed the disposable container into the small square incinerator hole next to the sink. There was a faint grinding sound, and then silence. “People asking ‘hey, so are you friends with Deuce? Are you rooting for him? Are you his biggest fan? Do you have a crush on Gummy? Who are you rooting for? What’s your Life Game? What level are you on? Do you go to the bathroom before bed, or when you wake up in the morning?””

“They don’t ask you that.”

“Well, they ask me the rest of the questions,” I said with a sigh. “And since I don’t care, it’s a pain. I guess I can put up with it, though. Chopper enjoys it.”

“You haven’t brought him over in a while.”

“He barely fits through the front door.”

____________________________

I stood and let the students flow around me while I waited for Chopper. He was always last. Most people thought he was so polite he just wanted to wait until everyone else was off the bus, but really he was so lazy he didn’t want to have to fight his way through a crowd.

I saw him at the back, a good head and shoulders above everyone else. His hair, long, wild, and sticking up all over his head, was the color of tomato juice, and his entire tall body was covered – from the mask around his nose and mouth to his platform boots – in black, skintight leather.

I cupped my hands around my mouth and shouted, “Oi!”

His head turned in my direction and his stride quickened. As soon as he reached me, he gave me his customary greeting. He smacked me upside the head. “Yo, baka. What’s up?”

“You,” I said. “You’re always up, farther than anyone else in the city, and probably the rest of the world.”

He laughed. At six foot four – not to mention the four inches in his boots and the six or seven inches in added height his hair gave him – he towered above people no matter where he went. Compared to my height – a meager five foot six inches – he was a giant.

“You ready for the paparazzi, little man?” He bounced up and down, somehow able to keep his balance. “You know they’re gonna swamp us asking about the Hardcores.”

“They’ll probably think you’re a Hardcore until you tell them otherwise.” I looked him up and down and shook my head. “Little do they know.”

He tipped his head to the side and shrugged. “Shoganai,” he said. “Can’t be helped. Come on, we’re gonna be late for orientation.”

“We’ve pretty much got it memorized anyway,” I said. “It won’t hurt to be late. Besides, you’ve heard it – what, four times more than I have. Why are you so eager?”

“I like it!” He crouched down and slung his arm around my shoulder. “Maybe they’ll let you give orientation next year, huh? Since you’ve got it so memorized.

I shoved his arm off my shoulder. “Ikuzo,” I said. “Let’s go.”

“Sure. You know, you really should call me senpai,” he said, walking next to me. I’d told him several times before that I refused to run to keep up with him, so he shortened his stride accordingly.

“In a perfect world, yeah, maybe. In this one, you’re in the same grade as me, so dream big.” He liked to pull the ‘senpai’ card now and then, but it was more of a private joke than anything else. Chopper was twenty- two years old, and he should have been graduated by now, but he was a staunch underachiever and didn’t care if he was in my grade.

Sometimes I wondered if he failed classes on purpose just to watch my back, but I never voiced my suspicion because if I had, he might have stopped doing it and I valued my life as much as the next person.

____________________________

Chopper tucked the information packet between his knees and cracked his knuckles. “I need to stretch my legs.”

I tugged the packet free. “You always need to stretch your legs.”

“It’s a curse.”

“You know I can barely hear you with that mask on,” I said.

His eyes still on the wild chaos below, he patted my shoulder. “Don’t cramp my style, tiny.”

I smacked the packet against his leg. “Call me that again and I’ll rip your lungs out through your nose holes.”

His eyes, rimmed with heavy black eyeliner, slid over to me. “You’ll what?”

I amended my statement to be a bit more realistic. “I’ll attempt to rip your lungs out through your nose holes.”

            He tossed his head back and laughed. “It’s nice that you dream big, Q. It really is.”

____________________________

I decided not to talk to Chopper for the rest of the day, and he seemed content to transfer annoying pictures with cheesy captions to my Eye every five minutes for the rest of the day. As soon as the last class let out – the best one, since the instructor was a hologram and everyone was allowed to talk and ignore her to their hearts’ content – I blinked Chopper’s combination and waited for the connection to reach him.

Moshimoshi,” he said.

“Chopper.”

“Hey, little man.”

“Enough with the pictures.”

Things like sighs and breathing did not transfer through Eye calls, but I knew he was letting out a huge sigh anyway. “You have no sense of humor, Q.”

“I’ll add that to my list of defects. Just don’t send any more pictures. You’re clogging my feed.”

“Did you like the kitten?”

As if I needed a reminder, an image of a fluffy white kitten entered my head again, its enormous, cow-sized eyes staring wide at me, with the caption HOW MUCH FOR YOUR SOUL? underneath in block white letters.

“Chopper, if you don’t stop, I’m going to tell Gummy that you have a crush on her, and were doing some kind of psychological alternate speaker with me for your feelings. And before you ask ‘what does that even mean,’ you know what it means.”

The connection went silent for so long, I thought he might have hung up. “Chop?”

“Chibi,” he said, and the connection went silent.

I rubbed my forehead. Cosmic. Now Chopper was mad at me, too. I had every right to be mad at him! He’d spoken for me when I was incapacitated!

“You’re too sensitive for someone your height,” I growled, and hoped he heard me, wherever he was.

____________________________

Mom opened the door and stopped abruptly. “Chopper! I had no idea you were coming over!”

“Neither did I,” I said, as Chopper waved to my mom from his upside-down position.

“I thought I’d surprise him,” he said.

She waved back at him with the sort of smile on her face that said He’s Such a Nice Young Man. “There’s some leftover okayu if you’d like some, Chopper.”

“I’m good.” He curled his thumb and forefinger in an O. “Arigatou.

She smiled and shook her head, then pointed at me. “Don’t stay up too late, Q. School tomorrow. Chopper, I’d advise the same for you, but since you’re no longer a minor, I can’t exactly order you to.”

“I don’t want to keep Shorty up too late.” Chopper reached up and ruffled my hair, pulling his gloved hand back before I could hit it. “He needs as much help as he can get.”

“Says the guy who got all D’s last year.”

“I have better things to live for.”

“Yeah, like killing Deathstrike?” I held up a finger. “Or wait, wait – like attempting to kill Deathstrike, because the last time I looked, you’d decided not to again.”

“I have it all under control,” he said smoothly. “I can kill him any time I want.”

“Which will be when?”

“Whenever I decide to.”

Koshinuke.”

Mom squinted. “Sorry to interrupt your bromancey moment, but what does ‘koshinuke’ mean again?”

She had trouble with insults and nastier words, because, as she put it, ‘why go to the trouble of learning words you aren’t ever going to use?’ “I called him a coward,” I translated.

Daijoubu,” said Chopper, sitting up and pulling his long legs in, Indian-style. “It’s all right. We call each other names all the time.”

“It’s affectionate,” I added.

Baka ja nai no?” He cocked his head, his two long sections of red hair hanging in front of him. “Are you stupid or something? I mean every insult I call you.”

Hidoi na,” I said, punching him in the arm as hard as I could. “You’re a jerk.”

“I’ll let you two battle whatever this is out yourselves,” said mom. She walked into the room and gave me a quick hug that I knew she couldn’t resist. “Sleep tight, honey.”

“Yeah, you too,” I said, returning her hug and watching as she moved back to the door.

Oi!” Chopper held his arms out. “Don’t I get one?”

Mom laughed and went back to him, hugging his neck and planting a kiss on his head. “Oyasumi najai. Good night.”

“You, too, Mrs. Shohei.”

She left, closing the door behind her, and he sighed. “It’s really too bad your mom’s married.”

            “Whatever.”

____________________________

“Yo, baka.”

I groaned as Chopper smacked me upside the head. “Same to you.”

“Seen Gummy yet?”

“No, idiot, I was waiting for you. You told me not to talk to her without you, if you recall.”

“I recall, but since when have you ever taken my suggestions to heart? Keep this up, and I’m gonna have to rethink my existence. And that’s your department.”

“You didn’t word it like a suggestion,” I told him, walking toward homeroom. “You worded it like a threat.”

“Well.”

“It was, wasn’t it?”

“Maybe.”

“You had something planned, like embarrassing me in front of the entire student body if I didn’t, right?”

“Probably.”

I looked sideways at him. “Why are you giving me one-word answers?”

He shrugged. “Because.”

As we approached the homeroom door, I asked, “Are you going to continue giving me one-word answers?”

“No.”

I stopped walking and stood in front of the door with my arms folded. “Ii kagenni shiro. Stop messing around.”

He grinned at me underneath his mask. “Sure thing, little man.”

“You know, I really hate you sometimes,” I told him, opening the door.

“Mutual.”

“Quit it already!”

____________________________

Half an hour later, Deuce had taken off his mask to showcase his stare of violent disbelief. He looked at each of us, his lips pressed tightly together.

“You” – he jerked his head at me – “can’t be serious.”

I rocked back and forth on my heels. “Unfortunately I’m about as serious as I know how to get.”

“Which is pretty serious,” added Chopper, “when you think about it. I mean, you haven’t seen serious until you’ve seen this boy get bothered about something. Trying to call him off is like trying to hold back an angry rhinoceros with a piece of floss.”

____________________________

I jumped as Chopper’s hand gently nudged the side of my head. He was probably being careful because I had been injured the day before, but I hardly noticed. I was too shocked. “You’re here early!”

“The bus just came in.”

“Chopper,” I said. “You’re always the last one off your bus. Now you’re at the head of the crowd?”

He cocked his head to the side and squinted at me. “Your black eye looks worse,” he said. I glared at him until he shrugged and said, “What’s wrong with wanting to be early, Q? Sheesh; you’d think two minutes was a life or death problem.”

“Eager to get to work or something?” I teased, and then blinked. “Something’s different about you.”

“I’m exactly the same height as I’ve always been.”

“Not that.” I looked him carefully up and down. Same boots, same skin-tight black leather, same long, wild, bright red hair… “Okay, I give up. What is it? Did you get a different brand of eyeliner?”

“Real observant, Q. Look into my eyes.”

Yabai!” I yelped. His irises had been dyed the same color red as his hair. “You look like an evil robot!”

He frowned; I could see it underneath his mask. “Su-ge. Arigatou, Q.”

Yare yare, nante koto da!” I gave an exaggerated groan. “What a disaster. Now, not only do you look weird, you look villainous.”

“You’re one to talk, Grandma.” He eyed my sweater. “What exactly are you wearing?”

“Something to hide my cast, which is just a tad bit on the bulky side. Like you’re one to talk, anyway. You’ve worn the same thing every day for like fourteen years now. Can’t you choose something a little more creative?”

____________________________

We turned and watched as Deuce approached at a quick saunter. “What are you idiots standing around for?”

“We missed the bus,” I pointed out.

He turned and gave me a how stupid are you look. “Exactly. It’s why I didn’t take a bus today. I drove that.” He pointed toward public parking at the far end of the tunnel.

Even Chopper grinned, then. “Now that,” he said, eyeing the vehicle as we approached it, “that, I like.”

Deuce smirked. “Then get in.”

____________________________

Chopper’s relaxed posture stiffened. “You’re joking, right?” He gaped at me, then at Daigo. “She hates me! In case you haven’t noticed. Also, I’m not fond of her. As a matter of fact, we have about as much chance of getting together as two opposite magnets.”

“That’s her condition,” he said, flapping his arms at his sides like a dejected penguin. “I do not happen to be able to see inside her head.”

____________________________

“What,” said Daigo, “have you three done?”

“I think we’ve just started a country-wide panic,” said Chopper, sounding remarkably relaxed. “How does it look like where you are?”

“I think you have just destroyed Tokyo,” said Daigo.

“Not destroyed,” I said, shaking my head. “Revealed. There are no Rulers. There haven’t been for a long time.”

“We’ve all been living in a hologram,” breathed Gummy.

After a moment, I leaned back. I had to get back to my parents, to our institution. We had just started something that was not about to go away. “What if he was right?” I nodded toward the desk where the hologram had sat. “What if there is nothing else? What happened?”

“We’re sunk,” said Chopper. “If he was right.”

Gummy turned away from the window, an odd expression on her face. “What if he was wrong?”

They were both looking at me. I had the feeling even Daigo was waiting for my response. “Um, well,” I said, knotting my hands in my shirt, “if he was wrong, then I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

The glamour in the room around us had faded, exposing rough concrete and dust.

“We need to get home,” said Gummy. “Before the panic starts.”

“Panic will have already started,” I said, shrugging. “But yeah, we should leave now before it gets worse.”

It was the only thing to do. We walked out of the office and down the hall, toward the elevator. The rusted steel doors opened and we stepped into the worn interior.

I squeezed Gummy’s hand and gave her what I hoped was a reassuring smile. “It’s going to be okay,” I said.

She squeezed back and did not respond.

Chopper slung his arm around my shoulder. “You always did have a knack for trouble, little man.”

I blew out a breath, gave him a lopsided smile, and pressed the button for the ground level. “Just you wait.”

March Snippets

tumblr_mt2kaxh2Vw1sqtd8yo1_500“Have care, my pet.” Titania’s smile was a gleeful sickle in the darkness. “You are in danger of burning in your own flame.”

– Sometime a Fire

“I cannot, in all good conscience, let you go out that door.” Skata narrowed his eyes. “Why not?” “You are simply too inept,” was the diplomatic answer. 

– This Mortal Coil

He was intangible, nothing more than a pale shadow, and it was maddening. How she wanted to touch him; to feel his salt-skin and tame the thick, wind-blown darkness of his hair.

– This Rough Magic

“I’m a wizardess,” she responded, unnerved at his insight. “Nothing about me is natural. And you – there is nothing natural about you, either. Natural implies the normal, the ordinary – what would you know of it?”

            “A great deal.” His voice was soft and thoughtful, calling back a hundred memories Prosper would never know. “For twelve years I gazed upon the natural, and watched. Fighters battling with swords until the ground soaked up their blood, lovers tangled in their own embrace. Children, playing hide-and-seek, screaming when their companions discovered them. Killers killing – once, even hiding a body underneath the roots of my tree.” He bent his head, and drew his arms together as though the cold was affecting him. “I was unable to help or hinder any of them and that,” – here he lifted his head and pierced her with the fathoms of his frozen eyes – “that was unthinkable. That was what caused me pain. To refuse my help, to refuse me – is unnatural of you, my noble mistress.”

– This Rough Magic

        “Silence, Quockerwodger, or I’ll have you in splinters!” thundered Azrael, pointing his finger at the ceiling with such enthusiasm he nearly fell backward out of his chair.

– Paper Hearts

The werewolf turned his head to eye Skata in a blaze of angry blue irises. Skata faced him and tilted his head, more than willing to take on another fight in spite of the pain in his shoulder. He had been cooped up for so long, he felt he was beginning to rust. Violence was just the right sort of oil to get him back in working condition.

– This Mortal Coil

“Tell me, how did you acquire the stake in the first place?” Gideon adjusted the cuff of his left sleeve. Jackson looked up and smiled darkly. “Way too easily.”

The elder Moroi sighed and turned to face his brother. “Your penchant for taking things that don’t belong to you will earn you a stake in the heart, and sooner rather than later.”

Jackson swung his legs over the side of the couch and settled comfortably against the pillows. “That may be, but we’ve already lived ‘later’,” he pointed out, following Gideon with his finger. “Sooner seems rather out of the option box.”

– This Mortal Coil

             “You look atrocious,” he hooted. He tapped his finger against the top of the table. It shimmered, and the brown wood rippled out from the center, leaving it shiny and reflective. “You really should see yourself.” I bent down over the top of the table. My reflection met me with a scrunched nose, one eye squinted farther than the other, and a frazzled mass of hair piled around my head. “I look perfectly normal,” I said. “Considering it’s midnight.” “If this is your midnight normal, I’m glad you weren’t Cinderella.”

– Paper Hearts

Angel pried Graham’s fingers away from his arm. “A, don’t touch me. And B – don’t touch me.”

– This Mortal Coil

“We had better get started. I assume you have some diabolical plan, best served with coffee.”

– Natural Disasters