ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics in the setting Terramagne.


"Cut to the Quick"


Everything is a blur,
memories running like makeup
under hot stage lights,
headache pounding like crowd roar
from a cranky audience.

I scramble onto my hands and knees,
cut ropes falling away --
the superhero Savoir Faire
has finally managed to cut me free --
splintery boards under my tanned hands,
long honeyed hair hanging in my face.

The skin looks right but not the hair
and I don't know why
I feel like a stranger to myself.

The supervillain Mindflare strikes at me again,
his thoughts like knives inside my psyche,
and I don't understand what he's done to me
but it feels like I'm bleeding
something other than blood.

Mindflare wants attention, ever the showman,
tall dark stranger in his classy black suit and white shirt,
so I yell at him, pitching my voice to carry,
"Look what you've done to me, you monster!
I'll never forgive you for this!"

It's a distraction,
but it's the truth too.

It works anyway:
he turns to look at me,
a smile uncoiling like a cobra.
I sway in place, glaring at him,
giving him the show that he craves --

and that's enough time
for Savoir Faire to break a chair
over Mindflare's head and take him down.

Savoir Faire is dressed all in black,
except for the blue-white-red plumes in his floppy hat,
but I know he's one of the good guys.
He bows and says, "I beg your pardon, mademoiselle,
for not arriving sooner. Mindflare left me
a most convoluted trail to follow."

I don't blame him
for not getting here in time.
I'm too busy trying to hold my head together,
thoughts spilling out like stuffing from a ripped couch.
The wounds in my mind gape wide,
making me think of how Mindflare's suitcoat
flaps open to show the crimson lining.

"Are you all right?" he asks,
and that's a stupid question,
I've been kidnapped and assaulted
by a supervillain.
"No," I reply.

"I will take you somewhere safe," he says.
"Is that your bookbag? Are you a student?"

"Yes," I say, because it is my bag
and I can remember attending classes
at Urbanburg University, studying theatre there --
but it feels like someone else's life instead of mine.

Under my bookbag, Savoir Faire finds my purse.
"Maisie Walker," he reads from the student ID,
and the name sounds familiar in my memories,
but it is not my name. I am Maze, not Maisie.

"I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Maisie,"
says Savoir Faire, and so I fake it
because it is expected of me.
"Thank you for saving me and finding my stuff,"
I say, wrapping the straps around my hand.

Savoir Faire picks me up
and I almost laugh -- he's shorter than me --
but he has the compact, wiry build of a dancer
and it seems no hardship for him to carry my weight.
He leaves Mindflare tightly bound on the floor,
still unconscious, waiting for the police to arrive.

Outside the Student Health Center,
Savoir Faire drops me off.
He makes sure that I can walk
and that I have the student ID in hand.
Then he gives me a tip of his outrageous hat
and a quirk of his handsome face,
and disappears into the night.

I limp inside.
Even though I don't know
what has really happened to me,
the people here will take care of me
as long as I can fake being Maisie.

* * * 

Notes: 

This character was inspired by a comment under my "Stacking vs. Not Stacking" post.  I thought, gosh, that would make a terrific superhero.  So Damask is a six-person multiple system in a multiracial female body.  I also thought it would be fun to start at the very beginning, with the origin story, so "Cut to the Quick" gives a subjective view of that.  It will take a while for the members of the system to discover each other and their respective powers, learn how to get along, and find their calling.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-26 09:24 am (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
Wow.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-25 04:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baaing-tree.livejournal.com
YESSSSSSSSS!

Also, you've captured the feeling of dissociation pretty well. We've had feelings like what you describe, back when we were splitting or first coming around.

--Rogan

Yay!

Date: 2013-06-25 04:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> YESSSSSSSSS! <<

*happydance* I'm so glad that you like this.

>> Also, you've captured the feeling of dissociation pretty well. We've had feelings like what you describe, back when we were splitting or first coming around. <<

Oh, good.

It's a bit different for Maze because she didn't experience trauma, cope by dissociating, and then split. She was chopped apart by a superpower, which is disorienting, and is now a separate person. I wanted something that would fit a common pattern but not be exactly the same at the stereotypical (for multiples and superheroes) "abused as a child" backstory.

Right now, Maze doesn't really understand what's going on. She feels kind of not-real and like the world is not-real; depersonalization and derealization are closely related to dissociation. And of course, now that there are several folks sharing headspace, they can dissociate to bail out of uncomfortable situations and leave someone else holding the bag.

I want to explore what it's like to be in a situation where you've had a major life change, but you don't remember all the details, weird stuff is happening, and the people trying to help are ... not necessarily all that helpful. So you have to figure it out for yourself(s).

I should look up your comic on dissociation. I'm probably going to need that eventually. It's such a good rendering of what it's like to have reality melt down inside your head.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-25 05:01 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Ohh, so THAT'S what's going on! I read only "Damask Speaks" earlier.

eta: and this is also a play on "cut to the chase", eh?
Edited Date: 2013-06-25 05:07 am (UTC)

Yes...

Date: 2013-06-25 05:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Ohh, so THAT'S what's going on! I read only "Damask Speaks" earlier. <<

Yeah, I had a dilemma about starting this series because these are the two logical points, but they convey totally different information and readers are liable to have strong opinions about which they'd want to read first. I did my best to explain the different options. If you haven't found it yet, "Introducing Terramagne" is the setting description.

>> eta: and this is also a play on "cut to the chase", eh? <<

*laugh* Yes. That was my first thought for a title; I wanted something with cutting. But it's not a chase. Then I thought "cut to the core" but there is no core personality left: the altars are more-or-less equally divided from what was the original soul. So I went with "cut to the quick" which has strong connotations of depth and pain.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2013-06-26 03:50 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Right.

So, as I thought???: These six are not from outside, but splits from the original soul in that body, who Maze(?) tells us (tells herself) is dead?

altars → alters

Re: Yes...

Date: 2013-06-27 08:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>So, as I thought???: These six are not from outside, but splits from the original soul in that body, who Maze(?) tells us (tells herself) is dead?<<

Yes. The original soul was divided by six.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-25 09:45 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Well, heck. Now I want to know more about Mindflare.

Okay...

Date: 2013-06-25 09:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Conveniently, there is a fishbowl coming up next Tuesday with a theme of "unlikely heroes and implausible villains."

I'm glad I managed to hook you!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-03 11:26 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: A brown-haired girl, laughing with her eyes closed. (!Me happy)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Wow. That was... wow.

Though, being an origin story, it ends just as I was starting to get a better feel of the piece, so it's a good thing that you've got some other pieces in this setting up already because I'm definitely intrigued and want to explore it further! (Er, just to be clear, this isn't intended as a criticism. I love the way this makes me want to read more and I'm very happy to have some more already available. ^_^)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-31 09:22 pm (UTC)
pinkrangerv: White Hispanic female, with brown hair, light skin, and green eyes, against a background of blue arcane symbols (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkrangerv
Maaaaaze! *wants to cuddle all of them*

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