bits & pieces of prose by shana bulhan haydock


saleh believes in fairies and ghosts and monsters and vampires and demons and witches and elves and werewolves and shapeshifters. (and many other such beings). saleh is silly. saleh talks about how ze goes partying with the fairies and gets lunch with zir werewolf friend marticila and is in love with a vampire named anyita. saleh is a little peculiar. saleh sees things in people that others don’t. saleh said ze saw zir classmate manu’s hands starting to fade away to invisible. and then manu’s friend rifka shot gleams of green with her eyes at manu’s hands and they got completely visible again. saleh is weird.

saleh says my best friend lulitha is a witch. but i know lulitha. she’s a little quiet and shy sometimes, and she likes reading a lot. she reads books all over the board, really. mysteries and science fiction and chick lit and ya lit and romance and fairytales and horror and fantasy and (auto)biographies and nonfiction and everything. she knows a lot. but she certainly isn’t a witch. witches don’t exist. sometimes people dress up like witches, but they’re not real. saleh has nothing but scorn for popular imitations of witches and the like. ze hates halloween; says it’s an oppressive holiday designed for normative people to make fun of those who are different.

i hate halloween too. most of the candy sucks, and i don’t particularly care for the combination of orange and black. i don’t like being scared—leapt out at randomly from behind bushes, and that sort of thing. i sometimes think it would be nice if all the supernatural and paranormal beings were real, but i’m not like saleh. i don’t believe in such things. there are lots of reasons it’s dangerous to believe in things like that, anyway. if you go around saying so-and-so is a witch or whatever, they might lock you up. saleh doesn’t think about these things. saleh’s never been locked up.

i like vampire tv shows a lot. and shows about witches and aliens, etc., too. all the drama is alluring. i wish i was a sexy vampire. maybe saleh would fall in love with me if i was a sexy vampire. i know it’s wrong to want people to fall in love with me, but i can’t seem to stop thinking about it. i’m terribly jealous of anyita. i don’t believe for a second that ey’s really a vampire, but ey sure is beautiful and charismatic. ey goes to college, so is older than us—saleh says anyita is four hundred and seventy two years old, or has been nineteen for four hundred and fifty three years, but that’s tall tales. i haven’t really spoken much to em but the few times we’ve met i was quite intimidated.


tula & shreya

Someday in June when she was twenty nine, my sister, my rueful bearer of all obloquy — Well, she died. “Jaan don’t say it like that,” My mother would whisper, her eyes all mysterious heavy-lidded cliche. But she did, yes, my sister died. Tula, our dashing favourite, spun of fluorescence and quick bite. Why are you supposed to make death sound nice? Tula was never nice. No, Tula was made of flare-in-your-hangover and simpering manipulation. She was heavy-lidded too like my mother, and just as much a charismatic wreck. Unlike my mother, she wouldn’t stand for trite stereotypes. Mum smiled and nodded — “What can you do about these foreigners anyway” — while Tula railed and raged like all the other young western ingenue feminists.

Sereen’s and my birthday is on the Eleventh of June. Tula should have fucking thought of that. Don’t kill yourself the same day your siblings are trying to celebrate.


PROMPTShc_bingo: runaways + quote from A Primer for the Small Weird Loves by Richard Siken: “You do this, you do. You take the things you love / and tear them apart / or you pin them down with your body and pretend they’re yours.” + the song “Baby you can sleep while I drive” by Melissa Etheridge

WARNINGS: abuse, being trapped, running away, family abuse, swearing, dubious consent, nonconsent

What is there to say? You have me hooked. Pristine and velvet, like we could ever be anything but lost. You’re telling me we’re gonna find home, but this isn’t a fucking song. This isn’t Baby you can sleep while I drive playing on repeat. Or maybe it is, but the song’s become so mundane I don’t even like it anymore. You switched to Regina Spektor when I told you I was getting tired of listening to Melissa Etheridge, but it didn’t matter because the words were stuck in my head. All that notion of having someplace to stay, friends to take care of you, and in the morning it would be okay. But it isn’t okay in the morning. It doesn’t magically become better. Several mornings have passed now and you are still frantically searching for a place to live while we drain the money we have on motel rooms.

When I was younger, I wanted to marry you. I wanted you to be the only one. Then we grew up and learned about polyamory. It made sense, but what didn’t make sense was how you thrust all these boys at me. You wanted me to make out with them in front of you. You wanted to do drunk tabletop spins with me, you wanted to show off. “Here is my girlfriend, we’re so available.” I’m not sure I like this kind of polyamory for myself. Once I kissed one of the boys so passionately, and later you scolded me– “You’re supposed to tease them, not hook them.”

So when you called me and told me you had to get out of your house and you had to run away and was I coming or not, I didn’t know what else to do but follow. So I left a note for my parents, imagining all the shouting that must be going on over at your place, wondering if my family would miss me at all. At least you had parents who would drag you back again and again. Mine are just… absent. I don’t know. Anyway, it was either lose you forever or come with you. And despite everything, I would follow you everywhere. You hold me like ice mannequins, just about to crack but still holding on. Like stalagmites and stalactites, we’re just barely eclipsing each other, always somewhere waiting for reunion.

I don’t know how to tell you that this isn’t working, that I need to go home. You have me pinned. Sometimes literally. I don’t know… I miss you so much when you’re gone even for a few hours, going to Craigslist showings of apartments, trying to figure out if something will work for us. We’re so fucking young and you’ve already destroyed me even as you ignite me. You are the story, and I’m just a chapter, but I’m always willing to burn so bright you won’t forget. I wish I could tell you the truth, I wish there was a way you could hold candles close to me without me fading away. I wish there was a way you could hold me to a lower standard. So if I run away from you, you won’t follow. And I will miss you and all the times we curled up under blankets clutching each other because we knew we had each other at least, if nothing else. I will miss you but– And here you are, knocking at the door again. You’ve come home. This is our home. This ratty motel room is our home, and I have nowhere else to go.


PROMPTS: hc_bingo: comfort food or item
WARNINGS: eating disorders, potential self-harm, tiny objects together, pain, food, blacking out, panic, medication

She liked to make jewellery. Something about the slowness of the beads sliding down thread, the painstaking attachment of bead to string, the exasperating search for beads among the mix. She was trying to sort them out, but they were all so tiny and it was like trying to sort the stars. So instead she had some sorted, and most of the beads all conglomerated together in a bin that did not close quite alright, but she made sure to keep it upright. Sometimes the beads glistened like stars, all the colours and sometimes colours within colours. Sometimes she used wire, especially for bracelets and rings, and then it was a matter of clink and clunk, and making sure to maintain the curve. She knew how to do some pretty patterns, and she knew how to use multiple threads to create some complex designs.

These were things she learned when she was younger– ten or twelve or so– Making jewellery with her friends. She missed those days. It had been easier then, yet there were still so many things she had left unfinished. Such as the friendship bracelets– Another painstaking but beautiful hobby. She did not like the phrase, “no pain no gain,” but it seemed to follow her everywhere, like slippery slime on a rainy day. Whether it was trying to tighten the end beads just right with nose pliers and roughing her fingers up against the metal, or a razor cut while trying to shave her legs (when she bothered to do that, anyway), or the scrape of an eyeliner pencil that needed to be sharpened, she learned that “no pain no gain” referred to the little things as well as the big things.

The big things– Like how she went from eating so much to eating so little. It was so drastic, and it had everything to do with medication and not as much to do with her eating disorder. But she romanticized the way she would almost black out every now and then, and the way she would eat only bits and pieces of things. She decided that this was better than eating lots as she had before, even though she felt guilty because she was really passionate about letting people eat however much they needed and wanted to. When she’d been eating a lot, she’d resented anyone who told her not to eat so much. But still, the return to this state of less eating thrilled her, and she hated that it thrilled her even as she loved it. The guilt moved through her body like ribbons and weary thread, and it was as though all the jewellery she made was caught up inside her throat, and she had no room to breathe sometimes.

There was, in some way, comfort in the emptiness, the lack of food, the headaches and warm panic. There was also comfort in the feeling of beads on scarves tied around her waist, or the same beads fallen, caught between her toes. She often longed to throw all the beads out on the floor and walk all over them, again and again, until the imprints would be deep enough on the soles of her feet. There was somehow beauty in the glitter, and it was, again, her way of meditation, of staring upwards, of getting beyond the ceiling. She spun with the finished necklaces flying through her fingers, and it was as if she was in all the grassy fields they always talked about in literature. She did not make jewellery that much, but when she did, it meant more than she realized.

“You were my ticket out of here”*

*title is from the song “All I Ever Wanted” by Train
PROMPTShc-bingo: parting waysstayintheroom: “We were together. I forget the rest.” –Walt Whitman
WARNINGS: kink, bloodplay, knives, death play, fire play, suicide threats, abuse, physical abuse, psychosis, murder threats, death, suicide, grit, swearing, cancer, illness

Maybe you forget what it was like after the first seventeen days. Or is it nineteen? Maybe you forget sooner than that. Maybe you forget when all her stuff is out of your apartment. Maybe you forget before that, while you’re still living together. You pass her in the barely-to-speak-of living room, and you think you understand, you think that laughing and talking means something, but really it’s only closer to forgetting. Someday you won’t remember enough of this at all.

“What if I can’t survive on my own?” You asked.

“Then we can never be together.” She said.

There was context. There were other things too. Like. If there were other people, it could be better, she said, but you still need to figure out your issues. There are reasons the polyamorous thing hasn’t worked out enough for either of you. The question was really “What if I can’t survive without you?” If you counted this context, then it made sense. Then there were curtains sweeping down and beautiful gothic makeup and sad songs going on and on and on and fucking on. Then it would mean something, the way she used to touch your hands, the way her nose bumped yours, her eyes looking into yours. It would mean something because it was over.

You would like to say, here, wrapped up in this green blanket, that you won’t forget. But you have already forgotten. You forget what exactly prompted your pushing her off the chair that once. You even forgot that happened until she reminded you. You forget what it was like to be so psychotic that you thought you were going to kill the cat, and she had to comfort you, she had to put all the dangerous things in your uncle’s garage. You forget these things, even as you remember them or are reminded of them, because it is easier to slip through curtains like a ghost. It is easier to become the ghost than to own up to the sky.

You did not kill the cat. You loved the cat. You want to say this over and over, maybe because you loved her, you love her– The cat, her, both of them become wrapped up in a story you don’t know how to tell. What does it mean that the cat died last year of cancer, and you are still alive? What does it mean that you and she are still alive but living separately? That you dreamed up suicide plots and you sashayed about with nooses made of scarves and you wanted someone to pin you to the wall and tighten the noose against your neck, but it couldn’t be her? What would it mean for someone to bring you that close and let you go? Knives to your skin, darling, you want to be in the fire, you have always wanted to be this close to the end. And come back. Always come back. Meet me in the fire, and take me out. Save me, but she can’t. You don’t know how to convey your frustration that there will be no one to find you in the madness.

You forget because there are things waiting to be found at the bottom of the ditches, the gutters, the wells, the ponds. You forget because there is only so much to remember when the play is over. You forget because it wasn’t a play at all.


WARNINGS: sex, possessiveness, suicide, swearing

I miss her. Not just when she’s gone off on her trips, but even when she’s right here in this house, I miss her. I don’t know if it’s that words just become obsolete, or that the garden is so wild, but I miss the way she could run her hands down the weeds ad find the perfect one– proffer it to me– “Rue, you’re a willow.”

Raine is intoxicating but she is also mine. I know this to be true even when she’s far away. I know she will always return to me, sweeter and sadder than all the stops pulled out. “We are just stories,” She used to whisper to me when she tucked me in bed at night. “So dream out loud and make it count.”

These are all cliches. What I mean is, I miss her hands trailing fingerprints in the dust on top of the radio, and the beads scattered all over the floor of her room. I miss her sulky voice petering through the windows as she sings “Oh my darling Clementine” over and over. (Clementine hates this, of course.)

Perhaps I miss her fucking me against trees in the moonlight, as we ached and hoped to become werewolves. Perhaps I even miss being the one to turn to when her arms were a criss-cross of red– scars and ink. She is still around a lot, and sometimes I’m envious that her scars have healed. I feel terrible for wishing she’d come to me for comfort again, except maybe I don’t really feel terrible at all. We were poison ivy decorating the castle, nooses wrapped around us fashioned as scarves, as we plotted a double suicide. Or triple if Rouenne would come along with us when Raine died.

Together we were invincible. I could have told you how Rouenne wasn’t as evil as everyone thinks she is, and how Raine and her are the best of friends. Raine decided she was sometimes named Reyana the day we picked blackberries in the fields behind the house. She’d have so many revelations circumstantially, just waiting to spring themselves upon us.

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