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Re: When one road ends...

Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:49 pm

She listened, and with authenticity, with interest: as Genny shifted from this being of softness, of reservation, into this being of life and laughter, Gloria observed with her own swelling mirth. And so they sat there upon the floor of Genny's flat, in the dust and the clumps of boot-tread mud, sharing stories of books discovered, of foreign shops where one could find the strangest and most wonderful gems for the most inflated prices. Such places Gloria only wished she'd had the patience or wherewithal to find. She knew better, of course, than the palaces that formed themselves in her mind: these forgotten nooks, these cramped cellars of long-unwanted goods and relics of old libraries that Genny described with such fervent detail and excitement, they might as well have been fantasies. And they seemed wonderful and adorable and I wish I could have seen them! and...

Somber, suddenly. And solemn. And yet still smiling, but softly. Avoiding all but those leaf-green eyes. "We will go," Gloria proclaimed, clutching to that delicate, ink-stained hand. "Together. When — when time and ease allows. Perhaps when the days grow long again, and — and the air doesn't hurt so much to breathe. We go, just the two of us, and you show me all the places with the books and the trinkets, and we can forget about everything except us and all the years of words we missed. And nobody will know us, you know? So to — to hell with propriety. We could hold hands if we so chose where everyone could see—"

But the speed at which her words unravelled, they almost lost their path; she realized, only then, that they were holding hands, had been holding hands, and she trickled back into her own body with a wave of sudden coolness. Her dark hair stood at its ends. Gooseflesh sprang awake on the back of her hand.

Apologetically, this: "Only if you wanted to."

Then, like a spasm, her face brightened again.

"Wine. We've got to have wine somewhere."

A final pressure to Genny's hand, before she was up, her wrinkled gown hissing a path across the floor. They parted. Their knees parted. Their hands parted. Gloria moved at a wildling pace, looking through cock-eyed cabinets and in a wardrobe-drawer, doors clacking open and shut until she found a handful of horn cups and — "There," she said — a dusty, half-empty bottle of Derry Red, almost black at its bottom with a blanket of old sediment. She bit the cork from the neck, stood it upright, then began to pour a helping into each cup: a finger, then two, then three, until the neck of the bottle shook this way and that and wine, it splashed like spilled blood on the tabletop, and she could barely hold it straight or level at all when, with her back turned to Genny Tolleson, she asked a helpless curiosity—

"When, Genny? When did you know?"

Re: When one road ends...

Thu Dec 26, 2019 9:36 am

Mirth with absolute abandon filled the small space between them until it seemed to be the only place in the world. Tiredness and pain, any worry about the fae and Glenn, had all gone. It was warm and happy without knowing it’s own happiness, a blissful joy that simply can’t be forged. This moment they shared struck like a chord and lingered in much the same way, fading sweetly as the solemn smile spread over Gloria’s lips.

Gloria’s glee oscillated from listening to tales of what had been to that which might be. There were gentle nods of agreement, they could go together, they could share words and time. The sudden gooseflesh recoil was an odd look for the Jerno woman and had Genny’s brows knit again; first in confusion at the statement, then the question, and ultimately at the dubious wine that was almost certainly vinegar.

She watched the other woman with a weight in her eyes, she may not know the precise meaning but the question was not without context. Glenn had given Genny a warning that she would heed, especially when, although delicate, whatever misunderstanding was between them could be resolved with words. Still her mind brushed at the invisible wall of Gloria’s, it would be so easy to simply and fully know the breath of intended meaning. To take the words she wanted to hear from her head.

“I think you are inquiring about my fondness for you,” she finally said to Gloria’s back.

“If this is so, I can only say I am not entirely sure I do,” she stood and brushed her skirts. Genny hadn’t been prying into Gloria’s thoughts and by these words wanted it to be known that she didn’t, and couldn’t know any more than any other person could know. Experiencing whatever unknown bond it was they had as anyone else might. Though diplomatic and not without care in conversation, she was not one to delay a topic merely because it was uncomfortable.

Stepping behind Gloria, Genny set her hand upon the other woman’s shoulder lightly. “I should like to travel with you some day, and until then, for you stay here, with me and be safe.” Whatever that feeling was.

Re: When one road ends...

Thu Dec 26, 2019 3:43 pm

When, Genny? When did you know?

I am not entirely sure I do.

Genny's hand landed upon a shoulder as hard as a polished stone. At first touch, one might have thought no flesh existed there at all, but instead hot, solid earth. Every one of the young woman's muscles had been drawn into tightness, a defensiveness that might as well have forged iron from sinew. Genny’s touch, however, enchanted that stiffness. Gloria lowered her shoulder against the touch, a silent plea for support, or simple happiness for the other woman's presence. "I sometimes wonder if my expectations of you are — are unkind," she finally said, hiding the spilled wine with her palm. "You've always been and will always be one of the most intelligent people I've ever met. I sometimes presume you understand things—" as if one word could encompass all the abstractions and mysteries of the world, "—better and more readily than I ever shall.

"I shouldn't — expect you — to have—" Words came in breaths and beats, "—such an answer. It comforts me that you don't." Her lone hand appeared over Genny's, wine-damp and yet still warm. It covered Genny's knuckles. "I confused it for homesickness at first. Your words sprang off the page at me in Razasan, and unlike letters from anyone else, I heard you speak them. I saw your mouth, and I imagined that way you talk: cool as a breeze and sure and certain, yet hesitant to be the loudest or most knowledgable, as if ready at any moment to — to defer to someone else more knowing. The way one shoulder turns up, and the other droops down.

"And the way sometimes you hide behind a little strip of hair," she said. And then—

"How your eyebrows lift when — when you talk, as if always looking up at others. As if you aren't already the tallest soul in the room."

Swallowing, now. But not trembling. Shoulders softening. Poise easing.

"Or the way—" her laugh comes on a breath, "—your fingernails, you couldn't get all the ink off the beds of them, and you'd wipe them and wipe them. Have you ever noticed it? Like it was some kind of shame to be so smart that you could write so quickly, so efficiently, and with such sense that you couldn't help but be sloppy with the ink." Not once has she turned. But she didn't need to. She but tilted her chin, stared down at the overfilled cups of wine, and refused to let Genny's hand go. "I like all of those parts of you so much, I'd fear my fondness—" using Genny's word rather than her own, "—might be uninvited. I try and try to measure and quantify and understand it in words fit for writing or dictating, but every time I do, they become vaporous. They slip between my fingers, and all that is left is feeling.

"And sometimes I get very frightened of feeling."

Because feelings, impulse, drive, instinct, were these not the failures of her past and present? Were they not the most dangerous reagents in the concoctions of her every choice? Losing rigidity, almost melting, Gloria leaned back and touched her back to Genny's chest, buoyed herself against the arm that connected them, and let herself draw in a long and uninterrupted breath.

Didn't realize that she whispered a near-silent repetition, as if speaking to the wine: "Stay here with you," said she, "and be safe."

Didn't realize that her muscles unwound, and it was the first time in months she knew relaxation.

"I don't think it was going to be very good wine," she said, smiling.

Re: When one road ends...

Fri Dec 27, 2019 7:42 am

Being perceived as intelligent was a compliment, a flattery, it was as much as if any boy told any girl that she was pretty. But in the way it prefaced the explanation, the reply that Gloria provided, it was almost as if that perception did Genny a disservice. Genny knew plenty of words and pages, but affection, feeling, love if it must be named; that unsaid, unsure thing. So precarious is the concept, it means too many things and burdens the heart with expectation that extend beyond a single person. To say it aloud is to claim you fit the measurements of a dress you have never seen, held only in the mind of whom you say it to. It agrees to abide by rules that cannot be known. Though here, because of her power, her fault, she could know them. Though the process would negate the trust and tarnish the whole thing, it was tempting to look inside Gloria’s mind if just to know for certain that she fit.

And then Gloria rambled about details that Genny had never seen in herself; of the small, invisible things, gestures and ticks, happenstances of habit. The urge to pry subsided, and was replaced with a gentle, calm recognition.

‘..sometimes I get very frightened of feeling.’

The sentiment resonated. That heart-skipping fear of feeling, even if it was for different reasons, she knew it. Genny closed her eyes in an attempt to isolate her own feelings. Emotions collected from others through mental connection coalesced and could be felt as if they were her own and made it nearly impossible to feel what was authentically hers.

A small jolt vibrated through Genny’s arm and woke her from the contemplation as Gloria leaned back. The movement was not violent or recoiling, merely a minor surprise that tensed and relaxed her within the same breath. For a long moment she stood, merely tethered to the buoy that was Gloria, gooseflesh on her arms and small hairs climbing her back.

After a deep breath Genny’s free arm wrapped around Gloria’s waist and pulled her back gently against road dusty skirts and her own bodice so that the warmth of their bodies so near might run the length of Gloria’s back. Genny’s neck craned forward slightly, cheek brushing cheek, and she gently set her chin down to almost touching Gloria’s collar bone. Her muscles relaxed, her head limp but her breathing calm and steady. She held her, she hugged her, practically draped over and around her.

“Perhaps we get a new bottle tomorrow,” she offered softly.
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