time is the gold in every person’s pocket – a mother’s day tribute

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love is…

a sink full of dirty dishes

a laundry basket piled high

books stacked on the table

a fancy dinner traded in for chinese food

 

because love is time, not spent counted out but being spent.

 

love is…

(dirty dishes) because she was playing hearts with her youngest daughter

(dirty laundry) because she was watching a movie with her grandson

(books stacked) because she was discussing a novel with her second youngest daughter

(chinese food) because she was late getting home after a  day spent shopping

 

because time is the gold in every person’s pocket, but rare is the person who knows

not only how to spend it, but spend it wisely.

love is time well-spent with the ones you love

because she has learned what seems important,

and what is.

 

The Rusalka

rusalka_by_blavatskaya-d7d050bThis month’s chatterbox subject is ‘water,’ and so I decided to open up a document and let the word ‘water’ take me where it would. This was the result.

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She caught the intoxicating scent on the wings of the crosswind. It was the smell of grass and sunlight and sweat, and it meant he was coming. The rush of excitement was so tangible she felt she could almost clasp it with her webbed fingers as she left the warm safety of the ocean’s depth, trading it for the lonely shallow shoals near the cliffs. Pulling herself up onto the only rock large and flat enough to comfortably sit on, she waited, watching. Above, a flock of gulls cried out indignantly at her presence. She ignored them. He was coming.

The sunlight baked across her back and the salt spray was barely enough to moisten her scales, but still she waited – and then, there! A glimpse of white, a scattered pebble, and he came out to the shore, bucket in hand. He collected the mussels that clustered there, once a week. She sometimes wondered what he did with them – did he eat them? Sell them? Pry out the hearts and create with the shells? But she never really cared, as long as she could watch him.

No. No more watching. Today, she had promised herself – today she would approach him. He smelled so beautiful, and his legs were an endless source of fascination. She could ask what it felt like to move on them; if they felt like tree trunks, or as light and effortless as her own tail.

She slid back into the water; every scale, every pore sighing with relief, drinking in the waves as she sliced her way through the water, toward him. Sand scraped along her stomach and, finally, she had to use her hands; digging her fingers in to push forward.

Lifting her head out of the water, she saw she was close – very close. He was watching her; every kind of astonishment and wonder in his guileless, weed-green eyes. His bucket fell to the sand and tipped over, spilling out its collection of clams. He took a few unthinking, noisy steps into the water, and then stopped himself.

Even humans knew that rusalka were dangerous.

“You can’t be this far in,” he said. He did not shout, but his voice traveled across the water to her ears. It was a short distance between them. “It’s too shallow.”

Her voice was rasping and wet, unused to forming anything other than fishing calls and sharing brief exchanges with her school. “I had to speak with you.”

“Why?” He turned, seafoam splashing about his calves, dampening his rolled-up trousers, as he probed every rock and wave with his eyes. “Why do you?”

She dug her hands into the sand, pulled her weight closer. “You are so beautiful,” she said, although she had meant to say, ‘I find you interesting.’

His eyebrows rose. “How can you, a rusalka, call anything beautiful that is not your own reflection?”

“Does the sunset notice its own beauty?” she asked, looking up, wanting to catch the color of his eyes again.

“I wouldn’t know,” he said. “I’ve never asked one.”

She reached up and smoothed an untamed strand of her seaweed hair. “What is your name?”

“Ivan,” he responded, crouching down; oblivious to his now thoroughly-soaked pants. “What’s yours? What do they call you?”

“I have no name,” she said.

“I should give you one.”

“Why?”

“So I know what to call you.”

“You cannot call me,” she told him simply. “I would never hear you.”

“How did you know I was here, if not because you heard me?”

“I smelled you,” she said. “You smell like…like land.”

“Land.” He laughed softly. “Is it a good thing, then? Because you smell like the sea. I suppose we cannot help carrying our roots with us – even if those roots are made of water.”

She loved his voice. It was better than the clicks of dolphins or the deep rumbles of thunder under the stormy swells – but the sand was quickly leaving the glass, and she had only so much time. “I wanted to ask you a…” She struggled to find the word. “Favor.”

“Favor?” His voice was surprised, but not unkind. “What sort of favor?”

“I’m dying,” she said, without any self-pity or melodrama. “I want to feel the grass, but there is no grass here. Would you take me to it?”

“You want to die on grass? Won’t that – kill you sooner? Dry you out?”

“I want to,” she insisted.

He shook his head. “You can’t be dying. You’re too young.”

“No,” she said. “I am old. Much older than I look. Does a fish look old before it dies?”

He opened his mouth as if to answer, but no answer came to him. Finally, he said, “I will carry you.”

Her heart leaped between her ribs as he came closer. She dragged herself half out of the water, and Ivan put an arm around her shoulder and one underneath her tail. He grunted as he lifted her – she was heavier than he supposed – and staggered out of the water. His footsteps sank deep into the sand, and the journey back up the cliff-steps was twice as difficult with his burden, but he was compelled by her shallow breathing and small, gasping breaths to hurry.

They reached the top of the cliffs, where the thick salt-grasses grew like a sea of silver and green. The wind brushed through them, rustling the stalks into music. “We’re here,” he said.

“Put me down,” she managed to rasp. She could feel herself withering away from the inside, but her mind was too alive, her lungs too full of the smell of grass, of the warm, dry wind along her skin.

He lowered her gently to the ground. It felt sacrilegious, somehow, to place something so frail and beautiful on the common dirt – but the smile that blossomed on the rusalka’s face only made her more beautiful, more perfect.

She placed her small, scaled palm across his scabbed, weathered knuckles. “Whatever you do,” she said faintly, her voice hardly more than a distant call, “please remain this lovely.”

He had no response to that. He only nodded, searching for something to say to her.

There was a crackling sound, like paper set alight by a match, and the rusalka’s body stiffened. The color leeched away, into the dirt; and the next gust scattered her remains like ashes in the wind. Ivan sat back in thoughtful silence and watched, as the remains of the rusalka blew away, toward the ocean, and toward the sunset.

On Your Left

I have to say this: you guys are incredible, and your response to The Ghost in the Machine was borderline phenomenal. I got several responses asking for a follow-up post, so I could cover all the extra little bases I left out in the first. Finally,  I caved – I think it was a result of listening to Bastille’s Bad Blood and David Guetta’s Titanium too many times in a row.

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1. We watched Captain America: The First Avenger again about a week ago, and naturally I was watching Bucky very closely; this being the first time I’d seen it since watching The Winter Soldier. Pushing all the feels aside and watching it from a more analytical point of view, I was – like I always am – amazed at the way Marvel writers weave things together. Things like –

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2. Here’s another interesting thing. I mentioned Bucky muttering his serial number when Steve rescues him from headquarters, but there’s a catch. Bucky’s serial number was 32557. Technically, since he was from New York, if he had enlisted, his serial number should have been 12557. The number 32 was assigned to someone who was drafted. Bucky tells Steve that he enlisted, that he was shipping out with the 107th, and this tells us a lot about his character. Here we have someone enjoying the best years of his life, perfectly content to flirt with girls and dig Steve out of trouble time and time again, but reluctant to go to war. Yet he’s seen his best friend try and enlist – and get rejected – half a dozen times, and he can’t bring himself to tell him. Bucky is afraid of war, and he’s even more afraid that Steve will think badly of him.

But Bucky isn’t afraid of fighting – this is made evident by all the times he gets into fights to save Steve. So the only plausible explanation is that he’s afraid of the fact he likes it. Someone once said ‘we become what we fear,’ and in Bucky’s case, this was all too true, in the long run. Icarus flew too high and was forced to watch his feathers burn, turning him into a (figurative, then literal) war machine.

HYDRA turned him into a weapon, trapped him inside his own body, and unraveled his mind – but they forgot about his heart.

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3. After Steve rescued Bucky from Austria, we can painfully see that, for Bucky, the world he knew has ended – in more ways than one. He’s not the same person, but worse – neither is Steve. For all those years, since they were scrappy teenagers, Steve was Bucky’s anchor.  Now that Steve is Steve 2.0, bigger and better, Bucky’s purpose in life – watch Steve’s back – is gone. This was amplified when he became the Winter Soldier, as HYDRA gave him a purpose. His need for someone to protect was turned on its head, which factored into making him the perfect soldier.

“The way Bucky was written in the earlier comic books is very different than how we decided to go with in the movie. One thing that particularly really drew me to, what I was able to find out about Bucky, as a character, is that he ended up doing the dirty work I think that added a very interesting dynamic between his relationship with Steve Rogers. Captain America was always kinda like the symbol and the guy that kind of walked away with the spotlight. And Bucky was trained to do sort of the stuff around the edges. And I really liked that because I thought it added a different edge to him.” – Sebastian Stan

4. The Winter Soldier was credited with twenty-five missions over the course of seventy-three years, but he already knew how to fight when he went under HYDRA’s knife. Steve knew how to fight before he became Captain America – he just didn’t have the physical ability to fight and win. The fight scenes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier really stuck out to me because they both have very different fighting styles – Steve uses three different styles in the movie while Bucky plows through things with complete disregard for personal safety – and yet. And yet. There were several moments where they were so evenly matched that they were almost mirroring each other; like they were inside each other’s heads. They know what the other person is going to do before they do it.

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Why? Because Bucky is the one who, so long ago, taught Steve how to defend himself. When it comes to blows between them, the fancy fighting stiles fly out the window and they revert to basic, Brooklyn brawling – fists up, use your strength, anticipate. Things Bucky would have taught Steve, back when they were boys.

(NOTE: This is more of a conspiracy theory then anything else, BUT. The Winter Soldier’s arm comes in contact with the shield pretty often. He catches it, blocks it when it’s thrown, and even punches it – without any kind of blowback. Back when he gave the shield to Steve, Howard Stark said it was ‘completely shock absorbent’ – also, the only vibranium in the world. I can’t help but wonder whether HYDRA found some more to make Bucky’s arm with…because really, it’s the only thing that makes sense.)

5. And one last thing, that struck me so hard I had to make a graphic for it.

onyourleft

The opening and closing lines of Captain America: The Winter Soldier are three words – “On your left.” Look who’s always on Steve’s left in The First Avenger. Bucky Barnes.

On your left, Steve. Always on your left.