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About MythOfHappiness

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    Brighton Colorado
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    Hiking, sleeping, podcasts (I effing love podcasts), books, and videogames that I can play while listening to podcasts.

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  1. Through my window And into yours I watched you dancing You spun and swayed to music I couldn't hear In your eyes I saw the lyrics In your movements I felt the beat Of blood made form, given shape I drank you in and whispered quiet Apologies and praises and curses in your name If we spoke you'd take me to the river If we touched you'd push me under If we kissed you'd give me breath again But for now you dance through panes of glass And pains of love and drowning settle in my lungs Hold me to the floor Take my breath and my skin and my form Shred me like wet paper Let me bleed for you and drink me in Sweet and bitter on your tongue, unworthy A drop of sweat slides down your brow And your movements are faster now, frantic You spin and spin and spin And you swing your arms so violently And your mouth is screaming And I am screaming with you A rough, guttural roar Of anger at all the fuckers and the pain and the ones that want nothing more than to stop us from dancing Our eyes meet and we feel that anger together So loud the glass shakes and the air trembles And once our voices are horse and harsh we collapse against the glass And we feel drained and far away and so, so close Closer than touch, closer than skin And I stand and now I dance for you A reminder that after all this is still ours
  2. MythOfHappiness

    Chapter 5

    Chapter 5 When I come to, Asher is standing above me and I am laying on the asphalt staring at his running shoes with a cigarette butt stuck to my cheek. It’s disgusting. I spring up to a sitting position, swatting at my face like there are baby spiders in my nose. The butt flicks away and I shiver internally thinking about where it may have been. Then I look up at Asher. He is looking, infuriatingly, amused at my predicament but holds out a hand to help me up. I start to take it and am suddenly reminded of what exactly had just happened with that hand and elect to get up on my own instead. Asher looks at his own hand and then, sheepishly, returns it to his side. “So… are you gonna say anything?” He asks and doesn’t meet my eyes. I am silent for a moment, reeling inside as I go over the events of the past few moments. My mind is doing that thing it does when it comes across something it can’t process, which is to say telling me that what I am seeing is not real. “I don’t think I can handle this.” I finally say. “Oh. I… ok. What now then?” Asher looks confused, like this isn’t what he expected. “I don’t fucking know. I was unconscious thirty seconds ago and you want me to be the one making the decisions? Jesus Christ I’m no better than a Victorian lady, somebody get me a goddamn fainting couch.” I twist up my face “Hey why the hell did I wake up on the ground anyway?” “Well, I was worried you were gonna choke on your tongue. People can do that you know. I think.” He shrugs. “Oh my god I’m going home.” I start to climb back in my car, but my legs don’t work right and I stumble a little, nearly falling face first into the cigarette butt again before I catch myself on the door handle. “Hey maybe you shouldn’t drive? Y’know, ‘cause of the unconscious thing? Maybe you have a concussion.” He rushes over as if to put an arm around me to hold me up but I flinch and he backs off, looking hurt. “I’ll be fine.” I crawl into the seat and slam the door. He taps on the glass and with a sigh that reads as dramatic, even to me, I roll it down. “Maybe I should come with you and keep an eye on you in case you pass out again and get in a car crash or something.” “Asher, no. Back away from the car.” “But-” “NO!” I shout and shift violently into reverse, pulling away without waiting to see if he is a safe distance or not. I swing wildly out and around the lot and just before I roll the window up again I hear him shout my name. I make it five blocks before I have to pull over because I can no longer see through the tears. I don’t understand what is happening to my life. A few months ago I had a close-enough-to-normal life. I had a dad who maybe didn’t try hard enough sometimes but who tried at least. I had a sister who was so little and who loved sugar cereal and Teen Titans Go and running her dolls over with her monster trucks. I had friends who talked to me without looking at me like I am a puppy drowned in a storm drain. Moreover, I had friends who didn’t suddenly burst into flames. Now all I have is a bunch of money I can’t touch, my mom’s old camry, and a crush that is almost certainly gonna kill me. Eventually I pull myself together enough to drive the handful of blocks left between my house and the market. Asher is already there, standing in the driveway waiting for me. He is glistening with sweat and breathing hard, it’s obvious he ran here full speed and just made it back before me. He’s talking before I even get the car door all the way opened. “Thank gosh I was so worried when your car wasn’t here what took you so long I thought you died-” “Asher. Shut up and open the front door.” I throw him my keys and then go back to get my groceries before I remember that all I bought was a box of chocolate chip waffles. I feel like an idiot when he holds the door open for me and my single box of waffles but I go inside anyway and toss them on the kitchen table. Asher gently places the keys into the little bowl on the table next to the entrance, a nicety that I never bother with myself, and gingerly closes the door behind him. “I’m sorry for following you. I know you wanted privacy. I was just so worried you were gonna get hurt or something on the way home and I wanted you to be ok.” Why does he make it so hard to be angry at him. I am the type of person that holds grudges - for weeks, months, sometimes years. I am still mad at Michael S, a kid from elementary school who spilled pop on my DS and got the buttons all sticky so that they would never go in and out the right way again. I don’t even have that game system anymore and I am still mad at him. But Asher, who has set my skin on fire, knocked me out, and burned my third favorite shirt all in the span of like, two weeks - I just can’t stay mad at him. “Go take a shower. You fucking stink and if you’re gonna be staying for dinner I don’t want to deal with your BO. We’ll talk after.” I point to the downstairs bathroom then think better of it - that was dad’s bathroom - and instead direct him up the stairs to the bathroom that my sister and I shared. “You can borrow some of my clothes. Just take whatever from the hamper in the hall, it’s all clean. I haven’t gotten around to folding them yet.” By yet I of course mean even once since the funeral but I don’t have the energy to address yet another personal failing and honestly, I never folded anything before anyway. The only difference now is that it lives in the hall instead of my closet. He nods and opens his mouth as if to say something in reply but I hold up my finger and shake my head and he sighs and walks up the stairs. Halfway up he turns around and takes a breath but I waggle the finger intimidatingly and he slinks the rest of the way up the flight. After I hear the shower turn on I open the fridge. Half a casserole (my least favorite kind, macaroni, spinach, broccoli, and a watered down sludge pretending to be cheese), a wilted head of lettuce and a quarter of a gallon of milk. Right. I went to get groceries for a reason. I stick the casserole in the microwave for five minutes and hope that will nuke out the fridge taste, then make something that vaguely resembles a salad from the lettuce and the crushed bits at the bottom of a bag of croutons. It isn’t exactly a one star restaurant or anything but it’s edible. Eventually Asher comes down wearing a pair of my sweatpants and no shirt with a towel slung over his shoulders to catch the water running down his long brown hair. My stomach clenches and I bite the inside of my cheek before averting my eyes. The sweatpants ride low and I can tell he chose not to borrow a pair of my underwear (which is a good thing because eww but also I feel like I’m gonna die looking at him) “You mind putting on a shirt? We’re about to eat.” “Oh! Sorry. There wasn’t one in the hamper. It’s why I came down. To get a shirt.” Out of the corner of my eye I can see he is giving me a lopsided smile like it is perfectly normal to be walking around the house of an almost-stranger half naked. “Fine, just get one from my closet. I keep all the stuff I don’t wear in there anyway.” He laughs and when he does the muscles in his stomach flex in an incredibly distracting way. “Isn’t that the opposite of how you’re supposed to use a closet?” Why is he still standing there. I have to make him leave. “You’re dripping on the carpet and the food is getting cold, go get dressed.” He isn’t really dripping on the carpet. He just needs to not be here, in this room, looking like that before I have yet another breakdown today. “Oh right! Sorry. I’ll be right back.” He goes back up the stairs and I can’t help myself, I watch him go.
  3. Interlude 1, Asher My mother was seventeen when she joined the church. Of course, they never actually *said* that to me. I found out later, after I ran, after I found the last place they would look - her hometown. Found it in a record in the town newspaper. I had never seen a newspaper before coming here, but I knew what they were from TV and I knew you could find stuff out by looking at old ones at the library. After all, cult or not we still had disney channel. I wish I knew why she did what she did. Maybe she didn’t expect to die? I doubt it. I’ve only seen one birth ceremony in my lifetime and … you don’t survive that. Did she think she was giving me to a better cause? A better life? Maybe she thought that Mom and Dad could take care of me better than she ever could. Maybe it wasn’t her choice, to give me away, to die. Maybe. When I got here I looked for her parents, the newspaper called them Martha and Don. I asked everyone I could think to ask but nobody seemed to know what happened to them. Could be they died, or maybe they just moved. I couldn’t find any headstones at the cemetery matching the names, though I did find one with my mother’s name on it. Guess they sent the ashes back to her parents, or else there is nothing actually buried under that stone. Written on it were the words: Riley Piper Friday, March 19, 1982 Friday, June 21, 2002 I thought it was strange that they added the day of the week, most of the other tombstones in the yard of St. John’s only had the day and the year. Maybe they wanted to highlight the strange synchronicity of being born and dying on the same day of the week, or maybe they just thought it looked better that way. There was also no epitaph to be found on the black marble rectangle, but there was a small panel that, when lifted, showed a smooth carved image of her face - the first and only time I ever saw what my mother looked like. Opposite to the carved image, etched into the brass cover plate was the epitaph missing from the face. She thought she could fly So she jumped off the roof And when they were done putting the cast on her arm She said “next time for sure” We miss you, Ry I will never meet my mother but reading those words, for a moment, I felt like I knew her.
  4. MythOfHappiness

    Chapter 4

    Chapter 4 That day school is awful. I don’t see Asher, not that I ever saw him around before. People keep shooting me glances when they think I can’t see them. I’ve heard more than one person say the word “suicide” today, I assume because of the massive red handprint on the side of my neck. Not really sure how I would kill myself with neck burns. In my third hour I am called to the counselor's office. “Keenan! Welcome. How are you?” The diminutive woman behind the desk smiles up at me, standing and reaching out as if to take my hand. I don’t give it to her. “Not so great, Mrs. Simple. Though I’m sure you know that judging by the fact that you called me in here today.” My burn itches but I don’t reach up to scratch it because I know that will only make it worse. “I’m sorry to hear that! Please, have a seat.” She gestures to a single chair across from her desk and I begrudgingly sit. It’s annoyingly comfortable. She scrunches up her nose and says “That’s a nasty looking burn you have there, how did it happen?” I’m suddenly overtaken by an image of her in a fisherman’s cap tossing a hook into the sea of feelings and I laugh out loud. She jumps, startled and gives me a nervous smile. “What’s so funny?” “Nothing. You. I don’t know. I didn’t try and kill myself.” I think about telling her how I really got the burn and then I laugh again, this time for a little too long. “I… uh… didn’t say you did Kenan. Why, have you been having suicidal thoughts? You can talk to me.” She looks like she is just about ready to hit the big red button that brings in the big men with the nets and at this point I wouldn’t even blame her. I must seem crazy. I certainly feel crazy. “Sure I can, Ms Simple. You know what, you want to talk we’ll talk. All the family I had left died last week. My father got day drunk and picked my sister up from her band practice and then crashed into a family of four going sixty five on the goddamn highway. I’m so, so angry at him and he doesn’t even have the courage to be alive enough for me to tell him to go fuck himself. My mother died when I was thirteen. I am alone. And yesterday I met this weird, infuriating boy who made it worse but also somehow better and then he set me on fire. Twice. I don’t have time for you or your sympathy because, frankly, I have my own shit going on. So please. If you don’t mind, Ms Simple, I am going to go back to American History.” I stand up and turn on my heel, marching out of the room without looking back. It isn’t until I’ve made it back to class that I start feeling bad. She’s a nice woman who was just trying to help and I probably made her feel like shit there. Great, now I’m an orphan and an asshole. Who do I think I am, Batman? I eat lunch at the park across the street, sitting on the swing set by myself and watching a few of the freshmen boys play on the merry go round. They were taking turns spinning it as fast as they could and trying to knock each other off. One boy tried to stand up and slipped, smacking his chin into one of the bars that were supposed to be there to protect him. The other boys skidded to a stop to check on him. His chin is bleeding but he is otherwise fine. I don’t intervene. This is how the week passes. I go to school, I eat lunch alone and nobody bothers me. My neck gets better, fading to just a reddish patch of rough skin, like a healing sunburn. I don’t see Asher on my morning runs. I don’t see anyone. My aunt leaves food for me in my house and pretends to clean but I never see her. I think she is trying to give me space. Everybody is trying to give me space, so much space. I’m drowning in space, there’s too much air around me and it’s crushing me. On Saturday I decide to go grocery shopping. My dad’s money, including a life insurance payment that is apparently so large that nobody is willing to tell me exactly how much it is, all went to my aunt in trust until the day I graduate college. She set up an automatic bank transfer of 200$ a week for “incidentals” for me, and if I were a cynic I would say it’s just so that she doesn’t forget to feed me. She’s a good woman, my mother’s sister, but she is also the most flakey and forgetful person I have ever met. It seems like a lot of money for just me, especially since she is handling the bills for the house from that same fund and insists on sending me semi-edible casseroles every other day so I don’t really have to buy food if I don’t want to. It’s better than another day sitting on the couch watching cartoons all day alone with just me and my space though. You never notice how quiet a house can be until it stops being a home. I have no idea how to grocery shop. I’m not sure why this surprises me so much, it’s not like I’ve ever done it before. I’m just kinda shocked that it’s a skill I guess. I thought it was just something you knew instinctively. That’s how mom always made it look. Dad on the other hand was more of a “canned soup and spaghetti-o’s” kinda cook. Hey, I thought about dad without bursting into tears. Yay me. “Hey. Are you alright?” I jump almost high enough to grab the hanging light fixture above my head. “Shit!” I spin around. A guy, maybe two years younger than me, wearing a blue apron emblazoned with the name of the grocery store (United Supermarket) is standing behind me looking confused. “I… I’m fine.” “You sure? You’ve been staring at the frozen waffles for like, an hour.” I check my watch. Huh. “Well. I have to make an informed decision. And uh… I have decided I want blueberry.” I open the case to pull out some blueberry frozen waffles only to find they aren’t even in this freezer. “Never mind I want chocolate chip.” I take a box of chocolate chip waffles and place them carefully into my empty cart. I then turn and push the cart away from the confused teen and towards the self checkout. Seems like a successful grocery store trip to me. I even manage to make it all the way back to my car before I start crying again. Sitting in the parking lot of a United, bawling my eyes out. This is what it’s come to huh? Suddenly my passenger side door swings open and a skinny boy with brown hair climbs in. It’s Asher. “What the fuck?” I wipe snot off my upper lip. God I must look insane. Wait, why do I care how I look? I’m still mad at him. “What the hell Asher. You can’t just run away from me like that and then show up almost a week later out of nowhere.” I want to hit him for showing up out of nowhere like this. Mostly I want to hit him for seeing me in this state, again. “Yeah. I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have done that.” He looks over at me. “If I’m honest I wasn’t going to ever talk to you again. But then I saw you here and you just looked so sad and it hurt me that you were sad and maybe it was my fault.” When he says this his nose scrunches up like it did back when I was showing him proper form during our run, like he’s trying to figure out a math problem and the answer is just out of his grasp. I don’t really know how to respond to this. I’ve never had somebody come so clean so quick and then say something really nice after to boot. I guess I should… forgive him? What does that even look like I wonder. “Uh… ok? Apology accepted I guess.” His grin immediately flicks on like a light “Really? So we are friends now?” “Well. I wouldn’t go that far.” “Oh.” his face falls and he slumps back into his seat. “I was really looking forward to having a friend.” I laugh at him. He’s so… I don’t even know. Naive? Close but no cigar. So honest I guess. Like a little kid who hasn’t yet learned to lie with his face and body. “I’m just kidding. We can be friends. You aren’t allowed to burn me anymore though.” He shrinks into himself. “I’m so sorry. I just. I can’t control it sometimes.” he looks at his palms. “Can’t control what?” I look at his palms too. “Are you saying you did this-” I reach up and touch the still visible red mark on my neck “-with this?” I reach out as if to touch his hands but he jerks them away from me. “Yes. But not exactly. And I’m really not supposed to tell anybody. And I’m really really not supposed to touch anybody. I could have killed you. Here, I’ll show you.” he holds his right hand up at my eye level. “Wait. If I do this you have to promise you won’t ever tell another soul.” “Uh. Fine. I won’t tell anybody about your magic heat vision. I guess.” I shrug, not really sure what the hell is happening anymore. “It’s not heat vision. And you have to promise.” his grey eyes are dark with intensity and I suddenly realize that whatever is going on he is taking it deadly seriously. “Ok, ok I promise. Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, yadda yadda” “What? A needle? Why would I do that?” “Oh my god just do it!” He jumps when I shout and suddenly his hand turns into flame. And I don’t mean it catches fire. It turns into flame. The whole thing. One second there is a hand there, the next there is a tiny bonfire in the shape of hand. “Oh fuck.” I say. And that’s when I pass out.
  5. MythOfHappiness

    Chapter 3

    Chapter 3 The next morning I wake up before my alarm with the sheets tangled around me, soaked in sweat. I dreamed that I drowned in boiling water, my final breath filling my lungs with heat and liquid and killing me slowly and in agony. I write it down in my journal as quickly as possible and shut it, locking the dream away. Then I pull on some jogging pants and a sweater and head out into the chill early spring morning. The cool air is nice, and the last vestiges of nightmare sweat are whisked away as I find my pace and start towards the school. My usual route takes me through a local park, past the middle school, and onto the high school grounds before looping back around and returning to my house passing over an old bridge across a small stream. With the addition of Asher’s house I have to swing out a bit and skip the middle school, instead going up a side street and down an alleyway like I’m headed to the local Dairy Queen. He is waiting outside just like I told him and jogs up to meet me as I run past what I assume to be his house. “Hey! Good morning!” He says cheerily. He’s wearing the same shorts and t-shirt that he was wearing when I first met him yesterday morning. The shorts are clearly much too light for the forty degree weather and I’m not really sure how he isn’t shivering. Maybe he did a warm up around the block or something. “Morning.” I don’t like to talk on my runs. I don’t even really like to run with other people. Messes up my pacing when I have to match them. Why did I agree to this? “So, how have you been?” His form is all off, he runs in a way that looks like he has somehow never run before - arms way too wide and legs bouncing like a newborn deer. “What do you mean? We saw each other twelve hours ago. Also, you’re doing it wrong. Copy me.” I gesture at myself and then turn and display the proper form without slowing down. He looks at me and then scrunches up his nose in exaggerated focus. Then he copies my form perfectly, his arms and legs rigid and disciplined pistons. Immediately his pace increases and I realize I had been unconsciously slowing to better match him as he pulls ahead. “Is that better?” he turns to look at me and suddenly I see a puppy anxiously waiting to see if he did the trick correct and is going to get a treat. “Yeah, that’s fine.” I turn my head back to watching the path in front of me and we run in silence for a while. We’re on the high school grounds now. It’s about five thirty and the campus is beginning to wake up with the early morning football drills happening on the field and the custodial staff running the riding lawn mowers on the quad. “So. How long have you lived here?” I knew the silence couldn’t last long. “Fifteen years. My family moved here when I was three.” I answer, and then because conversation is inevitable with this boy - “What about you? I don’t recognize you. When did you transfer to this school?” “Over winter break. I rent an apartment on the top floor of that duplex you saw me in front of. Though I guess it’s not really a duplex when they rent three parts of it. That would be a triplex. I live in a triplex.” he gives me a goofy grin and I think he’s trying to make me laugh but it’s not a funny joke. I smile despite myself if only because of the funny look on his face. “So you live alone? Why?” “Yeah. It’s complicated. Two parts family shit and one part over optimistic wanderlust.” Suddenly I realize he has started to overtake me and I speed up. He keeps distracting me and I can’t focus on my own feet. “What does ‘over optimistic wanderlust’ mean?” I side-step to avoid stomping on some child’s chalk drawing of the sun leftover from the day before. “Well. Before I came here I had never really been out of my very insular community. I didn’t get to see a lot of the outside world. Also, I had an excuse. We have a tradition where young f-” here his tongue slips for a moment, probably because he nearly trips over a large crack in the sidewalk “uh, people, where young people are supposed to go out and see the world before they take over the family business.” “Are you like, Amish or something?” “No, nothing like that. Though you could say it is a bit of a religious thing. It’s more like a… what’s the word… commune? Like that book said they used to do in the nineteen sixties.” We’ve looped around now, and are nearly to the park near my house. “Huh. That’s weird. So what’s the family stuff? Did they not want you to go?” “Well, that’s part of it. There’s also this thing where I was supposed to take over the family business when I turned eighteen. Which just happened to be two days after I moved here. So they aren’t super pleased with me right now.” He has yet to get even slightly out of breath at this point and I am a little impressed. Maybe he might make the team after all, if only for long distance or cross country. “Oh, so you directly went against what they wanted you to do by coming out here then.” I look over at him for the first time in a while and am surprised to see him staring at me. I look away and my face burns a little with a weird, inexplicable embarrassment. “Yeah. I suppose I did. Do you think I did the right thing?” I am surprised both by the question and by the intensity with which he asks it. “Well. I think it’s your right. Your parents don’t own your life. You should get to choose what you do with it.” I look over at him again and his face is more serious than I have ever seen it. “Thank you. That means a lot to me.” he says, and I believe him. Suddenly I trip over a root that stretched too far into the path. I am about to spill face first into the sharp gravel before he catches me at the last moment, pulling me to him. We are facing each other with inches between our faces and his arms around my waist, supporting nearly my entire weight. That heat is back and it’s stronger than ever, threatening to fry the tender skin of my face and turn my lips into ash. I pull in. His eyes are grey. I realize I hadn’t noticed before. They are a deep and dark grey like the ocean at night, nearly black. Can eyes be that color? His mouth is about to reach mine and I’m not sure which of us is moving in when… there’s a flash of blinding bright red light and he pushes me back into the tree that had nearly killed me. Something hurts on the back and side of my neck where his hand had drifted when he pulled me in closer. He looks at me, horrified. “Oh god, I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Shit. I’m sorry.” He starts to back away. “Asher. Asher don’t run away from me again.” He turns and starts to jog and then to sprint. “Asher goddamnit. Get back here you asshole!” He turns a corner in the path and then is gone. Just before he goes out of sight he looks back and I can see tears making tracks down his face.
  6. MythOfHappiness

    Chapter 2

    Chapter 2 When I get home I find my aunt has left a casserole on the dining table. She also cleaned the house in her usual haphazard way, shoving things into closets and behind the couch to make the room appear marginally neater. I’m not hungry so I shove the dish into the mostly empty fridge. I guess I’m gonna have to buy food at some point. When I close the refrigerator door I am confronted with a list of groceries that my father had written and stuck to the door with a magnet from our trip to Las Vegas three years ago. “Eggs, Bacon, Bell Peppers, Corn, don’t forget to call the internet company”. I need to do something, anything. I turn on the tv. Some sitcom about young people living in a far-off coastal city that I’ll never visit. Perfect. I don’t think for several hours until I get hungry enough to risk trying my aunt’s cooking. This time I don’t look at the list. It’s edible. Not good but not bad either. When I’ve finished I take my dish to the sink and notice a paper laying on the counter where I dropped it when I came in this morning. It’s the boy’s number. I also realize that I am still wearing his tight yellow shirt. I pull out my phone and dial the number. It goes to voicemail and a chipper voice answers “Hey, this is Ash!” and then there is an extended silence with occasional shuffling before the beep. “Uh… hi. This is Kenan. From before. I have your bag and stuff. Call me back.” It wasn’t until after I hung up that I realized I forgot to leave a number. So I call again and leave a somehow even more awkward follow up message with my phone number and also address for some reason. I think I’ve gotten too far away from the situation because I’ve forgotten how annoying he was and am suddenly thinking about the way that he looked in running shorts. Which, as I’m sure you know, is not a line of thought that is particularly conducive to reasonable conversation. He did burn my third favorite shirt though. It’s about two hours later when I hear a knock on my front door. I’d busted out the last carton of ice cream and was just about halfway through the pint, so I put it down on the table and paused the tv. To my surprise and annoyance, standing on my doorstep was Asher. “Um… hi?” I say, somewhat surprised to find this weirdo pyromaniac pretty boy on my stoop. “Hey. You asked me to come pick up my stuff? Also, you’re wearing my shirt.” He points at my chest, still proudly declaring my love of both the Iowa State Fair and the color yellow. “Oh. Right. Come in.” Suddenly I feel like crawling into a bush somewhere and just staying there forever. Why am I embarrassed? He burned my shirt. I scoop up the bag with his clothes suddenly very aware of how obvious it was that I had been digging around in it. He takes it from me and then just sort of stands there looking at me. “Uhh…” He gestures. “Oh! Right… you want me to…” I start to pull off the shirt and then realize that I am both a dumbass and inside my own house. “I’ll just go upstairs. You wait here.” In my room I realize that I am freaking out and I’m not sure why. Something just threw me off when I suddenly saw Asher, standing at my front door. Why am I so worried about this stuff. I should be pissed at him. My third favorite shirt! I take off his shirt and switch to my fourth favorite shirt. Back downstairs and he has moved to the living room. He’s looking at a photo of my mom and my little sister from a fishing trip last summer. I don’t comment, just hold out his shirt. “There you go. You’re welcome, I guess? You owe me a shirt.” He nods and takes it from me. “I’m really sorry. Sometimes I can’t help it. Can you not… tell anybody about this?” he reaches into his pocket and hands me a twenty dollar bill. “For the shirt.” “How can you not… whatever. Fine.” I pocket the twenty. “So, is it just you here tonight?” “... yeah. I live alone.” Never one to beat around the bush are you, Asher? Always cutting straight to the one thing you could say to hurt me. “Really? For how long?” He smiles at me and for a half second I feel weird and kinda warm, like I’m pointing my face directly at the sun on a clear day or standing too close to a fireplace. “Two weeks. Today was supposed to be my first day back to school. After.” “After? After wh… oh. You… oh. I didn’t know.” Suddenly he hugs me. “I’m sorry. I’ve just been awful to you haven’t I? Oh man, that’s why you were... Damn, I’m so sorry.” He pulls me tighter and I’m suddenly aware of exactly how close we are to each other. Pressed like this, tight and chest to chest, waist to - I push him off me, a little too hard, and jump back a foot or so. “Yeah. Very sad. Anyway, don’t you have somewhere to be?” I straighten my fourth best shirt. He looks a little hurt and now I feel bad for brushing him off. “Yeah. I’ll go ahead and go, if you’re…” he looks over at the still paused tv and half pint of now liquid ice cream “busy. But before I do, would you be willing to train with me? Please? I’ll do anything. Tryouts are in a month and I want to be ready.” His eyes beg and I am annoyed to find myself wavering under their gaze. “Fine. You can come with me on my runs in the morning. Where do you live?” He gives me his address which is only about three blocks out of the way of my normal running path. “Ok, I’ll be running by your house at about five fifteen tomorrow morning. Be ready, because I won’t slow down.” “I will! Thank you so much!” He starts to go in for another hug but backs of when he sees me flinch. “Ok. See you tomorrow!” Then he turns and again he actually jogs away, out my door and down the street.
  7. Happy Birthday!

    1. MythOfHappiness


      That's 2 years in a row that you were the first person! Thanks!

  8. It has been a long goddamn time. I posted a thing, and I already have a significant amount of said thing built up so there will be more than just that bit of the thing. Hopefully I'll even be able to finish it. I'm super proud of this story, I workshopped it with the writer's club at my college all of last year and I genuienly think it's the best thing I have ever written.

    1. MythOfHappiness


      Oh! I should probably add, Heat will be updating on saturdays at 6 AM. I have a month's worth of chapters set up as a buffer so that I can keep to a regular schedule. I am not looking forward to school this year but I will make time gaddagnet.

  9. MythOfHappiness

    Chapter 1

    Chapter 1 I need to go. Somewhere. I don’t know. I just need to be not here. I stand, suddenly. The teacher stops lecturing, and in the silence every eye in the room is on me. I walk out quickly; no one says a word. They know, and if they don’t they will soon. The hall is empty and cold and I realize I don’t really have anywhere to go. I pick a direction at random and just walk. Eventually I come to a door and then I’m outside. I keep walking, and now I’m at the football field. Maybe a run around the track will help me clear my head. Thirty minutes later I collapse, heaving. My own damn fault. Everybody knows you don’t run in jeans. I must look like a dumbass, splattered all over the asphalt like this. I’m soaked in sweat, but I feel a little better. It’s like the fire in my lungs is helping to numb the pain in my chest. I lay there for a little while until I’m interrupted by a hand on my shoulder. “You ok there buddy?” the hand asks. I don’t answer, because what can I even say? No. I could say no. “No. I am very, very not ok.” I tell the asphalt. “Well why don’t you sit up and we can maybe talk about it?” Fine. Whatever. I roll over onto my back, and take the offered hand. He’s very warm, almost uncomfortably so. He must have been exercising too. He pulls me off the ground and we walk over to the nearby players’ bench. “So… you’re the one to beat, huh?” he says “What?” “The way you run. I mean jesus, how many laps was that thirty?” He shoots me a grin. “No, not that many. Close though.” I give him a weak smile that is half apology for being such a weirdo and half thanks for not mentioning my total breakdown. “I’m Asher. Ash for short.” he holds out his hand for me to shake, and it feels even warmer this time. I almost want to pull away, like when you touch a hot stove and your hand jerks back by reflex alone. I fight that weird urge and shake his hand like a normal person. “Hi… uh, I’m Kenan. I don’t really have a short version of that.” That sounded dumb. “That’s ok. Kenan is a good name. At least it’s not a pun.” He laughs, but I don’t really understand why. “You’re on the track team, right?” “How’d you guess.” I say, but it’s not really a question. “Because you were so fast! I hope I can be that fast one day. I’m trying out for the team this year.” He sounds so excited and optimistic. It’s kinda cute, and I would definitely be into him on a different day. Not today though. “Yeah. That’s great.” My voice is forced now and I hate the way it sounds. “Hey, if I make the team will you train me? No, not if. When. Just like dad always said - never if, only when.” Fuck this kid. Jesus. Making me fucking cry in the middle of the day. “Hey, are you ok? Oh, no. Did I say something bad? I’m sorry.” Now he’s hugging me and he’s so warm and now I’m crying harder and harder. Just bawling into this guy’s shirt. Until suddenly I feel a sharp pain where his hand touches my back and I jump away, pushing him off me. Something smells like smoke, and then I realize it’s me. The back of my shirt is singed, with small holes open where his fingers had been. What the hell? “You burned my shirt! What the fuck? How the hell?” He suddenly looks pale, then he jumps up out of his seat. “Sorry, I have to go. See you at tryouts!” and he runs off. Literally, he turns and jogs away. I… huh? I sit there staring after him for a moment, then look down to find that he left a gym bag under the bench where he had been sitting. He didn’t even bother to change out of his workout gear. I unzip the bag - he owes me a shirt. Inside I find the usual clothes, including a t-shirt that is too small for me and has the words “Iowa State Fair” emblazoned on the front. It is also bright yellow, which is a lovely choice. Whatever, it’s still better than the singed, sweat soaked mess I’m wearing now. If he wants it and the rest of this bag back, he’ll buy me a new one. That was my third favorite shirt and the jerk just took a lighter to it or… something. I get up and decide to just go home. The idea of facing all those eyes, going back into my next class. Just. No. In the parking lot, I'm surprised to find a piece of paper shoved under my windshield wiper. “Call me for training” and then a number. Not sure how he knew this was my car but sure. At least I have a way to get ahold of him to return his clothes. Later. Today I have other stuff to deal with. So I get in the car and I drive off, leaving school without explicit permission for the first time in my entire life.
  10. MythOfHappiness


    Kenan is stuck running in circles until Asher falls into his life from nowhere. He finally knows what he wants but he doesn't know how to answer the most important question. How long can he hold his hand above this candle flame before his skin begins to burn?
  11. Those pesky character limits. Always getting in the way of things and making it so that you can't finish your t
  12. Hi guys. MoH here. So, a little backstory. I am currently embroiled in a torrid love affair with my gardener, Jesus and his brother Paulo. The three of us make sweet, sweet love in the pool shed whenever my mother is away on one of her European jaunts. And now that I have your attention, I am actually in a long-term relationship with a man who is much older and more experienced than myself. He is my first everything. I was raised in a small town in Oklahoma and there wasn't much opportunity for a young gay man to date or really experience anything aside from the palm of my hand and the occasional gay film watched with headphones so that my family couldn't hear (not that kind, though there was some of that as well). You could say I went into this relationship blind and have been learning as I go along. My question is, how do I learn how to love (something a straight person does at age 16) as a 19 year old grown man? I feel like I missed out on some kind of crucial growing period by waiting to have my first kiss until I was 18. Sometimes I feel like it is downright cruel to my partner when I make some stupid mistake or treat him poorly simply because I never learned anything different. Do you all have any tips on how to learn how love is supposed to work without doing more unnecessary harm to my innocent boyfriend? Thank you.
  13. New short story up. Getting a little writing in before I have to start working on essays again.

  14. “Conor Oberst looks like a Vampire.” “So. How he looks doesn’t change the music. Also, who asked you?” “God, you’re so weird. Why do you like this emo-ass music?” “Hey, fuck you. Get out of my head if you don’t want to hear it.” “You know I can’t do that. And I didn’t say I didn’t like the song. It’s just emo as fuck.” “I know that. I don’t need to justify my musical tastes to you. Anyway, shouldn’t you be focusing on that test?” “It’s just calculus. I know calculus.” As if to prove this, he turns his attention to the next question and complex numbers and symbols zip through his head so fast I can barely grasp what he’s doing. He knocks out three questions in six minutes before I tune him out. Numbers give me headaches. I turn my own attention back to my drawing. Mr. Kinsley is having us practice still life drawing and shading. He has placed a number of geometric shapes made from folded paper on a table in the center of the room and placed a bright light on them, creating strong contrast between the white paper and black shadow. I’m working on accurately capturing a complexly folded dodecahedron shape that is casting a double shadow on a cylinder and a three sided pyramid. I can’t seem to correctly emulate the curve of the shadow on the cylinder and Leon’s constant critiquing of my musical inclinations is not helping. The song changes to a slow jam, Joshua Radin’s “I’d Rather Be With You” and it’s calming sway helps me focus and block out the blur of numbers coming from the other side of the link. I manage to keep this up for the rest of the period and I sense Leon scratching the last few digits onto the test sheet just as I put the finishing touch on the small pyramid. “Think that’s all I can do today, my hand needs a break from all the shading anyway. You want to meet up at the caf and grab some food?” “Sure. I’ll see you there.” He hands his test in to the professor, Dr. McClaren and she smiles at him as he does. I have her for chemistry and she never smiles at me like that, it’s pretty obvious that Leon is her favorite student. It might have something to do with the fact that he just handed in his test twenty minutes before any of the other students, or it could just be because his dark eyes and long, black hair make him look like an asian Harry Styles. By which I mean sexy in a nerd way. “Hey. I heard that. And I’m very flattered. I happen to like Harry Styles.” “Yeah. I know. I hear you singing along to “Girl Crush” in the shower every single morning.” “It’s his gayest song!” “It’s a Little Big Town cover.” “I know that. Doesn’t make it any less gay.” I’ve made it to the college cafeteria now. It’s a sprawling affair, all primary colors and bright lights with several lines leading to different culinary cultures. One line is for a make your own taco bar, another is for a “stir-fry of the day” grill. I line up for the stir fry. “Hey, could you order for me? You know what I like.” The science and tech building is seventy feet further away from the caf than the Arts building, so he’s still on his way. “Sure, no problem.” After I’ve collected my bowl (szechuan beef over noodles with mushrooms and snow peas) I go over to the barbeque section and order pulled pork nachos with extra sauce, Leon’s favorite (disgusting) meal. “It’s not disgusting. It’s salty and sweet and meaty and delicious.” “Gross. The barbeque sauce makes the chips all soggy.” He’s coming into the cafeteria now. I head to our usual table near the big windows. It’s a gorgeous, if chilly day out. Late fall is always so beautiful up here. Leon sits across from me and snatches the brown and yellow mess, scarfing it down true to his namesake. I smile at him. “You’re cute.” He stops eating long enough to shoot me a meat-flected grin. “I love you” he says, aloud. “I love you too.” I slide my hand across the table and rest it comfortably on his and for a little while neither of us thinks about anything at all.
  15. Thanks for all the Birthday well wishes everybody. They are very appreciated. 😁

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