Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "From Silica to Silk"

This poem was the linkback perk for the February 2, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl, originally posted by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It came out of the January 2016 Creative Jam. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] chanter_greenie, [personal profile] alexseanchai, and [personal profile] technoshaman. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem is mostly positive, but contains some sensitive topics. Highlight to read the spoilery warnings. There is an unplanned pregnancy in a "friends with benefits" relationship, along with mild angst and surprise as the characters cope with it -- but they handle it really well. If these are issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"From Silica to Silk"

Crystella went from knitting
simple things like washcloths and
scarves to more complex patterns
such as socks and gloves.

In her hands, the glass turned
fluid and fibrous at will, manipulated
by the soft click of her knitting needles.

She met Cameo, a cute geek
whose gizmology lent itself
to material fabrication, and he
gave her fascinating things
to try in her workshop.

They wanted to find a way
to make glass turn soft
permanently while cold,
like some soups could
change the nature of
things they touched.

There were soups who had
Fire Powers or other abilities
that made it difficult to find
any fabric that could survive
contact with their skin --
and of course, there was
always a market for armor.

Just because Crystella
didn't want to be a superhera,
didn't mean that she wouldn't help.

So she knitted glass and
groped around with her gift,
seeking some way to turn
the strands from silica to silk.

Cameo went from contact to coworker
to friend-with-terrific-benefits-package.

The glass knitting sold whether it stayed soft or not.

Then one day, Cameo walked in on her
knitting a pair of booties out of
clear glass with gilded rims.

"Something you want to tell me?"
he asked, raising his pink-gold eyebrows.

"Condoms have a failure rate
between two and eighteen percent,"
Crystella said calmly. "I was planning
to arrange a good time to talk, but oh well,
now's as good a time as any, I guess."

"Have you decided what to do yet?"
Cameo asked, trailing a hesitant hand
over the curve of her shoulder.

"Not really," said Crystella. "I mean,
I like kids okay, but my work keeps me
pretty busy -- and let's face it, I'm not
the most reliable person on Earth."

"So? You make enough money
to afford a nanny," he pointed out.

Crystella laughed. "That never even
occurred to me! I'll put it on my research list."

"I know we're just friends with benefits,
but I'll stick with you for this, whatever
you wind up deciding," said Cameo.

"Amazing benefits," she said, and kissed him.

Crystella laughed. "That never even
occurred to me! I'll put it on my research list."

* * *


Crystella, the Glassmistress (Chryssa Staats) -- She has tinted skin, amber eyes, and long straight hair of dark brown. She lives in Virginia. Her kitchen skills lean toward making nibblements for her artist friends. Chryssa tends toward a freestyle life, like many creative people, and isn't very good at imposing order. Sometimes she mixes things around just for the heck of it.
Crystella makes beautiful glass sculptures, originally with ordinary tools but now with her bare hands. She has done glassblowing, a little lampwork, carving, and now knitting. Crystella prefers being an artist to becoming a superhera. She has also taken up modeling, because some of her friends are downright enchanted by her Glass Form, although in terms of technical skill she's not very adept yet.
Origin: Injured when a glass kiln exploded, she sustained serious injuries and almost died. Despite expectations she survived, and developed superpowers.
Uniform: Only natural fibers, so they won't melt. In the workshop she wears form-fitting clothes that won't snag, but outside she loves long flowing skirts and flapping sleeves.
Qualities: Master (+6) Glassworking, Expert (+4) Aesthetics, Expert (+4) Dexterity, Good (+2) Bohemian Friends, Good (+2) Making Munchies, Good (+2) Poetry Fan, Good (+2) Thermodynamics
Poor (-2) Organization
Powers: Good (+2) Glass Powers, Average (0) Invulnerability
Poor (-2) Flexible Glass
Her metapower includes Glass Control and Glass Form so far. She is trying to learn how to make glass permanently flexible, even when cold. She is also working with a gizmologist to explore gizmotronic derivatives of glass.
Motivation: To capture the light.

Cameo (Vincent Dalles) -- He has pale skin and silver-gray eyes. His hair was originally ash blond but is changing to gold-pink: the pale pink of glass tinted with gold oxide, with a faint metallic aura. The gilding can be a yellow gold, a white gold so pale it's almost silver, or a pink; this creates variations in color similar to Black Hills gold.
Cameo is a material gizmologist. He doesn't make machines. He makes stuff to make machines with -- or anything else, for that matter. He is particularly intrigued by hard materials, and by ways to make things both soft and strong. His work lends itself well to teaming up with other soups whose powers manipulate substances or objects. As a hobby, he enjoys building veranderings.
Origin: He got the Super-Immunity from the Aegis vaccine base. His hair started changing color in college.
Uniform: Vincent likes pale colors including pastels and light neutrals. Except for his glasses: he wears black frames so nobody can miss the fact that he's a geek. He favors crisp, pressed men's clothes like button-down shirts and creased trousers.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Geek, Expert (+4) Gizmologist, Good (+2) No Circadian Rhythm, Good (+2) Smart, Good (+2) Whimsical
Powers: Average (0) Pink-Gold Hair, Average (0) Super-Immunity
He has the ultraviolet vision that often goes with unusual coloration.
Motivation: To make new materials.

"Dalles" rhymes with "pals."

Veranderings are a mechanical locomotion devices customarily driven by a renewable energy source. The Dutch plural is veranderingen,  but it's usually Anglicized to veranderings. It means transformation, or a thing which changes, because of the way they move. Self-mobile toys are popular. The air-powered stepping models are called windwalkers, or windlopers, akin to a strandbeest.  Model kits are available which consist of a guidebook and loose parts that can be combined to make various devices. This is a popular way of introducing children not only to mechanical concepts and renewable energy, but also the basic ethics of gizmology as they learn how their constructs interact with other people.

* * *

See a knitted glass glove and sock.

Matter transmutation isn't just about changing one object into another, but also altering the qualities of an object. It can be temporary or permanent. Making it permanent usually requires a lot more energy and practice.

Clothing damage poses a serious problem for many people with superpowers. An effective solution is to wear gizmotronic or super-gizmotronic clothing. Several materials such as capery, dexflan, and krevel actually respond to superpowers and thus resist destruction. But people are always looking for new materials in this field, and anyone who can produce them is very warmly received.

Where do soups get all their wonderful toys? From their friendly neighborhood gizmologist, of course!

"Friends with benefits" can suit nonmonogamous and/or aromantic people. In this case, Crystella and Cameo simply have lifestyles that don't go well with marriage. They like sex, they like romance, and they like each other. They just don't like the idea of doing it 24/7 because they are both so engrossed in their careers. It is much better for them to have a catch-as-catch-can relationship openly, rather than try to force it full-time and wind up unsatisfied. A FWB relationship can work quite well as long as people communicate and both want similar things. There are tips on how to start and enjoy one.

See the knitted glass booties and some free knitting patterns for baby booties.

The failure rate for properly used condoms is low but real.

Unexpected pregnancy poses a big challenge for both women and men. Making a decision is a complex process. T-America grants the final decision to the pregnant person, for reasons of body autonomy, but people are encouraged to involve others in the process, especially the other genetic contributor(s). There are multiple options for parenting -- you don't have to get married just because you get pregnant! -- and hiring supplemental or full-time childcare is recommended as part of financial planning with an unplanned pregnancy. With the initial shock out of the way, there can even be advantages to an unplanned pregnancy.

Tags: crafts, cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, romance, weblit, writing

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