Words

We speak freely.  Carelessly, even.  Words upon words spill out of our uninhibited tongues.  After all- they vanish into thin air, do they not?

But what if they didn’t?  What if words don’t just disappear, what if they leave?

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a place.  A magical place, of course, but a place none the less.  A place where words once vanished here appear there as a splash of paint on a great canvas of color.  The reds of passionate “I love you!”s and the dark blues of “Why?”, together, on the same strip of cloth.  What if it didn’t end there, with only the strong emotions, the tears and the fears creating shadows, depth, beauty and sorrow?

The mundane must surely find its way there also.  In great stripes across the canvass, we see marching evenly words of “more, please” and “thank you” and “how do I get to the so-and-so?”  All these phrases we thought were meaningless, they’re actually the base of our painting.  And if you look closely, really closely, at the grays and the blacks of these ordinary exhales, you’ll be shocked to find that it is more than just newsprint.  Deep down inside each term and diction is color!  Color like you wouldn’t believe!  Even the most commonplace of words is actually a mosaic of vibrance and life and emotion.  Fire and sweat and blood pouring forth from “I don’t think so”.  Pain and sorrow and wretchedness flowing from “why not?”  Mirth and promise and love flowing from “yes…”

 

You see, our words are not wasted, and they certainly don’t disappear.  They all exist, making this great picture I’ve just told you about.

 

Nobody’s ever seen the whole thing.  Nobody’s ever seen the thing at all- we just see splashes of paint before they’re sent off to be brushed against the cloth.  They vanish out of our air, but they arrive in another atmosphere more true than they ever were here.

There’s much debate over what sort of picture these colors and words make.  Some say it is very ugly, others bright, and some even claim that it makes no sense whatsoever.  Whether it shows a garden, or a home, or an abstraction, or a man’s face, you are free to decide on your own, based on the basis of color you’ve seen vanishing around you all of your life.

The funny thing about all of this is that the words we most treasure, the words and the worlds we save never end up there.  They must have been less real, at least when they were first said.  How could they not be?  They were never forgotten.  They were never sent off to the magical place where words are tint and tones brushstrokes and theme provides the contours.  The Bard’s treasured lines of immortality and promises to “give life to thee” never followed his love into that farther atmosphere.  He selfishly chained them here, and they remain fixed wherever “men can speak and eyes can see”.

No layers of “To be or not to be” appear on this canvas, but many a heart-wrenching soliloquy.  Many a prayer whispered trembling in the dark, but not a “Lend me your ears”.  In our own, sad, simple existence a lie gets “halfway around the world before the truth gets his pants on” but there, in this beautiful place, it mustn’t be so.  How could it be?  Those words never vanished.  They never left without warning, the way of their brothers.

It’s true; there may be a different place with a different painting where these treasured and infamous words go.  Perhaps it’s a sculpture.  Whatever it is, I don’t know of it.

I simply know that our words are paint.  They vanish away from here casually and collide dramatically with the canvas there.  Whatever poor words or drudgery we may speak out of routine, whatever kind words were spoken to the hearts of outcasts, whatever cries and vows and oaths and secrets made on our pillows in the night- they will all be preserved.

In fact, they already are.  They’re making up a painting.  I don’t quite know what it looks like yet.

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The Battle For Titan

Heliocannon lights flashed across a starry sky.  There were shouts and guttural cries of war as the soil would suddenly disappear into nothingness, leaving a crater behind and taking unlucky souls along-  vaporized into dust.

Giant machines shook the ground as they stomped past, dropping ammunition for the Jukta soldiers below, hiding in the trenches from the terrible wrath of the enemy’s beams.  Death was knocking on every door.  Every door was being resolutely held shut.  The Jukta would not give up Titan so easily.

Two Jukta ran and slid into a nearby trench, just narrowly evading enemy fire.  They were displeased to find the trench filled with acrid smelling liquid, likely from the last precipitation.  Puddles of the stuff covered the ground at random, adding to the treacherous conditions of the battlefield.  It stung a little, but it was non-lethal.

The first Jukta, tall, with a hint of age to his grayish skin, shoved his back against the moist wall of the trench.  His companion quickly joined him and they hurriedly took in breath after breath, trying to regain their bearings.

“They’re trying to flank us,” the tall one wheezed, shutting, then bugging out his amber-colored eyes.

The other Jukta nodded anxiously.

“We’ll have to cut them off,” he said.  “Get to that helio…”

The tall one swore between breaths.  His companion, obviously younger, with a complexion still a darker tint of gray, looked over at him.  His amber eyes were alive with depth, with fire.  They were vivid eyes, always watching.

“For the Jukta-tag-onis, brother.  For Titan.”  He said his words quietly, but with conviction.  This was not a war they had the option of fighting, nor was it a battle they could afford to lose.

The taller Jukta nodded his head in agreement, suddenly revived.  His eyes narrowed and he gripped his Saga-ray anew, clutching it in eager hands.

“For Titan,” he agreed, slamming the visor on his helmet down.  His partner did the same.  “We’ll charge to the next trench.”

Without a word, only a tacit count to three, the two Jukta warriors turned and scrambled out of the trench and its stinking liquid.  They blasted their Saga-rays in front of them as they ran across exposed soil, sprinting for all they were worth.  Heliocannon lights continued to flash across the sky and blasts resounded continuously.

The next trench was within sight when a heliocannon ray struck a nearby mech in the leg, forcing the appendage out of existence in the blink of an eye.  The mech toppled over, falling nearly on top of the two Jukta as they ran across the field.  The mech’s body slammed into the ground just inches behind their heels, propelling the warriors forward in a tumble from the shock.  The shorter one was on his feet first.  He bent down and pulled on his companion’s straps.

“Get up, get up, get up!  We can’t linger here!”

The light gray warrior gritted his teeth and clamored to his feet as the other helped him up with one hand and fired his Saga-ray simultaneously.  A Viron fell lifeless, a hundred yards away.

“Come on!” the dark gray warrior shouted again.

As they approached the trench and dove forward, head first, the tall one screamed and twisted in the air.  He continued writhing inside the trench, which was free of the orange, stinking liquid.  The shorter one huddled down in the trench and looked his friend over in earnest.

The tall Jukta had been shot.  A Saga-ray had sliced through the side of his neck, and all of his air was escaping.  He obviously did not have much time.

The tall one must have noticed the expression in the younger Jukta’s face, because he stopped screaming and felt at his wound the best he could.  An indescribable look overtook his features.  It was the expression of a warrior who knows he is about to die.

The two Jukta stared at eachother in silence for a moment, tuning out the blasts and the screams and the mechanical stomping, and simply having no words.  The short one shook it off first.

“Here, lie down, hold your fingers against your neck!”

The other complied, but he was shaking his head.

“Slow your system down, focus!” the young one cried.

The tall Jukta shook his head again.  He tried to speak, but decided against it.  He rolled his smooth, amber eyes back in his head and he arched his back to the star-filled sky.  He emitted a strained, moaning sound as he took one of his hands and worked it into his chest, the flesh absorbing and accepting the other flesh slowly.  After several moments, he drew his hand back out again, this time bearing a perfectly round, glassy orb.  It was emerald colored and it shone with its own light, dimly, as the tall Jukta lowered his chest to the ground and returned his eyes to their place.  Air was still escaping from the hole in the side of his neck, ushering him quickly to death’s door- a door that was open wide.

He took the emerald orb in one hand, while holding his neck with the other and he shook it violently, with no response.  He then shook it again, jerking it with force.

A sad look crossed the younger Jukta’s face.

“A sentimental note for home?”

The other Jukta shook his head and continued jerking the orb through the air.  Finally, it released, snapping into a green sheet of paper with long lines of writing covering both sides.  He extended it in a shaking hand to his companion, who accepted it from him.

“It’s for my former-mate, and for everyone who ever wronged me,” the tall one said, his face twisted horribly.  Bubbles were appearing at his neck wound now.  It wouldn’t be long.  “I wanted to tell those slime bags what’s for, once and for all when I’m dead.  Give it to her for me and I left instructions for the others- if you get out of here alive.”

The young warrior turned quizzical.

“Usal, you’re about to pass on.  Shouldn’t you make peace?”

The tall Jukta shook his head violently and was racked by coughing.

“It’s my life!  It’s my choice!  I’ll choose how I want to go!”

The young warrior took his friend’s hand gently, looking at him intently with his deep, fiery eyes.

“Don’t you think you should forgive them?  Make peace before you go?”

The light gray Jukta jerked his hand away quickly, coughing in a distorted sort of way, then gagging.

“No!” he wheezed.  “I was wronged and it’s my right to hold on!  Give them the paper.  I hate them and I’ll go down with bitterness if I well please!  It’s my choice!”

Then, with a final cough, then a vain gasping for breath, he grew still.

The young warrior put his hand up to his friend’s wound.  Air seeped from it no more.

He looked at the incandescent, green paper covered in runes, then he sighed.

“Well, it’s a stupid choice,” he said, crumpling the sheet between his hands and tossing behind him.  He took a deep breath and picked up his Saga-ray once more, putting his visor down.  With a fierce shout and one last look at his companion, the warrior leapt from the trench and charged at the enemy.

The crumpled up note sank slowly into the puddle where it had landed, alone as the corpse it had come from.

A Quick Update and Thank You!

Hey, all.  Before you ask, there will be a normal blog post this Wednesday.  I simply wanted to give you an update on things and a quick shout out.

First off, Starfall is off and running!  There should be some reviewers posting about it soon, I’m told, and responses to the book have all been really great so far.  I’m currently writing the sequel (I wish I could tell you the title right now, but I’m not supposed to, just in case it gets changed later) and it’s going really well!  I’m at a really exciting part in the story, so I find that I’m putting aside more and more things so I can dedicate time to writing this thing.  It’s a blast, and I hope that you all enjoy it when it comes out.  (It won’t be until later this year, most likely.  There isn’t an official release date for it yet.)  Lot’s of exciting stuff.

Secondly, this blog has had visitors every day for the past 15 days now, and it has been read in 11 different countries!  (U.S.A., U.K., Canada, South Africa, The Philippines, Kenya, The Netherlands, Australia, Finland,  Italy, and France, in order of readership)  This is all thanks to you, dear reader, and the incredible support you continue to show for this blog and for my writing in general.  I couldn’t do it without you, and I just wanted to say thank you!  There’s plenty more to come, so keep an eye peeled, and spread the word!  You all are the best.

-W.A.

Respiración

I love the Spanish language.  I began learning it years ago, and I continue to marvel at its beauty and grace.  I write this to let you know that today’s post is not an accident, and I am aware that it’s in Spanish.  I wrote it that way.  A year or so past I penned this piece of poetry, and I hope you enjoy it.  For those of you who prefer English, I’ll post a loose translation below, but it feels better in Spanish.  Anyway, enjoy.

 

Respiración

 

La gente dice cosas cómo,

“Tú éres mí respiración

Y moriría sin ti”

En canciones y en la poesía

 

Y después ellos se casan

Y se dividen

Y trampar, mentir, y decir

Lo contrário que antes

 

“No éres mi respiración”

 

En luz de esta oscuridad

Déjame ser tu vela

Porque es imposible caer de amor

Cuando estás raicido en amor

 

Querido, cariño

Te diré la poesía

Y apretaré tu corazón

Mejor que otro que luego decía

 

“No éres mi respiración”

 

No éres mi vida

Pero me haces desear

La vida completa

Amable, e emocionante

 

No éres mi sueño

Pero sueño de ti continualmente

Y los sueños son dulces y permanezcan en mi mente

Pero éres más, mí realidád

 

No éres mi respiración

Pero llenas mí pecho

Cómo un fuerte viento

Llena la vela

 

 

Breath

 

People say things like

“You are my very breath

And I would die without you”

In songs and in poetry

 

Then they marry

And then divorce

Cheat, lie, and say

The opposite

 

“You’re not my breath.”

 

In light of this darkness,

Let me be your candle

Because it’s impossible to fall out of love

When you’re rooted in it

 

My love, my dear

I’ll speak poetry to you

And I’ll caress your heart

Better than another, who later says

 

“You’re not my breath.”

 

You’re not my life,

But you make me want

The complete life,

Full of love and exciting

 

You’re not my dream,

But I dream of you always.

These dreams are sweet and they remain in my heart,

But you’re more, my reality.

 

You’re not my breath,

But you fill my chest

Like a strong wind

Fills the sail.

Seeds

The sun was baking the ground into brick.  Snake-like lines of air and imagination rose trembling from the dirt, as if spirits of the earth were fleeing to escape the heat.  All of the animals were wisely hiding away in the shade somewhere, in whatever crevices and holes they called home.  The sky was almost entirely clear, except for a few wispy clouds in the distance.  Wind blew through the farm now and again, but it was hot and unrefreshing.  It wasn’t yet noon, and the weather showed no signs of relenting.

Johnny set his pails down and wiped his freckled forehead with the sleeve of his denim shirt.  Sweat flew in all directions as he flicked his arm away.

“Why we gotta do this today?” he whined, squinting his green eyes and sounding much younger than his six-foot frame would have implied.  He was only 14, but he was already getting his growth spurt.  No signs of slowing down, either.

Johnny’s father turned and threw a glance over his shoulder, carrying two heavy pails like his son.

“Pick up your pails and let’s go.  Work first, questions later,” he said firmly, but without anger.

The green-eyed boy sighed and rolled his eyes, mopping his brow once more before picking up his buckets and plodding on down the dry, cracked road.

It was unseasonably warm and the farmer and his son advanced down the dirt road.  The heat wave had come a few days earlier, and it was sure to stay for a few days more.  It was making Johnny miserable.

The pair arrived at an out of place square of concrete situated a few feet from a red and white barn with a matching granary.  Johnny’s father stepped up onto the concrete with a grunt of exertion and set down one of his buckets.  He began to pour the other out on the concrete, spilling purplish-black seeds all over the square.  Johnny climbed up as well and set his pails down sullenly.  The heat felt like it was boring into his flesh.

The lanky fourteen year old sighed and hesitated before turning around and hopping off of the concrete square, walking in the direction of the barn.

His father threw another glance over his shoulder as he bent down to pick up another bucket of seeds.

“Let’s pick it up, kid,” he said.  Johnny half-heartedly shuffled his feet in an attempt to appear to be jogging.  His father shook his head and continued with his work.

When Johnny returned, he was carrying a long, flat piece of metal with a short handle attached to it.  He paused before the concrete square, then climbed up with a sigh and began to spread the seeds out evenly.  His father continued to pour them out, nearly finished now.

“What’s gotten into you, J?” His father asked, setting down the final bucket, now empty.  He squatted down and began to help his son, spreading the seeds out with his hands.

Johnny didn’t particularly like being called “J.”  It’s what everyone called him when he was younger, but he had taken to people calling him “Johnny” at school, and he disliked the old nickname.

“This dang sun is all,” he replied softly.

The farmer raised an eyebrow.

“You sure?  ‘Cuz you’ve been dragging your feet past few weeks.  You’ve never had a problem before and you’ve done what I ask, so I let you slide a bit.  But there a reason this has been keeping up?”

Johnny stopped spreading the seeds out and squinted up at his father.  The sun was right in his eyes.

“It’s hot, Pa.  Real hot.  Why the Hell we out here when there’s work inside we could do?  Or why not just wait till it cools down some?”

“You watch your swears, son.”

Johnny rolled his eyes and continued using the metal instrument to spread out the seeds.

“Sorry, Pa.”

The farmer spit on his hands and rubbed them together, then wiped them on his jeans.  It was something he did every so often, not really for any particular reason.  It was a mannerism he had picked up from Lord knows where.

“You know well as I we’ve got plenty to do.  We can’t slack off just because the sun’s out.”

Johnny didn’t reply.  He continued to keep his head down, almost finished with his task.

“Let me tell you something, son, and listen up.”  The farmer sighed and furrowed his brow.  “Most things worth doing are unpleasant.  At least sometimes they are.  And everything worth doin’ is hard.  You start avoidin’ work ‘cuz it’s no fun and you’ll start avoidin’ all kinds of things.  You’ll take the shortcuts, and those never lead where they say.”

The farmer wiped his hands off on his jeans again, despite having nothing to wipe off of them.

“Look at me, son.”

Johnny set down his tool and looked up at his father, a more receptive look on his face than before.

“I don’t care much what profession you choose, or what woman you marry, as long as you’re willing to put the work into what you do.  ‘Specially when it’s hard.  Hard days are when you quit being a grumblin’ boy or you sign a contract for another term.  Doing what you need to do when it’s unpleasant is a man’s work.”

Johnny squinted one eye all the way shut and shifted his weight.

“I know, Pa.  It just don’t seem fair.”

The farmer sighed and looked down, his chin tucking into his chest as he thought a moment.

“What are we doing, here, J?”

Johnny raised an eyebrow.

“Talkin’?”

The farmer shook his head.

“I mean here,” he said, pointing to the thin layer of seeds, now spread evenly over the concrete square where they talked.

Johnny looked around.

“Drying out seeds so we can plant ‘em.”

“Why don’t we just plant ‘em now?”

“They won’t grow.  Gotta dry ‘em out first.”

The farmer nodded and thought a moment, looking intently at the crowd of purplish-black dots all around his feet.

“What these here seeds are doing is dyin’.  Won’t grow a new plant until the old one dies.  Then later when we plant, it can sprout and grow somethin’ nice.  Unless it dies to itself and gives up on bein’ a seed, it can’t be a plant.”

The farmer spit on his hands once more and rubbed them together, then wiped them off on his jeans.  He brought his gaze to meet that of his son.

“It’s easy to worry about your own comfort and pleasure, but if you don’t die to your own self, you’ll never be nothin’ but a seed.  I want you to grow.  Be somethin’ respectable.  Die to your own self and push through the hard, J.  Otherwise you’ll always be a boy complaining about the sun.”