Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Stick Like Glue"

This poem came out of the December 4, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "relaxation" square in my 12-1-18 card for the Summer in December fest. This poem belongs to the Calliope thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Stick Like Glue"

[Friday, June 20, 2014]


"Do you sell glue by the gallon?"
Vagary asked, leaning on the counter.

"Yes, we do -- wait, what are you
doing here?" Calvin hissed.

Vagary flinched away.
"Buying glue?" he said.
"Never mind ... I can
go somewhere else."

He had forgotten that Calvin
worked here, because Vagary had
only been to the store a few times, and
Calvin didn't look the same as Calliope.

The bond was wiggling around them
like a dog wagging its tail, though.

"Oh," Calvin said. "I'm sorry.
If you really came here to buy
glue, then I can help you."

"Yes, please," said Vagary.

"May I ask what project you have
in mind? That affects the kind
of glue you need," said Calvin.

"It's not for me," Vagary said. "I have
a list, though. I need at least clear glue
and white glue by the gallon, preferably
several brands with different ingredients,
and an assortment of glue sticks too."

"Okay, let's hit the adhesives aisle,"
Calvin said. "Grab a cart, you'll need it."

Vagary grabbed one of the sturdy carts
meant for large or heavy items. He knew
that water weighed eight pounds a gallon,
so glue probably weighed at least that much.

He hurried to catch up with Calvin.

It felt weird, in a way, because
most of the time they spent
together, Cal was Calliope.

Vagary couldn't help feeling
like he had gotten sucked into
some weird alternate reality.

This was part of Cal too, though,
even if it was a messed-up part.
Calvin lay behind everything
that Calliope had become.

Maybe Vagary couldn't really
know her without knowing him.

"Down here!" Calvin waved at
Vagary from the adhesives aisle.
"You want white, clear, or colors?"

"I'd like an assortment, please,"
Vagary said. "Different chemicals
may create different results."

"Okay, great," said Calvin.
"We have white and clear in
gallon jugs. We also have
a few colors for making crafts
like slime or calming jars."

"Oh, that's perfect!" Vagary said.
"I'm shopping for a guy who wants
to make animated calming jars."

"Animated how, like magnetic
or something?" Calvin asked.

"I don't know, maybe?" Vagary said.
"The shopping list doesn't tell that."

"Well, we have magnetic glitter
and other trick supplies if you
want," Calvin suggested.

"Sure, why not," Vagary said.
"It's a science lab, somebody's
bound to find a use for the stuff."

"Great, we'll hit the glitter aisle
next," Calvin said. "Meanwhile,
how much glue do you need?"

"Let's see, six gallons white and
six gallons clear, either two or three
different brands," Vagary read aloud.
"Add two gallons of each colored glue
that comes in containers that size."

"Got 'em," Calvin said. Muscles
rippled as he swung the jugs
into Vagary's shopping cart.
"What about glue sticks? We
have a school pack, all colors."

"Toss some in the cart," Vagary said.
Then he spied packs of glitter glue pens
and threw in several of those too. "Okay,
that should do it for glue. You mentioned
something about an aisle full of glitter?"

"Glitter, sequins, mirror tiles, and
other sparkly things are over here,"
Calvin said, leading him onward.

As advertised, the whole aisle
glimmered with light and color.

"Woah," Vagary said. "Coooool."

Calvin grinned at him. "Yeah,
the tweens go nuts in here,
even some of the boys."

Vagary made approving noises
as he pored over the merchandise.
"Magnetic dust, opalescent powder,
mega-glitter, laser shimmer sequins ...
temperature-sensitive color-changing dust?"

"Oh, we got it all," Calvin said. "Some of
this is basic stuff, some does science tricks.
What do you think your friend would like?"

"All of it," Vagary said, slowly rotating.
"We could make so many things with this.
Not just the new calming jars, if they work,
but tried-and-true things like fidget slime."

"I am all in favor of helping supervillains
find their quiet place," Calvin whispered.

"Yeah, me too," Vagary said. "Gods know
we need all the help that we can get."

"Well, what's your budget?" Calvin said.
"I can help you pick a representative set."

"I ah ... don't really have one," Vagary said.
Shyly he pulled out the Emerald Card that
he'd been given. Greenbucks made those
from actual lab-grown emerald wafers, issued
exclusively to their largest account holders.
"He just said 'get glue,' and I thought, since
I was in the neighborhood, this place might
have the kind of stuff that I needed?"

"We certainly do," Calvin said. "Okay,
let me grab some empty boxes. We can
get a couple jars each of all the good stuff,
and loosely sort them by product type."

"That sounds great," Vagary said,
and so they went to work on it.

They filled a box each with
magnetic dust, glow dust,
photochromic pigments,
three different sizes of glitter,
sequins both plain and shaped,
and the temperature-sensitive dust.

"All right, I think that does it,"
Calvin said, putting the last box
into the cart. "Unless you have
anything else your shopping list?"

Vagary checked the list, then said,
"I'm good." He looked at the cart
full of shimmering loot. "I am
totally putting in for a shift as
a lab assistant just so I get
to play with some of this stuff."

"You do that?" Calvin said,
giving him a sidelong glance.

"I do all kinds of work," Vagary said
pushing the cart toward the registers.
"Right now, I'm trying to cut down
on the ... uh, shadier stuff. So I do
shopping runs and such. I know
my way around a lab, at least
enough not to set it on fire."

"That sounds interesting,"
Calvin said. "I like working
here because the materials are
fun, but it's not that exciting."

"I beg to differ," Vagary said,
rapping his knuckles on a box.
"Anyhow, I like switching around
and learning new things. Some
of them I forget a week later, but
others stick like glue, and I never
seem to know which will do what."

"People can be the same way,"
Calvin said. Their hands brushed
as they started unloading the cart.
"You can't tell who will blow in and
out of your life or who will stay."

"Yeah, that's true too," Vagary said.
He'd had plenty of each in his time.

Cal might rearrange his reality on
a regular basis, but even so, Vagary was
pretty sure that he came out the better for it.

Now if only Cal agreed with that assessment.

"You sure have plenty of new things to try,"
Calvin said as he rang the merchandise
through. "I hope you have fun with them."

"I'm just grateful I finished shopping
before the store closed," Vagary said,
looking out at the gathering shadows.

"Oh, you have plenty of time left
before ..." Calvin's voice trailed away.

"What?" Vagary asked, worried.

"Wow, my shift ended ten minutes ago,"
Calvin said. "I didn't even notice."

"Sorry about that," Vagary said
with a wince. "I'll make it up to you?
We could go catch dinner somewhere."

They were supposed to spend time
together for the sake of therapy, and
hadn't put in their hour this week.

Calvin hesitated, then said,
"Sure, why not ... but I don't
want to stop too close to here.
I eat at the nearby ones too often."

"What about Cattle Platter?"
Vagary said as he bagged things
and put them back into the cart.
He'd never get all the stuff out to
his campervan without it. "You like it,
and there's a new Thai ice cream place
next to it that we could hit for dessert."

"Is that stuff any good?" Calvin said.
"The pictures on the window look weird."

"You've never tried Thai ice cream?"
Vagary said, grinning. He handed
the Emerald Card over to Calvin.
"Oh wow, are you ever in for a treat!
It has fresh fruit and everything."

"Yeah, but is it really worth paying
the price of a whole carton for
just one serving?" Calvin said.

"You will get your money's worth
just watching them make it,"
Vagary promised as he put
the card away. "Come on,
I'll buy dessert. No risk."

"All right, you got me,"
Calvin said. "Let me
go clock out of here."

"Sure," Vagary said.
"I'll be loading this stuff
into my campervan."

Outside, the summer evening
was warm and pleasant, with
a turquoise sky just starting
to turn colors in the west.

Soft shadows spread over
the parking lot like dark scarves
lost by children during play.

It was a perfect time for
eating ice cream, and Vagary
looked forward to introducing
Calvin to the joys of Thai ice cream.

Vagary hefted his purchases
into the campervan, now and then
glancing over his shoulder as he did so.

It seemed a little easier to get along
with Calvin than it had with Calliope.

Maybe he was imagining it.

Then again, maybe it was
because Vagary had not
royally fucked up with Calvin
the way he had with Calliope.

They weren't different people,
not quite, but Cal had mentioned
having different tastes when
male than when female.

Maybe that carried over
to people and relationships
as well as food and clothes.

If that was true, perhaps
they could relax around
each other, at least a little.

It'd be nice, wouldn't it ...

Cicadas sang in the trees while
Vagary stuffed in the last few boxes
and then closed the campervan.

The fireflies were coming out,
too, though they were still visible
more as dark spots in the air
than when they actually lit up.

Golden light spilled out of
the store across the parking lot
as Vagary pushed the empty cart
to the nearest return corral.

Calvin strolled toward him, and
for a moment Vagary's heart
ached to find that easy grace
with Calliope now that he had
somehow found it with Calvin.

"Ready to go?" Calvin asked
as he came up to the campervan.

"Yeah, hop in," Vagary said.
He would hold onto what peace
he could find, for as long as he could.

Who knows, maybe it would stick.

* * *

Notes:

Glue comes in many kinds. Some, like clear school glue, are readily available by the gallon. Others mostly come in small containers like glitter glue pens. There are craft projects for plain and glitter glue. You can make your own colored or glitter glue.

Calming jars can have all kinds of fillers that are fun to watch as they settle. Compare a basic recipe with some science experiment variations. Here are even more recipes.

Glue sticks also come in assorted styles. Most are white or clear, but you can find some colored ones. Combine a glue stick, heavy paper, and random small objects to make an activity bin. Learn how to make your own colored glue sticks.

Calculate the weight of water, typically just over 8 pounds per gallon.

(Warning: addictive craft supplies ahead!)
Craft stores in Terramagne have more interesting products compared to here. I did find some of the cooler examples online, but these are harder to find in local stores. Check out the magnetic glitter dust, chameleon flakes, glow dust, photochromic pigments, and exotic types of glitter.

Finding your quiet place can refer to a physical location, one you create, or a state of mind. Peace and quiet have many benefits. When supervillains find theirs, lots of other people enjoy the benefits too.

An Emerald Card is a Greenbucks card made out of actual lab-grown emerald. They're only available to the biggest account holders.

Thai ice cream is made by pouring ice cream batter onto a coldplate and mixing it around until frozen, then spreading it thin and scraping it into rolls. You can make it with junk like candy, or wholesome ingredients like fresh fruit. Choose from an assortment of fun toppings like toasted marshmallow or pocky sticks. (Things that turn hard when frozen, like M&Ms or gummies, are not as good.) There are ways to fake it at home. But if you get a chance at the real thing, grab it. Vagary is right about how watching them make it is worth the price all by itself.

Fireflies come out and blink anywhere from late afternoon to early evening, and stay on for a few hours. Just listening to the cicadas in that video makes it feel like summer, too.

Gender-variant people may have different feelings en femme and en homme.
Tags: crafts, cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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