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02 October 2008 @ 11:58 pm
"Amber"  
Yup.  Here we are again.  This is my [info]brigits_flame entry for this week.

All credit goes to eltea for the basic premise, and, as always, another inexpressibly huge thank you for the usual amazing beta work.  You rock my world, darling. :D

A slightly more incidental sort of credit goes out to my mother and my brother for making this what it is, whether they know it or not. XD  There's also a little bit of a Twelfth Night influence, because I saw an excellent performance of it last night. :D  Trademarks belong to their respective owners. XD

The sun slides downward as though the evening sky can’t bear its weight, and dust motes dance, sparking like stars, in the warmth of the honeyed amber light that pours through the windowpane.

It is in this golden-tinted world, in this breathless query of dusk, that a current of something stirs—something softer than electricity; something realer than suspicion; something that peers through the frosted windows of inexplicability with curious, glowing eyes.

On nights when the boy is gone, when he’s off travelling with his family, when the place is definitively empty, the last flirtatious turns of twilight coax the inhabitants of the bedroom into life.

“Damn it, Joe,” the blonde says, stretching improbable legs that taper delicately into tiny, slender, almost halfhearted feet.  “We’ve got twenty more minutes before I have to go, and I don’t want to spend them watching you stare at yourself in the mirror.”

“What’s the rush?” Joe drawls, turning with a roguish grin and running a hand over the chestnut-colored helmet of his hair.  “That leaves us fifteen minutes to spare.”

Joe!” she cries, succumbing to the girlish, bubbling laugh that ripples over and through him like nothing else he’s ever found.  She tugs the sheets a little higher and eyes him, perfect pink lips curling upward at the corners, until he can’t stand it anymore and joins her, settling his head on the puffy breadth of the cotton-stuffed pillow.  He lies quietly, just looking at her, as a few long seconds sidle away—her wide, exquisite eyes; her slightly upturned nose; cheekbones like altars he can lay his kisses on.

“What’s wrong?” she asks.

She’s less of a bimbo than most people think.

He frowns and smoothes the sheet, focusing intently on the futility of the task.  “Nothing,” he promises.  “I’m fine.”

“Joe,” she repeats, running a fingertip along the sleek line of his jaw.  “Come on.”

“It’s just…”  He sighs.  “I know it’s stupid, but it just gets under my skin…”  She waits, eyebrows angled expectantly, and he folds his arms behind his head and gazes at the ceiling.  “I hate it,” he tells her reluctantly, “when people call me a ‘doll.’”

There is a long pause.

“I’m an action figure,” he insists.  “How hard is it?”

Barbie brings a manicured hand to her forehead.  “You’re a doll,” she says.

“I am not!”

Nibbly wrinkles his nose, which is twitching madly to start with.

“But that doesn’t make a lick of sense,” he declares stoutly, long ears stretched along the curve of his back.

Speaking of licking, Amber’s going at her right paw with a vengeance.  Dotty makes a face.  Cats are so gross.

“It makes perfect sense,” Sly retorts, piqued, his broad tail flicking back and forth.  “Some—thing—some giant thing—must live here.  Look at the furniture in the king’s villa.  It’s all the same objects, but on a significantly smaller scale.”

Nibbly snorts once before going back to twitching.  “That doesn’t mean anything,” he sniffs.  “It’s perfectly possible that the monarchs took a series of ancient ruins as the model for their interior design.  It’s—what do they say?—retro.”

Shaking her head, Dotty folds her front paws and lays her head on them, looking absently out over the view from their preferred mesa.  Thomas and Percy trundle contentedly around the great loop of the wooden railroad, delivering freight and ferrying any passengers that can fit in the cars from one end of the room to the other.  A Lego woman scrambles down from the last boxcar, clutching a miniature suitcase in one semi-circular hand, and lopes clumsily across the platform to embrace a Lego man with glaringly red hair.  He appears to have donned a tuxedo-clad torso for the occasion, and the woman pitches her luggage aside so that the two can kiss as passionately as a pair of cylindrical yellow faces will permit.

Dotty attends the ongoing argument behind her with one silky black ear.

“—furthermore, anyone who believes in giants is clearly a few beans short of his stuffing—”

“I think,” Sly snarls, “that the material meant for your brain got channeled into those ridiculous ears instead.”

Dotty thinks it’s rather brave—well, mostly stupid—of Nibbly to fight with Sly.  The fox could eat him, after all.

“Amber,” Nibbly interjects abruptly.

“Mmm?” the feline prompts lazily, pink felt tongue pushing her fur into place.

“What do you think?” Nibbly presses.

“I think you’re both wrong,” Amber replies blithely, curling her tail around her, triangular ears swiveling as if to transmit a message in some strange variety of semaphore.

“Who do you think left all of this here, then?” Sly inquires archly, short snout arranged in a scowl.

Amber returns her attention to her paw.

“Aliens,” she answers simply.

Dotty rolls her eyes.  Cats.

Darien isn’t like the other servants of the king’s household: their plastic skins glimmer in the light cast by tiny electric bulbs, but he reflects nothing.  He’s a soft doll, handmade from soft cloth, and his heart is the softest thing of all.

His pale porcelain face, framed as it is with silky black hair, doesn’t betray him as he stands beside Ken’s armchair, awaiting instruction.  The regal monarch’s broad shoulders shift as he leans to balance an elbow on the armrest, chin resting on his fist, humming deep in his throat the way he always does when he’s thinking carefully.

Darien would be careful, too, if he had to negotiate with this blank-faced killer.  Mis, as the bear is known, stands with rounded feet spread apart, paws folded calmly behind its back, and where buttons might once have winked for eyes, there remain only two dimples where the stitches lay.

Mis for misfit, maybe; for misguided, for mistake.

Darien tries not to shudder.  He doesn’t know whether the creature can see him or not.  He’d always heard that the teddy bears make shockingly good assassins, but he’s never seen one lounge in the king’s audience room, listening unconcernedly as he is charged with crimes the likes of which will slither into Darien’s nightmares.

The problem is that the king’s jurisdiction only legally extends to dolls—those were the stipulations of the original charter, and they’re ingrained by now.  Muttered reports of missing stuffed animals and wisps of stray cotton fluff bouncing like tumbleweeds through the Disney Sector won’t change the charter.

Darien looks uncertainly to the king, whose rich brown eyes are locked on the irrepressibly indifferent visage of the murderer (for Darien knows the thing is guilty; knows it in the plush of his gut), his steady fingers half-curled about his strong chin.  Dark bangs slide mischievously over a forehead furrowed like a plowed field.

Darien wishes he could sow that field with kisses, wishes he could stroke it gently until the wrinkles went away.

Before the king can offer a verdict, the door wheezes open, and the queen saunters in.  Guards draw the monster back, as if he’ll attack her right here and now, felling her with a single sightless glare.

Her ornamented slippers peep out from beneath the hem of her glinting sequined dress with every step, and the glee that dances in her eyes tells Darien where she’s been.

When it comes to Darien, people tend to conclude that if he doesn’t speak his thoughts, it must be because he doesn’t have any thoughts to speak.

He used to hate her, this bright-eyed siren who now bends at the waist to put her assets on display as she presses sculpted lips to Ken’s cheek.  But he’s come to pity her, because her sapphire eyes are somehow blind to the beauty of what she has.  He thinks that someday she will realize how terrible she’s been, and he wonders with a fascinated horror whether it will break her.

She will never realize, however, that there is nothing he wouldn’t give to have Ken look at him that way.  No one will.

Over a thousand and one sleepless nights, he has fumbled his way to the explanation.  Ken is just too good to think that a woman could flash a dazzling smile to hide her fangs.  For all his dexterity in governing the realm, for all his shrewd and discerning decisions, when it comes to matters of love, there is a heartbreaking naïveté in Darien’s king.  Ken believes that everyone in the world is as faithful, as loyal, and as pure as he.

Barbie takes her place by her victim—oh, pardon; her husband—and smiles demurely.  Ken wouldn’t give her up if she was selling herself on the streets to fund a cocaine habit.  (Not that Darien’s ever seen cocaine, and not that there are really any streets to speak of, but the verity of the statement stands.)

Darien thinks his heart, wherever it lies in his narrow, meagerly-stuffed chest, must be made of unfired clay, for it has crumbled and re-formed more times than he can count.

Anakin Skywalker knows he’s not actually Anakin Skywalker—or, rather, that he’s not the only Anakin Skywalker.  He’s seen the back of his box.  There’s a podracer edition with a removable helmet, and there are Anakins that are much older and have—get this—lightsabers.

It’s kind of weird to be jealous of himself.  Or sort-of-himself.  Or whatever it is exactly…

Sometimes his multiple identities make him feel profoundly inadequate.  He’s spent long hours staring at his little backpack with its rubber straps, cradling the tiny black gun that fits into his fingers like it was made for his hand, and wondering what it means to be an individual.

But he forgets all of those depressing thoughts in an instant as he and Darth Maul (who has a wicked lightsaber and sometimes lets him whack things with it) go hurtling across the bed, leaping over creases and folds like canyons.  They race towards the headboard, knowing the pillows will defeat them and pretending they won’t, but they don’t get that far anyway—their spindly legs fail them as a lump in the bedspread sends them both tumbling head over heels, and they land in twin stiff-jointed heaps, howling with laughter before they’ve even stopped bouncing.

Anakin gasps for breath and glances over at his best friend, whose sinister black-and-red-painted face is lit up with a broad grin.

The Maulmeister is a pretty cool guy, if you can get past the black robes, the red-rimmed yellow eyes, and the demon horns.

Anakin doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

Sunrise.

The distant hills yield a burning disc to the grasping clouds.  Amber light tinged with a rosy pink flushes through the glass, and the bedroom stills again.

…until sunset.




A/N: I usually don’t do follow-up notes, but… Well, this started out as just another exercise and ended up being my childhood in prose format. XD  I had (and still have!) about a million Barbies, and I still love Legos.  All the Beanie Babies mentioned are ones that I owned—though I actually pulled Amber from the list without realizing that I had her, too, because the name was so perfect!  My little brother loves battery-powered Thomas trains, and I watched “Shining Time Station” as a kid and loved Brio tracks.  The only toy I mention here that I didn’t actually have is G.I. Joe, and that was just too good to miss. XD  The Tatooine Anakin was my absolute favorite Star Wars action figure; he was the hero in a great many of the intricate stories that my older brother and I invented with our vast combined collection of Episode I characters—stories that, all things considered, are probably much of the reason I’m here now. :)

Anyway, I guess the point of all this blathering is that I had a really wonderful time with this, and I hope it reaches something in your inner child, too. :D

  
 
 
Feeling: jubilantjubilant
 
 
 
Vitamin Ctierfal on October 6th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
Darien's my favorite. x) I actually wrote his part second, then stuck the Beanie Babies in the interim because I wanted to save him for the end. Then I thought he was too sad a note to end on and stuck the Star Wars boys in there afterwards. XD

As you can tell, I am a master of planning ahead. :P

A friend of mine had an almost-life-sized Orlando Bloom-as-Legolas, and another friend of mine ended up with him as Will Turner and a Jack Sparrow. Too much fun altogether. XD

Yes! Ringo Starr, believe it or not, did the narration and was Mr. Conductor about when I was watching it... George Carlin did some of the later narration for the VHS cassettes. I know more than I ought to because my own little brother was big on Thomas for a long while. XD
(Deleted comment)
Vitamin Ctierfal on October 6th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
He was the best Mr. Conductor, IMHO. 8D

<3!