ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This is the freebie for the May 2014 Crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "Jumping / Skipping rope" square in my 3-30-14 card for the [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"The Ones Who Would Do Anything"


When Danso turned twelve, he realized
that he could "borrow" things from people --
their virtues (their vices, if he wasn't careful),
their powers if they had any.

It was hard enough being a black boy
without being a freak on top of it,
so he kept his mouth shut
and nobody found out.

He lived with his mother, who loved him,
until she died and he got stuck
with his uncle who didn't.

When Danso was sixteen,
his uncle caught him kissing Tyrone
and kicked him out of the house,
so it wasn't his superpowers
that got him in hot water after all.

Danso did all right for himself on the streets,
because he could borrow whatever abilities
he happened to need at the time.

Then one day he saw a man
(pimp, said his streetwise instincts)
struggling with a girl who looked maybe ten,
all wavy blond hair and brown calf eyes.

She was terrified, but not of the man.
"You have to let me go!" she screamed.
"Bad things happen when people hurt me!"

Danso could feel it,
something fizzing and burning
like a soda can left in the summer sun,
ready to explode.

He tapped off what he could,
yanking the pimp away from the girl,
but when he touched the older man's arm
the power burst loose like a handful of fireworks,
leaving a mass of sparks and blisters.

The pimp screamed and ran away,
but the girl wrapped herself around Danso
and said, "You made it stop.
Please let me stay with you, mister.
I can't make it stop on my own."

"Mind telling me what I'm getting into?"
Danso asked, because he needed to know,
but he wrapped an arm around her
for comfort as he spoke.

Her voice was small and smoky-rough.
"I used to live with my daddy," she said.
"Then one day he tried to touch me,
and I didn't like it, he made me sick --
I got hot and sort of exploded.
When I woke up, I didn't have
a house or a daddy anymore."

Danso knew what it was like
to feel desperate, to lose control,
to long for a family that
you didn't know how to find or make.

"Okay," he said. "You can stay with me.
My name's Danso. What's yours?"

"Call me Boomer," she said.
It took him a month
before he learned that
her father had called her Hadyn.

It was harder to find enough
food and shelter for both of them,
(harder still for a black teenager
to get by with a white tween in tow),
but they managed.

They claimed it was just babysitting,
but inside, they were family now.

It was easier to pick pockets, though,
with people watching a cute little girl
skipping rope and singing rhymes
while Danso's fingers were busy.

They also scavenged efficiently
for food and clothes and
things they could sell or trade.

That was how they found
a skinny mixed-race girl
who looked maybe six or seven,
with dark wild hair and brown eyes and
a ratty tank top falling off her tan shoulders.

She turned on them,
fierce as an alley cat,
and she had the tail for it --
the tip crackling with energy
that made Danso's nerves jangle
in response like the time the cops tased him.

He spoke to her, soft and low,
teasing the energy away in little wisps
as he soothed her, like lifting a wallet
delicately, carefully, without anyone noticing.

Hours later, the tale unfolded.
"My parents did drugs," she said.
"The social people took me away from them,
but they didn't really want me either.
Then one of the boys there did this to me --"
Her small hands wrung her tail between them.

Gently Danso peeled her fingers away
before she could hurt herself.
"Be nice to your tail, sugar," he said.
"It's part of you now, no matter how you got it."

"But it makes people hate me," she whispered.
"I ran away before anything worse could happen,
only now I'm lost and I'm hungry
and nobody wants me."

"Well, I want you, and your pretty tail too,"
he said to her. "I'm Danso,
and this is Boomer. Who are you?"

"Whipcrack," she said.
"If I'm gonna be a supervillain,
I get to have a cool bad-girl name."

"You are not a bad girl," Danso said firmly.
(He wouldn't let her be a supervillain, not ever.)
"You can be Whipcrack if you want to,
but tell me your first name too."

"Lakia," she said,
and just like that, Danso had
another little girl clinging to him.

If it had been difficult to feed two,
it was even worse with three,
but at least now they looked
more like a blended family.

Danso could pass them off as his sisters,
because everybody said that
black women were whores and had
kids by all different baby-daddies
(nevermind that his mama had
one husband before the cops shot him dead
while she was pregnant with Danso).

They acted like a family, too;
Boomer taught Whipcrack
how to skip rope and shared
the tatty length of clothesline they used.

He could leave Boomer in charge,
let her and Whipcrack hide somewhere safe
while he went out to look for odd jobs
or steal things or panhandle.
Sometimes he did things that
he really didn't want to do
just to keep the girls fed.

Other times they went out together,
especially to the street fairs
where people dropped food everywhere
and forgot bags of things they'd bought.
Coins glittered on the sidewalk,
waiting for clever fingers to pick them up.

People stared at Whipcrack's tail
and it made a great distraction
even without using any power behind it.

Danso was waiting for the girls
outside the porta-potties
when a woman walked up to him
and said, "I gotta go to the can.
Will you hold Nathaniel for me?"
She shoved the toddler into his arms
without waiting for an agreement.

The boy was chubby and cranky,
with a mop of limp brown curls
and his fair skin reddening in the sun.

Danso waited patiently.
Boomer and Whipcrack
came out of the porta-potties,
but Nathaniel's mother didn't.

The toddler fussed and whined,
little flares of power running through him
like lightning hidden behind clouds.
One moment, sounds were too loud
and the next Danso could see impossible things.
No wonder the poor kid kept crying,
the way the world overwhelmed him all the time.

"I don't think she's coming back,"
Boomer said when the street lights came on
and the sellers started packing up their tables.
"What are we going to do with the kid?"

"Well, there's an information booth
at one end of the fair," Danso said.
"We can leave him there,
and if his mama doesn't pick him up
then I guess someone will put him in care."

(It's what the grownups would say to do,
but he wasn't not sure it's right.)

"We can't give him to the social people,"
Whipcrack said. "They don't like freaks.
They'll hurt him, or throw him away."

It was hard to argue with that
when the boy's mother had just
fobbed him off on a stranger.

Danso thought about handing Nathaniel
to people who wouldn't even be able
to understand what was upsetting him,
let alone mash down on his senses a little
so the poor kid could get a moment's peace.
He'd fallen asleep with his head on Danso's shoulder.

"I guess we've got a little brother,"
Danso said, giving in to the inevitable.

They already knew his given name,
but they wound up calling him Howl
because that's what he did all the time.

He got into everything and then itched and cried.
He turned games of jump rope into tug-of-war
and wailed when the girls wanted their toy back.
He couldn't eat half what the rest of them did
without throwing it up and then sniveling.

It was Howl who gave Danso his nickname.
"Blankie," the boy said, snuggling against
the soft gray cloth of Danso's shirt.

"Fine, I'll be your Blankie," Danso agreed.
"Ours too," said Whipcrack,
and Boomer nodded.
"Yours too," Danso assured them.

It was exhausting to have three kids in tow
and Danso knew that he couldn't
keep it up for much longer.
He had to sleep sometime (but couldn't
take his eyes off them for a second).

He didn't dare turn them over
to social services, because dammit
Whipcrack was right about unwelcome freaks
even though adults were supposed to
take care of children no matter what.

Finally he came up with an idea.
"We'll try going to SPOON," he said.
"That's a superhero hangout, so
they won't treat us bad just for having powers,
and maybe they'll know about a grownup
who'd put up with kids who are different."

There were interracial adoptions, after all,
and even people who fostered the crippled kids.
He'd heard of that. Maybe there was
something similar for little freaks like them.

"You won't let them do bad things to us?"
Boomer asked, clinging to Danso.
"Of course not," he said.

"You won't let them split us up?"
Whipcrack asked. "You promise, Blankie?"
"I'll do the best I can," he said.

It was a long way to the nearest SPOON base,
and they couldn't afford bus tickets,
so they walked and hitchhiked (and Danso
carried the little ones when they couldn't walk)
and it took forever with the weather turning cold.

They were dumpster-diving again
when something went *poof*
and suddenly there was a baby
right in front of them.

"What the hell?" Boomer yelped,
jumping out of the way.

"It's just a baby," Danso said.
She was tiny and new,
with a short ruff of straight black hair
and faintly golden-brown skin
all wrapped up in pink.

"What's her name?"
Whipcrack asked.

There was no way of knowing.
"How about Rosita," Danso said.
"That's a Mexican name."

They called her Poof just as often,
because Danso couldn't put her down
for a minute without risking the chance
that she'd teleport again.

The one time he left her with Boomer
so he could pee in private,
Poof had jumped halfway across the city
and only Danso's familiarity with her gift
let them track her down before she did it again.

He'd heard horror stories about how
some superpowers could
yank babies away from their homes,
and now he had nightmares about
losing Poof the same way her parents had.

Danso stole money to buy diapers
and formula and other baby things.
He carried Poof inside his tattered coat
to keep her as warm as he could
now that it was starting to snow.

Finally they made it to SPOON.
Behind the desk was a man
with short strawberry blond hair
and freckles on his fair skin,
his gift no more than a faint ghost.
He stared at them.

"What, you never seen kids before?"
Danso said, too tired to be polite
even though he couldn't afford
to piss off these people
because he needed their help.

"We don't see a lot of them in here,"
the man said, "but we'll make do.
Hi, I'm Groundhog. Who are you?"

Danso made introductions,
and that helped, but when
Groundhog offered him a clipboard
and invited him to sign in,
the teen had to shake his head.

"I can't put her down or she'll teleport,"
Danso said, nodding at his arms full of Poof.

"Oh, I see how it is," Groundhog said,
his face softening. He touched a button.
"Granny Whammy, I need you up front.
This situation is urgent."

Moments later, an old woman arrived,
her white hair and wrinkles at odds
with her strong, muscular body.
"What seems to be the issue?" she asked.

"Bunch of baby soups showed up,"
Groundhog explained. "They need our help."

(Somebody save us, Danso's heart said,
but his instincts didn't entirely agree.)

Just then, Howl cried, "Nana!"
and peeled off Danso's leg.

"No no no --" Danso protested.

The toddler ran to Granny Whammy,
climbed up her with some assistance,
and snuggled into her soft fuzzy sweater.
Then he began to wail.

"What's wrong with him?"
Granny Whammy asked.

"He's allergic to wool," Danso said
as he coaxed the toddler away,
"and pretty much everything else
that God created on the fifth and sixth days."

"I'm wearing cotton; is that okay?"
Groundhog asked, and Danso nodded.
"Great, let's go have a wash.
Plenty of soups are allergic to things
so we have soap that's pretty safe."
Groundhog took Howl to the bathroom.

Meanwhile Granny Whammy wrote down
what Danso told her on the clipboard forms,
and gently admonished the two girls
not to play jump rope with the electrical cords.

"Boomer and I don't have parents anymore,"
Danso said. "Whipcrack was taken away from hers.
Howl's mama dumped him on me.
Poof teleported and I have no idea
where her parents might be.
So we're it for each other now.
I'll do anything to keep them safe and happy."

"I'll see what I can do,"
Granny Whammy said.

Groundhog came back with Howl,
who was no longer crying.
"When I was a baby, my flight power
turned on and launched me into the sky,"
the older man said. "The thin air hurt my lungs
by the time anyone could get up to catch me.
After that my parents got really protective,
so I never fly and I don't even like going outside.
I work here to help keep things like that
from happening to other soups."

Granny Whammy got on the phone
with someone she called the Muffler.
"I know you've said your limit is two,
but I have five homeless superkids in my office --"

"Four," Danso said, because
he wasn't a child anymore;
he'd been taking care of the others.

Granny Whammy put the phone to her shoulder.
"Five," she said. "You don't look a day over fifteen."

"I'm sixteen!" he snapped, stung by her words,
and then regretted it because he usually
claimed to be eighteen so people
would let him act as an adult.
He had a faint shadow of mustache now;
he could pass if he pushed it.

"You have a right to expect someone
to look after you too," Granny Whammy said,
and her gentle voice made his chest ache.

Danso didn't know how to let anyone
take care of him anymore;
that was his job now.
He missed it, though, being able
to relax and let Mama do the worrying.

But Granny Whammy fixed everything,
somehow, convincing the Muffler
to accept the whole bunch of them,
and Danso was so grateful that
he didn't have the heart to argue.

He still panicked when they reached the house
and his talent went away.

"It's okay," Granny Whammy said.
"That's why the Muffler fosters young soups.
Her gift is power nullification. It's a field effect,
and it covers almost the whole yard here."

A field effect.
The whole yard.

He could let go of Howl
without worrying that
the boy's super-senses would hurt him.
He could put Poof down
without worrying she'd disappear.

Danso started crying then,
out of exhaustion and relief
(so much for looking like the cool dude)
but it was okay because the Muffler
was a nice middle-aged lady
with graying hair and a soft body
who knew how to handle teenagers
as well as younger kids.

She held him and let him cry,
and then she put Poof in a crib
and Howl in a toddler bed.

She gave Boomer and Whipcrack
each their own jump rope
made of colorful cotton with real wood handles,
not a piece of scavenged clothesline,
and let them skip rope in the playroom.

Danso sat on the couch
and watched the girls play.
He didn't mean to fall asleep,
but he was so tired that he did anyway,
and that was okay too
because the Muffler was there
to keep everyone safe.

* * *

Blankie (Danso Ward) -- He has milk chocolate skin, nappy brown hair cut close, and brown eyes. He grows a faint shadow of moustache to make himself look older. Danso is homosexual. Although he grew up with a loving mother, she died and left him with a much less tolerant uncle. Danso successfully hid his superpowers, but at sixteen he got caught kissing another boy, after which his uncle kicked him out. He survived on the street, collecting a group of other young soups.  See a picture of him just after turning 15, when his mom died and he moved in with his uncle; and just shy of 17 when he came to the Muffler with his found-siblings in tow. 
Origin: His ability to interact with other people's superpowers arrived with puberty.
Uniform: Street clothes. He tends to dress in faded, secondhand clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Family Man, Good (+2) Streetwise, Good (+2) Thief, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Letting Go
Powers: Good (+2) Power Manipulation This meta-power includes such uses as detecting, tracing, enhancing, suppressing, and copying other people's superpowers.
Limitation: Because Danso is so young, he doesn't have much control or strength yet. His abilities are clearly still growing in, and can be erratic.
Motivation: Family comes first.

Boomer (Hadyn Kennedy) -- She has wavy blond hair past her shoulders, brown eyes, and golden-fair skin. Her ability to explode and reform her body has made her anxious and skittish, because she can't control it much. She clings to Danso as a protector and an anchor. Hadyn particularly enjoys jumping rope and has taught Lakia how to do it.
Origin: Her superpowers manifested at ten, when her father sexually abused her. Neither he nor their house survived the incident. Hadyn fled and lived on the street alone until she met Danso.
Uniform: Street clothes. Hadyn likes girl clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cute, Good (+2) Girl Stuff, Good (+2) Survivor
Poor (-2) Sexual Abuse Trauma
Powers: Average (0) Regeneration, Average (0) Self-Detonation
Motivation: Avoid conflict.

Whipcrack (Lakia Collins) -- She has tightly curled brown hair, brown eyes, and tan skin. Her parents are drug addicts, which led to her placement in foster care. She is six years old when she meets Danso. Lakia looks up to Hadyn.
Origin: A boy in her foster home had the Power Bestowal gift; he gave her a tail that can generate a neural strike. She ran away before anything worse could happen.
Uniform: Street clothes. She dislikes girl clothes, preferring to dress as a boy.
Qualities: Good (+2) Fast Learner, Good (+2) Fierce, Good (+2) Tomboy
Poor (-2) Self-Destructive
Powers: Average (0) Nerve Blast, Average (0) Prehensile Tail
Motivation: Survival.

Howl (Nathaniel) -- He has limp curly brown hair, brown eyes, and fair skin. He's pudgy with baby fat. Nathaniel is allergic to wool and a lot of other things. This makes him a fussy eater and reluctant to try new foods. He is often cranky; even with his Super-Senses damped down, the environment is overwhelming for him. His experience of abandonment makes him clingy with his new family.
Origin: He was born with his powers, and his mother abandoned him when he was three because of them. First Danso and later the Muffler take care of Nathaniel, keeping his Super-Senses turned down so they don't bother him as much.
Uniform: Play clothes. He needs smooth, soft, tagless, seamless clothes as much as possible. He detests shoes and socks, always trying to kick them off.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cautious, Good (+2) Cuddly, Good (+2) Loud
Poor (-2) Allergies
Powers: Average (0) Super-Senses
Vulnerability: Sensory processing disorder. Either Nathaniel lacks the required auxiliary powers that make Super-Senses bearable or they just haven't grown in yet.
Motivation: To stay with people.

Poof (Rosita) -- She has straight black hair and her skin holds a faint hint of golden-brown. Her eyes are still baby blue but will probably turn brown. Because of her teleporting, nobody knows her family or her birth name right now. She looks Hispanic so Danso called her Rosita. She loves to be tickled, and has already learned to associate that as a reward if she stays quiet during a diaper change.
Origin: She was born with her powers. She teleported away from her parents and wound up with Danso and later the Muffler too.
Uniform: Baby clothes. She already shows a clear fondness for pink.
Qualities: Good (+2) Adorable, Good (+2) Cuddly, Good (+2) Smart
Poor (-2) Unknown Family
Powers: Average (0) Teleportation, Average (0) Danger-Sense
Limitation: Her use of powers is instinctive at this stage, not under conscious control. She tends to teleport when startled, frightened, or lonely.
Motivation: To be loved.

Groundhog (Eunan Campbell) -- He has strawberry blond hair, green eyes, and pale skin with freckles. His weak lungs mean that he can't handle altitude changes well, and tends to catch every cold or chest bug that goes around. He works at SPOON as a dispatcher. He wants to support other soups so that bad things don't happen to them like what happened to him. He's one of the few people who is compassionate toward supervillains, because he understands how traumatic superpowers can be and how they can mess up someone's life.
Origin: When his superpower first manifested during his infancy, he disappeared into the sky, and before he was rescued he got so high up that it damaged his lungs. His parents were frantic, and after that, overprotective. Left with vulnerable breathing and a timid nature, he stopped using his power.
Uniform: Navy blue shirt and pants with the SPOON logo embroidered in silver on the chest pocket.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Dispatcher, Expert (+4) Soup Contacts, Expert (+4) Sympathetic, Good (+2) Classic Literature, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Green Thumb, Good (+2) Sewing
Poor (-2) Weak Lungs
Powers: Good (+2) Flight
Limitation: He is acrophobic and agoraphobic, so he never uses his power. It still works, in theory; he's just too afraid of it to activate it.
Motivation: Support people with superpowers.

The Muffler (Hannah Patterson) -- She has straight black hair now streaked with silver, hazel eyes blending brown and green, and tan skin. Hannah works for SPOON, raising children with superpowers who need foster or adoptive care. Her usual limit was two at a time, but she has just taken on a set of five siblings-of-choice.
Origin: Her powers grew in slowly over time. As more children began to manifest superpowers, she realized that her gifts could help them when nobody else could, so she became a foster mother.
Uniform: Street clothes. Hannah usually wears a light colored top with darker pants or skirt, and sometimes a cardigan over the top.
Qualities: Master (+6) Foster Mom, Expert (+4) Eyes in the Back of Her Head, Expert (+4) Soup Contacts, Good (+2) Crafts, Good (+2) Never Mess with the Mommy, Good (+2) Pillar of the Local Church, Good (+2) Sports Fan, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Love Life
Powers: Good (+2) Power Nullification, Average (0) Empathy Motivation: Love makes a house a home.

Notes:

"Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones you accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you you no matter what."
-- Unknown

Power Manipulation is a superpower that allows the user to affect someone else's superpowers such as enhancing, suppressing, or copying abilities. The effects are usually temporary.

About 40% of homeless youth are LGBT, and the leading cause of that homelessness is family rejection. People are working on ways to fix this.

Child sexual abuse is another common cause of youth homelessness.

Self-Detonation is the ability to explode like a fireball or bomb. As in this case, it usually comes with regeneration.

Parentification appears in ordinary life, but also in the tropes Parental Substitute and Promotion to Parent in entertainment. Absent a capable adult, a younger person may take on parental responsibilities. This often happens to young people who are caring for a handicapped relative or a younger sibling. This has positive and negative effects. It also poses extra challenges in fostering or adopting a parentified child or sibling group.

A tail is an example of the superpower Additional Limbs. This one happens to come with a nerve blast ability, a variation of Nerve Manipulation.

Self-loathing can create patterns of self-destructive behavior. It's a common problem for superheroes. Self-compassion helps overcome these negative feelings.

Black family dynamics are complex and face extra challenges; it is not fair to blame black women for this, although that is the typical response. Read a history of the term "baby-daddy."

Enhanced Senses may include vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste, or others. Sensory processing disorder describes various conditions where someone's senses cause distress or disorientation. There are sensory integration activities to help overcome such problems. Super-senses are just one example of how a single power can have both positive and negative effects.

Child abandonment is particularly a risk for children with special needs. Sometimes the parents are not charged with a crime. While child abandonment is a terrible thing, it happens most often when parents have burned out and no longer have the material resources or mental faculties to function in a safe, sane manner. In the America of Terramagne, ordinary parents cannot be compelled to keep children who develop superpowers, because they may have no means of safe control, and uncontrolled powers can be hazardous or deadly. They are supposed to surrender such children to Child Protective Services if they can no longer provide adequate care, but in practice that doesn't always happen and prosecution for abandonment is erratic. So there's an overrepresentation of soups among street people of all ages, and it's getting worse as more young people develop superpowers.

Contact comfort is reassurance gained from healthy touch. Children need skin contact, but so do adults. Touch starvation has negative effects on everyone.

Teleportation is a superpower that can wreak havoc if it develops at an early age.

New parents often have nightmares about their children being lost or injured.

Allergies are common in childhood; people may or may not grow out of them. People with enhanced senses have a higher chance of allergies. See a summary of Genesis for a reference to animals created on the fifth and sixth days.

Overprotective parents can cause developmental delays and other problems. This is especially a risk for handicapped children. Young soups are "special needs" children by definition, although they are typically "twice-exceptional" in having both advantages and disadvantages beyond the ordinary.

Family of choice appears both in everyday life and entertainment tropes. Blended families may need to exert extra effort to form healthy bonds.

Jump rope is a popular childhood game and good exercise. Although any bit of line may serve the purpose, the best jump ropes have a soft flexible rope with sturdy swivel-mounted handles.

See images for Blankie (Danso), Boomer (Hadyn), Whipcrack (Lakia), Howl (Nathaniel), Poof (Rosita), Groundhog, Granny Whammy, and The Muffler.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-18 03:15 am (UTC)
alexseanchai: Purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
I clearly need to read this whole series because this poem is simply gorgeous. Those poor kids.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-05-18 05:16 am (UTC)
alexseanchai: Purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
...ran out of series. :( I really enjoyed them all. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-18 03:23 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Excellent! I love my family of choice, as well as my family of birth. We all get along pretty well. I hope we hear more about these kids.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-18 06:07 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Like it!

Plenty of soups are allergic to things
so we have soap that's pretty safe.
... Soup soap? Better than soap soup.

Typos (typi?):

•but the Nathaniel's mother didn't.
→ but Nathaniel's

•He had to sleep sometime (but couldn't
take his eyes off them for a second.)
→ for a second).

•Overprotective oarents
→ parents

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-18 12:39 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
Love this.

Fantastic! Again!

Date: 2014-05-18 01:42 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I'm really getting into your story-in-poetry format.

Frankly, I wish my house were big enough to take in the whole lot of kids-- each for different reasons, but Danso REALLY needs a chance to back up, be a kid, and come to grips with his new life. Be the older brother rather than the dad.

I find the descriptions and behaviors realistic enough that I was worried about Rosita's family being found-- she's got a slim chance of that happening, /and/ of them being willing to deal with a soup. -So I'm off speculating about what happens NEXT, already.

This is a great addition to the series! Thank you SO MUCH for using the prompt.

Re: Fantastic! Again!

Date: 2014-05-19 03:29 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
>>> I find the descriptions and behaviors realistic enough <<

>> That's always good to hear!

>>>> that I was worried about Rosita's family being found-- she's got a slim chance of that happening, /and/ of them being willing to deal with a soup. -So I'm off speculating about what happens NEXT, already. <<


>> Danso and Hadyn have no living parents left, so they're safe from that. Lakia's parents are junkies, neither interested in her nor likely to get custody if they were. Nathaniel's mother dumped him, so it's unlikely anyone would come for him either.

- Right, none of these kids are going to be anything but fosterlings for a while.

>> Rosita is the real risk because there's no way to know about her family situation yet, unless SPOON manages to turn up something. The possibilities include:

>>* Her parents could be dead. The first teleport may have activated to jump her out of a hazardous situation such as a car crash or a house fire. This is plausible, although a small chance.

-- Contrariwise, Danso is likely to know at least an approximate location, at least as far as "by that big park on Bellevue Road in (name of city)". And he'd know a date within 3-5 days, which would allow them to check for road accidents based on the distance she teleported when he set her down to go pee in private. That gives them a starting point to look for accidents, fires, incidents of any kind involving a newborn.

>>* Her parents could be alive but not identifiable. They might be undocumented workers, or too poor to have filed the usual paperwork for her, or in another country. This is probably the most likely.

-- Unlikely that they're IN another country, as Danso and the others learned firsthand what the limits of Rosita's teleport range is. Even if her parents are undocumented, they've probably been given proper paperwork/documentation for her, as she /is/ American-born. More than twenty years ago, we couldn't leave the hospital without a visit from a social worker, mandatory across the state, and mandatory Social Security number(s). I cannot imagine they're LESS intrusive now. So there are probably hospital records, matched to footprints, and it was mandatory that each infant be photographed for the hospital records before being sent home, which is another way to sift through the possibilities.

>> * Her parents could be alive and identifiable,

--This is what I was thinking. First, there's no sign of damage to her clothing, no smoke or distress on her part. And the pic you used as a comparison is /definitely/ the kind of "going home from the hospital" over the top cutesy-girly thing that MOST parents don't put their kids in after learning the hard way how few minutes they actually LOOK cute and clean and dry. I think they fed her, changed her diaper, and got her dressed to go home. When she fell asleep, they put her in the bassinet (as per hospital rules), and something as simple as the nurse coming into the room with their release paperwork would've been enough startlement/distraction to allow the baby to teleport in her sleep.

>> but want nothing to do with a baby soup. This is rather likely.

-- No matter the parents' income, legal status, whatever, they'd gone to a bit of effort for that outfit she was wearing, carefully matched, with accessories, etc. That says either a much-wished for first child in a poor family, a family with means, or an extended family who worked together to amass a layette for the new baby. Ultrasounds are pretty much de rigeur, and I was considered old-fashioned twenty years ago for NOT wanting to know the gender(s) in advance; they've had time to get used to the idea of 'her' arrival. So having this /wanted/ child turn up LESS than "perfect" is going to bring out the least capable, least coping behavior-- "washing their hands" of the problem is a VERY likely scenario.

>>* Her parents could be alive, identifiable, and want her back but not be able to care for her special needs properly. This is not likely but is possible, and would be a disaster.

-- Yes, because first she'd be taken from the Muffler, Danso and the others, and put someplace ELSE. That's someone else's jurisdiction, and it's likely to put her out of reach of SPOON as well.

>> * Her parents could be alive, identifiable, and want her but recognize that they can't handle a young teleporter without assistance. While unlikely, this is possible and could work out well for everyone.

-- If they're willing to allow the other children to visit, willing to include them in that family, yeah. It's extremely unlikely because of the very things that put the older kids on the streets.

>> * Her parents could be alive, identifiable, want her back, and actually be capable of caring for her. This is the least plausible, because if it were the case, that would probably have happened already.

-- Not really. Non-custodial kidnappings make /NEWS/ in huge ways, BUT the assumption here would be that someone TOOK her from the hospital. They'd be checking out everyone with a history of mental illness, postpartum depression, or any combination of mental "problems"- which don't have to be clinically diagnosed, just hinted at-- and an older child taken into foster care for some reason. In short, the authorities would be looking in the wrong areas entirely.

>> Which do people think would make the most interesting storyline, and why?


I'd like Danso to do the "right" thing-- help Granny Whammy and the authorities TRY to find Rosita's birth family. They find the family, who are delighted to have the baby back....

Rosita keeps teleporting "home" to Danso and the others. It would take WEEKS to establish that none of the other kids are going to GET her, aka, kidnapping her, and it would prove absolutely that it's not something she can be taught to control yet.

Then the parents have to make the tough choice: give up custody officially to the Muffler, or move close enough to include the other kids in Rosita's life. I think it would be harder for most people to suddenly gain four older, mistrustful, damaged children along with what I still think is likely to be their firstborn.

Rosita has already bonded with her siblings, and in order to form a bond with her parents, or any other foster family, it will take a /lot/ of extra patience. A lot of confidence-- especially when it's obvious to everyone that Rosita prefers the familiar family to the new one... I think it's potentially devastating, potentially /enormously/ damaging to Rosita to go through this particular scenario.

So my /preference/ is to see Rosita's family found, Granny Whammy tell them about the ability, and having her family back off, signing custody to the Muffler-- right after a teleport or two, to give a sense of difficulty for the parents /and/ why the Muffler in particular is a good solution.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-18 04:22 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: Little bear holding a heart with the text "Sending love to you" (sending love and hugs)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
T_T That was gorgeous and I cried happy-sad tears along with Danso when he realised he could rest and nothing was going to happen to his family if he did. And the ending verse. So perfect. So beautiful. <3

(Today is not a day for wordage because it's been a crap day. But this poem... I want to wrap it around myself like a blanket and nest in the beauty of it and it made me smile to see everyone find a home where they're accepted again. <3 Thank you for sharing it.)

Re: You're welcome!

Date: 2014-05-23 07:51 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: Little bear holding a heart with the text "Sending love to you" (sending love and hugs)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
I'm glad it seems to be so popular. It's a wonderful piece. ^_^ (I like the way it ties in with some of the lines from Early Days too.)

Thank you. <3 I hope your days have been treating you better! (I think things are back on an upward slope for me, so that's good. ^_^)

Cuddlefluff! That is a perfect way to describe that! It really does have a lot of it. ^_^ I think perhaps that part of why it's so popular? Even though it deals with some really dark and heavy stuff and doesn't shy away from doing so and showing it, the poem actually feels like it leans a lot towards the hope and love that's also within their lives.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-18 06:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janetmiles.livejournal.com
This is a wonderful epic. I'm so glad they made it to SPOON, and that Granny Whammy was able to place the kids with Muffler.

Thank you!

Date: 2014-05-19 02:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked this.

As more people develop superpowers, SPOON is becoming a necessary refuge and clearinghouse for information, services, and resources. In a lot of cases, ordinary methods just aren't enough for soups so they have to help each other.

I've written a sequel, "The Making of a Man," that follows the ups and downs as the kids settle into their new home.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-18 11:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] songspinner9.livejournal.com
It is amazing how much characterization you achieved in such a short piece! A complete world in my mind and I haven't even read the other parts yet!

Thank you!

Date: 2014-05-19 02:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> It is amazing how much characterization you achieved in such a short piece! A complete world in my mind and I haven't even read the other parts yet! <<

I'm glad you liked this so much. It's especially useful to know that it makes a good anchor poem. Polychrome Heroics is one of my bigger series now, and it has a whole jumble of threads about different characters.

I have written a sequel to this now, about the kids settling into their new home. We'll see if anyone decides to sponsor it.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-05-21 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocketnaomi.livejournal.com
I would be happy to sponsor the sequel. Please tell me how to go about it?

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-05-21 04:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Yay! Details sent via LJ private message.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-20 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Oof. I'd never heard of the concept of parentification before, but it's mega-familiar to me.

I enjoy this poem series a whole lot.

Thoughts

Date: 2014-05-20 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Oof. I'd never heard of the concept of parentification before, but it's mega-familiar to me. <<

I'm sorry to hear about the familiarity, but glad I could give you a word for it.

There are different aspects of parentification:

* Instrumental -- children do tasks that adults should be doing, such as making meals or paying bills, beyond age-appropriate chores such as making their own bed.

* Emotional -- children are used as social support for an adult, instead of a spouse or adult friend, such as listening to secrets or being asked for advice.

It can also be divided by the focus:

* A child may have to take care of themself in terms of dressing, feeding, walking to school, etc. when it is not age-appropriate and no adult is available to provide care.

* A child may have to look after younger siblings or an ailing family member.

* A child may have to take care of their own parent(s) who is incapacitated due to drugs, illness, or some other cause.

And all of those can have different effects on the parentified child.

>> I enjoy this poem series a whole lot. <<

Yay! That's good to hear.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-21 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocketnaomi.livejournal.com
Is there a reason you include Groundhog in the character writeups after the poem, but don't include Granny Whammy? I'd love to find out a little more about her.

Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 03:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I already thumbnailed Granny Whammy elsewhere. Usually I put the character sheets underneath the first poem they appear in, or the first one where I wrote up the details. They also appear in the character list which is linked from the main series page. Granny Whammy is on Page 3.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocketnaomi.livejournal.com
I see -- cool. You have some neat people in there, though I think I like the ones from this sequence best. At least Danso. My daughter adores Whipcrack, and wants to be her. :)

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> I see -- cool. You have some neat people in there, <<

Thank you! The first page is for Damask, and then the others are in alphabetical order. When I started this series, I drafted a bunch of characters to explore options and to lay out some diversity that I wanted. I have not written about all of them yet, but it's easier to have some that I can use without having to start from scratch, because making new ones takes time. Folks can prompt for any of them.

>> though I think I like the ones from this sequence best. At least Danso. My daughter adores Whipcrack, and wants to be her. :) <<

*laugh* I would not have imagined Whipcrack as a role model! At least not yet; she's a good kid under the hackles but kind of a mess at the moment. I'm glad you find these characters so relatable.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 04:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocketnaomi.livejournal.com
Whipcrack is a mess, but she's also tough, self-willed, and doesn't let anyone tell her what to do. She's gonna get good with that tail, with time. I can't wait to see what she's like as a teenager.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 06:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Whipcrack is a mess, but she's also tough, self-willed, and doesn't let anyone tell her what to do. <<

That's true. She is already a handful.

>> She's gonna get good with that tail, with time. <<

I think so too.

>> I can't wait to see what she's like as a teenager. <<

I can imagine her with a 'fro out to her shoulders, no makeup, and ...

Muffler: "You may not Nerve Blast someone for touching your tush."
Whipcrack: "He'll wake up soon. Probably. And he won't grab my ass no more!"
Muffler: "Next time, tell a grownup and we'll deal with the offense in a more rational manner. And no, it would not have been okay to hit him with a taser or pepper spray instead of your tail. Let's talk about appropriate force ..."

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocketnaomi.livejournal.com
"Sure, let's! It weren't "'PROPRIATE" for him to "FORCE" his grubby hand on my ass!" :)

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
A valid point, of course.

The key is to find ways of addressing misbehavior that solve the problem, instead of escalating it. Nerve Blasting a boy for being a grabass may stop him from grabbing any more asses, but if that were the standard, we'd run low on boys pretty fast, because maturity takes time to develop and young people typically have poor impulse control. Ideally, a male teacher will step in and explain to him that you don't treat women like that, and impose a penalty such as writing a paper on sexual harassment.

This is a serious problem in schools today, because kids do dumb stuff all the time. They grab each other, they hit each other, they make wrong decisions in problem-solving, because they don't know any better yet. Yelling at them, hitting them, suspending them, jailing them -- none of that teaches them how to control impulses, make good decisions, or behave like decent human beings. Bad input from adults just makes it worse.

It also ties into police brutality, which is an increasing problem because if the police are violent, then citizens won't call on them for help. Same issue applies to soups who have powers that ordinary people don't; if they overuse those, it's like pulling a gun on an unarmed person. If soups don't learn about appropriate force and de-escalation, then you wind up with a lot of extra supervillains, the ordinary people fear superpowers, and we're back in Marvelverse with a genewar going on which sucks for everyone. The premise of using the least force necessary to solve the problem is essential to a sane society.

So that's a running theme in Polychrome Heroics, where the stakes are even higher due to adding superpowers; you can see some other explorations of it in "Pulling Pigtails." Not only are Bully Boy and Plucky Girl demonstrating bad gender relations, Fortressa is showing the problems of excessive force in responding to sexual harassment -- with super-armor in play, the collateral damage goes waaayyy up. And that's a key difference between a superhero and a supervillain. One cares about minimizing collateral, the other doesn't.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 07:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocketnaomi.livejournal.com
Oh, absolutely. I just answered with what I thought Whipcrack would have to say on the subject. :)

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
*laugh* And you nailed it. She's very fierce and very brash and neither of those things are likely to change.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocketnaomi.livejournal.com
Yup. She's also had to defend herself all her life -- the idea of going to a grownup and asking them to do it for her just isn't going to occur to her. Hopefully by the time she's a teen, she'll have been with Muffler for long enough for some of it to start to soak in, but still, in moments of startlement she's going to revert to old reflexes... and she's not real likely to apologize for it afterward, either.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Yup. She's also had to defend herself all her life -- the idea of going to a grownup and asking them to do it for her just isn't going to occur to her. <<

That's true up to age six, and it's always going to leave an imprint. But by junior high, that early wreck will be only half her life, and by high school, less than half.

>> Hopefully by the time she's a teen, she'll have been with Muffler for long enough for some of it to start to soak in, <<

That's what I'm counting on: that after some reflection, other options will be considered worth trying.

>> but still, in moments of startlement she's going to revert to old reflexes... and she's not real likely to apologize for it afterward, either. <<

Exactly.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-21 11:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocketnaomi.livejournal.com
Yeah. My guess is that she won't admit that it was wrong of her to zap the kid who grabbed her tush... but she might agree to try something different next time instead, if she's given time to cool off before she has to decide.

How does she handle her tail with ordinary clothes? Does she and Muffler sew a hole in her jeans for it? I'm visualizing her in cargo pants, but can't quite tell whether she keeps her tail stuffed down one leg of the pants (which would be mildly uncomfortable and also make it harder for her to whip it out and sting someone, but would also make for fewer idiots trying to grab it or saying obnoxious things about it; or whether she sews it a hole (or lets someone who can bear to do girl things sew it for her) and carries it out and proud, and the hell with anyone who has a problem with it.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-22 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Yeah. My guess is that she won't admit that it was wrong of her to zap the kid who grabbed her tush... but she might agree to try something different next time instead, if she's given time to cool off before she has to decide. <<

Likely so. What really needs to happen is this.

>> How does she handle her tail with ordinary clothes? <<

Previously she has been stuffing her tail down the leg of her shorts or pants, most of the time, or over the waistband. It would be a lot easier if she wore skirts, but Lakia dislikes girlie clothes. I'm not sure yet if that's innate (gender expression), practical (boy clothes are tougher and easier to romp in), reactionary (girls are targeted more than boys), or some combination.

>> Does she and Muffler sew a hole in her jeans for it? <<

That would be the best solution. It's an extra limb and it's not going away, therefore needs to be incorporated into garment design. Tailoring clothes for unusual body types or features is a serious challenge, almost always overlooked in speculative fiction. Over in Fledgling Grace, I addressed this directly with "Needlework." Cutting a hole for a tail is a minimal fix, often easier said than done in terms of making it work really well. But you also have to consider that it's a body part, and one without much fat, so it needs weather protection. A partial sleeve can work but making that comfortable is a challenge.

>> I'm visualizing her in cargo pants, but can't quite tell whether she keeps her tail stuffed down one leg of the pants (which would be mildly uncomfortable and also make it harder for her to whip it out and sting someone, but would also make for fewer idiots trying to grab it or saying obnoxious things about it; <<

It is more than mildly uncomfortable to wear one's tail down one's pantleg, although the exact feeling is difficult to describe. It's kind of like leaning against your braid, if you've ever had really long hair; and kind of like the way your thighs rub together.

In shorts, Lakia can still use her tail pretty well. It's prehensile, so she does use it somewhat, although she is still learning what it's good for. But if she has it stuffed down long pants, it is completely inaccessible. She is more inclined to do that when she feels socially threatened. If she feels physically unsafe, then she wants it out so she can use it. Yes, people will try to grab or pull someone's tail, almost obsessively; it is a constant problem for caudally gifted people. As a form of assault it's painful, disorienting, and intrusive. And frankly tail-grabbing is behavior that should be trained away at toddler age; you don't treat an animal that way, and certainly not a person. One, it's easy to cause injury; and two, getting scratched, bitten, punched, or zapped in retaliation is probable.

>> or whether she sews it a hole (or lets someone who can bear to do girl things sew it for her) <<

I don't think Lakia is likely to sew her own things, but the Muffler is good at crafts and Hadyn is probably interested in learning to sew. I wouldn't be surprised if Danso also shows interest in domestic skills, but he already has a LOT of other stuff on his plate.

>> and carries it out and proud, and the hell with anyone who has a problem with it. <<

I think Lakia is very conflicted about her tail. She didn't want it or ask for it; it was something done to her under awful circumstances. But it's unquestionably an advantage; she can pick things up with it, balance with it, or use Nerve Blast. (She isn't very good at that stuff yet, because she hasn't had it very long and is hesitant about practicing.) Sometimes she is very in-your-face about it and other times she hides it. I don't think she's at "proud" yet, but she has the personality to get there with the right kind of support.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-05-24 03:31 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Yes, people will try to grab or pull someone's tail, almost obsessively; it is a constant problem for caudally gifted people.

My father had that problem with his moustache on occasion, until he eventually shaved it off. In once instance, the attendant at a gas station counter reached out and tried to grab it -- IIRC, my father's response (speaking with the supervisor and a strongly-worded letter) may have gotten the guy fired.

She isn't very good at that stuff yet, because she hasn't had it very long and is hesitant about practicing.

I think if she wants to practice her attack power, a training dummy of plastic and cloth, with wires running through the limbs and head, would be excellent. Hook the wires to a potentiometer and you should be able to measure the intensity of energy passing through them, as you would with a radio antenna. This way she can safely learn how to control the energy blast and give it both subtlety and accuracy.

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