January 21st, 2015

It was dark and dusky, as I hid between the old bureaus and bed frames, wooden and covered in dust.  The light streamed weakly in through the lace curtains, swaying in the faint breeze.  Tattered with age.

They were coming for me.  I was among the few remaining inhabitants, and a threat to their system.  I was an anomaly and outsider, and it set a sour taste upon their tongues- the knowledge of my existence. I knew I had little time, so my mind danced and raced over all that I knew.  All I could do.  What should I keep? Should I even bother wasting my time mulling over objects, or simply run with my life?  No, they feared me with reason, did they not? I crept over the rickety floorboards, attempting to make as little sound as I could, towards the little glass jar I had always kept near.  It rested low on a shelf in the corner of the room, the thick glass coated with a beautifully cut tin filigree pattern, and an intricate lid tightly fixed atop of it.  The glass was milky and old, with a coppered hue from the aged metal around it.  But you could still see the yellow faintly through to the inside.  That beautiful flutter of golden sun. If anything was worth keeping; worth risking what little time I had left before they arrived, it was this.

 

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June 9th – my morning coffee

Image

So this morning I was up promptly at 5:30am, despite the fact that I had only gone to bed (false: after a few minutes of attempting to sleep in this heat I was up with my camera again) at 1:30..
It’s now closing in on three o’clock and I’m still up working! I’m guessing that means the instant coffee I made this morning may have actually had some effect on me.  It was actually really good, despite having been made in an old microwave.

 

 

coffee jar close

My morning coffee while in Italy is always a bit.. unique. For the past six weeks I’ve been using an emptied jam jar for pretty much everything.  It took me a while, but I found instant coffee that is 100% Arabica beans- I hadn’t known it before coming here, but Italians don’t just use coffee beans in their coffee. They have caffe orzo- a mix of coffee beans and a grain. I forget which one orzo is (pretty sure it’s wheat), but it contains gluten so I always remember to steer clear.  I’m at the very end of a bottle of mixed coconut and rice milk, that I water down and heat up in my jam jar.
I’m actually really impressed by this instant coffee- it makes a pretty satisfactory cup o’ joe.

Since I was already up and had my camera out from shooting at ridiculous hours, I decided to take a photo of this particular morning’s concoction, and ended up extremely happy that I did so.  I even pulled out my tripod while my roommates went down to breakfast and took a few photographs of myself too.

Being the person behind the camera, I don’t generally end up with nice photos of myself.. so sometimes I indulge in a private and inherently embarrassing venture of “self-portraits” (I use quotes because technically, that’s what they are, but I really don’t see them that way).

Forgive me, yet again, as I haven’t the time to really write much- especially since I need to convert any images I plan to use to a smaller file type since I perpetually shoot in RAW.
But I leave Italy in three days! So while I may be crying, I guess the positive side is that I’ll have the time (to find a big girl job..) and the internet to resume writing and working with images, and therefore providing some form of entertainment for what sparse few come across Dusk Dawning.

Wish me luck as I power through my last ever undergraduate finals!

sub/consciousness

So this being my last semester on campus (at least as an undergrad, who knows), I’m taking quite a number of classes, finishing up my credits to graduate.
I had two extra credits to fill (since this school likes to be ridiculous and take as much of the money I don’t have as it possibly can, and therefore wouldn’t let me transfer in a couple of courses) so I’m doing a directed study, as they call it, with an awesome professor.
It’s a project-based DS, because I want to make something tangible of my work.  Something that I’d actually be willing to spend my time, energy, and (lack of- ha!) funds on.  Something I won’t regret afterwards, and perhaps will even LIKE.

This is something I’d been thinking of and working on for a while.
It’s a book.
But not one long narrative, as I have always played around with (and have yet to pass the 36-microsoft-word-page threshold on)- it’s a compilation of shorter pieces, paired with my own photography.
I’d decided to use my dreams as narratives for this work, since I have so many dreams and enjoy writing them down.  The thing is, a lot of my dreams are difficult to put into words, and so I fear I may not have enough of these stories that are purely from my sleeping mind.
This has driven me, as of late, to think about the validity of including other works into this book.
All of my short stories are from my wandering mind, usually rooted in a dream or seven I’d experienced recent to their being written.  I’ve never been one to simply sit and plot and plan out characters and situations- they’re generally ideas that emerge from the back of my mind, that come waltzing into my consciousness at their own leisure.

Does this, then, entitle them a place in my book of dreams?

No, seriously- tell me.

exchange of hearts

written after seeing a Reddit prompt:
When two people get married, their hearts are surgically exchanged.  You just filed for divorce.

It was all I could do to stay on my feet, gaping at my husband. This was ludicrous- how could he do this to me? I had never fathomed the man I had married could be so.. well, heartless.

Only six years ago we had exchanged our vows and our hearts. Literally. It is believed that love is only true if you are willing to entrust your heart to your partner; your other half.
It’s not that we’d been unhappy.. Simply disconnected. For the past few months it had become difficult to keep up a conversation with one another. Frightened, I had finally broken down into a puddle at my husband’s cold side. I asked him what had happened, and what I could do to improve our situation. He simply explained to me that he had been thinking.
Tom had pointed out to me that we had fallen into a neutral stalemate. We weren’t warring, but had somehow lost what held us together. Looking back, I came to agree, but I was scared. Would it be easier to continue living life, two people physically together but in all other ways alone? Or would it be our best hope to risk the break?

To divorce meant to unbind ourselves from our wedding vows.
To unbind ourselves from each others’ hearts.

Another surgery of that magnitude was utterly terrifying. That kind of thing was meant to be experienced just once in life.
Then again, I had always done well under anesthesia.
Then again, Tom and I were barely thirty years old.
We were pretty healthy people.
We could do this.
But it had to be soon.
Aging and organ transplants have not exactly been known to get along all that well.

Tom had held my hand as we met with our attorney, amicably signing papers and rationing out our worldly goods.
Tom had held my hand, assuring me that everything would be okay, right up until I had already fallen asleep on my gurney.

And now Tom was sitting in front of me, his elbows resting on his knees, as I bring my parcel into the house for the last time, still wearing my hospital band.

He tells me that he had been a bit less cautious with his health than he had ever let on.
He tells me that seven months ago he was diagnosed with a malfunctioning heart.

And he smiles at me, as he tells me this fatigue is only going to worsen.
Quickly.
And he smiles at me, as the first tear slips silently down my face.

Blue

Kerlir was my home; a hanging valley nestled between two large landforms of the Spinlocke Mountains.
Set on the edge of a ridge, our valley home had an incredible view. It widened into a plain of sorts, spilling over the edge of a cliff that dropped too far to scale or measure.

Thick, dark forests formed a curtain at the valley’s back.  To our sides, like blinders on carriage-bearing horses, rose our rocky guardians.  The two mountains had become something like gods to the people in my village; protecting us from the harsh northern winds of winter, the relentless burning of the summer sun.  Strong and tall, they watched over us, year after year.

I had thought of them more as demons, as I grew into a more- spirited– young woman.  They stood there, cold and distant, refusing to let me see the world outside of our valley, apart from the birds-eye view we gain at the cliff-edge.  Their sides were a slick, dark rock- Steep and impenetrable.

Our elders always warned against wandering into the forests.  The blackness emanating from their depths kept most out with no need for warning.  Only the men, armed with their axes and tools, would freely enter- and return.

A mighty river split the valley, flowing through the village, over the cliff-edge at its front.  During the winter it ceased flowing- it’s source cut-off; frozen, from a highland beyond the forest.
For this reason, winter’s end was always a time of incredible tension.  Our water supply would be reaching it’s end, and the water’s source would begin melting. While knowing this would allow our river to again flow into the valley, all were wary of… how.   The water’s return was unpredictable, sometimes trickling slowly after an especially cold year, while others, steadily gaining volume and back to the norm within a month.  Neither of these scenarios were our fears, though.
What we feared was the great flood; the onslaught of water after a large break in some far-off ice formation.  It had happened last when I was a small child, no higher than my father’s hip.  The water’s roar, the harsh snapping of thick tree trunks, the sudden surge of icy water.
That was what we feared.
That was why we remunerated.

The vernal equinox marked the coming of the waters.
Each year we had a festival, lasting for three days leading up until the equinox.
The first day was in honor of the Northern Mountain, guard against the winter winds.
The second, the Southern Mountain, guard against the summer heat.
The final day was of highest importance, honoring the river itself.  Attempting to sway its actions in our favor.

Every seventy-two years the festival was considered “most sacred”.   During the festivals of these years, attendance was strictly enforced, our garments the deepest blues, our adornments the finest jewels.  Children were harshly warned about insubordinate behavior and the consequences evoked, should they choose that way of being.
A temple would be raised at the height of the valley- where the dried riverbed meets the precipice, and the ending ceremony would be held at dusk on the third day.
A select group of elders ran the ceremony, leading the villagers in prayer to the river, citing poems of it’s greatness, and performing other slow, ritualistic motions in honor of the deity believed to be within.
These elders chanted and moved until the sun had dipped completely out of view from our valley’s tall perch- at which time they would begin the final, sacred, ending ceremony.

It was my twenty-second year upon this earth, when I encountered the most sacred of festivals.
I had been with my friends, eating freshly made street foods and watching the ceremonial dances that night, at the end of the third day.  It was such fun- my elderly neighbors had told me to commit every bit of this festival to memory, as most lived only to see one within their lifetime.
The sun was just beginning it’s descent in the sky as I separated from my friends to fetch some water for one of the elders- Making my way through the orchards, when the edges of my vision blackened, and everything went out of focus.  The blackness began to expand, and bright spots exploded behind my eyelids.

There was a sharp pain in my side, which spread like fire.  My eyes snapped open and my lungs expanded in what should have been an audible gasp.
But my mouth was covered and my eyes saw only darkness.
I willed my hands to uncover my face, only to find them bound.  The movement made me wince in pain, not that it was visible.
My eyes stung with tears, and my inhibited breathing was hard and ragged.  Someone was holding be tightly, a hand firmly grasping around my waist.
I focused on slowing my breathing, to tune into the sounds around me.
Chanting.
Louder than I had ever heard an elder chant.
Closer.

Suddenly the chant grew fierce, a harsh sentence in a language I did not understand.
And then suddenly a hood was lifted over my head, and I could see.
It was pitch dark with the exception of the torches, but I could tell where I was.

I was in the temple.
At the edge of the cliff.
I was in front of the villagers, standing together in blue robes; their dark faces staring out from under hoods of their own.
Although sure these were my people, they were unrecognizable to me.
Their glares were menacing.
They were shrouded figures.
In this moment, they were forms I did not know.

I strained my neck towards my captor, a large man in an especially ornate robe.  All I could see of his face was his mouth, set in a hard line.  The muscles of his jaw were flexed, as if he were clenching his teeth.
Now another man stepped forward from beside him, his hood hovering far, shrouding his entire face in darkness.  He carried with him a sapphire encrusted scythe.
He came to stand about three feet in front of me, slightly ajar so as to allow the audience to see me still.  He began to murmor, words I cared not to listen to.  My mind was already reeling, trying to comprehend the situation.
But then I heard the word “sacrifice”.
And my back broke out in a cold sweat.
He raised the scythe, poised to swing, when I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye.
One of the robed figures disbanded from the line that stood beneath the temple, rushing in my direction.
The man with the scythe swung around, catching the figure with the edge of his blade.
The figure had barely dodged in time, allowing for only his hood to be caught in the weapon’s path.  It ripped and fell aside, revealing a dark-haired man in a mask.  He acted quickly, weaving around the armed man before he could prepare a second strike, and hurdling straight into me, forcing us both over the cliff.

In the impact his mask was shifted to the side, revealing a sliver of his handsome face.
A sense of relief flowed over me, as I watched the corner of his mouth slip up into a smile, and his dark eyes caught a bit of light from the moon as we fell.
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I, The Rabbit

During the last semester at school I ran out of pages in my journal.  Instead of going out and finding a new one, I started a private blog with wordpress, that only I can see.  An online-diary of sorts.
I hate to be one of those youths that thinks (imagine me saying this in a dull, mopey & monotonous voice), “I write poetry, I’m so artsy” but it’s true- sometimes I do write poems, or lyrics to songs without a tune.

And a couple of them have ended up on my little private blog.

It’s kind of weird to think about it, I don’t just sit down and think “okay, time to write a poem” and plan it all out.  If I write one it’s just because it popped into my head.  Wedged it’s way into my conscious mind and refused to leave me alone until I put pen to paper.

So here is one of those poems, written quite recently on December 20th, 2012.

I, The Rabbit

Out from nowhere
fate would have it.
You a hawk
and I, the rabbit.
Swooping down, a friend or foe?
Even now I do not know.
Dare the rabbit pose the question,
‘of us, what is your impression’?
Fear, it killed the rabbit’s voice-
Stuck, the prey must make a choice.
Dare it chance to lose your favor,
with the hope of something greater?

 

 

Kristen LaMier

cement city

I was in Boston, but not Boston as we know it.  I was in an apartment that my boyfriend Adam was living in.  He had moved into it after starting his new job; it was his “work buddy”’s apartment.  I had come to the building to see it for the first time.  It was dark, and there were random odds and ends everywhere- undoubtedly his room-mate’s.  And then I met her.  A pretty, skinny blonde.   She introduced herself but I forgot the name- I was mortified.  I had been trying to get Adam to get an apartment with me for years, and now he’s living with some other girl? What the hell? I was so mad.  He was oblivious like an idiot, and didn’t even seem to understand the scowl on my face when we were alone in one of the apartment’s dim rooms.

“What?” he asked, which just made me all the more mad.

“You’re living with another girl?” My gosh. Furious.

“What? She has a boyfriend.” This is just too much.

“I don’t care if she has a boyfriend! You’re living with another woman! What the hell Adam? “ I took a deep breath to try and calm myself.  It didn’t work, “I’ve been trying to get you to move into an apartment with me for years.  You won’t live with me but you’ll live with her?!”

“What? It’s a big space- her boyfriend stays over all the time, depending on what hospital he’ll be working out of”.   Apparently her boyfriend was a doctor, moving between Tufts and Mass General.  He had his own place but stayed over frequently.  He stayed in his girlfriend’s room though, leaving one free of an occupant.

“What if I live here?  She has a spare room, and I can pay rent” I offered… Somewhat defiantly.  Arms crossed.

Speak of the devil, “Mmm. no” she said, passing through the room, a “sweet” little smile on her annoyingly pretty mug, “I like having an extra room for my stuff”.  That’s loosely translated to squirm, bitch, squirm.

Her boyfriend came out of the spare room and introduced himself to me. Mark, he said was his name.  He was a pleasant, tall man with grey eyes and light blonde hair that moved as he shook his head.  So for right now he’s the only person in this place that I’m not angry with.  He politely finished his chat with me and headed to the bathroom to shower before rounds.

“I’m taking a walk” I stated, walking stiffly to the door, closing it a little harder than necessary once I was in the hall.  All around me was concrete.  The hall was cramped and cold, clammy even.  There were spiral stairwells made only of metal rods winding to the other floors.  I followed a man that looked around my age down the small stairwell at the end of the hall (only about 10 feet from the door I just came out of.  I wasn’t kidding about it being cramped).  I followed the spiral down seven floors to the building’s exit.  The last of the steps opening up into a wide tunnel, also cement, but circular- as if I had just walked into a giant drainage pipe.  Which I probably had.  The city had come to “recycle” these sorts of things during construction.  The result was pretty dingy in my opinion.  It made me feel like a street rat, all this living in cement blocks and walking through pipes and tunnels.

The tunnel stretched out to either side of me.  Left or right, I had forgotten from which way I had come.  I decided on left, and passed a small convenience store built into the wall on my left.  It didn’t look like a very welcoming place, so I kept walking.  On my right stood two older men, one African-American with a graying beard, and a white man with a navy beanie on his head.  They leaned against the far wall.  The bearded man had a cigar between his teeth, and they both eyed me wearily for a couple of seconds before returning to their slow conversation.  Their presence didn’t exactly comfort me either, so I continued a bit more hurriedly down the tunnel.

Ahead on my left was an old basketball court, cut out of the left of the tunnel.  It was still completely closed off to the outside world, as if a cement box had been fused to the side of the tunnel, and the portion of wall between the two had been cut out.  A group of young men paused their game to watch as I walked by.  The boy with the ball had his hoodie pulled up over his head, keeping the ball bouncing slowly as the group’s attention focused elsewhere.

I fought the urge to speed up, looking straight ahead and trying my hardest not to look like I was nervous walking past.  Just ahead was a pair of deep green doors, the only windows being small, barred, and higher than I could reach.  I passed through them, after a decent amount of effort to get them open.  They weren’t just large, they were thick too.  But just after entering I recognized it for what it was: a high school building.  So I slowly turned around and forced open those big old doors again.  This time, on my way back, I did hurry.  I didn’t care so much about what those men all thought as I passed them.  I was passing them again anyways, so they’d know I’d gotten myself lost taking a wrong turn somewhere.

When I got back to the stairwell I headed back up.  I was still angry and now embarrassed and a bit frightened, so I decided it best for me to just go somewhere I know…Not to mention that it had been planned (before I knew of this girl situation)  for me to stay the night.

When I got back I walked straight to the spare room without saying a word to anyone.  My backpack was leaning up against the yellow couch, and I curled up and pulled the flannel blanket over me.  And stared, straight ahead.  I didn’t want to talk.  I didn’t want to look at anyone in this place.  I wanted to be alone, and I wanted to calm down.

And that girl was seriously annoying.  The only real things in this room was the couch and a television..  Which she had out in the living room as well.  Why not add these to her room?  Or move them out somewhere?  Other than that the only things in the room were junk and clothes, scattered about, but not so many that they warranted their own space.

Mark came and sat on the edge of the couch, resting his hand on my blanketed leg.  Seriously, why is this guy being so friendly with me?  Does he not notice that I hate his girlfriend?  But whatever.  If Adam can live with another woman, I can be close on the couch with another man.  “ I’m sorry about this,” he said.  That surprised me a bit, “Hanna can be pretty cruel sometimes, but your boyfriend won’t cheat on you”.

I was still mad.  “There’s still no reason for him to be living here.  Especially when he would never get an apartment with me.  Saying that he wants to save money,” I said, still facing the television, not that I was watching it.  Mark was rubbing my leg now, trying to comfort me.  Is this what it’s like to have an older brother?  I mean, usually, you’d think this picture would have some kind of sexual tension- beautiful blonde man comforting the small-statured eternally “cute” girl on the couch in a dim apartment.  But it didn’t- so perhaps it was more familial?

He leaned towards me, hovering, as if to make sure that I pay attention to his following words, “Sometimes we just aren’t aware of the reasons” he said, holding my gaze.  I didn’t want to hear it.  What reasons could he possibly have? And why wouldn’t he have given them to me when I asked?  Instead of saying that it was a big space.  What the heck.

drafted

This was the dream that I had last night.

The time was now (I was still a 20 year old college student), but our country was in a heightened state of war.  The draft was being used again, and I was drafted.  We were in such a war that it became necessary to even draft women, although still in fewer numbers than the men.

My family was really upset when I was drafted, and it didn’t really hit me until I had landed in my first battle.  My sisters tried to take my place, but the government’s choice was final, and there was nothing they could do.  My family had always been protective of me, because I am small and meek.
I do not quite remember my first battle; only that it was awful, and truly disheartening.  While our country seems to always win its wars, this one was taking out our soldiers with a fervor rarely witnessed by men.   When my platoon was loaded up into our train, I took out one of the photographs I kept in my pack.  This one of Witchaya and I before he had left for his study abroad in the summer to Japan.  I wished that I could call him and tell him everything, and assure him that I was safe for another day.  But these thoughts were overshadowed by doubt- the doubt that I would live through another battle.  The general expectancy from the time you land is two weeks.  Two weeks before you die and another is drafted to take your place.
I couldn’t even contact him if I tried- it was forbidden.  Our rails were hidden so that the enemy could not predict our movement.  Everything was on a need-to-know basis, and cellular phones would interfere with the cloaking devices if used within their range.  The enemy was always on the lookout for us, and any signal from electronics not rationed by the military would be traced.
My friend, Kaden Mylle, from training came over to sit with me as we moved to our next undisclosed location.  I tried to look out the window, but they were tinted so dark that the only thing you could detect was motion.  We were not to know where we were.  He sat with me most of the time, even though the other men missed his company.  He was my age, but unlike me, he looked it.  He was tall and broad-shouldered, with brown eyes and light brown hair.  Like the other men, he had stubble shadowing his face.  He pulled out a picture of his own, of a girl back home that he’d been going to school with.  Arielle Woodrich.  He’d had a crush on her since freshman year, but had never gotten up the courage to say it.

We sat there, both looking at our loved ones’ faces.  We had long ago (about two months- in our situation, that was a long time to know someone) told each other our stories.  We were lucky to have been grouped together after training- it was our only source of comfort.  Of normalcy.  We were war-siblings.  Every time we loaded up, we sought out each other, a wave of relief washing over us as we realized that we were not among those who were missing from our ranks.

We landed in a small city.  If you asked me where, I would not be able to tell you.  It was dusty and just about deserted, which was not exactly rare these days.  The war had caused evacuations all over the world.
Our latest barracks were in a square building, four stories high.  It looked vacant from outside, which was good for us.  Even though we had come in the middle of the night, we were still wary of being seen.  As military operatives, we were never out of danger.  We were always being hunted.

Although from the outside the building looked run down, caked with mud on the lower levels and spattered with dust, the inside was completely white.  The walls were cement, painted with a thick white paint, and the floors were a shiny white linoleum.  There were no windows leading to the outside.  The walls were doubled, so within the walls you see from the outside, silent with windows like dead eyes, were the walls we saw as we walked to our rooms.

I bunked with the Chinese girl, Lao, who usually sits in front of us on the train.  I did not know her first name.  She was quiet, which suited me just fine.  I did not need to talk.

I stripped off my jacket and boots, leaving me in my undershirt and pants.  I put my boots under the bed and rested the jacket over the rail at the foot of it.  As I lay down on my bed, with my pack between my body and the wall, I heard Kaden laughing in the next room over.  Somehow the guys always seemed to find ways to entertain themselves.  Laughing as if they were not in their current situation.  He came in to check on me, which I appreciated.  He had his towel slung over his shoulder.  I hopped off my bed and grabbed my own towel from the small table at the end of the room, between Lao’s bed and my own.  He waited for me at the door as I took off my socks, placing them with my jacket.
We’d gotten in the habit of sticking together.  It wasn’t uncommon- many soldiers paired up.  It was kind of like when we were six and we used the buddy system to swim in the lake.
We walked through the corridors, Kaden slightly leading, until we ended up in the shower room on our floor.  I’d gotten over the whole shock of seeing naked men back in training.  The room was large, with both public and semi-private showers, and men were filtering in and out.  Kaden lead me over to the last stall-shower along the wall, which was gladly left open.  The men were always considerate enough to leave at least a couple open for the women to use.
I stepped into the stall and Kaden stepped forward just to the side of it, where one of the big public showers began.  It was just the same as the row of cubicle-style showers, just without the walls between them or the curtain behind.  I pulled the curtain shut behind me and stripped down, wrapping myself in my towel so I could bring my clothes out to a bench just outside the stall.  I folded my clothes and placed them next to Kaden’s.  When I returned to my stall I took off my towel and hung it over the sidewall, where Kaden had hung his as well.
Kaden and I talk as we shower, although my voice has to be raised closer to a yell, since I’m shorter than most and my head doesn’t reach up over the wall.  The showerhead beats down over the top of me, so my voice tends to get drowned out.  Another soldier, Davis, gets in next to Kaden and we both say hi.  He knows who I am without seeing me, and says “hey LaMier”.

After we shower we both head back to our rooms in our towels.  Lao is already in her v-neck and sleep shorts, and I close the door and change into the same.  I put my towel over my head and rub it for a bit.  That’s about all I ever do to my hair, since it had to be cut pretty short when I arrived for training a couple months ago.  Luckily, not as short as the men’s hair, we still have between one and two inches.  A little “pixie” cut, they called it.

We stay in these barracks for three days.  On the third night, the men are busy playing some videogame they found.  The room at the end of the hall, a few doors down from Lao and my room, is where the console is, with a ring of men around it.  They took a little while to figure out how to use it, and have since gotten pretty enthused about the game.  None of us speak the language it uses, so the constant foreign voice in the room adds to their amusement.
I had little interest in the game, so I really just wandered between my room and Kaden’s.  He said that he’s glad the game wasn’t in his room, because the constant milling about of players and onlookers had created a bit of a mess.  Not that we’d be here much longer.  We were never “safe” for long.

Early the next morning, as in 2am, a group of the guys decided to go out “recycling”, which is just a pretty way to say looting.
Not that anyone would miss anything- it was deserted.
It was a rule among us, though, that if you were going to sneak out, you do it in the middle of the night, and in numbers, just in case it’s not as deserted as you expected it to be.  You could never be too careful.

The boys were about two blocks away from the barracks, looking through an old convenience store.  Kaden, being popular, had been recruited for the night, and he in turn had brought me along.  I didn’t really mind it; I would be killed soon enough, so why not partake in a small venture?  I just wished that we were better armed.

We all had our small, personal guns, as we were to have them on our person at all times.  Kaden and another man, Thompson, had larger guns, which we usually couldn’t get ahold of while in the barracks.

I kept with Kaden and Davis, and we were the lesser adventurous of the group.  The others had fanned out and were looking for anything entertaining.  We stayed in a center aisle, slightly crouched, in the shadows, with a view of the windows.  Most of the men had moved outside of the shop into the streets and to other buildings nearby.  There were still a few of us in the store when I heard it.  The first shot being fired.

Thompson gave his whistle and men shuffled outside.  We were to check the perimeter and take out any targets.  Hopefully it was just a rogue or two, and not an ambush.

We left the store and got into an alley.  One of the men found his way over to us and informed us that it was just a single shooter.  Then he asked Kaden to take care of it.  He was good at staying hidden, and had incredible aim.  He used to hunt with his father in Texas.

Kaden left me with Davis and the messenger, saying that he’ll meet me back at the barracks.  A couple minutes later we were clear to move out onto the streets.  We came out cautiously, guns at the ready.  The shooter was still there, about 250 meters down the road, his gun on the ground.  I didn’t know what he was doing.

A couple of our men were closer, about fifty meters from him.

And then he began to unzip his dirty, green canvas jacket.

Davis yelled, Thompson fired, and the man hit the button.

I screamed for Kaden.  He had been sneaking in close.  He had been somewhere in the shadows trying to get a good shot.
And then the fire was catching on the buildings on both sides of the street, and the crates to the side of the road.  Two of the men that were closer were limping, shrapnel impairing their movements.
Davis pushed me up from my knees and grabbed my arm, almost dragging me back to the barracks.  I was shocked.
When we got back, everyone was awake.  We all grabbed our packs, put on our jackets and boots, and loaded up.  The train was outside without us needing to even say anything.  It was a frenzy, a panic- yet somehow, perversely routine.  It all seemed so fast, so numb, like someone else was moving my body for me.  In no time at all we were back on a train with black-tinted windows, sitting silently in our seats.

I sat facing the window, as I always did, hoping to see something.  Something to focus my mind on.  Something to take me away from my current situation.  I pulled out the photo of Witchaya and I that I kept in my pack.  Then I reached in my jacket pocket and took out the photo of Arielle that Kaden had always kept in his.  Davis had brought his pack with him on the train, and given me the picture and Kaden’s extra set of tags.

I still felt numb, just sitting there, staring out the window.  Then I heard an all too familiar thud in the seat next to me.  For some reason I got excited and turned around.
It was Lao.
“Hi” she said, somewhat shyly, with her hands clasped together in her lap, “I’m Lao, Katie Lao”.

I nodded, and after a few seconds successfully forced my name out of my mouth.

She paused, as if unsure of what to say, and then said “I’m sorry”, nodding towards the pictures I held in my hands.

Katie and I sat together on that train for hours, days.

Then it was as if we were coming out from inside of a tunnel, as the windows of the train began to lighten and become transparent.  We could see outside.  It wasn’t the best view; the corners of the windows had a charred look to them, like a vignette on a photograph.  Probably warped by whatever mechanism had been used to blacken them.

For so long I had wanted to see outside, watch the trees pass by as we moved along.  But I immediately took back the thought.  I didn’t want to see.  I didn’t want to see the fire, the ashes, the blackened sky.  The helicopters being ripped from the air.  I’m sure that if the train carrying us wasn’t soundproof, I wouldn’t want to hear anything either.

I couldn’t even tell where the ground was- it must have been covered with ashes, blood, and smoke.   There were incredibly tall structures looming all about.  But they were all broken up into parts.  It took me a minute to realize that they were those giant storage containers, a hundred meters long each, as best as I could tell.  Big, rectangular, metal cargo stacked one atop the other, towering above the ground.  It seemed that we were crossing through a valley, like a giant flame-filled bowl of war and metal and ash.  You couldn’t even see the sky- it just faded from the charred ground to the fires licking up the containers, military vehicles, and upward slope, and sizzling into the blackness above.  It was a horrific scene that made my heart race.  If this was where they were dumping us next, then I am definitely not coming out alive.

久しぶりです。

.. {pronounced: hisashiburi desu.
meaning: It’s been a long time.}

I really need to get on here more.  I have been writing (and reading..) a lot, but I’m always self-conscious about what I share with others.
そして、I have three stories going all at once, and I’m not sure which to stick with and work on first- so that’s not really helping with the lack of productivity.

As for some real news:
 I am leaving a week from Monday for Japan! I’ll be in Nagasaki & Fukuoka , and I cannot wait!
I’ll be bringing my Nikon, and hope to get some good photographs during my stay.  I would have liked to bring my Canon, as it is the superior camera (obviously- I am so biased) and I love it, but I need to buy a new lens!
I will be living with host families in their respective cities, and I hope that it goes really well.  I know nothing of my family in Fukuoka, but that my host parents in Nagasaki are young, with a young daughter and a baby boy.  I’m thinking that I’ll probably identify with them more as a friend than as parents! Nonetheless- I am ecstatic!  I hope they’re as excited as I am.  I’ll also bring them some small New England gifts that I hope they will like.

Well, I guess that’s about all for now.

unintentionally neglectful

Kristen’s been MIA for a little bit, eh? わりな。

Well, we’re currently under the attack of an unexpected snowstorm, so right when I got home from the studio yesterday I grabbed a camera(Nikon D3100) and ran outside.
I swear, I thought my fingers were going to fall off.
And my memory card ran out of space (oh ho, Kristen, that’s what you get for being cheap).
But it was nice- what, with this pms‘ing winter weather, I haven’t had a chance to get outside and take any pictures of the snow.   Even though I didn’t get to take many, I still got a few shots that I like.

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

In other news, I’ve been researching for my (hopefully . . someday. .) book. I thought of someone that would be perfect to answer some questions, but I lost his e-mail and he’s recently moved to another state (oh..).  I’ve also compiled a list of names that I like (for characters)  and started writing a couple of random scenes that popped into my head.

I envy/admire published authors of fictitious works.  They kind of amaze me, and I hope that I can do what they do someday!