Friday, November 18, 2011

{ember and coal}

“I hate it when you say that,” Ember said, trying to force down her anger. Coal’s eyebrows elevated in an amused smirk.

“Say what?”

“‘I see.’” Ember pressed her arms closely to her sides, palms touching her bare thighs. It was a good way to gage her self-control. The warmer her palms got, the more she knew she was failing to control her temper. “It makes me feel like you’re not listening, or don’t care enough to think of a reply.”

Coal’s blue eyes laughed, but it seemed cruel now. “Sometimes I don’t care enough to think of a reply,” he admitted. The truth of the words fell like stones into Ember’s heart, like coals. But it quenched her anger immediately. She suddenly felt very cool, very distant. The emotion had run its course and broken through the other side. Now she could think.

“I know you don’t,” she said slowly, looking directly at him. He would not look at her. “That’s why I always ask if you want to talk… But you usually imply that you do. Otherwise, believe me, I would stop talking.” The edge was creeping back into her voice. Coal looked at her then, trying to read her eyes. They were still deceptively, disconcertingly blue.

“I meant that I don’t always care specifically about what was said.” His eyes had finally taken on a slightly wary cast, which was as daunted as Coal ever became. “Not that I don’t care about us talking at all.”

Ember’s breath came out in a short, frustrated gust, her eyes tingeing purple for the first time. “Coal, talking takes two people. You give some, I give some. That’s the way it works.”

Coal’s eyes narrowed slightly. “I agree, which implies that neither of us has to care all the time. However, the real problem is, I think, that you care too much and I don’t care enough.”

There is no doubt, Ember thought, nostrils flaring in an effort to channel her vivid frustration. “You’re right. Neither of us has to care all the time. That would be unrealistic and exhausting. But I think it’s more the latter.” Green seeped unexpectedly into Ember’s eyes. “I try to make conversation,” she said, a husky tone threatening in her voice. She swallowed hard and shook off that desperate feeling she so despised. “but it’s never interesting enough.”

Coal snickered and looked away, giving his shoulders a quick roll to relax them. “It usually is, Ember,” he said. “Or I wouldn’t keep talking.”

In a flash Ember’s spine snapped straight, her eyes flashed bright and red and her features took on a fierce tilt. “What about me, Coal?” Her voice was stronger, louder now. Coal looked at her, his face momentarily betraying his surprise. “Do you think I enjoy making conversation that amuses you and getting nothing in return?”

His eyes were still. Ember could see his mind turning the question over. She felt a tingle of pure anger. “Don’t you dare treat me like one of your assignments, Coal Blazings.” He blinked and raised his eyebrows, looking both shocked and slightly menacing. “I’m not someone you can spy on, someone to find angles around, someone to placate or fool into minding you.”

Coal opened his mouth, then shut it, studying her with a new intensity that Ember hadn’t seen before. She did not like it. The look was candidly uncomfortable, and Coal was never uncomfortable. “I don’t…I don’t think you enjoy getting nothing in return,” he began slowly. “But conversations don’t have to be balanced that way. My mind doesn’t work that way.”

“In the short run, no, conversations needn’t be balanced,” Ember said. “There will be days when I don’t feel like talking, and you’ll have to carry me, and vice versa. But in the long run, yes. Yes, conversations should be more or less balanced, Coal.”

“You’re using my name a lot.” The proud smirk was back. Ember wanted to slap it off with a flaming palm.

“I’m trying to keep your attention!” Ember exploded, palms bursting into flame. Coal flinched back in shock. “You’re like a child,” she shouted. “Coal! Coal! Listen to me, Coal! Pay attention, Coal! This way, Coal!”

Coal’s brows lowered in a formidable frown. His eyes would surely have been red were it not for his years of spy training. In a flash, he reached out and stuck his shielded fingertips onto Ember’s palms, cooling them to uselessness. She glared up at him with fiery eyes and clenched teeth. “I don’t want to fight!” he said forcefully. “Ember, I don’t want to do this.”

“Well, I am sorry,” she said venomously. “But we’ve got to.”

“Why?” Coal shouted. Ember flinched in surprise, stepping back with one foot. Coal threw up his hands, his eyes focusing so hard into hers that she felt her cheeks grow hot. “Why, Ember? Ember, why do we have to do this? Ember?”

“Because.” Ember’s voice dropped unexpectedly. “It’s the only way you’ll really talk to me.”

“That’s not true.”

“It is true, Co—” She stopped herself, squeezing her eyes shut, folding her arms across her chest.
“Often I don’t say much because it’s not necessary.” The edge stayed firmly planted in Coal’s aggressive speech. “You know what I mean. I shouldn’t have to waste words only to make my sentences longer.”

“It’s not wasting words,” Ember said, emotionally drained once again. She looked at him with wide, teal eyes. “I don’t always know what you mean. That’s why we’re here. When you reply, ‘I see’ to everything I say… How does that convey anything but disinterest?”

A growling sort of sigh escaped Coal’s lips. “I do not reply ‘I see’ to everything. That is a gross overstatement. I say what I mean with as few words as possible.” He frowned. “How can you be angry at me for that? Sparktresses are far worse. You never say what you mean, in few words or not.”

“I am right now,” Ember said. “Saying what I mean.” She roughly twisted a lock of hair in her fist. “That’s also different. Sparktresses…we at least convey some emotion, whether or not it’s the emotion we’re truly feeling.”

Coal’s eyes shifted to the sky and then down. “So it’s not meaning you’re upset about,” he said. “It’s feelings.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement; a statement wringing with poorly disguised contempt. Ember felt the terrible coldness clutch her stomach again, soaking up all the emotion with a cold, clammy squeeze.

“You’re supposed to love me, Coal,” she said softly. “And yes, I have always considered love to be a feeling.”

“Well, I haven’t,” Coal said coldly, looking straight into her green eyes. “Love is a choice; it’s a decision. Feelings come and go. If you love someone, it’s not a feeling; it’s something a bit more stable than that.”

“Although not so stable that it merits full responses apparently.”

“Love is stable. Perhaps what we have is not love.”

If Ember hadn’t been numb, that would have hurt. As it was, the statement ripped through her soul without any pain. At least not then. The rawness of a shredded heart would come to her later.

“Perhaps you are right,” she said, her voice restored for a moment. Her eyes shifted back to a calm blue. “Goodnight, Coal. Goodbye, Coal.”

“Goodbye, Ember.”

And they parted ways.

{And then she started asking him Gender Specific Questions..

Oh wait, no, that was YOU! Hint. Comment. Email:}



  1. I love Ember's eyes changing color with her emotions! I can remember feeling like Ember in one relationship, doubtful about how interesting I was to my girlfriend. I liked when she got mad too. Coal, Coal, Coal! That's probably the way you meant him to be but Coal seemed really unfeeling.

    By the way, where do you come up with detail ideas like the palms against her thighs test, or the eye color?

  2. Thank you!! You're right, he is supposed to seem a little unfeeling here. He shows more emotion throughout the story, but here it's to show that his being a spy taints their relationship, and Ember feels like she can't ever fully trust or know him because he won't reveal himself.

    Honestly, fire fairies have existed in my head for a long time, as you know XD Their race and history has so much detail in my mind that I sometimes forget their characteristics are so unusual XD

    The eyes changing with mood was actually inspired by the mood ring I was wearing the night fire fairies were "created" :) I have an obsession with eyes, and the idea just hit me at once.

    As for the detail ideas...I'm not really sure. I see my story like a movie in my head, and I just close my eyes and write it as it plays. Ember will shift to the right in my "movie," so I type it. My characters are alive in my mind, I just watch and type.