Aubretia Lycania; Arcadia in Darkness

The Whirlwind of Elements... Fire is extinguished under a torrent of water... water evaporates into nothingness under the burning sun... All returning to room temperature, leaving the universe cold... that is Fate. Smile.

Name: Aubretia Lycania
Nickname: Aubrey
Birthdate: June 28, 1986
Sign: Cancer
Place of Birth/ Hometown: Durango, Colorado
Blood Type: A+
Age: 19, and loving it
Grade: College Sophomore<
Favorite Quotes: "You can put back the bits of glass but you can't collect up the heat of the smash. It's gone," Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, "Life itself is but a shadow," Shakespeare's Hamlet
Interests: 19th and 20th century litrerature, preferably English and French, with a smattering of Modern and Postmodernists, wolves (and werewolf fiction, yes, is my weakness), folklore, philosophy, the Greek writers (much Sophocles and Aristotle, as well as Anouilh's take on the former), Surrealism (particularly Edward Munch and Dali), Expressionism, Tom Stoppard the greatest genius of the century, John Irving whose books are really just the same book, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, pirates, wenches, writing fantasy and short stories, getting drunk with my friends and discussing philosophy with them (huzzah for my rhetorical tools who talk back), and, of course, reading. Go Bruins!


   



Be bold.
Fly from this mundane cage on silver wings of words.
Listen to the heart beats of the ones you love.
Fall into them.
Cry tears of silk; sob your humanity.
Be beautiful.
Be immortal.
Be Seventeen Forever.


<BGSOUND SRC="http://hereinmyhead.oneway.com/1996-04-09-FatherLucifer-TubularBells-SmallTownBoy.mp3">
"Father Lucifer" by Tori Amos

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Friday, March 02, 2007
In Helen Choi's Class

The Absinthe Train

There is a bowl-shaped hill
That I would mould into a pill
and swallow on the elevator down,
Savor as I walk to class;
Does it seem so very crass?
I have everything I ever wanted.

I know somewhere one view of a pub
That I would pound into a scented rub
and inhale as I read Foucault,
Cradle the jar in hours without sleep;
I would pile that view into an ambergris heap.
I have everything I ever wanted.

There is a labyrinthine mapway of no-self
sensations and second-guess evaluations
I've pondered in a place to the East.
If I could bottle all those thoughts
And drink deep of how they brought
the thing I always wanted--

I would be no happier but haunted.

The beastly cheering at a game
Brothers hooting in a house
Tree creaking in the night
To not know I'm in the right
And my paper-to-paper fight,
Wondering--

It is no virtue to have faculty of mind
But to find:
Those one loves and spend a life where one lives...
To fight away that never
And discover in forever,
Something--

I cannot find life.
It is not on the end of the line
But on the tracks themselves;
Not where there is sand glass-fine
Or grand institutions of mind,
But only in the wishing,
In the dream
And the missing--
Looking out lost on LA lights.

There is a purgatory cabaret
I would drink as absinthe when the day
Has fallen on UCLA.
I would chase the dragon with those places
and faces that I see
When I close my eyes.

I would be a sandman and a reaper
Breathing visions into the ears of young drunken scholars
Sleeping on fraternity stairs--
Of their hometowns, their identities...
Drink deep of my cup
Before your self transforms,
And the reason why you have everything you ever wanted
Has disappeared.

1-23-2007


Currently listening to:
Haunted
By Poe



Posted at 12:39 am by Aubretia
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Saturday, October 07, 2006
Hurray for... crossdressers?

The Fushigi Yuugi Personality test (who are you?)

You are Nuriko! Optimistic, cheery, and possibly...a crossdresser? You have important people to protect as well. You will go out of your way to do it too. The thing about you is, even though you may not look it, you are more than capable of it.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla | Join | Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Posted at 12:07 am by Aubretia
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Saturday, April 01, 2006
Ghosts in “The Harlot’s House”: Woman as Remorse and Monstrosity in Oscar Wilde

Same subject, different time period. Here is the creme-de-la-creme of the gender theorists, Mr. Wilde himself, in my Victorian/ Decandent/ Fin de siecle essay. Enjoy, and no cut-and-pasting.

Oscar Wilde, throughout his life and works, expounded the aesthetic ideal of feeling over knowledge, of the carnal over the mental, and beauty for beauty's sake. He was a dancer between lines of paradox, leading a blatantly homosexual life behind a mask of husband and father, and denying the connection between morality and art while weaving strains of ethical regrets through his poetry and fictions. He embodied the decadent Victorians during Fin de siecle, realizing his own place in Hell but reveling in hedonism while he had a life to live; in his early poem "The Harlot's House," Wilde presents a monstrous view of women in the sex trade and all women in particular, expressing them as somewhat less than human, as figments or half-realities, puppets and marionettes, as the dead and, in the final stanza, with regret and with an air of compassion, seeing in himself a similar fright and loneliness. In the ugliness of a structured Victorian world, he sees others like himself trapped in alienation; in his own hedonism, there is a whiff of damnation.

            The narrator (arguably Wilde or an expression thereof) journeys down a city road with a female companion, and stops beneath a harlot's house, where from a window an ironic song, Strauss's "The Heart of True Love," provides the tune for the lascivious and anonymous dancers within. He identifies the women and their "phantom lover[s]" as something other, as unnatural or alien, as "strange mechanical grotesques" and "shadows" (7-9), as "ghostly… black leaves wheeling in the wind" (12), hinting at the idea of the prostitutes possessing a lost quality, devoid of soul. Far from expressing an admiration for hedonism, Wilde shows a fascination but also a moral awareness for something irretrievable within the women inside and in himself; in exchange for beauty, as in his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, the artist loses a measure of moral happiness and security; essentially, for defending what one believes to be beautiful, chances at human connection and affection can be lost.

            As in a ballet, the women perform "fantastic arabesques" (8) and "spin to sound of horn and violin" (11), but their beauty is subservient to strings, reducing them to the state of a "clockwork puppet" (19), as "wire-pulled automatons" and "slim silhouetted skeletons" (13-14); they are women looking the part of loveliness but feeling nothing, mere props or plot devices in a play, sculptures and toys, wind-up dolls made for the very purpose of appearing beautiful; they have no other destiny or reason for being. When one "horrible marionette" leaves the foray to smoke, she is "like a live thing" (22-24) but still does not achieve humanity through this small independent action. The emptiness of this assertion, and this life, is an examination of the emptiness of art. Eight years after his death in 1900, his friend Lord Alfred Douglas would later affirm Wilde's seriousness when he sat down to his art, proclaiming that "he knew the falsity and the deadliness of his own creed" and that "'the end of these things [pleasure] is Death'" (Douglas), reminding the audience that immorality of images does not necessarily point to immorality in the entire work; Wilde was working toward showing the ultimate loss of self and conscience achieved through literature.

            The loss of ethical self is shown through the loss of the narrator's companion, who succumbs to the sound of violin and passes into the whorehouse, symbolically expressing "Love [passing] into the house of Lust" where "suddenly the tune went false" (30-31) and even the prostitutes lose interest in the dance. A sense of loneliness and desolation sweeps the work for the final two stanzas, where "down the long and silent street" (34) the dawn comes to remind the narrator and the audience of life, consequences, and what is lost with a devotion to sheer pleasure; the narrator is left alone to contemplate, and draws a semblance between himself and the young girls behind the mask of harlots; life comes on him "like a frightened girl" (36). The narrator comes to understand himself as very much like the "clockwork" dancers inside, trapped in an overly decadent period and living a life devoid of meaning, but sensing a sad and unpleasant end to it all. This end is both the end of the human life (for Wilde, representatively, in 1900) and for the period (in 1901).

            In his essay "The Decadent Movement in Literature," Arthur Symons, a devotee of Walter Pater similar in life and creed to Oscar Wilde, rightly predicted the present Decadence as a hallmark of the rapidly closing Victorian era, calling Decadent literature "typical of a civilization grown over-luxurious, over-inquiring, too languid for the relief of action, too uncertain for any emphasis in opinion or in conduct" (Symons 1959). Writers at the end of this period were facing a moral ambiguity such as their time had never known, a barrage of sensation and information, and no means with which to organize it. Symons calls the art of this period the most truthful representation of the true artificiality of the period, revealing the actual absence of morality and lives invariably turned to a form of art, and full of emptiness. Wilde builds a house of harlots representing Britain, and he outside of it, looking in, only to realize that he is a part of the malady.

         Austen therefore provides a model on which the fair and proper marriage, based upon morality and rationality for the good of society, can be based. Her fictional format, inviting the audience in with laughter rather than pushing them away with cold essaying and diatribes, helps to realize the logic behind Wollstonecraft, Wheeler, Thompson and their allies of the period with believable characters with realistic conflicts. Elizabeth's further education of herself brings her to a place where she is a worthy wife willing to accept a worthy proposal from a man who has been willing to compromise; likewise, women of society should be equally educated to make them partners, rather than slaves, to their husbands. Perhaps before her time, Austen truly envisioned the intelligent marriage of friendship and workability, prescribing domestic and social health for a culture in drastic turmoil and change, as the Regency moved towards further industrializing, new forms of slave labor, and the Victorian age.  






Posted at 02:48 pm by Aubretia
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Proposal to Eliza Bennet: Austen’s Declaration of Female Power in the Regency Period

Hurray for another essay! This is for Brit Lit Pt. 2, the Regency and Romantic period. I know there are a bunch of crazy Jane Austen fans out there, so enjoy. And no copying! Your teachers have turnitin.com, and these essays are archived there, so be careful.

Voiced voraciously by Mary Wollstonecraft in 1792, “the rights of woman” was the everlasting question throughout 19th century England and particularly in the period leading up to the abolition of slavery and the crowning of the country’s longest ruler, Queen Victoria. The question echoes later in the essay Appeal by William Thompson and Anna Wheeler in the 1820s. The Regency both proclaimed the rights and independence of men and feared the uprising of the oppressed, given the American and French Revolutions, the latter being an event begun by mothers storming soldiers with household weapons in want of bread for their children. Jane Austen named her novel Pride and Prejudice after two vices that, as with virtues in Wollstonecraft’s essay, both men and women are subject to and that both must recognize and correct before the novel’s happy conclusion. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet in the center of the work reveals the equality of these vices within the two sexes, and sets the heroine up with a need to recognize them within herself before she can attain happiness; in essence, Austen proves Wollstonecraft’s point that both men and women possess the same qualities and thus must receive equal education, which Elizabeth sets out to do in investigating Darcy while examining herself.

            In the same years that the upset of Wollstonecraft’s essay swept the educated classes, Jane Austen began scribbling her novel First Impressions about a witty, intelligent, charming young woman coming to know a seemingly pompous and arrogant gentleman; in the course, this heroine comes to understand and better herself, not through submission, but by working to gain evidence and insight rather than sketching a person upon a first meeting. Austen later published this novel in 1811 under the title Pride and Prejudice. Aside from the real need to make the change (the original title had already been used), the difference between these two headings is a point of interest; First Impressions does imply Elizabeth’s mistake in sketching Darcy, but does not entirely draw a direct correlation between the foibles of the two characters and their semblance to each other. Conversely, “pride” and “prejudice” are interconnected vices that feed into one another, in much the same way that Elizabeth and Darcy bring out some of the worst in each other because of their own faults, until both learn to turn them to the better. In telling Darcy that he had not “behaved in a more gentleman-like manner” (169), Elizabeth inspires him to be a better man, her “reproof, so well applied, I [Darcy] shall never forget” (311) that he later attempts to show her that her “reproofs had been attended to” (313); invariably, Darcy works to show Elizabeth before his second proposal that he respects and values her opinion enough to change himself before he could deem himself worthy of asking her hand again.

            Elizabeth’s power to change Darcy comes primarily from her courage to tell him the truth, which few, most in awe and fear of his fortune, had ventured to do before. However, neither would have been happy together if Elizabeth had not taken into account Darcy’s critique of her in his letter, citing both her family’s “want of propriety” (172) and seeking to correct her ignorance in the case of George Wickham. Elizabeth is here forced to look back upon her evaluation of Wickham and, as time goes on and she sees Darcy in a number of better situations, rethink her judgment on his account. In this course, both are changing, having both recognized their prideful natures and initial prejudices against one another that stand between them; this realization reveals a semblance of character and since both must actively change for themselves and one another, they are poised to enter into a marriage as partners and equals.

            This partnership creates a model that no longer subjugates women, removing from marriage the elements of tyranny and slavery protested by Wollstonecraft. In her critique of the sentiments of marriage, she views friendship as “the most holy band of society” and says one must have “sufficient intelligence to substitute the calm tenderness of friendship, the confidence of respect, instead of blind admiration, and the sensuousness of fondness” to uphold “the security of marriage” (Wollstonecraft 245). In his first proposal, Darcy tells Elizabeth that he “ardently… admire[s] and love[s]” her (Austen 165); in his second, he shows her that her reproofs made an impact and that he is willing to compromise with her to reach common ground.

Wollstonecraft rightly asserts that “passions are spurs to action, and open the mind” (245) but that passion cannot sustain a marriage without absence or tragedy; instead, the pair needs constancy, communication, and a general liking and respect for the other for a marriage’s maintenance. Wollstonecraft also expands upon the virtues shared by men and women: “reason, virtue, and knowledge,” the first of which can be used “to justify prejudices” (235), as Darcy and Elizabeth surely do, most specifically as Elizabeth cites Darcy’s harm of her sister and Wickham as reasons she would not take his hand, while Darcy professes he doubted doing so because of her family. However, reasoning power given the proper evidence, or knowledge, and helped by morality to give justice to the subject, leads men and women to the proper conclusions, and to moral propriety.

The 1820s socialist scholars Thompson and Wheeler, notably a male and female team, delve deeper into the morality of women and tie it directly into both education and the rules of economy. In order for women to attain equal partnerships of “mutual, unbought, uncommanded, affection” as “enlightened,” the state must “put the rights of women, political and civil, on a perfect equality with those of men,” based upon the fundamental concept that “unequal powers under free competition must meet with unequal effects” (304). Elizabeth is a special and, perhaps, impossible case when one takes into account her time and upbringing; given the caprice and impropriety of both parents and the state of her three younger sisters, it can be suggested that both Elizabeth and Jane were not nurtured to act in a proper fashion.

However, Elizabeth has taken time to educate herself through her father’s liking of observing others outside and inside the family with an edge of humor—a hobby he passes to her that compliments a naturally quick mind. As a self-educated woman, she is certainly worthy of praise. However, not all women of her time were given such advice nor took such delights in the movements of others, and had no cause to look outward; consequently, daughters of Austen’s era were “never permitted… to regulate their conduct by their own notions of propriety and prudence and restrain them where necessary, like rational beings, from a regard to their consequences” (305). This naturally leads to an absence of ability to act with independence or morality, as either father or husband controls the actions of a woman throughout her life. How then could a woman pass morality onto her children or be in any way a positive influence on their religious or civil education? In a contract formed between a man and a woman for the purpose of sharing property and rearing children, plainly both must be equal in ability and morality to make the agreement at all, otherwise the contract itself could be in no way binding (303).

Austen therefore provides a model on which the fair and proper marriage, based upon morality and rationality for the good of society, can be based. Her fictional format, inviting the audience in with laughter rather than pushing them away with cold essaying and diatribes, helps to realize the logic behind Wollstonecraft, Wheeler, Thompson and their allies of the period with believable characters with realistic conflicts. Elizabeth’s further education of herself brings her to a place where she is a worthy wife willing to accept a worthy proposal from a man who has been willing to compromise; likewise, women of society should be equally educated to make them partners, rather than slaves, to their husbands. Perhaps before her time, Austen truly envisioned the intelligent marriage of friendship and workability, prescribing domestic and social health for a culture in drastic turmoil and change, as the Regency moved towards further industrializing, new forms of slave labor, and the Victorian age.  

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1811. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson and Susan J. Wolfson. Cultural ed. New York: Pearson Education, Inc.-Longman Publishers, 2003.

Thompson, William, and Anna Wheeler. “Appeal of One Half of the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political, and Thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery.” The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed. David Damrosch. 2nd ed. Vol. 2A. The Romantics and Their Contemporaries. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc.-Longman Publishers, 2003. 302-308.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. “A Vindication of the Rights of Women.” The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed. David Damrosch. 2nd ed. Vol. 2A. The Romantics and Their Contemporaries. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc.-Longman Publishers, 2003. 230-257.

 






Posted at 02:41 pm by Aubretia
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006
March the First

It's been two years since all my peers received their acceptance letters to their big colleges and prepared to leave me behind.

Today, I received my first acceptance letter: to the UC Irvine Comparative Literature program.

Today, I walked beneath the shadows and light, no longer my mother's failure, but my own success. 


Posted at 05:53 pm by Aubretia
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Saturday, October 08, 2005
Margaret Atwood's "Rape Fantasies"

A favorite for the semester--if anyone out there needs some inspiration for a paper on Margaret Atwood's short stories, is in a rut, or just finds her work interesting, maybe my essay will be helpful. Don't site me, or steal from me. I'm not even a B.A. so it wouldn't be your finest idea yet.

 Margaret Atwood’s “Rape Fantasies”: Establishing Common Humanity

The phrase “Rape is a crime of power, not sex” is often coined as people of both genders attempt to understand the reasoning behind the act. The concept that a man could rape a woman—that he could forget she is a human being and demean her to an object—appears inconceivable; conversely, that any man on the street could be reduced to a monster without a waking life, subject to a woman’s paranoid imaginings, can also be hard to grasp. In her short story “Rape Fantasies,” Margaret Atwood uses observational humor, a rambling, comedic and personable tone which speaks in second person to the reader, and relatable figures and anecdotes in order to breach the lines between the two sexes and factor both down into simple humanity. Speaking through the consciousness of the original and optimistic Estelle, Atwood attempts to assume the voice of a day-to-day woman in a confined world, to whom the violence and power struggle of rape are foreign, and who then tries to humanize and make real in the controlled space of her mind a threat that is always lurking just around the corner.

Estelle is a woman most people can claim to know—she’s the oddball or the class clown, who “makes a funny” that the party often pretends not to acknowledge. Atwood is very successful in breaking barriers with her audience when speaking on such a controversial subject; she does not speak from the lofty place of the writer, but places a familiar voice in front of her own that speaks directly to the audience: “I mean, not everyone has access to that file, it’s more or less confidential. But it’s all right if I tell you, I don’t expect you’ll ever meet her, though you never know, it’s a small world” (72). The audience might very well be discussing rape fantasies in the lunch room with Estelle, as happens to catalyze the story and the recount of her own fantasies. Most provocative is Estelle’s (and consequently Atwood’s) attack on the flagrant use of the word “rape” by society, embodied in the magazines read by Estelle’s fellow co-workers. Their normalcy is striking—women receptionists with an assistant-manager who wears “elevator shoes,” and filing clerks, playing bridge over egg sandwiches and celery and ladies’ magazines that discuss hair-dos and numbered quizzes (74). Atwood is careful to add nothing idealized about her character’s life in order to establish an authority with common people—had she wanted to say something about the statistics of rape, her character could have been a female officer on a special force squad, tracking down sexual criminals, or a sixteen-year-old who had been raped by a cousin. “In a real rape fantasy, what you should feel is this anxiety, like when you think about your apartment catching on fire” (75); it is, in actuality, the feelings behind the anticipation and knowledge of rape in society, without knowing how or why it happens, that she chooses as her subject.

If she pulls us in with the controversial idea of what rape “really” is—which, according to Estelle, is not merely an encounter with an attractive stranger who swings in “like Tarzan” (73) as in a grocery store romance novel—Atwood then makes the story personable and candid through Estelle’s colloquial ramblings and casual jokes. The very humor of the story establishes a kind of tragedy in the idea of rape that de-idealizes the matter for her audience. Ripped down off the covers of newspapers and away from television’s detective dramas, rape is an issue of personal power being removed—or allowed to be removed—from the victim, as Estelle’s coworker states: “’all the articles say it’s better not to resist, that way you don’t get hurt’” (74). Estelle then responds with a witty retort—why resist if “you might get bubbles up your nose” (74). These witticisms provide groundwork for Estelle’s original thinking that often gets her out of her imagined rape fantasies: she is not willing to give up her own power to what a man or a magazine tells her to do. Her fantasies themselves, which she later contemplates, remove the power from the fear of rape by making her attackers human, rather than handsome strangers or faceless monsters, and she often moves to equalize herself with them: “this fellow comes through the window, and he has a terrible cold too…. So he says ‘I’b goig do rabe you’… and he lets out this terrific sneeze, which slows him down a bit, also I’m no object of beauty myself” (75). After fixing up her potential rapist with some tea and scotch, they sit down to watch a late night TV show together, and the crisis is averted through their shared sickness and a liking for the Late Show.

No matter how frightening she makes the fantasy, as when moving from sexual perversion to outright violence—going so far as a sociopath hearing angel voices with an ax—Estelle is ever able to find a way out simply by finding the elements of her imagined attackers that are human, such as she and the maniac’s shared Catholic body of knowledge, in order to trick or dissuade them. Logically, she is able to assert that “they aren’t all sex maniacs. The rest of the time they must lead a normal life. I figure they enjoy watching the Late Show like anybody else” (76). It is Estelle’s, and Atwood’s, ability to consistently establish a human connection—between men and women, between potential victims and potential attackers, between the story and the audience—establishing that everyone in it and everyone reading it shares some underlying understanding, however remote, that makes the story successful. Estelle often makes indirect references to the fears and stereotypes and media endorsement that increase the paranoia and decrease the understanding of rape’s nature; in her twice repetition of “But I guess it’s different for a guy” (75) and “But maybe it’s different for a guy” (77) when speaking, first, about her loneliness in the city, and second about her guilt were she to blind a man for attacking her, works toward an understanding of how societies view individuals of the opposite sex. Fear and paranoia work to separate men and women, and over this chasm, it is easier to view the other side as monsters or objects because human connections have been removed. In the world of her story, however, Atwood spans the gap with common humor and easy speech: “it wouldn’t be my boss, he’s over sixty and I’m sure he couldn’t rape his way out of a paper bag, poor old thing” (77)—and in the story format, there is no indicated worry if it is a man or a woman she speaks to at the time, but her language and comedic tone make it clear that the tale is humanistic, rather than feministic.

            Despite the magazines and media bombardment she references throughout the story, Estelle continues to go out for drinks alone with little protection, save the “basic amount” of trust she has in other human beings (77); in short, she does not let the continual threat of rape (as any man, known or unknown, is a potential rapist) control her life. In this way—with a humorous and optimistic outlook on life: “I mean, life’s too short, right?” (74), and with a refusal to be the victim, Estelle works to understand rape in the best way a normal person can hope to: as a human being with as good a grasp of the people around her, both male and female, that can be achieved from experience and observation. In the end, the puzzle of rape is still a puzzle, as Estelle, who knows that rape is a struggle for power, still does not comprehend how two people could have a conversation as equals and then be reduced shortly after to a victim and a villain, if they have already established to each other that both live normal lives and, in some basic sense, are just alike. In her words “that’s the part I really don’t understand” (78), Estelle echoes the common people in not truly knowing how such evil and perversity as she has always been told exists can be real among people like herself.

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. "Rape Fantasies." The Story and Its Writer. By Ann Charters.
 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2003. 73-78.


Posted at 01:09 am by Aubretia
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Saturday, May 21, 2005
"So Close"

The prelude to How Like An Angel--I'm sorry the interlude has been deleted, but there's something wrong with the formatting I need to take a look at. It's one of my favorite short works--the song "So Close" (also know as "The Last Day") is by Evanescence, and, as always, Harry Potter and all other characters belong to J.K. Rowling. Only Mika is mine... crazy sap. For those who haven't read it, enjoy.

“So Close”

 

I've spent so much time

Throwing rocks at your window

That I never even knocked

On your front door…

 

            Curious, how beautiful a London Christmas seemed. The air was gray, the snow moist and filthy, making shhhhh sounds in the dreary afternoon, as though entreating children to be silent and not disturb the newly born piles of white, on ledges and the very tip-tops of lampposts. Vibrant wreaths decorated shop doors—there were cakes and puddings in windows; trains ran in enticing circles just at the eye line of covetous youngsters, counting each moment until Christmas morning, which, though only a day away, couldn’t be coming any slower. The streets were slick and black like an icy river, running through the city as though the very waters of the Styx, and the vehicles monolithic ferrymen upon it, accepting their fares and moving on with a gentle swoosh.

            Harry had never a chance to tread the streets of London during the winter—in fact, he had spent so much of his life within the magical world, he had very well forgotten the odd quirks and appreciable idiosyncrasies of his muggle heritage. And he wasn’t the only one. Oftentimes, he found Hermione beside him give a slight gasp when a car rushed by, rustling their jackets like an ill wind, and sweeping her hair away momentarily. The streets bustled with hurried shoppers, and the greatest miracle was in the fact that they had not yet lost one another.

            “Where did your parents want to meet you again?” Harry asked her at yet another light, talking rather loudly over the clatter of the busy sidewalk.

            “I already told you, The Leaping Salmon! It shouldn’t be that much farther, if I remember right!”

            Harry shook his head. It had become fast apparent that neither of them could adeptly navigate the London streets, and as much as he enjoyed a respite from Grimmauld Place, he didn’t much fancy getting lost, either. Hermione had promised her parents that, as she would be staying with friends over Christmas, she would meet them at a favorite restaurant—which was blessedly close to Order Headquarters—to have lunch. Not very keen on going on her own, and since Harry was suffering intense claustrophobia, she’d invited him along to keep her company. And as both had “conveniently” forgotten to alert certain Order members, they were in the clear for at least a few hours, without exacerbating bodyguards treading in their footsteps. It would certainly help to know where they were going, though.

            “Hermione, let’s take a break and try to figure out where we are,” Harry suggested before they crossed. “You don’t really look—“

            “Harry, I know where we’re going!” Hermione responded, turning on him irritably. “It’s just…” she looked about with determined eyes, her hair tossing. “Just…” She swallowed, alighting on the window of a shop. “You know, we have a bit, and I have to get my mum’s present wrapped in any case.”

            Harry fought back a snicker as Hermione pulled him away from the intersection and into the nearest store, letting the door shut with the gentle tinkling of a bell. It was a standard Muggle gift shop, lit softly and bright with multi-colored Christmas lights; fake snow littered nearly every surface and sparkled benignly, onto manger scenes and ceramic angels, their arms open, sweet smiles simply dancing upon their lips. Harry peered at one as Hermione went to queue up at the counter—it did not look to him the way an angel should. There was a celestial quality missing from their visages, an inner glow, a blinding flash, a series of indescribable color that could not be conveyed by gaudy paint or gloss.

            “My mum used to say to me that we all have an angel, one that watches over us,” Hermione’s voice wandered into his reverie. He shifted his eyes somewhat cautiously in its directly, to find her watching him intently, very close at hand, brown pools soft and warmer than the shop itself, like cinnamon cookies before bed, freshly-made and sweeter than honey. “I’m not entirely sure I believe her anymore, but it was nice to think it when I was little.”

            Harry stared at her for a long moment, not daring to breathe; there, in her eyes, was a soft effervescence, a brilliant radiance, spun candy and flickering fire, smooth chocolate and electricity, running hot through his veins and quickening his heart to the pace of a lightning bolt, somewhere between cloud and sky, heavens and earth, before the shock, before the instance, before the next second, two figures on a Grecian urn, frozen in time.

 

I walk by statues

Never even made one chip

But if I could leave a mark

On the monument of the heart

I just might lay myself down

For a little more than I had…

 

            “Harry?” came Hermione’s voice again; Harry shook his head, as though to clear it.

            “D’you know, Hermione,” he began, afraid to stop and terrified of going on, “that when I’m about to do something stupid, there’s always this voice in the back of my mind that tells me to be sensible… not put myself in danger. That voice… kind of… well, it does—it sounds like… you.”

            Hermione was silent for a long moment. The bell chimed; the cash register chinged.

            Like predawn sunshine, the slightest whisper of a smile tickled her lips beautifully, in a way that far outshone the whorish ceramic vassals on the shelf beside them—she breathed, her heart beat, engulfing her inner tissues with warm blood, a trace of brown freckles dotted her cheeks, her curly brown hair kinked at odd angles, frazzled by the winter winds—she was real, so unbearably, incredibly human.

            And in that instance, Harry realized that he would have died a thousand times over, left an unutterably meaningless existence behind, wandered in dark, his fumbling fingers outstretched and searching forevermore—had Hermione not come into his life. He found his lips forming words without his consent, soft and almost inaudible, yet an underlying portion of his mind knew that she would hear them.

            “You should believe your mum, Hermione. You’re living proof that she’s right. About angels, I mean.”

            He realized that the heat of the shop had begun to fog his glasses up a bit; still watching him with her calm intensity, Hermione slowly reached up and removed them—she gazed into his eyes, dissecting an unknown substance there, so sharp, so keen and gentle that Harry felt a shiver run through him, starting from the feet and reverberating up to his lips, little shoots of hot and cold flowing like transcendent adrenaline through his veins. The shoppers bustled by—did none of them notice the heart that beat like a tribal drum with his ribcage, irregular and pounding and thrusting searing blood throughout him?

            The door chimed. The register chinged.

            Hermione deliberately placed the cloudless glasses back upon his nose, never once looking away. Without stepping back or retreating an inch, she took his hand into hers.

            “My mum’s present is wrapped. Let’s go—it’s too hot in here.”

            Then, the smile still waltzing weightlessly upon her lips, eyes fervent and still afire, she tugged him out the door. Harry followed behind, somewhat short of breath and utterly bewildered, wondering at the things that had crossed his mind—Hermione was his best friend, he certainly cared deeply for her—but he had never seen her the way he had in the shop, never truly looked, never realized or made the connections or understood what she had done to his life. She was the first friend he’d ever had that he could trust with everything, his fears and thoughts and deepest concerns—even when he hadn’t told her, he had still known that he could. But what frightened him the most was the look of calculation and zealous intelligence he had glimpsed within her—she saw him, had always seen him, simply without his knowledge. As though she had been waiting for him to open his eyes, the perceptive core of her viewed at last his own understanding—yet Harry knew deep within that he did not understand—not yet. The mere idea of this girl beside him, pulling him through the crowds, her hand a warm spot in this eternity of cold winter, was terrifying. His heart was swelling—it felt so wonderful and so horrible, because he couldn’t wrap his mind around the idea, of what the bottom of his mind, the most primal and innate and intricate part of him, was saying…

            You… I… Her… She… Me… You… You—

            I don’t know how.

            “Dance with me, Daddy!” a little girl cried, her voice bubbly and jubilant—they were in a square now, just beside the bustling street alive with traffic—a choir on the walk was singing O Holy Night—out of the corner or his eye, Harry glimpsed a little girl in a blue jacket being spun about by her father, laughing with joy.

            “Fall on your knees!

            O, hear the angels’ voices!”

            Hermione stopped abruptly, her head turned away and watching the little girl. Harry, nearly at a loss for words, felt he should say something in any case—if for no other reason than to fill the void, to feel close to her again.

            “Hermione, I—“

            She whirled before he could finish, stealing his breath in a gasp—as though she had been holding it in for years, Hermione leapt up on her toes and pressed her lips against his, one hand still intertwined with his fingers, her other reaching up to the side of his neck to steady herself; Harry’s eyes shot open for a startled, star-struck moment—the world spun, nothing of it registered even as his sights landed upon it—there was only her and her body alight and close against his, the shaking in his limbs as he realized nothing, not even flying, had ever felt so natural or liberating or wonderful in his entire span of being, that the wings within his stomach were lifting him away above the earth—his eyes closed, his arms found the gentile curve of her back and pulled her in tighter, so that they were one collective existence, one essence, neither male nor female, neither light nor dark, neither on the ground nor flying through the heavens, but all and none at the very same time.

 

The last day…

The last day…

 

            Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we…

            “Daddy, daddy, lift me up!”

            Their lips’ embrace broke softly; they pulled an inch away, eyes still closed, a cold wind tugging at their clothes, pushing them together, pulling them apart, a darkly playful chess game made with singing mistrals. Harry felt Hermione’s lashes tickling his cheek as his eyes slid open and out of the dream. Another cold wind blew—her hair was twirling around her in a whirlwind of snowflakes, which seemed to be coming faster and faster still… Their eyes locked, hooded but alive, firing messages faster and more numerous to be deciphered by the logos of the human mind. At last, Hermione spoke, her voice low, slight, and lyrical—the voice ever present in the back of his head.

            “A storm’s coming.”

            She let go, returned to the heels of her feet and her normal height, keeping her hand in his, and approached the curb, watching the traffic with a partially intent eye. A break in the clouds appeared, beaming softly down on the street with a smile of gentle winter sunshine. Harry’s eyes closed once again, breathing in the cold air, so suddenly fresh and invigorating.

            “Thank you…” he whispered. “Hermione, I…”

            She took a step into the street, but at the sound of his voice, she turned to him—the beams of light seemed to move—they framed her like a halo of swirling mist, soothing and blinding, so beautiful it was breath-taking—and there it was, that ballet of a smile pirouetting about her lips, in the corner of her mouth, her eyes sparkling like a thousand silver bells, a thousand rushing creeks, a thousand winter suns on a thousand winter days, and one, singular, expositional and final moment, the beams just landing for that eternal second, soaring and plunging and soaring again, a bird with two wings turned to one, flying about in spiraling circles… In her eyes was his answer, without words, complete but unrefined, primal, gorgeous…

 

The last day.

 

            In years to come, Harry would never be able to quite describe what it is that happened—all he knew was that, as he blinked through the whirl of snowflakes that blanketed the day, there was a flash of red. When he opened them again, he caught the screech of wheels, the over-bearing scent of tar and rubber, saw the back end of a double-decker bus speeding past—and Hermione, as though the wind itself had swept her away, was no longer there.

            “Hermione…!” Harry gasped, his voice breaking. He was too shocked to connect what must have happened, too numbed, in that instant, to realize anything—only to find Hermione, who must have been on the other side of a car, the other side of a truck, just beyond his vision—he ran, through a tumult of confused and deafening traffic—honks, whistles, confused voices, all about him in an ear-splitting roar—invading him, tearing him apart—

Where is she, I know she’s here, just around that—

            And she was.

            It was as though some charitable soul had sprinkled the reddest of rose petals upon the snow—Harry had a distinct impression of the bright velvet dresses that little girls wore, that Hermione, even, must have worn to church, each year on Christmas. Trimmed in white, smooth and brilliant, swirling skirts and long sleeves, little matching ribbons in the hair, tiny flowers that walked through the snow, bundled up but as radiant as ever in that twirling, fair wonderland world… ephemeral, evanescent, will-o’-the-wisp creatures they were, these little winter angels, seen, like dryads, on one day of the year, holy and handsome and hard to grasp, sweet little sugar puffs, candy-canes, a dance of red and white.

            Harry realized he was cold, and wet… there was blood on his hands—his knees were drenched—and the form on the ground beside him was that of Hermione, already growing stiff and icy. A crowd was growing around them—a man was shouting, but it had grown somehow far away from him… a haze in the gray afternoon… the buildings were dingy, the snow was dirty, the blood was rapidly turning black… but her face, calm and untouched, was white as a winter morning.

 

Wait a time,

To spare these lies we tell ourselves…

 

            Harry bent over her, his body frozen, his hands inflexible and stinging like needles—but all that didn’t matter—it wasn’t real. There was only her, the lips still red as holly berries. Closing his eyes, shutting out the feel of that tiny, singular tear which froze on his cheek, he let their lips meet again, hoping to have once more that dancing smile, that sugary and wonderful pirouette of magic, and be one with it. The winds blew, but they smelled of peppermint and gingerbread, and all was light on the back of his eyes.

 

These days have come and gone—

But this time is sweeter than honey.

 

Fin 


Posted at 10:13 pm by Aubretia
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The Little Room

My only fanfiction for the 2004-2005 school year (my Freshman/Sophomore year of college), and a tribute to mine and my roommate's love of cartoons and newly-found disdain of politics, news, and sitcoms. The fanfiction belongs in the Teen Titans category, and the song is "Haunted" by Poe. Please enjoy, and feedback is ever and always appreciated.

The Little Room

Author: Aubretia Lycania

Rated: PG-13 for sexual references

 

“Pain and pleasure are but a moment to either.

Remember this.

Remember our wedding night. In the end,

I will leave no part of you untouched.

 

In that far place, remember me,

How I remain a prisoner of a little room,

Searching for one who loves me as I love.”

                                                --Gwen Strauss, Blue Beard

 

            “I already have a father.”

            The shadow of a dark-eyed storm flitting past—an alleyway, a leathery wing—I wonder if you’re there—and yet, in the corner of dreams and waking reality, the form I once recognized is replaced by red and black and liquid cruelty. We battle in the high air, and I am dwarfed by monolith letters. I’m a preteen again, wondering where you could have gotten to—why aren’t you here to protect me? You don’t lecture me on my lack of logic, assail my command decisions. You’re simply… gone; and in place of your comforting presence, the obsessed eye is upon me from the shadows. I swore already that I would not be like you—and yet, in him I see myself, and in him, the glimmer of fanaticism which gives you your indomitable power.

            It always seemed to me that you saw the lines so clearly. I wonder how hard, now, it must have always been for you; the darkness, the lonely night, relentless evil in every corner, never letting up on you. It’s supposed to be easy, simple, black and white worlds where everything is as it should be. Yet the potential is so great—so easily swayed, turned to the snakes of temptation. I think of Slade, and my blood boils as I hear that firm determination, the insane focus which drives my mind, playing over and over like a broken record.

            The others are right. I am obsessed.

 

Come here.

Pretty please?

Can you tell me where I am?

You… want to say something?

I need to get my bearings…

I’m lost—

And these shadows keep on changing.

 

Slade Wilson.

Widowed; veteran of the U.S. Army; father. Two sons, both deceased. One daughter, estranged.

Missing.

            All the better for them—they never would have approved of Terra, your confused, adopted protégé—your perfect daughter, and expression of your own focused hatred, sense of loss, wandering soul, the hunger to belong. Of course she turned on you; you turned on yourself. Did you seek to make us your children? I heard your son Jericho possessed you, locked himself deep within your heart.

            “You might even come to think of me as a father.”

            I refuse to believe that that was what you wanted. Too close, you and I. If the lives of my friends hadn’t been threatened, I would’ve laughed in your face. I know you’re gone—yet your voice plays over in my head.

 

And I’m haunted—

By the lives that I have loved,

And actions I have hated.

Haunted—

By the lives that rule the world,

Inside of my haunted head.

 

            “You shouldn’t spend so much time in that evidence room,” Cyborg intrudes. “Staring at his mask ain’t gonna bring him back. He’s dead, Robin.”

            A mask isn’t proof of anything. It doesn’t show me the face of the man, the soldier, the father. It doesn’t answer my questions, or lay the issue to rest. The obsession lives. I need to know who you are, Slade Wilson.

            Here in the evidence room, the air is choking dust, the cold lays low to the ground, and I’m staring into the puzzle of a splintered mask which, even now, seems to hide you from me. The light is playing tricks. It flickers, as of another presence—Starfire or Raven, no doubt, here to lead me away from your remains. Your voice whispers again. I stand from the box, lingering without stance, staring past the endless corridors into the beyond.

 

Don’t cry; there’s always a way.

Here in November in this house of leaves we’ll pray.

Please…

I know it’s not the burning year.

See a perfect forest through so many splintered dreams.

You and me—

And these shadows keep on changing.

 

            “I see you found my mask. How typical—I knew it would take no more than that to fool your naïve young mind. I’ve returned for you, my apprentice.”

            It’s not a dream. The splintered mask is a tangible thing in my grip, and there upon your featureless face, a perfect, unbroken replica—the dark form leaning comfortably against a pile of boxes, coffin-like, watching me unflinchingly. The voice hasn’t changed by a single tremble, the rhythm undisturbed. My stance comes back to me; I prepare to do battle in a fluid motion more natural to my muscles than breathing—I was born for this fight. It screams at me from my every blood vessel, the fluids which jet through me—the adrenaline heightening my senses, the endorphins, prepared for the pain, already numbing me from the rest of the world. We are Earth, in this circle of grey light and unperceivable shadow. This is the only easy thing in existence.

            Slade…” I say, and the great dance continues.

 

And I’m haunted—

By the lives that I have loved,

And actions I have hated.

Haunted—

By the promises I’ve made,

And others I have broken;

I’m haunted—

By the lives that rule the world

Inside of my haunted head.

 

            His strength is greater than ever—his reflexes tight, moves quick and cat-like, water rushing where it will with the least amount of energy possible. A swipe at my legs, a jolt to the stomach—and with a crash I’ve thundered into a wall of boxes and his shadow is there, dark, statuesque mouth prepared to swallow me whole.

            “Foolish boy,” he purrs; our masks are inches apart. “Did you think it so hard for me to create a replica? What an easy ploy to make you think I was dead. I’ve been waiting here all this time, waiting to get you alone. I did say that you would be my apprentice, Robin. And I hate to lose.”

            His hands press against the boxes, his arms are a veritable cage preventing my escape. I’ve become a bird in a cage.

            Something moves in me, a great mystery, and I do not flinch. I feel him lift his digits and begin, tenderly, to lift the mask away from my eyes, revealing the blue beneath.

            “Richard Grayson,” he whispers; my very bones shiver. The last soul to utter the name to my face was Bruce Wayne—my mentor. My father.

 

Always…

Always…

I’ll always want you…  

 

            “Adopted by Bruce Wayne, president of Wayne Enterprises and eccentric millionaire. Tell me, Richard, what brings you to the Titans instead of at his side?”

            I frown; Richard Grayson doesn’t feel like answering questions just yet. I lift my hands—he doesn’t move to prevent me—and start to unhook that great, one-eyed mask.

            It is a face made of shadow itself—engravings of time forever upon the white stone. The patch speaks of the half-sight, the hair is alabaster, the eyes are sharp and sad and so, unutterably human, yet monstrous in their complexity. I blink at last; there is a flash, static—in his countenance I sense a change—and there I see Bruce, Batman, the determined eyes of Robin, fanatical to the very last.

 

I’ll always need you

 

            The blur of faces has leant itself to my lips, and the mystery amasses. The voice inside me screams—Robin, Richard—I don’t understand. Slade Wilson is intruding upon my mind, consuming every thought, every image into the darkest corners there. The flesh, the secrets are bared. He parts from me briefly; my voice is shaking.

            “Wh—who are you?”

            “Isn’t that plain to you by now, my dear boy?” he says in that same, mechanical purr.

 

I’ll always love you

 

            He is moving within me, that infinite mystery—and the shadows of our separate world only seem to deepen. I want to scream aloud—this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be easy. Each time we fought, it seemed the universe became simpler, a block of black and white which slowly sought to meld together into a nonsensical, room-temperature porridge where right and wrong cease to exist; but in those moments, the maze was solved—or perhaps it only went away completely. And in our little room once again, I see the unsolvable riddle with my face that obsesses me. He pulls away again, still hiding behind those many shadows, though the material mask has been removed. He gazes with those cruel human eyes, seeking to lose me again in their conundrum.

           

And I will always miss you.

 

            “You’re not real,” Richard whispers to the quiet dark.

 

Come here.

No, I won’t say please.

Look at the ghost before I’m gonna make it leave.

Come here—

I’ve got the pieces here—

Gonna gather up the splinters,

Build a casket for my tears.

 

            I’m standing there alone again, with the shards of a broken mask clenched between my fingers within my little room. I sink down against the wall of boxes beside that one open grave—dust, soot, and some armor. The ringing emptiness is infinite, cold and terrible. I seek the whisper of your presence within me—a broken boy hoping for comfort in the stillness, open to the world at last. Behind the mask of black and white, the blue eyes of Richard Grayson survey the long corridors which stretch on for eternity.

 

I’m haunted

By the lives that I have loved;

I’m haunted…

By the hallways in this dirty room, the echo there—

Me and you.

Voices that are carrying this tomb…

I’m haunted…

 

            My hands are moving unbidden, piecing the shards of that mask into a whole once again, seeking to restore the featureless face which once surveyed me with an aurora of sad mysteries.

 

I won’t cry—

My heart will break before I cry.

 

            I cannot decipher the tears which fall upon that hard countenance; a sob fills the air like a far-away cry, echoing into the empty shadows.

 

I will go mad.

 

Fin

  


Posted at 10:09 pm by Aubretia
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The Garden of Forking Paths: An Expression of Post-colonial Isolation and Eclecticism

Hooray! Huzzah! My English 225 research paper! It only took an all-nighter... For anyone out there researching Jorge Luis Borges and his "Garden of Forking Paths," feel free to get some inspiration from either me or my excellent sources, posted in Works Cited. They are all located at the Literature Resource Center, which should be accessible to all public college and university students. Please enjoy, and feedback or comments are always appreciated.

The Garden of Forking Paths: An Expression of Colonial Isolation and Eclecticism

            In an era emerging from a world dominated by the grip of European imperialism both in land and in literature, the observation of writings from a distinctly Western stance is a learned and standard response. In this approach, the understanding of where an author in the New World—that, by the start of the twentieth century, was emerging to find its own distinct voice—is often lost. Colonized countries, South America in particular, found themselves influenced immensely by varying, and sometimes contradictory, cultural and linguistic forces; through this maelstrom of power struggles, coup d’etats, native slaughter, civil war, and class conflict, as well as the backlash of centuries of societal clash, it is difficult to find a language and an artistic form which accurately sets the unique mesh of influences apart from old world mother countries and the historical forces of the native land. Jorge Borges, in an effort to convey the inherent eclectic condition of his own culture—and, indeed, all cultures at the core—wrote his short story as a recombinant of ideals within a detailed setting, giving it both a personal and a global feel.

For a story so short and with limited time and space to present ideas, the concepts of Borges’s work are both lofty and complex. As a spring-board, he utilizes a confined setting, firmly rooted in a historical reality—namely, an exact point during the First World War, one fictional spy from China with a specific, overbearing enemy, and the recreated labyrinth of Tsun’s ancestor’s labyrinthine garden, created by sinologist Stephen Albert.

“The introductory paragraphs are thus presented as an excerpt from what the reader can conjecture is a published book of historical scholarship…. The presentation of this short story as historical "document" is further developed through reference to previous history books written on the same topic” (Brent).

These detailed, believable locations and modes allow for an intense working of symbols and descriptions that provide for the intellectual under-layer Borges presents. This working then moves the reader to embrace a separate idea—in a world of infinite details, in which “the individual can only be aware of a tiny fragment of it all, and at best only sense that ‘intangible swarming’ of the larger reality” (Bennet) and in which separate elements only serve to later show the infinite workings of varied correspondences, which is conveyed in the importance of “fragmentary evidence” (Brent). Borges affirms that “the afternoon was intimate, infinite” (2417)—an array of intense, close details, but varied past the realms of human awareness. “’The garden of forking paths’ was the chaotic novel; the phrase ‘the various futures (not to all)’ suggested to me the forking in time, not is space” (Borges, 2419). This mode is then partial to a larger concept entirely, that which the ancestor of the protagonist made at the center of his labyrinthine literary garden: time and the interwoven fates of human beings created by the decisions of those who came before. There appear to be no supernatural workings in Borges’s work, only a fascination with the metaphysical (Paz)—yet he asserts, rather than by the manipulations of God, it is by the infinite paths of possibilities that lives and circumstances come to be—inevitably, the human experience is that of pure eclecticism. This view of a larger picture is made possible through the most intimate details; only as we know in all directions our narrator can go into his separate realities. “That picture, as represented by the book and the garden, is one of a universe in which any particular ‘story’ is merely one string of events in an innumerable forking of events” (Bennet).The confined universe provides a stage for all possible outcomes and a truly expanded view.

Borges was a forerunner of postcolonial texts—his writing emphatically represents the strand of eclectic literature coming out of the colonized world. For example, the confined world of The Garden of Forking Paths presents as protagonist a Chinese man influenced by his own ancestors, in England as a German spy, with the World War at his fingertips. He simultaneously is affected and affects everything in the timeline—and he does so globally. No setting could reflect this understanding of the universe as a combination of all elements—not just the paradigm of a single country or mindset—effecting everything at once. Though much of the tangent appears somewhat irrational, “the problematizing of time and space and of historical and fictional narration are primarily a correlative of a colonized history and an incohered identity, of incomplete modernity and uneven cultural development” (Aizenberg). The concept of ambiguous forking paths reflects the incoherent identity of estranged Europeans in colonized countries. This estrangement results in a sense of alienation, isolation, and weariness in the search of cultural society. Aizenberg, whose critique avidly adheres to the concepts of a postcolonial reading in Borges’s work, goes on to assert that colonial writing “connects cultures and literatures that have infrequently, if ever, spoken to each other” and that his writings’ “uncritical incorporation into a metropolitan repertoire indicates that the centering impulse of a ‘decentered’ postmodernism is far from gone”—in essence, that postcolonialism and postmodernism run hand-in-hand, both illustrating a drive towards a shift from traditions. This shift then goes in search of new traditions, and a distinct world voice. Argentinean literature—and, indeed, all colonial literature—is inherently submissive to the leadership of Europe, and must then learn through time to redefine itself. Borges presents, as central theme, the concept of time and influencing elements from throughout the world in his short story. He then presents a protagonist who, though he knows these influences are there, must ultimately define himself and make his own decisions. The now is inevitably all that is important.

Alluding to the final outcome of successful colonial ventures—the finding of the voice through varying elements—Borges then propounds the idea of the converging paths which come back to the beginning, or the origin. “I could think of nothing other than a cyclic volume, a circular one. A book whose last page was identical with the first, a book which had the possibility of continuing indefinitely” (Borges, 2418). Inevitably, every author comes back to his or her precursors, in conveying through the blend derived from separate influences a recombinant of ideas. Here, the human being, the author, and the country as a whole are one and the same, undergoing the same journey, and all composed of disparate parts.

“Beneath English trees I meditated on that lost maze… I imagined it infinite, no longer composed of octagonal kiosks and returning paths, but of rives and provinces and kingdoms… I thought of a labyrinth of labyrinths, that would encompass the past and the future” (Borges, 2417).

Tsun’s instructions are “to always turn left” (2416)—both a common way of solving a labyrinth, but also a way to come around to the beginning—back to one’s origins (Bennett). He reflects that this day, the day he comes around the labyrinth is perceived with the “eyes of a man already dead… that day which was perhaps my last” (2416). In his essayist short story, Borges comes often back to his origins as a writer—namely, a “fascination with idealist systems and their lucid architecture: Berkeley, Leibnitz, Spinoza, Bradley, [and] the various Buddhisms” (Paz). These philosophical roots show their undersides quite often in The Garden of Forking Paths: the search for the self and for universal truth in the labyrinth of time, history, and the human condition, as well as the physical conditions of the material world, hearken to Buddhist ideals of transformation: the self is only found in the all-encompassing whole of life.

“The greater understanding that really occurs in this story is the reader's, perhaps; a kind of global or non-individuated understanding, as if knowledge, and humankind, did not exist in individuals, but as a kind of supra-knowledge, the consciousness of the swarm or whole” (Bennett). 

Borges’s approach, at the core, in inherently eclectic—his central point then makes itself apparent with more clarity: his is the writing of diverse alchemy, that fuses together—as a child in development does, and as a child country with separate, various influences attempts—the individual parts of wholes once isolated. This alchemy then creates an object or a paradigm of unprecedented uniqueness, which then feels, as Tsun does—and, indeed, as Borges did as he approached the end of his life (Paz)—the further weariness of an alienated and searching existence. The reader thus becomes the protagonist—they, like Tsun, must become immersed in the labyrinth and come away from the book to make their own decisions—merely understanding the labyrinth and the millions of parts which compose it does not remove control from the individual or responsibility. Borges conveys the certain weariness in this understanding primarily in the last lines of his work (Elmajdoub and Miller): “(no one can know) my innumerable contrition and weariness” (2421). Borges illuminated these disparate parts even in the whole of his unique works—the “chimerical constructions of reason” (Paz) which compose the world and the paths to truth. “Borges served two opposed divinities: simplicity and strangeness. Frequently he brought them together, and the result was unforgettable the naturalism of the uncommon, the strangeness of the familiar” (Paz).

            This brings the audience, of course, to review the finished product—the clarity, the clear-cut and concise work that is the postmodern American—that is, the postcolonial—attitude. This clarity, the fusing together of unrelated parts: the Spanish, the Swiss, the Gaucho, the influence of European imperialism, is present is a defined genre of literature—the voice—of Argentina that Borges here establishes. “Borges's innovations in the Spanish language and in prose fiction give rise to a Latin American literary movement that is still in force…. without Borges the modern Latin American novel simply would not exist…. it also signals a culmination” (Bell).  He does not need to write in maze-like tangents, quote in several different languages, or reference Argentine history—the history of Argentina is the history of mankind, the constant “swarming” of cultures which filter into one another, creating children of children of all varying forms and patterns. It is the fundamental parts—the idea of many sewn-together pieces—that has prevalence. “Imagination is the faculty that associates, that builds bridges between one object and another; it is the art of correspondences…. the intelligence to stick to the essential, to weed out parasitic growths” (Paz)—in these correspondences, Borges had the power to present the labyrinth which forked out into all directions, and inevitably looped back into itself into a precise and recondite whole:

“…the humid garden that surrounded the house was infinitely saturated with invisible persons. These persons were Albert and I, secret, busy, and multiform in other dimensions of time. I raised my eyes and the tenuous nightmare dissolved. In the yellow and black garden there was only one man” (Borges, 2420).

In the end—through all the various futures, the many broken down and compiled elements which may be further dissolved, the many conflicting forces that may make up the author’s beliefs, the make-up of a man, or the cultural colors of a country, invariably there remains one round picture—one ball of time—or all paths leading to the center of the labyrinth. More precisely, it is to define the labyrinth itself in correspondence with all time, and all mankind: the vision of one “yellow and black garden” in which there is “only one man” traveling infinitely through truths and paths forking away from others but leading in the same direction.

Works Cited

Aizenberg, Edna. “Borges, Postcolonial Precursor.” World Literature Today, Vol. 66, No. 1, Winter, 1992, pp. 21-6.

Bell, Gene H. “Borges- Literature and Politics, North and South.” The Nation, February 21, 1976, pp. 213–17.

Bennett, John M. “The Garden of Forking Paths: Overview.” Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 1st ed., ed. Noelle Watson: St. James Press, 1994.

Borges, Jorge Luis. The Garden of Forking Paths. The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Vol. F. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1956, pp. 2414-2421.

Brent, Liz. “Overview of ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’.” Literature of Developing Nations for Students, Vol. 1, The Gale Group, 2000.

Elmajdoub, Aburawi A. and Miller, Mary K. “The ‘Eternal Now’ in Borges' ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ and ‘Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote’.” The Durham University Journal, Vol. LXXXIII, No. 2, July, 1991, pp. 249-51.

Paz, Octavio. “In Time’s Labyrinth.” The New Republic, Vol. 195, No. 18, November 3, 1986, pp. 30–4.


Posted at 10:01 pm by Aubretia
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How Like An Angel

The comments were much, much appreciated! However, since the format was messing with the blog and I couldn't find the reason, I'm re-posting this fanfiction. It's Harry Potter-based, and the songs in italics are by Evanescence, which do not belong to me. My original stuff's better anyways. For those who haven't read this, please enjoy, and feedback is always appreciated.

How Like An Angel

By Aubretia Lycania

 

“What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable; in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

-          Hamlet, William Shakespeare

 

I’m kind of surprised they gave me this journal to write in—they seem to be rather happy with me safely tucked away in a straight jacket and in the corner of my room, huddled up like a little child. They call it therapy for me to work through my “issues” this way, as I’m not exactly willing to talk in our group sessions. And why would I? It’s a bunch of maniac kids drooling and twitching, getting shot up with medicinal potions if they start even looking like they might be happy or excited, after which they go back to staring off into space, feeling absolutely nothing. They all have these creepy, blank eyes. It scares the hell out of me.

I have a pretty strong feeling they’re going to read this—the nurses seem real keen to get into my head and figure out a concrete way to call me insane and keep me here. It’s what the Ministry wants, I know that. Fudge probably reckons I’ll switch sides on him—being connected to Voldemort and all that. I’m a danger to everything they’re working for, and what better way of keeping themselves safe but to lock me in a padded room in the basement of St. Mungo’s with all the other psychotic wizarding children, tied up in a straight jacket and incapacitated by potions? That’s right, ladies. Just in case you’re reading this, I’m on to you.

I don’t really know what else to write about. Oh, cripes, there go the nurses again. I hate the group room. There’s this little brown-eyed girl that keeps staring at me, and I really want to stare back—her eyes are very pretty, and I can’t quite figure out why. If they were more alive they’d be gorgeous. Why I think that I don’t know. She sits in one position all day, and if she gets upset, blocks and things start getting up and levitating in circles around her. She’s downright spooky. There’s another girl who’ll be calm for hours at a time, then, out of nowhere, she’ll toss her head back and start screaming curses in Swedish. They say she’s been possessed by some overly persistent Viking demon since birth. She’s really good at chess when she doesn’t go round the twist on you in the middle of a game. Probably the scariest of the whole lot is a boy named Mika. Every few minutes or so, about a thousand slash marks will just appear all over his body, spraying blood everywhere—then a second later, the blood will disappear and the wounds heal up again, like nothing ever happened. Nevertheless, he’s a bit pale and stutters a lot. The walls are magical, so people outside the ward can watch us without our seeing them—I can hear them talking sometimes, about the other patients, about me. I bloody hate this place. I hope Lupin never reads this, he’d kill me for using that word. My hand hurts, and now Cindy wants to play chess again. She’s got that look in her eye, too. Maybe I can use my sleeves as earplugs?

 

Another day of interrogation. Oh, excuse me; they’re still calling it group therapy. I don’t see what was therapeutic about being prodded and poked on my childhood and sexual desires and watching Jonathan (another of the shaky ones) throwing up his sedative draft all over the floor. No matter—the tiles are even more disgusting when they aren’t moist with electric green vomit. They’re a kind of warped, sickly yellow and white, and look like some monster came in here a long time ago and sucked nearly all the color out of them. Come to think of it, everything here is like that, even the patients.

I wish there was a window here in my room. The light is so bright it makes my head spin and my hands look blue, so that I can see each and every vein running into them. It’s glinting off the buckles of the leather straps on my bed. I’ve tried taking them off during the night, but they’re magically enforced. Besides, the moment I fidget, a nurse swoops in with her pouch of bottles clinking in the darkness. Her eyes are just like Cindy’s Viking demon when those horrible lamps are off—and, mind you, sometimes at night they aren’t off, which is even worse. She forces a weirdly sweet potion down my throat and sweeps off again, in the same ill tempered, twitchy way that Snape does. But I’d give anything to see him and not her, just for a moment.

The air never moves here—it stays the same, smells the same, and hardly anyone ever disturbs it. I’ve begun to notice the subtle differences—the sterile stench of the morning just after the orderlies have finished their disinfectant spells, the strengthening of the underlying scent of a thousand potion ingredients at midday, when we are all brought up for our medicine—pickled frog eyes and bat’s feet, the sour primary foundations of the sedatives, the cold, grainy, earthy odor of moonstone, used in befuddling drafts. There is the fatty smell of antibacterial chicken-skin gloves, the abrasive chemical rank of the fluid that sterilizes the needles and other tools. There is the ever-constant, metallic smell of human blood, the pungency of defecation, and the acidic, almost sweetish odors of vomit and stale, icy sweat, always to be found on the air. Sometimes I’ll spend an hour, maybe more, figuring them all out, dissecting each breath, when they leave me here like this in my room to be observed. Sometimes I’ll count the stitches in the padding on the wall, staring at the harsh white until I think I can see a castle on a lake, where clouds drift lazily by, teased by spring breezes. And when I gaze long enough at that hideous tile for a good thirty minutes, I can see, in the nasty yellow swirls, a glimpse of the pitch, green as emeralds, the stands empty, at peace. Ron is flying in circles around the goal posts, and Ginny is throwing the quaffle, trying her hardest to score, bright red hair flying like a fiery mane, and her brother is laughing when she misses again. Down on the soft grass, Neville is stroking one of his new plants that would attack any other person who would try that with them, and Luna, wand behind her ear, has the Quibbler open, upside down of course, her dreamy eyes studying it intently, oblivious to the rest of the world. And finally, somewhere in the empty stands, sits Hermione, reading a book on Wizarding Law as it concerns declaring individuals insane, trying to find a way to get me out. The wind is tugging slightly at her curly hair, and her eyes are alive, like two dots filled with flame, cool and collected and utterly powerful—the cogs in her mind are turning furiously, and a thousand ideas are firing at once, being collected, sorted, and re-fired at an incredible rate.

Then I blink, and all I see are sickly yellow tiles in dizzying blue light.

 

            Mika keeps asking me if I want to watch him make himself bleed—hard to do, as it just happens anyway. I keep telling the bugger no, but all he does is explode a minute later, covering me with blood, before it’s all gone again. A part of me knows it will always disappear, but I can’t help seeing it drenching my hands, warm and the texture of velvet, the soft scent hovering below my nose. It’s Cedric’s blood, Sirius’s blood, my parents’ blood, a splatter of hot, brilliant red in the cold of a London Christmas carol, staining the dirty snow with a splash of new color in the drab grey light. And just like that, he takes it back again. I wish he’d just stop.

            That tile is really disgusting. But I can’t help staring at it. Hermione has taken to waving at me from the pitch, and Neville has a weird new cactus that glows purple at dusk. Sometimes, just after they feed me my medicine, I’ll get that soaring sensation in my stomach, like I’m flying my Firebolt, and I can hear Ron laughing somewhere behind me, Ginny calling, and the rush of wind roaring and rushing past by my ears.

            Maybe I can cover it up with a sheet from off my bed. No, they’d notice and think it’s some lunatic episode I’m having. I just don’t like the way it looks, because whenever I stop seeing the pitch, that tile is there again, ugly as ever. Why would anyplace in the Wizarding world have tile like that? It’s something Muggles put in their hospital wings, all flecked and horrible. Maybe if I think hard enough, it’ll transfigure into wood flooring or something.

 

            Since when was defending yourself from getting sprayed with blood called a psychotic outburst? I pushed Mika away—why shouldn’t I have, when those slashes just kept appearing all over him, trying to drench me again? He does it on purpose—I just know it. So he hit his head; it’s not as though he had any sane brain cells to be killed in any case. He needed someone to knock some sense into him. Stupid psycho. I want to feel sorry for him, I really do, but I’m tired of people being miserable. Everyone has a sob story—it makes me want to throw up and pull their hair out of their heads –that’s when I’d like to watch Mika bleed. When his hair is matted with sticky black and he’s screaming shrilly like a prepubescent girl. Of course I’d like to watch you bleed, Mika.

            Oh, and Isolation is really funny. That was my “punishment” for attacking Mika, after the sedatives wore off. They said it was for my own—and the other patients’—psychological well-being. Bullshit. As though I want to be battered by levitating number blocks and shouted at in Swedish and have to listen to the nonsensical stuttering ramblings from dusty corners. I’d rather be alone in the soundless dark, where I can’t see my fingers covered in blood or that disgusting yellow tile or Hermione waving to me, a smile alighting on her beautiful, ageless face, shining in the sunset light, a straight jacket wrapped tightly around me like comforting arms—cold, lightless peace, like the crypt. I saw odd things there—a red double-decker bus—Christmas wreaths—a little girl dancing with her father—Hermione turning to me, framed by light, eyes sparkling—there in the dark, like fireflies, behind my eyelids when I tried to escape them. But it doesn’t matter—it was probably just my head trying to entertain itself—like when you dream about flying oysters and bagpipes—none of it makes any sense, it’s just amusement while your seratonin levels go up. It’s nothing. In any case, when they put me back in my room, I guess the potions had got to me a bit, because I was babbling like an idiot. So they left the straight jacket on for a while after that. Can’t imagine why.

 

            I’m so tired of that group room, I want to scream, oh god Cindy is so annoying, those psycho freaks need to know what it’s like in Iso. I hate that fucking tile.

 

            I that hermine was blood bus. want out they potion in my head where don’t

smell like fried chicken i’m hungry. hate tile hate place tile tile tile Hermione laughing at me my brain is revolving tingle hot cold tile tile It hurts, I want to go home sleep.

 

Disregard that last entry. Stupid journal, it won’t let me erase or cross anything out. Just in case anyone’s wondering, the Head Nurse can go fuck herself with that “electric therapy” thing of hers. It certainly didn’t do me any good. Great idea, woman, make the patients even more psychotic by pumping electricity into their brains. Where’s the bloody logic in that? Certainly explains why everyone drools liters by the hour. And guess what, I’ve another appointment with electrocution in the morning. Watch me dance around this irritating little cell of mine. This fucking place is insane. I swear Hermione’s making fun of me from that hideous tile, I’m going to rip every single one of them out—there’s forty-five in this room, I counted. I could do it.

 

Maybe none of it was real. I mean, think about it—maybe after my parents died in a car crash after getting completely smashed at a party, I went absolutely batty and they stuffed me in this place, and the Dursleys, the magical world, were all a big dream I came up with in my insane stupor to be able to stand all of it, to feel like some tragic hero, so I wouldn’t have to face reality. Wouldn’t that be a mind-fuck? And then something happened in my little dream world to make me start waking up, and all my dream friends aren’t really there, so they can’t very well love me or care about me or die, I just imagine that they do. If I tried, I could change anything that happened. Hermione didn’t really…

All right, this bus of thought is going nowhere. Train, I mean. I don’t like buses. They’re just these huge clunking hunks of metal that go round corners too fast and don’t watch where they’re going. Maybe I made those up too. Perhaps she just got too close, and I couldn’t handle the fact that she wasn’t real even when it felt so good, so had the bus come rocketing around, and when she turned to me gorgeous in my made-up winter sunshine, irresistible and wonderful, I just made her disappear. That’s kind of how it was. But I don’t care—she wasn’t real, none of it was real, not magic or Ron or Luna or Dumbledore or Sirius or my parents being heroes or Neville or the Ministry or Lupin or the Weasleys and how they always looked after me, none of it was real, not even her, so it doesn’t matter.

If she was real, she wouldn’t have kissed you then had the stupid idea to walk out into the street like an idiot and turn to you, smiling so brightly you thought nothing in the world could ever look ugly again—and now look, she’s nothing but a face in that hideous tile, jeering you from imaginary Quidditch stands while you’re sitting here alone. It’s almost funny. So that’s my capacity. I managed to create and keep perfect love until it just reached its maximum point, the brim of the water glass, the place just below the highest existence of actually moving from the conception into the action, and, like a light, I put it out with a blink of the eye, faces in the tile that are gone before you even look away, and they were never there to begin with—so why does it hurt so bloody much?

 

She hates me. Hermione, please please stop telling me it’s real, it’s not, you’re not, I got rid of you, it’s my choice, everyone who loves me dies, that’s how it is in that world, the only way it works. She keeps looking at me—the others are gone, it’s just her sitting out late into the night, like she’s waiting for me to come back—but I won’t, I won’t let you disappear again—stop looking at me, you sadistic bitch—go back to your book, I got rid of you, fuck fuck fuck, go away, your blood’s all over my hands, all over me, like it was when I blinked and you’d disappeared, why’d you leave—I made you gone, I could bring you back anytime I wanted to so stop laughing at me like I can’t change a thing, you aren’t real! You can’t laugh at me if you aren’t there anymore—I’ll get rid of you once and for all, then we’ll see who’s laughing, that’s what you get, that’s what you get, I’ll make you ugly, I’ll make you nothing again, just what you always were before, before I stared and saw you in the tile and made you real, made you mine, made you dead, and I’ll make you NOTHING!

 

 

 

It was just before midday when Remus Lupin stepped lightly from the lift, a whisper on the tiled floor, and slipped quietly into the Children’s Psychiatric Ward of St. Mungo’s; the expression on his face was somber and heavy with a thousand thoughts and worries, each etching a line irrevocably into his young flesh. His shabby robes swished about his feet, a deep black that time had not yet faded to grey, much the same as the suit beneath, and even the thread that darned various rips. He reached the nurses’ station, lifted a soft hand and rang the tinny bell once, listening to its shrill echo as it filled the little waiting room, which ended in heavily reinforced doors, locked from the outside with a large metal switch. He repressed a shudder at the sterile cold of the ward—to think that Harry was tied up in this terrible place—but no, Dumbledore had said that it would be in his best interest to be committed for a couple months, to receive professional help instead of their feeble hands, and rather than being forced to engage in normal social interaction at school. Yet Remus could not entirely fight off the slight tightening of his stomach, which foreboded darkly to his conscious mind—he knew Harry and his escapist tendencies all too well. He needed to be surrounded by familiar people and places, not merely stuffed out of the way where he would no longer be a burden.

An elderly nurse, her hair bleached a silvery platinum blonde, approached the counter and smiled rather unconvincingly—a smile full to overflowing with rotting, blackening and mossy teeth which magic had not dared to cure—holding the clipboard defensively before her chest like a battle-worn shield.

“Visitor?” she asked unnecessarily in a crone-like, croaking voice.

“Yes,” Remus responded through the glass, as politely as possible, despite his shock at the grotesque caretaker before him. Harry must have had good laugh about this one. “My name is Remus Lupin. I’m here to see Harry Potter, in Ward B.”

The nurse lost her smile. “I’m sorry, but Mister Potter is quite incapable of receiving visitors at the moment. I’m afraid you’ll have to come back an—“

“Why?” Remus asked hurriedly, both hands coming down on the counter with a sharp crack, disrupting the little bell. His calm eyes had become wild. “What’s happened to him?!”      

The nurse took a step back from the glass, looking sternly at him, as though reprimanding an impertinent child. “Sir, please calm yourself before I call an orderly. Mister Potter has had a number of psychotic episodes in recent days. He has lashed out at fellow patients—putting them in need of emergency medical attention in many cases. The Head Nurse saw fit to place him into shock therapy, since which he has been kept in solitary confinement. He is violent and unresponsive to most forms of psychological treatment.”

Remus closed his eyes and took a very deep breath. One, two, three

“Please, it was me that had him committed at the first. I’m his guardian—I need to see him. I’ve just come from one of his best friends’ funeral—“

“Hermione, perhaps?” the nurse interjected, a keen, clever look coming into her eyes. At Remus’s evident shock, she smirked. “We’ve allowed him a journal to record his thoughts—at the moment, it’s the only treatment that seems to be working. He mentions her quite a bit, particularly as of late.” She considered him for a moment. “Very well. It’s often the parents and caretakers that need the most convincing. It’s just about time for him to be receiving his medicine in any case. Come along.”

The nurse hitched out her clunking ring of keys and exited the nurses’ station; she strode briskly towards the enforced, heavy doors and opened a pattern of locks in a particular order, until at last the doors swung slowly inward. Remus frowned as he followed along in her curiously joyful wake, past cell after cell, from which came sounds both intriguing and terrifying, whimpers, mumbles, snarls, screams…

“Tell me, ma’am, just what is ‘shock treatment’?” he asked cautiously, his voice nearly catching—it didn’t sound good, whatever it was.

“A therapeutic technique for our most troublesome and violent patients, which sends an electric shock, coupled with a ribbon of magic, directly into the brain. Done numerous times, it works to eliminate aggressiveness. Potter’s next treatment is scheduled for tomorrow morning—he’s already had several thus far.”

He’ll be long gone by that time, Remus found himself thinking. A wave of cold overtook him again as a stream of shouted cursing reached him from behind a door.

“Cindy Baker,” the nurse mused, shaking her head, making the repulsive silvery-blonde curls swing stiffly. “Her outbursts have become ever so much worse since the incident. Potter overturned a table on her; bruised her diaphragm rather badly.”

“You can’t mean Harry,” Remus said, disbelieving, and looking from Cindy’s door to the nurse. “He’s angry, certainly, but he has been in the past. It takes quite a bit to make him want to hurt people, and he always goes for those he finds at fault. He’s just not like that.”

The nurse snorted derisively, not facing him and continuing her brisk tread. “The boy you knew, Mister Lupin, is no longer with us. You have obviously overestimated his mental capacity for stress and grief.”

“I told you, ma’am, he’s not like that,” Remus responded, his voice low and dangerous.

The nurse placed her gnarled hand on the shining, sliver knob of a door at the end of a corridor; she turned at last to face him, a sneer playing about her thin, lemon-juice lips.

“You think so, Mister Lupin? You seem so very sure that no matter the event, your little ward, at least, can pull through—even if no one else can. Do you think he’s celestial, Mister Lupin? Divine? I can very much assure you that you will find quite a different person than what you’ve come to see. He feels nothing but anger, expresses nothing but an astonishing amorality; he is a danger to everyone around him. That is the truth of the situation, and neither you nor I can deny it, or cure it.”

She set to work on the many locks, ignoring the quietly seething eyes of Remus Lupin, watching her every movement, silently willing her to burst into flames. He felt a failing disappointment when she did not.

The door creaked slowly open, and Remus heard both himself and his companion gasp aloud in evident horror and slight awe.

The nurse spun on her heels and went clicking down the hall in her shining black Mary-Jane shoes, shrieking for an orderly; Remus, however, remained frozen in the doorway, taking in the sight before him in a surprised but somewhat gentle fashion, as though he had seen the sight before.

The austere, bluish light that flooded the rest of the ward was dimmer here—one of the two lamps which emitted the glow swung down over the room, broken into several pieces, hanging like a severed body, limp and impotent. The bed leaned at a forty-five angle, one of its legs bodily disassembled, and it shook as though readying itself to collapse. But the singularly most terrible part of it all was the sound.

Clink, clink. Clink, clink.

It was a hard, gravely sound, and came from behind a high pile of dull yellow flooring tiles, flung helter-skelter into a tottering heap beside the bed. The top-most tiles had been sprinkled over with an ominous amount of darkening blood, and, even as he watched, another leapt up to join the fray, clattering and causing the upper portions to fall away and reveal the cause of their disturbance.

Remus began walking forward, into the mangled room.

He was crouching low on a foundation of rough wood and concrete, working fervently on yet another tile, chipping madly away at it as though each blow, each fragment torn away, caused him insurmountable pain, his feet and hands cut and bleeding over his metallic instruments stolen from the bed—tears leaking unbidden from his eyes even as he chuckled lowly, emitting the occasional isolated, inaudible word. Remus found tears falling over his own cheeks. There was shouting in the corridor, but he shut it out, heard the door click behind him and did not remember closing it.

“Harry?” he asked the still air and the eerie, flickering light, fearing those intent, savage eyes so wide and beautiful in their single-minded madness. After a moment, during which the terrible clink-clinking finally subsided, the eyes found him. It seemed an eternity, before Harry’s shaky, unsteady young voice filled the room, tearing Remus’s heart to shreds.

“Sh—she wouldn’t… wouldn’t stop… laughing at me. Because I couldn’t do anything this time. I couldn’t do anything!”

Remus smiled gently, trying with all his might to stop the tears. He failed. “Not even the angels could stop themselves from falling.”

Posted at 09:34 pm by Aubretia
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