she cursed my great-grandfather, actually, who had spat on the hands of the ocean and disrespected the beating heart of the earth - for what else are waves but a pulse - who was silly and violent and who tried to rip from the water what was hers by rights. we were wealthy, before that, a family of merchants. my mother says in her youth she recalls white horses, the gleam of candles, early mornings with bread baked fresh by a horde of servants.
he didn’t ask permission to cross her. that’s what my mother tells me while she spoons porridge with no flavor into the wood of my bowl. he had no faith in superstition, rode with boats that were more decoration than strength, the folly of a man who was cruel and vain and proud of his own gold teeth. the sky had been blue, so regardless of what the village witch said, he would sail that day. and when his boat sank; their lives turned blue like the sky that day.
my mother says she thinks the curse on the men of our family, even if they come in when they marry, is that they will forever be violent, too foolish to see the storm on the horizon. she whispers this to me on the eve of my seventh birthday, while father is his own storm, thundering around the house, looking for her. later, when i am cleaning the cut by her cheek, she tells me the curse is on the women to forever be unhappy, to wane until they are shadows, to walk into the deep like a sinking ship.
we don’t burn candles often, they are too expensive. she tells me this in the silk of a dark room. the moon kisses her hair.
in three days, my mother will walk into the ocean, and my father will be my own problem. the curse will pass onto me.
my father does not believe in superstition, no curse to conquer him. when he is gone, and i am heartbroken, i go to the village witch. i ask her to teach me about magic, and other things, and about how the ocean can be coaxed, and how to save my father’s soul.
and my hands rot too, keeping a house by myself with things i barely knew. i learn the art of a good scrubbing, keep my mind full of white horses while i endlessly clean, dream of candles in dark while i make the bread that he will not allow me to eat. he keeps me from the ocean, from visiting the place that took my mom, from following in her footsteps where the water makes women undone.
i am sixteen when i see her in the water of a bowl. she scares me so completely that i drop it, and my father comes in with his hands, and the curse, and i almost forget all about it. it isn’t until after that i realize she is beautiful, and young, which surprises me.
i think about it every evening. her face becomes distorted to me. i can no longer remember the exact shape of it, only the impression of beauty.
i turn seventeen and wait for the high moon. i pin safety to my vest in little witch herbs and runes. i put naked toes on the sand and slip closer, closer, to the avenue of my family’s doom. i find a little private beach, small and surrounded by rocks, hidden from my father in the event he ever thought to come looking. at high tide, it is barely the span of my body. at low, it feels empty.
the witch of the land has given me what i need to call in the witch of the sea, but i do not use it. it feels wrong, somehow, standing here in the wind and the quiet pulse of the world. i put down the incense and sage and i sit just close enough it feels wild, dangerous - but not close enough to get caught up in thrill.
when nothing happens, i go home and i make bread that i will not eat.
for months i do this. i climb down to my beach. i learn to do it when the moon is half, and then when the moon is empty. i learn to do it so well that sometimes i go to sleep in my own bed and wake up by the water. i take to sleeping with warding runes to keep me from being pulled in the rip out to the waiting hands of a hungry sea-witch.
i don’t know when i start talking. more often i sing, because singing in my house is not allowed, and something about the way the rocks echo my voice feels comforting. the older i get, the more i can pretend i hear my mother’s voice, answering me, harmonizing gently. i sing songs about sadness and lullabies about curses. when i have exhausted every song i know, i write new ones about fathers who have never learned how to be kind, about the house i work in but do not love, about mothers who left, and about a sea witch.
i see her sometimes. in a puddle, in the drop of rain, in the strangest places. i never expect it, although i always hope. i am never able to see her for more than the length of a wave, breaking, and each time, it does something new to my heart.
at eighteen i am too much of my father’s burden. he tries to unload me onto other men. the land witch helps me with this. i rub hemlock, burn wolfsbane. we arrange so these men have other women to marry. the news of my curse is bad enough to scare most away. my father is not happy.
after a particularly savage night, i wonder how bad it could be. i could marry some boy from the village who didn’t quite bother me. i suppose they’re not ugly. timothy had always been gentle to me. i think about a life, and how i am cursed to be unhappy. my father would finally be proud of me.
i walk to the beach and i tell the waves about him and how i could convince myself it was love if i just never wanted from him. how i could be okay, if not content, how i could be free, how i already had learned life down on knees.
but i go home and i write a rune of warding. and the years pass and i find reasons each suitor is wanting. and the sea witch i see, sometimes, peeking out at me, staying long each time in the water, looking, watching. i see her in mirrors when my father storms against me. it is bad because he mistakes the cause of my smiling. it is better when she is there the next morning.
and i go to the ocean. when i am too sad to speak, it seems like the ocean is whispering for me. i picture my mother’s voice and tell myself i am happy. i am seven again and we are sewing. i am seven again and the curse has not been given to me. i am seven and she came home after she walked to the sea.
i grow silly, brave, unthinking. i leave behind the herbs and i wade deep. i teach myself the art of swimming. i am bad at it, at first, but something about it feels good to me. like the ocean wants to buoy me. in the day i think of it, guilty. what if there was a rip tide, and the water took me? who would care for my father if i stepped off the beach into a long drop? wasn’t i clever enough to know that the ocean is uncaring?
it is not this that does it. i go out after a rain and i slip on the rocks and suddenly i am in water above my head but without the moon i cannot see the up of it. i kick and i thrash and the water surrounds me. the tide pulls on my body and in the cold i feel my body grow weary. water spills into me. it punches through my body, up my nose and into my lungs and some part of me knows this is what mother felt before she was gone.
i kick ground by accident, reorient, drag myself heaving and spitting into the air. i lie there for a long time, half in and half out of death, enjoying the sensation of breathing and of life.
when i look up, i think i see her, watching me, her brows knit with something like worry. but we make eye contact and my heart leaps and then she is gone and i am left alone with nothing but the dawn breaking.
my father is furious when there is no bread. he finds my hair wet, and the salt of the ocean still smelling on me. and that is it. that day he goes out and pays someone to agree to marry me.
this feels right to me, i think. i’m twenty-one, three times seven, a perfect number for a curse to fully come down on me. i will be wed in three weeks.
the land witch comes to visit me. she looks like she’s sorry for me. she gives me a spell and tells me to put it under my pillow; i’ll dream of love and it will soothe me. instead i dream of the seawitch, and how wonderful she is, and the sight of her, out on the water, worried.
even though it is risky, i go down to the beach. i do not bother with protective spells, i have already seen that the water can kill me. fear alone keeps me from wandering. i sit on the beach and in the sand i draw runes for understanding and i make the small magicks i’ve spent years learning and i close my eyes and i askthe ocean “why do you do this to me.”
i fall asleep. i dream that the sea witch talks to me. i dream she is my age, that she is the great-granddaughter of the first to curse my family. i dream she has spent years watching, learning, finding the truth of me. that she just needs to get the courage to come and speak, that she has fallen in love with my singing, that she knows no curse but the one in her heart that brings her back to a human, to a creature of air and not water, to a mistake in the making.
in the dawn i know it is a dream and no more. i make bread. i pour water out before it can make mirrors. i do not look. i do not like the ache that has filled me, as if i’ve been looking for an answer and the answer only leads to longing.
the man i meet - my husband-to-be - is delighted by the house i keep. he believes a woman should keep in her place, and her place should be clean. he hears from neighbors that sometimes i sneak out to the land witch’s house. laughter barks out of him. not going to allow that behavior, not me. he does not believe in curses. he will pack me up and move me from the ocean to somewhere in the mountains, where i know nobody. and i will, he promises, learn to keep my place, and that place clean.
i tell myself i could love him. he is not ugly. he says i’m pretty enough after whiskey. my father mentions i used to sing. i refuse to perform for these men so instead i make them cookies. they laugh and talk about me, even when i am in the room, as if they cannot even see. they shake hands and talk about how useless a woman is for much else than breeding. it’s very funny. the man meets my eyes and promises he’ll put a baby in me. i look down and pretend the thrill i feel is excitement, not fear brewing in me.
the land witch comes by a week before my wedding. she is smaller these days, aging. her apprentice and i get along wonderfully. the two women stand before me, holding something.
a small box, so tiny and lovely. “break the curse,” the witch whispers, “learn to be happy.”
i smuggle the box, take it everywhere with me. it is days before i have a moment to slip away, to open it by the sea. i take a candle with me, even though my father will notice and be angry.
by the light of fire i read the spell they have left me inside, and then i am so full of gratitude i cannot stop crying.
it must be a full moon, so i must wait. in the meantime, i walk home, and i bake.
i do not see the seawitch, even though i look for her. maybe i have wounded her, getting married. my father asks why i keep smiling. i tell him it is because i am finally with a man. he grunts and says to stop looking so silly.
the man kisses me. i let him. we are married on a night with a full moon, and i poison him and my father in the bread i did not eat. i think of how these men were cursed so they could not see a storm coming. i watch them as they lie there, dying, and then i put all of the things i own into a basket for the land witch. i leave it there with a song i wrote for her, a spell i know will make her happy, will stop the aging of her joints, will give her the kind of relief she gave me.
i go down to the water. i find myself running, even though i am in no hurry. i know the way so well it is like i wake up there, panting. i ask permission first. i lay out the contents of the box, i organize and practice and when the needle and pain comes, i am ready for it. i am used to pain at night. i breathe into it and walk naked into waters that swallowed my mother.
i chew bitter herbs. i swallow fire. i feel myself drown as i change from land witch to sea witch.
when it is done, i open my eyes in the deep of a moonlit ocean. and i see her.
this time she does not flicker. this time when i reach for her, she is there, and she is pushing my hair out of my eyes, and we are kissing with the ocean rejoicing around us, and i am laughing, and i hear her voice as clear as bell inside me.
and we live like this, a whole world between us where white horses are the size of pinky fingers and swim with their thin snouts, where i need no candles because i was raised lightless, where we have no servants but the water takes care of us. i show her the magic of land and she unfolds the magic of water. together we are unstoppable. when i come up to the air to sing little girls a promise that they can survive the madness, she sings with me, and we make a beautiful harmony.
“I will not let myself become tired. I’ll jump into my story even though it should cut my face to pieces.”
“Once I enjoy a person, that joy knows no bounds.”
“One has either to take people as they are, or leave them as they are. One cannot change them, one can merely disturb their balance. A human being, after all, is not made up of single pieces, from which a single piece can be taken out and replaced by something else.”
“I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.”
“I am strangely tired, not from having talked so much but at the mere thought of what I still have to say.”
“Time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”
“I am a very unhappy human being and you, dearest, simply had to be summoned to create an equilibrium for all this misery.”
“I can never tear myself open wide enough to people to reveal everything and so frighten them away.”
“I cannot rid myself of the feeling that I’m not in the right place.”
“Should I be grateful or should I curse the fact that despite all misfortune I can still feel love, an unearthly love but still for earthly objects.”
“Being alone has a power over me that never fails. My interior dissolves and is ready to release what lies deeper.”
For those who have been following along with my immigration stuff, it’s now been 7 months and I don’t have my new card and the online tracker still says I don’t exist and I’m trying to open a case investigation but I can’t because haha I don’t exist.
The IRS can find me just fucking dandy though, they’ve got no problems accepting that I’m real and taking my real money, but apparently I don’t exist to anything that grants me rights or protection.
it gets harder to talk about but it gets easier to hold it in. to sit up prettier, to shut up louder, to pretend i don’t want you when all i want is to give in, to hold back the tears at the bar and release them once i get into my own bed, to pretend i want to exist. i want to exist. i want to exist. if i say it enough times, even i believe it. but suddenly, i’m a couple drinks in and i remember how unhappy i really am and everybody’s having fun around me but i can’t breathe anymore and my friend tells me i’m a wimp for never expressing my anger when the second i express it, there is always someone there to invalidate it. it’s getting easier to call myself crazy as an excuse for feeling, as if i’m not allowed to feel, as if this pressure build-up in my head is nothing but unequal brain chemistry, and everybody is so easy to brush off my emotions as being a product of mental illness instead of re-evaluating their own actions and wondering how in the world they could have made me feel this way.
so yeah, to say i’m mad is an understatement. to say i’m mad would even be lying. because it goes deeper than this feeling i experience once in a while, the real truth is that i’m sad and that sadness runs deep. i’m hurt. i feel like nobody even cares if they hurt me and the second i even suspect i am offending a stranger, i say sorry. but people run from me instead of apologize because their pride is more important than my feelings and it’s always been that way. i fall in love with anyone who shows me affection and people think it’s weird but when you’ve been deprived for so long from people who will listen, i don’t know, it’s hard. it’s still hard to believe that the second i start spilling my emotions, people talk over me. nobody wants to be with the person who brings up serious conversations at parties. nobody wants to be there for the girl who is always sad. everyone wants to pretend it doesn’t exist. and the more they pretend, the more i realize i’m getting good at this.
so i try to shut up until i can’t. like this time last year, i was showing up to your house to scream at you because i spent so much time holding everything in. but last night, i sent you fifteen text messages and deleted every one before i pressed send and i know no one’s gonna be there to congratulate me but maybe i can start being proud of myself because i don’t know how else i’m going to make this inadequate feeling end. you know, maybe i just have to keep trying things until i find something that works, maybe i just have to fly through boys until i find someone who isn’t gonna leave, maybe i just have to realize that the only person i’m ever going to truly have is me and i should stop holding people to impossible standards because they’re never going to live up to them and i’m always going to end up disappointed. nobody’s ever gonna care the way i want them to. it’s like i’m impossible to please. but god, i don’t know - i just wish for one second, someone would be excited about something because i am. be sad about something because i am. make me feel like my feelings affect others in some way. like they mean something. i’m growing so tired of the blank stares they give me.
i don’t know. maybe i’ve always asked for too much but i can’t remember the last time someone told me they loved me and if we’re being honest here: it’s devastating. i’m sad. i feel like i have nobody left. everyone likes me at first because i am so outgoing - i say what i’m thinking - but they leave soon after they realize that i am too much to deal with and they don’t really want to hear what’s in my head. they turn away because my insecurities make them nervous and who wants to deal with the girl who asks you if you hate them every five seconds? you say you don’t hate me but your body language tells me everything. i know i’m getting annoying but i can’t stop so i keep repeating it: i want to exist. i want to exist. i want to exist.
they say you’ve gotta let people in but the more i let people in, the more i regret it. i’m tired of silencing myself but it’s like the moments i’m silent are the only moments i’m not ruining everything.
I WANT TO EXIST. I WANT TO EXIST. I WANT TO EXIST. I’M NOT REALLY SAD. REMEMBER THIS.
(All info is culled directly from in-game references; gif was made by me - if you want to use it in something else, please ask &/or give me credit. Thanks so much! <3)
~ Background Canon ~
Seems to have little/no respect for people who sleep around and/or put sex before other, more important things
Was (possibly) in the Army
Has a Boston Terrier named Betsy (likes to pretend she’s a pit bull)
Likes to tell elaborate (and sometimes graphic) stories. (Are they true? No one but Robert knows.)
Knows how to fake people out (i.e. good poker face?)
Sends texts/messages like a teenager
Believes hitting a child would be despicable
Insists on watching movie credits to the VERY end
Has a daughter named Val who lives in Brooklyn; she works for some ‘news media online magazine thing’ and makes a lot of money doing it.
He’s unsure of Val’s age, but thinks it’s maybe 25 or 26
He refers to Brooklyn as ‘home’ (…so what does that make Maple Bay?)
Carries a fully-stocked first aid kit in his truck
Has an unconventional sense of humor
Has a tendency to say exactly what he means…and then pretend like he didn’t mean it
Not the most talkative of people, generally speaking
Thinks River has an ‘old soul’
His wife’s name was Marilyn; she died in an ‘accident’.
He has a ‘long, wicked scar across his pecs’ (supposedly from a bike accident with Val)
Has a tattoo on his left hand, shaped a little like a compass rose
The mention of cannibalism reminded him of the last time he went skiing. (Just another ‘story’?)
Claims his leather jacket has been in his family a long time, and that it’s ‘cursed’
Seems to have done a lot of thinking about killing someone. “It’s not just their life, you know. It’s their hopes and dreams draining away. Every memory and experience they’ve ever had…gone.”
This guy may not look it, but he’s smart! Knows who Hemingway is, has heard of capybaras, is a classic film buff, knows random Bible verses by heart…
Robert’s hands are calloused and covered in little white scars.
Got stabbed in Louisiana…or was it Kentucky…?
Isn’t a ‘sore loser’
Drives a VERY old red pickup truck.
House is filled with sleek, modern appliances; a big flat-screen TV; and shelves upon shelves of DVDs
~ Likes/Dislikes Canon ~
Has at least a mild interest in sports of some kind and a preferred team that he roots for
Likes Paranormal Ice Road Truckers, but isn’t a fan of TV in general
Likes war documentaries
Doesn’t like small talk
Doesn’t like being called Rob (…or Bobert) - ‘buddy’ seems to be okay?
Likes to go camping (but hasn’t been after what happened last time)
Digs old movies from the 30′s and 40s
Takes the creation of movies VERY seriously
Likes Tom Waits and Santana
Likes to whittle and is pretty good at it
Smokes like a chimney (if all the ashtrays in his house are any indication.)
Enjoys the Criterion Collection
~ Food/Drink Canon ~
Likes whiskey… A LOT - especially shots
When it comes to alcohol, rarely takes ‘no’ for an answer
Likes white zinfandel because it’s delicious, fruity, and refreshing
LOVES pineapple on his pizza
Thinks Jim and Kim’s is the best bar in town
Occasionally hangs out at The Coffee Spoon
~ Sex/Romance Canon ~
Talks dirty…very dirty
Enjoys leaving hickeys…lots of them
Rough enough in bed to leave a person feeling sore and ‘creaky’ afterwards
When his lover says ‘no’ or ‘stop’ he takes it seriously
Recognizes that he’s an emotional wreck/emotionally unavailable…and is honest about it
~ Memorable Quotes ~
“The key to being cool is acting like you don’t care about anything, but actually care very deeply about everything to the point where it’s debilitating.”
“Too many people think that they have to fill the dead air with noise. Personally I think they’re afraid of the silence. Or they’re afraid of what the other person is gonna think of the silence…learn to be comfortable with silence.”
“I respect your opinion. And I will fight with my life for your right to say it. But where’s your sense of adventure? Where’s your sense of taste? Why won’t you love yourself?”
“The juciness of the pineapple paired with the tanginess of the sauce is a flavor combination that everyone should experience at least once, if not a thousand times more. Pineapple on pizza is one of the few things in life that I genuinely and thoroughly enjoy. Please. Please just do this for me. No - do this for yourself.”
“That popcorn-ass drivel the mass media is shoving down your throat will only make you dumber and sadder. You of all people should strive for a higher standard in the art you consume.”
“Are you kidding me? I would never hit a child. That would be despicable.”
“This is my Thinking Bench. I have to get a solid two to three hours of brooding per day. Filling quotas…A lot of people underestimate the senses of a man who broods.”
“I’m so many levels of irony deep that I’ve forgotten what humor is.”
“I was so busy chasing after all of these things that I thought would make me happy that I didn’t think about anyone else. All I cared about was myself.”
“Maybe I’m just built like this. Or maybe I do it to myself. Maybe it’s my own choice I’m as unhappy as I am.”
“I’m working on my relationship with existence.”
“Long live the king, baby.”
“I spent my whole life only taking, and taking, and taking. And now here I am, an old, broken man sitting on top of a pile of everything I’ve ever taken. Alone.”
“I spent so much time chasing after things I thought were gonna make me happy that I ruined my only real chance at happiness.”
“You know, every day for me is a battle against my own self-destructive habits.”
I am still unhappy about all of these cables sticking out from behind my iMac though. The notes that I stuck to the bottom of the screen are for my upcoming exam and I’ll take them off once the exam is over.
The wallpaper that I use is from emmastudies and you can find it on her studyblr (emmastudies.com) as well as lots of nice backgrounds for your phones. Also, she makes great printables for study plans/calendars.