Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

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The Adventures of Thalia and Friends: The Starbucks Run

The upside of living on a college campus is that students tend to leave food everywhere. Sometimes they’ll even just give you food, if you do something funny for them.

The downside though is that they never give you the food you want. Ask for the hot dog, and you get part of the bun. Just one piece of pepperoni? They’ll give you a glob of cheese. Trying to get some of that divine smelling chicken? Hope you like pickles, cause that’s probably what you’ll get instead!

Personally, I don’t like trying to get food from humans. It’s a lot of effort for very little reward, and I always run the risk of being met with screams when I let them see me. Also, it only works outside (students hate finding a rat in the dorm rooms,  found that one out the hard way).

Calliope, however, loves getting humans to give up food, and as I am her best friend, she drags me out with her occasionally, and since today was the first time in months it had been warm enough for students to actually go outside, we left the relative comfort of the dorm room to make the journey to the campus Starbucks.

Calliope bounded up to the patio to beg for scraps, immediately getting a reaction from the humans. I decided to hang back, since Calliope was way better at this sort of thing.

“Awww, what a cute little mouse!”

“Ew! Rebecca, it probably has rabies!”

“Oh, don’t be mean, Kaitlyn. I’ll bet she’s just hungry.” The human was already pulling at whatever food item she had on the table. “Are you hungry, cutie?”

“Yes! Very! Give me your food, human!”

“Just listen to those happy squeaks!” The human cooed again and then tossed down some kind of bread. “There you go! Enjoy!”

Calliope grabbed the bread and returned to the bush I was hiding under. “Check it out, Thalia! It’s got something really yummy smelling on it!”

The bread did smell good, but it was still only bread. “Great work, Calliope!”

“Are you gonna try and get something, Tals?”

“I’m not sure they’d give me anything,” I said.

“So steal it.”

Calliope squeaked and practically jumped ten inches into the air at the unexpected voice, but I’d seen our new companion approaching from around the side of the building.

“Hey Polyhymnia,” I said, giving the raccoon my best smile.

“Polly! You scared me!” Calliope said, recovering from her fright. “And what do you mean steal?”

Polyhymnia grinned, letting her mischievous nature shine through. “Watch and learn, Cali.”

Polyhymnia crept towards the patio, keeping out of sight whenever she could.  She was only a few feet away from the humans Calliope had begged from when she pounced, hissing and baring her teeth.

The humans screamed, dropped their food and drinks, and then ran away. “This is why you don’t feed wild animals, Rebecca!”

Polyhymnia dragged her bounty off the patio, and Calliope and I rushed to help her.

“Woah! You got so much food!” Calliope said, investigating a sweet smelling bread.

“Not just food!” Polyhymnia said, nosing at the cups. “This human drink is amazing! And these ones are cold, so no burns!”

“What is it though?” I sniffed at the white drink; it smelled sweet.

“I dunno. But you should try it!” Polyhymnia said, trying to pry the lid off of the cup she’d grabbed. The liquid in her cup was brown. I slipped my head into the opening at the top of my cup, and gave the mysterious drink a taste.

“Holy—”


“Ian! Check out that crazy rat!” Kyle pointed towards the edge of the patio, where a rat was going nuts after having gotten into someone’s coffee.

“Dude! We gotta get that on film; we can put it on Tik Tok!” Kyle said, already pulling out his phone. “You go, coffee rat!”

 

Love Poem

Hand raised,

Flinch and cover,

“Don’t hit me,”

In response to a loving caress of the cheek.

Pushed up against the wall,

Panic, “I can’t escape.”

Passionate kisses are impossible.

Grabbing wrist gently.

“No.” I must be able to fight.

“Don’t restrain me.”

I trust you,

But memories come back

Of every hurt you never inflicted.

I am fearful of speaking my mind

Because he screamed at me.

“You’re just my slut….

No one will want you….

You are selfish….

You are worthless…

I am the only one who loves you.”

He beat me,

Leaving watercolor rectangular bruises on the back of my thighs,

Smacking my face when I misbehaved.

He made me do whatever he wanted,

Covered me in kisses like nothing ever happened,

A bad dream nothing more.

My love never treated me like a broken porcelain doll

But rather saw me,

Beautiful and strong,

An invincible girl mistreated and deserving of love.

Love says, “You deserve everything.”

Love gave me back to myself after he destroyed me.

Love still has to deal with the scars of my past,

But never tires of loving and caring for me.

Love treats me like a warrior princess

Holding me close to his chest,

Always understanding of what I need.

Love is my everything.

Forgive and Forget

Part 1: Forgive

You forgave the mother who
Birthed, traumatized and left me in fear
You forgave the best friend who
Spent years putting me down to make himself feel better
You forgave that girl on the bus who
Barely knew you but touched you without consent
You forgave that short blonde girl who
Broke your heart and kissed her crush in front of you
You forgave the drug dealer who
Threatened to assault you because of false accusations
You forgave the nerdy best friend who
Left you to be tormented by the other kids
You forgave the 7th-grade class who
Bullied you to the brink of antisocial isolation
You forgave the father who
Was barely around and used you as physical labor
You forgave all of these people

Or did you?
You spent years letting
The emotions tear away
You let the pain
Sit on your shoulders
You let the emotion bundle up inside like a butterfly
In a cocoon
It hatched
And flew away
Now the feeling is gone

You don’t care
Why forgive people
Who don’t deserve it?
If the body is numb
Is the mind numb?
Does the emotional trauma heal
Or does it get worse?
Time heals all wounds
But some wounds stain the mind
Fear’s trophy case
Does it really even matter anymore?

Hold the feelings in your hands
Let them slide between your fingers
Into the dark abyss
One lie at a time
One fear at a time
Watch it fall
And then let the tension
Drop like rain
One drop at a time
But enough to
Let the sun out
So you can see your shadow
Of who you were

Part 2: Forget

Breathe….1, 2, 3….
And like a gasp of air hold it in
And then let it out
Whoosh, let the emotion out
Like a summer breeze, it will calmly escape
And you’ll forget
Ignorant bliss
Memory does not stay in the mind
It flees
Because it doesn’t want to face the pain
You want to forget
You always did

Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 4: Celestial Chief

Aliene looked up past the branches into darkness. “Yes it was.” Aliene stood pulling her sword and bow out of her pack.

As Jacobus loosed his reach and contracted it, the muscles in his arms visible grew. With a blast of wind from the brush a voice called to them, saying something just out of hearing. The pair exchanged glances until Aliene froze, visibly disturbed. “Did you hear that?”

“Just now?” Jacobus questioned, Aliene nodded. “No.”

“There it is again,” Aliene stood from her crouched position. “It’s calling me to it.”

“What is?”

“I don’t really know,” Aliene started walking sword still raised. “Come on, grab the brick from my bag.”

Jacobus didn’t answer, just obeyed and followed behind her, leaving his own pack and the rest of hers. He looked past Aliene into the inky blackness that enveloped her, then it filled his own vision. Until the faint glow of something in the distance appeared, and a voice came from all around saying, ‘Go towards it and fire an arrow.’

“Now that I—” Jacobus was cut off by Aliene shushing him.

After the sounds of a bow creaking followed by the whoosh of its release, an explosion of light rushed past them. What had been a black abyss was now filled with countless flecks of light. Swirling like firefly’s in a dome, that then became still appearing to be stars in a clear sky. Jacobus felt a hand on his shoulder force him into kneeling, he fought it in vain till he saw what it was. A man taller and broader than any Jacobus had ever seen, and as the being passed by him he saw the legs of an equian. It was in fact a full body of an equian as the beings lower half, the feet of which were large thick talons, the digits linked by webbing. His whole body had a rough skin that glistened like scales, and a pair of long folded fins sprouted from the sides of his left forearm.

“Daughter do you know me?” the voice from earlier said as the being approached Aliene.

She had fallen to her knees staring at it, “Yes,” her voice was meek.

“Say it, child of starlight.”

“Aquar Equias, Chief of hunters, Centauri,” Aliene flinched as the being flexed, extending his left arm and watched him pull his right hand along his left arm like you would a bow. She looked on in amazement as a sliver of pale blue light manifested, Centauri aimed upward and fired the sliver. It claimed into the air and burst becoming almost like a sun that began filling the area with soft blue light.

“Dear child how long I have watched you grow,” Centauri spoke with a voice that made the air shiver. “Your strength is something beyond mortal limits. You bring me honor,” the being turned to Jacobus, “So you will quiet your mind boy, I am one of the avatars for her pantheon of gods.”

Aliene coughed out a breath tearing up as she looked to the being who would be her god. “Why Me?” Aliene says finally letting tears flow down her cheeks. “Why would you do this to me,” Aliene screamed it clutching her chest.

Centauri was silent for a moment, “If I knew child I would tell you, truly. It is your mark, it was made by your magic, I have watched over my tribe for a thousand generations. I have seen heroes be foretold come to pass and be welcomed amongst the starlight households.” The being of hunters bent to place his hand under Aliene’s chin lifting her face. He looked into her hazel eyes that begged for relief, to have this burden lifted. “You are different, you have something more than what I know, how you live, how you deal with this, will be up to you. All I can do is arm you with what I do know, give me your bow.”

Aliene lifts her weapon with both hands bowing her head, as she does the weapon changes flashes of light force her eyes closed. When the light subsided, she looks at what her bow had become. Heavier than before and almost pulsing with magic. It was thinner, but as she gripped it the ends fanned out like the gods own arm. “Give it a try.”

Aliene stood her mind asking why there was no bowstring, but her body just moving. Her arm went through the motions and as she drew her magic was pulled from her hand. She aimed at a tree that appeared some ways off, half rotten and released. With a hiss and whistle her target more splattered than splintered but was missing a huge section in an instant.

“Raw power has its uses, merely think sharper to pierce a target, though try not to use this more than ten times a day child. Don’t lose it I have blessed it but Hafwen did spend weeks making it for you in the first place,” Centauri smiled at her beneath his star filled eyes and nodded at Jacobus, “He is more than he seems, don’t discard such faith.”

Jacobus had stayed a good distance form the girl and the god, kneeling and as the being of hunters nodded at him he stood only to drop the meteor stone. “What the,” Jacobus picked it up as Centauri appear beside him, no sound, no warning. The being took it, examining the stone for the moment.

“Interesting, this is the star that fell to you?” Jacobus nodded to answer him. “This is from the House of Crafting.” Centauri looked up towards the sky, seemingly past the darkness. “I give you this advice young one, in the heart of a mountain north of here lives a being much like myself, should you find him give him this stone.”

Aliene opened her mouth to reply but was suddenly blinded by white hot light, when she blinked rapidly to adjust her eyes she heard the buzz of insects calling and the song of birds fill the air.

Castle of Crows – Part 6

After all the noise of the night before, I think it was the silence that woke me up. The rain had finally stopped, and the world had finally gone quiet after the wild panic of the night before. The candles around the room had gone out while we slept, but now that the sun was up there was dim light shining through the curtains. The door was still locked, and it seemed undamaged despite the best efforts of whatever had attacked the room earlier.

Now that there was nothing trying to force its way in, I felt safe enough to investigate the room. The wood cabinet was locked up tight, but the work table had more then enough weird things on it for me. Besides the cauldron, there was an assortment of herbs and stones, and several rows of shelves holding dozens of little bottles filled with powders, liquids, and what appeared to be bones. Each bottle was labeled in Aunt Pen’s neat script, but not in English. There was also a book filled with recipes, but none of them looked like they made food. At least, I hoped they weren’t food.

Macey yawned behind me, and I turned to see her rubbing her eyes as she woke up. Continue reading Castle of Crows – Part 6

Sunset in Christiansburg

Sitting here with you,
I forget the day’s troubles.

The pain and anger melt away
As the sun sinks out of view.

Sitting here with you,
Just holding hands quietly.

We don’t need any words
As we watch the golden light.

Sitting here with you,
My heart has lit up with love.

The clouds colorful and bright,
Like fire burning across the sky.

Sitting here with you,
The world is at peace.

The trees are dark silhouettes,
Standing firm and tall against the sky.

Sitting here with you,
I wish this night would never end.

Let the world freeze in this moment,
Sitting here with you.

 

Photo by Carly Sumpter

At the Alter

After months of planning, of fittings and tastings and color coordinating, the day was finally here. Everything was beautiful, the flowers and the bridesmaids and the forest surrounding the field where the wedding would happen. The ceremony was set to begin at sunset, and they’d light the candles the lined the aisle. It was going to be beautiful, maybe even perfect, or it would have been, if it had been anyone’s wedding but my own.

I watched my reflection with a detached indifference as the hair stylist wove flowers into my hair. I could hardly recognize the woman in the mirror before me; she looked too beautiful to be real, like she’d been pulled from the pages of a magazine, inhumanly flawless. She lacked the scar on my chin that I’d gotten while playing field hockey. I’d hated that scar when I’d gotten it, but I’d had it so long that my face looked wrong without it. I couldn’t see my freckles either, or the birthmark that was supposed to be on my collarbone.

My reflection looked beautiful, but she didn’t look like me. This whole day was like that though, beautiful, picturesque, practically perfect in every way, but it wasn’t me.

“Oh, Claire, you look so beautiful!” My mother looked like she was on the verge of tears, her eyes big and watery and filled with pride. “Everything’s just so perfect. I’m so happy to see it all come together.” Continue reading At the Alter

Hand in the Fog

To run with you
The day away
I feel your hand in mine
It pulls me on
Through foggy stretch
A road without a sign

From tightened grip
The guiding hand
I feel it slipping through
And when the fog
Comes crashing down
My thoughts are only you

A light that shines
When I see none
My warmth is in the palm
That feels you there
Till your return
The inner storm becalmed

Through distance gripped
Through absence held
Through hardship to the last
I feel your hand
Held tight in mine
No matter distance past

Marching On

We stood on the bridge
In the wake of a new dawn.
The musical sunrise reflected in your eyes;
The water below dappled gold and pink;
And I couldn’t help but say,
“Hello, I love you.”

The birds wheeled overhead.
Traffic rushed past.
No house, no money,
But nothing else mattered.

The moment I saw you,
I knew we could make it,
For better for worse,
To have and to hold.
Til death do us part,
I swear we were reborn.
My hand in yours,
Let’s march on.

The Fairy Tale of Mr. Right

Mr. Right is a fairy tale told to little girls, so they know princes are real.

Mr. Right is kind, chivalrous, loyal, truly loves you, and not just for the sex.

Mr. Right won’t pressure you, never asking you to do anything that’ll hurt you.

Mr. Right won’t lay a hand on you without permission

He’ll even ask to kiss you and never hit you out of anger.

Mr. Right will be loved by your family and friends.

He’ll never make you jealous because you’re his woman, but he’s not a misogynist.

 

When a little girl meets a boy

She thinks he’s good because all boys are good to girls they’re interested in.

He’s nothing like the stories or romantic comedies.

He doesn’t say and do everything right, but she’ll let it go because she can save him,

Make a man out of a bad boy and he’ll be her trophy.

No one warns the little girls not to trust them.

He’ll screw her over, shred her flower petal heart and move on.

Not all boys are princes.

Continue reading The Fairy Tale of Mr. Right

On This Canvas

I wrote our names with rocks
And placed them perfectly
On top of the red clay.

I can’t write our names in sand.
The waves destroy my creations:
Castles, moats, and especially names.

I can’t write our name in the sky.
That lasts less time than the sand.
A mere wind will destroy my creation.

But here, we may be safe.
On this vast canvas that I have claimed
Our names scar the earth.

Each stone was perfectly selected,
Spelling out our promise to each other
For the world to not destroy… just yet.

The Light

Before, it was dark.
Now there is light,
Bright and dancing across my eyes.

It glows and shifts, gold and bright,
And behind it is the dark from before,
And maybe it shifts too.

I see figures, silhouetted by the light.
They glow too and wear bright halos.

I can’t see their faces.

There’s a voice, soft and sure.

“Just stay calm.”

Aren’t I though?
I watch the lights above me,
They’re so very pretty.
Shiny and gold and so, so pretty.

I don’t know where I am, and everything seems far away.
I feel floaty and fuzzy;
The world is a blur of light and dark.

The figures are people, I think.
And I can still hear the voice.

“Calm down, just breathe.”

She has a very nice voice.
Such a nice thing to wake up to.
Is this waking up?

I can’t tell.

“Breathe, just breathe. Calm down.”

It hits me now, how rapid my breaths are.
How they could be interpreted as panic,
Though I feel so at ease here.

InOutInOutInOutInOut

I don’t want to leave, but I try to slow my breathing.
She’s asking so nicely, after all,
And she seems worried about me.

In, Out. In, Out. In, Out.

Why would anyone be worried here though?
Can’t she see the lights?

I try to watch them again, but they’re fading now.
Or the dark is receding, and they’re merging into one.

Now the light is much too bright,
And the shadows from before are entirely gone.

The figures resolve fully into people, into nurses.

I am awake.

Castle of Crows – Part 5

The moment the sky went dark, Aunt Pen was grabbing us both and pulling us out of the room. I could hear howling from outside, followed by the familiar cawing of crows, and while the noises scared me, the panicked look on Aunt Pen’s face was what kept me from asking questions. Her face had lost all color, and as she pulled us through the halls and up the stairs she kept looking around like she expected something to jump out of the shadows at us.

When we got to the third floor, Aunt Pen started leading us down a very familiar hallway. It was where we’d first started looking for the passage to the tower, and when Aunt Pen stopped in front of that blank wall it occurred to me that she might not have been completely honest when she said she’d never found the passageways.

There was a crash behind us, and Macey and I turned to see a crow had crashed through a window down the hall. Before I could even try to identify him though, there was a scraping sound, and we turned again to see the stone wall opening up to reveal a staircase. Aunt Pen grabbed us and pushed us through the opening. Continue reading Castle of Crows – Part 5

Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 3: Pasts That Define Us

The day continued and the two travelers began sticking to the shade of trees, avoiding the searing sunlight of midday. Aliene was beginning to feel the rebound of her exertion. She looked back to Jacobus who had stayed quiet over the past few hours. The man still looked as if he was on a leisurely walk. Does he outclass me by so much? The thought had wormed its way into her skull, exacerbated by the silence between them. Aliene had only been able to compare herself to Hafwen growing up; her mentor had always been better at everything. Speed, power, endurance, and stealth, the four tenants of a hunter. Hafwen told Aliene she was better than some but how could the young girl really know?

The use of magic had always been compared to how she used her muscles normally. Magic just made up the difference in what she could normally do and what she may need to do. The farther the difference, the more magic needed. Outer magic was a little different but pulled from the same source within her. Hafwen had drilled Aliene till her magic was drained, then made her keep going, fighting through the sharp tingling that ensued. A sensation Aliene was starting to feel now in her legs.

Should I just rest? A foreign concept after twenty years of scheduled life. They had food for a few days and nowhere to go. I have nowhere I need to be. The realization of that fact stung Aliene more than she expected. Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 3: Pasts That Define Us

Wanderlust

Walking, always walking,

Following the fence to wherever it may lead me.

The white lines are stark against the forest,

Which is green and brown and red with fall.

They flow forward endlessly, on and on into the distance.

So on I walk, forever moving forward.

They ask me where I’m going;

I say I don’t know,

And they decide I must be lost.

I’m not though.

I know where I am, and I know where I’ve been,

But I have no destination,

And that’s what they can’t see.

Because today I’m following the fence,

Though I don’t know where it leads,

But yesterday I followed a road,

Which would have led to the sea,

If I’d followed it a little further.

I’ve seen the sea before though,

A hundred times I’ve seen the sea,

And I’ve followed the currents across it,

As I follow the fence now.

I have no destination, only a wish.

I wish to see,

To see everything,

All across the world.

There’s so much beauty,

And it’s waiting for me.

So how could I settle for any one place,

Knowing how many others are waiting to be seen?

I am a wanderer, they say,

A drifter, a tourist, a traveler,

A vagrant, a nomad, a vagabond,

And many other things besides.

Maybe they’re right.

I call no one place home,

And I seldom return to the places I’ve been,

And I’ll admit it might be odd,

To follow an endless fence

To an unknown destination.

But I don’t mind.

I may be all of the things they call me,

But there’s one thing I am not,

And that is unhappy.

I have never been sad over my lot in life,

Nor am I ever sick of what surrounds me.

I have never spent a day feeling melancholy,

So is it really so bad,

To suffer from a simple case of wanderlust?

Castle of Crows – Part 4

The rain kept on for the next three days. Macey and I explored every room we could get into: spare bedrooms, parlors, a study. The first day was all hide and seek, and while there were plenty of great places for us to hide, with only two of us it got boring quickly, with the seeker often being unable to find the other. Hiding got boring when no one was around to find you. After I hid behind a couch and under a curtain, Macey spent an hour trying and failing to find me, so we called off the game until we could get more players. On the second day we stayed together and explored what we could, even venturing into the basement to see if there was a dungeon, but we only managed to find the wine cellar before Macey insisted on going back upstairs.

Continue reading Castle of Crows – Part 4

Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 2: What is Known

Darkness filled the area within her vision. Through Aliene’s reach, however, she felt every branch, vine, and pool. The tears had dried from the sheer speed Aliene had been running at. “Away, just get away,” was her only thought. As a ray of dawn pierced the dark of the forest, Aliene reached a small clearing and stopped, allowing herself to breathe deeply.

“About time, how long did you plan on running like that?” Jacobus’ voice made Aliene turn around and glare at him.

“I was sure I had left him behind, how then?” Aliene’s thought was cut off when she noticed Jacobus wasn’t breathing hard; his wasn’t even elevated like hers. “What are you?”

Jacobus had a slight smile as he answered, “Just a former monk; let’s leave it there.”

“No, I know most of this forest by heart. You as a stranger would not have been able to keep up so easily.” Aliene dropped her pack, drawing the sword sticking out of the bag. “Now really, what are you? Why are you following me?” Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 2: What is Known

Void Between the Light

Can you hear me, hush’d one?
My love through aeons, burning bright
Under me, my birth’d soul,
And stolen from my sight?

Can you hear me, hush’d one?
I, who bathed you, my love and light
Your sign amidst the heavens’ void
A life, a breath, your starry night?

You see me not, your lasting star
The Mother of the Frozen Rite
I whisper close, that you are mine
Through astral tether, distant kite

The color of the spacious spanse
To guide you to my Dancer’s light
I shine across the oceans wide
From pact of planet’s turning spite

And from the heart comes understanding
Something not quite wrong or right
I call through dreams, my form to fore
The void between the light