2017-02-01 06:13 pm
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February 1, 2017

She stared down at the three card spread before her, and for the first time since she had chosen to toy with tarot, she felt something resonate within her very blood at the answer she was receiving. Her question had been asked with wholehearted honesty, and the cards had returned an honest answer she could not ignore.

'How will the relationship between myself and Gavin progress from here?'

The cards had told her the truth.

Strength. The Tower. The Hierophant.

She did not even need to reach for her book to feel the meanings in her heart.

Strength meant moderation in attitudes toward pain and danger, with neither being avoided at all costs, nor actively wanted. To her, it represented facing pain and finding that through it, there was still a core of stability that could be found.

The Tower represented sudden, disruptive and potentially destructive change. She knew this had already occured, even without hearing the confirmation from his lips. It was sudden, it was disruptive, and it had certainly and would certainly continue to destroy a sacred part of her.

But the Hierophant represented wisdom. He was the bridge between the world of the mundane and that of the divine, and this gave her hope that, through all the anguish she was feeling and would feel, perhaps there would be wisdom gained and a new bridge between them reforged.

How had three little cards known just what to tell her to ease the maelstrum inside? Had she subconsciously chosen the cards, despite not knowing where in the deck they would turn up? How was it that the reassurance that had meant the most, that had cut through her agony like a knife through butter, that had thrown her a rope she found she could cling to with trust had not even come from another living being?

Deciding not to look this gift horse in the mouth, Rai bowed her head, closing her eyes as she gathered up the cards and kissed the face of each.

"Thank you," she whispered.

And she meant it from the depths of her very soul.
2017-01-29 12:31 pm
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January 28, 2016

It was funny, Rai admitted to herself as she stirred the contents of the pot, gazing listlessly through the tiny, grime-encrusted window over the stove. It was funny how one lunch break could turn into an encounter that would completely alter not only the rest of her day, but a small part of her life as well. Funny, she could admit, in a way that was not in the least bit amusing.

She had been heading out of the club on her lunch break, her mind turning toward enjoying a sandwich on the beach when she had heard it. The sounds of a scuffle. A thud, and above the sound of a car peeling away, a wail so despairing, she was shocked it had come from a human being at all.

It was the wail that had called to her, however. At the sounds of the scuffle, she had been prepared to leave it alone, not to get involved. But when the cry pierced the afternoon air, she found her footsteps carrying her down the club hallway, past the climbing wall and out toward the back alley. All the while her mind was screaming at her to mind her business, but something within her breaking heart had resonated with so much mirrored anguish at the sound that she could not help but be drawn by it.

It was there in the alley where she had found him, the young man she had dubbed charin. He had been crumpled in a heap on the filthy ground, beaten, malnourished and pleading for a mistress who had discarded him like a bag of last night's rubbish. The realization of his abandonment, so similar to her own, had only cemented her need to help him.

It had taken hours for her to glean any useful information from him, and longer still for her to drive him to Boston where they had spent a better part of the evening in search of the one he called his Lady.

Her mind returned to the present as she gazed down into the pot, the fingers of her free hand flicking over the stove's dial, turning off the heat.

He was asleep in the bedroom of her Boston home now. His Lady had, in no uncertain terms, admitted she had discarded him to die. Her cruelty had shocked Rai straight to her core. She had utterly shattered Charin, and Rai wasn't certain she had the knowledge or emotional strength to begin the lengthy process of sorting through those pieces in order to glue them back into something that, she knew, would never again be truly whole.

Shaking her head, she crossed the few steps to the pantry, drawing down a cereal bowl and carrying it to the counter. The cream of wheat was sweet, laden with fruit and sugar; he needed both nutrients and fat. The lad was probably nearly as light as she was despite being twice her size. A glass of orange juice joined the tray she was preparing, napkins and cutlery following. Hoisting it upon one arm, she made her careful way to the bedroom door, tapping it with her fingertips.

Rai found she was not all that surprised when she entered the room to find charin awake, staring listlessly at the ceiling.

"I brought you breakfast," she said, keeping her voice soft. "You must eat."

She knew he would not obey her without the command; it was the only way he did anything. And so she was once more not surprised when he slowly pushed himself into a seated position and allowed her to slide the tray onto his lap.

As he ate, Asrai found her eyes flicking toward the opposite wall of the windowless room, sinking back into her own thoughts. The only one that continued to recur was one born of simplicity and concern.

How could one shattered soul ever heal another?
2017-01-27 02:09 pm
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An Uploaded Image

(Against a backdrop of neutral beige, the head and upper torso of a chestnut-haired female has been captured in a crisp, landscape mobile phone photo. Lying on her side upon what appears to be a leather sofa, she has propped her head on one hand. The loose mane of her hair tumbles in silky whorls over her right shoulder, pooling in thick-spun ringlets on the cushion beside her elbow. Several wayward locks have fallen against the opposite cheek, coiling over her bare left shoulder and disappearing beyond the bottom of the frame. Her expression, as she gazes directly into the camera, is schooled into a knowing one. A small half smile lingers at the corners of her full mouth, and one almond-shaped, ocean-blue eye has half closed in a wink which suggests she knows something the viewer does not. The lighting in her surroundings casts a warm flush upon creamy skin, contrasting starkly against the black halter top in which she is clad.)
2017-01-27 07:37 am
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January 27, 2017

She could feel her palms beginning to sweat as the floor of the gym grew further and further away from her. Her legs trembled and her stomach began to roll unpleasantly. Her hands slid precariously against the textured surface of the wall, and the footholds she had wedged her toes into suddenly felt far too shallow. Her body was trying desperately to lock up in terror, heedless of the harness about her waist or the rope attached to it that could bear over 2,000 pounds before snapping. Logically, she knew she was perfectly safe. But since when did fear ever obey logic?

One shaking hand lifted toward the next handhold, forcing her to stretch, rising onto her toes in order to grasp it. She was well under five feet and she expected this course, even at the beginner level, had not been built for those of childlike heights. Slotting her fingertips into the narrow crevice, she eased her left foot from its hold, slamming her eyes shut as she sought the next; she dared not glance down to seek it.

Asrai knew this routine well; she had been undergoing it for close to two weeks now. Her fear of heights was a weakness she could not abide, not when she had so many others to contend with. She was determined to push herself past her terror, even if it meant getting onto the wall every day.

Every day she did.

And every day she froze.

Haidyn Ammerson was the trainer who knew exactly what his task would be about fifteen minutes after Rai got onto the wall. She knew she should be embarrassed when he donned a harness the moment he saw her, but she could only feel grateful for his stalwart belief that the day would come when she would no longer need him to carry her shaking form to the ground when her fear overcame her resolve.

Today was not going to be that day. She knew it as she felt the room around her begin to spin. Her chest felt tight and black spots danced before her eyes as if someone had filled the air around her with tiny specks of ink.

She did not see Haidyn's approach, never heard him on the wall below her, but in the space of one moment and the next, his strong arms had slid about her waist, applying a gentle pressure that had her falling from the wall back against the hard, sculpted planes of his chest. Nausea roiled in the back of her throat as one of his hands rose to the rope above her head; she could feel his muscles flexing and rolling as he repelled them both back down the wall at a steady clip that never ceased to summon her gorge to the fore.

"Breathe, Rai."

The murmur near her ear was quiet and concerned, and she obeyed the command without thinking. The invisible bands around her chest loosened as she drew in a gasping breath, her entire body shuddering against Haidyn in the aftermath of a primal terror. It was not quite as severe as her fear of all things canine, but it was a very close second.

She knew it could not have been more than thirty seconds before Haidyn was placing her feet on solid ground, but it felt like an eternity. Allowing her knees to buckle beneath her, she felt the trainer's hand guiding her gently to the floor, crouching before her and leaning in to divest her of her harness. Her mind felt sluggish and her ears were filled with a high-pitched ringing that rendered all spoken words muffled and distorted.

This had been the worst attack yet. She couldn't understand it. Why now, nearly two weeks into her self-imposed sentence?

Was that truly what it was? A sentence? A preemptive punishment for a wrong she subconsciously knew she would perform? Was this wall nothing more than a whip with tongs of terror rather than leather that she was using to lash herself with from nothing short of inner loathing?

She could feel the wail rising in her chest, applying physical pressure as she fought with all her strength to give it no voice. Not here, where Haidyn would see her crumble. Not here, where she could not even explain where this abstract loss was coming from. Not here, where she could not explain that her anguish had no anchor, that it just was, like the moon and the stars and the sky just were. She had failed in some fundamental way, and the fragile globe of something precious she had painstakingly built with His help was on the verge of shattering. It was only a matter of time before it would be obliterated, and her heart with it.

But she could give voice to none of that, and so she reached for the less empathetic aspects of her personality, cloaked her heart in calming blue, cold as ice and just as solid. She erected this wall between her mind and her emotions, breathing a small sigh of relief as the anguish was shocked into a state of numbness. If only for the moment.

"I'm all right," she breathed, more for Haidyn's benefit than her own.

"Mmm," the trainer replied, sliding the harness from about her waist with the metallic clink of buckles and carabiners. "Maybe one day, Rai, but not today."

She didn't have the energy to contradict Haidyn's accurate observation. She knew she was not all right. Her legs felt like pudding and she still felt as if she had stepped onto a merry-go-round that simply refused to stop.

"Thank you," was all she said.

"You're welcome," Haidyn replied, his smooth baritone washing over her like a Caribbean breeze filled with warmth.

If only she weren't so cold, it may have actually touched her.