Chapter 4: Twenty Minutes Later

Sabine had gone to the restroom after Tracy’s lecture. They didn’t go in there to cry. Sabine was almost 30. They could handle criticism although Sabine knew that Tracy and Severin were the lifelines by which their career as an artist was able to stay afloat. They couldn’t afford for Tracy and Severin to get bored with their work.

Sabine had gone to the bathroom because they just needed a couple minutes to themselves. They didn’t want Tracy to know that her words had cut so deep. Sabine had only painted Home in the first place because they had to get a piece placed in the Art Crawl. Sabine knew that Severin operated on far more patriotic nostalgia than they would ever let on. Home was guaranteed money, and Sabine had helped make a sale with Tracy’s help.

Sabine had resented the implication that they didn’t care about Home. The piece had ceased to be just a business ploy the moment they placed the first brushstrokes on their canvas.

Sabine hadn’t been back to the home their painting captured since they were in high school. Home wasn’t a surrealist commentary on the bewildering, incomprehensible beauty of nature. Sabine hadn’t painted a landscape as literal as this since their art school days. Home was Fae. Sabine knew that was why Severin had wiped away their tears when they’d seen the painting. Sabine knew it had been so much longer since Severin had seen their home, and Sabine knew that it was likely that Severin would never get to go home again. They were Divise. They were exiles. Home was Sabine’s ode to the land of their zaza and the rest of the Divise stuck here on Earth.

Continue reading “Chapter 4: Twenty Minutes Later”

Chapter 3: How It Will Always Be

Melika was on Tumblr.

She hadn’t been dragged out to Terre. Melika was happy to be at the gallery. She was celebrating Sabine’s big night. Melika wanted to be present for Sabine, and she was… sort of.

Melika had been fine when Sabine was with her. A close friend was the only emotional support system Melika still needed to function in crowded, public spaces. She’d come so far since college. Her days of intense, total seclusion were mostly behind her.

Melika had been fine when Severin had stopped by and asked how she was doing. They always took a special interest in Melika when she came in to Terre with Sabine. Severin did have a habit of studying Melika intently and not apologizing for the stares. She could handle Severin’s looks though. Melika knew why they stared. Unlike most folks in the ‘Burgh, Severin couldn’t have cared less about Melika’s visible Adam’s apple. Her visions were of far more interest.

Yet, Melika still felt like she would rather cease to now be or have ever been than be left by herself at shows like this.

This is how it will always be.

Continue reading “Chapter 3: How It Will Always Be”

October 11th, 2008 – 1:00 AM

A couple of Todd’s coworkers were manning the late shift in Thibodeaux #3’s cramped lobby, checking student IDs and processing off-campus guest sign-ins. A tiny freshman girl was vomiting in a trashcan, near the line for the elevators. A friend held her hair back. The RAs working the desk all wore the same gold uniform and had the same “I’d rather be asleep or studying or out drinking or literally anywhere besides babysitting all these drunk assholes” look plastered on their faces.

The red-headed sophomore with the Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Policing textbooks open in front of her was in charge of the ID swiping station. She did not smile when Todd approached.

“Enjoying your night off? Must be nice.”

She took Todd’s student ID and swiped it.

“It’s been wonderful.”

Todd flashed his most charming smile, but his peer still didn’t react. Todd’s face flushed with frustration. He hid the anger quickly, but Todd wasn’t fast enough to keep Melika from noticing his facade starting to crack. It was the first time she saw anything other than exactly what Todd wanted. It would not be the last.

Continue reading “October 11th, 2008 – 1:00 AM”

October 10th, 2008

Melika had her first undeniable prophecy the fall semester of her sophomore year at Hodges.

She had just started telling her closest friends that she was a woman. Melika was wearing makeup to queer bars. She was finding dresses and women’s formal wear that she felt comfortable in. Melika didn’t know if she’d ever be able to afford hormones or surgery, but she was going to exist as a woman and do so outside of the confines of her own head.

Melika had gone to Jardin earlier in the evening. She had heard the rumors about the club, and Melika wanted to explore those lustful impulses for herself. She craved that physical vulnerability and passion. As Melika prowled the dance floor, she received invitations to the multitudes of sexual congress. Queer women and femme-leaning genderqueers waved beckoning fingers and stole hungry glances, but, after an hour, Melika was sitting at the Rosebud, sipping a screwdriver, and trying not to cry.

Continue reading “October 10th, 2008”

Chapter 2: Homes and Self-Portraits

Sabine hated the glad-handing of big gallery shows. They hadn’t sold a piece in over a month, and their rent was due in two weeks. Sabine was happy to have one of their works at Terre for the 2018 Pittsburgh Art Crawl. They had begged and pleaded with Severin for a spot. They were not, under any circumstances, asking their mother to help cover the rent… again. Sabine was a grown ass adult. They were a working artist. Their work could pay the bills.

Or, at least, that’s what Sabine told themself each day as they pushed aside the rational impulse to find a job with benefits and a salary.

Continue reading “Chapter 2: Homes and Self-Portraits”

A Procedural Tragedy Simulator

UrbanShadowsCover

(Author’s Note: This is Dawn. This essay originally appeared on my personal blog where I occasionally put up non-fiction essays. I wanted to explain what this project meant to Nic and I. If you’re interested in knowing a little more about my non-fiction work , feel free to visit my blog and read the rest of this piece at the link at the end of this post.)

Orchid began on my 29th birthday.

In late February, my partner Nic and I were in the first couple weeks of our cohabitation. Neither of us were in healthy economic circumstances. For my birthday, The only present Nic could afford was dinner. We got (delicious) mall hot dogs. Nic felt bad about the meager celebrations. I tried to assure them that spending my birthday with them was more than enough, but Nic kept asking if there was anything else they could do. I was riding the high of the early glow of our relationship and so I worked up the courage to ask Nic if they wanted to write a story together.

Orchid is a trans/queer-centric urban fantasy serial, and it has been an experiment from the start because it isn’t a conventional serialized tale.

Continue Reading…

Chapter 1: Not Quite Midnight in the Jardin of Arsene and Virgil

Stuttering percussion and icy synths reverberated across the surging dance floor, and Jardin‘s swelling patronage was being swept up in the triphop’s intoxicating physicality. It was foreplay, and every dancer measured their calculations.

The shuffling, arrhythmic beats pulsing through the bar sent waves of color that folded in on themselves and back out, unfurling and blooming, each permutation an aftershock of the endless reflections.

From her high bar stool, just off the disco’s center, on a little diamond of the labyrinthine, elevated walkway, Virgil scanned the club for familiar faces.

Continue reading “Chapter 1: Not Quite Midnight in the Jardin of Arsene and Virgil”