Anastacia O'Keefe
17 November 2009 @ 12:00 pm
[ profile] justprompts : from a balance beam  

Image prompt from [info]justprompts

New York City, New York

She knew that she couldn't avoid it forever. Sooner or later, she had to go, and it would be better if it were sooner, or so she told herself.

Some of the landmarks were almost exactly the same, and the streetnames provided a friendly and familiar guide for her to trace and wind her way back towards what was once her home, or something like it. But that was where the friendly and the familiar ended.

The streets were littered with indecent flyers trampled in the mud. Graffiti peppered the sides of buildings that had once been elegant and graceful, gang signs and rap lyrics and phone numbers and vulgar words for Shadowkind. She tried not to feel sick as memories of walking these streets with Carson assailed her. People she passed didn't make eye contact, or pressed past her, bumping shoulders against her as if they hadn't noticed her walking straight towards them. No one was smiling, no one was laughing, no one was even looking up at the sky. What could be seen of it, that is.

She took a moment to do just that, as she rounded a corner,eyes raking upwards along the impossibly tall buildings. She gasped slightly when she saw the two people standing upon the ledge. They were so far up that at first she thought they might be cats, birds, something small perched on the edge. They weren't.

Her eyes dropped down again and now she could see the crowds of onlookers staring up, pointing, jaws dropped, hushed whispers. There were no police cars, no megaphones. Had no one called the police? Or had there not been enough time for them to get there?

Anastacia began stepping across the street, looking quickly for ways to get through traffic, which seemed to push on past the scene above as if in a hurry to escape it, avoid it, not notice it. Above, the two people clasped hands. A man and a woman. They were looking at each other, not at the hoardes of people pointing up at them, not doing anything to prevent this.

If only she could get inside, get up there, if only...

And then they stepped off, in tandem, and plummeted. She was halfway through the street and she was screaming, or she thought she was, but really there wasn't any sound coming out of her mouth, it was just the cars honking at her, as she'd stopped in the middle of the road, in New York traffic, and they were still falling, why wasn't anyone doing anything and

then it was over. Just like that.

There were sirens now, on their way, not going to make it, and she wasn't going to make it across the street either, so she pushed her way back to the crowd gathered on the far side. She didn't want to see, didn't want to be there anymore. She just didn't understand.

What had happened to this place? It felt like there was a whirlpool inside of her, sucking away at something. She needed to be away from here, and go back home, but she wasn't really sure that anywhere felt like home now. Certainly this city didn't, where people where helpless against hopelessness. She didn't belong in such a place.

But maybe, whispered the tiniest voice inside of her, one that she pushed down for now, but would grow stronger in time, maybe that's exactly why the Unicorn sent me here in the first place. To help fight that despair.
Current Mood: indescribable
Anastacia O'Keefe
09 November 2009 @ 02:57 pm
[ profile] charloft: a drink precedes a story  
Sweet is the wine but sour is the payment.
Irish Proverb


Anastacia groaned heavily as she lifted her head off from the pillow, though it took all her willpower to do as much.  When all she saw was a spinning room, she let it fall again as if it were leaden with heavy weights.  For all she knew it was.

"Anastaaacia," she heard Rose saying, and Rose sounded way too chipper.  It didn't seem to mesh with her pounding head. "Good morning, sleepy head."

"Fetch... cleric," Anastacia managed to mumble.  "Dying."

Rose laughed.  "Wow, you were completely serious, weren't you?  You've honestly never been hung over before."  Anastacia released a pathetic half mewling sound in response.   "Had you ever really been drunk before even?"

"No," Anastacia grumbled.  "I didn't think I could.   What did you give me?  Was it poison?  Why did you poison me?"  The words were mumbled into her pillow, but Rose somehow could understand them.

"It was fey wine," Rose said.  "Elf wine, basically.  They don't get drunk like humans, and well... I guess it just packs enough punch to take even you out."

"This is horrible," Anastacia groaned.  "Why would anyone do this to themselves?"

"How much do you remember about last night?"

"There was a last night?"

Rose laughed again.  "That's my girl.  Some of it might come back to you and then you'll remember.  You had a good time."

The horror of that sentence caused Anastacia's head to jerk up.  "Wait, what?  What did I do?  Oh goddess, I didn't..."

"Relax," Rose said, pushing her back down.  "You had a very G-rated you-style good time."

"Thank heavens for small favors."

"Ok, maybe PG."


Rose grinned and a pillow whizzed at her head.  She ran out of the room laughing,  "Next time, we'll take pictures!"

Anastacia O'Keefe
13 July 2009 @ 01:11 am
[ profile] justprompts: the thinnest line  
"A lie, told often enough, becomes the truth."


"You're my wife," he murmurs in her ear, gently and momentarily placing a hand on the small of her back as he bends over her at the piano bench where she sits, pretending to be reaching for something beyond her. "That's who you really are."

As he pulls away, this time, she does not feel comforted.

Perhaps it is because she knows that will never be true. They have never been married, and they never will be able to. She doesn't know if she would want to, after what he has put her through. She does not know much of anything anymore.

Perhaps it is because she keeps convincing herself that this is a temporary state of things. That she will only be playing the role of the servant for another year, and then, somehow, everyone will understand, and she can just be herself.

Perhaps it is because, as she sits there, playing the piano and listening to the other guests complimenting Carson and Conrad on their 'very attractive Shadow woman", she can hear the way they make her into an object. A thing. A possession owned by these men, with no thoughts of her own. Perhaps it is because she is afraid that this will never end, and that she will turn into the very thing that she, by necessity, must pretend to be.

Actually, there is no 'perhaps' about that.

It's fear, stark fear, that whitens her knuckles as she plays, and refuses to let Carson's words reach her heart. Conrad leers at her over her drink and she fights off tears, because even he, even Carson's own brother doesn't know how he loves her. How she's a real person. How she does not belong to them.

If Conrad believes I'm his family's property, and I have to allow him to treat me as such, then how can I claim that he's not right in believing it?
The thought sends horrific shudders down her spine. Carson is still smiling, still free, drifting around the room to make conversation.

She's allowed to drift when she finishes her song, so that she may touch up people's drinks, and ignore lewd suggestions from some of Conrad's friends.

She's pretending to hate herself, to hate her life in servitude, to have no self respect.

It feels less like pretending now. It feels disturbingly like truth.
Anastacia O'Keefe
20 June 2009 @ 08:16 am
[ profile] justprompts: but then who would have saved me from myself?  
Ten People I Wish I Could Have Saved: 
1.  Kierce.  He deserved a better death than to be treated like an animal.
2.  Cherry.  It's still hard to think about what happened to her, and that people could be so foul.
3.  Lily.  In the middle of all those horrible people, she was my light.  She doesn't deserve to be choked by their darkness.
4.  Libby.  She learned so much, only to not make it to the end of her journey.
5.  Rose.  She probably thought I abandoned her in our darkest hour.  I can't imagine what that did to her.  No wonder she doesn't want to be found by me.
6.  Brett.  Though I don't know that one can be saved from old age.  I just miss him.
7.  Eventually I'm going to have to type his name, but I don't know if I can do that yet.
8.  The double suicide in New York five years ago.
9.  I've only got one left so I don't have a choice really.
10.  Carson.  For every selfish reason in the world.  Carson.

Anastacia O'Keefe
19 May 2009 @ 01:44 pm
[ profile] justprompts: a fool such as i  

Image prompt from [community profile] justprompts 

February 1966

New Orleans

For awhile, all that Anastacia could think to herself was "It's loud."  It was strange, that it should be that thought, because noise had never really bothered her.  Show her a party, a loud raucous party, an earsplitting concert, she'd be there, grinning, not complaining, not caring.  Because noise meant there was life there, the pulsing vibe of society, and that was something that excited her to her core.

Or at least, it used to.

She kept pressed close to Rose as they pushed their way through crowds, their hands clasped so they wouldn't lose each other.  It was a silly gesture -- almost a childish one, but there was comfort in it.  They'd lost someone they never thought they could ; they took not letting that happen again very seriously.  It was the first time they'd really gone out since Kierce's death.  They'd chosen to throw themselves into the middle of something huge, and Mardi Gras certainly fit the bill.

"So," Rose said, and Anastacia could sense the way the enthusiasm in her voice was strained, forced, fake for the time being, until they could generate something new and real.  "What do you wanna do first?"

"I don't know," Anastacia responded, hating the hesitance in her voice.  "Why don't we just go with the flow?  Whatever we see first."

A tiny smile tugged at the corner of Rose's mouth.  "Groovy."

Anastacia nudged Rose lightly and gestured up with their joined hands towards a rickety wooden sign, featuring the palm of a hand, with an open eye set in the center of it.  "FREE TAROT READINGS" was advertised below it.   "What do you think?  Up to peeking into our futures?"

Rose's eyes scanned the sign for a moment longer than she would have before, back in the days when she had leapt at anything.  "Yeah," she finally said.  "Why not?"

They ducked inside, instantly overwhelmed by the scent of incense, and the shift in lighting.  Candles and lamp shades cast a red-orange glow over the entire place.  A hunched over woman, in a purple, fringed shawl, sat at a table, cards at the ready.  Rose stopped, and Anastacia could see the panic in her eyes as she stared at those cards.  One of them had the word 'Death' scrawled across it, and Anastacia knew immediately what Rose feared.  She squeezed her hand lightly.  Neither of them wanted to see that card come up for them any time soon.  "I'll go first," she whispered.

"Come in, dearies, come in," said the woman, her New Orleans accent thick, and perhaps exaggerated.  "Take a seat."

Anastacia obeyed, giving a brief tight smile to the reader, and then glancing back once at Rose, who had folded her arms tightly across her chest.  Maybe it was hooey, maybe it wasn't.  But both of them were nervous about what the cards would predict for them. 

"Do you have a question in mind for me, or would you like a more general reading?"

Anastacia considered for a moment, and realized she was coming up empty on things to ask.  "General, please."

In silence, the reader shuffled the cards, then systematically laid them out in a star pattern face down.  When she was done, she touched the card in the lower left.  "This card represents what you see."  She flipped it over.  "The Tower.  A change card.  You've seen a disruption to your routine, perhaps, something dramatic."  Anastacia could feel Rose tense up behind her.  It could be a loss, a change in location, job, companions."  She looked up, meeting Anastacia's probably distressed gaze.  "However, it is not all negative.  The Tower usually represents a road to spiritual enlightenment.  As a result of the change, growth is obtained.  Even freedom"

She moved to the next card, tapping it once.  "This card represents what you cannot see."

She flipped it to reveal a dignified female figure in religious apparel.  Anastacia's eyebrows drew together.  It seemed like more than coincidence.  "This is the High Priestess" the reader explained.  "A powerful female, representative of mystery.  Things yet to be revealed.  Something remains hidden from you that will in the end serve a great purpose."  Anastacia suppressed a shiver.  A part of her felt as if she'd been waiting for someone to say this out loud to her since she arrived in this world.

"The third card.  This represents what you can change."   It was the image of a woman pouring water into a lake.  The card was dominated by a star.  "Hope, healing of old scars, mentally or physically broadening oneself and one's horizons.  You are the one who has control over these things.  They will potentially lead to the growth promised by the Tower and the High Priestess."

"Fourth.  This is what you cannot change." 

Anastacia felt certain, quite suddenly, that she didn't want to know what was on the other side of that card.  Her suspicions were confirmed when it was revealed.  The Death card.  She glanced back at Rose, who was staring at her intently, nails digging into her arms now. 

"Death," the reader said, "This card is not what you may think it is at first.  It was dealt upright, and as such it has positive connotations.  It is change.  The death of one life, and the passing into a new one.  As such it represent a new beginning, though that beginning is often abrupt, and sometimes marked with pain.  You cannot alter this, the change is outside of your hands."

Anastacia heard the beads of the door clatter together.  She knew Rose was gone.  She rose sharply, looking back over her shoulder.  "I... I have to go, I'm sorry, thank you," she said, turning to leave, but the woman caught her wrist in a surprisingly strong grip.  Anastacia looked down at the hand that held her, the long nails painted blood red, then turned her face, confused, back to the reader.

"One final card," she whispered, and with her still free hand, tapped the last one.  "What you can expect."   Anastacia tugged slightly but the woman did not relax her grip.  Instead, she flipped over the card.  Unlike the others, this one was dealt upside down, so that Anastacia could clearly read the word written there.  It said simply THE FOOL.

She forgot about pulling away for a moment, instead gulping and whispering, "Wh.. what does it mean?"  She hadn't forgotten the woman's words about cards that were upright being positive, and ones that weren't...

"The reversed fool represents impulsive action that will end badly.  Foolish choices, perhaps a change in environment.  Perhaps this new journey that your other cards signify will not be a pleasant one." 

"Who is the fool?" she found herself asking.  "Whose choice?"  She already knew the answer.


The woman released her arm, and Anastacia held her gaze for a moment, before turning and pushing her way out of the place with more haste than was probably dignified.  She thought she could feel the woman's eyes burning into her back as she left, and she hurried to find Rose, and escape those eyes - and those words.

Author's Note: No, I don't know anything about tarot.  I just wanted to do the prompt, alright?  Alright.

Anastacia O'Keefe
05 May 2009 @ 04:26 pm
[ profile] justprompts: wine that's all too strange and strong  
Stuff your eyes with wonder . . . live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world.
It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.

Ray Bradbury


"Come with me."

There was something to those words, something about the promise within in them, conjuring images of exotic locales, new experiences, sunrises in foreign lands, that decided her. Carson was on her knees, the springy wet grass probably leaving stains on his crisp light trousers, holding her hand lightly in his own.

"As my wife."

This gave her a moment's pause. What did she know of marriage? What did she know of being a wif

What did she really know of him?

Enough, her heart told her. I know what he is to me, and that I'll never find this moment again. I know that beside him, every moment will be an adventure, every day something new.

I know that if I say no, and he leaves, I'll never find this waking wonder again

So, despite only having known him these passing weeks, despite all the questions that lay unanswered, despite her love for her family here, she knew she had to step through this door, and see what lay beyond it.

It was a simple reply for the flood of feelings she was filled with. "Today," she added, infusing the word with the sense of urgency she abruptly felt. "If we can."

A smile broke across his face, speaking volumes
. He pressed her hand to his lips, suddenly.

"Today then. We'll go see the world... and then bring it home with us."

She answered him with a brilliant smile of her own. She almost swore she could see what he promised in his eyes.

The world. And a home.

Prompt from [ profile] justprompts

Anastacia O'Keefe
22 April 2009 @ 01:59 am
we are standing on the edge  
Friday, June 30th, 2016

She watched the lines in the sidewalk as they passed by, heels clipping along at a measured pace.  Her hands were buried deep in the pockets of her blue pea coat, and thoughts raced through her head in an equally measured, equally persistent rhythm.

It was Friday night, and she had her cashed paycheck tucked neatly into the gold purse dangling at her side.  She was on her way to the Gift of Lethe Kitchen, to slip her biweekly donation into the box outside.  But today had her wondering.  Wondering if it was enough.

She glanced up, away from those repeating faultlines in the pavement, and scanned the faces of those she passed.  A mixture of ennui, frustration, anger, and emptiness answered her, and her eyes dragged down again, the tiniest of frowns decorating her visage for a moment.  She remembered so vividly the one time she'd let it get to her - this city.  Returning to New York after all these years to find it... strangely hollow.  She thought she felt a breeze, as a shiver rocked down her spine, but she knew it was just the memory of those dark days when the things she'd seen in the inner city - the crime, the helpless homeless, the apathy and despair- had shaken her to the very core.  It has nearly broken her down.  But she had faith... and she had realized, through that pain and uglinesss, that this must have been exactly why the Unicorn had guided her back here.  To enact her own small sliver of change.  Anastacia had never dreamed she'd be a member of law enforcement in one of the toughest cities in the world.  She knew people laughed at her, thought she was too soft, too innocent, too nice to be a cop.  But she was tougher than she looked.  She'd probably seen more than most of them had.  She could handle it, especially if she were able to go to bed every night knowing she'd helped someone.

But, she couldn't help but wonder... was this going to be it?  

Was this her destiny then?  Should she be doing more?  It wasn't guilt that gnawed after her, but rather an echoing sense of the city's pain, that she felt in a very visceral way, right beneath her skin.  It needled at her own pain, her own loss, the things this city had once held for her and no longer did.

No. She had decided years ago that she wouldn't be buoyed down in these thoughts.  She was here, now.  She would do what she could.

Her thoughts were interrupted as she was jolted by someone brushing past her in the crowd.  They shoved something into her hand - an envelope.  She took a moment to glance down at it, bewildered, and by the time she looked behind her, scanning the crowd for the one responsible, they had melted into the sea of faces, backs, motion.  She blinked a few times, her heart racing, inexplicably. 

There was an alleyway ahead, and she rode the wave of people until she reached it, slipping unnoticed into the abandoned way, and leaning against the wall.  She quickly drew off her gloves, stuffing them into the pocket of her coat.  For reasons unknown, she clutched the envelope to her chest, head tilting back as she tried to control the imbalance of her breathing, the flutter in her chest.  There was something to this, she felt it, and it was powerful indeed.

Finally, fingers almost shaking in anticipation, she opened the envelope and removed the ticket inside.  Her eyes scanned the words there.

"Your destiny awaits."  There was a location, and a time.  

Her heart almost banged out of her chest, as a smile somewhere between pure joy and relief broke across her face. 

This it it, her heart sang.  Those three words were enough. 

In fact, they were everything.

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