Class begins with droopy eyes Dreary skies A premonition of bleak surprise-- A day like the one before Words etched in bold chalk letter Tighten the fetter Students, uncaring as a crotchety old debtor-- Yawn and feign interest for life The lecture sets forth with little preamble An angst-dashed scramble But one spark catches like wildfire to a bramble-- She raises her head from the desk Terms that mean nothing begin to ignite Molten and bright Phrases smolder, flash like a floodlight-- Peppery heat fills her chest Fingers extend from an aching fist A bewildering twist Torches blazing through the frosty mist-- Passion beckoned forth from the soul Cached away in a drab, dusty room Knowledge heirloom Hidden from her world by a festering gloom-- Urges her on through the fog Erudition in a dose like a drug Goading tug Heart thundering like current in an active spark plug-- She wrenches her calling from the chalk Students snore through the lesson then leave Ever naive But she hangs suspended without reprieve-- She has found the ultimate raison d’être Interest piqued like never before, Spiral and soar! ; One concept that brings her potential ashore-- A buzz she will chase for the rest of her life
It’s such a strange concept to ponder Yet when my thoughts do wander I often find myself thinking Of the lives of those from yonder Through time and space my mind does leap Through valleys and mountains in an arcing sweep And I think of my ancestors Back in the past, through years so long and deep I see through their eyes I see what they have seen, I fantasize That all these visions in my head Aren’t just delusions that I actualize Forests, endless, green and earthy Loves and losses, their unique journey I’ll never know if these visions hold any truth at all How can I discover if my fantasies are seaworthy? I lie awake, perturbed and restless These endless qualms always leave me breathless Because I will never know And though my own time is so very precious, I return time and time again, to them Those from which all of history will stem Our ancestors, our past, our blood And through all this mayhem A truth emerges, a few things that are certain Life is a grand stage in which we stand behind the curtain And once it comes time to play our part We play our role as we choose, putting our worth in And those before us did exactly the same They gazed at the moon through a slightly different frame Watched our sun chart a course through the sky And did all this under their own stage name It’s such a strange concept to ponder Yet when my thoughts do wander I often find myself thinking Of the lives of those from yonder My ancestors Your ancestors Our ancestors
Tired never felt so real My arms are made of lead and steel I wake before the sun can rise And fight off sleep with droopy eyes Tired, that word doesn’t seem quite right Exhausted lying awake at night Grinning faces and cheery greetings My mind slips as it suffers these beatings Rest my head on stone and sigh The world is singing a lullaby Soft and sweet, an enticing dulcet I strain not to listen, not just yet At last the doors of home swing open A single chance to put my hope in That I could nap for just a minute Glance through the window; the sky is sunlit Regal cat and dopey dog Dozing and dreaming like a log My mind is so weighted, and yet My thoughts spin in an endless roulette Blissful sleep evades me once again Twitter to the next task like a jittery wren Clock ticks on and still I keep This encroaching fatigue, ever to creep Invade my spirit and dull my grin Hold out hope that tonight I win A precious hour without any toil So my soul can rest from the heat of the broil When the moon seizes the sky And overhead constellations lie I can listen to that lullaby I lust for Drift ever closer to that deep, dark shore Tired never felt so real My arms are made of lead and steel I woke before the sun could rise Now I welcome sleep with grateful eyes
Screams. Deep, throaty, bellowing groans in discord with the silence of the graves. That was what the goddess wished to hear as she approached the crypt. This spark in her deadened soul, this wisp of something…an emotion? An impulse?
A fire in the eyes of the devil.
A bitterness on the tongue of a critic.
A harsh word on the ears of the deaf.
What would someone call that? Not a feeling, the goddess decided. She was not wistful for the sound of screams, not hopeful. She was inconvenienced. Inconvenienced by an impulse–the hard metal heart rotting in her chest was incapable of the experience “hope.” So, perhaps, Artemis was experiencing distraction. Irritation.
Niggling at her gut, the annoyance disguised as hope for her Huntsman collected her soul together again. As a goddess, it was simple to fracture herself into various forms and disperse them throughout the Earth and heavens at the drop of a hat. But it required the lack of emotion–no, distractions, she reminded herself–that she could not currently obtain.
It was a cosmic lift from her mind: the weight of all the monitored realities condensing into one form, a merging rather like mixing the ingredients of a pastry; after all, it is easier to carry a single cake than all the flour, eggs, and milk that went into it.
Whole again, the goddess moved with renewed vigor, cautious to monitor her speed lest she overshoot the crypt by a mile at sonic pace. It felt awkward to run again; she hadn’t truly run at a human speed since she ruled the Hunters of Artemis, back when tracking down boar and overconfident cougars was the task of all tasks.
Finally at the cusp of the leering concrete structure, she took a moment to examine it with cold, calculating eyes leering in the anxious light. It was a beautiful tomb: carved with the intricacies and care of craftsmen from a time before. A time of refined workmanship and gentle, deliberate chiselings and chips.
Not like today. Cheap plastic. Mass produced goods. Hasty assembly lines–the festering mortal laxity disgusted her. She was born from the cosmos into a world of art. Beauty. Grace. And–consequently–meticulous hours of work behind each vase and script.
But craftsmanship passed with the years and without note, of little matter to an immortal and even less to a human. The true reason why she trudged through this graveyard was infinitely greater than the tomb.
What lay within. Who lay within: the cause of this annoying distraction of hope. Because despite herself, a shrapnel shred of her iron heart held fondness for him.
Orion. Orion, who once upon a millenia she had loved against her will and against her better judgement. Orion, who was destined to be a mortal, who’s scorpion sting should have seeped toxicity through his arteries and stolen his breath. Orion–for which the goddess had rewritten the stars themself.
She allowed this annoyance to broil in the silence, regarding the stone with daggers in her eyes and shoulders defiantly broadened, despising the silence. Her name did not reverberate from within. No prayers echoed dimly through the crack in the door. This wasn’t good…not at all. There should be screams; that fact, and that fact alone, decided it.
The goddess charged violently at the door, lashing a bolt of crisp white light crackling towards the cement. From the silence the burst of power rattled the air into a frenzied hum. Her gossamer hair lifted and spiked from its sheen, frazzled by the static and the door exploded at once.
Shards of stone and rock thrashed violently against her skin, assaulting the paleness and careening off like a pebble on a bulletproof window. The atmosphere thrummed with the blast as a cloud of suffocating dust billowed from the decimated crypt.
Unmarked, clothes artfully disheveled and hair frizzed, Artemis stumbled forward through the clouds of soot and sucked in a breath. Panic overtook her glass eyes: the rubble was immense. Cradling her thin hands close to her chest, an unexpected regret fizzled through her fingertips in the place of the power she had come to know. Tightness seized her chest. Too much. Too much, I used too much, what if…?
“No,” she breathed, eyes roving the debris, the annoyance of hope rearing strong in her gut. Shiny, platinum hair. Strong hands. Cloth. An arrowhead. Something, anything, to show her she hadn’t…but what if…
What if I killed him? What if he was suffering? What if my flicker of effort crushed him, what if? What if Orion is dead? It shouldn’t matter to her. Another feeble-minded mercenary, blindly following orders on the chance that Artemis will show them love…wasn’t that all he was?
The goddess, clutching her arms against her heart, scrambled to comb the rubble. She flung aside rocks with the frenzy of a starving hyena stumbling upon a fresh kill. Minutes screamed by and thousands of shards spiked the earth where she had thrust them from the debris. No sign of him. Drawing back in fright, the goddess examined her work in terror.
“What am I doing?!” she sobbed to the hazy clouds of ash, to the sky, to the unhearing wind. Dread pooled in her gut.The sky was darkening. Pressure squeezed her brain. Shivers trembled down her spine: what is happening to me?
Artemis had no time to ponder the question when her vision scattered in a crack of light. Lightning burst from the sky, forking a fiery tongue down directly into her aching chest and bursting her conscious thought into shrapnel. Thunder rumbled in the sky, a crescendo like a bowling ball hurtling down the lane. They stepped forward, emerging from the haze like phantoms floating on the fog.
Four girls wrapped in glittering light, angels gliding through the dim cemetery with elegant strides like a young queen at her coronation. Another burst of lighting struck the goddess. She fell back, back arching with the electricity, fighting to condense her being back into this moment. A girl rose her hand and flame emerged, climbing the silk strands of Artemis’ hair and licking down her simple, threadbare clothes. Rain came pounding in then, icy cold and blistering heat ravaging her skin in a torrent, the charge still buzzing along her body.
The Elements overpowered her one by one, pummeling her figure with bolts of energy and wind and gasps of fire so sweltering her skin burned red. Moon dust choking her lungs, stuffing the delicate trachea full of toxicity and smoke. Lightning sizzling her arms. Fire drowning her eyes. Sea spray whipping down on her head like gravel lashed from a truck tire.
Artemis clawed at the earth, reaching for a stone to throw, something to cease this pain, a pain like she’d never felt in all her existence.
Instead, her groping hand found skin. Skin.
The world came back into focus. All the fragmented particles of her essence raced back together in a surge, solidifying in a burst of raw emotion so intense she rocked on her side and screamed. The barrage stopped at once. The four girls were thrown back like rag dolls in the path of a tormenting toddler, thrust on stone mausoleums, bones cracking against graves.
All the millennia of her life suddenly focused, each minuscule moment notable or worthless jamming themselves into her mind, and suddenly Artemis felt like a human. Frazzled, lying in a pile of rubble and soot, desperately clinging to the hand of her long lost love.
Orion. A romantic love, perhaps, or a friendly one, or maybe not love at all so much as a mutual liking…but whatever they had, she suddenly could think of no happier moment in all her life as when she felt her fingers on his.
Paying no attention to the moaning Elementals behind her, she sat up and drew the warm skin of his hand against her face, gently cradling it against her cheek. A pulse fluttered weakly through the veins there, throbbing in time with her flooded head. All the memories, all the years flurried through her brain, a great burst of humanity ravaging her soul. And there was a soul. She felt it now, festering inside her, thrumming and glowing as bright as Selene’s moon.
Dusting the debris from his body, Artemis pulled him close, golden hair splayed across her lap like a sunburst. Willing a morsel of her mind to focus, the power burst eagerly to her fingers and streamed into his broken body, knitting tissues and mending bones. The years of hunting experience coalesced into a healing energy, one she wasn’t sure she had ever used–not on the dying leper during the plagues or the wounded huntress she had taught since youth. Never would she have thought to try. Never, except for him.
When she was certain Orion had healed, she delicately lowered his head onto the stone, brushing the ash from his lids. Turning her head to face the four powerful girls, she was met with a pair of beseeching midnight eyes.
“Selene,” she whispered. The teen girl stood not far from the goddess, legs twisted at disturbing angles and fingers trembling.
“Artemis.” The words were cold, doubtlessly intended to ring with strength but quaking with weakness instead. Kenna the fire girl, Daria of water, and Talia of storm gathered themselves and stood, each bloody with the impact of the cosmic blast.
Stumbling forward, each flashed each other meaningful looks, striding to Selene’s sides and linking arms with her. A row of four girls, meant to be five, full of enough power to rock the universe from its foundation.
There they stood, eyes trained on one lone goddess, the huntress, the eternal maiden. A sense of cumulation permeated the scene, a sense that every instant in their lives, as unique and different as they may be, had been building to this moment. This hour. This minute. This very instant in time.
The final fight was about to begin.
“Wolf Pup”: An Original Fable by Autumn Brutyn
Inspired by the works of Aesop
Once upon a time on a blustery, howling winter day, a wolf pup wandered through a white-dusted wood. The icy cold had spread thick over the land for many days and the poor, displaced wolf shivered with it; it had seeped so deep in his bones it was a wonder it hadn’t frozen his soul. Thusly, he was not so much lost as that he never truly had a home at all–entirely without shelter, on the verge of death, surely, when he came upon a large, hollow oak tree.
“Oh Grand Tree, can you hear me?” he yelped against the wind. The tree bowed its barren branches in response.
“I am in need of shelter and rest, or I will surely freeze. I see you have an ample trunk and warmth to share. May I please rest here until the storm passes?” the pup asked. He quaked with the chill in his tiny body, but the tree drew up sternly, crossing her arms over the cozy hollow.
“I do not aid beggars. Be gone,” she spat. And so the wolf pup left, bowing his head in shame. He wandered for a time, seeming impossibly thin and small against the snarling branches and towering snow banks that surrounded his path. At once, he came across a sheltered thicket.
Within this wintry pocket rested a plump doe and a peacefully sleeping fawn, speckled with white spots and peppered with snow. The mother gazed lovingly upon the young deer, yet when her eyes grazed the desperate pup they hardened like water over the lake.
“Miss Doe, I am sorry to intrude. But I see you have much ample heat in this thicket and a scrap of food to share. I am without shelter and family. May I please rest here until the storm passes?” the young wolf pleaded. But the doe turned up her moist button nose.
“I do not associate with mangy dogs such as yourself. Be gone.” And so the wolf went on quietly, sparing a glance at the resting fawn with envy leadening his heart.
Finally he came across a bear den dark and deep. A mother bear and her cubs huddled within, snug beneath the hanging rocks, pleasantly shielded from the sleeting snow. Shaking off his shivers, he called out in the grandest voice he could muster,
“Mother Bear, can you hear me?” She stirred, then stared at him intently with curious chestnut eyes. “Miss Bear, I am in need of shelter, or I will most certainly perish this night. I cannot go on as of now, but I will not trouble you long. May I find rest here until the blizzard passes?”
Wordlessly, the mother bear smiled and invited him in. The wolf pup nuzzled against the warm stone and slept deeply and peacefully through the night, sparing no single thought to the tree or the doe.
Because of the generosity of the bear, he survived the cruel night and received a belly-full of tantalizing meat. Through the passing years the frail pup grew big and strong. He led a grand pack with abundant resources, nestled in that same forest in which he grew up. Soon he was the king of the wide woods, and as such, some earthly troubles fell over his kingdom after harsh weather.
The wolf decided to trot a loop through the forest to see how he could aid his fellow creatures, when suddenly he came upon a tree. Barren and weeping, unhealthily hollow and her branches sagging weakly to the earth, she cried out,
“Wolf, O Great Wolf! Wait!” He paused in front of her knotted trunk. “Please, Great Wolf, may you fetch me some water from the stream? My roots cannot reach, and without it I will most certainly die!” The wolf gazed intently at the tree. She was the same oak who had sent him away as a young pup. He turned up his snout and sneered,
“I do not aid beggars. Now I must be gone!” And as the tree watched her only hope trot away, she remembered the hungry pup; he who had become the strongest leader in the wood.
The wolf continued on for a time until he came across a small thicket. Within a doe yelped for help. Her chest was stained crimson with a bullet wound and the grass around her breast was slick with blood.
“Please, O Mighty Wolf! I can spy healing herbs just beyond the brush. May you please aid me, for I will most certainly perish without them!” But the wolf remembered this doe from the storm. He turned his back to her and answered,
“I do not associate with mangy doe such as yourself. Now I shall be gone!” And thus the doe thrashed limply on the sticks and remembered with regret a young wolf pup from a freezing night many years ago.
Finally the wolf came across a cozy, warm bear den in the woods. Within, the mother bear from his youth lay frail and starving, skin stretched taut over her bones. The cubs were gone and her kind chestnut eyes showed the weariness of ages past. Yet when she saw him a spark lit in her and she exclaimed,
“Oh, young pup! I do recall that blizzard, so many years ago! How much stronger you are now…and how much older am I!” she laughed. Her muscles burned with the effort to speak and her stomach grumbled and roiled, but she did not ask for aid. The wolf nodded magnanimously and left the cave.
Mother Bear wondered then if she’d upset him somehow–but she would not beg from him, for she was wealthy with love of her grown sons and the experiences of life. She would not ask of him to spend any of his ample resources on her, yet soon he returned with a plethora of meat and berries for the mother bear.
“Thank you for your generosity, madame. I will never forget your aid in my time of need, just as I’m sure you will never forget mine.” He smiled, pawing the stone pensively, reminiscing of the dream-like storm. “Request my help any time, Miss Bear, for I will feel gratitude towards you eternally.”
With this, he left the starving bear to feast, glad to help an old friend.
What goes around comes around.
Show kindness to those in a time of need and they will show mercy to you in yours.
Never underestimate the power of gratitude.
I thought I’d seen so much Until I saw it all Used my youth as a crutch So my ignorance would not fall I never knew I never knew I never knew the world In its endless, infinite sprawl. Or So I thought... I knew everything, deep down Memories receded I’d seen life and love and truth In little moments, long retreated I never knew the dawn I never knew the night I never knew the happiness Of watching stars fade into sunlight But Now I Know… Swimming beneath the velvety black Dusk gives way to day Glimmering, burning, glistening jewels Fade in the sun’s first ray I never knew the dark I never knew the light I never knew the sunrise Until it made my follies die away And I Could See… Years are not what all men need To triumph in wisdom and relish in life For I am so young, and still I’ve seen my share of victory and strife I collected little moments I cached them in my thoughts I knew all that I needed to know An epiphany cut through me like a knife: Daybreak Dawn Twilight Night… All joy and wisdom and meaning comes from These shared experiences Of the human life
Thank you to Jennifer Brutyn for commenting on my last post! (: This is part 2 of the Elementals finale. Find the rest in the archives!
🌧️ Talia Thorn
“No, no, you don’t understand, I think she can…” I trailed off, eyes tightening at the corners, my old distress over interacting with strangers creeping in. There in front of me was a smart, assertive woman with degrees in so many areas of medicine that it made my head spin just thinking about all the years of college it took. And I was…what?
A shy girl with rain powers? A frail little London teen who could make some thunder rumble if she tried hard enough? A pathetic human sprinkler?
The IV was hooked up. Nurses began to scramble for A-negative, and I just stood there, stomach rumbling and roiling at the presence of needles and blood. I had to stop it before I risked damaging Selene’s power with human fluids. But how?
What did I have to say about her?
That she could heal herself if they got her off these pain killers?
That she didn’t need any human blood?
That it might take away the potency of her powers if she received normal fluids?
I slumped into a rigid seat, holding my head in my hands. What was there to say? The doctors insisted that Selene was rapidly losing blood; I couldn’t use my powers to heal her; Daria was somewhere in a different wing of the hospital. Zara was dead. I had seen her body myself, crumpled in the street, with an aura of absence emanating from her so unlike Daria’s that I didn’t need to feed myself false hope.
I felt a hand fall on my shoulder. I looked up, expecting the doctor or the matronly nurse with the full, dimpled cheeks. No. The eyes that met mine were a strange, otherworldly gold.
Jolting out of my seat, I wrapped my arms around Daria, the friend I’d barely known or talked to at all. I hadn’t been on the ship with her and Kenna and Selene. She’d been shot before I could talk to her on the rescue boat. We’d been fleeing from the mercenaries on land, she’d been presumed dead in the alley, and yet, her inviting embrace felt like heaven: a warm hug from a long-lost friend.
“Did they clear you?” I asked, stepping back. The wounds in her gut and her back seemed to have disappeared into thin air, the tattered swimsuit traded out for a fresh white hospital gown. Kenna stepped forward and gave me a hug too, answering for Daria,
“Yes, they cleared her. I had to do a little bit of persuading for that–you know, it isn’t everyday that a girl with suspiciously-healed mortal wounds gets let off easy.”
I laughed, taking them both in at arm’s length, for a moment wondering how in the world my life had come to this. Not so long ago was I back at my London estate, avoiding my father at all costs, toying with my mother’s earrings before school.
Now I had a strange set of friends: two of which were mortally wounded by arrows, one who had burned alive a school shooter, and one more–Zara. I couldn’t think about her too much, not then, not for a long time after.
“We have a plan, Talia. We know what needs to be done to stop all this.” Daria gestured vaguely to the world with a sweeping arc of her hands. Kenna nodded, gripping my hands in hers so tight I could feel the heat burning along her palms, scratching at her skin to be released. I was glad my power was more docile.
“What is it? What’s the plan?” I glanced at Selene, prone on the bed, deep in sleep. “I’ll do anything.”
Anything at all, I thought, staring at Kenna’s constantly shifting eyes and Daria’s calm, centered ones. These were my friends now. I would never cease to fight for them, I knew, and I was alright with that.
“Zara granted us one final gift,” Kenna said.
“We know where the gods and goddesses will congregate in their Earth-dwelling forms. Artemis and all the others. We can take them down with our combined powers.
“We need to find the crypt of Inara Nightlock. And we need to find it before midnight. It’s the only shot we have.” I nodded, sorting through the information silently, pushing away all the unanswerable questions cropping up in my head. Finally, lifting my chin, I responded.
“Let’s do it. Let’s set this world right.”
Part 3 of the finale is coming soon!
This is a continuation of the “Elementals” series. Comment which power you would like to have below for a shout-out in the next post!
“Her color is too pale. She needs a blood transfusion immediately.”
Color, I thought, I remember color. My lips curled into a droopy smile. The sedatives were acting fast, rolling me gently into sleep, sliding me deeper and deeper into the calm, dark sea. The sea, the gentle sea, the sea that reminded me of Daria, who reminded me of gold, then of yellow by comparison.
Yellow. The dopey smile dripped off my face. I’d never liked yellow like others. Never liked how it felt, so…fake. Like it was trying too hard to be cheery. An artificiality, a toxic positivity that growled at you “everything is alright,” when everything was far from it. Yellow was sickness, negative thoughts masked by a bright facade.
Toxic, jaundiced, and yet, a memory drifted to me then, a very mixed memory of my time as a human. A memory that I wasn’t sure was even real or a figment of my drowsy imagination.
“No, please, we can wait, just give her five more minutes!” A frantic voice. What were they doing there in my memory? I let the echoes drift into the oblivion, settling deeper into the recollection, welcoming the fragments of speech as they lazily wheedled their way into my mind.
A school day. My lashes grazed my cheeks again, ever so gently, feeling so downy and soft as clouds, so soft that I let my eyes rest with them. The white, beeping world was gone, giving way to the replaying of a moment in my mind. A moment the world would not long remember; a single flicker in any other person’s life, and yet, a precious instance all the same, one I would find pivotal to my life even lying there in that blank place.
That place–wherever or whenever that was, that place. Somewhere with a bed. And a blanket. And white walls. And Talia, and Kenna, and Daria, all my friends, and a nice lady with sky-blue uniform and soft brown eyes.
Yes, I would let myself rest my eyes, let my feathery lashes trail kisses on my cheeks. So I did. I rested there, then–whenever and wherever that was–and remembered an instance about color.
A school day, in autumn, when the Ohio breeze swirled and eddied and the leaves patterned a carpet on the earth, dancing in a breeze I could see but not feel. Inside, the cool wind could not tickle my nose, could only gust outside the window as I wistfully watched.
English class. My favorite class. I was Mira Casse, a student, a relatively normal girl with strange features and an even stranger set of parents. Parents no one mentioned, or was quiet about if they did. An unspoken agreement: the Casse family was not to be discussed; there was something wrong about them and their ‘daughter.’
“Okay, for this assignment, we are taking a break from our text analysis for a while,” the teacher announced, eyes wandering to the window, just like mine. I had the thought that she and I were very similar. We were both far away in our minds, both in a place beyond here, somewhere in that wide open expanse of sky and field and forest.
A few students exchanged satisfied looks. Others outright cheered, chucking their books below their desks and tittering excitedly with their friends. Wide eyed, pleased to move on from endless compare and contrast, baby birds preening and squawking for a chance to leap from the nest.
The elation faded into a softer buzz as the teacher explained we were doing some free association and connotation work with colors. She would call on a few people with the first things that come to her mind when they named the color: emotions, objects, abstract ideas like freedom and wealth.
“Blue.” The room shot up with hands, arms waving and protruding like blades of grass shooting from the dirt. Sky. Ocean. Water. Calm. Peaceful. Sad. Happy. And the responses bubbled, and tumbled, and crashed in with superficialities. The typical answers.
The entirely unsatisfying answers that everyone else seemed to accept as their own personal truth–as though thinking that blue meant happiness was a personality trait. Something that made them special.
I returned my gaze to the window, thinking, wondering what blue really meant. Yearning, I decided. It was yearning, a soft yonder blue in the distance, painting the sky with hope. The promise of something greater beyond the horizon.
As I thought this, a girl poked her fingers up and said, matter-of-fact,
“Blue is bubbles!”
I sunk lower into my seat, frowning.
“Green.” Earth, eco-friendly, gentle, leaves, nature, envy, and I sunk even lower, frown deepening. Analyzing the yellowing grass beyond the glass, a great discomfort gripped my stomach as I felt something new grappling inside my body, twisting me all up inside, yanking at my core and tearing my being.
Because I knew what green meant.
Green was wistfulness, nostalgia, a warm, inviting tug that leads you to the meadow or the pasture or the forest. A reminder of a simpler time, an instinctual time when your heart knew the way through the winding path of life and guided you onward without hesitation. Purity. Instinct. Life. Nostalgia.
Yellow was even worse–happiness, sun, beach, I tightened my fists–red about the same, purple made my eyes squeeze shut and when it came to brown I finally raised my hand. Maybe I couldn’t explain the other colors, but I could explain brown, black, deep, dark shades. They seemed to me to be the most simple: pure and natural as tilled earth underfoot.
“Yes, Mira?” The teacher called. I drew in a deep breath, rethinking if I should answer at all, when I finally decided I had to. No one else could do this shade justice; no one in the school or the class or the world.
“Brown is humanity. Brown is the rich, dark earth that coddled our crops, the pools of honey that gifted us sweetness, the decadent truffles we extracted from our simple ingredients and harnessed into a unique experience of texture and flavor.
Brown was when Prometheus granted us fire and lit the sepia kindling with flame, brown was when we smeared umber mud across our brows to protect us from mosquitos, brown were the feathers and fur of our game, brown was the mahogany that we built into thrones and homes and settlements. Brown is the reason we survived and the ways we thrived. It isn’t just a color. Not to me.”
The room was silent. Every set of eyes was staring at me in awe or disgust or confusion. But the teacher removed her gaze from the world outside the window and beamed at me, eyes sparkling with approval that loosened the knot in my core.
“Brown is humanity,” she echoed. And with the kindness of her voice brimming over into the silent room, I recognized the twisting that had yanked my gut into knots. It was difference. Difference from the rest of my class, my grade, all of humanity.
I realized, for the first time in my life, that perhaps I was not a normal school girl, couldn’t be a normal school girl. I was something more. And my gut knew it, my brain knew it, my heart knew it. I was something more. Something…other.
“We have to start the supplementation immediately, ma’am, we can’t wait any longer!” I startled from my memory, the fragments falling away but the tone of the reflection remaining. A mixed tone. Prideful. Bitter. Uncomfortable. Freeing. Overwhelming, and I…supplementation? Curiosity stirred within me, a feeling I wasn’t sure I could act upon. I was so, so tired, bone-tired, Atlas-with-the-sky-on-his-shoulders tired.
“Please, she can heal herself, just don’t give her any blood! It might hurt her!” Talia. I knew that voice. I had to come back, had to know what they were doing to me. A dull ache re-formed in my chest and I remembered the arrow, where I had ripped it from my skin. What were they trying to do to me? What was happening?
I tried to force my eyes open, but they were weighed down like a branch bending under snowfall. A prickle in my forearm–an IV. What was Talia fighting? What were the doctors trying…
“I can assure you, this will not hurt her…”
The weight of sleep washed over me like a tidal wave, and I struggled for a moment, hearing Talia groan with exasperation. For a moment, I hung, suspended between the waking world and the unconscious one.
Sleep overcame me at once and I drifted away into the deep, dark sea.
Part 2 of the Elementals series finale is coming soon!
What is the meaning of life? I don’t know. Maybe happiness Love Success Charity Giving and taking Making something new Watching ideas grow Take shape Transcend space and time and your own life... I don’t know: I’m much too young, aren’t I? Why are we here? I don’t know. Maybe for a purpose Because life Evolved us into being A higher power A special role A calling A perfect passion designed for us Another worker bee in a Grand colony Just to be and live and exist.... I don’t know: I’m much too inexperienced, aren’t I? Who are you to give advice? I don’t know. Maybe just a girl Behind a computer Typing the thoughts in her brain Building worlds and characters into existence Right there On a little webpage With a blinking cursor Scrambling for inspiration Wracking my brain Make haste and write and build… I don’t know: I’m much too inarticulate, aren’t I? What do these questions have in common? I don’t know. Maybe they’re special Because everyone In the whole wide world Has a different answer to each A passion A calling A reason to be, Live and work and breathe… I don’t know: I’m much too young for this, aren’t I? What is the meaning of life? Maybe mine is To be happy To be a writer To make haste To create To love and to hate To exist in this cacophony and wait and simply be… I think so. Why are we here? Maybe I am here To be an archaeologist A microbiologist An author A soldier A researcher Historian Zoologist Astronomer To find my passion and explore the world and be fearless… I think so. Who am I to give advice? … I do know: I am just a girl. A speck in the infinite river of time One bright star in a never-ending sky An author A poet A musician I give my two cents on life and live and laugh, because... I do know something. I know myself. I’m a girl A speck A star in a beautiful, gem-studded sky I’m unique and wonderful and meant for great things... I know so.
You sit with your head in your hands, staring down at your phone screen. Mortified. Did you really post that? Stupid, stupid, stupid: a post ranting about a new policy in your town, littered with swears. No–that’s not me, I wouldn’t. You think, but as you stare at the responses piling on top of each other and the dislikes rolling in, you know that you did.
You did this. But you aren’t entirely sure if you knew any better. There was no conscious thought to type it, really, just fragments of motion. Clicking the remote to the news channel. Rising anger, outrage about this new code that barely affected you. Fingers flying through your phone lock screen, to the nearest social media app, slamming down the keys. And just like that, your future was in jeopardy.
An apology post did nothing, you were sure, similarly, deleting the post did nothing. It had been screenshotted. Reacted to. Ejected out into the deep, infinite web of sharing and people and private information. You gaped at the sheer number of people responding to the post, clenching your fists in frustration, anger, self-pity.
What was done was done. But honestly, truly: did you know any better?
The honest answer? Probably not. Nowadays, there is an entirely new threat to your future and the future of all your peers. And it comes in the form of the internet.
A seemingly perfect superhighway of information and opinions and change, a resource and a danger, a temptation that has taken over much of society. With all this power–to speak your mind at any time, on any platform, in front of millions of people–how can you protect yourself from leaving a negative digital trace?
It’s not something you probably learned in school. Not something that can be very easily answered from an adult to a child or even in an article: it’s so subjective.
But there are some common things you need to know to keep yourself and your digital footprint clean and positive when it comes to online posting.
#1– Realize that NOTHING you send or post on your phone is private
When I mean nothing…I mean nothing nothing. Even on a private chat, photos and words and videos that you send can be screenshotted, shared, and sent to other people. All your data is logged and recorded, sometimes in places you wouldn’t expect and shared with people way beyond who you would imagine.
This means all your:
- Social media posts.
- Pins on Pinterest.
- Texts and sent photos.
- Youtube or other videos.
- Reviews of books, products, movies.
And so much more, all of which can be distributed around the entire web in mere seconds, not just to your circle of friends. Embarrassment will likely be the least of your problems if an inappropriate, racist, sexist, discriminatory, private or otherwise piece of content is sent (or even just sitting on your phone!) Content like this might be seen by:
- College admissions professionals.
- Future employers.
- Government or law officials.
- Dangerous individuals.
- “Haters” or rivals.
#2– Negative or controversial content can ruin your dreams.
Believe it or not, many college admissions and future employers will look you up. If they don’t like what they see on your accounts, you will probably get turned down from a future opportunity or booted out of a position you already have.
Even an offhand post of a private chat can get leaked. For example, if you had a bad work day and you text your friend,
You could get fired!
But wait. Hold up! Isn’t this friend trustworthy? Did you even mean what you sent? Maybe not, but either way, this could get you fired in a heartbeat. If your employer/college admissions official recognizes that your message–whatever form it may take–doesn’t align with their brand, it can douse a chance for you to follow your dreams.
#3– You are most likely posting/sending this reactively.
Not all negative posts to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other platform had malice intentions. Think about it: have you ever sent a text or an email to someone before you even processed their message?
Many times when we are angry, jealous, sad, or emotional, these feelings can blind our judgement and cause us to respond reactively (without thinking).
If possible, step back for a moment and think about what you are about to send/post. If that’s not working for you, try moving the apps or programs that you communicate on to a new place on your phone screen or stash it in a junk folder. When you don’t have that knee-jerk physical response to click the app where it has always been, it lets you think about your action before you do something you’ll regret.
#4– Exporting some content can put you in physical danger.
Especially now, with the internet flourishing and apps becoming increasingly open for everyone to communicate, there are dangerous people on the internet. You might not think that sharing where you live or even the general area can put you in any real danger. Not true.
Online, anonymous users or people that use fake profiles could be:
- Sex offenders.
- Con Artists.
So be selective with what you share on the web. Most of all, use common sense!
How can I protect myself and make a positive presence online?
Being safe on the internet is very subjective, and there are billions of possible scenarios and things that you can say, do, and share. But from an objective view, it is smart to follow these general rules:
- Threats of any kind.
- Harsh, non-constructive reactions to others
- Cyber-bullying material.
- Things said to you in confidence (unless the content is important, which then should be sent to local authorities or helplines).
- Sexual content.
- Overly political opinions that are unprofessional or hurtful.
- Discriminatory stereotypes, cultural remarks, or comments.
- Content undermining a religion or group of people.
It might help to use certain privacy measures on social media or other apps to protect content you want to keep to yourself. Here are some ways you can do this. Use at your own risk and with the knowledge that these tactics aren’t 100% foolproof. ⬇
Use privacy settings…
- Make a board secret on Pinterest– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y3hMoipNJc&feature=youtu.be
- Search with Private Browsing Mode (use wisely, please!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL8-gM0R4KU
- Hide some of your photos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOc9XpBjP00
- Use Facebook Privacy settings– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOhuDwCZQ2k&feature=youtu.be
Trying to stay safe, but still want to be friendly to online strangers? Not sure what information to filter out? These are the basics not to share on any unsecure network or with anyone who you don’t know and trust. ⬇
Be safe and don’t share…
- Your age.
- Your gender.
- Your address information.
- Email, phone number, or means of contact.
- Sexual content.
- Any personal details that might be used against you.
The Golden Rule
Above all else, there is one blanket statement that applies all the knowledge stated:
“Don’t post or send anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to see!”
If you wouldn’t be comfortable showing your mother, father, sister/brother, displaying it on a slideshow at work or a family gathering, or reading it aloud in front of the whole world, don’t post it.
I hope all of this information will help my readers and perhaps give them advice they’ve never heard before about using the internet. Even though my parents always stressed online safety, eight year old me didn’t think much of sharing my name and age on just about every Minecraft server in existence; something as innocent as that information can open doors for dangerous interactions, and it could have been much worse than it was.
Share this article with anyone you think would benefit from it! Children, teens, and adults included. Everyone needs some guidance navigating this new world, and I’m happy to share some of the best advice that I’ve used in my life thus far.