forever is just a matter of time

Forever is just a matter of time. Ever means always, it means at any time. It means both of those things simultaneously. At any time, always.

For always. For any time. For ever. Forever.

What lasts, what remains, for the future. For all of the future. Without an end.

When I think about forever, not figurative, but literal, I realize I can never fathom it.

Never is just a matter of no time. Never means not at all, at no time. Not in the past, not in the future. Not at present.

Not now. Not then. Not ever. Never.

It is telling that as a species I believe we have a better grasp on the literal concept of never.


“Thank you for letting me stay,” said the princess, “but I really must be going.”

“You… slept well?” the queen asked.

The princess shrugged, but decided not to elaborate. The queen really needed to know, so pushed the issue.

“Then it was better than the previous night.”

The princess sighed. “It was. Once I got rid of the peas under the bed. I’m not sure how they could have gotten there, they were mush. If they had been on top of the mattress I would have left, but I figured I could handle one night of their mush as long as I wasn’t on top of it.”

“Mother!” the prince said.

“She is a princess, all right,” said the queen.

The prince didn’t agree with how his mother determined that. “Anyone would have noticed that!”

The queen nodded. “But only true royalty would call me out on it.”

“That’s nice and all,” said the princess, “but I really have to go.”

“Have a good time,” said the prince.

The queen put up a hand. “You… you are not interested in marrying my son?”

The princess frowned. “No. Not really.”

“Let me get you a good steed to get you on your way,” said the prince. He quickly moved the princess away from his mother, knowing he would have to deal with this for some time. “I’m so sorry about that.”

“Don’t worry,” said the princess. “I know you’ll find your princess eventually.”

The prince sighed. “I’d much rather a prince, at this rate.”

“I’ll send my brother over. You two might get along.”

The prince and the princess wished each other well and the princess departed.

You’re hired. Come with me.

With the rest of their tests, the scores were sent on to someone none of them had yet to see, to sift through and determine who amongst them was going to get the job. Tatsu waited impatiently at the door. She managed not to pace, standing there with her hands at her sides.

Four feet tall, Tatsu was a bit more striking because of the blond streak through her jet black hair. The dye job could have been done better, it was as though the hairdresser messed up, because it wasn’t the same lock. It started at the roots of one and went diagonal to hit other locks of hair further down. While it looked strange now, it would look stranger when it grew out beyond the chin length it fell to all around her face.

The others were congratulating Gio. It was true, they had heard a lot of their scores while out on the floor and it was true, out of all of them Gio had consistently gotten the highest. Tatsu said it was still too soon to say. None of the others appeared to mind as much. Out loud, that was.

“Still have hope?” Gio asked. It was hard to tell if he was being proud or boastful with his tone.

Tatsu’s tone was more clear. “Hope? I nailed this one.”

The woman who had walked through everything with them with the clipboard entered, looking confused. “Tatsu?”

Tatsu turned to her with a calm smile. “Yes, ma’am?”

“You’re hired. Come with me.”

“Yes,” she said, with a low key fist pump. Shooting Gio one last smile, the man absolutely stunned, Tatsu followed after her.

Emine (pt 15)

“What do you want for your birthday?”

Emine hadn’t known anyone here knew her birthday. She shouldn’t have been surprised Sanni did, but she felt it nonetheless. Her birthday. Eleven years old. A year since her parents cast her out.

Sanni’s expression went from a measured amount of excitement to some concern. “Emine? Is something wrong?”

She shook her head. “I… No, nothing is wrong. I wasn’t thinking about it. I don’t know.”

“Surely there is something you want.”

Sanni sat down on her bed and Emine, after a moment, went to sit next to her. Sanni did something her mother used to do, which was put her arm around her while she sat next to her. Emine barely remembered it though, because she had been very young when her mother had done so.

“Yes.” There were quite a few things she wanted. But a birthday was when you asked for something you didn’t think you could ask for during the rest of the year.

“Tell me about it.”

Emine’s mind raced. What did she want right now that she might not get the rest of the year? Surprisingly, her mind settled on something quickly. Something Sanni couldn’t give her. But Emine wanted it nonetheless.

“I want to fly on dragonback.”

To those beneath

The regent sits upon their throne
And hears the moan
Of the man there
Before their chair

Pleading for something they don’t
Care for, or won’t
Listen more than they
Need as to weigh.

A tug upon their sleeve then shows
Their child who knows.
They listen to more
Words on the floor.

Khaalida dropped the cup over the railing and walked away.

The completely covered woman didn’t react physically to her companion’s words. “Sure I will. Looking down from here is a great way of finding surface thoughts. Especially when they don’t look up.”

“You could always call attention to yourself.”

The blue and black woman scoffed. “Like hell I would, Khaalida.”

“That’s right, how can an attention whore call more attention-” Khaalida had meant to cut herself off with a sip of her tea, but as she was then sucking at air, with an empty cup, it just sounded silly. “Did you just-”

“No,” came the lie.

“I hate you.” Khaalida dropped the cup over the railing and walked away. When it crashed, all of the applicants looked up to see the concealed woman, glowering down at them.

“Ow, really?” Tatsu complained, pushing some fragments of glass away with her foot. She wasn’t looking up with the rest of them.

The other woman followed after Khaalida, then went off in a different direction, not interested in ending up where the older woman was going.

Free Falling

The ash had fallen for month, piling up like snow. They wore a kerchief over their mouth, often wet to catch the ash before it could enter their mouth. The water dripped down their chin. They didn’t remember the last time they were dry. They didn’t remember the last time they had breathed good air.

“Is the mountain going to fall down?” their friend asked, as they had every morning.

They pushed the branches aside, ash sliding off to float to the ground, as it had every time the branches moved. They looked out, as though the mountain might actually move. It stood there, silent. As silent as the ash.

They tried not to swallow. Water, ash. Tired of both. “Not today.”


The next day, the queen looked forward to finding out if the princess had indeed felt the pea under all of those mattresses. The princess didn’t look like she had slept well and the queen asked her how the night had fared.

“I’m sorry, but poorly. After climbing up on all of those mattresses, I felt terrible. The ceiling was too close and nothing felt smooth. So I took off a mattress and tried again. It was worse. Then I took off a third. The ceiling wasn’t too close, but the discomfort of reaching the floor, where I was starting to want to be in the first place was increasing. I finally gave up and slept on the first mattress I removed. I woke up early enough to put it back into place. I didn’t get much sleep at all. Why do you all sleep up so high?”

That wasn’t really enough for the queen to know if the princess had really felt the pea or if the discomfort from the mattresses had only been compounded by the height. After apologizing, the queen offered another room with a better bed for this night. The princess was hesitant.

“Please accept,” the prince asked her, despite wanting this to be over. “My mother is ashamed and wishes that you have a good night’s sleep before you go.”

The perhaps-princess acquiesced to that. The prince hoped this would be the end of it. Yet later he saw his mother scheming.

“Your last attempt failed,” said the prince. “Perhaps let the girl have a good night’s sleep and let her move on? She hasn’t mentioned anything about wanting to marry me.”

“That’s only because of the mattresses,” the queen replied. “I have a better idea this time.”

The queen prepared a new bed. The prince ran his hands through his hair and hoped it wouldn’t be nearly as embarrassing as the last thing she had tried.

Does she know that?

Above, two other people watched Tatsu. They didn’t look at each other. They didn’t really like each other, so that was just fine. The fact they were doing this at the same time was annoying enough as it was.

“I hear the little girl is Isha’s,” said the woman donned from head to toe in cloth. It was dark blues and black. It bound her up so well you couldn’t see much of a shape other than to claim humanoid. Her voice was muffled by the fabric which both clung and hung freely in front of her face. Maybe if one was lucky, they might see her eyes between that and what hung down from her forehead.

Perhaps that was unlucky.

The other person standing with her was an older woman, silver hair brought to a bun at the nape of her neck. Her cloak was inconspicuous, hiding her body which wasn’t as frail as one might think for her nondescript aged age. She sipped at her tea, looking down below.

“Isha’s, huh?” She watched Tatsu move off the field. “Does she know that?”

The obscured woman leaned further over the railing, staring down at the girl below. What she was looking at was Tatsu’s face, her eyes. “I don’t think so.”

“Sure about that? Try again.”