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Old 09-04-2010, 05:16 AM
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Verne Verne is offline
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Default Re: Event -- I, For One, Welcome Our New Clefable Overlords

lol what
WARNING LONG SHIT AHEAD
----

It's more that you learn things than teach things to someone new to the world, and after the whole clefairy integration affair, there was so much to learn.

Just after, there wasn't much to do but curl up in front of the television, trying to tuck yourself into the seams of the couch like people do in emergencies, and watch the news for days. It wasn't really that it told us much -- the clefable worked well, worked quick, dug into society like maggots into dying flesh, so the men on tv looked dull and uncomfortable, wearing faces like there were weights dangled over their heads. But watching the news was something small towns like ours could do. We felt safe with the flash of the screen in our faces, even if all it told us was that it was safe to let these pokemon into our homes. Not too many people did, not when the anchormen swallowed the word safe like something sick and oily, but it told us that the occasional bustle and hum that came from out our windows were clefairy and the like hunting lazily for shelter. Once, even though my sister grabbed for the hem of my shirt when I stood, I pressed the curtain our mother had fashioned out of one of her old nightgowns to the pane of the window and stared through. For all the shivering in groups we did the front garden was simply the garden; the grass was folded in places, and there were caking impressions of feet in the dirt around the bushes, but no one was looming under the trees. All I could report to my sister (who had easily forgotten her fear) was that the flowers were missing from their stems, and that was not something to worry about.

All the same, and maybe because of the clefable grip on the news, the parents of the street cooled down and we kids started to populate the yards and sidewalks again with nothing more than a warning from our mothers to keep out of the streets (and always they said it as if this rule was something fresh from the parenting manual). Just as soon, the flowers grew back, and the only hint we had that any of the clefairy's presence was that though there were more unoccupied houses on the street since the pokemon started showing up, few had the accumulated dust undisturbed by tiny footprints. Yet for everything that suggested that our strictly normal suburban life was pulling at its seams, the curtains and doorknobs that guarded the clefairy houses never twitched, not even when a boy called Rob Nicholas flung pebbles at the windows of one until his mother dragged him home by his ear.

Naturally we were forbidden to speculate, because it was a time where mothers were allowed to feed on their own fear and pull their breath in nervously by every corner; looking for too long at those houses was reason enough to be brought inside on beautiful summer days. My sister was at an age where it was tradition to press one's luck, and so she and her neighborhood friends gathered in tight bundles just outside the property lines and chattered in a loud hush. They moved and rustled inside themselves and to me they seemed tied to each other, a bundle of wheat rotten with gossip. On the other hand, I was too young for so many hangers-on, and the clefairy houses stretched just as tall and white as the others, and the comfort and colors of the front garden were much more attractive. Playing under the rosebushes where from my angle the sun scattered over leaves like water in a fountain brought me to lunch smelling like flowers and feeling clear from the clip of the wind. There were no friends -- not the way my sister saw it, but she never saw past the shine of plastic faces -- yet I was content, and my mother never scolded me for wandering places I shouldn't. Rob Nicholas' mother once told mine how she was lucky that I kept away from all that clefairy nonsense.

I don't know how my mother never found out that I didn't always play alone, considering how she smiled around the line of the bushes when she called me in for dinner. Or maybe I don't know how my playmate dissolved back into the flowers whenever my mother looked -- the petals were left shimmering and shivering like a colony of ants were pushing at their stems, but I could never see the path she took.

My clefairy was young, I think; she didn't understand the concept of age the way that I did, who even as a child knew that age wound long ahead of me. From the way she blinked at the sunlight, though, and took steps carefully as though she wasn't sure if the ground would stay put, it was clear how fresh she was to the world -- or my world, at least. That was how she came out of the neighbor's garden to peer at me where I huddled in the front yard: her feet so small they skirted around individual blades of grass, eyes wet and blinking in the morning sun, arms held as if to keep her balanced. She was that faded pink they used to use to paint clefairy in children's books, glinting with white sunlight that snagged on the tips of fur blurring her edges. At first I thought, or I hoped, that she wasn't real, because there was a certain glow around her that made me remember dreams, and it had been long since the last time I had met a clefairy, but then she came nearer and crisper and there was no more time to dream. I froze then, and she teetered on the edge of my shadow, and I very nearly struck her and ran.

There was a moment that passed where I trembled and the clefairy only looked at me. Then she said, "Your flowers are very handsome," and her voice felt like cool water passing into me, like each word was as important as the last, and there was nothing to do but relax.

She found me in the garden often after that, though she seemed to prefer just sitting near me while I allowed some toy or another a stroll in the grass. I came to understand her as a friend. She remained a constant, despite the risks of being present in the public, settling on the ground and looking into the flowers almost daily, until it started to worry me when she didn't show. I liked her, really -- she wasn't so chattery as the girls my sister seemed attached to, but neither was she as crass as the boys; she spoke infrequently, and when she did it was always deliberate to the point that I wondered if she tasted the words and was savoring them like fine cuisine. Listening to her was like relearning my own language. She told me once that it had taken her ages to learn English, but later said it was months (though I'm uncertain if she meant the same thing by both). Either way, it was as if certain conventions were lost on her; she formed words in her mouth that had entirely the wrong meaning for the situation at hand, but said them so earnestly that they regained correctness. Every day she learned a new word, so she said, and she used it how it felt like it should be used. She told me that the light rain we got one day was stepping along her shoulders, then pulled back under a nearby tree to shake herself dry. She told me later that the damp patches on my clothing were fists grabbing at my shirt and shorts. I gave up trying to correct her; she was trying so hard, and hearing her was musical and new. She was enchanting; the form of her stuck in the corner of my eye, the place where the visible turns to ghosts.

In time my clefairy became my normal; she became outdoor hours, the way she was always stepping through them and spinning her spidersilk into words. Time began passing, very nearly leaving me behind, and very certainly leaving her. I turned ten somehow, and old enough to care for myself, even if my birthday had approached almost unnoticed. My mother, like many in my neighborhood, did not subscribe to the idea of letting me leave home at so young an age, but did allow me certain freedoms: curfews were hazy, if present at all, and I was given the privilege of deciding for myself what were safe actions. When I told my clefairy this her eyes came over with a glittering film and she pleaded that I might help her chase the moon. I felt that seeing nighttime had been thrust on me without my say; somewhere in the back of my heart and lungs was an ache of childhood. But my clefairy turned her eyes on me and I could never say no, could never move my lips except to smile to see her dance with sunset.

She tugged me by the hand towards the horizon in hopes to meet the moon before it rose. Watching her walk laced my mouth with the taste of pastel candyfloss and morning mist, because I think it mimicked the way she floated just around the grass and twisted in the low air. She was morning-like, or at least the feeling of waking up after a long, moonlight-bathed sleep, the certain freshness that came with cool autumn evenings and full days. Sometimes when she blinked heavy at the flowers or the touch of my fingers on toys, it looked like the wet sheen that glinted black as pillbugs was slumber slipping out of her. When she brought me to the end of my street, though, little hand pawing soft at my fingers, she was brighter than the streetlights and buzzing quicker than the moths that flocked to them.

She pulled me to a place at the corner where the grass was damp with shadow and sat on the edge of the curb to stare at the darkening sky. I stood behind her -- pushing up against the rough trunk of a tree so as to drench myself with the shade. It was still dangerous then to be seen near clefairy.

We sat for at least two hours while the day rusted and disintegrated into night. I could count the minutes by the way sounds dropped away -- eight o'clock and the children stopped laughing, half past and the dull throb of parental chatter, nine and the clicks of light switches. Then it was just full breath because my clefairy was looking to the stars so eagerly they might have honored her with an ancient dance, twinkling in time and sweeping through the heavens. The moon stayed solid as ever, searching the sky for its missing half, but it might have shined a different white for her. I looked at my clefairy, not the moon, because the light strung across her fur like she'd stepped through spiderweb, draped over her like tinsel. Occasionally some teenage couple passed, or a man jogging in the cool of the night. My clefairy raised her arm to gesture to them.

"The moon follows humans," she said. "Look how they steal its light."

She said, "He's glowing, he's borrowed the stars."

She said, "Why is she wearing comets' tails in her hair?"

To her, the passersby were the most interesting of films. She told me casually that her kind too was lent the shine of the moon, and they carried it in their wings and their eyes and their hearts. Watching it slide off the skins of things was a science to her, or a religion; she commented on how suede-covered creatures sneaked behind the dim curtains the moon let down, and how frogs and snakes wore gleaming plastic. Mostly, though, she revered the spray of white on human shoulders, the spread of it down man's back -- or maybe not man, but the men and the women she saw in the neighborhood, because she knew them by sight and by the pattern of their bodies. She referenced the mother of a girl who lived across the street, and who was beautiful in a worn and maternal way. My clefairy talked about the way her skin embraced her bones, and how once the lady had stepped out to her patio in just her underwear to smoke quietly into the evening. The light that cast down her body skipped across her ribs like a stone across water. There was the lonely man who had extra folds of flesh and sat on his front steps and read, and who glinted with sweat even at night. There were the little boys and girls who still looked brand new and smiled and stretched. My clefairy knew them all, though her names for them were nothing more than the unorthodox junctions of words she had for each. When one passed, she cooed in awe.

She said, "If I could just ..."

These ventures into the dark were a one-sided dream. I didn't speak, and I didn't step out to her, because I was fearful. I once tried to ask her if she knew anything about her kind -- if they were planning anything, if they were really what the rumors said. She was too vague to understand, and I remained uncertain as to whether she was even included.

She asked me every night to join her at the curb, speaking in this hushed and twinkling sound. Eventually there was a point where I wanted to live in sunrays and not cold darkness, but I couldn't tell her no. I stopped making morning visits to summer air instead. School started. I met other children. My clefairy vanished from the day and I didn't mind too terribly. But in the same way the roof of the school building cut the light with windows and doors, and everything was saturated yellow because the walls were just off-white. I remembered that I didn't look forward to school. Schoolwork tore dissent from my throat like a fish hook.

There was a day where Rob Nicholas' mother came to school hysterical because she wanted to know where her son was and would we please tell her because he hadn't been home since Tuesday. The quiet that bubbled under her sobs reminded us all how it was Friday. I wanted to open my mouth and tell her it would be ok, but all I could find on my tongue was that he had freckles that dotted his own expanse of stars across his cheeks.

People started to whisper and we started, again, to count the empty houses that caged the streets. People gathered at doors. I walked home from school one day and there was someone knocking hard at the door of the lonely man, fist pounding a hard tattoo and voice wavering between the beats. The little girl across the street stopped coming to school because her mother had vanished and her father had dropped all their belongings into his truck to drive them away from our town. I heard some of the younger kids, the ones that had their bodies still thin and rubbery, theorizing that everyone was going somewhere without them, some sort of hidden park or magic other dimension. Sometimes I was tempted to try to believe them. Sometimes I just watched them and the footprints of the sun on their smiles.

I don't know why my mother never moved us. I heard my sister begging her behind doors to get us out of our neighborhood but my mother was more solid than the gloomy presence of the white houses flanking ours. Or maybe I don't know why I never felt that same carnal urge to leave, even when the people I knew dwindled down to nothing.

My mother was making dinner, standing over the kitchen counters and letting the conflicting lights of nighttime and the stove's flame slide over her face. There was that thick sort of quiet, the kind that was louder than crowds and that hurt more than blades, the kind that pulled taught and impenetrable over mouths. My sister was looking into the table. She hadn't been eating since the argument she'd had with my mother. My skin was beginning to dry and tear in the desert of quiet. I needed to: I stood, and asked my mother if I could go out.

My sister looked up so sharply it stung but my mother made a noncommittal sound that I took for a yes, so I left. The night air felt more like home.

The space between my house and the curb had disappeared and I was there, sitting in the light of a full moon. Breezes caught at the edges of me. There wasn't anything to listen for anymore, really; children didn't laugh in my neighborhood, lights weren't turned on. Parents, what parents were left whispered in an endless hum that carried the silence along. I focused on my own breathing, trying to hear the pulse of it in my lungs and the scrape of air along my throat.

A soft "oh."

My clefairy sat next to me, fur brushing against my side just so, especially when she breathed in deep like she did on these great moonlight nights. She looked at the rough parts of my knees for where the light dipped into the folds of skin. There was a quiet.

She asked me if I would like to see something beautiful, but she said something like breathing and undying and perfect. The words and her pronunciation of them stuck in my ears and eyes like a winter wind, but all the same I stood for her and she nearly floated to her feet. When she walked she was on the wind, that carried away the sounds of her footsteps and the smells of the flowers that struggled in the oncoming fall. She was walking away from the moon, a silk white cape flowing across her back. My body ached with the business of the gossip that wandered over my head, but I kept with her fluttering pace. She didn't look back.

She found a house, one of those original ones that came up empty and echoing with the low call of her kind. It was far down the street from mine, winding past gentle curves in the road and seeming small from my front garden. She pulled up on the toes of her flower-sized feet to reach the doorknob but the door swung open at a touch, into a dark hollow. The light of the moon missed the dusty entrance hall, but the switches were so heavy with dirt that they would have fallen down to off on their own; besides, an organic glow seeped from her wings and it gave the faint illumination of a nightlight. I barely caught the gesture she made to me, waving me into the room past the stairs. The door there hung just open, like someone meant it to be tantalizing. She passed the door somehow without jarring it at all; it creaked appropriately when I pushed my palm against it.

The windows in the room flushed the walls with a familiar plenilunar white. Everything was wet with light, so much so that it was almost unreal; the walls looked joined in all the wrong places and filled thick from exposure. I stood awkwardly in the doorway, trying not to focus on how the door didn't quite fit. My clefairy sighed in a way that was more a song. She looked to me and the piece of night in her eyes pulled me into the room. My bare knees were washed pale in the moon. She played her fingers in the air, letting the light twine round them.

"We collect moonlight," she said. "We soak in it."

I told her I already knew. A wall twitched, just a little.

She shook her head, tilted it, and the side of her face dripped clean of glow. "We," she said, and she looked into me. "But you, you gather it in every pore. Were you shaped for this?"

She made a weightless gesture to the wall behind her and I saw the space on it where Rob Nicholas' eyes should have gone and where the freckles sat on his cheeks. He was spread out flat across the wall and pushed tight next to the beautiful mother from across the street; her hips fit into the grotesque expanse of the fat man. They were preserved from the front, their faces staring empty and sagging from the wall, and I could find the inexpert cuts down their arms and their backs that were stitched into the next man. They were colored pale with my clefairy's moonlight. Something hot and acidic rose in my throat when I turned to follow the line of faces I could recognize.

My clefairy told to me that she needed the light we took from the sky, that her kind needed it. Their wings were so small, she said, and we humans were so potentially elegant if we dressed in starlight. She told me it was a duty to clefairy and to the clefable that were strung across the land. A woman from town stuck tight to the wall, yellow fat oozing at the edges, breasts hanging empty in front of her. My clefairy touched a scar on a man who worked at the library. She said that we borrowed moonlight and she needed to borrow us, just for a moment.

She looked at me and the light flush down my shins. She moved close to me, comforting, saying she'd put everything right again, touching my leg with both tiny hands and I'd never quite noticed the silver gleam of her claws. She said she needed this to make things better for everyone and she'd teach me how to use this light just like her, one day.

She stood behind me and touched the curve of my back a hard claw dug in and I felt it click against my spine and pull smooth down the whole of me. My breath caught hard on the top of my throat like vomit and she said, "I need for you to keep still."
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