31 December 2015

Odyssey

FAQ: How as the first semester at college? Answer: It was like Star Wars 7. Okay, but I wouldn't want to sit through it again, but I probably will have to about seven more times whether I like it or not.

I apologize that this was the best thing I could come up with after all these months...thumbs up for singing with a cold!! yay




(v.1)
One day you’re knowing it will end and hoping that it won’t
Then you’re hoping it will end and knowing that it won’t
Well you’d never let go if you knew what I know
‘Bout what happens when you grow up too soon

One day I’ll be famous—I’ll show ‘em all who
They wrote off in the bus queue—if  they only knew!
But when they stepped in the puddle
Your reflection got muddled
And your stupid dreams never came true

(Chorus 1)
Well you forgot to knock
And I forgot to lock
Am I turning on the lights or am I turning back the clock?
I know it seems like I’m hopin’
When my heart should be broken
But I fell asleep dreamin’ with my eyes wide open

(v.2)
Stupid movies and their stupid ideals
Stupid ladies in their stupid high-heels
They reel me into a world that isn’t real
And I blow my cash to see it again

Beware that goodness-like-a-fetter
If you’re dumb enough to let her
Then a woman can deceive you
Into being someone better

If you don’t know what I’m saying
Then you haven’t really met her
And you only have to meet her once

(Chorus 2)
Well you forgot to knock
And I forgot to lock
I’m either falling in love or I’m falling like a rock
I know it seems like I’m hopin’
When my heart should be broken
But I fell asleep dreamin’ with my eyes wide open

(v.3/bridge)

Nella fantasia, I’m alone and free
Got my home on my back and I’ve got
My best friends next to me

Did she ever see me? Only time will tell
May have lost my wallet but at least
I lost my pride as well

Summer days before me
Winter skies behind me
How many miles can we go
In this odyssey?




Happy new year!
-The Minstrel Boy


16 December 2015

New header!

I will censor all comments that say Frozen isn't a Christmas movie because it takes place in July. LALALALALALA CAN'T HEAR YOU DO YOU WANNA BUILD A SNOWMAN




Also I made a GIF because I'm done with finals and that's what I do with my free time because I'm a nerd <3





I love this scene so much...

16 November 2015

The Raven

I had a little card in my heart
That had the words "I love you"
Written on them.
I sent it out with a raven
And it flies and it flies
Over the vapid, endless expanse of water
But it finds no place to land.

I never saw that raven again.

02 October 2015

Sadness

I think that, at the end of it all, underneath the routine, throbbing in ancient lamentation, is Sadness. I think that there is a feeling of Sadness everywhere you go, even in the happiest moments. The world is a very sad place. But I don't mean that to be depressing. I don't think all kinds of sadness is bad. And the kind I am talking about is not the kind of sadness we feel when we see a man put a gun to his head. I mean a bigger kind of sadness, big and quiet, like the silence of a mountain rather than the silence of an empty room. It's a sadness that encapsulates the whole world and sinks beneath our skin deep within the marrow of our being...the sadness we feel in our happiest moments, when we hear a piece of music so beautiful that you can almost feel your heart cracking under the weight of the spell, detached from consciousness and submerged in the swelling waves of sound, the lilting strings and rumbling magnanimity, stilling your soul like soft thunder. O untouchable beauty, lift me into your embrace. But still, the beauty looks back at you, and you feel shame, you feel your own imperfection, and you know that this beauty does not belong to you. The more beautiful the sound, the more you see just how ugly the world is--how un-beautiful and un-musical it is...and how we are forced to live in it and become a part of it. And then the Sadness, Sadness that your world is not beautiful, sadness that you cannot lift your spirit out of it and into the beauty that the music invites you to follow. I need more than happiness. O Holy Spirit, set me free.

02 September 2015

When Silence Falls: A (not final) Goodbye

This is likely the last thing you're going to see in this corner of the internet for quite some time, partly because of school, but also for another reason. Every single thing I've written has been an attempt to articulate the inarticulate, to say in words what can't be said it words. "All living things began as thoughts" as George McDonald put it: before anything was a word or a poem or a civilization, it was a thought. People have asked me (aka my former speech students) "How do you come up with something new? I want to do something different, something I've never done before."  And I tell them: I've never tried anything new. New styles and approaches, yes, but all the songs and stories I've ever written, happy or sad, whimsical or dark, bad or good, all stem from a single Thought. And the Thought is so big it can't fit into prose or paints--for prose is knowledge, and thought is essential being. It's bigger than the sky itself. The only reason I generate this art in a wild frenzy is simply because I keep on failing.

This summer I did a lot of things: hiking the Wonderland Trail, saying hellos, saying goodbyes, falling in love, falling out of love, all the time trying to reach the Thought, every time falling short. All is vanity, though it is not in vain (the paradox). For us, says Eliot, there is only the trying.

"Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."

--T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets



So here is yet another attempt (which is in some ways thematically connected to all this, it some ways entirely different) one in many more to come, but not for a while. It's time to retreat and get back to the Thought. All that about beginning and finishing and growing up and hope and depravity and a million other things too big for words.

And again, I am indebted to Keely Rendle, Nathan Quick, and Alex Kaehler for helping make this thought a reality.









Keep on being the beautiful humans you are.
-The Minstrel Boy


24 August 2015

Song of Strange and Lovely Desires

Asphalt turns to iron dust
The road has marked my days
So write me down some wanderlust
And tame my wild ways

Blue eyes to still my heart
Red lips to keep it beating
Hands that lace and fall apart
And haunt you while you're sleeping

Stripped, exposed to cold misfortune
Stabbed by sharp and breathless pleasures
Whisked into the breakneck torrent
The dizzy thrill of loosened tethers

I fear the dark, I fear the light
The Cherubim with sleepless eye
Who burns and burns without concern
For love or drink or human plight

The fairies are no friend to man
Their scorn is felt upon your breath
But I will follow, if I can
If pardon leads me to my death

So tear me to the bone
My solace and my terror
Sing my soul the song she knows
Release her from the wearer

Human flesh will waste away
And rejoin with earth and sky
A gust of foreign melancholy
Claims my soul tonight

But the sweet wonder of the living
The touch of warm delight
Let the fairies have their way
Just keep me out of sight

A prayer is forming in my mind
Descend and strike me dead!
But her cheek is warm and touching mine
And the prayer is left unsaid

The road is marked, the road is marked
No rest until we're done
So bear your curse, it could be worse
The journey's just begun.

Selah. 

12 August 2015

My Fair Lady vs. Pygmalion

This blog has been in want of some real content, but these days my attention span has been waning, and when it comes to actually finishing sentences, I literally can't even. I'm going to a special school where the teach you how to focus called College, and maybe after that you'll get something besides doodles of Disney characters. But then again, it's college, so maybe you won't.

Anyway, I wrote this essay for a scholarship contest that I never heard the end of, so if you have time to peruse through my No-Award-Winning Essay, this is the place to find it. I had a lot of fun researching it, and yes, I quote C.S. Lewis. Goshdarnnit I need to branch out (never).


***


Although nearly everyone is familiar with the classic musical My Fair Lady, few remember the original script by George Bernard Shaw on which the movie was based.  While Shaw's play, Pygmalion, was wildly successful when it graced the London stage in 1913, it was quickly overshadowed in favor of the Broadway version in 1956, which was in turn quickly overshadowed by the film adaptation in 1964. It is curious why Pygmalion was so eagerly discarded in favor of its’ musical adaptation, even though much of the dialogue from Shaw’s original work is maintained word-for word, even in the song lyrics. Shaw’s premise remains unchanged as well: the “draggle-tailed guttersnipe” Eliza Doolittle abandons her business selling flowers on the street corner to take lessons from the speech therapist Henry Higgins as an effort to improve her English.  But both plays end up in completely different places by the time the curtain falls.

In Pygmalion, Eliza eventually abandons Henry Higgins on bitter terms to marry her lover, Freddy Eynsford-Hill. In My Fair Lady, however, the last shot of the film ends with Eliza appearing again in Henry’s drawing room, implying that there may yet be some reconciliation between them.  Personally, I find both endings natural and even necessary to the script when considered in their own context.  In Lerner and Loewe’s Broadway musical, I found it immensely satisfying that Eliza returned to Henry Higgins, but when the same possibility was suggested in Pygmalion, the very thought of it was repulsive and ridiculous. That is when I realized the culprit: the Higgins in Pygmalion and the Higgins in My Fair Lady are two very different people. On the surface, the differences appear slight, but the fact that they can produce such drastically different endings is a testament to their importance.

Let us begin with the first and most obvious difference: the addition of music. The overall tone of Shaw’s play consists, of dry, satirical dialogue. In contrast, My Fair Lady evokes a more whimsical, lighthearted atmosphere that is demanded by the very nature of musical theatre. This is to be expected from any musical adaptation. It is very rare that a musical does not end happily, as musicals are designed to entertain and be appealing to audiences of all ages. Some musical gurus may disagree with this, but just compare Victor Hugo's quiet, bittersweet ending to Les Miserables to the upbeat musical number that concludes the stage adaptation.  No one is denying that musical can deal with serious and even dark themes, but let's face it: music, even depressing music, makes us happier. Applying this style of musical storytelling to Shaw’s play necessarily invokes alterations to the characters in order to fit the musical mold—the most noticeable alteration being the character of Henry Higgins. While he still remains the arrogant, domineering character that Shaw intended him to be, he also possesses a quick wit, charismatic attitude, sense of humor, and even a spark of sympathy that simply does not exist in the Pygmalion script.   

But even without the musical elements, the Henry Higgins of My Fair Lady is a fundamentally different character than the Henry Higgins of Pygmalion. We may scorn him for calling Eliza a “fool” and a “brazen hussy” in My Fair Lady, but we abhor him for calling her an “idiot” and a “damned impudent slut” in Pygmalion. A careful reading of the original play alongside it’s musical version reveals certain gestures of kindness in exhibited by the musical Mr. Higgins that are completely absent in the non-musical Mr. Higgins.  For example, in one scene from the musical not even hinted at in Pygmalion, Henry gives Eliza his thermos to ease her headache and then sits down beside her to encourage her. “I know you’re tired,” he says, “But think what you’re trying to accomplish...the majesty and grandeur of the English language...and that’s what you’ve set out to conquer, Eliza! And conquer it you will.” In another scene, just moments before the ball he explains to Pickering that she really matters to him, and even admits that he has taken note of things such as her eye and hair color in his song “Why Can’t a Woman be more like a Man?”

When Eliza finally succeeds to speak properly for the first time, Higgins’s reaction is unforgettable, as he jumps up in his excitement and begins to dance with her. It is the only moment in the film where Eliza and Higgins genuinely enjoy one another’s company, and while that moment may be fleeting, it is completely nonexistent in Shaw’s play. Shaw only dedicates one scene to Eliza’s lessons before jumping straight to the end of her training. Shaw’s script contains no relief from the tensions between the two characters and no hint of relief in the end. It almost gives you the feeling of holding your breath for two and a half hours.

Yet if the reader remains unconvinced that these small differences could cause these two plays to divorce each other on such a dramatic scale, allow me to assert that these differences may very well be a question of redemption or damnation. In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis imaginatively depicts this difference as the difference between a “grumbler” and a mere “grumble.”  It all begins “with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it.” “But there may come a day,” he says, “when … there will be no YOU left to criticize the mood.” The grumble itself is all that is left and it “goes on forever like a machine.”

The Higgins in My Fair Lady is a grumbler. All that is left of the Higgins in Pygmalion is a grumble. There is hope for the first but none for the second. In My Fair Lady, Eliza was only returning to an occasionally unpleasant but not wholly disagreeable domestic situation, but in Pygmalion she would have been returning to the ninth circle of Hell, in which case she really would have been a damned impudent slut. I believe that the Higgins that danced with the Fair Lady Eliza on that fleeting, precious night could grow and grow into the remarkable man Higgins was capable of becoming (this inner conflict becomes clear in his final song “I’ve grown accustomed to her face”). But in Shaw’s play, no such spark of humanity even seems possible.

It is questionable whether Shaw thought such sparks should be possible, or whether they even existed at all. Clearly he would not have been pleased with the new ending, as he states in the afterword that “happy endings” are a “lazy dependence” of the imagination “which Romance keeps its stock...to misfit all stories.” Perhaps Shaw is just as baffled of man’s need for a happy ending as Higgins is of woman’s need for affection, and, like Higgins, he attributes the whole if their dependence to a mere social construction.  But if Higgins could not get it right, I doubt Mr. Shaw knows what he’s talking about either.


06 August 2015

Ballerina digital art

Not original. Don't sue me.
Original





Also, I like this song. It can be applied to a lot of things.




22 July 2015

Child in the Garden

I keep on meaning to write a long thought-out blog post about life, and then I always end up writing songs instead. I'm sorry, I try.






Rolling in my bed with echoes in my head
Replaying what you said
Locked in my room just drawing pretty girls
And wishing I was dead

I hide my face and pray for grace
As my friends are getting drunk
I wished for a lie and I don’t know why
I’m surprised my ship has sunk

And a child in the garden
Asked me to hold her hand
But I’d rather she held mine

What do you do when your dreams come true
And it wasn’t what you thought?
It’s been a while since I’ve seen your smile
And I miss you quite a lot

Are we gonna let all the good things rot
Just wishing we’re the things we’re not?
The only thing free is the friend in me
And a friend is all I’ve got
Yeah, a friend is all I've got
A friend is all I've got
  
Well you can kill unborns or download porn
But it’s not gonna change the past
For all your sakes I hide my scorn
But it keeps on coming back

I save my songs and favorite jokes
For when I’m out of town
But for the ones I love the most
I roll my eyes and frown

And a child in the garden
Asked me to hold her hand
But I’d rather she held mine

What do you do when your dreams come true
And it wasn’t what you thought?
It’s been a while since I’ve seen your smile
And I miss you quite a lot

Are we gonna let all the good things rot
Just wishing we’re the things we’re not?
The only thing free is the friend in me
And a friend is all I’ve got

The child in the garden
Was bathed in silver light
My arms were wrapped around her
But I lost her to the night

Now all my gods have died
And left a gaping hole
Oh Jesus Christ, oh Jesus Christ
Come save this sinner’s soul

What do you do when your dreams come true
And it wasn’t what you thought?
It’s been a while since I’ve seen your smile
And I miss you quite a lot

Are we gonna let all the good things rot
Just wishing we’re the things we’re not?
The only thing free is the friend in me
And a friend is all I’ve got



-The Minstrel Boy

16 July 2015

Twinsies of Inside Out


Nostalgia



















Northerness







I'm geeking out about this movie so much it's embarrassing.




09 July 2015

Miyazaki pancakes

I call these Miyazaki pancakes.




Acrylic/Digital



12 June 2015

Suspended

Hannah has been asking me to re-record this for a while now because the last one was atrocious.  And while this version has a synthetic orchestra (which is the #1 way to offend a music major) I'm pretty sure it's an improvement on the last one. Except that literally anything could be an improvement on the last one.





09 June 2015

Where the Stories Never Dare to Venture

I will love you
Till my heart stops beating
And I drift into the land
Where the stories never dare
To venture.
When I step into the virgin morning
And the Dance is about to begin again
I will not forget you
Even then.

Even while I'm waiting in the cold
I will not be lonely
Because I know the sun will rise
On both of our faces.
If death do us part
Death is the only thing
That will keep us together.

No longer hampered by the feeling
Of being alone in a crowd
Because the smell of open air
Tells me
That happy endings are real
And the last time I doubted
Feels so long ago.

The mountains look less menacing now
Even though yesterday's mist
Still clings to them.
No need to hide your face
I will see you on the other side
Where the stories never dare
To venture.


03 June 2015

Ellie, Bambi, Anna, Movies I Can't Wait to See (in that order)



Stuff I've been doing recently in the process of teaching myself to draw moar betterly...like doing pastels (which taught me I am in desperate need of some YouTube tutorials)

Ellie


Bambi



Princess Anna



In other news...IS ANYONE AS EXCITED FOR THIS MOVIE AS I AM




I just got tickets to Insider's Access to Inside Out which is a special pre-screening on June 16th that features an exclusive Q&A session with Pete Doctor AAAHH! Unfortunately he will be on satellite. But still. Yah I'm a nerd. You can get tickets here if you're a nerd too.

ALSO THERE'S ANOTHER PIXAR MOVIE COMING OUT IN NOVEMBER! Two Pixar movies in one year? It doesn't get much better than this.



Oh wait. It DOES get better.




 If you're looking for me, I'll be in the theatre crying my eyes out. 2015 is going to be amazing guys. I've been dying for some good movies.


Also, Frozen 2 is coming out in 2018. ^.^


-The Minstrel Boy



26 May 2015

"And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!”  -Jane Eyre

08 May 2015

My life as a gym coach









I really don't know what that was about.




30 April 2015

The Queen of the Forest

She stands on the edge of the glade with her hands on her hips, letting the greens and blues sink in. She’s the queen of the forest because I made her that way. Her backpack is much too big for her, and the tightened straps dangle freely. She got her ears pierced the second Mom gave in, and she wears them like Pocahontas.  Fioni is a savage, a beautiful savage, born out of the forest like Tarzan, and she’s my sister.

She’s five years younger than me, and she worships me. She thinks I know everything. And I pretend like I do, because it feels good to be worshipped. I ask if she’s hungry, and she says she can make it five more miles. She’s just being tough, and I know it. But I let her have her way.

She’s wearing one of my t-shirts because her tank-top got caught on the backpack buckles when I was adjusting it and made a rip beyond mending. The t-shirt hangs on her like a sack. We can’t afford to slow our pace, because it’s getting dark, and Fioni will get cold if we slow down.

Every once and a while Fioni’s buckle pops loose and I stop to fix it. She’s so skinny. I think she might be getting skinnier. Why do I make her do these things? Mom and Dad think I’m being a bad influence because she never does girl stuff. She’s too much of a tomboy, they say, I teach her bad manners and she’s awkward in public. They wished she was more like Mary Ann or Ellie. But Fioni doesn’t want to be like Mary Ann or Ellie. She wants to be like me.

Even when Mary Ann and Ellie weren’t in college or had boyfriends they weren’t interested in playing with Fioni anyway. All they ever cared about was getting double A pluses and what their stupid future husbands looked like. Of course Fioni likes me better. As for not doing girl stuff, who didn’t let her get piercings until she was 12? And she isn't awkward in public, she's just quiet. “She doesn’t have any friends her age…” I hear Mom’s voice in my head. “Her grades aren’t good either.”

It’s not my fault. It is my fault.

I click the buckle shut and give a tug on the straps. I look into her brown eyes, curls of dark hair spilling out from under her cap—my cap.

“You doing okay?” I ask.

Fioni smiles and shifts her backpack gallantly.

“Yeah!”

“Because if you’re tired, we can stop here for tonight…”

“Are you nuts? We’re almost there.” She pauses. “Are you tired?”

“No, no.”

See Mom? She’s happy. She likes this, I told her, winning our imaginary argument. She doesn’t like me taking Fioni out like this at all. Like I’d let anything happen to Fioni. She trusts me more than she trusts anyone else. I’m her protector, her friend, her mentor—I’m everything she needs.

Supper is frozen noodles cooked on the gas stove. I bundle up Fioni with every hat and glove and vest at my disposal. She’s the queen of the forest; I make sure she feels that way.

We slurp up the steaming noodles and I name the stars for her as they come out one-by-one.

“That’s Venus, named after the goddess of beauty. That’s Castor and Pollux, the two twin sister wood-nymphs. Hercules tried to catch them, but they were too fast. That’s Leo the Lion, drinking his milk out of the Big Dipper. Oh, that’s the spring triangle. That one’s Vega, and that’s Altaire, and that one at the bottom is Antares. If you follow the Big Dipper’s handle, it points to Polaris. That’s the North Star. If you can find Polaris, you’ll always know where north is.” I’m not even sure if I’m right. But why does it matter?

“Hey look, that one’s moving!”

“That’s not a star. That’s a satellite.”

“What’s that one called?” she points to a pulsing pinprick of light near the graying horizon.

“Oh yeah. That one’s called Fioni.”

“No it isn’t!” Fioni protests, greatly delighted.

“Course it is. You didn’t know you were named after a star?”

“I am?”

She would have believed me if I said yes.

“No, not really.”

“Oh.” Fioni was disappointed.

We stare in silence for a long time. This must be what eternity feels like.

Fioni yawns. “Let’s go to bed.”

“Yeah. You go ahead. I’ll string up the bear wires.”

Fioni gets up, and then hesitates.

“I’ll put up the bear wires.”

I began to protest, but she says, “Let me do it. You’ve been doing it this whole trip.”

She sounds like me. She’s using that voice I use when I offer to relieve her of a strenuous job, a job too big or tough for her to handle. Countless times I’ve brushed her aside and said in my high and lordly voice, “here, let me do it.” That’s my line. She’s not allowed to say that. Any other time I would have never let that slip, but tonight I am too tired.  I head for the tent, making a mental note not to let Fioni pull a trick like that again.

I make a pillow out of a hoodie and a pair of jeans, pull my beanie over my ears and the sleeping bag up to my chin. Tomorrow we hike out. That’s a good feeling.

When I wake up, it’s dark. It’s raining too, from the sound of tell-tale water droplets bouncing off the tent like popcorn. I see a momentary flash and a rumble of thunder follows. I’m cold. I shouldn’t be cold. Fioni usually snuggles up right next to me. Something else is making me uneasy too. Where is the sound of her breathing? I don’t remember hearing her open the tent zipper.  Didn’t she leave to string up the…

Fioni.

Oh God, where is Fioni?

I fumble with the zipper, but it gets stuck. Fioni! How long have I been asleep? I tug harder. Oh God, oh, God, what have I done? I can’t get it open.

“Fioni!” I scream. My voice is unnaturally high. “Fioni, where are you?”

The rain drums on.

I struggle with the zipper but my hands are trembling too hard and my breathing has become shallow. And then…I hear the high, piercing sound of Fioni’s whistle.

I rip the tent open with my knife and stumble into the cold. My socks get wet instantly, but I’m already running, blowing my whistle in response and screaming “I’m coming! I’m coming!”

I’m panicking, and I know it. This is not how I should be responding. But nobody told me this was going to happen and it’s all my fault. It’s all my fault.

The bear wires are barely a two-minute walk from the campsite, but I don’t recognize anything in the dark. My socks are wet. It’s raining too hard. I can’t think. Where is my flashlight? I blow my whistle hard and bellow Fioni’s name. I hear the return whistle, coming from the left. I’m off the trail now—hacking through ferns and tripping over roots. My knees are soaked, my hands are plastered with cold mud, and I’ve cut my foot on something, but I keep on running, and I blow, blow, blow.

I break into a clearing. Fioni had delivered a flawless performance in stringing up the bear wires. Our bag of food dangles gently under the raging spectacle of rain illuminated by the moonlight. But where is she? I squint in the darkness.

“Fioni?”

And then…

Brandon…”

It’s hoarse and weak. She’s somewhere close.

“Fioni! I’m here! Where are you?”

“Down here.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. I fell. I’m bleeding.”

And then I see her—at the bottom of a twenty foot ravine. I get down on my rear and slide down the steep slope of vegetation. Some part of me that still has wits asks me how I’m going to get back up, but I ignore it. The black shapes of vines and plants lash at me like scenes from a nightmare. I nearly land on top of her at the bottom.

I scramble blindly and find her hand. It’s cold. Her breathing is weak. I smell blood. All the sudden I am sobbing, sputtering meaningless syllables and taking noisy gulps of air. I pull her closer to me. She is cold. Her hands are cold. Her face is cold.

“Brandon…”

Then I see a dark shape protruding from her left shoulder.

“I fell. I landed on a stick. It went all the way through,” she whispers. Her voice sounds so unlike Fioni. There is no sign of panic. I ask her how long she has been here.

 “I don’t know,” she answers. “A long time. I tried to… tried to find Polaris. But the clouds…” She is speaking like she is in a dream. She has removed her layers of shirts.

“I’m so hot…” she says.

 Oh Fioni. Why do I make her do these things?

I tell her she’s going to live, but she doesn’t answer. Let me do it, you’ve been doing it this whole trip. She knows I don’t know everything. She knows. I’m losing her. If she was panicking I could have handled it. I could have told her it would be alright and make her believe that she would live. And she would live, because I told her to. But not when she talked like this. I’d rather kill her than let something happen I can’t control.

“Can you climb up?”

“No, I tried…”

“Get on my back.” I order. She obeys.

I don’t know how I climbed back up the ravine, but somehow I find myself on the top. At the campsite, I can’t find a flashlight, I can’t find the first aid kit, and I can’t find any water. I put warm things on her and set her in the corner next to the backpacks, but her clothes and hair are wet and she is shivering something awful.

“Brandon, if I die…”

“Fioni, you’re not going to die.” What the hell am I saying? My sister has been impaled on a branch and probably has hypothermia. I want to throttle her, to shake her by the shoulders and demand her to trust me. If Fioni doesn’t worship me, who will? Nobody. 

“Mary Ann can have my room…”

“Fiona Jane Walker. Stop.”

“And Ellie can have my goldfish—”

Fioni!” I find a headlamp and shine it on her crumpled form. “Have I ever broken a promise to you? Answer me.”

Fioni looks at me vacantly.

“There was that one time—when I was stuck in the tree—you said you would catch me…”

“You jumped wrong. I would have caught you.”

“You said it didn’t matter how I jumped!” There was some vague surge of fierceness rising out of her dazed brown eyes.

“Have I broken a promise to you—besides that?”

Fioni thinks. “One time you promised you would build me a swing-set. You never did.”

“I’m still going to!” I rage.

“That was two years ago!”

I’m don’t even care about her wound. All I see is her face, her face fills my whole vision, expressionless and cat-like, with only her mouth moving.

“You promised you would buy me a knife!”

“Mom wouldn’t let me!”

“You said you would get back at Bobby Nelson for pushing me.”

“I would have if Mr. Turing hadn’t butted in…”

“You said that star was named after me!”

“It is!”

“You said I was smart! You said I was pretty! You said people liked me! Well, do they?” Fioni bursts out. “Do they?”

But I know the answer was no. People don’t like Fioni. She acts unfriendly and sullen back in the real world. She’s the loser of the school because I made her that way.

“I’m sorry!” I burst out. “I’m sorry, Fioni! It’s my fault! It’s all my fault!  I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

But no words come from Fioni. She is fading, literally fading, dissolving away from my sight. I try to run to her, but my legs feel glued to the ground. I feel submerged underwater, as if rising to the surface…

Brandon…

“I’m sorry!” I moan.

Brandon!”

I pull myself awake with a sharp breath. I hear the water droplets are bouncing off the tent like popcorn. The dark shape of Fioni’s bedraggled hair is looking over me.

“Are you alright?”

I scramble up and turn on a lamp. There is my little sister’s face, her cheeks beaded with raindrops, eyes brown and alive and frightened.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I say in my lordly voice. It’s so much better when she’s frightened.

“You were talking in your sleep,” she says cautiously.

“Must’ve been a bad dream,” I shrug it off. “Did you get the bear wires up?”

“No,” she says. “I couldn’t figure it out. Can you do it?”