Spotlight on Darkchylde: The Ariel Chylde Saga (R. Queen) Plus Excerpt & Giveaway!
Today we're spotlighting R. Queen's novel, Darkchylde: The Ariel Chylde Saga!
Read on for more about R. Queen, his novel, plus an excerpt, and giveaway!
Meet R. Queen!
R.Queen is an accomplished comic book creator, poet, fine artist, and writer.
In this, his first novel, Queen brings a visual power and a lyrical sensibility to one girl’s struggle with loss, identity, and nightmares beyond imagination. Shining a light into the darkest depths of the heart to illuminate the courage of the human spirit. A courage found only by facing the fears which dwell hungry and ancient within us all.
Meet Darkchylde: The Ariel Chylde Saga!
Ariel Chylde is haunted by horrible dreams,
and on her eighteenth birthday sheds her skin as the
nightmares emerge to act out her deepest, darkest impulses.
But before Ariel can save her small town from the terror of her dreams,
she must first save herself from the sinister secret of her subconscious.
A secret guarded by unspeakable evil.
“I am terrified by this dark thing that sleeps in me.” ~ Sylvia Plath
“There can be no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ Carl Jung
My nightmares are teaching me things.
If you’re quiet enough, you can hear the world ending. If you’re still enough, you can smell blood on the breeze. And if you stare long enough, you start to realize the shadows stare back.
My mother said there wasn’t any kind of broken I couldn’t come back from, but now I’m not so sure. My nightmares have become so frequent and intense, I’m starting to feel they are my reality, and my waking world the dream. I’m scared I’m losing my mind.
Everyone wants the fairy tale, but don't forget there are dragons in those stories.
~ A Treasury of Shadows, the journal of Ariel Chylde
CHAPTER ONE: THE BUTTERFLY AND THE SPIDER
It begins with a butterfly in a web, with surges of frantic color eager to be born back on an unforgiving wind. The trap had waited for empty days between the railing and steel column of our breezeway, but now trembles with life as my classmates gather with their phones to capture the final moments of desperation.
Maybe I’m the only one who appreciates an orange monarch on this grey fall morning — even from here I can see how pretty it is. Like me, it was on its way somewhere, and it makes me sad it got tangled. As I head toward them, down the long grass slope from second period History, I see Stacy and Spencer front and center of the revelry. I didn’t think they were officially an item yet, but she wears his red and white letter jacket — the same one that kept me warm not three weeks ago. Maybe I wouldn’t mind as much if it didn’t look so good on her. Stacy is stunning and built in a way boys notice, but there was always something reptilian about her that left me cold. Maybe it was the way she made passes at Spencer right in front of me. He’d always say he preferred sweet blondes to surly brunettes, but I guess he changed his mind about me along with everyone else.
It’s getting harder to hide the dark circles under my eyes, but I turned eighteen today and will only have to suffer the critical stares of Salem High a little longer before I make my great escape. To where I haven’t settled on, but like the butterfly, I understand feeling trapped and wanting to fly free of a dying place.
I think of how a caterpillar completely annihilates itself while in chrysalis. It turns into a kind of liquid as the cells reconfigure into something new, something capable of migrating through our little back water town of Salem Georgia on the way to a warmer climate in Florida. It’s a long journey and one rife with peril. Our lives are not so very different, and I’ve learned at various crucial junctures that transformation is necessary for survival. So many miracles preceded that web it seems a shame for it to end there. Maybe another miracle is in order.
I have two choices. Keep walking or free the butterfly. Maybe it goes against nature, but I don’t enjoy seeing something struggle, and I certainly wouldn’t film it. There’s enough of that around here, and it gets old quick. But if I involve myself I estrange myself further from the pack. I don’t have much time. Death needs that butterfly same as the wind.
The warning bell screams as a plump orb weaver skitters from the tall grass and up the steel column. The others don’t see it, they’re still waiting for it drop from above. I’ll have to get right in there, and Stacy will take it as confrontational.
Make the decision, Ariel.
The butterfly flutters in place.
The spider picks up pace.
My gangly legs go faster, and my backpack — shaped like a squirrel because everyone thinks I’m nuts — slides off my shoulder. I sling it back over my slippery jacket, an early birthday present from my father. I don’t usually like the clothes he picks out, but this deep crimson suits me.
They’re too distracted to see my hurried approach. The orb weaver finds the web and moves with that frightening swiftness of spiders once they have prey. I press through the wall of shoulders, and with an awkward jump off the adjacent rail — “Watch it,” someone yells — I take the whole damn web on my front, butterfly and all. There are shrieks as the spider scuttles over my arm. Not meaning to, I spaz and fling it right at Stacy’s head.
She spazzes more and nearly goes over the rail. It’s almost funny until the spider makes a disoriented dash from the concrete — only to have Stacy’s angry boot smash it. Her glare lets me know she wishes it were my face, and I think animosity just escalated to war.
“That wasn’t intentional,” I say over my shoulder.
Stacy spits the word “disgusting,” and I can’t tell if she means me or the spider as she lifts her heel to marvel at the squashed mass of trembling legs. There’s kind of a lot of blood. More than you’d think.
“It’s been there all month,” Spencer frowns, “you didn’t have to kill it.”
Spiders can be creepy, but no, no she didn’t.
I sigh as the butterfly shivers in silver gossamer just above my breasts. Stacy calls me a dumb bitch as I carefully remove the webbing from the monarch’s wings. Someone else calls me mental. Once the wings are free, the butterfly folds them once, twice, as if in gratitude. The dusty orange patterns are supernatural this close. Its fine legs are whispery kisses as it climbs to my collarbone — where it waits — then the ashen skies are given new color as the butterfly takes flight on a sudden cold wind. My long blonde locks scatter like things alive.
I watch it go as savage people say savage things. I give them a sheepish look on my exit. It wasn’t a look of judgment, rather a look to register their judgment of me.
Maybe I am mental. Maybe I am bug nut, bat shit crazy. No one bothered to save the butterfly but me.
CHAPTER TWO: BLOOD AND LACE
I shuffle into third period as Mr. Deans punishes a black board with complex equations we’ll likely never use in the real world. Most of the students loathe him, and this we can agree on — he has the personality of a slug and the slick sheen to match. Actually that’s not fair to the slug.
I take the desk by the back corner windows, as far from everyone as I can get and still be in the same room. I scoot it back a little further as Stacy slithers into the one four seats ahead, eyeing me with contempt. She’s never liked me, and I guess it started when I won the creative writing competition in junior high. She didn’t place, but she did go on about how I took something that was hers, and how she needed the prize money for her cat’s vet. That evening I went to Stacy’s house. It was raining, and when she opened the door her eyes were red. I handed her the money, but she threw it in my face and screamed for me to leave. I stood on the porch, watching the scattered green turn dark in the downpour, and that was where I left it as my name was cursed again and again. I found out later her cat died before I got there. Now she has a new reason to hate.
“You threw a spider at my face,” Stacy hisses.
“I also said it wasn’t intentional.” My eyes drop, fingers nervously pulling at the patches on my jeans. This one’s a daisy. That one’s a ladybug. So hippie chic.
“Payback’s a bitch,” she says just loud enough for me to hear.
“Apparently so am I,” I pull so hard a daisy tears. The biggest one. My favorite one.
“That’s wrong.” I shake my head.
Spencer slumps into the seat across from Stacy, no doubt sensing the same palpable tension the rest of the room does. His low slung eyes give a sympathetic glance, and I get the feeling Spencer still likes me, but since it’s not cool to like me anymore he’s being political. It would be nice to have a friend who stood their ground for once.
It’s a lovely fiction, Ariel.
Math fills me with dread. It’s my least favorite subject, and Mr. Deans couldn’t be more unlikable if he tried. Him and his creeper eyes, which seem to have decided they like Stacy and me best.
There hadn’t been any rumblings of a new arrival, so I’m surprised when a Cute Face I’d never seen before stumbles into the room before the last bell, nearly dropping the books under his arm. Everyone laughs but me, and he greets the room with an unaffected grin. A slip is shown to Mr. Deans. They murmur something. He slides into the empty chair by the door. There’s a new energy as everyone sizes him up, trying to figure where he might fit in the established hierarchy. There’s no indication he cares or feels the curious eyes on him, mine included.
He wears a fitted blue jacket with racing stripes down the sleeves over a simple black sweater. I follow his dark denim down to black skater shoes. Double knotted. He plucks a pen from behind his ear, making longish brown hair swing forward. He sees me, so I look away, hiding my eyes from the boy who doesn’t think I’m mental, bug nut, bat shit crazy yet.
There’s still time.
And there’s that feeling in my stomach. That weird, apprehensive feeling where you realize someone could be a friend or just one more person to pour fuel on a fire when there’s not much left to burn. Sure, he’s cute. But so what. People wear masks all the time.
Stacy hits me with a look of warning, and her message is clear. I’m not allowed to have friends anymore. Not in the Serpent’s garden.
He flips open a notebook and starts writing as Mr. Deans drones on about how the test constitutes X percent of our grade for the year, blah, blah, blah. I should’ve studied last night, but this is multiple choice and my intuition always gets me by in a crunch, so I’m not too— Cute Face holds his notebook up discreetly in my direction.
On it, he has written:
Butterfly: 1 Spider: 0
I smile the first smile of the day, then quickly look away. I guess he saw what I did. Am I embarrassed? Or did he like it? I’m fascinated but not sure why. Because he’s a nice surprise? Meaning he seems nice and is a surprise, but I think it’s more. The intuition thing. Sometimes you get a feeling about people.
I find myself waiting for another message, then realize I’m staring and don’t want to freak him out. Enough of Salem High already has tents in the ‘Freaked out by Ariel Chylde’ camp.
We’re given a few minutes to prep, so I take my book from my pack — only to pause on the faded photo taped on the front. I’ve personalized all my books with pics, but this one in particular feels like a lifetime ago. My twelfth birthday party in Canopy Park. Just Mother and me. Matching white lace dresses, and our faces shined with joy.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be that happy again, but I know my sleepless night just caught up with me, and once my lids go heavy there’s no stopping them. But I have to try, so I sit up straight and take a deep breath. I reach under my sleeve and give my arm a hard pinch. My skin is still tender from where I—
I can’t fall asleep again. Not after what happened last week. I’m glad Cute Face wasn’t here for that.
A young girl’s voice, faint and small, floats into my head like a memory. My hand glides across the open page of my book, transcribing her words:
If the dreaded of our dreams,
were to us not bound,
what a nightmare then,
our world to be found
I stare at the word ‘dreams’ and realize I’m not much of a poet anymore. Not much of anything other than sad and tired. Don’t do it, Ariel. You’ll be humiliated in front of Cute Face. There will be a big puddle of drool, and there’s nothing attractive about that. If it happens again Mr. Deans will be furious, and Stacy will be thrilled. Don’t you dare give them that, you can crash when you’re home. Yeah right. Because sleep has been so cooperative lately. The letters of the word ‘nightmare’ start to float, and my eyelids drop like lead curtains. With legendary effort, I force them back open. Cute Face is blurry. I blink, but he doesn’t come back. I start to drift and go under. A tired butterfly in a web. And there’s a spider coming. The nightmares... won’t leave me alone. Not even… on my birthday… especially on my birthday…
God, the sky is gorgeous.
The kind of impossible blue you remember your whole life. Even our laughter has a certain musical quality as it drifts up through the love trees — mighty oaks that have grown together in an unmistakable embrace. And from their branches, playful red birds answer back in song, reveling in the same warm magnificence we are. It’s a slow day. The kind always two hours behind where you think it ought to be. The kind when people’s smiles are genuine, and you’re certain you will live forever.
We have the expansive green of Canopy Park all to ourselves, and the noon sun haloes Mother’s hair in golden warmth. It makes it hard to see her lopsided smile, but if I squint just right, sparkling prisms dance around her head, making her look a lot like an Angel. Since I always believed her one, this seems appropriate.
I’m twelve today, and we celebrate with Grandma Sue’s silver tea set. My heirloom. The one I dented Tuesday. I wear my white lace birthday dress from last year because it makes me feel special, and because it matches Mom’s. It doesn’t match my black combat boots, but I skew eccentric and appreciate the contrast. And since we both appreciate the ladybugs who always join us, we delight as one lands on my hand. My mother and I are shy, and take our friends where we find them. I cup my other hand over it, and together we sing.
“Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home, your house is on fire, and your children will burn.”
I make a wish, open my hand, and blow on the bug—
“So fly away, fly away, fly away home.”
—who flies off into the blue. I see Mother’s smile clearly again.
“What did you wish?”
I steal a quick sip that dribbles from the corners of my mouth, “For happy.”
“A beautiful wish. Would you like more tea, Miss Happy?”
“I’m good.” And I like when she calls me that.
As Mother leans over and pours, her silver Angel pendent necklace swings out, bouncing light across my face. I am mesmerized by it always, a shiny, sparkly totem that represents a shiny, sparkly woman — my gorgeous Mother, the person I love most in the world. It must hold significance for her too because she’s never without it, and no matter how many times I ask for it, her answer never wavers. Maybe it was a gift from someone no longer in her life, a marker and a memory of a moment passed. I don’t know, she never told me. But there is definitely a story there. When she’d get sad, I’d see her roll it between her fingers and pray. My words spill forth like tea, and almost unconsciously— “Pretty Angel flies fierce and free, sure hope one day she flies to me.”
“My little birthday Poet.” She smiles.
And though I already know her answer, I hope the day will continue to be kind. “Can I have it?” I chirp, tilting my head to one side, presenting my most irresistible face. The same one that got me the dress.
“Keep asking, and one day I’ll surprise you.” She’s thinking of something else now, the emotions churning just beneath her surface.
“Today’s a beautiful day for a surprise.” I wave my hand across the blue above us, trying to bring her back. It doesn’t. She’s still someplace far.
“You’ve got all kinds of surprises waiting for you at the house,” she says to the grass. “Some with shiny ribbons and bows, and some are even things you asked for.”
Mother. What is it that stole you away? It’s not presents. “Are you sure?”
“Pretty sure, Miss Happy.”
“Well.” I pause dramatically like in the movies. “I suppose I’ll let it slide. But I think you should come to terms with the fact that your darling—”
“And extremely precocious.”
“—and extremely precocious daughter would look dazzling with it.” I tap the soft recess where my collar bones meet for emphasis.
She raises an empty cup and her hand trembles. “Your dazzle meter is pretty high already, Miss Happy. Sure you wouldn’t like another?”
She’s not so far anymore. Whatever it was is passing. Like that sudden cloud over the sun. But her cup still trembles.
“Mother.” I narrow my eyes in mock scorn. “I’m fairly certain I told you I was good.”
Right as I say it, something spooks the red birds. Sadness pours in my heart as I watch them go because they seem to take something important with them. I watch until I can’t anymore, then I make another wish. I wish I could have gone with them. A rogue tide rises within, and intuitively I recognize this as the first salty spray. Something bad is coming. My mother notices the change. These new clouds. This new breeze. Her cup trembles faster.
“Ariel?” Her voice is a whisper.
“Call me Miss Happy.”
Children are young, but our souls are old. And the old soul in me is responding to something neither of us can see, but the soft white hairs on my neck and arms can feel. Maybe it’s just my strong imagination. Maybe it isn’t. I can’t tell. Because I’m drifting very far from this beautiful park, the pretty prisms, and Grandma Sue’s silver tea set I dented on Tuesday.
“Go ahead.” Her voice is pained. “Go ahead and drink your tea.”
“I’m good,” I say unconvincingly.
Because I’m not. It’s all wrong for this time of day, this perfect day, for the shadows to stretch so long from those trees that the grass isn’t so green anymore. Clouds creep in to steal the sun of its shine. More clouds gather against the blue, then they swallow it whole. A chill spider walks the length of my spine. The trembling tea cup in Mother’s hand begins to tarnish. The trees respond with what sounds like the muted screams of dying children, twisting and swaying in a wind that spills green leaves gone black in ways too eerie for my imagination alone to conjure. My pulse quickens as a beautiful memory transforms into nightmare.
Mother blinks as a bloody tear escapes her eye.
She drops the tea cup.
The rising tempest tosses her hair, once so lush, so golden, now turning coarse and ashen as the color in her eyes drowns like dying embers in a dawn shower. In the distance, many things begin to wail and their wailing grows stronger, louder. My soul wants to cry, scream, run. And I swear by all the Angels of the world, I hear something sinister and old whisper my name in such a way that it knows me.
“Things aren’t right anymore, Miss Happy,” Mother strains in a voice as old as time.
My eyes look to where hers used to be—
—and she looks like a dead thing. Her eyeballs go black, then shrivel, shrink, and die into still deepening sockets as the color in her flesh becomes a ghost.
“You’d better start running,” Mother says, only it’s no voice I know.
“Momma!” I shout.
Her throat opens up as if cut by an invisible blade. Blood spills out over ashen skin, over the beloved Angel pendant in angry scarlet ribbons that seep and stain her white dress. Steam rises, and bubbles gurgle from the gash as she speaks—
Her dress corrodes into ash that catches wind. Terror squeezes my thundering heart. My eyes wide, I can’t move, can’t remember to breathe. The wails are louder, coming from the parking lot and almost on us now. But I can’t leave her to what approaches. I’m on my feet, I tug at Mother, but I don’t recognize her. She’s covered in lesions of disease. A Wraith.
“Momma, get up, we gotta go.” Panic has me. Hot tears stream fast.
“Fly away home,” she urges, as swarms of bloody ladybugs spill from her mouth and the gash in her throat. She grabs hold of me. Her wrists slit open. More ladybugs scurry out after me.I tear free and scream.
“Fly away home,” she screams louder.
And I do. I run fast and hard for the forest. From behind, the wave of wailing things rattles my brain. It’s a sonic assault that threatens to topple me as I charge forward, knees knocking painfully into each other. I am a small, doomed animal that tries anyway. A terrified quarry, with the hot breath of an unstoppable, much larger predator at my gate. A predator whose shadow eclipses my own just before descending darkness eclipses both. A predator who’s bigger. Faster. Stronger. I can’t win. It’s Nature. The way of the wild. And I am just a scared little girl that races into the dark forest anyway. I dare look back—
God, I wish I hadn’t.
A man’s voice calls out — a muffled voice, as though I’m underwater and about to crest.
My senses surface as the ocean of nightmare, breaking like warm waves over my face, recedes back into shadow to deposit me in the light of day. The grey of day. Peeking in from the windows of my classroom.
I become aware of the cold floor I’m on. How I’m backed into a corner, kicking. How my desk is toppled next to me. How my books and things are scattered. How white the blur of fluorescents over me.
Dammit, it happened again.
“Are you back with us?” Comes the same man’s irritated voice.
You’re fine, you’re alive. Calm yourself. A trickle of blood tickles my nose. I sniff it back and taste pennies in my throat. I blink, as the beady, ever-searching eyes of Mr. Deans float into focus. He leans over and says some things I can’t make out.
I look past him, as the faces of my classmates begin to crystalize. Stop laughing at me. Stop judging.
Spencer’s face has some care on it. Stacy’s is delighted as she captures everything with her phone. A few others do the same, happy for the distraction. Then there’s the face by the door. The Cute Face. Even from here his concern is obvious. My eyes return to Stacy — she drifts out of focus, but her joy in my discomfort remains clear.
“Life can be cruel—”
“What’s that?” Mr. Deans asks.
“—but the butterfly lives.”
“Earth to Ariel? Anyone home?” He persists. “You okay now?”
I blink as the last mind swell falls away, and humiliation settles in.
“I’m good.” My voice wobbles. “But Stacy needs to stop filming me. So does everyone else.”
Mr. Deans turns to the class. “How many times do I need to say it?” He claps his hands with contempt. “I see one more phone, I’ll see the lot of you in detention.”
Stifled groans as the phones go away. Mr. Deans extends his hand. “Are you going to grab me again if I try to help you up?”
My eyes find the angry red marks on his neck. I did that?
“No,” I look away. “I’m sorry, I—”
“I don’t need you sorry, just need you sure.”
I rise on rubber legs. My shirt hangs loose, and he can’t resist a peek — too bad I pulled it tight in the flicker of a second just before. Mr. Deans is nothing if not a creature of habit.
“You on drugs?” He sniffs.
Half a mind to tell him yes. I gather my things with trembling hands instead. No one helps. No one except Cute Face, who steps over to right my capsized desk. He’s a little blurry as my brain reboots, but still delicious even out of focus. Mr. Deans is asking about drugs again.
“No,” I assure, getting frustrated.
“I need to call somebody?”
“Out in the hall, please.” He jerks his head at the door.
“What about everyone who filmed this?”
“I want to know what happens to them. This is humiliating enough without documentation.”
The red marks on his neck flare. “First the hallway, then I’ll see to that.”
Sure you will. You’re not a good man, Mr. Deans. Wipe your forehead.
The classroom door shuts behind us, echoing loudly as we enter the long corridor with blood colored lockers on either side. A large red bulb just above my teacher’s head has the word ALARM beneath it. Our school shows its age, and the fluttering lights add to the institutional gloom of it all. This is the last place I want to be except in nightmare, and Mr. Deans is the last person I want breathing down on me. I’m still trembling, but try to hide it.
“The drama department’s always been down the hall.” He folds his arms.
“This is twice in two weeks now.” He scowls. “What gives with you?”
I turn from his toxic glare and rancid breath. Both could wilt flowers.
“What, was it monsters again?”
My eyes widen. Did he really just—? Those exactwords? Yeah, he really did. And my Counselor has a very big mouth.
“Go see your friend.” He paints friend with particular disdain. “Finish the test tomorrow.”
Shaky steps distance me down the flickering hallway, but not as fast as I’d like.
“Ariel—” he calls out.
Kids today. All sullen and selfish. He won’t get an answer. And he’d be a fool to wait for one.
CHAPTER THREE: A CRACKED WINDOW STILL FEELS THE WIND
“Was there another episode?” A throaty voiced liar asks.
The window is cracked and the office is small and suffocating. Miss Madison isn’t supposed to drink here, but my eyes find the red wine stain on the carpet that wasn’t there a week ago. Oval in shape with little fingers jutting out.
It’s a blot test, Ariel. Tell me what you see.
And ladybugs make you think of—
“Talk to me, Sweetie,” she says. “Whenever you’re ready.”
I’m ready to scream. People scream when they’ve been violated. My Counselor’s desk is too big for such a cramped space, and this plastic chair makes my butt hurt. I cross my arms and feel her stare, but look instead to the happy smile of my squirrel pack in the seat next to me — then up to the Norman Rockwell paintings that must’ve been there since the dawn of time. There’s something deceptive about the people in those paintings. Maybe that’s why she likes them.
For a second time since I’ve been here, the door pops ajar. The latch is broken, so it won’t stay shut. Much like my Counselor’s big mouth. She starts to rise, but I slide the chair with my Squirrel pack over so it kind of slams. Not intentional, but still makes a point.
“You need to keep what’s said in here private.” I finally face her. “When he’s not looking down my shirt, Mr. Deans wants to know if it’s monsters again.”
She sighs and pulls a thick vanilla file from a drawer. “We’ll take it up with Principle Mathis, there’s been a few other complaints.” She opens the file. “You’re my immediate concern.” She’d be prettier without the glasses she slides back up her nose, but all the pictures on her desk are of cats, so something is keeping a man away. Maybe it’s pet dander.
“Are you okay?” She leans into the question.
No. A burning butterfly wants out of my skull.
“I sleep, it’s anxiety. I wake, it’s anxiety—”
Desperate. Crawling. Eerie.
“—like the world is out to get me.”
“Only it’s not.”
“Sure feels that way,” I whisper. “And perception is reality.”
“Then let’s work on changing the perception.”
“No.” My eyes mist. “You betrayed a trust.”
“I said some things I shouldn’t have in the interest of buying you time.” She frowns. “I didn’t want you to fall behind and not graduate. I know how vulnerable right now is for y—”
“It doesn’t matter. They all have their minds made up anyway.” Tears find cracks in my proud facade. “The way they whisper. The way they burst into laughter over a text. The way their laughing eyes cut me to pieces.” I wipe my cheek. “It hurts, and I don’t deserve this.” I wipe my other cheek. “I don’t deserve it.” I search Miss Madison’s blank expression for understanding.
“I should’ve considered my words more carefully and was only trying to help.”
A strong smell of smoke and pine — like a forest fire — as a crack spider-webs the wall behind her with frightening force. It spurts red at the fissures then crashes forward with a tidal wave of blood.
My hands startle to my face. “Scraping my scabs off to bleed for everyone isn’t help!”
The wall is fine.
She studies me as I try to compose myself. I’m not shaking. Honest I am.
“You’re right.” Miss Madison swallows some shame. “I made a mistake and will make every effort to regain confidence.”
She looks to my file, the biggest one she’s got. Something I take a strange pride in. By the in/out basket is an assortment of pens in a coffee cup with I’M OKAY, YOU’RE OKAYon it.I want to wipe the lipstick off the brim but never ask. She selects the blue pen — it’s always the blue pen and the blue words that bring me closer to being committed.
The sky darkens as she writes.
“Ariel.” A heavy pause hangs in the air, as a branch scrape, scrape, scrapes across the cracked window glass.“I think we should give some more thought to—”
“Just a bunch of blue words,” I say under my breath.
“I’m sorry?” Her gaze is uncomfortable only because I used to believe it.
“You’re not a real friend, you’re just someone paid to care.”
“That’s not true, Ariel.”
A tree across the street bleeds out a maelstrom of leaves. Dark silhouettes against the billowing clouds. Like the red birds from my dream, I wish I could go with them.
“Blue words is all I am to you.”
“You know that’s not true.”
“Blue words that paint a perfect picture, at least to you, of the terrible tragedy of me. Ariel’s taking a bit too long to sort her grief, isn’t she? She should have gotten over it by now. But today’s her birthday, and since mom died on that day when she was little — well, all those years of deferred tensions must manifest as monsters of the mind.”
Speaking of mind, I wouldn’t mind having a friend again. A real friend. But I’d sooner trust that leaf that just flattened against the window, flapping like a dying bird before flying off on a cruel breeze.
“Ariel.” She pushes the glasses back up her nose. “Our dreams sometimes try to tell our head something our heart already knows. I’d like you to think about that.”
“In somnis veritas.”
“Latin. It means ‘In dreams there is truth.’”
“‘Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.’”
“Carl Jung. I have his Red Book.”
Her smile is perfunctory. “Maybe he’s right.”
“Maybe I’ve read more on the subject than you have, Mrs. Madison.” There’s a new sadness to my voice even I notice.
“And yet your nightmares are still getting worse.” She frowns. “Why now? What’s trying to come out?”
“I think there’s an underlying theme.”
“The underlying theme is they scare the shit out of me. I’m real clear on it.”
“Feelings are trying to emerge, Ariel. Not monsters.”
“Everything isn’t always a metaphor for something else. Sometimes life can suck without sophistication.” My heartbeat goes loud in my head. “I understand your metaphors, I understand the dream helpers, I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to, and anything else I can think of. And guess what?”
“I’d like to see you in a healthier emotional place.”
Code for what she really means. “You’d like to see me on pills.”
“I’d like to see you happier.”
“If feelings are trying to emerge, I don’t want to just medicate them away.” Now my palms are sweaty. “I’m supposed to feel things.”
“It might help you feel things less.”
“So would death, and I’d rather live.”
More blue words.
“I think at this point we should reconsider a specialist.”
I’M OKAY, YOU’RE OKAY.
I grab my pack. “You think I’m mental too.”
The door slams wildly in my wake, swinging past the latch, swinging past the latch. It’s busted good and won’t be an easy fix.
Darkchylde: The Ariel Chylde Saga
By: R. Queen
Release Date: October 31st, 2016
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I absolutely LOVE the cover of this book. It is one of the best YA covers I have ever seen. And the synopsis has certainly piqued my interest
The cover looks very cool and intriguing. It stands out and very eye catching. I think that if someone were to come across this book on a shelf it would make them pick it up. The synopsis was already really good/interesting and the teaser made me want to read even more.