Wednesday, June 7, 2017

a w a y

your fingerprints
maps on my memory
everywhere i go
see traces left by
you're permanent
a stain on my 'idyllic' youth
on my life
i don't hate you
i just wish
we had been
just a little less stubborn
in all our different ways
i wish your traces
would just
a w a y

this is the road
we walked down
what felt like every other day
you didn't understand
my parents
their rules
their guidelines
their wishes
neither did i
over and over
"they trust me"
you didn't understand that either

this is the front yard
you told me
about your first kiss
about a boy
you didn't really love
this is the backyard
i told you
about this boy
and you smiled
i thought it was real
at least part of it
it never was

this is the crowded parking lot
you told me
how much you
the people i chose
to love
where you drew that
life-defining line in the sand
and dared me to walk away
why did you choose that place
in particular
there were people talking
children laughing
so many people
but inside i shattered
where no one could hear

this is now
five years in the future
how things change
how worlds constantly shift and form
you're not in my life any more
you never will be
but that doesn't mean
it was all bad
there's good
in all that happened
i'm still trying to find it

this is the future
not the one
i dreamed of
didn't happen
but instead
it's what I needed
i'm not sorry i walked
a w a y
when i did
you kept me trapped
with your words and anger
and in leaving
i found

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

a year in music : v

m a y

click this picture to be directed to a spotify playlist of all these songs (except for KNK's) <3

i. caught in the middle
[ paramore ]

ii. shangri-la
[ vixx ]

iii. some
[ nils frahm ]

iv. no one knows who we are
[ kascade, swanky tunes, LIGHTS ]

v. seranade in e major for strings, op 22 : II. menuetto
[ antonin devorak ]

vi. wonder if
[ yong junhyung, ft. heize ]

vii. gravity
[ timeflies ]

viii. fake happy
[ paramore ]

x. really really
[ winner ]

xi. tell me how
[ paramore ]

xii. love game
[ lim kim ]

bonus : don't want to cry
[ seventeen ]

Monday, May 29, 2017

april reads : aka belated february reads

this one's a few months late, seeing as February is Black History Month and I read these in April, but hey! you can appreciate diversity any time, not just in the appointed month, imho. besides, half of these books weren't published til mid-February and I had very little book money at the time, so I had to wait for my library got them to finally read them (and since they were fairly popular books, I have to wait foreverrrrrrr). anyways...

the hate u give

I read The Hate U Give first. it rode in my backpack when I was studying for midterms and working on big important papers, but luckily, spring break rolled around and I finally got to take this beautiful book out of my bag and envelope myself in it.

now, I'm extremely skeptical of hype. maybe it's because I'm bitter and jaded, but when I see a book talked up by the book community, I get twitchy. *coughs*The Unexpected Everything Hunger Games* so I went into this book with high expectations, and amazingly they were all met, thank goodness. this book made me cry at work, okay? it was that devastating and that amazing. I wish I'd had the time and energy to sit down and write my review immediately after reading it, but I kind of walked around in a literary daze for a while because of how great the writing was, how real the characters were, how crucial the message was. just everything. amazing.

I'm pretty sure everyone in the book community or who happens to read YA knows about this book, but if not, here's a little summary from good ol' goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. it's a story about civil rights, and about family, and about racism. it presented itself in such a "real-life" way that the impact was so strong.

things I loved most about this delightful read? the cover, for one. so minimalist, but it packs a punch--it somehow tells the story through one girl's stance, her expression, and I find that refreshing. most covers with people on them these days are just...*gazes dramatically into the horizon* this one wasn't.

Starr's family was potentially the best thing about this book. the connection, love, and frustration of family was just so perfectly executed. I wish more YA books has this kind of family--parents who love each other but not in  that over the top, cheesy, unrealistic way but who also show that they have issues and are fighting for their family every day. siblings who argue and bicker and yet would still do anything for their brother and sisters. It goes back to the realness of this book--this family was so real they could live next door. (and may I just say I was very impressed that there was no manic pixie dream whatever in this, which I find fairly common family-based contemporary YA books. thank goodness for that).

there's no doubt in my mind that this book is important, especially in the day and age we live in. horrible things happen in our country to people of color, and white people definitely have a tendency to look the other way. this book forces you to face this issue in manner that's funny and heartbreaking and real, and I hope that this book opens once-ignorant eyes to the issues in our country. just read it. you'll understand.

american street

next I read American Street, which ALSO has an absolutely gorgeous cover. I kind of didn't know what to expect from this one--I thought it was multi-narrator for some reason, which kind of made me hesitant--and I was also concerned that it would pale in comparison to THUG. well, I was once against happily surprised. American Street does deal with similar topics to The Hate U Give, but it does so differently--in a different context, in a different style, in a different everything.

American Street tells the story of Fabiola, a Haitian girl come to live in America. her mother was detained at the airport, and Fabiola is doing everything she can do bring her home...but America is so much more different and overwhelming than she originally imagined. This story is also about family, but different than THUG. American Street shows the strong connection of sisters, even if it isn't through blood.

I honestly can't choose between these two as my favourite. I loved them both for very different things. The Hate U Give was personal and real and raw. American Street was foreign (to me at least--Detroit is so different than my own town, while where Starr lived could've been my own town). Both dealt with family, but with different heavy themes. But both showed young women becoming confident and making hard decisions, and I loved that. one thing about American Street that totally shocked me (and made me put the book down for a little while) was HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILERS Kasim's death. dude. that messed me up. and for a while, I was really puzzled why his shooting affected me more than Khalil in The Hate U Give did, but then I realized that THUG is built around Khalil's death. we knew it was going to happen. in the blurb, it's right there. but Kasim...Kasim happened so fast and so unexpectedly that it was like a slap to the face. I'm still kinda sad about it, because he was such a great character. in Khalil's case, we only got to know him for a few pages and then had to grieve him the rest of the book. in Kasim's case, we fell in love with him and his sassy voice, only for it to be ripped away literally at the very end. and I guess that's another thing both of these books covered very well--death and grief.

the truth of right now

the last book I read for april was The Truth of Right Now, which I actually picked up without realizing that it was written by a woman of color or dealt with any of the topics that these other books did. I was just looking for a little contemporary romance, and well...that's not what I got. I'm not really sure what this book was about. it was pitched as the issue between a black boy dating a white girl, but honestly? that didn't truly get addressed until the very very veeeeeeery end of the book. then I thought it might be about mental illness and sexual abuse, but that didn't get outright addressed at all? and it wasn't in a healthy way either? there was nothing in Lily that showed that she wanted to get better, that she realized how damaging her behavior was, and as much as I desperately wanted to pity her (and to like her), she was a very whiney, entitled person. I get that she had a lot of hard things happen to her, and that her mind wasn't really in a great place, like, ever, but she never had any form of character development. it was always ground zero for her.

and can we please please please please PLEASE stop the whole "I'm mentally ill but maybe a boyfriend and sex will make me feel like more of a person?" trope? because that's not a healthy idea to put into people's heads in the first place, and secondly, it makes a mockery of people who actually do have these kinds of conditions. so just don't do it.

I actually did like Dari. he was the only character that I really felt invested in (although I did feel bad for Amber, because she was just there for Lily to scream at basically). I kind of wish the whole book had been about him? and his life? I feel like that would have been much more interesting than just this convoluted mess. and speaking of convoluted--why would you switch between tenses and persons for your characters? that messed me up so much. so confusing.

finally, I guess the one thing about this book that I did enjoy was the ending, because it was literally so random and so off the wall that it felt like the perfect conclusion to this weird and confusing book. and honestly, Dari was right not to forgive Lily. her entitled and selfish behavior put him in a lot of danger, and that's not something that you can just wake up the day after and forgive. it takes time and a lot of grace, and hopefully some growth on the other person's part.



first of all, I am so for historical graphic novels. I enjoy reading historical non-fiction, but this style of storytelling really add something to the learning process. I felt entertained and involved while learning about this major figure in the civil rights movement, and not once did I feel bored.

second of all, I wish this graphic novel had been out when I was taking modern American history in high school. Yeah, I read all the fiction that addressed the civil rights movement that was available at the time, but I feel like I never really grasped that it wasn't just a story. Seeing it in these beautiful black and white drawings made it come alive in sobering way. And there was a lot shown in this graphic novel that I didn't learn from my high school education--like the thorough rules for peaceful protests. I never knew how in depth the guidelines were. 

The only thing I didn't like about this was the fact that I don't have books 2 and 3 with me, so I'm anxious to hop down to the library and get my hands on the rest of the books. I'm definitely going to recommend these graphic novels to my mom, because I know that my brother is getting ready to go into American history as a high school student, and I want him to have the education/understanding of this serious topic that wasn't available to me when I was in high school.

so yeah. april was interesting month for books--two that I loved, one that was different, and one that was very much mehhhhh. what are your favourite books about social rights/African American rights and lives? I still have one book left to read that I didn't finish in time for this post, but it is How It Went Down, by Kekla Magoon. it's got a white male narrator, unlike the majority of the books I read for april, so I'm kind of looking forward to seeing its differences.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

a rant about atachi ruthers, aka how to be a bad parent, beautiful people style

*deep breath*

I have a lot of emotions about Tethered. we established this a long time ago. but one of things that makes me so gosh-dang emotional about this story is Neil's daddy issues. he's got a lot of them, and some of them couldn't be helped because of circumstances...but mostly, it's all Atachi's fault.

and if you can't tell from this odd little scribble I posted during the tethered files, I really really don't like him.

typically, I adore stories with strong family units, with good parents and happy normal feelings to spare...but Tethered was never a story about a happy family. even from the beginning, as soon as Neil popped into my head, I knew, deep down in my heart, that Atachi Ruthers was a dirtbag. among other things.

so without further ado (or more complaining about how much I hate this one character in particular), here's beautiful people, parental edition.

1. overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?

you know that scene of Lilo telling Stitch his badness level? well, picture Olive sitting Neil down post-Atachi's death and telling him "This is how terrible your relationship with your dad is. Even beyond the grave." that pretty much sums up how the men of the Ruthers family are. Now, Neil's mom? (who deplorably does not have a name yet whoops) she's a nice lady. she's just...a little out of the loop, and that is entirely Neil's fault. they're estranged because he made a few irreversible mistakes, and he would do anything to change this separation. throughout his childhood, she was all he had, and being apart from her is like being apart from himself.

2. do they know both of their biological parents?

yup yup yup.

3. how did their parents meet?

at college. Atachi was stationed at a campus in some suburban Massachusetts town, and he kept bumping into a very pretty TA. they had one horrible date at a overpriced coffee shop, and things took off from there.

4. how would they feel if they were told "you're turning out like your parents"?

honestly, if he were being a dramatic potato, Neil would simply burst into tears. but in everyday reality, he wouldn't react at all, because deep down, he believes he is turning into his father, and it's slowly eating him alive.

5. what were your character's parents doing when they were your character's age?

Atachi, age 21, was saving the world, if his ego can be trusted. in reality, he was living in a deserted basement, eating cheap ramen and trying to keep his head up. he was a sad college student, once. (aka this is me trying to find something lovable about this slippery man)

Neil's mom, age 21, (I NEED A NAME, GUYS. AHHHH) was in business school, studying hard, and not caring what people said about her.

6. is there something that they adamantly disagree on?


7. what did the parents find the hardest about raising your character?

Atachi doesn't really get a say in this, because he was literally gone all the time, and when he was home, he was a giant jerk. so yeah.

Neil's mom shouldered a lot of burden when it came to bringing her son up, but she did a good job, despite the fact that she feels as though she's failed. as he grew older, she worried about how quiet was, and about the bruises that appeared on his skin when he returned home each day.

8. what's their most vivid memory with their parental figures?

that one time Neil witnessed his father out on a date with someone other than his mother (I told you all that this dude is a terrible human being). and unfortunately, the day that his mother kicked him out of the house. Neil has more bad memories than pleasant ones, and he wishes his childhood could have normal, somehow.

9. what was your character like as a baby/toddler?

quiet around strangers, including his dad, but once it was just Neil and his mom together, it was like you couldn't get the kid to chill. he never stopped talking, never stopped moving, never stopped trying to make her laugh. to this day, making the people he loves laugh is his favourite hobby.

10. why and how did the parents choose your character's name?

honestly I don't know. I think the cliche thing to say is that Atachi wanted him to have a Western name so that he wouldn't be picked on at school, but nothing Atachi ever did in his life backs this up, so the story behind Neil's name is a mystery. let's just say it came to them, like it popped into my own head. names are like that, sometimes. there's no huge backstory or significance to them...they just fit so perfectly without planning.

*shivers* okay. now I want to go write happiness so I can stop thinking about Atachi and how much I hate him. and how happy I am that I killed him off before the story even began ehehehe.

do you have a character that is absolutely crucial to the story, but who you cannot stand because of who they are as a person? commiserate with me, please. I'm always fighting Atachi, 200% of the time. send help and gluten free donuts.

*photo credit to owners*

Sunday, May 7, 2017

a year in music : iv

a p r i l

click this picture for a playlist of all these songs <3 

i. ninano
[ minzy ft. flowsik ]

ii. brand new
[ ben rector ]

iii. anybody have a map
[ dear evan hansen ]

iv. palette
[ iu ]

v. love is
[ teen top ]

vi. she's a baby
[ zico ]

vii. sophomore slump or comeback of the year
[ fall out boy ]

viii. sincerely, me
[ dear evan hansen ]

ix. plz don't be sad
[ highlight ]

x. clear
[ twenty one pilots ]

xi. boy
[ exid ]

xii. rumor
[ kard ]

bonus : waving through a window
[ dear evan hansen ]

Saturday, May 6, 2017

march reads : fiction with a capital f

I've never been one for adult fiction, that mysterious 'Fiction' with a capital f. I was almost always content to stay in the cozy corner of my regional library designated with the title YA. I walked down those aisles and saw familiar spines, friendly faces, wherever I looked. it took being employed at a college library, where the aisles are filled with unfamiliar books, books that are full of science and math and famous literary figures, to make me want to branch out a little further than I'm used to.

and yes, that is my roundabout way of announcing that I now have a job. *trumpets sounds* I work when I'm not in class, and this week--the first week of summer "break"--has been a lot of working. which means I can buy books again. and makeup. and clothes. I filled up my car for the first time for a whole month with my own money, and it felt flipping fantastic. I'd never done that before. and I get to save for other more important things like, I dunno, summer classes and such (also, my phone just broke and having a job means that I can help make payments. IT'S AMAZING!). I love this job a lot, and even though it means I don't have quite as much free time to fill with Netflix and Pinterest and blogging, the best thing about being a student librarian is that I get to read on the job. so while I sit at the circ desk and wait for the copier to jam (*knocks on wood*) or for that dreaded phone to ring, I read. oh do I read.

and this month (aka March, because I'm a failure and didn't get this published in April), I read Fiction. with a capital f.

(I also read a lot of series' this month, and I loved all the books, which never happens. you can make me pick a favourite. you can't.)

the shades of magic series, by v. e. schwab

I actually read the first book of this series sometime back in November or October, I think? and when I read it, I just wasn't feeling it. not sure why, but it wasn't my jam. it had all the makings of something I should have loved, but at the time, I don't think I immersed myself in it like I needed to. and since I was coming off of Schwab's writing in This Savage Song, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. not bad--just not what I was looking for.

but I'm glad that when all the buzz about book 3 was going down, I decided to pick up A Gathering of Shadows and go for it.

AGoS didn't have much of a plot like ADSoM did, but I ended up liking it a lot more. even though my OTP were separated, I feel like I got to know the characters a lot more in this second book--and for a sequel, that says something. I'm also a big fan of tournaments and magical tournaments are double the awesome. just like the first book, I wasn't a huge fan of the scenes in White London, just because it didn't flow the same as the rest of the book, but I am proud of myself for not being offended by the constant changing of POVs. normally that's enough to drive me away, but this book was good enough to keep me interested.

Kell's development in A Gathering of Shadows was wonderful. you got to see him bloom from someone trapped in the hands of those above him to someone who (albeit unwillingly) stepped out of those boundaries and found the beginning of his own path. the tensions between him and Rhys were an excellent part of the novel--what Kell did was both a blessing and a curse, and watching the two brothers wrestle over what their lives meant because of it was fascinating to me. frankly, if the whole book had been about that, I still would've read it.

and my dear, dear Lila Bard. I don't want to say too much because of spoilers, but she was just as devilish and ingenious and ridiculous as ever. and although she and Kell spent half the book apart (or thinking each other were other people smh you idiots), I think that was important for the reader to get to know them both more as individuals before they returned to each other's sides. that was a lot of my problem with book 1--I just didn't feel like I knew anyone adequately enough, and book 2 gave that.

after finishing book 2, I quickly put book 3 on hold--but it wasn't getting there fast enough. so I ordered A Conjuring of Light and quickly devoured it. I was ready for disappointment--even though the world was shouting from on high that this book was everything it should be. thankfully, the world was right. the first two books had been a little uneventful (which for those giant books, that's saying something), but book 3 was the culmination of the story, and the plot was driving. I think  I read it during one shift--all of it. yeah. I don't know whether that's a statement on how fast I read or how long my Friday night shifts are. but I was hooked.

I really felt like the villain was more tangible in book 3, which I REALLY APPRECIATED. and I didn't expect to like Holland at all in this series, but book 3 changed that. I actually felt sympathy for him? it was so weird. and although I was rather done with Alucard in book 2, book 3 really made me like him (and wished for him and Rhy to be happy oh my gosh). basically, I just loved it so much and you should really read it. that ending was EVERYTHING. other authors, take note. that is how you do a conclusion. bless Schwab.

timothy wilde trilogy, by lindsey faye

okay, this one I had never heard of until Aimee mentioned it and I was intrigued. and since it was an adult fiction book, I figured I'd give it a shot. and my goodness am I glad I did.

Timothy Wild was such a joy to read, and for a lot of different reasons. at first, I thought that the writing was going to be very dry and kind of boring--as most historical fiction that I've read has been--but to my surprise, the writing was quite funny? and sarcastic? and bitter? and devastating? I'm not sure how all those things wrapped up into one novel actually happened, but I'm glad it did, because it was incredibly similar to my unexpected love of the writing style. the characters were truly what invested me in this series. Timothy's antihero-ness shifting into "I gotta save the world, man", Bird's spunk, Valentine's simultaneous impudence and intelligence, Jim's gentle balance for the two Wilde brothers...I adored it all. except for Mercy. The whole Mercy storyline was, in a nutshell, a let down. and maybe it's not Mercy that I have a problem with, but how Timothy reacted to her.

Mercy was Tim's manic pixie dream girl, the woman who was the essence of perfection and who could do no wrong. but when Timothy found out that Mercy was as flawed and as human and as corrupted as he was...he got angry. which made me pissed. I was actually glad she moved away, moved on, because I felt that Tim needed to grow up a little bit. unfortunately, he kept on pining away for her, using Elena as a distraction. but when Elena finally became more than just a distraction, it was too late and Tim was left with unrequited feelings for Mercy all over again. I loved the ending of this series--all the feels, man--but I did not like that. even though Tim said he'd moved on, even though he did kind of move on...he ended up in the same place as he began--despite all the new and difficult things he experienced over the course of this series, his childish love of Mercy remained the same. I just feel like Timothy should have pulled his stupid head out of the sand and taken his shot with Elena when he had it. but of course, maybe Tim had to miss that chance because he was so desperately human.

so yeah. loved this book for the characters--I could talk forever and a day about Valentine, and given the chance, I probably would. just everything about him and the decisions he hurts, man. it really hurts.

as for the mysteries in these novels, I was actually pretty impressed. not a lot of mystery novels get me, but these had a few twists and turns that surprised me. and I also have a tough time rereading mysteries, mostly because you know what's going to happen next (and if it wasn't written well it can be quite boring), but because of the intricate characters and the depth of the historical period, I definitely plan on revisiting these wonderful books. *lowkey plans on asking for them for my birthday because I adore them*

also, fun fact: right as I was reading these books, we were discussing the exact themes and topics mentioned in them in my history class. we talked about the Fugitive Slave Act and the Irish and the mill girls. it was kind of eerie, but also really interesting to get the classroom perspective and the fictional perspective of this tense historical period. all in all, I think that this series was my favourite out of all the books I read last month. so good. so sad. so beautiful.

vinegar girl, by anne tyler

teeeeeechnically I read this in April, but don't judge me--it's adult fiction and I really loved it so I'm slipping it into this post. I can't remember how I found this one--I think it might have been recommended on Goodreads. but the moment I saw that it was a rendition of The Taming of the Shrew, I knew I had to read it. and that I probably would love it. and guess what--I did.

the story wasn't much. you have Dr. Battista on the brink of discovering something great in his research, but his research assistant, Pyotr, is running out of time left in America thanks to an expiring visa. what other option does the good doctor have but to get Pyotr to marry his crotchety oldest daughter Katherine? most of the plot consisted of Pyotr trying to get on Katie's good side (and failing miserably), Bonnie being a complicated teenager, and Katherine being unsure of what she wants out of life. this book was SHORT, guys. too short. I gladly would've taken another hundred and fifty pages, especially because the characters were so interesting and the writing was so great. but maybe it being longer would have changed how I feel about this book. I don't know. the feminist aspect of the story, although a tad awkwardly smattered through the plot and then heavily placed at the end, was really great, and it was definitely necessary. Katherine also made me want to cry, because she was everything I felt the original Katherine from the play should be. yes, she had a hard time being around people. yes, she was abrasive and brash. yes, she was independent and angry. but this book made her all those things while making her a beautiful, intricate human as well. I loved it. just loved it.

beloved poison, by e. s. thomson

well...this book tried to be Timothy Wilde and didn't quite make it. I still liked it, but it definitely wasn't as great as the other books. I did appreciate a female lead in such a male-dominant genre--so many historical mysteries are male driven, and that drives me nuts. and while Jem was in disguise (this isn't a spoiler, although I was shocked to find this out on the first chapter because the blurb alluded nothing to her gender), you kind of get the feeling that she's neither male nor female--she's somewhere between. the mystery was nothing to be amazed at, but the hospital dynamic and slightly creepy undertones that this novel really sold me. and there were so many threads that came together quite nicely in the end. to my joy and excitement, there's a second book out called Dark Asylum, but I can't seem to find it. *sighs heavily* guess i'll just have to be patient.

honorary mention: the lies of locke lamora (aka the book that would never end), by scott lynch

I tried. honestly, I tried. but no matter how hard I tried to read this mini-tome of a book, no matter how much I liked the writing and the humor and the characters, I just...couldn't get through it. oh well. maybe it was how thick and tiny it was, maybe it was the awkward jumping back and forth between time periods and so many different characters speaking at all the same time. I honestly don't know. I how to give this one another shot, but who knows when.

are you on a strict YA only diet like I once was? maybe you should check some of these books out (literally, lol. library jokes.) but in all seriousness, after reading these books, I feel a lot more open to reading that ominous Fiction with a capital f. so if you have any faves or recommendations, send 'em my way. not that I have time to read this week, thanks to summer classes. *runs into the void screaming*

hope y'all have a great week--and if you're headed into finals (unlike me, who got them done early ehehehehe), take a deep breath! you're going to be just fine in the end. <3

Thursday, April 20, 2017

cor : beginnings

a handmaiden carefully painted the curves and hollows of her eyes with red, the color of blood and wine and all fine things. the brush tickled Bryony’s skin, a dusty powder settling deep in her throat, making it hard to breathe. everything made it hard to breathe--the tight boned waist of the dress they’d squeezed her into, the pins digging deep into her scalp, the unsettling weight of anticipation pulling her stomach into painful contractions...she could barely sit still. the gentle tap of another handmaiden behind her reminded her--stop squirming. but she couldn’t. not with so many hands on her sun hardened skin. Not with so many eyes resting entirely on her.

Birdman hated this part. what was the point, he would scream at the guards and handmaidens pulling her away, the yellowy-whites of his eyes disappearing as the rest of his face turned spongy and red. why make a woman who could do everything a man could look like a woman again? It was just a waste of time.

but deep down, Bry enjoyed it. despite the tickling sensation of the brush and the steely grip of delicate women, she enjoyed looking at herself in the mirror and not knowing the girl who sat before. or maybe she wasn’t a girl anymore. not like this. when she looked like this, she was a woman.

her dark brown hair, the color of stained wood, swept back from her forehead, curling into an intricate spectacle atop her head. her skin now looked like the porcelain she’d only seen in shop windows, a color that did not match the dark brown of her hands. gold accented the red paint they so carefully applied, and her heavily lidded eyes were now lined with kohl, making her seem more wild and alive than she actually was. if only Mam could see me now, she thought as the maiden finished the last touches. even her body was not her own anymore. her broad shoulders and wide hips were hidden, masquerading under a blood red gown that pinched and squeezed and resisted her every moment. compared to her ordinary brown dress or white smock and blue breeches, this dress made a farmhand, a fighter, into a bird of paradise.

a poisonous one.

“there.” the handmaiden stepped back, the brush limp in her freckled hand. “you’re ready.”

Bry forced a smile to her newly painted lips. yes, she was ready--to prance and to parade and to flirt. but was she really ready? for the coming days? to fight? to rally? to die?

no amount of finery could make her feel ready for that.


as Milo stood next to his father, smiling with faked politeness at the dozens of diplomats pouring past them, he suddenly wished he were seven years old again. small enough to hide in dark corners where no one would find him. insignificant enough that no one would bother to look for him. now, at twenty-one, he couldn’t hide, no matter how hard he tried. everyone wanted to have a look at him, the Forgotten Prince of Golgotha.

“where is your mind?” King Eris, his father, nudged him slightly, speaking only through tightly clenched teeth. his smile never faltered--but Milo’s did.

“just thinking.”

“there is no such thing as just thinking, my son.”

yes, there was. thoughts flowed through his mind like a quiet trickling stream of water, but those thoughts were for him and him alone. he couldn't share them with this stranger of a father. he didn't have enough of the right words for that. besides, Eris would never listen. so instead of answering, he just smiled that pained, practiced grin and straightened his shoulders.

“are you excited for tonight?” the king’s smile soured as he asked, like he had a guess of what was running through his son’s mind right then. “I hear that girl from Snol will be here.”

a chill ran down Milo’s spine. he hadn’t known. of course he hadn’t known.

he hadn’t been to Snol in six years--because he was forbidden to leave the city. he broke that rule as often as he liked, but something deep within him kept him far away from that village in particular, and it wasn't just because of the ire in his father’s eyes every time he brought it up those first few months.

he knew he wasn’t wanted there. not any more.

she would be there. in the same room as him. they might meet eyes. they might exchange pleasant conversation. she might not even recognize him. that might be better for the both of them. ballrooms weren't exactly the best location for hostile negotiations. that was what the arena was for, and he wasn't allowed out there. another grievance he wasn't brave enough to bring before his father. but ache in his heart flared to life, a feeling that had been locked in slumber for fifteen long years. maybe, just maybe, she would be happy to see him. maybe she had missed him like he missed her. like he missed everything about Snol. maybe.

but not likely.

“interesting,” he said instead of pouring out all this. the king watched him carefully, but Milo knew he didn’t care. he never had. he just wanted to know whether this news was something he could twist and manipulate, whether he could use it to his advantage.

Milo wasn’t going to give him that satisfaction.

not again.


altogether there were forty-three of them. all solid and firm, like ancient trees lining the arena with skilled grace. and then there was her. Bryony. one of seven women.

she didn’t care that they outnumbered her. she didn’t even care that they were bigger than her, with prouder muscles and broader swords.

she only cared about the woman across the arena in pale dusty pink. if Bry was a flame, this woman was a rose. a cold, dying rose. and if these men were proud of their strength, this woman was prouder. she could crush them with a single clench of her fist, and she knew it.

Bryony’s eyes stayed trained on her, but she never looked her way.

this was why she was here. not to wage wars of men or to win golden coins...although that would be nice.

she was here to bring someone home.


“can you see her?” Nox asked for the millionth time, bouncing up and down on her agile toes. her hair sprouted haphazardly from her hair-covering, and the midday sun lit up her eyes like liquid fire. as Hade watched her out of the corner of his eye, he couldn’t help but smile. silly child. “Can you see my sister?” she asked again, trying her hardest to peer over the barred wall. Hade, with his towering six foot frame, looked over the edge with ease--straight into the pit of the arena where his best friend stood, her vibrant dress like a flame against the black sand. she was a vision.

pride warmed his belly. she’d done it. she was here. she was going to win. no one was better prepared for the Scourges than Bryony Haiba. she’d fought her way through life, she would fight her way through this. he knew she could do it.

“she’s there,” he told Nox, whose face was wrinkled with frustration. “right where she belongs.”

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

a year in music : iii

click this photo for playlist of all these songs! <3 

i. i'll be yours
[ girl's day ]

ii. black sun
[ death cab for cutie ]

iii. 6am
[ fitz and the tantrums ]

iv. beautiful
[ monsta x ]

v. love drunk
[ boys like girls ]

vi. crooked teeth
[ death cab for cutie ]

vii. wake me up
[ bap ]

viii. never ever
[ got7 ]

ix. terrible things
[ mayday parade ]

x. after the world
[ disciple ]

xi. i came from the city
[ " the get down " - nas & michael kiwanuka ]

xii. rollin'
[ brave girls ]

bonus : zeke's poem
[ " the get down " - justice smith ]

*none of these gifs are mine unless specified - all credit to creators*

Saturday, March 18, 2017


"tell me more."

my mother used to say that all the time. on the days where I was the only voice jabbering away in our tiny yellow home, she would smile at my stories and listen closely as I told her about my adventures. her attention told me they meant the world to her, even though they were just stupid little things blown up in the world of my imagination. maybe they did mean that much to her. I liked to think so. that feeling...having someone listen to you without obvious reluctance or distractions...nothing felt quite as good as that.

I hadn't felt that burst of warmth in a long time. I hadn't felt anything, actually. not since my mother kicked me out of the only home I'd ever known. even though it itself had been cold and empty, I found the outside world much colder and far too empty of people like me. ever since then, everything had been as numb as cold steel. but right then, as I stared into that guardian's gold rimmed eyes, as my mind slipped dangerously with the swirl of the alcohol's influence, I felt something.

and it didn't sit right.

she shouldn't be listening to me. a good guardian would have walked away the moment they saw me. a better guardian wouldn't even been here? what was she doing in a deserted 7-11 hidden deep within the rotten innards of Halloway? getting an innocent slushie? spying on us? playing the hero?

either way, here she was, crouching in front of me with her round cheeks cupped in her tiny, brown fingers. a golden ring with a small purple gem flashed in the dim overhead light. she had to be around my age--maybe twenty three or a little younger--but everything about her was a contradiction. her mannerisms were childish, her eyes were ancient, and her expression...wasn't there. no anger. no confusion. no disgust. just...blank anticipation of what would happen next.

"what the hell," I murmured, eyes glued to this anomaly before me. "how...are you here?"

how could something as bright and unclouded as her even exist in this dirty corner of the world?

those awful eyes flashed, almost defiant--the first sign of any emotion. "um, I walked here? Just like you." she frowned. "although yours was probably more of a drunken stagger."

"...I would probably take offense at that if I weren't so drunk." even I winced at my pronounced slurring. just how drunk was I? the events after leaving Angela with her judgmental mother and the bus ride home were a little...blurry.

I hadn't been this drunk in a while.

"Do you have a phone?" I finally eeked out. the steady weight of her eyes made speaking--and breathing--extremely difficult. this stillness was so different when compared to the fiery woman  stared down this afternoon. that woman had been fricking alive.

this one...just stared.

and frowned. she pulled out an iphone--its case also purple--from her hoodie pocket. "don't you?"

"yeah, but..." pain jolted through the back of my skull, penetrating my brain like an icy shiv. "I don't remember what I did with it. traded it for a vegetable, maybe. or more vodka. probably more vodka." considering the state of my wallet and how drunk I was, definitely more vodka.

that time, the stare came with a tinge of condescension and the tiniest bit of concern. "do you want me to call someone?" the words had a practiced ease to them, like she was used to helping random drunk strangers find their way safely home. although I wasn't exactly random. unless this awkward encounter was just yet another freak coincidence in my freak coincidence of a life.

something deep down told me it wasn't.

"my AA sponsor." the words left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. damn it. I should've pictured Fox's disappointed scowl when I took that first burning gulp. that would have sobered me instantly. instead, the harsh chant of "you're a monster" echoed in my mind like a cadence of chains.

and now here she was, waiting to help me.

the innate nature of a guardian must be one hell of a habit.

with a sigh too heavy to be anything but reluctant, she pressed the phone into my waiting hands. "thank you," I whispered. she had no idea what it meant. she never would. thankfully, despite blurry vision and shaking fingers, I managed to punch Foxglove's number into the device.  I winced at the shrill ring, not once, but twice before the phone clicked, and Fox's heavy accent filled the crackling silence. "hullo?"

"you always sound like such a dirtbag when you answer the phone. 'hullo.'" I mocked, lips curling in playful derision. across from me, Cora's golden eyes widened. shocked, probably. she'd probably never even imagined a reaper could have a normal, guy to guy conversation before. she was the dirtbag, not Fox.

was it possible for me to be getting drunker, even though I hadn't touched the bottle since she started staring so firmly in my direction?

Foxglove went silent. "Neil? is that you?"

"the one and only."

a pause. "I hate to ask this, because you're normally this bitter, but--you're not drunk, are you?" an unspoken 'again' trailed off at the end of his question. so he still picked up on my alcoholism better than either of my own parents ever had. wonderful.

"very, I answered, swallowing a very petite hiccup. "can you come save me from this grimy convience store before I start gross sobbing? I think I might get herpes from this nasty place."

"you won't get herpes, you idiot," he reassured me. I could see him so clearly in my mind--pacing around his tiny kitchen with his phone cord wrapped tight around his forearm, glancing anxiously out the window towards the pitch black windows of the Moran's apartment, chewing absently at his non-existent lower lip. "whose phone are you on? is there someone there with you?"

"yeah." my eyes flashed up to Cora. "my guardian angel."

her lips tightened but said nothing.

"can you ask them to stay with you until I can get there?"

I cocked a lazy eyebrow at her, opening a reluctant invitation. "care to babysit me a little longer?"

she rolled her eyes, as if there were obviously something better for her to do. there probably was. even so, she nodded. "it's not like there's that much for a guardian to get up to on a Friday night in Halloway."

"hence the reason you're here at a 7-11 getting a slushie." I gestured lazily to the cup resting on its side by her feet, praying to every god I knew of that Fox hadn't heard the word 'guardian' over the phone. he was probably already losing his mind. I didn't need to start a full-fledged panic.

"she'll wait," I told him as gravity's pull dragged me a little closer to the floor. the buzz was starting to become annoying, and all I wanted to was to forget all this had happened. but still...I needed to stay awake. unconsciousness was a danger I couldn't risk at this point. that had been the whole point of sobriety.

so I whispered "come save me" to Fox as softly as I could. whether I needed saving from the guardian, myself, or the darkness gathering outside, I didn't know. I never would.

after telling him which greasy hole I was hiding in, I handed the phone back to her. Cora. the guardian. the woman who was willing to wait for me, despite all my mistakes and all our differences--as drastic and as barbed as they were.

and then I uttered something I never thought I'd say to a guardian in my life time.


a sliver of a smile creased her soft, round face--and it was so fricking genuine. the realest thing I'd seen all day. I kind of wanted to keep looking at it, until the sun finally set and all light had vanished from our tiny little world. it was a smile that looked like it could last milennia.

of course, it disappeared the instant I puked all over her shoes, but the moment had been there, all the same.

and with that, the_tethered_files comes to a close. hope you all enjoyed reading these as much as I enjoyed writing them!

*none of these images are mine unless specified*