(in which the prodigal saint caspian returns home after losing the love of his life, and makes up with his best friend)
Caspian and Daniel found themselves lying in the cool grass after wandering silently around the park, night sky and all the city on the horizon, an endless landscape of purple and lights, backdrop to the first time they’d hung out properly as friends in two years for some stupid reason or other. Caspian had tried to explain where he’d been (Toronto), what he’d been doing (writing, falling in love, the usual), and why he’d left in the first place (oh God don’t even start with that one) but had ended up as usual spilling forth some confused words about how he was probably very sad about some things.
“I don’t want to be clingy, but I’m going to be clingy. Shit happened, you don’t need to know details. I don’t want to talk about details, right now, because I’m still pretty broken. There was someone and now there isn’t, and not because of stupid reasons like us but because he died.” In Caspian’s defense, he was trying really hard not to cry, harder than he’d ever tried at anything; school, personal relations, swimming lessons. But there was a time and a place for details and reassuring pats on the back and long serious talks about trauma and he didn’t want that time to be now because Boston did look so pretty like this and he could always get figuratively lost in cities at night. He’d missed this city, and it didn’t have ghosts; Boston 2, Toronto 0, if he followed hockey he would have made a joke about that. He’d been sleeping better too, since coming back; no nightmares, and the stupid cat finally left him alone, preferring his mother. He was caught up in thinking about the cat, the one remnant that he didn’t seem to mind, that he’d hardly noticed Daniel was talking to him:
“…if you need to talk about anything, I’m here for you.”
Daniel was an actual Nice Person and despite his flaws or his bad way of handling things or his bullshit heterosexuality and Caspian loved him for it; they’d been friends for too long and too strong for things to really come between them anymore. If you run away to a different country for – from – someone but can still look them in the eye after, not to mention lie half-naked in a park on a late summer night, like in The Fisher King but with fewer hobos, if you can still have that, you’re probably good. But as such their friendship was still a long way from fully repaired and bursting out with “the only person who has ever loved me as much as I’ve loved him killed himself and it’s sort of my fault in a way, maybe you would like some context?” wasn’t the way to go. And the context was almost equally as painful and involved ghosts and mental health issues and a dozen other things Caspian was trying desperately to avoid thinking about. He was calmer than he had been, but he still felt crazy sometimes, and in a “man some really fucked up shit happened and I was in a daze for a while but just now it hit me how messed up I might be” rather than a “let’s go on a road trip right now my car is running bring your cocaine guess when the last time I slept was hint never” way.
He still kind of wanted to go on a road trip, but he was enjoying sleeping.
Since getting back home, minus the ill-advised whisky on the Megabus, he’d been completely sober apart from prescriptions. It was a good feeling, generally, but often things got very real very fast and without the usual retreats he’d kept his sister up an unforgivable number of nights during the work week. “We didn’t all inherit our boyfriends’ estates,” she’d have said if he’d told her about that. “Some of us have real jobs.” And now that he and Daniel were talking again, he’d probably suffer the same fate. Sometimes Caspian took breaks from feeling bad for himself and felt bad for everyone else, ever. Maybe they could just watch the skies and only do that forever. Tourists would come and watch them and say things like “those two must be really in love” and it would give Caspian feelings but he’d laugh it off and resume his chosen path. But he was too caught up in his own stuff right now to be in love with Daniel again.
There were ghosts and cats and gender (lots of the first and last; at least fifteen gender) and probably a million other things that needed his attention but for now he was content to sit by this person who had come to mean something to him. That in itself was such a simple, pleasant feeling. And he had time now, he realized, time for all of that and more. He was done school, done his book, not working, and sure there would be book tours and sequels and spending all of Corbenic’s savings wastefully (because how could a young adult fantasy novel about homosexuality and spirits not be a hit with the masses?) but for now he could finally pause sort through an attic full of metaphorical boxes of junk before resuming any of it. No more rash decisions; no more seeking geographical solutions to emotional problems, cry into a couple peoples’ shirts for a bit and voila. He had more than enough reason for it, but his life didn’t need to be a mess. Everything might just come up Caspian. He was like a poster in a guidance counselor’s office; “Hang in there! You can do it!” And if he had to be a bit clingy, so be it.
“Really, thank you. For even seeing me again, and for listening as I go on about nothing and everything. You’re the best and I’m sorry I forgot that.”
“Of course, Caspian.” This was the most earnest thing he had ever heard and he was so glad about everything.
In his mind Daniel then took his hand seriously and said: “Caspian, I know you’ve lost someone and I can’t begin to imagine how hard that is, but I think you should come over and watch a movie that’s so bad we’ll fall asleep together on the couch halfway through. In the morning all your problems will be solved, because you have people who care about you and God is on your side (even though you didn’t tell me about any of the weird religious stuff yet?), so don’t worry, okay?”
Because he wrote fantasy or something like that, right? Weird religious stuff and boys and cats, it was all going to be okay, and they watched nighttime rolling in, the last stretches of pink sunlight fading into nothing, it was good to feel loved. Every map he made led him back home in the end and if home wasn’t a small Catholic church in the backwoods of Ontario but rather a sparkling salt-of-the-earth American city at night with bats flying overhead and a cool breeze from the sea, he was fine with that.
11:53 pm • 24 May 2013
Pointillism is a stupid movement what even
Inspiration strikes in the dead of night. Keep a journal by your bed. Music plays in the background as though you’re in a Merchant Ivory film while you scribble down brilliance at 2 am.
Sometimes there is nothing to do but wait.
(Sometimes I dream about us fucking and it’s better than when we have sex in real life.)
I can’t even dress myself today. I swear I’m not always like this.
11:08 pm • 18 May 2013
People will try to tell you that there are sensors under the pavement at streetlights, but that isn’t true. It’s probably just another lie the government wants you to believe. Ignore the system!
Bake; eat everything you bake. Even the burnt batches. They are like your children, and you must love them all equally, despite their imperfections.
Torrent all you like. We’re all going to die anyways.
You are not obligated to follow anyone on tumblr. Repeat after me: you are not obligated to follow anyone on tumblr.
Legal names don’t matter. Disregard permanently anyone who tries to convince you otherwise.
Fuck Capitalism. Fuck it right on the dining room table. But seriously.
Today you missed church because last night you stayed up late having sex. God gives you a high five. But later he gives you a look.
1:05 am • 12 May 2013
The strange noise outside your window at night is only a hobo taking your empties. Do not worry.
Wait until your sister gets home tonight; you can watch TV and eat junk food and it’ll be worth it.
Clean your room and talk to the dead.
Avoid smoke; head to the mountains.
Ignoring people who hurt you is okay. No obligations to anything but your own well-being, right?
Six years is a long time.
After church take the rest of the day off. You deserve it.
11:15 pm • 4 May 2013
The next week featured double espressos and a long drive back to the city, through night and through rain. December had kept them warm but January was cold and wet and February, well, February was a fucker with a hidden agenda and the moment it started snowing Caspian buried himself in bed and swore off classes, work, and most personal relations. Boston had not really been any warmer but he still blamed Canada. It lasted nearly two days before Corbenic asked him to shovel.
So he gradually came back to life, thinking faintly of frogs that freeze themselves completely during the winter and then thaw out, and how amusing a concept that was. What was it like to thaw out? What did frozen frogs dream of? He took long walks by himself to the harbour on any given day to throw stones at the frozen sea and follow other people’s lives, later to scrub salt stains off his shoes.
Look at your life, Caspian. You’re on the verge of being published. You’re having a successful affair with a professor. Granted, he’s not your professor so much as a professor, but it still counts. You’ve let go of shit that happened in the past and you are well on your way to be a fine, upstanding citizen. Stop feeling so empty!
But he did feel empty; if anything, the cold got to him. In spring he was florid, summer lazy, autumn saw him melancholy but poetic. Winter chilled his bones and made him think about cruelty and compassion and suffering, an endless battle between humanism and God. April was the cruelest month but he couldn’t wait for it.
He thought too much.
He had spent months in a reverie mostly unrelated to grad school or relocation or the fact that he was actually having regular sex and it bothered him; he felt gross and pretentious and unreal, not at all his true self or even a person, just an aimless being fighting the sea. But he didn’t know how to talk about it so he wrote; he filled two notebooks in as many weeks and promptly burned them and their ashes. At long last, his thoughts were free.
“I don’t know,” he said, sitting upside down on the couch.
“What?” asked Corbenic absentmindedly; he was grading papers, analyses on the Book of Hours of Jean, Duc de Berry.
“I feel empty but after much thought I think it’s just winter. I’ve always been a spring person; maybe I don’t need to worry. Maybe I should just wait it out.”
“I’ll buy you some seasonal lamps at Ikea.”
“Thanks.” He shifted around and got up, walked over to Corbenic at his desk, played with the hair at the back of his neck. “Let your undergraduates wait. I want to get dinner.”
“They’ve been waiting. You’ve never been a TA, have you?”
“No, I haven’t. I don’t need to work. I have a rich boyfriend.”
“If I die,” said Corbenic, turning to face him and assuming a particularly teacherly air, crossing his arms, “If I die,” he continued, “you will get nothing - no - you will get the cat.”
“Oh God,” said Caspian, matching his partner’s drama. “Very well. You’d better not die, then, because while I’d take her in out of charity I’d resent every minute of it.”
“Mhmm.” The cat in question appeared then, rubbing herself against Corbenic’s leg, pointedly avoiding Caspian. He had tried to get to know her, time and time again, but every time he got close she spooked. His sister had once said that cats could sense spirits and that was why they were such strange creatures who behaved the way they did. But Caspian didn’t feel as though he had spirits around his neck, neither was he sure if he believed in them. He had gone to mass while staying with Corbenic’s family at Christmas, and the experience had some deep effect on him, but believing in ghosts meant that ghosts were real and a thing he had to contend with and this new narrative would have forced him to rethink so much of his life that he was happier in ignorance.
12:33 am • 9 February 2013
(But I am in love!
How could I keep from being poetic?)
I am forever a flower of the spring,
told to me as a child in a mocking tone;
told to me now as a result of my wardrobe.
But spring is about new beginnings and
let us celebrate that in every way that we can.
Would that we sit every day by the river banks and daydream,
eat, philosophize; let me take in forever
how golden the sun makes you; an icon of Byzantine -
forgive me if I speak in blasphemies but it is the truth.
Summer suits you well; you need not resign yourself to fall,
though you look best in her colours:
you are russet and green through and through;
you have a melancholy suited to September and a copper countenance,
though already wisps of silver winter grace your temples
as a reminder lest we forget that
a turn in the winter air brought us together in the first place,
and for that I will always thank this season:
the cold it brings, the icy walks and wild winds
that blow papers from our arms
but bring our hearts together in warmth.
12:21 am • 19 January 2013
aubrey-maturin (test run)
1:13 am • 4 January 2013
your luxury your semantics (you can’t mail a dog; what about opium?)
12:47 am • 4 January 2013
The world began with a bang, not a whimper, or so the story goes.
There was nothing – there was blackness – there was an endless expanse of still, black water and the first creatures lived in this infinite sea, they had called themselves up into being, and they would live on, ancient and undying, to the end. But a mistake – a glitch in the infinite – and one of the leviathans died, and her body sank to the floor of the ocean. And as her flesh was eaten away and her bones lost to the sea it was revealed that she was with child.
This child survived and this child was the character God – clockmaker, mathematician, sculptor, sorcerer, naturalist – and as they grew they began to knit and weave loose strands of seaweed. From these threads were formed being, and from that fabric of being came the other Gods and spirits, those who have always governed and will always govern until the very end of time, and then to be consumed by the last of the great sea-leviathans, and once again returned to the seafloor.
The creation of such great energies could not pass without a great change to the ocean, and as they fled forth to expand they caused such a great noise that the pebbles at the very bottom of the sea shook with their might. Then sea-floor cracked, and the water poured away leaving dry land and the character God, exhausted after all this torment and movement, laid down to sleep.
While the character God slept their dreams formed sparks which escaped from the core, and thus were formed the first stars who spread out as far as they could reach, weary, lonely travellers to the ends of the realm, conquest and colony across space, space, space forever.
Then, a bad dream, an accident, some say, but come forth of the sands of sleep in the character God’s eyes was the miracle of mortal life.
Not wishing to wake the character God, the other Gods and spirits went about setting rules to govern life; that our stories will always come in threes, that the soul must be fed along with the body, that we will always look to the sea and the sky for answers.
And on this last law were spirits set to govern the sea and sky, so that they may provide or not as they saw fit.
In time life began to thrive.
But mortal life could of course not come without its natural counterpart, another dream in the dark sister death, and it is from this miracle that our stories begin.
12:44 am • 4 January 2013
From the desk of Caspian Fox, December the twenty-first, year of Our Lord 2015
I’m sorry I passive aggressively deleted you from Facebook and ran to another country rather than work through our problems and that you haven’t heard from me since. I’ve been too busy falling in love with a wide selection of the Wrong People. Also, school’s a butt. It’s paying off, though: I’m about 95% sure I’ve found a publisher. And guess the fuck what? Soon you will be in a bookstore and there’ll be this stupid story about dragons and shit that’s very popular, and you’ll know that I wrote it without even having to check my old list of potential pen-names, and you’ll think, ‘dang, I could have been making out with that rich author RIGHT NOW if I hadn’t made poor choices!’ Them’s the breaks, friend!
(No; scratch that last line out, it wasn’t good form).
(Actually, forget it forget the whole thing.)
He crumpled the paper and threw it into the fireplace, contentedly watching it turn to ash. Why he’d invested in such terrible personal stationary was beyond him. As the letter burned, so did any lingering emotional responsibility from his past life, before he had moved to Canada, before Corbenic Seacoal, MA, PH D. Whoops.
Black and crumbling in the grate, this was not the first attempt at reconciliation with Daniel, a carbon copy of their failure . Caspian prodded it with the fire poker like a kid with a stick and a used condom as Corbenic entered the living room, followed by his persistently stupid cat, Merry. “Working on a new story?” he asked; he knew by now that frustration was a big stage within his partner’s creative process.
“Yeah,” said Caspian, fixated by the flames, blue where a glossy flyer page had served as fuel. He didn’t feel the need to explain the truth; he hadn’t told Corbenic about Daniel or anything much really about his past, he wasn’t trying to be edgy it just wasn’t very interesting. He had been a kid, he had grown up, he had been queer, there had been a boy, but the conclusion of this confusing story was him, lying in front of a fireplace, a cat purring by his side and a man he was crazy about sitting nearby.
That was a good enough ending. He could have embellished it more if he’d wanted, maybe tomorrow, the endless cycle of friendfiction and his own mistakes would be there, same as it ever was.
“If this winter looked like it might let up I would have booked a bus home. But I don’t want to get stuck in the snow banks between here and Boston. Alas. I will stay in Canada and brave your fearsome holidays.”
Corbenic laughed and sipped his cognac.
Wet promise of winter brought recourse to cold. December was grey, brittle-boned but it had kept them warm; lilacs would be bred out of the dead land months early if this weather continued. It had snowed once, if that, and otherwise was just rain on the road.
Still, inside they acted against, lighting their fire to repel the ghosts of frost gently threatening to haunt window panes at night (only if a haunting would be convenient to sir, of course).
Corbenic’s brother Melchior was coming down tomorrow to visit for a few days and then the plan was for them to drive back home for New Years. He was more than a little nervous about introducing Caspian, his transsexual artist of a boyfriend some fifteen years his junior. If he knew his family – and he didn’t – they would try to be kind but it would be vaguely uncomfortable for all. Caspian was a little nervous about going to rural Ontario because it sounded boring, but he didn’t say that. For a while they just sat by the fire with the cat and the cognac and enjoyed the moment; Caspian picked a book from a pile he’d yet to unpack, and read:
Then we upon our globe’s last verge shall go.
And view the ocean leaning on the sky;
From thence our rolling neighbours we shall know,
And on the lunar world securely pry.
Caspian didn’t get along that well with the cat but he had made excellent friends with the cognac; living with Corbenic was just really nice and he felt so safe and content. He tried to push his baggage out of mind but only succeeded with the emotional part; they spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and then amalgamating their book collections. Between the two of them they ended up with three Bibles, the complete works of T.S. Eliot, Caspian’s “ironic” C.S. Lewis first editions, and nearly two full sets of the Aubrey-Maturin series. Content. Tired. Happy.
10:12 pm • 28 December 2012
Don we now our gay apparel
It’s only early December and I know I’m not a fucking window display at the Eaton Center but I’m still going to talk about the holidays. Bear with.
Last December I went to Kensington with my gay teen married partner in ironic crimes and got this sweater. It had been a long time coming, and from the moment I put it on I knew my life had changed. Here was the fashion accessory I had been searching for my whole life, and life began to return like springtime in Westeros to the gaping void of my heart.
I remember little of Christmases past from more than a few years ago. One moment does stand out, though – I was probably 7 or 8 and was convinced that hugging both of my newly-separated parents at the same time as thanks for getting me something I’d pined over for months would bring them back together. Kids are stupid and this obviously didn’t work, but I enjoyed the fuck out of my Playmobil palace bathroom set.
Then there was last Xmas, when one of our neighbours, invited himself over, got drunk, and peed on one of our living room chairs. It was a beautiful Christmas miracle, pristine and glorious sas the Star of Bethlehem – and we all cautiously avoided the “Old Man and the Pee Chair” for a while afterwards.
Last Xmas, when I got this sweater and wore it to all the family gatherings. My dad’s sister-in-law, a woman unbearably sincere about many of the things I am ironic about, offered her compliments, and appreciated my apparent festivity. My dad and I spent most of the night with a bottle of chocolate liquor. That was the first year when instead of just getting presents like normal people we did a gift exchange. Our contributions included old unwanted Christmas movies, among other treasures. This tradition – so called “nasty Christmas” – is happening again and my sisters and I have offered to do the shopping. Among our list of exciting gifts: live turtles, ugly sweaters, fancy santa clauses found on garbage night, and bones.
Last year on the 21st I took a photo in my full Christmas mode: the sweater, a bowtie, and aviators. It’s my Facebook picture. It’s been praised as, and I quote, “Too cool for school,” “Really hot,” and “One of my favourite pictures ever.” This year I’m going to take another on the 21st, a sort of “look how much I’ve changed in a year: not at all.” And if the world does end like the internet told me, at least I’ll be dressed for it.
9:37 pm • 7 December 2012
Did I tell you about the bells?
Once I walked to your house and the tower bells were playing - five o’clock - they sounded the hour and started to play a song, a beautiful song, it was like a carol, a hymn, I wish I could remember it but by now it’s long escaped from my memory.
It is our song though; maybe it is telling that you never heard it and I forgot it, but it is our song.
12:21 am • 28 November 2012
Wet Dreams over the Miracle of Life
Gothic Horror Thriller Midnight Double Feature! reads the TV guide headline and Gods above, for once in my life I’m happy we can’t afford to have cable, because otherwise Nat would force me to watch that with her and that would just be… awful. Absolutely fucking awful, my life is a literal horror story except without the romance and I really don’t need to watch a version of my own story that some tasteless director with rich parents came up with while high at college one night. Culturally appropriate is a harsh term, but harsher still is blowing up the undead and then having to come home and watch some glorified fucking version of the same thing on your screen. It used to be funny, it used to amuse me, when I was younger and less experienced with horrorterrors and more experienced with substance abuse, but now it’s just miserable.
Nat loves them though even though she’s seen the gritty flipside of reality. I think Nat’s fucking crazy but it doesn’t interfere with life so it’s okay. Guess that speaks to what kind of person she is; Nat used to be my pristine perfect kid sister and then she went to film school and came back with half her hair shaved off and the other half dyed brighter than a gay pride parade, fourteen holes in her face and a habit for stealing my cigarettes. Thanks, Nat. Now we live together; it seemed like the logical decision. Well, splitting the rent, or becoming estranged as we could get, and that was only considered an option in the very beginning of the planning because Nat and I do really like each other. And she’s useful; they taught her to shoot cameras, but somewhere along the lines she learned guns as well, and she’s not a bad shot. Since Carter went underground it’s been risky as hell – literally – so it really doesn’t hurt to have someone around who’s good at killing. Because I’ve got three Gods after me and I’m tailing another two. Two of them are elder and four of them are vengeful and I owe all of them money.
And with some Gods, human sacrifice is money. Meddling with dark magic is as bad as drugs except there’s no rehab available, only eternal suffering of the soul. I’d never thought it’d come to it, but there’ve been so many times when I’ve wished to myself, why couldn’t it have just been cocaine.
11:02 pm • 25 November 2012