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Topics - EffulgentFirefly

Pages: [1] 2
1
Things that don't fit into any of my stories, or are so old or poorly written I have nothing to do but bank them. Most of these are things I really want to come back to one day, but feel free to snatch them up before I get to them.


Something I wrote at 3 in the morning on a whim
Spoiler
“So are you gonna go say goodbye to him?”

“I said goodbye last time I saw him,” Stelios grumbled, his eyes not leaving the pages of his book for a second as he lazed across the sofa of the living room. “I don’t need to do it again. No need to scream ‘I’m gay for you’ at him.”

Vera snorted in amusement from across the room. “Ha. You still haven’t told him. It’s been like ten years, Stell.”

“Eight.”

“Still!” The auburn-haired boy rolled his eyes as his little sister tossed something at him, something that narrowly missed his head. “Dude, it’s been eight years of you wanting him! You two are going to different ends of the world in a few days! Just tell him already! He isn’t a homophobe, his sister is gay!”

“Jesus Christ, would you leave it, Vera?” Stelios snapped, and though it would have surprised anyone else into shutting up, his sister was a different beast entirely. She giggled from the other side of the room, and it pissed the young Greek man off even more to see the screen of her computer reflected in her eyes rather than her gaze set on him. “No need to get all pissy. You know you’re gonna regret it if you go off to Cali and you don’t tell him.”

“He has a girlfriend. Of nearly two years.”

“Who the hell cares?” Vera threw up her hands, but she didn’t look up from the computer screen-he always wondered what she did on her trusty laptop. She was talented with it, but was very private with what she actually did on the device. The only thing he knew was that his little sister was practically rolling in dough for a fifteen-year-old without a job. Stelios didn’t even want to think about what black market she was running with the high school students, or what would happen if she was caught.

“Stelios, Yulia ain’t going to Switzerland with him.” Fingers tapped away as Vera spoke and Stelios turned back to his book-not that he was reading it. “Go and tell him. He’s bound to be at the airport, his flight leaves in a couple hours.”

“I’m not doing anything at the airport.”

The younger of the two siblings sighed loudly and intentionally. “Ah, I can get into his phone, you know…” The rust-haired boy shot daggers at his sister, who was grinning as she tapped away at the keyboard. “And yours too, for that matter…”

“Are you threatening me with blackmail?”

Vera shrugged casually. “I’m just reminding you that until he leaves the country I do have a lot of power over your relationship with him. Not that I would ruin it to any extreme. I care about him too. Now.” For the first time that morning, his little sister looked up at him. “Go to the airport and tell Gabriel you love him more than anyone else. Before I do it for you.”

Obediently, Stelios tossed his book down on the sofa, glaring at his little sister as he put on his shoes. “Tell mom I have the car when she wakes up. I’ll be back before one.”

The youngest of the family let out a little laugh as he made his way out of the house. “Don’t you chicken out!”

Stelios rolled his eyes, deciding against making some promise to do his best. Chickening out felt like a great idea, and he had no idea why he was taking Vera’s advice as he locked the door behind him.


Stelios had wondered how he’d know where to go, and of course Vera had been two steps ahead as always. She’d sent him a text with with Gabe’s location (he could only hope that she’d simply asked him instead of the alternative), and as he walked through the airport, the young Greek man wondered what he was doing. He’d been completely in love with his best friend for nearly a decade, and as long as he’d kept his mouth shut it had been fine. Why was he messing with perfection?

Because you’re in love with him, for *censored*’s sake.

It sounded like something Vera would say, and didn’t make him feel much better as he stopped in front of the coffee shop his sister had mentioned. Gabe was indeed seated inside, his headphones pulled over his ears and a crossword puzzle in front of him as usual. He was as stunning as usual, a sleeveless navy hoodie showing off his biceps and his pierced bottom lip caught between his teeth as he tapped his pen on the table and scanned the puzzle. Despite the fact he was typically close with his family, he was alone… Perhaps because his sister was heading out at nearly the same time? Stelios couldn’t say he minded-confessing in front of family could have been a problem.

Confessing in general could have been a problem.

He should have turned around, he should have forgotten about it entirely and gotten on the next bus back to their local station, but Stelios could feel his legs carrying him into the coffee shop and to the seat on the other side of his friend’s table, which was somehow empty on the busy morning. He cleared his throat and tapped his finger on the book of crossword puzzles. “Is this seat taken?”

“Hmm?” Gabriel seemed startled as his ice-blue eyes left the page and he pulled his headphones down around his neck. Stelios was greeted with a warm smile soon after. “Hey. I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Where’s your family?”

Gabe shrugged, taking a sip from the cup in front of him and rolling up the book of crosswords to put it in his bag. “Went to see off my sister. It’s a big day. I’ll be flying to Switzerland in a few hours. Isn’t that crazy?”

“Yeah…” Stelios sighed. His own departure was in a few days, but he was far more preoccupied with his old friend’s at that point. “It is…”

“Aww, you gonna miss me. Stell?” Gabe teased, resting his chin in his hand, and Stelios blushed as his friend poked fun at him. “You’re not gonna have anyone to hold your hand through those big firsts anymore. Think you’re ready to grow up?”

“I’ll be fine,” Stelios replied as they rose from the table, even if he wasn’t exactly sure he would. The blue-eyed boy motioned for him to follow as they walked into the main airport, and Stelios couldn’t help but ask, “Aren’t you worried? You’re going to Switzerland…”

“I have family there,” He simply shrugged, halting in front of a gate and leaning against a pillar. “They might be a few hours away, but I’ll be fine. What about you? Cali’s pretty intimidating, especially for a worrywart like you.”

“The only thing I won’t survive is the heat,” Stelios jokingly replied, the conversation easing his nerves a little. “And I guess the prices of everything.”

“Well, I expect an autograph or two to be sent to me,” Gabe smiled at him, and Stelios felt his heart jump. He cleared any sort of anxiety from his throat before replying, “Only if you send over some chocolates.”

Gabriel laughed lightly. “I’ll see what I can do. So you really came all the way out here on a Wednesday morning just to say goodbye? I’m flattered.”

“Uh…” The rust-haired man began to wring his hands together, a bad habit he’d developed back in middle school. “Actually, I… I just wanted to say something to you before you left…”

“Huh?” Suddenly, the blue-eyed boy seemed more interested. “What is it? Are you gonna tell me I won the lottery or something?”

Stelios laughed nervously. “I really wish I was. No, I, um…” Gabriel waited patiently as he collected his thoughts-he always had, since they’d met as children. Gabe was patient and lighthearted, and he was brash and serious. It balanced out pleasantly, and their good chemistry was the result.

It was what had gotten him into the situation in the first place, their good chemistry. It was too good, that was the problem. Stelios took a deep breath, before he began to speak, trying his best to pull logical words from his emotions. “Gabe, I… God, I love hanging out with you. You’re really fun, and I don’t have a ton of fun.”

Gabriel chuckled, his light, natural smile seemingly stuck to his face. “Getting all sappy on my now? Didn’t know you had it in you, Stell.”

Stelios couldn’t help but smile back despite how nervous he was and how much he felt like puking-his friend’s grin was contagious. “But Gabe… I’m…” The auburn-haired man took a deep, shuddering breath, before blurting out, “I’m in love with you. I’ve been in love with you for years, and I…” He couldn’t deny it felt so much better with the massive weight off his chest, and he let out an uncharacteristic laugh through his nerves. “I’m sorry. I just needed to get it off my chest before you left. It’s been so long, I…”

He paused for a long moment, waiting for his friend to speak, and was surprised when there was silence between them. Gabriel was never quiet, he had a reply for everything, no matter what the situation.

Why isn’t he saying anything?

“I just…” He was speaking through his nerves at that point, babbling and stumbling over his words. “Gabe, I think you’re amazing, and you’ve always been amazing. I know that you’ve got Yulia and I’m not asking for you to reciprocate but I-”

Stelios was cut off, but it took him a couple seconds to realize it wasn’t by Gabriel’s words, but by his lips, pressed hard and messy to his own. Their teeth clashed, and the ring on the blue-eyed boy’s bottom lip pressed awkwardly into his mouth, but he couldn’t be bothered to care. Gabe pulled away breathlessly after a moment. “I… I broke it off with Yulia last week…”

“Wait, what?” For a moment, the Greek man was too surprised to worry about the kiss. “Why? You two were happy.”

“The distance…” Gabe breathed, still close enough Stelios could feel it on his lips. “And she didn’t feel right… We grew apart, and me moving to Switzerland… .”

“Oh, I… I’m sorry…” He replied, before realizing what situation he was in. Stelios blinked in surprise, stumbling back out of his best friend’s arms. “Wait, what the *censored*? You kissed me! Why did you…”

Gabe shrugged, scratching his ear as if it was an everyday conversation. He gave a cheeky little laugh. “You always looked so kissable, with that worried look all over your face. I’ve always wanted to try it. I just didn’t know if you swung that way.”

“Well, I obviously do!”

He laughed, short and musical, and it sent Stelios’ heart fluttering. “That’s good to know. Stelios, I think you’re pretty damn fine, but I’m going to Switzerland in two hours and you’re going to California. This isn’t the time to sort out a relationship, especially right after Yulia.”

It was bittersweet, but the truth. Stelios nodded. “Yeah… I guess so. I’m sorry if this complicated things.”

Gabe shrugged again, glancing over at his returning parents rounding a corner. “It would’ve gotten complicated anyway. We can have this conversation after we graduate, okay? Promise.”

“What… How would that even work?”

“Well… Let’s just say if I still want to know what kissing you would be like in four years, and you’re still madly in love with me,” Gabriel gently pecked his cheek, and a blush spread across his face. “Then we can try and figure something out. Until then.” He gave Stelios a little, playful salute. “Adios, amigos.”

Though he wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about his situation, Stelios had something to look forward to, even if it just mean graduating would be that much sweeter, and he smiled just a little as he turned to leave the airport. “Four years.”

“Four years!” Gabe called after him, cheerful and excited despite the situation. “In four years we can make it work, Stell!”


And a couple of characters I wanted to develop maybe eight or nine months ago and forgot about completely. The scene isn't finished, but I don't have any plans to finish it anytime soon.
Spoiler
“If I am gothic lolita, then you are a criminal, and you should be killed by an army of little girls…”

Reese nearly jumped at the soft, unmistakable voice, glancing over to the next roof over to see none other than Lachlan, seated on his own roof, earbuds predictably in, looking up at the starry night sky. She felt her otherwise cold heart flutter at the sound of his impressive soprano-he’d proven to have a huge vocal range, no matter how shy he was with it.

“Reese?”

Reese did jump at her name, caught up in sudden eye contact with Lock, who must’ve seen her out of the corner of his eye. He’d popped an earbud out, and had a surprised look and a feeble blush on his face. She blinked. “Uh… Why are you out so late? It’s past midnight.”

Lock smiled with a little laugh, the one Reese was utterly in love with, and she swallowed nervously. “I could say the same to you. Why are you out here so late, anyway?”

“I-I asked first,” She stuttered, internally facepalming-she was usually much smoother than how she was currently fairing. Perhaps summer had thrown her off practice.

Lock didn’t seem to mind or care (maybe both) as he leaned back against the bit of roof that rose a little above the rest with a sigh. “Insomnia. You?”

“Oh, I…” Her reason seemed petty and stupid compared to his, and quietly, she replied, “I just fought with my brother over something stupid, and I thought I’d cool off…”

“Oh.” The brunette boy cocked his head at her. “Aren’t you and your brother close, though?”

“Yeah, which is why it sucks so much.”

For a moment, there was silence between them, and Reese could feel tears pricking her eyes, despite her stubborn straight face. She really did hate fighting with Adrian, especially when it came to her own decisions, and that night had been no exception, with the topic being where she was going with her education and her life.

“Hey, I…” Lachlan seemed to be carefully considering his words, as usual, and Reese took the moment to wipe away the single tear that had attempted to escape. “Lock, you don’t have to-”

“Come here.”

“What?”

“I… Please don’t make me repeat myself.” The green-eyed girl blinked at her neighbour again, whose face was gaining colour rapidly. “I-I mean, you don’t have to, o-of course…”

“No, I…” Reese made her way to where the two roofs were closest, lightly hopping over the little gap between them. “You just surprised me for a sec.”

Lock gave her a bit of an amused smile, motioning for her to sit beside him, which she did, snuggling into his warmth in the surprisingly chilly summer night. He chuckled softly, as musically as all his other little laughs though, and despite her determination not to fall for the boy with the beautiful voice next door, Reese was sure she was failing as he slid an arm around her silently, letting her snuggle into his side.

It was comfortable, nevertheless, and despite her previous anger, Reese could feel her exhaustion catching up to her. She hadn’t slept much for the past little while, whether it be for her music or for her own enjoyment. With a stifled yawn, she asked, “What are you listening to?”

“Emilie Autumn,” Lock replied in a quiet murmur, his voice as beautiful as ever. “Do you want to hear?”

Hesitantly, Reese nodded, gently taking the earbud he’d offered her, unsure what to feel about the gothic sounding music. It was unlike her own usual rock, or his usual mix of well, everything, though it wasn’t to say she didn’t like it.

“Can you sing it?”

She’d asked without thinking, and wasn’t sure to regret it or not as Lachlan’s cheeks immediately gained a noticeable pink hue. She knew very well he was shy already, after all.

“Ah, I don’t…” He bit his lip, taking a breath, before laughing nervously, “You have faith in my pitch, Reese’s Pieces.”

“C’mon, I know you have a great voice.” She nudged him playfully, a hopeful little grin working its way across her lips. “And it’s the middle of the night. No one’s up to hear you but me.”

“Well, I…” Lock gnawed his bottom lip, scanning her face-perhaps for a reason to say no? Either way, he sighed, glancing up to the sky again. “God, you’re so cute…”

The short caramel blonde blushed at the compliment-am I really cute to him? I mean, I think he’s pretty cute… “Ah… Okay, this next part I know pretty well, so…” Reese watched quietly as he cleared his throat, before beginning in his alluring, somehow masculine yet perfectly pitched voice, “I’m gothic lolita, and you are a criminal, I’m not even legal, I’m just a dead little girl. But ruffles and laces and candy sweet faces directed your furtive hand… I perfectly understand…” The taller boy trailed off, his words hanging in the night. For a moment, Reese was silent, her body alight and tingling with the sound of her neighbour’s voice and his perfect singing, and though she opened her mouth to speak, it took a long few seconds for her to actually speak-”That was beautiful.”

Lock laughed, rubbing his neck. “I’ll… never be as good as the real thing…”

“Your voice is the best thing I’ve ever heard, come on,” She argued back, and he nudged her, smiling a little playfully. “You don’t count. You have a weird voice fetish.”

“It’s not weird!” Reese nudged him back, a little giggled bubbling up as he hugged her closer, muffling her in his arm. Laughing, she pushed him off. “Lock!”

Lock simply let out a laugh of his own, sending shivers down her spine again, and it didn’t make it better when he chuckled under his breath, “You’re so adorable…”

“You know,” Reese cleared her throat through her stutter, despite her flaming cheeks and the chills she got from her neighbour’s voice. “If I’m really that cute, it’s a wonder I’m single, huh?”

A ghost of a smirk slid over Lachlan’s lips, one that was immediately gone, and though she could feel her heart fluttering, there was a hot flash of indignation as he replied in his usual quiet tone, “A real wonder. A shame, huh.”

“A shame,” She echoed with her own little hum, leaning against him again with a little yawn. “It is indeed.”

There were another few moments of silence in the comfortable night, the only sounds the nighttime bugs. It was a nice lull, and between the warmth Lock had enveloped her in and how much her argument with Adrian had already exhausted her, Reese couldn’t help but yawn again, stubbornly keeping her eyes open.

“Hey, Reese’s Pieces, if you’re that tired, you should hop back over.”

“Hmm?” Reese blinked up at Lock, stifling a yawn as she smiled. “I’m cute enough to strangle with a hug, but not cute enough to use your shoulder as a pillow. I see.”

“No, no, I…” There was a pause as again, the taller boy thought over his words with a little lyrical hum. “Sleeping on rooftops generally isn’t a good idea…”

I'm on a bit of a spree of digging up my older writing lately. Most of it's hideous D:

2
Develop Your Story / The Will
« on: May 21, 2018, 07:06:00 PM »
Maybe one of these days I'll become a regular and do what I came here to do - give and get criticism - but today is not that day. Here's something I started a long time ago and maybe I'll start back up if I can get around to it. Maybe it'll convince me to get back to writing.


The Will

Dear everyone,

I suppose if you’ve finally opened this, things have taken an unfortunate turn. Nevertheless, please read this. Don’t skim; I won’t be happy if you do, dead or not.

So I’m… Gone, at this point, for a lack of better words. I know all of you wanted me to stay… Maybe I should have. Maybe things would have gotten better somehow, but I just couldn’t. I’m sorry, not for me, but for you guys. I’m sorry you befriended someone as destructive as myself, and that you had to go through this. No one should have to deal with the death of someone they know well… But no one should have to endure the pain I had to either. I’m sorry, though. Please don’t hate me for it. Things weren’t getting better for me. There was nothing for me to look forward to, and though I love you guys, I hate the idea I might be hurting you through my own failure. There was nothing for me. Everything I looked at was poisoned by my awful anxiety, my relationships with you guys included. Maybe you didn’t deserve to deal with my death… But you also didn’t deserve to deal with me. And I couldn’t deal with the world.

I guess… This isn’t your typical suicide note. I don’t know what you were expecting, really, though - I wasn’t ever one to do the typical thing, was I? I just felt like you guys needed more than a few lines scribbled on a scrap piece of paper. You deserve more than that, honestly. So here you are. My ‘will’, I guess. Me making sure all of my books and games and music aren’t locked in a basement for all eternity. Me trying to help you from beyond the grave, because we all know that none of you are near perfect.

My death doesn’t have to be a bad thing. This entire package is about that. We go to funerals to celebrate the lives of people we care about not mourn and fall into depression, so take my life and do something with it. Something I couldn’t do. Don’t let this permanently slow you down. I’ll come back and haunt you ‘till the day you die if you do.

I really want all of you to be happy, even if it isn’t immediate, and you have to understand that can happen without me. I promise it can. So smile. Force it. Respect my wishes as a dead person. And take every one of your letters to heart. I meant every one of my last words to you.


Cody

My laptop had an aneurysm the first time I posted, so hopefully it works out this time.

3
General Manga writer discussions / What are you writing?
« on: May 06, 2018, 08:21:15 PM »
What are you writing? And if you aren't writing, why aren't you writing?

I'm trying to finish up with my YA novel and get back into writing about my crew of space mercenaries, but it's pretty difficult. I also really should get back into the world of my castle romance/fantasy/adventure before summer starts.

What're you writing about?

4
break Room / Tea or Coffee?
« on: April 29, 2018, 12:47:27 PM »
Which do you prefer and why? I'm a tea person myself because coffee is nasty unless a f*ckton of sugar is dumped in it, and I grew up on Japanese teas.

5
Manga Creations / Robot-Isolda's Story
« on: April 25, 2018, 05:46:17 PM »
So someone suggested I actually write out what happened between Isolda and Ray, two characters in my YA novel. Though it isn't necessary to read the novel, it does fit into that universe. It had to be split into parts because it's a little long. Tell me what you think :)

Spoiler
"It's getting late. Are we really gonna pull an all-nighter?"

"Hell yeah!" Ray smiled a little at Leo's cheerful reply. He sounded far too energetic for nearly two in the morning, but then again, he was probably more hopped up on sugar and caffeine from soda and candy than he'd been in a long time, considering his parent's lack of junk food.

"Hey Ray, catch!"

Ray was caught off-guard by the pillow that smacked him in the face, and immediately retaliated by whacking his attacker over the head with it-which in retrospect, probably hadn't been the best idea. He let out a little laugh as Miles tried to finish what he'd started and knock him back, but managed to catch the small blond's hands before he could do any damage. With an uncharacteristic grin, Ray pushed him off. "Too slow."

"I'm not!" The Spanish boy stifled a gasp of surprise as Angela finished off the job, practically pouncing on him, knocking him flat on his back and sitting on his stomach with a shout of victory. "Haha, twin power!"

"It kind of isn't fair there are two of you," Yvette stated, only to be put into a playful chokehold by Miles, who despite his size, was probably stronger than all of them. She laughed, raising her hands in defeat. "Okay, okay, I take it back, you two are golden children!"

"That's more like it," Angela agreed from where she was still sitting on Ray's stomach. He didn't care too much-Angela couldn't have weighed more than ninety-five pounds, and no matter how childish their wrestling was, it'd just been something him and the Verde twins had done since they were little. With a small, amused smile on his face, he glanced around the wrecked basement. He wasn't sure what he'd been expecting when Yvette had suggested they spend the night in his basement (considering how overbearing Ray's mother was, it seemed the least likely house for any incidents to occur), but as he glanced around his homey basement, with pillows and couch cushions and bits of snacks here and here, it was anything but its usual neatness, especially with how rowdy all of them were getting.

Except...

"Hey, Iso." With a little nudge, he pushed Angela off (she only protested a little), sliding over to sit next to the beautiful brunette against the wall. Though she didn't look unhappy as she watched the rest of their friends wrestle and tease, she looked almost lonely sitting with her knees brought to her chest against the wall, hazel eyes boring into the scene in front of her. Ray smiled a little, nudging her lightly. "What's up, buttercup?"

"Hmm?" Isolda glanced up to him-had she even realized he'd been there?-and smiled a little, letting her head rest on his shoulder. "Nothing. I'm just thinking."

"You sure?"

She nodded, shying into him as Leo threw something that came a little too close to her. The brunette girl laughed lightly, that laugh that got him stupidly affectionate and tingly. "Things are kinda rowdy down here though..."

Ray nodded in agreement, and before he could think things through, stood up and held out a hand to her. "C'mon."

Isolda blinked at him in surprise-hell, he was surprised too. It wasn't often he was so adamant about things, especially about things he didn't think through. It seemed to work, though, because she took his callused hand with a cock of her head. "What are you..."

"Let's go somewhere calmer," He suggested, leading her out of the basement. Ray heard Leo whistle lowly from behind him. "Damn, Ray, you could've just asked for some privacy with her! Don't have to run off to do whatever nasty things you're going to do!"

Isolda let out a little giggle, and Ray rolled his eyes, not bothering to reply as they left the basement. The brunette girl closed the door behind them. "Thanks. It's a little quieter here."

"Are you sure that's all that was bothering you?" He was coddling her, but he cared, maybe a little too much. He'd done it with other friends he'd crushed on, and Leo called it a sure sign he'd fallen for someone, even if he just appeared a little overbearing to everyone else. It was no wonder Isolda sometimes felt like he was worrying too much about everything.

She nodded, squeezing his hand. "Yeah. Promise."

Ray wasn't exactly convinced, but he didn't have it in him to argue. He had to trust her anyway-if Isolda said she was fine, she was fine. He decided to move on, asking, "Do you want to see the stars?"

Eagerly, she nodded, and Ray had to wonder how he'd gotten lucky enough to find a girl that shared so many of his interests as he took her hand and led her out onto the porch. The summer night was cool, much nicer than the blistering heat during the day, and the sky was clear. It was a beautiful night, stars and constellations reflected in both their eyes as they sat on the first step. "It's a good night."

"Yeah," Isolda agreed, pressing to his side. Ray slid an arm around her, pointing out a constellation. "What's that one? Do you remember?"

"Um..." She hesitated for a moment, fumbling adorably with her blue glasses as she thought, peering up into the night sky. "It's... It's Cancer, right?"

"Yup." He let out a little laugh at her enthusiastic celebration. "You've been doing your homework. Good job."

The pretty brunette smiled at him, nudging him with her elbow playfully. "Only for you, baby."

They sat in near-silence for awhile, Ray pointing out constellations and planets every so often. He liked the silence, the sounds of the night surrounding them as Isolda leaned into his side, her breathing light and calm, even as she shivered every so often. It was nice, and it gave him a sense of peace. It was perfect.

Well, almost.

"Are you cold?" The young Spaniard asked, and though she shook her head, Ray could see the lie as she shivered again. With a sigh, he unzipped his hoodie, handing it to her. "Here."

She smiled at him as she slid it on. It was too big on her small frame, and she was nearly swimming in it. It was adorable, and as she half-zipped it up, he pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "You look good in that."

"It smells like you," She replied, guiding him into a real kiss with little hesitation. Though he could feel his cheeks heating up and his fingers fumbled for a grip on her hip, Ray returned it, soft and innocent. He wasn't the better kisser of them, and romance had always been Isolda's specialty. That didn't mean he didn't like kissing her, though, and he caught her bottom lip between his own with the next one, pressing her back to the fence on the porch. A hand hidden in the sleeves of his sweater came up to grab his bare forearm, and he pulled back. "Sorry, Iso."

"I didn't tell you to stop, did I?" She was teasing him a little, but he could see a part of her was completely serious. Without another thought, Ray kissed Isolda again, and let the sounds of the night carry his worries away.


"Where did you go with Isolda that night?"

"Huh?" Ray glanced over at the blond boy, rolling his eyes as he did. Miles was sitting upside down on the armchair and focused on his handheld video game console, his eyes darting back and forth across the screen. Looking back to his book, the Spanish boy replied, "We went out to the porch. It was a nice night."

"Damn, didn't know you were into exhibitionism."

It was casual and lazy, and though he sent a glare in the direction of his best friend, the blond still hadn't looked up from his game. There was a telltale grin on his freckled face, though-he knew he'd gotten under the Spanish teen’s skin. Ray took a breath as his phone vibrated, unlocking it and replying, "I'm not. You guys all think I'm some sort of pervert because I have a girlfriend. I'm not the one with softcore porn on my phone."

"Hey!" The Spanish boy smiled to himself as Miles protested loudly-of course that had gotten his attention. "I don't! That's Leo, I swear, he sends that *censored* to me!"

"Mhm. That sounds real legitimate."

The small skater let out an irritated scoff. "Whatever. I hate you."

Ray let out a little chuckle as he dismissed his other messages and went to open Isolda's text. "All the same, Bubbles."

Other than the 80s music playing from Miles' speaker and the various sounds from the video game, it was silent in the Verde's small, comfy living room. Ray stretched out on the couch, checking Isolda's text. 'Are you free? I really need to talk to you and the twins if they're around.'

Isolda wants to talk?
Isolda wasn't the silent, thoughtful type like he was-if she needed to talk and she hadn’t already said something, it was typically something important, and including the Verdes was even more concerning. With a sigh, he pushed himself up off the comfortable couch. "Hey, Bubbles, Iso wants to talk."

"Cool." Miles seemed to only be half-listening. "I get it. You have a girlfriend. Go be with her."

"No." Ray rolled his eyes and tossed a throw pillow from the couch at his friend, who finally looked up from his game, obviously unimpressed as he readjusted his glasses. "She wants to talk to all of us. Or you and me and Angela at least."

"Oh," Miles replied-it seemed he'd finally taken his attention away from the game for more than a second. "That's weird. I didn't know you guys were into polygamy."

"Miles Valentine Verde I am going to *censored*ing strangulate you in two seconds."

"Okay, okay. Don't need to bring my middle name into this." Though his tone was irritated, Miles was grinning as he stood up, calling up the stairs, "Angie! We're going to Isolda's!"

"Now?" Ray saw Angela's head pop out of her room. With the warm weather and increasing amount of sunny days, her lupus was getting bad, and he could see the signature butterfly rash beginning to form over her nose. Miles nodded. "Yeah. She wants to talk about something or another."

"Okay," The female half of the twins replied with a sigh, retreating back into her room. "Just... Let me put on something so I won't die in the sunlight."

Miles nodded again, and Ray sighed. Angela had been diagnosed with systemic lupus just before they'd entered middle school, and though she had her good days and her bad ones, summer had always been a particularly harsh season. The sunlight was an awful trigger, and the tiny blonde girl had been bedridden for weeks during past summer vacations.

"I'm ready!"

Ray smiled a little as she practically skipped down the stairs, an umbrella in hand. It was a pretty walking parasol, a simple cyan blue that gradually faded into a lime green, a present he'd bought her for graduation. Though she was still wearing a thin hoodie, the floppy hood pulled up over her head, it allowed her to wear something lighter on the bottom-hence the knee-length skirt that fluttered with her every step. Miles smiled too, grabbing his keys from the bowl in the door and motioning for his sister to hurry up. "C'mon, you're so slow these days."

"Oh shut up." The exchange was light and playful, something Ray didn't quite understand-him and his own sister had always fought mercilessly with each other, yet the Verde twins had always been two peas in a pod. No matter what insults Angela and Miles threw at each other, none of them seemed to mean anything. It was bizarre, and Ray had never really been surprised at all the incest jokes and rumours that'd circulated about them.

"Why're we going to Isolda's?" Angela asked, opening her parasol as they began down the Verde's driveway and onto the sidewalk. Miles shrugged, looking over at Ray. "I dunno. Why're we going to Isolda's, Ray?"

Ray shook his head with a shrug, sliding his hands into the pockets of his sleeveless hoodie. "I'm not sure. She said she needed to talk to us. That's it."

"See, that's weird, right?" Miles asked, and Angela nodded. "Yeah, it is. Especially considering how often she complains Ray's always with us."

The tall Spanish boy nodded in agreement-though the four of them plus Leo had been friends since fourth grade, Isolda had often complained their time alone together was too limited. Maybe it was, but Ray had never been the type of person to forget about his friends for a girl-and he hoped he never would be.

"It's always been the five of us," Miles said stubbornly after a moment, crossing his arms over his chest as they waited for the streetlight in what was beginning to feel like blistering sunlight. "Your relationship with Isolda isn't going to change that."

Though he made a little sound of agreement along with Angela, Ray had an uneasy feeling in his gut. Isolda and him were sweet together... But the dynamic between the five of them had changed since their relationship had progressed, and he was almost sure it hadn't been for the better.


"Wow, you managed to get the twins on board, huh?"

"Yup." Ray smiled, kissing Isolda's forehead as they were welcomed into her house. It was bigger than his or the Verde's-she had three siblings and a grandfather than lived with them. It needed to be big. Though it was beautiful and intimidatingly large, it was also messy-though it seemed to be cleaner than usual, Ray noticed. "Proud of me?"

"Very." Isolda smiled at him, but something in the air was off. Perhaps it was the rare tidiness of the main level. The brunette turned to the twins. "Hey, you two. It's been awhile."

"Yeah, since you and Ray snuck off at our grad thing," Angela agreed, and Ray gave her a look. Isolda simply laughed, though he could hear the embarrassment laced through it-not that he minded. It was cute, to say the least.

"Why'd you have us over?" Miles asked curiously, more straightforward than usual. He could tell both him and Angela wanted to know what was going on, and though he was more preoccupied with spending time with his girlfriend, Ray couldn't deny he was curious too.

"I..." Isolda hesitated unusually-unlike Ray, she tended to have all her words constantly on the tip of her tongue. It was rare to see her thinking about what to say, and when she finally spoke, it wasn't what he was expecting-"Do you guys want to come in? My grandpa just made lunch, you could sit down.

Though he could see Miles starting to speak out of the corner of his eye, Ray made sure he beat his friend to it. "We ate, but I don't mind coming in."

The pretty brunette girl nodded, leading them through the house. Though it wasn't so different from the rest of the messy house, boxes and bags were stacked here and there to make up for the lack of mess. He wasn't complaining-Isolda's little brothers were messy and generally left things from stuffed animals to the dreaded Legos everywhere.

Speaking of which...

"Hi Ray! Hi Miles! Hi Angela!"

Despite the fact he'd never been a fan of children (his nightmare job was a teacher) the tall Spaniard smiled at the short boy seated at the table. Lukas might've been annoying and something of a snob for an eight-year-old, but he was still Isolda's littlest brother. He waved a little to him, and then the elderly man sitting at the other end of the kitchen table. "Hey, Lukas. Afternoon, Mr Webber."

Lukas promptly hopped up out of his chair to show the four of them what he'd been working on-a drawing, it looked like, almost too good for his age. There was a house, a truck, and a group of people waving to someone it looked like, but otherwise, he picture had no meaning to Ray. He was about to ask the little boy what it was when Lukas said proudly, "It's a present for Papa. He's moving soon, so I have to make something so he doesn't forget about us."

"Your dad is moving?" Miles spoke all of their thoughts. Isolda's father moved for his work often, but it'd seemed for the past few years he'd settled down in the suburbs of Toronto along with them. Ray cocked his head at her. "Why didn't you tell us?"

"Well.. That's... what I was going to tell you," Isolda began hesitantly, placing a hand atop Lukas' head, perhaps so he wasn't bouncing around with his usual energy while they spoke. "My dad's going to Colorado at the end of the summer." Her bespectacled gaze looked almost guilty as she spoke, her eyes focusing on Ray. And, um... I'm going with him."

What?

The usually loud, busy kitchen fell completely silent other than Isolda's grandfather turning the pages of the newspaper. After a few moments, he chuckled from his seat, his German accent as thick as usual. "I told you they weren't going to take it well Iso."

"Shut up Opa!" Isolda hissed, but the old man only laughed to himself again. Though Ray couldn't find any words whatsoever, Angela seemed to have plenty for the three of them. "What the hell? You're leaving?"

"Angie, it's only for-"

"Don't you dare 'Angie' me!" Ray could see the grip on the handle of her parasol was tight enough to turn her knuckles white. Her voice rose as she spoke. "Isolda, what the hell is that? Are you being forced to leave?"

Guilt was written all over her adorable face, and Ray knew the answer before she answered in a quiet, defeated voice. "No."

"Then why are you leaving?"

"There's a school down in Denver that could really help my acting up to par," She replied as if she'd rehearsed it a million times-maybe she had, Ray thought as his girlfriend continued quietly. "My dad would be working with the school board, and it'd really help me out..."

"More than staying in Canada would?" Though Miles' voice wasn't as obviously angry as Angela's, there was a bite to it-he wasn't happy. Ray watched as he crossed his arms. "Isolda, it's been the five of us for half a decade. It was always going to be the five of us. We're going into high school in two months."

"I..." She seemed lost for words, and she looked to Ray with a desperate look. "Ray, help me out here."

"I..." Ray hesitated-what was he supposed to say? He was shocked, to say the least-was Isolda really choosing to leave them after so many years? They were dating on top of it...

"Iso... What am I supposed to say?" He finally settled on, watching her face become more distraught. What was he supposed to say? He wasn't happy, and he wasn't about to encourage her to leave, but how was he supposed to side with her, then? It was too much to think about, and his voice was flat when he continued, "I'm not happy about this either..."

Isolda crossed her arms over her chest-it probably didn't help the situation already wasn't great, but Ray could immediately tell she wasn't satisfied with what he'd said. "You sound like you wouldn't care one way or the other."

"Isolda, I..." The accusatory look he was getting from the German girl wasn't helping his scrambled mind function, and though the words were right, his tone fell flat again, purely out of confusion. "I care a lot. It's just... A shock. You're choosing to leave us..." To leave me, he wanted to add, but the friendship the five of them shared should have the priority, not their romance.

She still wasn't happy-none of them were, at that point. The air in the kitchen was tense and uncomfortable, and Ray took a deep breath. He had a feeling things weren't going  to end well one way or another.

Finally, someone broke the silence-Isolda's grandfather. In his usual, gruff German accent, he said casually, "Iso. Perhaps you should let it sink in a little. And you three, take some time to think." He rolled the newspaper and stood up from the table. "You shouldn't lose your friendship to something like this."

"He's right," Ray sighed as the elderly man left the room, Lukas trailing after him-he seemed to have sensed the change in mood as well. The Spanish boy took a step forward to press a kiss to Isolda's lips, lingering just a bit longer than he probably should have to try and gain back her faith in him. Her face was still unhappy as he pulled back, and with a sigh, the raven-haired boy apologized. " I'm sorry, Iso, this is... big. Your grandfather's right. We should all think."

Isolda nodded after a moment, walking them to the door. "Alright. I'll see you guys later then."

Both the twins nodded back, and though Angela said nothing as she opened the door, Miles gave her a little, somewhat forced smile. "See you, Isolda."

She smiled back, though it wasn't completely legitimate, before turning to Ray with those big, worried eyes under the lenses of her glasses. "Ray..."

"It'll... It'll be okay," Ray assured her, straightening her glasses on her nose with a smile of his own-though none of it felt honest, his words included. "We'll figure it out, Iso, we always do."

6
Develop Your Story / Beta Readers Wanted
« on: April 21, 2018, 05:17:58 PM »
Though I edit my work and do my very best to make it better, I can't do everything myself, so a few beta readers would really help me out. I'm not looking for anything particularly serious other than someone to help me out or point out any things that could be changed, and all criticism is welcome, as long as it's constructive. I also want to know if my quality of writing is any good, which can be hard to get from friends and family.

As of right now, I'm writing YA fiction, which is what I need opinions on the most. Again, I'm not looking for anything too serious, just to gain insight on my writing and how I write.

7
Comics and other Gallery / My first time drawing in years
« on: April 11, 2018, 07:50:45 PM »
I'm not good at art, and I've never been good at drawing, no matter how hard I try, so I obviously gave it up for writing. Someone suggested I try a more graffiti-esque style though, so I thought I might put up my less-than-amateur work somewhere. It's not great, but it was nice to try and make something after a couple years. Maybe I'll see if I can get good at this style sometime.

*I took it down for now; if I actually do start drawing again I'll put it up with whatever else I've done.

8
General Manga writer discussions / Feeling like trash
« on: April 01, 2018, 06:46:59 PM »
I've written probably more than I've done anything else since I've been very young, and I've been published a couple times here and there. It's been many years, maybe a few since I've started writing bigger stories, and I feel like everything I put on paper is absolute trash. I've been told that this is a widespread problem with writers, but I can't get past it-for all I know my writing is that bad. I can't see any improvement at all in what I'm producing, and it just feels like I've wasted years of my life. It's just a crappy feeling overall.

9
General Manga writer discussions / Camp Nanowrimo
« on: March 31, 2018, 11:12:30 PM »
There's definitely gotta be a nano post out there, but I dunno if there's a camp nano one. I'm doing camp nanowrimo this April, which is, for those of you who don't know basically nanowrimo with a flexible goal. Though I was expecting it to just be another thing to have to worry about, I'm actually pretty excited to get back into writing something every day. Has anyone else done camp nanowrimo? Will I be burned out by the end of the month? Am I too optimistic for my own good? Probably. But I'm gonna do it anyway!

10
Music / Drumming and Hand Cramps
« on: March 25, 2018, 05:13:12 PM »
I've been working really hard to finish a drum piece that's faster than I usually play and full of sixteenth notes, and though I'm at full speed, I can barely play the piece through once without the area between my thumb and my forefinger cramping to the point I have to stop and take a break. My music teacher and a couple of other drummers I know have suggested I switch from my usual 7A and 7B sticks to 5A or 5B because they're thicker and I won't have to tighten my grip so much, but I really like how light 7B drumsticks are. Is it really the best idea to switch?

11
General Manga writer discussions / Turn-offs-Writers and Artists
« on: March 24, 2018, 11:29:48 AM »
Admittedly, I have't been here for too long, and I also haven't worked with a ton of people, so if any of this is wrong or you disagree, don't hesitate to say so. I've worked with a few writers and artists alike in the last little while, and it can be difficult knowing who to work with and who to turn down. If you're anything like me, you might poke around on a person's profile for awhile before you decide-and there are some major turn-offs I've found, not just here but anywhere where writers and artists gather. Here are my big ones:

1-Spelling/Grammar. This one probably gets under my skin the most, especially when someone is a writer. Though there are obviously reasons why someone isn't adept with language sometimes, when I see a writer make more than one or two posts with awful grammar or spelling, I'm immediately going to think that this person's writing will be of the same quality. It blows my mind how many writers on the internet make posts like this and assume people will choose them over someone else. I don't mean a spelling error here or there either-the entire post is full of mistakes. This somewhat applies to artists, but not in the same way.

2-Narcissism. This one applies to both artists and writers. It also tends to go hand in hand with spelling and grammar issues. There's a difference between promoting your work and being narcissistic, or being honest and being narcissistic. There are a whole variety of different ways you see this, but it's usually evident someone's giving themselves too much credit when they go on about how much better they are than others or say their work is perfect-stuff like that. At the same time, don't be self-deprecating, or try not to be, because that's also a turn-off for anyone willing to work with you. Just be as honest as you can about your skill level, even if it means taking a step back to reevaluate your work.

3-Self-Promotion Monsters. Truthfully, I haven't seen a ton of this here, but it tends to run rampant almost everywhere else. This sort of ties in with narcissism. Self-promoting in the right way at the right time can make you a lot of business or get your work out there, but too much self-promotion is a right turn-off, at least for me. Don't be a spammer with your self-promotion. Personally, I like to sit back and go with the flow rather than self-promote, but there is a middle ground between that and promoting yourself in all the right (and wrong) places and times. If you're going to promote yourself, don't be a monster about it.

This could be completely wrong, so tell me if it is! And are there more turn-offs out there I should avoid?

12
General Manga writer discussions / Beta Readers
« on: March 17, 2018, 09:37:07 PM »
I've been trying my best to make my first novel the best it can be, and I've been tweaking it bit by bit every day. Though I wouldn't say I'm ready to delve right into large-scale editing (and maybe it isn't worth that), I've been looking for beta readers. Though I've had a couple, I'm lacking the feedback I need. So my questions are: how do you find beta readers that will help you? When do you disagree with a beta reader? How many beta readers should you have? And when do you know you have enough opinions to move forward from beta readers? It's my first time trying to develop such a project, and I don't only need to know what could be changed, but if I even have what it takes to take my writing to the next level. Any advice would be much appreciated!

13
Manga Creations / Morphine-A short story
« on: February 21, 2018, 11:06:46 PM »
A little something I fished out of my discarded drafts. One day I want to write a novel about Isolda.

Spoiler
She doesn't call often.

It’s for good reason. They've never had a very sentimental friendship over their decade and a half knowing each other, even though he's helped her over the biggest bumps in the road, and vice versa. That's not to say they don't care dearly for each other, but calling had always seemed unnecessary, especially with the frequent texts sent back and forth.

But when her name pops up on the caller ID, there's no thought in his mind of turning her down, even though it's a Friday night after a long week of school and he’s in the middle of a competitive shooter. She doesn't call often, but when she does, it's usually dire.

“Hey,” He picks up, though he's immediately concerned when she replies with a small, hoarse ‘hello’ rather than her usual lighthearted greeting. “Iso, are you okay?”

“Y-yeah.” Despite her words, her voice is very much not okay, riddled with breathless tears that haven't yet been shed. His heart skips a beat, and he switches off the game and mutes the TV. “Isolda, what's going on?”

“N-nothing, I just wanted to-"

“Bull*censored*,” He interrupts her meek excuse, his own voice dead serious, and perhaps a little harsher than he wants it to be. “Isolda. Tell me what happened. Now.”

She hesitates for a long moment, and he waits patiently, until suddenly, her slight breaths become laboured and she breaks down in tears. It hurts him to hear her cry like so, and he muses a sympathetic ‘Isolda…’ into the phone as she sobs, her explanation broken and her voice hitching on every second inhale. He listens all the same, holding onto her every word, knowing he can't cure her, but he can perhaps be her morphine, at least for a little while.

14
break Room / It's Opinion Time
« on: January 22, 2018, 07:02:55 AM »
The majority of users here are either writers or artists (or both) working together to achieve a common goal, whether it be through peer feedback, or filling in that missing part of a project you can't do alone. But what's the hardest (or easiest) side of the coin-writing or drawing? Well, you tell me. I'm curious.

Don't be a troll. And don't attack people, that isn't nice. This is solely for opinions and countering them respectfully, not arguments.

15
Develop Your Story / Romanticized Reality Plots
« on: January 02, 2018, 08:56:23 PM »
So I have a whole list of plots I don't have time for based loosely on people I have met and my relationships and interactions with them, and I thought I'd put them here so I (hopefully) won't forget about them. I am going to write them eventually, but if you want to use one then feel free, because I'd love to see another take on them. And if you have your own similar plots, then post them too, and we can have a collection of story ideas based on real-life experiences!

Awkward
Spoiler
When Mio and Stellan crash into each other on the way out of school, it’s their first words to each other despite them being in the same school for years (even if the words are ‘*censored*’ and ‘sorry’). And even though their interaction is limited and awkward, both of them are left wondering about the other person… And how they’ve managed not to talk for years on end. So when they encounter each other at the same turn again, Stellan is determined to get to know the girl that lurked in the shadows for years, and despite herself, Mio is intrigued.

Drop in the Bucket
Spoiler
Lara and Penrose have been best friends since the fourth grade, even if some of their friends in the group they're part of have missed it. And even though they attend different high schools, they're still close as ever, if not more so. When Lara and Penn’s last year of high school rolls around, the two realize they've made a high school bucket list-a bucket list that's gone forgotten until then! And while Lara isn't sure they can complete the list of thirty-two things while also completing their senior year successfully, Penn isn't about to let them leave their childhoods behind unfinished.

Fool Me Once (Trigger warning, btw)
Spoiler
Rosa’s got a pretty good school life. With a group of friends that treat her like the best of the best, a boyfriend blind to her downfalls, and her pretty decent grades, it’s a place she’s in complete control of. Causing drama, getting whatever she wants and making herself look incredibly good in whatever she does, it’s a nice escape from her crappy home life. So when she accidentally completely screws over her best friend (and not for the first time), she’s determined to get through it with her usual twisted truths and loyal crew. Zinnia’s come back to her every time anyway.

Until she doesn’t. In fact, Zinnia commits suicide. And suddenly, everyone in the grade is convinced Rosa was the thing to push her already broken mind over the edge, including some of her very own friends.

Hotshot
Spoiler
Caelan is one of the star players on his all star soccer indoor team in the region. An excellent and naturally talented athlete, he’s never had a problem with winning a play or wrapping up a game, and has never had any trouble with running circles around the competition. And while his playing style is a little odd, his team has adapted to playing with him over the years.

Until Noel shows up.

New to the co-ed program, Noel is a newbie in a group of boys who have played together for years and is at an awful disadvantage. Though some of the team is welcoming, most of the boys generally ignore her-Cael included. As a boy who’s never really interacted with girls or women, Cael has always had trouble with them-and Noel seems no different… But he’s never had someone match his raw talent before either…

Out of the Friendzone (And into the Fire)
Spoiler
Demetra and her group of friends have been tight for years, and her being the only girl of the bunch has never gotten in the way before. So when an incident happens on a school trip to Canada's Wonderland that involves her kissing perhaps the least likely of the crew to be interested in her gets out to the rest of the group,
 she's left wondering just how much the fact that she's a girl means to the rest of the boys...

It's a Small World
Spoiler
Cassian and Etta have known each other since first grade-and have hated each other for as long as they can remember. Clashing at every given moment, facing massive punishments and escalating to words and actions neither of them are really sure they mean, they’ve been stuck next to each other at lockers and attendances for years based on their last names, and their near decade-long quarrel is known by everyone around them. Until eighth grade. The last six months before high school, Cas and Etta are suddenly civil after being requested to be in none of each other’s classes, and if anything… Are friendly. And when they graduate on good terms, they find as high school begins… They find they miss each other’s presence at their respective schools, after years of hating each other.

When they both come across each other at a university away from everyone and everything they know, it’s a shocking moment for both of them-and while Etta, who got the short end of the stick when it came to their cruel encounters, would much rather just forget about ever meeting him, Cas is determined to befriend the girl he couldn’t forget… And perhaps both of them have more chemistry than they think.

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