For the second consecutive year, the Perspectives writing series presented a "Marathon" challenge in May. Instead of the usual single writing prompt for the month, Yuki Frost's player put up a new topic every 5 days, along with a bonus topic for a grand total of seven. I missed out on all of the previous year's, but this time managed to bang out a story for each before the following topic went up. After realizing I'd done it unconsciously for the first two, I tacked on a personal challenge that surprisingly made it easier to get the ball rolling when I sat down to write: starting each story with the same sentence.
For the "Fan" topic, writing about our character's fans or about them as fans, I pulled a swerve. Ani's developed a bit of a Lady Gaga fixation in recent months, and I'm sure some of my friends expected this story to involve Ani stalking her or licking her chair or something, but I went a more serious direction and with a different artist entirely. After this performer died it struck me how appropriate a role model he would have been for young Ani, and e spent some time wearing this outfit around in tribute.
Founder's Falls. June 26th, 2009. "Ready or not, here I come!" Carson called out in a sing-song voice before he shouldered impatiently through the dressing room door with the parcels he'd just spent 20 minutes searching for in the storeroom, eliciting a startled, laughing yelp from the Androgyne as e hurried to button the slacks and shirt e was trying on. "I've got four other heroes lined up out there waiting for consults, you know. And three of them are travesties, I don't know who lets these people register looking like that." He set the boxes down next to the chair over which Ani's Reciprocators one-piece was draped, a hat box and a shoe box, while Ani finished buttoning up the shirt.
"I know, I know, thank you for helping me out with this. This one's important to get just right."
Carson nodded, "I think I understand, now that I think about it. It'll look great, have fun in it; the accessories are in with the shoes. This is tanking your Frequent Fashionista points, just so you know." He grinned as Ani rolled eir eyes, then ducked back out to tend to his other customers.
Ani stood side-on to the mirror, smoothed the front of the shirt after e'd buttoned it to the top and assessed eir profile. The slacks were a pristine cream white, matching the jacket hanging on the back of the dressing room door. The shirt was silk and royal blue, vibrant and sleek. Ani checked emself out from multiple angles, and gave a sad smile as e decided. The colors and fit were in fact just right.
Ani lifted the lid off the shoebox, and sure enough everything e'd asked for had been gathered. E started by sitting down and pulling the polished black shoes out from beneath the accessories. After slipping them on over eir blue-socked feet and lacing them, e grabbed the archaic white spats and buttoned them over the shoes. E took a few steps around, raised one foot on its toes and tugged up eir pants leg to examine how it looked. So far, so good.
Out of the box e drew a slender white necktie, draped it around eir neck and tied it before folding down the shirt collar. Next e pulled out white suspenders, which took em a moment to figure out as e'd never worn them before, but eventually e had the braces buttoned to the waist of eir trousers and drew them up over either shoulder. Feeling the look coming together, Ani glided across the dressing room to the door and lifted the suit jacket off the hook, then stepped back in front of the mirror as e pulled it on, giving one dramatic twirl as e ran eir hands down the broad lapels. E gripped either side and with a quick forward shudder of eir shoulders, snapped the jacket closed, then trailed eir fingers down its inner edges and flipped it back with a hissed gasp, grinning wistfully at eir reflection.
E went back to the shoebox and lifted out a blue silk handkerchief, identical in shade to eir shirt, folded it neatly and tucked it into eir jacket's breast pocket behind the left lapel. A black armband was the second to last item left in the box and e pulled it on up over eir right elbow, then spent a moment ensuring eir jacket sleeve remained straight. The last thing e pulled from the box was a roll of white tape, and e wrapped a loop of it around the last knuckle each of eir right index, ring, and little fingers before tossing it back into the box.
Ani looked into the mirror, lifting the taped hand in a slow, graceful arc with eir index and middle fingers extended as if holding an imaginary cigarette. E brought them to within an inch of eir lips, then jerked them away with a little intake of breath. Only one thing was missing to complete the look, and for that he picked up the hat box, set it on the chair, then lifted off the lid. From within e produced a white fedora with a black hatband, raised it and settled it neatly atop eir head, and regarded emself again in the mirror.
Despite growing up poor, Ani Hess had always been more fascinated by the concept of celebrity, fame and ridiculous wealth than desirous of it. Though there were several celebrities e was aware of, e was always more interested in the art they produced than learning about them as individuals. A large part of eir indifference was likely rooted in the simple fact that as relatable as many stars' publicists tried to make their clients to their audiences, Ani was a distinctly unique human being due to the circumstances of eir birth. There simply didn't exist performers to whom e could relate, there were no movie stars who looked like em, that e could project eir fantasies about the future upon as other children could.
When Ani was 8 years old, that changed. A music video hit the airwaves that featured one of the world's most legendary and beleaguered performers performing a duet with his sister, a defiant and catchy expression of frustration with his persecution in the media. It was a performer Ani'd only ever heard of in the crude jokes e only vaguely understood that filtered down on the playground from older kids. Ani's first glimpse of the video transfixed em. Not knowing who it was at first, e was unable to determine if the androgynous performer was a man or a woman, not even by the voice. As this lithe, long-haired figure with strangely angular yet feminine features shimmied and screamed in a black-and-white spaceship fantasy, the harsh lighting further obscured what masculinity remained in its facial contours.
Here for the first time in eir life was a famous person that looked like Ani, one that sounded like em, moved like em. Even better, Ani would realize as e was driven to learn everything e could about this androgynous superstar, not only was he famous...he was an icon. Despite all the criticisms and accusations, his appearance, extravagances and eccentricities, he was still regarded as one of the most innovative and influential entertainers of all time and remained beloved by millions around the world. Ani saw in his success the evidence of what eir parents had always lovingly insisted but e had never seen: e could in fact be who and whatever e wished to be.
Yesterday afternoon, in Los Angeles, the star had died, three weeks before he would've begun his final celebration of his career. Today, Ani wanted to pay him tribute in eir own way. Ani shoved the chair aside gently with eir foot, and walked around in the space, checking out the new threads, occasionally trying out the electric-quick, serpentine moves e used to imitate as a child but had almost forgotten as an adult. As e half-danced in the dressing room, grew comfortable in the outfit, began to think of it as eir own look instead of merely an imitation, eir hands spidered through the air in search of threads of fate. There was one move in particular e'd always thought was the coolest thing e'd ever seen, one the performer had literally patented after inventing the device that made it replicable in live performances, and today e realized a way to cheat it as only e could.
E found two strong threads, ones which bound em to Reciprocators e had fought beside for months and come to care for so much that what had been "threads" were now easily graspable ropes. The threads of fate were a physical phenomena to Ani's senses, e could grasp them as if they were substantial even as they passed through everything and everyone else unnoticed. E coiled eir hands around the two e'd found and turned eir back to the direction the threads led, towards Steel Canyon where Ron and Yuki were running. Being all the way at the other end of the city, Ani knew e didn't have the strength to haul them through space and time all the way to em, but the solid threads taut with distance would provide the perfect anchor for what e was attempting.
Ani looked to eir reflection and quirked the corner of eir mouth up into half a smile. Eir hand darted up and with a tap of eir fingers at the back of the hat tipped the fedora down, shading eir eyes. E gripped the threads extending behind em tightly and tilted forward at the ankles, and kept eir arms rigidly against eir side as e leaned...then leaned more. Around eir hands a swirl of glimmering interdimenional detritus flickered as the threads wriggled in eir grasp, but e held on and let emself lean further with eir feet flat, surpassing a 45-degree tilt as eir half-smile broke into a gleeful grin. It was working! Eir eyes slid to look at the mirror and e could see emself appearing to defy physics in an impossible and flawless anti-gravity lean, the reflection revealing no trace of the threads but the sparkling darkness creeping out from between eir knuckles.
Ani's shoulders, back and legs tightened as e hauled emself back upright using the threads, then e released them and shook the chill feeling of manipulating them out of eir hands as e hopped in place, unable to suppress a giggle. E bundled eir Reciprocators uniform under eir arm and strode out of the dressing room, flicking eir hat back up with eir fingertips and doffing it as e passed Carson with a merry confirmation: "I'll take it!"
UnholyAni (1 day ago) +9
from 1 smooth criminal 2 another
were & will always b the greatest performer of all time