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emerging from the harbor



 
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Bo Dika


The last thing she remembers is cold. The next thing she remembers is cold, too. Actually, everything is cold. Especially her fingers, crossed over her chest, the nails digging into her arms. “Um…” Her voice sounds hollow even to her. She punches upwards, easily splintering the box she’s been locked in, and immediately chokes on water, and darkness. If her mouth was working, it would be screaming, “ ****!” As is, she lets herself be buffeted, spun, rocketing upwards until she’s cresting the water in a large harbor. It’s bitterly cold. Bo is aware that time has passed since she ended up in that box. The 70s were crazy, but New York never looked like this. She doggy paddles, bobbing in the water. It tastes like sewage. This is New York, she’s pretty sure, but it’s a New York she never knew. So Jenny’s gone, then. Dead, probably. Bo swallows once, and tells herself that the wetness on her face is just seawater.

 

Bo learns that decades have passed, once she manages to grab the attention of a friendly group of tourists who haul her soaking body overboard until she sprawls on the boards, breathing heavily. She’s quite sure the stink of the harbor is never going to come out of her jacket. After taking a moment to breathe, she looks up at the gawking tourists. A boat full of them, soft and pink, gaping at her. The closest one, a child, holds out a black box that flashes a bright light at her once. She snarls on instinct, swiping at him. The trip after that is not so friendly; she’s locked in a storage room with no light. There are rats at least, that she manages to catch and devour before the ship’s captain swings the door open to glower at her. “Get off my ship,” he says, moving aside as Bo stands. She nods. He can clean up the rat carcasses scattered over the floor, if he wants to. “So this is New York?” she says in passing. “Of course it is,” he growls. 

 

She walks down the gangplank and onto city streets that, if they were ever familiar, definitely aren’t now. There’s something vibrant about New York, though, and that hasn’t changed. The sound of humanity thrums through her bones. She searches for a newspaper to find the date, and realizes that several decades have passed since she was put away. The thought of being in a world without Jenny…She twists the ring on her finger, grateful it shows no signs of rust or decay. It’s the only thing she has left now. She clenches one fist, and reminds herself that she’s not thinking about it. She’s not thinking about how much time has passed. How much time was lost. What she needs right now is to get some new clothing, instead of the virginal white shift someone put her in. And shoes. She looks down at her bare, wiggling toes against New York’s dirty pavement and nods her head. Definitely shoes.

 

An hour later, having managed to rob a large department store without much incident, Bo steps onto the streets of New York again. With boots on this time. She feels better already, able to slip through the crowds without notice. She’s careful to avoid reflective surfaces; humans tend to notice anyone without a reflection. The humans all smell so good, too. Lush, delicious…Their veins throbbing just under the skin. Bo wets her lips and reminds herself that ripping them apart would cause a scene. And also it would be wrong, or something. Morals have tended to escape her as the years go by.

 

 When the temptation gets too much she ducks into an alley and manages to snag a curious pigeon by pretending to have bread. It claws at her wrist as she wrings its neck, ruffling through feathers to reach what little blood she can. Undignified, but she’s done worse. Back when she was first made, everything was so easy. Humans, ripe for the picking, so stupid and scared she never even had to try. Virgins, sometimes, which was nice. Bo was never famous, or powerful, but she had her own little corner of the world, and a forest that humans often travelled through and disappeared in. Then she got in trouble, and had to run, hop a ship to the New World. After that came war, and morals. Little by little. Now she’s reduced to this. Sucking on scraps in an alley. Alone. Disgusted with herself, Bo wipes at her mouth, smearing her jacket in lackluster pigeon blood. It helped, though. She rests a hand on her stomach, considering, and decides it’s best to get out of here. Head to the south, to the areas she knows best. Where she met and loved Jenny. She prefers long, hot days and humidity to anything New York can offer, anyway. She wishes she could lie to herself, say she’s not going down south because it reminds her of Jenny. She’s not able too, though. 

 

She decides to take a train, and starts pickpocketing as always. At least that hasn’t changed. People have been putting their money in the same places for thousands of years. She’s two fingers deep in the pockets of a bored teenager when she smells something…off. Not the regular bland smell of humanity, with their underlying odor of decay. And not another vampire, either, not old blood and dusty age. This is warmer, like fresh, clean dirt. And fur. Bo has half the urge to sneeze. She slips her fingers out of the teenager’s pocket and follows the scent, figuring it’s as good of an idea as any. She’s always enjoyed making friends; it hurts to be alone, after all these centuries. Being solitary drives her mad. The only other choice is to take a human under her wing, and she hasn’t done that in centuries. Other creatures make better companions. So, using her nose, Bo follows the angry looking brunette woman through crowds of people, curious. 
April 12, 2018 10:57 pm

Bo Dika

The train ride will be done soon. Bo wishes she had discovered something more than that she hates people who chew gum loudly while on train rides. 

April 25, 2018 10:00 pm

Bo Dika

Bo lists to the side as the train rumbles along, her eyelids drooping. She doesn't need to sleep, not much, but it's been a long couple days. She wants...Well, she wants Jenny, but that's not going to happen, is it?

She eyes the young couple necking a couple seats ahead of her; they got on at the last stop, and their faces have been connected since. That was her and Jenny once. Maybe a little more subtle, though. The harsh lights overhead make everything slightly surreal, but Bo can still hear their hearts pulsing, beating faster.

She bites at her bottom lip and reminds herself that she's better than that now. She shudders when she feels eyes on her, and looks around, but there's no one else on this late-night train besides the couple. It almost feels like...but no. Bo shakes the thoughts away, fisting her hands at her sides. Jenny's gone. Bo is alone now.

May 02, 2018 09:02 pm

Jenny B Jenkins

Somewhere in the South...

 

Jenny stares down at her tangle of string and eggs and rat's bones. It's not possible...Her eyes roll back in her head as she looks deeper, shoulders twitching. Her mouth opens in a low groan. She sees red hair and blood, sees blood dripping down the slender bones of a woman's wrist. Familiar as the back of her own hand. It's can't be...But the tangle never lies, not about the future. Jenny lets her head fall back, and screams.

May 02, 2018 09:03 pm

Jenny B Jenkins

 Jenny’s drawn out of her trance by arms thrown around her neck from behind, the press of a warm body to her back. “Hi!”

She wriggles out from Finn’s arms and turns, waving her tangle away with a hand. Finn has a long streak of dirt on his cheek, right over the brown tangle of his beard, that she wipes away with a licked thumb. Sometimes Jenny forgets how old she is-closer to eighty than the eighteen she looks. Now is not one of those times. All three of the werewolves are so young-only in their twenties, their pack still fresh at just five years old. Some of the oldest werewolf packs have been around for millennia.

 

 

“I told you to stop digging holes in the front yard.”

 

 He gives her a look like she just killed his mother, brown eyes wide. “I have to.”

 

 “Uh huh. What’s up?”

 

“You smelled sad.”

 “I’m fine.”

 

Finn gets to his feet and lifts Jenny to standing without effort. In this house, Jenny is constantly dwarfed. “Ozg’Videl left this morning.”

 

 “He had to go back to Hell eventually.”

 

After thirty years alone in the drafty house that used to belong to her and Bo, in a town that no longer remembers them, Jenny realized the house gets lonely, and advertised for roommates. The pack had moved in a week later, sharing one room that’s covered in fur and discarded clothing, with a huge bed they all sleep piled together on. They’ve been here for three years.

 

 There was another roommate, another witch, Dane, for a year, but she got married and left, and then Ozg’Videl has rented for a couple months. He always paid on time and stank only slightly of sulfur. Jenny was never quite sure what his job was. The werewolves are all personal trainers at a nearby gym. Jenny imagines they’re very enthusiastic.

 

 “Ozg’Videl is gone?” Mei asks, popping her head around the corner. She also has suspicious dirt smeared on her arms. She scratches lazily under her sports bra and sniffs, once, at Finn’s neck before rubbing her cheek against his shoulder. Then she moves to Jenny, who has long since gotten used to people smelling her hair. “New roommate?” Mei asks, delighted. All the werewolves love new people, and they’re easy to love in return.

 

“I’ll put up an ad.”

 

 Victor, never far from his pack, ducks through the door with her computer already in one big hand, giving it to her and exchanging further perfunctory sniffs with his pack. He’s stripped to the waist, except for the fur thrown over his shoulders. He killed a bear a while ago, and after they all tore at it, greedy and excited, the wolves let Jenny use the entrails for spells. She also has the teeth, on a rawhide string. The fur, of course, went to Victor.

 

 “New roommate!” he parrots, sweeping Mei against his side and kissing her forehead. Jenny decides to forget what the future is telling her.

*

*

That night, Jenny wakes to snarls, and rolls over in bed to peer out the window. Finn and Victor are in the front yard, half-shifted, wrestling. Victor’s shoulders bulge, hair now bristling from the top of his head to the small of his back, as he presses Finn down on his belly, snapping harmlessly at his neck.

 

 They’re half shadowed in the porch lights, shifting in and out of view. Finn manages to shove him off and push him, hard to his back, climbing over him. They stare at each other for a moment, then Finn pecks Victor’s nose, teasing, and they both laugh, Finn shaking his shaggy hair in Victor’s face.

 

 Jenny’s heart hurts. The wolves are family, but they’re not…Well. She’s never managed to stop thinking about Bo.

 

 “You smell sad,” Mei says behind her, unknowingly repeating Finn’s words from earlier. Jenny hums in reply as Mei comes into her room, laying on the bed with her head in Jenny’s lap so Jenny can stroke through her thick, dark hair.

 

 “Why aren’t you out there with the boys?”

 

“I’m too tired.” Mei is so young, the youngest of them-only twenty. She rolls onto her side so Jenny can scratch the back of her head, behind her ears. Jenny finds it so easy to be soft with her.

 

“You always get tired when the moon is waning.” This gets her a yawn, and a sleepy nod. Jenny can already tell Mei will be sleeping here tonight. Werewolves consider pack piles to heal all hurts, and at some point Jenny became a part of their pack. No doubt she’ll wake up under a tangle of Finn and Victor’s limbs as well, their big bodies relegating her to the edge of her own bed. Somehow, she never minds. Mei falls asleep, and Jenny watches the boys play outside, their teeth gleaming.

May 02, 2018 09:40 pm

Jenny B Jenkins

Jenny watches with resignation as Victor leaps, twisting, and catches a bird in both hands. It squawks, wings flapping. He laughs and holds out it to her, where she’s been resting in the rocking swing on the porch, enjoying the sun. She forgets, in this body, that she burns easily. But the weak morning light won’t hurt her.

“Do you need a bird? For spells?” he asks in a voice that carries through the whole yard.

Mei, sunning herself on the rocks near the river, perks her head up. “Bird?”

“Mine!” Victor barks back.

Jenny hides a smile. “I could use a bird,” she interrupts; feathers are useful for all kinds of things, and so are spindly, hollow bones. Victor grins, snapping the bird’s neck in his hand and letting her drift it over to rest in her raised palm.

 She examines it; black, shimmering feathers. A common starling. With a whispered spell her fingernails grow long and sharp as knives that she uses to slit it open, hooking her finger in the chest cavity and removing the heart. It’s still warm. She pops the heart in her mouth and swallows; the heart of a starling, when eaten, allows her to sense the relationships between others.

 She blinks once, feeling the strength between the wolves and her, and a tugging in her chest, strong, coming closer. It can’t be…Bo can’t be coming back. She’s been gone for decades. Disappeared. Broke Jenny’s heart. Jenny puts a hand to her chest, letting the starling fall to her lap. She’d thought...

Finn comes out onto the porch to join them, his usual look of fierce concentration falling to concern when he sees her. Victor, who had managed to start napping in a haphazard sprawl in the middle of the lawn, rolls to look at them. All of them know what the others are thinking, somehow. Jenny assumes it has something to do with smell.

 She ignores him, begins unspooling the bird’s entrails so she can pick its bones clean. Blood slicks her fingers, but Jenny stopped being queasy soon after she met Bo. Once she realized she could be a witch, any vestiges of disgust faded.

Finn rests his big body next to hers on the swing, making her shift a little as the chains holding the swing creak. They won’t break; Jenny has put every inch of herself and her magic in this house where she lived with Bo, the house they fixed up soon after getting married. Sometimes she has memories of the Kelvin’s, before their murder suicide, and realizes she’s lived here far longer than they ever did.

She leans into Finn’s reassuring bulk, against the warm muscle of his side exposed by the sleeveless, cutoff tank he’s wearing. She doesn’t want to have to explain how tired she is to the wolves, with their boundless energy. Tired of missing Bo, mostly. So she just rests a hand on Finn’s knee, letting them swing in silence as the sun rises.

*

*

“What’s that?” Mei asks, coming from behind to rest her chin on Jenny’s shoulder. Mei reeks of sweat after a run with the pack through the forest; Jenny can hear the boys in the other room, jokingly arguing as they often do. She’s sure it’ll soon devolve into wrestling, then giggles as Mei gets bored with pestering her and joins them. But for now, Jenny elbows Mei back and away from the pot of greens and beans she’s stirring.

“You know what it is. Greens and beans. And you don’t like it.”

“But I want to try it,” Mei whines, her eyes going wide. How Jenny managed to surround herself with people with soulful brown eyes, she’ll never know. “Maybe I’ll like it this time!”

“You won’t.”

Jenny succumbs to pressure anyway, spooning out a little to Mei, who takes a bite and screws up her face. “Gross!”

 “You’re ridiculous. Go play with the pack.” Mei rubs her cheek against Jenny’s once before she dashes off to do as she’s told, and the expected giggles ring back to Jenny in the kitchen moments later.

May 03, 2018 03:32 am

Bo Dika

Bo steps off the train in New Orleans, and immediately wants to step back on it. The air down here…it’s like nowhere in the world, thick and syrupy in the back of her throat. It reminds her of when she first met Jenny. Most things remind her of Jenny.

 When they first married, secretive and illegal, Jenny’s brown eyes looking up at hers, Bo had planned to take her everywhere. Paris, Bangkok, Jerusalem, Cairo. Bo tends to love staying in one place, but two lesbians in the South? In the 60s? No.

 Jenny will never travel anywhere again though, Bo assumes. When her enemies were putting her in the coffin, they assured her that Jenny was already dead. Bo gave up then and there. And even if they were lying, Jenny would have passed long ago.

Bo forces herself to walk through the train station, ducking past sunny windows. Sun won’t kill her, not quickly. It’ll hurt, though. She’s able to snag an umbrella from a shop watched only by a bored teenager, so within minutes she’s out on the streets, strongly aware that she’s only four hours away from the town she met Jenny in, where they lived ten blissful years together. She shouldn’t go. It’ll only bring back painful memories. She will anyway, though.

So she sighs, and starts looking for a taxi to Cory, Mississippi.

May 04, 2018 03:44 am

Jenny B Jenkins


“She’s coming,” Jenny says, sitting straight up, dislodging Victor from where he was draped over her lap. She saw Bo’s face in her dreams. 

“Who?” he asks muzzily, rubbing at his eyes.

 Jenny doesn’t bother answering, instead getting to her feet and hurrying towards the kitchen, where she keeps her stash of hawk retinas. She uses them for far sight, and mashes a couple into a paste that she rubs into her eyelids. She can see…everything, if she wants to. Right now, all she wants to see is Bo. 

She gets glimpses of high cheekbones, bright red hair slicked back, and…Bo is still wearing her wedding ring. Jenny screams aloud, furious, and smashes the rest of the hawk retinas to goo. How dare…how dare Bo pretend…Jenny is not her wife anymore. Not after Bo left her. She slides down the cabinets and puts her face in her knees. 

“Jenny?” Victor calls from the next room. 

“I’m alright! I just sliced my finger!”

 He comes padding into the kitchen anyway, settling his big body next to hers like it’s normal to use the floor as a chair. Well, to the wolves, who sleep anywhere, it probably is. He lets her lift her head and lean it against his broad shoulder while she rubs the remnants of the hawk paste from her lids.

 Victor whines in the back of his throat, one of his more canine traits he can’t seem to get rid of. “You’re sad, and we can’t help you.” 

“You can’t,” she agrees. Nothing can stop what’s about to happen. Every piece of her says so. For now, she waits. 
May 04, 2018 03:45 am
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