loveletterstosappho

United States of America

writer of stories, lover of girls

Message to Readers

please tell me if this is just a ton of purple prose or if it's too rushed! any other feedback is appreciated as well :)
(this is my 2nd published version with the formatting adjusted slightly, some typos fixed, and small edits made)

there is no destroying a goddess #bigcolor

March 13, 2019

FREE WRITING

25
     Nerida wraps her hands around my neck and kisses me hard. Her grip feels like a collar and her green curls tangled around my limbs feel like chains, but her tongue down my throat feels like freedom. She is, without a doubt, the greatest compilation of paradoxes to ever exist. Green-haired and green-eyed and yet the least jealous person I know; claims she loves the color because it represents fresh starts but if you ask me, it's endings she likes the most.
     When we first met, she swore I was beautiful enough to make her settle down, but all I seem to do now is make her mad when I ask her where the hell she's been after she knocks on our apartment door at 4:00 am, lipstick smudged and wearing perfume that's neither mine nor hers. 
     Acrylic nails dig into the back of my neck to bring me back to the real world, Nerida's world, and time itself seems to pause, Nerida waiting for a response that I take to long to give. 
     "You aren't kissing back," she observes, pulling away. I crumble into the brick wall I was pressed up against as soon as she lets go, no longer supported by steel-boned arms and cold fingers. My skin sticks like glue to graffiti behind me. Maybe its color will melt against me, spray paint seeping into warm blood and staining me green. 
     "Hard to when I'm being choked," I retort. Standing above me, Nerida looks unearthly. The high noon sun hits her at an angle that makes it seem as though she is the one glowing, more blinding than any star or supernova in the cosmos, and the sun is merely reflecting her light. There is no doubting that something more like ichor than blood runs through her veins, that she is beyond human. Holy, almost.
     Some kind of goddess.
     She laughs and it sounds like the universe imploding, collapsing in on itself. 
     "Clever girl," she says, then pins my shoulders to brick again. I close my eyes and relinquish control. 
     She likes me better when I'm weak. 

     -dear goddess, have mercy. dear goddess, take pity. dear goddess, am i not devout enough?-

     I win a game of cards for the third night in a row, but I must be careful surfing the wave of victory. Drowning is always a threat.
     Nerida is not a graceful loser, though she is not a sore one, either. Setting aside the cards, she pulls two bottles of beer out of the fridge and pops them open. One goes to me and the other to her, clinked together in a toast, then sipped simultaneously. There's a brief silence, during which suspense makes gallows out of my heartstrings. From her lips, I shall hang. 
     "How did work go?" she drawls, but I can tell from the way her nails tap on her beer, aggressive strikes against the glass, that she already knows. I press my own nails into my palms, green acrylic biting into soft flesh. If I push hard enough, purple crescents will appear, and if I push even harder, maybe blood will, too. 
     "Well?" she prompts, "I heard from a little bird that someone was promoted?"
     "Susan was promoted," I tell her, "Not me." 
     "Why?" Good question. 
     
In fact, it's such a good question that it hangs in midair beside me, a word and a girl hanging from the noose on the tip of Nerida's tongue. 
     There is no right answer. If I tell her I don't know, she will ask me what the hell I do know. If I tell her it's because Susan is a hard worker who deserves a promotion, she will ask me why the hell I don't work harder. 
     If I tell her it's because I'm worthless and don't deserve it, she will agree. 
     I take a long drink from my beer instead of answering. 
     A long, long drink. 

     -dear goddess, have mercy. dear goddess, take pity. dear goddess, am i not devout enough?-

     I come home late one night and find her retching in the bathroom, long arms clutching the toilet bowl, green nails against porcelain. Tears streak down her face in sharp rivers, black from mascara and shimmery from eyeshadow. It's a good thing her hair is pulled back into a French braid; trails of vomit are smeared on her arms and on the rug. She is drowning in herself, in her own puke and tears. 
     I crouch down beside her and wipe away polluted tears. They taste like her name— of the sea
     She likes me better when I'm weak, but knows I pity her more when it's her who is weak. She knows how to play this game. Light a match and set me aflame. Before I burn and rise from the ashes, a phoenix flying to freedom, drown me in salt water and anchor me down with guilt. 
     It works every time. 

     -dear goddess, have mercy. dear goddess, take pity. dear goddess, am i not devout enough?-

     Glass shatters at my feet and I don't know if it's because it was thrown or if Nerida's voice, shrill and screaming, broke it and sent the shards flying at me. Maybe it's a wine glass and maybe it's a beer bottle and maybe it's a flower vase but I'll be damned if I have any idea why the world is spinning around me. I'm damned no matter what in God's name happens because it's not his name that matters, it's Nerida's. No lords above, no deities, could possibly help me for if they exist, she is, without a doubt, one of them. There is no stopping a goddess from smashing glass at your feet and screaming that you're worthless until the world can hear and it won't stop ringing in your ears. 
     There is no stopping a goddess from chaining you down, from repeatedly burning you and drowning you unless you burn yourself first. 
     Nerida steps forward, unbothered by the glass shards, and grabs my throat, slams me against the wall. This time, I know she will not kiss me. 
     There is no stopping a goddess from destroying you unless you destroy her first, and there is no destroying a goddess. 
     But I'm damned if I try and I'm damned if I don't. She'll give me hell either way. 
     I thrash against her grip, claw at her arms because her nails might be sharp but so are mine, and she may be steel-boned but she is still just that- still just bones. Never has she ever put her hands on me like that and never have I ever tried to fight back and now both things are happening at once, new and sharp and discordant, smashed piano keys that never sound right. Nerida stumbles back, letting go of me, letting go of me, letting go of me, and from the floor, I grab the first piece of glass my hand finds. I level the point to Nerida's neck. Its edges cut into my fingers but the skin there will heal— if I stay, I will never heal. I will never stop breaking. 
     "I want out," I say. There is no stopping a goddess from repeatedly burning and drowning you unless you burn yourself first, and here I am, striking the match to light myself ablaze. 
     "Then get the hell out!" Nerida trembles, and whether it's from rage or fear or adrenaline I have no idea. She spits the words at me like venom flying from fangs, the same way a spitting cobra projects venom to protect itself. It's her attempt to regain dignity, even though we both know that I'm the one in control, the one holding glass against her throat. 
     "Don't move," I warn, "And just so you know, I'm not coming back."
     "Like I'd ever want you back here." There's no way she's not shocked, though, because never have I ever threatened to leave. Never would I have thought I'd follow through on my threat, either.
     There is no stopping a goddess from destroying you unless you destroy her first, and there is no destroying a goddess, and yet here I am, doing just that. 
     The universe implodes around me. 

     -dear goddess, have mercy. dear goddess, take pity. dear goddess, am i not devout enough?-

     Acetone swishes in the bowl as I set it down. I press my fingertips to the bottom of the bowl, letting my nails soak. The cuts on my fingers have healed but I have another half an hour to wait to remove any trace of her from my nails. I don't want my nails identical to hers, and besides, they need time to heal. So do I. Listening to my audiobook—Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn—helps pass the time. 
     When the acrylic softens, I pull my hands out of the bowl, still dripping wet. Gently, I use a pair of tweezers to pry the acrylic away from my nail. Broken green plastic falls from each fingertip.
     Freedom. 
for Big Blue's contest! i feel like it's kind of rushed, probably because i somewhat rushed to finish this haha. 
all fictional, just to clarify!
my color is green and my object is acrylic nails. i hope i incorporated both of those elements enough???? ahhh idk. 

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12 Comments
  • fatpanda

    omggg i can't believe I haven't seen this before, but it is just amazing. wow. you've brought both the characters to life fantastically, and whatever details you've incorporated into this are brilliant, really. I feel you describe nerida as a toxic (?) person perfectly, and it really resonates with me because I could relate really well to what was going on here. the language and writing style used is amazing, and damn I want to read something like this again. can't wait to see more from you!


    4 months ago
  • JadeAndSerpentine

    omg AMAZING


    8 months ago
  • bride124

    This is one of the best stories I have ever read! I never, ever wanted to end. Great work!


    8 months ago
  • Kahte

    this was and intense shock of vibrant words. it hit me hard. you are so talented. write free


    9 months ago
  • L.B. Stoltz

    I love how this beautiful story is. Nerida is the name of a or in some stories, one of the most important sea nymphs. I feel this Goddesses mood swings could relate. The bouncing back between ease and abysmal anger. The passion that is only granted on boats on their way home or to the sinking of lovers on the verge of a watery grave. I'm completely enamored with how clearly and refreshingly you describe this encounter.
    In other words, your writing is wonderful!


    9 months ago
  • acrosstheskysky

    oh my goodness this is AMAZING wow. reading it felt like an adrenaline rush. i love love the description and ahhh this whole piece is so creative and beautiful and a work of art


    9 months ago
  • ghostlyglory

    so so beautiful. i literally read this five times. vivid, lush, gay: everything i could ever ask for.


    9 months ago
  • loveletterstosappho

    thank you all so so much, your words mean the world to me <3


    9 months ago
  • Johanna

    What is this magic that I see? How did you get this whole beautiful masterpiece out of that one, little prompt? You are so, so talented. I still can't get over this.


    9 months ago
  • Onion3102

    This is intensely beautiful + everything Anha has said!


    9 months ago
  • paperbird

    can i repeat everything anha said? this is BEAUTIFUL


    9 months ago
  • Anha

    oof, are you trying to kill me with your perfect words? this is amazingly presented - the subject matter clear and you never once had to explicitly state it. that, i believe, is the talent of a truly gifted writer. this is a stunning piece - i hope you win. my only criticism is that i only saw two or three mentions of the acrylic nails - perhaps you could bring more attention to them somehow? (maybe i'm imagining things) anyway - amazing work!


    9 months ago