Friday, October 22, 2010

Feathers and Down

I haven't posted anything writing wise on here in a while. I found something that I wrote months ago that is once again bordering on 'dark' and contains some 'language' and mentions of sex, but I like it anyway. Don't read any further if that sort of thing in writing offends you.

It was interesting to write though, based off of two things, the following quote;

And I've seen what you make for money and I've seen what you do for fame. I've seen what you do to make people like you and I've seen what you swallow to ease the pain. I've heard what you say out of malice and I've heard what you spat out of spite.

But none of these things make you happy because not one was done for love.

and the song Feathers and Down by the Cardigans.

Although I did a bit of a roll reversal...

Another ringing insult, another persuasive purr. She was drunk again, cold beer slipping down a welcoming throat and coating veins with intoxicating poison. Wrinkling his nose, he stood up, throwing some bills on the table and muttering, "I'll catch you later, guys." He was sick of watching the other slowly throw her dreams away like the empty beer bottles that littered the table, tossed in the recycling and crushed into nothing.

Their friends waved, lifting their glasses in a salute. She was too busy downing another to notice. A different night, not too long ago, he would have stayed until the bitter end, stuck around until it was just him and her in one apartment or another, sweat slicked back pressed into cotton sheets, needy lips and groping fingers, the scent of alcohol far too strong to lend reasonable thought.

That was when he was still naively enamored with a bright teasing laugh, low sensual whispers that enticed. Before he saw just how many were subjected to wandering fingers and soft beguiling eyes. Then he was forced to label himself an unwitting fool, led so easily astray, as innocence was ground under a booted foot like a cigarette butt, the addiction burned up and the rest just a clogged up filter full of filth.

She had wanted the world and sold her soul to get it, there were too many willing to exchange sex for a recommendation. And somewhere along the way she forgot about her heart. It was hidden beneath the metal perforating skin, behind ink and blatant teasing, cigarette smoke and meaningless nights, locked tight with the key rusted away to nothing. And with that came self disgust, drowned and strangled with alcohol as she turned to liquid to hide the pain.

It was so damn hard to watch. Because he was still an enamored fool and that was what made him leave early on the first night they'd hung out in months. Because it hurt to know he could stay and end up back in her arms. He was sure of that much, just as he was sure it would mean more to him than to her. He could stick around again and wake up with a tear stained chest, sweat dried and flaked, sobs breaking free of the gulps that tried to force them down. He could offer his arms but he'd simply be told it was okay and that the tears were simply from a headache, he'd be told to let go when he was the one being clung to. Then some semblance of calm would be gained and once more he'd be pushed away, the key in his fingers not quite the right fit yet again.

He didn't have the heart to try again tonight. Maybe next time, when his chest didn't feel so bruised and battered just seeing her again and knowing that she hadn't changed. Next time. Why did that feel so heartless?

Standing on the curb he rolled the cigarette in his fingers before drawing it to his lips and lighting it up, sinking down and staring at the wheels of passing cars going round and round, like the circles in his head, like the pain in his heart. Shiny hubcaps and glittery piercings.

He was still sitting there when she stumbled out, plunking down onto the curb beside him, arms slinging across his shoulders, breath stinking like beer and wafting over his face. “I was wondering where you went to,” friendly banter, nothing more.

He winced, bitterness in his eyes and he looked down to hide it. “What do you want?” There was no hiding the acrid in his tone.

The hand around his shoulders slowly slipped away and the roar of traffic and music wafting out from the bar were the only sounds for a while. Then there was the click, click of her lighter and the pungent smell of a cigarette, a different brand than his own, filling his nostrils, hiding the scent of booze. “I missed you,” the words were barely whispered, unexpectedly puffed out with smoke that disappeared into the night air, insubstantial, pollution.

Giving a disbelieving snort, he muttered, “Missed me? Or missed fucking me. What? Have all your other boy toys up and left too?” Cruel words meant to cut past the pretty mask to the flesh underneath and he felt her flinch, guilt searing his chest even as hurt pride congratulated himself for saying what he meant for once.

"I-" another breath, even softer than the last, but weightier, thicker smoke. “I… no one else ever stays until morning.” Everyone but you leaves as soon as they are done with me.

The confession stung to hear, more than he wanted it to. He choked the pain in his gut down. “I can’t do this,” he finally turned to look her in the face and saw dark eyes a little more worn with every day, a little sadder, a little more tired. “You're drowning me in your world of grey.” All grey and silver, dull matte interjected with shimmering flashes, just enough to make him want to stay.

Looking away he gestured at the bar behind them and whispered, “You think this is all you have. That no one will love you if you are sober, if you don’t offer yourself up to the fucking world.” The cigarette was back in his lips, inhaling toxins that would kill him slowly, it didn’t matter, around her he felt like he was suffocating anyway.

She shivered beside him and bit her lip, fingers tracing the grimy lines under her shoes, eyes blurred. “How can you be so sure they won't leave?” Insecurity, hidden with the laugh that followed it. "Besides, what's wrong with how I am now? You used to think I was fun."

'I used to, until I realized I love you, he wanted to respond. Instead he simply muttered, "You've never tried."

"It's all I know. We can't all be bright like you," the tone would be mocking if it didn't sound so damn wistful.

He had never felt darker. Closing his eyes he ran a hand over the back of his neck before he stood up and mumbled, “Come on, you aren’t drinking anymore tonight.” It was stupid, he should just leave and not bother, but he was always the fool wasn’t he? What was one more night of pain?


Fingers pulled at his clothes and he batted them away, tried to ignore the body draped over his back as he made tea. It felt good, the fingers sliding over the bare skin of his belly under his shirt, the lips on his neck, teeth scraping, warm body invading personal space. Taking a breath he prayed for patience and strength as he whispered, “Stop, please. Not right now.”

“Why not?” A chin propped up on his shoulder and the hands on his belly slid lower making His breath catch. “You want it.” You want me, everyone wants my body, One palm slipped lower.

“Stop!” His hands slammed down on the counter, upsetting one mug and spilling boiling liquid over calloused fingertips, burning even as he swore and jerked away, stuffing injured digits into his mouth.

She pulled away reluctantly, lips drawn into a pout as she looked down at the floor and muttered, “Sorry.” Somehow rejection stung more than she anticipated. He’d never turned her down before, he was the only one that stuck around.

He gave a bitter sob, sliding to the floor; head resting against the cupboard doors, eyes squeezed shut. “You just don’t get it, do you?” He did want her, he wanted to spend every damn day wrapped up in her embrace but it didn’t work that way and if he gave in now, tomorrow would just be worse. He'd hate himself more.

“You come here because I don’t leave, but you never think about why I might stay. You take and take and take but you don’t think that maybe there's a reason why I let you. You're selfish, so selfish and I still follow you like some damn puppy, too stupid to know its master is slowly killing him. I meant what I said, I’m drowning here. This,” he gestured at the empty space between them, “it's suffocating me with nothingness."

Opening his eyelids he looked through his lashes at the perplexed and scared look that was slowly taking over her features. She was still drunk, but even wasted out of her mind she looked genuinely upset. It wasn’t a common look on her, seduction suited her better, and he almost told her he was joking just to wipe away the look of real emotion from her cold face. It was easier if he thought she had no feelings left. Instead he just laughed lowly and muttered, “Just go.”

But she didn’t leave. She crouched down next to him and, heedless of the tea quickly cooling and dripping from the counter, she gathered his injured hand in hers and looked at it sadly, gently stroking his palm and avoiding the blisters forming.

“I-” she paused, sighing softly in the quiet that was left, sticky heavy silence that clung to the room and her conscience in ways she didn’t understand. She never understood anything around him, too much innocence and light that were slowly leaking away no matter how hard she tried to catch it. It slipped through her fingers with every touch to bare skin, milky smoothness fading somehow, or maybe that was just the brightness of dark brown eyes dimming as they looked down at her. “Why,” why? Why what? She didn’t know, only knew that she’d never asked before. Why did he stay when everyone else abandoned her, why did his eyes look so accusing whenever she tried to push away, stop herself from clinging too tight, not wanting to strangle more life from his lips.

But he only stared at her, bitter twist of lips as fingers pulled free and, ignoring the sting of red skin, pressed fingertips to cheeks, leaning up to kiss her slowly, lingering sweetness with a sour aftertaste. “That’s the kicker isn’t it? You’ve never seen it. Your own heart is all locked up and you threw away the key, now you can't even recognize what feeling is.”

He stood up, moving to the freezer to grab some ice, then slowly shuffled out the room, pausing only once to whisper, “You are free to stay, but we aren’t fucking tonight.” It wasn’t said, it didn’t need to be, but the words that should have followed lingered in the air all the same, whispering in her ears, toying with her mind, ’If you leave I won’t offer my arms again.’


Left kneeling alone on the hard floor, bone digging into linoleum, she stared at the puddle of tea slowly forming, drip, drip, drip,and tried to gather her thoughts. She needed another smoke and with trembling fingers she pulled it out, smoke curling as she lit it and slid completely to the floor, shirt soaking up tea and watching wisps of grey dance in the stale air, looking for an answer in their toxins. Life was easy when she just had to get on her knees, look up through lashes and brush damp lips against salty skin. It never took much to grasp her dreams, coy looks and a willing body, alcohol to hide the stains imprinted on her soul, cigarettes to chase away the shadows with their warm glow and nerve soothing tang.

Here however, cold floor under her limp body, it wasn't so simple. She could hear the sound of splashing water from the bathroom, the tap turning on and off, the rustle of clothes thrown in the hamper, then padding feet towards the bedroom. Off to bed, warmth and comfort, feather duvet and down pillows. Closing her eyes she could imagine large limbs arranging themselves in a tight ball, frustrated eyes staring at the far wall. He was different.

At first he had seemed the same, laughing eyes, bright and sharp and all too eager to please. In some sick twisted way he had reminded her of a younger version of herself, dreams clung to as tight as fingers grasped strings on an instrument. And just like her idols had done, she was reveling in the attention, curling someone around her finger instead of being the one molded into positions. But she had loved the attention; competition and wandering fingers only a challenge to be the most liked. He saw licking lips and sex as betrayal because, unlike her, in the end he still remembered what his dreams were.

Your own heart is all locked up and you threw away the key, now you can't even recognize what feeling is. Feeling was pain, dreams fulfilled only to see the emptiness of a stage when all the audience saw was a facade, a second skin that fit so tight the original was shriveling without air to breathe. It was easier to simply not feel, bury it deep under the layers of grime and dirt coating her soul.

She wasn't sure when she first started to wake up with cheeks wet with tears, her heart trying to purge the aching while she slept, the only time its walls weren't firmly in place. But she still remembered the first time she had woken up with large fingers wiping them away. Terror curled along her spine and lies spun inelegantly from her lips. Headaches, hangovers, handy excuses to slip away and rebuild her shell. Strangely he let her cry, didn't judge, just accepted. Why was it that, in a world where masks were encouraged, she'd found someone who wanted her free of all the makeup she hid under? It didn't seem fair.

The sting of heat on her fingers broke her from her thoughts and with a curse she realized her cigarette had burnt down to the filter. Struggling to her feet, she put it out in the sink. Where did she go from here? Did she leave, be what the world asked her to be, unattached, a free fantasy to lust after, nothing more than the pretty face she'd been for years. Or did she let herself sink into a feathery bed, and cry in a wide embrace.


He heard the shift and fall of clothes, felt the bed dip, warm body curling around his and lips breathing. He didn't say anything and neither did she, not even as the he turned, cheek lying pillowed on a bare chest, ear pressed against ribs caging a beating heart. It was there, steadily thumping, and with a soft sigh he pressed a kiss to jumping skin. All he had to do was convince her of that. But she was there wasn't she? In bed even though more wasn't an option.

Small hands pulled him up, lips meeting his lightly and as he cupped her cheeks, to push her away, or to pull her closer, he felt tears slide over his fingers, wet and warm. He breathed out, leaning in for another kiss, even softer, one to her nose, another to her forehead. He was giving in again, he always did, but maybe this time he wouldn't fall so hard.

A shudder sob left the other's lips and he pulled her close, skin against skin, heads sharing the same pillow, breathing the same air. "I-" she stuttered, trying to spit it out, admit vulnerability. "It hurts -" she could pass it off like she always did, a headache, nothing more. Instead she finished with, "- my chest." She took her hand, peeling it from damp cheeks, and shifted it down to her heart. "Here."

This time, it seemed that his key might fit.


  1. You're a wizard with words, dear sister. The best a writer can hope for is to make her readers feel what the characters are feeling; you've accomplished that and more. Bravo. Thanks for sharing.

  2. wow...I should be working right now but I honestly couldn't stop have an amazing gift Suzanne...awesome!(p.s its Marie but I don't have an account...)

  3. suzy, this is gripping. you are amazing =)

  4. <3 Thank you very much ladies! Honestly... thank you.