To truly know oneself is a chore. An identity is something to be discovered, built up over decades, found in the gutter of one’s subconscious. It is tiresome, it is messy, it is a dive deep into one’s psyche. To truly know oneself is a curse and a blessing; to reach such a point is a journey few dare to fully undertake.
What makes an identity? Views, opinions, favourite flavours of cake; who you love and how you love them, the way you let the world see you. It is a daring act, to express oneself. Foolish, some might say, in a world that is not kind to the different. It is a sort of performance art in itself, to be so daring. For one’s body to be the canvas upon which they paint their identity, as if to tell the world: Judge my every move, for I can take critique with a smile and criticism with a fist.
Do not be afraid of those who reveal their wings, London; be afraid of those who would rather hide them from you, as they are the ones with evil written upon them.
Like a rubbery emerging from sea foam, embrace your self.
Art of London
House of Troubles, Part III
by Tuesday Next
A few minutes later, Eli walked out of the club, his smile at the rush of quiet and cold air only intensified when he saw his friend standing on the sidewalk.
“Took you long enough to get out here,” Martin said, “I was afraid you’d gone back to your adoring public and forgotten about me.”
“Nah,” Eli shook his head, a stray droplet of water falling from his hair, “I needed a break from the adoring public.” He wore a hoodie over his shirt, although the tight black pants he’d worn on stage were still there. He had tried to wash his stage makeup off, but the combination of his hurry and the low water pressure of the sinks in the club’s bathroom meant he was left with limited success. What had once been a vivid orange and purple butterfly was now a collection of smears around his face. He looked a mess, but hopefully no one would recognize The Madgod based on just a few smears.
“So, did you drive here?” Eli asked, looking around the street as if expecting a car to just pop up. Martin laughed and said, “With how awful parking is around here? No, I just took an Uber. Anyway,” he added, “you wanna get something to eat? According to Google, there’s a 24-hour diner nearby, and I could really go for something cheap and greasy.”
“That sounds fucking perfect,” Eli answered enthusiastically. It wasn’t quite the adventure he was expecting, but it was the journey, not the destination—even if the destination still sounded really appealing. Cheap, greasy food in the middle of the night with Martin? They hadn’t done something like this since high school, when they were too young to even act like they knew what they were doing. He could think of no better oasis.
“Great.” Martin tapped his phone screen a few times, “looks like it’s within walking distance, if you’re up for it.”
“Works for me. Legs could use a good stretching.” In the early days of the band, his legs would almost give out after a performance, leaving him held up by adrenaline and little else. Nowadays, he could manage it easily and even preferred walking around afterwards, “Which way?” he asked, beginning to move in the direction Martin indicated.
“So,” Eli said after they were moving in the right direction, “How’ve you been? It feels like it’s been a lifetime since we talked.” In a way, it had.
“I’m doing pretty well,” Martin answered, “Finished my Masters last year, right now I’m part-timing at a museum while I try to find someone who’ll hire me for something more substantial. How about you?”
Tired. Burnt out. Not sure if I can keep doing this. Eli thought.
“Fine,” Eli said, “Band’s doing well.”
“I could tell. They really seemed to like you up there. I don’t really do the whole metal thing, but that coworker who told me about the show? He just about exploded when I told him that I know you…” As they kept up conversation about the present, exchanging anecdotes about their daily lives, Eli felt his lips curving upward and settling into a resting smile. He liked the other members of the band. They’d never felt like family, but they harmonized as people as well as musicians, and he couldn’t see himself anywhere but onstage with them for as long as he could manage. But he didn’t have the same history with them that he had with Martin. They didn’t have the same inside jokes, the same shared experiences, and he couldn’t separate interacting with them from the exhaustion of being in the band like he was now. But then Martin had to ruin it.
“So, how’s Marina doing?” Martin asked, “I haven’t seen her since your mom’s funeral.” Eli almost stopped in his tracks. Why, of all things, did Martin have to bring that up? The one thing about home he’d been trying very hard to not think about, and he just throws it out into the open.
“She’s fine, I guess,” he said after a moment, once he could make himself walk again, “We haven’t talked in a while.”
“Since the funeral?”
“Yeah. Since the funeral.” He’d barely been able to look at his sister after they’d seen pictures of the drunk driver that had hit their mother, the man’s House of Troubles T-shirt still visible in the mugshot.
“You haven’t talked to her since then? Why not?”
Because Mom was killed by one of my fans.
“Dunno. Too busy with band stuff, I guess.”
“Oh.” Martin half-nodded, “I guess that would explain why you left so soon after the funeral too.”
“Yep,” Eli said quickly, then pointed at a dimly lit neon sign up ahead of them as eagerly as if he was actually hungry, “Oh hey, This must be the diner. Let’s go on in.” Hopefully Martin would take the hint. He wanted to chat, to take a break from being tired and upset, not become more of both.
News of Art, Art of News
Mayoral Election 1897 – Popularity Votes Coming Through!
Dear London – thank you all for voting! The results of our Gazette’s popularity vote are in:
Among yourselves, you have decided that the most attractive of candidates is Virginia, with Mrs Plenty just behind, and Madame Shoshana hanging lower yet.
We at the Gazette, of course, aim to remain sideless, though we cannot forgive ourselves a few stray comments.
It is peculiar for a devil to be making such headway, though we believe this simply shows London’s progressive nature, even a desire to purify London, as Virginia plans to do.
The second and third place, of course, are not to be taken as losers – opinions could change as easily as hats! Mrs Plenty has a bold (if unknown) plan for London, and Madame Shoshana plans to be a saving grace to us all. The policies of all candidates are so far unknown at best, maybe more so to the investigative sorts.
It is, as we see it, anyone’s game, London!
Alas, this little poll is only for the pleasures of our speculative readers! The real voting begins – today! Off to the polls, London, for it is our civic duty!
Ask Mother Goose
Dear Mother Goose,
Will rest ever come?
After many tired nights.