There came a freedom with the storm that fair weather never afforded. Whilst most sat cowering behind drawn curtains, shivering with chinking cups of tea on china saucers, I danced to the lightning strikes, sang to the thunder. They understood me those feral elements. I felt normal when they left.
Brushing the aether
Kissing the blue sky goodbye
Everywhere is here
The Unlikely Ones
We were the layabouts, the lollygaggers, the free. Spirits of the woods given human form, we played amongst the cobwebs and danced amongst the stars. Nothing could contain us. Nothing! We were what the world should’ve been before it went bad. We despised society and pitied the many, applauded the dreamers and saluted the poets. This was our lives. This was our legend. For a while, anyway. For a while.
They came from the stars in military regalia, (that should’ve been the clue). They took everything from everyone but couldn’t take anything from us. We had nothing to take. Whilst the many mired in the invaders’ pits and work camps, we continued to dream, then speak those dreams, then preach those dreams. It didn’t take long for the others to see things our way. That was the change. That was our gift to humanity.
We fought; I never dreamt we would have, but we did. We led the way in our sacks for capes and didn’t care what they did to us. They saw it, those invaders from the stars. They watched our spirits soar and feared us. And so they should, for we were unstoppable.
When the dust settled and Earth lay ruined but free, they hailed us. The Unlikely Ones, the world shouted. Praise The Unlikely Ones, they sang. We asked them to thank us on the inside and never let the outside back in.
She dripped an ebony liqueur
Born of Africa’s heat,
A dark continent’s dream.
The sun glistened off her skin
Like the world off a pair of Ray-Ban’s lenses,
Distorted but cool,
Much cooler than ever it would off another.
I watched, we watched, the world watched
As she prowled, a huntress out of time,
Out of place, out of sync with a planet
That despised her freedoms;
She made no compromises.
Her eyes pitied us, the shirted, the tied,
The prim and proper,
And I for one hung my head in shame:
What had we become?
Primal, she was all that we’d lost,
Worse still, we’d never understand why.
Author’s Note: This is a scene I have decided not to use from my latest Steampunk Fantasy. The beautiful Miss Grace Grace has fallen foul of the evil Sir Magnus Monk, or so he thinks.
“I prefer the subtle prod, the suggestive wink, the perfect persuasion. Life is too short to wallow in misery when a bird has but to loose its wings and fly. I am a bird, Magnus and my wings refuse to be pinioned.”
“You are nothing!”
“Correction, sir, I was nothing. However, my father and late mother gifted me that most precious commodity.”
“Promise. This little bird, this canary, as some have said, has so much world to see, so many friends to smile with, so much love to find and lose and find again, that I shall never allow a petty, hawklike predator such as you to quell it.”
“And yet here you are tied to a chair before this… what did you call me… petty, hawklike man. Who’d have thought it other than I, after all, brains always trumps beauty.”
Sir Magnus Monk sneered the sneer of a lecherous old goat and ran one dirty, chipped fingernail along his prize’s cheek.
When the ropes Monk bound Miss Grace Grace with slipped to the floor with a gentle hush, her knee making contact with parts he’d rather have not shared, doubling the hunchback over so his nose brushed the mouldering carpet, she returned his sneer with a rather more elegant contempt.
“Yes, Sir Magnus Monk, slave to a fallen angel, a man some have said already damned, you are quite correct, brains always triumphs. Such a pity you have none.”
With that, Miss Grace Grace rose to her feet like the lithe beauty she was resplendent in her always canary-yellow garb and exited the room. She did not look back. The little bird had flown.
“I’ve lost my boat.”
“It sailed away.”
“Did someone steal it?”
“Yes. They jumped in and drifted off into the horizon.”
“I’m so sorry. Would you like a lift off this island?”
“No, thank you.”
“That was the reason I stole the boat in the first place.”
We'd taken the pain, the heartache, and secured them in vaults so dark they'd never discover them. We waited. Like minnows in a reeded stream, we hid in life's shallows our emotional unrest simmering. When we unleashed our hurt, they capitulated. We had purpose, whilst they were only ever bullies.
She locked her case but not the door, closed her purse but not the gate. She walked from her street but not from her pain; it would take many more miles. Yet, each step, each new foot of concrete, soil and grass brought her story closer to one outcome: hers.
I saw it in a map, one without borders, walls, or rules. Escape was the name my family gave it, a thing we’d only dreamt of, the wind in our faces without ever looking back, the sun without windows and sky without ceilings, hope. Although our lives were rubble and ruin, they’d never taken that hope form us. One had to hope even when one had no hope to hope for. And then that map dug from the sand by my very own fingers. My map. Our map. My family called it escape. I called it freedom.
I push and pull,
Fling open windows,
Race down streets,
Run up hills,
Stand on mountains
There is nothing else.
Yet, I am not free,
This cage is felt
It is unbreakable.