Chapter 6: Promises Made

Virgil walked behind Arsene as they navigated a narrow set of stairs deep in the bowels of Jardin. Arsene had Robin slung over their shoulders, who had yet to wake up after returning from the veil.

Virgil wasn’t entirely sure how she and Arsene were still inside of Jardin. The building took up a corner of a dockside block on the Strip and was only three stories tall, but Virgil felt like she and Arsene had walked enough corridors to be Downtown by now and that was without wondering how exactly these stairs seemed to still be going up although Virgil was pretty sure she saw a door and lights off in the distance. Virgil couldn’t figure out what were the color of the lights that were peeking out of the cracks of the unreachable portal. The lights always seemed to change just when Virgil thought she caught a glint of red or purple or orange.

Virgil hadn’t anticipated being cut off by Arsene during her and Robin’s escape from the Jardin. Virgil hadn’t had a clear idea of where exactly she planned on taking Robin after she broke Todd’s wrist, but she wanted to be well clear of the Strip before cops showed up. Arsene had assured her the pigs wouldn’t be a problem.

“Don’t you worry your head, little ghost. You and your friend are in no danger here.” Virgil could not place Arsene’s accent although she was fairly certain it wasn’t French.

Arsene had walked towards Robin and Virgil slowly and with their hands up and then picked Robin up like she was a sleeping kitten off the linoleum floor of the service area behind Jardin‘s dance floor and Arsene gently laid her over their shoulders. Arsene was still in their mod girl outfit. Arsene’s face was lined and their hair was starting to gray, but their tan, muscular shoulders carried Robin without noticeable burden.

Arsene didn’t even wrinkle their dress.

Continue reading “Chapter 6: Promises Made”

June 20th, 2009 – Part 2

Virgil assured herself that she’d had honorable intentions when she’d first shown up at Robin’s apartment.

Virgil knew where things were heading. This was becoming a relationship. Virgil was 86 years old, and she’d never been in a relationship before. She’d never been able to stay solid for this long. She’d had flings. Virgil had been a regular at Jardin for decades, but she had never had an honest-to-god girlfriend before.

Hold your horses, Virgil. She’s not your girlfriend.

But Virgil knew that a relationship was what Robin was starting to want. It was what Virgil wanted too. Before Robin got anymore attached, Virgil had to tell her the truth. She had to tell Robin that she was dead.

Continue reading “June 20th, 2009 – Part 2”

June 20th, 2009

[Author’s Note: This chapter of Orchid was initially scheduled to go up on October 28th. Nic and I decided to delay publication of this part of our story after the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh out of respect to the victims and family of that horrific tragedy.

If you’ve been reading Orchid from the beginning, you may remember that one of our heroines, Robin Goldberg, is a young Jewish woman living in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh’s historically Jewish neighborhood. This chapter was going to be our first return to Robin’s part of the story since the second chapter. Like myself, Robin is a secular, non-practicing Jew who still takes great pride in her cultural heritage. However, as this chapter deals with contemporary anti-Semitism and how white nationalists use the internet as a platform to intimidate Jews and queer folks and people of color, Nic and I felt it was appropriate to let ourselves and others continue to grieve over the loss in Pittsburgh before we told a story about our own experiences with modern anti-Semitic violence.]


Robin brushed her hair as she got ready for her fourth date with Virgil. A relationship had not been in Robin’s day planner for that summer. She was done with school. Robin had a summer to herself before she started teaching full time. She had thought maybe she’d make another movie. Robin had an idea for this low-budget home invasion thriller. Robin still wanted to talk to some friends about financing, but the only part of her life she seemed to be able to think or talk about anymore was Virgil.

Relationship… Jesus. You’ve hung out three times.

Robin stopped brushing her hair. Her futile attempts to straighten her mane only seemed to be making it curlier. Virgil and Robin had danced their second night at Jardin. Virgil ran her hands through Robin’s hair, lavishing attention on seemingly every curl as they danced and leaned against each other on the dance floor. Virgil had signed to Robin how beautiful her hair was. Virgil massaged Robin’s scalp as Robin danced with her back to Virgil’s chest and Virgil’s other hand traced endless, icy circles on Robin’s exposed midriff.

Can you remember that touch now?

Robin closed her eyes.

Not today, you motherfucker.

Continue reading “June 20th, 2009”

Chapter 5: You Know What You Did

Why the fuck didn’t I drive?

Sabine was furious with themself. Their Jetta was sitting at home. It was their college graduation present from their mother and the only car they knew they’d be able to afford for a very long time. Their Jetta was the car they only used when public transportation wasn’t an option.

Sabine and Melika were a couple blocks out from Terre, and Melika hadn’t said a word since they’d left the gallery. Melika was breathing again at least, and Sabine counted their blessings that they weren’t going to have to give Dr. Zhi an emergency late night call. Sabine wasn’t sure how “there” Melika was when they grabbed her hand and led her up the steps to the bus from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

Continue reading “Chapter 5: You Know What You Did”

Wearing a Woman’s Shirt to a West Virginia Wal-Mart

[Author’s Note: This is Dawn. Nic and I took a two month break from updating this blog. I had a myriad of mental and physical health issues in addition to some family drama that crashed together all at once. The last chapter of this had been half-written for two months, and I was just not well enough to finish the other thousand or so words I had left to write. I hope this personal, non-fiction essay can help shed some light on the personal issues that Nic and I are trying to explore with this series. There is a lot of supernatural silliness at the edges of Orchid, but it’s a fundamentally trans Appalachian narrative from two committed leftist storytellers. This is a look into our actual lives.

Also, I wanted to credit the above image to the wonderfully talented FawxDraws. Nic and I had been looking for an icon for this site before it went live. Nic knows a lot of really talented artists through their various Tumblr fandoms, and I knew that I wanted Fawx to draw our titular Orchid as soon as Nic showed me one of their pieces for the first time. Nic and I are hoping to commission more art for the site in the future but for financial reasons, that’s a more long-term plan. We both hope everyone has been enjoying our story.]

Continue reading “Wearing a Woman’s Shirt to a West Virginia Wal-Mart”

January 10th, 2018

Melika hadn’t used Dr. Zhi’s couch since her first session.

It was a comfortable couch. Melika had no complaints about the couch’s aesthetics. It was a textured, floral cotton print. Cream. Dr. Zhi said it had been her mother’s. Melika would have loved to have had a couch just like that in her apartment with Sabine, but that couch had carried the psychic weight of the spiritual trauma of so many for so long. Melika was a lightning rod for all of that psychic energy.

Melika and Dr. Zhi had settled on an alternative to the couch. Dr. Zhi bought an inflatable mattress and pillows. Melika supplied sheets and a throw blanket for when it was cold. Melika stared up at Dr. Zhi’s plaster ceiling as her head rested on three firm pillows. Dr. Zhi didn’t usually administer her treatment with such a Freudian visual framing, but Melika wasn’t one for eye contact to begin with so they made their system work.

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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”