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  1. #16
    harold, they're lesbians. Audo's Avatar
    Apr 2015

    Default Re: the fragmental collective

    Quote Originally Posted by Dandelion View Post
    Yikes, that was hard to read. But because of its subject matter and how well it was written. I think dealing with the nature of abusive relationships is a hard feat, and even harder to capture the nuances of its cyclical nature, but you did it well.
    thanks tinny. :3

    Quote Originally Posted by Cinder View Post
    I do admire his determination to not let this beat him down anymore though, but to stand up for himself and against his father for the beliefs he forced upon him.
    yeah, time will tell if he actually can/will though~~

    Anyways, this was a powerful piece. It had tons of impact.
    Aw, thank you.

    You write some of the most heart wrenching stories there is, Audo.
    haha, yeah that really seems to be my brand at this point. sad and gay.

  2. #17
    harold, they're lesbians. Audo's Avatar
    Apr 2015

    Default Re: [the fragmental collective]

    for this one i thought i would try taking the characters from my future game project and sorta feel them out and introduce them in this short story. the challenge was spell it out so i did it as sort of an acrostic with each word focusing on a little mini vignette of sorts. they probably don't quite all work together as a cohesive whole, but it was an interesting way of approaching the story and of getting a better handle on these characters. in a sense this is all a prologue to the game's story so i hope people find the characters and their set up interesting and will look forward to the game lol

    also, oof, i was originally planning on having this done for canada day (obviously) but it was taking longer than i thought it would and then just as i was getting back into the swing of things, the summer contest ended early and it kinda just took the wind out of my sails and i lost all motivation, lol. shame it took this long to finally bring myself to get back into it, but here it finally is. let me know what you all think!

    canada day.

    It began last Canada Day.

    Best friends Parker and Renae were in Renae's hot tub, giggly from the champagne they had swiped from her parents' stash. They had taken turns telling each other secrets -- voices falling to near whispers, hardly heard amongst the bubbles, when the girls' hearts were particularly exposed. Every so often their gazes would catch each other, and hold, just for a moment too long. In the air there was a distinct feeling of possibility floating about, a feeling that something was just on the cusp of happening, and then they would enter into a new world. It was both thrilling and terrifying, and throughout the night they both kept toeing up to the line, but always shying away at that last crucial moment.

    They had planned to go to bed, to end the night, shortly after the firework went off, but they never did. In that space of time it felt like everything stretched out in front of them. A moment lasting longer than it should. A vulnerability open for far too long, everything exposed. It was half-past midnight when the fireworks finally started -- delayed by two trains passing, they'd later find out -- but they didn't even notice at first. Neither of them would ever recall just who pushed past the line and brought them into a new, more complicated life -- a new normal -- but they did. When that first firework cracked against the night sky, Renae and Parker had embraced, their lips feeling ablaze against each other's.

    They pulled away as the light hit them.

    They watched, over and over, as the night sky seemingly broke open, again and again, in dazzling colours and sounds and, in the silence that followed afterward, they both knew that there was no going back to the world before now.


    The morning after the first kiss, Renae slowly pulled herself out of bed, careful not to wake her friend. Parker lay curled up into a ball on the other side of the bed. Her arms were tucked close around her belly and her dark black hair splayed outward like an explosion against the white pillows. Renae smiled weakly at the sight before she walked over and sat down in front of the large ornate vanity on the other side of the room. For a moment she simply inspected her reflection in the mirror as she went over the events of the previous night in her memories. The champagne. The secrets. The fireworks.

    The kiss.

    Renae ran her fingers through her long blonde hair, catching a few tiny knots, before resting her forehead against the heel of her palm, elbow propped on the vanity's surface. She closed her eyes and tried to wrap her heard around the new reality they had entered, and what they were even going to do next. Behind her she could hear the soft sounds of Parker deep in sleep. When she opened her eyes, she wearily glanced down at her other wrist where a temporary maple leaf tattoo had begun to fade and wash away from the water in the hot tub last night. She traced the outline of the tattoo with her gaze, counting the points of that maple leaf that still could be seen. Eight.

    A soft sigh escaped her as she sat up in her chair and opened the first drawer on her right. Renae grabbed a bottle of nail polish remover and some cotton balls. After wetting the cotton, she methodically rubbed it against her wrist. The acrid chemical scent filled the air as, motion by motion, the maple leaf was wiped away. After, she stared at her reflection once again.

    Her reflection stared back.

    Renae's hair was disheveled. Her mascara had run and smudged along her eyes leaving dark circles. The lipstick she had worn the day before had nearly faded completely, but it too was smudged here and there. From the kiss? She didn't know, but she watched herself watching herself in the mirror for a long time. Everything washed over her mind like water flowing down a stream. All of the possibilities and routes and ways forward. The stream would fork and she would try to meet each path to its destination. So many possible outcomes, and yet, sitting there watching herself watch herself, she knew. Something would ultimately have to be chosen. And there was no returning upstream. There was no going back.

    She took a deep breath and released it slowly, carefully. And then, she gathered her hair in her hands and tied it into a messy bun. From the second drawer she took out a pocket of cleansing wipes. With clean, purposeful movements she brushed it all way. The mascara. The lipstick. What little remained of her blush and eyeliner. Until her face lay bare.

    Renae studied herself once more, taking in everything that she was.

    Then, she made herself up all over again.

    Once nearly everything was complete she opened the small box on her vanity -- the one where she kept all of her favourite things -- and took out the brightest, richest, waterproof red lipstick she had. She removed the gold lid and twisted the tube up. Renae didn't take her eyes off herself in the mirror as her lips became full and vibrant, and with it, everything screaming with purpose. As soon as she finished she smacked her lips and smirked.

    They were ablaze.

    N - NORMAL

    In the months that followed that Canada Day, more and more kisses joined the first, but with them came even more secret.

    To Parker it almost seemed like Renae thought of it as little more than just a game. There was an air of artifice surrounding each kiss, like it was largely just an act, something that Renae was putting on and little more. She never allowed it to become something more than a secret between them, something less abstract. Of course neither of them had really said what their intentions were, what they wanted to what any of this meant to them. Instead they just kept continuing, kept playing this little game and made sure no one else found out. Inside it was beginning to tear Parker apart. With so much artifice clouding her life it became difficult for her to tell what was real and what was fake. What was all part of the act, and what was a glimpse into how Renae really felt. Or even, how she herself felt about all of this.

    But when they did kiss, in those brief moments, to Parker it felt so achingly real and true and honest.

    And so, she kept hanging on. If this was the only way for them to be together, as limited a together as it was, than it would have to suffice, she had convinced herself. For in those moments when their lips touched, Parker could only feel that warmth coursing through her, and she knew that heat was everything she was looking for. She swallowed her feelings and the truth and everything those kisses meant to her, in order for them to continue. It was the only way she knew how to go forward.

    But as the initial weeks turned to months, turned to half a year, turned to almost a full year since that fateful night, she couldn't help but feel a growing discontent taking hold over her, rooting itself deep within her heart. Often she'd lay awake in her bed, sweating herself crazy from the summer heart, and just wonder, over and over to herself, was any of this really normal?

    All of the girls she knew were having crushes on the guys in their grade, hooking up, getting boyfriends. Holding hands and kissing boys in public. Falling in love. Being and feeling perfectly normal.

    And all she felt she was doing was pretending.


    Brandon dug the tip of his knife into one of the support beams of the small bridge he was under. He roughly carved into the metal, the paint chipping and collecting along the newly formed wounds. With every swipe of his blade, Brandon let out a short sound effect to match — something between a lightsaber and a sword. He bopped his head along with the mixed tape playing from the portable cassette player clipped on his hip. Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. When he was satisfied with his creation, he wiped the blade against his leather jacket. He ruffled his medium-length black hair and smirked.

    B O M B • V E S P E R I A

    It was crude but he was fond of it. The bridge had forever been altered by his little petty vandalism. He had changed things, just by being there. It was a good feeling, he decided. Productive.

    The tape ended and Brandon took out his headphones. He popped open the tape deck and flipped over the tape. Just as he was about to press play on Side B of the awesome mix his best friend Charlie had made for him, he heard a voice.

    “There’s something on your shoulder.”

    Brandon glanced down and saw out of the corner of his eye a long multi-legged creature crawling up his shoulder and heading straight for his neck. He yelped and swiped the bug off him, losing his balance in the process and falling backwards. His ass hit the pavement with a thud and he grimaced. He looked up at the girl who had warned him and found Parker standing there, clearly trying to keep from laughing.

    Brandon scratched the back of his neck as his cheeks began to burn. Parker smiled and held out a hand for him which he took. Once on his feet, he brushed the dirt off his pants and tried to act cool. She turned and knelt down to carefully pick the bug up from where it landed on the ground.

    “Was it a centipede?” Brandon asked. “They really freak me out. That’s why I, uh, reacted like that. I’m kinda scared of ‘em.”

    Parker softly shook her head. “It’s just a caterpillar. It’s harmless.” She opened her palm to show him. A small, fuzzy, green caterpillar casually inched its way across her palm. “Here, hold out your finger.”

    He held out his index finger for her as she guided the caterpillar onto hers. Then, she touched the tips of their fingers together, while lightly holding his hand stable with her other hand. They stood there together in silence, smiles deep on their faces, as they watched the fuzzy critter travel the bridge they had created.

    Brandon caught Parker’s gaze and felt his cheeks burn again. “Thanks,” he said quietly, although he wasn’t entirely sure for what.

    Parker tucked her hands back into the pockets of her jeans. “It’s okay,” she said.

    They watched the caterpillar crawl around in Brandon’s hand for a while and enjoyed the shade the bridge gave from the harsh summer heat.

    “So, uh, Parker….”


    “Are — are you going to the big Canada Day party at Charlie’s next Saturday?”

    “Oh… I don’t know. Probably not?”

    “Aw, c’mon! It’ll be a lot of fun. It’s the big 150, right? You gotta show off that Canada Pride.”

    “I don’t know, Brandon….”

    “I’d love it if you were there,” he said with a smile as he let the caterpillar crawl into his other hand.

    Parker pulled in her lips as she thought it over. “I think me and Renae are probably doing something….”

    “Well, Renae is invited, too. Obviously.”

    “Obviously,” she mumbled.

    Brandon carefully placed the caterpillar down in some nearby grass and then wiped his hands off on his black jeans. He turned back to Parker and leaned against the support beam he had just vandalized.

    “It’d seriously be awesome if you came, Parker,” he said. “You and I never really get to hang out much outside of school. And pretty soon we’ll all be graduating and then, what? Maybe you’ll look back on this in deep regret.” He chuckled before doing his best Parker-impression. “’Oh man, I sure wish I had gone to that party with Brandon. Now I have no choice but to just waste away, an unfulfilled woman, always wondering what if’ you’ll say.”

    “You’re such a dork,” she said.

    “I’m tellin’ you. It’ll be fun, I promise.”

    Parker nodded slowly. “Okay,” she said.

    Brandon perked up. “Okay?”

    She let out a small laugh. “I’ll seriously think about it, okay? I’ll talk to Renae.”

    He beamed. “Alright! I’ll hold you to that.”

    She chuckled. “I better get going.” She gave him a quick wave and headed under the bridge and down the street.

    “I’ll see you at the party!” Brandon called after her.

    “Whatever,” she replied playfully.

    Brandon grinned as he watched her walk away. After she had gone, he pressed play on his tape player. Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” blared in his ears as he took out his knife and began digging it into the metal once more.


    Frank Moll had been parked outside the BC Liquor Store for hours. He gripped the steering wheel hard with his large and calloused hands and rested his forehead against the top of the wheel. In the passenger’s seat sat two bottles of scotch… and his divorce papers — finalized. On the radio some pop hit about love that Frank didn’t recognize was playing loudly. His fingers tightened and he pressed his forehead against the wheel even harder, eyes closed tight. Was this what his life had amounted to? Just… this?

    A deep anger formed inside of him until it felt like he was to overflow, but he never let it out. Just gripped the wheel tighter and tighter. He thought about what it would be like to bang his head against the wheel. To punch his fists through the windows. To turn the ignition on and ram his car into the side of the building, ending his and maybe some others’ lives, just like that.

    Instead, he grabbed one of the bottles of scotch and took a big swig. And then another. And another. He ran his hand through his thinning salt and pepper hair and let out a deep groan. The anger was pushed down, down, deep inside him, never being probably dealt with. It turned into a lump, a frustration, a feeling of immense discomfort that filled his veins, and then, it became pain. It was a pain he was never taught how to deal with. All his life he was told what a real man should do, should be. Don’t feel. Get a wife, a house, a real job. It was all just bullshit. He felt he had nothing now but he had no idea how to reach out, how to ask for help, because no one ever taught him how.

    Frank Moll was utterly alone.

    He let his head fall and hit the steering wheel. In a way he welcomed the small throb in his forehead that came with it. It made him feel almost alive, for a brief moment. Frank sighed and peered up just over the wheel as two teenage girls walked by. One Native and the other white. The white girl had long blonde hair that whipped with the wind. Her lips were a stark bright red. She was wearing a wet white t-shirt that revealed a red bikini top underneath and shorts that barely begun to go down her thighs. She stood out as an incredible beauty, especially next to her chubby, overweight friend who was wearing jeans in near forty degree weather. In their hands were a couple of plastic shopping bags with Canadian flags visible through the thin lining.

    Frank gripped the wheel as he watched them animatedly talk amongst themselves as they walked up the street.

    And then, he turned on the ignition.


    Charlie felt like he couldn’t breathe.

    The party that Brandon had talked him into throwing was just days away now and his anxiety was going through the roof. While he had gone to a lot of the parties that the other members of the lacrosse team had thrown, he had never hosted one himself. But when his parents announced they were going on a trip to Quebec for a month, Brandon was quick to try and convince him. C’mon, man. It’s our last summer as high school students, he’d say. It’s, like, a rite of passage to throw a party. What about Canada Pride, eh? We gotta start our final year off right. And so on, and so on until Charlie had no choice but to relent. Perhaps he had even started to believe it himself, but with Canada Day looming ever close the false sense of security he had began to melt away.

    What if his teammates think his party sucks? Or what if the party got out of hand? What if something got broken? What if the entire place gets trashed? What if the cops are called and his parents find? What if his parents came home early? What if the guests do something awful to each other, like fight or worse? What if they get arrested for underage drinking or public disturbance or… something horrible he doesn’t even know about? What if, what if, what if.

    It was all just… a lot.

    Brandon lugged speakers passed him on the couch. He dropped them down with a thud, knocking the nearby end-table off its legs. Charlie’s stomach lurched and he shot Brandon a worried, uneasy look, which was promptly dismissed with a smile. After picking the table off the floor, Brandon gestured to it exaggeratedly as if to say, look good as new, even as the table’s previous contents lay strewn about the floor.

    Charlie sighed. He clenched his fists tight, then flexed the muscles in his forearms, his arms, and up by his shoulders. Held them tight and wound up like that for a moment and then relaxed them one by one. Fists, forearms, arms, shoulders. Tight. Shoulders, arms, forearms, fists. Slack. Over and over.

    “Man, are you still worried about this?” Brandon asked, leaning against the speaker. “It’s going to be great. You need to relax. Have a beer, or something.”

    Charlie held one of his fists in his other hand. “I don’t want a beer.”

    Brandon stood up a bit. “Well, just… try to chill a bit. Everything’s going to be fine.”

    “Brandon….” He took a breathe before looking up at his best friend. “Do we really have to do this?”

    Brandon softened. He stepped away from the speakers and party supplies and sat down next to Charlie on the couch, their legs touching. “What’s going on, Charlie?” he asked as he watched Charlie clench and unclench his fist.

    “I just… do we have to?”

    “Look,” Brandon began, “if you really don’t want to we don’t have to. I just worry sometimes, yknow? That like… if I didn’t push you you would never really step outside of your comfort zone, and that’s not a way to live, man. You’re the only one on the team who hasn’t thrown one of these things before, right? And, like, time is running out to do it, yknow? We’re almost done with school. Do you really want to finish high school and look back on this past year with regrets? Or do you wanna go out strong and do shit that scares you and actually make some memories?”

    He turned closer to Charlie.

    “I know it’s tough, dude. But all the good things are.” He wrapped an arm around Charlie and brought him close against him, giving him a little squeeze. “And I’m going to be there by your side the whole time, man. It’ll be okay. You know what, it’s going to be even better than okay. It’s going to be great. Everything is going to work out and you’re going to have a good time and everyone will love the party and love you. Hell, you might even get laid. Talk about a memory, eh? I’ll totally wing man you.”

    Charlie felt a small heat rise inside himself. He couldn’t help but smile in Brandon’s arms. Maybe he was right.

    “Okay,” Charlie said.

    “Alright!” Brandon said bringing him even closer against his side. “Just you wait. It’s going to be great, man. A night to f*cking remember.”

    Right, Charlie told himself, it’s going to be great.

    It’s going to be great.


    Parker and Renae floated on individual air mattresses in Renae’s pool. They had an unspoken game of trying to hold a kiss as long as possible before the water pulled them away from each other. Eventually the water would bring them back together, and then, they would kiss once more. Every time, Parker couldn’t help but smile into Renae’s lips. They always smelled like chlorine and summer, standing out crimson against the water’s cerulean backdrop. As they drifted away, Parker would watch her on the other side of the pool — her heart-shaped sunglasses hiding away the eyes behind them. She loved those glasses, but frequently wondered what it would be like if they were gone, if she could see into Renae’s eyes right before and after they kissed. Would she finally have some clue as to how Renae really felt?

    It was the thought she kept coming back to over and over again as Canada Day loomed. Was this all just a game to Renae — a way to pass the time — or was there something more between them? Something that could actually become real and known?

    “It’s almost our final year,” Parker said shortly after they had broken off another kiss.


    “Do you know what you’re going to do after we graduate?” Parker let her fingers trail in the water.

    “Realistically? Go to a university that my parents deem correct for me. Come back here. Get some stupid job and a stupid husband and stupid kids. Waste away.” Renae said, her voice dripping sardonic. “Something like that.”

    “And ideally? Like, if you could have anything?”

    Renae went quiet for a moment. “I guess… Hm…. I don’t know, Parker.”

    “No, c’mon. Tell me. I promise I won’t laugh or anything.”

    She sighed. “I guess… I’d want to get out of this f*cking town. We’d go to the coast and get a small cozy place close to the beach. We’d have a shit ton of succulents and a cat and we’d spend our days down at the pier.” Renae started talking with her hands, animatedly accentuating her words more and more as she spoke. “I’d probably, like, y’know, bring my easel and paints down to the beach and work on my art. We’d sip citrus drinks all the time and listen to records. Every Saturday we’d like, make food and keep our front door open and have little get-togethers with the neighbours and anyone stopping by. And we’d never think about this bullshit place again.” Renae let her arms fall down to her side. She pulled in her lips for a moment, before letting out a small breath. “We’d be happy.”

    Parker didn’t know whether to smile or not. “That’s really pretty,” she said.

    “Yeah,” Renae replied. “It’s really pretty to think so.” She turned to face Parker, wet strands of hair cascading down her face. “But….”

    Parker moved off her mattress and into the water. She swam over to Renae. Her heart felt like it was trying to escape her as she brushed the strands of hair out of her face. She delicately took Renae’s heart-shaped glasses off and placed them up on her head. Her eyes seemed puffy and red, but Parker couldn’t tell if she was just imagining it. Renae’s blue eyes looked unwaveringly in her own as Parker placed her hand on her cheek.

    It wasn’t just a kiss.

    It was, simply, everything.

    And that night, as Parker replayed the events of the day over and over in her mind, she knew that she couldn’t wait any longer. She needed to do what she could to make that future a reality. It had ignited within her a deep determination. She was going to tell Renae the depths of her feelings, and for once, she was convinced they would be returned in kind. And on that coming Canada Day, they would officially be together, truly.

    A - ABYSS

    Renae felt outside herself. Everything around her had gone hazy and ill-defined. She felt blurry around the edges. In front of her, her parents sat at the table, their faces all red and contorted and angry. She could see their lips moving, she could almost feel the vibrations of their screams, but she heard nothing. It was like it was all happening to someone else, like she was just floating above herself, watching it all happen to this girl she hardly recognized.

    She never heard her parents come home. Didn’t know that they had seen it all. Seen Parker. Seen the kiss.

    And just like that, this pretty dream that almost felt tangible fell apart.

    So here she was, the reality of it all screaming in her face. Her parents looking at her with an all-too-real disgust, like they, too, didn’t even recognize her anymore. And she felt so utterly and incredibly lost, sinking further and further inside herself. A darkness seemed to swarm around her pushing her even deeper, snuffing out the light.

    And then suddenly, she stood up from the table. Without a word she left the kitchen, left the house. She could hear her parents calling out to her, demanding her return, but she didn’t listen. She went straight to the pool and dived in, not caring about getting her phone or her clothes drenched. Not caring about anything at all.

    Her heart-shaped sunglasses sank to the bottom of the pool, and she along with them.

    Falling… falling… falling.

    Renae’s back landed softly against the bottom. Outside the water she could see the distorted figures of her parents watching, waiting. She knew once she reemerged that there was no going back to before the kiss. So she lay there in the shadow of the pool’s edge as long as she could — as long as her breath would hold out — before facing the harsh light once more.


    When Parker arrived at Renae’s house the next day she immediately knew that something we wrong. She could feel it in the air even though she didn’t know why or how. Even though she had come there determined to tell Renae everything and to ask her to officially be together, the closer she actually got to Renae, the more a sick feeling began to overwhelm her.

    She found Renae outside the back. Renae rested against the closed hot-tub on the deck. Her heart-shaped sunglasses hid her eyes as she looked out toward the water of the pool. A thin trail of smoke curled from the tip of the cigarette lazily held between her fingers. As Parker approached, Renae turned to her before quickly looking away once more. She took a drag of the cigarette and released the smoke slowly and watched as it swirled and dispersed into the air above.

    “I — uh — I wanted to talk to you about something,” Parker began. “After that kiss yesterday, I’ve been thinking—”

    “We can’t.” Renae said.

    “What?” Parker felt a lump in her throat. “We can’t what? What’s wrong?”

    Renae opened and closed her mouth a few times, as if trying to form the words. She took another drag before finally speaking. “We have to stop pretending,” she said. “Stop… Playing Lesbian or whatever.”

    “What are you talking about? What happened, Renae? Why are you do—”

    “We’re not gay, Parker! We can’t keep doing this, okay?! It’s f*cked.”


    “It’s our last year. We need boyfriends. We need to be normal. We need to stop f*cking pretending that there’s anything else out there for us. There’s just us and this f*cking shitty town, don’t you get that? And we need to make the most of it now.”

    Renae turned to Parker. “Brandon or Charlie?”

    Parker shook her head. “What?”

    “Their Canada Day party on Saturday. I’ll take whoever you don’t pick, okay? We’ll go out with them, we’ll drink and party and be normal f*cking people.” She wrapped an arm around her stomach as she brought the cigarette back up to her lips. “So, Brandon or Charlie — who would you rather sleep with?”

    “What are you—”

    “I can’t afford any regrets.” Renae took one last drag before flicking the cigarette butt into the pool. She stood up and watched it drift across the water. “This is how it has to be, Parker. Don’t make this anymore difficult.”

    She walked toward the door heading back inside her house. Above, in the second story window she could see her parents watching them through the curtains. Renae clenched her fists, the nails digging into her palms. At the doorway she stopped, her back to Parker.

    “Come to my house on Friday so we can get ready for the party,” she said before heading inside.

    Parker’s hands were shaking as she knelt down on the deck. She kept telling herself not to cry, not to let her feelings out. In the water of the pool she could see her faint reflection and she stared at it for a long time. She couldn’t even recognize herself, her face and heart so immensely pained. But she pushed it down, deeper and deeper within herself. It was foolish to believe in something so pretty. This was the reality.

    She swiped at her reflection in the water, letting the ripples and waves distort it completely, before she got back up to her feet and started to head back home to prepare.

    Renae’s right, Parker told herself.

    It’s time to stop pretending.
    Last edited by Audo; September 12, 2017 at 05:48 PM.

  3. #18
    Here Comes a Thought Dandelion's Avatar
    Jun 2010

    Default Re: "Canada Day" - NEW STORY - [the fragmental collective]

    Wow. That was so powerful, and had probably the best flow out of any of your stories. I'm NOT SURPRISED that things ended on a sad note, but it's not the end

  4. #19
    harold, they're lesbians. Audo's Avatar
    Apr 2015

    Default Re: "Canada Day" + "Mixed" - NEW STORIES - [the fragmental collective]

    For the Demyx Award, I thought I would finally write this story idea I've had for a looooong time but never got anywhere close to being finished. Since the award is all about being music-related I thought I'd do something like a songfic sorta. Basically the idea is that a character gives another character a mixed CD and as the character listens to the mix the songs remind him of things that happened in their past. I've included links to each of the tracks if you're curious to hear the song that inspired the section.

    This piece gave me a lot of trouble and I'm still not sure how I feel about it so please let me know how /you/ felt lol.
    Even though it's really rough, I hope people like it.


    TRACK 01

    Gaberiel tried to forget last summer. Things with Theo returned to normal, returned to homemade vegan fries and riffing on shitty horror B-movies where anyone with a skin tone remotely like Gaberiel's seemed to die first, without fail. They finally picked up their playthrough of Mass Effect again. He liked this. He liked feeling stuck. The future wasn't a concern when he was around Theo. There would always be more movies, more videogames, more books. Being with his best friend meant a blissful sort of ignorance. The past didn't matter, he told himself. Bullshit was all it was.

    "I made you a mix," Theo said as they watched the credits roll on another fantastically terrible movie. This one involved shape-shifting aliens that harvested humans.

    "Like a mixed tape?" Gabe replied. "That's pretty gay, man."

    Sometimes though, it gave him pause. He became conscious of his and Theo's actions since they reconciled. Thought about how close they sat, how their skin would sometimes touch, how a gaze would linger a little too long. Last thing Gaberiel wanted was to lead Theo on, give him the wrong idea. He ain't like that. You share one drunken kiss and suddenly every smile is an invitation.

    "A mixed CD." Theo dropped the mix onto Gabe's lap. "I'm going home."

    "Want me to come with?"

    Theo opened the bedroom door. "Like walk me home?" He didn't turn around. "That's pretty gay, man." The door closed quiet behind him.

    Gabe didn't know whether to laugh or not. He picked up the CD and turned it over. It was a simple CD-R with a title written in black Sharpie. "I made this for you," it said. And then, underneath, "Have sex with me?"

    Clearly, he had failed.

    TRACK 02

    Things had finally begun to smooth out after the summer. Theo and Gabe were talking again, finally, but there existed a rift between them. Something had changed, even if neither of them would talk about it. They could feel it though in the way that pauses lingered a little too long. Smiles seemed a little too forced. Laughter a little too hollow. Gabe felt foolish for thinking he could ever pretend that nothing had ever occurred, but he had. He imagined them brushing past the incident with the same sense of levity he had known them for. And yet...

    They sat in the bakery section of one of their local grocery stores. Neither of them had said anything for a good five minutes. The rare times they did speak the other would follow only with a clipped one word remark and then the silence would return again. Never before had he struggled this much with talking to his best friend, not even before they became friends in the first place. What if there really was no moving past this?

    Gabe thought about calling it and going home, but he gave himself until the end of his coffee. He looked up from the pitch black brew to catch Theo looking off at a stockboy in the distance. The stockboy had messy dirty-blond hair and a fit frame. He seemed to be humming to himself as he put away boxes, his head bopping here and there.

    "Think he's hot?" Gabe asked. He hoped that it would come off as playful, as showing that the summer hadn't bothered him, that he was past it, but it just came out dry and forced, even more so than all his other attempts at conversation that day.

    Theo mumbled something under his breath. Yeah, maybe.

    "Dare you to go flirt with him."

    "Don't be an idiot."


    They used to do this all the time. Back when it was girls.

    "Fine," Theo said. He slumped back in his chair and shot Gabe a pissed off look. "What do you want me to say?"

    "Ask him where the condoms are," he said. "And when he asks you what kind you're looking for, tell him 'whatever kind you use'."

    Theo shook his head, a hint of a smile in the corner of his lips. "You're an idiot, you know that?"

    They got up from their table. Gabe hung back as he watched Theo do exactly what they had discussed. He was prepared to intervene if the stockboy reacted poorly to Theo hitting on him, but to his complete surprise the boy smirked and grabbed a box of condoms from the shelf. Theo and the boy disappeared into the backroom. The doors swung closed behind them.

    Gabe stood there for a moment and watched the doors. He couldn't see anything. Couldn't hear anything. He kept searching for some sign of what was happening, but eventually turned away with nothing.

    He walked back to his table by the window and watched customers come and go. Occasionally, he'd look over his shoulder at the door to the backroom, but it remained still. An odd feeling formed inside him that he didn't know what to do with. His reflection in the black of his coffee stared back at him.

    Eventually he finished his coffee -- the liquid cold and acrid against his tongue -- set the empty mug down on the table, and left the store.

    TRACK 03

    Before. Spring was finally coming back to Vesperia. The grass was still ugly and dead in most parts, but on the hill overlooking the town green started to show here and there. This was their spot for as long as Gabe could remember. They'd come up here and just sit and talk. That was why Gabe was there. Beside him, where Theo usually sat on the bench, was the lacrosse trophy he won at the recent competition. His name was on it and everything.

    Theo finally arrived. He took the trophy up from his spot and placed it in Gabe's lap gently. "Congrats," he said.

    "Thanks," Gabe mumbled back. He pressed his thumb against the name plate at the bottom, smudging the plaque with the oils in his fingertips. Blurred his name out as well as he could before setting the trophy down at the ground by his feet.

    "What's eating you?"

    Gabe shook his head. He gingerly pressed his foot against the trophy, rocking it back and forth in the dirt. The trophy collapsed, the faux gold finish becoming dusty and opaque. Theo's eyes narrowed, concerned, but said nothing. The air was dry around them.

    "It's just... is this all I'm going to amount to? This town? This trophy?"

    "It doesn't have to be."

    Gabe scoffed. "My dad wants me to stay behind once we graduate this summer. Wants me to help run the business. I don't really have a choice here."

    Gabe slammed his foot against the trophy, breaking one of the columns. He brought his foot down again, smashing the figurine at the top. And again. And again. He grabbed the pieces and hiked them off the hill, watching them bounce and break and tumble down the cliff side until they were out of view. In the distance, he could see the town, unaffected.

    "Feel any better?" Theo asked after a moment.

    "No," he replied. "Not really."

    TRACK 04

    Months later the summer heat drove them to the nighttime streets. Armed with a bottle of gin between the two of them, they walked down the middle of the main street road heading toward the beach, passing the bottle between them. They had long discarded their shirts back at Gabe's. Even without the sun they had found the fabric to cling to their skin. So they did without them. They outstretched their arms as they tried to walk along the driving lines, trying and failing to stay straight.

    They reached the beach down the hill at the end of the street. The moon reflected in the water and the mosquitoes bit at them relentlessly. Neither seemed to notice. They dropped down into the sand with a thud, the smell of driftwood thick in the air, joined by their laughter. They huddled close even though they were both too warm. Theo stuck the bottle of gin into the sand like a sword and they both laughed far too hard.

    The laughter died down, replaced with hushed whispers barely heard over the lapping waves. What was said that night felt lost among the water, but the feeling stayed strong even now. A warmth, a feeling of home, of comfort. Peace, maybe. Like they could forget this shitty town and its shitty future completely.

    They reached for the bottle at the same time.

    Theo's hand on top of Gabe's. Theo's lips on top of Gabe's.

    Everything smelled like harsh pine.


    The afternoon before the kiss Gabe sat on the bench overlooking Vesperia. He gripped his hair in his hands and tried to force the tears and frustration building inside him away. His throat felt coarse and pained. Crumpled up on the ground near his feet was a rejection letter for one of the universities he had applied to. He knew it was a long shot, but some part of him hoped that if he had gotten in, and maybe had gotten a scholarship or a grant or... something, that he could convince his parents to let him go. To let him leave.

    Theo came up beside him and sat down on the bench. He picked up the letter off the ground and smoothed it out on his thigh. Gabe tried to regain composure as his friend read the letter, but the lump in his throat wouldn't budge.

    "You don't have to stay, you know," Theo said after a moment.

    "Of course I do," Gabe said after clearing his throat. He gestured to the letter. "Where else am I supposed to go?" His fists clenched. "This is where I belong. Where I'm supposed to be."


    "It's fine, okay? Like, I never thought it would be any different." Gabe coughed. He scratched hard at the skin on his left arm, breaking it and starting to bleed. "I'm perfect for this place and this life. A shitty good-for-nothing for a shitty good-for-nothing town."

    "Gabe. I know you think you should stay, that you have to, that you owe it to your parents or some shit -- but you don't." Theo turned to him. "You're better than this town. Give up on this place. Find somewhere better."

    Gabe sighed. "I don't know. What about my dad, the business, the future, or whatever?"

    "What about them?" Theo got to his feet. He held out one of his hands. "Now, c'mon. Let's forget about this for now." He threw the letter off into the wind, letting it get carried out beyond the hills. "The world is ending," he said with a smile. "Let's get f*cking drunk."

    TRACK 06

    Gabe pulled away. He stared at Theo as his brain tried to process what had just happened.

    The kiss.

    Before even saying anything he pushed Theo back into the sand and stumbled up onto his own feet. Theo called out for him and Gabe could hear the desperation in his voice, but he didn't listen. He kept walking. Theo grabbed onto Gabe's wrist and tried to get him to stay but Gabe whipped around and punched Theo square in the face. Gabe felt his knuckles make contact with Theo's stubble, felt the skin tear away. His friend fell to the ground, the blood from his lip mixing with the sand.

    Theo got up to his feet and retaliated. His fist collided with Gabe's own face in turn, splitting his lip. Gabe tackled him to the ground, pinned him and punched him in the jaw, the cheek, the eye. Just, kept hitting him, over and over. Theo struggled beneath him before finally flipping him over and returning the favour, fresh blood dripping off him onto his best friend's face. He stopped as the sight registered in his mind and for a moment the two lay there: bloody, bruised and panting, sand and sweat mixing with the wounds.

    Gabe pushed him off and got to his feet. This time, Theo didn't call out for him, didn't reach out for him. He stopped fighting completely and lay there in the sand, staring up at the night sky, panting heavily. Gabe spat a wad of blood off to the side.

    "Stay the f*ck away from me, f*ggot," he growled, before turning on his heel, leaving Theo and the gin behind.

    TRACK 07

    Days passed. Gabe tried to move on, tried to live a life without Theo, but the whole thing just felt rotten. He felt rotten. His bones and wounds still ached, of course, but it was more than that. It was the shit he did and the shit he said. It was living without his best friend. Everything just felt... emptier. Hollow. Like he was only half a person by himself. So much depended upon Theo, upon a best friend. Every morning he'd wake up and climb out of bed, only for it to feel like the ground had disappeared and there was nothing solid to stand on anymore. He'd have all these thoughts and no one to share them with, and soon, they'd vanish, as if he never thought or felt them at all.

    But what was he to do? How could he possibly take back everything he had done and said? It was his lowest moment, and he feared that it was an irreparable one. That was it. The end of everything. It's how it felt, anyway, as he lay there in bed, staring blankly up at the ceiling, at the black painted handprints he and Theo had decorated his bedroom with many many years ago. He feared he had ruined everything. His past, and his future.

    What would he even say to him if he could? He wasn't... like that. Wasn't like Theo. He couldn't give Theo what he wanted. But they still needed each other, didn't they? They were still best friends... weren't they? Or was this really it?


    Gabe couldn't let it end like this. Not without trying at least.

    Gabe began hiking up that familiar hill. He had called Theo and asked him to meet him there, that they needed to talk. A part of him worried that Theo would refuse, that Theo had already moved on with his life and left him behind, but as he got closer and closer to their spot atop the hill, he could make out his friend's silhouette already sitting there waiting for him. The truth was he still had no idea what he was going to say. He tried to imagine scenarios of how the conversation was going to go in his head as he walked up the hill, but nothing felt right. It frightened him that the entire thing was largely out of his control, and that he would just have to accept what the results would be.

    He reached their spot and could feel his heart beat wild. Theo was sitting right in front of him, his back to him, and it almost felt like he was seeing a ghost. Gabe almost hesitated, almost didn't want to face the reality of what would become of them, but he pressed on.

    "Theo...," he said quietly, still unsure of what to say, of how to express the deep regret inside him.

    Theo turned around to face him, and the very sight of him broke his heart. Of course Gabe knew that Theo would look rough, at least as rough as he himself did, but now he was witnessing it, the very real evidence of the very real pain he had caused him. Even days later Theo's face was still deeply bruised, his left eye and cheeks dark purple, almost black in colour. His lip was swollen and cut and bloody. If it weren't for those same pale green eyes looking back at him, there was a chance Gabe wouldn't have even recognized him. Gabe felt his lips tremble. What had he done?

    Before he even knew what was happening, tears began to well up. His whole body shook as his heart thrashed inside him, as the tears fell from his face and onto the ground beneath him. Theo's eyes widened. It was the first time Gabe had ever cried in front of him. The first time he had ever cried in front of anyone, really, since he was a child. There were many times he felt like crying, felt that discomfort form in his throat, felt the way his heart ached, but he never could let himself actually go through with it. But here he was, sobbing, at the very sight of the pain he had caused to his best friend.

    "I'm sorry, Theo," he said through the tears, through the harsh, pained breaths. "I'm so f*cking sorry."

    He fell to his knees at the side of the bench, his head resting against Theo's hand. He kept saying it over and over again, not knowing what else there even was to say. Knowing, perhaps, that there was nothing he could say. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. But it would never undo what he did. It would never bring them back to Before. But he kept apologizing. Apologized for the way he reacted. For what he did. For what he said. Apologized for everything he could think of.

    Theo said nothing throughout this. He felt his friend's warm tears against his skin. Felt the way his body shook against him. Felt him beg for his forgiveness. But he couldn't bring himself to respond. A maelstrom of feelings was caught up between them. The memory of intense pain. The emptiness of being without the other. The irreversible actions. The love. It was all a tangled mess inside his heart.

    But there had to be a way forward, right?

    Theo put an arm around Gabe's shoulders and held him close.

    "It's okay," he finally said. "It's okay."

    TRACK 08

    A couple weeks later, Gabe and Theo walked up the hill to their spot overlooking the town. The night air was chilly against their exposed skin. It felt like the weather had taken a drastic turn over the past few days, transitioning from summer to autumn harshly. The ridiculous overheated days became brisk and overcast without a moment's notice. Soon the leaves would begin to change, as the long road through the dead winter stretched out in front of them.

    Gabe had just gotten off a long shift working at his dad's automobile shop. He was still wearing his grease stained coveralls as they quietly climbed up the hill. In his hand was a four pack of beer that they had purchased at the liquor store at the base of the hill. Neither of them really spoke much as they made the trek up.

    When they reached their spot they both sat down on the bench and broke free one of the beers. They silently clinked their cans together before cracking them open with a loud hiss. Gabe took a deep gulp. He let his whole body slump as a groan escaped him. He had been working with his dad for about a week now and he could feel it draining him. The whole situation hung in the air between him and Theo. Many times Theo had tried to talk him into quitting, but he just couldn't. He had nothing to leave it for. Nowhere to go now. This was it.

    He knew it was maudlin to say, but it really began to feel like this shitty town would be his grave. Gabe took another swig of the beer. And another. Then let it go slack in his hands. Any minute now, he knew Theo would bring it up again. Quit. You're not happy. This is killing you.

    Glancing over at his friend, he could tell he was getting antsy. He barely touched his beer and was sitting there like a million thoughts were just about ready to burst. Theo scratched his cheek, only to wince. Their bruises were healing and had turned that sickly yellow, but a faint reminder of the pain still existed.

    Gabe sighed, and took another large swig of his beer


    "Stop," he replied. "Just... I know what you're going to say, Theo. But we've done this."


    "I have nowhere else to go," Gabe said, though mostly for himself.

    Theo got up off the bench and paced around in front of Gabe for a minute. He was clearly debating saying something in his head, and Gabe sat up in anticipation, for something felt different this time. After a while, Theo finally blurted it out.

    "Move with me," he said. Something in his eyes begged. "We can get out of this place together. We can... I don't know. Be happy?"

    Gabe looked at his best friend, looked at the longing and the hope in his pale green eyes. It hurt him to see it so plainly, this desperation. But it was a feeling he couldn't return. He knew he would just be leading Theo on if he were to accept, make it feel like he could give him something that he just didn't believe he could.

    "I... don't know if I can, Theo," he said it so softly, so carefully, as best as he could. Theo's shoulders slackened. He let out a small sigh as he sat back down beside him. "I wish I could," Gabe said.

    "Right," Theo replied. "It's just... there's more than this, you know? Like... there has to be more than this."

    Gabe nodded lightly. It was a nice thought, but as the days stacked on, and the nights got colder, he believed in it less and less. He finished off his beer, and immediately opened another one. The two of them sat quietly, drinking.

    "I wish you would let me love you," Theo finally said after a while. "Because, dude, I would f*cking love you."

    Gabe gave Theo a weak smile before turning to look at the lights of Vesperia in the distance, reflecting in the water of the lake. Glowing bright and harsh in the cold night. He zipped up his coveralls a little higher and held his free arm close to his body. Brought the can to his lips and finished what remained.

    "I know you would," he said.

    TRACK 09

    As Gaberiel listened to the second-to-last track on Theo's mix, he let his mind wander. Listening to the songs thus far had brought back to his mind so many memories, but now he had to think about the future. He thought about what it would be like to be with Theo. To leave Vesperia with Theo. What it would be like to say f*ck it, to everything. To this f*cking town. To his parents. To this life. They'd probably move out to the city. Some place on the coast where it's always warm. They'd forget about here, about the people trying to keep them down, about Vesperia. In some ways, it would be sad. But maybe that's the only way to live, with a little sadness.

    He pictured what it would be like to come home and for his best friend to be there. Someone he could share his life with, his thoughts with. Someone that made him feel like more than the sum of his parts. More than just his accomplishments, or where he came from, or what he did. Someone that made him feel More. It was a warm thought. A pretty thought. Too pretty, even.

    Even now there was still uncertainty in his heart. The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt Theo like he had. Theo and his friendship meant everything to Gabe. And the thought of wrecking it was almost too much to bear. How could he risk it, after everything they had been through? It was not an easy choice to make.

    Gabe still didn't know how he felt. He couldn't predict the future. There was nothing to say that it would work out. That they'd be any happier. That they'd live any fuller. But it was a possibility to have those things, and that felt like more than what he had now. It felt like a lifeline.

    A second chance.

    TRACK 10

    Gabe took off his headphones and pressed pause on Theo's mix. He ejected it from his computer and held the thin, flimsy disc in his hands. His thumb smudged the black Sharpie lettering until it was nothing but two dull grey marks on either side of the CD. Carefully he bent it in his hands, felt the material strain against the shape. It was so fragile. It was all so fragile.

    He found Theo sitting on the beach, right by the place where they kissed. The lake had begun to freeze over as winter was fast approaching. The water turned into hundreds of disc-shaped chunks of ice that floated along what water hadn't begun to freeze yet. It was a strange and beautiful sight, truth be told. It made it look like the lake was made of broken glass, ebbing and flowing. Theo had been watching it for who knows how long when Gabe approached. The sound of footprints in the sand caused him to turn around. His best friend looked up at him warily, unsure of what to expect. Gabe shot him a weak smile.

    "I made you a mix," Gabe said.

    "Isn't that a little gay?" Theo replied.

    "Well, I had some help."

    He handed Theo the mixed CD. His friend took it in his hands and read the front of the disc carefully before looking up at him with a wide grin. In the bottom most smudge, Gaberiel had written over Theo's previous message. An answer.

    "OK," it read.
    Last edited by Audo; September 27, 2017 at 06:39 PM. Reason: typos

  5. #20
    Here Comes a Thought Dandelion's Avatar
    Jun 2010

    Default Re: "Canada Day" + "Mixed" - NEW STORIES - [the fragmental collective]

    You know, I was really worried that this was going to have a really sad ending, but SURPRISE, it was fairly happy! I liked this story from the onset, but aside from all the usual compliments, and my thoughts throughout as you sent me this bit-by-bit I have to say that I'm also really glad that you stuck with it, despite not caring for it all the time.

    I think that it, as a complete work, is excellent - and the last bits that I hadn't read yet were great, and not predictable. I'm happy with this one

  6. #21
    harold, they're lesbians. Audo's Avatar
    Apr 2015

    Default Re: "Canada Day" + "Mixed" - NEW STORIES - [the fragmental collective]

    Quote Originally Posted by Dandelion View Post
    Wow. That was so powerful, and had probably the best flow out of any of your stories. I'm NOT SURPRISED that things ended on a sad note, but it's not the end
    Haha, yeah. Sad sad sad. It isn't the end, but, tbh, I don't really expect the game to be much happier lol.
    I'm really glad you liked the story though. I was worried the vignettes wouldn't really come together and would feel weird, but it's good to know that it still works as a whole. Of course a lot of it is just set-up but I'm glad people have been responding well to it. It gives me resolve to start work on the game sooner rather than later :3

    Quote Originally Posted by Dandelion View Post
    You know, I was really worried that this was going to have a really sad ending, but SURPRISE, it was fairly happy! I liked this story from the onset, but aside from all the usual compliments, and my thoughts throughout as you sent me this bit-by-bit I have to say that I'm also really glad that you stuck with it, despite not caring for it all the time.

    I think that it, as a complete work, is excellent - and the last bits that I hadn't read yet were great, and not predictable. I'm happy with this one

    lol i liked the juxtaposition of these two comments in re: their endings. but yeah this one was actually a bit of a happier tale for me. HOW STRANGE.

    yeah I'm glad I stuck with it, too. I became more fond of it as I finished. I think for me it just felt kind of impenetrable at first, but the more I kept going the more it got a beating heart. For me, anyway. It's a bit of a silly premise, but my hope with it was that the silly premise would hit at a surprising deeper level. When I first came up with the idea I wanted to try and do away with being overly sentimental and stuff in the writing and try to pare it down. I don't think I quite fulfilled that goal, but I feel like the story expanded to where it needed to be to finally work for me. Thank you for reading it and commenting on it and encouraging me to keep going! I'm glad to be able to say it is complete and not have it's unfinished state nagging at me like a loose thread.

  7. #22
    Spear of Justice! Undyne's Avatar
    Sep 2010

    Default Re: [the fragmental collective]

    Canada Day

    Say it isn't so! Say this isn't the end! I got hooked in deep and wasn't ready for the story to end right there! I got attached to Renae and Parker like glue. I love the individual characters we saw them interact with. My stomach briefly twisted in horror at the ignition being turned on by Frank. I thought for sure he'd do the unspeakable. And this instantly made me think a chain of reactions was set in motion. I have no idea if you plan on continuing this or not, but gosh, you have me at the edge of my seat.


    This not only moves me but makes me think hard about certain things in life. About second chances with someone I still care about. If there is forgiveness or a way forward. Anyways, I'm getting to caught up in the moment but, I really loved this. I loved the happy ending. I wasn't expecting it at all, but I enjoyed it so much. It gives me hope. Which probably sounds odd, huh? But yeah, this really sticks with me in a wonderful way. A story I won't be forgetting any time soon.

  8. #23
    harold, they're lesbians. Audo's Avatar
    Apr 2015

    Default Re: [the fragmental collective]

    Quote Originally Posted by Undyne View Post
    Canada Day

    Say it isn't so! Say this isn't the end! I got hooked in deep and wasn't ready for the story to end right there! I got attached to Renae and Parker like glue. I love the individual characters we saw them interact with. My stomach briefly twisted in horror at the ignition being turned on by Frank. I thought for sure he'd do the unspeakable. And this instantly made me think a chain of reactions was set in motion. I have no idea if you plan on continuing this or not, but gosh, you have me at the edge of my seat.
    It's not the end! This short story is actually a prequel/prologue of sorts for the next game I'm going to make. Unfortunately it might be a long time before the game gets released :/
    I'm glad you enjoyed it though and we're hooked! It's really nice seeing people respond well to these characters as I was a little worried. It makes me more excited to work on the next chapter of their story :3


    This not only moves me but makes me think hard about certain things in life. About second chances with someone I still care about. If there is forgiveness or a way forward. Anyways, I'm getting to caught up in the moment but, I really loved this. I loved the happy ending. I wasn't expecting it at all, but I enjoyed it so much. It gives me hope. Which probably sounds odd, huh? But yeah, this really sticks with me in a wonderful way. A story I won't be forgetting any time soon.
    This is really great praise and thank you so much for it, it means a lot. Hearing how it impacted you... i don't know, it makes me happy to hear that it had that ability, you know? I'm glad it instilled some hope in you. It was a tough write, but I'm really glad I got through it, because I think it really ends in a right way and says something and I've grown fond of it. Maybe happy endings aren't so bad :p


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