ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the February 2016 [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] curiosity and [personal profile] shiori_makiba. It also fills the "get enough sleep" square in my 5-20-15 card for the Wellness Toolbox Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Basking in the Light"


Shane feels a little bit better now that
he has moved into the rotunda room at
the Starfish Foundation Life Support Center,
but his life is still a pretty big mess.

Zoe keeps urging him to take care of himself,
to get enough sleep, but it's hard when his body
fights him so much. Nothing feels comfortable
anymore, not his bedroom or his bed or
his clothes. He dozes and wakes up,
always feeling out-of-sorts.

He has a big Lumie Brazil lightbox
for his daily phototherapy, and also
a new Philips wake-up light alarm clock
for cloudy days when there isn't enough
sun coming through his windows to work.

It helps some, but only so far.
Shane doesn't know how to take care
of a lizard, even when he is one.

"Maybe we should consult an expert,"
says Zoe. "Go to a pet store and ask
someone what an iguana needs."

Shane doesn't want to go out,
but neither does he want to wind up
on a balcony again, trying to convince
himself to jump to his death.

"Okay," he says.

So they walk to the corner and
catch a bus to Westbord Wild Things.
It's half pet display and half warehouse
full of every pet supply Shane could imagine.

"Hi, I'm Marley," says the clerk.
"How can I help you today?"

Zoe leans on the counter and chats up
the nice guy in the green polo shirt,
going on about lights and heat
the importance of humidity.

Shane doesn't feel like talking,
so he wanders around the shop
looking at all the pet stuff.

Back toward the warehouse area
there's a big table with ... what?

Shane stops and stares at
the two young iguanas laid out
in rather rude poses on a pair of
purple velveteen chaise lounges.

A lamp hangs above them, and
the lizards look downright stoned,
basking in the light below it.

Shane wonders what is so great
about that lamp, so he reaches out
and sticks a hand into the beam,
careful not to bother the iguanas.

Oh. It's so warm.

Shane grins and wiggles
his fingers. The light is also
very shiny, and seems to make
extra colors in the green and
tan skin of the lizards.

He is still standing there,
completely captivated by
the little iguana spa, when
Zoe comes back with
the clerk in tow.

"Shane? Hey, talk to me,
you're starting to worry me,"
says Zoe, and Shane realizes
that she's probably been
calling him for a while.

"I like their light," he says,
waving his hand around.
"It's so warm and shiny."

Marley gives him a funny look.
"Well, the lizards love it," he says.
"How big is yours? Are we talking
about an iguana, a monitor lizard,
or something more ... exotic?"

The iguanas look so happy
and relaxed under their lamp.

Shane hasn't felt happy in so long
that he has forgotten what it's like,
but he definitely feels better now
than he did earlier this morning.

"About six feet, and fairly exotic,"
Zoe says without getting explicit.

"Well, each species of reptile has
its own requirements for light, heat,
humidity, and other habitat factors,"
Marley says. "I can't really help you
without knowing at least that much."

"We're actually scouting for a friend,
so there's a limit to how much I can say,"
Zoe says, looking at Shane.

The pearl buttons of Shane's cuff
change colors under the light,
dancing with strange rainbows
that he can't begin to name.

"Listen, if it's ... something special,
if you're talking about an animal soup
or even someone with lizard traits, then
for god's sake call a zoo," says Marley.

Shane flinches, not even the soothing light
able to insulate him from the chilling fear that
has plagued him ever since the first change.

"Because super animals can have
the same kind of weird allergies that
some human soups have, only we know
even less about them, and I've heard
some ugly stories," Marley continues.
"If this is about a person, then you need
a real herpetologist, not just a guy who
keeps iguanas and works in a pet store."

"You can't help us?" Zoe says.
"Or do you mean you won't?"

Marley sighs. "I can sell you
lizard lamps from what we have
in stock here. We don't carry
the largest sizes, though, and
we can't get all the same kinds
that the zoos use," he says. "It'll
tide you over until you can get
habitat designs from an expert."

"Any recommendations on finding
the right consultant?" Zoe asks.

"Yes," Marley says in clear relief.
"I can hook you up with someone
at the San Diego Zoo -- I know one of
their Reptile House guys, Ronny and
I went to college together. Who
should I tell him to expect?"

"It's for me," Shane says.
If he can't just buy lamps off
the shelf, then there's no point
trying to keep cricketed. "I turn
into a lizardman fairly often --
like a big iguana -- and it is
seriously messing with me."

"Ooookay," Marley says slowly.
"Let me just make that call for you."

"Shit," says Shane as the clerk
ambles away, talking on his phone.
"This sounds really expensive. I'm sorry."

"Stop worrying about the money, Shane,"
says Zoe in a firm tone. "I know how
to hustle for it, that's part of my job."

Part of living at the Starfish house
is that he's not supposed to worry over
things like rent or groceries or utilities,
just focus on fixing his head.

Shane has to admit, it takes some pressure off.

Solving the challenge of lizard lights
is more complicated than anticipated.
It takes round after round of phone calls,
several meetings with herpetologists,
and a lot of embarrassing questions.

The stuff from the pet store is enough
to help in the interim, but eventually
they have to remodel the rotunda.

Shane winds up with heat lamps in
his bathroom, a brown chaise lounge
to bask on there, all kinds of fancy lights
added to the ceiling of his bedroom, and
a cozy enclosed bed built into the alcove.
His main bed still stands in the middle of
the room, but now the rotunda has been
transformed into a jungle of potted plants.

He tries not to think about the expense
of waterproof paint and floor sealant,
all the new mildew-resistant clothes,
a zillion different lights, and
the rest of the renovation.

Shane has to admit, though, that
it's easier to breathe in his room now,
and he no longer feels like he's freezing
all the time even in human form.

"Go ahead," Zoe says gently,
when Shane hesitates even after
all the workers have left and his room is
waiting for him, plant leaves waving softly
under the fan that wafts warm air around.

Reluctantly, Shane lets go and
shifts from human to lizardman.

The lights are amazing.

The colors look brilliant and
infinite, like Shane is somehow
standing inside a gigantic kaleidoscope,
even better than they looked to him
when he was in human form.

It's so warm that Shane feels
like his bones are turning to liquid.

"Let's get you onto that lounge,"
Zoe says, taking hold of Shane
to guide him into the bathroom.

She never hesitates to touch him,
even when he's in lizard form.

It can't erase the horrible memories
of what happened to him before
with his boss and his landlord
and his girlfriend, but it helps
Shane believe that maybe he's
not untouchable after all.

Zoe eases him down onto the lounge
and he feels like he's floating away,
even his depression no match for
this moment of basking in the light.

For the first time since his manifestation,
Shane believes that he'll get enough sleep.

* * *

Notes:

Zoe Loftus -- She has fair skin, dark gray eyes, and shaggy chestnut hair to her shoulders. She usually wears loose, comfortable clothes but she never takes out her pearl earrings. Zoe works as a live-in counselor at the Starfish Foundation Life Support Center in Westbord, California. She excels in helping people rediscover their love of life, but she can be persistent to the point of annoying when it comes to repeating rules or advice.
Qualities: Master (+6) Coping Skills, Expert (+4) Counselor, Expert (+4) Fundraiser, Good (+2) Beach Fun, Good (+2) Interpersonal Intelligence, Good (+2) Swimmer
Poor (-2) Repetitious

Shane Avery -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and dark blond hair. He gets cold easily, so he tends to dress in layers. Shane worked in customer service at a large corporation, where he loved helping people solve their problems. But after his powers manifested, the company fired him. He also got kicked out of his apartment and his girlfriend dumped him. He is not coping at all well.
Origin: His superpowers manifested abruptly and without warning. Because of this, an outside cause is suspected but has not been identified.
Uniform: Smart-casual business attire at work, usually a sports jacket or cardigan over a button-up shirt and trousers. He likes fancy leather shoes with exotic scales or decorations. He favors soft neutral jackets and pants such as camel or light gray, and pastel shirts. Elsewhere he tends toward khakis and chinos with a polo shirt or sweater.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Customer Service, Good (+2) Cooperative Games, Good (+2) Extrovert, Good (+2) Instincts
Poor (-2) End of His Rope
Powers: Good (+2) Lizardman Form
This metapower includes Armor and Regeneration. He can only stay in human form for so long before it becomes stressful and he needs to switch into lizardman form.
Vulnerability: Cold makes him sluggish and uncomfortable.
Motivation: To survive.

Marley Dominguez -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short dark hair. He works at a pet store in Westbord near the Starfish Foundation Life Support Center. Marley keeps a lot of exotic pets that he can't leave alone for more than a day or so, which means he never really gets a vacation.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Helpful, Good (+2) Deductive Reasoning, Good (+2) Reptile Keeper, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Can't Leave Home

Ronny Nadilo -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short brown hair with a beard and mustache. He wears two small hoop earrings in his left ear. Ronny works at the San Diego Zoo in the Reptile House. He likes snakes better than girls, which is sometimes a problem, because most girls don't like snakes. Ronny helps Pythia cope with her python traits.
Qualities: Master (+6) Herpetologist, Expert (+4) Dexterity, Expert (+4) Gentle, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Soup-Friendly, Good (+2) Surfer
Poor (-2) Most Girls Don't Like Snakes

* * *

The Starfish Foundation Life Support Center in Westbord assists suicidal people by relieving the weight that society places on them. It was started by survivors of suicide loss, supported by charitable donations. The large house has a cheerfully painted exterior. The basement has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a laundry room. The corner between the laundry room and Bedroom #2 has a pit group with a coffee table. There are bookcases on the wall by the stairs and between Bedroom #4 and the bathroom. The first floor has a kitchen, dining room, and family room. The rotunda attached to the library has a round table for reading or artwork. The breakfast nook is a jungle of houseplants. The second floor has four bedrooms, each with ensuite bath, plus another laundry room. The master suite belongs to the live-in staff. The third floor has an exercise room, reading area, bedroom, and the future room has been developed into another bedroom. So there are plenty of things for people to do, opportunities to socialize, private space, and minimal obligations. It's a good solution for folks who become suicidal because they feel that nobody cares (or in fact had nobody) or whose life fell apart. Shane Avery has Bedroom #3 on the second floor, the rotunda, for maximum sunlight.

Light therapy helps many people with depression, which can have seasonal connections. There are many light therapy products to choose from, including lightboxes and gradual light alarm clocks. Shane has a Lumie Brazil Lightbox and a Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock HF3520. These are great products, but they are designed for ordinary humans, not lizardmen.

Reptiles require a lot of high-quality light, which makes their lighting requirements more demanding than most humans have. Green Iguanas in particular need bright, plentiful light including UVA and UVB. ZooMed makes a variety of products especially for iguanas and other reptiles, which are challenging to keep. Zoos provide enrichment to help their reptiles stay healthy and happy.

See the lounge lizards. Some lizards enjoy lounging around like this, and some pet owners get a kick out of watching them. You can buy a lounge for your lizard.

Some people enjoy keeping large lizards such as green iguanas. These pets require a LOT of space. Compare this with their wild habitat.

See Shane's lounge.

Enclosed beds are popular for both people and pets. I couldn't find something exactly right for a lizardman, but I did find the individual elements. The sizing is twin-over-full, and the frame is made from hardwood treated with waterproof sealant to accommodate the humidity. The lower bunk is more enclosed, while the top has an open platform for resting aloft. Iguanas are arboreal and need climbing space. Padding and curtains add comfort.

Jungle plants often make excellent houseplants. Here are some tips on creating an indoor jungle, which is good for fighting depression. Shane has a chair surrounded by plants and more in the middle of the floor. Because his bedroom includes a rotunda with many windows, that makes a great environment for houseplants as well as Shane himself.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-16 01:59 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
LOLOLOLOLOL! [Ronny] likes snakes better than girls, which is sometimes a problem, because most girls don't like snakes.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Maybe in Sandy Eggo! My wife, my daughter, and my "little" sister are HUGE snake fans. The Duchess spent most of OVFF with one or the other of a brace of pythons wrapped around her... scored both ribbons on her badge... and made her mother upset because SHE wanted a turn!

That said? Awwwwwww! They made him all melty.

Somewhere in a box I have a Zen alarm clock... it goes from minimum-possible brightness to FULL ON in 30 minutes, and if that doesn't do it, it strikes a Zen chime at the appointed hour. My only problem is, being quite light sensitive, the light will wake me 15 minutes early, and I *want* those extra 15! So I've taken to using a quiet musical audio alarm with a soft bird twitter at the beginning. If I've slept well, I can get the alarm canned by the first piano note.

Twin-over-full is the bunk bed in J-roo's bedroom, which he used to share with his big sister. It's a very useful sizing for not-so-little-but-not-quite-teens. Especially when there are tons of stuffies involved.

I used to know a lady down in Cali who was a net.expert on iguana... the male of her pair was six feet long and despite being a strict vegan was not to be trifled with. Six feet of angry iguana is almost as fearsome as a penguin bearing down at 100mph! ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-16 02:43 am (UTC)
we_are_spc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] we_are_spc
I love iguanas, but I don't think I could keep one, but there are some who have let me touch them, and their skin and the way they breath are awesome. There were even stores that allowed theres run of the floor, and there foot slaps were a thing to behold ane hear. :)

That said, do they make a noise? I've never heard one vocalize, but that doesn't mean they can't.

(Ug, homework. *scurries back to finish*)

Re: Well...

Date: 2017-03-16 04:05 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Missed the link on the "purr" one?

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-16 05:10 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Spot and Saffron? Yeah, they're both really sweet.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-16 05:21 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Wait. You..... we've been in the same room. Probably several years running.

I *hope* we make OVFF this year. G-d knows what the jackboots will be up to...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-17 12:01 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Maybe, maybe not. I used to go to OVFF when I lived in Nashville, but I haven't been there for over 10 years. Now I see Jan and her snakes at GAFilk.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-16 04:29 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
I want more sun lamps.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2017-03-16 04:52 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
The poem was great, but I need to reread it when I'm not light-hungry myself.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2017-03-16 05:22 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Yes, please.

I don't like light ON my screen, but I like a fair bit of "ambient" light...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-16 04:41 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
«The corner between the laundry room and Bedroom #2 has a pit group with a coffee table.»

What is a pit group, s.v.p.? There's not much of a corner there, meseems.

I'm GLAD he's feeling so much better now.

Those lounge lizards are toys/sculptures, n'est-ce pas? Their postures are too human.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-16 05:15 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
This is more of a general question, although this particular piece is the one that brought it to mind. Isn't there science fiction in Terramagne? Because honestly, a shape-shifting lizard-man is going to map to me as "humanoid alien" more than "dangerous freak", and I can deal with humanoid aliens that aren't hostile. I've had similar thoughts about Facet a few times -- it just seems weird that nobody he runs into is fannish enough to take it in stride.

Re: Well...

Date: 2017-03-16 03:05 pm (UTC)
we_are_spc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] we_are_spc
I guess we're one of the decent types too. (I won't say quite 'human' as most of us in this system are elven in human shell, but)

Shane is awesome. xd And he maps to us as "humanoid person, too, but then again we have our own shifters of various sorts, so we're among the "weird-means-we-deal-with-sudden-change" better than most. I would say that it would've thrown me a bit when it first happened, and might've needed time to adjust to, but I wouldn't have treated him any differently for it.

I loved this, though, it shows people actually being nice todifferent, and it's really kind of awesome.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-16 06:42 am (UTC)
fyreharper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fyreharper
BASK :D

puuuuuuurrrrr

Date: 2017-03-17 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
puuuuurrrrrr

lovely to read while basking in front of the fireplace *shivers happily*

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