Friday, November 30, 2007

jamie and eric-8-midnight talk

It was Eric. Eric standing on the window ledge four stories up.

Eric winced when he saw the distress on his master’s face. He honestly hadn’t thought that someone knocking on the window would scare her, dead of night or no. Rushing over to the window she opened it carefully if quickly. She was worried he would fall off the ledge. Eric grinned sheepishly as he climbed into the window. When he began the ascent it seemed like a great solution and only now did he consider that Master Brown usually slept at this time and that her fear for his safety overcame the logical evaluation of the situation. Not only was he an adept climber, but Master Brown had enough magical prowess to catch a person.

Not a word had been said between them yet, but after Eric shifted his weight inside the building Master Brown gave him a kind smile.

“Uh….” Eric shifted his weight uneasily. It was so clear in his mind when the night air chilled his arms as he reached out to pull himself up the brick wall. Now his reasons sounded unimportant and his wording awkward. Eric ran his fingers through his hair and examined his feet.

“Lose your keys?” Master Brown’s smile seemed amused. She gave Eric some space to calm down, walking over to her wardrobe to put on a robe and some slippers. She turned the chair at her vanity to face the bench at the foot of her bed and motioned Eric to sit down.

Eric sat.

“So what’s so urgent you deprive me of my beauty sleep?” Eric glanced at her face nervous. She looked very settled in her chair. Very unruffled.

“Uh… I… I was thinking about how…. You know with all the stuff…” Eric stopped. “This was stupid.” Ashamed Eric avoided her eyes as he stood up.

“How’s work going?” Master Brown spoke quickly before he could leave. Eric settled again.

“Well it’s going well. Jorge’s nice. He trained me. Now I mostly work alone. But I don’t know. I like it well enough.”

“What do you after work?”

“Uh..” Eric never really did anything.

“Do you spend time with your co-workers? Hang out with your friends?”

“No not my co-workers. I hang out with some of the boys sometimes” Eric thought about the last time he had seen his friends. “We don’t really do anything.” He admitted. Eric rubbed his palm a little disheartened.

“Bridgett came back from Sunderland today. You remember her?” Eric nodded. “ She came by to see Jamie today. She can be quite excitable.”

Eric grimaced. She was very excited when he left her. “Yeah…”

The pause was long and heavy. Master Brown didn’t seem much phased. She picked up a nail file and entertained herself while Eric gathered his courage.

“Things aren’t like they should be.” Master Brown set down the nail file, giving him her full attention again. Eric blanched a little. The words came out in small bursts as he composed it. “I’m not smart and I should be. Smarter at least. Cuz Jamie’s smart and I’m his bonded. But I don’t even feel-“

Eric froze. He couldn’t say it. Couldn’t admit

Thursday, November 29, 2007

jamie and eric-7-getting the emotions over with

It was dark by the time Eric found the creek. The gentle rushing noise of the water had an unnatural feel of busyness in the dusk. When all the little forest creatures were asleep and waiting for the light to come again.

Well that wasn’t true. Eric settled at the base of a tree. The sun was gone and had taken the brilliance of its reflection from the water. And without true darkness the groove had a faded and gray look. Some animals lived their lives in the darkness. Bridgett had been so forceful.

Eric tried not to think. Tried hard not to think about this strange alien pain in his body that her words evoked. Breathe in, breathe out, slow. The air was crisper here, cooled by the water. Eric felt slightly chilled, but it was welcome after the working in the sun all day. He dug around at his feet for a stone to throw into the creek. It wasn’t fair that Jamie made him so angry. It didn’t make any damn sense either. If they were bonded why did they never talk?

Jamie hardly mattered, really though. Eric’s whole life felt like this dusky gloom. Permanently between where he should be and where he shouldn’t. The dusk had settled away already. Gone while Eric had been watching his thoughts. Breathe out.

His thoughts wondered over his problems. Eric could be logical. But they skidded past answers. The attempt to focus only glazing his eyes further.

Master Brown jumped out of bed half afraid for her life. Steadying herself, she recognized the knocking came from the window. Burglars and murderers seldom knocked. She flicked the light switch, her eyes never leaving the silhouette at the window pane. It was Eric.

Friday, November 16, 2007

picture of me

Spring 2007 in front of the Potholes campground in Eastern Washington

Thursday, November 15, 2007

jamie and eric-6-meeting Bridgett

* * *

Mr. Gransley tried to move people around on tasks as much as possible, but the fact was that the campus was large. When it was time to weed flower beds, everyone was weeding flower beds for a month. So Eric was picking up his hand tools to pack up for the day when he saw the bright bouncy personality come down the path. She was coming from town. She seemed intent on him. Eric waffled, dragging his feet gathering his things. He wasn’t sure if he knew this girl or not. He had slept with so many girls…

“Eric!” Dropping her suitcase she leaped at him, a hug that almost knocked him over.

“Bridgett?” It seemed to fit.

“You didn’t think I’d be gone forever did you?” She looked at him accusingly.


“Oh, you’re filthy. What are you doing out here?” She backed off shaking out her vibrant blue dress. “Come on, let’s head in and find Jamie.”

So she knew Jaime too. Unlikely that he slept with her. She must be one of Jamie’s friends then… Oh my god, she was Jamie’s best friend ever. How could he forget that! Well she had been gone a long time… He couldn’t remember when she left. Eric showed her the hand trowel he was holding, “Uh… I need to put my tools up.”

She giggled, “Is that a hand trowel in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? I’ll walk with you.”

“Oh kay.” Eric stammered.

She spun around in a circle, her suitcase swinging out dangerously far, “It’s so good to be home. I guess I was this excited to be back in {country name} too. Somehow neither of these worlds really fit me anymore. Both of them have certain things you just don’t do and it gets tiring watching yourself all of the time. Here I can wear whatever I want. Speak whenever I want.”

Which was apparently quite often.

“But there everyone has the same difficulties learning magic as I do. We have a shared pain. You know?” She looked over at him. He wasn’t listening that well, and made a non-committal noise. She hit his arm, “Oh come on! I’m sure it’s the same with you and Jamie. What’s it like being bonded?”

“I dunno.” She hit him again. “What? It’s just… He’s just my bonded. I dunno.”

“Hmm. Well you’re a wealth of information. At least you’re fun at parties.” She giggled again. It was bizarre talking to this girl that kind of knew so much about him. But he had never been to parties with her… “I had a brainstorm about my project! Do you want to hear it?”

Eric shrugged. They had made their way to the shed, and she followed him in. There were a couple of guys on break inside. Bridgett definitely caught their attention. Eric appraised her again. She was still talking, her eyes slight gone away into that place of wonderful details of grain. Apparently her project was about grain. It was a cute sundress that hugged her curves. She wasn’t the type of girl he’d go for—too plumb—but he could see why she would turn heads.

Eric put his tools back into the appropriate bins, and bade goodbye to the co-workers. She was still talking. There seemed to be pauses, but every time he tried to listen it was about grain. He took her suitcase and led her out of the shed.

“Thank you Eric.” She stretched her arms out. “Will you walk me home? And then I want to come with you to see Jamie!”


“It’s been so long since I’ve seen either of you! I can hardly get anything out of Jamie. All he wants to talk about is his project. Not that I’m one to talk. He just never seems to do anything fun, you know? It helps your brain store and sort information. You know the best way to study is with regular short breaks, because the brain transfers information from short term memory to long term memory starting with the most recent memory? So that means you want to have enough of a break that your brain gets all the back to the first thing you learned today.”

“That’s neat.” She was leading them back to the Masters’ building. So she lived in the same building as he did.

“The brain is really fascinating. Did you know that the way your eyes register light, it’s actually upside down in respect to the real world, so your brain has to flip it. “ Eric grunted. “In fact when you’re a baby you see upside down for the first three weeks of life. They’ve done experiments where people wear glasses that invert everything in your field of vision and in about three weeks the brain compensates for the adjustment. And then when you stop wearing the glasses it takes another three weeks- Oh this one.”

They were climbing the staircase, and Bridgett stopped him at her level. She was rather close to the ground.

“Hey Eric?”

“Yeah?” Eric never did anything with his evenings, but he didn’t want to spend all this time with her.

“Why doesn’t Jamie ever talk about you?”

“I dunno.”


“Yeah?” The momentum of her thoughts had ceased her motion. Eric set down her suitcase. The bright afternoon sun illuminated the hallway.

“How much time do you guys spend together?”

“Dunno. Breakfast, but we don’t really talk.” Eric shifted his weight, uncomfortable with these questions, her tone of voice.

“What?” She shook her head, confused.

“Well what do you mean spend time together? If you mean like talk and stuff like this, we don’t.”

“What??” The wheels in her head were slowly bringing to an outraged place. This stop, indigent. “You and Jamie are bonded. Why don’t you spend time together?”

“I dunno. We just don’t.” Eric played with the suitcase handle.

“I knew it! What the hell happened? Jamie just stopped talking about you like five months ago.”

Eric tried to think back to five months ago. He shrugged, “Listen is your room anywhere near here.”

“Eric why aren’t you phased? Jamie should be the most important person in your life. Closer than your best friend.”

Eric didn’t have one of those either. “I’m gonna head to the showers. It was nice to see you Bridgett.” He slipped past her to the stair case, but she caught his arm.

The look in her was deadly intense. All of the folic in her expression was flat serious. “Eric something is seriously wrong. I need you to trust me and I need you to help me fix it.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

jamie and eric-5-starting work... nothing's happened yet

Down the hallway, down the stairs. Out the north end of the lobby. Down the red brick path to the maintenance storage shed on the edge of Red Square.

The shed door was open and the light inside seemed to exude warmth into the cold morning. Stars sparked dimly against the pale blue horizon. Eric peered inside were a handful of people were drinking coffee and generally getting ready for the day. One man had a map out and was talking to a women in grungy overalls. Assuming that this personality was Mr. Gransley, Eric approached the pair.

They continued with their conversation for a while, but the man stopped, “Hold on a second Elaine, I think this young man wants to talk.” They paused for a second looking at Eric. He was staring at the map still feeling groggy. “Well go ahead son.”

“Uh.. I’m Eric Hunter. One of Master Brown’s apprentices. She said something about me working for you.”

The man slapped Eric on the back. Not expecting it, he collided with the table. “Your Janelle’s boy, Eric. She says you’re a trouble maker.” The man laughed. “Don’t worry. I am too. Why don’t you grab yourself some coffee and I get you started after I get things set up with Elaine.”

Eric nodded. Shuffled off to the far wall, not really knowing where the coffee machine was. Besides Elaine and one other college girl, the rest of the crew were men. And Hispanic, Eric noticed. Suddenly ill at ease Eric hugged his bag to his chest and leaned against the wall. Avoiding eye contact. Hispanics didn’t bother Eric. But he was so privileged and… It was stupid. He shouldn’t think about it. He should be friendly and meet his co-workers, but he was tired anyway. Eric let his consciousness slip away while chattering voices and waking birds filled his hearing.

Mr. Gransley tapped him on the shoulder. “Good nap?”

“Wha?” Eric coughed a little urging his psyche to alertness. The birds were quieting down and most of the people had vacated the shed. He really had fallen asleep.

Mr. Gransley chuckled, “Bit early for ya?” He chuckled again. Eric made a vague affirmative noise. “Alright, You’re going to work with Jorge trimming bushes. He’ll show you what to do.”

Jorge handed Eric a pair of hedge-trimmers, “Hey man this stuff is easy. You’ll get it right away.” Jorge’s English was flawless. His accent only served to add interest to his voice.

Eric took the trimmers and followed Jorge out of the shed. The sky was now full of light that was sharply slanting into his airs. The cold air felt pleasant now.

“You work here long?”

“Yeah, well couple of years so far. I’m working part time, going to school part time. Makes it all take longer, you know?”

Monday, November 12, 2007

jamie and eric-4-breakfast

* * *

Eric didn’t hear the knocking on the door. But Master Brown has keys. Eric became aware of her presence rather quickly, but felt too tired to move. His limbs like lead weights. Yet his body was moving. Off the bed. Eric caught himself from hitting his head on the floor. Master Brown made a closing gesture to end the spell. Telekinesis wasn’t her specialty. She needed hand gestures.

“Why’d’ya do that for?” Eric spoke like his mouth was full.

“Good morning, Eric. I know you’re slow in the morning, so I woke you up an hour before you need to leave our suite. I thought you had an alarm clock…” Master Brown surveyed the room. Bare yet messy.

“Maybe, I dunno.” Eric stumbled around vaguely thinking about clothes.

“Hmm, okay. Well breakfast is on the table when you’re ready.”

The sky outside was murky gray. His window faced the south. The sun was on the other side of the building. Eric wondered what the light was like in Dahlia’s room, which faced the courtyard. Didn’t someone tell him that this building was only suites for masters and their apprentices, thus is was the nice quarters. And nice views. The higher academics got all of the plush things. Think of all those students who just went to college for a degree. Never paired up with a master. Living in the dormitories.

“Eric,” Master Brown’s voice called from the common room.

“Comin’, “ he called back. Better to think about pants than buildings. Than the system he was stuck into. Better to remind himself to keep his eyes open.

His clothes weren’t clean. Eric put them on anyway. He was responsible for his own laundry and that meant that he generally wore dirty clothes. He didn’t mind.

The people at the breakfast table quieted as he sat down. Maybe they minded.

“Good morning everybody.” Jamie mumbled a response his eyes fixed onto his cereal. Eric tried, but Jamie wouldn’t make eye contact.

Dahlia, of course, had a bitter remark for him, “I’m surprised to see you.”

Even as tired as he was Eric felt how awkward this was. He couldn’t clearly remember the last time he had an easy interaction with either Jamie or Dahlia.

“Uh, yeah… not my normal be awake time.” Eric shook his head. That didn’t come out quite right. He just sat down.

Breakfast was a communal pot of hot cereal, from which everyone helped themselves and added various ingredients from associated dishes on the table. Every master’s suite included a kitchen—a small one. But enough to make simple food. Students, usually younger ones, earned some extra money by delivering groceries to the masters. Eric wasn’t sure if that’s what Master Brown did, or if she just bought groceries herself. Of course any of them could eat at the cafeteria as well.

Eric added the thick brown syrup and cold pale cream to the gooey breakfast mush. He didn’t really like breakfast. He didn’t normal have to eat it. He didn’t normally get up in time. Oh well.

Not letting the silence phase her, Master Brown spoke up, “So I packed you a lunch today Eric, but you’ll have to do that for yourself in the future.” She took a sip of her coffee. In mid sip she remembered another point, “Mm, also I think it’s fine if you don’t want to shower until after work.”

Eric blanched. He was smart enough to feel the intended impact of her words. He had to get his act together. “Thanks,” Eric responded lamely.

Silence fell again. Master Brown, apparently done with breakfast, was reading a book and drinking coffee. Jamie looked like he might never talk again. His shoulders hunched, his black hair hiding his face. Dahlia looked indigent, but kept her silence. Eric squirmed in his seat. The hard wood chair was so uncomfortable when his entire body wanted to be prone. Silent bites. Silent eating noises. Silent emotions. Silently his fault.

Master Brown checked the clock on the wall behind her, “Eric you have twenty-two minutes before you need to leave.” And returned to her book.

Eric took that as his cue to gulp down the rest of his cereal. Finishing with his food he left the table, only to be reminded to wash his dish. Then he jogged out the door, only to be reminded he needed shoes… and his lunch… and probably a coat… and directions on where to meet Mr. Gransley.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

jamie and eric-3-hallway contemplation

“Why’s your hair so long? You’re a boy, right?”


“You should cut it.”


“Cuz only girls have long hair.”

“I’m ”.

“Yeah.” Eric was pulling on a part of his sole that was peeling back.

“So we never cut our hair.”


They sat in silence for a while. Jamie’s breathing had steadied, but he hadn’t moved.

Eric threw a piece of black rubber at the stall door, “I’m hungry, let’s go steal food from the kitchen.”

“What?” The black hair was whisked away as Jamie’s form straightened.

“Come on, let’s get out of here.”

Jamie was started enough to be convinced. The two boys left to wander aimless around the campus.

According to the most of the textbooks, about five percent of the population is bonded. Bonded pairs achieve different levels of intimacy, which allows the individuals to pool their energy and blend their magic skills. No one really knows what factors contribute to the final strength of the bond between a pair. No matter how great a bond the pairs finally develop, everyone describes a similar meeting experience. From the moment you meet you just click—instant best friends—spend the next couple of days together without thinking about it.

Eric was pretty sure that was what Jamie is studying now. Bonding, like the mechanism part, like how it works. If we know how it happens, maybe we could alter the bond. Make it stronger, weaker, sever it. Jamie was so sure in himself. So good. So focused. So unlike Eric.

Eric contemplated his new job. Groundskeeper assistant. The grounds people mostly did yard work, some construction on the building exteriors, maybe they maintained the interiors too. Eric wiggled his toes.

No matter what he ended up doing, it would be an improvement over what he currently did. Nothing. Or not nothing really. Wandering around campus. Scavenging food and alcohol. Hanging out with the younger boys playing video games and fighting. Fighting and climbing around the old buildings to keep in shape. Then at night he would head off to the bars in town. Nights at the bars ended one of two ways: passing out or getting lucky. Sometimes he would find the way home. It wasn’t a bad life. It passed the time.

The bell rung, startling Eric. It had been so long since Eric had been in these hallways, so engrossed in his lazy world. He’d forgotten about bells. And classes. Students began to flood into the hallways, noise coming with them. Eric stood up to get out of the way. His poor feet vulnerable.

Well why not go to class. Eric followed the shuffling stream into a nearby room.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

jamie and eric-2-meeting jamie

“I know, honey, but you months behind in your studies and I can tell you aren’t enjoying yourself. This is only until you find your way again.”

“I’m not lost.” Eric opened the door, staring at his bare feet. He wiggled his hairy toes. “I can do all the stuff Jamie does, don’t make me-“

“Eric you have no ground to stand on. You may be an adult, but you fail to take on any responsibility. You have not put one once of effort into a career you might like better,” Master Brown counted this item on her small, weathered hands, “ into your school “

“That’s not true! That’s so not true!”


“I worked on that essay the other day!” Gesturing towards the abandon work station. The doodles had been thrown away already.

“Eric! Enough!”

“I’m just saying. I do, do stuff.”

“Fine. You attempt to live up to the requirements placed upon you, but you have not shown follow through fitting a responsible adult and therefore you cannot make your own decisions. You will work for kind Mr. Mallory until you can demonstrate better behavior. You haven’t said a kind word to Jamie”

“Stop, stop. I know.” Eric mumbled.

or Dahlia, I’m just saying you could spend more time with people who care about you instead of going out every night”

“Stop, this isn’t your business” Eric flustered, angry that she would embarrass him in earshot of everyone.

“with girls you barely know. No, Eric you need to own up to your behavior.”

“Fine, fine I own up to my fucking behavior. Get off my case already.”

Master Brown frowned severely, clearly not satisfied with the encounter. “Just come home at a decent hour tonight. You have to get up early tomorrow.”


Eric avoided Jamie’s eyes. He was sitting at the table with stacks of books. Thick dusty books. His black hair tied back like it had been the day he had met Jamie.

“I’ll just go eat in the cafeteria I think.” Eric vaguely told the air, and escaped into the hallway. Bare feet. Generally looked down upon, just like ruffled clothes, disheveled hair, and smell. Eric would go through the whole hygiene magic ritual song and dance later.

Except Jamie never left the suite.

Late summer, but the river was still warm enough for a swim. Some girls liked the out-doorsy musty smell.

What time was it? Eric hadn’t looked at a clock before leaving. The window was gray – gray like clouds. It was cloudy and Eric had no idea what time it was. Would they be serving food? Would it be close enough to a meal he could get food from the kitchens? He wasn’t even hungry.

Eric slumped against the wall, letting his body fold up and slide down. Eric could remember the day he met Jamie.

Wondering through the halls, skipping a workshop, Eric had heard crying. Eric would never had stopped for crying normally, but. But when your bonded cries you stop. Of course he didn’t know he even had a bonded.

He was a delinquent. Supposedly Jamie was too. He must have been at least, because they had been going to the same school. The school for delinquents. Eric had trouble imagining Jamie as anything but a dork. Was Jamie from the same school originally. Yeah, he was wearing the same red blazer and smart navy pants. He was part of the same delinquent school that had sent nearly a thousand poorly behaved school children to St. Phoenix College for workshops. Something about emotions. Something girly.

Girly like a school-aged delinquent crying in the boys bathroom. And he’d gone into the bathroom and coughed loudly. It was as if someone had sliced Jamie’s throat, he quieted that quickly.

Eric’s second try, “Fuck man what’s wrong with you?”

No response. Maybe someone had sliced the poor boy’s throat.

“God dammit, talk to me you stupid ass!”

“No.” The breathy word was barely choked out.

“Fuck” Eric kicked the garbage can. The garbage can made a nice clang against Eric’s scuffed dress shoe. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang. And it fell over, but Eric didn’t stop kicking it.

The crying had started again and Eric noticed when he hit his foot the wrong way and stopped.

“Fuck. Listen I’m an asshole. But you have to talk to me cuz…. Cuz I’m not going to leave.”

Eric sat on the floor in front of Jamie’s stall. He could see the black hair stuck to Jamie’s blazer sleeve by static electricity. Damn wool coats.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

jamie and eric-1-meeting eric

The single window in the hallway gave little light for Eric to jam his key into the front door of his master’s suite. Like any other night Eric had lost track of time when he had a girl in his arms. Master Brown disapproved naturally. The keys slipped and clang onto the floor.

Eric heard the click right before Jamie opened the door above him. Silently. And beneath the covers on the couch by the time Eric was opening the door to the room they used to share. His memory wasn’t the best, but Eric was sure that they had shared the room. That there had been two beds once. And Eric hated the bed he slept in now.

In this magnificent school students were paired with masters of their disciplines to the extent that they lived in a suite with their master. In the morning the busy students gathered themselves together and scurried off to class, only to return to their masters in the afternoon for more focused lessons. Older students left to pursue other opportunities. Jamie had gotten a research position here. Eric was stuck with Jamie.

Eric knew without certainty that he and Jamie were bonded. He was afraid to ask anyone, they already thought he was stupid. And Dahlia, Master Brown’s only other student, shot him hateful glares whenever she saw him. Everyone treated Jamie and Eric like bonded.

Jamie researched magic. Something about magic and bonding. Nobody knew much about bonding except about what it did and stuff. Eric believed Jamie’s work to be impressive. He didn’t really know for sure. He knew Jamie was smart. Thinking made Eric feel dumb, so he willed himself to sleep.

The light from the window wasn’t much better the next day though. Eric groaned. Days seemed so long and nights so short. The covers were tangled around his legs, and Eric rolled off the bed to get up. Shaking the sheet off his foot he opened the door to the common room.

“Eric! Put some clothes on!”

Eric closed the door. He was wearing clothes. Just not much. Master Brown came up to the door and lectured him while he dressed. She was reasonable. Eric just didn’t feel like he could do any of those things. He never got anything done. He would try to read one of his assigned books and his eyes would keep glazing over until his forehead hurt. He would look up from his draft, only one sentence, at the mess of his room or uncomfortable silence of the common room and find a reason to leave. Eric tried. He felt he tried.

“This time Eric,” She continued, “we’re going to try something different. You’re going to help the groundskeeper. You’ll start right after breakfast and go for two hours after lunch. You’ll make a little money, get a little sun. You’ll get out of bed earlier. It’ll be good for you.”

“But I’m a mage.” Eric protested. He was sure he was. He hadn’t done anything in a while. But he hadn’t tried. He was telekinetic.

“I know, honey, but you months behind in your studies and I can tell you aren’t enjoying yourself. This is only until you find your way again.”

“I’m not lost.” Eric opened the door, staring at his bare feet. He wiggled his hairy toes. “I can do all the stuff Jamie does, don’t make