Suggested Audio Candy
 Evan Peters “Come As You Are”
 Melanie Martinez “Carousel”
Sweet sixteen and never been kissed. Carly Munson knew only too well how that felt. While her peers were busy experimenting with boys and freely sharing their findings, Carly was far more interested with focusing on her studies and just didn’t spot the appeal. She was a particularly late developer; hadn’t gotten her period until fourteen and had precious little in the way of breasts to use as bargaining tools. Her entire tenure at Billingham High had been spent slinking back into the shadows and remaining largely anonymous. As much as she had preferred not to seek the limelight; it had come to her on occasion. Other girls considered her a freak of nature and one of their favorite pastimes was dreaming up new and increasingly demeaning titles for Carly. Shit knickers was a particular darling of theirs; on account of an incident which had occurred way back in seventh grade. She had been suffering from a particularly malevolent strain of gastroenteritis and it manifested midway through an English lecture. They hadn’t let Carly forget it. Kids can be callous; having not yet learned the consequence for their actions, their blatant honesty can proceed them, especially as they’re still sussing out where they fit into the equation themselves. She knew it only too well.
Appearances can be somewhat deceptive. It may have seemed as though she hadn’t a friend in the world but, in truth, Carly was never as alone as these small-minded social savages had figured. While they lurched around their social circles, compromising their integrity and flaunting every last one of their God-given assets; she was only ever required to be in one solitary place. One would be unlikely to discern her interactions as they played out in her mind for the most part. Her anonymity may be shunned at school but her thoughts provided sound reasoning for her decision to embrace wallflower status so readily. Rather than boasting of dozens of fair-weather friends; Carly considered it far shrewder honing in on one and nurturing that with undivided attention and loyalty. Behind closed doors they would become irritable as there was no audience to play off whereas she didn’t suffer from this problem whatsoever. Hers was always captive; regularly complimented her on her appearance and habitually reminded her that she need not hate on herself. This taught Carly the joy of being self-sufficient; not needing rely on others as it wasn’t a numbers game. In a world where your standing depends on how many friends you can boast to have amassed on Facebook, she understood that quality trumped quantity every time.
Those who truly knew of Carly’s mindset consisted largely of one; her parents had long since given up attempting to decipher her sickness and were now content with sitting back and letting her hormones level out some. They didn’t get it and this suited her down to the ground as it meant that solitude consisted of exactly that. Each moment alone was one shared and never was she without a friendly ear to bend or shoulder to cry on. Of course, in any relationship, give and take is a necessity should you wish your affiliation to flourish. She understood the dynamic and frequently demonstrated her willingness to share the workload. The demands of her associate really weren’t that great; a little harmless cutting kept it satisfied for the most part. Her arms were littered with abrasions but not a single one of them had been put there with the intention of punishing herself. She actually rather enjoyed the feel of a cold blade pressing against her skin; it left her intoxicated without exception. Nobody knew of her scars; the campus psychologist Dr Benson would have a field day if he became privy to her tainted tapestry but it was never necessitated that he learn such. Long sleeves masked every gash and nobody need ever be any the wiser.
It had never felt as though any one component was absent; until she first learned of Harry that is. Harry Blumson was, much akin to Carly, largely ignored by his classmates and content to fly under their radar. He kept himself to himself and never once caused a stir or demanded attention like the others. At recess he would sit on the very outskirts of the yard with his head in his books and she found his enthusiasm for garnering knowledge somewhat enticing. There wasn’t just Carly to think of; she felt obliged to run in past her friend as their needs mattered too. Thankfully; a blessing was offered and an exception to the rule provided. Just this one; it wouldn’t be required for him to know everything that went on in that mind of hers, merely enough to share some common ground. He posed no threat, and would only ever play a rather poor second fiddle, but he fascinated Carly and her fixation with Harry prompted further exploration. One day, during lunch break, she plucked up the courage and made her way over to introduce herself.
“Mind if I sit here?”
“As long as you’re not fazed by leprosy”
“I’m a leper too”
“Well in that case pull up a pew”
“Carly I know. We’re in Home Ec together”
“Yes. And Biology”
“So what’s your excuse then Carly?”
“Yeah your excuse. I’m here because I want to be. It doesn’t faze me that they form their own opinions of me as I have no intention of fitting in anyways”
“Nor do I”
“I noticed. People always comment that I exist inside some kind of bubble but they don’t have the slightest idea about who I really am or what’s running through my head at any given moment”
“It’s largely the same for me but I’m sure you know that already”
“I know you’re different. That’s why I agreed for you to join me. Most wouldn’t have even been graced with a response but I don’t consider you a threat”
“Your assumption is correct. You intrigue me Carly. I probably wouldn’t have given the time of day to anyone else”
“Do you want to walk home together after school?”
“Sure. You live on Beacher’s Brook right?”
“I’m about two minutes further on in Petticoat Grove. I’ll walk you straight to your door if you like?”
“Then I’ll meet you at the front gates after last period”
“See ya Carly”
Carly managed to contain her excitement admirably but, the moment her back was turned, a huge shit-eating grin spread across her dimpled cheeks. What a dreamboat Harry was; sure he was nothing special to look at or, at least, not in a conventional sense. However, his mind was an entirely different story and it was this that she found so intoxicating. He had immediately made her feel at ease and shot straight from the hip instead of measuring his replies and needlessly mincing words. This was an altogether different feeling for Carly than anything she had felt until now. Her body had found its voice; butterflies in the pit of her tummy attested to such. Could this be the pangs of first love? She couldn’t be sure; but the fact that no encounter had ever come close to offering the intensity of the one the pair had just shared showed promise on that front. For the first time, Carly was willing to pass up on solitude, leaving herself open to the elements. Ordinarily she would have exercised caution but something inside was telling her not to waste her energy doubting.
It was 3.15 pm and Carly made her way across the campus playing field to the rear entrance, in possession of an additional spring in her stride which was anything but traditional. Somehow she knew he would be there and, despite not observing him initially, she was in no doubt that he would honor their rendezvous. It excited her no end to consider it that and made it all the more exhilarating a prospect. It didn’t take long until she received visual of his coordinates and she even managed a wave as he lifted his head from the book he was reading to acknowledge her advancement. Up until now, the voice in her head had remained largely muted. Suddenly, it stated its concerns and the first seed of doubt was planted.
“You know nothing about him”
“I know enough”
“I’m disappointed by your weakness”
“How is it weakness? I have no intention of sleeping with him”
“Listen to yourself. You have every intention of fucking that boy, you just aren’t aware of it yet”
“Why does it have to be about sex anyway?”
“Have I not taught you anything? It’s always about sex, that’s how you’re wired”
“I just find him interesting”
“At the moment yes. You’ve been seduced by his mind, am I correct”
“It’s nothing that sordid”
“But it’s his intelligence that steals the breath from your lungs”
“It fascinates me”
“Well don’t you think a lad with that many smarts has worked out what to do with his dick yet”
“This conversation is over”
Carly could’ve done without the warning and initially felt ruffled by the crossed words although Harry soon put her back at ease.
“We meet again”
“It would appear so yes”
“What say we blow this pop-stand and begin our adventure?”
“Adventure? I like that. Makes me feel all philanthropic”
Harry gestured for Carly to take the lead.
“Yes. Yes we shall”
The walk back to Carly’s parents’ two floor apartment took around fifteen minutes but they stretched it out for a good half hour. During that time; many things become apparent including their shared fondness for antiques and the old heads perched on both pairs of shoulders. Eventually they made it back to Beacher’s Brook and loitered at the front gate as they continued to resonate with one another.
“Would you like to come up? My parents don’t get back from work until five”
“I would tell you my answer but you already know what that is”
Carly led Harry inside; past the piles of meticulously folded fresh linen by the stairwell and up into her boudoir. Everything you could ever wish to know about her was contained within these four walls. Harry hardly knew where to look first as she ushered him inside; his appreciative eyes fully dilating as they quenched themselves with knowledge. The Pixies were his all-time favorite band and her room was soundly under their jurisdiction. Posters and paraphernalia obscured every last inch of her formerly sterile magnolia walls but the real eye-opener was over in the far corner, perched on her bookshelf, between two rows of fiction. Harry had only once previously seen another marionette quite so enchanting. Despite how cluttered her quarters were; the rag doll stood out like a wicked little beacon. Harry was drawn instantly to the rag doll and commenced to admire her, whilst paying her enough reverence not to touch.
“That’s Miss DeAnnah”
“She is magnificent”
“Isn’t she just? She’s my most prized possession in the whole world”
“I can see why”
Instant acceptance; most would have accused Carly of not having left her childhood behind, whereas Harry appreciated both the true importance of such a delicious chaperone and the sincerity of her affection towards it. She couldn’t help but be taken aback by his reluctance to cast judgement or belittle her for still embracing her youth with such openness. It was as though he knew; like the voice she heard inside her head wasn’t exclusive to her and he could somehow tune into its wavelength.
“You’re really not put off in the slightest are you?”
“Put off? Hell no. In case you haven’t noticed I’m an outcast just like you are. You will also appreciate that this means I’m decidedly in the know. I’m not out of the loop, simply out of their loop”
“I know right? They just can’t fathom it can they? People like us I mean”
“Not the faintest idea. And they never will either. It used to sicken me how they all flock to the piper but now I merely pity them for being so pathetic. Not a single one of them could get their head around Miss DeAnnah in their wildest dreams. However, I understand her majesty”
“You really do, don’t you?”
“Here. Take a look at this”
Harry unzipped his rucksack and commenced to reveal his own dirty little secret.
“Indeed. Isn’t he formidable”
“Name’s Heureux. I call him Monsieur as he likes to feel appreciated”
Harry removed Monsieur Heureux from his solitary confines and placed him on the shelf, alongside Miss DeAnnah. The two appeared as at-ease with one another as Carly and Harry were; like two old souls which had been reintroduced to one another on the back-end of a lengthy hiatus. Carly didn’t mind that he took this liberty as she too felt the chemistry taut between them. Moreover, she knew that the bodily urges she was currently feeling were to be reciprocated by her own potential playmate.
“Would you like to play?”
“I thought you would never ask”
As DeAnnah and Heureux became better reacquainted; so Carly and Harry advanced their reunion to its next plateau.
“Yours is much bigger than mine”
The blade in Harry’s hand was indeed far more burly than the one she brandished.
“I love the intricately crafted design on your handle. I’d swap you any day of the week”
“Yours looks fearless. Decisive”
“It sees me good. Shall we?”
“Where do you feel like starting? Ladies before gentleman is customary here I believe. You lead and I shall gratefully follow”
“I’m feeling frivolous”
“Then embrace that. I will be right by your side”
Carly dug the blade into the soft skin about her shoulder-blade and commenced to twist its jaws beneath the top few tiers, before sliding down to her elbow in one assured motion.
“Feels good doesn’t it?”
“So good. You just don’t know how good that feels”
“Budge up. That’s about to change”
Harry matched her endeavor stride for stride, carving with precisely the same invigoration, until which time as his wound echoed hers.
“I feel like pushing the envelope”
“Then push away Carly. You have my undivided attention and my agony shall mirror yours at every turn”
He was dead romantic. Carly could only but exhale as the realization set in that her suitor was in this for keeps. There were no insecurities in this moment, neither had there been any since the very first instance when their pathways crossed. Miss DeAnnah and Monsieur Heureux watched on dotingly from their elevated vantage as the pair continued to merge their collective penchant for suffering.
“This one will give you a kick Harry”
Carly stabbed herself forcibly in the thigh and her grimace hid a smile as she did. Desperate to share her delectable anguish, he reciprocated a second time. Though his elongated blade nestled deeper into muscle tissue, his flinch was no less joyous.
“How would you feel about sealing our treaty?”
“I’d say absolutely”
Again, their understanding of one another was almost unspoken and both voices inside their heads had subsided as their union had now been fully facilitated. Much as they were now inexplicably joined and about to prove such through action, DeAnnah and Heureux were back in their comfort zone. Separated long ago, they had always expected to one day reunite and granted their blessing as the pair prepared to conglomerate their sensual suffering.
“Are you ready Harry?”
Just then, Carly finally received the kiss she had been craving for so long. It was fleeting, as other plans were at hand, but long enough for both to savor. The synchronicity in which they plunged their respective blades into one another’s chests highlighted just how in-tune they were with one another. It took mere seconds for the blood to seep into their hearts and drown their sorrow from within. As each slumped to the floor and the life ultimately drained away from their mortal shells, the two marionettes finally became animate. No significant movements were necessary; simply a turn of the head and contented smile before becoming dormant once more. Being moved from pillar to post was no fun, even for dolls seemingly immune to feeling. Now they were back together; nothing need ever keep them apart again.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2015