Is there a song you’ve sung on stage that feels like it was written for your life? Why, from
Tick, Tick… Boom, pretty much defines a moment that I experienced. Standing there and going I’m gonna do this. It doesn’t matter what else I think I should do, and it doesn’t matter if I fail.
“Some people suffer too much and others suffer too little,” a wise friend of mine once said.
Although we don’t like to admit it, suffering can be a blessing.
The first noble truth of the Buddha states that life is suffering. Yet the word “suffering” fails to capture the meaning of what the Buddha really intended. By “suffering,” he didn’t simply mean pain and discomfort, even though these too are inescapable in life. Rather, he intimated that life was incapable of fully satisfying us, that there was something about this life and this world that just didn’t quite fit.
Suffering is the experience of that absence. The very fact that this worldly game is broken belies the reality that it can’t bestow happiness. And that sucks.
If you suffer too much, you might think that happiness and peace do not exist. You would see the way the worldly game is broken but you’d see no redemption to be found. You might forget that there is a song in your Soul and an ecstasy inside you. Too much suffering and you lose hope and heart. You forget your divine connection and never suspect the godly dimension within.
If you suffer too little, you might not see that this worldly game is broken. You might mistakenly believe it can actually give you fulfillment. You wouldn’t bother to ask if there is more to this reality or your existence. You’d merely concern yourself with sensory and intellectual pleasures. While suffering too much is like being parched in a desert, suffering too little is like drinking saltwater. It seems fulfilling but it isn’t.
Between too much and too little lies the habitable zone of suffering. My guru often says that suffering is a wellspring to throw you back to the divine. It is not that there is some virtue or merit in suffering. But rather, the right amount of suffering is what lends intensity to our turning away from the unsatisfactory play of our worldly experience. The right amount of suffering kindles the fire of our longing to be free from our limited sandbox of a “reality” by awakening to The Real Thing.
For me, my suffering peaked after I graduated college. I was living at home, I had no idea of where to steer my future, my girlfriend of six years had broken up with me, and my world was in shambles. I would wake up every morning and just think, “Oh. I’m still here.” Stuck in that same situation day after day for two years.
And over those two years, I felt this suffering in my gut and this confusion in my mind. But I knew there was more. I persevered in my meditation practice and started to immerse myself in Buddhist compassion teachings. I stumbled upon the book The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron, which I endlessly recommend to this day. It is a very short book and yet it took me six months to work through because it kept pointing out everything within myself that I had tried so hard to ignore.
Every day I strived to make peace with the suffering, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. But either way I would wake up every morning at the beginning again, feeling like shit. And again I would work through it during the day. This did a lot to soften my heart and enthusiastically introvert my attention away from the world and into myself. I grew to value non-attachment and love.
Of course, all of that suffering I described was circumstantial. Eventually I found a direction for my life, I moved out of the house, I experienced new loves, and my world changed. By then, however, I wasn’t fooled. I had known suffering, it had pointed me to a profound and intimate realization within, and I wasn’t about to be seduced by a pleasurable change in circumstances. I was grateful for that change, but I didn’t forget my path inward.
To and fro goes the way. Suffering did come again. And so did relief and pleasure. Nothing is permanent in this world, everything is temporary and transient. Good things and bad. The right amount of suffering turns us away from this false dichotomy of good and bad to find something indescribable, blissful, and beyond them both.
Instead of resenting your own suffering or the seemingly better fortune of others, contemplate the habitable zone of suffering and what the emphasis really should be.
You can read it between the lines of my preface of that post:
What I said: “Very nervous to post this given how much great Outlander fanfiction there is out there, but I hope you enjoy! “
Translation: FCK FCK FCK FCK I FEEL SO DUMB AND RIDICULOUS WHY AM I DOING THIS INTRUDER ALERTS WILL BE GOING OFF THE SECOND I POST THIS, WHO AM I KIDDING THEY’RE ALREADY GOING OFF I”M SETTING THEM OFF MYSELF AND RUNNING THROUGH THE HALLS SOMEONE PLEASE STOP ME BUT ALSO LOVE ME IMMEDIATELY READ IT BUT ALSO DON’T READ IT OH JESUS H ROOSEVELT CHRIST MAKE IT STOP
And yet, here we are a year later.
I want to sincerely thank you all for being so unbelievably supportive, pretty much from day one. You guys are incredible, and I can’t thank you enough for reading, reblogging, commenting on, making art for, and generally loving on my writing and giving me an amazing community and creative outlet in a very strange period of my life. You guys rock.
It was barely a murmur, but I jumped and nearly fell into the creek as I snapped my head around to face—
“Papa, how did you kn—” I turned back away from him and wiped my tears furiously on my sleeve, mortified at how my voice seemed to vanish, “—know I was here?”
I felt the warmth of him settling on the log next to me, his hand coming to rest softly on the small of my back. “Wee Roger told me what happened, lass.”
What happened. The tears welled up again in force, and my throat went so tight that—
Jamie turned and gathered me to him, letting me sob my heart out onto the shoulder of his clean shirt. “You’ll find your way wi’ Brianna, lass,” he said firmly, smoothing my hair and cupping my head tenderly to him. “I promise.”
But nearly two weeks at River Run hadn’t helped me find me any such a way.
It wasn’t any one thing wrong in particular causing the trouble between my sister and me. It was a seemingly infinite series of small ones, all culminating in the overwhelming conclusion that Brianna and I might never have a mutually-fulfilling relationship.
Everything just seemed to fall apart when the the two of us spoke or interacted for any prolonged period of time. We seemed to be forever misinterpreting each others’ words and tones; making bad assumptions misunderstanding one another at every other turn; not finding the same things funny or interesting; gravitating toward different company. …. except, critically, ROGER.
He and I had already formed a bond before Brianna and I had met, and THAT was a problem. It was what had prompted the showdown this afternoon, in fact. Roger had sought me out to see if I wanted to go for a ride, just the two of us. We hadn’t spent time one-on-one for more than a few minutes since I’d arrived at River Run, and I’d been thrilled to accept his suggestion. I liked Roger greatly, and wanted to hear about how he and Brianna were doing and maybe get his point of view on how I might be better able to connect with her.
Brianna, though, had been truly hurt by the notion that Roger wanted to spend time with me without her present, and an argument at the stables had become a full-out shouting match. She had all but forgotten me during the altercation, for all of her words were directed at Roger, but my presence was at the core of every word.
Did he prefer my company to hers?
Was he getting bored of her?
Was he wanting to make a SWITCH?
I’d slipped quietly away from the brawl, toward the woods, trying my very best not to cry until I’d gotten out of earshot of the stables.
“I can’t do anything right by her, Papa,” I sobbed. All of the pain and hurt clung to me like leeches, stabbing me with guilt. “Everything I try—anytime I try to act differently, to reach her or understand better, just—backfires, and she hates me all the more for it.”
“She doesna hate ye, Faith,” Jamie said sharply. “I see your hurt, but I see hers, too. She doesna hate ye,” he repeated. “Ye must trust me on that, at least.”
I nodded as I pulled back and wiped my eyes. He meant well, but it was wishful thinking, at best.
“Though I must confess something to ye, mo chridhe,” he said, of a sudden, “sometimes, I feel precisely the same.”
That took me aback and I coughed, sniffling to catch my breath. “Feel how?”
“That I canna do anything right by her.”
I peered at him, my eyes still burning.
“Truly? But you two seem—”
“Aye, we seem,” he said, nodding, “but it’s something we have to work at, aye?” Jamie rose and knelt by the water, rummaging lightly in the sand. “Ye know, for as much as you seem a copy of your mother and Brianna one of me, you and I are quite remarkably alike, mo nighean dubh.”
God, how I loved Jamie Fraser—because he was my father, yes; because of all he’d done for me, yes; but also simply for himself. The way he had placed his immediate attention on finding skipping stones to give me time to compose myself, to allow me privacy and time to absorb what he was about to say without feeling I was under scrutiny.
“How are we alike, Papa?” I asked, feeling the rush of tenderness flood through me despite my inner turmoil. Yes, I could easily see why he’d made a lifelong impression upon Claire Beauchamp. Jamie Fraser was a man of heart and of care; of love.
“Well, in many ways, in fact, in our manner and look….but at present, I mean that we’re both outsiders of this new family,” he said, skipping a stone thrice before it plonked into the deep water. “Claire and Brianna—they’ve had one another for twenty years, from the very beginning. They ken one another: their moods and tendencies; everything.” He skipped another, managing five jumps this time. “And compared to that, you and I….well, we can hardly be anything but at a disadvantage, aye?”
I made a sound in my throat, part snort, part sob. I knew, alright.
He went on. “You and I are just getting to know one another, true. But on top of that, I’m still learning Claire again and getting to know Brianna for the first time; and I make mistakes in plenty, in that.” He managed to skip a stone clear to the far bank of the creek. “There’s love between Bree and I, yes, and true affection and liking, too; and yet I’ll say something that vexes her, and I willna ken what in God’s name to say to make it right. Claire is the only reason I havena driven Brianna to clobber me upside the head these last months.”
Despite everything, I laughed, and Jamie smiled, too. “You and I are alike,” he repeated, “in that we’re still strangers to them, Faith: beloved, important, worthy of their love—but still strangers, in one form or another. It’s joy to build these bonds that join the four of us, utter joy— but not effortless, aye?”
“No indeed,” I laughed darkly. “It seems more effort than joy, for me.”
“But it will be joy, when the two of ye connect at last, aye?” he asked, looking over in concern. “Ye do wish to have something better wi’ her?”
“Yes,” I said at once, “God, it’s keeping me up at night longing for it, Papa. I’m just not sure I’ll ever be able to understand Brianna enough to be a good sister. Everything I do is a misstep—it seems I fail to meet her expectations every single day, in some way or other. We get into the same bed every night, and I’m… afraid! Afraid to say anything to her at all! I seek out Fergus so often because I’m scared to take up too much time and energy from Roger and Ian, and even more so from you and Maman—because I don’t want her to feel I’m taking too much of her people for myself.”
There was true consternation on his face at that, verging on anger. “Has she said as much? That she resents the time ye—”
“No!” I said hastily, waving my hands in dismissal. “No, not at all, I just…NO, I …” I sighed. “It’s only that I tend toward anxiety and avoidance, when I’m afraid, comprends?” I clenched the fabric of skirt in my fists, not meeting his eye. “Fixate and flee. That’s my way.”
Lord, wasn’t that the truth? That’s why it had taken me MONTHS and intense encouragement from Oliver to leave the twenty-second-century and actually set out to find my family—because I’d been too caught up in the what ifs and my many, many crippling fears. It’s why going directly to Ocracoke had been such a leap—I’d faced the danger head-on, and WON.
Only, the tragedy was that I hadn’t managed to ground that victory in my heart, going forward. I wished I was the woman who’d battled at the stones; but here, in this, I was no more than a small, scared girl.
“No,” I repeated, doing my best to reassure him, “and please, don’t tell her—or anyone—that I suggested such a thing. It’s just…” I looked up to the canopy of trees overhead, as if the correct words might be found up there, “—difficult… in all the ways I perhaps feared it would be. And…it makes me feel as though I’m not supposed to be here, after all.”
“Listen to me, now.” Jamie knelt and took my hand in his, my cheek in his other. “You’re our daughter, Faith, our child; our firstborn child, and nothing,” he gave me a gentle shake for emphasis, eyes blazing into mine, “nothing—not even Brianna—will ever come between you and your mother and me. Do ye hear me, lass? Not ever. I willna allow it.”
So vehement were his words, so intense his guileless blue eyes, that I couldn’t help but believe.
I nodded and put my arms around his neck. I savored the comfort of his words and his embrace, trusting in them, at least while their love encircled me.
A long time later, he kissed my cheek and pulled me to my feet, leading me to the water’s edge, where we had a friendly rock-skipping competition. He won, of course, but he didn’t gloat, and even taught me how better to adjust my grip and wrist.
“I think, too,” he said abruptly, after I’d managed a ten-skip run, “she’s that wee bit jealous, ken?”
“Bree? Jealous of me?”
“Aye,” he said, brows drawn as he lobbed a stone of his own. “Can ye no’ see it? You’ve such a strong sense of self, Faith,” he went on, at the shake of my head. “The steadiness and sweetness ye have, coupled wi’ your prodigious learning and all the things ye’ve done and seen. Everyone admires ye so greatly, Brianna included.” He picked up another stone and rubbed it between his fingers. “And that’s so verra far from where Bree is, in her own life.”
“People love Bree, too!” I countered, “Hell, Ian hangs on her every word! She’s beautiful; she’s funny. Her paintings are exquisite. And Lord, you call me a prodigy but she’s a genius. She can do things with numbers at a speed I can’t even fathom! So don’t make me out to be some marvel,” I said, heating up in defense of her, “when she’s just as—”
“I know, I know, Faith,” Jamie said, laughing a little and touching my shoulder in reassurance. “She’s got just as much to be proud of as you. But,” he said pointedly, finding another rock, “Brianna came back through the stones to us at a crucial time in her life—a time when a lass of her upbringing would be making important decisions about her occupation, her life’s direction, aye? University or marriage or whatever else….and she chose to come here.”
He skipped the rock but missed atrociously and ended up clattering it on a boulder halfway across.
He sighed. “Lord knows, I thank Him every day that she did, if only to give us the chance to be a family for a time, at least… but it’s hard for her, ken? She doesna ken what is to be her place here. You’ve your healing, your languages; and on top of it, you’ve been accustomed since a bairn to moving about and adapting to new times and places and folk. Brianna….” He shook his head again. “She's—still so young aye? Young in age and in experience; and she’s come to a new time not even knowing properly who she wishes to be, be it here or in her own place. Do ye see, lass?”
I felt my heart twinge with pain and sadness—not for myself. For my sister.
“Yes, I see, precisely.”
I had come to River Run craving so deeply to be loved and to feel as if I belonged, that I hadn’t fully stopped to consider how greatly my sister was yearning for the same things. It had been a foregone conclusion, to me, that Brianna was established and confident and seeing me as an outsider—but now that he put it that way—
Brianna must feel as lost as me.
“It may take more time, yet,” my father was saying, hugging me in that way that made me feel bowled over by utter warmth and safety, “but you’re doing just fine, dear heart. And the two of ye will find your rhythm, in time. She just wants to find her place, same as the rest of us.”
“This feels very official, does it not?” Fergus whispered to me in French, his eyes flicking around Jocasta’s huge dining table where sat in conference Fergus, me, Brianna, Roger, Ian, Jamie, and Claire.
“Definitely,” I whispered back in the same language, grinning, “I should have brought my gavel!”
It did feel a bit absurdly formal, for all of us to be gathered here in broad daylight with no food before us, as though we were conducting a meeting of some board of trustees….but it was a matter of family business, after all. We’d been taking our ease these last two weeks, enjoying the chance to be together, but it was time to begin making plans to get back to Wilmington and take possession of the print shop before the season turned cold and winter set in.
Jamie had conveniently selected this time, knowing that Jocasta would be napping. As grateful as I knew he was for his aunt’s lavish hospitality toward the overabundant brood of relations that had taken up residence under her roof, we all knew it was best to conduct these planning discussions without her formidable presence looming, else we would all be obliged to submit to her suggestions—and this next phase of life was about the Frasers.
“If you’re quite finished,” Jamie was saying, giving Fergus and me a stern look that made both of us grin like naughty children before quieting, “I’ve been in communication wi’ the landlord in Wilmington and he’s agreed to let us have the vacant shop next door at half price, as it’s gone unrented for so long.”
“Another shop?” piped up Wee Ian. “What for, Uncle?”
“A surgery,” Claire blurted, transparent in her overflow of excitement. “A place where people can come to get medicines, get their teeth seen to, wounds mended, and so on.”
I loved seeing Maman’s passion shining through her usual reserve. I smiled at her, and she smiled back.
“And you’re going to be the healer, Auntie Claire?”
“Aye, your Auntie is a rare fine healer, Ian, but so is your cousin,” Jamie was saying, inclining his head toward me.
“Oui, superbe!” Fergus added. “You should have seen how she mended me on our journey.”
Roger, damn him, piped in about some small scratch I had tended on the road south from Richmond, and I smiled but found my cheeks reddening and my gaze darting toward Brianna across the table from me. Her face was stony.
God, everyone, change the subject, stop talking about me, please, PLEASE change the subject!
Thankfully, Claire did. “So, we’ll have the two shops operating side by side. There seems to be a lack of printers AND healers in Wilmington at present, so with all of us working together, we should be able to turn a profit fairly quickly, pay back Jocasta her loan, and be operating on our own two feet financially by next summer, if we manage the books judiciously.”
“Well said, Sassenach,” Jamie said, making a note with his quill. “Now, Faith, lass, you’re of course to work mostly wi’ your mother at the surgery; Fergus and Roger will be needed wi’ me at the print shop; Brianna and Ian,” he said, turning to the two youngest of our contingent, “you’ll be of great use in supporting both establishments, going back and forth to—”
“I could be the one to manage the books,” Brianna said suddenly, her face brightening more fully than I’d seen her in weeks. Her voice was urgent with enthusiasm, in fact. “I got top marks in my accountancy courses, and I’d love to try my hand at it.”
“Do not worry yourself, Brianna.” Fergus met Bree’s eye with a charming, apologetic smile. “It’s been my own task for years, Milord’s bookkeeping. It would be no great task at all for me to continue doing so.”
I kicked Fergus under the table. He grunted and gave me a WHAT? kind of look. I gave him one in return (‘Don’t call the one thing for which she’s excited ‘no great task at all’!), but he didn’t seem to comprehend.
“True,” Brianna said sharply and carefully, her nostrils flaring, and I couldn’t tell if she was trying not to cry or not to throttle Fergus, “but you’re also needed as one of the primary writers for the paper, in addition to Da. Let me take this part of your plate. I’m excellent at math and figuring. I know I can do it.”
Fergus gaped and stammered a bit. If I was at odds with Brianna in our sibling relationship, he certainly was. Despite having several months advance in opportunities to get to know him, Brianna hadn’t known quite what to make of this pseudo-sibling, and vise versa.
“Aye, you’re certainly good at maths, hen,” Roger said gently. Damn him, he had the gall to look uncomfortable as Fergus at this turn of events. “But you’ve never actually managed a business operation before. Fergus has. Don’t you think he might be the more natural choice?”
Brianna looked as though Roger had slapped her. Despite her height, her Red-Jamie-intensity and general ill humor these last few weeks, she looked so young and vulnerable and hurt, I wanted to take her into my arms as I’d done at Craigh na Dun. Jesus H Christ, Rog, I wanted to scream at him, YOU should come to her support first above everyone, you
“Brianna can do it,” I said, bolting to my feet before I even stopped to consider the movement, and drawing all twelve eyes directly to me like laser beams. Bree looked as startled as the rest of them, but wary, to boot, and also…touched?
I balled my fists and plowed forward, trying not to look at her. No fixating. No fleeing. “She’s the best with numbers and reckoning of any of us at this table. You should have seen her the other day helping Ulysses with calculations for the provisions order from New Bern. She did it all in her head, like THAT!” I snapped my fingers for emphasis. “Calculations you would have had to do on paper, Fergus. Sorry, but it’s true” I said, with a significant look and a regretful grimace, though it was indeed the truth. “She’s the best equipped of all of us to take care of the finances. It’s got to be Bree.”
“Fergus?” Jamie asked with raised eyebrows, carefully, neutrally.
Fergus saw the fire in my expression and—bless him—swallowed back a retort. “Very well. The job is yours, Brianna.”
She took a deep breath and smiled almost shyly. “Thank you. If I get stuck at any point, you’ll help me?”
“Of course, ma chère,” he said with grace and a smile that said all was well. I squeezed his hand under the table.
“Well, then, that settles it,” Jamie said, making a note on his paper. “Brianna, lass, you shall be our financière.”
We moved hastily on to other business, to dates and plans, packing lists and arguments over whether or not Rollo would be joining us; but Brianna made sure to catch my eye as soon as possible. For once, her expression was soft, open, no hostility or suspicion. She simply smiled and mouthed, “Thank you.”
My breath caught and my heart squeezed as I smiled back and silently whispered. “Got your back,” and the grin she tried and failed to suppress melted my heart completely.
I could have sworn I saw the corner of Jamie’s mouth twitching. As I smiled at him, the twitch blossomed into a beaming glow just for me. Good lass.
My mind suddenly came out a good idea on drawing Lance but I drew a sketch on the paper cause I don’t want to go into art block and ruin a good drawing.
Anyways, have this drawing of Lance.
I tried to make it aesthetic in every way but I keep failing, the more I try, the more I fail.
Oh yeah, also the watermark is my other username in my other social media.
Some slightly adult content at the very end, nothing crazy though
As she approached the very same cell Benvolio had occupied just days before, Rosaline shuddered and had to remind herself that he was safe back at House Montague. He no longer awaited execution…he’d been cleared of all accusations leveled against him. She’d seen him back to his home…his villa now, though the transfer of title and power had not yet been formally made…before excusing herself under the guise of seeing her sister. She would see Livia…after making this brief stop first.
Damiano Montague looked up as the guard led her to him. The same guard, she noted, that she’d bribed to allow her to see his nephew. “L-Lady Rosaline! Thank the Lord you have come, perhaps you will be able to speak sense to Benvolio! The Prince will surely execute me if he does not rescind his accusations!”
Fury burned her cheeks, and Rosaline took a calming breath before speaking. “Your nephew is a good and honorable man, Signor Montague.” He flinched at the informal title…one small victory. “Despite his upbringing, he grew into a kind and gentle soul…seeking to love and be loved above all else. He would far sooner offer his hand to help someone up than raise it to harm even an enemy. He is the best man I know…despite you.” The man, staring at her dumbfounded, opened his mouth to speak, but Rosaline silenced him with a glare. “I will never hope to understand how you could have deprived a hurting boy affection, security…love. I cannot fathom how you justified to yourself abusing him day after day. I am sure I will never know the true extent of what you did to him…and yet.” An affectionate smile curled her lips. “And yet, he would not see you dead. Your nephew requested that the Prince stay your execution…that he allow you to live out your days in this prison. In spite of all the grief you brought to him, he refuses to see the last of his blood killed. Make no mistake, though, Damiano.” She stepped closer to his cell, all pretense of nicety gone in an instant. “So long as there is breath in my body, I will do whatever it takes to ensure he does not suffer another moment by your doing. You failed in every attempt to break him; instead, he became the Lord your House truly deserves…he became the man I imagine his father would have raised him to be.” Her proud smirk left Damiano withering before her. “I suppose that means you have failed in every way...even the murder of your brother could not hinder his influence on his rightful heir. And where his blood failed him day after day, I will honor your nephew with the love and devotion he so desperately deserves. He will have the family you tried to take from him, and he will lead House Montague to a greatness that you could never have hoped to achieve. Goodbye, Singor. You shall not see either of us again. May God have mercy on your soul.”
Before Damiano could gather his wits to form a reply, Rosaline turned and left the dungeon without a second glance. She knew there was a chance that Benvolio would be displeased with her visit to his uncle, but she could not bring herself to care; if anyone deserved a champion, it was him, and Rosaline would fill that role for the rest of her life. Every word she’d spoken was true, though he would never speak most of them on his own behalf.
Heero waited and watched from the darkness of the nearby park as the fires were extinguished by the fire department. He watched horrified men, women and children huddled together nearby as they watched their homes burn and perish in the flames.
Hours had passed. The people had been taken away. Fences had been erected to keep people away from the rubble until the blast was completely investigated. The ash from the fires that burned wildly a couple of hours before had collected in the climate control systems overhead and was now trickling down to the ground like snow, covering the debris with a thin layer of gray soot.
He hadn’t moved. When the emergency crews arrived he should have fled. He could have been caught. It was the right thing to do. He couldn’t risk his mission. It was what he was trained to do, but something told him to stay. He had to see her. He had to know if she was okay.
He had seen everyone who had come out of the apartment building alive. There were men, women and children alike. But not her. She wasn’t among them.
He wasn’t saddened by this. He wasn’t disturbed or upset. He didn’t feel anything except a slight anxiety. He had to see her. He didn’t know why, he just had to.
Once all of the rescue personnel and response crews had gone he climbed the fence and began his search. Calmly he walked through the still steaming rubble searching for her. He had watched them extract a few bodies from the wreckage but none seemed to fit her description. He searched under slabs of cement and dug through flickering piles of ember for any sign of her but there was nothing.
Maybe she wasn’t home, he rationalized. However, just as he had decided this something caught his eye.
Summary: For never was a story of more woe, than this of Y/N and her Dean…
Word Count: 2k-ish
Warnings: AU, Angst, Mentions of Character Deaths, Mentions of Suicide (not explicit, but it’s there), JUST A LOT OF ANGST.
Author’s Note: Hey my beauties. So this is my entry for @impalaimagining‘s Dean’s Birthday Challenge. I got the song “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss. It’s AU, but I got the idea and well..yeah. This song killed me and writing it also killed me. I cried. So, I hope you all don’t hate me after reading this. And…yeah…I’m sorry. *hides face*
I watched her walk away, the sound of her footsteps fading with each passing second. I couldn’t even find the strength to go after her. Not after her words. They had struck hard and good, right here, in my chest, straight into my heart.
I felt it shatter, the moment those words left her lips, the whole damn world stopped on its axis. The sound of my breaking heart loud in my ears, almost deafening. I stood there, mind numb, tears filling my eyes, my bottom lip quivering with her hurtful words.
“It’s over. I don’t love you, Dean. I never did.”
My life was over. I knew it. There was no going back after this. There was no going back from Y/N L/N. Life, as I knew it, was over. There was nothing left for me in this world. Nothing at all.
Listen. I don’t actually expect anybody to read these little write-ups of mine. I write them for a lot of reasons; to blow off steam, to make myself laugh, to feel superior in some totally self-contained way, to engaged in some form of intercourse with an otherwise intangible but much beloved object. But sometimes, some special times, I find myself entangled with an absolutely loathsome, irredeemable piece of fucking nothing that I can’t forget about, maybe won’t forget about, in my shitty, clingy, mentally ill fashion.
DREAMCATCHER is such a movie.
I saw DREAMCATCHER in theaters in 2003, absolutely expecting a benignly generic Stephen King potboiler that I would quickly forget. It has a million recognizable stars both before and behind the camera, received a legit theatrical release, and, you know…I mean, it seemed like it SHOULD be substantially better than, say, THINNER. My intuition failed me in every possible way, and I have failed to forget it to this day. And even stranger, as far as I know, people do not discuss DREAMCATCHER. It certainly didn’t succeed, but it also didn’t garner the ISHTAR-type notoriety that I now believe to be deserved. The film, adapted from a King novel by beloved screenwriter William Goldman (of PRINCESS BRIDE and MARATHON MAN and BUTCH CASSIDY fame), and directed by Lawrence Kasdan (mainly a writer contributing to EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), features a startling ensemble cast with names ranging from Morgan Freeman to Donnie Wahlberg. No number of snowy, sparkly posters for this critical and mostly-financial failure could begin to suggest to you what these people actually DO in this movie–at least, not in public.
Kasdan’s two hour and fourteen minute behemoth takes its indulgent time introducing you to–actually, let me cut to the chase. The DREAMCATCHER story is structured exactly like Stephen King’s more popular IT. A group of estranged pals are prompted by psychic signals to meet back up and revisit strange events from their shared adolescence, in exactly the same town of Derry, ME where the events of IT transpire. One of the few, but very important differences present in DREAMCATCHER is that the young cast here does not experience the agony and nausea of blossoming hetero puberty. DREAMCATCHER has an all-male cast, and the screen time taken up by female performers in this epic amounts to the proverbial blink of an eye. No one in DREAMCATCHER is other than insistently straight, but…well, you’ll see.
A lengthy introduction smooshes us up against the main characters, a group of variously dysfunctional dudes burdened with precognitive abilities that they attribute to the gang’s missing member, a developmentally disabled young man named Duddits. One of many flashbacks introduces us to this character by way of a kind off locker room beatoff fantasy, in which Duddits is ensnared by two hunky jocks who have stripped him almost nude and are trying to force him into eating some shit they found somewhere. The DREAMCATCHER gang interrupts this congress, cradling Duddits and tenderly singing him torch songs, and are collectively rewarded with psychic powers and future superheroic obligations. The latter are forecast by flashbacks in which Duddits warns the group to watch out for…Mister Gay. I mean, this will turn out to be a mispronunciation of something more sinister, but also…well, again, you’ll see.
(There is no especially good reason for this to be called DREAMCATCHER so don’t worry about it)
So anyway, in order to cope with their adult-times psychic disturbances, the buddies all get together at a snowbound cabin to catch up and settle up with their memories. No sooner do they start defensively talking about sex with women in this manly rural setting, than a frostbitten stranger arrives and starts farting up a storm. Said farting is so horrific that they put the man to bed, whereupon he promptly shits out a vicious monster that I can only properly explain is a boner with a gaping pussy on the end of it. After it multiplies and unceremoniously dispatches some of the established characters, generally by latching onto their cockandballses orally and thrashing about, one of the survivors (Damian Lewis) is suddenly psychically possessed by a fruity british-sounding entity called “Mister Gray”–an infantile code for the fact that the stereotypical “grays” are invading our planet and our assholes en masse. That’s right, Stephen King has elevated the idea of the anal probe to a full-on global rape fantasy starring spermy-looking monsters that our heroes seriously refer to as “shit weasels”.
This is all very DELIVERANCE-y, with the cast’s tenuous experiment with intimacy tainted by a paranoid vision of anal violation and male pregnancy. You’d think this would be more than enough to land DREAMCATCHER firmly in the realm of the most witlessly awful movies produced by Hollywood in recent memory. It’s not. No insult is ever enough for DREAMCATCHER. Just as you’ve gotten used to this scatalogical straight guy nightmare about dudely closeness, things take a turn for the worse. Our remaining hero (the great and very strange) Thomas Jane is evacuated from this male bonding session by none other than Morgan Freeman, a black ops military man who absconds with him in a helicopter and plops him down in an internment camp full of locals infected and/or infested by the aforementioned shit weasels.
Well, to be more particular, Morgan Freeman is a REGULAR military officer, who is ALSO secretly a black ops elite guy. Who just goes on to do regular authoritative things that either a regular general OR a black ops commander would do. SO WHY THE FUCK DO I CARE ABOUT HIS SECRET ELITE BLACK OPS THINGS ok never mind. The main thing of Morgan Freeman, as Thomas Jane so concisely and suddenly puts it, is that he “is crazy from hunting aliens for 25 years!” The first and last coherent thing that Morgan Freeman says is to his platonic life partner, the inexplicably adoring fighter pilot Tom Sizemore. “You and I are on the same page,” Freeman says, perfectly understandably…and then, as if this were NOT perfectly understandable, he leans in and huskily intones, ”That is, we’re pissing in the same latrine.” Any experienced reader of Stephen King knows that his standard tactic for relating to the hoi polloi is to compare anything you can think of to pissing and shitting, just in case other basic facts of life are not familiar enough, just in case your whole entire movie isn’t already about shitting–or even if it is, as in the case of DREAMCATCHER. Anyway, after this point, every single thing Morgan Freeman says is a complete waste of the space between your ears. After the first word or two of any given line, I fucking defy you to follow and understand whatever type of Pepperidge Farm Andy Rooney bullshit he is trying to say in this movie.
Meanwhile, for totally no acceptable reason at all, Freeman’s loving retainer Tom Sizemore readily accepts Tom Jane’s story about how anal aliens are taking over the universe and our only hope is his friend with Down’s Syndrome from childhood. As these two race to Massachusetts to retrieve Duddits before Mister Gray/Gay can get to him, DREAMCATCHER unveils one of its other very special features. Throughout the latter two thirds of the movie, the plot is shoved along by various characters delivering extraordinarily long monologues, really just to themselves, about what has been happening in the previous reels of the film. The movie is so long and convoluted that this is almost reasonable, but when your characters are seriously doing something that Adam West’s Batman used to do to be funny…you might have a problem.
Although, everywhere you look in DREAMCATCHER, there is a problem. From the awful romper room music, the bizarre stings that accompany falling snowflakes or drawstring hoods, the shockingly awful catchphrases the come out of every single character’s mouth (i.e. “This fuckeree is turning into a real fuckeroh!”), there is absolutely no escape from this movie’s consummate badness. It reaches a peak, though, when we find Duddits at his mom’s house; Donnie Wahlberg plays this sickly, slurring Forrest Gump character, for which someone should have been arrested. If this condescending, unreasonable romanticization of pathology doesn’t make you uncomfortable, nothing will. Except, perhaps, the fact that Duddits has magical powers from outer space. That’s right, he is promptly put in conflict with Mister Gay, who launches out of his host’s body into his final form, and then both of them engage in an “extra terrestrial battle” that really just resembles a couple of salamanders desperately humping under a blanket for several minutes. At the conclusion of this intergalactic coitus, when the day is won by Duddits, Tom Jane just loudly says hello to his newly de-possessed friend–and then THAT’S THE END OF THE MOVIE. More than two grueling hours have come to no particular conclusion: no resolution of the military situation, no coping with the many Americans trapped in secret concentration camps, no visiting the graves of fallen characters. Jane more or less says “hey, how’s it going!”, and that is the end of that.
Even now that I’ve shat all this out, having seen the movie several times, and thought about it regularly and tormentedly for thirteen years, this still doesn’t feel like enough. As I’ve told many unhappy people over many years, you can never really know what this is like until you see it. Literally every sight and sound in this movie deserves to be addressed for its failings, and yet I just can’t bring myself to inflict that beat sheet on Tumblr. And I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten it all off my chest. I may have to write a book about this to ever be over it. Pray for me. And pray for yourselves.